Moving & Grooving!

Dear Charlie,

Things have been insanely busy around here and the time is slipping by so quickly… which is why I’m just now writing you another letter at 25 weeks! I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner, although honestly there isn’t too much to update you on except for the awesome fact that you are moving & grooving around in there. 🙂 As I mentioned last time, I first felt movement around 20 weeks but now the movements are much more frequent and much stronger. Although I think they’re strong enough to be felt from the outside (sometimes) at this point, Dad hasn’t caught one yet. Every time you start moving I’ll be like “quick, put your hand on my belly!” and then the moment he does you don’t move anymore. You’re just shy I guess! Haha.

The other recent bit of news is that we had your 24 week check up a few days ago, and all was well. Your heartbeat was nice & strong, you’re measuring right on target (about 1 foot long and 1 pound– this week’s fruit is cantaloupe!), blood pressure was good, etc. My weight gain was a quite a bit for only one month at 6lbs, but I think there are a couple reasons for that… (1) I had to stop jogging a few weeks ago because I started getting pretty severe groin pain/soreness that would last for hours or even days afterward, and (2) I think you went through a huge growth spurt in there. I mean, take a look! Here’s your 22 week picture….

22 weeks

And your 25 week picture (not my best photo, but as I told Dad at this point it’s a week late, it needs to get done LOL)….

25 weeks

WHOA! Actually Dad & I have a conversation almost daily now that goes something like this:

Me (looking in mirror or down at belly): This is ridiculous! There’s NO WAY I was this huge, this early, when I was pregnant with Alex.
Dad: Yes you were, dear. It’s okay!

Oy! :-\ By the way, for your future wife’s sake go ahead & add “yes you were (and are) huge” to the list of things NOT to tell a woman while she’s pregnant. LOL. Anyway, other than that I don’t have much to report. We’re still working hard on your nursery & it’s actually almost done. We just have a few finishing touches to add & then I’m going to get all your stuff organized in there. Some friends are hosting a baby shower for you in a couple weeks, so I’ll probably finish everything up & take some pictures of it to show you shortly after that. I will say, it’s looking really good so far! 🙂

And with that, I’ll go ahead & wrap this up. Until next time little guy (and who knows when that will be as I clearly suck at writing these letters lately, so sorry!), keep up that moving & growing! Dad & I are getting ever more excited to meet you. 😀

All my love,
Mom

Episode VII: Return of the Snoogle

Dear Charlie,

Coming up on 21 weeks now, over halfway through the pregnancy! You’re getting bigger and bigger with each passing day now, currently around 13 ounces & 11 inches long… the interwebs says that’s the size of a pomegranate, but I’ve never seen an 11 inch pomegranate! Haha. I’ll let the belly speak for itself (this was taken last week actually, right at 20 weeks):

1907890_10100464463722847_1901454994154649332_o

As noted in the title of this letter, I did have to break my humongous Snoogle pillow back out a couple weeks ago… it has become kind of uncomfortable to lay flat on my back for too long, plus technically it is not good for either of us to have me laying on my back after the 20 week mark anyway. Poor Dad, he (understandably) was not looking forward to the return of the Snoogle. It really is like having a third person in the bed. LOL. A necessary evil!

The other obvious indicator of your size is the fact that I can feel you moving around in there on a regular basis now. It’s not constant (yet), but I can usually depend on you to poke & flip around after a meal and/or when I’m laying in bed at night. It’s not quite at the point where Dad can feel you moving from the outside yet, although that hasn’t stopped him from trying! I suspect that will happen within the next month or so.

All other indicators are pointing to a smooth, healthy pregnancy so far as well. Every test I’ve taken up to this point has come back normal, my weight gain and blood pressure are right where they should be, and you “passed” your anatomy scan last week with flying colors! The ultrasound tech took her time to show us all your organs, bones, etc… and you almost immediately showed us “the goods” confirming (again) that you are definitely ALL BOY. Haha. And not shy about it at all! 😉

We got a few pictures from the ultrasound, but we also got something even better this time– a video! I was so excited when the OB office told us they do this free video service now for all their patients. Here you are, in all your glory:

As fun as it is to watch you on the screen, we are getting more and more excited to meet you in person! 😀 And admittedly, a little terrified about it too. :-X You’d think with being second-time parents that would not be the case, and it’s true that many of the things we were nervous about the first time are not things we’re worrying about now… but there are things about the transition from a family of three to a family of four that Dad & I worry about. Not just how we’re going to be able to handle having a newborn & a young toddler, but more importantly the young toddler’s transition from being an only child to a big brother. I know in the long run that Alex will be a GREAT big brother to you, but I also know that he is a stage 5 “clinger” on me and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Having to divide my time between the two of you is going to be really hard on him, and honestly I feel a lot of guilt about it already. I hope & pray that we do a good job of helping him to handle it, and that he does not take it out on you too much.

Speaking of Alex, we’ve been trying to introduce the “there’s a baby in mommy’s belly” concept to him recently & I think he’s starting to pick it up a little bit! Randomly he touched my belly the other day & said “Baby sleep” out of nowhere. I was like “Yeah Baby Charlie is sleeping in there” and he goes “Charlie!” 😀 So, there’s hope for the two of you after all. LOL.

Well I’d better wrap this up– you are kicking furiously at my bladder all of a sudden so a trip to the bathroom is in order… :-X Until next time, sweet boy!

All my love,
Mom

Keeping Busy

Dear Charlie (!),

You are about 17 1/2 weeks along now, almost the size of a sweet potato. 🙂 It’s been a very busy summer for us, as this time of year is for any family with kids, but I have found some time to start working on your nursery. At the same time, I’ve been working on Alex’s “big boy” room… so both projects are at an awkward, incomplete stage at the moment. Still, I’ll share with you what I’ve got so far:

IMG_20140724_144008I picked out this animal/forest themed set for your room because it is so fun & colorful! Several people have asked me if I was going to just re-use Alex’s nursery set for you, but I don’t want to. Nursery linens are relatively inexpensive, and seeing as you are your own little person with your own identity, I wanted you to have your own unique nursery. 🙂 We may re-use the branch from Alex’s nursery though, but if we do I’ll jazz it up a bit to make it look different. I’m thinking your walls will be some shade of green, or possibly gray or a darker blue…. still in debate on that. I do also have curtains, which are orange. I think green, blue & orange will be the main colors we use in here. Hoping to make more progress in the next few months!

I’ve also been randomly purchasing the few little things we need for you, as I’ve had time to shop. I got a new chair for Alex’s room so that we could move the comfy recliner into your room (I imagine you & I will be spending a LOT of time in it together come January/February 😉 ), and also purchased a couple lots of gently used newborn-sized clothes off of the yardsale sites. I discovered these online yardsales about 6 months or so ago… they’re a GREAT place to find good deals on gently used stuff, particularly baby/kid stuff. We were told not to get newborn sized clothes for Alex, and I always regretted that because, even at 8lb 3oz, he was still in newborn clothes for quite awhile. I’d say for the first month or so he just wore the size 0-3month clothes that totally swallowed him. LOL. Anyway, I suspect you’ll be around the same size as Alex & therefore I will need some newborn sized clothes. I might have gone overboard though….

IMG_20140724_140428What can I say, they were good deals! There’s about 80 outfits in this box. :-X Oh well, at least we’re prepared on that front now. Haha! The only other thing on my list is a nicer changing pad and covers for it– I never liked the thin, cheap one that came with our changing table. Other than that, I plan to start stocking up on diapers and possibly formula as we get closer to your due date.

[Yes, I said formula– I’m not planning to breastfeed for very long, if at all. It was NOT a good experience the first go-round, and although there’s a ton of pressure on mothers to breastfeed their babies these days, it is NOT something that comes naturally to me & I refuse to let the stress of it ruin those precious, fleeting days of the “newborn phase” like it did with Alex…. that is one of my biggest regrets with him. So, to me it’s not worth it, knowing that formula also does a fantastic job of nourishing babies– Alex was quite healthy & thriving on formula. If by some miracle the breastmilk overfloweth this time around I’ll certainly run with it, but I don’t want to assume or anticipate that scenario the way I stupidly did last time. As this is a public blog, I know there are moms reading this who will probably judge me for it, but I don’t care– it’s my choice. That’s all I have to say about that.]

Anywho, I haven’t posted a picture of you in quite awhile… I should have put one up in my last letter, but there was so much else going on that I just plain forgot! Here’s my “bump pic” from 15 weeks:DSC_0766

And here’s my most recent bump pic, at almost 18 weeks:

DSC_0768It’s hard to see in the pictures, but I can feel it with the increasing weight/discomfort in my midsection– you sure are growing fast in there! In fact, you are just about to embark on a major growth spurt, typical for the second trimester. Hopefully I’m at a point now where when people see me, it’s clear that I’m pregnant and not just fat. LOL. I really hate that “in-between” phase where it’s questionable. About a week or so ago, I admitted defeat and broke out my stash of maternity clothes. I forgot how comfy maternity clothes are! 😀 Plus I picked up a few more maternity things on the yardsale sites. I also got a really great deal on one of those baby fetal heart rate monitors, and Dad & I have really enjoyed listening to your heartbeat whenever we want at home. Okay, I might be addicted to those yardsales… Whoops!

That’s about all for now. I will probably wait to write again until after my next OB appointment, which is the 20 week check-up & anatomy scan. Dad & I can’t wait to get another glimpse of you! Hopefully we’ll have nothing but good news to report from that appointment. Until then, keep growing little guy!

All my love,
Mom

It’s a… (AGAIN!)

Dear Baby Pacheco,

Almost 15 weeks along already! I can’t believe we’re already approaching the 4 month mark; this pregnancy has been REALLY flying by. Still feeling really good, finally starting to get some energy back now that we’re well into second trimester. And yes, after a couple of harassing phone calls to both the doctor’s office and the lab they contract with to do the blood DNA test– we FINALLY got the results back, the week after I last wrote you. WIthout further ado….

IMG_20140724_134908You are a BOY! 😀 The test confirmed what the ultrasound tech had predicted– she said she could clearly see on the ultrasound the “frank and beans,” as it were. Once she pointed it out, Dad & I could see it too.

I’m not gonna lie, I was shocked… and a little sad. For some reason, I’d felt so sure that you were going to be a girl. I didn’t have those sorts of feelings with Alex, I honestly didn’t have any “sense” about it one way or the other. But this time…. well, the best way to describe it is that I had to mourn the baby girl I thought was growing inside me, and get accustomed to the baby boy I found to be there instead. I just needed to some time to wrap my mind around it, is all.

Not that I’m any less excited about your impending arrival, mind you! 😉 In a lot of ways it is a bit of a relief, because we already have just about everything we need for a baby boy. I already have plenty of experience with all the special little nuances that go with little boys. Dad is insanely excited (I think the idea of a little girl makes him nervous, which of course is so silly), and proud as a peacock — when we walked out of the ultrasound, the first thing he said was “Heck yeah, this baby factory (referring to his “frank and beans,” ha) only makes BOYS!” 😉 LMAO

Above all else, I know you & Alex are going to enjoy each other SO much. More than I think you would have, honestly, if you had been a girl. Many people have asked me why we decided to have another baby so soon after Alex. In this day & age, two years is pretty close together.. mostly because the cost of babies– daycare, etc– is so high, but also because it going to be much more demanding on us as parents (both of whom work full-time) to have two kids that are both SO young. The truth of it is that we’re really doing this because we think it is the best thing for you guys. Having that partner-in-crime, best buddy, etc. to grow up with is the one of the best gifts we can give you as parents. And so, it is my greatest hope & wish that you two cherish that. I know that you won’t always– Dad & I both had siblings that were two years older, and there were MANY times where we fought with them like cats and dogs– but all in all having a sibling so close in age was a huge blessing to us throughout our childhood, and beyond. 🙂 You guys have SO much to look forward to!

Anywho, once we found out you were a boy we decided it was a good time to make our big “announcement” on the Interwebs. Because as we all know, nothing is official until you’ve posted it on Facebook. 😉 Alex helped me with the announcement…

IMG_570655964782663As the “eviction notice” says, Dad & I decided that we’re going to name you Charles John Pacheco. We’ll call you Charlie for short. 🙂 I’m so glad that we finally have something more concrete to call you, besides whatever fruit you happen to be that week (this week it’s an orange, BTW). The other great thing about knowing that you’re a boy is that I’ve been able to start working more on your nursery! But I think I’ll save that for my next letter, as I’m running short on time at the moment. Until then, my littlest love! :-*

All my love,
Mom

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