Letter to Baby Girl: Week 40

Past the watermelon stage!

Dear Baby Girl:

Technically, you’re at 39 weeks, 6 days.

And there’s an end in sight.

You’re coming next week for sure if you don’t come earlier.

Pretty great, right?!

We saw the doctor today, and I’m still measuring the same as last week.

But we all know that doesn’t mean anything; you still could come at any time.

Lola was with us in the doctor’s office today. Your father found your heartbeat, and Lola commented that your heartbeat sounds strong. The doctor said you’re really healthy, but the placenta isn’t going to last forever. We need for you to arrive so I can start feeding you and so you can start growing in our home — in our family — where there’s plenty of room.

The next time the doctor sees us will be at the hospital.

Little one, I’m tired. And I’m sorry I’ve been so irritable, like seriously cranky. You probably can’t tell exactly what’s been going on, but I’ve been averaging about four hours of sleep every night for at least the past month. I know some people have it worse, but the fatigue is taking a toll.

Also, it hurts to walk. I feel … bruised. Like someone kicked me between the legs or I straddle-fell on the crossbar of a bicycle. Your beautiful skull creates pressure on all the nerve endings down there in my pelvis, causing pretty sharp pains.

No worries, though. Easy enough to solve. I’ll just keep my feet up and minimize walking.

You know what I love? When your dad gets off of work and stops by the apartment to see us before he goes to class. And  when your dad takes a break from homework to get a drink of water and kiss my forehead and talk to you. And when we pray together, thanking God for the blessing of having you in our lives.

See what I did there, Baby Girl? I acknowledged somewhat negative feelings but I also recognized blessings. Please don’t deny yourself of the range of feelings to experience in this life. It’s okay to feel angry or hurt or irritated, but if you can also exercise some faith and maintain a practical optimism and hope, you’ll do just fine.

I know you’ve been waiting to make your big debut. Heaven knows everyone here on the outside has been waiting. Everyone’s getting impatient. They want to see you. They want pictures. They want to hold you. I know it’s a lot to process, dealing with what other people want, but you’re doing great. I’m proud of you for doing what you want, for taking your time and growing so well.

You know what, though: I’m a little conflicted. Yes, I can’t wait to hold you in my arms, but I’ve really enjoyed our closeness these past nine months. From teeny zygote to full-fledged baby, it’s been quite a ride. This whole time I haven’t gotten sick and you’ve kept my ankles slender and hair shiny and nails strong. Despite my lack of sleep, you are my glow.

You’re moving around a lot more now, which makes me think you’re quite curious and maybe a little crowded. Exploring and stretching are sometimes the same thing. Your father and I will help you do so much more of both once you’re born.

We’re ready for you. We’ll see you soon.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: Week 39

Dear Baby Girl,

I didn’t skip week 38. Lest you think your mother can’t count, I need to explain a few things that happened at your ultrasound last Friday:

  • We confirmed that your due date is sooner than what the people at the doctor’s office originally determined. I mean, it’s only four days sooner, but four days is more than half a week, which prompts me to round up and move our weekly count up by a week. So that’s how I got week 39. Of course, you’re going to come when you’re good and ready, but it’s nice to have a more correct number out there. So it’s not me who can’t count; it’s the people with the science degrees. Blame them.
  • We saw your cutie-face profile. You had this smooshed-in nose and these puckered lips, and one of your hands was up by your forehead until you brought it toward your mouth. I wanted to cuddle you so much right then.
  • We found out approximately how big you are. The ultrasound tech measured your noggin and your tummy, and the computer calculated your weight. Of course there’s a margin of error, but I think you may be close to what the ultrasound tech measured, just because I know what it’s like to lift weights or other things of various hefts like bags of sugar or gallons of milk. You’re somewhere in between a bag of sugar and gallon of milk, little one. The perinatologist told us that you’d most likely pattern your birth weight after the parent who had the heavier birth weight. That wasn’t me: I was 5 pounds, 4 ounces. So you can blame your father. Well, “blame” might be too strong a word for you because you’re an innocent party, but I’m the one that gets to push you out, so I’ll blame him instead.
  • We learned that since you’d still be significantly far away from the 10-pound threshold by the time you’re born, that I can try to deliver you vaginally. If you were closer to 10 pounds, doctors would suggest a c-section. But both the perinatologist and the doctor have witnessed Asian moms successfully birthing decent-sized babies like you. This reassures me.

I told several people at church yesterday how big you are, and they either looked at me and said, “What?!” or they outright said, “But you’re so little. How can you be carrying such a big baby?” Well, I could be impressed with myself, but I’m more impressed with you. Impressed, enamored, completely in awe.

Your Florida grandma and her husband have started their trip out here. They should arrive by the end of the week, and they are very excited. Your Florida grandma has even gone so far to prophesy a little brother for you in the next two years. She’s already predicting siblings for you! What do you think about that?

Also, I think Florida Grandma would like for you to call her “Lola.” It’s a Filipino term of endearment for grandmother. And it’s a good way to distinguish between Florida and Utah grandma, though I doubt you’d ever be confused. Both are awesome ladies, though.

Today, the doctor checked me and said that I’m around two centimeters wide and 70% effaced. Is that too much information for you? This is especially helpful for me, since the last time the doctor checked I was totally closed for business. And yet, according to a nurse-midwife friend of mine, I could have today’s measurements for the next three hours or the next two weeks. It would be nice if my body cooperated sooner than later. Once you’re out, you can keep growing as much as you want!

I admit I’m getting a little more nervous each day, but we listened to your heart again today at the doctor’s office, and you sound as strong as ever. We’re going to be just fine.

Your father is a real sweetheart. He said he was nervous, too. He’s nervous about my pain and the uncertain date of your arrival. He really wants to give us his best possible support. Lola suggested that he give us a blessing, which is a mighty fine idea. Bless away, Dada.

Little one, we already know you’re a cool and remarkable baby. Everyone is so excited to meet you, but not as excited as your dad and I.

We’ll see you soon. Like, dang soon. Hopefully.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: 37 Weeks

Dear Baby Girl,

I’ve been waiting to use the words “at term” with you, but when I browse the internet, some sites say 37 weeks is full term, some sites say you’re early term. I’ll just say you’re in the term range, which is nothing but awesomeness.

“Term”inology is so confusing.

That was supposed to be something called a joke. Meant to be funny, meant to provoke an association that’s supposed to make you laugh. You may recognize it as a pun and roll your eyes because puns are on the lower end of the humor spectrum. Or you may really love puns and laugh. Or you may stifle your laughter because you realize I was just telling the joke for attention. How I already yearn for your attention.

Well, 37 weeks is just three weeks away from your due date. How did nine months turn into three weeks? How have we spent nearly three-fourths of a year together already?

I have officially begun maternity leave. I’m very excited to focus on spending at least the next few months getting to know you: feeding, sleeping, physical features, facial expressions. I imagine myself watching you in all my waking moments.

At last week’s appointment, the doctor informed us of two situations where we would go to the hospital: if I have contractions that are five minutes apart that last for an hour, or if my water breaks. Now, I have these events called Braxton-Hicks contractions. You probably feel them. My tummy gets really hard for varying amounts of time. I usually walk around for a few seconds, or if I’m trying to sleep, I change positions to make my tummy relax. I also try to stay hydrated.

I have only seen water breaking on television or movies, and I get the impression of a busted floodgate. But I’ve heard that it doesn’t always happen that way. I guess you’ll let me know, regardless.

My body has not yet shown these signs that you are ready to enter this world. You move around and stretch, but you seem rather cozy still.

You get the hiccups a lot, at least once a day. Again, there’s information on the internet that worries me about your hiccups, and there are sites that say they’re normal and preparatory for some of the functions you’ll have once you’re born, like breathing air.

Oh, I feel the need to apologize. Easter this year isn’t until the end of April, but the Easter candy is on full display at all the stores, and I want to eat all of it. We picked up some of those Reeses peanut butter eggs and a bag of jelly beans. We put the peanut butter eggs in the pantry on a high shelf, so: out of sight, out of mind. But I put the jelly beans in a jar on the kitchen table, and I have been eating from that jar all weekend. Granted, it’s only one or two at a time, but that easily turns into at least a dozen a day. So, I’m sorry if you’re experiencing a little more sugar than usual. At least I get to wonder if you have a favorite flavor. I personally like the citrusy ones.

Everyone’s asking if we have picked a name for you yet. I tell everyone the same thing: we have a list that we’re narrowing down. But I guess I’ll say that the names we have narrowed down your father and I agree on. They’re all great and could fit you  perfectly. In our process, we have tried to pick names that would minimize teasing from other kids. More classic but not too common; strong and not overly trendy. More traditional spellings. We like how curious and excited people are to know your name, and we know how hard it is to be patient when they’re so excited, but people could chill out. Just a smidgeon.

We have another appointment today. These weekly visits only emphasize how quickly you’ll be here! Your father and I will ask questions and listen to your heartbeat. The doctor will measure and assess. We’re waiting for him to update us on some of your recent developments, and even if he orders an ultrasound, we hope everything continues to be okay.

Sweet child, we love that you’re in the term range; we think it’s great that you can come at any moment. We love the happiness you have already brought into our lives.

We’ll see you soon.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: Week 36

Dear Baby Girl,

It’s getting close.

We are well into 36 weeks, and everybody says that you can come at any time now. Everyone asks if I’m excited, and of course I say that I am, but I really wonder how excited you are. You’re still moving a lot, stretching, testing the limits of my ribs. You’ll soon test my pain threshold, but all I know is that whatever pain I experience will be worth having you in my arms to finally hold and coo at and dote over.

This world is such an interesting and beautiful place. Your father and I can’t wait to explore it with you and see it through your eyes. Oh, to see regular and mundane things as brand new, to take nothing for granted.

Speaking of taking nothing for granted, I’m grateful for your father’s shirts. I have been wearing his running shirts and t-shirts for the past few weeks now. They cover my tummy well, and if I also wear your father’s hoodies, I have an even better idea what it’s like to be in his skin. As I type this, I think about how hard that man works: he goes to work to teach young minds about writing and critical thinking. I can imagine his frustration as he faces certain limits and attitudes of adolescence. It can be draining. And then he’s pursuing a Master’s degree at BYU. First of all I have to recognize his sacrifice for going to BYU. He got his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah, the great rival of BYU. And now that he’s immersed in the student culture in Provo he has to tolerate certain policies and mentalities that are just plain weird and often questionable. I’m not just talking from a spiritual/secular standpoint. There are arcane ideas and draconian practices and sometimes immovable one-sidedness that people seem oblivious to. Maybe if you decide to go to BYU you’ll see what I mean. Or maybe things will have changed for the better by then. I mean, they’re starting to make strides, and I can’t discount whatever progress has occurred, but there’s so much more room for improvement. Always remember that you can improve yourself as you work on your spirituality and decency as a human being.

Wow, that was a long paragraph. I trust you’ll be able to follow it, because we intend to help you develop a good attention span. Baby Girl, be ready for all the stimuli. There is so much of it everywhere. I can be easily distracted, and sometimes talking with your father our conversations wander, where various subjects stretch like tendrils that dissipate into nothing. However, you should see us bear down to do homework. We can sit for hours at a time typing and taking moments to share ideas that are new and fun to us. We want to teach you to filter and focus. These behaviors will help you understand the importance of respect. It’s a very basic principle, one that I never fully understood until I was an adult. There’s a lot that goes into interacting with other human beings. Some of it seems plain common sense; some of it has to be learned over a long period of time. Your father and I will teach you the best we can, and then we hope you’ll decide what’s what and respect others as they respect you. And part of this respect is to remember not to judge people until you’ve considered their story. People have stuff going on in their lives that we don’t know about. Always be willing to wonder if they’ve had a bad day or haven’t eaten or feel sad, and see if there’s a way to help them, even if it’s to give them a hug and tell them it’s okay. Or to acknowledge their feelings and give them space.

I didn’t intend for so much of this letter to lecture you. We have another doctor’s appointment today, and I’ve been looking at birth plans and want to ask a bunch of questions to prepare for your real-time arrival. The weight of the reality of your being here strikes me more strongly each day, and as we preregistered at the hospital yesterday, your father asked some important questions that assured me of his desire to be prepared. We want to be good parents.

There’s undeniable proof in this world of good parents. The father of some good friends of mine passed away last week, and so many wonderful memories and expressions of love overflowed from everywhere for this man. He and I talked only a few times, and he helped one of his daughters move to New York City while I tagged along, but I’ll always know him as a very tender-hearted, generous man who loved his family and treated others with respect. He was a big man, but he had an even bigger heart. I want his example to teach us. And you.

Dear sweet child, your father will be home soon, and then we will go to the doctor who might tell us how big you are, how much you weigh, if your position has changed. We’ll listen to your heartbeat; that never gets old. These physical indicators of your readiness pale in comparison to our eagerness to have you here.

And are we ever eager.

We’ll see you soon.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: 35 Weeks

imitating tummy

Dear Baby Girl,

Last week the doctor confirmed that your head is right down where it should be. You have swum your way down to the closest possible escape. Have you thought about this? Have you thought about the effort it will take to squeeze your body through a hole that seems impossibly unaccommodating?

You’re already teaching me: I’ve never turned down a reasonable challenge, but is this reasonable? You are five or so weeks away from defying reason. The doctor also said you’re growing fast, and I imagine your curled body inside my 4’10” body and my 25-pound weight gain as early indicators of your amazing defiance. I already consider myself pretty tough: Shots don’t really hurt. I’ve run a couple half-marathons, a few 10Ks, several 5Ks. I’ve done a sprint triathlon. I’ve wiped out on a mountain bike on a technical trail I had no right being on. But I have a feeling you’re going to show me what it’s like to be really tough.

This — your grand entrance — seems a completely different level of toughness. This is going to take some faith and determination that I probably haven’t tapped into. I mean, your dad has already decided he isn’t going to watch your birth from the doctor’s perspective, but he’ll hold my hand and encourage me. And that’s okay, because everyone has his threshold for gore and pain, even other people’s pain. And he’s already been incredibly supportive and committed to taking care of us. But do you know what I hope happens? I hope your dad cries. He’s only cried once in his life — not even at our wedding — and I don’t know if he’s missing tear ducts or if he’s dehydrated or whatever, but maybe your arrival will be a rare occasion that inspires tears. Maybe your toughness and cuteness and tiny body will unkink and restore the waterworks. Maybe your positioning is your way of telling us how ready you are to see your dad cry.

Yesterday after church, I took the following photo. Your dad actually handled the camera. Did you know that he and I like basketball? He knows all the teams and players and trades. I haven’t followed current teams, but I can recall players from the ’90s when I watched pro basketball all the time with my little brother.

Also, shooting hoops was one of our first dates. We went to the gym and played HORSE and practiced foul shots. You’ll soon see that your dad and I aren’t tall people, but your dad has a mad three-point shot. He can pretty much shoot from anywhere beyond the arc. When I’m warmed up, I have a solid short shot and can be pretty scrappy. Maybe you’ll share our affinity for basketball, but it’s okay if you don’t.

Anyway, you have grown to the point where my tummy looks like a basketball. I hope you’ll someday appreciate how much fun we’ve had with you these eight months.

passing the ball!

Little tough one, we look forward to having so much more fun and facing life’s challenges with you in the next few weeks.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: 34 Weeks

Dear Baby Girl,

There are a lot of mommyblogs out there where mothers write to their children. I have always thought this was a great idea. I love the image of you coming upon this blog and reading my thoughts about you. Words, sentences, ideas, language. Communication. These are extremely important concepts.  I suspect you’ll find these letters in the next year or so, because I have a weird feeling you’ll learn how to navigate the internet and read very quickly. Your parents are geniuses, you know.

You are at 34 weeks gestation. That’s something like T minus six weeks before your arrival. Last night after Sunday dinner at your grandparents’ I was feeling really full. So full that I turned down dessert. And I don’t really turn down dessert, even if it’s just a sliver of what’s offered. And Baby Girl, dessert last night was strawberry shortcake. You’ve had it before, and I’m sure you like it. But for some reason if I overeat my back aches and I can’t get comfortable and I have to stretch and breathe, though some relief does come when I fart. Sorry if that’s crude, but you try make more space for yourself, and who am I to get in your way?

Which leads to repeating the point that I turned down dessert. There just wasn’t any room for more food. And because I turned down dessert, it means that you’re grounded. Of course it’s not your fault: you’re a growing baby and I’m short with a narrow ribcage and discomfort is inevitable. But look here at the difference of my insides with you in it: Can you begin to understand?How can you possibly be aware of what’s going on inside my body? And it’s not your problem, really. As long as you’re cozy and eating and growing, you know I don’t have any beef with you. You know that I love you anyway. As long as there’s yoga and warm baths and massages, I’ll be fine.

You know what though? You and I need to talk about you letting me sleep. When I get a good night’s rest, I feel refreshed for most of the day. But when I get very lousy sleep, my back stays cramped and my brain stays fuzzy. Again, not really your fault — just the way things are. And not for too much longer. But you know, on those nights when I wake up after sleeping for four hours, I can work on homework because the night is still and I can somewhat focus, so maybe I should thank you for helping me along in my masters program.

I may unground you today after seeing the doctor. Depends on how I feel.

Have I mentioned how much I’m in love with you? I love the way you move around and feel your way inside my womb. We are becoming very familiar with each other and getting a sense of each other’s personalities. I like to guess what certain protrusions are from my tummy are and imagine how you’re oriented. Your father and I watch my tummy as you shift around. He always assumes any hard surface is your head, while I go between thinking it might be a sitbone or a foot. Yesterday at church I wore a dress that accentuated my tummy and we spent Sunday school watching you. The lesson was about the Abrahamic covenant and we didn’t think it would be a huge distraction to contemplate our posterity by watching you. It’s one of our favorite things to do, besides reading stories and singing to you.

Your Utah grandma and aunt threw a baby shower for you on Saturday. I’m pretty sure you could hear the commotion, but there were a lot of people there to show their excitement and support for you! You got some really cute clothes and a lot of diapers and other very cute things. Just know there’s a world out here that can’t wait to see you.

Your Florida grandma and her husband will be coming to visit. They want to be here around the time you arrive. Your uncle–my brother–wants to visit sometime this summer. Your uncle is quite a character and I know you’ll love him.

A woman stopped me in the hall yesterday after church. She told me about how excited your father is about you. This thrills me to no end. Several people have told me he gets this sparkle in his eye and a huge smile across his face and that makes my heart want to burst with joy. He marvels at the sheer miracle of you growing inside me. He points to my tummy and says, “There’s a baby in there” in a cute voice and no matter how I feel, it makes me smile.  He’s quite in love with you, too. Of course.

It’s important for you to see how much your father and I love each other. We have promised to take care of you and teach you what you need to know to thrive in this world. We also accept that you’ll probably teach us quite a few things. You’ve already taught us a lot about patience. We hope you’ll be patient with us, not only as we raise you, but during the next few weeks. We still haven’t decided on a name for you. Please don’t ground us.

Dear sweet child, our Baby Girl, thank you for blessing our lives. Your father and I can’t wait to start a new journey with you.

Love, Mom

Constant Movement

Video title

Baby Girl seemed to know when I picked up the camera. I’d feel her move and want to get it on video, but once I turned the camera on, she became quiet. So I had to be sneaky about it. The camera captured minutes and minutes of stillness, except the 20 seconds or so you see in the video.

The segments you see are in the order they were filmed. Our baby obviously came up with a well-planned storyboard and didn’t depart from it.

I’m sitting sort of slumped back on the couch. Baby Girl moves best and most often when I’m in this semi-reclined position.

Baby Girl quickly warmed up to the idea of another video about her. She insists on the credits being longer than the actual video; sorry about that. She likes seeing her not-yet-decided name rolling up the screen.

The video was fun to make, but I also consider this real documentation, acknowledging our blessings. Besides, it’s important to preserve certain things for posterity and the improvement of the human race.

Our daughter would like you to know the rules for watching this video:

Do NOT:

  • make fun of Mommy’s tummy
  • laugh, unless it’s out of awe and excitement
  • say out loud how cheesy you think it is

Do:

  • watch with the sound on. In Baby Girl’s opinion, the soundtrack is one of the greatest introductions to anything she’s ever heard.
  • watch closely. The movements may look like indistinguishable jiggles, but they’re actually quite distinct.
  • smile a lot
  • be nice

Depending on what Baby Girl wants, she may post more videos in the coming weeks.

Enjoy.

30 Weeks

Tweety Bird!

30 is 3/4 of the way there.

75%.

I feel like I should have something amazing to report from today’s doctor’s visit.

Well, the awesome thing is that we’re going to have a baby in about ten weeks. Can’t just brush that off.

From today’s visit itself? Let’s make a list:

Beepee: At every visit the nurse takes my blood pressure. Today it was 100/60. It’s been around this low the whole time so far. Baby and I are just chillin’ together. You know, smokin’ weed.

Eye urn: Since I’m at 30 weeks, the doctor wanted to know iron levels. The nurse pricked my finger and took a microslide of blood. She used my middle finger because it’s less sensitive than the other fingers. I leaned over to Reilly and said, “That finger is less sensitive!” The nurse laughed and said, “And also pretty mean!” The nurse came back after a few minutes to report that my iron is great. She even gave me a cool Tweety Bird band-aid.

Mo billadee: The doctor asked me to get up and sit on the cushy table-chair thingy covered in hospital paper. He observed from the way I stood that I still move pretty well.

Art beat: Reilly has become an expert at finding the baby’s heart beat. He put the gel on my tummy and the microphone where it’s supposed to go and voila! rhythmic swishing. The doctor said that Baby sounds awesome.

Maize your: The doctor stretched a measuring tape from one end of my bump to the other. He took about two seconds, and when he saw the length — whatever it was, and whatever it means — he said, “Perfect.”

Quest yons: The doctor answered our questions about taking a labor and delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be going to. He said the hospital will let us preregister so that we won’t have as much paperwork to sign on delivery day. He told us to ask the lactation specialist about breast pumps. He also said that if an emergency arises or something happens before 36 weeks, to report to Utah Valley hospital. All very useful things.

Phoo duh: We thanked the doctor, left the clinic, then went to a sandwich place to eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. All to mark a successful visit.

Ten weeks left, everyone.

Last Thursday My Appetite Decides to Go Berserk

Yesterday during my monthly doctor’s appointment, I was acting like a first-trimesterite: small-stomached yet gassy; low-energy; surprise peeing. Now it’s 3am on Thursday, October 3, 2013: I have to pee, I’m wide awake, and I’m starving.

I’m used to waking up around this time, having a snack, drinking a glass of water, lying in bed unable to sleep, reading my Kindle (lately it’s David Sedaris) until 5am, dozing off to half-consciousness until it’s time to kiss Reilly goodbye for work, use the bathroom, have another snack and drink, then sleep for real until around 8am.

Today, I slip from my bed into the stillness of the wee (I’m leaving the pun: deal with it) hours. I use the bathroom and shuffle to the kitchen for a drink of water. I take out the peanut butter and smear it onto a slice of soft whole wheat bread. I like this bread; it’s like white Wonder bread in its texture but offers necessary fiber and nutrients. And I like this peanut butter. It’s the generic kind from a local store, but it’s chunky. Somehow chunky peanut butter saves me the impossible effort of using my tongue to scrape plain creamy peanut butter from the roof of my mouth. These kinds of things are important to me.

I chew my little sandwich slowly, appreciating the textures of the bread and peanut butter. I think about putting honey on the sandwich, but I decide against it this time. I finish my glass of water and head back to bed. I turn on my Kindle and make sure the brightness is on the lowest setting. I do a crossword puzzle then turn to a collection of David Sedaris’s early essays called Naked. I read and giggle to myself until my eyelids get heavy. I go online and check out a pregnancy website that tells me at 14 weeks, Baby is the size of a lemon (3.4 inches, 1.5 ounces), producing urine, sucking a thumb and wiggling toes, and growing lanugo. I keep Lanugo in mind as a possible baby name. Lanny for short. Or possibly Nugo. Names are so versatile these days.

For about 15 minutes I close my eyes until Reilly’s alarm clock goes off. I shift to my left side and resume sleep until the alarm sounds again 20 minutes later. Reilly asks how I slept, and I say, “No.” And Reilly says, “Aww, I’m sorry.” Then I go back to sleep while Reilly gets ready for work. He leaves around 6am, and this morning my stomach actually feels empty. Like a hollow space. Not filled with air, but a true void. It has probably been at least 14 weeks since I’ve felt like this.

I drag myself out of bed around 7am and make a bowl of oatmeal. Reilly does not like oatmeal, something about sliminess. But I love the stuff. I don’t like cooking it to absolute mush; if it’s possible to cook the oats just past al dente, that’s the way I like it. Then there’s milk and sugar or brown sugar and cinnamon and fruit. Sometimes nuts. And it’s steaming hot and the way it slides down into my stomach comforts me, like a good hug or a well-written paper. It’s filling and delicious and nutritious and delicious and just oh-so-delicious. After I finish the bowl of oatmeal I slump onto the couch and smile as my tummy thanks me. The pleasure is all mine, tummy.

But my mind kicks into high gear just after a few minutes: What’s the next thing to eat today? I cut up an apple and leave the slices out so I can snack on them throughout the morning. I make another peanut butter sandwich. I put the wheat crackers on the counter just in case I want them, too. I boil an egg. And I grab a handful of trail mix and munch on it while I try to plan the day’s menu.

DANG, Baby. You be making some demands. I mean, Baby’s growing, so it makes sense that Baby’s hungry.

I thought I had a pretty solid plan for eating. During the first trimester, my stomach moved food so slowly, and I got full more quickly. So I figured that I could eat a smallish meal every three hours or so. This morning I have an inexplicable and unstoppable urge to cram all the food into my mouth all the time. That leaves the previous plan null and void.

Bottom line: eat more. MORE! FOOD! NOM NOM NOM NOM! I’m so much hungrier now, and I need to listen to that. And this is how I listened today:

  • cheese quesadilla with salsa
  • baked chicken, vegetables, with leftover rice
  • pasta with alfredo sauce and vegetables
  • orange juice
  • trail mix throughout the day
  • ice cream
  • cereal and milk
  • turkey sandwich and fries
  • about three quarts of water

What’s sort of surreal is that my wee-hours book last week was Portia de Rossi’s memoir about how she overcame eating disorders, Unbearable Lightness. It’s a very honest and raw account of her experience with food and how she withered away to 82 pounds. Ms. de Rossi invites readers inside her head during those very obsessed and miserable years of her life. And it’s not like her head got inside my head, because I wasn’t counting calories the way she was. But I found a certain degree of comfort in the discipline of eating at the same times every day. And then Baby requires a lot more food quite suddenly, and I find myself being thrown from this daze of discipline. And I have to find new awareness. And the thing about awareness is meta-awareness: I have to know that I have to be constantly conscious of this other little human inside me. And this constant consciousness translates to nurturing, protecting; it becomes real motherhood.

As of last week’s appointment, I have crossed into triple-digit land, and I think I’m here to stay for the duration.

Am I always going to try to end these blog posts with a little depth and cheesiness? Looks like it. But I like depth. And I really like cheese, so maybe I’m going to tend my motherly duties and make a sandwich.

The First Trimester

You guys.

I’m pregnant. There is a baby in my tummy.

As of today, I’m 14 weeks, one day along. That means about 26 weeks to go. Of course I’m counting weeks. And counting weeks is sort of like waiting for water to boil. Or watching grass grow. It sort of makes the weeks drag, but the days themselves pass quickly. How weird: being pregnant is being in a kind of time dichotomy.

Part of what makes time slow down is how excited we are to grow our little family! Sometime in the middle of March I got the chance to hold a baby who was born a month premature. She was so little, and as I held her, those urges emerged more strongly than usual. I went home that day and talked to Reilly and the conversation went like this:

Me, “I think it’s time for us to have a baby.”

Reilly, “Okay, let’s have a baby.”

And that was that.

As a part of having things to report to my doctor every month, I’ve been noting observations each week of my pregnancy. The following chronology includes a few highlights.

Week 1: My period happens.

Week 2: Magic.

Week 3: Continued magic. And then we make a zygote!

Week 4: I start to experience lower abdominal weirdness that I call “hot stomach.”

Week 5: I miss my period and suspect I’m pregnant. I also start waking up around midnight every night. One night after lying awake for about two hours, I decide to take a home pregnancy test, and this happened:

That IS a second line.

A faint line is STILL a line, right? I wake up Reilly. We talk and laugh and become giddy. I go back to sleep. Later that morning, we make an appointment for a blood draw the next week.

Week 6: I have a blood test to confirm pregnancy. During a lunch break at work, I call the doctor’s office two days later for the results. From my workspace, everyone in the room can hear everything I say, so I use vaguespeak such as:

  • “I had some blood drawn, and I’m calling about the results.”
  • “Hmm, I think it’s actually closer to 7.”
  • “So, do I need to schedule a follow-up?”

Week 7: Bloating plus my pants do not make a balanced or very comfortable equation.

Reilly smells my forehead and tells me it smells like a baby.

I have begun to pee my pants in very small trickles. This is the most wonderful experience of my pregnancy so far.

I must have orange juice! I go buy a carton and have a drink, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

I want Thai food! Reilly takes me to a Thai place, and it’s the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 8: I want chocolate chip cookies! We pick up ingredients for cookies and bake them. They are the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 9: Oh, hello, nausea. You do realize I’m trying to sleep, right? It’s 1 and then 2 and then 3 and sometimes 4 in the morning. I grab a snack and sip of water and often fall asleep in time to wake up. This probably is the most wonderful pregnancy experience I’ve had so far.

And it really would be awesome if I could just stop peeing my pants.

Week 10: I haven’t vomited yet, even though nausea keeps nagging me. But I have started dry heaving, which I guess is better than kneeling at the toilet, blowing chunks.

Reilly is glad that someone is around who now farts more than he does.

I want a Taco Bell quesadilla! Reilly brings one home, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Reilly comes with me to my first official OB appointment. I pee in a cup, which is no problem whatsoever because I am now at least a sporadic trickle-fountain of pee. The doctor examines me; his nurse takes three vials of blood for testing from my arm. THREE! VIALS! That seems like a lot of red from someone who still doesn’t quite weigh 100 pounds. I imagine all that blood is for baby vampires. My contribution to society. The doctor gives me a book, which is super nice of him. When we get home, I flip through the book, and then I immediately hand the book over to Baby so that everyone’s prepared (FYI, the photo is actually from the next week where I have an official ultrasound, but i wanted to feature the book here):

Of COURSE Baby reads!

The day after the appointment, I Gchat to some friends the beginning lyrics of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” I wonder how someone can make the enormous logical jump from me singing, “I believe the children are our future; teach them well, and let them lead the way” to thinking I’m pregnant. Someone who thinks laterally, most likely. If you happened to ask me directly the day after this appointment about my pregnancy, you would have caught me in an especially vulnerable and happy-truth accepting mood, and I would have told you the happy truth.

Week 11: The nausea starts to subside a little, but I’m still dry heaving. Chewing minty gum lessens the nausea, but chewing it too long triggers my gag reflex. It’s annoying.

You’ve figured it out: everything I crave is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted.

One night, I lie in bed, trying to sleep, and Reilly is up doing his homework. He hears me dry heaving and brings me my water bottle full of cold water (which Baby loves), kisses me on the forehead, and asks if I’m okay. And that? Seriously, one of the best experiences of my pregnancy so far. My husband rocks.

We’re not yet ready to announce the pregnancy, so we outright lie to Reilly’s parents so that we can borrow a car for me to go to an ultrasound appointment. Since Reilly can’t be there, I get a little DVD made during the ultrasound so he can see what happened. Under Baby’s direction, I cut five minutes from the original DVD and added a few titles to show you how adorably Baby moves:

Week 12: We tell our families the news. Everyone is excited and congratulates us. I text the announcement and the due date to my brother, and he responds. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the word I smudged begins with an F:

Bro's response

Week 13: This week is the cusp of the first and second trimester.  Baby loves fresh foods like salad and homemade meals, but sometimes Wendy’s chicken sandwiches, and ice cream and cream puffs. From the way my stomach feels after I eat, I can tell that Baby does not like onions, broccoli, and olives.

We are grateful for the opportunity to bring life into this world. The prospect of being parents is quite exciting, but I also imagine it to be pretty overwhelming. I wonder once Baby is born, after looking around or even just breathing the air, if Baby’s first cries would sound like, “What the HELL, Mom and Dad?” And then Reilly and I would look at each other with simultaneous worry and assurance and explain that it’s all right, little one. We’re here. We’ll guide you through this mess and teach you to see beauty and goodness.  You’ll learn the power of kindness and sympathy and understanding, and you will find joy in this life as we find joy in you. We’ve been praying every night to be prepared to be good parents to you, and we’ve been blessed with tremendous support from the best family and friends in the world. Together, we’ve got this. We’ve got you. We’re so happy you’re here now, though it feels like we’ve already loved you for so long, and we know we can love you beyond forever. Our moments together will pass in a blur and through a slurry, often at the same time. Hang on tight.

26 weeks to go.