Third Trimester- The Home Stretch

Dear Alex,

Yesterday makes 27 weeks for us… the official start of third trimester! I can’t believe we are two-thirds of the way through this pregnancy already. As of this point, the pregnancy is considered “viable,” meaning that you have grown & developed enough to stand a fighting chance outside of the womb should you have to come out early for some reason. But I hope that doesn’t happen! Although the accountant in me says the tax break would be nice (haha), I want you to have plenty of time to grow & prepare for life out here… and honestly, I don’t think we’re quite ready for you yet either! I feel like there is still so much left to do– we haven’t bought much since the baby shower is coming up in a couple weeks, and all of our classes & hospital tour are scheduled for next month.

They say that second trimester is where a lot of growth happens, and I would definitely have to agree:

 

You went from the size of a peach to the size of a rutabaga! I have definitely felt many of the common effects of this change in size, particularly the ones related to carrying you lower (bladder issues, hip and back pain, constipation), as well as things like heartburn (when I lay down, mostly), swelling in my hands/feet/face, trouble sleeping and just getting comfortable in general. The upside is that I feel you move much more frequently, which has been so entertaining… but sometimes I swear I can feel you stepping directly on my bladder. LOL. Yesterday I went to my friend Shannon’s baby shower. She is due in early December (7 weeks ahead of me), and it was so interesting to see the difference in our shape/size:

Not the best picture of me (perhaps I should retire that shirt! haha), but you get the idea. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, from the symptoms she has to the way she carries, but I will say it has been nice having one of my good friends going through this at the same time I am– someone to talk to who really “gets it.” 🙂 Anyway, the other fun thing I did this week was go through the clothes Dad’s friend from work gave him (his friend just had a baby boy about 6 months ago). There was so much cuteness in there!

 

I have to admit, I got a little emotional & teared up while I was going through these, imagining you wearing them… it is just so exciting thinking that you’ll be here in just a few short months! Everything in the bags were mostly in the 0-3 months size range, so I think we’re just about set there. We have also already bought/received from others several items in the 3-6 months size range too. It’s really hard to know what we need to get for you when it comes to clothes, since we have no clue how big you’ll be and how quickly you’ll grow into new sizes. Grandma and Papa have been getting on me about not buying any more baby stuff until after the shower… but it’s so much fun to buy baby things! Luckily I don’t have to resist much longer (haha) since the shower is on November 10. Dad & I are really looking forward to the trip down to Hampton for that– we haven’t seen most of our family/friends down there in a long time, so it will be really nice to catch up with all of them. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll wrap this up for now. I’m writing a little earlier than I normally would since we apparently have a big hurricane coming our way & I’m not sure whether we’ll have power tomorrow night. Hopefully we’ll weather the storm without too much damage & power outages. I have a feeling I’ll get out of work tomorrow & probably get to telework most of the week, but poor Dad will have to go out in that mess. :-\ I’ll let you know how all that goes when I talk to you next week!

All my love,
Mom

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Man’s Best Friend

Dear Alex,

This week (26 weeks) you are the size of a head of lettuce… a far cry from the poppyseed you once were! Actually I think this past week you were going through a bit of a growth spurt. I’ve read that is common around this time, and I noticed several of the tell-tale signs: decreased movement (growing is hard work, so you had to rest), more round ligament pains (ouch!), feeling hungry all the time (nom nom nom) and increased fatigue (zzzz….). I don’t know how much bigger I look, but the belly is feeling much tighter & fuller lately:

Also, some of the furrier members of our family have taken more notice of you/belly over the last couple of weeks:

This is Cody, our 2 year-old Corgi… he is by far one of the most intelligent dogs I’ve ever had, and he picked up on your presence rather quickly. He stopped jumping on my stomach within the first month or so of the pregnancy, and recently his new favorite pastime has been snuggling up to me & putting his head on my belly (as seen here!). Pretty neat how animals can sense things like that. Anyway, I have a feeling you & Cody will become fast friends once you make your grand arrival. 🙂 Our other dog, Annie, is much older (8 years) and probably won’t have the patience for little boys! Haha

Not much else is going on around here lately…. other than what I described above I’m feeling pretty much the same. I did have to officially step down my fitness routine a little bit, since I’m getting too big to do my usual fitness classes normally. Instead I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill walking and light weight lifting on my own. Sadly just walking on the treadmill   (I go on a steep incline at “power walk” pace) is a major workout for me these days!

I was trying to think of what else to write about, & Dad just reminded me that I had a “stretch mark scare” this week too. LOL. When I got out of the shower a few days ago I saw what I thought was a stretch mark on my belly… I went  running over to Dad freaking out about it & asking him if he thought it was a stretch mark. When he said he thought it was, I got so upset! Thankfully the mark seemed to be gone when I went to bed that night, so who knows what it actually was. I know stretch marks are likely inevitable, but after seeing some “horror story” pictures online I am really not looking forward to it & hope whatever I end up with isn’t too bad! Needless to say, I’ve been slathering on the cocoa butter ever since. Actually Dad has, it’s become our nightly ritual for him to rub cocoa butter on me before we go to bed. He gets to rub the belly & feel you kick, I get a little massage… it’s a win-win. 😉

And with that I’ll wrap things up for this week. Keep growing little man– we love you so much!

All my love,
Mom

Having It All

Dear Alex,

You are just over 25 weeks now– about 14 inches long and weighing in at a whopping 2 lbs. Supposedly this is the size of a cauliflower stalk… honestly I’m not a huge cauliflower fan & have no idea of this is true. 😉 Anyway, this weekend we went to a wedding in WV, for a cousin on the Hartleben (Nana’s) side of the family. We haven’t seen any of them since you were 5 weeks along, and I think they got a kick out of seeing  the ever-expanding belly:

One thing that cracks me up are people’s reactions to the whole “touching the belly” issue… some folks have no qualms whatsoever & tend to go straight for it, others are more hesitant and will shyly ask first. Personally I have no problems with people I know touching it if they want, as long as they ask. However, I definitely DO have a problem with strangers touching my belly. Luckily this has not happened yet– it’s just been friends, family & coworkers. Dad of course does it all the time; he really likes feeling you kick, talking to you, and just rubbing/kissing the belly. I think that is his way of feeling connected to you. 🙂

The super long car rides to/from the wedding (5 hours each way) were much more uncomfortable at 6 months pregnant than they would’ve been normally… thank goodness for pillows, snacks & lots of rest areas along the way. When Dad & I take long car rides like that, we take the opportunity to have heart-to-hearts about whatever happens to be on our mind at the time. We spent the ride home Saturday night engrossed in what can be kind of a controversial topic: religion.

Specifically, we spoke about what sort of religious beliefs/values we want to try to raise you on. I suppose I won’t go into detail about it here just now, but your Dad & I had different experiences growing up when it comes to our religious education. This has lead to each of us having different belief systems. We’ve had some lively debates on these topics over the years, but in general we’re pretty supportive of one another in this regard… and of course we hold to the same set of core moral values. In the end, Dad & I agreed that we would give you a basic education on both of our belief systems, then of course you can decide for yourself when you’re older. All in all, I’m glad Dad & I took the time to have this conversation now. It’s good to be on the same page (or as close to it as possible) with things like that.

Another productive conversation I had this week was with my boss… not the supervisors I work with on a daily basis, but the “big” boss who does the hiring & firing, and who approves things like maternity leave. Although he’d heard through the grapevine that I am pregnant, I had not actually sat down to discuss it with him prior to this. I was afraid that it would be awkward, but he was very supportive and agreeable to whatever telework, leave plans, etc. I thought were best. Basically I am planning to start teleworking full-time around the last month of my pregnancy (starting the week before Christmas), do that up until I go into labor and then take the three months after you are born off. This should put me back at work around the May timeframe.

One thing my boss also mentioned was that, if I wanted, working part-time is also an option. Obviously that would have a lot of financial ramifications on us though, so I’m going to give that a lot more thought. Honestly I’ve already given the topic of “having it all” — i.e. a career and a family — a lot of thought, both during this pregnancy & even before that. It amazes me how some women manage to pull it off so smoothly (or so it seems). And I know it’s going to be tougher for us because Dad will have a little over a year of school left when you’re born, plus we don’t have much family in our area to help out… but in the end I’m sure it will be fine; I think it’s going to be something that we’ll have to figure out as we go.

And that is quite enough for now… Since physically I’ve felt pretty much the same these last few weeks, I’ve been focusing these entries on some of the mental/emotional things we’ve been going through to prepare for your arrival. Hope it wasn’t too boring! Until next week, little guy! 🙂

All my love,
Mom

More thoughts from Dad

Dear Alex,

We have just passed the 24 week mark (6 months! wow), and you are now the size of a cantaloupe. The bigger I get, the more uncomfortable everyday tasks (like just sitting) are becoming:

If I look tired in this picture, it’s because I didn’t get much sleep last night. Sleep is getting harder to come by these days thanks to back/hip pain, heartburn, having to pee frequently, and a certain little mover & shaker keeping me up at night! 😉 But it is all worth it. Maybe this is just nature’s way of training me for the lack of sleep I’ll be dealing with after you’re born. Speaking of you, my little mover & shaker, Dad & I were so excited when you finally let Dad feel one of your kicks a couple days ago! He was so thrilled. Since then he’s caught a couple more kicks & we’ve had some fun watching you twitch my belly around on your own now that you’re getting stronger.

As promised I took some time to sit down with Dad and ask him about his perspective on the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, now that it’s just about over (yikes!). Here’s how our conversation went:

1. What has been your favorite change between 1st & 2nd trimester?
Dad started to say that he hadn’t really noticed any major changes, at least not with regards to how I was acting… supposedly the hormones level out during 2nd trimester, but Dad felt that mine were never really “out of control” in the first place. I guess I’ve been doing a really good job of keeping the crazy away from him. LOL. So then I asked him about the physical changes…

2. Does the expanding belly weird you out?
He said no, not at all. Dad followed this up with “it actually makes me smile, because it reminds me of what we have ahead of us.” 🙂 

3. Tell me about your thoughts/ reactions during the 3D ultrasound…
    a. What was it like seeing Alex’s face for the first time?
Dad recalled how shy you were initially, because you kept covering your face with your hands, but he was glad the tech was able to still get a lot of really great photos. He says he thinks you’re going to be a very handsome little dude, but he couldn’t really tell which of us you look like.
    b. How about when you found out the gender?
He realized you were a boy before the tech actually said anything since the “extra bits” were pretty clear to him. Dad added that although he was not nervous about finding out the gender, he couldn’t help but feel hopeful for a boy… and so his first thought when he realized what you were was “Yesssss!” Hahaha. Overall Dad says he felt a mixture of relief & excitement at the news.

4. What are you most looking forward to about the father-son relationship?
Dad says he is really excited about sharing “teachable moments” with you, and doing lots of fun things together (ESPECIALLY baseball… lord help us if you don’t like baseball, haha!). He hopes the two of you will have a really close bond.

5. What is feeling & seeing kicks like for you?
Dad said is was really neat to feel that clear poke through the belly. He said that moment, above all else so far, has made this feel so much more “real” to him. Feeling you move was something he’d really been looking forward to! 

6. Now that you’ve been at this for awhile, do you have any words of wisdom for dealing with a pregnant wife?
Dad said that although it’s been pretty much smooth sailing from his perspective, the hardest thing for him has been knowing when to shut up & let me vent about things when I need to. 😉 

7. If you could say anything to Alex right now, what would you say?
“Keep up the good work, little guy!” (I couldn’t agree more!)

Some of my own thoughts on going through this journey with Dad– I have been extremely lucky to have such a great partner to experience this with. From day 1 Dad has been so sweet, helpful and supportive with whatever I’ve needed throughout this pregnancy. Although he’s never really been the type to verbalize or display his emotions much, it is very clear to me that he’s extremely excited that you’re on your way & that our little family of 2 will soon be 3. 😀 Despite some of my “discomforts” (haha), this has truly been the happiest time of our lives. And we know it’s only going to get better from here, so we can’t wait to start this adventure with you!

All my love,
Mom

Neurosis

Dear Alex,

You are over 23 weeks along now- the size of a grapefruit. WOW. Time is really steamrolling by now, which on the one hand is great because of course we are dying to meet you: Alex the little person & not Alex the abstract concept in my belly…

… but on the other hand, as time goes by and the pregnancy progresses, there is definitely an alarming level of fear & anxiety building up in my head. Feeling you move so much, seeing all these ultrasound pictures of you, working on your nursery, etc. makes all of it feel more & more “real” everyday. And it is so great, absolutely everything Dad & I have been looking forward to & dreaming of for so many years, but finally standing on the edge of that cliff we’re about to jump over is also– to be honest– kind of terrifying.

I’m actually not at all afraid of childbirth itself: I think that between my strength/willpower, Dad’s support & modern medicine I should be able to handle that just fine. What I’m really afraid of is what happens after we bring you home from the hospital. Being 100% responsible for your tiny little life is a huge job, and something that both Dad & I have absolutely zero experience in. I didn’t even do much babysitting growing up, and the little bit I did was not with infants. I just want to be able to do right by you, my son, who I love so very much already. And with such a fragile little being, I think there’s a lot I can screw up. :-\

So those are my open, honest feelings about it at the moment. I want these letters to you to be a true snapshot of what this process was really like for us– the good, the bad, & the ugly… or in this case, the crazy! Haha. And the truth is that these are normal feelings that all new parents have, and hopefully if you ever have children of your own someday (OMG I cannot even remotely fathom that concept right now as I write this) you’ll be able to read these letters and know that it’s okay to feel this way. It doesn’t mean that I am not absolutely ecstatic to be bringing you into this world, to be expanding our little family & sharing my life with you. I feel more and more of a connection with you everyday, and have loved you from the moment I saw that barely there line on the pee stick almost 20 weeks ago. That will never change. These thoughts & feelings I’m sharing with you today are really just about my own insecurities.

My method of combating these feelings are the same things I always do with my fears of the unknown: books, videos, more books, classes, internet research, and oh yeah– MORE BOOKS. 😉 As they say, knowledge is power! Haha. But I know that there’s really no manual for this crazy adventure I’m about to take… and that is what is really scary. Giving up control is something that has always been very tough for me, and I really don’t have a choice here– all I can do is try my hardest to be the best mom I can be, and the rest is in God’s hands. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that He will do what is best for all of us.

I should quickly point out that today’s letter does not in anyway represent what Dad is feeling. With the exception of the bleeding incident at 6 weeks, Dad has been very much “Joe Cool” throughout this entire pregnancy. Truthfully, Dad tends to internalize feelings of fear/anxiety, so he is probably experiencing more of this than he lets on. But he says all the time how confident he is that we’re going to be great parents, and that there are people out there much less responsible than us who have managed to pull it off (which is a solid point I suppose). He is, as always, my rock that keeps me grounded when I start to let the neurosis carry me away. Don’t know what I would do without him. 🙂

Now that I think about it, we are long overdue for another “interview” with Dad! Maybe I will work on that for next week. Something for you to look forward to, little man! Until then…

All my love,
Mom