Today we’re 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, due with our first baby next Monday, August 15, 2016.
While this calendar day has been etched in our psyches for the past nine months, the thought of having a baby any day now still feels more like an elusive, unattainable dream than a reality.
You would think between the weight I’ve gained (nearly 30lbs.), the nightly jabs from Triscuit (baby’s official womb name) and the bowling ball it appears I’m carrying in my gut that the concept of giving birth and becoming a mom would feel more real. But it doesn’t. And with every day I don’t go into labor it keeps feeling more and more unbelievable.
Is this some sort of coping/defense mechanism that my body knows I’m pregnant but it won’t let my mind truly embrace that fact until a crying, pooping, hungry baby pops out in the hospital?
I don’t know, but it’s time to wake up and smell the diapers!
The past nine months, while a wild and exciting ride, have not been without their discomforts. And I was unprepared for most. I thought I would have kept better written documentation of my experiences along the way, but instead I’ve come up with a few high/lowlights to give you a sense of what it’s been like. If there are any pregnant women out there reading, hopefully you’ll discover something you didn’t know might happen or you’ll find you had a common experience here and there.
Who are we kidding? We were able to get pregnant! We will forever appreciate how lucky we are given how hard it was to get to this point. All babies can be viewed as small miracles, I get it. But Triscuit really is a miracle. Of science and technology and the incredible staff at Coastal Fertility.
At around the 20-week mark most pregnant women will have an anatomy scan of their baby in the womb. An ultrasound nurse will take dozens of measurements of your baby to make sure everything is growing properly. This was the first time we had an up-close-and-personal look at Triscuit and it was pretty magical. We got a few photos of the experience — a head here, a leg and a foot there — but my favorite was of Triscuit’s little hand raised as if he/she was waving to the camera saying, “Hi guys, I’m finally here!”
I tested negative for gestational diabetes at around the 24-week mark. Yay me! Gestational diabetes affects about 2-10% of pregnant women. Luckily my body was handling the blood glucose levels fine, despite all the hormonal changes. Some women’s systems can’t keep up with the increased insulin demand during pregnancy and their blood glucose levels rise too high, resulting in gestational diabetes. I was relieved after downing a flat Fanta-like concoction and a prick of the finger that I was well below the limit. One less thing to worry about? I’ll take it.
You may often hear about hormones gone wild for women who are pregnant, which can result in highly emotional meltdowns and/or rages. I don’t know how I escaped this, but I have experienced none of the above. Maybe my body was exposed to so many hormones during the preliminary stages of fertility treatments that whatever my body created on its own these past nine months paled in comparison? I really can’t say. The most I teared up was when we had a tour of the maternity ward at our hospital and the nurse showed us the room where we’d spend the first 48 hours as a new family. That got the tear ducts flowing. And we can’t wait to get back there! If nothing else I have had some pretty intense fits of hysteria. MainMan’s a funny guy, but he’s no Louis CK. And sometimes I’ll find myself keeled over in tears laughing at something he’s said, harder than I’ve ever laughed in my entire life (meanwhile running to the toilet and struggling to hold it in so I don’t pee myself — a harsh reality while pregnant, ladies).
So far we have had no major complications. And baby’s head is down (vs. breech) so we can keep our fingers crossed for a vaginal birth.
I don’t have cankles. To the uninformed, this is a term for the unfortunate soul whose ankles are the same width as their calves. I read about lots of things swelling during pregnancy and, knock on wood, I have not experienced this. I was most vainly concerned about my already-big feet swelling to a new whole size, but this hasn’t happened.
I have been told repeatedly that I look really good for someone who’s as far along as I am. This is surprising, and a huge compliment, since I can’t bend over to put shoes or socks on. And it is a strain for me to get up off the couch without grabbing onto MainMan’s forearms. Long gone are the days of wearing strappy sandals or shoes that don’t just slip on, like my Rainbow flip-flops and Birkenstocks. I hoped I would be the “cute” pregnant vs. the “huge” pregnant and a few people have affirmed I am the former, so that makes me happy. I’m so petty.
Feeling Triscuit move for the first time around the 20-something week range felt like a weird stomach flinch and it’s only gotten more fun as he/she has grown. There will be the occasional uncomfortable jab to the ribs, but certainly feeling movement inside there makes it all a little more real. I felt a bit like Sigourney Weaver in “Alien” the first time I watched my stomach sway from side to side with Triscuit’s movements, but I’ve gotten used to it by now and I can only smile at what’s going on in there.
Walking into a maternity store for the first time was a huge relief. I was so excited I could put on a t-shirt from Motherhood Maternity and finally appear pregnant. I held out for a while (dumb) wearing my own clothes and this heightened my sense of feeling like a heifer who’d just dipped into too many beers over the weekend. I highly recommend making the switch as soon as you can afford to. The ruched sides on the maternity tops work wonders for the belly, no matter how small. My mom came to visit for a weekend and going back to the store with her was a trip. She was almost more excited than I was. Sharing that special mom-daughter shopping experience was definitely a highlight of the past several months, rivaled by the first time we walked into a baby store together.
One of the most shocking things about my pregnancy was how long it took me to actually appear pregnant. Is this really a highlight? Not necessarily, but it’s worth sharing, regardless. I was looking for a bump, no joke, at like 10 weeks. As soon as we knew for certain this pregnancy was happening I started going through all my pastry/bakery/sweets cookbooks with the goal that I’d try a new dessert recipe every few days. This went on for a few weeks before I realized I was gaining weight, but not a bump. Then my doctor had the nerve to tell me, “Oh yeah, you don’t start showing until around the sixth month. And we don’t expect to see much weight gain until the 20th week.” [Insert the sound of a vehicle going 73mph on the highway coming to a screeching halt.] Whoops. Here I was thinking it was time to eat like I once did as a college swimmer. And now my doctor’s telling me I jumped the gun?! It was time to abort/stall my mission of becoming the great pregnant bake off queen.
I know the phrase “it takes a village” is really for after the baby is born, but one of the highlights for me throughout this strange, uncharted adventure has been my village. I have turned to so many friends and family with countless emails, texts and phone calls asking for advice/guidance I don’t know where we’d be without them. Our strong crew has really stepped up to the plate with their love and support of Triscuit, myself and MainMan and we are forever grateful.
I had morning sickness well into my second trimester (nine months in and I still want to say semester). I couldn’t wake up without having to run to the toilet and dry heave for a few minutes. I quickly discovered the wonder of Saltines and stored bricks of them in my nightstand. Downing five to six crackers every morning before slipping out of bed was a necessity. Several times I would do self-tests to see if I’d graduated from this early-in-pregnancy condition, then I’d find myself running to the toilet with MainMan soon hovering over me, “You skipped them AGAIN!?”
When this ended exactly I can’t recall, but we went from one problem to the next. Vicious heartburn became my next frienemy. I had several sleepless nights sitting up in bed and belching non-stop with an esophageal burn that would not go away with Zantac or Tums. Finally, in tears, I called my OB’s office and a sympathetic nurse prescribed me two meds which I’ve been taking religiously ever since. I now appreciate how lucky I’ve been most of my life that I’ve been able to eat whatever the hell I’ve wanted with no heartburn problems. I hope I will revert to this once baby comes out.
Another odd condition I’ve experienced almost nightly while trying to fall asleep, and something which I self-diagnosed, is restless leg syndrome. I will be lying in bed in the most comfortable position with my king-size pillow neatly tucked under my head, arm and knee and I’ll have to continuously twitch my leg to shake out what feels like pins and needles. Supposedly this is a circulation issue common in pregnancy. Lying with my feet up on the headboard for 10 minutes helps. Sometimes.
And, TMI alert, nobody told me about yeast infections!? There’s a first (and second) for everything, I guess. I got two within a week of each other. Which was l-o-v-e-l-y. Thank god I’m home and unemployed because that was awkward.
Lastly, and more annoying than uncomfortable, have been the hourly pee breaks in the middle of the night. I don’t get up to go once or twice like most pregnant women. No. My bladder is on a 65-minute timer and I am literally up EVERY hour of the night to empty it. And often with the feeling that my bladder is a 1-gallon water balloon about to explode. Then when I make it to the toilet seat in the knick of time I’m only able to pee a few pitiful drops. A few friends have advised me to enjoy my last nights of quiet, uninterrupted sleep. And to that I say, “HA! Bah humbug!” I haven’t had that kind of sleep since the beginning of the first trimester. Bring it on, baby!
Another lowlight of the past few months, though unrelated to our pregnancy, was being laid off. I was at my parents’ house in Connecticut when my team got the email “all hands on deck meeting this afternoon.” We were all pretty much blindsided. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the free time I’ve had to prepare for and ponder our imminent parenthood, but getting unceremoniously dumped by your employer via BlueJeans (pretty much the same thing as Skype) and in a group, no less, was not fun. I expected more from a company and a group to which I devoted two and a half years of my life. I have been applying to jobs throughout pregnancy and I will continue to do so. I know we’ll be OK and I’ll cherish having “limitless” mom time with baby, but I will have to re-enter the job force at some point and it’s a little nerve-wracking to think about that uncertainty in a couple months time, on top of everything else.
Some of My Favorite Resources
The amount of literature out there on what every pregnant woman should be doing/eating/drinking/reading every hour of the day and night is mind-blowing and absurd. And I have had none of it. There. I said it. I read zero books from start to finish. ZERO. But before you scoff at my lackadaisical approach to becoming a parent, keep reading.
My mom sent me a bunch of books from the 1970s that she kept stored in our basement in CT. There were probably about 15-20 titles, ranging from Dr. Spock’s tome to mini-paperbacks on Lamaze, and I skimmed all of them. As for their usefulness, one book’s author (a doctor, no less) suggested cutting back your smoking habit to about 10 cigarettes a day. HA!
I downloaded the audiobook version of “Bringing Up Bebe” and I listened to that on my summer road trip and on my daily walks with Agnes. Given my history of living in Paris, this struck a chord with me and I loved it. I almost want to buy the hard copy. Pamela Druckerman’s chapter on getting her baby to “faire ses nuits” (sleep through the night) was a game-changer and I will be attempting her strategy in a few months.
I am about halfway through “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp. This seems like it will serve as a good aid to nurturing and soothing our baby if he/she is a fussy sleeper.
My friend sent me the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5.” This is like an encyclopedia of sorts and I have been going through its first chapters with a highlighter. I’ve folded down several pages of tips for when baby arrives.
“What to Expect When You Are Expecting” seemed like a solid choice when we first found out we were pregnant. This has been more of a pick-parts-that-are-helpful reading experience vs. a cover-to-cover read.
In addition to these, we picked up a couple of name books. The most impressive being one an old ABC coworker recommended: “The Baby Name Wizard.” MainMan has chosen the names he wants for baby, while I’m still undecided. Guess we better get on that!
Apart from the books mentioned above, I signed up for a couple of newsletters online which I have found both extremely helpful and entertaining: Lucie’s List, BabyList (this is where we registered, but they have incredibly helpful product guides/reviews/suggestions that I loved) and Pregnant Chicken.
One friend asked how I felt about being pregnant in general. “Some people absolutely love it,” she said. I can’t look anyone in the eyes with a straight face and count myself as one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the miracle of what’s happening and am in daily awe of what my body has been doing these past nine months. It’s created a human. Who we’ve seen a few times with the help of ultrasounds and 3-D imaging. The last ultrasound we actually saw our baby’s face and jowls (Triscuit is not malnourished). Yes, growing a baby is a mind-blowing, incomprehensible achievement of biology and nature. But, at the same time, I’m not “loo loo skipping to my loo” over the heartburn, bottomless bladder, sleepless nights and itchy girl parts. I thought, given the long, rocky road it took us to get here, that nothing could bring me down during pregnancy. I have felt great emotionally, but I admit I have not welcomed every new discomfort or syndrome like a champ like I thought I would.
So now what? Now we hurry up and wait, I guess. At my last appointment (a week ago) I was 2-3cm dilated and about 75% effaced. My doctor predicted “This week! This week!” which sent me home in a tizzy and I literally thought we had 48 hours until baby arrived. A friend texted and told me I shouldn’t get too amped and that doctors can sometimes give you a false sense of urgency so you’re ready and excited. Well, shit, that worked, and here we are a week later and still nothing. Our bags are packed, and then some. I have the pet-sitter at the ready to be on-call for early morning feedings/walking. My parents are packed and ready to hit “print” on their flights. The nursery is as prepped as it will ever be. I’ve cleaned a few times. Then I cleaned a few times more. MainMan and I tore the house apart this weekend a la Marie Kondo and took a truck-load of crap to Goodwill on Sunday. I got my last pedicure last week and we saw our last in-theater movie. Or so we thought. My brother and I were both roughly two weeks late so we could be here a while. And while my impatience grows, so do the nerves and excitement.
Where are you Triscuit?!
We are ready. Ready and waiting. Waiting and ready. And for what? We barely have a clue.