Posts Tagged With: pregnancy

A Hero’s Journey

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Between the new motherhood gig and Brian’s school schedule (it’s finals week), my life has been a little nutty.  Most of my time has been spent with a sleeping baby on my chest while I watch crap TV or read on my kindle so that Brian can do as much homework as possible.

Now that I have a few minutes, I thought about writing a big “this is birth” post, but I honestly don’t think that birth is as scary a deal as I thought it would be.  Yeah, it wasn’t much fun.  But I don’t feel like I’m a different person after coming out the other side.  Even though I had a c-section, my body feels better than it did the whole pregnancy, and never felt much worse unless the pain meds wore off those first three days.

So instead of a tell-all, I’ve decided that I’m co-opting Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey for the birth experience.  (This may be an indication of too much time on the couch).

But seriously, it fits pretty well.  And it makes me feel like an intrepid warrior for bringing back the “Elixir of Life” to the world at large.  I do get to be Aerin of Damar, or Ged, or Aragorn.  I get to be a hero.  It helps when I’ve been peed on for the fourth time today, or when I accidentally sleep in spit-up because I remembered to change the baby but remembering to change myself at 3 am is evidently beyond me.

  1. The Ordinary World: Fairly self-explanatory, I think.  This is everyone before they go on the pregnancy journey.
  2. Call to Adventure: The positive test.  You’re pregnant now, so you have to deal with that as your new reality, planned or unplanned as it might be.
  3. Refusal of the Call: After the third time you vomit all over yourself in the car, you’re definitely wondering if this pregnancy thing is worth it, and if you really want to continue.
  4. Meeting of the Mentor: Anyone who ever gave you advice – all the women who told you their birth story, all the people who gave you newborn soothing tips or shared info about breastfeeding.  There are many mentors on the way through the process.  Some of the advice is bunk, yes, but some of it is so helpful.  And I honestly found most of it to be good stuff.
  5. Crossing the Threshold: The first time you feel those little fluttering kicks.  There’s a human that’s obviously alive in there now, and it changes everything. It makes the whole thing real.
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: I consider this to be all the crap symptoms you have.  The peeing every 5 minutes, the hip pain, the bad sleep patterns, and all the other awfulness your body throws at you.  Your Allies are your doctor and your partner, hopefully.
  7. Approach: There is a moment in the third trimester where you know it’s getting real, and you start to panic a little bit that maybe you don’t know enough about birth, or you’re not ready to be a mother, or whatever else.  You read everything you can get your hands on, or scrub the tile grout to make sure it’s clean for baby.  It’s nesting, and preparing yourself for what’s ahead, even though  you don’t know what’s ahead.
  8. Ordeal, Death & Rebirth: This, of course, is labor itself.  It’s less tied to death than it was in the past, but it’s still a transformative experience that does involve some danger to both yourself and the life you’re bringing into the world.  This is creation, and it’s no joke.
  9. Reward: The reward is the baby.  Those sleepy little eyes, tiny red bow of a mouth, and addictive milky smell, and all the small noises they make.
  10. The Road Back: Your recovery.  And in some versions of the Hero’s Journey, this is also considered a “reconciliation with the father” moment.  Because we’re women, the Gospel of Casey says we get to reconcile with the mother as we become mothers ourselves.
  11. Return with the Elixir:  Go home with your baby in tow, and introduce the world to the new life you have discovered, the miracle you found in the facsimile of the underworld that is birth in this scenario.  You are bringing great change and miracles to the old way of life.

See, don’t you feel extra-awesome now?  I totally do. It makes me more than ready for the next adventure in the new life that is three of us intertwined instead of two. Even if inordinate amounts of time are currently spent pondering things on the couch while listening to a small boy snore.

 

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Victorian Confinement

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I’m nine days away from my due date today, and I have been pondering pregnancy in general.  I always used to tell Brian that I felt like we could handle this parenting thing.  I read a book about Victorian life a while ago and they had horrifying child-raising practices.  Dosing a baby with laudanum was common, and fruits and vegetables were considered dangerous for babies and toddlers until, like, 3.  If the human race survived the Victorian era, surely Brian and I could raise a healthy child in this one.  I mean, we’re already not going to give him any laudanum. That means we’re ahead of the curve, right?

The Victorian’s didn’t have it all wrong, though.  At least not among the upper classes…

I used to think that Victorian confinement was such a sexist practice.  Like, why can’t a woman go out in society that last trimester?  What’s so wrong or unnatural about being pregnant that she has to stay at home and hidden?  She can totally still do things.

Right about now, I’d LOVE me some Victorian confinement.  Three months in the house to just relax and only see my nearest and dearest?  Yes please.  I could stay in my pajamas all day long and read romance novels.  I wouldn’t have to worry about braving the hip pain on the staircase at work or picking the spidery elevator instead.  Didn’t sleep at night?  No problem.  Just sleep all day.  No dressing up, or trying to squeeze my feet into the one pair of shoes that mostly still fits.  I could still see my best friends and my family.  Sounds amazing, right?

How do we get back to that, guys?  I mean, I guess I’d rather have Paid Family Leave first, but once that’s over I vote that we lobby for the right to confinement next – 3 months off before your due date to just wallow in the symptoms, think about how great having a small baby around is going to be, and make the best of it.  I think it’s an important conversation we’re not having.

I stop working tomorrow, so I’ll have about a week of that goodness if this kid doesn’t come early.  I’m still hoping that he does, though.  He’s not even born yet, and I already know I’d rather have a small hand grasping my finger than enough sleep.

It’s going to be weird to be a parent.  Obviously what I need is 3 months of confinement to adjust to the idea of it all…

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Nanowrimo 2017 Update

Nanowrimo is in full swing, and it’s been a nice distraction from being pregnant.  Which, PS – the symptoms just got REAL, guys.  Like, the crap that was happening before feels like it was just an inconvenience.  If I’m up and around now, you can pretty much assume I’m not pain free.  Not even Tylenol cuts it anymore. And then there’s the witching hour when, at 7:00 pm on the dot, my right leg decides to get restless to the point where I sometimes can’t sleep.  Couple that with a kid shoving his fists into my hips and I’m basically a wreck.

The good news is that we’re at 18 days and counting until this kid is due.  I don’t have to suffer for much longer.

Nano has given me something else to think about for a while, which has been nice.  Instead of beating myself up about all the stuff on the baby list I have to still do and worrying about my hips, I can instead agonize over the fact that I haven’t been able to get a good word count together for Nano.

I have 450 new words so far.  That’s it.

I’ve never failed this badly at Nano, and I’m not 100% sure what to claim as the cause.  I’m relatively certain it isn’t the pregnancy, because writing isn’t physically onerous.  My brain is working fine.  I think it might be that I’m just SO rusty.  I probably haven’t written anything new in over a year.  I’ve been editing things instead.  It feels like I don’t know how to go back to creating things from scratch.

Of course I DO know.  The reality is that you sit yourself in the chair and you force yourself to put words down (however bad) until you have a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  Then you go back through and make it something that won’t embarrass you to show to others.  I’m just feeling such an aversion to it right now.

Maybe I tried to thrust myself too far into the deep end.  I don’t know.  But I do know I’ll need a new plan if I’m going to make this work.  I still have time to turn it around.  I’ve done it before six days into Nano, and sometimes longer.

Alright, I’m off to regroup and get some writing done.

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The Third Trimester

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I was going over old Blog entries last week, and it’s amazing to me how much has changed in just a year.  It’s not just the political situation, but also the fact that I wasn’t at all thinking “kids” like I am this year when I’m basically obsessed.  And the old pregnancy posts are so interesting.  I had already forgotten some of it, like his little bird flutters in the early days.  That first ultrasound he was such a froggy thing, and now he’s a real human being with recognizable parts on the ultrasound screen.

I’m well into the third trimester now, and close enough to 8 months that I’m claiming I am.  I felt like complaining through a lot of this pregnancy, but for some reason I don’t want to do that anymore.  I don’t think things have gotten better.  I think I’ve just become resigned to them.  The hip pain only gets worse with time, and I can almost feel my pelvis rubbing in disturbing ways when I try and climb into bed around my pregnancy pillow.  I’m waddling, and I say “oof” just about every time I get up and start moving (which amuses me).  I try to do it quietly the 12 times a night I get up to pee so I don’t wake Brian.  Someone deserves to get sleep around here.

But honestly, I’m not doing that badly.  My constant pregnancy cold seems to have gone away, and I AM sleeping fairly well.  My Gestational Diabetes diet is repetitive, but it’s all stuff I like to eat.  I have never been so excited to be diagnosed as anemic, because the iron pills have me feeling GREAT by comparison.  I mean, I still feel mostly like I could use a nap.  But the debilitating exhaustion is gone, and I’ve even been able to enjoy things that would have floored me previously – the LA County Fair, Oak Glen Apple Picking, a shopping trip longer than 15 minutes… And the hip pain is only really bad in the mornings and at night after I’ve been static for a long time.  As soon as I get moving, the pain is manageable.

At my latest appointment, we got excellent news.  Baby is measuring at an estimated 5 lbs 3 oz, so that’s one complication of Gestational Diabetes we dodged.  No Macrosomia (big body).  He cannot physically gain 5 additional lbs in a month so even if things go totally off the rails he won’t be over 9 lbs.  I’m breathing a sigh of relief since I’m the one that has to give birth to him, and would have been pressured to induce early and/or have a C-section.  We still have Jaundice and his non-ability to regulate his own blood sugar to dodge as complications, so I’m not totally off the hook. But knowing we’re clear of one makes me optimistic we can be clear of the others.

The baby is getting more fun.  He’s so big now that I feel every little flutter, and can sometimes feel individual body parts.  His toes sticking out near my ribs are the most common.  His movements are strong enough that he sometimes wakes me up at night.  His arms like to dig into the space near my hip joints.  My gigantic stomach undulates when he moves, and you can clearly see it rippling.  It blows Brian’s mind.  It kinda blows mine, too, although I’m more used to it.  It’s this weird combination of disturbingly alien and exciting.

I was doing pretty well with the stretch marks, too, until recently.  This kid has been pushing out on me for more room, and I noticed the other day that they’re everywhere in a nice line across my stomach.  Don’t tell anyone, but I like it.  I’ll be happier when they fade from purple, but I have this kid on me forever now.  It’s like nature’s memorial tattoo, and I didn’t even have to deal with needles to get it.

We’re at T-minus 5 weeks and some change now until we meet this fellow in person.  I’m hoping it will go fast.  I’m REALLY looking forward to Jelly Belly Sours, gingersnap cookies, and small baby toes.  I predict he’s going to like Christmas lights, too, although maybe he’ll be too young to notice.  Still, even if HE’S too young, I can enjoy penguin onesies and small Christmas sweaters.

I do hope he decides his birthday is soon…

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A Weekly Round-up

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My favorite red sheets bit it this week.  I probably shouldn’t be surprised.  They were a gift for Brian and my first Christmas together, and that means they’re about 14 years old; well used and very washed.  My whale-like pregnant flailings to get myself out of bed to pee in the middle of the night is what did them in.  I split them down the middle.

I bought a replacement set this weekend.  They are VERY red.  And the cotton has a kind of sheen to it that the other set didn’t have.  They aren’t satin, but I feel like maybe I made a mistake.  “Bordello” is not the style I was going for…  Still, they’re comfy.

This kid has started to push on my stomach to see if he can get himself more room.  I can feel his feet pressing slowly outward beneath my belly button.  I looked down the other day when I was getting dressed to find that I have a lovely new set of stretch marks exactly where he’s been pushing on me.  And just about the right width apart to fit a baby foot in between.

I started following Williams Sonoma on Instagram this week, and it’s been torture.  I now want to make all the things, and I’m realizing that cooking is one of the hobbies I miss the most.  I really don’t have the energy to be on my feet that long these days, though.  I settled for buying one of the delicious lumpy pumpkins from Trader Joe’s this weekend.  Last year we kept one through Thanksgiving for decoration, and then I made it into the best pumpkin butter to give for Christmas gifts.  This one is butter-bound too, though right now it looks excellent on my hearth.

Brian bought an electric lawn mower this weekend, and mowed the lawn.  Our previous mower has been broken for a while.  We aren’t sporting a jungle anymore, which is cause for a big “hooray!” I haven’t had the gumption (or ability to bend over) to weed at all, so the yard doesn’t look as nice as I’d like it to.  But it looks a million times better than it used to.  Brian and I might have it sort-of together after all.

That’s mostly it for this week.  We’re at 41 days and counting until this whole motherhood thing becomes real.  I’m already ready.  Too bad this kid isn’t fully baked yet.

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That Annual Fall Longing

Fall

It’s that time of year again when everyone else is getting blissful fall and it’s in the 90s in Southern California.  The only fall we’re getting is in the merchandise in the grocery stores.  I will admit that the Roger’s Red is turning brown. I’m pretty sure that’s not fall color, though, but instead it’s being scorched by the sun.  Until about 2 weeks ago, it was over 100 almost every day.  And almost 110 about half of the time. I guess we could pretend?

It’s worse this year because my mother is in Maine and posting pictures of fall colors.  She even has gourds in her planter boxes and mums on the outdoor deck.  There’s nothing prettier than fall in Maine, even after the colors fade and it becomes this stark brown and gray gorgeousness.  It makes me wish California was like that.

Instead, I’ll be putting up the Halloween decorations this weekend.  And maybe thinking about bean soups and squash for dinner.  It IS getting colder at night, I have to admit.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for cold days, with hopes that by the end of October we might be able to have the first fire of the year in the fireplace.  If I can’t have real fall I’ll have the manufactured variety, thank you.

Fall means that this kid is almost here.  We’re just under 2 months now until my due date, and we’re all but ready.  I’m 100% ready.  This pregnancy just gets harder every day with all the joint pain I’m experiencing, although my other symptoms aren’t terrible.  At least I’m sleeping well.

This kid is getting BIG.  You don’t even always need to touch me to feel him moving now.  Especially at night, his strong arms and legs make my stomach visibly ripple.  He’s still measuring exactly in the middle on everything he should be.  He’s already head down, and likely to stay that way.

It makes me think that maybe he’s a more cooperative fellow than I thought he was, after hiding behind my belly-button during ultrasounds and swimming away from the wand all the time.  We’ll know soon enough, though.

I’m eating dates, pondering Caster Oil, raspberry leaf tea, and pineapple juice, and crossing my fingers that this kid is ready a few weeks early.  November 12 would be just about perfect, sir.  Especially because then it would mean that I could get one of those adorable turkey onesies and you could wear it at Thanksgiving.  More fall for all of us!

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I’m realizing why it’s been so hard to blog lately… I’m not really doing anything.  My week mostly looks like me coming home exhausted from work, putting on my pajamas, and reading until I pass out.  I feel a little like a fuddy-duddy.  I let Brian make me dinner every night.  I haven’t even been working on projects, to be honest.  The quilt is still mostly done, and so is the Totoro mobile

Instead, I’ve been reading a weird combination of romance novels and parenting books, rotating back and forth between them.  I consider this the equivalent of Target putting the underwear section next to the baby stuff. Ironic, yet with plenty of precedent.

I have been going through old “inactive” employee files at work, and it’s been a hilarious and poignant time-capsule of documents.  There are pictures of nerdy scientists in those thick-rimmed 1960’s glasses, or wearing vibrantly striped ties from the 1980’s.  The documents are mostly type-written, and my favorite are the ones that are obviously tissue-thin mimeograph copies that someone stuck in their file, some stretching all the way back to the 1940s, in dusky brown.  There are form documents, too, where most of it is typewritten except where the Dean wrote in the person’s name by hand.  Or student evaluations that are also hand-written and then copied for the file.

It’s a strange treasure-trove of old scoldings, merit raises, newspaper articles and pamphlets, and sometimes obituaries.  I found one for a Botanist who was almost sent to a Japanese Internment Camp, but was able to find a home on the east coast with a family in South Carolina instead, to finish his education.

The task itself isn’t supposed to be interesting.  I’m just supposed to run this stuff through the scanner and then save it to the electronic drive.  I got lucky that many of the files are fun.  We’ll see what turns up next…

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A Whiny Pregnancy Update

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People keep asking me how I’m feeling, so I’m here to tell you.  I’ll give you the real scoop, too, like I don’t when asked in person: pregnancy really doesn’t stop sucking.  At least for me.  I’ll try to put a positive spin on it for people I don’t know that well.  But the reality is that I had about a month of thinking this is magical before my symptoms ramped up again.  I’m so uncomfortable that some days I’d really like to have a cathartic cry.

I feel like that’s not seemly for the strong mama I want to be, though, so I’ve been refraining.

First trimester was back pain, bronchitis, and nausea.  The cough never really went away, though it became manageable in trimester 2.  I felt much better (though still not as good as I usually feel as a non-pregnant lady).

I’m 2 weeks away from trimester 3, and I now have insane pelvic pain that makes it hard to walk.  Or stand.  Or turn over in bed. I’m already perfecting the pregnancy waddle even though the kid isn’t that big. The only known cure for the aches and pains?  Birth.  Which is the same as the gestational diabetes they’ve also diagnosed me with.  The few things I could eat while pregnant have narrowed even further.  I can no longer manage stress with sugar (which was probably a bad plan to begin with, but oh so nice). I have to prick my finger four times a day and everything, and it seems like the only way I can keep my numbers on track is a marathon cooking session each week in which I pack all of my meals and snacks for six days out. The amount of protein I’m eating is insane.

I’m torn.  I want this kid to bake as long as possible, but I already feel like I’ve been pregnant for FOREVER and want it to end.  I don’t remember what it feels like to not ache, cough, sleep terribly, contend with acid reflux, or pick food on a menu based on desire and not category.  I keep forgetting that it takes me 5 times as much effort to do things as when I wasn’t pregnant and then I exhaust myself.

As a friend of mine told me (who is also having an unfun pregnancy): you don’t have to enjoy pregnancy to enjoy the baby.  That’s probably my new mantra.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I’m lucky.  I’m horribly uncomfortable, yes, but the baby is thriving by all measures.  There are moments of magic still, like when Brian and I rocked him to sleep swing dancing, despite the loud band Tuesday night.  He kicks when I put my elbows on my stomach, making my whole arm jump.  He’s always wiggling and seems to like it when I tell him good morning when he kicks me on the way to work.

Still, I feel like we’d have a better time if he was an actual human being in the world that I could kiss, and I didn’t have to put up with all these symptoms.

So, why am I being a complainer even when I know it isn’t exactly kosher?  I’m supposed to love this, right?  Or at least suffer in silence if I can’t…

Basically that’s why.

No one talks about how crappy this can be and I think we should.  Making a human is hard.  Everyone who’s pregnant, or who has been, is so cavalier about it. I get that too, to be honest, because it’s easy to brush the individual symptoms aside. It’s not like some horrible huge thing.  It’s just a bouquet of tiny inconveniences that bloom into huge frustration when added together.

Achy hips take bending down to tie my shoes from discomfort to impossibility.  Knowing I’m going to have to stand up on my legs to make it to the bathroom five times a night takes annoyance into exhaustion as I lay in bed and psych myself up for the trip, and lose more sleep.  If, in a moment of weakness, I take refuge in a pack of skittles? Then I’m doomed to worry about how sick the baby feels in there because his mom couldn’t control herself, or her blood sugar.

The mom guilt starts earlier than you thought it could… This isn’t even my first instance.

If I could throw up my hands and sleep in blissful ignorance until delivery day, I would totally take that option at this point.  I’ll even take having to get up every hour to pee as long as I don’t have to engage with the rest of it.

Now that I’ve thoroughly whined, I also want to say that there IS a part of me that realizes how special this is.  I mean, I already love this kid to pieces and we haven’t even met yet.  I know it’s not his fault that his mom is going nuts.  By all measures at my appointments, he’s a blissfully ignorant camper in there growing beautifully.  It’s those little things that make the rest of it seem possible to endure.  That and the fact that Brian has been such a champ, taking on extra household chores, rubbing my back, and gently teasing me about how VERY pregnant I am.

That’s all the news on the baby front right now.  And if anyone has tips for relieving muscle pain, I’d appreciate it if you forward it along.  I’m already doing exercises (squats, kegels, butterflies, taylor-sitting, and pelvic rocks) sleeping with a super-fancy pregnancy pillow between my legs, and taking Tylenol (when I absolutely have to). I’m also trying to distribute my weight on both feet (instead of one or the other) as much as possible. I’m better for all of that, but I’m not good.

Alright, I’ll stop whining now.  I have mass quantities of diabetic muffins to go make, anyway.  Which should take me ½ hour, but will actually take me 2 and I’ll be exhausted at the end…  Smh.

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News

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First of all, I think I’m officially back.  Which is to say, thank you all for bearing with my hiatus.  It was well needed, and I’m now my (mostly) cheery self because of it.  I’ve been feeling like I SHOULD start blogging again for a while.

The problem?  I couldn’t think of anything to talk about.  I’m used to spewing it all out there on this thing, and we had big news we wanted to make sure would stick before we said anything.  The announcement’s been on Facebook, though.  Which means that I feel like I can officially talk about it here. Yay! Are you ready?

Brian and I are expecting.

We’re SUPER excited about it. It’s a boy, and he’s due just after Thanksgiving. Perfect timing, kid.  I can be out on Maternity leave when everyone else is out on holiday break – minimum disruption.

My world has become rapidly baby in such a short span of time that it’s remarkable.  If I’m not planning the nursery, reading about birth and development, and starting the registry, then I’m agonizing over back pain and hoping I don’t throw up whatever meal I just ate and didn’t enjoy, or wondering if I’m getting enough protein.

We had a long and agonizing wait to find out the gender.  It took them almost 3 weeks to get our NIPT test results back (it’s usually 1).  To pass the time and keep myself from going insane, I decided to look up all the old wives tales I could find, and see if I could tell that way.  Here are my results, if you’re interested in that sort of thing:

Ramzi: Girl

Chinese Gender Predictor: Girl

Mayan Gender Predictor: Boy

Biorhythm: Boy

Lunar Calculator: Girl

Baby’s Heartrate: Girl

Ring Test: Girl

Only ____ Names: Girl

Morning Sickness: Boy

Blood Pressure: Boy

Cravings: Girl

Weight Gain: Boy

Sympathy Weight: Boy

Belly: Girl

Complexion: Boy

Diet: Boy

Hair: Boy

Clumsiness: Girl

Sleep Position: Boy

Mom’s Gut Instinct: Girl

Yup, were 10/10. It just goes to show that there really is no telling before-hand.  Also, baby checked out healthy on all other parameters, which we knew he would.

I’m half convinced that this fellow hates me already (I guess the mom guilt starts early). I’m having a hard time remembering to eat every two to three hours, have been taking pregnancy-safe medications I’ve never heard of for my horrible cold that I’ve been told isn’t going away until delivery, and anytime I eat anything the slightest bit dubious (milk products of all kinds, anything with tomato sauce or really any seasoning, pasta, sugar…) this kid has me bending over the toilet.  Add that to the pinched nerve in my back from all the progesterone that’s making my joints loosey-goosey, and I’m a mess. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, though.  I’m nauseous more than I’m throw-uppy, and though I’m exhausted, achy, and phlegmy that seems to be it for my symptoms.  I’ve been on the message boards, so I know.  I could have it SO MUCH worse.  I just hope that my own discomfort isn’t getting through to the kid.  I THINK it’s not…

The baby decided on Friday that he didn’t like to be ultrasounded, too.  As soon as we got his image up on the screen, he started kicking his little legs like crazy, and then when the doctor pressed a little harder he flipped around to avoid the wand. He was wriggling around like crazy.

“Already misbehaving…” said the smiling doctor, who couldn’t get an exact measurement because the kid was moving so much.  It was good to see that he’s healthy, though.  I still can’t feel him at all, and it looks like it’s going to be at least a month (maybe more) until I can.  I’m showing a bit, but I’m at that place where I just look fatter and not actually pregnant unless you already know.  Brian’s been calling him our Food Baby, since he’s due at Thanksgiving, and that’s pretty much what he looks like right now.

I called my mother a few weeks ago, and told her that if her pregnancy sucked this much then my sister and I hadn’t been giving her nearly enough credit.  She laughed and told me I was easy compared to my sister.  So at least I’m the good kid in this scenario (love you, Cody).  I’ll take any consolation prizes I can get.

And any ice cream sent my way.  That seems to be the only dairy product I can eat these days.  Which, I mean… good choice, kid.

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