November 18, 2012

Week by week: 38!

38 weeks and the side view is striking!

My mom told me that her first child (which happens to be me) was born 15 days early. As I come upon that auspicious milestone in my own pregnancy, my thoughts are anticipatory but anxious. I am so excited to meet this tiny creature who has been kicking and hiccuping up a storm. But I also don't know that I will ever feel completely ready for birth or for the qualitative life changes that parenthood will surely bring.

I do know that my 38 weeks of extra feelings have made me more weepy than usual. I thought I was uncomfortable a few weeks ago but I now believe that I didn't know from uncomfortable. My indigestion and heartburn remain fierce. My desire to clean and organize and take care of business has intensified while my physical agility decreases. My abilities to focus and find the right language on the fly are diminished. Chris jokes that there's no blood left in my brain. Hopefully my students don't notice. I think I manage to be lucid in the classroom but evaluations of lucidity are interpretive. I am doing the best that I can.

As I try to visualize birth, I'm intimidated but hopeful. I want to muster all my confidence and optimism and not allow myself to be crippled with doubt. But it's difficult not to worry. I usually thrive in high pressure circumstances. I pride myself in rising to the occasion. But this will be a situation unlike anything I've experienced! And my mom and husband will be there with me which is reassuring. I just would like for the fetus to keep cooking a bit longer. Even with my discomforts, 15 days early feels like 15 days too early.

I've begun to come to terms with how little control I actually have. Pregnancy has been a series of lessons in surrender (special thanks to wise mom friend, Hillary for that very apt phrase). For someone accustomed to relative control, it hasn't always been easy. There have been numerous peaks and more than a few emotional valleys. But I'm comforted by the knowledge that pregnancy is not an illness. It is not something terribly abnormal. Women have been doing this for centuries. They do it every day all over the world, on a continuum of both more and less privileged/fortunate circumstances than my own.

I have instructed Chris and my mom to remind me of a few truths during the tougher birth moments: 1. She has to come out no matter what. 2. Breathing through pain will bring oxygen to my tensing muscles. Gravity will help me if I let it. 3. And perhaps most importantly: however she emerges my main goal is healthy mom, healthy infant.

November 14, 2012

Week by week: 37

37 weeks

I am full term as of now. What a reassuring feeling! I'm glad the fetus is still cooking and I am hopeful that I'll go to week 40. My midwife checked me (by my request, as I was already getting the group B strep test, which is thankfully negative) and I am not dilated yet but 30% effaced. Despite these facts, Chris is skeptical that I'll make it to 40. This is in part because my practice contractions have begun to increase in frequency and intensify in discomfort. But according to my midwives and my Babycenter weekly email, both of these occurrences are normal. Of course delivering at any point after full term is also considered "normal."

My hospital bag is packed. I have selected "going home" attire for the baby that still needs to be washed. We need to install the car seat or at least the car seat base. Chris has begun assembling his hospital bag and I've already packed a toiletry case for him. The crib is assembled and the nursery room is coming along.

I reiterated with my students our contingency plan options. But I still need to draft an email that I lovingly refer to as the "doomsday device" which will allow me to easily inform my students if/when the contingency plan is no longer contingent. I also need to write up Speck instructions for Rachel in case my folks can't get to her right away.

I put forth a lot of energy and effort into cleaning the whole house last weekend in anticipation of a diaper party shower we threw as an excuse to see our friends prior to birth. It was our last house party before we become parents and Chris went all out with the food. People raved about it which was sweet and everyone was very kind and complimentary about my different shape. I was just glad to have an excuse to motivate me into that deep cleaning process. Although it would be great to do one more deep clean prior to week 40, I'm not sure there will be time. Above you can see my outfit. My hair was dry by the time guests arrived. :)

Pea in the Pod abstract rose print dress
Streets Ahead bow belt (that interestingly was just slightly too big prepregnancy)
Assets Mama tights by Spanx
Gucci wedges

November 13, 2012

Week by week: 36

36 weeks

I never got around to posting week 36 belly shots but they're not that dissimilar from week 37 (which will be up tomorrow). Even at my now even more frequent midwife appointments, where I was once measuring ahead slightly (around week 30) I am now measuring behind. Of course, fundal height is not a perfect science and can be shifted based on the fetal position at the time of measurement. My midwives are comfortable with any measurement that corresponds with a range of two weeks.

Things are trucking along. It's funny but I feel both more and less ready with every day that brings me closer to my due date. Sleeping comfort varies. Waking comfort varies too. Interestingly, on the days when I'm more active I feel less sore but I pay for it on the days that follow. Those are pretty uncomfortable. Bending over is unintentionally audible. It's harder than ever to put on socks or tights. I feel like my boobs appear small for the first time in my life, even though they're quite large. It's just juxtaposed with my belly that they are diminished in scale.

Overall, I am healthy feel so lucky for that.

Outfit details:
Orla Kiely for Uniqlo dress
Cece cardigan
Payless flats

November 3, 2012

Family Planning

As Chris and I prepare for the impending arrival of our little one, I also find myself relishing these final weeks and moments of pregnancy. We are literally on the precipice of HUGE change, that will be both wonderful and terrifying. I dream absurd and vivid things about birth. I lay awake and wonder about life with a child. I wonder also about how it will feel to no longer be pregnant. Will I miss feeling her move from the inside? Will I miss my large, hard belly? Will I miss the positive if unsolicited attention from strangers and acquaintances?

Sure, there are some physical discomforts that seem to grow as my body does and those I will not miss. I've grown a bit tired of being the default designated driver on nights when I still have the stamina to go out. I admit that I would love to have more than just sips of wine or any other alcoholic beverage. It would be nice to eat charcuterie and pate without guilt. And I already have raw oyster and sushi plans in the works.

But I imagine (as a consummate sap), that I will look back on these final days with deep fondness, nostalgia, and perhaps even a bit of envy for the time when things were so simple. When our plans and planning were still entirely within our control. When our sleep patterns were dictated largely by our whims. When it was easy to keep the house relatively clean and in order. When "we" meant just us two. I hope it isn't wrong to admit that in anticipating even the most exciting and positive change, it can be hard not to cling instinctively to what was already "known."

Chris and I have built such a happy life together and in my perpetual state of "too many feelings" I sometimes can't believe my good fortune in having him as my partner. Of course he's not perfect (and neither am I!) but we really suit each other. It feels fitting and poignant to share this with him. When I allow myself to dwell on it, my mind is blown by the notion that we've made what will become our new family member.*

Above you see us on our second wedding anniversary, wearing one of our wedding gifts. We kept meaning to wear these matching air brushed t-shirts to Kennywood (since wearing matching outfits is a grand Kennywood tradition that we've never actually shared) but it also made sense to debut them on our "cotton" anniversary. Although we weren't able to get photos in the same spot we did the last two years, we made the most of the day. It wasn't lost on me that it was our final wedding anniversary as just us two.

Our family planning brought us here. And I am both excited and nervous about what the future brings.

*My mind is also often blown by (mostly male) politicians playing political football with reproductive rights, especially when I reflect upon all the things the pregnant body has to do and all the discomforts that women can experience throughout this process. Rather than making me question my belief in reproductive rights, pregnancy has galvanized it. That some can flippantly suggest women carry unwanted, unplanned pregnancies to term with no say in the decision has become more baffling to me than ever.