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. πŸ˜‰ 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). Β 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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):

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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! πŸ™‚ I absolutely LOVE to read, and I hope you do too.

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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. πŸ™‚

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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).

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Here is the changing table– my favorite part of this nursery are the letters hanging above it. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ™‚

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, Β but I am glad that you’re getting so big & strong. πŸ™‚ 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…Β 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. πŸ˜‰ 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. Β 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 πŸ˜‰ ). 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: Β  Β  Β 

Before you were born, I dreamed of you, I imagined you, I prayed for you.
Now that
Β you’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

Dem Bones + Kung Fu Baby Part II

Dear Alex,

The countdown is officially on– at over 30 weeks along now, we have less than ten weeks to go until your due date! I have to admit that I’m starting to get a little impatient… it has been so long since we last saw your face on the ultrasounds & we cannot wait to meet you in the flesh. Luckily the holidays are coming up, so that should help the time go by more quickly. Thanksgiving is in just a few days & I’m looking forward to a relaxing day of chowing down with our family. πŸ™‚ Hopefully Dad & I are feeling better by then– we have both caught a bit of a cold. He had it over the weekend & I’ve started to come down with it over the last day or so. Being sick while pregnant is no fun at all, which is why I look like death warmed over in this week’s bump photo:

But you, little guy, are looking awesome! It’s especially startling to see how big you’ve gotten since my last official bump photo 2 weeks ago. My sources say your “produce size” this week is a cucumber, but I have to assume that they’re just talking about length since you are estimated to be around 3 lbs. at this point! I am so big that even strangers feel comfortable saying things now (although sometimes I want to act like I’m not pregnant & freak them out, I never do)… for example, a few days ago I was in Chipotle ordering chicken tacos, and the lady at the checkout was like “This is it?! You need to order more, you’re eating for two!” I told her that ironically I order the tacos so that I can just have one or two and save the rest for later, which totally blew her mind. LOL

Although I am in a general state of discomfort most of the time & have even started to waddle more than walk (a random person in my office building called me out on it today actually), I still love feeling you kick and squirm around in there. Watching my belly randomly twitch around is pretty entertaining too, for both me & Dad. I actually have a pretty funny story to share about that.. Sunday Dad & I spent a day in bed trying to rest up to get over this cold bug we’ve got. At one point Dad had his head down by the side of my belly & was talking to you, rubbing the belly, etc… and all of a sudden you kicked him right on the cheek! He kept talking to you & was poking back, and after another minute or so you did it again! It was so cute & so funny; we were both cracking up. Dad said that maybe you were trying to say that you didn’t want him messing with you, but I think you were just trying to say hello & show some love. πŸ™‚

I feel like I’ve written so much already, & I haven’t even told you about some of the bigger things that went on– we had a pretty busy week! On Thursday I had my now bi-weekly checkup with the OB-GYN… for the most part all was well, you are measuring right on schedule, both my weight & blood pressure are right where they should be, and I officially do not have gestational diabetes (phew!)… but, apparently, I do have pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome. :-\ I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that my knuckles have started hurting first thing in the morning and/or when I wake up in the middle of the night, and it’s been getting worse as time goes on. Although it’s good to know the official cause, and the doctor said it should go away 6-8 weeks after I give birth, there isn’t really much to be done about it. She suggested wearing carpal tunnel braces on my hands at night, and that seems to help a little bit. What a weird pregnancy symptom though!

We also did a “meet and greet” with the pediatric practice we plan to take you to– it seems like a pretty nice place & I feel much better about our choice now. It was nice to meet some other expecting couples that are due around the same time as well. We met even more expecting couples at the infant care/CPR class on Saturday. Poor Dad was in the worst of his cold at that point (and stayed well away from the other people in the class of course), but I was extremely impressed with how well he did– he was attentive, took notes, asked questions, and passed all the practice exercises like a pro. He actually was a lot better than me at swaddling! The practice exercises– feeding, changing clothes & diapers, swaddling, CPR and anti-choking techniques– were all done on these plastic practice babies, and mine looked EXACTLY like Yoda (but without the ears), I kid you not. Hahaha, it was a little creepy!

Anyway, I am looking forward to our lamaze birth class in a couple of weeks. Now that it’s getting down to the wire I am (quite naturally) starting to feel a little nervous about the birth. It’s more of a fear of the unknown honestly, rather than a fear that something might go wrong. I know that my body was made to do this & am confident that we’ll get through it just fine! The hospital we’re planning to give birth at is a very nice facility– we haven’t done the official maternity tour yet, but have been there before for other things. This makes me feel better to know that if anything unusual were to happen, we’d both be well taken care of.

Other than that, these next several weeks we’ll be busy acquiring the rest of the things we need for you, getting everything put away & organized in the nursery (hoping to finish the nursery by Christmas, and will post pictures when we do!), read the last of my breastfeeding & infant care books, and sleep as much as possible (which, still, is hard to do these days). I have less than a month left until I start teleworking full time, and I can’t wait– sitting in an office chair all day is extremely uncomfortable, especially in work clothes! I much prefer my PJ’s & our big squishy recliner. πŸ˜‰ Well Alex, I suppose that’s about it for now (and it was indeed quite a lot, haha)… until next week, keep growing my little tough guy!

All my love,
Mom

Showered with love :-)

Dear Alex,

Over 29 weeks now… time is going by faster & faster, and you’ll be here before we know it! I read that you are the size of an acorn squash now, but since I have no idea what an acorn squash is I’ll just stick with my mental image of the eggplant from last week. I don’t have an “official” bump picture this week because we were kind of busy over the weekend:

Saturday was your baby shower! This is a picture of me & Grandma at the shower, which gives you an idea of what my bump is looking like lately. Grandma & Nana co-hosted the shower, and they did a FANTASTIC job. They are two of the best, most creative party planners I know, and together made a great team! All the food, decorations, games, etc. by far exceeded my expectations. There were about 25 people there, lots of friends & family Β  who are so excited that you’re on your way, and we all had a really great time. πŸ™‚ You can find more pictures from the shower here (I only have a few at the moment but am hoping to get more from Nana & will post them asap):

Celebrating Alex– Baby Shower 11.10.12

And OH MY GOODNESS there were so many thoughtful gifts! Everyone’s generosity was truly touching– we got all sorts of great things that we’re going to need for you, everything from clothes, bottles, toys & diapers to bigger things like a high chair, playpen & car seat. I feel like we are so much more prepared for your arrival now! Over the next few weeks Dad & I plan to spend our time taking stock of what we have & what we still need, getting everything organized & putting the finishing touches on your nursery. We also have our infant care/childbirth classes & hospital tour coming up… so we will be especially busy this holiday season, but for very good reasons. πŸ˜€ We couldn’t be more excited!

Physically I am feeling pretty good, all things considered. Still having trouble sleeping & getting comfortable in general, but that’s nothing I can’t handle. One thing I’ve noticed more often lately too– particularly when I over-exert myself– is swelling in my face, hands & feet. But from what I’ve read that’s pretty common, so when it happens I just relax, put my feet up & drink lots of water & it goes away after awhile. Still, I plan to mention it at my check-up this week just in case. The closer I get to the end of the pregnancy, the more likely issues like preeclampsia will come up, so I want to be extra careful & keep a close eye on things. Thus far though, we have been so blessed with an overall healthy pregnancy!

That’s about it for this week– until next time little one… keep growing in there! We love you so much! πŸ™‚

All my love,
Mom

P.S. — Dad happens to be sitting here as I write this tonight… he’s not a man of many words but says HELLO! πŸ˜‰

Baby, You Light My Fire

Dear Alex,

Well, Β the hurricane that rolled through this week didn’t end up being too bad for us. Dad had us sleep downstairs to be on the safe side, but we never lost power or sustained any damage. It was pretty bad for our family & friends up in the north east though… they are still dealing with the aftermath unfortunately. Anyway, you are a little over 28 weeks (7 months!) along today, the size of an eggplant. I can tell that you’re growing like a weed in there:

As Dad has said a couple times this week, “that belly is getting tight!” πŸ˜‰ During this last stage of pregnancy, you are running out of room and can’t move quite as freely. Although I still feel quite a few sharp kicks & pokes (actually last night I felt one in the ribs for the first time– ouch!), I also feel a lot more squirmy sorts of movements. You ESPECIALLY love to wiggle around during the night! Quite the night owl you are, but as I think I’ve mentioned before… I haven’t been sleeping that well for some time anyway. I suppose it’s good practice for those first couple months after you’re born. Haha

It’s been getting harder to sleep for a lot of reasons, but one that’s really flared up (pun intended) over the last couple weeks is heartburn. This is caused by you getting bigger and pushing my stomach up towards my esophagus. It seems that no matter what I eat, like clockwork I get hearburn right around 4-5pm every day and it stays overnight. I brought it up to my OB-GYN at my monthly check-up this week, and she recommended taking Zantac. As much as I hate taking meds with you still growing in there, I decided to break down & heed her advice… and honestly I’m really glad I did. The difference is like night & day!

The rest of my OB-GYN appointment went pretty well also. You are measuring right on track, and your heartbeat is nice and strong (hearing it is my favorite part of every appointment!). Unfortuntely I had to take my second gestational diabetes test and get a shot while I was there, so I went through more poking & prodding than usual this time. I haven’t heard anything about the test results, so I’m hoping no news is good news in this case. From here my appointments go from monthly to bi-weekly, then during the last month they’ll be weekly. Hard to believe I’m at this point already! You’ll be here before we know it. πŸ™‚

Well, I suppose that’s about it for this week. Until next time, big guy!

All my love,
Mom

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.” πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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