Follow by Email

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Rest for the Weary

A full night of sleep has evaded me lately. I'm sleeping well for the most part. I manage to go to bed at a decent hour and wake up rested, but I'm not sleeping through the night.

I have some of the most vivid and wild baby dreams. The most recent one is that I woke up with a baby girl in my arms. Brian looked like he had just finished a marathon but I couldn't figure out where the baby had come from. Apparently, I had delivered her in my sleep. Brian, on the other hand, had been awake during the whole experience and gave me the play-by-play.

Given what I know about the birth experience, I doubt that was a premonition. Most likely, it was just wishful thinking.

Brian says he's also had vivid, unusual dreams. So it seems we both are up and down throughout various times of the night. Suppose we can count this as practice for when the baby arrives. At least we can't say we don't know what it's like to be up every two hours.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

36-Week Update

It's hard to believe that I'm in the home stretch of my pregnancy. It feels like just yesterday when I was bowled over by the news that I was expecting.

Brian and I have had a lot of fun over the past nine months, planning and preparing for our family to grow. Just married in March, we've celebrated a lot of firsts as a married couple and lasts as a childless couple. It's been a great time all around.

Now that I'm officially nine months pregnant, there's a collective sense of relief in our home. Though we both hope Baby Kubo holds out until his/her expected arrival date of Jan. 22, we know that s/he can safely enter the world at any point now.

Our twice-weekly doctor visits have been going well, with lots of visible movement and good variation of heart rate. We had a mild contraction during our last visit, according to the monitor. I didn't feel a thing, but the fetal monitor picked it up. If I could figure out how to make it through labor without noticing my contractions, I think I might have it made.

The most exciting thing for me, however, has been the improvement in my lab results. In just one month, my hemoglobin has jumped from 8.5 to 10.5 -- proof that my anemia was caused by both iron and B12 deficiencies.

It's amazing that it's taken almost five years after having gastric-bypass surgery for me to find a doctor willing to give me B12 injections, but I'm glad I have. Those weekly B12 shots have really turned things around for me, increasing my stamina and energy, in addition to raising my hemoglobin. Double-digit hemoglobin is important. Anemics aren't just at risk for pre-term labor, but many require blood transfusions after childbirth. Not a procedure I'm interested in if I can avoid it.

What is "Ready"?

People keep asking Brian and me if we're ready for the baby yet. We're definitely ready to meet the baby, to learn his/her personality and to have the reality of parenthood fully confront us. But I find that most people aren't really curious about the emotional side of parental readiness. When they ask that question, what they really want to know is whether the nursery is in order and if we have all the baby's stuff washed and ready for action.

The answer to that is short and sweet: Nope. Not even close.

There's a lot we'd love to do in the house before Baby Kubo makes his/her debut. There are a few things we'd still like to buy. But we also know that babies are very simple creatures with simple needs for the first few months of life. They don't need skillfully decorated nurseries or perfectly arranged outfits when they come home from the hospital. They need love, attention, food and warmth. That we have covered -- everything else is just icing on the cake, so to speak.

So from now on, when people ask if we're ready, I think my answer will be short and to the point. We're as ready as we'll ever be -- and we'll adjust as needed. Baby Kubo probably won't know the difference between ready and not, and I'm pretty sure s/he won't remember much about the first year. I think we can safely relax, knowing that as long as we cover the basic needs, we're doing everything Baby Kubo expects and requires.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Feeling Photogenic

Ever since I was a child, I have looked forward to the experience of being pregnant. As I've said before, it can be the most perfect time in a woman's life. When else is it socially acceptable to stick out your belly, eat as much of whatever you want and be treated like Cleopatra by all who surround you?

My pregnancy experience, however, has not matched my childhood predictions. I have enjoyed the experience with minimal unpleasant side effects, but I'm not "big as a house" like I thought I'd be. In fact, most people enjoy telling me that I "don't even look pregnant," which is irritating, because I could swear that my belly doesn't usually extend past my bustline -- but maybe I'm delusional.

For the most part, I've been able to accept that my pregnancy journey is specific to me and enjoy the process. Though I was unable to feel the baby move until much later in my pregnancy than most, I still enjoy the quiet moments in the morning and right before bed when the baby is most active and I can feel the flutters and flips inside my belly. I love guessing which body part is where and seeing how the baby reacts to external stimulus. The baby loves kisses from Daddy and the loud music at church. The baby is not so impressed by the fetal monitor at the doctor's office.

Of course, I realize all of these interpretations are guesswork. I assume the baby enjoys something when s/he is more active in response. I assume the baby doesn't enjoy something when s/he kicks or punches something inside me that hurts. Even if I'm wrong, it's fun to guess.

Where I've had a hard time adjusting, though, has been in the case of photography. Being that I've always envisioned having this ginormous, round pregnant belly, it's been really hard for me to get excited about taking photos. I had always wanted a professional maternity shoot, but I kept holding off on scheduling it because I wanted to wait until I "popped," which moms I knew swore would happen "any day now."

When I looked at the calendar last week and realized that "any day now" could also bring a baby, I accepted that it was now or never. At first, I figured I'd just have a quick photo taken of Brian and me for our Christmas cards and to mark the memory of our first Christmas as a married couple and last Christmas without children.

A brief conversation with one of Brian's former coworkers led us to a Saturday morning photo shoot in a local park. The quantifiable end result is a collection of photos by Donavan Garrison that will serve well to document the upcoming birth of our first child and also ensure friends and family get a Christmas card from us before Valentine's Day.

But the end result that can be seen or measured is my full acceptance that I am who I am, and regardless of how that compares to the others in the world, it's perfect and normal for me. I'm thankful for the experience Donavan gave us that allowed me to embrace my figure for what it is and to truly get excited about meeting the little person growing inside of me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Showered with Love

Cake made by Mary Reis of Hilmar; lavender-scented bath salts made by the fabulous Amber Tucker.

I have the most incredible bunch of friends and relatives, all of whom have blessed me beyond belief for my entire life. Having them come together for my recent baby shower was so much fun, I can hardly stand it.

Brian's family hosted a shower for us on Thanksgiving, which was a great way to remind us to be so grateful for the blessing we're about to receive in the form of our first child. Then my best friend, Amber, hosted a shower at the beginning of the month that was absolutely perfect. We had an amazing mix of people present: Former coworkers from the Tracy Press, college friends, UC Merced friends and colleagues, Mary Kay friends, family, and just about everyone else I've met along the way in life.

We had amazing food. Amber's spinach quiche (find recipe in Comfort Foods post) was devoured in about a minute. My mother made sure we had an impressive selection of Hilmar cheese with crackers. For those who didn't need to watch their sugar intake, Amber also made a sausage-and-egg casserole, cheesecake bites, macadamia nut coffee cake and baked french toast casserole. We had cake, too!

The best part of the day, though, was being able to see people I hadn't seen in ages. My AXiD little sis Amy Lee was there with her 15-month-old twin boys. I hadn't seen Amy since she got married! Her boys are so adorable. My college roommate, bridesmaid and all-around-amazing friend Allison Buck brought her mom, Claudia, who I hadn't been able to see since Allie married Brook in Riverside close to a decade ago (boy, do I feel old!).

Nothing compares to the feeling of love and joy you get when surrounded by an enclave of women who love and adore you -- and the advice they each shared was invaluable.

I've been too way too many baby showers that have morphed into parenting gripe fests or worse, labor horror story share-a-thons. Mine was far from that. I was surrounded by a room full of women who focused on sharing positive tales with me.

Here's a brief round-up of my fave bits of wisdom:

  • Soothies are the best pacifiers ever! -- Amy Lee
  • Don't get caught up in perfection; what works for you is perfect for you -- Amber Tucker
  • Breastfeeding is cheap and easy; give it a try -- Hannah Chevalier
  • When all else fails, just love your baby -- Stacy Escobedo
  • Give God thanks daily -- Edna Overstreet
  • BumGenius Organic Bamboo Diapers are great -- Wendy Sparks (via Allison Buck)
  • Get rid of all the chemicals in your home; they aren't good for you or the baby -- Aunt Bina
  • You're going to be the best mom ever -- Debbie Luiz (would you expect anything different from my own mother?)

It's exciting to know that I have such a phenomenal network of women to rely on when my little one makes his/her entrance into the world. We're already so blessed!

Monday, December 07, 2009

33-Week Update

33 Weeks -- Full face shot

I had been feeling great during my pregnancy until a new phenomena developed, which I labeled "Good News Tuesday; Bad News Friday." The doctor had taken to monitoring me twice a week and requesting ultrasounds weekly to monitor the growth of the baby and the maturity of my placenta.

Apparently, us WLS women don't have the nutritional reserves to grow placentas with staying power so the doc wanted to be very careful and watch me closely. No big deal. "Watching closely" involves me seeing the baby more during ultrasounds and spending close to an hour hearing its heart beat while hooked up to a monitor. Sounds like fun to this expectant mom!

But then I realized something aggravating: The schedule I was one for these appointments meant that my doc would see me on Tuesday with no new information and then see me on Friday after receiving the ultrasound results. So, I'd walk in on Tuesday to good news: Everything looks great; you're amazing. And then on Friday, it would be time for bad news: Baby isn't growing; your placenta is getting old; hope you're not attached to working much longer.

I was taken off work at the beginning of the month because the baby was assumed to be super-small. Some women with this problem have seen radical growth once they stop working their office jobs, because stress plays a big role in baby development.

It was unexpected, but I've been able to roll with it for the good of the baby. Then came suggestions that I not drive too far from where we live and that I sleep more. If you know me, you know I'm not much of a sleeper when I'm burning the candle at both ends -- much less when I'm not.

Ultimately, all of this impresses one major fact upon both Brian and me: We are not in control here.

When it comes down to it, you can try to align the planets perfectly in a multitude of ways, but when you are expecting a baby, that little, tiny baby is the world's tiniest dictator -- in control of every minute detail. And if you want to maintain your sanity, you'll realize that, accept that, and move on. So my mantra of late has been to accept that which I can't control and focus on that which I can. Sounds simple enough. Hard to put in practice, though.