I am 40 weeks pregnant and feeling giant and marshmallow-y.
I am, surprisingly and for the most part, not bothered by this.
I don't know when active labor will start, and although I've been having fun trying out some old wives' tails, I can't actually make it happen (outside of induction. or a schedule C-section. neither of which I want).
I've sort of had to let it go and just keeping living life.
Summer offers so much life. The sun takes longer to set, so we stay up later, making connections and not feeling rushed about it. The farmers markets are full of fresh, just-picked produce, and in some cases, we can pick it ourselves. (My husband and son take care of our garden; I just pick and eat.) Every weekend seems to hold something we want to check out or find out if our son is interested (he is mostly interested in everything right now, making trying new things that much more fun.)
Tim and I have somehow landed 2 dates two weekends in a row.
So much new keeps making itself available. New friends. New opportunities. New traditions. New ideas.
I am hopeful that I will be able to follow through on all the plans I'm so excited about in the next few months, but I know that I cannot control every.single.thing that I want to (even though I would really like to!). That, in itself, is living life. Who knows what opportunities will be made available that I have not even dreamed of yet?
With that, I'll leave you with a camera phone snapshot of my giant belly to commemorate this day.
I'm full term + 1 day today.
That means if I go into labor, no one is going to try to stop me. Selah's got the green light to make her entrance into the world.
I'm excited OF COURSE. But you know how it is when you know something is about to change your life forever and you can never, EVER go back and there's a still, gorgeous calm before the (however beautiful) storm?
Do you know what I mean?
I can't stop staring at my boys. I can't get away from how things are going to be SO different soon. They will still be good, richer even, and soon, I won't be able to imagine life without my two best boys AND my Selah girl.
Maybe soon none of us will. But for now, Nolan is wanting his mama more. He KNOWS life is about to change in a big way, too.
And me? I'm just soaking them up.
My brother goes back to Alaska today after a too-short, two-week visit. I miss him already and cried when I saw this picture posted after he left.
That's really all I want to say about that, but I am about to post more pictures of our time with him, so it might be helpful to know that the tall, dark and handsome guy in my photos is my *little* brother.
Somewhere between the heat, increased activity, upped need for water and time continuing to march on, my you are getting to close to the end of your pregnancy symptoms really ramped up this week. A lot of cramping, a lot of Braxton Hicks, soreness, and some having to stop because I could not physically continue going forward. Totally frustrating for me because I've been eating well, exercising and doing everything I can think of to take care of myself and Selah. I feel like I should feel better and that labor needs to come soon because I don't know if I can handle a lot more of this.
So when yet another acquaintance asked how I was feeling, my frustrations came bubbling to the surface. I later vented the truth to my Aunt Mary Beth, who happened to be in town on the very day I needed her, and my mom. I just don't know how to answer that question to people I don't really know these days.
Thank God for people I can just be with. I'm feeling so thankful for the people who laugh at me when I apologize because I'm worried about being draining, help me laugh at myself, let me air my ridiculous complaints (even validate them!) and share their own stories.
Somewhere between getting in bed and getting up in the morning (I am often awake for at least a couple of hours during the night), I was reminded that I get to choose how to live out my upcoming days.
I've been experiencing some beautiful days, no matter how uncomfortable. I could choose to live with the weight of I don't think I can do this and this sucks OR I could choose to live out my days with the intention of living them and enjoying them the best I can.
Really, this is about choosing to live in misery or choosing to live in joy. Difficult choice, right?
I will still continue to be open about how I am really doing when it is the healthy choice to do so.
I will not dwell on what I don't like and can't control.
I will do what I can control, like leaving the dishes in the sink a little longer or accepting offers so I can rest when I need it.
I will make the effort to live and appreciate the life I've been given and not squander it.
This morning, I opted to go for a stroll on a new-to-me trail with 3 of my best boys instead of stay home and then my brother Steve treated us to a meal at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Say Cheese. I am sitting and writing now. There are dishes in the sink that I will do...later.
I am awake when I shouldn't be and slept way too few hours last night (tonight?).
So I write.
So I look at the nights when I can't sleep (and there doesn't seem to be a particular pattern to these nights) as practice for those when I am up feeding/changing/snuggling Selah while my boys sleep. I am practicing for the next day, when I still have people, events, and appointments I've said yes to. I still have a son who needs and deserves my attention. I am practicing for the days when I will need to accept or even ask for help or say no or ask for a rain check more often than feels comfortable.
I am gathering up my resources- blogs I can check in with during the wee hours of the morning and tools to make not-sleeping almost, and maybe even actually, enjoyable.
I am treating myself to the kombucha I bought to split with Nolan after a patience-stretching experience at the grocery store. (I'll probably drink his share, but that just means I get to buy another one, right?)
I am reveling in the growing family that I adore. The house picked up by my husband while Nolan splashed in the bathtub and pretended to make me coffee and soup. The promise of a green smoothie and coffee in a few hours and the quiet that comes with being awake while the rest of my world sleeps.
Maybe practicing today will make the upcoming onslaught of sleeplessness a little more manageable. And if not, at least I've found some beauty in this time.
I'm not really talking about the physical changes, exactly. We all know (or at least suspect) there's a baby growing in there.
Here are a few non-textbook things that changed about me when my second offspring showed up on the scene (many of these happened with my first pregnancy, too):
1. I can hardly stand spinach. I've had one or two green smoothies that were tolerable since the beginning of this pregnancy. Other than that, spinach turns my stomach.
2. I have less of a filter. For the most part, I like this. I've had a conversation with one of my best that I've been wanting to for awhile and I told another she's been doing a hell of a good job with her toddler + twin babies. I like this version of me.
3. I want CHEESE. I'm pretty sure a good chunk of our grocery budget goes to Organic Valley these days.
4. I get winded going up the stairs. Yikes! Blaming it on the increased blood capacity, but it's still embarrassing when I have to stop to catch my breath at the top of a single flight.
5. I have nicer hair. I still need a hair cut (as usual), but I'm overall happier with it...even when resorting to last-resort hair supplies.
...and carrying around a baby the size of a small pumpkin as of the time of posting. Baby Boy could be here any time between now and the next 12 days. (I have an induction scheduled on the 14th in case he doesn't come on his own by then.)
It has been an eventful week around these parts.
It snowed. My parents, Tim's parents, and my sister-and-brother-in-law all lost power, but we didn't...so we offered up our house to them (and a few friends) as shower/heat/hot meal/electronics-charging/laundry central. We had a lot of fun...after all, what's the point of owning a home if it's not going to be shared?
However, I gotta tell you, the real star of the show was without a doubt, my husband. He took care of everything. Encouraged me to go to a previously-planned get-together because we don't know when I'll get to do that again. Made sure I got to bed when I had a fatigue-induced tear-filled breakdown, even though family might be coming to sleep over soon.
This week was more difficult than others- more aches, more trouble sleeping, one much-needed vent session over everything that's been getting under my skin (thanks, Mom!)- and Tim handled it like a pro.
I mentioned that my city has been reported to be the poorest city in the nation. Last night, there was a town hall meeting in response that I really wanted to attend. I got to go (and I'm so glad I did!). Of course, the problems in my city weren't solved, but it was a start, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.
Nesting. I've been doing my best to keep up with laundry, dishes, keep the house picked up and relatively clean (which has been somewhat of a challenge due to some construction projects we have going on, but still doable if I just relax. Yesterday, I chopped up the remaining carrots and celery in hopes that I would be more likely to eat them (I haven't yet- but I did make and eat kale chips to use up some produce!). I made pot roast, mashed potatoes, and meatless pumpkin chili. I restocked any food I deemed necessary (with the exception of the eggs I like to buy at the farmers market...which doesn't open until tomorrow.)
I am ready to meet this baby.
Today is my due date. And while I know "due date" is not synonymous with "expiration date," I want to meet my son...now, please.
He might still arrive (or begin making his way into the world) today ...but because I've reached my due date and don't have that "I think he's going to be born soon!" feeling, today I wanted to splurge.
I wanted to go to a Papillon Brasserie linger over a French meal with a glass of wine. I wanted to go to Winedown and get wine and cheese. But I didn't. Instead, I went to one of my favorite healthy food stores, took my sweet time perusing every aisle (some aisles more than once!) and choosing a few treats to take home with me. It wasn't wine and cheese, but for me it was on par.
I tend to think of myself as a backstage kind of person.
I'm not generally a spokesperson for anything.
I'm not the life of the party.
But I am an ideas girl. I will do whatever it takes to make a wedding or any event I am involved in run smoothly. I will throw around ideas. I will do prep work, create the atmosphere, cook the food...
Recently, though, I remembered that I love the stage.
I mean the literal stage.
I love the learning to forget inhibitions so I can harness something that's been sitting raw inside of me so I can help tell a story.
I love the belted notes that move alongside piano keys.
There is a moment- several moments, really- before a performance that are full of nerves. It almost feels like the thing about to be done can't happen. My stomach knots a hundred times, I breathe in and out, not quite sure when the moment is going to take place, but knowing it's going to.
And when it does, everything I've been practicing will come roaring out. The anxiety, the audience, the need to perform, even, is gone. What's left is the story. The raw parts of me I've been polishing in order to tell it.
I remembered this love recently because that feeling right before the play starts or the piano hits the first note? The excitement, the anxiety, the how is this going to go?
That's how I feel as I wait for this baby to be born out of me. For the two of us to to perform our big duet.
It's coming. I just don't know quite when.
This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments.
This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments.
I swear I felt cute when I put this outfit together.
I was so proud of myself- a new pair of shoes, but no other money spent for an outfit I felt good in. This is big news when your belly is huge, still growing, but likely to deflate (at least a little bit!) in just a few weeks.
Every trip to the bathroom reminds me of my expanded butt, thighs, and arms. That's a lot of reminders.
"Everyone" says I'm "all belly," but it isn't true. I am bigger- and not just in my belly. Perhaps I just look that much better in my preferred uniform of choice- a long tank top and a pair of jeans.
It doesn't matter. My bigger body parts are preparation- for cuddling, for lots of sitting, or "lifting with my legs!"
But tonight I am at a wedding.
The band is good. I'm not too picky about what I choose to dance to. I just want a song that's movable.
But this band is good. I find myself resigning to an evening of pulling my fun from watching people I love dance. It's too loud to have a good conversation. That's ok. The music is that good.
I am this big. I'm not really supposed to be on the dance floor. My back and feet probably hurt too much to enjoy it anyway. My husband will find other people to dance with- we are at a family wedding, so we know many of the dancers. Maybe we will get a slow dance or two in.
I am feeling a little boxed in, but I am resigning, trying to soak up the music anyway, swaying in my chair.
My husband turns to me.
"Do you want to dance?"
I dance as much as I can.
I smile and laugh a lot.
Maybe I am beaming.
I am rescued.
As I write this, I am crunching on an apple and waiting for lab results.
For the past couple of months, I have been downing bottles of Floradix and being careful not to eat dairy with high-iron meals (because calcium blocks iron absorption). I've been trying new approaches to raise my iron levels (like taking an extra folic acid supplement to help my body absorb iron better.) I know words like "hematocrit" (proportion of total blood volume made up of red blood cells).
I am (was?) anemic.
If that doesn't change, I don't get to give birth at my birthing center. I don't get the home-y feel, the kitchen, the day bed for my "team" to relax on.
But. If that doesn't change, I will still be giving birth in a way that is healthy for both Baby Boy and his mama. I will still have the support of people I love and the midwives I've come to love. I will still have all kinds of lessons and tools I've learned through prenatal yoga classes, birthing classes, and birthing center appointments.
But. I think I've always had an iron issue. The OB I was with prior to switching to the birth center was great, but my low iron levels were never mentioned. (Maybe because although low, they are presumably nothing the hospital can't handle.) My midwives, on the other hand, go above and beyond. Not only are they trying to help me raise my iron levels to necessary levels, but they also had my blood tested to find out why my iron levels are so low and how my body processes iron. Nobody, including myself, has ever even mentioned doing that before.
So. The nurses and midwives at my beloved birthing center + Tim and I are doing what we can to ensure a healthy baby, mama, labor, and delivery. And that's enough.
(Of course, I will be overjoyed if I find out everything lines up to make my coveted birthing center experience happen.)
Everything else points to the healthy baby, mama, and pregnancy I am after.
- Baby Boy's heartbeat and movements are strong.
- My blood pressure is good. (It's actually low, but that's normal for me, so it's considered fine.)
- My body is not having any problems processing sugar or protein.
- My weight is healthy.
- I'm not having any problems with excess swelling.
- Baby Boy is measuring pretty much right on target.
- I think he's head-down (which means it's his feet that are kicking me in the boobs at night!)
A few more happy thoughts to focus on while I wait for results:
- We have a crib! And a car seat. And an amazingly comfortable chair for the nursery. Baby Boy's room is coming together!
- It's fall! That means lots of pumpkin and apple everything. (I am obsessed. This is not a pregnancy thing, just something that happens every year and lasts...for quite a while.) and Thanksgiving. And Katie comes for a visit. And all the things I mentioned in my previous post.
- I get to meet Baby Boy SOON...at least it feels soon. Some days I'd like to meet him today and some days I'm good at soaking up the moments I have before everything really changes. Either way, there is excitement in the air.
Thank you to all of you who are on this becoming-a-mother journey with me. It's so much fun to share it with you each week.
Edited to add: I received a phone call shortly after writing this post. My iron levels are still too low, but they have risen. My instructions are to keep doing what I'm doing until we can discuss my options at my next appointment. Admittedly, some disappointment and tears came with such news, but my amazing husband reminded me of much of what I've written here (without reading it) and that really, the most important part in labor and delivery is a healthy baby and healthy mom. So...motherhood requires some flexibility, huh? Does someone want to volunteer to remind me of that for the next 20 years?
I like to think of myself as well-informed when it comes to pregnancy. I read articles, books, and blogs. I ask questions, take classes, and welcome stories and advice from seasoned mothers.
But for all of my preparation, there have been some aspects of pregnancy that I did not see coming.
1. I really like pizza.
I was a not a big fan pre-pregnancy. I would eat it, and even relish a particularly well-made slice, but I can't say it would ever have been my first choice. I'm still not a fan of every single variety, but I think I could easily go for pizza several times a week and not get tired of it. In fact, I am convinced my life would significantly improve with easy access to a pizza stone, a pizza peel, and a Mellow Mushroom franchise.
2. Not everything the experts tell you about what you're husband is going through will be true for him.
I read newsletters and articles include intentions of providing me with a heads-up on what Tim might be dealing with (related to pregnancy, birth, and becoming a dad). But just because a respected source says it's true, doesn't mean it is. There is one way to find out: talk about it.
3. I've become a lot more bold. I say more of what's on my mind (in person and not just in written words anymore). I aim to do it in a way that is considerate of others, but I'm a lot less...inhibited? I approach people I don't really know for conversation and I've attended parties where I didn't know anyone but the host (I've had a good time doing both!). I think I've lost some of my filter, and I really like it.
4. My thing with binging? It's been slipping away. I have had days where the amount of sugar versus the amount of substantial food I ate was way too high, but I'm not quite sure the last time I binged. I could guess at a few reasons for that, and I'm not counting my worst default coping mechanism as gone forever, but...it feels pretty good to know that while I'm doing what I can to give my baby a healthy body and environment, he's helping me get healthy.
5. My teeth are turning colors! It's not a direct result of pregnancy, but all that liquid iron I'm taking to try to up my iron levels? It's turning my front teeth a blu-ish/black-ish color. All in the name of a healthy labor!
(Photo credit for the pizza belongs here.)