Category Archives: Me? Pregnant?!

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Belly Pics, Joy, Me? Pregnant?!

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.)

Leave a comment

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

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

3 Comments

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.

Leave a comment

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

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.

 

6 Comments

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

Third trimester

How far along? Twenty-eight weeks. That is third trimester, no matter which book you read.

Vital stats? 84 days to my due date. I had to see my endocrinologist this week, so I got the scale out to make sure his wasn’t wildly out of line with mine. I was up 17 lb earlier in the week. Apparently I was up 18 with E. at exactly twenty-eight weeks, so despite all my fretting this pregnancy has progressed pretty much exactly as my first one did. I guess I didn’t gain much weight in the third trimester with E. (or I redistributed my weight). I never knew what my final total was, but it was definitely under thirty pounds. Anyway. That plus the gestational diabetes test results (I must have passed as no one called me) has meant I’ve been indulging a little bit in Easter taste-testing. I went to bulk barn to pick up a few things to hide around the house for E. and ended up getting a couple of things for myself too (chocolate covered jujubes and sour jelly beans were the main offenders). I really should never go in that store.

How am I looking? This might be the last week for this category. I didn’t keep it for the third trimester last time around and I’m not sure how many creative variations I can come up with for “Um, massive?”. I know the bump keeps getting bigger because this week I’ve started to hit things with it- I no longer realize how much space I take up. Also narrow bathroom stalls are becoming a real challenge.

How am I feeling physically? Ok. This week I’ve noticed myself running out of breath more easily than usual- even while lecturing. I guess the uterus is starting to push up on my diaphragm. I’m also starting to notice more heartburn and discomfort around my ribs. All signs that we’re entering the home stretch, and it all sounds familiar from E’s pregnancy, so I’m not worried. I am just about at the stage where I need to set up my extra pillows at night as the hip pain on my right side (which again I remember from E’s pregnancy) is starting to become more than just a niggle when I first wake up in the mornings.

How am I feeling emotionally? Still taking it one day at a time. This was generally a good week for my hospitalized parents, especially for my Dad who has just been moved hospitals to get him to a facility that is connected to a rehab centre. Ordinarily they won’t take patients who are still in the ICU, but they are making an exception for Dad because of his health and his age and his attitude. Their long-term goal is to get him off the ventilator. There will be other forms of rehab, but that’s the big one. This would make such a huge difference for my Dad in terms of his quality of life, the level of care he will need, and his long-term life expectancy. I don’t want to get too excited because I know it will be a long road, but it’s so nice to hear something positive. The other great news for the week is Dad has been using the eye tracker that my techie almost BIL organized, so I have had a couple of emails this week that were from him. Not about my Dad. FROM my Dad. Typed with his eyes. I’m not going to lie- I cried when I got the first one.

I am still too anxious for my own good. I chased up the counselling service and made another appointment with the psychiatrist. They prioritize women who are further along in their pregnancies and they’ve had a lot of referrals, but I felt like I was hitting the point where I needed to speak to someone again. I am having a hard time getting away from thoughts that the baby will die during labour. Logically I know it is extremely unlikely, but what’s happened to my family in the last couple of months has been way more than unlikely, so it’s difficult for me to shake the fears. Hopefully after I see her in a couple of weeks they’ll have space for me with one of the therapists and we can get into something more regular.

Movement? I’m trying to figure out if this baby is more active than E. was, or if it’s just that my anterior placenta isn’t quite in the same place and/or it’s easier to feel the movement because it’s the second time. S/he is a BUSY baby. P. tends to wake up in the morning and bounce around while I’m eating breakfast and then there are always a few more active periods during the day if I have the time to sit and notice. And s/he still loves to boogie at night. S/he’s still so stubborn- I’ll be getting heaps of kicks and my belly will be bouncing all over the place, and then Q. will come put his hand on my belly and the baby will go quiet. The kicks are strong enough now that Q. can feel them on his side if I’m just lying next to him, and he can feel the pushes and wiggles as well.

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

My online birth club had a thread started recently called, “You know you’re in the third trimester when…”. What struck me was how little I was affected by these various complaints. I can still see my feet. I put my socks and boots on standing up (without too much difficulty). I can still roll over in bed in one motion. I can’t use my belly as a table, I have absolutely no swelling or water retention, etc. etc.

Now, most of these are still true, but my feet? Hahahahahaha! I haven’t been able to see them in a couple of weeks unless I lean waay over. And rolling over in bed definitely takes two stages.

And this:

We always get kicks as I’m going to sleep at night, which is great as it gives Q. a guaranteed moment to feel bub. That said, bub already shows a stubborn streak: s/he has an incredible sense of timing and will often stop kicking as soon as Q. puts his hand on my belly.

This baby obviously is taking after his/her big brother.

On my mind? We have started to think about our management strategies for E. when the baby comes. E. has been campaigning to watch the birth, which is just not going to happen. I love that he is curious about the process and wants to be involved, but it’s a layer of complication I don’t need. Ordinarily we would probably rely heavily on my sister who lives in the same city, but she’s likely to be overseas at the critical time. Labmonkey is around, but she’s a bit over an hour away. I think we’re going to have to just make the longest list we can of friends and neighbours who are going to be around. If labour starts while E.’s at school, that will be easier than the middle of the night, as that will give us time to get in touch with labmonkey or my aunt and uncle who also live around an hour away. But there’s no guarantees of course.

I am definitely getting twitchy about getting my study transitioned, even though I know there is no real rush and it makes absolutely no sense to try to do things during the semester. But I can see us tackling things a bit at a time over the next few weekends. I guess I just don’t want to assume that this baby will be sensible and will keep cooking until 39 and 4 like E. did.

Sleep? Better than last week, thank goodness. I think my body managed to process the new anxiety over my stepfather- it just took a few days after his surgery for it to trickle through. I’m still having trouble getting to sleep most nights (especially if I stay up working or chat with my sisters about parents), but the early wakings have, thank goodness, more or less stopped. I am not yet having to get up at night to use the ‘loo, and I hope that continues- that was a problem by this stage last time.

Best moment? For the pregnancy, it was P. getting hiccups for the first time. By this point E. was getting them frequently (it was almost daily by the end) and I just loved recognizing that rhythmic little movement. I was hoping this baby would get them too, and s/he obliged after breakfast one morning. E. made a big leap forwards with his reading this week- he started wanting to read books he’d never seen before, so we dug out some of the board books. He read Dear Zoo without any help, and then sight read I am a Bunny needing help with maybe 10 or 15% of the words. Then we finished off with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and once he figured out the pattern he read most of it without help (occasionally he would flip forward a page to see if his guess was correct). The best thing is he’s so proud of his accomplishment and he loves reading to others- he read a whole bunch of stories to his Australian Grannie when we were on Facetime last night. We also had a lovely moment this morning. E. woke up at his usual time for school (classic weekend- during the week I almost always have to wake him up), and came and climbed into the bed. Normally he then insists on hiding under the covers and making us play “Where’s E. gone?” but this morning he was content to just curl up and snuggle. So there were five of us in the bed (including E’s best stuffed dog) and the baby was kicking away and it was just peaceful and lovely.

Other stuff? My TSH must have been fine as I never heard back from my endocrinologist. I’ll see him again in very late May and we’ll discuss what sort of dose I should go on after pregnancy. After E’s pregnancy he put me on a slightly higher dose than had been my normal and the results weren’t good. I’m hoping this time we can just start with my regular dose.

We also this weekend unexpectedly made progress on the whole “turn my study back into a nursery issue”. E. wanted all the board books out to practice reading and we didn’t have room for them. We ended up spending all day yesterday organizing our books and moving bookshelves around. We still need to consolidate my work books with Q.’s in his study, and we have a huge stack of purged books to donate, but otherwise all the books and most of the bookshelves are out of my study. There’s still a lot to do, but I think that will help settle my need to nest for another couple of weeks. E. is calling it “the big change” and keeps asking what else we need to do to get ready for “the big change”, which Q. and I think is hilarious.

2 Comments

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

Twenty-seven weeks (and baby and belly pics)

How far along? Twenty-seven weeks (plus one day because I did not get this finished yesterday). Third trimester, in many books. WHEN did that happen??

Vital stats? I had a follow-up ultrasound at 25w5d and baby was in the 64th percentile and estimated to weigh two pounds. S/he would be bigger now. According to a random search on Google, s/he would have a 90% chance of surviving if born now, but obviously we would all prefer that s/he stay in there until June. Baby’s heartbeat was 148 at my midwife appointment on the 8th and s/he was still head down. My blood pressure was a bit higher for me, at 98/62, but it was still fine. I am assuming I passed my gestational diabetes test because they didn’t call, and they said they get the results within a week, so that is good news. The really good news is that the right kidney was bigger than they would expect it to be at the scan, which means that it is growing to compensate for the missing one, just like we hoped it would.

And here is Phaselus, at 25w5d. I’m so glad the tech printed this photo as we really haven’t had a nice profile shot yet- P.’s always been looking right at us or had his/her mouth open:

Baby 25w5d web

How am I looking? SO pregnant. I FINALLY got round to taking a belly pic and by total coincidence I had one from E’s pregnancy that was within a day of where I am now, and there is a big difference. I’m also carrying much higher and more out in front (I think- it’s a little hard to tell because I’m not wearing an identical shirt).

This is me, with E., at 26w4d:

26w4dAnd here I am with this pregnancy, at 26w5d (on a slightly weird angle because E. took the picture from on top of my bed):

26w5d webThe critical difference in comparison is just how much my belly has gone past my boobs, because I’m wearing the same bras I was wearing when pregnant with E., so I think they’re comparable in size.

How am I feeling physically? I still feel generally well. I don’t have a lot of complaints. But I am really, really starting to run out of energy. I’m sure part of this is not pregnancy-related (see my answer to the next section), but I do find that if I have a big burst of activity I feel like I want to lie down afterwards. Yesterday I did all the laundry and vacuumed the house (which is typical for a Saturday morning) and then spent the afternoon in a total haze until I grabbed forty-five minutes to lie down while E. was out playing with a friend.

I can tell that I am carrying more weight around. Things are harder to do and I’ve started to occasionally bump into things with my belly. My hips and back get sore when I walk. The biggest (and most annoying) change is that lately if I’ve been walking somewhere relatively quickly I get ripping pains across my lower abdomen. They’re really uncomfortable and I have to stop and then wait for them to subside before I can continue walking, much more slowly. I’m not sure what’s causing it, and it’s obviously a sign from my body telling me to slow down, but it’s irritating because walking is the one real form of exercise I get.

I also get more Braxton-Hicks than I did with E., but my midwife warned me this was very normal. They’re not painful, just uncomfortable and a bit odd. But they’re useful in terms of determining how high my uterus has grown!

My appetite isn’t very predictable. I struggle with eating dinner, which is hard because Q. has taken on the lion’s share of the cooking and he’s working really hard to make me nice things that I’ll want to eat. I just don’t have much of an appetite by the end of the day, so we keep ending up with heaps of leftovers because I’m eating maybe a third of what I would normally eat. I also need to crack down a bit on sugar as I’ve been relying a lot on baked treats to get me through the day up at the university, which is both expensive and unhealthy. The baby still wants to eat steak, avocado, sour cream, and fruit, and could do without pretty much everything else (other than baked goods, which apparently are always a good idea). I’m eating Shredded Wheat at breakfast almost every day just to try to keep my digestion moving along as it’s also struggling (again, probably not helped by all the processed white flour).

But, like I started with, in general I feel healthy and well and this pregnancy, at least physically, has thus far been as easy as E’s was.

How am I feeling emotionally? I still have no idea how to answer this question. I think I am doing about as well as can be expected, considering both my father and stepfather are currently in the hospital. I have two weeks left in the semester, and I’m just trying to get through, one day at a time. I feel numb or exhausted most of the time, but I’m feeling better than I was last week when my stepfather was in hospital but hadn’t yet had his surgery.

I am trying to take a bit of time every day to just enjoy being pregnant, because I know this is the last time I will ever be carrying a baby. But I’m not going to lie- it’s hard. I have so many other things weighing on my mind that when I do steal a moment to sit down and put my feet up, I’m more likely to start worrying about my father or my stepfather or my mother.

I am making time to read, usually when I’m commuting, as I’m too tired to read at night. I’ve had a biography of London Fog on my hold list for ages and it finally came in a bit over a week ago. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to have to return it, put it back on hold, and then suspend the hold until I’m out of semester and maybe in a stronger frame of mind. It requires a certain level of concentration which I’m just not capable of at this point. I’m really disappointed about this, as I’ve been looking forward to reading it for months, but right now I just cannot do it justice.

Movement? I’m just about at the stage where the midwives want me doing kick counts (six in two hours) if the baby goes suspiciously quiet for too long. It’s now very obvious when Phaselus is sleeping as if s/he wakes up, I feel all the wiggles and squiggles and squirms, even with the anterior placenta. The kicks and punches are quite powerful. Last night I was getting punched in the cervix at dinner and the feeling was uncomfortable enough to make it hard to eat. Q. gets some good big kicks most nights before bed. E. has had his hand on my belly while the baby was kicking and claims to have felt it. I am more excited about this than he is- he tells me that “it’s so boring” to put his hand there. One thing I haven’t felt yet are hiccups, which I noticed E. having for the first time at 26 weeks. E. had them almost every day towards the end of the pregnancy, and it’s one of my favourite memories, so I hope this baby follows suit.

The other interesting thing is the baby can obviously hear sounds outside the womb and now reacts to them. I woke up early last Thursday. P. was clearly asleep and then Q.’s alarm went off and s/he started kicking and flailing around- obviously the alarm had startled the baby awake. I took E. to the theatre to see a play last week as well as it was his March Break, and the baby was kicking and moving the entire time (and then took a huge nap once it was over).

I still don’t notice much movement when I’m busy, but as soon as I take the time to sit and concentrate, either s/he wakes up, or I’m just more aware of it. The baby has occasionally had a big dance party while I’m lecturing, which is somewhat disconcerting, but I’ve managed to keep my concentration.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? I had a massive cold at this point in the pregnancy last time around, but otherwise my main physical complaint was this:

This week the pain in my right hip has started to become more noticeable. It’s not serious- more of a minor niggle, and an awareness that the muscle/joint is not happy. I am positive it’s related to sleeping, as I sleep exclusively on my right side.

I started sleeping with pillows for support soon after and the pain disappeared entirely. I don’t feel like I’m at that stage yet, as my hips get sore when I spend a lot of time on my feet but not from sleeping. But I bet I’m getting close.

Also this:

We still haven’t done anything to get the nursery ready.

Hurray! I was procrastinating equally as much last time, and it was all done before E. arrived. Q. had to paint last time too, so there was more to be done. Clearly the women on my birth clubs just like to do things well in advance.

And this about movement:

I’m definitely at the point now where I would worry if I hadn’t felt movement all day. I’m not doing kick counts yet, but I’m more aware of the baby’s usual active periods, and I try to make sure to pay attention at least a couple of times a day to what’s going on down there.

That’s the same. This baby has very similar active periods to E., and I know I’d fret if suddenly s/he went quiet.

On my mind? Cars. Q. has stepped up to the plate and has started to do some research on car safety. I keep having women tell me it’s impossible to fit two car seats and an adult in the backseat of any vehicle, but I just had a mum on a facebook group the other day tell me that she’s able to do it in a Toyota Yaris using the seats I’m thinking about purchasing. I think our plan is to take our current seats with us in April to a dealer and just start fiddling with them. If they’re obviously impossible, but we can see how it will work with slimmer seats, then we can go from there. We might get the slimmer seat for E. anyway (the Harmony Defender) as it’s not expensive and we might then be able to use E.’s current seat as the rear-facing convertible for the baby, which would be much cheaper than buying the slimmer convertible (the Clek Fllo) for the baby. Plus the Harmony Defender converts to a booster in time, so E. would get years of use out of it. I feel like he’s ready for a more grownup seat in terms of structure, even though I plan to keep him in the five point harness for a long time yet (and the Harmony Defender allows them to stay harnessed until, I think, 65 lb).

I’m also getting a bit twitchy about the fact that we haven’t yet done anything to get prepped for the baby. I can’t do anything about this until semester is over, but I think once we hit April I’m going to take an hour every day just to work on taking apart my study and purging what I don’t need to keep so we’ll be in a position to rearrange. I’ve mentally moved furniture around our house quite a lot by now, and I think I’ve figured out how to place two of the three bookshelves in my study, but that still means I need to do some purging of books from both downstairs and from my own collection. I find purging books so difficult, but we’re maxed out for room. And, if I’m honest, I have plenty of books on my shelves that I will never read again (or will never read) that I’m keeping just because I find it comforting to have them around. I need to be ruthless.

I need to try to track down a bassinet stand as friends lent us a bassinet, but they didn’t have a stand. I’d like to use that in our room instead of the full crib, at least for the first couple of months, as I can fit that beside my side of the bed and then I won’t have to get out of bed to check on the baby.

I still have lots of time, but I can feel that June is going to come very quickly. I also think I’m just mentally starting to need to think about getting ready. I’ve spent so much of this pregnancy ignoring the reality that we’re going to have a baby in this house come June, and I think mentally I’ve realized it’s time to start coming to grips with this.

Sleep? It’s not as bad as it was a week ago- I think some of my stress over my stepfather has dissipated because he’s successfully come through surgery and the cancer’s been removed (along with his colon). But it’s still not great. I am having a lot more trouble falling asleep, and I’m waking up before the alarm (often around 5 a.m.) probably four nights a week. Last night I did that but then managed to fall back asleep again, which I haven’t done in a couple of weeks, so that was a noticeable improvement. I think a lot of the exhaustion I’m experiencing stems from lack of sleep rather than emotional or physical stress.

Best moment? Feeling the baby be startled awake by the alarm. I love that P. can now react to what’s happening in the outside world because it reminds me that s/he is learning to recognize Q. and E.’s voices. The scan at 25w5d was also a big moment because I was reassured, yet again, that this baby is doing just fine, and that this is still a normal pregnancy. And not pregnancy-related, I had a simply wonderful day with E. on Thursday. We went to watch a play, which was a resounding success both in terms of E’s interest and his behaviour, and then we wandered over to the market building for lunch. I was reading out the pizza and pasta options when E. pointed to some raw fish on ice at the fishmonger across the way and said, “Let’s have fish!” So we found a fish and chips place, ordered haddock and chips, and sat up on stools sharing our lunch (they gave us three large pieces of fish and E. devoured two of them). Then we went and found a bakery and ordered dessert (E. had a vanilla macaroon and I had a lavender shortbread), visited a cheese shop and bought cheese for all (three-year-old cheddar for E., smoked Jarlsberg for Q., and brie for me), and rode transit home. In the afternoon he helped me take bump pics and we read a bunch of books together (E. has recently cracked the idea of reading and is very keen on it, which I think is amazing). It was just a wonderful day. He is such good company right now.

Other stuff? I see my endocrinologist on Monday so will know if my TSH is behaving itself. I finally completed the booking process for our maternity and newborn photography sessions. The photographer has been extremely patient- I started the process before my father’s accident and have spent much of the last few weeks not returning emails within any normal length of time and then fussing over details of the contract. But I think it’s all sorted out now and once semester is over I’ll have a bit of time to think about what we should all wear to the maternity shoot. It’s going to be at the end of April, so it’s very hard to predict what the weather will be doing. I am spending an obscene amount of money on these, but I don’t care. I regret so much that I never did them with E., and I love this photographer’s work, so I’m hoping they’re going to be worth every penny.

2 Comments

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

Boxes

I think of my worries in boxes now.

I have so many of them, I can’t let them all come out to nag at me at once.

There’s the “worried about my Dad” box, which is huge and overflowing. It resists my every effort to close it. Sometimes I manage to get the lid down a little way, but it always springs open again.

Now there’s the “worried about my stepfather” box, which is smaller than my father’s worry box, although growing rapidly (much like his tumor). The worries were there before but they were mostly lumped in with general worry about my family. But now, after Thursday’s CT scan, he has a box of his own. A subsidiary of this box is the “worried about my Mum” box, which is really attached to the “worried about my stepfather” box, because what I am mostly worried about with my Mum is how she will cope if my stepfather dies. No one has said to me that my stepfather is going to die, and certainly the doctors are quite confident that there are things they can do, but I think the odds of this cancer killing him (or causing another cascade of medical issues that eventually prove fatal) are much higher than they were with his first bout, and I am very very worried.

There’s the “worried about the baby” box which has fluctuated in size significantly over the course of the pregnancy, reaching its maximum size after the anatomy scan. The follow up scans this past Thursday showed that everything continues to go well and that the right kidney is bigger than would be expected at this stage, suggesting it is doing exactly what we hoped it would- growing to compensate for the missing one. I had just about succeeded in wrestling that box closed until I learned that my stepfather is in renal failure because of the way the tumor is encroaching on his kidney. It is not that I think it all that likely that my baby will also develop colon cancer that will affect the kidney when s/he is approaching 65, more that this is a situation where it is a VERY GOOD THING that my stepfather has a backup kidney, and this of course reminded me that our baby has no backup. So I am back to worrying irrationally about the baby, although I am trying to curb this because I can only worry so much for so long without losing all ability to function.

The “worried about the baby” box also contains the usual post-infertility worries about the baby dying at birth or just before from a cord accident or some other tragic, incredibly unlikely occurrence that somehow feels not all that unlikely right now given my family’s current strike rate for freaky, fluky, unexpected medical disasters (see: my father being paralyzed for life by a wave as exhibit a, and my stepfather’s colon cancer that is not behaving like colon cancer usually does and is thus a source of great interest to his doctors as exhibit b).

And then I worry that all this worry is bad for the baby, because s/he is certainly not getting an optimal uterine environment right now. So that’s in the baby box too.

Then there’s a “worried about work” box, which is only allowed to get my attention when I have to do something related to the very next class I have to teach. Marking and seminars and conferences are not on my radar right now, even when they should be. I am very much in survival mode and just taking these last three weeks of the semester one day at a time.

My general worry box about all the other aspects of my life (E., Q., the cats, the house, the rest of my family) has been shoved to the back of the stack because I just cannot open it up right now. We still have not entirely sorted out the vomiting cats issue (in fact we think the food change has stopped one cat from vomiting but caused another to start getting hairballs), but I cannot put any time or energy into fixing it right now. I am vaguely aware that I am asking an extraordinary amount of Q. at the moment, but cannot rouse myself to try to rebalance. I try to be present for E., but it is harder than it should be.

It is all starting to become more than I can cope with.

I am either numb or exhausted most of the time.

I am not depressed- I have been depressed before and I know what it feels like- but I am struggling, even more so than I was a month ago. It is unrelenting. There is no end in sight.

And now I am officially worrying so much that it is affecting my sleep. For the last week or so, ever since my Dad had a conversation with my sister where he was able to express his own worries about what is going to happen to him and how the decisions will be made, I have been waking up at 5 a.m. or earlier and I have not been able to get back to sleep. This used to be standard operating procedure for me, but I fixed this well over a year ago (or possibly two years ago- I have lost track) by taking my mother’s insomnia advice of refusing to get up or do anything else but lie there and wait to fall back asleep. I retrained my brain and my body and I have slept exceptionally well ever since.

Now I wake up for no reason in particular at some stupidly early hour and my brain immediately tries to fix the worst-case scenario. Typical would be waking up to have my brain start planning how we might convince my mother to move to our part of the province if my stepfather dies and whether she would be able to afford to buy a condo and would she want to be in a condo and what would happen with my grandmother but it would be great for my mother because she would have all the support and access to good transit options to go see her siblings when she doesn’t want to drive, etc. etc.

This is not something I should be trying to fix. This is not something I should even be thinking about. But my anxiety has always manifested itself as catastrophizing- I jump to the worst-case scenario and try to fix it. So I know this is my anxiety seeking an outlet, because I am bottling it up as much as I can during the day to get through. But it is impossible to turn your brain off and go back to sleep once you are engaged in thinking about worst-case scenarios, even when you know that they will hopefully NEVER HAPPEN and you are completely wasting your time thinking about them.

I am really good at planning and organizing. It is one of my strengths.

At five in the morning, though, I’m coming to realize it is also one of my greatest weaknesses. Because my brain seems to think I can plan and organize my way out of these crises, that if I can just get enough details sorted out and enough ducks in a row, everything will get better.

I don’t know how to make my brain understand this isn’t helpful.

And right now I’m too tired to even try.

3 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, Grief, Me? Pregnant?!, Medical issues, Sleep

On superstitions

I am not, by nature, a superstitious person.

Nor do I believe that everything happens for a reason.

I am an agnostic.

I believe life is random and the universe even more so.

But there are times I really start to question this.

You know the saying “bad things come in threes”?

I have been resolutely ignoring the small voice in my head that has been chanting this ever since the missing kidney and my father’s accident.

But now I’m just about willing to believe in it, if only because it might then mean that the universe will stop shitting on my family.

Yesterday I had my follow up scan at the hospital where I will deliver.

The scan was fine- the baby is perfect (except for the missing kidney) and the existing kidney is getting bigger to compensate just like we hoped it would. The specialist and the paediatric specialist both told me there is nothing to worry about with this pregnancy.

The last time I was in that hospital was the 4th of February- the day my father had his accident.

Yesterday I got out to discover my stepfather has another tumor in his bowel. We don’t yet know whether it is the original cancer which has metastasized after three years or if it is a new one. What we do know is it wasn’t there less than a year when he last had a colonoscopy and now it is big enough that it has broken through the intestinal wall and is affecting the kidney. So whatever it is, it is moving very quickly. Which, when it comes to cancer, I don’t think is ever good news.

As labmonkey said when we talked on the phone, “I don’t know how to go any more into shock. I don’t have any further levels of crisis to reach.”

It’s unbelievable.

But it’s happening.

FUCK 2016.

1 Comment

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, Grief, Me? Pregnant?!, Medical issues

25 weeks!

How far along? Twenty-five weeks.

Vital stats? 106 days to my due date. And we hit viability last week. I told Q. it was viability day and he looked right at my belly and said sternly, “You stay in there!” The baby is somewhere around 13.5 inches long and weighs around 1.5 or 1.75 lb. The size of an acorn squash according to one website (these food measurements really are not remotely helpful). I weighed myself at 24 weeks for the first time in a month and I had gained 15 lb, so am on track for a weight gain of around 30 lb. Little bit higher than with E., but whatever- it’s well within the ‘expected’ range.

How am I looking? Massive? Probably not. I just feel huge all of a sudden. I think I am carrying high again like I did with E. and there is a lot of belly out front. I really need to take a bump pic this weekend- I meant to last weekend and we just didn’t get around to it. My winter coat does not have a lot of space left in it, but I am hoping to get through to the end with it- come on spring! All my maternity clothes fit well.

How am I feeling physically? Better now that I have FINALLY emerged victorious over the cold-that-became-a-miserable-sinus-infection. That took ages to clear- it was sitting over a bowl of steaming hot water with a towel on my head, three times a day, for three days in a row, that finally was the deciding factor. I’m still not 100% but I no longer feel sick and I’m no longer going through what feels like a box of kleenex every day.

So something completely changed between 23 and 24 weeks. I don’t know if it was coming back to my work routine from the week I spent sitting around in the hospital, but starting last week it became WORK to be pregnant. I’m more conscious of carrying around the belly. Getting up is harder. Staying on my feet for a long time is harder. I feel well, but I am just much more fatigued than I remember being with E. I’m sure several factors are causing this: 1. I’m five years older. 2. I’m unfit and not exercising much beyond lots of walking. 3. I have E. and even though he’s at school it’s much harder to lie down and put my feet up the second time around. 4. I’m teaching three courses rather than TAing in one course, so my workload is heavier and I spend more time on my feet lecturing. But I don’t have any serious complaints.

I am also much, much slower than I used to be. When I walk (at top speed) to the station after dropping E. at school, I’m now passed by people. Usually I’m passing almost everyone as I’m a really fast walker.

How am I feeling emotionally? Starting to get a bit of the second-time guilt. It’s not that I forget that I’m pregnant, but I have huge chunks of the day where I don’t think about the baby at all, and then s/he will settle down into kicking the living daylights out of me and I’ll be reminded that s/he’s in there. The baby’s nursery is my study at the moment and we have made absolutely no effort to get it ready (and won’t until semester is over). I haven’t dug out any clothes. I’m not nesting. A lot of the women on my birth club are in full-scale nesting mode and the ones who aren’t are panicking, but I know we’ll get everything ready in time.

I ran into a work friend yesterday and she was asking me about the baby and whether I was excited. She didn’t know what had happened to my Dad, so I filled her in on that. I feel like this baby doesn’t get much attention from me right now because all of my extra energy goes into thinking/worrying about my Dad. The good news is I’m really not worried about the kidney issue. I do have all the usual second-time worries: will I love this baby as much as E.? How will E. adjust? How will we adjust? Was this a crazy thing to do?

I’m so glad to be pregnant again. The whole mess with my Dad has made me realize (again) just how much I love my sisters and how glad I am that we have each other as we try to navigate through our new reality and support our Dad as much as we can. Even though I know that E. and this baby will probably not be great playmates, and may not be close for a long time (if ever) because of the age gap, there is a big part of me that is just relieved there will be two of them in case anything horrible should ever happen down the line.

I ended up seeing a psychiatrist at the program- she had a last minute cancellation so I was able to sneak in. She was quite helpful and reassuring. She started out thinking I might be ok just seeing someone on an occasional basis but once we talked everything through and I said that I didn’t know how to manage things because if I worry about my Dad I worry I’m stressing the baby, she decided that I should have a standard counsellor and regular meetings. So now I’m in a waiting game again for one of them to call me. If I had an acute need to talk to someone I could see her again, but I’m not at that stage right now.

Movement? Lots and lots now. The kicks are big enough to make my belly jump around. Phaselus definitely has patterns of movement and the baby dance party at 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. has continued. We were watching a film last night (James Bond- Spectre) and the baby kicked for almost the entire movie. My clingy cat was on my lap and she was clearly determined to ignore the bumping and jumping that was going on to one side. The baby is also terribly sneaky. S/he will kick and kick and kick and then the moment Q. or E. puts his hand on my belly, everything goes silent. E. still hasn’t had a chance to feel the baby yet, although we’ve tried a couple of times. I appreciate all the kicks, although the punches to the cervix aren’t that comfortable. Every bit of movement is reassuring though.

How does it compare with E.’s pregnancy? Last time I had this to say at 25 weeks:

Q. has noticed that he has to slow his walking pace down- I hadn’t realized that I was that much slower than normal, but it’s a significant change. Bending over is definitely getting harder. And even though I’m starving all the time, I can’t seem to fit much food into my stomach- a normal-sized meal (pre-pregnancy) now leaves me absolutely stuffed to the gills and feeling a bit ill.

So that’s interesting that I slowed down at exactly the same point. Apparently I started feeling like things were getting tougher at 24 weeks, which is EXACTLY the same as this time. I am so glad I kept those records of E’s pregnancy- it’s so interesting to compare!

The food thing is the same as well, although I’m not really hungry that often- I just get full really fast. I eat maybe 1/3rd of what I would usually eat at dinner and just eat more snacks during the day. The baby has pretty much eased off cravings (although s/he still loves avocados, steak and fruit).

About movement, I said this:

Bub is really getting strong- even Q. has noticed the difference in the kicks he can feel. It’s nice to get some daily reassurance that there is someone in there- I can pretty much guarantee I’ll get movement when I roll onto my right side in preparation for falling asleep. It’s a nice way to end the day.

Q. has again noticed a difference in the strength of the kicks (at least the few he’s been lucky enough to get from his uncooperative unborn offspring), and I certainly have. Interesting that this baby wiggles around at exactly the same time of night that E. did.

On my mind? I accepted the postdoc and deferred it at the same time, so I can make that final decision later. My prospective supervisor was very supportive (and already knew I was pregnant because my PhD supervisor has a big mouth). Q. and I found out that our papers were accepted for our association’s annual conference in May, so we’ve been talking about the logistics of that. E. is going to hang out with my mum and stepfather, so it’s a question of whether we take the train or drive. I’ll also be hugely pregnant by then, so if anything is worrying I will pull the paper and won’t go. But I hope I can go- it’s where Q. and I got engaged, so the city has a special place in our hearts, and the conference that was there in 2010 was amazing.

Sleep? Sleep has been ok the last couple of weeks. I think I am too tired from work and worry to fight it, although sometimes it takes longer than I would like to fall asleep. I have a hard time shutting down my brain with my Dad’s situation- I tend to go to sleep thinking about issues and then wake up thinking about them again. But I am sleeping well and not waking up in the night, which is much better than how I was going last time around where at this stage I was up all the time at 4:30 a.m. and often couldn’t get back to sleep.

Best moment? Hitting 24 weeks and viability. Having the baby party through the entire film last night. Learning that my Dad is progressing much faster than anyone in the ICU expected him to and is making huge strides with learning to talk on the ventilator. He is a fighter and I am so proud of him.

Other stuff? This coming week is full of appointments. I have a meeting with a paediatric nephrologist on Monday, my first meeting with my backup midwife (including the gestational diabetes test) on Tuesday, and the next round of scans and consults at the hospital where I’ll deliver on Thursday. I will be happy to see the baby again, and will be glad to get the gestational diabetes test out of the way, but I am losing almost all my prep time to appointments, and I really really need the prep time. I’ve cannibalized as many lectures as I can from my friend, but I still have a few to write from scratch and there’s the small matter of the research seminar I’m meant to give on the 17th… I am taking it one day at a time, trying not to panic, and promising myself I will get it all done eventually.

Leave a comment

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