Wednesday, June 26, 2013

hormones to harmony.

Sometimes I wish for weird things. Like, I wish I had certain random days of my life on video so I could go back and watch them. Not the big days, necessarily; more like, you know, a random Thursday when I was fourteen. Or the start of second semester of junior year of college. Just so I could see my past self from my current vantage point, with the perspective only time can offer. Also? I think it'd be cool to see, when I die, collections of The Things That Were Cathy. Like a pile representing all the apples I've ever eaten. Or the t-shirts I've owned, or the books I've read. AND, I'd love to see a reel of moments in my life that were near-death experiences, especially the ones I didn't realize had happened.

Right, so I wish for weird things. Today, though, my primary wish is to be able to erase the last week or so. It's not that anything tragic happened. In fact, parts of it were absolutely wonderful. My oldest sister and her two adorable kids were in town to help celebrate my dad's retirement, and I love love loved being able to spend time with my whole family. I don't want to erase those memories. Buuut on the flipside, I had two of my top ten Most Stressful Work Days ever; I overextended myself physically and emotionally; I hit wall after wall; and I succumbed to some major meltdowns that were a direct result of exhaustion, stress, and hormones.

For some reason, it was easier to come to terms with my limitations during my first trimester. Maybe it's because I felt sick, so it made more sense to treat myself as if I were ill? It also just felt so out of my control - I had no choice but to take that nap or eat that one special food that sounded good. My second trimester, in contrast, has been a breeze physically. Other than intermittently pulling muscles because I dare to perform such feats as, say, rolling over in bed, I've felt awesome - tons of energy, minimal aches and pains, still doing most of my normal summertime activities: evening walks, swimming, bike riding, the occasional jog, etc. And while mah belly has definitely grown, it hasn't been ballooning out week by week the way it felt like it was for a while there.

23 weeks, 2 days

24 weeks, 2 days
25 weeks, 2 days

So the second trimester almost became a subconscious challenge of making myself perform as my normal, non-pregnant self would. Results? FAIL. Noooot a good idea.

First, I had a (minor) scare with a perceived decrease in the baby's movements. To start, I haven't been monitoring them as closely as I'm supposed to. Apparently, you're supposed to lay still for an hour twice a day (YEAH RIGHT) and count the baby's kicks, charting them meticulously to watch for "significant decreases." There are accounts all over the interwebz of noticing a decreasing trend and consequently saving an endangered baby's life, but I've been walking a fine line between over-the-top compulsions (doing kick counts seventeen times a day) and total laissez-faire (ignoring any patterns of movement). I think I've struck a good balance - I'm familiar with her more active times, I know how what gets her moving, and I've done kick counts here and there to get a sense of what her typical patterns are. But then, for an entire evening, night, and morning last week, I barely felt her move at all. It freaked me out enough to finally email my OB for her thoughts on whether I should get checked out. She urged me to go to triage anytime I was really scared about a decrease in movement, but also to try finding a quiet space for a little while and drinking some cold juice. It was the third day of summer camp, and "finding a quiet space for a little while" seemed nearly impossible, but so was the thought of heading to the hospital for monitoring. I made myself take a break with a cold drink. That did the trick right away - and I admit I did feel comforted knowing that pregnant women get checked out in triage all the time, and that the people in triage wouldn't (outwardly) judge me if I went in to be monitored for a half hour or so, just for peace of mind.

The rest of the week had ups and downs; in short, work was a roller coaster, and I didn't go home directly after work at all last week. Like I said, I had family in town and was doing fun things with them - dinners and photo shoots and swimming and hanging out - but the combo of stressful work days, a sharp increase in physical activity, busy evenings, and less sleep than usual caught up with me. I (regretfully) canceled our plans to go biking with friends on Saturday night and rested instead. Well, I also spent a couple hours working with J.J. to turn this:

...into what will be our changing table:

Hemnes dresser from Ikea

But even though I took it easy on Saturday, I was (a) frustrated with my limitations, and (b) more hormonal than I realized. I spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening dealing with uncontrollable crying jags. The realization that my third trimester is approaching next week, and that we still haven't done some key tasks - such as finding out how maternity leave works for me - hit me full-force, and I just. Felt. Completely. Overwhelmed. Poor J.J. got caught in the crossfire of my hormonal outburst(s), and I couldn't even pull myself together to issue an apology until the next day.

Speaking of the next day - this past Monday - I had my monthly check-up with my OB, and she ended up ordering an ultrasound to check on the status of my placenta and the umbilical cord. I have what's considered a "normal variance" of the placenta - it's bilobed and wraps around the front and sides of my uterus. We found this out during the 18-week ultrasound, and the doctor explained that the only concerns in my particular situation are making sure the umbilical cord implanted in a nutrient-rich portion of the placenta (which, given the fetal growth rate, it clearly has), and ensuring during delivery that all parts of the placenta come out (which is easy to determine via ultrasound). That doc actually said we didn't even need to do a follow-up ultrasound, as long as the fetal growth rate remained steady - which it has  - but my OB suggested another one anyway. Half of me was thrilled at the prospect of glimpsing my baby girl again, and the other half was terrified (shocker, I know) that she was concerned about something (thus ordering the u/s), and that the ultrasound will show issues.

I went right from that appointment to the blood draw clinic at the hospital to do my glucose tolerance test, and I called J.J. to make sure he'd be able to come to the ultrasound in two weeks. Since he works at the hospital, he offered to come meet me in Fetal Diagnostics (where I had gone to schedule the ultrasound), and I'm so glad he did. I was finally able to apologize for All The Crazy I threw his way the day before, which he of course insisted was partially justified and no big deal. And then he just held me for a little while so I could collect myself. 

It was exactly what I needed. My mood turned around, and I'm back to feeling more like myself (i.e., a relatively stable human being). I know there's still a lot of major things we need to take care of - and I'm not talking about finding cute curtains for the nursery, but things like finding the right childbirth class, birth plan, pediatrician, and health insurance options - but at least for now, it seems manageable. I'm no longer in a panicked state where I'm staring wild-eyed at the ceiling thinking, holy shit, what have I done? What did I get myself into? I know those moments will come back, especially in the postpartum days. However, if I learned anything from this weekend, it's that I can't control when those moments will come - but I also can't trust them. They're not the whole truth. They're part of the truth, because yeah, having a kid will be overwhelming at times and, as they say, will change everything. But the massive sense of drowning in my own mess of creating another life for which I am totally responsible - that will come and go, just like any other emotion. So for now, while it seems possible, why not focus on the positive feelings? The excitement, the wondering about what she'll be like and who she'll look like, the absolute alienesque experience of watching another human being move in my belly....Those positive feelings are part of my dream come true. Better to run with those instead.

And when I can't? Well, that's what partners are for. And friends. And Rice Krispie treats.

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