Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fat Feet

37 week appointment went well. Dr. G. again told me that today is not my day, and I'm not allowed to deliver over the weekend because it's Easter and he has family plans. Fair enough.

The cervical check hurt INFINITELY less this time. He said my cervix is tilted more favorably (?) and softer, but no dilation yet. I have been taking Evening Primrose Oil this week - not sure if it actually did anything, but it may have helped some with the softening since last week.

I mentioned to Dr. G. that I've noticed some pretty bad swelling in my feet, hands, and face over the last week or so. He looked at my chart, and then noted that I'm up six pounds from last week. He said that it was all fluid, since my belly is still measuring small and my bump hasn't grown significantly. He's not worried since my blood pressure is still low (although it was 120/90, which is the highest it's ever been in my life, except I think it may have been the nurse's first day who did my vitals. She struggled with the blood pressure cuff and then pretty much squeezed the life out my arm while taking it. My bp may have been high because I was nervous about the real possibility of her amputating my arm). I don't know if there's anything I can do about the swelling, but I doubt it's going to get better. Dr. G noticed it even more when he put my feet in the stirrups, but he just, "Oh, your poor feet. Try to drink water and put them up when you can."

I'm grateful I live in a cool climate, and that it's a really good temperature right now. I remember one of my friends who had a baby a few years ago in July when it was close to 90* every day and how swollen and miserable she was at the end. So at least it's not that bad.

This is my last week of work, and I couldn't be happier. I'm only sleeping a few hours a night because I'm so uncomfortable, and that's definitely making it harder to focus. I'm also really uncomfortable sitting in a chair all day at my computer. I try to get up and walk around, but when I do, I look like a hobbled old lady from sitting too long. Plus, no one has given me any projects since I'm leaving soon, so I've done pretty much nothing the last few weeks. It's nice to not be stressed, but it's also pretty boring. I'm tired of cleaning out my desk and organizing files. I'm ready to be home - finish up some projects for the nursery, finish shopping for things like nipple cream and breast pads that I was not about to put on my registry, and finish up our bathroom remodel. I also have big plans to make some freezer meals (or at least grocery shop) and go on lots of walks. We'll see if I actually accomplish any of this, or if I just binge watch HGTV and Netflix all day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

B is for Butthole

I had my 36 week appointment this morning, and according to Dr. G. I'm not having a baby today. And probably not this week either. He didn't give me any numbers after the cervical check, but he couldn't feel the head and had to reach waaaaay up there. That was...unpleasant.

It's okay, I could probably use a few more weeks to get ready, and baby can use a few more weeks to get stronger and fatter - although it's seriously tight quarters in there already. I'm not sure there's any more room to be had if this baby grows.

I also had the Group B Strep test today. Let's talk about that for a little bit, shall we? Why did not a single one of you bloggers with babies or those farther along in your pregnancies not think to mention that the Group B Strep Test is a swab of your butthole!?! You didn't think I would like to have that information beforehand?

I'll admit, it was probably a lack of research on my own part, but still. Help a sister out! Everything I've read - even the pregnancy books (including the ones my clinic gave me to read) failed to mention this. Dr. G. told me several weeks ago that I would be tested at 36 weeks. All the books, all of you guys, and even Dr. G. just called it a "swab." And then informed me that if I tested positive, I would need to make sure I get to the hospital early enough in labor for two rounds of antibiotics. Sure. Good. Done. Sounds easy enough.

Hello...when you tell me Strep Test, I'm gonna assume a NORMAL Strep Test. I've had strep. We've all had strep. You know, lots of coughing, sore throat, lose your voice. No fun. And you know how they test for it? With a THROAT culture. You stick out your tongue and say "Ahhhh." They look for spots on your throat. The only "swab" they take is from your MOUTH. The worst part is if they whack your hangy ball with the tongue depressor.

Do you know what they DON'T do to test for strep throat? Stick a q-tip up your ass. I would think that *someone* at some point in this pregnancy could have told me that the "B" in Group B Strep stands for butthole.

I'm feeling a little betrayed by all of you right now. But let's move on.

We're marginally ready for this baby. I still have a week and half of work left, we're about 90% finished with our downstairs bathroom remodel, and I'm officially sleeping on the recliner part of our couch. There are a few miscellaneous baby items I need to pick up. I'm putting it off until I'm done working, mostly so I have something to do, and don't spend the entire two weeks on the couch watching a bunch of shows that I'm not really that interested in, but I'm DVRing anyway so I have something to watch when I can't sleep. I figure if I have errands to run and things to buy I won't become a totally lazy blob. Or at least not lazier or blobbier than I already am.

I'm getting to the point where I know I'll be able to sleep better after the baby comes. And that's sort of scary. My friends with toddlers laugh at me when I say this, but my friends with newborns understand. They still remember just how uncomfortable these last weeks are. One friend with a newborn shared recently that even though she's only sleeping for an hour or two at a time, it's the best sleep she's had in five months since she's finally able to get comfortable. I can't actually remember what comfortable feels like. No feet in my ribs? No head butting in my pelvis? My hips don't ache? My obliques can actually support the weight of my stomach without strain? I know I was really lucky that I slept really well until about 32 weeks, but I'm making up for it now.

And after three weeks of beautiful weather and complete snow melt (which meant slip-on flats and no socks!), it decided to snow eight inches yesterday and I had to drag out my boots again. I just can't catch a break! Although after a surprise butthole swab, I'm not sure anything should shock me.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Great Debate

I'm going to broach a controversial topic that I am aware has started and fueled all kinds of Mommy Wars. Let's talk Stay At Home Moms vs. Working Moms. I don't really want to be controversial or start a war here, what I want to know is how you made the decision (or are working on making the decision) about what the best option is for you and your family.

Well, to be entire truthful, what I really want to know is what the best option is for me and my family.

I know that many families don't actually have much of a choice. It's purely a financial decision about whether they can afford child care or if they can afford to feed their family on a single income. I do recognize how lucky I am that, for at least right now, I do have a choice. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

We are in a good place financially. That can happen when you have a Double Income No Kids lifestyle for nearly five years. When Bobby and I first got married, we were poor. I was just out of college, unemployed, and Bobby was making $9.00 an hour. We lived in a tiny basement apartment and ate A LOT of Mac n Cheese. Luckily I had a few thousand dollars in savings, or we would have been in big trouble. But eventually I got a job, Bobby kept getting promotions and raises, and with a year or so, we were doing much better. Plus, we both had supplemental income from coaching. (Ha!) Okay, that's kind of a joke. Coaching takes up waaaaay more time than the stipend makes up for. I think I make like $.0003 an hour coaching. But back then, what I had was time, and no money, so it seemed like a reasonable tradeoff.

After we bought our house, we set a certain goal amount for how much savings we thought we should have before expanding our family. After a year or so, we hit our goal and started trying for a baby. Since it took us an extra two years after that to even get pregnant (and no fertility treatments) - and we were still socking away savings - we're at a pretty comfortable place right now. Call it an unexpected blessing of infertility.

I've been at my current job for a little over four years, and I have become increasingly unhappy with it for the last year or so. If I hadn't gotten pregnant last summer, I would have been job searching for something new anyway and quit as soon as I found something. I needed to get out. I needed a change. Obviously pregnancy isn't the ideal time to job search, but it does make an excellent way to leave a job you're unhappy with, without burning any bridges. Everyone is extremely happy for me to be able to stay home with my baby - I have a feeling there would be much harder feelings had I just left for something better.

My last day is April 3, the end of my 37th week of pregnancy. It's pretty awesome to know that I can take my time and not worry too much about official "maternity leave." I know that if I were staying at my job, I would be pressured into working up until my due date to maximize my time off, plus checking in, working from home, and getting things done much sooner than I would be ready. It'll be nice to not have to care if things are falling apart without me. I'll officially be a stay at home mom.

But I'm not sure I want to be.

I'm about to say some things, and I know how they're going to sound. It's going to sound like I think I'm too good/smart/etc. to be a stay at home mom. And that's not the way I want it to sound. These are all confusing feelings, and the only reason I'm writing them is to attempt to sort them out.

Here's the thing: I went to school for four years. I paid a huge sum for my education. I did all that because I want to be working in my field, and I want to be making a difference and contributing to society. Is it all just a huge waste if I stay home and never use my education again? How do I justify that? I really don't know if I could be "fulfilled" in the same way by being a stay at home mom as I am when I'm writing and designing and creating. I'm sure many moms are. I know some consider it the most meaningful job they'll ever do. I don't think I'm that kind of person though. I think I would feel like I'm being lazy. And cheating myself out of my dreams.

On the other side, should I even be having a baby if I'm so selfish? What's the point of having a kid if you're going to give it to someone else for the majority of their lives to raise? Plus, child care in our town is expensive and really hard to get into - especially for newborns. It makes very little sense for us to put a newborn in day care that would eat up nearly my entire paycheck. I'm lucky that my parents are local and my dad is retired, so we do have the option of some short-term care, but I know he wouldn't be interested in doing 40 hours a week of day care, and I would never ask/expect him to.

I'm also lucky that my field (writing/graphic design) has the possibility for freelance work. I could work from home on some projects, but starting a business, building clients, etc. is really time consuming if I plan to make any decent money from it. I would also have the added expense of upgrading my home computer and software to be able to do it.

I've been asked about tutoring, which would be great, but then I would need a babysitter or to work in the evenings once Bobby's home - and that would cut into my ability to coach, at least in the fall. But it's a possibility.

I've also been asked about subbing, which I don't have my teaching license, but our school district is considered "high need" and can use subs without teaching licenses, as long as they have degrees in the subject. It's a possibility, but I've never actually taught a class, only tutored one-on-one and in smaller groups. It's a bit scary. Plus I would need a babysitter on days that I subbed.

So all of these things are jumbled up in my head, and I'm wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do with my life. I feel like I'm 18 again. Or 22.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!

I'm sort of thinking about not doing anything until my volleyball season is over next October - but if I want to get into something in the schools, that might be too late. Should I be thinking about giving up coaching for awhile? I have discussed this with Bobby, but he's not much help. He tells me he wants me to do whatever makes me happy. Ugh. The nerve of the guy, right? So difficult.

Are any of you career counselors? Tell me what I should do, please! Or at least share your stories about how you made/are making your decision about what to do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Getting Real

Right now, I'm currently alternating between two panicked worries. 1) That I won't know when I'm in labor and 2) That I'll think false labor is real labor and won't be able to handle the pain of either one.

Let's talk about the first one. Every time I have this worry, I think it's ridiculous. This is supposedly the most painful event in a person's life. And I'm worried I'm just going to sleep through it? No - I don't think I'm going to be one of those women who's baby just gushes out while she's on the toilet or in the shower. I'm not that lucky. I fully expect to spend a good 9,000 hours in labor - at least 12 of them solid pushing. My body has done nothing to convince me that it's going to be kind to me and give me one of those births that leaves me saying, Would you look at that! A baby just fell out of my vagina. How effortless and convenient.

No, what I'm worried about is that I'm really good at ignoring pain. There have been a few nights where I've had really terrible cramping (don't worry, it turned out to just be poop) and I've thought...I wonder if I should be more concerned? I haven't had any trips to labor and delivery for pain or suspicious activity. I haven't even called the nurse line. Every single mom friend I've talked to said they did these things multiple times. Most of them went in at one point for Braxton Hicks contractions or for not feeling enough movement or for pain that turned out to be RLP, or for cramping that was just constipation. Whenever I wonder if something is wrong, I just ignore it instead. Maybe do some light Googling.

Maybe it's because I had pretty terrible menstrual cramps growing up. I tend to be able to ignore stomach pain pretty well. I once had a UTI that I let go long enough that it turned into a kidney infection. I let that go for a good 24 hours until I was in so much pain I was throwing up and barely lucid. When I finally got checked by a doctor, they couldn't believe I had driven myself and was still walking. After passing a few kidney stones, part of me thinks that pushing out a baby is going to be easy. According to a pain-rating chart I saw recently, most women do put kidney infections/stones higher on the pain scale than even natural child birth.

I'm not worried I'm going to "miss" labor and end up delivering at home, but I am worried I'm not going to know if something is wrong soon enough to do something about it. I'm worried that I should be better at knowing my body and not ignoring when things are painful. I'm worried that I'm going to be too stubborn about not wanting to get to the hospital too early that I get there too late and it negatively affects my baby.

Which leads me to the second point. My goal is to not go to the hospital until I'm around 5-7 cm dilated. I want to labor at home before that, so that I'm comfortable, able to eat, and manage pain in my own way. When I'm in pain, I like to be left alone and deal with it (ignore it)- see kidney infection story above. I'm afraid that in a hospital, I'm not going to get that option.

I'm afraid that labor's going to start, I'm going to wait it out a few hours and finally think I'm in so much pain I must be close to transition. So I'll pack up and go to the hospital--and find out I haven't even started dilating. Or I'm 1-2cm. That my pain tolerance isn't even close to what I thought it was. They'll send me home and I'll spend the next 8,500 hours in absolute agony before my body even starts laboring for real.

So - how do you balance these two things? How do you "manage" early labor on your own and know the exact right time to go to the hospital? How will I know if something's wrong if everything is so painful anyway? I get waiting for contractions 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour - but how do I know my body isn't just going to stall at some point during those, or after, or once I get to the hospital? Do most people just not worry about this sort of thing and trust their "mother's intuition?" Because I sure don't.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tiny Mittens

Yesterday afternoon, I sat in the rocking chair in our nursery brimming with new things for our baby, writing thank you notes to all of the wonderful people who came to my shower. I'd pause, look around me, and wonder who's life I was living. Certainly not my own. Someone else must own these cloud-soft blankets and tiny mittens that barely cover my thumb. When Bobby pulled them out of the gift bag and held them up for the first time, he nearly fainted. "You've got to be kidding me! These are not for real people!" I told him they were to keep baby from scratching its face. "I know that, but no one's hands are this tiny. This is ridiculous."

Of course Bobby and all his brothers were over 10 pounds (one was nearly 12!) at birth, so it's true that his hands were probably never that small. Dr. G. thinks I'll have closer to a 6.5 or maybe a small 7-pound baby - which sounds much better to me (and my vagina) than pushing out a 10-pound toddler. But still, as I fold these newborn onesies and socks and hats, I can't help gawking at just how tiny everything is. Which is scary, because to me, tiny = breakable.

My 34-week appointment today was uneventful. We talked a bit about what I should be looking out for, and Dr. G said for the next week if I have any contractions, leak fluid, or have decreased fetal movement I need to go to labor and delivery. After next week, I wait until my contractions are 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute for an hour. I should call labor and delivery when they start to give them a heads up, but after 35 weeks they don't try to stop labor. Um...yikes. I could have a baby next week. While I'm super uncomfortable and feeling like baby is totally running out of room, I'm not ready yet. Thankfully I haven't had any sort of contractions other than Braxton Hicks, and as far as I can tell, baby is still pretty content. It's head down, but not super low. My last day of work is April 3, and I was kind of counting on having a few weeks at home after that before baby comes - so let's hope it stays put for at least another 3 weeks! I did feel my first instances of "lightening crotch" last night, which I'm guessing means baby is head-butting my cervix. I'm not impressed by this new trick.

Baby kept kicking Dr. G's doppler around today, so he remarked, "Well, I'm not worried about fetal distress or decreased movement, but your kid may have a bit of an attitude problem." When I texted Bobby after my appointment to tell him this, his only response was: Boy. Of course, I texted back, Or an active, athletic girl...

We really have no idea, and Bobby had a panicked moment about it when we were in the car on Saturday. He kind of freaked out saying, "What were we thinking not finding out!? We literally have no idea if what's inside of you is a boy or a girl!"

I tried to ask why it mattered at this point...what would we really be doing differently? He didn't know, but it made him really nervous all of a sudden. Maybe because we haven't come to any sort of decision on a name. Or because he panicked that we'd have to pay for a wedding if its a girl (I promised we'd have a few years to save). Or because there's so many other uncertainties (labor, delivery, hospital stay, visitors, etc.) that he's feeling powerless - and knowing if we're coming home with a boy or a girl would help him regain some sense of control over the process. He's since calmed down, but it's sort of adorable when he gets worked up about this kid. I know it's just because he loves it so much and wants to do everything right.

Which starts with more tiny laundry tonight and putting away more itty bitty mittens.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

33 Week Ramblings

We have a crib! Of course, we have no bedding for it, but I feel like it's a step in the right direction. My aunt also let us have one of the rocking chairs from her house (she had nine - we were allowed to "shop" and choose whichever we wanted), so our nursery is actually starting to fill up.

I also spent last Friday priming and putting two coats of paint in our new bathroom downstairs. That was a HUGE mistake. I was sore for days. I still am. My back may never recover. I'm going to the chiropractor again tomorrow, and hopefully he can help me. I have been miserable, and I'm seriously wondering if I can make it four and a half more weeks at work. Sitting is the worst. Second only to standing/walking/lying down. I do not know how people work right up until delivery. I thought I would be one of those women. I am not. I am a worthless blob. Yes, I'm currently super fun to be around. I'm trying not to complain or be difficult, but chronic pain is no joke. I have sooo much more empathy for people who deal with pain like this all the time.

My shower is coming up on Sunday. I'm not really a shower girl. I don't like going to them, I don't like having them held in my honor. Bridal, baby, whatever - they're always uncomfortable. I'm grateful that I have friends who want to do this, and so many people who are willing to gift us stuff, but the whole concept is just strange to me. And I keep hearing how annoyed people are that we don't know the gender, because apparently it makes buying gifts difficult. Um...sorry to inconvenience you?

I'm starting to get antsy. At 33 weeks, it feels like I'm in the home stretch, but not yet in a "any day now" way. Like I know I probably still have at least 7 weeks, likely even more. So I'm feeling big and unwieldy, but I know it's still going to get worse. And the end is not yet in sight. I am trying to enjoy these last few weeks and cherish this time, but I am ready to be done. I haven't loved pregnancy, and I didn't really expect to. I was not someone who had dreamed her whole life of being pregnant. Of course I want kids - and I really, really want this one - but pregnancy is a means to an end for me. I would want this kid just as badly if someone else had carried it for me.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be pregnant, but I'm going to be sooooo happy to not be pregnant. Believe me, I have all the motivation in the world to lose the weight every single time I have to put on my boots. Or drop something on the floor (which is ALL.THE.TIME. I am the so clumsy lately! I don't even know who I am anymore!). Or by the end of every day when I sit on the couch with my shirt pulled up and belly exposed because even the thinnest piece of fabric feels like it's restricting my stomach. I think I burned 500 calories this morning while putting on my pants. I don't even want to talk about Satan's minions that are socks.

It's also strange that it's the beginning of March and I'm not in the midst of tryouts. I miss it, but I'm also very happy with where I am right now. What a difference a year makes!