Bye Bye Babies

My days of pregnancy and birth have ended. It's hard go into this next stage of my life knowing I won't ever be pregnant again. There are some things I'll miss and others I'm relieved not to have to deal with again.

Large and in charge at 38 weeks pregnant with R

Five things I'll miss about pregnancy and birth:
  1. Baby movements. It's a feeling like no other. The kicks, rolls, and hiccups were so special to me with both pregnancies. I loved being able to elicit a response from baby.
  2. The belly. I felt truly beautiful while I was pregnant. It's the only time in my life where I was proud of my belly and even flaunted it.
  3. The glow and the hair. My skin and hair were amazing during pregnancy. My hair has never been longer or thicker or shinier. 
  4. Birth. I know this one isn't on everyone's list, but I loved birthing. I was even good at it! We chose not to find out the sex of either baby, and that added extra excitement to the birthing process.
  5. Dressing the bump. I didn't get to do enough of this the last pregnancy due to months on bed rest, but I had grand plans. And I was going to document all of it.
And five things I won't:
  1. TTC. Trying to conceive is fun at first, but after a few months things got very clinical for us. All the charting, OPKs, BFNs, and tears got old fast. I didn't realize how tough trying to have a baby could be until we started trying to conceive.
  2. Morning sickness. What a misnomer! More like all day sickness that lasted well into my second trimester. The food aversion was nuts, too. I still give chicken and beef the side eye.
  3. Mood swings. It was an emotional roller coaster. One minute I was up, the next I was sobbing, and the minute after that I was full of rage. No thank you.
  4. Peeing every 5 minutes. That gets old fast. And don't even get me started on sneezing, coughing, or laughing when you have to pee. Ugh.
  5. Postpartum recovery. No matter how your baby is born, you will be recovering from a major event. The aches, the pains, the leaking, the lochia. I will not miss that! 
I'm thankful for the two beautiful, happy, and healthy boys I have, and can't wait to see what comes next for our family of four.


A Birthday, Birth Day, and Nursiversary

Dear Rohan,

A year ago today, I breathed you into the water and into my arms. Your high risk pregnancy made it hard for me to feel close to you in the womb. As you grew bigger and stronger, I found it hard not to melt a little as you rolled, kicked, and hiccuped. You were my constant companion, responding to my voice, pokes, and rubs. By the end of your residency in my belly, I loved you so fiercely and knew I would always fight this hard for you.

Your arrival was quick. The contractions came one on top of the other and I felt like I was riding a freight train. All I could do was hang on and surrender to my body, to you making your grand entrance. Three contractions in the tub and you were here. I will never forget the moment I met you, I said, "hello baby" and you just stared up at me without making a sound. You were connecting with my voice just as I was connecting to your 10 perfect fingers and toes. I was so excited to finally hold you that I announced you were a boy, even though Daddy was supposed to do that!

Breastfeeding you has been such a joy. The first several weeks threw all kinds of hurdles in our way, but we overcame them together. Whether it was my difficult postpartum recovery or your lip and tongue ties, we worked through them together. Without the support of your daddy, my IBCLC friends, and dear mama friends, we wouldn't have made it through. You loved my milk so much that you didn't eat or drink anything else until you were 9 months old!

Even at 12 months, you'd rather have mama's milk than solid food, and I'm still your favorite person on Earth. My voice, smell, and warmth give you more comfort and peace than anything else I can think of. I adore you in so many ways. You have been the sole bright spot through the months of depression and anxiety. I need you just as much as you need me, my darling.

Know that I love you regardless of who you marry, what you do with your life, and where you end up. I am your mother, and I will be your biggest advocate until my last breath. I cannot wait to see who you become.

All my love always,

Mama

 

"My Body is Home"

It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can write this post, but I read something so hateful this morning that I have to get this out. This isn't a post about loving your stretch marks or saggy skin. This is about loving your body as a whole.



I lost trust in my body over a year ago. From the day I found out my cervix was failing me, whatever self love I had stopped dead. I didn't know if I would carry the pregnancy to term or even close to term. A half dozen trips to Labor and Delivery because I thought I was in labor didn't help either. Laying in bed for nearly 4 months made me lose weight in the form of muscle. For once I was loving the numbers on the scale, but I was hating why they were so low. The thought of a long labor was nerve wracking. How would I handle those contractions?? I would get winded walking from the bedroom to the kitchen.

After R was born, I was thrilled to be a size smaller than I was pre-pregnancy. Everyone kept telling me how great and tiny I looked. Round the clock breastfeeding and an insatiable appetite made it hard to keep the weight off, but I knew that nourishing my tiny baby was more important than the label in my pants. The move to a new city, the PPD, and anxiety caused me to use food as a crutch and I gained weight. The poor food choices and lack of exercise caught up with me. I hated the way I looked in the mirror. I didn't bother to get dressed most days, staying in pajamas and ordering online so I wouldn't have to go to the store.

I was unhappy with so much and it was leaking into all aspects of my life: motherhood, being a wife, sister, friend, and daughter. Thankfully therapy has helped me come out of the fog of PPD and (most of the) anxiety. I'm at a point now where I joined a mom's fitness group and go at least twice a week for an hour. I can bring the baby, if I need to stop and nurse, it's no big deal. We all try to calm each others kids down when they're cranky from being in a stroller.

My body feels stronger. I feel stronger. I feel good. I am still not 100% where I want to be, but I know I'm getting there. I have more energy, I'm eating better. I'm making friends, including that mama tribe I (we) so desperately need. We are friends now, my body and I. Certainly not best friends, but we are getting there. I'm proud of the new muscles I'm building. I love being able to carry my 24 pound chunky baby, and it not hurt my arm or back.

I don't think I'll ever be 120 pounds, but that's okay. My job to be strong enough to keep up with my boys. I will not let anyone make me feel bad for the way I look. To all you mamas who are angry with your body, to those who've lost trust in it, know it gets better. To those who feel they need to come up with rules about who wears what and when, focus on yourself and your life. And kiss my ass.

Edit: Trigger warning The video "Body Love" by Mary Lambert made me cry hard. It's very powerful, but could be incredibly triggering for some.


This week's fruit: mini-watermelon

Alternate title: #stillpregnant

In some serious shock about how pregnant I am...

How far along: 39 weeks. 39 WEEKS. I have never been this pregnant before. I don't know what to expect anymore! I'm officially full term by ACOG's recently revised standards!

Total weight gain: Probably about 8-10 pounds.

Maternity clothes: They barely fit. I usually wear yoga pants and a t-shirt that barely covers my belly.

Sleep: It is so interrupted at night! Heartburn, prodromal labor, and getting up to pee every few hours makes it very hard.

Miss anything: Sleep, being able to wear sandals without assistance, shaving my legs without getting winded.

Movement: Yes, but it's a different type than before - still pretty powerful, but not so many jabs. More like moving around trying to get comfortable with what little room is left.

Food cravings: Those soft pretzel appetizer things from Chili's, milk & Oreos, watermelon, apples, avocado, mangoes.

Anything making you queasy or sick: certain smells. I'm not sure of which ones until I smell them.

Have you started to show yet: There's no hiding it, that's for sure!

Baby's Sex: Still unknown. We will find out when Baby makes his/her debut!

Labor signs: Consistently inconsistent contractions, I've spotted a little of my mucous plug in the toilet, was told of some cervical changes as of 3 weeks ago when I got my stitches out.

Belly button in or out: Still in, but maybe it will pop! Now I know why they're referred to as a navel orange.

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy, but I can go from happy to weepy in seconds.

Looking forward to: Maternity leave starting on Monday, whether Baby is here or not. My water birth (fingers crossed), learning whether this little one is a boy or girl, a baby in my arms! Breastfeeding, being a mom of two, Ethan meeting his little brother or sister. Newborn noises and gulps and smiles and smells.

Lets see if I make it to pumpkin, shall we?




It's Out

15 weeks ago to the day, I started bleeding and cramping while at work. I went to maternal observation only because I was 21+4 and I knew they wouldn't turn me away. I was told my cervix was funneling and that my bag of waters was making its way down. I was told I had an incompetent cervix. I got an emergency cerclage that night. I've been on some form of bed rest ever since - in fact, it was 13 weeks of strict bed rest at home. The past 15 weeks have included a half dozen trips to maternal observation or labor & delivery because I could've sworn something wasn't right. It has meant not going to work anymore, stopping all other activities, and living a very different life. It has meant not being able to pick up E and cuddle him when he was upset and sobbing, "Mommy, pick me up!"

Well, about an hour ago, the same doctor that put the stitches in took them out. My baby has grown stronger by the day. I am an incompetent cervix success story, an emergent transvaginal cerclage success story, proof that bed rest (while incredibly difficult) does help. This has by far been the hardest thing I've ever done.

BUT


Photo by Valerie Cannon Photography

it has been worth it. Every twinge, ache, worry, and tear has been worth the rolls, kicks, punches, and hiccups that I feel. I can finally exhale and stop worrying about having a preemie. I can focus on labor, breastfeeding, and life with two kids. I cannot wait to meet you, Baby. I can't wait to introduce you to the people who already love you so much.


I Can Countdown the Weeks Using 1 Hand

A sneak peek of my maternity pics that my incredible photographer shared.
Ok, technically I'm 35+5 in the pics, but whatever, they're amazing.

How far along: 36 weeks even! I never thought I'd make it this far. 36 weeks seemed like an eternity away when I got the cerclage put in. I am so happy to be here. I am so happy to still be pregnant.

Total weight gain: Probably about 5-6 pounds. Baby is gaining nicely and I'm measuring as I should.

Maternity clothes: I bought a new maternity t-shirt (since most of my maternity clothes from E are winter clothes, I don't have much that fits at the moment) and put it on only to discover it is too small and fits like a second skin.

Sleep: It is so interrupted at night! Heartburn and getting up to pee every few hours makes it very hard.

Miss anything: Sleep!

Movement: Yes, but it's a different type than before - still pretty powerful, but not so many jabs. More like moving around trying to get comfortable with what little room is left.

Food cravings: soft serve ice cream, a Pizookie from BJ's Brewhouse.

Anything making you queasy or sick: certain smells. I'm not sure of which ones until I smell them.

Have you started to show yet: Oh yeah. I'm in full bloom.

Baby's Sex: Still unknown. No longer feeling like it's a girl, but I'm not getting any strong vibes about baby's sex. Even when I dream about life after birth, I can't tell if I have a new baby girl or new baby boy. Weirdest thing ever.

Labor signs: Braxton Hicks continue, but usually go away if I empty my bladder or drink water. I've had some contractions if I overdo it that day or don't drink enough water, but they've always gone away. I'm still hoping baby stays in for another few weeks.

Belly button in or out: Still in. Maybe it'll pop.

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody most of the time: Very moody. Regular pregnancy hormones + extra progesterone + dealing with bed rest = moody.

Looking forward to: My baby shower on Sunday, my mom landing in a few hours for the weekend, stitch removal in a few days, and a BABY IN MY ARMS and breastfeeding and the newborn smell!!!  I can't believe I'm here. I never thought I would get here.

Almost There! - 34 Week Update

Holy crap. This baby's coming soon.


How far along: 34 weeks - 6 weeks from EDD, 3 weeks from being full term, 2ish weeks(!) from stitch removal!

Total weight gain: about 3.6 pounds. Baby is gaining nicely and I'm measuring as I should.

Maternity clothes: Still in my standard uniform of yoga pants and t-shirts most days, but I'm saving a ton of money on maternity clothes :)

Sleep: I'm having a hard time sleeping at night because of insomnia, heartburn, baby movement, and not being able to find a comfortable position.

Miss anything: Social interaction, little things like going to get groceries.

Movement: Still feeling lots of movement and it's getting stronger.

Food cravings: fried banana from our favorite Thai restaurant in north east PA

Anything making you queasy or sick: certain smells. I'm not sure of which ones until I smell them.

Have you started to show yet: I look like I swallowed a basketball.

Baby's Sex: Still unknown. I"m so close to the end that I can wait to find out.

Labor signs: Braxton Hicks continue, but usually go away if I empty my bladder or drink water. Hoping not to see labor signs for another few weeks. Lots of the third trimester stuff no one tells you about...

Belly button in or out: Still in. I don't think it's going to pop.

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody most of the time: Very moody. Regular pregnancy hormones + extra progesterone + dealing with bed rest = moody.

Looking forward to: My baby shower at the end of the month, seeing my mom for my shower, maternity pics, stitch removal, and a BABY IN MY ARMS!

Benefits of Bed Rest The Doctor Didn't Mention

Bed rest has not been easy. To go from normal life to laying down all the time literally overnight (I was sending emails and making calls from the hospital!) has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. I've learned that I like to be in control, so letting go has been quite tough. As my weeks of strict bed rest start to wind down, there are some perks to laying down all day that I will miss.

This counts as strict bed rest. I was laying down!
  1. You have a great excuse about why you can't do anything. This one's pretty obvious. Is there a household chore you hate doing? A social event you really want to avoid? "Sorry, I can't. I'm on strict bed rest." It has been a get out of jail free card of sorts. But then again, I've missed (and will be missing) some great events...
  2. Great excuse to grow your hair out. My hair has gotten long. It's well past the middle of my back when it's wavy and even longer when it is straight. It's Kardashian long, but real. This is what happens when you've got pregnancy hormones flowing and cannot leave the house to get a trim. I know most of my luscious locks will be history post partum when the shedding begins, but I will certainly enjoy them now!
  3. Bye bye hot tools. This kind of goes with the above. I have blow dried & straightened my hair once in the 10+ weeks I've been on bed rest. Once in over 10 weeks is some kind of a new record for me, especially considering that I would straighten at least once a week previously. I bet it is contributing to my hair length as well. I've also learned how to embrace the wave: how much of what product to put in, how to keep it looking great on the second day after washing it, etc.
  4. You learn who is there for you when you're in a bind. I have to say that this bed rest has really shown me who I can lean on when times get rough, and the answers have been eye opening. I have barely heard from some friends in 10 weeks, while others have really stepped up to be there for my family and I. Whether it's bringing us a meal, coming over with food to spend their lunch break with me just because, or even a text every few days to see how I am doing, I'm very thankful for those this experience has brought forward. Sure, I get that everyone's busy with their own lives and family, but how long does it take to send a text message when you're updating your FB? It was quite a rude awakening for me at first and I'm certain I'm still bitter about it, but I'm glad it has happened.
  5. You can get lots of reading done. From old issues of Mothering magazine to books on breastfeeding, I've done quite a bit of reading lately. In fact, it is the most reading that I've done in years. I think it is the third most amount of reading I've done (1 is college, 2 is reading while pumping at work). I know I won't the opportunity to do this much uninterrupted reading again for a long, long time, and I've certainly enjoyed it.
  6. Naps. I took three naps yesterday because I could. Three naps. Just because I was tired and wanted to close my eyes. Pregnancy has made me exhausted. Pregnancy insomnia makes it even worse. I'm glad I can sleep as needed. I am definitely enjoying it now. I know I won't be doing this after the baby is born!

30 Weeks - The Countdown Begins!

Click to enlarge so you can actually read it!


How far along: 30 weeks - 10 weeks from EDD, 6 weeks(!) from stitch removal, and 2 weeks from even greater viability.

Total weight gain: Within 10 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight.

Maternity clothes: I got to wear something other than yoga pants this week! The lovely moms from the mom-to-mom breastfeeding group I helped facilitate prior to bed rest threw me a sprinkle this week. I got to wear a maternity dress I bought months ago, blow dried & flat ironed my hair for the first time since January, and put on my going out makeup. It felt so nice to feel normal.

Sleep: I can't get enough. The baby starts its calisthenics at about 1am every day. I'm usually up, thanks to pregnancy insomnia. I nap a lot during the day.

Miss anything: Social interaction, though the sprinkle helped a lot.

Movement: So much movement! The nightly exercise includes rolls, kicks, and punches. Sometimes I feel like the baby's going to break through my pelvic floor!

Food cravings: guacamole, chocolate, grilled cheese, and funnel cake.

Anything making you queasy or sick: certain smells. I'm not sure of which ones until I smell them.

Have you started to show yet: Yes, I love my big belly.

Gender Baby's Sex: This has been bothering me for weeks. It's not gender. It's sex. We don't know the baby's sex. The gender will be determined after its born. Lots of green and yellow.

Labor signs: Braxton Hicks continue, but usually go away if I empty my bladder or drink water. Hoping not to see labor signs for another 6+ weeks.

Belly button in or out: Still in. I don't think it's going to pop.

Wedding rings on or off: On and they are kind of loose.

Happy or moody most of the time: Very moody. Regular pregnancy hormones + extra progesterone + dealing with bed rest = moody.

Looking forward to: 32 weeks, seeing the baby at my perinatologist appointment this week, getting baby stuff, stitch removal!

Big Belly Bliss

As I come into the home stretch of pregnancy, I think I can finally say I'm starting to enjoy it. At almost 30 weeks, I've grown accustomed to the kicks, rolls, hiccups, and jabs that this little one has been throwing out for several months. The heartburn isn't that bad (yet) and having to pee every 10 minutes gives me the chance to stretch my legs and walk a little. It makes me a little sad that it took me so long to finally come to terms with the sudden transition from low risk pregnancy to a high risk pregnancy.

One of my favorite parts of pregnancy is the change my body goes through. The hips widening, the curve at the small of my back becoming more defined, the basketball I seem to be smuggling under my shirt, even the new stretch marks appearing because Baby enjoys hanging out on my left side. Yes, I am that weirdo lady that doesn't mind stretch marks. Pregnancy is a time when I feel womanly and truly beautiful, especially when I'm in full bloom during the third trimester.

My most recent IG belly shot
My stomach has always been where I carried my extra weight. The spare tire, the muffin top, the pooch... I have them all when not pregnant. I don't like drawing attention to it when my uterus is unoccupied. When pregnant, the opposite is true: I no longer feel the need to suck it in, I own many striped pregnancy shirts, and prefer a belly hugging top to an empire cut. I want to get my bump painted, henna'd, and photographed. I take the pregnant woman pose: hands on the back of my hips, stomach out in all its glory.

My iPhone camera and Instagram feed is filled with bathroom selfies. When I was pregnant with E, I went into labor the night before my maternity pics were to be taken. I don't have any professionally shot maternity pics, but my husband took weekly bump pics for me (every Monday, after prenatal yoga). He hasn't been taking weekly bump pics this time around and I'm not sure if the restrictions will be lifted long enough for me to have professional photos taken, so the phone bathroom selfies may just be it. Unless I can talk Dave into helping me with a belly cast in a few weeks...

Hello Third Trimester!

The last trimester of my last pregnancy. Very bittersweet feeling.


How far along: 28 weeks! As someone told me earlier this week, "the days are long, but the weeks fly by" - this is especially true on bed rest!

Total weight gain: I weigh 12 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. At my last midwife appointment, I learned that while I may be gaining weight, the bed rest is likely causing me to lose muscle tone :(

Maternity clothes: If by maternity clothes, you mean yoga pants and t-shirts, then yes.

Sleep: So tired, and it's just going to get worse from here on out.

Miss anything: Lots of social events, pedicures, hair cuts, wearing makeup every day (although I will wear it around the house when I have visitors), going outside, and Guinness.

Movement: Tons of it! Each kick, roll, hiccup, and punch is getting stronger by the day. Sometimes the kicks take my breath away.

Food cravings: avocados, Coke (don't judge, I don't give in very often), oranges, apples

Anything making you queasy or sick: the smell of cauliflower when it's cooking.

Have you started to show yet: Yes, for weeks now. I am feeling large and in charge.

Gender: still a surprise. When my sister was here, we did some old wives tales to see if we could figure it out. Check out this video to see what we determined.

Labor signs: just Braxton Hicks. While it's not a labor sign, my linea nigra is starting to come through.

Belly button in or out: Still in.

Wedding rings on or off: On and they are kind of loose.

Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. Still very moody.

Looking forward to: A refresher birth class this weekend, making it to 32 weeks.

It's Not All Cutesy Pregnancy Updates

This pregnancy has been hard. Having to go from being really really busy to laying down for 99.97% of the day has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I definitely have my less than optimistic days, and today was one of them. I had a pity party of 1 which included lots of tears. Pregnancy hormones suck.

I am missing out on several fun pregnancy things that I was looking forward to, silly things like dressing the bump, getting my belly painted and/or henna'd, maternity pics, and even a baby shower/sprinkle/blessingway. I hate that I can't do these things because gravity is not my friend. I just want a cervix that works. I hate that I feel really let down by certain friends because they've about fallen off the face of the earth for the past 6 weeks. Bed rest really makes a girl realize who is there for her and who isn't (and cue the text messages asking how I'm doing from people I haven't heard from in ages). I hate that I am missing out on events I've been looking forward to since before this baby was conceived. I hate that I feel like I have let people down. At least in reality everyone understands and has been supportive, so I'm really not letting anyone down.

Sorry Mrs. Gaskin, I respectfully disagree. Pretty sure mine is a lemon.

My body feels broken and I am not sure I trust it anymore. It's making me apprehensive about labor. It's making me even more apprehensive about breastfeeding. I don't feel very connected to this baby or pregnancy. While I care very much about the growing life inside of me, I certainly don't feel about it the way I felt with E. I'm almost a little grateful that this is the last pregnancy I will have. Almost. Then I get sad again about all of the things I won't get to enjoy.

While this post is some sort of verbal (written?) diarrhea about feeling all the feels, I am trying very hard to keep a positive attitude. I'm so thankful for the friends who've come through in this tough time and have helped me take care of my family when I can't. I'm thankful that I've made it this far. I'm thankful that there seems to be an end in sight. I'm thankful for every kick, punch, roll, and hiccup that grows stronger every day. I'm thankful for having fantastic health insurance. I'm thankful that E is old enough to understand that Mommy has a big ouch and needs to lay down a lot.

I'm looking forward to getting this damn stitch out and going into labor on my own. I'm looking forward to having my baby in water, even though it will be in a hospital setting and not at home. I'm looking forward to breastfeeding again, and all the newborn things (the desperation, the gulps, the sighs, the sleepiness, the warmth, the smell, the love) that come with it. I'm looking forward to getting to know a tiny person and watching him or her develop and learn. A tiny part of me is even looking forward to the newborn stage filled with no sleep, no showers, and no schedule.

There you have it. The roller coaster of emotion that has been my pregnancy. This post has been brought to you by pregnancy hormones and underwritten by 17P progesterone shots.

24 Week Update

 

How far along: 24 weeks, 3 days

Total weight gain: I weigh 12 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. Yes, for real. Pregnancy is the best diet for me.

Maternity clothes: Absolutely. I unfortunately don't get to wear most of them. So much for dressing the bump and enjoying that part of pregnancy.

Sleep: I can't get enough.

Miss anything: Work. I really like what I do and I was just getting into the swing of things when all of this happened. I also miss scooping up Ethan when he needs a hug.

Movement: So much! This baby enjoys bouncing on my bladder and kicking up a storm after I get up to pee in the middle of the night.

Food cravings: salty and sweet: Whataburger french fries and Snickers bars. A friend turned me on to Luna bars in the caramel nut brownie flavor, and holy crap they're so good! A healthier alternative to candy means I can eat more, right?

Anything making you queasy or sick: my weekly progesterone shots have made me nauseous in the mornings and sometimes all day. Luckily, bed rest means I can sleep it off.

Have you started to show yet: Oh yes. I think I was this big at 32ish weeks when pregnant with E.

Gender: still a surprise. I've been tempted to open the envelope, but we haven't. Did I mention we have the print of the sono sealed in an envelope? We did the same thing with E.

Labor signs: Thankfully, nothing since the initial IC diagnosis at 21 weeks. I have been having Braxton Hicks a bit in the mornings if I don't empty my bladder right away.


Belly button in or out: Still in.

Wedding rings on or off: On, but I don't wear them around the house.

Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. Still very moody.

Looking forward to: Making it to 28 weeks and my sister's visit in a few weeks.