Monday, October 28, 2013

Moving right along

27 weeks or so . . .

My latest OB appointment happened earlier this week.  My doctor was pleased with how things were going.  I should have gained 60% of my pregnancy weight by now – Lo, I had gained 60% of my pregnancy weight.  I should have a fundal height of X centimeters – By golly, I had a fundal height of X centimeters.  Baby’s heart rate should be in a certain range – Woo hoo!  Baby’s heart rate was squarely within that range.  At this point in my pregnancy I get an “A” for average, which is comforting.  At this appointment I also got a couple of shots and had to take a glucose test to check for gestational diabetes.  I really wasn't looking forward to the glucose test, as simply the thought of sugar water makes me gag.  Much to my happy surprise the sugar water was orange flavored and resembled something more like Gatorade than straight sugar-water.  I’m not a fan of sports drinks, but at least it was palatable.  I had to chug 10oz or so quickly and then wait for an hour to have my blood drawn.

I spent the hour pouring my new copy of the DoD’s publication “Pregnancy and Childbirth”, more commonly known as “The Purple Book.”  (If you’re interested in looking at the 230+ page publication in PDF, you can find it here.)  I have to admit – for a government publication it wasn't nearly as dry as I had expected.  It was a little myopic in that the authors wrote from the premise that babies are only born to heterosexual married couples, but at least it did a decent job of covering the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.  Now that the DoD has repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” maybe the book will be revised to include families that aren't married and/or (sarcastic gasp!) homosexual.

As I've been moving through this pregnancy, I've continued to take a boot camp-style exercise class two times a week.  I try to get a couple of yoga classes in there too, but lately it seems like I always have scheduling conflicts with the yoga classes that I like to attend.  I like the boot camp classes because I enjoy the variety of exercises and I work out best when I have someone else design the workout and tell me what to do.  Despite years of going to a gym, paying for a trainer and even having friends that are certified personal trainers, I am that person who goes to a gym and stands there staring at the Bosu balls and free weights, jump ropes and medicine balls, clueless and directionless.  (I don't do machines.)  These boot camp classes are a lot of fun - the people that show up are friendly, the instructors are motivating without being too tough, and it's never the same workout twice.

Working out with extra weight on my frame, coupled with a change in my center of balance, has made working out increasingly tough, but I continue to do it because it makes me feel good.  If I go even three or four days without working out I feel sluggish and out-of-sorts.  At this point in my pregnancy the instructor has me modify more than half of the exercises we do, but I'm still huffing and puffing and sweating by the end of the hour.  Of course, I'm the only person who attends the class that is currently gaining weight instead of losing it.  That's an odd feeling.

The other people in the class (mostly women) are really supportive of my pregnancy, which is appreciated.  Often times I feel like I'm "getting off easy" with my modifications while they're busting their butts doing the real deal.  I've gotten lots of compliments on being so committed to be being a healthy mom.  I've had some women tell me how impressed they are by my hard work.  One lady even called me a "badass", which I wear in my head as a badge of honor.  Last week in class the instructor praised one of the ladies in the class for doing one last squat at the end of the circuit.  The lady laughed and said, "Well, I have to keep up with preggo over here."  Many of the ladies in the class are moms as well, and all of them have agreed that exercising now will put me in a better place for labor and deliver in January.  They urge me to keep moving and working on my strength, whatever form that may take as the weeks go on, in order to help myself and the baby down the road.

I plan on continuing to work out as long as I'm able.  I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that I really do need to dial some of my range of motion on exercises.  My body is producing a lot of hormones, including one aptly named Relaxin, that causes my ligaments to stretch.  I find that my hips, in particular, are subject to a sensation of slight pulling and stretching lately.  According to my trainer, if I modify my squat and lunge depth I will still benefit from exercising without potentially injuring myself.  I've pulled muscles from working out before - the idea of pulling a muscle (or ligament) while pregnant and 20lbs+ heavier doesn't sound appealing at all.  

So here's to staying healthy and active as I move into the last 12 weeks of this part of the journey . . .

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Showered with love

Zac and I spent about a week in Minnesota at the beginning of October.  It was a great time of year to visit.  Yes, there was some rain and some cool temperatures, but it's to be expected as the state moves fully into autumn.  The leaves were changing color at such a rate that even in the space of six days I could see a noticeable difference.  We've spent the last six autumns in either Hawaii or San Diego, and both Zac and I miss fall.  I miss the changing weather and the changing menus and ingredients.  It's hard to want to put on a crock pot of beef stew while baking home-made dinner rolls when it's 85 and sunny.  (Apparently while we were in MN the weather in San Diego shifted and it feels like SoCal may have turned the corner into fall as well.)  I'm looking forward to the next six months of mostly lovely San Diego weather.  At least living in San Diego I won't have to worry about trying to get to the hospital in a possible blizzard come January.

My sister and mom threw me a baby shower while I was home.  It was an amazing afternoon.  One of my biggest regrets I have each time I go home is not being able to see as many people as I want to.  The shower was a perfect opportunity/excuse to get 20+ women whom I love and admire into the same place at the same time.  Did I get as much time talking to individual people as I wanted?  No.  But at least I got to give everyone an enthusiastic, prolonged hug .

We went around the room at the beginning of the shower so people could introduce themselves and how they know me.  It blew my mind the wide cross-section of women that were in attendance.  They included:

*My mom
*My sister
*My grandmother
*My aunt
*My mother-in-law
*High school friends of my parents, who have known me since birth
*Members of my church who, again, have known me since I came into the world
*One of my parent's neighbors whose children I used to babysit
*One the aforementioned children (who is now in her early 20s - yeesh)
*Children of my parent's high school friends that I've grown up with
*One of my mom's co-workers (of 25+ years)
*My brother-in-law's mother
*Law school friends
*Former co-workers
*Friends from high school

Some people knew me as an infant.  Some have only known me as an adult.  But all of them were there to share in the joy and excitement of me becoming a mother, and that meant everything to me.  It sounds cliche, but while the gifts were lovely and generous, I simply wanted to spend the afternoon with them.  There were stories, jokes, a couple of emotional tears (mostly mine) and lots of laughter  When it was done I was equally energized and exhausted.  The shower was my reminder that when the time comes, and I'm finding my way as a mother to our new baby, that I have a strong support network behind me who I can draw on for advice and understanding.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend an afternoon.

And did I mention that there were four different kinds of bars laid out for dessert?  It's not a Minnesota party without a pan, or four, of bars.


Sunday, October 13, 2013


Week 20-ish, a few weeks ago

It's hot in San Diego.  Too hot.  We're in the middle of a late-summer heat wave that is taking its toll on my desire to do anything but watch the US Open tennis tournament from the air conditioned confines of my living room.  (I do work while watching tennis, so it's not totally wasted time.)  The weather gods must have a copy of our calendar, and a sense of humor, since they waited until the day my parents arrived to unleash their blast furnace of horror.  I suppose I shouldn't gripe about the weather when it's gorgeous here 87.5% of the time, but I'm still not happy that the meteorologist on the local tv station said we've got another six or seven days of this on top the week that we've already had.

We've cleared the last couple of hurdles that I was concerned about for the pregnancy.  We had our genetic counseling appointment, which revealed that I am at no greater risk of having a child with certain conditions that the general population.  Yay, average-ness!  The accompanying ultrasound was equally uneventful, as the doctor saw the things that he wanted to see.  Spine looked good, the baby was measuring correctly for that point in the pregnancy, etc.  It was strange watching Baby move around so much inside my tummy and not feeling a thing.  How could Baby be in there doing somersaults and I not sense any sort of movement?  Zac was delighted throughout the ultrasound.  I think it was the first time that the image actually looked like a "baby" to him and the flurry of fetal activity was reassuring that things are going well.

I had another ultrasound a couple of weeks later.  This would be the ultrasound that a normal woman who conceived her baby in a normal way would have normally at this time in her pregnancy.  I am abnormal (I'm spectacular!) in terms of my age and I certainly didn't conceive this kiddo in the normal way, so I've had more than my share of ultrasounds.  But each ultrasound was for a different purpose so once again I found myself at the hospital.  Only this time I had consumed 32oz. of liquid one hour before the procedure to aid in . . . something.  A bit uncomfortable, but not as bad as I had thought it was going to be.  My parents were in town for this appointment, so they came along to get a look at the new grandchild I am incubating.  Once again Baby was measuring as Baby should.  The organs looked like they were coming along well.  Kid was still moving all around, but with a little less real estate than a couple weeks prior.  It was fun being able to share that appointment with my parents.  They were able to be with my sister throughout her pregnancies and spend lots of time with her two boys.  I want them to have as much time with this grandchild as possible, even if that's while the kiddo is in utero.

I've officially started wearing maternity pants.  That makes me feel mildly ridiculous.  I keep catching glimpses of my changing body in the mirror and thinking, "Isn't it nice that my reflection is pregnant?"  I still feel disconnected from the goings on.  Maybe when I start feeling something from within that I can clearly identify as baby-generated.  Right now it still feels like I'm watching tv at the ultrasound appointments and the belly is just a Hollywood prosthetic designed to make my character look pregnant.  I wasn't sure how Zac would feel or react to my changing shape, but happily he seems more than charmed.  He rubs my belly and smiles while we watch tv.  He giggles when I'm drying off after a shower and studying myself in the mirror.  He randomly reaches out and pats the bump while we're running errands.  You think you love someone, then they do things that make you love them more.  It's a delight to go through this with him, and I can't wait to be parents together.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Forecast called for showers

We just recently returned from Minnesota for some family visitation and a baby shower.  I remember putting together my sister's baby shower for her first-born.  The late fall/early winter of 2007/2008 was a chaotic time in our extended family.  There were birthdays, births, serious illnesses, baptisms, weddings and deaths.  It was a whirlwind of emotions but I distinctly remember the excitement of planning Megan's shower.  I had decided to construct a tiered cake out of out disposable diapers, adorned with flowers and ribbons.  I was living with my Grandpa at the time, and I set up shop at the dining room table to put it together.  It took a certain amount of engineering and creativity, plus trial and error, to get it the way I wanted it.  My Grandpa looked on with bemusement as I made various attempts at constructing it, de-constructing it, re-constructing it and finally decorating it.  Even he had a to crack a smile when it was completed.  Yes, it was mildly ridiculous, but it was also an expression of joy held together with tape, pins and a lot of love.

I've gotten over a lot of the guilt and sadness of leaving home, but not when it comes to my sister.  It still pains me that I am not within driving distance to be more present in her life.  There is something about physical proximity that makes it easier to spend time together.  The telephone and Skype are great, but that requires scheduling.  Living in the same city means dinners at our parent's house, running to the mall together, helping out with the kids.  It's much more spontaneous and if you don't see each other today, odds are you are going to see each other the next day or the day after that.  All of those little things, those day-to-day things, you know about.  It too easy to let time slip away when you're separated by thousands of miles.  Suddenly it's been two weeks since you've touched base and the phone calls reveal all sorts of things that you have missed in each other lives.  

I've always felt that it's harder to stay than it is to go.  When you stay somewhere and someone leaves, there's a vacancy in all those places that they used to be.  When Zac leaves on his trainings and deployments, I believe that I miss him more than he misses me.  Why?  Because I'm used to running in to him in the kitchen, I'm used to jockeying for position while brushing our teeth at the sink, I'm used to curling up together as we fall asleep.  When he's gone, I am fully aware of his absence and all the parts of my day-to-day life that he isn't there for.   But out there - at his trainings and on his deployments - I was never part of that reality.  I am not "missing" from that experience.  He's training, he's working, he's focused on a mission that doesn't include me.  So while he certainly misses me, it's a different type of loss for him than it is for me.

That's similar to how I feel about my relationship with my sister.  She is used to Minneapolis with me there, being no more than 10-15 minutes away, crossing paths at our parent's house, going to events together, hanging out at her house, spending time together in all of the places that we shared for the first 27 years of her life.  And then I left.  It's the same world she has always lived in, except I'm not in it.  On the flip side, Megan never lived in Oklahoma or Hawaii or California with me.  She hasn't been a first-hand part of the journey I've had as a military spouse. Up until now I know that's been tough for her, and for me, but not being together for my first pregnancy has hit her harder than any other aspect of our separation.  I can feel how excited she is for me, and how desperately she wishes she could share this particular journey with me.  

I wouldn't trade my life with Zac for anything, but it's hard feeling like you've left your sister - your best friend since her birth. I know growing up that we thought we'd always live near each other and have kids that were the same age.  We would raise our kids to have the same amazing relationship that we enjoyed with our cousins.  I didn't stay in Minneapolis.  I didn't have kids at the same time as her.  And in all likelihood her kids will be more comfortable with my cousins' children (whom they see regularly and who are the same age) than mine.  That wounds me. 

Sometimes Megan thinks she needs me more than she really does.  She's stronger than she thinks she is, and while I know that her current road is challenging (PA school, two kids, working, trying to find time to spend with her husband) it is one that she will not only handle, but excel at navigating.  One of the silver linings of separation is that has forced us, both of us, to grow.  We know how to be sisters in the same city, we're learning how to be sisters with many states in between us, and hopefully someday we'll be living closer to each other once again.