Full term (eek!)

How far along? Thirty-seven weeks. On the one hand, I am obviously excited that we made it to full term without incident. On the other hand, full term means THIS BABY COULD COME AT ANY TIME. I am still hoping s/he cooks for a couple more weeks, just like E. did.

Vital stats? I got on the scale on Friday, and I was up 26 lb. So despite all of my angst over my rather rapid first trimester weight gain, it seems to have all evened out in the end. I doubt I’m going to gain much more at this point, even though the baby is growing rapidly. I just don’t have enough room to eat very much, and I know it’s normal for women to maintain or even lose a pound or two in the final weeks.

How am I feeling physically? I am managing. It has been STUPIDLY hot here this week (like middle of July hot) and I’ve really noticed a difference in my energy levels. I am so so so grateful for my friend’s bag of maternity clothes which she gave to me when we had lunch a few weeks ago- she had a couple of short-sleeved T-shirts and a couple of knee-length skirts and I’m basically living in them now. May was cold the year E. was born and I never needed anything other than jeans and three-quarter length T-shirts.

The heat has affected my ankles despite my best efforts, although they are still nowhere near as bad as they were while travelling. And I’ve taken my wedding ring back off again, just to be safe. Yesterday we had E’s birthday party (which I delayed until the end of May because I was worried around his actual birthday it might still be too cold to hold it outside, ha ha), which meant I was running around on my feet for much of the day. Q. was downright horrified by the state of my lower legs and ankles by that evening.

The cramping and Braxton Hicks continue, and I’ve started to have a bit of digestive upset as well. KEEP COOKING, BABY. I’ve switched into nesting mode and spent much of today pulling apart the basement storage closet until I could access the bins with the baby things and I’m not sure my body thought that was the greatest idea, but things have calmed down since I spent part of the afternoon with my feet up (watching a Winnie-the-Pooh movie with E.).

There is so much baby in there now. I’m still getting quite a few comments about how I don’t look like I’m at all close to my due date (one Mum at the party thought I was due in the fall), but people who see me all the time have commented that I’ve ‘popped’ in the last week or so. Given how much time I spend ricocheting off of things with my belly, I certainly feel like I’ve increased in size. I think I’ve now officially run out of room to expand upwards, so I now have to expand outwards.

If E. and I end up at the top of the stairs at the same time, and he then tries to sneak past me, he hits his head on my belly. He’s done this three times this week and it makes me laugh every time.

When I pick E. up from school, he often wants to play at the playground before we go home (where he runs around at the back of the playground by himself, telling a story and ignoring all the other children). I usually sit at the edge of the playground and chat with the other mums. It is becoming quite a challenge to winch myself back up onto my feet.

How am I feeling emotionally? All right. I’m in the middle of a nasty situation with my online course (surprise, surprise- a course on women and gender brings out misogynistic comments from privileged white males), which has taken up most of my emotional energy this weekend. I am finding myself generally low on patience with E. and needing a lot more quiet time. I think I recognize I’m about to lose all of my alone time for the foreseeable future. I really do not have time to read at the moment with all the course prep, but I have managed to make enough time to almost get through Moon over Soho, which is the second of the Ben Aaronovitch novels (which I started on a recommendation from Mel and am really enjoying them).

I am still worried about the birth and about what we will do with E. and about how I am going to cope with having a newborn, but I feel like I’m moving out of denial and into resignation, which has to be an improvement.

I’ve also finally hit a stage where I NEED to get things ready for my own peace of mind, hence the mad unpacking of the storage closet (Q. was out staining the trim on the sheds at the time while E. “made a flood in the whole garden!”, ended up absolutely drenched, and had a wonderful time). We’ve organized the things we’re going to donate when the truck comes past on Tuesday, which will clear out a reasonable amount of space in the nursery/study, and I’m hoping that will inspire us to maybe next weekend move the rest of the furniture around. And now that I’ve found all the baby things, I can wash them. I found the onesie E. wore when he came home from the hospital, and we’re planning to put this baby in it too. I got E. to hold it up against his chest- I need to take a picture. I think Q. and I were both shocked. E. was able to get the onesie over his head, but then it basically looked like a kerchief around his neck. And then I put away a bunch of E’s winter clothes and reordered the bin which holds the clothes he’ll grow into, and there was a snow jacket in there that will probably fit him next year, and the size discrepancy hit me all over again.

Movement? This baby does not have a lot of room left, although you wouldn’t know it the way s/he sometimes carries on. I’m still getting quite big movements as s/he switches from side to side. E. was much more settled and hung out mainly on one side. This week has been the first week where movements have often coincided with some truly miserable pains in my cervix, which makes me wonder if s/he’s engaged a bit more and dropped. But I can still fit my belly over the kitchen counter, so not much change there.

The baby is clearly asleep when I am up in the wee hours of the night. Long may this continue. S/he still likes to party at around 10 p.m. and (worryingly) around 5:00 a.m.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? At thirty-seven weeks, I said this:

The vast vast majority of the baby stuff is now organized to a point that I can live with it, even if it isn’t how I want things to be. Once Q. puts up the shelving in the closet that will help, and then I need one trip to I.KEA to get more of the storage boxes we’re using, and I’ll be sorted. I’m still happy being pregnant, but I am getting very curious to meet our baby.

Yeah, no. But we did make at least some progress today. E. was absolutely fascinated with the stroller and wanted to sit in it for ages. This was useful because when he wanted me to strap him in I realized the shoulder straps were no longer attached to the harness. I had a vague memory of putting them on the shelf at the top of our coat closet and (procrastination for the win!) they were still there. I have pretty much given up on getting to I.KEA before the baby comes (I wanted to get whatever they’ve replaced the Expedit with as E. has one of the eight squares Expedits in his room and I love it), but Q. seems willing to do a smash and grab one evening, so that might still happen. Not much point if we don’t get the furniture out of the room first.

I hope the baby likes the bassinet we borrowed from friends because currently we have no plans to a) assemble the crib or b) buy a new mattress (I gave our mattress away with our crib and I didn’t like the mattress that came with the crib a friend of a friend gave us).

I had a dentist appointment this week and ended up having to have the hygienist work while I was on my side, as during the initial exam I realized very quickly that if I stayed on my back with my head lower than my heart I was going to either pass out or vomit, or possibly both. I tried to help Q. clear some things out of the basement (the renos continue) the other day, and got exhausted after four or five trips up the stairs. I keep hitting things (frying pan handles, doors, etc.) with the belly, as I clearly have no sense of spatial awareness and how much room I’m now taking up. So little things like that remind me that I need to watch my activity. But in general, I still feel fantastic.

Lying on my back right now is just not an option. Even reading propped on pillows can be problematic. I think I have more endurance this time around. Or maybe I’m just busier and therefore not listening to my body and not taking very many breaks. I definitely overdid it this morning, but I moved a lot of things around before I really got tired. And then in the afternoon I did all of the laundry and packed away all of my winter maternity clothes and swapped around my winter and summer clothes in my closet and convinced Q. to go through his closet to add clothes to our donate pile. See? Nesting.

On my mind? Getting organized. While I know we pretty much have everything set up that we really need in the first instance, I can tell that I’m going to feel better about things once everything’s washed and the diapers are stripped and the nursery resembles a nursery. I also need to wash and put away our winter gear because I haven’t had time to do that yet. This wasn’t bothering me until it got really hot this week and now every time I open our shoe cupboard and see E’s winter boots it drives me crazy. Plus I want to dust and organize E’s set of shelves in our living room because they’re once again chaotic rather than orderly. And I want Q. to pull out the stove so I can clean behind it. (See? Nesting.)

It has occurred to me I should probably pack a hospital bag at some point. Just because we were only at the hospital for six hours last time and we barely used anything we packed doesn’t mean it will be the same result this time around.

This week I have the home visit from the midwives, an appointment with my endocrinologist, and an appointment with my therapist. It’s going to make for an interesting balancing act with all the online course prep I need to do. I don’t see much reading for fun happening.

Sleep? Ok, but not great. E. is obviously doing something developmental as he’s been taking ages to fall asleep at night and then waking up ridiculously early (6:00 a.m.). And Q. is still getting up most nights to visit the ‘loo, which usually wakes me up. I don’t yet feel super tired, but I’m frustrated because I know just how terrible my sleep is about to get and I would really like to get as much sleep now as I can. Last time around I was having a lot of trouble sleeping by this stage, but right now I feel like my sleep is fine- it’s just that I’m being woken up by others.

Best moment? E’s birthday party. We kept it really really simple- we told E. he could invite five friends and he opted to only invite four (three of whom brought siblings with them, so it was probably best we didn’t have any more). We went to the biggest park in the city and did a nature scavenger hunt and rode on the train and played in the playground and had cupcakes and fruit and fishy crackers and even though it was RIDICULOUSLY hot and poor Q. spent practically the whole time shuttling the car around to try to minimize the distance which the cooler had to be carried, it was still a great afternoon. E. had a grand time; his friends had a grand time; and I think the adults had fun too. Both sisters and my BIL came along, and it was really nice to see all of them, although I didn’t get enough time to chat with them, especially not my youngest sister who headed off overseas that same night and probably won’t be back until this baby is born (unless s/he goes very close to the due date or over). Plus I can’t remember the last time all three of us were together, with my BIL, without it being in a hospital.

And then we came home, with E. sitting in the backseat occasionally saying in a dreamy sort of voice, “That was the best party ever!”, and we unpacked the book boxes that labmonkey and Pea had saved for us, and they had put a bunch of things (new special things!) for P. in one of the boxes. A hooded towel and two swaddle blankets and wash cloths and a baby book and nursing pads (which I still haven’t managed to pick up, so that saves me one trip) and personalized onesies (I am going to take a picture of them and post on here because they are too good not to share). It was just so lovely and thoughtful and I am glad this baby will have something new (says the mother who is happily planning to put the baby in the SAME OUTFIT that E. wore home because it’s likely to fit, so why not).

Even though when I woke up that morning I had done absolutely NOTHING to get ready for the party and we then had to grocery shop (Q.), buy a few things for the party bags (E. and I), print out nature scavenger hunt cards and add a bonus animal (E. and I), assemble party bags (mostly E. with help from me), bake cupcakes (me), ice cupcakes (me), decorate cupcakes (E.), organize fruit and pack the cooler and backpack (mostly me with help from Q.) and I found myself, completely exasperated, putting cupcakes in the fridge to cool them down so I could ice them before we had to leave, and said to Q., “And this is a SIMPLE party!”, it all worked out in the end, and it was a wonderful day. And, most importantly, I didn’t go into labour before or during the party!

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Less than a month!

How far along? Thirty-six weeks. We hit a month before the due date this week and, I’m not going to lie, it freaked me right out. I am still SO NOT READY mentally to have this baby. My birth club is full of a) babies who are arriving a bit early and b) women who are at 37 or 38 weeks and are complaining endlessly about not having had the baby yet. I just cannot understand their perspective (although clearly they must be feeling worse physically than I am). Research distinguishes now between “early” full term babies (37/38 weeks) and proper full term babies, and I do not want this baby coming early, for his/her sake as much as for mine. Every week the baby cooks, I can write and prep lectures for two weeks of my online course. I wrote out a schedule for myself and if the baby can stay in until 39w, I can get all the lectures prepped except for three weeks.

Vital stats? I saw my backup midwife this week, at 35w2d. Baby was still head down (despite my breech fears after the automatic toilet incident) and heart rate was around 150. Fundal height was 34, and BP was 98/64. Creeping up for me, but definitely not anything to worry about. I also managed to get in to my GP this week to get the pertussis booster. She said I didn’t look at all like someone a month from her due date. I am getting that a lot from people now- I guess it’s just a compact bump.

How am I feeling physically? I think I’ve determined that it’s travelling that causes most of my physical problems. Being back home this week (and being able to work on the couch with my feet propped on a pillow) has been quite an eye opener. My ankles and lower legs are back to normal with no signs of swelling at all, unless I’ve had a particularly busy day where I’ve never had a chance to take off my socks and put my feet up. And even then the swelling is gone by the following morning- much more like it was with E.’s pregnancy. This is unrecognizable from the week away where I was struggling to get my feet into my shoes by the end of the day and my lower legs felt so heavy and borderline painful. Clearly I either wasn’t resting enough or hydrating enough while away (probably both). And I’m sure running around on cobblestone streets in ballet flats wasn’t ideal either.

The big change this week has been the cramping and Braxton Hicks. My midwife warned me this was very normal with second pregnancies- the body knows what to do and starts thinking about it a bit earlier. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything’s going to happen earlier, but I find it worrying whenever the cramps settle in for a couple of hours, because (see above) I am just not interested in having this baby for at least another three weeks.

My belly changes shape dramatically depending on which side the baby has his/her back, and if I sit down and lean forward I usually hit the baby’s bum. Definitely no more room to grow up, so I guess from this point on it all has to be out! Baby is still high (although my midwives have both said with a second baby s/he might not drop until labour starts), so breathing is hard but I’m still sleeping through the night most of the time without a ‘loo break. I measure by the fact that the belly still fits above the kitchen counters and the sink when I’m washing dishes.

Even though everyone says I look small, I don’t feel small. I feel more like a rhinoceros. I am still feeling generally well, but I do feel very very large, and everything takes more effort.

How am I feeling emotionally? Ok at the moment. Like I said last week, a lot of stress evaporated with the conference ending and my online course starting. The online course workload is manageable, other than the lecture writing, and I can see how I will be able to keep track of the discussion forums when the baby comes. The marking will be a challenge, but I’ve been strategic about when I’ve assigned it, and Q. will just have to take on heavier baby duties in those weeks.

I am starting to think (read: fret) a bit more about the birth. Everyone always says that you forget about the pain, etc., but I remember some aspects of my labour with E. very clearly (particularly transition), and it’s hard to feel relaxed and at ease going forward knowing what’s coming. In the long run, of course, I had a relatively fast labour and a straightforward delivery, and it was a very positive experience. I’m a bit worried about how much faster this one could be- the absolute LAST thing I want to do is have this baby at home or in a car.

E. had a field trip this week, which I didn’t go on (writing lectures) and afterwards I really regretted it, because I realized that next  year when he has field trips I’ll have the baby and won’t be all that helpful a parent volunteer. One of my big fears with this baby is the change that is coming to my relationship with E. In the long run, I am certain it will be better for him to have a sibling, but we have spent so much time together over the last five years and we have a very close bond. I am mourning the loss of that right now (which I think in itself is a good thing as it at least acknowledges that this baby is coming).

We had another family health curve ball launched at us this week in that my stepfather had a heart attack while undergoing his second round of chemotherapy (said heart attack probably caused by one of the drugs in the chemotherapy cocktail). What’s going to happen next is still very much up in the air- we know what the cardiologist has recommended, but he and my mother still need to meet with the oncologist. The good news is that as heart attacks go it was relatively minor and there doesn’t appear to have been obvious lasting damage. It’s not that I’ve brushed it off, but I just can’t panic about family health stuff right now. The baby and the upcoming birth are starting to lay claim to their share of my emotional energy, and I only have so much to spread around.

My Dad, at least, is doing really well (given the circumstances), especially mentally. That made it easier to leave him last weekend knowing I won’t see him now for a couple of months.

Movement? Slowing down as space runs out, but still frequent enough that I don’t have to do kick counts or worry. S/he noticeably reacts to Q. and E.’s voices, which is nice. I think s/he’s gone back to having the back at the front and the limbs pointing towards my spine, which means that the shift from being frightened by the toilet was short-lived. I still occasionally get a baby dance party happening, but it’s usually when I haven’t eaten recently and someone wants to draw my attention to this fact.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? At thirty-six weeks, I had this to say:

Still waking up once a night for the loo, but now it seems to be closer to 5 am, which means I don’t always get a great sleep before the alarm goes off. I’m still tossing my extra pillows out of the bed…and then really noticing it in my hips in the morning. So my body can’t figure out what it wants.

That’s pretty much me in a nutshell right now, except the 5:00 a.m. ‘loo wakeups are usually for Q. rather than me, and then I just wake up by association. I think I’m starting to sleep much more lightly than I was a few months ago- it used to be that Q. getting up wouldn’t wake me up. I’m only using one extra pillow under my belly (I stopped needing the one for my feet earlier in the week), and I shove it off the bed every night without fail.

I’m focusing on listening to my body and trying not to do too much- the Braxton Hicks get very strong when I overexert myself.

The Braxton Hicks are really something now, especially if I walk somewhere too quickly.

And this:

The crib is assembled. The nursery is finished, except for the shelving in the closet (which I think Q. is going to sort out this weekend), and all the baby stuff is now in there rather than in our living room. I washed everything we’d received (although I have more stuff to do now that I’ve had a couple of packages arrive), and sorted all the clothes and linens. I added to my lists of what we still need to get pre-baby, and what we can wait on until bump arrives. We had our breast feeding class. We would have finished our childbirth classes, but our instructor was unwell, so we’ve still got one more week left with those.

Hahahahaha! First-time parents! I suggested to Q. this morning that we should empty out the storage closet in the basement on Monday given it’s a long weekend, which will free up the change table and the bins with clothes, receiving blankets and diapers. Then I can at least wash things and strip diapers (not that I will have anywhere to put them since the “nursery” is still full to the brim with my study furniture).

I did at least call this week to organize a pickup from the Diabetes Clothesline, so we’ll have all the extra books and a few bags of clothes out of the house soon.

But yesterday morning we drove up to a huge garden centre and filled our trunk with perennials for the front garden. Apparently I am determined to work on the garden but not the nursery. Make of that what you will. I suppose I feel I can wash baby clothes at 38 weeks pregnant but I may not feel like digging in the dirt.

Also second baby- no packages in the mail from friends and relatives. Which is absolutely fine- we have pretty much everything we need (although I suspect when I open the bins I’m going to realize that we gave away our swaddle blankets and our 0-6 month sleep sacks) and the baby won’t know the difference. But it is a really noticeable change. The baby shower when I was pregnant with E. happened when I was 34+weeks, and that was SUCH a nice time. I think it’s in quite bad taste to have a baby shower with a subsequent baby, and I never would have wanted one, but I do feel bad sometimes that this baby is given so little attention (worst offender: me).

On my mind? Driving to the conference, I was telling Q. that I need to get my passport renewed, because the last time I renewed it I was heavily heavily pregnant with E., so obviously it was coming up. Then I realized that E. had already had his birthday. And sure enough, when I got home, I found that my passport expired the previous week. Not that I can fly anywhere right now, but I’m annoyed with myself for letting it lapse. At least the conversation in the car made Q. realize that HIS passport expired back in March (and he is going overseas at the end of June), so he’s now put in the paperwork for renewal. I’ll get photos done this week and get the application sorted out.

I cannot stress strongly enough how out of character this is for both of us. It really says something about what the last few months have been like that not one but both of us could end up with expired passports.

I also have a conference call coming up this week to finalize my maternity leave with the university. I thought I was going to get through the week with no baby-related appointments, but no such luck.

We’re also trying to sort out our options for who will look after E. when the baby comes. I asked a few mothers at the school if they were willing to be on a list of potential helpers if we end up with “Oh shit, the baby’s coming now and E.’s at school- we need someone to pick him up”. They were all happy to volunteer of course, and they all made a point of telling me how the most stressful part of the entire pregnancy with their seconds was trying to figure out what to do with their first child when they went into labour.

I am most worried about the “go into labour at 2 a.m.” option, because most of our friends have kids of their own and it would be a challenge to ask one of them to come over in the middle of the night. I’m talking to our neighbours too.

Q. and I also had the conversation where I told him from this point on I have to be able to reach him at all times and he cannot put his phone on silent, not in a library, not in a meeting. He’s also trying to make sure he tells me when he’s going swimming, and he’s given me the phone number for the aquatic center if I need to get him out of the pool.

Maybe this sounds like I am overreacting, but active labour (including pushing) with E. was under four hours. I really don’t think we’re going to have a lot of time once things get started.

Sleep? Meh. It is not terrible. I am having trouble falling asleep if I work right up until bed (which should not surprise me since this usually happens). The worst night was when I opened up a file Q. had sent me with sample outlines of chapters for the edited volume we’re working on, which meant I went to bed thinking about my outline. It took close to two hours to finally turn my brain off so I could sleep.
If I wake up after 4:00 a.m., I’m pretty much up for the day now. That used to be my normal, so I’m counting myself lucky that it’s only started to happen at this late stage.
I’m not going to say I feel super well rested right now, but I also don’t feel like I’m running on empty.

Best moment? Learning the baby was still head down at the appointment with the midwives, because that had been a miserable morning of wondering what had happened. I haven’t spent much time thinking about the birth, but when I thought s/he’d turned breech, I was really upset.

I will admit to enjoying having all my neighbours compliment me when they see me out gardening. It is not easy to do a lot of things now (including gardening) and it is nice to have someone else notice that I am still managing fairly well.

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On the perils of eating while pregnant

12:00 p.m.
Me: Oh. It is noon. I should eat lunch soon. I’m so close to finishing this PowerPoint though. I’ll get it done in the next fifteen minutes and then I’ll eat.

12:15 p.m.
P.: Wriggle, squirm, wriggle.
Me: Yes, I know I need to eat something! I am almost done! Maybe four slides to go.
My stomach: Rumble, grumble.

12:30 p.m.
P.: WRIGGLE, SQUIRM, TWIST, WRIGGLE, SQUIRM!
Me: I KNOW! I am hungry too! Look, I just finished. Now I can record it this weekend and it will be ready to post on Monday. Ok. What are we going to eat for lunch?

12:32 p.m.
Me (in kitchen): I will make avocado and goat’s cheese on toast. That will take maybe four minutes to make, so it is super quick.

12:33 p.m.
Me: Why am I SO HUNGRY? I need to eat RIGHT NOW.
*puts down bread in toaster; starts slicing avocado, realizes hands are shaking*
P.: *general sustained protest at lack of nourishment*

12:34 p.m.
Me: Why does it take SO LONG for toast to finish?
*starts searching in pantry. Eats six rice crackers, three dried apricots and four thin Oreos in time it takes toast to pop.*

12:35 p.m.
Me: I really don’t like Oreos. I should throw them out since I only bought them to make the wheels on E’s steam train cake.
*eats another three Oreos while spreading avocado and goat’s cheese on toast*

12:39 p.m.
Me: *finishes inhaling eating two enormous slices of toast with avocado and goat’s cheese and drinking two glasses of water. Shaking subsiding. Rational brain returning.*

12:45 p.m.
P.: *hiccup. hiccup. hiccup.*

12:55 p.m.
Me: Well, I hope you are feeling better now, P. I can’t decide if I feel sick because of all the sugar I ate or because I just consumed twice as much food as my stomach has room for at the moment.
P.: zzzzzzzzzzzz

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How to terrify your unborn child (and a belly pic)

Here is a funny story that stopped being funny and then became funny again.

Yesterday, after I had my third appointment with my therapist, I needed the ‘loo (of course I did- I am 35+ weeks pregnant).

The washrooms at this particular hospital have self-flushing toilets. Very enthusiastic self-flushing toilets as I had discovered on a previous visit.

I sat down and probably ten seconds later the toilet flushed.

It was loud.

Very loud.

My uterus was very close to the sound.

The baby FREAKED out.

And by freaked out, I mean engaged in some of the strongest movement I’ve had this entire pregnancy, causing my entire belly to contort.

Funny story! My baby was frightened by a toilet!

And then I woke up this morning and kept feeling baby bits where I wasn’t used to feeling them, and the movement was different, and all I could think about was: Oh fuck, it scared the baby so much s/he flipped and now is breech.

Luckily I had a midwife appointment scheduled for today, so I didn’t have too long to stew. My backup midwife correctly read my state of mind and suggested we check baby’s position at the start of the appointment rather than at the end after discussing Vitamin K shots (yes), eye drops (no), cord clamping (delayed), heel prick to test for various issues (yes) and oxytocin after delivery (wait and see).

The baby, both she and her student reported with confidence, was still very much head down. But s/he had changed positions and the limbs were now facing more out towards my belly rather than towards my spine. A big enough change to explain the crazy movement in the bathroom, but not one that would affect labour plans.

I was relieved my instincts were wrong (when I described what I’d felt, my midwife said that it sounded just like what women describe when their babies do flip).

And now it’s just a funny story again.

My baby was frightened by a toilet!

And here is the latest belly pic, at 35 weeks exactly:

For comparison, this is the closest I have with E’s pregnancy, at 35w6d:

I think I am carrying pretty much exactly the same.

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Thirty-five weeks

How far along? Thirty-five weeks. Ooh that is a big number. At the conference this past week I had quite a few unsolicited comments from academics I don’t know. No one was making jokes about me having the baby at the conference, but lots of well wishes for the birth (one older gentleman told me a Greek phrase which apparently means “be it like a chicken laying an egg”). Q. also thinks I’m now stopping traffic, as we seem to have cars yielding to us at a highly unusual rate when out walking around.

Vital stats? I last saw my midwife at 33.5 weeks. At that point fundal height was 32 and BP was 90/64 (which stressed out her student who took the measurement until my midwife said, “Oh, no that’s totally normal for Turia”). They were pretty sure the baby was on the right side but (like with E.) it was hard for them to distinguish between my abdominal muscles and the baby’s back. P.’s heartbeat was 138 (I think- I don’t remember exactly). More importantly, I got the report from the growth scan and BPP that had been done the week before and P. scored a perfect 8/8 on the BPP and was measured in the 75th percentile (I didn’t write down the weight estimate). So everything looks great on that front. The report did say that the kidney was still missing but really, if they found it now, I would be shocked.

I feel like the baby (and, as a result, the belly) has had a huge growth spurt in the last week. The difference between what I see in the mirror right now and how I looked in my maternity photos (which were two and a half weeks ago) is quite significant. I think I must have run out of room for my uterus to expand upwards and now there’s nowhere to go but out! The other thing that makes me think there’s been a growth spurt is I now (for the first time) feel unbalanced- I constantly feel like I’m leaning backwards when my back is straight- I think I’m just being dragged out in front and my centre of gravity is off.

How am I feeling physically? Between thirty-three and thirty-four weeks (when I didn’t have time to do a weekly write up), I felt really quite well. This week has been a lot harder again. I think I am able to spend a whole lot more time at home with my feet up than I think I do, because now when I’m travelling, the swelling in my legs and ankles by the end of the day is terrible. I’ve taken to sleeping with a pillow down at the end of the bed so I can prop up my feet overnight to try to get them back to normal by the start of the next day. I just took off my wedding ring last night- my hands aren’t swelling enough that I can’t get it off, but I’m starting to get worried it’s going to happen.

This is all very new for me. Looking back at E.’s pregnancy, I was noticing something similar at thirty-five weeks, but it’s much more extreme this time around:

I do still have a bum in my ribs, and I’m noticing my legs swelling more frequently in the evenings, but that’s about it. I am getting very tired very quickly. I told Q. the other day that I think I’m not far from the point of becoming a “one outing a day” kind of girl. If we’re out shopping for any length of time, that does me for the rest of the day.

I later said that my ankles can be kept under control if I don’t wear socks for very long, which isn’t the case now. Even without socks, I bid my ankle bones and my shapely lower legs adieu by the end of the day. I don’t know if this is second pregnancy or if it’s because I’m pregnant later into the year (maybe it’s the warmer weather), but it has been a big, unpleasant change.

The “one outing a day” kind of girl comment is interesting. I know I am much, much busier than I was during E’s pregnancy, and I average far more than one outing a day right now (especially this week at the conference). So maybe it’s not surprising that I’m feeling things a bit more.

I am also still getting the occasional terrible leg cramp in the middle of the night. It’s only one a week, if that, but when I get them, they’re horrible. Three nights ago I was writhing around in pain, trying not to cry, and trying to get out of bed to stand up to make the cramp go away, and Q. woke up in a total panic because he thought I was in labour and we were going to be having the baby in Romantic Old City instead of giving our papers (which were scheduled for that morning).

My linea nigra is back and it runs above my belly button right up to the top of my uterus. I think it turned up in the last couple of weeks as I don’t remember seeing it before then.

I was having some issues with heartburn the previous week, but nothing this week, which has been nice.

How am I feeling emotionally? More settled (I think). We got to our conference and my paper was very well received. I’ve started teaching my online course (while being at the conference- hurray for online options!). Those were the big work things to get out of the way before the baby came. I’m hoping that the baby can stay put until 39 weeks, because if I go like mad for the next four weeks, I think I can prep two weeks at a time of my course, and that will mean I’ll only have three weeks to do from scratch after the baby arrives. I’m feeling a little less panicked about it, which has helped my overall mood.

We picked up a bassinet stand from a friend and we installed the infant car seat in our new car before the conference (as insurance to make sure I didn’t have the baby in Romantic Old City because we were showing the universe we were prepared), so we can get the baby home safely and put him/her somewhere to sleep. I want to buy some newborn size diapers, and I do need to dig out the clothes bin with the tiny clothes, but honestly, if that’s all we get done in the next month, we’ll manage. I do think we’ll get it all ready, but I’m not going to freak out if we don’t.

The weekend before we left for the conference, I was feeling really frazzled. It was E’s birthday, and Mother’s Day, and we’d ordered 4 cubic yards of mulch for our garden, which we had to spread before we left, and my course was starting the following Monday, and I’d realized I was (for the first time ever) going to have to go to the conference with my paper still to be completed. But it all worked out- we got the mulch spread, E. had a lovely birthday, Q. made me a tasty Mother’s Day breakfast, the steam train cake E. had requested turned out really well, despite my total lack of artistic talent when it comes to cakes, my course went online and everything worked, and I did get the paper done in time to present it.

I had an interesting conversation with my therapist when I saw her for the second time. We very much talked about the baby, which in itself was nice, as I never talk about the baby or how I am feeling about having said baby, and she pointed out to me that I had over a year to get used to the idea of life as a family of three, and I’ve had less than that to wrap my head around this whole family of four thing that seems to be about to happen, as well as a whole slew of other events which have taken up my emotional bandwidth. It made a lot of sense and it wasn’t something I had thought about much before.

Movement? I said to Q. this week that the movements now feel like what I imagine it must be like for a whale in the ocean- these great, big, long, slow twists and turns. P. still has obvious patterns of movements, but is also obviously running out of room in there. Most days s/he still moves his/her bum from one side to the other. And hiccups are (just like with E.) a daily (or twice daily) event.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? At thirty-five weeks, I had this to say:

Interestingly, I’m now starting to wake up with my extra pillows shoved out of the bed or moved away from where I’d carefully placed them the night before. When I first switched to using these pillows, I’d wake up in the morning and it was obvious I hadn’t moved at all during the night. So either I’m sleeping in a more disrupted fashion now, or the pillows just aren’t as comfortable, or it’s a combination of the two.

I know I’m sleeping in a much more disrupted fashion now, so I’m not at all surprised that my pillows are in total disarray by the end of the night.

I still felt great physically (overall) and this is how I felt emotionally:

Fantastic. I am so high on all the pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins. I love everything about my life right now. It doesn’t hurt that it’s finally spring here, which always gives my mood a major boost. I’m still worried about aspects of labour, birth and baby care, but I’m not fretting over them all that much. I’m having too much fun listening to bump’s hiccups and finding random baby bits to have Q. poke. Honestly, I’m probably sickening to random passers-by.

I am enjoying the hiccups and I do like playing “where the baby’s bum now” and I rub my belly a lot, but I wouldn’t call myself high on pregnancy hormones. Poor second baby. At least I am not super excited for the baby to come out right now like most of the women on my birth club seem to be. I want P. to cook as long as possible- not only because every week in utero means another week of my course done but also because I want a healthy, full-term baby.

This was what I said about movement:

All normal and usual. Still on the left side, still sticking his/her butt in my ribs, still kicking away if I’m later with food than s/he would like, still utterly sacked out at night. It has this ridiculous habit of stopping moving as soon as Q. puts his hand on the belly. Also still gets hiccups on a daily basis- they seem to be caused by the tiniest things- if I eat, change positions, if the baby changes positions, if a cat sits on my belly, if the alarm goes off, etc. etc.

I think it is so interesting how similar this baby is to E. in terms of movement patterns, hiccups, etc.

On my mind? Well, the conference is now over, so all the baby-related things that have been in the “worry about after the conference” basket are about to come out. I think Q. and I need to sit down and have a chat about our schedules for the next month and see what our options are with weekends for doing things to get properly ready. I’m still planning to spend all of my time when E. is at school working on the online course (except for when I have baby-related appointments), so I need to think about how E. can be included.

I really want to make E. a small photobook called “When I was a Baby” with simple sentences he can read and pictures of him doing all the things the baby will do. I think this might help him with the adjustment period. Hopefully I will be able to carve out a bit of time to do that. I also want to start compiling the list of email addresses for when we want to tell everyone the baby is here.

There’s also work stuff going on because we’re at the point where they start appointing course directors for the fall/winter session. While I’ll be on leave, I need to accept contracts if I’m offered them, and then take leave from those contracts in order to protect my seniority. The other adjunct in my field (who is a friend) and I spent part of the conference planning and scheming to figure out what was the best way to freeze out a couple of others (who are not qualified in our field but who could well try to sneak in because of weak wording in the ads). Hopefully I will get a c0uple of contracts, which will keep me moving forward in terms of seniority, and if we’re really lucky, I’ll vault over one of the problem individuals, which will mean fewer problems in the future.

Sleep? My insomnia got a lot better as soon as I successfully recorded my first lecture snippet for the online course, so I was clearly fretting about that. Sleep this week has been a bit more difficult. We rented a flat through Airbnb for the conference. It’s worked out really well, except that it is a bit noisy in the street outside until later than I would want it to be, and the blinds in the master bedroom aren’t good enough to block out the streetlights, let alone the sun when it rises. So my sleep has been a bit disrupted, and I have been tending to visit the ‘loo most nights.
I’m now sleeping with three pillows- one under my head, one under my belly (which I usually shove off the bed during the night), and one down at the bottom of the bed to prop up my feet. Arranging myself in bed is becoming hugely complicated. Q. usually doesn’t laugh at me.  Much.

Best moment? We left E. with my mother and stepfather for the conference, so we’ve had a mini-break from parenting. We skipped the keynote address one day and instead walked down to the old port and had a wonderful meal in a beautiful restaurant with great views over the river, just the two (well, three) of us. It was really lovely. Q. and I got engaged in Romantic Old City (almost ten years ago now!) and we were here in 2010 before getting pregnant with E. (for the same conference). We love this city and we always have such a nice time when we’re here. It’s been nice to have a bit of an escape, even with having to present and attend panels.

And this is not my moment, but labmonkey is really, seriously pregnant, and I am just so excited for her. Go on over to wish her congratulations and sit with her while she waits for that first ultrasound.

Other stuff? We’re very very pleased with our car. Its first big test was the (rather long) drive to Romantic Old City and it performed admirably. I will say that after we’d dropped off E. and we were driving the final leg with the two empty car seats in the back I did have a moment of feeling very very middle-aged- car and two kids. It feels very different from the life we’ve been living for the last five years. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I know it will take me a while to get used to the changes. Q. is beyond excited about having a car- it’s quite sweet really.

I see my backup midwife this week and my therapist. And then at the end of the month, when I’m 37 weeks, my primary midwife and her student are going to come do the home visit. That, at least, will force us to make sure we have a few things ready. But when we were booking the appointment I couldn’t believe we were already at that point! And then it will be appointments every week in June until this baby appears.

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Capturing Joy

I have felt a lot of things over the last few months.

Exhausted.

Anxious.

Numb.

Grief-stricken.

Worn thin.

And as I struggled to book a session for maternity photos, because every time we tried to pin down a date I had another family health crisis throw my schedule into even further disarray, it became harder and harder to rationalize doing them.

It’s too much money.

You’ll probably have to be out of town anyway.

What if the weather stays miserable?

The truth is, I didn’t feel like there was anything to celebrate.

I have not felt beautiful.

I have not felt joyful.

Yet somehow, my photographer managed to find both.

And I am so incredibly grateful that she did.

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Thirty-three weeks

How far along? Thirty-three weeks. Now when people ask me when I am due, and I say, “Mid-June,” they say: “Oh, that’s soon!”

Vital stats? I got on the scale yesterday just to get a sense of where I was at, as I’m still finding it hard to care about food, and I’m starting to get comments from people about how tiny I look (I do not feel tiny). I’m up 21 lb, which is perfect, and I’ve gained 3-4 lb in the last five weeks, so even though I’m struggling to eat a lot of the time, I’m obviously still taking in enough calories overall. I’d gained 24 lb (or thereabouts) by thirty-four weeks last time, so I’m maybe a little bit under where I was with E. Still on track to hit the expected ‘normal’ range.

At thirty-two weeks with E., I said this about food:

I’m also not eating very much in between meals. Maybe an apple in the afternoon, or a handful of nuts or some yoghurt. In the morning I rarely eat between breakfast and lunch. Q. continues to provide nutritious and delicious meals on a regular basis. I am SO spoiled.

This is pretty much identical to what’s happening now. Thank goodness for Q. I’d be living on cereal and toast if it weren’t for him.

I had the growth and BPP ultrasound on Tuesday. Baby is head down and very busy. S/he helpfully practiced his/her breathing, which is one of the things they need to see at a scan like that. No pictures to share- the tech tried her best, but P. is just too big for a good shot. I will get the report when I see my midwife next week, but I’m assuming all is well because no one has called me to say otherwise. Baby was measuring three or four days ahead (except for the head which was measuring much larger, just like with E.).

How am I feeling physically? This week was rough. I spent the previous week visiting my Dad, and I wasn’t careful enough with standing and staying hydrated and my ankles and lower legs really swelled up. It took me at least three days after getting home to get everything back to normal. And there is a lot of pressure on my lady bits (even though baby is still sitting high enough that I don’t need to use the ‘loo at night) and elsewhere in my lower half with unfortunate results. And the heartburn is starting to become an issue most evenings. And I have been woken up twice in the last week by hideous leg cramps (despite eating bananas daily).

In the grand scheme of things, I still feel relatively well and I would classify this as an easy pregnancy. But I have definitely had points this week where it hurt just walking E. to school. And this is the first time where my experiences have sharply diverged from my pregnancy with E.

Case in point- my description of how I felt physically at thirty-three weeks in March 2011:

Having my shoes back has made all the difference in the world. I find I can maintain a pretty good walking pace (my Dad was visiting on the weekend and he even commented on how speedy I was when we went out for a wander in the neighbourhood). I do get the occasional ache or stretch or twinge, but nothing serious.

Yeah, no. I felt that way a couple of weeks ago, but not any more. Things have been better on all counts the last few days, so I’m hoping now that I’m done with the hospital visits I can be more proactive about getting off my feet.

How am I feeling emotionally? All over the map. My Dad was much, much more positive when I saw him last week, so that has relieved some of my anxiety. And I had a good impression of my new therapist when I saw her at the start of last week. What I most appreciated was her willingness to acknowledge the limits of what she can do for me. We talked about how my anxiety usually manifests and she said that normally she’d focus on CBT (which I was expecting) but then she said, “The truth is: we can work on those strategies, but ultimately you’re going to feel what you feel. When someone is in your situation and the impossible has happened, there are some parts of CBT that don’t work well, because we teach you to ask yourself whether something is likely or logical. And you can’t take any comfort from statistics and it’s extremely hard for you to assess risk and probability because you’re in a situation that logically and likely should never have happened.”

So she seems like a good fit, and I feel better having a consistent appointment in my schedule and knowing that if everything comes pouring out when the baby is born, I will already have an established relationship with her.

I did get my contract (finally) for the summer course, so I stopped worrying about that and started worrying instead about actually teaching said course. It starts in the second week of May and I thought I’d be a lot further ahead than I am at this point. I’m sure I will muddle through, but I think the first couple of weeks will be messy until I get into a routine. And then things will get messy when the baby comes.

I think I’m still totally in denial that this baby is coming (and coming relatively soon).

Movement? I haven’t yet had to even think about doing kick counts. The baby did have a couple of quieter days at the end of last week, but I think it must have been a growth spurt because s/he then went right back to his/her usual daily partying. Tons of wriggles and pushes. Lots of hiccups. Large-scale movements across my belly seem to happen at least once per day. The baby is big enough now that depending on how s/he is lying, my belly can fluctuate dramatically in size.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? At thirty-two weeks, I said this about movement:

Lots of wriggles and pushes now. Q. can feel them even when his hand isn’t directly over where the movement is. Pretty sure I’ve still got feet pushing up above my navel. Bump really does seem pretty chilled out, which is awesome. S/he does seem prone to hiccups- we had at least four cases of them this week.

And that’s all holding true with this baby. Q. gets kicked in the side fairly often now when we’re snuggling, and the hiccup attacks are in full force. S/he had a major one at dinner tonight which was the first time E.’s felt the hiccups.

At thirty-three weeks, I said this:

Bub definitely has patterns, and tells me in no uncertain terms when I need to go and eat something. When s/he shifts around from one side of the uterus to the other, I can really feel it.

Again, exactly the same. This baby also gets super active when I get very hungry and then tends to go to sleep as soon as I’ve eaten.

I’ve been convinced this baby is busier than E. was, but reading back through this stage in the pregnancy, I don’t think that’s the case. They seem to have very similar patterns.

Last time around I was starting to really panic at this point that we were going to be bringing home a BABY. I was worried we would regret our decision. I think I feel a lot of the same emotions right now, just for different reasons. I know we won’t regret the decision, but I also know just what we’re in for. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

On my mind? I’m realizing that once we get back from our conference in a couple of weeks we’ll have just over a month until the due date, so maybe I shouldn’t just put all the baby-related stuff in the “do after the conference” basket. Mind you, I also looked at my study today and thought: “Hey, the change table will fit where the bookshelves used to be, and the bassinet will be in our room, so we could just ignore the rest for another few months!” So I both want to finish setting things up and also can’t be assed to do it. I guess we will see which one wins out in the end (knowing me, I am going to bet on getting things finished).

In order to get to the change table and the Rubbermaid bins with the baby clothes and receiving blankets, we have to pretty much empty our (massively full and disorganized) basement storage cupboard. Q. and I are both dreading tackling it. I think we’ve decided to put it off until the long weekend in May.

Sleep? I push the extra pillow off the bed at some point in the course of the night (every night), but my hips aren’t sore, so it must be doing something in the hours before I evict it. My insomnia is officially back. I spent much of the last two weeks waking up at 4:30 and not being able to get back to sleep- something I haven’t had problems with for more than two years now. The last couple of days have been better. It was helpful waking up that early when I was visiting my Dad because I marked exams before heading in to the hospital.

Best moment? We had our maternity photo session this week. It’s been unseasonably cold and every day this week was cold and overcast (or even rainy) except one- the day of the shoot. So we had gorgeous light and it was warm enough (just) that I could wear my original outfit (even if Q. and E. had sweaters on). It felt great to do something positive and special for this pregnancy.

Other stuff? We bought a car! That ate up a lot of our time this week, but everything’s signed and we pick the car up on Monday. It’s a relief to have that all sorted out. In the end we went with a 2015 VW Jetta- we really wanted to love the Golf Wagon, but the backseat was just too cramped with two seats plus an adult. The Jetta’s extra leg room made all the difference. I wouldn’t want to always have two seats and an adult back there, but it’s definitely manageable for the occasional trip when we have my sister or Q.’s mum in tow.

I had lunch with a friend on Tuesday and she gave me two big bags of maternity clothes (spring/summer) and good clothes for nursing. I’ve finally sorted through them all and have a pile of nursing shirts to wash later, a pile of clothes to wash now, and a small pile to pass along to others because the clothes either aren’t going to fit me, are the wrong season, or just aren’t something I would be comfortable wearing. She was happy to get it all out of her house, and I am thrilled to have some options for when it gets warmer (assuming it eventually does get warmer).

I missed a midwife appointment because my backup midwife had to cancel her clinic last week and I couldn’t reschedule because I was out of town. So I’m looking forward to seeing my primary midwife next week as I’ve now gone three weeks between appointments and I’m supposed to be seeing them every two weeks now. I also have the second appointment with my counsellor. It seems every week now I have two or three baby-related items on the calendar.

(And yet, I am still totally in denial that this baby is coming in the really-not-so-distant future.)

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