Holidays

Thoughts on a Quiet Christmas à Deux

Well, we had thought this would be our first Christmas with a baby. Had my due date proven a more accurate guess, we would probably be in the throes of cluster feeding and sleepless nights still. But due dates, like the pirate’s code, are really more like guidelines, and here we are, waiting on our baby, fielding well-meaning inquiries from friends, and getting a lot of comments about having our own “baby Jesus” (for what it’s worth, I did suggest that if the baby came on Christmas, we’d have to consider using “Noel/Noelle” as the name, but Dan vetoed that.

We had always planned on this Christmas being a quiet affair with just the two of us. We hadn’t even planned on making the 20-minute drive to my mother’s house nearby because, if we had a newborn (and a recently-postpartum body, for me), there was little chance we were going to both put on real clothes, let alone leave the house. But the eerie calm-before-the-storm feeling of being overdue and alone together during Christmas wasn’t expected.

I’ve had quiet Christmases before, and Christmases without a large gathering, and even Christmases where we woke up on Christmas morning with just the two of us in our house. But somehow, this one feels different. We didn’t really have anything planned because the hope was always that I would wake up suddenly and be gearing up to give birth at any moment, so why make big plans for one specific day?

This year has also been a bit of a trial run for an idea we had for future Christmases with our child: gift-free. This year, we’re not buying gifts for each other and just focusing on spending time together on a quiet day off. Our hope is that in the future, we can make this holiday about spending time together and not about gifts, at least in our immediate little family. That way, we’re not adding our own excesses to the inevitable pile of gifts from grandparents.

So this year, we’re having a quiet day in, waiting patiently to see if I manage an eleventh-hour birth on my own before my scheduled induction later this week. I’m making a bit of a special breakfast because we need something to mark the day, and just generally trying to celebrate the return of sunlight into the world without as much to-do as usually goes on.

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pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Forty-one Weeks Pregnant

Yup, still pregnant. I now refer to myself as “excessively pregnant.” And it’s certainly been a week. I spent this week working from home, which was at least nice because I didn’t have to fight crowds on my commute, but it also meant that I didn’t get the benefit of interacting with other people on a regular basis. It did get a little lonely and made me wonder how I’m going to handle being at home with the baby for three months after Dan goes back to work.

I’m also just starting to feel big, ungainly, and tired. The baby is obviously running out of room, and is starting to grow back up into my stomach, causing my reflux to get worse. Friday and Saturday nights were the worst, but I’m hoping that upping my Zantac dosage (doctor’s suggestion) will help that. I’m still not showing any signs that the baby is coming soon. I’ve had some contractions, off and on, but nothing major and nothing that progresses.

So I’m scheduled for an induction this week and that’s when the baby will probably come out. At least I know this is my last full week of pregnancy and have an end in sight, but I do hope my next few days are better than the last couple have been.

Dan and I are now both officially off work. I’m using my paid time off to cover any days between now and the birth, and Dan has two Federal holidays and an undetermined amount of time furloughed before he can get his leave re-approved. Thankfully, our finances are robust enough to weather the shutdown at the same time as I’m heading out on partial paid leave.

So we’ve spent our time being relatively lazy and just resting mostly. I prepped some homemade gelatin to have on hand, since it’s what I’m allowed to eat right before my induction, and I’ll probably make a batch of lactation bars to take with me to the hospital for after the baby comes out, for when I need an easy, hand-held snack. But other than that, we’re mostly as ready as we’ll ever be.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Forty Weeks Pregnant

still-life-with-watermelons-1912.jpgLarge

Well, I’ve officially passed my due date. After a rough end to last week, where I really thought the baby would come before the end of the weekend, I managed to have a relatively quiet weekend. I got plenty of rest, and by Sunday, I had enough energy to start making preparations for the week ahead. I’m realizing more and more that the uncertainty of the end of pregnancy is almost more nerve-wracking than the actual thought of childbirth.

I think my boss was surprised to see me in the office on Monday morning, after I had taken the day completely off on Friday rather than just working from home like I usually do when I’m feeling slightly off. But I had a good and productive day. In addition to taking care of things that came up suddenly, and tying up existing loose ends, I also managed to get in touch with someone to tour yet another daycare. I’m definitely researching child care in fits, spurts, and drips, rather than actually making an effort to get it done all at once, but since I discovered the list of home-based daycares in my area (hint: If you’re in the state of Maryland, this website is invaluable), I’ve felt a little less pressure to find a daycare, like, six months ago, and I’m hoping if I don’t already have something lined up, I’ll be able to contact more people while I’m on maternity leave.

The rest of the week went pretty similarly. I’ve actually been sleeping pretty well this week and after several nights interrupted by varying levels of contractions last week, I’ve had basically nothing this week. I had my weekly checkup with the doctor on Thursday, where everything looked on track, and I could tell she was trying very, very hard not to say “see you next week” because, honestly, there’s not a lot of sign that this is happening anytime soon. They did get me on the schedule for an induction in two weeks, just in case, but hey, a lot can happen in that time.

And then, Friday, I went in to work for my last day in the office. I’ve cleared with my boss to work from home next week until the baby comes, so Friday was my last day of getting up early, showering, packing a lunch, and commuting. As much as I like my coworkers, I’m not going to miss the commute (although that means I’ll have to make myself go for walks during the day instead of having them built in automatically to get to and from work). It was also our holiday party, which was nice to get to, since I wasn’t sure if I’d make it that far, with it being held the day before my due date!

Waking up on Saturday and knowing that 1.) it was my due date and 2.) I wouldn’t be going back to the office until next spring was surreal. We made a nice breakfast and grocery shopped. We’ve definitely been stocking up on supplies and this week I decided to get some extra rice, oats, lentils, and more broth for easy pantry soups. I’ve been reading The First Forty Days, which is about taking care of yourself postpartum and I’ve decided to try out some of the recipes ahead of time. So I made a big pot of kabocha and red lentil soup for dinner and froze the leftovers!

How I’m Feeling:

Well, like I said, I’m sleeping better, getting woken up less, and just generally feeling a bit more energetic. Honestly, I really think the difference is just that I’m not getting woken up by contractions. I’m still feeling bigger and bigger everyday. I can also feel the kid running out room when the move in my belly.

But I’m mostly feeling pretty good. I was proud of myself for making it through my last week in the office and I’m almost a little sad not to finish out my week with walking everyday because of the weather. But I’m feeling healthy, strong, and ready for the next step. Or more waiting…

Current Cravings: Actually, my appetite has gone down this week

Exercise: 3 average miles/day walking, 5 minutes of daily stretching based on the Spinning Babies essentials

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: I’ve reached watermelon status. From here on out, it’s watermelons all the way down.

Other Posts This Week:

An Ode to the Other Half, Part One: Pregnancy Partner

Our Non-Nursery

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pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-nine Weeks Pregnant

I’m closing in on my due date now! This week, I decided to start trying to keep a daily journal, since I’ll want to try to document as much as I can when the baby comes. I’ve struggled at keeping a journal in the past, so we’ll see how this goes. So far, I’ve managed to journal each night before going to bed, so that’s a good start.

One thing I realized this week was just how variable my physical ability level is from day to day. On Sunday, I found myself absolutely physically wiped out after our normal weekly walk to and from the local coffee shop and ended up spending a large portion of the day in bed. Later that night, I woke up to turn over in bed, and had a thought about how, for most of my adult life, I’ve kind of treated my physical status as a kind of n=1 experiment, where I can largely figure out what is or isn’t making me feel a certain way. But in pregnancy, sometimes I just feel crappy and it’s not anything I’ve done or didn’t do. I can eat healthfully and exercise moderately and stretch myself out, but ultimately sometimes I just feel awful and the only reason is, well, I’m pregnant.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the transition to being “a mother.” After re-reading Like a Mother, which I reviewed on Tuesday, I realized that birth is an ordeal that acts like a rite of passage and, while I will bring my past self with me, I will be forever changed by it. So I’ve started to think about becoming A Mother. To that end, I’ve decided to branch off from my main blogging and social media accounts and actually created an Instagram and a Facebook page specific to this blog. I’ll update my “About” page to reflect that contact information. But definitely check out my Instagram. The Facebook page currently just contains reposts of my Instagram posts, so if you’re not on Instagram, you can follow the Facebook page to see more updates on Facebook.

At my Thursday morning prenatal appointment, I found out that I’ve officially gained 40 lbs. this pregnancy, so I’m definitely over the recommended weight gain. It’s interesting because I don’t look like I’m gaining weight excessively, and I’m not swelling or retaining fluid much, so I don’t really know where the weight is going. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m mostly as unconcerned as I am, but the doctor hasn’t commented on it, my blood pressure looks good, and I feel generally healthy. So I’ll definitely be talking about my weight gain and how that carries on into the postpartum period later on.

Speaking of the postpartum period, I picked up a new book called The First Forty Days about self-care (and care from other people) during the postpartum period. It’s really interesting because it stresses the importance of proper nutrition and rest in the postpartum period, which includes resting from feeling obligated to host visitors in your house. Basically, it instructs new mothers not to feel pressured to have visitors that are only there to have baby time and not to support the new parents. That said, even a book on postpartum self-care assumes the partner will be going back to work within two weeks after the birth, so I’m hoping I have an easier time with Dan off for a bit longer.

How I’m Feeling:

As always, I’m just noticing the gradual ramping up of the nagging complaints of pregnancy. My hips are still sore, my back occasionally hurts, my belly tightened with Braxton Hicks contractions sometimes. I’m tired a lot. But since it’s been ramping up gradually, I don’t usually have days that are bad enough to just have to stay home. Sunday was a surprise because usually once I get going, I’m okay for the day. I’m still working, and even though I increasingly don’t want to get out of bed or face my walk from the metro to work, once I’m on my walk, it’s not so bad. Like I said earlier, sometimes I feel crappier than others, but that’s just pregnancy. I’m kind of at the point where there’s not a whole lot I can do besides generally take care of myself.

On Wednesday in the early morning, I had a bout of really uncomfortable Braxton Hicks that kept me up for a couple hours. Honestly, even after I got some more sleep, I woke up still feeling crampy. I was still pretty sure it wasn’t the real thing, but I ended up working from home, just in case. But they eventually settled down (showering helped). Also, I had another prenatal checkup on Thursday that confirmed that they weren’t doing anything; I’m still not showing any signs that the baby is coming soon.

Of course, then on Thursday night/Friday morning, I was up for hours with even more contractions. These were more intense and rhythmic than I’d had before, and were accompanied by some additional symptoms that made me wonder if I was going to be one of those “I wasn’t dilated at all at my checkup and went into labor the next day” people. But they eventually tapered off and just left me feeling crappy for the rest of the day. I’m starting to worry that I’m going to have to deal with every-other-night contractions for the next two weeks.

Current Cravings: beet kraut from Sweet Farm, cereal with milk

Exercise: 2.1 average miles/day walking

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Pumpkin

Other Posts This Week:

Book Review: Like a Mother

Exercise and Pregnancy: The Final Months

Exercise, pregnancy, Third Trimester

Exercise and Pregnancy: The Final Months

I’ve spoken earlier in my pregnancy about my exercise routine and how I’m incorporating that into my pregnancy. I managed to continue going to barre class about twice a week until the end of October, when I was about 34 weeks pregnant. Since then, I’ve continued to walk most days, and have tried to make time to do some yoga every week. I will admit, I did find it a bit more difficult to motivate myself to exercise since I stopped having the accountability and scheduling of the barre class. I mentioned in my weekly update that my doula has lent us a copy of the Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD to use for the last few weeks of my pregnancy and it’s definitely helped re-invigorate my workout routine.

So the first few weeks of November, when I officially cancelled my gym membership, I gave myself permission to be a little lazy. I mean, I still had to walk a fair amount, since I walk about 50 minutes, round trip, to get to and from work four days a week. And I tried to make sure I got in at least one more day per week of walking, usually our weekly trip to Vigilante Coffee. So I was still averaging over two miles per day of walking, though it was more like 3.5 miles five days a week, rather than a couple miles every day.

But after I got the Spinning Babies DVD, I made more of an effort to work on stretching and strengthening exercises from that DVD. The difference between that and my workouts before is that now I definitely see my goals as explicitly preparing for childbirth, rather than for general fitness. My doctor has even reminded me to walk for a half an hour every day, so I’m trying to make sure to fit in some walking time every day, even when I don’t walk to work. It helps that we have some lovely walking trails nearby.

And then, I do yoga and Spinning Babies exercises. I can do the full 35-minute Daily Exercises routine or the 28-minute yoga flow from the DVD when I have the time and energy, but I try to do a little every day, even if it’s just my favorite 3-4 exercises. And my Hypnobabies course actually recommends doing a small set of exercises everyday. So I do my pelvic tilts, squats, and butterfly stretch every day to keep my body supple and ready for childbirth, while windmills help release the lower back pain that has crept up as I’ve gotten bigger. Unfortunately, I had to stop doing forward-leaning inversions when my acid reflux got bad. But I notice that my body feels better when I do these exercises more consistently. Plus, I can still do my weekly lunchtime yoga class at work, since the instructor is a coworkers of mine and the class is small enough that she can tailor it to our needs.

In this way, I’m helping keep my body flexible and supple, and my mind quiet and prepared for the rigors of childbirth. I’m not going to be running any marathons soon, but I am preparing for the next endurance event on my schedule.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-eight Weeks Pregnant

Yup, still pregnant. Due date is in two weeks, so I imagine I’ll have more people asking if I’ve had the baby yet around then, but at this point, I’m kind of at the point where I could have the baby today or I could have to wait nearly another month. This week we spent a fair amount of time just refining our prepping. We had the quick and dirty bare minimum done (we have a car seat, bassinet, some clothes, some diapers, and feeding supplies ready), but this week we kept working on making things a little more ready. We washed everything we’d gotten from our shower (within reason; we didn’t wash the books, obviously), and we made sure the car seat carrier was clicked into the base in Dan’s car. We also worked more on packing out hospital bags. I still need to clean out the back of my car so we can install our second car seat base. Oh, and I’m also playing with setting up a separate Instagram account for this blog (with the handle @cecinestpasunmommyblog), so feel free to follow me over there if you’re on Instagram.

Dan packed his hospital bag, but after our meeting with the doula, we realized that we should organize things into a bag for before I give birth and for after I move into recovery, rather than a his and hers bag. So we repacked all the stuff we need for the actual birth in my bag and put the things I was going to bring for after giving birth into Dan’s bag. We also got snacks for Dan and packed everything edible up into a separate bag so we don’t need to worry about food leaking onto important things. At this point, I feel like we’re about as ready as we’ll ever be for the actual birth, plus we live close enough to the hospital, that we can probably run home for things if we need them.

Thursday I had my first weekly appointment with my OB. I go every week now, which is actually kind of nice, since I like my OB’s office and they’re pretty good about fitting me in for the earliest appointment possible so I can go and still be back at a reasonable hour to start teleworking without taking time off. I got to the office before 8 a.m. this week and it was kind of neat being the only patient there. I definitely feel like I’m starting to recognize the nurses and get to know people. It’s kind of funny, though, because other than measuring my vitals and fundal height, checking heartbeat, and asking if I have any questions (and checking my cervix, starting this week), there’s not really a lot to do during an appointment. I’m usually out in less than half an hour. I’m having a very boring pregnancy. I think I’ve been asked if I’ve chosen a pediatrician three times, simply because they’re looking for something to ask, kind of like when you go to an interview and you feel like you need to have something to ask when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. But hey, boring pregnancies are good, right?

I’ve also been working on freezer meals. The doula also had the brilliant suggestion (I really need to do a post of “brilliant suggestions my doula has made that seem so simple but I didn’t think of them”) that instead of carving out some time to make a bunch of “freezer meals” and free them, we should just make extra dinner when we’re already cooking for the night and freeze half of it. So I’ve made a point to make double-batches of some of our go-to dinners and we now have four dinners in our freezer, ready to go once the baby is here and things are crazy. We’ve also stocked up on some Trader Joe’s staples (their char siu bao are my favorite), and we’ll get some bags of frozen veggies to augment some of the Instant Pot curries I’ve frozen sans veggies.

How I’m Feeling:

I had the distinct feeling that the baby might have dropped this week. Starting about Monday evening, I definitely noticed more pressure in my pelvis. It’s odd because I don’t actually feel like I’m having pressure on my bladder. It’s like my bladder has found some sort of pocket dimension to hang out in so that I’m not the stereotypical always-peeing pregnant lady. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that I don’t have to get up more than once at night to pee, but it’s just weird because it’s the one consistent complaint I’ve heard from people. I also think my acid reflux might be getting slightly better because I missed my morning Zantac the other day and didn’t even notice for an hour and a half, when usually I’m starting to feel it an hour or so before I’m due for another dose. When I had my first cervical check at the doctor, she mentioned the baby was at -1 station, which isn’t super low, but said it probably explained the increased pressure I’m feeling. Oh, for anyone following along at home, my cervix is still closed and posterior. Cervical status isn’t a crystal ball, but that suggests baby will be hanging out where they are for a bit.

Other than that, the nagging pregnancy complaints just kind of keep ramping up. My hips are getting sore more easily, particularly in the inner hip creases where I bet my ligaments are loosening. I find that making time to do some labor-prep stretching every day really helps. On days when I don’t do the full Spinning Babies routine or some yoga, I’ll do my top four favorite exercises from the Spinning Babies routine (three of which are also recommended in my Hypnobabies course). I think I’ll post a bit more about exercise in some detail later this week because I haven’t really posted about it since the second trimester when I was still going to barre 2-3 times a week.

Current Cravings: pecan pie (no one in my family but me likes it so I didn’t make one this year)

Exercise: 2.8 average miles/day walking, yoga twice, Spinning Babies Daily exercises once

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Winter melon

Other Posts This Week:

Pregnancy Cravings: Date Nut Bread

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Maintenance Check-In #1

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-seven Weeks Pregnant

You guys, I’m officially considered at term. Technically, if I had this baby now, it wouldn’t be considered premature. That means I could have the baby today… or a month from now. So that’s fun. This last few-weeks-to-a-month is very “hurry up and wait.” I mean, I felt like we should probably have most things ready, just in case, but statistically, I probably have at least another few weeks to wait (probably closer to four). And my OB is in no hurry to induce me before Christmas since my pregnancy has been normal and boring so far.

This week, I had my final ultrasound, where we found out the baby has grown to be just under 7 lbs. (about 75% of the cat, for those who like that tracking measure), according to the ultrasound estimate. Baby still has a huge head, and was being too shy to get a picture of the face with the 3D ultrasound. It was a little disappointing that Dan wasn’t able to see the face live on the monitor, since he missed my 30-week ultrasound, but we got such great pictures from the 30-week scan that I didn’t feel the need to poke and prod to get more this week. Plus, I mostly just cared about the growth. I also got swabbed for Group B Strep, and had a conversation about my birth preferences with the doctor. She was completely on board with all of my preferences and said that most of them were standard practice at our hospital anyway, which was nice. It was my first time meeting that particular OB in person, though we’d talked on the phone.

This week was also Thanksgiving in the US, but we couldn’t really travel. We decided to get some Chinese takeout with my mother, who lives closer to our hospital than we do, but I had my “Thanksgiving dinner” last month when Dan’s college friends hosted a friendsgiving party around Canadian Thanksgiving. Honestly, Chinese food for Thanksgiving really hit the spot, and my mom made a dairy-free apple pie because Dan has been eliminating dairy this month.

I’ve also started building a stash of freezer meals. Our doula had a fantastic suggestion: rather than specifically setting aside time to make a bunch of freezer meals, just make a double-portion when you’re making dinner and freeze half. That way you’re taking advantage of time you would already be spending cooking, and you can slowly build up a stash, rather than stressing over doing it all at once. So I made some beef curry in the Instant Pot this week and froze half of it, and I’ll probably try to make an effort to do that at least once a week from now on. I’m also going to freeze some chocolate chip cookie dough balls.

Since I had a day off on Friday to rest, Dan suggested that we try going out on a date night on Friday, so we got a reservation at a new-ish restaurant near us that we hadn’t made it to yet: Momo Yakitori. It was fantastic. I actually can’t wait to go back when I’m not pregnant because they have some interesting alcohol offerings, too. We got a nice assortment of skewers and appetizers and just generally had a blast chatting with our server (who might have also been the owner?). Since it’s likely that I won’t feel much like going out in the next few weeks, and then our lives will get decidedly busier, it was a bit of a last hurrah.

How I’m Feeling:

As I mentioned last week, my indigestion has turned into acid reflux. Since I started taking Zantac twice a day, that has been much better, although I’ll still get a little bit of a flare, particularly right before I’m due to take another dose. Thankfully, I’ve started with the lower dose of Zantac, so if I feel like it stops working, I can try the stronger version. I will say that I’ve been sleeping much better since starting the Zantac.

Other than that, I alternate between feeling pretty good one day and pretty blah the next day. My Braxton-Hicks have started coming more often, and I just generally feel heavier every day. It’s difficult to stand up from sitting, and I’m noticing my hips getting achy more easily. Our doula lent us a Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD that has some good prenatal exercises on it, so I’ve been doing those once in a while and it really helps (especially since my motivation to do yoga has tanked, and the colder weather has sapped my motivation to walk when I don’t need to to get to work).

Current Cravings: date-nut bread (recipe coming later this week!) with cream cheese

Exercise: 2.1 average miles per day walking, Spinning Babies Daily Routine twice

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Romaine (which is hilarious)

Other Posts This Week:

Pregnancy Cravings: Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

Review: Two Kinds of Incontinence Undies (because pregnancy is beautiful)