Saturday, July 28, 2012

12 Emotional Stages of Pregnancy: I am at Blissful Contentment

I am beginning to wonder if there's a list of the 12 emotional stages of pregnancy and I haven't seen it. Here is my take on this list:

1. When I first found out I was pregnant, there was excitement. Loads of tears. Love, love, love. I couldn't stop looking at Ryan and thinking about how blessed we were.

2. Then, at the first ultrasound, it seemed like a miracle; something unbelievable. We made this little embryo on the screen. Incredible!

3. After the talk with the doctor about my age and higher possibility of issues for the pregnancy and baby, it turned to anxiety. What if the baby does have an fetal anomaly? What if I have health issues?

4. Relief because the baby and I passed the tests with flying colors. Deep cleansing breath. I am pregnant and all will be well. Om.

5. Reading books and going to classes, there was a realization that there was a lot of preparation needed for the little human. Urgency. I need a binder. I need to organize. I need a list. We need to get things done.

6. While the urgency continues around checking off the to-do list. There is also a lot of nesting going on. I needed a space for the baby; some physical place so the baby knew we were making room for him or her.

7. A feeling of accomplishment comes in around the beginning of the third trimester when the to-do list is complete. Ahhh...we are right on track and feeling much more ready for our little one.

8. At the birthing class around the end of the seventh month, a bit of worry creeps into the picture. Will the pain be more than I can manage? Will I get this breastfeeding thing down? Will everything be okay at delivery?

9. Blissful Contentment. This is the stage where I am right now. I am content and feeling so good.

I am in the beginning of my eighth month. The nursery is done. The baby and I are in good health. We have gotten a lot of organizing and preparation completed. Friends and family are around us, surrounding us with love and support. Things are just blissful. There are lots of smiles around our house, especially when Baby Dragon moves around in my tummy; we love feeling him or her move. It is pure joy.

Right now, we are settling in and finishing up a few things. We are able to relax and look forward to the weeks ahead -- weeks of baby showers, washing little clothes and sheets, ordering diaper service, and mentally preparing for a positive birthing experience.

I am not sure what the next three emotional stages will be. I am sure women who have given birth could tell me. I am thinking anticipation, exhaustion and joy.

What an incredible adventure -- no matter where I have been in my pregnancy. This has certainly been the most amazing experience in my life. Yep, blissful contentment.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reflection: Sixty Days and Counting

It is unbelievable to me that I am now only 60 days from my estimated due date. Where has the time gone? I never expected this part of the journey to fly by so quickly. But, as I reflect back on the last seven months, it has been a truly wonderful experience full of the unexpected and new.

We first found out we were pregnant over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend -- hmmm, maybe we should include Martin or Martina on the list of names, but I digress. When we got that positive test, it was a delicious secret between us, as well as my very best friend (Rachel was visiting that weekend). We found it difficult to tell anyone because we wanted to keep it close, savor the expectation - it was something precious between us (and not in a Golem sort of way). But, once we told my parents and our close friends, we saw that others would savor the news as well. We saw that others had the same joy we had.

When you are over 35 and pregnant, joy alternates with anxiety. Tests and ultrasounds are done to monitor the baby's progress to ensure your old age has not contributed to a genetic anomaly for your baby. When the last of the major tests were over and we passed with flying colors, we then focused on the long list of things to accomplish before the baby arrived, while also reading lots of books about the little biological science project growing inside me (I will never get over the wonder of the baby's growth). The list of things to do can be overwhelming.

I am happy to report that most of our list is checked off and we are feeling much more prepared than we did even two months ago:
- A spot for the baby is confirmed at a daycare and it is a wonderful place
- Pediatrician confirmed
- Nursery set up (it is such a beautiful room in our house - I just sit in here and hang out now)
- Cord blood registry chosen and we are in the process of confirming
- Classes completed: two birth classes, one child care class and we still have a breastfeeding class, as well as a first aid and CPR class to attend
- Pre-registration at the hospital is complete
- Name list is compiled
- Playlist for the hospital room is loaded on my iPod
- Diaper delivering service is standing by
- Baby showers are on the calendar

There are so many other things we are checking off our list and as we do, we are feeling more confident and ready. We know that a baby will be a big adjustment, but it is one I know we will be able to manage because throughout this whole process it has been "we." It has never been me or he. It is always us.

Finding my partner and best friend in one truly loving individual has meant being blessed by so much over the last 15 years (and we should be celebrating 16 years right around when the baby is born). But, in the process of being pregnant, that love, kindness, wit, partnership and spirit for adventure has shown me that as a team, we can do anything. And, Ryan will be a truly outstanding father. It makes me teary-eyed just thinking about that adorable man of mine holding our child.

My reflection is almost over, but I have to write about generosity. I count myself a very lucky girl when I think of the amazing friends I have in my life. They are all such a great support and have always been there when I needed them. But, the generosity that has surrounded Ryan and I during the pregnancy is just wondrous (cheesy word, I know, but I can't think of an adjective that properly describes the infinite amounts of generosity we have experienced). I am pretty sure it is all of the love and generosity that surrounds us that gives me that so-called pregnancy glow.

To all of you...and I sure hope you know who you are...thank you! Thank you for the hugs, smiles, laughter, support,shower planning, little gifts, encouragement, generosity, and genuine love.

We are sixty days and counting...while I can't wait until that day when I finally get to hold my little Baby Dragon...I am looking forward to everything the next sixty days has in store.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We Want to be Surprised

Over the past few months, we have done our baby registry, gone to classes at the hospital, interviewed daycares, and done meet-and-greets with pediatricians. In addition to talking to people every day, they all add up to a lot of encounters where we are asked what we are having. And, of course, being witty and a bit devilish...we always say, "A baby, we hope." Sometimes we get giggles, other times we get the dumb dog look and they rephrase the question:

"No, what is the gender of the baby?"

"We don't know."

"Oh, you aren't far along enough to know the gender."

"We could have known if we wanted to. We want to be surprised."

The reaction to this statement varies from confusion to dismay to delight. Some people who know me pretty well know that I am a planner and I think they are a bit confused at the fact that I wouldn't want to know. Others just look stressed out at the prospect of not knowing; they aren't having the baby, but they still need to know. And, then there are those people who geniunely think it is wonderful we want to be surprised - "there aren't enough surprises in the world."

My feelings mirror the last sentiment.

Outside of knowing how to decorate the room and what clothes to buy, no one can give me a compelling enough reason for knowing the gender of my little one before he or she is born.

Knowing the gender of the baby isn't essential to planning for his or her arrival (I have a whole planning binder to ensure we don't forget anything). All babies, regardless of gender, need the same things - stroller, crib, diapers, a home, love. No where in that list is there appropriate decor based on the baby's gender.

We are expecting a new human being who has very little understanding of society's gender stereotypes until at least the age of two or three (and I hope we don't let too many of those stigmas into the house at that point in their lives). We have time to add the girl or boy into things after the baby has been in our lives for a while and we have a sense of his or her persona.

All of the reasons for knowing the baby's gender are really for the benefit of adults. Naming made easy - perhaps, but I don't mind keeping two lists. Shopping is easy - I'm not convinced because I am not overly keen on the profusion of pink that defines things for girls. And, babies could care less about what they are wearing, as long as they aren't too hot or too cold. Baby clothes are created to be a cue for adults so they can look at the bald baby in a blue outfit and say without fault, "What a handsome boy."

I'll admit that what first was a decision just simply because we wanted to be surprised, has now become even more deliberate. I found that without knowing the gender, we are simply expecting a child that we anticipate with a lot of love and affection. This is not a gender-defined child with built-in stereotypical expectations.

Not that we don't sit around in the evenings listing all of the things our baby could be -- a famous physicist, space travel pilot, chemist who finds the cure for terminal diseases, renowned artist, philanthropist. The list is long, but it is about our child being whoever he or she wants to be. She could be a girl who is obsessed with Star Wars and comic books or he could be a boy who adores reading all kinds of books and painting with his mother.

We want to be surprised. Not just by the gender of our child, but by the new discoveries and adventures we will have with this new addition to our family. We want to be surprised and awe struck by the little moments of joy. We just want to infuse his or her life with love, learning and exploration. We look forward to the surprises in life and even more so now that we will have a child with whom to share those surprises.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Mission Impossible: Seven Hours of Sleep

Early in my pregnancy I read an article that said it was best to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, more if you are able to. The benefit would be a healthy baby, healthy you and shorter labor. Yes, shorter labor. A study had been done that women who got seven hours of sleep or more had shorter labors than those who had five to six hours of sleep every night. My mission: seven hours of sleep.

I imagine that Tom Cruise's character would look at me like I was crazy. He would tell me to choose to scale a building instead. My odds are better.

In my first trimester, I generally fell asleep on the couch every night. Whether I was talking to my husband, reading or watching television, it didn't matter. I would nod off. And, because of this wonderful hormone called relaxin that relaxes all of your muscles, including your intestinal muscles, food makes the journey at a much slower pace than it used to. So, I would get up from the couch - quite a while after dinner - and my stomach would feel horrendous. I would pop some Tums (BTW, Tums is the greatest invention by man) and hope that my stomach would settle down enough for sleep to come. It was a 50/50 chance - a night's sleep could be eight hours or four hours.

Second trimester came around and I was back to my normal sleeping pattern. I was energetic all day. I had the ability to stay up fairly late in the evening and get my seven hours or more of sleep. I was feeling really good. Mission possible!

It was toward the end of my second trimester that all of this good fortune and sweet slumber changed. My stomach had grown and it wasn't looking like I had simply produced a beer gut, but that I had eaten a basketball. When your stomach is this size, it begins to feel as if it is a separate appendage (it especially feels this way when your little one is doing a disco dance in your belly at 3:30 am).

The tummy is bigger, the baby is moving a tremendous amount and my nesting has kicked in. Hello to early mornings and evenings spent rolling from one side to the other. No more sleeping on my back. You can only sleep on your side because it is best for you and the baby - you don't want the baby to end up on your vena cava. And, with your circulatory system a bit screwed up by pregnancy, after only an hour or two on one side, you have to flip to the other because your hip or leg has gone numb.

My sweet husband decided I needed some assistance, so he purchased me a special pillow to help put me in the optimal position. The pillow certainly helped. I slept better and was much more comfortable. It also helped that before bed we practiced the relaxation techniques learned in the birthing class we took at the yoga studio. Sleep and I were at peace again.

Now that I am in my third trimester and the basketball has become a beachball, sleep is difficult to capture once again.

I use my special pillow and ensure it is positioned correctly. I breathe in and breathe out to relax. I clear my head and allow my body to become heavy. I am sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the salt air. Then one of two things occurs -- my bladder signals that it really needs to get to a bathroom or the baby decides it needs to practice moving his or her legs and arms, perhaps his or her head, before settling in for the night. Deep breath, Om.

Some evenings, once I get situated again and everything internally seems to be ready too, sleep is wonderful. I wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Other days, sleep has alluded me and I get up in the morning feeling like I tried to sleep on the red eye flight from Tahiti to Sydney (I've been on this flight - it does not contribute to productive sleep).

I am still shooting for my seven hours or more of sleep. I have found that it comes much more easily if I eat dinner earlier in the evening, do some sort of exercise during the day, and refrain from drinking water at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. Productive slumber is possible, but it takes ingenuity, cunning and flexibility. We'll see if I can keep these skills tuned up enough for whatever my body throws my way in a few weeks.

I'll just keep breathing and picturing that beach. I am determined that this will be mission possible.