23 Weeks – Letter to My Baby

Dear baby girl- (AKA, baby nugget),

Don’t worry, we do have your real name picked out for you but as far as the rest of the world knows, you are baby nugget.  A word that we use for most things and it just so happens it has worked for you as well.

The other day I pulled out your baby book and started to fill in the blanks that it provided.  Family names, when we found out about you, and other basics.  But they were just that, basics.  As a blogger it didn’t feel like enough to me.

I feel like one day, perhaps as a teenager, you will think I was a completely cool person for keeping a blog about my life with great details of when I was pregnant with you.  Or by then you will not give a crap and will think how dorky I am.  I’m fine with it either way.  Some days I wish I blogged like most expecting Moms, listing out exact details of weight gain, cravings, and every new body change in detail.  Then maybe one day I would compare your pregnancy to my next pregnancy (God willing) and you can compare it to your own pregnancy way, way down the road when you are all grown up and married.  But unfortunately I’m not that kind of blogger so you get something different.

Here is what I do want you to know.  I may not love being pregnant but you have giving me one thing to look forward to every day, your moving and grooving inside.  Sure, in a few weeks I may hate having your body parts jabbing my essential organs and so forth, but right now it is a nice reminder that you are okay in there.  Because right now, it is just you and I nugget.  You have only let Dad feel you move around once but normally you instantly stop when I call him in to try to feel your kicks.  It makes me feel like we are actually starting to bond a little.

I want to give you kudos for making this an easy pregnancy.  I needed that after our journey to get here.  Thanks for not plaguing me with morning sickness, horrible sleep, major weight gain or anything else too major.  While I have had a few aches and pains along the way, I know it could be worse.

I will say you are all your father’s child at times.  I may not be much for sugar items but you demand cookies, cupcakes, and candy corn from time to time.  I give in and shove one in my mouth and tell you that is all your get for a while.  You happily spend the next hour kicking back on some sort of whacked out sugar high.  Your Dad finds this hilarious and is quite proud of himself, asking where his own cookie is.  I can see the amount of times you two will be hiding these items behind my back in the future.

With this pregnancy half over, we are very excited to meet you and I swear I will start on your nursery at some point.  I’m not worried about the late nights, the crying or the poopy diapers after you arrive.  I’ve done it before, so I don’t have a lot of anxiety to go back to that phase.  It is short lived anyways and you will quickly grow.  That is just how it happens.  So I’m looking forward to all of it.  Because here is the thing, kiddo, pregnancy is only a small part of this parenting thing and then the real life part kicks in.  The part where our family forever grows by one more.  So lets finish out these last 16ish weeks in style and with ease so we can get to the good stuff, like sniffing your newborn head.

Love,

Mom (The one playing the music too loud, poking you back when you kick, feeding you sugar and talking to your Dad late at night.)

 

 

An Alzheimer’s Truth

My Dad stood in the room when I told my Mom I was pregnant.  With tears in her eyes, she showed him the ultrasound pictures and asked me a million questions.  He nodded and thought it was cool but I could see the disconnect in his eyes.  Once they made it to their own home that night, he asked my Mom when they were going to the hospital to see the baby, he didn’t want to be late.  The next day, when my brother came over, my Dad asked him where the baby was.  Why couldn’t my brother go home and get the baby?  Dad had a baby stuck in his brain, he just didn’t know the who, what or when behind it.

Since then he will have obsessive days when he constantly wants to know where the baby is or asks to go see it.  Mom shows him ultrasound pictures and explains but you can tell it only sinks in so far and then he gets distracted by something else.

At 55, Alzheimer’s is slowly eating away at him.  A disease that my family knows all to well.  This is where I should write about how sad it is that my Dad, who hardly recognizes me, will not know my child, his grandchild.  This is where I should mention that I pray every night that he just holds in there a bit longer to see my child.  But if I wrote all that it would be a lie.

I didn’t grow up with this fairy tale Daddy/daughter story in my life.  My Dad continued to drink more as I got older and it killed our relationship.  It also brought on the Alzheimer’s sooner than necessary.  He requires care 24 hours a day at home which requires a nurse to be with him when my Mom is not and requires my Mom to have no other life unless she can find a babysitter.  That is what it is.  A babysitter, for her husband, so she can come with my sister and I to pick out furniture or else he would probably burn down the house.

A few weeks ago my Grandmother presented the question that more and more people continue to ask.  Don’t you just pray your Dad holds on till the baby is born?  I don’t sugar coat my quick “no.”  My Dad is gone.  The man who raised us, taught me to fish, fought with me after he drank too much, argued politics, fixed everything around the house, shared memories of his old racing days, he is gone.  What is left is a shell of his body and the occasional thought that pops into his head.  He might even start forming a sentence on that thought but then it turns into babble because his brain can’t handle it.  And here is the kicker, nothing will change any of that, there is no cure and there won’t be anytime soon to save him.

As with any disease, that has no cure or relief, it wears on a family.  The constant battles, the ups and downs, him destroying the house, the financial burden, and so on.  If my Dad knew how he truly was now he would be not only mortified but would rather be dead than alive.  I would feel the same way.  I think most would.  The quality of life is gone.  That is Alzheimer’s though.  You start grieving the loss of the person long before their body follows.

I honestly never pictured taking my child back to my parents home and having my Dad be there.  Some think he would be fascinated by a baby but that fascination would merely last minutes before he was cussing at her or dropping something on her.  There are a million things that could honestly go wrong and the stress of it wouldn’t be worth it.  It would be safer to keep my baby away from him than near him.

There is truth in life and sometimes it hurts.  I know some people can’t imagine their parents dying anytime soon, let alone not having them around to meet their grand kids, but my truth is different.

When Does the Feeling of Infertility End?

For most couples who endure infertility, the road is a long and winding one.  For some, it may end once they receive that positive pregnancy test.  For others it is getting that first confirmed ultrasound, making it to week 12, holding their newborn in their arms or anytime in between.  For others it may not even end until they feel their family is complete.

When we found out I was pregnant the first time, I thought we were home free.  I thought our infertility journey was over and we were in the safe zone.  It turned out we were wrong once we suffered a miscarriage.  With this pregnancy I can say our idea of a “safe zone” changed.

For us it has been all about goals and baby steps in this pregnancy.  The first huge hurdle was getting to our 12 week appointment with a heartbeat.  That created the biggest relief for us but I was surprised to find a whole new set of fears that entered my brain.  We had officially surpassed a place we didn’t before but now we were in new territory.  After speaking with several people about their miscarriage stories, we knew that just getting out of the first trimester didn’t mean nothing bad could happen.  We heard from others who had very late miscarriages out of no where and this became my new nightmare. Was there ever truly going to be a point where we could be in a “safe zone?”

The day I started to feel this baby girl start moving and grooving around on a daily basis helped with a lot of my anxiety. I can honestly say it has been the best part of my pregnancy.  I wasn’t so dependent on ultrasounds to make sure she was doing okay in there.  I didn’t have to lay awake at night wondering if the worst case scenario was just around the corner.  Every day she gets more active and is starting to get some what of a schedule down with when she is more likely to be letting me know she is awake.  If ever I worry, I eat a few pieces of candy corn and she is back to the wiggles.  (She is so obviously a Fall baby.  Do you know how hard it is to find candy corn in Summer?)

It seems my next goal has been getting to 24 weeks.  Not that it is ideal but if the worst case happens that she is born, there is a possibility she could survive.  Every week after that is gold to me and to her.  It becomes more and more of a safe zone to me and the reality that I can and will make it through this entire pregnancy with a healthy baby gets closer.

No, I haven’t spent my entire pregnancy in a state of worry and anxiety because that isn’t good for me or baby but I feel like we have been balanced with a dose of reality and not just sunshine and rainbows.  At this point, we are the ones whose infertility journey will not end until she is safely born.

 

22 Weeks – To Babymoon or Not to Babymoon

My Husband and I are huge fans of travel.  We believe in the art of letting your soul rest on a beach and experience new things outside of your own backyard.  I always thought we would be the couple that would have no problem booking ourselves a nice babymoon to enjoy before our little one makes her grand entrance.

We try to book one trip a year to some beach or island as we are 100% landlocked and it drives me nuts.  We then tend to pick one trip within the states to take as a family with Rebecca.  Our last trip was in December, to the Dominican Republic, for a few days of rest and relaxation on the beach with all the rum.  I remember seeing another couple walking the beach, the wife with her cute bump, clearly on their babymoon.  I remember thinking, hopefully someday soon that will be us.  After getting pregnant I fully changed my mind.

To start with, we are trying to be responsible adults and are tightening the reins on our budgeting for the cost of said child, hospital bills, etc.  To top it off, we are finishing our entire basement.  This was going to happen no matter what but the time frame to accomplish this was moved up dramatically because my OCD self cannot possibly have an unfinished project happening when I’m in labor.  That means the beach I dreamt of lounging on is turning into carpet and tile over concrete floors.  Not quite as glamorous.

The next thing that stops us, and this is the most important, is being outside the safety of the United States if an emergency happens.  Even if we were to do something within the states, it still makes me nervous to venture too far away from my doctor.  I wish I didn’t have such a paranoid mind but by this point I just don’t want to tempt fate.  As much as I love those little islands, I don’t really want to see what their medical facilities are not capable of.

This next point is going to make me sound a bit selfish but sometimes, okay always, vacations are a time to be selfish.  We love to do fun outings while on vacations, whether it be zip lining, white water rafting, 4 wheeling in the mountains, etc.  All of those things come with a big warning label that screams, DO NOT DO THIS IF PREGNANT.  Well, way to take away all the fun.  My second favorite thing to do on vacation is sit on the beach and drink large amounts of rum while I read.  Sure, sitting and reading is a safe thing to do while pregnant but my doctor will say no to the rum.  Since my Husband does not drink alcohol and the resorts have all the alcohol for free, I feel the need to make sure we are getting our moneys worth in that department, and I drink for two.  If neither of us are drinking then I’m assuming we are losing our asses which takes me back to being budget conscious.

Then there are the little things that I didn’t think about until I was fully in this position.  I suddenly don’t feel so comfortable with the idea of bumpin out on a beach in my bikini.  Add hours of time on an airplane, airport and extra needed use of public bathrooms, the thought suddenly doesn’t look so appealing.

Of course the main point of a babymoon is to get away, as a couple, before the baby arrives, and I think it is a great idea!  I’m certainly not knocking them!  Sure, I would love a vacation with my Husband right now but I could say that any day of the year and it doesn’t matter if there was a baby on the way or not.  And sure, we could find a more budget friendly trip close by but that doesn’t fix the beach craving.  To curb my craving for a flight away we are already planning a trip for next Spring.  In the big scheme of things, it will be here before we know it.  I figure by that point it can just be a post babymoon and I can still have all the rum.  Till then we are making the most of our weekends together at home.

 

WE are not Pregnant but I am.

Long before I was pregnant, I would cringe when I heard a couple say “We are pregnant.”  I never quite understood that phrase and thought that maybe once I was pregnant then I would change my mind.  Nope.  My mind has not changed. The phrase has come from my mouth once or twice, as an expecting woman, and I absolutely want to eat my words.  My Husband knows better than to ever mutter those words.

I’m sorry if I offend any couples that are expecting out there but to me, there is no “we” that are pregnant. I am pregnant, my Husband is not.  We are both expecting a baby, we can use that term, but just because he is dealing with a pregnant wife, does not in turn make him pregnant.

My Husband gets to get up everyday and go to work, work his normal schedule, come home and do his normal chores/activities/etc.  At this point in my pregnancy nothing has changed for him.  He does not get up in the middle of the night to make several trips to the bathroom, he doesn’t wonder what will fit him in the morning, he does not have to sit down throughout the day because his body tells him to, he does not have to deal with random pains and weight gain.  Even mentally not much has changed for him. Daily my brain is thinking about pediatricians, what we need to schedule next, doctors appointments, to do lists and countdown till baby.

Before I was pregnant my Husband told me he would quit chewing and start losing weight once I was pregnant.  It would be him giving up something alongside me.  It was meant to make me feel like we were both going through something for 9 months.  I can officially tell you that while I have quit drinking and gained weight, he has started chewing more and not lost one pound.

Some may have Husbands that have taken on extra chores around the house or have decided to give their wives a back rub every night after they read their wives bump a bedtime story.  That hasn’t happened in my house.  In fact, I took on my Husbands’ normal chores since he is working every extra minute on finishing the basement.

I’m not trying to complain about my Husband at all, it isn’t that.  Men really do go through their own process when expecting the arrival of a new baby and they do deal with plenty when you are pregnant. But as the actual pregnant person in the relationship, I don’t get the chance to “get a break” from the baby.  I am reminded every minute of every day that we have an arrival of a little human coming.  I try to make my Husband feel involved and he does try to be involved.  He comes to every appointment and we have had plenty of conversations regarding this baby but in the end, I’m the main source, I’m the oven, I’m the whatever you want to call it, but really, I’m in charge here.  Actually, to be real, the baby is.

I don’t think the full reality hits most men until a screaming newborn is plopped into their arms.

In fact, I have actually been offended when someone looks at my Husband and says “Oh, you guys are pregnant.”  I would like to take the credit for what my body is doing all on its own, thank you.

So no, I will not congratulate you and your Husband on being pregnant.  I will congratulate you both on expecting the arrival of your baby.  Because in my household my Husband is not pregnant, that is all cookies and mountain dew.

21 Weeks – Maternity Clothes

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to take the plunge and go find a few maternity clothes to add to my closet so I didn’t soon find myself standing in said closet, naked, with nothing to wear to work.  I figured I would start with a few basic tops and perhaps a pair of shorts and jeans.  At 21 weeks I have gained 6lbs on my 5’2″ frame.  When I went shopping I believe I was only up 4lbs.

I set off on a Saturday, by myself, while the Husband worked on the basement. That was my first mistake, going by myself.  I found myself in Motherhood Store in the mall and was the only one minus a husband/mother/friend for support.  After asking the sales lady a few questions she looked me up and down and asked if I was shopping for a friend.  I explained that I indeed had my own bump under my t-shirt and suddenly felt like I was 13 and shopping for my first bra on my own.  She looked at the Victoria’s Secret bag in my hand and pointed out maternity underwear to me in the corner.  I wanted to tell her to fuck off but managed a polite “no thanks.”  I quickly decided I would just grab what I could and tackle it all in the dressing room.

I will admit, I had this image in my head of people dressing their cute bumps and still not looking like they were hiding under a tent.  What I forgot to tell myself, was those people in the magazines, are just like every other model, pregnant or not in the magazine, they aren’t real, they are photo-shopped.  I found out my bump wasn’t big enough for maternity shirts and they were swimming on me.  Sure, they will fit one day but not for my immediate need.  Even though I have finally grown some boobs, they didn’t fit into the tops either and there was no way I had enough to fill their tank tops.  To top it off, they weren’t just the normal long length to go over my bump, they practically went down to my knees.

Every pair of pants and shorts I tried on made me grow more and more frustrated.  I was still fitting into my regular pants but buttoning them was becoming uncomfortable.  So many people had mentioned to me that they wished they didn’t wait so long before they purchased maternity pants and I thought I would find this heaven they were talking about.  Instead those pants fell down on me or were only held up by the belly support bands.  They left me with the saggiest butt ever and made the crotch area look like my vagina had the possibility of growing 10 times its size in length.  I don’t plan on eating enough cookies for my vagina to gain 5lbs.

After three more trips outside the dressing room, to collect more clothing to try, I managed to find three Jessica Simpson line shirts to grow into.  Again, they didn’t help with any immediate need but didn’t seem horrible.  While waiting in line to check out, I grabbed a tummy sleeve and figured that would be a good temporary fix to my pants situation. I texted a friend who told me to try Old Navy and Target and then perhaps just go up a size in regular clothing.  I gathered my wits, ate a cookie in the food court (okay I silently wished it was a glass of wine) and set off to try it all again.

Target proved to be more realistic for a few basic tops, some just a size up in regular clothing.  In Old Navy, it took some digging, but I found some maxi skirts and tanks that would certainly get me started and did not feel so motherly maternity, as I call it.  I called my Mom on the way home and she quickly reminded me that maternity clothes were no different from regular clothes.  I have always struggled finding clothes to fit my small frame, why should this be different?  It sucks, but isn’t something new to me, I was just looking at it wrong.

Here I am a few weeks later and those tummy sleeves are worth every penny.  I can stay in my regular pants and shorts for the time being with that and life is much better when I don’t have to button my pants.  Also, I just wear casual clothing to work so those maxi skirts are another life saver and for me.  I have worn the shirts I purchased but most people comment that they still look a bit big on me so I have just been wearing regular shirts up a size.  All my work out clothes, sweats, and weekend wear still fit so I haven’t had to tackle that yet.

I still stand in my closet, naked, hating all my clothes most mornings.  I tried on no more than 4 outfits this morning, discarding them all on the floor in an attempt to find something that felt right.  I will say though, my bikini and Victoria’s Secret underwear still fits just fine, thank you.

 

Religion and Your baby

Both my Husband and I grew up in the Catholic church.  I spent my K-8th grade years in a Catholic school that was not at all tragic to my childhood.  There were no strict nuns and I haven’t needed therapy to discuss how it all ruined me.  My Husband did not attend Catholic school but did go through all the normal rites of passage, if you will, for the Catholic faith.  Baptism, first communion, reconciliation, etc.

Since leaving our parents home and becoming adults, neither of us have been particularly crazy about the Catholic faith nor have we gone out of our way to make sure we attended Catholic church more than the Christmas Eve/Easter holidays.  For several years I did attend a non-denominational church in my town and Rebecca joined their Sunday school program.  I felt like I got a lot out of it but as it happens, we didn’t go one week, then the next and now it has been about two years since we have attended.

Flash forward to today, a baby on the way, and suddenly we are digging deep on our faith and further considering which direction to go with our child.  I would consider both my Husband and I to be more spiritual than religious people and we have a tough time with organized religion.  We have faith in God, believe in an after life, and pray each night with Rebecca.  But there are those questions that family members like to start asking you, or more specifically, Grandmothers.  Will you baptize your child?  Will you raise your child in the Catholic faith?  How will your child know about God?  I honestly didn’t realize this would be such a big topic of conversation but I found myself this past Sunday, with my Grandmother, being interrogated about all things religious for my unborn child.

The Husband and I decided we needed some sort of game plan, before this got out of control with the families, on what they might think would be right or wrong.  It seems quite different from when we were infants.  There is no hard or fast rule with our generation on baptisms and so forth.  Call it the Catholic ingrained in us but we both are uncomfortable with our child not being baptized.  The only Catholic church I even have an attachment left with is my Grandmothers church.  We came to the conclusion that we would have her baptized there.

For a number of reasons, Rebecca is not baptized nor has she gone through any other Catholic rites of passage but she does attend a private Catholic school.  The few times we have found ourselves in the church setting, it truly bothers both the Husband and I that Rebecca sits in the pew while we go up to receive communion.  I’m not quite sure why it bothers us so much, perhaps the disconnect, but we know we would like our child to at least have her first communion through the Catholic church.  Again, perhaps just the years of being a Catholic drilled into our heads, those of you out there raised the same way probably understand, but it is something we feel should happen.  We feel being both baptized and having communion in one faith will give her a base for whatever direction she may want to take as an adult.

We plan on teaching our child about God, faith and having an open mind spiritually.  For us, some of it just comes from what is ingrained in us from our childhood, some is what we have learned as adults.  In some ways it seems more difficult, these days, to come together as parents and decide on how to teach your child about religion.  In other ways, these days, it seems people are more open-minded to different ways of celebrating religion and beliefs.  I think it is a tricky topic to navigate for a lot of couples though because it may not be one that a lot think about until they are shouldered with the task once a child is on the way.  Thankfully, the Husband and I previously had some basic conversations about this back when we were dating, so this wasn’t completely out of left field.  Our families great interest over it seemed more surprising to us.

Religion, like finances, is one of those tricky topics while you are dating, married or even once a baby is on the way.  For most though, it is very important.  For now I feel like we have a starting point and can adjust our sails as God sees fit from here.