The Babies!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Rest for the Wicked (or Me)

I want to blog, but I find myself staring at a blank screen with not a single coherent thought in my head. All I can think about is sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

Patrick is, in fact, sleeping and I should probably try to lay down and sleep a bit, too. But I know he will be awake again in less than 2 hours, probably less than an hour, and that just isn't enough time for my insomnia to let me fall asleep. Plus, I'm downstairs on the couch and he's in his little rocker next to me and that's all fine and well for his napping, but I have a hard time sleeping on the couch and prefer to be in bed. But going to bed entails turning off the lights and television, covering the bird's cage, letting the dog out, carrying Patrick upstairs to his crib so I can hear him when he wakes up, taking my laptop, cell phone, a glass of water for me and a bottle for Patrick upstairs, brushing my teeth, washing my face and taking my meds. And probably doing two or three other things along the way. All of which will take close to an hour, at which time Patrick will be awake again. So sleep is but a wishful dream on the horizon because I'm too damned tired at this moment to do everything I need to do to actually go to sleep.

I'm not alone, though. Mary Anne blogged about being tired this morning. She has a new baby and a toddler, so I weep for her. Of course, she also has a partner and child care, so perhaps she should weep for me. I suspect we are both too tired to waste tears for each other when we can simply weep for ourselves. But I'll quote this part in place of offering anything creative or new or interesting of my own. Because, dear readers, I'm simply too tired to be original:

People keep asking me how I'm doing, especially this week as I see lots of old friends in concentrated doses. And I say terrible and they laugh uncomfortably and I say no really the last six months have been pretty much sheer hell and they say but at least your children are adorable and I admit that this is true but how is that relevant? Cute and hell are not measured on the same axis. My children, you are overflowing with cuteness, your adorability quotient is sky-high, especially when dressed in the little butterfly and alligator outfits that aunty and grandma got you for Christmas but that has absolutely nothing to do with the hellishness. Which also has nothing to do with your personalities, I must note, which are, as children's personalities go, pretty good. (Oh look, my commas have come back, how I love, them.) It is really all about the sleep, or lack, thereof. Comma, stop.

I know new parents are supposed to complain about lack of sleep and we are all supposed to nod and smile and change the subject because that is the social contract but this is truly maddening. I read an article although probably it was just a summary of an article now that I think about it because I can't remember the last time I had the time to just read an article for fun but anyway I read an article about how new parents and interns on call had similar sleep patterns -- being woken up at unpredictable intervals far too often and for far too long. The article said the human brain was not well suited to handle that kind of unpredictability and given that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to put patients' lives and fragile babies into the hands of those who are being slowly driven mad by the interrupted and inadequate sleep. Which all makes total sense to me but doesn't appear to be stopping this from happening.

Now I will begin the slow process of making my way to bed-- hopefully by midnight or 1 AM, depending on how long it takes for sweet, drowsy Patrick to eat when he wakes again shortly-- for my two (maybe two and a half) hours of sleep before he wakes yet again. Tomorrow when someone asks me how I'm doing I will say I'm tired (I don't say terrible because I figure it could always be worse) as I have said every day since he was born (and before, since pregnancy was also exhausting, but in an entirely different way) and I will try very hard not to think about how much actual sleep I got because that only makes me more tired. And I will be grateful that Patrick is a good, sweet, cute, easy baby, even if I'm so tired that I sometimes forget his name.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Off Balance

One of the persistent themes I've blogged about over the past five years is finding balance. Balance is everything, at least for me. When my life is out of balance, it's hard-- sometimes impossible-- for me to be creative. I have found myself more off balance this year than I have ever been in my life. When the writing has come, which has been rare in 2009, it has not come easy. And now Patrick is here and the concept of balance has gone completely out the window.

Granted, I know that's how it's supposed to be right now and in some ways I don't mind at all. I'm only three weeks into motherhood and it's been an incredible learning experience already. Not all of it good. We went on our first mother/son outing to Starbucks yesterday and something that seemed so simple a month ago was suddenly a production. I wasn't surprised by that-- I may have little experience with babies, but I do know how much work they are and I was/am at least mentally prepared for that, even if I was never prepared to do it alone. I know it'll get easier as I gain experience and get my strength back, but I'm just so impatient for that to be now.

Thankfully, in addition to being devastatingly handsome, Patrick is a pretty easy baby. Of course, I have no basis for comparison to know what an "easy baby" is, but so far he rarely cries except when he's hungry or gassy. That's pretty easy, right? He does get fussy sometimes-- flailing his arms and getting red in the face without ever really breaking into crying. Sometimes in the afternoon and evening it's hard to get him to nap after he eats, but even then he's not really hard to calm. Of course, I'm constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop as everyone warns me it can change in a heartbeat. God, I hope not.

But as beautiful and easy as Patrick is, I'm acutely aware of the lack of balance in my life. Technically, I'm still recovering physically and I'm trying to cut myself some slack when I get frustrated over the fact that I'm not charging full speed ahead. I should be writing, I tell myself. I should be working on ideas for my next anthology. Planning events and promo for Fairy Tale Lust. Etcetera. I can't do too much physically yet, but I'm anxious to get the baby weight off. (Yay for Wii in the winter months!) Even in that I'm trying not to be too impatient. As someone pointed out, it took nine months for my stomach to get that big (lord, was it big!) and it'll take at least that long for it to go away. But even though I wasn't a size 6 when I got pregnant, I'm anxious to have my body back. I'm able to wear some of my jeans already, which is a good feeling. It's a start. Baby steps. Ha.

I am profoundly grateful for this beautiful, healthy baby. I don't need to say that, do I? I'll say it anyway-- taking care of a baby might be new to me, but I feel like I was born with mommy guilt. I am grateful and I'm looking forward to so many things with this little boy. But right now-- in the midst of the feeding, diapering, cuddling, attempting to sleep before I start it all again routine-- it's hard to sit on the ground on one end of the see-saw when I feel like I'm never going to get airborne again-- at least not for several months. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday about traveling-- he and his wife are going to Vegas next month-- and he said my "wings have been clipped" now. At the time, I was sitting in the truck with Patrick on our way to Starbucks, mentally calculating how long I could stay out before he would wake up and need to be fed, so I suppose my wings have been clipped. But I bristled at the comment-- stumbled over my words and said not at all, we plan on traveling with Patrick (and I plan on traveling alone, too, but I didn't even think to say that)-- and it stuck with me. Clipped wings. Grounded. Shudder.

I keep reminding myself that I don't do things like other people. I never have. I have proven people wrong, I have gone against expectations and norms and I have made people cock their heads as they try to figure me out. Beneath the fatigue, the circles under my eyes, the baby spit up on my T-shirt and the lack of a decent meal despite a freezer full of food because I haven't had much of an appetite in nearly a week, I'm still that same person. I know that and I don't have to prove it. Except to myself.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life With Baby

Hello there. Have you missed me? I apologize for the silence. It's been a hectic few weeks around here (quietly hectic, of course-- you should never wake a sleeping baby!). Let me catch up...

After celebrating Christmas on Monday, Jay left yesterday to return to Dubai. He was originally given 2 weeks of leave, but was granted an additional 6 days when I ended up with a Cesarean section and wildly high postpartum blood pressure that carried over from the last few weeks of my pregnancy (which is what necessitated the attempted induction that resulted in the Cesarean). I was grateful that Jay was here for Patrick's birth and had nearly three weeks at home even if his command couldn't see fit to give him more leave despite my doctor saying my recovery would be 6 to 8 weeks. (I'll save the eye-rolling and snickering for another post.)

I'm also grateful that I'm recovering more quickly than anticipated. Even my doctor and the nurses were impressed with how well I'm doing. Good thing, eh? Though it wasn't the birth experience I wanted-- and that's something I'm still coming to terms with-- the end result was a very perfect baby. I have no regrets in sticking to my guns and refusing to be induced before Jay came home or for opting to be induced rather than go with a Cesarean section first. The induction was hell on earth and I wouldn't wish that kind of artificially induced pain on anyone, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it would work. (Also to be saved for another post: the evils of being induced with Pitocin before a baby is ready to be born.) I'll be analyzing the situation for a long time to come, wondering what I could/should have done differently and whether anything would have made the difference between a natural birth and a Cesarean, but I imagine the disappointment and sense of disconnect will fade in time as I settle into motherhood.

It's hard to believe-- and scary, if I let myself dwell on it-- that I am the sole care provider for a newborn. Me, who had never changed a diaper before this little one came into my life. Even then, I didn't change my first diaper until he was 4 days old. (I spent 4 days in the hospital and was more than willing to let Jay take care of the diaper-changing duties.)

In some ways, the next few months will be worse for Jay. It's hard for me to imagine leaving Patrick for even a day right now, so I can't imagine what this experience is like for Jay. I'm grateful this should (hopefully) be his last deployment. We'll all get through it, somehow. Patrick will do better than either of us, I think-- which is as it should be.

So here I am, a new mother alone with a baby until June (maybe May, but I'm not counting on it), wondering how this all happened and grateful this amazing creature came into my life...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Birth Day

Just a few pictures from Patrick's birth day. More to come...

Big Baby Boy

Proud Papa

Mama and Baby

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Arrival

Patrick Finnegan Henry Wright was born on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 6:32 PM. He weighs 8 pounds, 10.5 ounces and is 20.5 inches long. He is perfect in every way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

39 Weeks

This is my last pregnancy picture-- I'm being induced tomorrow at 39 weeks 2 days. It's not my preference and I'm still hoping to do it without pain meds (or a Cesarean section), but the baby is measuring over 9 pounds and my blood pressure has crept up enough to be troublesome. I will update as I can. Thanks for all of your good wishes and support!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Full Term (37w0d)

Well, I've finally reached the next to the last milestone in pregnancy: I'm officially full term. After all the other milestones-- the pregnancy tests, making it through the crucial first trimester, the genetic tests, the half-way point and the 20 week anatomy scan ultrasound, getting through the second trimester, reaching the point where the baby had viability outside the womb, getting the nursery set up, and all the rest-- it's hard to believe I'm here, with three weeks (or less) to go. I'm going to be somebody's mother. That's just crazy.

There is only one milestone left to go: birth! Then the real adventures begin...

37 Weeks

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time Goes By (36w1d)

Somehow, it's gotten to be November. Autumn, my favorite time of year because it means fall leaves and cooler weather and Thanksgiving and Sheri. I think back to March and knowing I was pregnant even before the pregnancy test came up positive. Then June, when I knew it was a boy even before the CVS test results confirmed it.

What I didn't know was that Jay would be deploying this year. There were a couple of precious months over the summer when we thought he'd be able to stay behind. Then August came and the plan changed and my world started to fall apart and then fell apart completely when he left October 1.

I can't really even describe the feelings associated with Jay leaving because I'm still going through it, still processing it, still living it. Depression doesn't quite begin to describe it, though. It's more than that. It's sadness and loss and feeling like the weight of the world-- not just the weight of a baby-- is on my shoulders. Which sounds hopelessly clingy and pathetic to my independent brain, but it has nothing to do with dependence and everything to do with a sense of how things should be. And this isn't it.

So, I haven't blogged during this pregnancy as much as I thought I would. I haven't been as happy or excited as I should be-- or at least as happy and excited as others think I should be. I don't know that it's entirely because Jay is deployed and I will be taking care of the baby by myself for six months until he's home, though that's a huge part of it. Hard to be happy and excited when I know how hard it's going to be to do all of this on my own. But I also think it's my nature to be a bit subdued with big changes-- even changes I want-- until I see how it goes. I'm mentally gearing up for this experience, knowing it will be demanding and exhausting and at times scary (having no one to offer a second opinion when it seems the baby is sick or feverish or morphing into Rosemary's Baby, for instance) and that doesn't leave a lot of room for excitement. Do I sound terribly cynical? Probably.

But when it comes to the pregnancy itself, I have no real complaints. Even with the gestational diabetes complication, it's been relatively easy. The GD is a bit of an annoyance, but it's manageable through diet. I had my followup on Tuesday and my numbers are good enough that I don't need medication. Other than the occasional freak out by my doctor when my blood pressure went up (stress will do that to a person, you know-- especially one who internalizes her emotions the way I do) and the early genetic testing because of my age and previous miscarriages, everything has gone beautifully. (The "so far" is assumed, right?)

I had my 36 week appointment yesterday. Everything is great except my iron-- baby seems to be sucking it out of me, despite an additional supplement. He also hasn't dropped yet and my cervix is still closed and firm-- not unusual for a first baby, but I was kind of hoping for some progress. Of course, I have been joking that this baby isn't coming until his father gets home, so maybe on some level he understands that I don't want to do this alone. I love that Sheri will be here and having a doula gives me some peace, but I will still feel alone if Jay isn't here. And if that makes me clingy and pathetic, so be it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

36 Weeks

Sometimes it's hard to notice that I'm actually getting bigger until I compare pictures where I'm wearing the same outfit. Case in point:

36 weeks:

And 4 weeks earlier at 32 weeks:

Who knew a belly could get so big?

Friday, October 30, 2009

34 Week Ultrasound Photos

Three photos from my 34 week ultrasound on Tuesday. (Now that I've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, they're going to be monitoring me more closely-- which means more ultrasounds.) I would swear the middle picture looks like a miniature Jay. But maybe that's just my pregnant imagination.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

34 weeks

I hired my doula this week. When we met for the first time she said: "You're so cute. You're all belly!" And so I am...

(Pardon the crazy hair.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Exactly Mother of the Year (33w5d)

It has struck me on several occasions in the past few months that I should be more excited-- or, more accurately, that I'm expected to be more excited. The nagging notion that I'm not quite as delighted by the prospect of impending motherhood as others think I should be has caused me a bit of concern-- and some guilt. Other people-- strangers, even-- seem more excited about me being pregnant than I am. If I hear the phrases precious gift or blessing from God one more time, I might vomit (except I refuse to vomit while I'm pregnant because it's automatically attributed to "morning sickness"). If one more woman gets a little misty eyed over my big belly, I might hit her (unlike vomiting, I have no reluctance to use violence as a response). And if one more man beams at me and tells me how wonderful it is to be a dad, I might give him an earful-- starting with, of course being a dad is wonderful-- you not only get to keep your body, you get to keep your identity, too. Society is simply kinder to fathers, so what's not to love about the experience? No pain, no guilt for having your own life, and women think you're a freaking hero if you take care of your own kid for a few hours.

I know how shocking this will sound to some (many?) people, but it's the truth: I don't think motherhood is the end all, be all of my existence. I do not think of my child in strictly fuzzy wuzzy lovey terms. I don't cry over diaper commercials. I loathe minivans. If I see a couple with a baby and a dog, I'm going to look at the puppy first. I might not even look at the baby. I do sometimes check out strollers and I always pay attention to the division of labor-- and it's almost always the mother who is doing the feeding, the soothing, the carting the kid to the bathroom for a diaper change. All the while, dad is grinning broadly and telling anyone within earshot how wonderful it is to be a dad.

I realize, of course, that for many people-- more women than men-- parenthood really is their one and only calling in life. I know some of those people. I didn't understand it before I was ready to have a child and I don't understand it now, in the weeks before I have my baby. I certainly don't anticipate understanding it once I have this baby. It's just not the way I'm made.

It's not that I'm dreading motherhood. Well, not entirely. I'm dreading these first few months and for one glaringly obvious reason-- I will be the sole care provider for an infant. Does that sound like fun to anyone? If it does, do you want to be my nanny? But even if Jay was going to be here, I would still be looking at the next few months as a very difficult, very trying time in my life. Probably the most difficult and the most trying (and that's saying something). I have no rose colored glasses to put on, no illusions to shatter. I know that taking care of a child-- especially an infant-- is demanding, exhausting and almost without reward. (I know, I know, the baby is his own special reward, right? Please.) I know what I'm in for-- or I know as much as anyone who hasn't had a child and has very little experience with babies can know. And it scares the hell out of me, even while I'm mentally preparing myself for the sleep deprivation, the sense of isolation, the pain (of childbirth, recovery and breastfeeding) and the loss of identity, at least temporarily.

Maybe it won't be as bad as all that. Maybe it will. It's funny, but the same women who tell me horror stories about their childbirth experiences are the ones whose babies are little golden angels who bring nothing but sunshine and rainbows and dirty diapers that smell like bouquets of roses. It makes me wonder what drugs they're putting in those epidurals, to be honest. Some would call it unconditional love-- but I think it's more the fear of admitting that it isn't all sunshine and rainbows and rose smelling diapers. Or wanting others to suffer as much as they have suffered.

I do believe in unconditional love, but I don't necessarily believe in love in first sight. It may take some time to grow to love a crying, smelly, demanding bundle of joy. By the way, where is the joy they're talking about? But no amount of unconditional love is going to make me leap for joy when I have to clean up projectile vomit (or worse). No amount of unconditional love is going to make me think my baby is the most beautiful baby in the world if he looks like a troll. Some babies are ugly babies. It's a fact of life. And, for the benefit of my own sanity and self-respect, I'm not going to try to polish a turd just to make myself feel better about the whole thing.

So, I'm dealing in reality here, trying to be as pragmatic as I possibly can about an experience that I've signed up for. It's a bit like joining a gym (not that I've ever joined a gym)-- you know it's going to hurt and you know you're going to suffer, but somewhere down the road you'll be glad you did it. I like babies at a comfortable distance and toddlers not at all, so the first few years of this kid's life will certainly be an interesting experience for me. When I think of motherhood, I most often see myself with him when he's older-- when he has his own mini-life of school and friends and interests outside of home. When I can talk to this human being I've created and admire him for the person he is becoming and not just for the cute little outfit I've dressed him in. That appeals to me, that makes me smile. But it's going to be a long haul getting there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who Knows? (33w1d)

With less than seven weeks to go, it feels like the clock is ticking even louder and faster these days. I have lists and more lists, trying to get as organized as possible. Is it possible? Who knows, but it makes the days fly by to live by a list.

I'm tired all the time now. I'm sure it's a combination of factors that make me feel like I'm walking through molasses most of the time, but the afternoon naps of the first trimester are baaaack. I don't mind too much-- except when it interferes with getting those lists crossed off.

Every piece of advice I'm given gets filed away for future reference. People I hardly know offer their help in the form of phone numbers on slips of paper and e-mails and Facebook messages. It's hard to imagine me calling on anyone for help (and if you know me, you're nodding in agreement), but I take all of the offers seriously. Again, who knows what the future will bring? I might very well find it necessary to call the wife (whom I've never met) of the guy who comes Starbucks to work on his classwork for his graduate program. God, I can't even imagine how bad things would have to be for that scenario to come true. But I appreciate the offer of assistance.

Everyone asks if Jay will be here for the birth. Um... who knows? My life, at least this portion of my life, is a great big neon question mark right now. I smile and shrug and say we hope so. There's not much I can do about that right now. Baby is on his own schedule and will be here when he gets here (unless my OB has his way and induces me-- which I'm fighting). Hopefully he'll be kind enough to give me a warning-- or take his sweet time once he starts his journey (though I'm not sure how I feel about being in labor for a day or two)-- and Jay will be here. If not, Jay will be here shortly after. In either case, I will be here and baby will be here and really, no matter what I might want, that's all that's required for this particular equation.

So I work on my lists and nap as my body demands and rub my stomach and tell baby to hang out for awhile and not arrive early. All of the questions will be answered soon enough-- at least the ones about his birthday and the guests in attendance. For a little while, everything will seem clear and then all of those parenting questions will start and I'll be back to saying "Who knows?" soon enough.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Getting There (32w2d)

Just a little update on the rest of the pregnancy goings-on:

My OB appointments are every 2 weeks now. That will change to every week at 36 weeks. I meet with the diabetic counselor on the 23rd and I have a growth scan (ultrasound) on the 27th. Hopefully baby isn't a 10-pounded already. (Scary thought.)

I am in the process of hiring a doula. I've spoken to a couple of midwives and childbirth instructors and I have a few referrals. I spoke with one of the doulas today and I really liked her, so we're going to meet on the 28th. (I also like that she's a former English teacher-- completely irrational, I know.)

My stack of reading material has grown. I bought Your Best Birth last week and got Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method today (yay Amazon!). Suzanne is going to bring me a few more books when we meet on the 28th. I know I won't remember everything I'm reading, but hopefully enough of it will stick so that when the time comes I won't be completely unprepared.

My pregnancy and childbirth books will soon give way to the new parenting books and that stack is growing, too. So far, I have Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (my second copy-- I loaned my first copy out a few years ago and never got it back), On Becoming Babywise and What to Expect the First Year. Now I'm looking for a good resource on breastfeeding.

I have pre-registered at the hospital and I'm going to start packing my hospital bag this week. I still need a few things (baby's coming home outfit, a diaper bag), but packing what I have will make me feel better. I can handle just about anything if I feel like I'm prepared-- or as prepared as I can be. Having a bag packed and waiting makes me feel prepared. At least for now.

I am working on a contact/information page for anyone who needs it. It includes Jay's contact information in Dubai, the number for the Red Cross and the information they would need to get Jay home, Sheri's phone number, as well the numbers of my obstetrician and a few friends. I'm still hopeful Jay will make it home before the birth (and if I end up needing to be induced because of the GD, he should be), which means I'll have Jay, Sheri and my doula in the delivery room with me. That's the best case scenario. Worst case is I go into labor early and I only have the doula. (Actually, worst case would be going into labor before I've actually hired the doula, but I won't think about that.)

The baby announcements have been pre-ordered and the envelopes should be here in a couple of days so I can address them (and my holiday cards) over the next few weeks. The actual announcements will include a photo of the baby (which I'm going to put in Sheri's capable hands) on a snowflake background. Of course, if baby comes in November I'll have to change the design, I think. November isn't really snowflakey, at least not in Virginia.

And even though it's not pregnancy or baby related, I am almost finished with my holiday shopping. The goal is to be finished by the end of this month (readjusted from my goal of being finished by the end of September) and get everything wrapped and out-of-state presents packaged. The helpful postal worker at the post office informed me that I can order holiday stamps now online rather than waiting until they're in the post office (not until after Thanksgiving). Good to know. It's funny that I complain every year about how early the retail holiday season starts, but I'm frustrated this year because it seems to be taking them forever to put out the Christmas decorations. Baby needs a Christmas stocking! (As of tonight, baby does have a little red sleeper that says My First Christmas.)

So, that's where I am at 32 weeks, with hopefully 8 weeks to go, but likely a little less. My doctor would prefer I not go past 39 weeks, but he's agreed to wait and see what the growth scan reveals about baby's size-- and conceded he'd let me go until my due date as long as we're not having problems.

Just a few more weeks to go. I don't know that I'll ever be ready, but I can try.

Gestational Diabetes Update (32w2d)

I failed my one-hour glucose tolerance test the week before Jay deployed. I was hoping I'd pass, but I wasn't that shocked about failing. I went through the arduous three-hour glucose test last Monday, after putting it off for almost a week so I wouldn't have to prep for it while Jay was still home. The three hour test involves a three-day carb-heavy diet, 12 hours of fasting prior to the test, a blood draw followed by 100 grams of Glucola (super sugary beverage and twice the amount as the 1 hour test) and then three additional blood draws at 1 hour intervals. If you fail two of the blood draws, you fail the three hour test. I failed three of the four. I have gestational diabetes.

Rubbing salt in the wound was the fact that I didn't find out I failed the three hour test for a week. The results of the one hour test came back in 24 hours and I had been told "No news is good news." So when they didn't call the day after my three hour test, I thought I passed. But no, it just took longer to get the test results.

I was pissed off when I found out. Through this whole pregnancy, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop-- meaning, I was waiting for it to be over. The pregnancy itself has been going well, but it feels like a whole shoe store has been dropped on my head in the past couple of months (with Jay's deployment being the equivalent of a steel-toed boot to the head) and this diagnosis of gestational diabetes was One More Thing to Deal With. Ugh.

Of course, part of me feels like a failure. I thought I knew my body and I really didn't think I had gestational diabetes. I wasn't surprised when I found out I was anemic (the day I took the one-hour glucose tolerance test), but I argued with my doctor over my blood pressure-- I knew it was spiking because of stress and I was right (though I still had to indulge him and go through the tests to prove it). But I was wrong about the GD and it's a lousy feeling, all the more so because it doesn't just affect me, it affects baby. And I feel rather protective of baby, you know?

Gestational diabetes supposedly goes away once the baby is born, which means I only have to deal with it for the next few weeks (although I am at greater risk of developing diabetes later in life). In the meantime, I have to do something I haven't done since I was 19 years old-- follow a diet. Never mind that it seems absolutely cruel to put a pregnant woman on a diet, I have spent my entire adult life resisting restrictions and limits of any kind, and developing a fairly healthy body image in the process. And now, when I've happily embraced this beach ball belly I'm carrying around, I have to follow a diet. Ironic, huh?

It's been a couple of days since I got the test results and I'm okay with it now. Only 3-5% of women develop GD, but it doesn't have to be a serious issue as long as it's controlled (the side effects of uncontrolled GD range from a big baby to stillbirth). Hopefully diet will be enough to control it and I can avoid insulin (oral wouldn't be so bad, but I can't even imagine giving myself injections). So I will embrace the diet! It's not a weight loss diet (but I will probably lose a few pounds), but a diet for health. And even though I have to give up dessert and chocolate and-- gasp!-- Halloween candy, it's really not so bad. I don't meet with the diabetic counselor until next Friday (which seems ridiculous since there is such a big deal made about uncontrolled gestational diabetes), so I'm trying to preemptively adjust my diet now. Of course, it's difficult to know if I'm on track since I'm not testing my blood sugar. But I'm doing what I can-- and avoiding the bowl of Halloween chocolate and the pint of Ben and Jerry's in the freezer.

This may be the first time I've felt like a failure as a mother, but I suspect it won't be the last. So, lesson learned: get up, dust myself off, and do the best I can to correct my shortcomings.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sleep Pattern of a Pregnant Insomniac

There is an app for the iPhone called Labor Mate. Basically, it acts as a stop watch to record labor pains. Instead of having to track the duration and length between contractions, Labor Mate does it for you. I don't need Labor Mate quite yet, but I did find another use for it: tracking how little sleep I get in a typical night. Last night, I opened the Labor Mate program and began tracking how often I was awake in the course of the night. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom, get a glass of water, let the dog out, redirect the blind, disoriented cat who can't find his bed, was awoken by a noise or a hip pain or the baby kicking or my arm falling asleep or the lawn service mowing the lawn, I tapped the Labor Mate.

Here are the results:

2:15 AM -- In bed, lights out.

3:01 AM

4:17 AM

5:31 AM

5:57 AM

7:26 AM

8:15 AM

8:35 AM

9:03 AM

10:12 AM -- Up for the day.

I was up 8 times from the time I went to bed until the time I got up. I did skip a couple of taps because I went back to sleep pretty quickly. The longest I went between tapping was 1 hour and 28 minutes. Which is not to say that I actually slept for 1 hour and 28 minutes because what I can't track with this application is how long it actually takes me to fall asleep. Figuring an average of at least 10-20 minutes to fall asleep after every tap, the longest I might have actually slept is an hour and 18 minutes. The longest I slept. Wow. I mean, I i know I'm an insomniac and I know pregnancy has made it that much worse, but to actually see how many times I'm awake, up, moving around, trying to fall back to sleep-- well, it's startling. And this is what most of my nights look like. Non-pregnant isn't much better. I wake up fewer times but I'm awake much longer in between (an hour or more).

So what does a good night look like? Same as above, except there will be a 2 (or if I'm really, really lucky 3) hour chunk in the mix. A 2-3 hour chunk and a few of the one-ish hour stretches like above and I feel like I can function pretty well. I have no idea what sleeping 8 hours straight right now would do for me. I could probably solve the world's problems and find a cure for cancer.

Between anemia and gestational diabetes (which I just discovered I have and is another blog post in the making) causing fatigue and my erratic sleep schedule causing fatigue and not being able to have caffeine to counter all of that fatigue-- I'm pretty damned tired most of the time. All I can hope is that once the baby is born and I'm not dealing with the physical stuff and I can actually have caffeine again, maybe being the sole caregiver to a newborn won't be all that exhausting for me.

I can hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

31 Weeks

Where Have I Been? (31w0d)

(This is not entirely baby-related, but for readers who don't also read my primary blog, this will catch you up on my life in general. I will try very hard to get back on the baby track and update more regularly.)

Well, hello there. So nice of you stop by and see if I'm still alive. I am, thank you very much. Though there are days when proving that biological fact (breathe in, breathe out) is about all I manage to accomplish. Rough week or so. Very rough. I mean, not death rough or finding out you have cancer rough or being diagnosed as allergic to chocolate rough, but pretty damn rough. And I'm tough, so you'll just have to trust me on how rough it has been.

Jay is in Dubai, UAE. If you don't know where Dubai is, you can visit their Department of Tourism and Commerce. Or, you know, visit Dubai. I've always been a bit geographically challenged, so I did have to look it up initially to get a better sense of where it was. Geography wasn't offered my senior year of high school because of low enrollment. I bet many of my former classmates don't know where Dubai is, either.

Anyway, Dubai. A far cry from Iraq, though I've had people ask me if it's like being in Iraq. From what I understand, it's like being in Las Vegas, if Vegas were owned by sheiks. Of course, you can't ski in Las Vegas (I don't think?), but you can ski in Dubai. Rich, exotic, ostentatious, decadent. That's Dubai. And that's where Jay is. Strange, huh? But this is a very strange deployment. First, he's in a hotel and not on a ship. I mean, who stays in a hotel for eight months? The Navy, that's who. That's your tax dollars at work, folks. Though his hotel is not exactly a palace, it's certainly better quarters than a naval ship and it has room service. No complaints there. Second, there's per diem-- and it's enough for three very nice meals and plenty left over for a plane ticket home when baby comes. Third, it's eight months-- the longest deployment he's ever been on. Very different for us.

All in all, it's a good deployment for a lot of reasons, including that he's relatively safe. (As safe as one can be in the Middle East, of course.) Plus, we have Skype. Skype is a wonderful and amazing thing. I think back to that first deployment after we were married (19 years ago today) and there was no internet, no e-mail, no phone calls unless he was in port and then it was ridiculously expensive. Now we have free internet video calls via Skype. The world has changed a lot in nineteen years. If not for the timing, this might be an awesome deployment (hopefully his last) and I might be visiting Dubai and learning to ski on a fake ski slope. Oh, but the timing... Timing is everything, folks.

So, while Jay is in Dubai, I'm counting down the weeks until this baby arrives. The days are flying by-- which is contrary to what most other pregnant women seem to experience in their third trimester. I've heard time drags and it seems to take forever before the baby comes, but for me it's as if the days are a blur and I went from July to October with no memory of August and September. I'm 31 weeks today. Only nine weeks-- at most-- to go. And it's flying. Whoooosh! See, there it goes. Perhaps if Jay were home and I knew I wasn't going to be alone when the baby is born, the time might be going slower. But not knowing if-- well, actually assuming-- I'll be alone makes it all so much bigger and scarier-- and go by faster.

Where have I been? I have been trying to hold it together. I have hyperventilated myself into more than one panic attack in the past couple of weeks (most recently when I took Jay to the airport) and I know that's not good for me and can't possibly be good for baby, so I'm trying to get that under control. So far, so good. I've been dealing with my over-cautious, liability-fearing doctor. Despite his concerns, I don't have pre-eclampsia, thankfully. (C'mon, whose blood pressure wouldn't have skyrocketed after the weeks I've had lately?) Apparently no gestational diabetes, either, though I did fail my one hour test. (I haven't heard about my three hour and they said they'd only call if I failed.) Baby seems to be doing very well and is very active (to the point of painful sometimes), so I'm glad for that. Me, I could be better. It is what it is, though.

I'm looking for a doula. I'm reading up on natural childbirth. I'm working on my to do list(s) and trying to take care of the things we didn't do while Jay was home. (Though he managed to do quite a lot before he left.) I still have a birth plan to write and a hospital bag to pack. I figure I need to pack that hospital bag sooner rather than later because I keep hearing of women having their babies early. Two so far-- 26 weeks and 30 weeks. I'm hoping for nine more weeks, for baby's health and my sanity, but I know it really could happen at any time. Packing the hospital bag will make it all the more real. I'm not ready for real. I'm ready for a great big dish of creamy denial smothered in rich blissful ignorance syrup. Please.

Mantra of the next twoish months: I can do this. It will be fine. Jay will be here before the baby is born. Even if Jay is not here, I can do this alone. I will be fine. Baby will be fine. All will be fine.

Song playing in a continuous loop in my brain: "Help!" by the Beatles.

Oh, the dichotomy that is me.

So, that's where I've been and where I am now. Sleep deprived due to various aches and pains and restless pets and 2 AM panic attacks (me, not the pets). Relieved that I got Fairy Tale Lust in by my deadline, but now anxious to hear what my publisher thinks so I can write some lovely acceptance letters (and a whole bunch more not so fun rejection letters) and promote the book. Worried about myself, Jay, the baby. Blue, edging into depression. Trying to stay busy (not difficult) and keep my brain off the scary stuff (impossible). Pampering myself in some small ways (naps, taking myself to lunch, new books that have nothing to do with babies, breastfeeding or parenting). Trying to make time slow down so Jay has time to catch a plane from 7,000 miles away to be here for his son's birth. Looking to the future, when things won't be so scary (whenever that is). Planning some trips for next year to promote FTL (Nashville, Chicago, New York... ?). Surviving. Doing the best I can. Hanging in there.

It feels like I should be happier, excited. I'm not. I'm just in limbo, anxiously waiting and hoping for the best. Hopefully baby won't hold it against me. If he does, I'll buy him a pony.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Quest for a Natural Birth (28w5d)

My birth plan, the rough draft version: I want my birth experience to be as natural as possible. I do not want an epidural. I do not want an episiotomy. I do not want drugs of any kind and, to that end, I do not want an IV. I want to be able to move freely, therefore I do not want to be constantly on monitors. I certainly do not want to be induced or have a C-section unless it becomes necessary (and "necessary" is subject to debate). I want to be able to eat and drink as I desire and not limited to ice chips according to the doctor's or hospital's protocol.

I would deliver this baby at home, if I could. Honestly, I'm still having fantasies about doing just that. But wisdom prevails and suggests having the baby in the hospital will be the safest course of action. But I still want this birth to be as natural as possible.

Jay and I went to the first of our hospital-sponsored childbirth classes over the weekend. I think the childbirth educator is probably pro-natural childbirth, but does try to be neutral in her presentation. However, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with "the way things are" and "hospital policy" as our 5 hour class progressed. The instructor made several comments that lead me to believe that I might have some battles to fight once I am admitted to the hospital. Comments such as, "Once you're admitted, the nurses will want you to do X, but we know that Y is better for you/baby/labor, so tell them that is what you want." Things like that make me see red.

They (the medical community) knows that laying in a bed is not conducive to productive labor, yet I will be encouraged to do just that.

They know that skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth is best for both mother and child, yet the baby will be placed on a blanket on my chest.

They know that labor can last for many hours, yet they will deny me food and water. However, if I become dehydrated, they will give me fluids through an IV. Where is the logic there? The IV fluids become unnecessary if I'm allowed to hydrate on my own.

And so on.

After our hospital tour yesterday, I bought the book Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth With Modern Medicine . I'm trying to be a rational person and embrace this idea that having a hospital birth is safest for me and baby, despite the statistic that over 30% of babies born in hospitals in this country are delivered by C-section, as opposed to 4% of babies born outside of hospitals. For one thing, I don't think most midwives in this country will deliver me at home because of the "high risk" label. For another, I wasn't able to find a ob/gyn practice that has both a midwife on staff and also accepts my insurance. So, for better or worse, it seems I'm stuck with the hospital.

So now I have this handy little book with different birth experiences and advice on how to have the natural childbirth I want in a hospital setting. Except much of it is contingent upon my doctor waiving certain protocols. And that means every doctor in the practice (there are five or six, I believe) has to also agree to waive those protocols, since any one of them could end up delivering me. Sounds daunting, doesn't it? It is.

I am tired of the eye rolling and snide comments about my preferences. Yes, no matter how it happens, I still get a baby in the end. But I have my reasons for wanting a natural birth. Not the least of which is the fact that I can't afford to have a bad start. Jay may only be here for days-- at most, only a few weeks-- and then I'm on my own. I need to heal and be 100% physically just as quickly as possible because I will be the sole caregiver to this little baby.

From what I've read and heard anecdotally, medicated births (as well as episiotomies) do not lead to quicker recoveries-- often the opposite. Medicated births can also inhibit breastfeeding. C-sections certainly require a longer recovery time. But natural childbirth means no drugs in my system-- or the baby's-- which means my body is already ahead of the game in the healing process. I need that. The baby needs that.

I know I'm not typical and I know I'm rebelling against the current norm (at least in this part of the world). I'm not trying to be a martyr-- I'm simply trying to do what's best for me and my baby. The medical community won't even let me take Aleve for back pain while I'm pregnant, yet they're all for pumping me full of drugs to bring this child into the world. Where is the logic in that? (Yes, I know, not taking drugs during pregnancy is about preventing developmental problems, but still.) I keep asking myself that question when it comes to the medical model of childbirth versus the natural model: Where is the logic??

I don't knock anyone who embraces the current trends in childbirth, it's just not my choice. For those who think the medical community knows best how babies should be born, remember that it was also the medical community who once thought infant formula was superior to breast milk. Despite the fact that the American Association of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life, over 70% of hospitals in the United States dispense formula to infants. Once again I ask: Where is the logic?

So, I'm doing my research and preparing myself for battle. As if bringing a child into the world wasn't hard enough, right? But this is definitely a battle worth fighting-- at least to me. And from the stories I've heard from women who have had the natural childbirth I want, I won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

28 Weeks

The 28 week bump. I'm officially in my third trimester (seventh month!) now. Eek!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Contradictions (27w6d)

Oh, crap. Just when I think maybe I know one or three things about what to do once this kid is born, I read a contradiction to one piece of advice that has been consistent. I could dismiss this contradiction if it came from someone less trustworthy, but it's Dooce! You know Dooce, also known as Heather Armstrong. She's famous. She has had two babies. She's written books about her experiences. She knows stuff. So, now I'm panicking because she wrote this:

Worst advice you can give to someone with a newborn? Sleep when the baby sleeps. That is total and utter crap. Because one nap can be three hours and then the next nap is like fifteen seconds, and when that latter naps happens and you've just put your head down to go to sleep, oh Lord, the agony. And the pain. And the ANGER. And of course it's never healthy to be angry at a newborn, bad things can happen, like suddenly you start drinking tequila at 10 AM and are calling your husband at work JUST SO THAT YOU CAN HANG UP ON HIM.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Having a Baby... At Any Age? (27w2d)

There is an article in this month's More Magazine called Having a Baby Over 50. Yes, you read that right: over 50. Of course, that's what you can expect from a magazine whose tagline reads "Celebrating Women 40+."

I love More because it doesn't make me wish I were younger. I've been reading it since I was in my late 30's and it's nice to be reading about women my age and older doing all the thing that I want do-- and, well, more. But I"m not sure about this having a baby over 50 thing. I mean... wow.

The article profiles six different women who, for varying reasons, took on motherhood at 50+. Some already have older children (children who are over 30, in one case!), while for some this is their first child (or children-- at few women had twins). I should note that only one of the six women conceived naturally-- the others were IVF using donor eggs and/or sperm and one used a surrogate. Though I don't discount surrogacy or adoption as valid ways of starting or enlarging a family, in this instance I'm rather fascinated-- and a bit horrified-- at the thought of taking on pregnancy over the age of 50.

Honestly, pregnancy hasn't been so hard for me. All thing considered, I've had it pretty easy. Hell, even getting pregnant wasn't all that difficult. At the time, the process seemed a bit tedious and tragic, but in retrospect, I didn't have any more difficult a time getting (and staying) pregnant than women 10 or 15 years younger than me. I was off the Pill for 14 months and got pregnant twice. Of course, Jay was gone for over 6 of those months, so two pregnancies in 8 months and the second one took. Really, those are pretty good odds at any age. The only medical intervention I used for this pregnancy was a progesterone supplement. No fertility drugs, no herbs, no accupuncture, no special diets or exercise or meditation. Prenatal vitamins and sex to get pregnant, then the progesterone supplement starting at 8 weeks to help me stay pregnant. That's it.

But still. There is a difference between being 42 and pregnant and being 52 and pregnant. I have never felt so old as I do right now. When it comes to energy level, stamina and flexibility, my 42 year old body (non-pregnant) doesn't feel that much different than my 32 year old body did-- and maybe only a little older than my 22 year old body. I notice more of a difference emotionally-- I feel more grounded, for lack of a better word, now than I did a decade or two ago. More like I've grown into the person I'm supposed to be. However, for me, being pregnant feels like I've physically aged at least a decade in just a few months. This, I think to myself as I eyeball the vast expanse of the Home Depot and contemplate hitching a ride on a passing forklift, is what old age must feel like.

There is also the mortality factor to consider. I don't have any desire to be a grandmother, but I would like to see my child reach adulthood and achieve his goals. That's doable at 42. At 52, I'd worry that I wouldn't be around much past college. Of course, people die at every age and I recognize the need for a certain pragmatic attitude when taking on parenthood in later life. The good thing is I'm likely to take better care of myself because I'm having a child at this age. I'm also more likely to encourage him to be independent and self-sufficient (no mama's boys here!) in the event that I'm not always around for him to fall back on. That appeals to me simply because I was an independent and self-sufficient teenager/young adult (for different reasons than death, but certainly just as valid).

I think I can make a very good case for having children at 42 as opposed to 22. Granted, I'm a bit biased. But having a baby at any age is fraught with worries and second-guessing. Far be it for me to say the cut-off for motherhood should be 42. (Though I do think there should be a minimum age requirement.) I just don't think I could (or would want to, rather) do this again at 50. Then again, who knows how I'll feel in 8 years? Maybe I'll be happy the technology exists to assist me in having additional children at that age. Or maybe I'll be the rare 50+ woman to get pregnant without medical intervention. I don't see that as part of my future, but I learned a long time ago never to say never. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't see this experience as part of my future.

The part that annoys me most about women having babies over 50 is that here I am-- thinking I'm being all progressive and cutting edge-- and it turns out I'm not even close to pushing the boundaries of motherhood. In some circles, I'd practically be considered a young mom. Then again, that's not such a bad thing, either.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oh, The Agony (26w4d)

It is two o'clock in the morning and I am awake and sitting upright in bed. Why? Because if I lay down, I will die of acid reflux. You probably didn't know acid reflux will kill you, but trust me, it will.

I never had acid reflux before I was pregnant and didn't think it was anything to be concerned about. I was wrong. It's horrible. Awful. Searing pain from stomach to throat to nasal passages. A feeling of suffocation if I'm horizontal, followed by coughing and gagging. My throat feels raw. I'm afraid to lay down. It will kill me.

(I'm trying to avoid spicy foods and eating too close to bedtime, but I think I ate too late tonight. My fault. I will learn this lesson the hard way, it seems. Good thing I have three more months to get the hang of it, right?)

Thus concludes my public service announcement on the deadly dangers of acid reflux. That is all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overwhelmed (25w6d)

That one word sums up my life quite nicely at the moment. Overwhelmed. Pregnancy takes a lot of energy. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Even though I've had an easy time of it (so far-- lest the pregnancy gods think I'm being cocky), there are days when I would very much like to detach this weight growing around my middle and pass it off to Jay to carry. Or the mailman. Whomever.

But I really am doing well and I try to take it all-- the insomnia, the various weird aches and pains, the awful heartburn and even awfuler acid reflux-- in stride and with a sense of humor. After all, it could always be worse. And I know it. And I'm grateful that it's not. I truly, truly am.

But on top of pregnancy and the hormones that stay on an even keel most of the time only to send me careening off the deep end when I least expect it, there is the husband who is deploying for over seven months. The husband who I'm not even sure will be here when this baby is born, no matter how he tries to reassure me. There is that and the overwhelming (there's that word again) feeling that I cannot do this alone. And by "alone" I mean without him.

I know I won't be technically alone. There will be Sheri, the closest thing I have to a sister, and there will be friends, the closest thing I have to a family. But it is not the same as the father of my child being there, you know? As grateful as I am to those who will be here even if Jay can't (and I am grateful in ways I will spend the rest of my life trying to express), I feel like I'm drowning when I think about the fact that he might not make it home from Dubai in time for the birth. That he might not be able to leave Dubai before the deployment is over-- next May.

So, I do what any good pregnant woman would do: I try not to think about it. What else can I do? I have my lists and my Plan A and Plan B and Plan C (I'm still working on Plan D) and I'm taking care of myself physically and mentally as best I can and sometimes that involves just not thinking about all of the worst case scenario stuff. (Even though I am trying to have a plan for all of it.) I'm trying to keep my blood pressure within the range of normal and the only way I can do that is not to let my mind wander too deeply into the realm of the Bad Stuff. I'm not actually in denial (since I'm clearly aware of all the possibilities), I just can't think about too much at once. One thing at a time, one day at a time, one plan at a time. That's my goal.

Three more months of pregnancy and who knows how many months alone with a baby. I can do it. I have to. But right now I really, really don't want to think about it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

25 weeks! (25w0d)

I really don't know where the time is going, but it's definitely going fast. There are so many things I've wanted to blog about and they keep slipping through my mind. The next thing I know, I'm posting yet another bump picture without having written anything about what I'm thinking or feeling. As if anyone wants to know, right? ;-) More to the point: as if I'm the only one who has ever gone through this experience. Ha!

There is definitely a sense of wonder at all that pregnancy entails but I've been too busy just dealing with the practical stuff to spend much time waxing poetic (not that I'm the waxing poet type). I do spend a fair amount of quality time with my belly: talking to it, rubbing it, watching it wriggle. I know "it" is the baby inside, but there's still a feeling that it's my own body that has become possessed. I suppose in a way it has.

My 25 week bump picture. Maybe I'll have more to say before 26 weeks, hmm?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Last Trip (23w4d)

I'm heading out of town tomorrow (well, today) for one last trip before impending motherhood. At least, I think it will be my last trip. I'm longing to go to London, but that probably isn't wise in my third trimester. Right? Right? Then again, baby boy could have dual citizenship... Hmm.

I'm Chicago bound, to spend some quality time with Sheri (and her sister, niece, mother and assorted friends whom I've either heard about or read about via their blogs or Facebook). Honestly, right now I'm just tired and want to sleep for a week and can't even imagine getting on a plane tomorrow evening. I'm going to miss Jay, miss the animals, miss my bed and miss the luxury of going everywhere by car. (Normally I love being able to walk everywhere, but the heat is killing me this summer.) Despite all of that, I know I will wake up Monday morning happy and ready to go exploring, after we stop for coffee.

There is a lot on the agenda, including afternoon tea and trips to baby stores and a girls' night dinner. I'm looking forward to chocolate and cupcakes and decaf coffee and lots of good conversation and much needed laughs. I want to go shopping at the Land of Nod, Anthropologie, Lush and the Container Store. And no trip to Chicago would be complete without a coffee break at Julius Meinl. I'll take a million pictures, check e-mail, Facebook and Twitter via my shiny new iPod Touch (which couldn't have come at a better time). I'll stay up too late talking to Sheri and get up too early, anxious to squeeze as much in as possible.

In a week I will wonder where the time went. And by this time next year, I will have an eight month old baby boy and we will be planning his first trip to Chicago to hang out with Aunt Sheri.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

23 Weeks Along (23w0d)

Looking almost as tired as I feel...

I have a lot to write about, but my brain is just consumed with other things right now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Week 22 Bump (22w0d)

Growing bigger every week...

Baby's heartbeat was a healthy 152 at my doctor's appointment today. We're both doing well, all things considered.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wherein the Expectant Mother Freaks Out (21w6d)

Actually, the freaking out started a week or so ago and comes and goes in sporadic fits of heart palpitations and feeling like I can't catch my breath. What am I freaking out about? Well, it seems that the reassurances that were made in June that Jay wouldn't have to deploy with his unit have turned out to be empty promises. Now it seems almost certain that he will be deploying. In September. He won't be home until May 9.

Tell me, wouldn't that make you freak out, too?

So, here we are, mere weeks before he is most likely deploying for seven and a half months. To add insult to injury, it still doesn't seem to be 100% certain-- more like 99.5%, which is enough to give me false hope I can't afford to have after having false hope for nearly two months. I already felt as if we were running out of time when the only date I was counting down to was my due date. Now... now I feel as if someone stole months away from me. And that isn't all that is being stolen. My peace has been stolen just as surely as all those months.

I am trying desperately to be pragmatic about it all. They are saying Jay can come home before I'm due so he won't miss the birth. Of course, this is the same "they" who said he wouldn't have to deploy in the first place. Do I believe them? Not especially. Do I want to believe them? With my whole heart.

Jay shouldn't miss this experience and I shouldn't have to go through it alone. But what should be and what is are not always the same, especially when you're a military family. So we're trying to reassure each other it will be okay. If we're lucky, he'll get home a few weeks before I'm due and get to stay for a few weeks after the baby is born. It isn't much-- not to this never-changed-a-diaper expectant mom who will be looking at 4+ months of caring for a newborn all by myself. But I have to believe it will all work out all right. What else can I do?

I won't be completely alone for all of this. I don't have family and Jay's family lives elsewhere (and I don't think I'd feel comfortable having them here anyway). But I have Sheri, who is as close to a sister as I'll ever have. She has assured me she will be here for the birth and after. Believe me, I need that reassurance right now. I also have a few friends here who will do what they can. I can't really expect too much though, since two of my friends are expecting babies as well and everyone has work and family and other commitments. There's only so much anyone can do for me and I just need to wrap my mind around the idea that I'm going to be on my own for a lot of it.

Freaking out commencing now...

I'll survive this. Of course I will. I am tough, which is probably what should be engraved on my tombstone for the number of times I have heard it over the years. Yes, I am tough. But why, oh why do I have to be tough for this? I was only counting on having to be tough enough to go through natural childbirth. Now I have to be tough enough to do a lot more than that. It feels like I can't catch a break. I know I'm whining-- believe me, I know. I try not to complain. The Navy has mostly been good to us and we have a wonderful life. Still, right now it's hard not to whine and feel sorry for myself. I'll snap out of it. I'll do what I have to do, even if I don't have a clue what that is right now. I'll be fine (and so will Jay and so will baby). But not today. And not tomorrow. And not September 21, when he's supposed to deploy. I will most definitely not be fine then.

I think what makes me bitter is the fact that I shouldn't look at the next year as something to survive, but as something to look forward to. I never thought I'd be here and I have been enjoying it. Now, the happiness is mixed with sadness and anger and outright terror. I'm trying very had not to let this news of Jay deploying suck the joy out of being pregnant and all of the planning that I'm finally allowing myself to do, but it's hard. I alternate between full out panic (which wakes me up at 3 AM and keeps me from going back to sleep for hours) and feeling like I have to live up to my tough reputation-- for Jay's sake as well as my own.

So this is where I am now and I have to say it sucks. Probably not as much as it's going to suck in January when I'm actually living this worst case scenario instead of just imagining it, but it sucks just the same. It doesn't feel fair. And before someone reminds me that life isn't fair, let me just say I'm fine with taking what life throws at me. God knows, I've experienced my share of crap and have taken it all in stride and come out a stronger person for it. But this one time... couldn't it just be happiness and peace for me? Damn.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

21 Weeks (21w0d)

Oddly enough, I think I look smaller this week than last week! Must be the white shirt, because I'm definitely getting rounder.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thoughts on Pregnancy, Part 1 (20w3d)

Things I've learned in the first half of my pregnancy:

--It's not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, with very few exceptions, it's been pretty easy.
--Not every woman gets morning sickness.
--I never thought I could be as tired as I was that first trimester.
--Tums are my friend. So are naps.
--Ultrasounds never get old.
--Not being able to write is a side effect of pregnancy no one told me about.
--Feeling the baby kick for the first time is weird, incredible, strange and startling.
--Right now, feeling the baby kick is just awesome.
--I've never known insomnia like this.
--Maternity pants are both hideously ugly and amazingly comfortable.
--My mood can shift from, "Wow, this is going to be a great experience!" to "What the hell have I done?" in a matter of hours. Sometimes minutes.
--Sometimes I feel too old to be doing this. Most of the time, I feel a lot younger than I really am.
--It's nice to have friends who are pregnant at the same time.
--It's very nice to have an amazing, supportive, pampering husband.
--No two pregnancies, or baby bumps, are alike.
--Breast pumps are scary things, but the idea of breast feeding is kind of scary, too.
--In fact, a lot of things about this experience are kind of scary.
--I'm not afraid of labor and delivery.
--C-sections, episiotomies and epidurals scare the hell out of me.
--I really hope I can experience natural childbirth without drugs.
--In the end, all that matters is getting the baby into the world.
--I am not one of those pregnant women who coos over every baby she sees, pops into BabiesRUs every chance she gets and already has a name-- and coming home outfit-- picked out.
--I am not the typical pregnant woman, I don't think.
--I have fears that I will lose myself. I don't even really know what that means, but I'm afraid of it.
--I suspect the second half of this pregnancy will go even faster than the first half.
--I'm really, really happy I didn't miss out on this experience. (That one kind of surprises me.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

20 Week Ultrasound (20w1d)

The ultrasound went beautifully and everything looks perfect! Despite being late to the appointment (hmph), we didn't have to wait long to be seen. Baby was very active, which made it very easy for the ultrasound technician to take measurements. Because he was so cooperative ("photogenic," the tech said) we were in and out in less than thirty minutes.

It's funny that I could only feel about half of the actual movements he was making. I don't suppose that will be true much longer. I already feel like I'm so much bigger than I was a week ago, but baby is weighing in at a very healthy 13 ounces, so I'm not too concerned about looking like a beach ball this early. After all the data was plugged in, the computer gave us a due date of December 6, which is only three days off from my original December 9 due date.

The technician said all of the organs and the umbilical cord looked good. We could see the four chambers of his heart pumping normally, his developing brain and his long, straight spine. Oh, and we could also easily see his penis, but just in case there was any doubt he's a boy, the tech sent us home with two pictures of the equipment.

My fibroids seem to be staying out of the way of anything important and I'm still hoping for a vaginal delivery (drug free!). I have a few more months before I'll know if that will be possible.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a profile picture this time as baby seems to prefer the forward-facing position. But I still think this is a pretty terrific picture:

When turned right side up, I think he has Jay's jaw line:

I don't know when I will have another ultrasound, but I couldn't have asked for a better experience this time around. It's so nice-- and such a relief-- to be told everything looks perfect.

Twenty weeks down, twenty more to go!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

20 Week Bump (20w0d)

Half-way there! I feel like I'm a lot bigger this week than I was last week. And I still have 20 more weeks to go. Oh my...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sweet Moments (19w4d)

I can feel the baby moving daily now, stronger flutters and rolls at periodic intervals throughout the day. Tonight I was sitting on the bed writing on my laptop and he was just wiggling like crazy. It went on for so long, I was sure Jay would be able to feel it.

Of course, as soon as I stood up and gave baby some room he stopped flopping around. But I put Jay's hand on the spot anyway and after a couple of minutes the baby started moving again. Then... Jay felt it, too. The look on his face was priceless. It was probably similar to the look I had the first time I felt it.

It has become more reassuring to feel the baby move, but it's still a little strange and startling at times. Being able to share it with Jay makes it so much more real... and so much sweeter.

Oh, and we picked up the crib today. I think we're starting to feel like expectant parents-- and that in itself is a sweet feeling.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tales from the Crib (18w5d)

We bought the book Baby Bargains a month or so ago based on some recommendations I read. It's a comprehensive-- and overwhelming-- book about everything you need for a baby. It is an awesome book and very helpful when facing the even more overwhelming task of having to start buying those much needed things for baby. That is, if you remember to bring the book with you when you go shopping.

We went crib shopping on Saturday (which was preceded by paint shopping) and forgot the book. We picked out a lovely crib and I felt very good about our choice... until we got home. The Baby Bargains ranking for our choice was an F! Oh my! Bad parents.

So... back to the store we went on Sunday-- with book in hand, this time. Now we have this crib on order:

Baby Bargains gives it an A-. I feel much better now.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boy Parts (18w4d)

I keep having this bizarre thought:

I'm growing a penis inside me.

I told you it was bizarre. But no more bizarre than the miracle that is creating life.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Frustrations (18w2d)

So, I've been going along quite swimmingly with this pregnancy until a couple of weeks ago. First there were headaches, then there this whooshing-pounding started in my ears any time I moved or sat up, then I saw my general practitioner on June 26 and she was concerned about my blood pressure because it was 134/88. She made a bunch of adjustments to my meds (asthma and allergies) and recommended I see my obstetrician sooner than my already scheduled appointment.

So,I went to my obstetrician last Monday (June 29) and my blood pressure was completely normal (121/79). He was concerned about the headaches and has me taking my blood pressure 3 times a day to find out if there is a connection. There isn't. My blood pressure isn't higher when I have a headache and the numbers are all over the place from one reading to the next. Frustration.

Until we work out this problem with the headaches and blood pressure , my ob doesn't want me traveling. Which meant canceling the RWA conference (which I was waffling over for a variety of reasons already) and postponing (again) a trip to Chicago to see Sheri. More frustration.

I go back to my ob on July 20th. I had hoped to have a solution to this problem by the time I saw him. The good news is that the headaches and the blood pounding in my ears has mostly subsided. I'm still getting the occasional headache, but it's not the horrible debilitating pain it was a couple of weeks ago.

The bad news is that my blood pressure is still all over the place. My big fear is that it will be an ongoing problem and I'll end up on bed rest. I can't even imagine that and I'm quite willing to do whatever it takes to prevent it, but we don't know what's causing the high blood pressure. I had hoped it was the overuse of my asthma meds, but now that seems to be better controlled but the bp numbers aren't falling. Sigh.

My ob had mentioned referring me to a neurologist if the headaches persisted, so I don't know if that's still a possibility or not. I'm hoping for some easy fix-- a prescription that won't cause any side effects that will lower my blood pressure and let me avoid bed rest in the coming months. Maybe that's wishful thinking.

So, we'll see. Stressing over it isn't going to help my blood pressure, but I had hoped to avoid any bumps in the road with this pregnancy-- other than the one I'm carrying around, of course.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

T-Shirt Fun (17w5d)

Just some fun pregnancy T-shirts I've found. I don't have any... yet.

Because his father is and I imagine he might be, too:

Because it sounds better than what I really do some days, which is nap, try to work, eat and nap some more:

I'm not, but I love Rosie the Riveter and this shirt cracks me up:

Because I can't be held responsible for what I might do: