Category Archives: Pregnancy progress

39 weeks (really)

39 week bump

Wonder Woman pose

Week 39 and feelin’ fine. I made the point both OBs were slightly skeptical I would make and quite honestly have zero signs of labor. FW is settled down, my body is in the groove of pregnancy. This baby ain’t goin’ nowhere soon (well not for a few days until he is artificially ejected from his home.

39 week bump

39 weeks exactly

After some awesome responses, I am feeling much more chilled and much less anxious about birth. I have heard many, many successful induction stories (by which I mean no C-section). I am also less stressed about a C-section in general and only viewing it with the same apprehension I viewed having my wisdom teeth out with. Plus, turning the corner into the week FW will come has allowed me to focus on that and not the actual birth. Realistically, while the birth can be an awesome positive experience, it is just one day (or three apparently) in the kid’s life. And a day they won’t remember. So, now I am just looking forward to seeing what will happen and going with the flow.

Also, my relaxing was helped considerably by visiting two friends and their 2-week old daughter. While I don’t want to downplay their sleepless nights and adjustments, they were surprisingly… normal. Conversation was surprisingly… normal. Just with a baby there – who they were awesome at handling. I looked around and thought, ‘OK, I can do this. I can picture this life, it is all good’. I think I had heard too much about how simply terrible the first few weeks were, and had started to panic. Both parents were cheerful and engaging and the baby was awesome.

Also, Wes was awesome with the infant. He held her confidently and in a variety of positions, holding conversation and remaining unshaken when she cried. I am not *quite* at that stage. Ahem. In fact, I drove to their house thinking I would politely refuse to hold the girl using one of my usual excuses (‘I think I feel a cold coming on’), but decided that really… a week before my own infant was due… I should conquer this fear. I sat on the sofa and surrounded her with as much body as I could, stared at her nervously, intently and unrelentingly, and looked up with panic when she cried to the amusement of her utterly unphased parents. Yeah, I am sure I will get better at that when I have ‘my own’. πŸ˜‰

Firework is doing well. We went for our very last ultrasound. He is so squished in there (although I do appreciate that he is less squished, due to all the fluid, than most, and thus I am way more comfortable than most women at this stage) it was hard to get a decent picture. We got one, and due to it being slightly creepy I would normally not share it, but it was kind of a special moment. Not only did I actually recognize his face for once, but when it popped up and I said ‘there, I can see his mouth’, he smiled. OK, babies don’t smile yet in the way we do (although that is now being challenged, as is the supposition that they don’t cry in utero) but he did form a smiley face, and it was awesome. I *finally* teared up a little bit at an ultrasound (Wes regularly plays ‘perfect dad’ and gets emotional, but I don’t think I have cried since 12 weeks when they thought they had lost the heartbeat).

FW passed his biophysical with flying colors. My fluid has INCREASED ever so slightly (good grief, up to a princely 26.5) but I have no beef with that – it’s all stations go soon so no point worrying (they put our induction back slightly due to a scheduling conflict).

39 week 4D scan

Smiley boy

For me? I feel absolutely great and can still often forget that I am pregnant. I still run… er waddle quickly… up the stairs. And although tonight I randomly developed an incredibly sore throat I am hoping it will pass ASAP. I realised I never updated the weight progress. 25 lbs, which I guess is about it. I feel neither good nor bad about this – it just is what it is. I am pretty comfortable, walking is fine, I have tonnes of energy. I will miss being pregnant but am not terrified of the postpartum wreck of a body since we saw aforementioned friends at the weekend, and the Mum looked amazingly well and healthy. I am going to miss people’s faces when they stop me in the supermarket / elevator / hallway and ask me when I am due, and I say ‘Baby is coming in 3 days’. Their look of shock is priceless, and I gotta admit, I love when they stutter something along the lines of ‘Wow, you look amazing’. πŸ™‚ I have started to work from home for 1/2 of each day – the Dr recommended I get some rest (Wes all but insisted I get some rest) and it has been nice to transition to that slowly.

Wes is doing well – he is excited to meet FW and get start a new kind of life together. I loved that he went to get himself some T-shirts today and came back with a pack of baby socks because he ‘couldn’t resist’. I love that he is excited.

Parents and godparent are on standby for a call with news and info. And we have the final thing in place before FW was allowed to come: my Ma hand-knitted the most amazing shawl ever. It arrived yesterday (but we didn’t pick it up until today) and is absolutely beautiful. My Godmother knitted me something similar when I was first born and I not only still have it, but absolutely treasured it my whole life. I know FW will love his just as much.

hand knitted shawl

Amazing shawl from my Ma

This might be my last pregnancy post πŸ™‚ See you on the other side.

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39 weeks (nearly) and preparing for birth

37 week bump

37 weeks 2 days

Well, hello 39 weeks. And now we have a date, I know I really am in the home stretch. Firstly a big, big thank you to everyone’s support after my last pregnancy update, given in the comments or on Facebook. When I wrote 2 weeks ago, I was very sad about not being pregnant for much longer. Many people were kind enough to write and say ‘I felt the same’ and even – ‘now I am a Mommy I STILL feel the same!’. Everyone adored their babies, but it looks like I would not be the only person to choose the baby and the belly if I could.

37 week bump

37 weeks 2 days

Hearing ‘you are normal’ or ‘your feelings are valid’ made a huge difference. Yes, I remain sad that I have – maximum – 5 more days left to be pregnant (more on that later). But I am much more cheerful knowing that feeling like that is fairly common, and a wonderful life ahead still awaits. I haven’t really addressed the issue further, except in one small way. Mostly, I just chose to be comforted by so many people’s kind words, but I have done a little positive visualization / positive list making about what I am looking forward to about the baby coming. Both have perked me up considerably.

38 week bump

38 weeks 5 days

The other thing I have done, is address my mental issues with the birth a little. I had hoped for a natural childbirth. I was going to fight to go over 42 weeks, if necessary. I wanted to go into labor naturally, to labor naturally, and to birth naturally, if possible. The reason why is not so important (come on, this is the girl who chose Tough Mudder – I like a challenge πŸ˜‰ ), but do know that I recognize natural childbirth as my personal choice – as much for my benefit as the baby’s. Very much ‘each to their own’ and this was my chosen own. However, it looks like things will not go that way. The polydramnios situation is not getting better 😦

38 week bump

38 weeks 6 days. Trying to make it stick out more!

What does this mean? Well, my fluid levels at 25-30 weeks were in the 95th-98th percentile, generally 25-28, but mostly around 25. Average AFI (amniotic fluid index) is 10-14 (dependent on week), and cut-offs for ‘high-risk’can be 20, they can be 25, depending on the country, hospital, person etc. So, I was just on that borderline or just at ‘worrying’ – as Dr Dildy, the high-risk OB put it “You’re not off the charts… you’re just not on a very good position on the charts”. Dr. Dildy said some places would not consider me high-risk, if their cut-off was 25, but Baylor (where he practices) is a little more conservative so does. However, more in a ‘needs to be monitored’ way than a ‘holy crap’ way. So.. they did just that. Monitored me and watched the baby closely with weekly biophysical profiles and all looked pretty good. Plus, we scored cute face pics from our very friendly sonographer. Those who know me well, how much to do recognize the expression below? What Clio calls my locking horns, digging hooves in expression.

37 week 4D scan

Ha! He may look like his father, but he has his Mum’s obstinate expression down to a tee! (37 weeks).

The problem came later on. Usually people’s fluid decreases, starting at around 30 weeks, going from an average of 14 to about 8-9 at 37 weeks. Mine did not decrease at all, it stayed stubbornly at 25. So, as the bell-shaped curve shifted more and more the the left, but my position stayed the same, I was more and more of an outlier. So, technically, I became more and more high-risk. I chatted to no less than 3 OBs (the one I didn’t like, Dr. Dildy who I really do like, and my OB whom I love). I did proper research (i.e. hit up PubMed and read real research papers, not just Google). And I ended up agreeing, of my own volition, that going past 40 weeks was associated with significantly higher risk. Significantly. My OB was actually happy to wait right up until 40 (some would have pushed for an induction at 38-39), so it seemed a good situation, because I felt she was trying to accommodate me and the baby and not just ‘get things done’. Induction is booked for 39 weeks and 5 days from today.

I am still scared of a cord prolapse. Because of all the fluid, the baby doesn’t want to fully settle deep into the pelvis, head down – there is a little gap between his head and the.. er… exit. When my water does break there is likely to be a lot of force to it, both because there is nearly 3 times the usual amount, and because it is under a lot of pressure (think of an overfilled balloon). So, it could force the cord out before the baby, the baby’s head would fall down into it, and the baby’s oxygen would be cut off. In hospital, this would just mean an instant and emergency C-section. If it is before hospital… well… we hope I get there pretty quick. The chances are just under 10% statistically (they are under 1% of you have a normal amount of fluid) so non trivial. But, hence, we hope that I won’t go into labor before the induction, and if I do, at the first sign of labor, rather that waiting at home until I am in ‘active labor’ I am to go straight to hospital. I am as at peace with this plan as I can be.

38 week scan 4D

Sleeping peacefully at 38 weeks. This baby is photographed more than Suri Cruise πŸ˜‰

So, in a nutshell, I have had to prepare for a different kind of birth. That’s OK, but I am someone who likes to be in control of what is happening to my body, and my baby, and generally my life. I am rarely good at handing over large aspects of my life to others and saying ‘OK, do what you will, I will go with the flow’. It tends to leave me in a cold sweat. If I have ever said to you ‘sure, I’ll come over and you can decide what we do / what we eat’ you know I like and trust you a lot πŸ˜‰ So, I have been preparing (for preparing is calming) for other plans.

I have tried to strengthen my uterus to be good at labor, in a situation where it may not be ideally ready: evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf capsules, dates. I have tried to help the baby prepare my uterus / get into a good position when HE may not be fully ready: bouncing on a birthing ball, squatting 20 mins a day, walking. I have been rehearsing birthing techniques for withstanding an epidural because pitocin may lead to a more painful labor than a natural labor (pitocin contractions MAY be stronger and harder, and pitocin, unlike its natural form oxytocin, does not cross the blood-brain barrier and give pain relief).

I am also preparing to be accepting of an epidural: the hard part of labor may be longer and if I need more strength, an epidural may help me conserve my strength. I am preparing not to resist the epidural just to be bloody minded – mainly I just want to resist it to the point where it will not slow down labor. And, I am preparing to accept a C-section with grace (the risk is doubled with an induction), and not feel disappointed, or like I failed, or miserable about it. Just to be grateful that it is an option in this day and age!

Oh, and I am packing my hospital bags! I finally did it last week. For me, 2 bags. One for labor containing snacks, gatorade (YUCK), hairbands, warm socks, snacks, my birth plan, protein shots (old habits die hard), a bikini. Snacks…

All encased in my new diaper bag:

And then for ‘postpartum’, hair & make-up stuff (WHAT? My Mum allowed no cameras into the room until her hair and make-up were done! Seriously!), pads, comfy clothes, reading materials, chargers (phone and iPad) and nipple cream / pads (snigger):

A ‘going home outfit for me (YES I AM GOING TO WEAR HEELS IF IT ISN’T A C-SECTION DAMMIT):

And best, best, best of all. For Firework, a ‘first day’ outfit (a little tiger one) and his going home outfit (Alabama T-shirt and shorts like his Daddy wears) + a random onesie ‘just in case’.

All ensconced in an old gym bag. We also have a much coveted and finally obtained Aden + Anais swaddle blanket, a nursing pillow (coz I just love my boppy) and a going home blanket with little racoons on, given to me by my mentor at work. Of course, these bags are packed for a dash to hospital and a regular birth. If we have an induction, we go in at 8 pm for a special gel, stay overnight, start pitocin at 7 am and keep it going for as long as I and the baby can take without distress (which could be 36 hours, but is likely less). So.. then I won’t have two separate bags. We’ll be less birth focused and more focused on just entertaining ourselves in hospital. If it gets to the day we’ll throw in some puzzle books and more entertainment.

Pretty exciting really.

37 weeks & mixed emotions

37 week bump

37 weeks

37 weeks! Full term πŸ™‚ You think I’d be leaping up and down but for the first time… things have seemed a little hard.

Let’s focus on the positive: I still feel, physically, great. I sleep very well, can still focus at work, have no back discomfort (thank you chiropractor), no heartburn, and still actually forget I am pregnant, periodically. Seriously, TMI moment, but when I go to the bathroom, I sometimes expect my belly to have gone down when I leave… I just don’t feel much ‘different’. I don’t feel ‘pregnant’ as I expected to. I just feel great.

Mentally, this week has been a little harder. I love being pregnant, I love the energy, I love how I look, I love how I feel. I love how things are between Wes & I: we have this neatly settled life that runs so smoothly. We’re both happy and healthy and liking Houston, it makes us gentler on each other and ourselves. We’re getting to know each other better than before, and acting as a real partnership. Not two people doing their own thing towards a shared goal, but actively building something together. We have a routine that works so well (well, it does for me, but I am not the one doing all the housework πŸ˜‰ ). And generally: life is good. It makes my heart sing.

I think that it is then only natural that in a way, I don’t want to upset all this. Let’s face it: when you love your pregnant body, a post partum body is not exactly something to look forward to. Clearly our life is going to become vastly different and I worry about what it will be like. I worry that Wes isn’t looking forward to being a 3-person family, that he isn’t looking forward to that in and of itself. I do also worry about not loving my kid… or not loving being a mother. I start think ‘holy moly, what have I (we) done?’. This intruder is going to be in our house and in our lives and basically all the pieces are going to be knocked down and who knows where they will land, and how we will pick them up, and what we will rebuild with them? I guess I am scared of what I have to lose, without knowing exactly what I will gain. It gives me a lot of respect for people who keep unplanned children, because at the end of the day, I keep telling myself ‘well, this is what you wanted, Lekki, one time you wanted this so desperately…’.

37 week bump

Love my bump – can’t believe it will be gone in 2.5 weeks!

I think this is partly motivated by the post grant-submission slump. I have written about the grant process before, and shared that while one would hope that when it finally goes in, when all those 2 am nights pay off (or 8 pm + some weekends if you are pregnant) one would hope you throw all your redundant drafts in the air, whoop with joy and run screaming to the pub. In reality you are far too tired, and far too behind on the rest of your work (and if you are like me, far too panicked about actually hitting ‘send’ when you *know* there are more typos). So, I don’t think I have ever felt good after submitting a grant… rather I have felt drained and panicked. And worried about having not been productive enough while I was writing it. And usually quite despondent at my chances of getting funded. Bleurgh. It’s just stressful and I get easily over wrought at the end.

The other stresses hit (e.g. finances… changing over our bank accounts to a local Texas bank has been so difficult! My paypal account got disconnected, which meant we couldn’t get money to the UK… which lead to a whole new load of stress because people treat you like you are a 47%er [sorry Romney fans, couldn’t resist πŸ˜‰ ] ducking out of your responsibilities, not just someone doing their damned best in a difficult situation). And ugh. I think this is why I slept from 11.30pm on Saturday night – 9 am on Sunday. Then 10.30 am – 12.30 on Sunday. Then 12.45 – 3 on Sunday. Heh heh heh. And trust me it was an effort not to have another little nap at 5.

Welcome to my pity party y’all.

But. But. I am glad I have my faith, because I do try to trust that it will all be OK in the end. I do look back at my life, and see how I have got out of bad spots before and continued to love life, and love where I have ended up. I tell myself all the usual platitudes about how mothers do love their children, and they do adapt, and most choose to do it all again, and really, I do believe that having children can be the most wonderful thing (if it is what you want). And, I tell myself that those evil hormones are playing tricks on me. I spend my prayers in a different way at the moment: Instead of worrying and asking God for help and praying for forgiveness, I am focusing on Thanking God and basking in His love, and sending Him my gratitude and my love – it’s certainly a bit more positive πŸ™‚

I do also recognize the fantastic support network I have – friends, Wes (who is consistently amazing at doing everything to make everything outside of work and pregnancy minimally stressful) and family. Just today a friend Skyped me and gave me words of encouragement about the inspirational power I have that brightened my day. From there: it is an upward spiral. Once I see people believing in me, I start to believe in myself, and my body, and my mind, and my work. It’s all good.

So, I don’t want people to think that I am miserable, or rocking in a corner crying to myself. I just wanted to acknowledge that sometimes things are hard, and not always as straightforward as one would hope, and write about it honestly. But also write that things are pretty darn good too.

And, when things all get a bit shaky, I can look at the latest pictures of those gorgeous chubby cheeks and remind myself just how excited and lucky that I am:

37 week 4D scan

He looks like he is smiling

36 weeks & maternity pics

35 week bump35 weeks

36 weeks – full term to some, but not to others. Which means, 4 weeks to go. Or 3, if my OB has anything to do with it. More on that later.

So, I have been having false labor a good bit this week – honestly? It feels crummy. Feels like moderate period pain, for days on end, complemented by some intense backache and the feeling like someone is stabbing my cervix. Luckily it comes and goes, most days, but it did keep me up from 4 am – 5.30 this morning. Boo. Optimistic that this meant my body was at least ‘preparing’ (I knew it wasn’t labor) I bounced into my OB’s office (actually, I crept in due to said pains) to be told I was 0 cm dilated. My disappointment must have shown in my face as my OB said ‘well, a fingertip, maybe a fingertip’. UGH. All this pain for Jack? I consoled myself with some pic ‘n’ mix. I was ~40% effaced though, and encouragingly, my cervix was ‘very soft’. I have been taking a lot of Evening Primrose Oil, so with absolutely no control group, I will chalk it up to that. That’s a Scientist for ya.

And FW is still head down. Good boy. Stay that way, please.

So, America is famous for not elective C-sections and inductions. I had, all along, been determined to avoid either, but then polyhydramnios reared its ugly head (UK peeps: I did call the NHS and they do check for this in the same way, its just pretty rare so you may not have heard of it). Weekly scans show Firework is fine. I am fine. So, I had hoped it wouldn’t change anything. However, when I casually mentioned it to an OB I was ‘visiting’ she said ‘well, there is no way I would let you go past your due date if I were your OB’. Eh, I didn’t like her anyway. (No, seriously, I really did not, she was way too thin and perky and made up and false be-nailed to be a decent OB. Trust me. Wes liked her, but my women’s intuition tells me otherwise). Ms perky-pants gave me no justification so I promptly forgot about it. And her.

So, I asked my high-risk OB, Dr. Dillard. He said “I wouldn’t let you go past your due date… in fact, I wouldn’t let you go past 39 weeks’. I was kind of upset because I quite like Dr. Dillard. He explained that risks go up considerably after 41 weeks, in a J-shaped curve, and “one could argue” the curve is shifted to the left in polyhydramnios so he’d go for it at 39 weeks. I scowled and pouted. I appreciated some sort of logic, but it didn’t seem like very good logic to me. I mean “one might argue” – WHO might argue? And does the shift to the left include those with birth defects / GD / underlying causes of poly? Which I don’t have? Hmmmmm. He did say “look, no one is going to kidnap you and chain you to a pitocin drip… and I am not your OB…”. Which gave me some hope.

Then I saw my usual OB today, Dr. Boswell. Thing is, I like and trust Dr. Boswell immensely. Most importantly, she looks like an OB should look: all scrubs and glasses and scraped back hair. But, she is also immensely knowledgeable, and very reassuring and genuinely doesn’t believe in intervening unless necessary (plus has a whole load of ‘crunchy’ interventions up her sleeve, which many OBs have not heard of). SHE raised the issue of induction. She said ’40 weeks’ but indicated by her ‘things get much more risky after 39’ that 39 was her ideal. Hmmmm. She did, however, offer very good reasoning. She said that the most common cause of ‘idiopathic’ poly was an underlying blood sugar problem. So, she treats poly patients like sub-GD patients. She said that the risk of shoulder displacement, and still birth went up a lot from 39 weeks. She said the words “if it were me, and my baby, I would go then”. UGH. UGH. UGH.

So, yeah, I do like and trust both Dillard and Boswell, and Boswell gave me pretty good reasons. So, I am thinking of agreeing to a 39 week + 2 day induction. Which is exactly 3 weeks from today. No entirely thrilled, so in the meantime, I am back on anything that might encourage labor. Evening primrose oil outside and in (! – sorry TMI) Dates, and lots of squatting (been a bit lax about that – I’ll go back to a full 25 min squat throughout the daily show). I should walk more. I should. I’ll try. Sigh. Any more tips welcome (I have ruled out pineapple).

Onto happier news – Wes did me a little maternity shoot, at bang on 36 weeks. Here is how it went:

36 week bump

36 weeks

36 week bump

36 weeks

And a spooky Halloween one:

36 week bump

36 weeks

Quite a different size from our 29 week one πŸ™‚ :

29 week bump

29 weeks

Anyone think he has dropped?

34 & 35 weeks! And our maternity leave plans

34 week bump

Nearly 35 weeks! Officially 5 to go, so I guess we are looking at a 3-7 week time frame, which seems VERY SOON. It is hitting me that I will miss being pregnant. I will miss my bump, miss the ‘pregnancy look’, miss how much I love Oreos πŸ™‚ OK, OK, I will also totally miss Wes running around after me too. I am still feeling great, but I do tire out more, which frustrates me. I am just back from a conference in San Antonio, and the sessions were 7am – 7.30 pm. Plus, some social/work dinners in the evening. I HAD to crash out most afternoons, and spend 3-6 in the hotel room, having a nap and then resting. Which annoyed me, but I guess is par for the course this late on. I also realized that I work super hard all week, fading a bit by Friday, and then crash at the weekend with at least one duvet day. The conference was Thurs-Mon, so I didn’t get a weekend, and I think that was part of the problem. In the grand scheme of things, it is not really a problem though: I got a lot out of the conference and had a great time.

5 weeks to go!

So… 5 (3-7) weeks to go, eh? I am mostly done with my crazy / crusty birth prep plans. I am just focusing on (1) some good positioning: finishing up my chiropractic treatment, brief daily inversions (20 seconds), pelvic tilts and trying to sleep in a good position (I failed to do this in the hotel); (2) My squats are going to start in earnest now – I am challenging myself to 300 a day (!); (3) getting good sleep in each night (it is frustrating that I can’t work and write grants late into the night at the moment, but it is so); and, finally, (4) eating 6 dates a day.

6 dates a day I hear you say? WTF? Yeah, really! check it out:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989

Can’t do any harm, and is probably nutritionally better than the Oreo / cake / ice cream sugar fixes I seem to have become dependent on.

We have been keeping up with our weekly ultrasounds. It’s good and bad. The good: Firework is doing awesomely, and passes his biophysical profile way quicker than expected. He also seems to maintain a good position: head down, starting to get into the pelvis, and facing towards my back. The not so good news is that the fluid is increasing, when it is supposed to be decreasing at this stage. So, when the OB’s view that I was ‘on the charts, just not a very good position on the charts’, has been refined to ‘off the charts’. The great chart of acceptability (my term) decided that women’s amniotic fluid should be under 20, but goes up to 25. I was hovering at around 23, so the high-risk OB said ‘eh… it’s not great, some people would let it fly, we’ll just watch you.’ This week it was up to 27…

What does this mean? No idea. Risk of premature labor, but at this stage, I am not too worried about it. Baby could go into distress… but he really does seem a happy little chappy. The most worrying thing is that the force of all the water, when it breaks, gushing out of me could cause a cord prolapse (DON’T GOOGLE IT UNLESS YOU HAVE TO, it’s not good. Seriously not good). So, when I see my OB in 1.5 weeks, I will talk to her about whether I should come straight into hospital when labor starts, rather than labor at home, as is my desire. At least then I would be in a good place to uh… ‘mop up’ and damage caused by gushing water. Yeah, terrible pun.

So, we don’t know what it means, other than that my bump is fairly ginormous, and I am carrying around an extra 2 lbs of water, which is theoretically harder on my body. But as my weight gain is still 20-21 lbs, I can’t really complain, eh?

Big Mamma πŸ™‚

But still so many blessings to count. With my very wonky, and very small pelvis and my excess fluid I was extremely likely to have a weirdly placed baby. Not so: as I said, he is head down and facing back. I truly do attribute this to spinning babies and the chiropractic. And feeling great still: lots of energy, no backache, and I can even sleep on my front or back should my body so desire (weird image, I know).

34 week bump

So, with not much to report, I will discuss our maternity leave plans. In the grand old scheme of things, there is no maternity leave in Texas. I come from a culture where all my friends were home for 8 months with their baby, and it was just unheard of to put a baby in daycare until 6 months at least (actually, I was at a childminders before then, but I don’t know of anyone since). We can’t afford an in-home nanny, all our family are far away, and the thought of putting our wee one in group daycare when he was very wee, was just not something I could sit with. I pass no judgement on how anyone else chooses to raise their child. I personally think MY baby needs a full-time at-home experience for 6 (or maybe I need that – who knows?), preferably with a parent (at least until he gets some object permanence). But, I think of myself as a ‘true’ feminist: that is, I am for promoting equality (even if you have to give allowances to one sex to help them achieve that equality), not just women’s rights: so I had no reason to think one parent would be any better than another. So my husband and I put our heads together and figured Wes would stay home with Firework. My plan is to work from home for a good 6 weeks, going in as I am able and when I am needed: then back to full time. Wes will have the little un.

In fact, given Firework’s timing with my job change, we knew we had about 5 months in Texas before his arrival. 5 months in which (assuming a dip in productivity when FW arrives) I had to work like a proverbial to make up for any lost productivity. Wes would presumably take a few weeks to find a job… a week to start. 3 months of him working just didn’t seem worth it. So he stayed at home from the get-go, preparing to take on the job of raising Firework on a day to day basis.

So… I know a lot of people wonder: how has that worked out? How has it been? Obviously there was an adjustment period (for both of us) and that was a little tough – we moved tired and hormonal. I had a new job to adjust to, and a whole host of new responsibilities. Wes had a new life to adjust to. There was the odd fight πŸ™‚ But… we did adjust. I dealt with some of my jealousy that Wes’ weekends are truly his weekends: I often have little ‘tasks’ to do (boring shopping, tidying my study etc) that I wish didn’t encroach upon my free time. Wes dealt with the fact that being at home could be boring, and that it does involve tasks you really don’t want to do – like all jobs. He says that on balance, he prefers it (being at home). I say on, on balance, no question: I prefer it.

Overall, it has been awesome for us, and in ways I didn’t expect. While driving to San Antonio, I had to think: was this choice worth the $2,000 Wes might bring in per month, plus the $400 we had to find for medical coverage? When it comes to raising your child in the manner you choose: of course, no question. But now, before the child? It has still been eye-openingly wonderful to me. I love feeling so cared for: Wes cooks dinner (and is getting really good at it!), and does most of the chores, so he helps me so much: he always knows where X item of clothing is and what foods I really like eating (like, he notices the foods I claim to like, but shove around my plate: hello most vegetables πŸ˜‰ ). He knows a day-to-day side of me that he was just too tired or busy to see before. Also, Wes ‘maxes out’ easily: after a day from work he might watch a show or two with me, but mostly he wanted to zone out, play video games and surf the net. I ‘max out’ too: but when I max out, I want to talk and be near him. Now, when I come home exhausted and stressed, Wes is ready to spend time with me. We have just sat and talked and shared trashy TV and lazed on the sofa together way more in the last 4 months in Texas, than the last 2 years in Alabama. We’re closer. We ‘get’ each other more (although we still sit firmly on opposite sides of the political divide). It’s nice. In fact, it is wonderful. It is a glimpse of a life that yes, I think is worth upwards of $2,500 a month – although we are not exactly rich, and I baulk even as I type it. And, I recognize that I am lucky enough to have a job where I can afford to type that – you know?

I guess, I feel very grateful that I really now am living the life I wanted to lead when I threw away my 13-year long law school dream. I said I wanted to do something different: I wanted to (1) do something that made a good difference to people’s lives and (2) have a family life. A real, someone-at-home, close knit, advert family-life. But life gets in the way of that: academia is not so conducive to not only being home, but giving your all when at home. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to try the lifestyle I dreamed of growing up and to find that it worked for me.

Oh, Wes thinks my belly has ‘dropped’ – do you? Is he coming soon?

Image credits

http://www.fitnessandfuel-la.com/2011/07/baking-with-dates-to-reduce-calories-sugar-and-fat/

33 weeks!

33 weeks!

32 weeks here

Yes! “Officially” 7 weeks to go. And of course, 9 weeks max, as they will not let you go more than 2 weeks over your due date (which is probably a good policy…). So, within 9 weeks, I will be holding the wee one. Of course, I will technically be ‘full term’ in 4 weeks, which is quite scary, but I am thinking Firework may take him time coming out, so ~8 – 8.5 weeks is my guesstimate. Spread bets on the due date welcome: if you guess it correctly I might send you some chocolate πŸ™‚

Me: I am doing super well. Now my grants are in (well 2 are) I am not so tired. I sleep fairly well, and have little to no back pain. Huzzah. I am per-emptively seeing a chiropractor who specializes in The Webster Technique to help prevent any back problems, and to aid better baby positioning – basically because my wonky pelvis and excess fluid was likely to = a chance of staying breech or staying wonky. And also, because it is supposed to help open up my teeny, tiny pelvis and so reduce the chance of a C-section. Note that when I comment on this, I recognise that smaller-hipped women than me give birth all the time, and indeed, my hips are not that tiny. It is a reference to the shape of my pelvis more than anything, and the very personal comments several doctors / OBs have given me about the lack of room. I’ll leave that to your imagination, or see here for further (clean) details.

The only negative thing is that the extra fluid is adding to the pressure on my stomach that would normally be experienced. One of the most common reasons for being admitted to hospital with polyhydramnios is severe nausea, so I am getting away with it OK. I can taste stomach acid most of time time, and have gone back to feeling pretty nauseous. But it isn’t too bad: gum often helps, and at least I am not in hospital.

So overall, I feel very blessed to feel so very well. I seriously can sometimes forget that I am pregnant.

Firework: Firework is doing very well as well. We are still being monitored weekly because of all the extra fluid, and they can still find no reason for it. He passes every biophysical profile with 8/8 and today, his growth was right on target, in the 45th percentile (yes child, remember your Mummy’s narrow pelvis and stay just a little below average… yes… eeeeexcellent).

Oh, and he turned! It just took him a long while. He slowly (over a week) worked his way to transverse (head out one side, butt out the other). Then, over a week, we tried to turn head down (clearly this boy is like his father and takes his own sweet time to do what I need him to do πŸ˜‰ ). Then he got sort of ‘stuck’ with his head in the corner of my pelvis (probably due to its wonky shape) and maybe by luck, maybe by chance, but maybe due to the chiropractic adjustments (I like to think so, as my pelvis has changed shape dramatically), just after 2 session his head moved right down into its proper place. No more breech. And as an added bonus, my legs are no longer different lengths.

Fingers crossed he doesn’t rotate again πŸ™‚

It is a huge pain: a have an hour long scan each week, a 45 minute OB appointment each week, 3 chiropractor’s appointments, and now: a dermatologist’s appointment as my moles have gone ker-azy with pregnancy and the OB has decided this is now NOT NORMAL. Welcome to America. (Not a bad thing… I’m just sayin’). I weasel out of all the ones that I don’t feel too guilty about doing so (cue one of my all-time favourite Simpsons quotes:

), but it is still painfully time consuming. Still, can’t complain, being at the high-risk clinic, we get the fancy 4D scans, which means we get to see his face!! Or, we were supposed to. In reality, the past 2 weeks, Firework has both turned away and hidden his face with his hands. Leaving me to look like a terrible mother as I was completely confused at what I was seeing. Wes would shout “Oh look! A nose” and I would hunt and hunt… but see nothing but orange blur. Wes would then say “Awww… he has covered his face with his hands” and desperate to ‘fit in’ I would try to see something. I tried once, but my “Oh, is that his nose! In profile?” was met with a stony “No, that is your placenta, I am going to cut it out from the picture” by the nurse. Wes would look smug and talk biotech and I would lie there mumbling to myself. But really, honestly, could you have seen our baby in this?:

Firework at 32 weeks

See? Not so easy is it (except for for Wes… bleurgh). But then, success!! This week, he turned and let us see him! He looks just like his Dad – clearly has his nose and we both have big lips which you can see as clear as day! Here he is: our mini-Wes:

34 weeks

Amazing huh?

31 weeks…

31 weeks!

9 more weeks to go! Although, as the old British song goes, it is not ‘9 more weeks of sorrow’, as generally, I am loving being pregnant. Weight gain is minimal (18 lbs exactly), and I have almost no discomfort. My nails are thick and strong for the first time in my life, and for almost the first time, I don’t look at my belly and scowl, but grin πŸ™‚ Sure, I have days where I feel like a whale, but they pass. Pregnancy suits me, I think.

30 weeks and a cheesy grin

Medical update: So, a biophysical profile revealed that I still have a lot of amniotic fluid. 93rd percentile. So, as my high-risk OB put it “It’s not OFF the charts… it’s just not in a great position ON the charts’. What does this mean? Who knows? It can mean a birth defect, but they cannot for the life of them find one, although I did feel my OB’s bedside manner left something to be desired when he said ‘sometimes there is a birth defect that you don’t see until the baby comes out’. Ouch. It can mean that I have gestational diabetes, but my pancreas passed the test with flying colours (my sugar should return to 130 within an hour, and mine was 107), plus I have no other symptoms. It can just be ‘idiopathic’ which I hope is the case. But… it requires monitoring. Because a sudden increase in fluid (to off the charts level) could be very bad, and it can affect fetal growth negatively. So, they want to ultrasound me weekly.

Yeah… not so happy about that. Not so happy about the effects of WEEKLY ultrasounds on Firework, and honestly? Not so happy about missing – effectively – 1/2 day of work a week on top of my regular appointments. Sigh. And not happy, because I do honestly believe that this is a US medical system fail. Extra amniotic fluid = increased risk of breech, which = increased risk of C-section, which = increased risk to mother and baby. It also can = increased risk of chord prolapse (as the chord gets pushed out by the force of all the fluid) which = increased risk to baby and an emergency, panicked C-section. Now, ultrasounds do not prevent this, AT ALL. They give no indication, of whether these will happen. What they do allow (IMHO) is high risk OBs to make a heck of a lot of money if something does go wrong, the OB to say ‘well we did everything we could beforehand’. Sigh. At least Wes comes with me, and at least I get to have cute pics of Firework (except this time I didn’t because he kept turning his butt towards the ultrasound, and when when they did finally get his face, he put his hands up in front of it).

Ultrasound

I also found out Firework is still breech! My OB will NOT do breech for a first-time Mum, and with my teeny-tiny pelvic arch i.e. vaginal canal (which I not only wish OBs would stop commenting on, but especially wish they would stop commenting on to my HUSBAND, and asking for verification. HOW PERSONAL). I am told not to worry until 36 weeks, but as it is rather late by then, I have put into place, a plan-of-action a lot based around ‘spinning babies‘:

Breech tilt. FYI – ACOG recommends you only do this 12″ off the ground. This is for illustrative purposes only. I actually use a much lower surface.

-A week of daily breech tilt inversions (20 mins twice a day).

-A week of almost daily rebozo sifting

-Sitting on a balance ball at work

-Occasional knee-to-chest positions

-As much cross-legged sitting as I can be bothered with.

I don’t have a great chance, to be honest. Risk factors for breech include: small pelvic arch, septum in uterus, excess amniotic fluid and an anterior placenta. I have all four! My OB doesn’t do ECV, but if I decide to go for it, my high risk OB (based at Baylor) does. He says there is an ~80% success rate, which can drop to ~50% in my case. Worth a shot I say! Before that: if it doesn’t work by Tuesday, I am actually going to try daily moxibustion for a week. YES. Actually. And frozen peas on my fundus. Fingers crossed for me guys.

Wes preparing for Moxibustion. He is ridiculous.

NB: We have checked everything with my OB for safety. Even the rebozo sifting. He thinks it is all quite bizarre, but quite safe πŸ™‚
The only other upshot of all the fluid, according to my OB is that my body is working extra hard to create / replace it (which normally is stopping by about now) and extra hard to carry it around. Which equals tiredness. Really, I feel OK, but this has hit at a time when work is crazy, with me aiming to write four grants in a month (some are small, and some have some cross-over). I think that, more than anything, is wearing me out. especially as my work hours are generally 8.30-8 at the moment. Suffice to say, I come home tired. Actually, generally, too tired to even wash my hair (it was a WEEK until Wes rescued me and did it tonight – yuck) and can rarely do much more than eat a few bites of dinner and collapse on the sofa. Which is not terrible, but not great or general productivity. Hence why I owe many friends many emails. It’s also odd for me: I am not a morning person EVER, but I have always been able to pull out emergency stretches of night owl behavior for grant time: working 10am-2/3 am for a few weeks was not a problem. Now, it is just not an option.

Sharing one of my duvet-evenings, Walter says he is very tired by pregnancy and grants too.

But, a reduced work schedule, without compromising results, and makeup-free / yesterday’s clothing days and unwashed hair is just something I am going to have to get used to in Mummyhood right? It’s all good practice.

More fun update: My Ma sent us a crib! She has already sent us the stroller of our dreams. But then found out that we were planning on getting a pack n play for sleeping as we are trying to save money. So, Mum found an awesome crib and shipped it to us πŸ™‚ Now we get to go bedding shopping – that’s when I will upload a picture. Then, I think we have everything we NEED…. which basically only amounts to: crib, changing table, stroller, infant bouncer, blankets, babygros and hats and socks. We think. πŸ™‚

Wes’ Mum didn’t want me to have ZERO baby shower (new place… no long term friends etc) so she also sent us a very cool and stylish baby bouncer. It has got a solid wooden base, and we got the brown and light green one which works really well with our decor. I read wonderful reports about kids absolutely loving it as soon as they are able to support their head, but in the meantime:

Bobby says it is amazing πŸ™‚

Dinah also says the infant bouncer is great.