Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pure Stress

It has not been a good week.  It's been moving rather quickly considering there hasn't been a ton going on, but my stress level rose considerably this week and it's made things quite challenging overall.  This morning's doctor's appointment took one weight off my shoulders but added another...so while I'm a little calmer now than I was the past few days, I am still facing down quite a crazy reality. 

It all started late last week, or perhaps over the weekend.  I noticed a change in (TMI alert!) in the type and amount of discharge I was experiencing.  It's not uncommon to have some during pregnancy, as there's a lot going on down there and hormones are raging.  But suddenly I was experiencing more, in small spurts (literally).  It wasn't a constant thing, but it happened maybe a couple times a day, often as I changed position or exerted an effort--like blowing my nose or turning over in bed.  It was thin and wet, but I was pretty sure I wasn't just peeing myself.  Given the amount of pressure on my bladder these days, I wouldn't have been surprised if that's all it was, but the consistency was different.  At first I chalked it up to a normal increase, as can happen later in pregnancy.  But as the days went on and it seemed to get a little worse, I worried that it might be more.

About 27 hours before Jacob was born, I started leaking amniotic fluid.  It came as a little spurt after I used the bathroom, which led me to think the baby had shifted and more pee came out.  But when it happened again a few minutes later, I knew something was up.  It continued to happen frequently from then on, and the next morning I was at the doctor's office to confirm that's what was happening.  Twelve hours later I was in the throes of labor.

What had been going on this week was reminiscent of that, but it was happening way less frequently.  I did a lot of weird internet searches and eventually decided it was possible that it was a pinhole-sized leak.  The baby was still moving normally and I knew I had an appointment scheduled for this morning.  I didn't want to have to go through the craziness of scheduling an emergency appointment, paying another co-pay, and sounding like someone who had spent way too much time doing internet searches, so as long as things seemed normal, I figured I'd stick it out.

By last night, however, I was really starting to get concerned.  I was worried about whether it could have an impact on the baby.  I worried that there was a chance I could be in the hospital within 24 hours, delivering a five-week-early baby, with a very unfinished baby room and nothing ready to put in it.  I was still washing the car seat cover and the first round of stuff I had pulled out of the crawl space, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I still had to go through.  And to top it off, when I pulled out all of the littlest baby clothes, the vast majority of them were stained with yellow stains.  It's a common yet mysterious scenario, based on what I'm seeing online, where clothes that went into storage looking clean come out stained a few years later.  I'm going to try the most common suggestion--getting OxyClean and letting them soak--but even that was an overwhelming task considering that this baby could be here very quickly (although if he arrives anytime soon, those clothes will all be too big for a while--but that's another issue altogether). 

I was simply overwhelmed and worried.  The fear practically paralyzed me.  I literally didn't know what to say or do.  Craig was asking me what he could do to help, and I couldn't even answer him.  I was extra uncomfortable on top of it, and I was honestly concerned that all of the waiting I'd done all week was about to come back to haunt me.  I thought maybe my water would break or contractions would start, or that something would happen with the baby.  I felt like I could do nothing else but go to bed, so I did just that shortly before 11pm.  I could barely sleep, though.  I dozed a bit and woke up to pee at least half a dozen times.  I tossed and turned.  And at one point the wind started blowing, and it was extra loud.  I was anxious about everything and decided that I needed to at least take one element out of the mix, so I put in earplugs, blocked out the wind, and tried to cram in whatever sleep I could.  I didn't get much, though.  I got up right when my alarm went off (none of my normal snoozing), and immediately went to the basement and reassembled the car seat. 

I was full of nervous energy prior to my doctor's appointment, and I was so relieved to get there.  When the nurse midwife came in and asked how I was, I launched into the story.  Much to my relief, she said it was an easy test to check if it was amniotic fluid, and I got to start my internal exams one week early.  I forgot how miserable those exams can be--it's scary when something so simple like that hurts, considering a baby will be coming out of that area soon--but she took a swab that would have been taken next week and ran a couple tests on the fluid.  She thought it might have been a high leak, but it turns out that it wasn't fluid.  It's most likely just my (TMI alert) mucus plug thinning out and the fluid associated with that coming out from time to time.  She basically said to just wear a pad, take it easy, and it's not a big deal.  Oh, and I'm two centimeters dilated.  Yep.  TWO.  Last time at 36 weeks I was one, and now, at 35 weeks, I'm two.  UGH.  She said that it's not particularly surprising since I've already had one baby, and it doesn't mean that anything is imminent because some women walk around for weeks dilated even more.  Of course, I got that same spiel last time and I kept dilating right up until I went two weeks early. 

So...the good news is that it's not fluid and that means that we're not at risk for infection or having to deliver immediately.  The bad news is that there's a lot of evidence that things are happening, so now I feel like more of a ticking time bomb than ever.  I've been trying to speed through a lot of training and processes at work, and I'm doing what I can to prepare at home.  Hopefully I have a couple weeks left, but if nothing else I could use a week or so--enough to get the baby's room back up and running after Monday's paint job.  We need to install at least one car seat base.  I need to pack a hospital bag (my list is saved on my computer).  I did manage to waterproof our bed a bit and I've pulled out towels for my evening resting place and my car seat.  But most of the rest of everything can wait until we're home with the baby, no matter how much more I'd like to have done. 

Reality is setting in that this is coming sooner rather than later, and there are moments of pure panic.  Today's revelations took off the weight of the scary unknown and left in its place just a nervous unknown.  I'm feeling a lot of pressure around my belly, so I'm still operating under the assumption that it won't be long...but considering yesterday I was thinking I could be in the hospital at this point, I'll take any bonus time I can get.  This is just pure craziness, but I know it will be worth it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Random News & Notes

- I knew that my last pregnancy was a pretty good one, but it's definitely taken this pregnancy to realize just how great it was.  The fact that I wasn't really nervous about going early until I hit the 36-week mark and found out I was dilating is such a stark contrast to how things are this time around, where I've been sort of nervous for a good 3-4 weeks already that something has been brewing.  I haven't even hit 36 weeks yet--this week will be 35--and I'm getting super paranoid every time I notice a weird symptom--that my watch or shoes are tighter, that my belly might look a little lower, that my lower back pain sometimes hits even when I'm not dealing with the sciatica issue, etc.  I can't believe how I breeezed through this period last time, enjoying our childbirth classes, sorting through baby stuff, shopping for summer clothes, and not really mentioning on the blog any sort of discomfort.  I was so lucky.  And if nothing else, this is a vivid reminder that this should be our last child, because I can't even imagine the protest my body might put up if I tried to do this again in a couple years!

- I also had no idea how well timed out my last pregnancy was.  Obviously we didn't exactly plan it that way (since we physically couldn't and ultimately didn't know when I actually was pregnant), but on top of the obvious summer baby advantage, there was a big advantage wardrobe-wise.  I'm getting to the point now where things are starting to get too small.  Waistbands are tight and shirts are short.  Last time around I had to go buy new clothes at this point because the weather was warming up and unless I wanted to sweat like crazy, I needed some summer clothes.  I could buy them specifically to fit my ever-growing belly, knowing that I only had to account for a couple more months of getting bigger.  This time my wardrobe has been in cold weather mode pretty much from start to finish, meaning that it has had to fit my little belly and this crazy big belly I'm sporting right now.  Knowing that I might only have a few weeks left, there's no point in running out to buy new stuff, so I have no choice but to make do with what I have.  Yes, last time it felt a little wasteful to buy a bunch of new summer clothes that were only going to get a couple months of use, but again--it was 90 degrees and I had no choice!  Though, to be honest, I don't even think I have the energy or ability to shop like that right now, even if I wanted to.  We were out shopping this weekend for a bit and I hit my limit pretty quickly.  Ugh.

- I really need to take another picture of my belly because it is really getting big.  I actually want to take some bare belly shots, too, because you can really see some crazy definition where (I think) his butt and shoulders have been wedged for a while now.  I have these ever-present rock-hard bumps and from what the doctor told me at one point, those are most likely the body parts causing them.  I'll hopefully get a little more insight at my appointment later this week.  The belly sticks out pretty far now, and while someone just told me it looks high, I'm pretty sure it's lower than it was last time around.  I could be wrong, but I don't have enough good pictures to know for sure.

- This baby really needs to find a new place to kick.  I don't mind when my belly moves around like there's an alien in there.  In fact, I think that's pretty cool.  I like when unidentifiable body parts (probably elbows or shoulders, mostly) move around.  What I don't like is when the movement is more internal.  This baby has taken to doing something--moving his hands, maybe--in a spot that is buried deep in my belly, and I swear, it feels like he's trying to dig his way out through the birth canal.  It feels so weird and is a little unnerving given my fear of going into labor at any moment.  It is pretty uncomfortable at times, and it's generally the one movement that tends to make me say "ouch" the most often.  I should probably consider myself lucky that I don't have a baby with kicks lethal enough to break ribs or anything like that, but this sensation is really uncomfortable and kicks up my worry meter more than anything else.

- Jacob skipped his naps this weekend and as a result he was quite a difficult child for the majority of the two days.  He hadn't been that bad for such a sustained period of time in quite a while.  I even tried to force a nap on him yesterday after his lack of a nap on Saturday led to the nap at the Knighthawks game, but he fought it all afternoon and never took one.  By dinnertime he was disobedient, irrational, obnoxious, and generally hard to deal with.  He has isolated moments like that a lot of the time, but lately he's been pretty good overall (aside from always getting distracted and not doing things when he's supposed to)...but yesterday in particular was constantly challenging.  This no-nap transition really stinks.  I should be grateful it's taken this long to arrive, but man, is it annoying.  On a side note, we have managed to move his bedtime about a half hour earlier over the last week or so.  He'd been a bear to get out of bed most mornings so I figured it might be time.  I feel bad doing it since we don't get that much time with him in the evenings as it is, but knowing that Kindergarten is coming anyway, there isn't much we can do.  I can't say we've been super strict with it, but he's most likely getting to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than he used to.  Hard to tell if it's made a difference, though, as mornings are still pretty tough and it's still a crapshoot as to whether or not he falls asleep when he should.  At least we're making an effort.

I know there was probably more, but this is all my eyes will stay open for.  Yawn.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Last Chance

Last time I was pregnant, I was far less conscious of the chance of going early.  I knew it was a possibility, and even blogged about my concerns with it, but I honestly thought I'd go right up until the end so I wasn't that worried about it.  I got slightly more concerned at my 36 week appointment when I discovered that I was already dilating, but I still wasn't nearly as concerned as I am now.

Based on all of the discomfort I've had so early this time, I've spent much of the last couple weeks convinced that my water's going to break any minute.  Crazy, maybe, but the pressure and discomfort has been scary for me this time.  And if it wasn't for all that I have to take care of in the next few weeks, I wouldn't mind it so much now that the baby is closer to a healthy size and greater lung maturity.  But all that stuff...ugh.  This baby needs to stay put for now.

What's weird for me at this point is wondering when my chances to do certain activities are going to run out. For example, tonight Jacob and I went to the Knighthawks game.  For the record, he didn't nap today and this is how he spent the entire second quarter and all of halftime:

Looks like dropping that nap isn't working out so well for him, eh?  Well, there's another game next week, and then the team is on the road for one weekend before a couple weeks back home.  I keep saying that I need to make it through that weekend on the road (two games--Philly Friday and Buffalo Saturday), and then I'll feel much more confident that Craig won't have to miss a game.  He's got a trip to Denver the first weekend in March, and I've already said that if this baby doesn't come by then, he's not going...but given that I went 10 days early last time, my guess is that this baby is going to come sometime during those couple weeks at home.  But I can't help but wonder which one of these games is going to be our last--either because I have the baby or because I just get too uncomfortable to deal with the long night out with Jacob.  I think about trying to plan ahead a bit when I go to the grocery store, and I'm driving myself a little nuts thinking about needing to go through the baby stuff before a trip to Babies 'R' Us is no longer an option.  I think about my last day of work and what I might leave behind, particularly since my boss might kill me if I came in on my way to the hospital to wrap things up.  

I'm already wondering if I've seen the last of our families until the baby is born.  My parents were in town last weekend, but we haven't seen Craig's family since Christmas.  They will be off to Disney (yes, the trip we would have liked to be going on) soon, but by the time they're back I'm not sure if I'll be confident enough to brave a trip that far away.  We have a couple events in Buffalo in mid-February that would be great to attend (one per family), but will I be up to it?  Will it be worth the risk?  

I just seem to have more of a concept this time around of how quickly plans can change.  Last time we went from a normal night at home to the beginning of a crazy roller coaster ride in the span of five minutes.  With the added wrinkle of taking care of Jacob's needs this time around, it's a little extra nerve-wracking.  I'm trying to plan ahead where I can, but there's so much to think about and it seems like there's only so much I can do.  I can barely think of what to make for dinner in a given week, let alone make plans to set up for easy meals once the baby is born but before I'm ready to go to the grocery store.  I'd like to get a baby shopping trip in, but I'm hesitant to go through a lot of stuff to figure out what we need until I can put the baby's stuff in the baby's room, and that's still on hold until it's painted.  I'm feeling a little stuck and a little panicky, but hopefully I can keep doing things a little at a time and it will be enough in the end.  I did strip the baby's room of all wall decorations and most of the rest of its contents this morning.  Craig will have to help with the furniture, but that's one less thing to worry about.  I also pulled some bins and bags of stuff out of the crawl space so I have a starting point for sorting and washing.  There's still more in there--toys, baby seat, bathtub, swing--but it's a start.  I just wish I could tell when the finish line is going to pop up on the horizon!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh, the pain...

I really wish I knew why this pregnancy is so much more painful for me than the last one.  A week or so ago I scoured the blog in the weeks leading up to Jacob's birth to see what I was talking about, and aside from a couple mentions about discomfort while walking (which happened less than a month out, yet was happening to me a month earlier this time) and the issues I had dealing with the extreme heat that hit in early June, I didn't see anything even remotely close to what I'm dealing with now.  This pregnancy has officially ventured into "Is it over yet?" territory, with the caveat that I have a crapload of stuff to do and need the next six weeks (!) to get it all done.

On a side note, I met with a painter yesterday.  The price was slightly higher than I was hoping, but at this point I'm content with someone that comes highly recommended and can get it done within a reasonable time frame.  He's also cool with doing any necessary patching and working around a couple things, so I'm pretty much ready to book him.  We just need to get the paint and hopefully within about 10 days we'll have a blue baby room.  I really need to start pulling the baby stuff out and sorting through it, though, even if I have nowhere to put it at the moment.  God forbid I go into labor tomorrow, because Craig won't have a clue what needs to be brought out.  So, I should probably just set up a staging area in the basement where there will be piles of baby stuff for the next few weeks.  We'll deal.  The most important stuff would be the car seat and bases, the first round of baby clothes (even though hardly any of them are seasonally appropriate), and all of the burp cloths, boppy covers, and the like.  The bottles and all of that should probably be brought out, too.  Hopefully the postponed baby shower we were supposed to have happens in the next week or so, and then we'll see what's left to get.  So much to think about, but fortunately, most of that stuff is fun.  It's the painting part that's not, but at least once we book this guy all we have to do is get the room empty-ish.  It could be worse.

But I am really struggling with how I feel right now physically.  I don't think I ever felt like this last time, and it is killing me that what should be the magical last weeks of what is probably my last pregnancy are being spent in misery.  Either my fear of parenthood last time was really intense, or I didn't feel this way at all last time, because I was perfectly content being pregnant and was in no rush for it to end.  This time I dream of being able to sleep on my stomach without a body pillow, fantasize about sitting in a chair or on the couch without discomfort, and put on shoes without getting winded.  I can barely roll over in bed or get up from the couch.  I am loading up on fiber to counteract some constipation (at least, I think that's contributing to my discomfort), and I think I'm dealing with some pretty significant Braxton-Hicks contractions. 

And the worst thing?  I think I've figured out that the ridiculous back pain I've been dealing with is actually sciatica.  I had a little of it last time where it went down the back of my leg, but this time it goes right through my hip and up into my lower back, mostly on the right side.  It hurts so badly that I can barely sit at my desk or in my car.  It's horrible.  I'm not quite sure what to do.  This is the first time I've ever really understood why women feel the need to go out on disability prior to their due date.  I'm not sure I can do this for much longer.  There are moments where I'm nearly in tears from a combination of pain and frustration.  I'm constantly squirming or getting up to walk around, and it's extra hard to focus on the detailed work I need to do. 

I wanted to enjoy these last few weeks, but instead I'm feeling stuck...trapped between the stuff I need to do and the constant discomfort that's making me wish the days away.  All of this is making life with a newborn seem preferable, even though I know how exhausting and scary and difficult it really is.  And let's not forget that I need to get through labor first!  I wanted to be pregnant again for so long...and now I'm wondering why.  I guess I was just amazingly lucky last time.

I find it ironic that last time I was pregnant I felt like I was letting people down when they'd ask how I was feeling and I only had good things to report.  Well...this time I'm definitely giving them the answer they're expecting, and I feel like such a stereotypical pregnant woman when I do it.  It is driving me nuts because I don't want to complain, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to maintain my sanity.

I don't know if it's just that I'm older, or that the baby's in an odd spot, or that I just had more energy to deal with it last time, but something is definitely different and I'm just trying to figure out the best way to manage it all during the weeks I have left.  At least it gives me a little something extra to look forward to...   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Impact of Two

I have many moments at this point where I'm trying to wrap my brain around the concept of having two kids.  I usually don't feel like I have the time or energy for the one I've got, so bringing in another one absolutely boggles my mind.  I'll give myself a little leeway since I know that the adrenaline that goes with having a newborn gives you the ability to do things beyond what you thought possible (hello, 3am feedings!), but it's scary nonetheless.  Still, I've always felt it was important to give Jacob a sibling, and I know that down the road they might take a little of the stress off of us because they'll have each other.  But it's going to be one heck of a change around here.

As I alluded to in my letter to the baby the other day, I'm fully anticipating that Jacob will have some issues adjusting to another person around here...particularly one that is so needy.  He's not very patient most of the time, despite our best efforts, so I don't know how we'll he'll do if he needs to wait while we attend to the baby.  I keep hoping that when he sees that this baby is a living, breathing creature he will realize the importance of sharing this space, but perhaps that is wishful thinking.  He hasn't been particularly interested in the baby so far.  He notices my belly once in a while and was totally shocked when he felt the first real kick ("Is that really my brother?  Really?").  He likes his big boy room and mentions his brother once in a while when it comes to toys, sports, or clothes, but he's pretty uninterested in sharing and still insists he's not going to hold him or feed him.  He hasn't had a lot of exposure to babies in general, so I really have very little idea how he's going to respond to baby stuff like crying, pooping, or eating.  Nursing is a whole other ballgame since he's already aware enough of "boobies", but I'm not going to want to keep covered all the time so he may get quite an education.  Oy.  I think the tough part is that he didn't ask for this.  His world is about to be turned upside-down, by no fault of his own.  To be fair, he's had us to himself for over four years, but it still seems unfair that in the three hours or so that he sees us each night, he's now going to have to share us.  I guess I'll just have to keep that in mind when he's battling a bit...we're all going to need a lot of patience.

As for the new baby, I wonder how much he will get the shaft.  Will I get around to a baby book?  Will I take hundreds of pictures of him?  Will he get the same kind of attention?  He'll never have the same kind of time with us that Jacob did.  Of course, he'll never know any different.  I was the youngest and didn't know the difference, but then again I was a girl after a boy so I may have had unique opportunities simply because of that.  I don't know what it will be like for a second boy.  I worry that the two of them will overwhelm Craig, if nothing else!  They'll like me just fine, but boys love their dad more than anything!  Particularly when their dad works in sports and is a master Lego builder!  Regardless, this baby is getting slightly used parents who aren't going to be quite as energetic as the ones his brother got almost five years ago. 

I worry about us, too, because two kids is a lot to manage.  As it is now we pass Jacob back and forth just to get a few minutes for ourselves.  But what happens when there's two of us and two of them?  How do we get a break?  Will we resent one another when we can't?  Craig works a lot, and much of my spare time is spent doing stuff around the house, so it's a delicate balance.  I'll most likely get an early taste of temporary single parenthood, since Craig will probably have a roadtrip for work pretty quickly after this baby comes, whenever that is.  That will no doubt be an eye-opener, even if I have some help to get me through.  When he gets back from a trip, we'll both be extra exhausted.  What then?

Life with two is going to be different...for all of us.  I'm still very excited, but it's going to be a challenge.  We'll figure it out--not without stress and frustration, I'm sure--but something tells me this little guy (and his big brother) will be well worth it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

To Our Little Riblet...

Dear Baby Boy,

In theory we're a little over six weeks away from your arrival, but realistically you could be here within a month, if not sooner.  That is scaring me to death, for a lot of reasons, but this experience seems so different than it was last time around with your big brother.  I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why that is, but rest assured, despite the fear, we are very much looking forward to meeting you.  But I wanted to write you this letter before you got here, because I know that once you come my brain is going to go to mush and I won't remember what it felt like to be at this point with you.

I'm not going to lie--you're the second child and you're probably going to get the shaft on a lot of things.  As it is I've already blogged about you and this pregnancy infinitely less than I did with your brother, mostly because your brother keeps us busy enough and he's here in the flesh, keeping himself front and center.  I blogged about every little detail when I was pregnant with him, but I guess I haven't this time because a) it would be repetitive; b) I'm more tired; and c) your brother creates enough blog fodder on his own and I guess I need to keep telling his story too.  He'll probably think he's getting the shaft quite a bit in the coming months (and years!), too, but he's had over four years of being the center of attention so it's probably time for him to let the spotlight shift a bit.  He might not know it now, but having you around will probably be one of the best things that ever happened to him.  I hope so, anyway.  The good news for you, by the way, is that I was the second baby too and I don't really think I ever felt like I got short-changed.  So hopefully you won't either. 

It's amazing to think that we're so close to the end of this part of our journey.  We waited so long just to get to the point where you were a little blob on an ultrasound screen, and now it's been nearly seven months since that point.  Part of those seven months dragged terribly, mostly because I felt so sick for so long, but the past four or so months have absolutely flown by and I can't believe you're almost here.  Part of me is so excited to meet you, and part of me is terrified of you making an early appearance because we still have so much to do to prepare for you!  I want things to be just right for when you finally join us, because the more that's ready means the more time I can spend just enjoying you, rather than using every spare moment and every last drop of energy playing catch-up.  I also want you to be "fully cooked" so you're as healthy as possible when you come out.  We spent a week in the hospital with your brother last time, and that was really hard.  I feel like we missed out on some great time to bond comfortably in our own house, rather than dealing with nurses and uncomfortable chairs and convenient visiting hours.  So, the longer you stay in there, the more I can get done and the healthier you'll probably be once you come out, which makes things better for all of us.

I will say that despite my fears of readjusting to life with a baby (and helping Jacob adjust, too), I am probably far more excited at the prospect of meeting you than I was when your brother was born.  I think back then I was just so terrified at the thought of being a parent that I couldn't get past that.  Now I know that I can do it, at least passably well, and I know what it's like to have a baby and watch him grow.  I marvel as I look back at all of the pictures I've taken of Jacob over the years (I hope that's one spot where you don't get the shaft--I want to take as many pictures of you as possible, I swear!), and can't believe how much he's grown.  I remember so many of those moments so clearly and I can't believe he's now this walking, talking person with his own personality.  So now that I know how that process works, I'm looking forward to meeting you and finding out who you're going to become.  I look forward to seeing if you look like Jacob, what you take an interest in, and watching you and your brother interact as you get older.  He's ready to teach you sports, if nothing else!  Just a warning that it might take him a while to warm up to you--he seems a little unsure right now--but hopefully once you're old enough to actually respond to him, he might think you're the coolest thing ever.  Don't take it personally in the meantime.  Also don't take it personally if you take a couple soft baseballs to the head.  We'll try to make sure that doesn't happen, but Jacob is really into sports and gets a little overzealous sometimes.  Just yesterday he hit me twice with a (very soft) ball while practicing baseball in his room, so it happens to the best of us. 

It boggles my mind a bit to think that we've gone all these years without you, and inevitably you're going to be the piece we didn't know we were missing!  We've been so used to life with just the three of us for nearly five years now.  It's never felt entirely complete since we knew we'd want another child someday, but down the road I think we'll find it hard to believe that what we've experienced in these last 4-1/2 years was ever as normal and "complete" as it was, since your presence in our lives will do doubt change things up yet again and add a whole new dimension we never knew could exist.  It's hard to believe that we'll find enough love (and energy) for another child, given all that we put into Jacob since he was born, but I have no doubt that it will miraculously come out of nowhere...well, the love, at least.  The energy is going to be a challenge, but we'll get there.  I'll give you a hint--the better you sleep, the more energy we'll have :)

If you ever get to read this blog, you're going to see how much I had hoped you were going to be a girl.  I'm not going to lie--it would have been pretty cool to have a daughter, for a lot of reasons.  And there will be many times in the years to come that I will wish I had the opportunity.  However...none of that has anything to do with you, so please know that I will love you just as much as I ever would have loved a girl.  The bonding opportunities will be different, certainly, but we'll find our way.  I have actually experienced many moments of relief knowing that I won't have to deal with a lot of things that girls normally have to go through.  I'm probably better at playing girl stuff, admittedly, but for so many other reasons, I'm relieved that you're a boy.  For starters, we already have a ton of clothes and toys floating around our house that you're going to love.  I've also had some practice at raising a boy, so hopefully that works out well for you, too.  If you would have been a girl you'd have to suffer through me figuring out how to make real outfits and do actual hairstyles.  I'd have no advice to offer on being cool through the awkward years because I totally was not.  Sorry to tell you that your dad was lacking in that area, as well, so he won't have much advice either...but being an awkward girl is so much worse than being an awkward boy, trust me.  It'll be a character builder, if nothing else, so at least there's that.  Perhaps having an older brother might come in handy, too.  I think that's actually the most important thing about you being a boy--I am so happy for both you and Jacob, that you will have each other.  It's not that brothers and sisters can't be close, but I think brothers have a better chance than anyone else at being best buddies throughout their lives.  I so wish that for the two of you.

We still haven't finished picking your name yet, but I think we actually have a front-runner.  At the very least we're completely undecided on your middle name.  Naming a child is such a tough choice.  What kind of name will fit both our adorable little baby AND the cool, successful guy we hope you will become?  Will it be a name that can avoid childhood teasing?  Does it have meaning?  Will we like it two months from now?  Two years?  Twenty?  Does it go well with Jacob's name?  Too similar?  Too different?  Does it go with our last name?  And considering our last name, is it reasonable to think that a kindergartner will be able to spell their whole name?  There is so much to consider, and yet we haven't even met you yet.  Maybe it was easier the first time around because we didn't have a concept of how you want a name to match a personality, and now we do...and what we know of you now seems woefully inadequate to make such a major decision. 

I could sit here and tell you all of the things we hope for your future, but I don't really want to saddle you with a load of expectations since, you know, you haven't even taken a single breath yet.  Suffice it to say that we hope for nothing but the best for you--a long, happy, and fulfilling life, at the very least.  We wish for a life full of health, faith, and love.  I hope that we as your parents give you all the love, support, and guidance you need, but that you have just enough brief moments where you dislike us just a bit, because that probably means we're doing our jobs. 

This pregnancy has been quite an experience.  In these last few weeks I would really appreciate it if you found a new position to sit in.  Lately you've been making things difficult for me, sitting on my bladder and kicking me in odd places that make me think you're a little extra eager to escape.  You're making me nervous and interrupting my day a few too many times because I'm constantly wandering off to the bathroom, so a slightly new position might help.  As uncomfortable as I can be at times, please take your time making your appearance.  This is probably the last time I will feel all of this craziness, and I do enjoy watching you make my belly move.  I want to appreciate this experience as much as possible, but I need a little help from you to make the discomfort a little less distracting.  If not, I'll deal, but your responsibility is making sure that you stay there for another month, at least!  Enjoy your time in there, because you'll be coming out into a very chilly world here for the first couple months.  The hugs and kisses will be great, though I can't say we'll be meeting the rest of your needs as well as what my body's doing for you right now.  But once you're here, we'll do everything we can to make your life awesome. 

In the meantime, it's my bedtime.  You wear me out already and I need to get as much sleep as I can while my belly keeps your volume on mute.  But trust me, as hard as those middle-of-the-night feedings will be, I can't wait to spend that quiet time with you.  But no need to go there just yet.  We can't wait to meet you, but there are so many reasons for your to stay put for now.  Enjoy your warm little home for at least another month or so. Take it easy on me while you're in there, and on your way out, too!   We'll see you soon enough! 

Love,
Mommy (and Daddy and Jacob, too!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Last Couple Days...

So, I went to the doctor on Thursday, and the one I saw seemed unphased by my claims of discomfort.  Perhaps I wasn't emphatic enough.  I'm not regretting not being more dramatic or something, because I am seriously uncomfortable.  I get that I'm five years older.  I know that I'm going to be more tired because I'm running after a four year old.  I understand that when all of these muscles are being stretched for a second time, it can be more uncomfortable than when they start out strong and supportive.  I know that Braxton-Hicks contractions can be common.  But I am not convinced that something isn't going on here.

She told me that if contractions are less than 10 minutes apart, that's worth a phone call.  But here's the thing, I don't know exactly what a contraction is.  That sounds stupid, but because I was induced, I don't know what normal contractions feel like.  All of the contractions I did have prior to the epidural were in my lower back and felt like bad cramps.  I don't know what belly-based contractions feel like.  However, now that I've been thinking about it for a couple days, I'm starting to think that the sensation I get that feels like the baby moving into a part of my belly is really a contraction.  They don't hurt but they can be a little uncomfortable at times.  

The thing is, though, I get them all the time.  Any time I exert myself in the slightest--my 15 minutes on the treadmill the other night, five minutes of taking apart my Christmas tree tonight, whatever--I start feeling pressure.  Sometimes it's discomfort under my belly.  Sometimes it's "sensations" in the nether-regions.  I looked back in the blog and I don't think that feeling started until about eight months last time, about two weeks before Jacob was born.  God forbid this baby is only a couple weeks away, because I need more time than that...and so does he!  I started training our assistant this week in all of the stuff I do, but there's so much more.  I haven't washed a single thing for this baby and we really need to get the bedroom painted.  

I'm just concerned that one of these days I'm going to shift and my water's going to break.  It seems so early to be pulling out the towel for my car seat and the waterproof pad for my bed, but I may just do that this weekend.  Perhaps I'm being overly concerned or overly dramatic, but the vibe I'm getting from my body right now is not good.  It's such a far cry from where I was last time at this point.  And while there's no set reason to believe that any action is imminent, there's no reason that I would be exempt from that happening either.  I wouldn't be the first person who went into labor way too early.  I think about Jacob and how he basically got stuck on his way out, even though he was two weeks early.  Maybe my body learned its lesson last time and it's thinking that it can't do that again.  I don't know.  I'm nervous, though.  My next appointment is in two weeks, so we'll see how things are going then.

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk in the early afternoon when my boss called my desk from the conference room.  She said she was in a meeting but had a question for me, so she asked me to come in.  And when I walked in, most of my co-workers were sitting there.  So guess what....surprise!  It was a little gathering to celebrate the baby!  I had no idea it was coming and they totally caught me off-guard!  We had some cake...

And everyone chipped in for gift cards that should help us buy whatever we need to get this baby up and running!  My boss also found a little moose, so this baby officially has his first stuffed animal, since his big brother has commandeered the rest of the ones in the house and is hesitant to give them up!
Hard to do him justice, but his belly is sort of a striped sweater material and he's got colorful paws and a whimsical facial expression.  He's cute and little...perfect for the baby :)

It was a pleasant surprise and it was so sweet of everyone to do that.  We've had a series of babies lately so people are probably getting sick of it by now!  Particularly the people that were around for my first baby shower!  But it was great.  We were supposed to have one with Craig's co-workers, too, but that got postponed due to a family emergency for the person who planned it.  Hopefully that will happen in the next week or two so we know what we need to get.  At this point I'm most concerned with diapers and a new monitor, and probably a few more outfits for the baby, though I know we'll probably get some gifts along the way once he's born.  I'll know more once I dig into all of the stuff that's waiting in the crawl space!

Today my parents are in town and a friend of theirs who lives here in town did a bunch of little things around the house, generally shaving down doors to accommodate our plush new carpet and re-installing guides for the closet doors.  It was such a huge help!  We'll go to the Knighthawks game tonight, one of the few games Jacob and I will be able to go to this season.  Once this baby comes we'll be stuck at home, unfortunately, both because of the noise and the confined space full of sick people.  And, let's face it, I'm not sure I'm that daring to go to a three-hour event full of crowds and noise with a newborn and a crazy four year old.  I took Jacob to an outdoor lacrosse game when he was six weeks old, but that environment is so different, I only had one kid to manage, and I had help, so it seemed like so much less of a big deal than a Knighthawks game would be.  I know Jacob will miss it, and so will I, but we'll just have to enjoy it while we can!  

Hopefully I can be at least a little productive with the rest of the weekend, whether it's hanging my curtains or filling out maternity leave paperwork or pulling baby stuff out of the basement.  Any of those things would be great, but we'll see what my body will allow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Walking on Eggshells

Tonight I tried to go to the gym again.  I decided that I would walk far less than I did last time.  Instead of a half hour, I only did 15 minutes on the treadmill, then tried five minutes on the elliptical to see if the less jarring motion would feel better than walking.  Alas, it didn't go very well.  I mean, I got through it, but even those 15 minutes were a challenge.  It's not that I get tired, it's just that I end up with a lot of pressure in my belly and sensations "down under" that make me worry that I'm already starting to dilate.  I remember feeling these sensations around the eight month mark last time, after I had stopped my formal workouts and was trying to do neighborhood walks on lovely May and June evenings.  I'm only at seven months right now, which is obviously far too early.  I'm not going to lie--I'm nervous.  I've been walking around gingerly (and even driving slower) all night, like doing that is going to make a difference.

I don't really have many of the traditional causes or symptoms of premature labor, but I suppose every pregnancy is different.  Lately I have been having some lower back pain while sitting at work, which is a symptom, but that's common with pregnancy anyway, so it's hard to know if it means anything.  The pressure I had today while walking was a little disconcerting, but I don't know if the hardness in my belly is just where the baby happens to be sitting, or if it's a contraction.  I don't know what normal contractions really feel like because last time around I had to be induced and my contractions all showed up as back labor, which just felt like really bad cramps.  When I went to the doctor the morning before I delivered, I was apparently having contractions, but I couldn't feel them.  So, suffice it to say that I'm a little confused by the concept. 

I always feel like I have to pee, and it doesn't help when the baby randomly kicks my bladder or seems to be pawing around in the general location of what feels like my cervix.  Last night I woke up at 2am with intense pain on my left side under my belly.  While I didn't think it felt like round ligament pain at the time, in retrospect I think it probably was.  I had a few bouts of that last time, and it was pretty much the same process--wake up in pain, get up to go to the bathroom, hang out for a few minutes until the worst of the pain subsides, then find a new position with the belly supported and hope to get back to sleep.  I don't think it indicates anything other than the fact that I'm growing, but if I'm mistaking premature labor for it, that's a problem. 

I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday, and I'm actually going to try to convince them to do an internal exam to see if I happen to be dilating.  I know tonight may just be one bad night, but the fact that I've been feeling a lot more uncomfortable so much earlier than last time really bothers me.  I'd like some encouragement that things are really okay, or at worst, some confirmation that I need to get all my ducks in a row ASAP because things are happening. 

If something is happening, there are about a million bad things about that.  First and foremost would be the baby's health.  The next thing that comes to mind is that we'd be dealing with yet another extended hospital stay, which was one of the things I really wanted to avoid this time.  I still feel cheated that we didn't have a comfortable, quiet first week at home with Jacob.  Instead, we spent those early days sharing duties with nurses, nursing in an uncomfortable chair behind a curtain, spending long hours at the hospital, and missing out on opportunities for catnaps.  We missed out on peaceful photo ops and it felt like it took so much longer to get to know Jacob because we couldn't spend 24 hours with him in a comfortable environment.  I really wanted a "normal" experience with this one. 

Next on my mind is all that needs to be done before this baby comes--the complex things I need to train our assistant on at work, painting the baby's room and getting the crib back to the right height, bringing up all of the baby stuff and getting it washed and stored, and filling out my disability paperwork.  Heck, my Christmas tree is still up and we still have that tiny detail of needing to pick out a name. I haven't even begun to think about packing a hospital bag, either.  My nursing bras haven't been washed and we have all of a couple newborn size diapers (free samples) in the house. 

Finally, I'd be sad to miss out on such a large chunk of pregnancy.  Ten days was enough to miss out on last time.  I really wanted to savor these last couple months, both since it's our last bit of time alone with Jacob as a family of three, and because I'll probably never have this experience of being pregnant again.  Jacob really hasn't been that into my belly, and I was hoping to get pictures of my giant belly, including with him interacting with it, before this unique opportunity is over.  There was so much I wanted to cram into these last couple months, and now I'm not so sure I'll have the chance.  And given the fact that this is probably the last time I'll be pregnant, I don't want to leave anything on the table.  I want no regrets to tempt me to do this again because a third kid seems like an extra bad idea after a rough-ish pregnancy and with the complications of going beyond the society-friendly family of four.

Of course, maybe it's just all in my head.  Maybe it's just a bad night and a little bad luck that this pregnancy's been harder.  I probably won't know anything until Thursday morning, and that can't come soon enough.  I'll be praying and laying down a lot in the meantime...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nesting vs. Necessity

Pregnant women are infamous for nesting.  I don't feel like I experienced any crazy nesting urges last time, though I know I had a couple projects that could have been considered nesting-driven.  However, my take on it is that they were projects that had to be done at some point, and I knew that if I didn't do them prior to having the baby, they'd never get done...or at the very least I'd be kicking myself when I absolutely had to do them while dealing with a needy infant.  So, last time around I cleaned and reorganized some shelves in our basement and replaced the border in our bathroom.

I wish that nesting manifested itself in me with the urge to clean everything in sight, but unfortunately that's not the case.  In fact, that couldn't be less true!  My house is pretty nasty at the moment because the last thing I feel like doing at the end of the day is cleaning.  However, this time around I've been more focused on organization and order.  Jacob's constant mess makes me nuts.  Clutter on my kitchen counters or the coffee table is a constant source of annoyance.  Of course, I'm stuck in a weird spot because I'm generally a saver.  I don't like throwing things out, and I worry about getting rid of something because I might need it later.  Our crawl space is rapidly filling up, and it makes me a little crazy, but I don't want to ditch furniture, old decor items, or empty boxes, because we might need them sometime.  My philosophy is that if there's a place for it to stay neatly out of the way, we can keep it for now.  Hence why Jacob's coloring books are in a basket and I keep trying to buy bins for toys and clothes, since we now have another kid who will use them later and a crawl space that will hold them for now.

There's still a lot that we need to get done before this baby comes, and I think nesting is making me a little more anxious than usual to get things done.  We'd have to do them anyway, but I feel a little frantic to get them done NOW.  I felt that way about Christmas, too, and it picked right up with the baby stuff once the holidays were over.  The carpeting (and all of the house upheaval that went with it) was the first part, then getting Jacob's room set up was second.  I ordered Jacob's furniture on December 30th, and hoped that it would arrive on schedule so it could be put together ASAP, and on a weekend when I had larger chunks of time and Craig around to help me if need be.  

You may be wondering why I would be the one putting furniture together, since it doesn't seem like something a 7+ months pregnant woman should be doing.  Well...here's the thing.  Craig is not really mechanically inclined.  Handyman stuff is not his forte.  It's not exactly mine either, but I tend to be a little more patient with instructions and tedious work, and over the years I've gotten pretty good at furniture assembly (thank you, IKEA).  I know he's usually got a lot on his mind with work, and for him to dedicate hours to stuff like that...well, it's just not his thing.  And most of the time, that's fine.  It's just when I'm pregnant that it becomes a bit challenging.  We did Jacob's crib together last time in the sweltering heat of our house, but I did most of the changing table/dresser myself, with some assistance from him for flipping it and having an extra set of hands for certain steps.  To be honest, I find it challenging to have a helper when putting furniture together anyway, since it's such a step-by-step process and only one person can really do anything at any given time, aside from something like drawer assembly where there are multiple sets of pieces to be worked on. 

Anyway...I knew this task would fall to me so I was eager to get it done as soon as possible, before I got any more uncomfortable.  I was a little concerned when the pieces took so long to ship (well over a week), but in the end the shipping part was extra fast.  Two pieces arrived Thursday and the third came Friday.  Two of the boxes were huge and heavy, and it was a brutal task just to get them in the house.  I ended up opening the boxes in the living room and transporting handfuls of pieces up to Jacob's new room so we didn't have to carry the boxes up the stairs (since I'm not supposed to be lifting much anyway).  I spent the vast majority of my afternoons both days this weekend putting it all together--Jacob's bed and headboard on Saturday, and his dresser yesterday--and I won't lie, it was exhausting.  My hands are sore today, and I'm still sporting a band-aid from a blister.  But it's done. 

Despite my exhaustion I still managed to move the rest of Jacob's stuff into his new room.  His clothes are in the closet and the dresser, a few toiletry items have been transferred, and the couple things from his walls that are going in the new room have been taken down and are awaiting their new home.  There are still some stuffed animals in there (we have yet to fight that battle) and some wall decals will be moved once the rest of the wall hangings find a place (or the baby's room gets painted, whichever comes first), but for the most part the baby's room is emptied of the big boy stuff.  We still have to decorate Jacob's walls and figure out which toys are coming into his room vs. staying in the living room (for now), but all things considered, I'm happy this portion of the transition is done.

Craig probably thought I was nuts at times this weekend because I was so intent on getting things done, but while I could chalk it up to nesting, I'm well aware that I'm driven by a limited time frame and things just needed to get done.  There's only so much time to finish these tasks, and this weekend was Craig's last full weekend off until the baby's due, so I had to take full advantage of it while I could.  That left Craig to wrangle Jacob most of the weekend, which was a challenge in itself. 

This process is exhausting and sometimes it feels like I'm being driven to keep going by some strange force, but make no mistake...while nesting might keep me going, I'm grateful for the push.  This stuff needs to get done and nesting is simply doing its part to offset the fact that that pregnancy makes me want to take a lot of naps.  Let's hope it keeps up, because we don't have much longer to go!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Soccer!

And so it begins.  Thursday night was Jacob's long-awaited first foray into organized sports.  A year or so ago I bought a Groupon-type deal for half off of a micro sports program at a sports complex down the road from us.  Their micro programs are a great starter option, and some of them are available for really young kids.  They're short, six-week programs that are helpful for trying out new sports without a lot of commitment.  When we went to Jacob's thanksgiving dinner at daycare, we chatted with the mom of Jacob's buddy Mason, whose dad happens to be a former professional soccer goalie.  We thought it might be fun to sign them up together, and after a month of procrastination, we got him signed up just before the special deal expired.  The six-week program goes until Valentine's Day, so I'm a) hoping that I'm still hanging in there by his last session; and b) already knowing to not expect a romantic Valentine's Day evening.  

Anyway, Jacob had been counting down the days until soccer started, and Thursday was the day!  He was all excited to get his jersey, and we got him (cheap) new cleats last weekend.  Along with the shin guards he's had for a while, he looked like a real soccer player!
All ready!
We weren't quite sure what to expect.  On one hand Jacob was excited, but on the other hand he has a tendency to find ways to ruin fun things.  Would he go into peer pressure/daycare mode when faced with a coach and a bunch of other kids, or would he get sidetracked by his own agenda?  The fact that he'd be with a friend was a bit of a wildcard, too.  Would he just try to hang out with his friend, or would he feel more confident since he already knew someone and wasn't alone?

In the end, he did great.  We couldn't help but laugh at the start because when they were all instructed to huddle up, Mason actually put his hand on Jacob's back and herded him over to the group.  Jacob did his best to follow directions, and surprisingly he was not overly distracted by the presence of a soccer ball and a giant field to run around on.  He had a hard time with some of the drills, but I think that's a good thing because it will give him new things to practice and make him feel like he has a purpose for being there.  To his credit, he did keep trying the tough stuff and did respectably well.

They did some warm-up exercises, then some skill drills, and finished up with a little scrimmage.  In between they had potty/water breaks, which I guess is necessary with a bunch of 4-5 year-olds.  Here he is during a water break...
I tried to get a good picture of him out there, but the lighting wasn't great and usually he was in the middle of a crowd of kids, so this was the best I got...

I did get a little video of the scrimmage, but it's probably hard to tell which one he is most of the time...
Too bad he couldn't quite take advantage of that breakaway!  Still, he did a good job and was much better than I expected at playing with other kids after years of playing either by himself or with one of us.  All in all, it was a good night.  He's already talking about next week and bemoaning the fact that he's only got five more weeks to go!

We'll see how this one goes before deciding whether to sign him up for something else.  Obviously things are going to get busy in the next couple months, so we might have to take a little break and then find something else in the spring to fill time before baseball starts in July.  I'm just not sure when I'll be comfortable taking him places with the baby--both because I don't want the baby out in public much early on (flu season is scary enough without a baby) and because readjusting to a baby's schedule is going to be a challenge.  Craig's going to be busy with lacrosse season, too, so we need to consider that as well.  As I waited for the boys to arrive the other night, I looked around at dozens of other kids (mostly lacrosse players) that filled the facility and couldn't help but think to myself, "This is going to be my life."  With two boys, it's probably unavoidable.  I'm not sure I'm ready for it, but at least we can start slow.

At least for one night, our entrance into the world of organized sports went well.  Let's hope it continues and it's the start of a long, successful run...and fun for all of us!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Good Stuff

I'm pretty sure I made a list like this the first time around, but I'm getting to the point where I need reminders about why pregnancy is great.  Last night I went to the gym for the first time in a while, and all I did was a slow-ish 30 minute walk, some minor weight lifting, some squats, and some stretches.  And now I'm slightly concerned that I'm setting myself up for an early delivery, because man, was my belly sore.  I was getting all sorts of sensations in the nether-regions, which I'm hoping is just a combination of the baby moving and stretching muscles and ligaments, but considering the last time I felt stuff like that I was eight months pregnant and stopped working out for that very reason (and also because my internal exams after 36 weeks all showed that I was consistently dilating), it's a little nerve wracking.  I am very concerned about going early this time, so I'm going to have to be extra careful and see if I can regain some minor level of fitness without sending myself into early labor.  Awesome.  But given that I only walked about 1.45 miles in my 30 minutes when I was running 3.5 miles in that time seven months ago, it's a little bit of a bummer.  So...to keep my spirits up, here's the good stuff...

Eating - Now that the holidays are over and I'm not eating every sweet thing in sight, it's nice to not feel guilty about my normal eating habits.  I won't lie--over the holidays I ate a LOT, and it was nice to not worry as much about it because I was pregnant.  However, I knew that it still wasn't ideal.  But now that the worst of it is over and I'm eating more normally, it's nice to make average food decisions and not have to think twice.  For example, if I have a small bowl of ice cream or a bowl of cereal (or want another small snack after that), it's nice to just eat it and not worry about the calories.  No matter how reasonable the snack might be, pre-pregnancy I'd still think twice.

Eating healthy - I still don't do enough of this, but being pregnant gives me an extra excuse to buy certain things I might normally worry about spending extra money on.  I've been eating a Greek yogurt and a string cheese every day, and I'm more likely to buy fresh fruit.  They're not huge splurges, but I don't know if I could justify them if I didn't need as much calcium and other nutrients as I do right now.  Also, per the point above, I like being able to drink milk or juice without worrying about the calories.  I drink a lot of water, but it's nice to drink something else now that I've mostly given up soda (at least at home). 

Not having to suck it in - I'm proud of my belly, and I'm enjoying that fact.  It's such a nice change of pace after years of constantly being conscious of sucking it in to look skinny.  Now my butt and hips are proportionately small and doing the job of making me look skinny all on their own!  My belly is solid and I can't really find pudge on it.  And there's absolutely nothing that will suck in, so it's not like I even have a choice.  But it's nice not to worry about that.

Feeling like a rock star just for showing up at the gym - Not only don't I have to do a full-blown workout, but just being at the gym makes me look like a hero.  That said, I do miss being able to put in a good, solid workout and feeling like I'm doing something worthwhile.  But it is nice going there knowing I'm just trying to improve my fitness rather than lose weight. 

Topic of conversation - There's always something to talk about with friends, co-workers, family, and even strangers.  Wearing a big bulky coat doesn't allow for as many random moments as I had last time (since it was warmer and I didn't need a coat as often), but even that didn't stop one woman in the elevator at work this week.  It was a pretty presumptuous thing to assume I was pregnant under that coat, but it worked out well for her this time!  But it's fun to see people I haven't seen in a few weeks and to see their reaction when they see how much bigger I've gotten.

Feeling kicks - While not all of them are enjoyable, it is fascinating to feel him moving around in there and wondering what he's doing or what part that might be.  It's a good reminder, too, that I'm never really alone. 

Excuse to sit - I know that aside from nursing I'm not going to have much downtime or a reason to sit once this baby comes, so for now it's not a bad thing to have a good reason to sit and relax.  Sometimes I'd like a little more energy and ability to move, but I know I should be grateful for this while I can. 

The joy of a baby, without the work We have all this excitement, without the middle-of-the-night wakeups, diaper changes, and feedings.  It's not the same as having a snuggly baby, but I remember thinking it was easier when the baby was healthy and protected in the womb than when he was outside and I worried about everything that crossed his path. 

Being "part of the party" - I read a lot of blogs, and while I relate to the parent blogs here and there, there's nothing quite like pregnancy to really bring out topics that I can totally relate to.  Same goes for in-person stuff, or even Facebook, but it's easier to seek out pregnancy blogs than to rely on having pregnant friends.  Last time there were three other pregnant women in my office, but the closest I got this time was one who delivered back in October and another who got pregnant but miscarried.  I have a handful of pregnant Facebook friends, including a Knighthawks fan who's due the day before me!  It's just fun to have something like that to bond over with other people and be one of the "in-crowd" when the topic comes up anywhere.

Less concern with clothes - This one could be subtitled "I can wear skinny jeans!", but there are a couple nice things about a maternity wardrobe.  First of all, the belly's distracting enough that you don't have to look flawless every day.  I might not look amazing in everything I wear, but given my options, it's good enough and most eyes just gravitate to the belly anyway.  If someone doesn't like what I'm wearing, at least they know that it's not really part of my normal wardrobe and can assume that I'm just doing what I can to stay clothed!  My wardrobe is smaller, so I pretty much know what my options are and have to be okay with doing a 2-3 week rotation.  Again, people know pregnancy is a limited period of time so they're less likely to penalize me for wearing something a little more frequently than usual.  But per my skinny jeans comment above, it's nice to not need clothes to fit perfectly.  I can only wear skinny jeans right now because I don't have to find ones that fit me in the waist, hips, and thighs.  As long as the latter two are fine, I'm good to go, because the waist is all elastic!  Good luck with that after pregnancy!  And as for tops, shirts are either drapey enough to hide things, or they're fitted, and since I don't have to worry about my usual belly pudge right now, fitted works even better than usual.  Of course, I will pay for all of this post-pregnancy when nothing fits and I just look fat, but for now it's fun.

It's fun to go to the doctor - Normally it's the big dreaded doctor visit of the year to visit the OB/GYN, but during pregnancy it's downright pleasant.  You get to hear the baby's heartbeat and receive confirmation that you're doing everything right, and you get to stay totally clothed in the process.  That honeymoon will end in another month or so when internal exams start again and they start telling me that I'm dilating early again, but for now it's nice to

I'm sure there are more but those are the ones that come to mind right now.  I think these are probably God's little ways of making an otherwise trying time a little bit easier.  Not having to worry about certain things while worrying about a load of extra things is a nice little perk.  I know this time is limited so I'm doing my best to soak it all in and appreciate every moment.  It was a long road to get here and it's hard to believe it's now so close to the end.  I may not love every second of it (and this time, admittedly, there's been a lot more not to like), but it is an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Our Special Place

I know that our uninterrupted time with Jacob is winding down.  My due date is two months from today (!) and from the moment this baby enters our lives, our relationship with Jacob will change.  He will no longer be the only major priority in our family life.  I hope that we can still find ways to make him feel special even though the baby is going to take up a lot of time and energy.  As I mentioned previously, he's not the most patient child and I don't know how he's going to respond when he needs to wait in line behind any number of other more pressing issues.  So, in the midst of bracing ourselves for that, we need to focus on maximizing our time with him now.

Last time around I was a little bitter I went as early as I did because I was well aware that Craig's and my time alone was limited and I wanted to savor every last minute.  We could have crammed a lot of quality time into those ten days, but instead we entered some of the most stressful days of our life together.  We made it through OK, but I've always been a little sad that those additional days weren't what I had been hoping for, and that opportunity was lost forever.  Now we're in our last couple months as a family of three, and we're facing the same issue of maximizing our time together.  Of course, this time around it's complicated further because Craig is officially in-season.  He was doing some work for an outdoor lacrosse team when Jacob was born (and in fact, he could have been on a roadtrip the day Jacob was born), but his schedule was a little different than it is now.  He just got back at 1am this morning from his first roadtrip of the year, a whirlwind weekend to Everett, WA, a little bit outside Seattle.  He's off next weekend and then has a series of games at home, but he usually goes to practice in Canada once a week and his schedule is just generally busier than it was that summer.  So, it's not like we have unlimited weekends to work with, or gorgeous weather to frolic in.  We can't travel far at this point, either, so fun weekend trips to anywhere but Buffalo are probably not an option.  Suffice it to say we'll have to be a little creative to make him feel special in these last weeks.

While Craig was gone this weekend I struggled to find a fun activity for us to do.  The weather wasn't great--windy, cold, even rainy--and my endurance isn't what it once was.  Playing in the snow wouldn't work, since I'm afraid of slipping on ice and I can't even pull him on a sled.  Going to the zoo was tempting, but the weather just wasn't good enough.  I live in fear of bounce house places right now because they are germ magnets and the more we can do to prevent illnesses (we're all trying to kick coughs and colds to the curb right now), the better.  I just couldn't think of anything fun.  We did put together the puzzle he fell asleep attempting on Saturday, which was fun.  But the highlight of the weekend?  A trip to Taco Bell.

Taco Bell and I go way back.  It was one of my favorite restaurants when I was little, and then, sadly, all of the Taco Bells moved out of Western New York.  I remember other restaurants taking over the familiar buildings around town, including a hot dog/burger joint at the one in my hometown.  When I was about 11, the nearby Walden Galleria Mall opened up, and in its food court was Taco Bell's first reappearance in the area.  I was so excited, and my excitement grew when the existing original Taco Bell building in my hometown was demolished and a brand new Taco Bell went up in its place!  Little did I know that a handful of years later I'd be working there.  My first job was at that Taco Bell, starting at the end of my senior year of high school, through the following summer, and again for a month when I was back from college at Christmas.  It wasn't exactly a fantastic job, and while I ate plenty of food when I worked there, I did keep my distance for a while afterward. 

Still, nowadays it's one of my go-to fast food places when I'm alone (Craig will eat there, but it isn't his favorite), and a couple years ago I started bringing Jacob with me, figuring that a beef and cheese taco was a pretty simple option for him.  For a while his cooperation while dining there was hit-or-miss.  Sometimes he'd seem to enjoy it, and sometimes he'd refuse.  But in the last year or so, he's been more into it, and now he specifically asks to go there.  I credit the caramel apple empanada at least partially for his enthusiasm, but still, it's nice to have him so eager to go somewhere to eat because it's one less battle to fight. 

So, on Friday I mentioned to him that we could go out to dinner on Saturday, and asked where he might like to go.  He suggested Taco Bell, which was one of my top choices as well given that it's in the parking lot of the Walmart we needed to go to over the weekend.  He was excited about it earlier on Saturday, and it was so cute to see his enthusiasm when we finally got to go.  He ate his taco like a champ, snacked on some nachos, and eagerly awaited our special treat, the caramel apple empanada that we always share.  It's basically just like an apple pie pocket, but it's so good.  We always split one.  While we were there he was so sweet, so affectionate, and so well-behaved.  It was heavenly.  And I think Taco Bell has officially become "our place".  Who'd have thunk it? 

I love that time with him.  I suppose it's similar to how that day at Strong Museum went a month ago.  He was truly a very good boy that day and really appreciated the experience.  It just goes to show that when you only get to do something once in a while, it really does take on a special significance.  If we went to the museum every week or ate at Taco Bell all the time, those activities, like everything else, would lose their novelty and fall prey to the same crappy behavior we deal with most of the time.  The temptation is to try to do those things more often to enjoy those good times, but unfortunately it doesn't always work like that.  When those things become a special treat, you can see him really trying to be appreciative and show how much he's enjoying it.  I wish I could bottle that and keep it for a rainy day, but alas, it's a rare and special thing and you never know when it's going to work out like that.  But the other night, at a place as simple as Taco Bell, we had our moment.  And until this baby comes, I'll take as many of those as I can get.   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fears

I can't lie...as excited as I am about this baby, I am also scared to death.  I felt that way last time, too, but with each child the stakes are raised.  Not only does our parenting impact one child, but now we'll have two, with the added element of sibling-hood to complicate things even more.  We wanted another baby since before Jacob was born, as long as having or raising Jacob didn't prove to be too traumatic.  It's been hard, no doubt, but having an only child for over four years has also shown me that the lesson of not being the center of the universe is a valuable one...despite how hard it may be to learn.  Having your first child is a total unknown, but having a second gives you the illusion of having been there before...even though in the end it's a total crapshoot of how much of that previous knowledge will come back to you or apply to baby #2.  My fears are numerous and a little anxiety-inducing, but rest assured, they're not paralyzing...yet.  We'll get through one way or another...but here's what's weighing on my mind these days...

Going early - I was concerned about going into labor early last time, but I never thought it would happen.  In the end I had Jacob 10 days early.  Fortunately I had about 45 minutes or so (which is still discussed at work from time to time) to go clean off my desk before heading to the hospital, because that took a huge load off my mind.  I worry about not having that chance this time around (and I swear, if I came into the office on the way to the hospital again, my boss might kill me), and I have a lot to teach our research assistant at work before I'm gone for a month and a half.  There's a lot of complicated stuff that I wasn't doing last time around, so it's going to be a challenge to teach all of that in the next couple months, let alone if that time is cut short.  Timing in general is a lot trickier this time around, since obviously there's Jacob to consider.  My parents can get here relatively quickly if need be and I'm guessing Lori might be able to help us out in a pinch, but going to the hospital in the middle of the night is far more complicated than it would have been last time.  In addition, we still have a lot to do at home to get ready for this baby, and at the moment we have to accomplish certain steps before we can move on to the rest.  Last time we could just focus on the baby task at hand, but this time we're working on Jacob's room, the baby's room, and life in general--including all of Jacob's goings-on.  He starts soccer this week, for example.  We just have more going on and the less time we have to get ready and have things in place, the harder it's all going to be in the long run.

Time for everyone, including me - Having an infant can be all-encompassing.  On one level I was a little relieved to go back to work after maternity leave last time, because the round-the-clock care of a baby is exhausting and I was looking forward to having a little time to focus on me, even if it was at work.  It was a chance to re-establish my own identity apart from Jacob.  So...with that experience in mind, I think about how much time I dedicate to Jacob now.  I find it hard to accomplish all I want to on a daily basis and keep everyone happy.  It's hard to find a good balance now, let alone with an infant that will be taking over our entire schedule.  How can I make sure that Jacob's getting the attention he needs, the baby is taken care of, Craig still feels loved, and I don't lose myself amidst it all?  It seems impossible.

Jacob as a big brother - As I've said many times, Jacob can be an awesome kid...but he can also be extremely difficult.  Because he's such a wildcard already, I can't quite fathom how things are going to go when he has a brother.  He's so used to being the center of attention around here, and despite our best efforts, he's not very patient.  Sometimes the baby is going to take priority, and I don't know how he's going to deal with that.  Two screaming kids might be insanity-inducing.  My biggest fear is that he's going to get violent with the baby, even if it's just something passive-aggressive like "accidentally" throwing a ball at him or squeezing him just a little too tightly.  He's already insisting he's not going to hold his brother, and basically says that taking care of him is my job.  It's a far cry from most of the other older siblings I've ever seen who are beyond excited and eager to help.  Oh, and I'm also wondering how nursing is going to go when Jacob's around and already well aware of "boobies".  I don't want to have to cover up all the time because there are things I want to watch for and I want to be able to stare at the baby (and let him stare back), so though it might be a little thing, it's on my mind.

Dealing with a baby's schedule - Like I said, I remember all too well how all-encompassing taking care of a baby can be.  They need attention all the time, and during the rare times they don't, your main goal is recovering from the exhaustion.  Having to deal with Jacob during that time in addition is going to be difficult, but that's beside the point.  As needy as Jacob can be sometimes, I know we've gotten lazy.  Jacob can change his clothes by himself, both in the morning and at night.  He can play alone really well at times.  He sleeps in until about 7:30 or later.  He first slept through the night at 10 weeks and has slept through 95% of the time since teething ended.  We're spoiled, and we've been out of the baby phase for a long time.  On the bright side, we've had a little break from that exhausting phase so hopefully we're refreshed heading back into it, but we've also been out of it long enough that it scares me a little to go back to that.  I worry about dealing with every three hour feedings, frequent diaper changes, ill-timed blowouts, being up all night, and trying to get out of the house with one kid that won't listen and another that needs a lot of equipment.  I'm not sure how to manage two schedules (or more) that inevitably won't match up.  What happens when Jacob needs to be somewhere but the baby needs to eat?

Sleep deprivation - This just sort of rolls into the rest, of course, but sleep deprivation scares me more this time than before.  I learned last time around how the lack of sleep impacts my entire outlook on life.  If I sleep well, all is right with the world.  If I don't, everything is falling apart.  I don't like the prospect of having that dynamic impact how I deal with Jacob's ups and downs.  In addition, the stuff I do at work is even more detail-oriented and thinking-dependent than it used to be, so it becomes extra hard to do when I'm tired.  And even though Jacob is a pretty good sleeper, I feel like I'm already dealing with over four years of sleep deprivation.  I suppose it's a combination of staying up a little later to maximize my "me time" after Jacob goes to bed, sleeping less deeply because having a baby tunes you in to every little noise, and missing out on the long weekend sleep-ins I once had.  I've gotten used to sleeping in again, albeit until about 8am instead of 11, but the thought of giving that up again in a matter of weeks is scary.

Things not going according to plan - This is sort of an offshoot of the "going early" issue, because that is one possibility within this realm, but I also worry about any issues with my health that might contribute to that, or anything that might be wrong with the baby, either due to going early or just in general.  Being in the hospital for an extra week last time was really hard, but this time it would be a huge challenge because Jacob would still be back at home.  Since we went through that with Jacob, I've craved a "normal" first week experience where I could get to know my baby at my leisure, rather than having to do it in a less-than-comfortable hospital setting with nurses looking over my shoulder.  I want to snuggle my baby on my couch at home, take naps when the baby naps (which was my major downfall last time during that week, leading to a total breakdown), and take as many cute pictures as I can muster in my sleep-deprived haze.  Yet as much as I want that time this time, I want a healthy baby even more.  God forbid there are any unexpected issues, whether long term or short term.  Babies change your life enough, let alone if there's some problem we wouldn't have anticipated.  It's scary.  Another issue that I worry about popping up is postpartum depression.  There's no reason to expect it to strike, but it can come out of nowhere and I worry about that stealing the joy out of those early days.  I've read a lot about it in the past few years and know how horribly it can impact totally normal people.  It's not a major concern, but it is in the back of my mind. 

The baby being too much/too little like Jacob - One of the reasons I wanted to have a girl was because it would start us on a clean slate.  I would just assume that raising a girl would be a totally different experience than a boy, so it wouldn't really throw me for a loop as much when things went differently.  But with having another boy, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking it's going to go similarly.  In reality, I know that this baby could be totally different and yet I don't want that reality to catch me off-guard when it actually happens.  On one hand I worry about dealing with some of Jacob's more difficult quirks with another baby, but at the same time I wonder how many bullets we dodged with Jacob that we'll encounter with this baby.  For example, Jacob was never much of a climber or cabinet explorer, so we never had to worry about doing a ton of baby-proofing along those lines.  I don't want to assume this baby will be the same and have it come back to bite us if he gets into trouble before we're prepared for it.  I worry about this baby being a terrible sleeper, having trouble nursing, or being hardcore colicky.  We didn't have to deal with those issues (at least not consistently) last time, so I'm nervous about possibly facing those issues again.  We've been through a lot of illnesses, and probably missed a handful of them, too, and now we'll be dealing with all of that again...and we'll have two kids to share germs, too.  I don't want to fall into the trap of comparing them, but sometimes it seems inevitable.

I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but this is enough to think about for now, huh?  Rest assured, I'm not preoccupied with all of these issues all of the time, but as I encounter issues along each of these lines that challenge me now, I think about how a baby will complicate things further and I get nervous all over again.  At the same time, I do remember that no matter how hard it was to have a baby last time around, I found those early days so rewarding and fulfilling, probably because I didn't have a disobedient kid talking back to me at every turn.  I know it's hard, but there was something unique about those early days and I look forward to exploring that time again.  I know it's going to be hard, though like last time, I truly have no idea how hard.  We'll just have to take things one step at a time around here, and I have (hopefully) two months to prepare myself for the challenge. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Naptime and the New Room

Slowly but surely Jacob's new room is coming along.  We're still mostly on hold because his furniture still hasn't shipped nearly a week later, despite both sites saying that the packages will arrive by next weekend.  Hmmm.  However, we sorted through the rest of his books today and moved over all of the books he wanted in his room.  The rest are still on the other shelf, waiting for the baby.  I also emptied out most of the toys from the bookshelf cabinet (the rest may have to wait for the underbed storage to arrive), and all of his "crap" toys (Happy Meal toys, etc.) fit easily in one of the bins in his new shelf.  His main toys still take over the living room and most will have to move upstairs by the time this baby is mobile, but we have a good chunk of closet space to work with, along with that underbed storage, so I think we'll be in good shape for now.  That's the funny thing about "opening up" an additional room in your house...suddenly you have a whole new set of spaces to work with and things can find more sensible new homes.  We never really let the guest room become a dumping ground because we knew someday it would get filled up with Jacob's stuff, but it's nice to finally have that space to work with.  The crawl space has gotten a little fuller, but I think it's still reasonable and some of that stuff could get dumped if we ever have to move again...but no sense rushing into it now.  Anyway, Jacob's room won't be over-the-top cool--no fancy paint job or secret nook--but I think it will be fun and will suit him very well.  It'll be nice to get some things up on the wall once the furniture is in and helps us finalize the layout.  If nothing else, in the meantime it's fun to have a new space to hang out in after more than 2-1/2 years in this house. 

Jacob has been up and down with his behavior in the last few weeks.  He has moments of awesome and moments of complete ridiculousness.  He has showed a bit of his spoiled side around the holidays, as he's constantly asking for things and acting completely entitled.  I never wanted to think he was spoiled, but ultimately he is...thanks to generous family and at least one parent that bends over backwards to give him as fulfilling an existence as possible.  I will refrain from saying which of us it is, but I suppose in the end we've both had moments of wanting to make dreams come true, or finding a way to get things done, or doing something in the name of enhancing his life experiences...but in the end he's probably spoiled.  Which, incidentally, is why I held off on giving him the giant Lego set we got as the bike replacement for Christmas.  All that he got was plenty, so there was no need to do more, even though he would have no doubt loved it.  Anyway, there are times where he's awesome--sweet, obedient, engaging, smart, and independent.  His daycare reviews have actually been great for a few weeks now.  But then he has moments where he refuses to listen and will not just obey us because it's the right thing to do.  He battles, ignores, and throws tantrums, sometimes to extremes.  He demands things, knowingly says hurtful things, and complains about the most mundane, routine parts of daily life.  The Jekyll and Hyde act is tough, but the moments when things go well are great, and remind me why being a parent can be so fun.  Today was mostly one of those days.  Jacob and I are flying solo since Craig is on his first roadtrip of the Knighthawks season, and other than a couple disobedient streaks, we had a great day.

One funny moment today had to do with naptime.  Over Christmas break Jacob had battled us at naptime.  He'd stay awake and constantly ask to get up.  It was annoying and wasn't giving us the break we neededeither, so by the end I decided maybe it was time to give up on the nap and move on to "quiet time", which I've seen a lot of bloggers talk about when their kids hit this stage.  They don't make them nap, but they must spend time in their room, alone, to chill out a bit.  And if they happen to fall asleep, so be it.  One blogger I read has actually posted a hilarious, ongoing series of pictures of her daughter (a couple months older than Jacob) who gave up her nap months ago but has fallen asleep in random places on many an afternoon.  Jacob did manage to stay awake a few times, but the one day he fell asleep on the ride to dinner, and he's had moments where you can tell the sleep would have done him good.  The first time we did the "quiet time" thing, I told him he needed to stay in his room for an hour.  He could read, but he couldn't play sports.  He kept coming out, however, so I made him stay there for another 15 minutes.  When he didn't bug us after the 15 minutes were up, I wasn't in a rush to go get him since he was playing nicely.  Sometime after that we heard silence, and sure enough, he was out.  He was snuggled up in his bed.  Today I encouraged him to work on a big puzzle while he was up there for an hour.  He made a lot of trips out of the room yet again, but near the end he was still working on the puzzle.  Again, since he was playing nicely I wasn't in a rush to release him, and within 15 minutes after the end of the hour, I heard silence...and once again, he was sleeping.  This time he was laid out on the floor next to the puzzle, and he slept for nearly two hours.  It reminded me a bit of that old commercial for carpet where a baby was fussing, and the second the dad set him down on the cozy new carpet to free up his hands for a second, the baby passed out.  The moral of this story is that while Jacob no longer needs his nap, it's still not something he can totally shake.  He can get through without it, but his body still finds it useful at times.  It probably makes bedtime a bit more of a challenge, but it's a delicate balance at this point so I guess that's the price we pay.  The quiet time lets his body make that choice, so we'll just see how it goes each weekend.  No sense forcing it at this point since we'd only have a few more months of it at best.  Kindergarten awaits!

Suffice it to say that life with Jacob is a series of new adventures these days...and this is only the beginning!