Tuesday, September 24, 2013

dear baby...aka, the one with the last silhouette picture.

Dear Baby,

Tomorrow, we'll meet face-to-face. Or face-to-boob, whatever. You may not know this, but we've been waiting for you - not just for the last nine months, but really, for our whole lives. I can only imagine what you'll look like, what your temperament will be, what you'll be passionate about, and what will make you tick...but I promise to learn.

That's you in July - 28 weeks old.

Actually, that's a promise I'll try to keep for the rest of my life: to learn about you. In the beginning, when it comes to the basics, we'll have to learn together, since I've never done this before. I figure one step at a time is the best method, combined with listening to my instincts, listening to your daddy, and listening to the voice in my head that whispers, "Throw your expectations out the window and let her teach you." As you get older, you'll have to keep teaching me. All I can do is keep learning, keep loving.

Your daddy & mama. Always well-intentioned.

It'll be hard sometimes. I'm not an easy person. I guess most people aren't, when you really get to know them - or when you have to spend the majority of your waking hours with them. But I promise to try to be the best mama I can be for you, and to forgive myself when I fall short. 

There are so many things I'm so excited for you to experience. Saturday afternoon naps. Snow days. A celebrity crush. That movie you've seen a million times. Your favorite book. The vibrancy of early June. A much-needed vacation. The first time you eat produce from your own garden. Christmas lights. Mountains, oceans, rivers. Water gun fights. School-supply shopping. A nail-biting season finale. Your favorite jeans. That feeling of, "How does this writer just get me?" Roller coasters. Reinventing yourself. Moments of sheer gratitude. Landing THE job. Crying over a sappy storyline. Saving up for something. The teacher who changes your life. The restaurant where you're a regular. Sleeping with the windows open. Honeycrisp apples. When your heart swells (...figuratively), especially on someone else's behalf. Getting swooped up in a trend. Bucking the trend. The magic, the precision, the power of language. Best friends. Road trips. Creating cathartic art. Knowing you look great in that shirt, or in that picture, or before you go out. Front row to see your favorite band. Making your mark. Swinging, singing, laughing until you cry. A (temporary) video game obsession. Being moved to tears by a painting. Passion. Family. Kindness.

Those will all come in time. For now, I just want you to know that I love you already, and I cannot wait to meet you.*


16 weeks

20 weeks

24 weeks

28 weeks

32 weeks

36 weeks

39 weeks (today!)

*ACTUALLY, I can wait. I can wait until tomorrow, and so can you. No need to try to make an appearance tonight, okay, Baby? Okay.

See you tomorrow.


Short update.

And another memo to mah bod.

Look, body. I know we've been through a lot in the past year. Pregnancy worked out pretty well for us, minus a few weeks in the beginning (that seem short only in retrospect) and a few details towards the end (pelvic girdle pain, anyone?) - but I acknowledge that it's a lot to put us through. 


We've talked about this. Baby is breech. C-section is tomorrow morning. There is absolutely no need for us to experience any kind of pre-labor fun. Last night? When a band of pain started tightening around my chest at 7:30 p.m., and I couldn't breathe comfortably until 2:00 a.m.? When I was nauseated and my stomach was upset? When no "comfort position" would help? When I should have been hungry, but wasn't? YEAH. Unnecessary. Normal, sure. Nature's way, absolutely. Shouldn't complain, I know. But OUCH and YUCK. Thank goodness for responsive OBs (even though she's out of town, she was still in touch with me immediately).

Guess I better pack that hospital bag for real. You know, instead of just putting random things in the general vicinity of the bag.


Woke up this morning feeling miles better. Ate breakfast, which was delicious (although I was surprisingly not starving, even though I hadn't eaten since around 3:00 yesterday afternoon). Realized I never got my pre-op blood draw at my OB check-up yesterday morning, so I need to get that done. The rest of the stuff I wanted to get done today? Laundry, groceries, and the like? Screw it; it'll get done some other day, by someone else.

Only one major thing on the to-do list for today: the last pregnancy silhouette photo. THE LAST ONE. In the meantime, here's last week's:

38 weeks, 2 days

Unbelievable. This does not seem real. Although...I suppose last night was supremely helpful in allowing me to VERY MUCH WANT this pregnancy to be over. So...sorry, body. You're right. I trust you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

nursery: check, check, check.

*Started this post last week...just now getting around to finishing it. #unmotivated

I know, I know - I am 100% slacking on everything the nursery updates. As in, I haven't shared one since July. And a lot has happened since then! Good thing, since my time is going to be a wee bit more compromised starting a week from tomorrow (edit: now the day after tomorrow, since I'm late in publishing this!). Because truthfully, it doesn't really matter if the room is "finished" by the time Baby arrives - at least, not as far as she's concerned. She'd probably be happiest chilling in my arms 24-7. And who knows, maybe that's how it'll be for a while. But between adjusting to life with a newborn and recovering from major abdominal surgery, I'd really rather not have to, say, install curtain rods on a stepladder or assemble new furniture. So I'm glad things are almost done.

Enough with the chit-chat; let's see some pictures, eh?

When last I left you, circa July:

At that point, the hardest parts - clearing out the room, painting the walls, installing crown and shoe moulding, choosing and assembling the crib and changing table, replacing the ceiling fixture - were done. But you know there are always going to be a few wrenches thrown into any room remodel (unintentional tool joke, natch) (I hate when people say natch, sorry)...so the last tasks have taken longer than expected.

What were those last tasks? I needed to flatten out and air out the rug; choose and assemble a glider and nightstand; make rain gutter bookshelves; and choose fabrics for the window curtains, closet curtain, and crib skirt.

Aaaand yep, I hit roadblocks with almost every one of those tasks. First up was the rug.

This is the Zig Zag Chevron Dhurrie Rug in Aqua from Shades of Light. Loved it online, loved the look in person - but ohmygosh the SMELL. It reeked. And no, it wasn't just pregnancy nose. It smelled like...I don't know, wet farm or something? Granted, it's a wool rug, but I couldn't handle it. It was banished to the garage to air out for a while, which ended up taking over a month. That was partially because bringing it back upstairs seemed like a lot of work, and partially because it really just still smelled. I Febreezed it, I poured baking soda all over it, I shook it out periodically, but the smell just stuck around.

J.J. couldn't understand why I wouldn't just return it. Well, the only thing I hate more than making rug decisions is returning things. In this case, I'd actually made a decision and pulled the trigger to order it, and I really did like the way it looked. The thought of arranging a return was overwhelming (she said, hand to forehead in a pose representing utterly privileged problems). So I compromised: We brought the rug back to the room to gauge how bad the smell really was at that point (the end of August, mind you), and I sent an email to Shades of Light requesting general info on the return policy for the smelliest rug on Earth - but not committing to an actual return. Non-confrontation FTW.

The Shades of Light representative was seriously the nicest customer service rep ever. S/he (gender-neutral name, not sure) replied within 24 hours with detailed information on how to arrange a return, and said I wasn't going to have to pay for return shipping at all. Score! BUT. What really made him/her the nicest rep ever was when I sheepishly emailed back and said, "Actually...it doesn't really smell anymore after all...so...you know...never mind and stuff" - and I didn't get an annoyed hate email in response. Shades of Light! Winning!

And yes, you read that correctly - the smell had sufficiently dissipated, and the rug was here to stay. Geez. Unnecessarily dramatic rug saga, anyone?

Thankfully, the glider and the nightstand weren't nearly as difficult. It took me a long time to choose a glider, mainly because I couldn't find any in stores that I liked (and that were narrow enough to fit into a tiny space), but I chose and trigger-pulled and this beauty arrived shortly afterwards:

Mmm. Yummy. It's the Little Castle Charleston Glider, and I loved its clean lines and modern look. Plus, the dimensions were just right. It was delivered fully assembled, which was great...except I had no idea how we were going to get it up a flight of stairs. I know I've pushed myself physically at times during this pregnancy, but my eight-months-pregnant self was not about to haul a 90-pound chair upstairs to the nursery. Hence, a funny/embarrassing story: I got home pretty late the night the glider was delivered, and something stupid - old dishes in the sink? - made me get annoyed with J.J. I was pretty short with him, didn't really talk much to him, and at bedtime, I went straight upstairs to our room and got in bed.

The next morning, I passed the nursery in the light of day and saw this:

Not only had he somehow wrestled the chair all the way upstairs by himself...not only had he placed a towel underneath it to protect the floor until we had a more permanent floor-protection solution...but he, adorably, had propped our little bear (the first baby gift we got; his name is Mosby, and he sleeps with us every night) in the chair, reading a book about becoming a dad. I died of cute and felt like an asshole for being grumpy the night before. What can I say...best partner ever, hands down. I love him so much. (Edit: No, he did not do this in response to me being grumpy the night before...he had already done it before I had gotten home the night before. I was just too cranky to notice.)

And as for the nightstand - I wanted something round (lots of square lines in the room), white, with a bottom shelf and possibly a drawer. Wasn't hard to find this:

From here
I actually found it on Lowes.com first, but after hunting around a little more, I found it on Amazon for almost $50 less - score! It's got a nice big top for holding all sorts of stuff - the baby monitor base, books, my water bottle, whatever. And I have some little books stored on bottom. Well - here, take a look:

You can also see in this pic that we rearranged the crib and rug to make more room - definitely necessary, and very helpful. And? We finished the rain gutter bookshelves on the wall behind the door! We followed this tutorial, and thankfully, this was an easy-peasy project (for once).

They're not big enough to store all of her books, but there's room in the closet for those. We may even add more rain gutters someday, since I have some leftover and they were so easy to do. For now, though, these are great, and they make good use of an otherwise sort of useless space behind the door.

Then, of course, there was fabric drama. I had some great fabrics to choose from, and I ended up ordering these two:

From here

From here
Unfortunately, the bird-and-spokes fabric - my fave of all the options - ended up being way, way too green in person. Just not the right color in the room at all. Luckily, I'm kind of a dunce and ordered about a jillion more yards of the Suzani fabric than necessary, so I decided to use those for the window curtains and find another choice for the crib skirt and closet curtain. I ended up going with this:

From here
It's pretty bright, but I think I'm going to like the look of it in combination with the Suzani curtains. They're almost done, so I'll be sharing that update soon when I get around to it?

So, for now, here's where we are on the Nursery To-Do List:

  • Sell rug, glider chair and ottoman, keyboard, record player and receiver, desk chair, dresser, and bookcase (and, while I'm at it, the microwave, the toaster oven, the television, and the sink/faucet) DONE
  • Organize the books, binders, and boxes; find new homes for remaining items
  • Find nursery inspiration pictures DONE
  • Choose a paint color DONE
  • Figure out who's going to paint DONE
  • Figure out how to fix the ceiling goofs from four  years ago DONE
  • Remove the hanger bar and bifold door from the closet DONE
  • Prep to prime: sand, scrape, caulk and spackle the window trim and the closet interior; remove outlet covers and heating vent covers DONE
  • Prime and test paint possibilities DONE
  • Paint the walls (not including closet yet) DONE
  • Buy crown and shoe moulding (J.J. does install...sorry, love) DONE
  • Paint moulding and window/door trim DONE
  • Find color for closet interior DONE
  • Paint closet interior DONE
  • Replace beige/painted-over outlets and light switch with new white ones DONE
  • Replace ceiling light DONE
  • Choose, order, and assemble crib, changing table, nightstand, and glider DONE
  • Choose and order a rug DONE
  • Install clothing rods and shelves in the closet DONE
  • Make rain gutter bookshelves DONE
  • Find fabric for crib skirt and curtains, including curtain for the closet DONE
  • Enlist someone else to make the crib skirt and curtains DONE
  • Hang curtains
  • Figure out our high-tech baby monitor
  • Put up two shelves by the changing table
  • Buy/make art for walls (in progress!)
  • Birthe baby who can utilize the finished room

So glad we're able to check so much off the list before Baby gets here...but man, that last item on the to-do list is juuust a little intimidating.

Just a bit.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

two weeks from yesterday.

I've been sitting here trying to write the posts I've been meaning to catch up on forever - posts about randomly starting a bathroom remodel, updating the upstairs hallway, plans for the basement, our anniversary adventures - but I gotta be honest, none of it is resonating. I pretty much have one thing on my mind this last week: baby, baby, baby.

Which makes sense, considering she's officially making her debut in less than two weeks.

35 weeks, 2 days

36 weeks, 2 days

37 weeks, 2 days

Seriously, I wanted to show you pictures of where we are in the nursery - furniture all set to go, closet almost ready, bookshelves hung, curtains just about done. I wanted to chat about photo displays and the new back yard fence and some post-reno kitchen thoughts. But I'm just not there. All I can think about, morning, noon, and night, is meeting the little girl who's been wiggling in my belly for nine months. Oh, and the fact that we do finally have a birth plan.

Yep! A birth plan. It's not the plan I planned on. It's - maybe even better than that?

At my 27-week ultrasound, Baby was breech, which wasn't a big deal. They're still flipping all around at that point of gestation, and they still have plenty of room to perform such fancy gymnastics. The thing was, ever since the ultrasound confirmed that the little baseball-sized (now softball-sized) lump in my upper abdomen was her head, I could tell that she's been pretty stuck there. Every once in a while, she scoots her bottom up so that she's lying across the top of my belly (ouch), but her head stays in roughly the same spot. I wasn't worried about it; I was just aware of the little round bump at the top of my big bump.

So it was no surprise when, at my 36-week checkup last Wednesday, my OB did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that her head was still in the same location. While we discussed some options, including an external version, our final decision was that a planned C-section ultimately would be best. 

I think my OB thought I was going to be upset by the idea of a C-section. I think I thought I would be upset by it. But I'm so, so not. In fact, the level to which I'm okay with this plan kind of shocks me. Then again, I hadn't spent much time envisioning my ideal labor and delivery, so I didn't have my heart set on anything in particular, other than a positive outcome (read: healthy baby, healthy mama). I know there are drawbacks to having major abdominal surgery when a vaginal delivery isn't outside the realm of possibility (say, if we did do a version), but screw thinking about all the drawbacks - for once, I started focusing right away on the benefits. I mean, think about it:

  • The course of delivery is much more clear to me. There's no wondering about how many hours I'll be in labor or how badly contractions are going to hurt or whether I'll choose to get an epidural or if I'll tear. I could still go into labor naturally before our scheduled date, which means my amniotic fluid could still make a surprise appearance, but the rest of the path is well-charted. Being anxious about the unknown, I'm comforted by the idea of knowing (generally) how things will progress.
  • Although I'll have a scar, I won't have to deal with some other personal (admittedly minor) risks of a vaginal delivery - tearing, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor issues, etc.
  • I won't have to labor for endless hours and then end up having a C-section for some reason anyway. I've had some friends who birthed that way, and from the sounds of it, they struggled significantly more afterwards, both physically and emotionally, than those who had a planned C-section.
  • I get a couple extra days in the hospital. This isn't everyone's bag, but I'm all about having extra support around me for a few days. Also? We did the birth tour at the hospital, and the newly-renovated rooms are pretty sweet. I'm going to approach it like a stay in a hotel. With, you know, lots of bodily fluids and pain meds and a brand-new human to feed using just my body parts. But there will be a flock of experts around me to help deal with all of those things. And, you know, meals delivered right to my room. Plus, we live three miles away from the hospital, so it'll be convenient for J.J. to run home if he needs a break or needs to grab something.
  • A C-section automatically grants me at least two extra weeks of medical leave - eight total, instead of six. I'm planning on taking 12 total weeks off, but this means I have to use 80 fewer hours of my carefully-hoarded vacation time. Boom.
  • The C-section recovery may or may not be more "difficult" than with a vaginal delivery. I've talked with moms who have endured each, and their opinions were fairly similar - that the recovery wasn't necessarily easier or harder, just different. One good thing is that I'll be forced - required - to take it really easy for at least a couple weeks. In my warped mind, that will be much easier to comply with after a surgery than it would be after vaginal childbirth. I would have expected myself to be up and at 'em pretty much immediately; not so, in the case of a C-section. I still think it'll be a challenging recovery period, in part because I'll have to rest so much, but it'll probably be better for me in the long run.

Of course, the drawbacks sneak in from time to time, usually in the dead of night. Drawbacks...like imagining the pain of the epidural shot, or envisioning my abdomen splayed open and a human emerging from it, or what if they leave an instrument or a rag inside of me and it causes sepsis six years down the line...I mean, come on, I'm still me. I've watched Grey's Anatomy. I'm nervous. Not just about the C-section - also about the outcome of even a successful section, which is: a newborn (you know, NBD, just a little baby that we have to figure out how to keep alive). But the vast majority of the time, it's more like anticipation than anxiety. CBT techniques will come in so handy in the next two weeks (less than two weeks), but I need to have them at the forefront of my mind in order to utilize them. For example, no labor/baby thoughts allowed in the middle of the night, regardless of how hard that is to do when I wake up to pee right around 4:00 and can't seem to fall back asleep. Also, it's helpful to remember what a common surgery this is. Surgery, yes - my very first ever - but a really common one with relatively low risk.

The most helpful technique? Keeping my eyes on the prize. The end result will be a sweet little babe to sport the cutest laundry I've ever done:

Don't worry, there are some non-blue-and-green clothes in her wardrobe, too.

The other prize? I'll be done being pregnant. I may be trading in current discomforts for post-surgical ones, but I'm pretty much over these current discomforts. I have to say, I'm so grateful to have had a super easygoing pregnancy overall, but that changed - dramatically - last week. Could be that I had psyched myself up to get through camp, and once I did, I had nothing left in my reserves to keep on keepin' on. Could be that I went from moving around all day long, including swimming almost every afternoon, to a lot more sitting. Could be that I haven't been sleeping as well. Could be that I ceased going on nightly walks, since they would spur on Braxton Hicks contractions, and I don't want to trigger actual labor yet. Could be that, geez, I hit my last four weeks of pregnancy, and I'm 20+ pounds heavier than I've ever been, and I'm retaining water in my face and calves and freakin' toenails, and I'm just not comfy! Whatever it is, I have to watch myself now. I ended the work week last Friday in major pain, with weird internal pinchy cramps (contractions?) and shooting pains every time I stood up or walked. I almost went to triage to get checked out, but everything eased up once I got home and rested for about an hour. Still, a similar thing happened yesterday - extreme downward pressure, hurting to walk, not being able to bend over and stand back up without gritting my teeth. Luckily, I have amazingly supportive co-workers who shooed me home for the day right before lunch. And they were right to do so - it won't help anyone if I go into labor this week. Nonetheless, I'm ready to move past this particular physical phase of the childbearing year.

There's still a lot on our pre-baby to-do list, but it's dwindling pretty quickly. I'd like to catch up on all those pending blog posts - like the state of the nursery! - but the truth is, I'm focused now on a few strong hopes: that I don't go into labor before our scheduled date; that I don't have any lingering major tasks (*cough* replacing our suddenly-deadly garage door *cough*) to deal with immediately post-partum; stabilizing the anxiety that ramped up once we had a specific date set; and - most of all, above and beyond anything else ever - that this little babe comes out healthy. I read an article once written by the mother of a child with special needs who took offense to the idea that so many expectant parents voiced their wish of wanting nothing more than a healthy newborn. I think her perspective was, "What, so you wouldn't want MY 'unhealthy' child?" But I don't think that gets at the root of the wish, which is a potential nightmare: that your baby may not be healthy enough to live. No one wants that scenario, just as I don't want anyone I love - my baby, my partner, my parents or siblings or friends - to have to deal with bad health. And I've been in the situation of loving fiercely a brand-new baby with life-threatening complications, and let me tell you, it's scary as hell. You wouldn't wish that fear on anyone, either. So I stand by my strongest hope - that all is well with the baby I've loved since before she was even conceived. 

Even though she's trying to poke her head under my ribs right now. #ouch

Oh, and the date that was set? September 25. Two weeks from yesterday. Sounds splendid to me. :)


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