Thursday, October 28, 2010


John Andrew Wesley Showalter
Sunday, October 17, 2010
7 pounds 10 ounces
18.5 inches

We call him John Andrew or Andrew.

He is a fantastic baby, and we are all doing well:) I was able to have a natural labor and am feeling pretty good, all things considered! Not quite up to blogging much, especially since my computer is not working properly. More pictures coming soon (or as soon as my computer starts working!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

38 Week Bumpdate

I am still pregnant.


At my OB visit on Thursday, I had lost about a pound. At least I am not gaining, right? The baby was measuring perfectly, with a heart rate in the 150s, so there are no concerns. If I haven't had the baby by next week (39 weeks) they will do an internal exam to see if things are progressing yet. Hmmmm.

I had the girls with me at the OB. They said they had questions for the doctor... Abigail asked when the baby will finally come out (don't we wish we knew?) and Anna asked why the baby is giving me heartburn. I'm not sure if this was because I have been complaining of heartburn a lot, or if it was somehow related to Abigail talking about the fetal Doppler (the machine to measure the heart rate) and the "heart rate" which Anna took to mean "heart burn." At any rate, the doctors didn't answer either question with any conviction:)

I am feeling good- except for the whole waddling, swollen feet thing. Actually, my left foot is very tender, and John is wondering if I possibly broke some toes. I decided to just grin and bear it, because really, what is the treatment for broken toes? Um, an x-ray to diagnose the problem (which I am not going to get right now, anyway) and at most a non-weight-bearing boot (which I am not going to wear in labor anyway) so what's the point? So, other than my toes, I am feeling good.

The kitchen saga is mostly done... but not all the way. We are still missing a cabinet that is on indefinite back order. So yesterday they came out and installed everything else and a temporary "filler" cabinet so that I could at least get things put away and clear off the kitchen table. I am working on that today, and as soon as John moves the borrowed microwave out to my car, I will be able to finish clearing off the kitchen table. Tomorrow we can sit at the table for meals. This will definitely be a step in the right direction. Then a few more boxes moved to the basement, and I think we will be in pretty good shape.... except that my Shark has stopped working and I really need to get down and scrub my floors (which is sooooo not happening!)

I have my last few shifts scheduled for work next week... a total of 12 hours (three 4-hour shifts.) John has finished his mid-terms/final and is working tonight and tomorrow night, followed by a full day of work on Monday (with just a few hours of nap on Monday morning) and his birthday dinner Monday evening. Then he plans to recover from his sleepless weekend on Monday night and catch up on some work on Tuesday, and we will also get our first delivery of cloth diapers... so really, Wednesday is the idea time for me to have the baby (10/20/10). Maybe it will happen, right?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

37 Week Bumpdate

Is it just me, or has my belly not changed that much in the past 2 weeks? I feel like I get bigger every day, but when I look at the pictures, this belly is not any bigger than my 35 or 36 week bump.

Guess how much weight I gained in the last week? Remember, I gained four pounds from week 35 to week 36....

So, just guess...

Okay, you are not going to guess right, so I will just tell you. I lost half a pound. (My friend says when you start losing weight, it means the baby will come soon...???)

Anyway, I celebrated that by eating half a box of mini Oreos and going out for dinner last night that included cheese fondue, 3 layer chocolate cake, and lots and lots of homemade rolls. So much for keeping up the no-gain/a little loss trend, eh?

Other than that, I have been feeling pretty well. Heartburn, of course, but even that has improved since I went to the chiropractor twice this week (I was so out of whack.) My feet are still swollen, although my compression socks do help. When I wear them. They also have been giving me a rash, so it's been a toss up between the swollen feet and the itchy legs. Sometimes you just can't win. I do have this funky toe pain in my left foot, middle 3 toes. John says he thinks it is from the swelling putting pressure on the joints. Go away, swelling!

I have made virtually no progress on my to-do list for the baby, although I have made a small amount of progress in just getting the house put back together/recovering from having the kitchen fixed (since the contractors still don't have my cabinets installed, we are not getting terribly far...) The bag is packed, though, so we are all good:) It's strange to think that this was the milestone that marked Abigail's entrance into the world... and yet, it could still be a few weeks before the Nugget arrives.

I've seen a few tiny babies recently (at stores, ballet class, etc), and I am feeling kind of overwhelmed about the fact that we will have a tiny baby home with us very soon. I know they don't stay tiny for long, and I am pretty sure that caring for a newborn is a lot like riding a bike- it just comes back to you- but I still am feeling a bit unprepared and... not scared, exactly... more like nervous.

It's interesting. A few weeks ago, someone was mentioning that I would soon be giving birth, and they asked me if I was scared (of labor.) I'm not. Nervous, anxious, and excited- yes. Scared? Not a bit. But at the same time, people always ask if I am excited about the baby. The baby seems to me to be a much more appropriate topic to ask if I am nervous about, not labor! Am I totally backwards? Labor just seems so straightforward. I mean, you have contractions, water breaks, you push, and it's over. Done. It's the whole baby thing that is totally unpredictable:)

Anywho... Do you want to play a game?

We have been keeping the baby's name secret. Want to try to guess it? I will give you a hint: both the girl name and boy name we have chosen start with an "A." Would love to hear your guesses:)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Own

From Sarah's Blog:

"As I drove 80-plus miles an hour because my baby was in pain and needed her Mama to fix her, I thought to myself, "If this isn't my child, then who does she belong to?" Seriously, if you ask me if I want "my own" kids that implies that the kids I have are not mine, and if they are not mine, can someone please tell me whose they are? If they aren't mine I am certainly going to a fair bit of inconvenience and enduring a fair bit of life disruption for children that belong to other people. They certainly appear to belong to me when one of them wakes me up screaming at 5 am or when one of them grabs both of my cheeks in her small little four year old hands, puts her nose to mine and and says "I love you, Mama" or when one of them calls for me from her darkened bedroom and says in her smallish two year old voice "Mommy, I want you. Sleep with me, Mama." From all I can tell practically speaking, they are mine. Two governments say they are mine and more importantly God says they are mine and will hold me accountable for what I am doing to raise them. So, dear friend, please don't ask me if my precious girls for whom I have rearranged my career, my social calendar, my sleeping schedule, my bathing rituals, my long-term financial plans and, generally speaking, the sum total of all my life goals are "mine". It should be obvious to you by now that they are and it breaks my heart when you ask that because these children are as "real" to me as yours are to you. They are my life as your birth children are to you and no child that comes from my body will ever have more status as "my own" than these daughters born of my heart."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

36 Week Bumpdate

I have gained 54 pounds in this pregnancy. I try not to think about that. And I really try not to think about loosing that.

At my check-up on Thursday, everything went well. Baby sounded good, I measured perfectly, and they did the Group B Strep test... I thought this was an internal swab (like a Pap), and would therefore give them the opportunity to check out my cervix, but it's just an external swab. They offered to take a peek at things for me, but really, who wants an internal exam if they don't have to have one? I declined. So I have no clue what my cervix is doing. I'm okay with that. Even if it was doing something, it really has no bearing on when I will go into labor or if my cervix would continue to dilate "normally," so really, what's the point in finding out?

I have been having horrible heartburn, though. And a few times I have had this overwhelming sense of "I am going to vomit RIGHT NOW" come over me out of nowhere (thankfully, there is not been any actual vomiting.) So I am not sure what is going on, but that is not fun.

I also have swollen feet and toes that look like sausages. It started on Friday when I had to drive my mother-in-law's minivan down to Philly. I was so scrunched up in the driver's seat that my knees were literally hitting my belly when I moved my foot between the gas and the brake. 5 hours in that cramped position was enough to give me pitting edema in my feet. I kept them elevated during the evening as much as I could, and by this morning, the swelling had gone down significantly (but not entirely gone.) Then I spent the day running errands in the minivan (John had my car, and his mom had his car...), playing with the kids, cooking, cleaning, and driving 40 minutes to Abigail's cheerleading... well, puffy feet are back with a vengeance. Trying to elevate again, but it's just not working. I think I will buy some more compression socks to help with that. Thankfully, I really haven't had much swelling otherwise. But I do need to get it to go away before I head to work for 3 days in a a row next week... if my feet stay this big, I am not sure I will be able to get my sneakers on!

I am down to my last few baby-related errands... need to get the car seat base installed in my car and the MIL's minivan, finish packing Abigail's hospital stuff and snacks/vending machine money for John in the hospital bag, add the Viacord kit to the hospital bag, and just generally get my house cleaned up. That last one would be a lot easier if the contents of my kitchen were not spewed across my living room and play room while the contractors (finally) fix the flooring, cabinets, appliances, and paint from our minor kitchen fire back in August (yeah, I could have predicted that it would take nearly 2 months to fix...) Then it's just a matter of waiting until after the 20th.

17 days to go to my ideal delivery date! 28 to go to my due date! Yea!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

35 Week Bumpdate

35 weeks. 5 more to go, maximum. Only 3.5 weeks to my goal of 10/20/10 (how fun would it be to have the birthday 10/20/2010?) The end is in sight.

We had a little scare earlier this week... on Tuesday morning I went in to L&D to get checked out. I wasn't feeling the baby move very much, and my fundal height was measuring small (much smaller than it had been at my doctor's visit.) These were the same issues that led to the emergency induction at 37 weeks with Abigail. We still don't know for sure what caused the issues in my pregnancy with Abigail, so I am a very aware and vigilant to monitor for those same issues this time around. If we don't know what caused it, we don't know that we have "fixed" or prevented it in this pregnancy, you know?

Anyway, things checked out great: I had a non-stress test for the baby, and Nugget had appropriate heart rates the whole time. I started feeling more fetal movement, and a quick ultrasound showed an appropriate level of amniotic fluid as well as showing that the baby was head down! It was really reassuring.

Not so reassuring was the weight on the scale at my routine OB visit on Thursday... I am half a pound short of the 50 pound mark. Sadness. Especially since it is all in my butt and thighs. :(

I will be going to the OB weekly now until the baby comes. Next week is the vaginal check (maybe I am dilating?) and the group B strep test. Bliss.

In non-medical news, I started packing my hospital bag today. What did you pack that was a life-saver? What was a waste of time/space? Did you pack anything special for dad or older siblings?

I have my stuff pretty well figured out... I am mostly packing sweats for after the delivery, since they are so forgiving. I read today that when you leave the hospital, you are about the same size you were at the 5-6 month mark. Here I was at the 21 and 24 week mark...

If I leave the hospital looking like that, I will consider it pretty darn good:) John and I were talking about how I should do "deflation" pictures... a picture each week of how my belly is shrinking and returning to normal. Which would probably be a good motivator, but perhaps a bit embarrasing? But who am I kidding- you all (few) who read this blog know all my crazy/embarassing stuff anyway:)

The girls at work were commenting that they thought I had "dropped"... as one of them said "you actually can tell the difference between the boob bump and the belly bump now!" I guess I no longer have the uniboobelly? I don't feel like I have "dropped" at all (especially right now, when it feels like Nugget is using a vice to separate my rib cage.) But maybe with the baby head down, I am carrying a little differently. What do you think?

2 Years

Oops, I meant to post this yesterday, but then I started having contractions, and I got a bit distracted....

2 years ago yesterday, my mom, Abigail, Anna and I landed in DC; Anna had been sick on the flight, and my mom and I had not slept at all. John met us at the airport, and on the way home Anna had her first taste of french fries and milkshakes. My sister flew in and arrived at my house shortly after we did. It was a surreal day.

And in the world of adoption milestones, that day will always be the day I consider our first "Family Day."

Of course, I had met Anna in Ethiopia 10 days earlier, but it was the milestone of having the four of us together- John, the girls, and I- that makes the 24th of September so special. At the time, John and I were dating- not even engaged yet- but when I look back, that is the day that our family finally felt right. Even though I had been worried it would be the day that our family turned terribly "wrong."

John and I were dating for less than a year before I started the adoption process; it was a hard time for him when I announced that I planned to adopt a child. There were a lot of things that made it difficult for him, one of which was the feeling that I was planning a future without him in it, and another of which was the feeling that adoption was simply not a fit for him. In my defense, I didn't realize that he was as committed to our relationship was he was at that point, and I didn't think we were at the point of planning a future together or making decisions together. In the end, we ended up breaking up for a while, with the adoption being one of the major issues that we couldn't resolve. Eventually, John decided that he wanted Abigail and I in his life, even if it meant also adding another child to the mix... although he was pretty convinced that he could never love that child the way he loved Abigail.

But when Anna came home, I knew. I mean, I knew all along that Anna was supposed to be in my life, but when Anna and John finally met, I knew that she was supposed to be in his life- and he in hers. As she started to come out of her shell and open up more, it became so blatantly obvious that Anna and John were 2 peas in a pod that even his extended family and friends commented on it. When John proposed to me less than 3 months after Anna came home, I knew it wasn't just that he wanted to marry me- he wanted to make us a true family and be Daddy to Abigail and Anna because he loved each of them in their own right, as well.

I am a month away from giving birth to the child that John and I have made. I look at our family, and I see how Abigail is my mini-me, and Anna is John's child in every way, shape, and form; I can't wait to see how the next one will turn out. The celebration of Anna joining our family is intricately linked to the joy of being married to John, because in a lot of ways, she could have been the reason we didn't end up together, but in the end, Anna was the piece of our family puzzle that sealed the deal on our love. And as we celebrate how lucky we are to have her in our lives, it seems so natural that we should be ready to start celebrating the newest addition to the family. Because that's what family is all about- growing and changing and becoming and being loved through it all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bumpdate 34 Weeks

So, there it is. My 34 week belly. (For better shots of the belly, go here. And then go here to book a session!) I feel huge. All the time. And while I feel like I am waddling, John says that what I am really doing is just leaning back constantly while I walk, trying to create some backwards momentum to prevent myself from falling forward from the weight of my belly.

I guess from here on out, they probably wouldn't stop labor if I were to go into labor, but after looking at my schedule, John's schedule, and our parents' schedule, we've decided the optimal date for the baby to be born is October 20. In fact, we need the baby to NOT be born before the 19th, because John's schedule is just insane until then. So, while last week I was saying "Oh, I have 3-7 weeks to go!", this week I don't get to say "2-6 weeks." :( I am saying "anytime after October 20."  Which, as of today, is 4 weeks and 2 days away. Gagh! But, I still could have 6 weeks to go. Boo!

I am having lots of low pelvis pressure, but I don't think the baby has "dropped" yet... I still feel the Nugget up in my ribs and need some sort of brace to hold my ribs together since it feels like the baby is trying to spread my ribcage apart. Other than that, I feel pretty good. Can't bend over comfortably, but that's to be expected. I am tired, but still have the energy to get stuff done, so I guess I am doing well! Once we get the car seat/ stroller assembled, we should be good to go.

I am starting to pack my hospital bag... anything I should make sure to take along?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bumpdate 33 Weeks

I don't really feel like my belly has gotten any larger than last week, but I can see all my blood vessels more this week, as if the skin is being stretched further, so maybe.

On Thursday, we had our check up; everything continues to look good, measuring right on track:) We'll see the doctor again in 2 weeks, and then weekly until I pop. And I do kind of feel like it will be a "pop" rather than anything else. I kind of look like I have a balloon shoved in the front of my shirt since I am carrying all in front. My mother in law and husband continue to comment that I don't look pregnant from behind, except for the part where I am waddling:)

We got the crib set up yesterday, and this morning I finished setting up the "nursery." Since the Nugget will be hanging out in the guest room until we know if/when we are moving, there wasn't a lot of set-up to do. But the bedding is in, clothes are washed and put away, and the rocking chair has a new cushion on it. I am getting a few last things washed and put together, and then I won't have much to do in there until we get our first cloth diaper delivery in a few weeks.

I feel pretty good; the heartburn has been manageable, and I am sleeping very soundly, except for when I have to wake up and go to the bathroom. 4 times a night. Joy. Or when I have really strangely realistic dreams... like the other night when I dreamed that my water broke, and I got down on my hands and knees to clean up the mess while John stood there and laughed. Even in my dream I remember thinking that it was a typical doctor/nurse situation.

Maybe now that I have a working laptop again, I can get caught up on some of my blogging that I have been intending to do. Maybe not. We really could realistically have a baby in just 3 weeks!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bumpdate- 32 Weeks

So, guess what? It really sucks to have strep throat! Thank God that penicillin is safe in pregnancy! Also, did you know when you are pregnant, you are in a hyper-immune state, so your mild, never-actually-diagnosed allergies can turn into raging-holy-bologna-who-knew-I-could-produce-that-much-nasal-discharge allergies wherein you are convinced you might actually lose the ability to breath if you lay down and your nose drips like a leaky faucet while still being crazy-congested? Thank God Zyrtec is safe in pregnancy! 

That pretty much sums up my week. Oh, except for the part where I fell really hard on Sunday and now my whole body hurts. All the time. (Thank God Tylenol is safe in pregnancy!)

We see the doctor on Thursday, and will be taking our finalized birth plan (and FMLA paperwork, assuming I don't forget again!) to be placed in our chart. We will also take our birth plan with s to the delivery, since outpatient and inpatient charts don't mix at my institution.

Hey, guess what else? Did I ever mention that there is a 90-95% epidural rate at my hospital? Yeah, I can't stop thinking about that. And the 5-10% who don't get epidurals are either the really high risk/emergency peeps who are done under general anesthesia or few who walk in with the baby practically falling out (at least in my limited experiences of working the post-partum side of things.) That has nothing to do with my 32nd week, but I just wanted to put that out there.

I need to sleep. Preferably while breathing at the same time. Grrrrr.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bumpdate: 31 Weeks

I continue to be amazed that I feel as well as I do... honestly, this seems to be a much easier part of my pregnancy than the first and second trimesters. I know part of it is that my stress level with regard to viability and such has decreased tremendously, and continues to decrease with each passing day. I think another part of it is that the chest pain and shortness of breath have totally gone away... John and I were talking about this, and we think that maybe the original high-risk OB that we saw had it right: my heart just needed extra time to adjust to the physical changes that were happening in my body. This idea is reinforced by the fact that the swelling in my feet/ankles has gone away, too.

Anna and Abigail are getting more and more excited about the baby coming... Abigail loves telling all her friends about her soon-to-be sibling, and Anna genuinely seems to want the baby to come, asking daily if the baby can come yet. I figure if I go another 5 weeks, I am golden:) I really can't fathom making it to 40 weeks, but I guess stranger things have happened. Maybe because of all the anxiety I had about the baby coming too soon, I will end up going past my due date. Let me just go on the record as saying that if I am still pregnant in November, I will cry. And also probably participate in every known home-remedy for inducing labor:)  Just kidding- I believe the baby will come out when he or she is good and ready, although I'm sure the hubs wouldn't mind if we tried certain methods... ;)

It's hard to imagine that we don't see the OB for another 2 weeks (at the 33 week mark, more or less). This is the longest stretch we have gone without seeing the doc since very early on in the pregnancy. It is kind of nice to have a break, especially since I know they will probably be a little more invasive at the next check up. It also gives us some time to work on our plans for birth control after the baby comes (very difficult to figure out when you can't take hormones, you're allergic to latex, and your anatomy won't cooperate with a diaphragm!), our finalized (ie- shortened) birth plan, and what we want to do about circumcision if we have a boy (one of us is for it, the other is not.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thanks for sharing.

Apparently, Abigail has been sharing her new-found knowledge about labor and birth.

At the dentist today, Anna asked if this doctor will help get the baby out. That was cute.

Thankfully, she waited until we were home to inform me that "first the baby comes out the 'gina, then the Daddy cuts the cord" (with accompanying "snip" motion with her fingers.)

Bumpdates 29 and 30 weeks

29 week belly

Jai, the young man my mom is friends with, recently asked for a belly photo with my face in it... he only sees the photos I email to my mom, and he said he had never seen my face! So, this is my best shot at a self-portrait of my belly with my face showing via iPhone technology. This is surprisingly more difficult than it seems, especially when you add in the fact that I stand on my tip toes to get these shots. I don't look very happy. Don't think I need to explain why:)

We had our 30 week visit on Thursday. Everything continues to look great, and we are hoping right along with the weight gain. I have now gained a total of 37 pounds during this pregnancy. The doctor is not terribly concerned... my diabetes screen is negative, my blood pressure is perfect, and even the swelling I was having earlier in my pregnancy has pretty much gone away. I am eating well, my lab work all looks great, and I feel good- much better than I did earlier in my pregnancy. Plus, I was up 48 pounds the day that they induced my labor with Abigail (at 37 weeks), but I was back in my non-pregnancy jeans when Abigail was 18 days old, and was 10 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight by my 6 week follow-up visit... all without dieting or exercising! Hopefully things will go that well this time, although the extra 8 years of age may make that a little more difficult. The doctor thinks that maybe I am just one of those people who gains a lot of weight with pregnancy (the "goal" weight gain for a woman of normal weight is 25-35 lbs.) My mom definitely gained a lot of weight during her pregnancies- maybe it's genetic:)

I've started writing our birth plan. Initially, I didn't think that I would write a birth plan, knowing that the running joke in the OB department is "birth plan= c-section." But the more I thought about it, the more I decided I needed one, because there was no telling who would be on-service when I went into the hospital. It could quite possibly be a person we have never met (one of the risks of delivering at an academic medical center.) Plus, I don't want to have to think about telling anyone what I want when I am in labor, or explaining who our doula is or why Abigail is there. I want to be able to just focus on doing the work I need to do. So a birth plan seems to be the best way to communicate that.

So far, a few of the highlights of our birth plan include:

1. Since we don't know the gender of our baby, we do not want the doctor/nurse to announce the gender at the time of birth. John and Abigail will be the first people to check the gender and make the announcement. Abigail is pretty excited about this:)

2. The exact phrasing regarding repair of any tear/episiotomy is "If it is necessary to provide stitches to repair a tear, please provide local anesthesia. Lots of it." It is in bold, just like that:)

3. John and Abigail will also cut the cord together.

4. Abigail has requested that she be able to help with the baby's first bath and diapering the baby. Since this will be in our birth plan, it will be much more likely to happen:)

A lot of the other stuff is standard, run-of-the-mill natural childbirth language, which we are trying to edit down since I tend to be a bit verbose and have written this without a template. One other thing that we did was use the birth plan to "introduce" who will be present at the birth (me, John, Abigail, our doula- Heather, and John's mom, Elaine.) This will save us time, and also hopefully make the care team more comfortable with the inclusion of Abigail during labor/delivery. I made sure to put in the birth plan that we have talked frankly with Abigail and shown her graphic birth videos, as well as taught her medically/anatomically correct language so that they know how to talk to her if she were to ask a question. I mean, not all 7.5 year olds know that a baby is born with it's own special lotion on it's skin called vernix. Or that the baby has to open the cervix then come out the vagina to be born. But Abigail does!

30 weeks, 2 days belly

Now that our niece has moved out of our guest room, we are ready to get the nursery ready. The nursery will still be our guest room as well, so we are not decorating or going wild with a theme. But, we do need to get the crib put up and get a diaper station set up. My mother-in-law, Elaine, threw a surprise baby shower for me this past Saturday at the nursing home where she and I work (Thanks again, Elaine!!!!), and with the lovely gifts we've received, along with items our family has given us and a few things we have purchased, I think we are pretty much set for a newborn. I am looking forward to getting all the little blankies and burp cloths and sockies washed, folded and put away in the dresser:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bump Check- 28.5 Weeks

I forgot to take a picture on Saturday of my week 28 belly. So here a photo from Wednesday:

Apparently, a prego woman in a bathing suit is somewhat of a novelty at our local pool, because all of Abigail's little friends were amazed, and I certainly got a few looks from the other adults, too. Oh well- I was too hot to care!

Of course, it didn't help that Abigail kept bringing her friends over and saying "Momma, stand up and show them how big your belly is! It's big because she has our baby in there!" And then all the other little girls were like "wow, your belly is huge!!!!!" And then they would stick out their (disgustingly flat) bellies and walk around saying "look, I have a baby in my belly, too!"

A friend of my mom's asked why you never see my face in these pictures. It's partially because I am not feeling particularly pretty, and partially because I usually try to take the picture as soon as I wake up in the morning, so that I don't forget to do it. My hair is wild and I still have red marks on the side of my face from the pillow. You really aren't missing anything. This particular photo was carefully framed by my loving husband to avoid showing my mascara running down my face and dripping hair, while also protecting the eyes of you, my gentle readers, from the cellulite that has taken up residence in my thighs.

You're welcome.

In other pregnancy news: we had a check up last week, and HOORAY! The doctor gave me permission to take Zantac for my heartburn. What a difference this has made! I can lay flat at bedtime! Woohoo!

Everything else was looking good, and we are finally at that point when I am starting to feel relief... developmentally, 28 week babies do so well. But even more than that, I really feel like getting this far means that I am likely to go to term. (Although a 10/5/10, 10/10/10, or 10/20/10 baby would be fun:) I've started doing more of my "preparation" reading and tomorrow we are meeting with our Doula. John is finally at a place where he can also focus time and attention on learning to be a great coach  and we can come up with a plan for after the baby arrives that will work for our whole family (breastfeeding a newborn can be a full-time job!)

I am working on a post on my other blog about why we don't believe in attachment parenting and also responses to why we are doing a natural childbirth (Bradley Method) and how and why we are working with our pediatrician on a modified immunization schedule. I am also going to write my very opinionated view of how to be successful with breastfeeding, and why on-demand feeding (the method recommended by the La Leche League) decreases your likelihood of success. Can you feel the drama brewing?

I feel a real urgency to get serious about preparing for the job of giving birth (which is a very taxing job) and parenting a newborn. So off I go to sneak in some more reading while the girls finish their morning chores:) Regularly scheduled bump checks should resume tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dear Nugget

Dear Nugget,

I love you and am trying to give you all the attention you need. I feed the cravings and drink all that extra water and even take those yucky prenatal vitamins just for you. Like your Daddy, I get it that you sometimes need more attention than I am giving you, and that makes you likely to take drastic measures.

However, like your sisters have learned, kicking me so hard that it takes my breath away is not the best way to get my attention. In fact, hurting Momma is not very nice at all. You may not realize how hard you are kicking, but I am pretty sure it is hard enough to have kicked me a nice little hiatal hernia.

Would you like to work on our communication skills so that you can figure out how to best get my attention without hurting me? Because I would like to do that, too.



P.S. Feel free to kick Daddy to get his attention because; A: it totally works, and B: he thinks it's hilarious when Anna does it, so I'm guessing he will like being kicked by you, too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Brown Like Me...

Disclaimer: This post does not contain any mind-shattering revelations about race or ethnicity. In fact, in the end, this post is pretty inconclusive. But this is what is happening in our lives, and I would love to have some respectful input from others who are parenting children of a different skin color.

In our family, we have never focused much on the fact that Anna has brown skin. We readily acknowledge it, but we have never set out to point it out. We talk about colors and say that Anna's skin is brown and Abigail's skin is peach. But we also talk about Anna's brown eyes and Abigail's blue eyes, and the fact that both girls have pink lips and white teeth. It never really seemed to matter too much to Anna, and I really didn't want to push the idea of race on her before she was ready (although Abigail and I have talked about race quite a bit.)

Recently, though, Anna has been very excited when she sees other people who share her same skin tone. She is surprisingly accurate, too, pointing out people that are nearly the same skin tone as she is. "Look, Momma, she is brown like me!" Anna will exclaim, pointing at another little girl in line at W*lMart. She does not group herself with other Black children who are lighter in skin tone than she is- only those whose skin tone is within a shade or two of hers.

We then talk about all the nice things about person that she sees. Sometimes the person is a child, and we talk about her awesome braids or cool beads or fun clothes. Sometimes it is an adult, and we notice other things, like their purse or hat or the fact that they have such a nice smile. Sometimes we do point out things that aren't nice (one time we watched a little girl Anna's age throw a fit and kick her mother. That went into the NOT NICE category.) Her awareness has opened a door for us to begin to talk about race in the most elementary ways with her.

I am very sensitive to the way Anna is developing her ideas of race and her self-identity as a girl with brown skin whose family has peach skin. I want to help her create a healthy view of herself- one that is not limited or defined by the color of her skin, but also acknowledges and embraces her beauty as a Black child. I want her to be able to have a positive view that the color of her skin makes her unique in our family, but does not make her alone, isolated, or different. I also want her to be able to freely self-identify as an Ethiopian just as much as she does as an American or African-American. At the same time, I want her to be able to embrace the values and cultural norms that make our family ours. I don't know how to do this, and to be honest, I don't know if anyone really knows how to do this- there are a lot of theories, but very little that is proven.

The other day we were at the salon getting Anna's hair braided. Abigail and I stick out like sore thumbs with our fair skin, but I love that place! I love that the ladies sit and talk and laugh and carry on- something that you don't really get in a typical "white" salon. I enjoy talking to all the ladies there, and I feel that there is mutual respect and friendliness between us.

While we were there, the Tyra Banks Show started, and the topic was skin bleaching. I had heard of this practice, but really didn't understand it or think it was necessarily common. I certainly didn't think it was something that was practiced on children! While watching the show, Abigail and I were so upset! There were such lovely ladies and adorable children who felt the need to lighten their skin color because it was "better" in some way. Often, they could not even describe why they believed lighter skin was better, but a few described reasons such as getting more attention from the opposite sex, feeling more beautiful or being more conventionally beautiful, or believing that lighter skin was more socially acceptable or related to your ability to be successful. The mother of 3 young boys who uses bleaching creams on them daily said that she thinks lighter skin "makes a better presentation" and she felt it was important for them to have lighter skin to have people form a better opinion about them. The most troubling part was that these young children (ages 8, 6, and 4, I think) actually believed this about themselves!

The ladies in the salon were horrified, but could understand why the women on the show felt the way they did. They didn't condone the behavior, especially not when the mom was putting bleaching cremes on her children, but they understood it... they had certainly heard comments to the effect of "it's better to have lighter skin." Or the infamous "she's pretty... for a dark-skinned girl." These thoughts were a new reality for me... sure, I had heard that these things happened, but I had never seen or experienced anything like it, even though I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and had friends of all different skin colors. It is still blowing my mind, and I cannot wrap my head around what I even think about all of this, even weeks after the fact.

So, why am I writing this post? Really, I am not sure. It is just so... much. I desperately want Anna to love the skin God gave her as much I do. I love her chocolaty skin, and the patina that makes her skin look like so soft and touchable. In fact, I think her skin is so much prettier than my own fair skin that shows every vein and blemish, and gets blotchy when I am cold or nervous. How do I help her see this and love this about herself, when apparently popular culture is sending the opposite message? Is it enough to talk about all the black women with dark skin that we admire? Are Michele Obama, Oprah, Condoleezza Rice, and Maya Angelou, not to mention historical figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges enough?

More importantly, how do we help change our culture? Because whether your child is the only brown-skinned child in your family or simply the darkest-skinned in a family of many brown-skinned people, they need to hear the message that they are beautiful just the way they are. And while popular culture is making some strides in this area (see: Grace Jones, Rachel Williams, Ajuma, Alex Wek, or Krista, the winner of cycle 14 of America's Next Top Model), the majority of black women who share Anna's skin color are not known for their beauty.

I don't know. And this post is getting rambly. So I will leave it at that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bump Check- 27 weeks

This week has been all about the heartburn. Seriously. All day, all night. I get heartburn no matter what I eat or when I eat it. I get heartburn from drinking water! Sometimes, in the rare moments that I don't have heartburn, I worry that if I eat or drink anything, it will come back- so despite being thirsty, I don't drink anything.

It always comes back, no matter what I do, though. And nothing really helps. I've tried it all.

I will not miss the heartburn one bit.

Other than that, things are going well. I did my GluCola challenge on Monday afternoon, and we will find out the results at my appointment on Thursday. I also talked to Abigail about being in the delivery room; she wants to be there. We were torn at first, worrying that it is too graphic for a child, but then it occurred to me that I think one of the main things wrong with the way young girls are taught to view childbirth and even their own sexuality is that very little of it is based in reality. In other areas of the world, it is totally natural to have your children present at the birth of their younger sibling, especially your female children. I think this helps girls learn a healthier view of childbirth and sexuality than what they learn from popular culture.

In addition, Abigail is really fearful about me being in the hospital, so much so that if we didn't have contraindications for a home birth, we would strongly consider it. I am not sure why she is scared of the hospital, but my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that John and I talk about people dying at the hospital (it's a reality of our work.) The girls go for a "big sibling orientation" at the hospital in a few weeks, which will give the kids a tour of the L&D/post-partum area and talk about what to expect when I am in labor. I am sure this will help Abigail a little bit, but mostly, I think she will feel better knowing that she can keep an eye on me.

We also have set realistic expectations for Abigail being at the hospital. We plan to bring a laptop and headphones so that she can watch movies while I am in labor. In fact, she will pack a bag, too- a "fun pack" of stuff to do, change of clothes, PJs, toothbrush, etc. We believe it's best if she is present but not necessarily "engaged" in the situation more than she is comfortable with... for instance, I don't think she needs to have the "doctor's view" of the delivery, although if she wants to, I don't care if she does (John and I call this the "natural sex deterrent.") We also have a plan so that if she decides she doesn't want to be in the room, she can leave. The idea is not to force anything. I think it will work well for Abigail- that's just the kind of kid she is. I don't think it would work well for Anna, even if she was older. That's just the kind of kid Anna is.

Recent name ideas from the girls include Hope (for either a boy or girl), and Christmas (for a boy, according to Anna.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

26 Weeks Bump Check

First, I need to clean our bathroom mirror.

Second, we hit the 26 week mark on Saturday, July 24. If I can make it another 10 weeks, I will be "term." If I can make it another 8 weeks, I will have exceeded expectations:) If I go another 6 weeks, I will be pretty satisfied that our baby will be healthy and have a relatively short NICU stay.  (If I go another 12 weeks, I will basically have to try all those home remedies for self-induction!) The idea of going to term suddenly seems much more realistic and reachable.

Depending on who you talk to, the third trimester has started, is starting, or will start at the end of this week... it really feels like an accomplishment, while at the same time bringing with it a bit of urgency to make sure I have the basics ready (ie, crib, car seat, diapers, breast pump, clothes.) The baby is going nuts and actually woke me up this morning with some ferocious karate (Ross-style.) Nugget is approximately 14" long and weighs 1.5-2 lbs. I continue to sound more and more like a bowl of Rice Krispies with all the joints loosening and popping, although since I have not been working a ton, my back is not feeling too bad. My fundal height is still right on target:)

Big plans this week include work, and the wonderful GluCola challenge/3rd trimester blood work! I plan to do that this afternoon, as long as my stomach calms down a little. That stuff totally made me want to barf when I was pregnant with Abigail. Then again, everything made me want to barf when I was pregnant with Abigail, so I guess that is not a reliable predictor.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bumpdate- 25 weeks

On Thursday we had our 25 week doctor's visit. There's not too much to be said about that- more of the same with the whole "we can't predict what is going to happen so monitor for any changes or anything you feel is not normal."

I really hate that word: normal.

Maybe it's because I think at the core, we all have worried that we were not "normal" at some point. I mean, isn't that what junior high school, and even part of high school, and heck, maybe even a good part of your early 20s  is kind of about... that fear that maybe you aren't going to find your place in this world because you are just not normal?

Maybe I speak only for myself, but even so, the frequent reminders to call with anything that doesn't seem "normal" has me so on edge. Because I am not sure if I know what normal is... or if I even know what "normal for me" is. It's just so freaking subjective!

Anyway, the Nugget's heart rate was 162 beats per minute and my fundal height was measuring right at 26 cm. So, by all objective measures, thins look good. I feel pretty good, too- except for the worry that I am not "normal" and am thereby going to miss some important clue that something is going wrong.

Next week I get to do the lovely glucola challenge. Yum. Or not.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bumpdate 24 Weeks- And a rant.

First of all, my belly looks smaller than last week. Smaller, but pointy-er. Like the baby is not up in my stomach so much as down in my gut. Either way, the Nugget is all up in my organs. Particularly my diaphragm, which I am sure has been injured resulting in a hiatal hernia... hence all the heartburn. Thanks, kid:)

So, the good news: cervix is 2.6cm! And maybe I don't have to be high risk- just intermediate!

The bad news: my appointment sucked. Not that the doctor didn't tell me all that they know about my situation and discuss options given the various outcomes. He did. The problem is that that there is simply not much known about my particular situation. To be honest, most women who experience pre-term labor/delivery do so based on a few particular circumstances: pre-eclampsia/eclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure), trauma (injury of some sort that induces labor or causes a woman to be unable to continue carrying a child safely), drug abuse, or women who have a history of pre-term labor with or without cervical incompetence.

I do not fit any of those categories. The reason I am at a higher risk is because of the history of surgery I have had, including a major surgery on my cervix in August, 2009. There is no category for me. The number of women of childbearing age who have had the surgery I had last year and then gone on to conceive a child are few... un-studyable. Certainly, if anyone in the OB/GYN department at my institution has dealt with a woman with my history, they haven't told me or any of the other doctors (I always knew I was special.)

Since we can't really compare me to a similar group of people, we  really are in the dark about what to expect. At this point, things could go very wrong, very quickly... or not. My cervix could drastically shorten and open unexpectedly... and just as equally I could experience a failure of the cervix to open when it is supposed to! Or, things could be absolutely perfect for the rest of my pregnancy, and I could avoid the problem I had when I was pregnant with Abigail (low amniotic fluid) and have no complications from my clotting disorder. We just don't know. Which is terribly frustrating.

And which is why I was referred to the experts. Because while they don't know things- while they can't predict the future any more than you or I, they can certainly give an opinion. As a nurse and a doctor, John and I are rarely interested in opinions of health care providers, but in a situation like this, where he and I are both out of our element and where there is no "fact" available, we are looking for an educated opinion. That's really all I wanted.

And that is the one thing I didn't get.

I asked specific, reasonable questions and got crap for answers. The doctor continually stated that I should make the team aware of any "concerns", but when I asked how I should know when I to be "concerned," he gave me nothing. Are there any signs of a shortening cervix other than bloody discharge that I can look for at home? No, not really. Is there any way for me to tell if my contractions (which I have been having for weeks) are causing cervical change? Nope, although they can check me out if I go into the Labor and Deliver department. So how do I know when to be "concerned?" Well, just be aware of changes was the response that I got. Repeatedly I asked what kind of changes or what kind of symptoms I should look out for, and I got not a single objective measure. The doctor continually told me that if I "felt" different, I should be concerned... if things didn't seem "normal," I should call them.

Let me just rant for a moment...

1. I am pregnant. I "feel" differently all the time- literally from moment to moment. My feelings are volatile. Do you really want me to call you every time I "feel" different?

2. I am not sure I know what a "normal" pregnancy is supposed to "feel" like. In many ways, Abigail's pregnancy was so much more difficult than this pregnancy- I was vomiting constantly, more exhausted than I am now, and never once had a painful contraction until I was in active labor. This pregnancy has had shortness of breath, chest pain, intense contractions, heartburn, and very little vomiting- as well as off-the-charts levels of stress. Are either of those a "normal" pregnancy?

3. Why is he putting everything on me, as if it's my job to know what is "normal" in pregnancy? And why can't he give me any objective rather than subjective measures to guide my decision-making? We don't tell diabetics to go to the ER if they "feel" abnormal, we tell them to check their blood sugar and come to the ER if it is above or below certain numbers. We don't tell people to avoid their blood pressure medication if their heart rate is below normal- we tell them to avoid it if their heart rate is less than 60 (or 55, or 50 or whatever) beats per minute. So why am I being given subjective terms like "normal" and "feel."

4. I am all about trusting my gut- as a nurse, I do it frequently. But when there is a baby in my gut, I don't think my gut is very reliable.

5. Do you have any idea how stressful it is for me to think that if something were to happen- if something were to go wrong, it would be because I had a messed up sense of how I was supposed to "feel" and whether the way I felt was "normal"? I HAVE ENOUGH MOTHER-GUILT. I DON'T NEED ANYONE ADDING CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WOULD ONLY SERVE TO INCREASE MY GUILT LEVEL!

End rant.

So, not the most fulfilling doctor's appointment. We will meet back with my intermediate risk doctors next week and hopefully get a better idea of what we should be doing/not doing/monitoring for, etc...

On the other hand, the high risk doctor thought it would be okay to return the the "honeymooning" that John and I were missing out on:) Now, if only my stress level wasn't through the roof, John might be a happy husband!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The V Word

Warning: This may be a controversial post for some. I am not trying to be offensive in any way- just sharing our thoughts about a sensitive subject. You don't have to agree with me by any means; as a matter of fact, I expect very few of you to agree with me. That is fine- in such a personal matter, we can only come to truly know our own beliefs through deep introspection, and this post is the result of such for John and I, which has been fueled by our own experiences as well as through examination of research. Please know that I post this with the utmost humility and sincerity, respecting the sanctity of human life.

The V Word. Kind of a dirty word, in a way... a word that makes me feel dirty, somehow. But not really "dirty" the way a cuss word is dirty, nor greasy the way it is when speaking the word "moist." More like unsettling- like the feeling the word "scabies" induces in me- minus the itching and grossness.


It's a clinical word- a word we don't use at home. Technically, our baby achieved the age of viability on Saturday, the 24 week mark of this pregnancy. However, viability at 24 weeks is only truly viable if the baby weighs more than 500 grams (a little over 1 pound.) Under 500 grams, the babies don't really live- or at least, don't live long, even with advanced medical interventions. My sister works in a NICU where they are well-known for pioneering interventions to keep tiny babies alive- they top the list of hospitals to have discharged the smallest babies. But even those tiny babies were gestationally older than our baby is... at this point- between the 24th and 28th week, our baby will go from needing a ventilator and extended NICU stay, to being able to breath fairly well without a ventilator and only needing a relatively short NICU stay. Even still, NICUs and Neonatologists around the world are trying to figure out how to keep babies that are not even at the 24 week mark alive, even if it means they live their entire lives hooked up to machines. And even if it means that many of them will not make it past the one month mark- let alone into childhood.

There are stories out there of babies who were 24 weeks- or even younger- and did amazingly well and had outcomes far greater than what could be expected of a baby of comparable gestational age. While I am not one to discount miracles, I often think that those babies were probably older gestationally than they were thought to be. I mean, how many women can pinpoint within 24-36 hours the time that their baby was conceived (besides me)? More than 50% of babies in this country are "surprise" babies, and women are often shockingly uncouth when it comes to the intricacies of their fertility cycle, not to mention that all women are assumed to have a 28 day cycle when determining gestational age, and many, if not most women who are not on birth control do NOT have a 28 day cycle.

But anyway, the V word came up at our last OB visit. The doctor said flat out that now that we were close to viability, we need to consider every decision that would remove me from immediate access to top-tier OB and NICU care (or at least the best of what is available in our area. Which isn't really too shabby- you know, my hospital delivered and cared for the Gosselin sextuplets. And I've been seen and examined by both of the OBs mentioned in that article:) While I agree with the doctor in some ways, it really did freak me out.

I guess, up until this point, I knew that if something were to happen, knowing that medically the baby did not meet the criteria for viability, John and I would be completely in control of the decision-making. We would get to choose to deliver or try to stop the baby from coming based on what was safest and best for both the baby and I. If we delivered, we would be in control of that situation, too, knowing we could choose to simply kick everyone out after the baby was born and just be alone with our angel.

But suddenly, knowing the baby is "viable" (and our little Nugget is estimated to weigh over 500 grams right now), we as the parents get fewer choices. Suddenly, if something were to happen, the decision-making would be skewed, and the power placed into the hands of the neonatologists that might have different priorities than we do. The OBs would almost certainly defer to the advice of the neonatologists, and this would no longer be about John and I and the life I am carrying, but about a baby whose parents are just trying to hang on during the crazy ride that is life in the NICU.

Don't get me wrong, I admire and respect neonatologists. I have a huge amount of respect for NICU nurses- it is a field of nursing I don't think I could ever pursue. But sometimes, I think that we as parents have different priorities than they as health care providers have.

John and I are big proponents of palliative and hospice care in the patient population that we serve. We feel that length of life is secondary to quality of life. Often, when patients are facing circumstances where they can prolong their life without having any quality of life- sometimes without even the capacity to think, feel, or engage in life, there is a group of care providers who want to keep fighting for prolonging life, and there is a group of providers who wants to focus on bringing as much meaning and fulfillment into the remainder of the patient's life. This is a discussion that is often made easier when the patient is of advanced age and deteriorating health- I mean, most people feel better about palliative and hospice care when you are talking about your 95 year old grandma who already has had dementia and 2 strokes. It's harder when you are talking about options with the 62 year old gentleman who is awaiting the birth of his first grandchild while his cancer wreaks havoc on his body despite all the chemo and radiation we can throw at him. But, John and I both strongly feel that despite the circumstances, our focus should be on helping patients achieve the quality of life they want. Which means, if what they want is to die knowing that every option was exhausted- even knowing that their chemo was killing them, then we should do that. But if what they want is to die surrounded by family and friends, pain-free and peaceful, then we have an obligation to make that happen to the best of our ability.

We feel this way because we believe that it is not the beating heart and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that make a life. Life is truly so much more than biochemical processes. Living is more than keeping cells alive and reproducing. And even thought we often have medical technologies that can keep those biochemical processes going- sometimes indefinitely- they should be used with discretion. Just because we can treat doesn't mean we should. As the providers, this is rarely, if ever, a decision that is left to us. This is a decision that the patient- if they are able- and the patient's family must make together. But we as the care providers are there with them as they make these decisions.

We believe that a baby, regardless of gestational age at birth, is a gift. The life of that child is precious, unique, and a great responsibility for us. It is our job as parents to foster our children's quality of life, not just length of life.

And at 24 weeks gestation, just because we can continue the biochemical processes through technology doesn't mean we necessarily should. As providers, we know this. As parents, we feel strongly about this. As a person of faith, I know that miracles can happen, but I also know that I am not the person choosing who is granted a miracle. I also know that miracles will happen without regard to the medical interventions we provide, and sometimes in spite of them. I choose to put my faith in God, not in man- not meaning that we discount the medical technologies, rather that we chose to use them with discretion.

But at the end of the day, neonatal care is one area where no decision-making is given to the patient (obviously) and very little is given to the parents. Options for palliative care- care that focuses on quality of life rather than length of life- are few. In fact, while I don't know the exact procedure at our facility, I do know that in some circumstances, parents have been stripped of their decision-making rights and children have been placed in protective custody over the choice to treat or palliate neonates. I mean, these doctors are neonatologists, not perinatal palliative specialists- their priorities are to treat and prolong life. And sometimes those who don't agree with their decisions get plowed down- even if it is the parents.

Again, I don't want to say this is true, necessarily, at our facility. But I do know that having reached the age of viability, there will be tremendous pressure on us as the parents to allow the neonatologists a free hand in determining the care our baby would receive. And we don't know that we would agree to using all of the interventions that medicine has to offer. We can't say now what we would  or would not do as so much of our decisions would be based on the baby and how he/she was doing as well as gestational age, but the point I am trying to make is that we want to be able to make the decisions that we feel are most respectful of our child's life and purpose in this world. And having reached a point where science and medicine become single-minded in goals of treatment, we want to keep our options open.

Viability means being capable of living. But the definition of living is what I question in the world of neonatology. Knowing that our definition and the definition of the doctors might be very different makes me nervous... and sad.... and in a way, it makes me feel a little bit dirty. Not because I think my definition of living is wrong, but rather because I think the doctor's definition of living is so removed from what life really is. I think medical technology has perverted the meaning of living and reduced it to a series of cellular processes. And I want our baby to have more than cellular processes, even if it means it is only for a few moments that our baby gets to truly live.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bumpdate 23 Weeks

Well, now we've gone and done it!

We had our 23 week OB visit on Monday, followed by a cervix check on Tuesday. At our OB visit, a few things were decided based on the "borderline" cervical measurement from last week.
1. I am not to be traveling- if something were to happen, I would have the best chance of getting the best and most appropriate care from our team at our hospital because they know me and have all the records (as well as a plan for what to do if something did go wrong.)
2. I have been "upgraded" from "intermediate" risk to "high" risk. Yippee! In some ways, this was a bummer (who wants to be told they are high risk?) but in other ways, it's totally cool. High risk was managing the cervical checks, but intermediate risk was managing ME, so it was a little difficult to know who was in charge or who my main "point person" was. This way, we are down to one service line, and since high risk will be following us the rest of the pregnancy, concerns about low amniotic fluid levels will be easily managed. Hopefully.
3. I freak out when people bring up the "V" word. Not in the doctor's office, but at home. And I am thankful I have a husband who knows what to do when I am on the verge of loosing it. (I will post about the V word later...)

On Tuesday, we had much better news:) My cervical length INCREASED from 2.3 cm to 2.7 cm!!!! This is, I am assuming, fairly rare (I don't know, because part of controlling the freak out is NOT consulting Google, much as I may want to:) This doesn't mean that we are out of the woods, it just means that we are good for now. We will have one more cervical length measurement next week, and again we will make decisions based on that measurement.

We won't be doing more cervical length measurements after the 24th week, because at that time it becomes a matter of "pre-term" labor rather than cervical incompetence (which, in this particular case, seems to me to be a matter of semantics, but whatever...) This is especially irritating because I have been having contractions, and we are not sure if they are related to the cervical changes or not... if they are, then it is considered "pre-term labor" after the 24th week, as "labor" is contractions that result in cervical change (which is why "false labor" is false... it's contractions that don't result in cervical change.) So I guess I will be asking a lot of questions at our next appointment. I mean, without routine cervical checks, how do I know when I should be concerned about my contractions? Some of them have been pretty intense (and that is saying a lot considering I KNOW what contractions feel like... what triple-peaking-never-ending-only-30-seconds-between-them-and-no-pain-meds-to-take-the-edge-off contractions feel like. How do I know when to call the doctor? Very frustrating. And definitely a semantic discussion far too detailed for me.

In other pregnancy news.... I am feeling, well, huge. And heartburny. I can feel the Nugget doing all sorts of yoga or Pilate's or something, and let me tell you, my diaphragm doesn't like it! As a matter of fact, the assaults on my diaphragm are probably why I am so heartburny- I probably have a hernia now! I also have some very beauteous swelling in my ankles when I work all day, despite my industrial strength lederhosen.

Anna things that if the Nugget is a girl, we should call her Abigail. So that both of her sisters are named Abigail. Easy enough to remember, I guess:)

Abigail took one look at me on Wednesday and said "Wow, your belly has gotten bigger!" Granted, she hadn't seen me since Sunday afternoon (spending time with her grandparents) and I was wearing a new maternity shirt that did increase the appearance of my bump, but still... it kind of made me feel, well, huger than I was already feeling.

One of the girls at work said she things I am having a boy, because I "still look the same." She as following the adage that girls steal your beauty and boys steal your energy. She said I looked good (thanks:) but was always saying how tired I am. And so it must be a boy. John is stoked and finally has an old wives' tale that he can put some stock into:)

My grandma is becoming a bit forgetful. Which, at nearly 90, is okay. My mom told her that I was pregnant at the end of my first trimester when we officially announced it to the world (or at least to the rest of our family, co-workers, and Facebook/Interneters.) When my mom told her I would not be coming out to Chicago at the end of the month, she acted as though that were Totally New Information (think: Phoebe on Friends) and claimed she didn't even know I was pregnant. Um, okay:)

Oh, hahahahah! The joke's on John! The doc said Monday that any unnecessary "wear and tear" on my cervix should be avoided. That means John has more than just a 6 week post-partum wait... he has the rest of the pregnancy (however long that is) PLUS the 6 weeks post-partum! He thinks that by accepting this and not fighting against this new edict, it will inevitably force nature to prolong the pregnancy as long as possible, just to test his resolve (reverse psychology, maybe?). Yeah, we'll see:) For now, he is getting an awful lot of teasing from his parents. His mom told him that this is what he gets for knocking me up so quickly. My mom thinks that this is what he gets for thinking that now that he's married he gets to do "it" ALL THE TIME. And at the risk of over-sharing, I will say that sometimes I think this is God having mercy on my poor, exhausted body... I feel way less guilty about going straight to bed every night since our options for evening entertainment have been limited to Netflixing the BBC version of Robin Hood, playing with the cats, and voting for Jose on So You Think You Can Dance.

In all honesty, though, this has really made me appreciate my hubby on a whole other level, because he has not made me feel bad about any of the restrictions (travel/vacation, work, sex, or anything else that might come up) the way some guys have been known to guilt their ladies. In fact, he is nothing but supportive of my and the Nugget's health and well-being, even if it means working harder and crazier hours to save up for a very unpredictable future, while knowing that all that waits for him at home is an ever-expanding wife who has managed to zap the "honeymoon phase" out of the first year of our marriage. I love that guy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bumpdate 22 Weeks

In the words of my sister... "Yowsa! Where'd that come from?"

I could definitely feel that I was getting bigger this week- lots of back and hip pain, and the sensation of my skin stretching to accommodate the bump. It didn't help that this week my rump also decided it was carrying a baby. Now none of my scrub pants fit- not because they won't cover my bump (I wear them below the belly) but because I can't get them up over my butt!

We had good news and not-so-good news at the doctor yesterday.

The good: baby looks great, heart rate is great, and all my amniotic fluid is still right where it should be:)

The not so good news: my cervix is measuring short. 2.3cm to be exact. This is continuing a downward trend, and places my cervical length firmly in the "borderline" category. If it gets shorter or possibly even if it stays the same, I am looking at bed rest. If it gets really shorter, I will probably be on bed rest in the hospital. I guess there is a possibility that it could lengthen, but that would be unusual, especially since I am getting bigger and still having contractions on and off.

Our summer vacation plans are on hold for the time being. Even if I'm not on bed rest, we still don't know if it will be a good time to be so far away from our doctors and care team, because these things can change quickly. It is almost certainly not a good time to be away for a few weeks at a time, since my weekly monitoring would be fairly difficult to do with me in another state. So, we have to wait and see what the measurements are next week. :(

I am a little sad, a little bummed, and a whole lot grateful that we have the technology to prevent a devastating outcome.

The baby is getting a little cramped. Nugget has a hand near the mouth and another bent up to the ear or above the head, and knees bent up nearly in the fetal position.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bumpdate 21 Weeks

I took the girls with me to my ultrasound last week. What fun:) I am not sure Anna connected the image on the machine screen to the baby in my belly, but Abigail loved it! The baby was quite clearly swallowing, which was interesting to watch on ultrasound, and the baby also gave a little wave. Both Abigail and Anna had fun touching the gel on my belly.

The cervix length is great, and the baby continues to look good. No chest pain, and just occasional shortness of breath. Nothing too exciting- just the way I like it!

We had our OB visit today, and spent about 15 minutes on the contraction monitor because I was having contractions about every 20 minutes at work. Seems that as soon as I put my feet up and relaxed, the contractions stopped:) Thatclearly means that I should put my feet up more often, right?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bump Check- 20 weeks and Update

I have enough of a bump now, that when I bend over, I feel like I am bending over my little belly ball. I also have started the "pregnancy sit" (John's term) where if I am sitting and need to lean forward, I have to move my legs apart to make room for my bump.

My back has been totally whack for a week, and I can't get enough of the chiropractor. Plus, their handy-dandy table offers me a place to lay on my stomach comfortably:)

Everything was good at our ultrasound on Wednesday. The Nugget was sucking thumb/fingers, and really having a good time of it, too:) Everything looks good, and the cervix is doing it's thing! A few more weeks of weekly checks, and then we can ease up a bit... although I will miss seeing my little Nugget:(

Nugget rubbing his/her eye.