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15 June 2012 @ 10:39 pm
More Maternity Musings: Last Trimester!?  
Dear LJverse,

We joke that a writer's job is defined by navel contemplation. Hilariously, my navel is now a constant source of distraction from writing. These days there is a teeny something (Foot? Hand?) under it that kicks and punches at it all the time. Ironically, this bellybutton-tastic activity has sort of derailed my writing impulses. Instead of thinking, "I should really chronicle more of my pregnancy on my LiveJournal", I find myself obsessing about the weirdness of my bellybutton's new talents, which include its ability to physically shift off center depending on where the baby's head is resting, stretch to inhuman capacities, and gradually turn itself inside out.

My intellectual assessment of this phenomenon more or less sounds like this:

"Dude... my innie is turning into an outie! Ewwwwwwww..."

For your entertainment (and, someday, my son's): Maternity Musings - Part Two.

Prenatal Observations #11-20
11. Nothing derails a work presentation like a baby's first kick. I was in Georgia in April for my organization's major conference when I started to feel the "quickening" (baby moving around). At this stage, it felt more like a fluttery muscle spasm and less like an episode of "Highlander". As a result, I spent the entire first morning of the conference fumbling for words. I had to start off all my trainings with the disclaimer that, if I appeared less than engaged, it was because my baby was clearly not interested in the discourse on the importance of social media in strategic communications, preferring instead to dance on my internal organs. Which is pretty darn cool.

12. Good GOD, what is up with the itching?? I hear this bizarre symptom of pregnancy will rear its ugly head again somewhere during this last trimester when my skin starts seriously stretching. But I really hope not, because for a good month or so it felt like my entire body was one giant pulsating mosquito bite. Once again, why does that kind of freaky information NOT make it into the pregnancy books?

13. Baby wants sugar. All the time. Preferably in chocolate form. I've heard all sorts of explanations and excuses for why I can't pass by a Starbucks without wanting to breathlessly claw my way to the front of the line to beg for a Venti Decaf Mocha Cookie Crumble (um, have you TASTED that chocolate whipped cream??). Clearly, my body has become host to a voracious cocoa candy gremlin.

14. No one actually knows what a pregnant woman is supposed to look like. Stupid Hollywood has given everyone the impression that women don't actually get bigger after the second trimester. Like we carry around this petite little bump for nine months before we spontaneously burp out an 8-pound infant. As a result, a normal post-5 month pregnant woman gets assailed with ignorant, hurtful comments about how enormous she is, how she MUST be caring twins, etc., etc. Well, News Flash: A SMALL HUMAN THE SIZE OF A WATERMELON HAS TO FIT INSIDE ME. If you really think at 6 months I'm large enough to be growing twins, maybe you should examine your own gut next time you order Chipotle (you ignorant *bleep*).

[Insert segue...]

15. There is a cognitive disconnect between looking in the mirror, seeing yourself get bigger and heavier, and squaring with the idea that this is SUPPOSED to happen. The second half of my pregnancy has really forced me to confront some body issues I didn't realize I had, and it's been suprisingly tough. Suddenly my size is all anyone can talk or joke about, and it takes a heckuvalot of mental energy to convince myself that the needle on the scale is supposed to go up in spite of everyone else's cruel sense of humor. I hate that their voices compete with my baby's health for my attention. It's one of many signs that there is something seriously wrong with how the Western world treats motherhood. And while we're on the topic...

16. Obstetrics is still in the dark ages. Which is why we've decided to give birth at home under the care of two extremely skilled midwives. Contrary to what the OB/GYN industry tells us, women's bodies intrinsically know how to deliver a baby naturally, and unless there are factors that absolutely require intervention, I'm going to rely on my body to do what it must. It is my personal choice - one that isn't for everyone, I know - but it's one that I believe more women would choose if their healthcare professionals were truly upfront and honest about the dangerous risks that routine interventions pose to women and their babies. One day, I'll write a separate post about it, because it's truly world-altering information. Note: If you are interested in knowing more on this topic, read Birthing From Within. It will blow your mind.

17. Morning sickness gives way... to leg cramps. You'd think I was running a marathon every day with how often I get woken up by leg cramps at night. We're talking painful knots the size of a golf ball that feel like they're going to tear the muscle right off the bone! I've tried everything - more water, more potassium/calcium/magnesium, LESS potassium/calcium/magnesium, stretching, you name it. I think I just need to accept that my calves and I are officially at war.

18. Breathing doesn't come so easily these days. My lungs and my uterus are competing for space. The result: I'm a huffing, puffing, heaving mess when a)it's hot, b)the pollen count is high, or c)I eat/drink anything larger than my fist. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that I've only just begun to feel the effects of having zero lung capacity and have three months of being even MORE breathless ahead of me...

19. I am a furnace. Apparently, all the action happening under my navel produces an environment that's a couple of degrees higher than my normal body temperature. This is somewhat difficult to explain to colleagues when I find myself red faced and stripping off layers of clothing in the middle of staff meetings.

20. We love this baby so much it hurts. Baby loves waking up at 9PM, at which point Mike and I entertain ourselves with feeling him kick. We've discovered he's a music fan, who kicks up a storm whenever Mommy or Daddy sings (or when I play mainstream radio in the car. He LOVES Usher's stuff.). It's been beyond rewarding to have this little guy with me every second of the day, teaching me about himself - and myself. We just can't wait to meet him. :)

That's all she wrote for now. I really do want to be back on here soon, albeit Baby Brain has been making that a bigger challenge than I anticipated. I will consult with the Teddy Graham (i.e. baby) and keep you posted. And lastly, to the Daddies (and Daddies-to-be) out there, I hope you have a Happy Father's Day!
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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
elka78elka78 on June 16th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Kuddos for going with midwife! My first one was a typical Ob/Gyn induction at 1 week overdue. Luckily, we didn't get to c-section, but I have a huge scar elsewhere to show for it... my second and third were born naturally with a midwife in a hospital. I realized that I wouldn't be comfortable being at home, and this turned out to be just perfect!
The leg cramps - did you try lifting your legs up? I had been sleeping with a huge sofa pillow under my feet for most of my pregnancies - it really does help. Also, I hear walking helps, even if it is counterintuitive.

Boo for nasty comments - I am forever surprised people don't have tact. I am sure you look wonderful :)
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 16th, 2012 12:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the support. :) To be honest, whenever I mention we're having our birth attended by midwives, people's eyebrows tend to raise in judgement over it - so it's awesome to hear that you've experienced it yourself!

As for the leg cramps, elevating my legs up has unfortunately not helped, although my body pillow has done wonders for my achy hips! The walking is definitely effective (but it'd be great not to have to spring out of bed and out of sleep mode, you know?). Just have to chalk it up to being part of the experience, I guess!
Margie: Butterfly and Dasiecauldroncakebkr on June 16th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
I love you. And I love to see how you see the world and other things through your writing. Enjoy this magical time. It won't last nearly long enough. Years from now when he is graduating from high school (yes that would be my first born status), you will be remembering every twitch and hiccup fondly and wishing you had it all to live over again.
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 16th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Margie (the feeling is mutual!). I really wish there was more time and energy to write more on the topic, for all the reasons you mentioned. I cannot BELIEVE Chris is graduating from high school!!! When did THAT happen?!? Does he know what he wants to do next?

Holy moly. I will say that's one of the things that, when I stop to think about it, makes my eyes water. The fact that the time will fly by and my baby will no longer be a baby. *sigh* :)
MariahGemmariahgem on June 16th, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
Into the home stretch! Haha! I love that you say he loves music! My mom always told me this one newscaster's voice made me kick like CRAZY. And years later I heard the guy and laughed unprovoked. My mom said she'd always thought I hated him, but I told her, hearing him now, my first reaction was that he had a hilarious, fun voice and I couldn't help laughing! XD

And forget those tactless idiots who talk about your size! You have a wonderful baby in there! You're gorgeous! They only wish they were that lucky!! XD
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 16th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Ha! I love that story! I do think the baby recognizes Mike's voice as well - we were sitting on the couch the other day, and as soon as he put his hand on my belly and started talking, the baby kicked so hard I nearly doubled over. It was like he was trying to high-five him from the inside!

And thanks for the supportive comments. It's amazing what a psychological trip this has been. I had imagined myself much more confident and resistant to that kind of stuff before, but I wonder if the hormonal changes you experience during pregnancy are intended to lay bare your soul in more ways than one!

Edited at 2012-06-16 01:07 pm (UTC)
Julieaggiebell90 on June 16th, 2012 03:41 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah. The comments. I have posts and posts and more posts about the rude comments I got while pregnant (usually from the old biddies older women in the choir). There was one point where someone told in February me that there was "no way that baby is due in the middle of May." I promptly told her that the condom broke on August 23 and to do the math. You have to understand that me saying something like that was so totally out of character for me, but by that time I'd had it with the rude comments (why, yes, I DO know what causes that, thanks! Yes, we're absolutely positive it isn't triplets!) that it just popped out. And, hey, they left me alone after that, so it was worth the embarrassment. :D

I love your observations. It's been a while for me (since my youngest baby is 6 now), but this all rings very true. I think you should write an updated version of a pregnancy book, with all the Things They Don't Tell You. *nods* There's all sorts of things that they just leave out of those books!
Venessamudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
You're right about the phenomenon of older women having the nastiest comments. Luckily, for every crotchety matriarch who has felt it her duty to comment on my future bodily demise, I've had another kind, warm comment from an older woman as well. Good for you for sticking up for yourself!

Thanks for participating in these observations. Just writing about this on LJ has solidified the impression that everyone's got some great stories - I think it'd be great to compile more testimonials than just my own. :)
Rodgeezer_also on June 16th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for this!

"Dude... my innie is turning into an outie! Ewwwwwwww..." I had to LOL, remembering my wife's response to that situation (and I confess I teased her about it...but only once)
One thing to remember, babies (fortunately) are much more pliable than a watermelon ;-)
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
Hehehe... did you only tease her once because she thwapped you? lol

Seriously though, I'm starting to panic about the immediate future of my belly button. Like, it's disappearing. o_O

And thank goodness babies are more pliable than watermelons. I will say, however, that my watermelon!child appears to be much stronger and has turned my insides into a dance floor. Which is as cool as it is startling! :)
i am a trick questionkilted on June 16th, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
I can't stand how much society judges pregnant women. Ugh. I think it's really interesting reading things from a first time mom. I've known many pregnant women over the years, and always find the things that happen to them interesting. I really love kids but I'm not sure if I'll ever have any of my own, but the whole process still interests me. Thanks for sharing, and it's good to hear from you! Happy Father's Day to your husband!
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. :) Mike enjoyed a wonderful Father's Day (he got a special book called "I Love My Daddy" which he can read to our little boy).

As for the whole pregnancy experience, it's definitely been an interesting trip so far. I do think society as a whole does not regard motherhood in a way that advances us as a race - and really, part of the problem is that we as moms and moms-to-be are sort of complicit in our treatment as something to stare at, judge, fear, etc. Imagine a culture that views womanhood (to include motherhood) as inherently sacred... well, there's gotta be a Jezebel article about that somewhere...
Maple: Lily Baby Harrymaple_mahogany on June 16th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Continued best wishes!

I had a home birth in water (after a natural, midwife attended hospital birth) and it was awesome. I have several people in my life who have had great home births. <3
Venessa: Must write!mudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks Maple. :) And how cool that you had a water birth! I wish my bathroom were large enough to accommodate that. I've heard it's incredibly helpful for managing pain and delivering naturally. Thanks for the support - so many folks hear me say "home birth" and equate it to irresponsibly placing me and my child at unnecessary risk.
OMG it's full of STARS!: Weasleysleelastarsky on June 16th, 2012 09:50 am (UTC)
You mention all-over itching and my spidey senses flail.

I wrote a whole lot here, but decided to delete it cos I don't want you to feel like I'm pressuring you or lecturing, cos I'm NOT. Suffice to say, I had http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrahepatic_cholestasis_of_pregnancy with all 4 of mine.


Morning Sickness is the worst part of the whole deal IMO. I had it for 10 wks every time, and just wanted to die. At least you know Labour will END, no matter how much it hurts. Morning Sickness is unrelenting misery!

I'm so thrilled for both of you! All 3 of you in fact! That you are able to enjoy such a precious time together. ♥ *hugs you madly*
Venessamudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
WOW. I'm relieved to say that the itching only happened for a short period - my first trimester - and any itching I've experienced since then has been a result of my stretching. Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention though, because you never know if it's something to worry about for a future pregnancy. I'm assuming your pregnancies all resolved in healthy deliveries?

Re: Morning sickness - I TOTALLY agree. There was nothing nice about it. My one fear is that our next child will be a girl and potentially subject me to feeling even worse than I did this time around!

*hugs back* Thanks so much, as always, for the positive energy. We're pretty stoked ourselves!
deena beena bo beena: [friends] Glompsalmond_joyz on June 16th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
So good to hear from you and how you and the little man are changing. The movement completely takes over your life sometimes; I went to the doctor once because I hadn't felt Aaron move for a couple hours after trying everything to get him to move.

Cravings--Emily made me want Taco Johns ALL THE TIME. Fifteen years later, Taco Johns is one of her got-to places.
Obstetrics--I went the doctor and hospital route. With Emily, I was just coming off anti-convulsants after 12 years so I just wanted to make sure I was looked after in my paranoia. He was more of the 'hands off' OBGYN and we waited to induce until I was about 2 weeks over. With Aaron, I went with my GP and she was wonderful. We did the prostaglandin E gel to get things moving and that was about all it took. I'm glad you found something that you're comfortable with and works for you. I don't get why people get all weird about midwives...they've been around longer than OBs.

Best wishes to you and Mike in the final weeks and enjoy every little experience you get with him when he arrives. It goes way too fast and before you know it, they're in middle school. Yes, I'm crying because my daughter's growing up so fast!!
Venessamudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the support. I hope I didn't make it sound like I was condemning hospital births - so many institutions have done a great job of supporting women's decisions, not pressuring them into interventions, and most importantly, treating them like people and not file folders! (Which was, admittedly, the problem I was experiencing. Nothing quite like miscarrying, crying your eyes out at the OB's office, and having your doctor of 2 years say, "I'm so sorry, Jennifer." Um, hello. Who the hell is Jennifer??)

A word on Tacos: Love them. I only love mac and cheese a little bit more. ;)

And you're so right - my nephew, whose birth I attended, is already a full-fledged boy. I cannot believe how quickly he's grown. I'm sure your daughter is growing up to be a beautiful young lady overnight. Just means we have to pay more attention and enjoy every moment with them. *sighs and passes the Kleenex*
Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy: Bunblpurdom on June 16th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
14. Two words: People suck.

16. We never considered not being in the hospital's birthing center for two reasons: a) Childbirth is messy, and this way it's someone else's job to clean up the mess (seriously--"messy" is an understatement); and b) the fact that I'm somewhere else means that I'm not expected to do anything around the house while I'm at the hospital. Honestly, the second time especially, I looked at being in the hospital with my daughter as a mini-vacation. (My husband was at home taking care of the almost-two-year-old.)

The only intervention I needed either time was some inducement via oxytocin the first time (my water broke but I wasn't having contractions) and stitches for the episiotomy both times (kids with 99th percentile head sizes will make that necessary). I kept the vulture-like anesthesiologist far away from me--no way did I want an epidural! Someone messing with my spine? Not on your life! The maternity ward nurses were kind of annoying afterward--they're the only bits I'd leave out of the hospitalization, if I could change anything. So judgmental about how I was progressing on the breast-feeding. I got there eventually--no thanks to them. :(

17. Bananas. Lots and lots of bananas.

18. I did so many wedding gigs as a singer while I was about 5-7 months pregnant (second time), and I felt like I had no lung capacity! The baby seriously takes up the space. Randall Thompson's Alleluia needs more air than that!

19. I think the increased temperature is because you have double the volume of blood pumping around your body.

It really is cool when you start feeling the movements. It felt to me like Ben's fingers were just fluttering here and there, but Rachel was like an acrobat! Still kind of surprised she never got into gymnastics. ;)
Venessamudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
14. AMEN! Although I have to say, not everyone has sucked. Despite my wish to vent, I have had an equal amount of wonderful people surrounding me (LJ folks like you included). :)

16. Kudos to you for choosing the method/location that was right for you. As I've mentioned elsewhere in the comments, my decision was motivated primarily by the lack of good facilities/doctors in my immediate area (the same folks who called me "Jennifer" when I miscarried, hem, hem). So many places now make it possible for women to a) take their time in childbirth, b) turn down interventions if they're not medically necessary, and c) experience a personal connecting with their service providers. It just happens that going with midwives provided me with exactly what I was looking for after the trauma of losing our first pregnancy.

17. I have upped my banana intake like WHOA. The leg cramps have been retaliating, albeit less than before! :)

18. I'm seriously impressed that you were able to keep it up through month 7. I'm only 27 weeks and I can't even make it to the shuttle without busting a lung! Hypothesis: I am short, and therefore have less space in there. This does not bode well for what awaits me these next three months...

19. I concur. I did a downdog the other day in Prenatal Yoga, and my head turned into a teakettle...

Thanks so much for sharing your insights. Knowing how beautiful and smart Rachel is, I'm grateful for your prenatal stories!
Why be normal?: baby -  toys for babylunalovepotter on June 17th, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
I am so incredibly happy for you, I almost feel like I'm the one having the baby - which let's face it, at my age is not going to happen, although I eagerly anticipate my sister's transition into motherhood in the next 3-4 years (her estimate)!!!

It's great that you and Mike are going with the birthing route that feels most comfortable for you, and not going by what society dictates. Honestly, it would probably scare me to have a home birth, but I would never deign to tell someone else how and where to have their child. I wish you all the blessings and joy that come with it.

Can't wait to meet the Teddy Graham! ♥
Venessamudblood428 on June 20th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Finally getting a chance to thank you again for your awesome energy on here. In my opinion, the women who are sharing these LJ entries with me are all surrogate moms - you're all helping me get to the finish line in your own way. I appreciate it more than I can say!

*enormous hugs*
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )