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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Robocall Panic Attacks

Microblog_MondaysLast week, I had a robocall from E’s school.

It’s a pretty neat system. If your child is marked absent, the robocall program will call you to make sure you’re aware of the absence. It will, in fact, keep on calling you, over and over again, all day long if necessary, until you acknowledge that you have received the message.

So, yeah, good system.

Except on that particular day, E. was at school.

I’d taken him there.

I’d given him a goodbye kiss and watched him walk through the doors, just like I do every morning.

When I got the robocall telling me my child had been marked absent at morning roll call, I hung up immediately and called the school.

And while I waited FOUR BILLION YEARS on hold (real elapsed time: probably less than a minute and a half) while the secretary called down to E.’s classroom to find out what was going on, I had this thought:

Hey, this is exactly the kind of situation where the psychiatrist said I should work on not jumping to the worst-case scenario.

And then, almost immediately afterwards, my brain went FUCK IT, and I went into a complete panic of the “What if E. accidentally came back out the doors before school started and got lost and kidnapped” variety.

The secretary came back on the line, apologetic. He was, indeed, in his classroom. The substitute teacher had made a mistake with the attendance and hadn’t fixed it in time to stop the computer from calling me.

He was perfectly safe and exactly where he should be.

But I can see it’s going to take a lot of work to change my patterns of thought.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Brave New (School) World, E.- the fifth year, JK, Microblog Mondays

Snippets

Bullet points, because who has time to write out entire posts?

  • I am still without a contract or a letter of invitation for this online course I’m meant to be teaching this summer, and it is really stressing me out. It’s not the fault of my Chair, who has been tirelessly advocating on my behalf, but somewhere higher up things have stalled. I have to trust that my Chair will see it through, but the start of the course is now less than a month away. It makes an enormous (like over $50,000 difference with two sections) to our finances over the next year for me to get it, because it’s not just the money they pay me for teaching the course, but also how it affects what the university owes me on maternity leave and how much I am eligible for from EI. So I am trying not to fret, but I really wish I had a piece of paper right now.
  • I saw the psychiatrist again on Monday.  She sure figured me out: “Often it’s the case that very intellectual people try to manage grief in a logical, contained, academic way. They usually compartmentalize so they can function. Eventually it always comes out. The postpartum period is a very vulnerable time, and I want you to have resources in place because all of this is going to come out eventually and it will probably be when the baby is born.”
  • She is recommending a combination of talk therapy and CBT. Mindfulness is likely to feature prominently.
  • I knew she was going to say that.
  • I am not sure I can get out of my mind and into my body.
  • My Dad is an extremely unusual case. The last time the lead doctor at the rehab centre had a C2 fracture was well over a decade ago because (as he said) they usually die or they’re not mentally cognizant. My psychiatrist was also shocked to hear that my Dad has no brain damage and can talk all day long on the ventilator because her experience had been that such patients are usually in a vegetative state. My Dad is alive (probably) because he was incredibly fit and strong before the accident and (definitely) because there were two Canadian doctors from my city on the beach at the time of the accident who did CPR immediately. Dad never had any oxygen deprivation and, as a result, no brain damage.
  • I told my Dad I was glad he didn’t die on the beach. Then I realized that was probably a pretty selfish thing to say. I think he understood what I meant. I’m not sure he’s glad he didn’t die on the beach.
  • I am having a hard time with my Dad’s state of mind, not only because I don’t want to lose him, but also because if it were me, I would take the chair in a heartbeat if it meant I would be there while my kids grew up. But I live in my mind (see above). Dad is probably alive because he lived so much in his body. He’s facing a different level of loss. Plus his kids are already grown up.
  • My stepfather’s pathology report came back. The cancer was not in his lymph nodes (very good news). Need to wait to see what the oncologists think before we know next steps, but I’m sure it’s going to involve cancer and/or radiation, and he is just so weak now.
  • My sisters and I had a Google hangout last week. Thank all the gods for them. We are all coping, more or less. We are all functioning, more or less. We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like (or need to) because we’ve organized to try to have one of us with my Dad as much as possible (case in point: the Google hangout emerged when we realized there was not a single day between last week and the middle of May where all three of us would be home). But I know they are there, and I know they get how I am feeling because they feel it too.
  • My cat’s ashes are on a bookshelf. We’re waiting for it to warm up a bit more and then we’re going to bury her under our tree in our front garden. I keep looking for her when I come home. I hear her footsteps on the floorboards at night. The other cat really is clingier (which is saying something given how glued she is to me normally).
  • Last June I wrote a post about being the adult, where being the adult largely involved cleaning up vomit and dead birds. I know better now. Being the adult means getting up every day and somehow managing to get through the day, even when all you want to do is stay in bed, read, and cry. It means you do your job and you parent your child and you put one foot in front of the other, even when — especially when — you don’t want to. It means you don’t have anyone else to whom you can hand the responsibility and the grief and the anxiety and the fear, and trust that they will look after you. The person who still gets to cry for “Mummy” in the night is your son, and you’re the one who makes things better. When you cry at night, there’s no one who can make things better for you.
  • Fuck, being the adult sucks right now.
  • We have 55 crocuses open in our garden. Why did I count them? Because precisely TWO of them are yellow. “Mixed blooms” my ass.
  • Yes, I am still annoyed about the uneven colour ratio of my crocuses, even with everything else that is going on. Sometimes it’s the little things (because you can’t face the big things).

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, Grief, Loss

Thirty-one weeks (and a belly pic)

How far along? Thirty-one weeks.

Vital stats? I saw my primary midwife this week. She confirmed that I passed the gestational diabetes test (which I had been assuming was the case because no one had called to tell me otherwise). My iron levels were also still good. Fundal height was measuring at 30.5 cm, which was absolutely spot on for my dates, and pretty much in line with the measurement the last time I saw her. Not sure why the other midwife had me measuring 2 cm ahead. She did let her student run the clinic, so it’s possible it was just a lack of experience. Or maybe baby had a big growth spurt last month and has now settled down. Blood pressure is 88/54, so obviously no concerns there (other than I really have to pay attention to how quickly I get up these days).

Baby is still head down (good baby!). I didn’t get the fetal heart rate but it was nice and strong and healthy. As my midwife said, “I have absolutely no concerns about the baby or the physical aspects of the pregnancy.”

How am I feeling physically? Really not too bad. It takes a lot of work to roll over in bed, and I get out of breath climbing stairs or walking too fast, and I tend to make concerted noises of effort when I have to stand up, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m still doing well. I do get pain under my left ribs in the evenings, but I think there’s a foot up there much of the time, which probably explains it.

Sometimes I waddle. I don’t remember waddling with E., and I find it really embarrassing, but sometimes the baby’s head is just sitting so low and there’s so much pressure I find it hard not to waddle.

I probably feel as well as I do because Q. has taken over pretty much the entire house. I haven’t cleaned in at least a month and I’m down to making dinner maybe twice a week. I do run out of energy easily these days, and I am extremely grateful he’s just stepped in and taken over.

How am I feeling emotionally? About as well as can be expected, under the circumstances. When I was visiting my Dad last week he made it clear that he’s not sure whether the life that is available to him is one that he feels is worth living, which was an added layer of stress and anxiety I really did not need right now (although I understand why he wanted us to know). It is impossible to try to hold so many competing potential realities, especially when Dad’s current timeline means after this visit I likely won’t see him again until very close to the six month mark, which is what he’s given himself to before reassessing. So I’ve put that in a box along with all the other anxiety and grief I’m carrying around.

There’s no nice way to say this: I am openly dreading the arrival of this baby. I really hope maternal instinct kicks in. I know I will love the baby and I know we will find a new normal, but right now I cannot see how this baby will fit into our lives. I see babies at the park and I feel dread. I keep reminding myself that I have never liked other people’s babies (I am not a baby person), but I did love E. very much, and I did find a lot of joy and fun in his babyhood, even if, in retrospect, I was a lot happier once he got a bit older. I don’t want to wish away this baby’s infancy. I am hoping I can roll with the punches a bit better than I did with E., now that I know things get easier. But right now I feel like it’s worse than it was when I was pregnant with E., because this time I know what we are getting ourselves in for. And all I can think about is how wretched those first few months were.

I have all the usual second-time mum fears (What if I don’t love this baby as much as I love E.? What if E. has a terrible time adjusting? Will I ever get time for myself again? Have we made a terrible mistake?), which wouldn’t be an issue by themselves. But heaping them on top of everything else I’m carrying around makes the whole thing look insurmountable.

Also. I really really really miss my cat.

Movement? My midwife did the kick count talk with me this week. Basically she said I should be feeling baby move in the morning, afternoon, and evening (and more is a bonus). If I have a day where I hit the late afternoon and can’t remember feeling much, I’m to look for six movements in two hours. I would be surprised if I ever have to do a kick count with this baby, as s/he bounces around all the time. I’m positive the placenta is in a different spot than it was with E., even though both times it’s been anterior.

My midwife also made a point of emphasizing how good nutrition and staying hydrated leads to more movement because otherwise the baby conserves energy. I am eating well because Q. is looking after me. Left to my own devices, I would be struggling. So whenever we eat dinner and the baby gets really excited partway through, I make a point of telling Q. the baby likes his cooking.

I can find the baby’s bum pretty much any time I look for it now. Sometimes s/he likes to push it right out against one side and my belly ends up lopsided.

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

I really do think my body is starting to tell me to wind down, slow down, and just rest up in preparation for labour, birth and bringing the baby home. I’m not uncomfortable. I have no real aches or pains. I just feel unbelievably lazy, pretty much all the time.

I generally feel the same way except I’m too busy to listen to my body. I’m still wrapping up last semester (had one exam on Thursday and another one tonight) and there’s the summer course to think about. I do find excuses to lie down and put my feet up when I’m home with E., and luckily he’s usually happy to hang out in bed for an hour with me reading and chatting (and getting himself drinks by pulling a wagon carrying a cup up and down the hallway to the bathroom and filling it with tiny amounts of water each time).

Also this:

I keep having to remind myself that I cannot bend over to put on my boots right after eating if I then take too long to zip them up- I end up feeling like I’m going to be sick.

YES. Exactly. I do this to myself at least three times a week.

Last time we still hadn’t made any real progress with the nursery by this stage, and I was refusing to buy anything until after the baby shower, so even though I feel like we’re behind with this baby, we’re really not. I feel like we’re not likely to get anything done until mid-May once we’re back from our conference. I think that’s fine. I did purge E.’s artwork this week (which was being stored on top of bookcases in my study), so that’s progress.

On my mind? Still sorting out the car issue. E.’s new seat is supposed to be delivered on Monday, so we’ll have to wait to test drive vehicles until after I’m back from seeing my Dad. We have an appointment with the bank this morning to apply for a HELOC, as that makes the most sense in terms of financing and our expected income surplus over the summer. I’m trying not to panic about the fact that I still don’t have a contract or a letter of invitation for my online course for the summer. I know my Chair is fighting with the administration, but I’m not sure what the problem is that’s causing the delay. I just hope it all gets sorted out soon.

I’m also stressing somewhat about the week in late June/early July where Q. is going to be overseas (he’s the keynote at a conference). Originally my Mum was going to come down to help, and now that my stepfather is ill she’s worked out a trade with my sister, because Mum loves tiny babies and my sister does not. So C. will go stay with my stepfather and Mum will come here. But if my stepfather is undergoing chemo or radiation at that stage (which seems likely), Mum can’t come (obviously). I’m sure we will figure something out and I’ll muddle through, but my Mum was such a comforting presence last time around. I will really miss that if she’s not able to come. And I know she will feel sad about it as well, because she really does love tiny, scrunchy, newborn babies.

Sleep? Inconsistent. Sometimes I sleep all the way through. Sometimes (like this morning) I wake up early (4:30 a.m. today) and can’t get back to sleep. Generally it’s still pretty good. The pillow under my belly helps a lot although I tend to push it off the bed at some point in the night.

Best moment? I brought E. with me to the appointment with my midwife and she got him to help her measure my uterus and listen to the baby. The look on his face when he pushed the button on the doppler and heard the heartbeat was priceless- this giant, uninhibited smile of pure joy and wonder. That was awesome.

Other stuff? I went shopping with my sister, C., to look for an outfit for the maternity photos that are coming up in a couple of weeks. It was a remarkably painless process (not at all what I had been expecting) and I ended up buying the only pair of jeans I tried on and the first shirt. We did run through a bunch of other shirts to confirm the first shirt was the best. I’ve been reading tips for these photos online and they always say to wear solid colours and this shirt really isn’t, but whatever. It’s cute, it fits well, it’s appropriate for spring, it wasn’t outrageously expensive and I like it. Most importantly the shirt and jeans still look like me, just a slightly better dressed version of me. I was never going to opt for a maxi dress. I have almost no spring/summer maternity clothes, so I’ll get decent use out of them both over the next couple of months. Other than one $20 dress from Old Navy, these are the only clothes I’ve bought the entire pregnancy, so I don’t feel too guilty about the splurge.

I also did manage to find time to get my hair cut, so I’m all ready. Just have to finalize what I’m making Q. and E. wear.

I’ve finally had a therapist from the reproductive health program call me, and she had a cancellation for Monday, so I’ll be able to meet her before I head back to see my Dad again. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a few sessions in before the baby comes so she can be up to speed on the issues. As the psychiatrist said this week, “You are putting all of your grief and anxiety in a box. It’s going to come out eventually. And it will probably come out when the baby is born because that’s a very vulnerable period.”

My midwife is also going to call me on Monday to have a chat about my fears about stillbirth, as we couldn’t discuss it with E. at the appointment. She wants to get me to work on some self-care and coping strategies to help deal with the intrusive thoughts when they pop up. We also talked about how willing I am to have students at the birth (still fine with it, but don’t want them in charge) and what extra levels of monitoring they can provide if I get worried (like listening to the heart more frequently).

I booked the growth ultrasound for the week after next. So next week I have an appointment with the therapist and an appointment with my backup midwife to get back to our usual rotation. And then the following week I have the ultrasound and maternity photos. It’s getting busy!

And here is a bump pic (30w6d), courtesy of E:

30w6d web

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Filed under Belly Pics, Me? Pregnant?!, Week-by-week

75% cooked

How far along? Thirty weeks. Oh man. We need to get organized.

Vital stats? I should have had some new information for this week, but I had to reschedule my midwife appointment. So I don’t have anything official to report. I have to assume that all is well.

How am I feeling physically? Hanging in there. I had a nice mental boost from all the nursing staff at the hospital where my Dad is when I was visiting this week as they all commented on how good I look and how well I’m carrying. I still feel rather massive, but people keep telling me I’m not. I’ve started sleeping with an extra pillow in bed- just the one tucked under my belly for a bit more support. That has definitely helped with the niggling aches and pains that were starting up. I’m also having more trouble with my ankles and lower legs swelling up. I have to be careful about how much I drink during the day and how much time I spend on my feet (I wasn’t good about either while at the hospital and it really showed).

If I walk somewhere quickly, I tend to get ripping pains across my lower abdomen, which I don’t remember from E.’s pregnancy. They’re not at all pleasant and they force me to slow down. I am trying to remember to leave more time when going somewhere, but sometimes I forget and plan according to my usual speed.

But, like I say to anyone who asks, I can’t complain. It’s been another straightforward pregnancy for me, at least physically, and I’m grateful to be feeling so well as we start to enter the home stretch.

How am I feeling emotionally? Hanging by a thread. What I want, more than anything else right now, is a day where I can stay in bed, read a comfort book and cry and cry and cry. I feel like I don’t have the time to cry as much as I need or want to. I’m in the middle of the end of semester craziness (which equates to marking, exams, more marking, uploading grades, etc. etc.) and I have this online course I’m teaching over the summer that I have yet to even begin to plan. I am stretched too thin right now, and it means I can’t see where on earth I could take some time for myself. Q. is at a conference all day today and then has his exam tomorrow afternoon, so I can’t ask him to give me a break (nor would I want to given I just got back last night and I want to catch up and spend time with E., who also missed me and is also grieving).

I am not making room to grieve any of it- not my cat, not my fears about my father and stepfather, not the loss of all the future things I expected I would get to do with my Dad (or that E. and P. would get to do with their Grandpa). Occasionally things boil over (usually on the train) and I do weep for a bit but then I shove it all down and go back to functioning, because I have to. I’m the adult. I have to keep holding it together. There’s nothing more I can ask of Q.- he’s already taken over virtually everything to do with the house (cleaning, cooking, etc.). All I have to do is be pregnant, be E.’s mum, be a good contract lecturer, and somehow function in the middle of these many family crises. But it’s still too much. The weather is not helping. We had a fairly mild winter but April has yet to show any signs of spring. Q. had to shovel last Monday because we had 10 cm of snow overnight, and it is currently well below zero out there, which is just absurd.

As for the baby, I either feel fear that s/he will die during labour (or before) or dread that s/he won’t die and then we’ll have everything else happening as well as a baby. I keep finding myself looking at parts of our life, like our morning routine before school, and thinking, “This works so well! This is usually not stressful. We have time to get everything done. Where the FUCK are we going to fit in the baby?” I know these are not new fears for second-time parents and I also know we will eventually figure things out and find a new normal after an extended period of chaos. And I know it will get easier. But right now I’m utterly terrified.

Oh and then there’s the guilt, because I am not exactly providing an ideal uterine environment right now, nor am I particularly excited about the prospect of this baby arriving. I am sure I will love the baby when s/he gets here, but right now I am just relieved s/he is in there and not causing any problems.

Movement? Anything and everything. This baby loves to do a full body wriggle that causes my whole stomach to jump. E. saw it happen this morning, which was awesome. S/he is also fond of pushing up against my ribs with what must be feet, which is starting to get quite uncomfortable. Doesn’t stop him/her from also pressing on my bladder, especially if I’ve just got on a bus or in a car. The baby is also big enough that I can easily find a bum/back any time I look and sometimes s/he sticks that out as well, so I’ll get this hard bulge on one side or the other. I am grateful for the consistent movement, both because it helps with the anxiety and because it lets me take a moment to connect with the baby.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? Last time, at thirty weeks, I said this:

I still feel quite huge and ungainly, but doing things doesn’t appear to be as much of a struggle. Maybe I’m just getting used to the bulk. I was up at the uni the other day and three of the secretaries made a point of coming to find me to tell me how great I looked and how they couldn’t believe I was in the third trimester because I looked so tiny, so I guess it is just a matter of perspective. I really do think my height is helping keep bub from sticking out too much. That said, the belly button is now a borderline official outie.

The thing is, I was tiny last time around- at my 29 week appointment, I was measuring at 28.5 cm, so a touch behind, as opposed to this time when I was measuring (at least at the last appointment) 2 cm ahead. The exact same thing has happened with my belly button though- the top part is an outie and the bottom part is just flat.

And this:

Bub is pretty busy these days, and has definite movement patterns. On Saturday morning we’d set an alarm (I think by accident) and it startled bub awake. This was the first time I was certain s/he was reacting to an outside noise. It was so funny- all of a sudden there was this flurry of activity…and then bub ended up with the hiccups.

This baby reacts a lot now to outside noises and gets the occasional bout of hiccups. Not as frequently as E. did.

Other than that, E.’s pregnancy is starting to sound quite different. I was just enjoying being pregnant at this stage and was sad that I only had about three more weeks of my prenatal exercise classes (as opposed to this time around where at one point I intended to go to yoga and then just never did).

On my mind? There are new recommendations (in the U.S. but not quite yet adapted in Canada) that pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during their third trimester (and before they hit 35-36 weeks) because this has been shown to help protect newborns from pertussis (whooping cough) before they are old enough to be vaccinated. I need to schedule an appointment with my GP because that’s not something my midwife can do, but I wanted to just double check with my midwife first. Q. should get one too if he’s due for a booster- we need to check. And I could ask anyone who is likely to have a significant amount of contact with the baby, which probably means my two sisters and maybe my mother, but I want to see what my GP and midwife think before saying anything to them.

I also want to make time to get my hair cut as my maternity photos (which at this rate may have snow in them instead of the lovely spring leaves I was hoping for) are coming up at the end of the month. And Q. and I need to get organized for our conference in early May, to which we may or may not be bringing E. (depends on how my stepfather is doing and whether my Mum thinks she can manage having E. there too. I know she WANTS to be able to manage but that’s not the same thing). I think we’re just going to book our accommodation assuming that we need to have E. with us and then if he is ok to go visit Grannie we can have a bonus couple of days child-free. We’re certainly not getting away otherwise before the baby is born.

We’re trying to buy a car too, but we need E.’s new narrow forward facing/booster seat first because there’s no point in going to a dealer to discover our current seats won’t fit, because I’m already 99% positive that they won’t. This seat is apparently out of stock everywhere, but I’ve ordered directly from the company and their representative assures me that the seats are in the port in B.C. and they just need final clearance from customs before they can get them in the warehouse (and then ship ours directly to our house). I’m sure it will get sorted out soon, but it would be great if we could buy a car before the conference as then we can avoid the cost of the rental vehicle. But if we can’t buy it until later in May, we’ll survive. We have a meeting with the bank tomorrow morning to see if setting up a home equity line of credit to finance the purchase (as opposed to dealer financing) makes good sense. We should have our financials ducks in a row at least before we go to see any cars. And if the seats fit, we’re pretty set on what we want to buy (assuming we like driving it). If they don’t fit, we have one more clear option and then we probably have to rethink our whole approach which will slow everything down.

Sleep? Sleep is becoming an issue. I’m still not waking up at night to use the ‘loo, which I think is because I’m carrying so high this time around, but I am becoming more and more prone to waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. This past week it’s been as early as 4 a.m. at times, which is just too early. I really notice that I drag through the rest of the day. The extra pillow is helping, but it can’t do much about shutting off my brain. At least the baby doesn’t wake me up at night, which is the advantage of the anterior placenta.

Best moment? Probably having the baby bounce around while I was having a great chat with my Dad. The last time I saw him he was communicating through blinking (and not doing that at all well because he was also fighting pneumonia, recovering from surgery, and souped up on medications). He’s now mastered speaking on the ventilator, so we spent most of my visit getting properly caught up. We had some good conversations and some hard ones, and I can’t say I left feeling reassured, but I’m so glad we had that chance to connect.

Other stuff? My appointment with the psychiatrist is on Monday, so I’ll have a chance to try to process some of what I’m feeling. I’ve rescheduled my appointment with my midwife for Wednesday and I’m now into appointments every two weeks, so I’ll see my backup midwife the following week as well. And if I’m supposed to have one more ultrasound scan to check growth, I guess that would be coming up soon. I am being well looked after.

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Filed under Me? Pregnant?!, Week-by-week

Inadequate gratitude

I have not done well over the last couple of months with responding to, or even acknowledging, comments. It seems to be all I can manage to get the words out. But I wanted to say just how much I have appreciated every comment and message of support and offer of further support via email. I do know I am not alone.

I am still trying to get assigned to a counselor with the reproductive mental health program I’m now registered with. But I have a second appointment with the psychiatrist on Monday. I know I need help. I know I cannot carry this alone. I am reaching out and asking for the help I need.

But in the meantime, I am so very glad I can come here, spill out my heart, and know that you are reading.

Thank you.

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Filed under Blogging, Friends, Grief, Loss

Bend, so you do not break

I am writing this on a train.

Outside the train it is still winter: the ground is covered with snow and the trees stark, barren sentinels against our passing.

The train is late.

I have been marking for a class I’ve tried to teach to the best of my abilities this semester despite caring more about so many other things.

I have marked slowly, interspersed with weeping. I know I am red-eyed. I am unsettling to those around me.

This is the third time in the last two months I have been on a train, under these exact conditions. I feel like my memories of this particular corridor will be filled now for all time with marking, weeping, and snow.

I am trying.

I am trying so hard to cope.

I got to the end of my semester. I took too long to mark some essays, but otherwise there’s nothing I can point to and say “I should have done that better.”

When people ask about my Dad, I am able to give them the good news (He’s moved hospitals and can now start rehab! He’s able to use the ventilator to speak! He passed a swallow test and can eat some foods again!) and sound positive even as my heart breaks all over again that this is the good news, that he is still paralyzed, still on a ventilator, that while in the grand scheme of things, I know he is making progress, the situation is still too much for me to comprehend.

I am being beaten down.

This morning, I wept as I had to explain to E. that our cat might not get better, that the vet might not be able to fix what was wrong. I wept as Q. (newly recalled from work by my frantic phone call) bundled E. up and brought him to school from the vet’s, after E. had a chance to give Poppy a hug and a pat “just in case”. I wept when the vet told me what we had to do, the humane thing to do, the thing that you do when you are the adult and you take responsibility for these lives. I wept as I got on the train, pulled in too many directions again, knowing that Q. would have to tell E. after school that there was only one cat waiting at home.

“We will need to get another cat!” wailed E. in the vet clinic. “And we will name that cat Poppy too because it was a good name and she is a good cat and two cats are better than one cat!”

“Maybe we will get another cat one day, E.,” I told him. “But we won’t name that cat Poppy. You can’t replace a cat. They’re part of the family. They’re all special, each one of them.”

I am terrified that this experience, E.’s first real exposure to death and grief and loss, will, in the end, be seen by us as practice for the losses that are yet to come.

One of his grandpas. Or both. I have no idea what’s coming. But I am afraid.

I have been fighting for some weeks now an irrational fear that this baby will die at birth. I was going to tell my midwife about it, but I had to cancel that appointment because we were at the vet instead, surrounding our cat with love while giving the vet permission to end her life.

The problem is it doesn’t feel irrational to me anymore.

The odds of stillbirth are 1 in 100.

The odds of being born with one kidney are 1 in around 1,000.

I don’t know what the odds are of having colon cancer that doesn’t behave like colon cancer, but I imagine they’re pretty high.

And my father’s accident defies belief.

So why wouldn’t the baby die? It would actually be a more likely outcome than anything else that’s happened in the last couple of months.

I am trying.

I am trying so hard to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But there is a limit to what anyone can manage.

And I know, deep down, I’m reaching mine.

 

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, E.- the fifth year, Grief, Loss, Me? Pregnant?!, Midwives