Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bust a Move

One of the many questions my doctors ask me at every weekly appointment is: "Is Baby still moving regularly?" I always answer with a chuckle and an, "oh, yeah" because it honestly feels like this child never stops moving. I don't know if it's that she's a fidget like her dad, or aspires to be an aerobics instructor like her grandmother, or a performer like her auntie, or what. Or maybe all my referring to her as "Chubs" has already given her a complex and she's trying to burn some calories. Or, maybe she's just running out of space and trying to make a little wiggle room. (To which I say, THERE'S TONS OF SPACE OUT HERE, BABY! HEAD FOR THE NEAREST EXIT!) Whatever her motivation, it feels like she's constantly in motion and sometimes, it's even a bit violent.

I've been trying to capture her antics on video for weeks, but maybe my "she wants to be a performer like her auntie" theory is false, because every time I turn on the camera, she stops moving. She'll basically be punching holes in my stomach all day but as soon as I turn on that camera, all of a sudden it's naptime. Maybe it's stage fright? Maybe she's just kind of a brat already? It's hard to say.

The joke's on her, though, because I am no longer working so I have nothing to do all day except sit around with the camera aimed at her, waiting for some action. On Tuesday, I was finally able to capture some of her movements on film. Granted, as soon as I would turn the camera off she would basically do cartwheels, so what you see is not the best she's got. But hey, I got her!

I can't believe I'm about to post video evidence of my bare belly on the internet, but I figured some of you (hi, family!) might get a "kick" out of seeing this (pun totally intended). And at least it's the top part of my belly that has been spared any stretch marks (so far, at least). You're welcome for that kindness.

Without further ado, I present to you just under a minute's worth of what my day is like with Baby Girl in my belly:

VIDEO: Baby Girl moving in my belly! 
(No need to adjust your volume, there's no sound in this video.)

I do love that little fidget to bits already. I can't wait for her to get here so I can see what all these bumps and rolls translate to when she's on the outside!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Non-Whiny Parts of Last Week

First of all, I want to thank you for your kind and supportive comments after last week's whiny post. You all had such sweet and encouraging things to say, and it really made me feel a little less like a big ol' baby. And then Friday I had a good day and felt so much better, so I was even a little embarrassed about my blog pity party. But then Saturday night got bad again and I was back to being very woe-is-me. That's just how things are going to be now, I guess. But really, all your kind words really meant a lot to me and made me feel better! Thank you!

And really, last week wasn't all bad. In between bouts of feeling lousy, Eric and I did manage to have some fun.

Last Monday, Eric enjoyed a fun evening at the Apple Store in SoHo to see Ed Helms and Jason Segel talk about their new movie, Jeff, Who Lives at Home. He got a great seat right up by the stage. They discussed the movie as well as movie-making in general, including preparing for roles, Jason Segel passing on the next Muppets movie, and writing vs. acting (they said both can be fun, but Jason Segel actually started writing because he wasn't being cast as an actor!).

Jason Segel is on the far left, and Ed Helms second from the right

Ed Helms

Jason Segel outside after the talk

On Tuesday, we had another meeting with our doula, which went very well once again.

On Wednesday we went for a nice little walk to check out something new this year in Hoboken: the Hoboken Irish Cultural Festival. I don't think I've mentioned it on here yet, but this year the mayor cancelled the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade, which has been a tradition for years, because things were just getting a little too rambunctious. (You may remember our experience with the parade last year, after we just moved here.) This caused quite an uproar and led to the creation of Lepre-Con through social media, which brought thousands of people to our fine bars in their very best leprechaun apparel on the first Saturday of March, when the parade has traditionally been held. From what I hear it was quite a success.

Lepre-Con was the disgruntled bar-goers response to the cancellation of the parade, but the city of Hoboken also did something itself: created the Irish Cultural Festival to be held on Wednesday, March 14 at Frank Sinatra Park, right by our apartment. When Eric got home from work on Wednesday, we took the dog and went to check it out. It was pretty small, but there was good live Irish music, beers (none for me, of course), and stands with fish and chips and Irish paraphernalia. Apparently there had been other entertainment like Irish dancers and such earlier in the evening, as well. It was a beautiful night to be outside so Eric and I enjoyed our little walk around the park to the tune of live music!

Crowds gathered to listen to the music at Frank Sinatra Park

Live music, with lower Manhattan in the background

On Thursday, Eric managed to catch Joel McHale at the NBC Store in Rockefeller Center while he was out on his lunch break.

Oh, hey, Joel.

Friday was my last day at work, and my coworkers took me out for a nice lunch before I bid everyone farewell. I really have been working with some very nice people so it was a little sad to say goodbye, but I must admit that my tired pregnant self is pretty stoked to be sitting on my couch instead of at my desk today!

Our weekend was pretty quiet. As I mentioned, on Saturday we took the dog to get his shots updated so we can hopefully board him while we're at the hospital whenever Baby Girl decides to come. We spent the rest of Saturday watching basketball and eating delicious beef stew. Sunday we had our final prenatal meeting with our doula, which means the next time I see her should be when I'm in labor! Now that's exciting stuff.

As for this week, the weather is beautiful (low 70s and sunny) so I plan to get out and walk some each day, as well as getting some things done around the apartment. Other than that, it's just a waiting game! I'm so excited to meet Baby Girl, so I'll have to come up with lots of things to do to keep me occupied so I don't get too anxious waiting for her!

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Erin go Bragh!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, my friends!

This Irish girl obviously doesn't have any big plans for drinking green beer or Irish whiskey or what have you today (unfortunately), so our St. Patrick's Day this year is pretty mellow. We started off the day by taking Achilles to the vet for some shots - now THAT is party time, am I right? Now we're settling in to watch the rest of the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade on TV while my Guinness beef stew cooks in the crock pot (recipe posted back in 2010, here). After the parade it will be basketball time. Ah, March.

One person that is having an awesome St. Patrick's Day this year is my dad, who is marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah, GA with the rest of the Second Time Arounders Marching Band! How fun is that?! I've always wanted to check out this holiday in Savannah so I'm pretty jealous of my dad's trip! Hope you're having fun, Dad!

Given that he had a rough morning (see above re: shots), we're giving Achilles the day off from dressing up in humiliating holiday wear. So, I'll just leave you with this photo from last year:

Festive Achilles, St. Patrick's Day 2011

Luck o' the Irish to you all!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Post in Which I Whine

I need to whine.

You have now been appropriately warned that this post will be filled with whiny, woe-is-me, possibly TMI statements. By the end, you may very well want to tell me to cry you a river. And frankly, I'm emotional and frustrated so I just might do that very thing. (Boom! Look at that! I snuck in a whine before we even got started!)

I also want to preface this post by saying that I know how blessed I am to be experiencing this pregnancy, just days away from meeting my daughter. That is an incredible thing and a day does not pass that I don't give thanks for where I am right now. Honestly, through much of my pregnancy I have felt that I can't/shouldn't really complain if I'm uncomfortable, because if given the choice between discomfort for nine months that results in a baby versus no discomfort and no baby, I would pick the former every day of the week and twice on Sundays, a million times over, without a moment's hesitation. But at the same time, it's just a fact that pregnancy can be uncomfortable, undignified and stressful. And acknowledging those parts of it does not mean I am any less thankful for the position I am in. So today, I whine. I whine with gratitude, but I still whine.

I am 38.5 weeks pregnant now and I am really uncomfortable. As of last week, I was still doing okay. I was tired and swollen, sure. But over the weekend I feel like I really hit a wall and now I'm just not a happy camper.

This is me at 38 weeks, this past Tuesday. I'm smiling, sure, but don't be fooled - I feel as big as a house and generally not awesome.

Just since the weekend, I have started getting really bad heartburn/indigestion and nausea. Yup, we're back to that nauseous stuff I thought I left in the first trimester, and my trusty seasick bracelets have made a triumphant return as a wardrobe staple. This all started on Saturday night, when I literally did not sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time all night, from midnight until 9:00 a.m. I tried everything I could think of, but there simply was not a comfortable position that would allow me to sleep - not on my back, on my sides, propped up, sitting straight up, or even walking around. The only thing that gave me any relief was a bath, which helped for about 20 minutes. I took two middle-of-the-night baths that night just to get a few moments of peace. And every time I moved, I felt nauseous - that sort of "if I could only throw up, I would feel so much better" kind of feeling. And then I did throw up, for the first time this pregnancy (I know, I can't complain about that, but I almost made it out vomit-free!), and guess what? Didn't help. I still felt awful and then I just felt like I smelled puke for the rest of the day. Yum!

Since that night I've had one good day followed by one bad day pretty consistently. None so bad as that night, but I did call in sick to work on Monday, leave early on Tuesday, and I left early again today. So, technically I'm still "going to work," but I'm not really working. Luckily my replacement started this week and I was able to train her before I felt too lousy on Tuesday, so she's been picking up my slack. And tomorrow is my last day, HALLELUIA. I feel like I worked just one week too long.

Speaking of work, sitting at my desk all day also does this to my feet:

Puffy feet propped up on my recycle bin under my desk

Not only are they super swollen, but I am in desperate, humiliating need of a pedicure, considering that I can no longer reach my toes to take care of things myself and that is sad, pathetic nail polish remains from January still on my toes.

My child has also discovered my bladder and I'm pretty sure she thinks it's one of those stress relief squeeze balls. I go to the bathroom a lot.

I'm very, very slow. My doctor keeps telling me to walk as much as I can, and I try, but I'm just not sure my snail's-pace-waddle even really counts as walking. The amazing thing is, I still manage to pass people on the street. Let me tell you something, people of New York: if you are neither elderly nor disabled and I am walking faster than you, you're doing it wrong.

Also speaking of walking problems, I have had terrible foot pain. I've always had pretty sensitive feet but I think my added girth is making the problem a million times worse. Just a short walk leaves my heels in agony for days.

People also keep trying to tell me that I've "dropped," but I'm not convinced because I still can't breathe. I honestly feel like I have not had a good, deep breath in at least four months.

Emotionally, I'm also kind of all over the place. I'm kind of in freak-out mode right now. I have spent the last 38 weeks thinking about someday when I have to labor and give birth, and someday when I'm a mom with a real baby to care for, but now someday could very well be tomorrow. It probably won't be tomorrow, but it certainly will be within a month. That's really, really soon. I'm getting a little nervous about it all. Excited, of course. But also nervous. And to be honest, there's a little bit of grieving in there, too, although "grieving" sounds like a much harsher word than what I'm looking for. But I do keep thinking about the life Eric and I have shared together - the three years since we moved to New York, the three years we lived in D.C., the years of college before that, and really all 13 years since we met. We have a really good thing going here, the two of us. The idea of completely changing that with our new addition is scary. Do I think it will be an incredible new adventure? Of course, and I can hardly wait to see how it all plays out. But at the same time, it will definitely be a change, and our "Just Us" couple days are winding down. It's a weird transition, I think.

But speaking of Eric, and to be a bit more positive, I do have to say that I have wonderful support around me, each doing their best to make this as easy as possible on me. Eric has been, as always, incredible. He is very patient, very attentive, and has really been doing all he can to make sure I'm comfortable, or at least comforted. I don't know how I would be getting through it without him.

Even my dear little Achilles is doing his best to show his love and support, I think. Or, maybe he can sense the impending change as well and is also grieving the loss of our family of three. Either way, this is how he spent his weekend:

He WILL find any last little bit of space on my lap that may still be left

Or, he'll just give up and lay on my legs, using my giant belly as a headrest. Precious.

So that's where we are. Eric and the dog are awesome, and I love them, but otherwise I am uncomfortable. Emotionally, I'm both ready to be done and so freaked out by the idea of being done that I don't feel ready at all. It's really kind of a circus over here. Of course, I know that Baby Girl will come in her own good time, and no matter how uncomfortable I am, I don't wish for her to be born before she is ready. I want what's best for her, always. But if she could just give my lungs a little space and lay off my bladder in the meantime, I would really appreciate it.

And, just because you know I love to do these progression photos, I thought I would end with one that shows how big of a difference eight weeks can make in my belly size:

I mean, I feel like even my hair looks fatter. Is that possible?

And so the waiting continues....

Friday, March 9, 2012

One Last Look

Yesterday, I had my final ultrasound - the last chance we'll have to see Baby Girl until she's, you know, HERE. Like, in my arms, face to face. How crazy is that?

This ultrasound was basically just to check on her size, position, movement, all that good stuff. The good news: she rocks at movement and position. She passed whatever test the tech was doing for movement the second that wand/sensor thing was put to my belly. I'm telling you, the girl is a MOVER - I constantly have huge lumps in my belly, little baby limbs flying all over the place, and feet sticking out every which way. Even while the doctor was measuring my belly at my weekly appointment this week, she was like, "oh, there goes a foot..." as Baby Girl made her presence known.

Other good news: she's in a great position. Head down, facing the right way, etc. She's still very high (my ribs will vouch for that), but she's lying how we want her to. Upon hearing this news, my doula even described her as an "over-achiever." That's my girl!

The less-good news: she's freaking huge. Like, since the ultrasound, I have taken to calling her Chubs. I realize this is probably not healthy mother behavior, but I promise I'll stop once she's here. I'm not trying to give anybody a complex or anything. And really, I'm just glad she's healthy. She certainly seems to be thriving, no doubt about that! I guess she has really been enjoying all the pasta I fed her (especially in the first trimester when all I wanted in life was CARBS!).

How big is she, you ask? Well, the ultrasound tech couldn't get the exact angle she wanted to for measurements because Baby was all rolled into a ball, and very wiggly (shocking!). But, from what she could tell, she estimated eight and a half pounds. EIGHT AND A HALF. At 37.5 weeks. The tech also said we could expect her to gain a half pound per week from here on out.

She did give a margin of error of one pound either way, so she could be seven and a half pounds, or nine and a half. That's a lot of room for error, of course. And I have read extensive anecdotal evidence that weight estimates through ultrasound are quite unreliable, so I'm trying not to let it freak me out. We won't really know how big she is until she's here, so there's no reason to panic yet. Plus, my doctors haven't seemed too concerned, at least until this point (we'll see what they say after they have this ultrasound info to review), and have told me that they generally would not recommend a c-section or anything based just on size estimates. Basically, they'll let me try labor and delivery naturally and see how I do and go from there. That's fine by me.

We weren't able to get any awesome pictures of her this time, unfortunately. She's just too crammed in there with her giant self, so there was really no angle for good in-utero photography. All we got were these two profile shots:

Does her head look alarmingly large to anyone else? No? Just me?

It looks like she's puckering up for a smooch!

We've been pretty spoiled with awesome ultrasound pictures, so I think we were hoping for some more great shots this time. But Baby was just too crowded in there! I even wanted the tech to make sure she's still a girl (for whatever reason, I am very nervous that she will end up coming out a boy, and then he will be forced to wear nothing but pink for the first 6 months of his life), but she couldn't get in there for a good between-the-legs shot thanks to Baby's tight quarters. So, here's hoping.

As for other updates, I don't have too much more to report. My focus now is on preparation for the birth, and we've been doing a couple of things for that. In a perfect world, I would love to have as intervention-free of a birth as I possibly can. I realize that birth is unpredictable and never goes as planned, but that's the dream. For the past couple of months, Eric and I have been doing the Hypnobabies Home Study course, which teaches a lot of relaxation/self-hypnosis techniques for pain management. It also includes a lot of positive affirmations and helps you to restructure your thinking about birth. I've really enjoyed it so far. Of course, I have no idea how it will actually benefit me in labor - maybe it will be a total lifesaver, or maybe it will all go right out the window with the first contraction. I really have no idea what to expect. But at the very least, it has really helped me to feel more positive, calm, confident and relaxed up to this point, and that alone has been well worth the time and effort I've put into it. Before this course I was totally freaked out about birth, but now I'm feeling much more confident and am actually sort of looking forward to the physical challenge. I really want to see what I'm capable of.

We've also started our series of prenatal meetings with our doula. If you are unfamiliar with what a doula actually is, she's basically a source of support for both Eric and me before, during and after the birth. She is meeting with us three times before the birth, and then will be there through labor and delivery, and then will also come for one visit after the birth to sort of debrief, answer any questions, help with breastfeeding, and even bring us a meal. Our first meeting with her went very well, I thought. We talked a lot about what we're hoping for during the birth experience, fears, concerns, etc. I found it to be very therapeutic. She also did some breathing practice with us, and showed us some good positions to try during labor and some things that Eric can do to try to keep me comfortable. I really liked her and the whole session in general, so I think I'll end up being very happy to have her as an additional source of support on Birth Day.

And so, that's the latest! This post ended up being way longer than I expected, but now you're all up to date! We're really getting down to the wire here, aren't we? Baby is officially full-term now, and apparently already practically the size of a teenager, so now we just wait for her to decide to make her entrance into the world!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jesus Christ Superstar

Last night Eric and I enjoyed another weeknight date night for a Broadway show, and it was delightful. As the days and weeks pass on by, we're becoming more and more aware of the fact that these kinds of nights are numbered as Baby Time draws closer. So, we continue to be glad for the opportunity to take advantage of these sorts of outings until then.

A while back, Eric and I were roaming around town when we saw the marquis of a "new" show preparing to open on Broadway: Jesus Christ Superstar. I flipped out, as this is one of my favorites. When I was growing up, we watched the 70's movie version over and over and over again. My sister could seriously sit you down and sing the whole thing from top to bottom if you wanted her to. We loved it.

So when I saw it was coming back to Broadway, I crossed all my fingers and toes that it would open before Baby Time. Sure enough, preview performances began in early March! Eric was great at the whole "buying tickets to shows" thing, as per usual, and got right on it. I was so excited.

Yes! Tickets in hand!

The show was scheduled for 7:00 last night, which made me happy because I figured that meant less time to kill between work and show time, and an earlier arrival back at home afterwards. Eric and I met up shortly after 6:00 and roamed around the neighborhood for a bit (yes, I still miss living over there), then we made our way to the theater...only to find out they had changed the show time to 8:00. I was pretty frustrated, because I could have killed more time at work, or Eric and I could have had a nice dinner out, or whatever. Plus, the show has both a Facebook and Twitter account and I follow both, but there was never any mention of a changed show time there, which would have been an ideal way to get the word out. But whatever. So, we killed another hour. Finally, it was time.

Jesus Christ Superstar at the Neil Simon Theater

Eric got us perfect seats to the show. We were in the orchestra level, right on an aisle (good for a pregnant lady's bathroom-related peace of mind), and we had a great view.

The show itself was excellent. I thought they did a great job with the lighting and some of the effects, and of course the performers were wonderful. I thought Paul Nolan (Jesus) and Josh Young (Judas) were both fantastic, and I also especially liked Lee Siegel (Simon Zealotes). Tom Hewitt also did a great job as Pontius Pilate. Overall, really great. And, as I mentioned, I loved some of the electronic effects, particularly during the "lashings" and at the very end of the show - I thought it was very artfully done. Also, Eric and I both commented on how easy it was to understand the lyrics, which can sometimes be a challenge in live theater. At first I thought it probably just seemed that way to me because, well, I know all the lyrics, but Eric brought it up as well and he is not nearly as familiar with the words as I am. So, kudos to the performers and sound people!

And so, we add another Broadway show to the list (this was my 25th one!). I would definitely recommend this one, too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Speaking Of...

It seems Achilles could sense his blog presence yesterday, and my musings about how he will adjust to life with our little one.

Last night he spent a lot of time cuddling with my belly, and then for the first time, showed some interest in the crib while Eric and I were reading in the bedroom:

I was actually surprised he hadn't yet discovered the empty space under the crib. This is a dog that loves to be under things.

Look at that face. Who can resist those eyes?

Of course, then he thought he was stuck under there and just whined at us for a while, so I'm not sure if this was a positive dog/baby thing interaction or not. What does it all mean?

I'm just going to tell myself that he is scoping out places to lay to keep watch over the baby while she sleeps. He's a good big brother like that!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My First Baby

Before I begin, can I just wish myself a very happy Due Date Month? IT'S MARCH, PEOPLE. I realize that my due date is late March, so this little one may very well end up as an April baby when all is said and done, but still. IT'S MARCH ALREADY. Holy cow.

All these recent preparations for the new member of our family have made me think about my first baby - my "fur baby," if you will - my dear, sweet Achilles.

Cuddled up in a tight little ball on the couch, his trusty frog nearby

I can't help but wonder how he will adjust to our new addition. Part of me thinks he knows what's up, that things are about to change a bit around our household. He has been watching me closely as I spend my weekends busily working around the apartment to get things ready. He has learned (after getting yelled at a couple of times) not to try to walk across my belly. He obviously notices that my lap is smaller. He isn't even phased when I get up a million times a night to go to the bathroom. I guess you could say he's adjusting to our adjustments. And really, he tends to be pretty good at adjusting to changes in his life. We've moved him around a lot, changed our routines, etc. and he does tend to settle in pretty quickly.

But then I think the poor guy just has no idea what is really about to go down. We adopted Achilles seven and a half years ago, and he has been our (spoiled rotten) baby ever since. I've fussed over him, babied him, dressed him up, cuddled with him, you name it. We have done a lot of work in the past year or two on who really is the "pack leader" of our family, and we've made good progress there, but I wonder how he will adjust to us adding a new member to our pack, yet another who outranks him. I've been trying to do some reading about how to help dogs adjust to new babies and I do think he'll be okay in the long run, really. He may have some jealousy at first, but I really believe that as soon as he realizes the new pack member is here to stay, he'll become just as fiercely loyal and loving to her as he is to us.

In the meantime, I am trying to soak up my time with my "first born." When I'm not running waddling all over the apartment in a fit of "nesting" during the weekends, I'm pretty much a permanent lump on the couch, and that is just Achilles' speed. We've been having some nice relaxing moments together, and I'm trying to enjoy them before he gets pushed down another notch on the family totem pole.

Sharing a loving gaze

Smoochin' the pooch

I do love that little guy. I'm sure he'll love his sister, too - I think he'll ultimately be a great "big brother!"

He looks up to the task to me!