WOA! (Waiting On Alex!)

Dear Alex,

You are a little over 37 weeks along now– officially “full term,” meaning that although your due date is still 19 days away, you could make your grand arrival at any time now. My sources say you are the size of a “winter melon” … no clue what that is though! Someone posted that acronym– WOA– on my Facebook page, and that is pretty much what we’re up to these days… just waiting on Alex! ๐Ÿ™‚ Dad & I also made it a point to get out and go on a little date night this weekend, since we probably won’t get a chance to do that sort of thing for awhile after you’re born. It was fun and I’m proud to say that I made it through an entire 3 hour movie (The Hobbit) without having to run to the restroom! Haha.

Physically I’m feeling as good as can be expected, I suppose. For the most part I am always pretty tired and sleep as much as I can, but do get random spurts of energy from time to time. Regardless, I’ve been making it a point to get in as much exercise as I can but am keeping it low key with things like prenatal yoga, pilates, and walking. I think you have dropped lower into my pelvis over the past week or so, because I feel a LOT more pressure in my hips & lower abdomen these days. “Dropping” is a sign that labor is coming up soon, although it could mean a matter of weeks or days. On the other hand, I still feel you wedge yourself under my ribs sometimes, so maybe it’s just that you’re getting big & running out of room! You be the judge:

Belly Pic 37 weeks 1-7-13

I’ve been doing a bunch of things my midwife suggested to supposedly help my body prepare for labor.ย Who knows if any of this stuff will actually help, but I figure it’s worth a shot since it won’t do any harm either–

  • Drinking raspberry leaf tea: this is supposed to strengthen the uterus and, when the time comes, make contractions more productive
  • Taking evening primrose oil supplements: this is supposed to help soften the cervix
  • Perineal massage: this is supposed to stretch the vaginal/perineal areas to help avoid tearing and/or an episiotomy. Honestly I tried this a couple times & gave up on it… not sure how other pregnant women are able to do this around the big bellies! As someone in my birth month group said– “I can barely wipe my own ass, how am I supposed to be able to do perineal massage?” So true. LMAO!
  • Kegel exercises: also supposed to tone the perineal area in the hopes of avoiding tearing/episiotomy. Much easier to do, and actually I’ve been doing those throughout the entire pregnancy.

Today I had my weekly check-up with the mid-wife… it was sort of a mixed bag. The good news:ย ย I actually lost a pound this week (woohoo!), your heartbeat was fine, Group B Strep test I took last week came back negative, and my fundal height (uterus/belly size) is measuring right on schedule. The bad news: my blood pressure was slightly elevated, and when I told the midwife I’d started getting headaches rather frequently over the last week & hadn’t felt you moving as often the last couple days, she asked me to go in as soon as possible for an ultrasound. She assured me that everything was probably fine, but she wanted to just double-check to be on the safe side & ensure all is well with you. So Dad & I went this afternoon for that, and thankfully you are doing just fine!ย They checked heartbeat, cord blood flow, fluid levels, movement, etc. and the doctor said everything looked great.ย ย The ultrasound indicated that you are currently about 7 lbs 11 oz… since the average baby gains about 1/2 lb. per week at this point, that puts you on track to be about 9 lbs. when you’re born! Such a big boy already. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Unfortunately this creepy/blurry profile shot was all we got to bring home with us, but we’ll be seeing your face in person soon enough!

Ultrasound 37wks 1-7-13

Anyway, last week I also went to visit my friend Shannon… you might remember that she was also pregnant with her first child (I posted a picture awhile back of us together at her baby shower). She had her little girl, Autumn, a few weeks ago! I stopped by to take her some food and meet the little one. It was a lot of fun spending time with them, as well as educational to hear Shannon’s take on new motherhood. But it definitely made me that much more excited/impatient to meet you! Haha. I know it will be here soon enough… in the mean time, Dad & I are anxiously in WOA mode. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All my love,
Mom

Nesting for New Year’s

Dear Alex,

Happy New Year! More importantly for you- happy BIRTH YEAR… birth month actually! It’s hard to believe that we’re finally at that point; you are due this month and the doctor says you could arrive at any moment now really. Or maybe you’ll be late and end up being a February baby. We’ll soon find out! ๐Ÿ˜€ You are over 36 weeks along, with just 25 days to go until your due date. Still growing like a weed in there:

Belly pic 36 weeks 12-31-12

I had a check-up with the doctor yesterday, and all went really well. The only things different about this appointment were that I had to get tested for something called “Group B Strep” which, if I have it, just means that I’ll need to take some penicillin during labor to ensure that you don’t get it. I also had to fill out and sign several consent forms for the birth since, as I mentioned earlier, the doctor says labor could begin at any time now. They like to have all of that on file ahead of time so that we don’t have to deal with it at the hospital. Anyway, from here on out I have to go in for check-ups on a weekly basis.

I’m a bit late writing this week because we had some friends over for New Year’s Eve last night, so after work I was busy getting ready for that. It was a lot of fun though, very low-key which is perfect for me at this point. It was pretty hard staying up until midnight though! Haha, what a lame old lady I am. ๐Ÿ˜‰

New Year’s was my personal deadline for having everything ready for you, and I’m proud to say Dad & I met that goal! This past weekend I went into an even higher gear of “super baby prep mode” (as I’ve been calling it… others call it “nesting” = an instinct moms-to-be get shortly before their babies are born to clean/organize/prepare for baby), and between Dad & I we got so much done– installed the car seat, finished packing the hospital bags (which are also in the car), put together the pack & play and stroller, pre-washed and put away all your clothes/towels/blankets, and started organizing your closet. We even cleaned out the garage, which had gotten so bad that you couldn’t walk into it… ended up getting rid of a lot of junk that had accumulated, and now it’s back to being a normal functioning room. This will be helpful after you’re born and we start getting visitors again.

So after all that hard work, Dad & I plan to enjoy our New Year’s Day by taking a lazy day just for us… we’re going to stay in bed & watch movies all day. I suppose it’s good to enjoy things like this now, while we still can. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And with that– back to bed!

All my love,
Mom

The last Christmas as we know it ;-)

Dear Alex,

Merry Christmas Eve! I am writing you from Grandma and Papa’s house this week. You are a little over 35 weeks along now (bigger than a coconut!), and we are here visiting the family for the holiday. Everyone is excited to see how big you’re getting:

Bump Pic 35 weeks 12-24-12

Your cousins are especially thrilled, and some of them have even gotten the chance to feel you moving around in there. It’s interesting how your movements feel so different these days compared to when I first started to feel you move… before I felt short, sharp “pokes,” and only sporadically. Now that you’re so much bigger & running out of room, I feel bigger “pushes” and “squirms” going on pretty much all day & much of the night. Also, more recently I’ve noticed what are sure to be hiccups: small, rhythmic motions that last for several minutes at a time. I read that you start to get hiccups more often at this stage of the pregnancy because you are practicing your breathing for outside the womb. Keep it up, champ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Other than that, not much has been going on this week. Dad & I finally got a new mattress, and BOY am I glad we did! I still have to get up every 2 hours or so to pee, but it’s a lot easier to fall back asleep and sleep more soundly. Working from home has helped me get a little more sleep too. I’m trying to rest as much as I can now… while I still (sort of) can, haha. Honestly pretty much everything tires me out these days– with an extra 20+ lbs. of weight to carry, much of which is pushing up on my lungs, this is not surprising at all. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But at least it’s not for much longer…

We are officially counting down the DAYS until your due date (33!) rather than the weeks. It’s hard to believe that you’ll be here so soon, but Dad & I are as ready as we’ll ever be and can’t wait for your big arrival. ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s about all for now… until next week, MERRY CHRISTMAS little guy! As much as we’re looking forward to sharing the holiday with our extended family tonight & tomorrow… we are even more excited for all the holidays we have ahead with you!

All my love,
Mom

People say the darndest things

Dear Alex,

You’re a little over 34 weeks along now– less than 6 weeks to go until your due date! The produce for this week is a butternut squash, but at my OB-GYN check up this morning they told me that you’re actually measuring 2 weeks ahead! This puts you at (an estimate) almost 6 lbs. and 18 inches long… you’re going to be a big baby! Or an early baby! But between the two I’d rather have a big baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Dad & I were actually both big, so it makes sense that you are too. Considering how huge I am looking these days, I can’t say that I’m surprised:

Bump Pic 34 Weeks 12-17-12

And it’s gotten to the point where strangers say things to me about it pretty much wherever I go. I’ve heard all sorts of comments on my size, some more rude than others, ranging from “wow it looks like you’re ready to pop!” to “how many babies are in there?!” … :-\ I don’t know what makes people think it is a good idea to say such things to a hormonal, exhausted, generally uncomfortable pregnant woman. So far I’ve been able to hold my temper in check, thank goodness! This is yet another reason I am so glad to now be officially working from home full-time, I can relax, look however I want & not worry about what silly strangers have to say.

Other than that not much has been going on. The rest of the OB-GYN checkup went well as usual… I am so incredibly thankful that this pregnancy has gone relatively smoothly. Hopefully it will continue to do so! The doctor also told me that you are officially in the head-down position, which is one less potential birth complication to worry about. Your heartbeat is nice & strong, and you have been VERY active lately. Sometimes you push on my ribs or hips so hard that it’s downright painful, but not unbearably so. With the end of the pregnancy being so close, Dad & I continue to work on things pretty much every day in preparation for your arrival. This week we finished the hospital bags & put together the bassinet. In the coming week we’re shooting to get the swing and pack & play put together, and possibly get the car seat bases installed too. But with Christmas just a week away, we might be too busy getting ready for that!

One more thing I want to share with you before I go… we got our maternity photos back from the photographer on Friday! I think overall they turned out really good, especially considering it was the photographer’s first time doing maternity pictures. She caught a lot of great “candid” moments that really show the love Dad & I have for one another (and for you!). She took a TON of pictures, but here are a few of my favorites:

All my love,
Mom

Mommy looks like Stay Puft

Dear Alex,

You are about 33 1/2 weeks along now (the size of something called a “durian” fruit apparently… NO clue what that is but you’re about 4 lbs. already!)…. less than 7 weeks to go til your due date! I am so glad that you’re growing & seem to be doing well in there, although the toll it is taking on my body is less than glamorous….

Belly Pic 33 Weeks 12-09-12.jpg

This is going to sound like a bitchy letter, haha, but I assure you it is not. Just want to remember all of this and make this blog reflect the whole experience! So here is what the past couple weeks have brought me:

  • Lack of bladder control- I’ve already had to pee frequently since you love to hang out on my bladder, but I’m finding now that if I don’t address a full bladder quickly leaking will occur. Yuck!
  • Difficulty moving around- particularly things like bending over, standing up & sitting down (especially on the toilet… this is TMI I suppose, but I’ve come to really appreciate the height of handicap toilets lately because they’re so much easier to get on & off of! LOL)
  • Joint pain- especially my knees, hips, and hands (although the hands are more carpal tunnel related, which we already discussed). This is caused by extra fluid being retained in the joints as they become more pliable for birth.
  • Muscle pain/stiffness- same deal about their getting prepared for the birth…. what I did NOT realize would happen because of this is the almost constant feeling of having been punched in the crotch! Ouch! Now I know why pregnant women waddle. Sad but true.
  • SWELLING- oh man, this has been the absolute worst thing over the past week! My hands, wrists, feet and ankles are ridiculously swollen. As you can see in my picture above, my face has been getting more & more swollen too (where the heck did my neck go? Ugh). ย I can no longer wear my wedding ring or watch (honestly I’d taken my wedding ring off over a month ago at the first sign of hand swelling anyway, but now the fit is not even close), most of my shoes are on the tight side, and when I’m on my feet for any length of time at all my feet/ankles look scarily like an elephant’s. All of this combines to something resembling Stay Puft, a marshmallow man character who will probably be ancient history by the time you read this:

Staypuft

Lovely huh? Haha. Anyway, since being on my feet exacerbates it, unfortunately my exercise routine has been suddenly and extremely limited. I’m trying not to worry too much about the excess weight gain that is sure to result from this, since it’s really out of my hands at this point. As long as you’re growing and getting the nutrients you need, I can worry about getting the weight off after you’re born.

So that is a glimpse into the not-so-fun side of pregnancy! Obviously I knew this wasn’t going to be a cake walk, but it’s definitely been… interesting… learning the hard way about all these little things they don’t tell you about pregnancy. Haha. Just keeping my eyes on the prize and counting down the days until you’re out of my belly & into my arms. ๐Ÿ™‚

With time slipping by so quickly & your due date getting ever closer, we’ve continued to be in super baby prep mode. Last week we did the hospital tour and the childbirth class. Both were extremely helpful. I especially enjoyed the childbirth class because it helped me feel more confident, not just in myself but also in Dad as a partner/coach for this process. He did so well with everything we practiced in class, took it all very seriously & just did such a stellar job soaking all the info in & helping me figure out the techniques that would work best for us. Even just practicing/rehearsing the labor was an intimate affair to me, so I imagine the real thing will be much more so. For just this reason, we are planning for it to be just the two of us during the whole labor & birth, as well as for the first hour or so immediately afterward. Not sure how happy all your grandparents are with this arrangement, but my first priority from now on is always going to be doing what’s best for you & our little family!

Well, I suppose that’s enough for this week. Just remember that WE LOVE YOU so much & despite all the craziness going on with my body… I would not change a thing so far because it means that it’s almost time for your grand entrance! Until next week big guy. ๐Ÿ™‚

All my love,
Mom

For when he wakes, he will move mountains

Dear Alex,

The past week has been extremely busy! You are about 32 1/2 weeks along now (the size of a squash supposedly? Must be a really big squash!) and we have been in super baby-prep mode. Last Thursday I had my bi-weekly check up with the OB-GYN… all was well except I’d gained more weight than they wanted (which I was expecting, considering we’d just gone out of town for Thanksgiving!), but overall things are still looking pretty good in the health department. Then over the weekend we took maternity/holiday photos– we’ve been in the habit of taking family holiday photos every year, but this year we sprung for a photographer since we also wanted to get maternity shots. That is why I do not have a “bump photo” this week– I plan to use one of those pictures instead, but we haven’t gotten them back yet. Hopefully they turned out well!

The other major thing we did this weekend was finish your nursery! I am so excited to be able to take you on the grand tour (haha):

IMG_20121201_200709

This is the view from the door as you walk in. That rocking chair in the corner was my great-grandmother’s, and it has been in our family’s nurseries for generations. Dad put in a few shelves there to make a nice little “reading nook” — as you can see, you already have a little bit of a library going! ๐Ÿ™‚ I absolutely LOVE to read, and I hope you do too.

IMG_20121201_200904

Actually one thing we haven’t quite finished yet is the windows… it turns out that the blinds we bought won’t fit these windows, so we need to exchange them for something else. Dad can get those up pretty easily, though. The lamp on your dresser is very special to me– my grandfather (who I also called “Papa”) made it for me when I was little, and it was part of my room decor for the majority of my childhood. I always knew that I wanted to incorporate it into my child’s room someday, and so the rest of your nursery’s design was inspired by this lamp. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_20121201_200931

Not much to see here, but I am proud to say that I re-vamped these old metal closet doors myself! It’s amazing what a couple fresh coats of paint & some new knobs will do. It turned out so well that I actually ended up doing all the closet doors upstairs this way. Inside the closet, I’ve hung up/organized all your clothes up to the 3-6 months size (but still need to wash them before you can wear them).

IMG_20121201_200739

Here is the changing table– my favorite part of this nursery are the letters hanging above it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Dad actually came up with the branch thing, based off a Pinterest idea Nana showed us. We tried to find a fake branch at local craft stores without success, then decided to just cut a branch down from the backyard. Also in the corner is a cute little toy chest my Aunt Kathy made for you– you can’t see from this angle, but she burned your full name into the top of the lid. So cool! It kind of reminds me of a little pirate’s chest; I think you’re really going to dig it. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_20121201_200823

And last but not least– the crib! I made the teething guard using plain old fleece, and inside the crib are a few stuffed animals. Some of them are very special to me & Dad because they were ours when we were little. We can’t wait to share them with you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, Dad & I teamed up to make the art above the crib– Dad painted the tree trunk by hand & I made the leaves/letters/bears using my Cricut machine. I love how it turned out!

So that is the nursery… I hope you like it! I also want to give some props to Nana– she painted the walls for me so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the fumes. She did a great job! Anyway, last night Dad & I took a tour of the hospital’s maternity ward. I’m really glad we did, it was really helpful to learn exactly where we need to go, what to do & what to expect when the time comes… hopefully not for another 8 weeks or so. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The hospital we’re planning to give birth at, INOVA Alexandria, seems like a very nice facility. I think we’ll all be in good hands there!

This weekend will be another busy one– Saturday Dad & I are going to the all-day childbirth “bootcamp” class held by the local Lamaze chapter. I’m really looking forward to this, and I think it will be especially helpful for Dad (who isn’t as into reading childbirth books as I am, haha). Then Sunday I’m hosting a bridal shower for a friend here at our house… hopefully we can find some time to clean between now & then! I suppose that is enough for now. Until next week, little guy! ๐Ÿ™‚

All my love,
Mom

Gobble Gobble

Dear Alex,

31 weeks down, 9 weeks to go til your due date! You are now about the size of a pineapple… I can tell you’re getting really long because you can now push diagonally across my whole torso, from my ribs to my hips. Admittedly it can be pretty uncomfortable, ย but I am glad that you’re getting so big & strong. ๐Ÿ™‚ This week we kicked off the holiday season with two yummy Thanksgiving feasts: one at Papa & Grandma’s and one at Nana & Grump’s. We spent the rest of the weekend just relaxing and spending time with the family. One of my favorite things during this visit was seeing how excited all your cousins are that you’ll be here soon… they all enjoyed hugging the belly and talking to you. It was so cute! We came back home late Saturday night to avoid the end-of-weekend traffic, and spent Sunday putting up our Christmas decorations. This year we have an extra stocking over our hearth: Nana made it for you! She’s made all of our stockings & always does a great job. You might have also noticed that in my belly picture for this week I am holding an ornament…ย Dad & I started a tradition after we got married: each holiday season we buy a new ornament to hang on the tree. The one we got this year celebrates your impending arrival: And I suppose next year the new one we buy will be your “baby’s first Christmas” ornament. ๐Ÿ˜‰ How exciting! Other than that, we haven’t had much going on this week. My next bi-weekly appointment is coming up in a few days, and after all the eating I’ve been doing I’m not really looking forward to weighing in– haha. My colleagues are throwing a baby shower for us at my office in a couple days, which should be a lot of fun! I am looking forward to it.

Also on my to-do list for the upcoming week or so is to start packing a bag for the hospital. I’ve actually started making a packing list, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get it all together. ย Hard to believe we’re at that point already, and with the holidays upon us time is going to fly by even faster for the next month or so!

The holidays are a time to celebrate all the blessings in your life & reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for… so I want to take a minute to tell you, Alex, how incredibly blessed and beyond thankful Dad & I are that you are on your way to us. Even now you bring us so much joy, and we already cannot imagine life without your presence (as subtle as it is at the moment ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I will close with a quote I found when I was looking up ideas for your nursery art– it was too long to put in the picture I made, but words have never rung truer to me & Dad: ย  ย  ย 

Before you were born, I dreamed of you, I imagined you, I prayed for you.
Now that
ย youโ€™re [almost!] here I hope for you, I love you and I thank god for you.

Until next week, Alex– we love you so very much! Keep growing and thriving in there.

All my love,
Mom