Wednesday, May 28, 2014

35/35...Well, Close.

As of yesterday, I hit 35 weeks pregnant and 35 days away from my due date. I planned to post my next pregnancy update yesterday to commemorate such a fun number milestone (dorks like me love that sort of thing), but alas, life got in the way: Ellie came down with a little stomach bug over the weekend, which Eric and I successfully navigated and were feeling pretty high and mighty about both our parenting skills and immune systems. Then, yesterday afternoon, the cosmos were all, "LOL! Too cocky, too fast!" and we both got hit with the bug simultaneously. Needless to say, the past 24 hours have been little more than survival mode (God bless PBS programming and orange Gatorade), but it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we may just all survive this thing. And I will never taunt the cosmos again.

But anyway, let's talk 35 weeks/35 days update. And let's just pretend I'm on time, because 34 weeks plus one day/34 days doesn't sound as nice.

So. 34 days left until Due Date. That, my friends, is soon.

Before being derailed by this stomach virus, Eric and I spent our Memorial Day weekend being quite productive and checking a lot of things off our to-do lists. Projects are underway, the nursery furniture is all acquired and assembled, and in the next week or two we'll be buying the last of the items we need to really finish getting squared away. In the meantime, I'm happy to have the dresser set up in the nursery so that now I can start washing, sorting and organizing baby clothes, rather than just having all our baby items in a heap in our bedroom. (Although, at least this time we do have an out-of-the-way corner to store things, as opposed to last time, when we just had a Wall Of Baby Stuff taking over our dining room in our little Hoboken apartment!) I can't wait to share the nursery with you, because I think it's going to end up looking awesome (not to toot my own horn or anything - look away, cosmos!), but I have at least one more major project to take care of before it's ready for viewing. Stay tuned!

As for me, I'm feeling...close to the end. That means: big, unwieldy, achy, sore, irritable. And positively glowing, I'm sure.

This is the size of the belly we're currently working with:

Getting a bit basketball-like!

I get asked a lot how this pregnancy compares to my Ellie pregnancy, both in terms of belly-size and other things. First, let's look at belly size:

34 weeks pregnant with Ellie on the left, and 34 weeks with Plus One on the right

I'm not a great judge of these things, but I think size-wise, both pregnancies have been pretty similar. Maybe slightly bigger this time? Maybe carrying higher? You tell me.

And just because I have yet to do any of these belly-progression collages this time, I figured I'd throw one together:

15 weeks, 25 weeks, 35 weeks

One thing that I definitely noticed this time around was my belly button turning itself inside-out much, much sooner. I think it finally popped at the very end last time, but this time it was quite unapologetically exposed rather early on.


As for other symptoms, I would say I have had a lot more back/ligament/sciatic pain this time as opposed to last. I'm trying to tell myself that's a good thing: surely, I have to meet a certain pain amount requirement in each pregnancy. Last time was pretty pain-free, but I got all the awfulness out at the very end. Maybe this time I'm just spreading it out more, and my labor and delivery will be a breeze! Positive thoughts!

A very noticeable difference between my in-utero kiddos has been hiccups. I never once noticed Ellie having hiccups in the womb, but Plus One thinks hiccups are totes The Thing to do. He has hiccups probably three or four times a day - very noticeable, even visible, hiccups. At first I was all, "awwww! Hiccups! How sweet!" but now I'm kind of all, "Kid. Get your life together in there."

I've also been having some Braxton Hicks contractions, which I never noticed with Ellie. Again, I'm trying to look at this as a positive: it's my uterus getting ready for this Big Birth Event coming up. It didn't do much practicing last time, and that backfired a wee (epic) bit, so this time my body is all, "We better warm up. We got this." Optimism!

I remember last time as I got bigger and more cumbersome, I also seemed to become more clumsy. I was constantly dropping things and swearing under my breath that I somehow had to get myself down to the floor and hoisted back up again. This phenomenon has certainly returned this time, but! I have a toddler now! And in many ways, being pregnant with a toddler is...challenging (to say the least), but in this department, it's a definite WIN because Ellie is big into helping right now. So, all it takes is a quick "Ellie, can you help Mama? Can you pick that up for me?" and she rushes over to save the day. Earning her keep, that one!

Another definite difference this time around is my climate/season. Last time, I was pregnant in New York City in the winter. Now, it is very much summer in Florida. Both have their pros and cons, to be honest. For one thing, I am now always hot. ALWAYS. HOT. In NY in the winter, a few extra degrees of body heat were much appreciated. In Florida in summer, less so. BUT, I can go in the pool and feel weightless and cool for a few minutes! That, my friends, is glorious. A couple other small differences I've noticed: the fact that there was no need to keep up with leg shaving in the winter in NY was a definite PRO in that column, but being forced to shove my swollen feet into boots, tennis shoes or at least flats was less than desirable. Now I have to balance precariously in the shower to keep up with the cosmetic maintenance, but FLIP FLOPS! So, pick your poison, I guess.

Mostly, I'm just tired these days. I haven't been sleeping well (thanks, acid reflux and sore hips!), and Ellie gives me a run for my money. But, my doctor appointments have continued to go well and everything looks good. Nothing new to report on that front. We also officially picked a doula, will be meeting the new doctor with our practice next week (the main OB is leaving June 30, and my due date is July 1! We've been working primarily with the midwife at the practice, but it's important to know everybody just in case), and...we picked a name. Exciting!

We have also reached the point of oh-so-many comments from random strangers. I've started to get the good ol', "You have how much longer?!?! Does your doctor really think you'll make it that long?" Which...thanks for the concern, I guess? But I'm pretty sure you just called me extra fat. And I know I've mentioned this before, but we also get lots of commentary on the fact that it's a boy. Everyone asks what I'm having and when I say boy, the response is as if I just gave the "right" answer, which I find kind of irritating. It's lots of, "oh, a perfect pair! How perfect! Now you can be done!" etc., etc. And I mean, I get it - I get to be a mother to both a son and a daughter, which is pretty cool. But I can only imagine the different tone the comments would take if I said it was another girl, and really, my pair would be no less "perfect" if it was a perfect pair of daughters. I know Eric also grows weary of the, "oh, Dad! A boy! You must be thrilled!" as if he could not possibly be excited about becoming a father again unless his wife is bearing him a man-child. I mean, again, of course we're both thrilled to be having a boy, but sometimes I feel like those comments sort of diminish Ellie's worth, as if our family could not be complete with just her or, heaven forbid, with two girls. But also, see above re: irritability!

I'm just really at the point of being both super ready to get this show on the road and OMG DON'T EVEN THINK THAT I MIGHT GO EARLY because I am SO not prepared. I'm excited to meet the little guy and get my body back, but I'm still in hardcore nesting mode and am trying to enjoy every day with my family of three before everything changes. Just a few more weeks until we are Plus One - ready or not!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A New Mindset

I have had a post about my fears about giving birth for a second time sitting in my "Drafts" folder for months now. In this post, I spoke in detail about the emotions that Ellie's birth left me to deal with, and how I was struggling to cope with them and how I was so fearful about doing the whole thing again. I kept that post there in that folder, going back to read it and re-read it and add to it and dwell on it over and over again. It was comprised of all the turmoil that I had going on in my head every day, all the anxiety that kept me up at night and all the fear that kept me from being fully invested in this pregnancy. I lived and breathed the words in that post yet I wondered if I would ever be brave enough to actually hit "publish" and share it with the world.

In the end, I am brave enough, but I'm still not going to post it. That post is going to live and die in my "Drafts" folder, because I am choosing to move on from those words. I am choosing to change my mindset.

Given that I have just under six weeks until my due date, all of a sudden I have been struck with the realization that I need to do stuff. I mean, it's time to pull my head out of the sand and prepare. The first thing I chose to tackle was finding a doula. Our doula last time was so amazing and I can't imagine how we would have made it through Ellie's birth without her. Given how much we loved her, I knew there were big shoes for New Doula to fill so we needed to get the hunt underway.

Last week we met with a doula who may very well be "The One," though we're still just making sure she really is the best fit for us. But let me tell you what: just one meeting with that woman helped me immensely. She was very positive and upbeat about my ability to have the birth experience I want, although that's not what did it for me. Most everyone has been that way (which is great), but my mind has always been able to brush them off and maintain its pessimistic ways.

What got to me this time was one seemingly simple question that she asked me at the end of our meeting: "Have you been talking to your baby?"

In that moment I realized, no. I have not been talking to my baby. With Ellie, I spent my entire pregnancy talking to her, singing to her, praying over her, planning for and dreaming of her. I realized that this time, I have been going through the motions, hardly thinking of the actual baby at all because I was far too wrapped up in my own fears and anxieties about birth to have room left in my mind or my heart for anything else.

How terribly sad. I felt like such a selfish mother and my heart broke at the realization that by letting my fears consume me, I have been cheating both myself and my son out of the experience that we deserve.

That stops now.

In that moment, I vowed to turn my brain around. It is time for a new mindset. I'm tired of being a victim of my past experiences and my fears; it's time to empower myself to move forward and take control of my thoughts. For example, up until this point, when asked, I have been saying that I will "attempt" a VBAC, or I am "hoping for" a VBAC. I think I was afraid of getting my hopes up and being let down again, so I was very guarded. But no more. Now, if you ask me, I will tell you "I WILL have a VBAC."

I'm going to start talking to my son and letting him be my focus instead of my anxiety. I'm going to work to relax my mind and body and to prepare both for the challenge ahead. Instead of focusing on my body's failings last time, I'm going to focus on my body's triumphs: I went into labor on my own; I dilated nearly completely; I endured days of contractions (on essentially no sleep) without medication or interventions. I fought with all I had for a very long time before succumbing to factors outside of my control. I was strong. I was brave. I was capable.

That last sentence is the one I have struggled with the most. My last birth left me feeling that I wasn't capable. But I am. That birth was a mess of unfortunate circumstances that kept me from the experience I had dreamed of. I have to start thinking of that birth as the exception, not the rule. Regardless of what happened last time, I am capable.

So going forward, I am resolving to be positive, to focus on my strengths and my body's successes, to keep my mind and my body relaxed and to let myself feel the joyous anticipation of a new baby on the way.

I realize this is not so simple as just saying it, and it will be so. This past weekend when Eric and I toured the hospital, even with my new positive resolve, my eyes filled with tears and my heart raced with panic when the tour guide pointed out the entrance to the operating room, where I would be taken if I needed a c-section. It took me several minutes to be able to look at the hospital bed in the sample room we saw without only seeing a prison where last time, all I felt was pain, fear and frustration as things went wrong all around me.

But that was last time. That was the exception, not the rule. This time will be different.

I have six weeks to be this new version of pregnant me. I'm hoping to use these weeks to prepare my mind and my body (and my home!) for what's to come and to make up for lost time with my son. It will be hard work, but he and I both deserve nothing less.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend Visit from Grammy

My mom came up to visit us this past weekend, for largely functional reasons: she was going to be on Ellie duty while Eric and I knocked out a couple of big (not Ellie-friendly) items on our Baby Prep To-Do List. The result was a very productive weekend mixed with a very nice visit: a win-win for everyone!

My mom arrived Friday morning just in time to join Ellie and me at storytime, where we made a pirate flag, read some Thomas the Train books and played at the playground.

Ellie is on a HUGE Thomas kick right now.

That afternoon, after getting Ellie down for her nap, Eric and I left my mom in charge and took off for Orlando. Our destination: Ikea, to purchase the dresser we've had our eye on for Plus One's nursery. This was our first time ever in an Ikea, and I was pretty pumped because, you know, hype. It took us two hours to get to the Orlando Ikea and then we spent a good amount of time meandering through the showroom (with a break for some meatballs in the cafe) before finally retrieving our dresser. We made it out with almost no additional impulse purchases (from what I hear, this is quite an accomplishment), with the exception of a small table and chairs set for Ellie.

Our first Ikea trip was a smashing success!

By the time we finished at Ikea we were right in the throes of rush hour, so instead of trying to fight traffic to head right back to Jacksonville, we killed some time (and some cash) at the Orlando outlets. We finally made it back to Jacksonville around 9:30-10:00 that night.

Saturday was equally productive. Eric had his last TFA meeting day of the year (say what? One year of teaching is almost done already?), so my mom accompanied me to Ellie's Saturday morning swim lesson at the YMCA. I'll share more about her swim lessons later, but we had a great time in the pool with her and she did great!

At Ellie's swim lesson

When Eric got done with his TFA thing that afternoon, we once again left my mom in charge so we could go take a tour of the maternity suites at our hospital. The hospital seems pretty nice and we were able to get pre-registered on the spot, so that was also quite productive.

When we got back home, Ellie, my mom and I went to Home Depot to get some pots and soil for some plants I have that were in desperate need of new homes. We also stopped at Michael's for some craft supplies, then went home and Ellie and Grammy got to work on the plants.

Gardener Ellie, hard at work!

Ellie and Grammy re-potting the plants

After Ellie was in bed that evening, my mom and I got started on a craft project for the nursery: drawer pulls for the dresser painted like baseballs. We got the white base coat done that night, and I finished up with the red laces the next day. So, I give you a little nursery teaser:

Yeah buddy, I painted those laces. And I totally just impressed myself.

On Sunday, Eric went golfing while the ladies hit the zoo. Ellie was as excited about the animals as ever, with the rhinos still being her favorite. We had a lot of fun showing my mom around our zoo!

Being generally sweet by the elephant statues

Pulling the elephant's tail

Animals! Including a wobbly-kneed baby giraffe and some baby birds (I'm bad at birds, so I don't know what kind. They were big.)

On the carousel - always a hit!

Ellie and Grammy in front of the rhinos

After the zoo we came home for lunch then got Ellie down for a nap, and my mom left. It was a very fun weekend that allowed us to both have a great visit and get a lot of things done! Thanks for coming, Mom!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mother's Day at Sea World

We had a very fun day together on Mother's Day! Eric and I decided to take Ellie to Sea World for the day. We took her almost exactly a year ago to the day, and she loved it, but back then she wasn't even walking yet and had just learned the baby sign for "fish." Now, she's obviously walking around a bit (ha!), and she has just started distinguishing between fish, whales and dolphins, plus she's shown interest in things like seals, walruses and penguins. So, we figured she might enjoy a day to see all these things.

Thanks to the Busch Gardens passes my sister was kind enough to get for us before leaving for Japan, our admission and parking were free, so the only cost to us was the time (and gas) it took to drive to Orlando. Free AND fun? Sign me up!

We left just after 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and arrived at Sea World just after 11:00. Our first stop was the "Blue Horizons" dolphin and bird show at 11:30. We made it to the theater just in the nick of time, and Ellie was entranced. She watched in awe, only stopping to cover her eyes when the music turned ominous (smart cookie, that one). When we left the theater, she was all, "Had fun with dolphins! Dolphins jumping! And princess!" (She thought one of the "bird" acrobats was a princess...hello, there, lingering effects of our Disney trip!)

Checking things out with Daddy

It's always wise to keep one hand on each parent at all times. You know, just in case.

Hiding during the "scary" part

A few shots of the show, including the "princess" at top left.

After the show we walked over to check out the new penguin exhibit, which was still under construction at the time of our last visit. Ellie hated the simulator ride, but she did like checking out all the penguins in their snowy habitat. We also hit a new milestone: she actually said "penguin" correctly. Since Christmas, Ellie has pronounced "penguin" as "conquin," but she finally (and sadly) got it right during our Sea World visit. I've always taken the approach of not repeating things she mispronounces, but rather saying them correctly so she can hear the proper pronunciation, which I suppose is the best course of action for the sake of learning. BUT, that means that she learns the proper pronunciations, which is always a little sad. It's like each suddenly correctly-pronounced word is just another piece of her babyhood, gone forever. DON'T DO THIS TO ME ON MOTHER'S DAY OF ALL DAYS, KID.

32-week belly pic at the penguin exhibit!

Being silly with Daddy (and Goldfish crackers) in line for the ride

On the simulator ride


Hi, friend.

Watching the penguins swimming around

Later, channeling her own inner penguin via headwear at a gift shop

By the time we finished with the penguins, we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped for a pizza lunch.

Whale plate and whale cup. Subtle.

Then, we went over to the sea lion habitat and managed to catch them at feeding time! We stayed and watched for quite a bit, resulting in a lot of "Had fun with seals!" out of Ellie when we finally moved on.

Waiting for some fish

Eric, Ellie and the sea lions

If I know anything about sea lions, it's that they sure do get two-year-olds in the mood for a run through the park with Daddy.

And they're off!

We made a stop in the Shark Encounter exhibit...

She's not at all fazed by this, but heaven forbid the music of a dolphin show shift to a minor key.

Watching the sharks and big fish

...then we caught the sea lion and otter show. Ellie was particularly in awe of the walrus that made an appearance at the end!

"What. Is. That."

Scenes from the show. In Ellie's defense, that walrus is pretty...shocking.

On our way out of that show, we stopped for some photos at a very scenic spot.

Family selfie!

With my pretty girl

Mother's Day photo with my kids!

Then, we made our way to the kids' area, where we met up with Shamu himself! Naturally, Ellie made sure to show him her piggies.

This kid loves her some costumed characters.

Ellie wanted to "ride the fishies" (the carousel), so we hopped on that, and much to Ellie's delight, Shamu joined us!

"Wait a second...what's happening back there?!?!"

"I'll just settle in right here, thank you."

Best buds sharing a carousel ride

After that, we very seriously debated letting Ellie play at the little splash pad in the kids' area, but she was getting pretty sleepy and we weren't sure if it was a great idea to toss an already unsteady, tired toddler into a slippery water park. Before we could decide, as if on cue, Ellie went running off and immediately tripped and fell (we're talking a full-on scorpion situation). She was left with a scrape on her forehead and both knees, as well as some bruised knees and elbows, and was pretty shaken up. So, yeah. We'll skip the water park.

Instead, we treated ourselves to a little Shamu ice cream bar. Muuuuuch better.

I wish I could sit comfortably in a stroller while people feed me ice cream. I mean, right?

And that was it! We picked up some beverages for the road and then made our way to the car for the drive back to Jacksonville. Ellie passed out in the car...

Sea life is exhausting.

...for about 20 minutes, and then was pretty unhappy the rest of the time. Luckily, we had the Magical Stop Crying In The Car CD at the ready. I bought this CD for her in the Dollar Spot at Target around Christmas time (solely because it came with a Sesame Street song book, not actually for the CD itself), and for whatever reason, no matter how unhappy she is, as soon as that horrible music starts playing, this happens:

VIDEO: Ellie responds to her car CD

God bless that CD.

All in all, it was an excellent Mother's Day. I loved spending that fun family time with my favorite people, and I know Ellie had a blast because she still hasn't stopped talking about it: "Had fun with dolphins! Dolphins jumping! Had fun with seals! Meet a whale!"  Definitely a successful day!

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Today I hopped onto Facebook to write a quick status update wishing all the great mothers in my life a Happy Mother's Day, which got me to thinking just how many there really are. I'm so blessed to know an incredible number of beautiful, inspiring mothers - cousins, aunts, grandmothers, friends, and so on. I'm lucky to have so many women in my life who are on this journey with me. Some are much further down the path, of course, but it's very cool to share that bond with so many amazing women.

Of course, we're thinking about two of these women in particular own mother:

My mom holding baby me, 1982

And Toni, Eric's mother:

Toni holding baby Eric, 1982-83

Eric and I wouldn't be who we are today without these ladies!

As for this mama, I'll be spending a very fun day with my extraordinary husband and my sweet daughter while my son wiggles around in my belly. That, my friends, is an excellent Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Era of The Piggies

You may have noticed that Ellie is generally rocking one particular hairstyle these days: a couple of whale-spout-inspired pigtails atop her pretty little head. Or, as they are known around here, "piggies."

First, let's all take a minute and celebrate the fact that my former baldy now has enough hair to require some sort of contraption to keep it out of her face. The battle for hair growth was long and hard-fought, but in the end, we have persevered.

Kissing that sweet bald head in September 2012 - let's be honest here, that headband is purely decorative.

The piggies were born out of necessity. Ellie's bangs have grown rather long, even after having them trimmed in December. Not wanting to commit myself to regular bang trims (ain't nobody got time for that, considering the general wiggliness of a two-year-old and all), I opted to let them grow out, in the hopes that soon the rest of her hair will also be long and luscious and we can resume regular styling. The rest of the hair is still working on getting its life together, but her bangs now reach her nose and are constantly in her face. Something must to be done.

In search of solutions, we rocked the whale spout single-tail for a while:

Love that little fountain topper she has going on!

And we also sometimes go for the side-swept-with-a-clip look:

Just happy to be two years old.

But, Ellie's bangs soon got too long for the single-spout to not look ridiculous (I mean, more so than it's supposed to), and she's not great at tolerating the clip. So there was only one answer: piggies. She officially rocked her first set in January...

I did this to her hair then promptly died, because CUTE.

...and in the last month or so, they've become a real staple. They've only gotten cuter as time has gone on, too, as they've gotten long enough to start curling in on themselves.

Piggies at the beach

Piggies at play

Bedazzled piggies

Hollywood piggies

Not only do they look SO INSANELY ADORABLE OMG THIS IS THE REASON I WANTED A GIRL, but she also keeps them in! She won't try to pull them out like she will with a clip. That alone means piggies for the win!

And, not only do I love them, but Ellie loves them too. She was skeptical at first and would tense up when I would put them in, but now she loves picking out the rubberband colors, holding them on her fingers (like I do as I put them in her hair), and admiring herself in the mirror when they're all done.

She always wants to show them off to people, too. If she's excited to see somebody (be it anyone from Papa to her cousins to the Storytime Lady to animals at the zoo), she always says, "show [insert name here] the piggies?" And sure enough, when she gets to see the alleged piggie-admirer in question, she'll immediately say, "HI! I like your piggies!" while tugging on her precious pigtails to show them off.

So, all things considered, I think the piggies are here to stay for a while.

My adorable piggie-girl, looking way too grown up for her own good.