Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pregnancy Reflections

39+2. That’s how the doc defines how cooked this little chicken is at the moment. As ready as I am to not have a bowling ball inside of me anymore, I am trying to heed Phil’s advice and just “enjoy” the last bit of time that I have being so close to our little girl. He’s right when he says that this is the closest we’ll ever be (obvi) and that I will likely miss feeling her kicking and nudging and hiccuping and so on. However, when reflecting on my first journey through pregnancy I often think about whether or not I’ll miss these 9 months. My overwhelming conclusion is not.
I think women who say they just love being pregnant are all liars. Is pregnancy a miracle? Yes. Is it incredible to be able to grow a life? Absolutely. Is it awesome to be able to feel your baby sassing around in your belly? You bet. But that’s where it ends (for me at least).
In full disclosure, I will say that I began my pregnancy in less-than-ideal circumstances. I had just completed 8 rounds (9 months) of antibiotic treatment for my Lyme, hadn’t been very active during Lyme treatment and was weighing in about 50 pounds heavier than where I wanted to/should be. Put a 40 pound pregnancy weight gain on top of that 50 and I’m carrying around about 90 pounds more than where I’m most comfortable. Ouch. Had this been planned, I would have physically been in much better condition when my journey began. It is safe to assume that there are some elements of my pregnancy that would be MUCH MUCH easier had I begun at more of an ideal weight and level of fitness. Let’s just say that my number one priority for pregnancy #2 is to be fit and healthy from the get-go.
There are any number of “mommy bloggers” out there who write hilarious, and not-so-hilarious, posts about the things to expect during pregnancy and little tidbits of advice for others but I wanted to document my own list for me to look back on several years from now when we go for number two and to share with my friends and family who have not yet experienced this joy. There are all of the normal things that you’ve heard by now…food aversions, cravings, swelling, etc. but this is just a list of the most surprising things for me.
1. Automatic Symptoms – You will go from not knowing you’re pregnant and feeling completely normal to reading a positive pregnancy test and immediately feeling like you need to hurl every second of the day.
2. Ultrasounds – Let’s just say that for the first couple, they put a condom on the ultrasound wand. Without me being too explicit, I think you can draw your own conclusion as to where they stick that wand. What’s even more awkward, your husband gets to watch. What’s even more awkward than that? At one of those appointments they’ll also do a pap smear. Guess who’s in the room during that, too? That’s right, Mr. Wonderful. Never thought he’d be present for that kind of appointment. I will say, though, that when you see your baby on that screen you will not care what they are sticking where or who is in the room with you. It’s truly an incredible thing to see your baby moving around at 10 weeks and hearing that precious little heartbeat.
2. “Morning” Sickness – Newsflash: it’s not just morning. Also, expect to be standing over the toilet dry-heaving instead of actually producing vomit. The best way to describe the feeling? You wake up everyday with a wicked hangover and have to remind yourself that you did not, in fact, drink the night before. It’s awesome. Two pieces of advice here: 1. Don’t let yourself get hungry. Like, not at all. 2. Preggie Pop Drops. They for real work.
3. Hunger – Holy moly. I never knew that it was possible to go from not even remotely hungry to ravenous in a 25 second timespan. It’s serious business. Always carrying some kind of snack will help when the vicious hunger pangs strike. If you don’t feed the beast immediately, see number two.
4. Weird Pains – There will be weird pains much earlier than you ever would have imagined (referred to as round-ligament pains). The first time these strike, you will think something is horribly wrong. It’s not. The crazy shooting pains are normal. Things are just loosening up and stretching. However, they might make you crap your pants with fear.
5. Sleep – The cruelest joke in pregnancy is sleep. There are periods of time when you feel like you will literally fall asleep on your feet during the day and might need one of these. Then you try to go to bed at night and nothing. I feel like the most glorious sleep you will ever get should be during the nine months prior to giving birth. This should be a time to celebrate the end of uninterrupted, non-parenthood sleep. It’s not. Sleep will allude you during the first and third trimesters with a brief glimmer of normalcy during trimester number two. But guess what….Benadryl is safe to take and will knock your ass out. Use it. Hell, take two.
6. Headaches – There’s a headache stage that no one talks about. Why does no one talk about this!?!? As soon as your nausea goes away, in comes waves of tension headaches, migraines or whatever it is you want to call them. The only thing you can take is Tylenol. Really, they only last a few weeks but just know they’re coming.
7. Maternity Clothes – Don’t fight it. Just buy them. Old Navy has the best prices and reasonably cute stuff. Expect to buy in three stages….the I-am-just-starting-to-grow-out-of-my-clothes stage, the I’m-precious-and-look-like-a-maternity-model stage, and the it’s-either-this-or-a-bedsheet stage. There’s a final stage where you grow out of all of your clothes, maternity styles included. We won’t talk about that. But seriously, you will fight it for awhile and when you finally cave in you will wonder why you waited so long. Everything is cut just so perfectly and fits just how it’s supposed to. Remember, the shape of everything is changing and the clothing designers know that and have specialized in it. Same things goes for maternity underpants. These changed my life.
8. Avoid Google – Use
9. “Glowing” – The pregnancy glow is just a perpetual layer of sweat. It’s really super attractive.
10. T-Rex Phase – Your arms will stop being long enough to reach. Reach where you ask? Anywhere. Putting your socks on, tying your shoes, reaching for something on the counter, shaving your legs, putting your pants on, wiping your ass (sorry, TMI but true), getting food from your plate to your mouth without spilling, the list goes on. Depending on your general body type, this could happen anytime during the third trimester. I thought it had happened already for me and then I had a growth spurt in week 37 and it only got so much worse. You have to laugh because otherwise you really might cry.
11. Glares and Stares – I was not prepared for the number of people who stare, do a double-take and just generally look uncomfortable when I walk into a particular area. Again, this didn’t really start until after 36 weeks but it’s definitely a real thing.
12. Belly Touchers – You already know about this. My strangest belly-toucher? A cashier at the mall actually reached over the counter to touch my stomach. I don’t even know how to make that not awkward.
13. Contractions? – How are you supposed to know what they feel like if you’ve never been pregnant. The doctor asks if I’ve been having contractions. My answer? I don’t freakin know. I know that I’m uncomfortable and that I have pain. Period.
There are 100 other things that you’ll experience that aren’t on this list and that I probably haven’t experienced. Everyone is different and every single pregnancy is different. The best advice I received this pregnancy was to expect anything. You’ll hear the best experiences and you’ll hear the worst experiences. Your experience will likely not be either of those, but it will likely fall somewhere in the middle. In any event, pregnancy is a beautiful, albeit sometimes painful and annoying, miracle that ends with a sweet, precious, tiny little baby that you made. Nothing is more powerful that that.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Home Stretch

I’m 36 weeks pregnant today. Four weeks might be a little long to call the home stretch but I don’t have it in me to look at it any other way. I’ve been really horrible about recording anything, including weekly belly pictures, during this pregnancy. While part of me feels bad about that, another part of me wants to look back and just remember the little things that I enjoyed.
Pregnancy has been relatively easy for me (knock on wood…there’s still 4 weeks to go…). Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy in and of itself is not easy. However, given the fact that a new human life is growing over the course of 40 weeks, the aches and pains and general inconvenience of being pregnant seems expected. I suffered from the obligatory dry heaving and spontaneous nausea that “morning” sickness brings and the random mid-day migraines that began after that. I had random cravings, weird and scary aches and pains and so on but all of that will be for another post for my not-yet-pregnant friends ;-). 
Now that we’re in the last few weeks, things have become difficult. Everyone kept saying that the last few weeks are the worst and I am in the middle of confirming that theory. While I absolutely LOVE feeling our baby girl move around, I am pretty much over everything else. I’m just ready to feel like myself again and to meet our littlest chicken.
I was getting ready for bed tonight and caught a glimpse of my belly in the bathroom mirror and had a moment of “holy s*&t, when did this happen?!” I feel like 5 seconds ago it was just me and Phil and the puppies living in our downtown condo, enjoying city living, talking about what’s next for us, planning a cross-country vacation and just generally enjoying being married, young and free. And then all of a sudden, everything changes. We are moving out of our city condo into a townhome in the suburbs, registering for baby stuff, decorating a nursery, choosing childcare and pediatricians, and talking family budgets and schedules.
It’s amazing how things have a way of working out in their own time. While just a few months ago we were seeking adventures as a young married couple, we are about to embark on the greatest adventure ever and there are no words that can describe the excitement, and trepidation, that comes with that. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is one of the most important things we will ever do. We are getting ready to welcome a brand new life into this world and there is nothing bigger than that. It’s huge. I expect that the next few weeks will bring with them many moments like tonight. The excitement, the doubt, the wonder, the fear and the love. It’s all just so cool and I can’t wait for what’s next!