Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Today concludes Week 19 of my pregnancy, and may I say, Good Riddance.

Pregnancy-wise, things are going blessedly well. According to the creative souls who come up with these things, Baby #2 is the size of: A zucchini (I’m assuming your standard supermarket zucchini and not the neighbor’s garden variety from which you could carve out a canoe), a Gameboy, a hotdog, or a pair of sunglasses. Hmm… OK. In real terms that means it is about 6 inches long and 8.5 ounces.

My symptoms haven’t changed much; the heartburn remains a near-constant but still tolerable presence, and I have found myself getting winded more quickly when I climb stairs, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. This upcoming week we’ll have our anatomy scan, and the following week is my next appointment with my midwife, during which I will likely plead for heartburn relief of some kind.

(Incidentally, I saw a video on Instagram or somewhere from a mom explaining that pregnancy heartburn easily is eliminated by taking 100 deep breaths. I haven’t found the time this week to string more than five deep breaths together at a time, and I don’t mean to be a complete cynic, but… I expect this is bullshit.)

The real theme this week has been, unfortunately, loss (that, and toddler diarrhea, but nobody wants that recap.)

Last weekend, my beloved cat, Bills, died suddenly from an undetermined illness. In the span of 24 hours he went from seeming perfectly fine (he even hopped into The Toddler’s crib on Saturday morning to indulge in some tentative snuggling) to weak, with labored breathing that had me rushing, too late, to an emergency vet.

Soon after, I had to make the urgent and heartbreaking decision to have him put out of his misery. In the end, he was too dehydrated to have any blood work or to be able to get an IV inserted, so I have no idea what killed him, and I wasn’t allowed to be in the room when he was euthanized. My husband and I buried him under a white pine tree and sprinkled wildflower seeds on his grave.

I know that the price you pay for the unconditional love of a pet is the inevitable goodbye at the end, but God, it’s hard. Bills slept as my “little spoon,” with his head on my pillow, almost every night for the past eight years. He was the through line for every scene change, major milestone, disappointment and triumph of my entire adult life.

He wandered into the backyard of the first house I rented with my then boyfriend (now husband), who named him “Bills” in an unsuccessful attempt to deter us from taking in a pet we could hardly afford at the time. Bills reluctantly traveled with us through five moves, tolerated and eventually loved the second cat and the dog we brought home, let me cry into his fur when I had a miscarriage, and sat with me in the predawn Christmas morning hours while I started timing the first contractions that brought my son into the world. He was a steadfast, uncomplicated source of comfort, and that was the hardest part of losing him: He wasn’t there to console me.

So  that’s the bittersweet cloud that has hung over the past week, as my belly gets rounder and time marches on. My family shrunk a little even as it grows. Though we suffered a loss, we get to keep the memories. And that’s something.

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story

Hi friends!

It’s been a heck of a week already (more on that later), so I am *super* glad I reached out to an old friend from high school, who just launched her own blog to help people coping with eating disorders (and, oh yeah, NBD, had her second baby) to help me out with a guest post, Q&A style. As the reality of being a mom of two sets in, I am grateful to have her share some wisdom on motherhood.

Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce Erin.

Erin and her family
Erin, her husband and her two little ones, under the Gateway Arch in their current hometown of St. Louis

Erin’s bio:

My family and I recently moved to St. Louis from Georgia for my husband’s job when I was about halfway through my second pregnancy. The Second Kid, a baby boy, is now 4 months old and The First Kid, a girl, turned 2 years old at the end of May.

In Georgia, I owned a private practice as a dietitian specializing in eating disorders and related issues. Right now, I’m staying home with the kids until we’re ready for me to go back to work part-time. Until then, I’ve been enjoying writing my blog at RecoveringWithGod.com.

How were your two pregnancies different? In general, do you like being pregnant or is more of a necessary but miserable means to an end?

I thought I liked being pregnant until The Second Kid! I had more nausea, fatigue, and discomfort with the second pregnancy. I think moving out of state and chasing around a toddler made the experience much different.

What were some things you learned in your first pregnancy, childbirth experience or early parenting days that you wanted to be sure you did differently the second time around? What were some important consistencies you wanted to maintain between the two?

This is a BIG question. The short answer is: get less tests and be choosy about health care professionals. The explanation is long and intense, but worth sharing with you and other parents.

We almost lost my first child based on a diagnosis that was made in utero. We were told by a specialist doctor that our baby would likely not survive to term and if she did there was a 0% chance that we’d have a healthy, normal baby. The doctor insinuated that terminating the pregnancy was the way to go based on a growth he spotted on the back of the baby’s head at 11 weeks. He said that it was an encepholocele, a type of neural tube defect in which brain matter protrudes through an opening of the skull. He left us with very little hope, no follow-up appointments, and no recommendations for other consultations or specialists.

It was the absolute worst day of my life. But our friends and family prayed. After I made the initial call to the abortion clinic (please no judgments), I felt God nudging me to get a second opinion. More prayers.

The second-opinion-doctor made us feel like we were in this together and gave us options. We waited. With every visit thereafter, the growth miraculously shrunk or stayed the same size. By the third trimester, the malformation was no longer detectable and the issue was considered resolved.

Against the odds, our baby was born as healthy as can be.

SOOOOO, how did all this change the second pregnancy? Well, the reason we went in for that 11-week ultrasound with The First Kid was because we were going to test for a genetic disorder that runs in my family that has the potential to be fatal. With The Second Kid, we decided NOT to get that test. We learned that (1) test results don’t always predict outcomes, (2) the test results wouldn’t change our actions during pregnancy—we wouldn’t terminate, and (3) God can heal.

I’m not really sure how to segue from that, but there are plenty of other things I did differently as well. I chose a birthing center instead of the typical hospital setting to give birth. Reasons include the following experiences that I had at the hospital with The First Kid: (1) getting my membranes stripped without consent, (2) my birthing plan was not followed or even saved in my chart to refer to, (3) I had to wait for the doctor to arrive before I could push, even though my body was screaming at me to PUSH! (4) Oh yea, I had to go through the transition stage of labor in the crowded waiting room, like WITH THE FAMILIES (who were staring at me because I was apparently making scary noises). In contrast, I loved the birthing center. Their practices were in line with everything I wanted, so I didn’t have to constantly worry or double check what they were doing. They listened. They didn’t rush. Gosh, I loved them so much. If you don’t like your healthcare team, look for someone else. I say that as a healthcare professional and I would say it to my clients too.

How were your two labor experiences?

I was told the second labor is typically half the length of time as the first. This made me quite nervous because I barely made it to the delivery room with The First Kid, but it was true! I was in labor from about 6pm-midnight for The First Kid and 9pm-midnight for The Second Kid. (To the women who have long labors, I am sorry and you are all amazing warriors).

There were no false alarms with The First Kid—once contractions started, they were regular and the real deal. With The Second Kid, I experienced contractions that didn’t turn into labor, which drove my anticipatory anxiety out the roof!

I labored at home longer for The First Kid because I was only 1 cm earlier that afternoon. With my second labor, the midwives never checked dilation at any appointments, but I knew I had to leave ASAP once contractions were at regular intervals.

Both babies arrived the day after their due date.

Both labors were medication-free. I used some Hypnobabies concepts with both labors even though I personally think it’s a bit cheesy. I really enjoyed the practices in Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke and highly recommend that book. It’s more evidence-based, less judgmental, and the skills can be used throughout the parenting experience. I need to go back and reread some sections!

I keep being reminded to expect my two children to be very different from each other, though it’s hard to imagine my second baby beyond what I know from my first. How are your two babies different so far?

The First Kid came out small and dainty and always falling asleep. The Second Kid came out sturdy and big and eager to eat. The First Kid was laid-back and The Second Kid is usually tense, but both happy. The First Kid was very observant and could entertain herself easily, interested in the smallest of details. The Second Kid (at least in this stage) seems to need a lot more stimulation. Thankfully, he loves watching his older sister as she runs around, dances, and gives him toys.

How did you prepare your first child for the arrival of your second? How has she adjusted to being a big sister? Are there any specific books/philosophies/etc. you relied on to help guide you through getting her prepared?

We talked about baby brother while I was pregnant and read the book “I Am a Big Sister” by Caroline Jayne Church, which I highly recommend. I’m not sure how much she understood, but she does mimic the girl in the book by helping. I also instituted “special time” with her while I was pregnant. We sing a song about special time, set a timer, and I spend 10 devoted and undivided minutes with her. Quality (attentive time) is over quantity (distracted time).

She’s loved and adored her baby brother since she met him. It was an adjustment (aka Tantrum City), of course, but she took her frustrations out on her dad and me for not giving her enough attention. She never acted resentful toward her baby brother. I’d say it took about 3 months for her to adjust. Now that she’s adjusted, she can truly be a big help to me at times even though she’s only two.

Talk about the first few days/weeks of being a mom of two, in general. What was the hardest part? Was there anything that went easier than expected?

The hardest part was definitely not having the ability to be there for my little girl. There are moments when you have to choose which child to attend to first, and the crying baby usually takes priority. Thankfully, The First Kid encourages me to go help The Second Kid when he cries, but she forgets that means she can’t get what she wants right away!

Taking care of a baby in general has been easier this time because I knew what to expect. I’m no longer trying to follow every rule or sift through all the conflicting baby advice on the internet…there’s no time for that!

I had a really rough time getting started with breastfeeding the first time around. If you nursed both times (and are willing to share), what was it like starting again?

It was a cinch! I had some insecurities the first time around, which I think most women do, and a naturally petite baby, which our first pediatrician freaked me out. However, a year’s worth of practice with the first child makes a huge difference for the second. Now the real challenge is breastfeeding while doing other tasks, such as reading a book with The First Kid in my lap, pouring a glass of milk, or putting on a shoe!

How did you and your husband adjust to having two? 

In general, my husband watches the The First Kid and I’m in charge of The Second Kid, especially in the beginning when I was nursing non-stop. We had visitors the first several weeks who we could hand either kid off to, which was loads of help! Then we were forced to figure out how to handle both at the same time when my husband returned to work and I had occasional appointments I needed to attend. We’re still figuring it out!

In general, what advice that I may not have covered that you’d offer to parents expecting their second child?

Go easy on yourself. You won’t be able to do it perfectly, if there is such a thing. It’s okay to plop your toddler down in front of the TV to attend to the baby, or *gasp* get a moment to yourself. (My husband is constantly reminding me of this). Are they smelling a little ripe because you haven’t bathed them in awhile? They won’t remember! Did you just yell at your toddler for a stupid reason? Genuinely tell him you’re sorry and that you feel sad/mad right now, and hey it turns into a teaching moment! Even if you don’t muster up the apology, life goes on and you are a good mom. Some mood swings and bending the rules won’t change that.

Do what’s easiest. Opt for grocery delivery, Amazon Prime, carryout meals, a cleaning service, and any other convenience you can find. If you’re thrifty like me, tell yourself it’s just for this season. You’re in survival mode the first couple months, so only expend energy on the priorities.

And finally, picking your nutritionist/disordered eating expert brain, I wondered if you had any wisdom regarding self acceptance/body positivity for new moms and/or setting a good example of this for your kids.

It’s important for postpartum women to give themselves space to grieve their old bodies. We have constant messages thrown at us to “lose the baby weight fast”, and then we’re also told to “appreciate our stretch marks and mommy tummy” because it’s “so worth it.” We feel guilty if we can’t get back to our pre-baby bodies AND we also feel guilty if we aren’t “positive” about this new body.

It’s okay to feel sad about your body sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re vain or shallow. It doesn’t mean that you lack gratitude. Avoiding feelings and pretending you’re fine never ends well. Journal or talk to a trusted fellow mom. Give yourself grace—your body just went through a traumatic experience, you’re healing, your hormones are crazy, you’re tired. Look the way you look and feel the way you feel.

Try to accept both your body and your feelings, and don’t beat yourself up if acceptance is a tough concept right now.

As for setting a good example for your kids, be nice to yourself. Even when we think they may not be looking, kids notice those under-the-breath remarks in the fitting room or self-deprecating comments over second helpings of ice cream. Then they mimic us. Give yourself the love and respect that you give to your kids.

There you have it! Aren’t I lucky to know her? She shared such an incredible story  — I’m stunned at her strength through the terrifying diagnosis in her first pregnancy and utterly appalled at her hospital experience with her first childbirth!!! — and so many good ideas — the “Special Time” idea is getting implemented STAT in our house, and I’ve got some new reading to tackle. (As usual, nothing on this site is sponsored, so the Amazon links are just for your convenience.)

I really needed some encouragement today and was so happy to find Erin’s words in my inbox. I hope you enjoyed it, too.

While her blog is a faith-based resource for people struggling with disordered eating, and not a mom blog, I know that there certainly is overlap between those two groups of people. In addition to selfishly picking Erin’s brain to prepare myself for parenting two, I also hoped that connecting with her would help connect any of my readers who might be struggling. If you are (or know someone who is) dealing with an eating disorder, visit RecoveringwithGod.com for words of encouragement. (And, as Erin points out in her bio, you should also seek treatment with a health care professional.) Take care of yourself, Mama.

P.S. I can’t figure out how to get someone a draft for review on WordPress without it going live, so sorry if you got a blank/password protected email post!

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Remember for a chunk of time how this became barely a parenting blog and more a blog about very tame backyard farming? If not, here are a few samplings from that time:

Well, because I generally have the brain power for just one post a week, and because I’m pregnant again and therefore have a pretty easy framework for new material, I have neglected to talk much about our little menagerie for awhile. But I wanted to take a moment to memorialize a sad milestone in our farming adventure.

Last week, on a dark and stormy night, we lost a chicken.

Hera was a good chicken. She was about 17 weeks old, the only Buff Orpington in our little half-dozen flock. She was timid and sweet, she didn’t like to be pet but would eat out of my hand. She was getting big and nearing the time she’d start laying eggs. She had recently lost a bunch of tail feathers, making her look (to me, at least) the most dinosaur-like of all our chickens whenever she broke into a run.

Hera
Rest in peace, chickie.

I promised him I wouldn’t invoke the wrath of the Internet when telling this story, and I hope not to because he doesn’t deserve it: The Husband took a break from working on his laptop last Monday to lock the chickens in their coop for the night. (They free range all day and put themselves to bed at about 8:30.) He went out to check on them before the storm rolled in — even counted them all because they dogpile in their nesting boxes instead of roosting and are sometimes hard to see (need to figure that one out…) and then, unfortunately, went inside without remembering to close and latch the door to the chicken run.

In the night, something (fox? raccoon? coyote?) crept in and snatched up Hera. Whatever it was left behind a trail of bloody feathers and a rattled remaining flock. I think the thrashing, hours-long storm that struck was a stroke of luck because it probably kept away any later predators who would have taken advantage of the situation.

The Husband was beside himself with regret the next morning when I went to let the chickens out and found all but one emerging from under our porch. I felt sadder than I expected to, but not angry. For as absent-minded as I’ve been lately, it could have just as easily been me who forgot to latch the run.

Or, it could have been if I were ever awake late enough for it to be my job. The Husband has picked up so much slack since the pregnancy fatigue sunk in, including night chores for the animals, I feel bad that the responsibility has fallen almost solely on him.

Today, while walking around our pond with The Toddler before bedtime, I heard our dog crunch something (unusual, as she’s not a stick chewer) and found she had unearthed a chicken thigh bone with a few orange feathers stuck to it. Hera’s remains.

I can’t count how many chicken thigh bones I’ve discarded over the years without a second thought, but I picked up this one and brought it back to the porch.

Maybe it’s silly to bury a chicken, but that’s what we’re going to do.

She was a good egg.

 

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 15

I’m going to try to keep this brief, because this post is the only thing standing between me and bedtime. Today wraps up Week 15 of my second pregnancy, and it finally feels like I have my feet back underneath me (though my view of them is beginning to be obstructed.)

I still feel tired from time to time, and I think I eked out a nap once this week, but I have gotten into a groove of cleaning my house again… something I didn’t realize how badly I was neglecting until I picked up the habit again this week. It’s still far from spotless, but the past two months it would have been a rare treat to find my dining room table not littered with splats of yogurt and desiccated peas. The Toddler actual has clean laundry on most days, and I have even run the vacuum a few times this week.

I have a vague memory of this feeling of coming back to life from my first first trimester, having settled into a routine of falling soundly asleep after dinner and waking in the morning feeling like I had been asleep for just a few minutes; feeling almost lonely in my exhaustion because The Husband was up for hours without me and we hardly had time to talk, let alone sit around and watch our favorite shows together or do any of the other things we enjoyed; and then suddenly, I was better. I still couldn’t necessarily swing a late night movie, but I could manage to cook dinner without crying in front of the refrigerator or falling asleep at my plate.

So here I am again: That sweet, sweet second trimester.

I woke up this morning feeling like my belly had finally “popped.” While I’ve already gained about 7-8 pounds by my estimation, I have just felt chubby up to this point, but I put on a maternity skirt to go to the farmer’s market this morning and thought I looked obviously pregnant instead of just lumpy.

New this pregnancy is periodic, agonizing foot pain that feels like a deep, throbbing bruise in one or another part of either of my feet. It seems to be brought on by wearing unsupportive shoes (like flip-flops) for any length of time, so it looks like I’ll be rocking athletic shoes with every outfit for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t have this problem the last time around, and I walked four miles a day most days. I guess I can chalk this up to starting off a couple pounds heavier and a couple years older than the last time I did this. *Yay.*

Finally, Week 15 has marked the introduction of extra pillows into my sleep space. Right now I’m fairly comfortable with one pillow between my knees (or folded in half under my feet on those days when the weird bruise-swelling makes it impossible to fall asleep unless I elevate my feet). This begins the slow descent into the inevitable reintroduction of The Snoogle.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this enormous, G-shaped pillow the first time around. Love, because it afforded me a modicum of comfort when I was big and round and achy; hate, because it took up the entire bed and required me to completely strip all my covers every time I wanted to roll over, and took up so much space that my husband seriously considered a permanent move to the guest bed. The Snoogle is currently balled up in a trash bag hanging in The Toddler’s closet… it won’t be long now, old friend.

Well, in true me form I’ve cranked out 600 words for a “short” blog post. Week 15 has been pretty good to me, even if it has included a sad loss of a farm friend (more on that in a separate post) and the inexplicable shortening of naps to an hour and a half, paired with daily wakings between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m for The Toddler. I can’t have it all, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Bedtime!

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.

First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.

We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”

“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”

Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”

Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.

Okay, so onto the week we had.

I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.

The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.

What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.

So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.

Boo, hoo.

We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.

In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.

I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.

week14
Toes watch 2017 has officially commenced. (Yes, I need to sweep my floor. Always.)
Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies

Today wraps up the last day of my first trimester (I think… it’s not always clear when one ends and the next begins, but I’m counting it.) The theme this week has been the breakneck pace at which life moves.

I’ve already mentioned how much quicker it feels like this pregnancy is going. In some ways I’m much, much busier, but in other ways I have fewer distractions because I’m alone with my thoughts so much more than I used to be when I was surrounded by colleagues and projects all day. Or maybe it feels like it’s going quicker because I already have someone on the outside reminding me daily just how fleeting babyhood is.

I woke whimpering from a dream one night this week. I know it’s usually boring to hear about other people’s dreams, but I think this one pretty perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now:

In the dream, I was standing and holding The Toddler in my arms, telling him how big he was getting.

I whispered in his ear, “Someday, you’re going to be so tall you’ll be able to hug me like this with your feet on the ground.” He giggled with the delight, that heart-shatteringly sweet giggle that toddlers have.

With this, I released him to put him down, only to find that in that moment he had grown tall enough to hug me with his feet on the ground. In an instant he had become a full grown man, and I looked down at my hands, wrinkled and older, and up into his face. I had somehow missed all the moments in between.

He was beautiful and smiling but I began to cry in confusion and sadness and woke up gasping for breath.

Blame it on pregnancy hormones, but this dream has stuck with me all week, feeling like a lump in my throat. It’s been a trying week in many ways (I’ll spare you the detailed complaints about sleep for the thousandth time, but it’s making me wonder 18-month sleep regression? and Google “Dealing with breastfeeding aversion in pregnancy” and throw silent tantrums), but that dream has been reminding me to take a breath and try to, if not remember forever, at least be fully present for the sweet moments we have.

The Toddler is picking up new words every day and wearing them around like a new pair of shoes: Mama, Dada, Lou (our dog), big, bye, hello, nest, car, truck, bubbles, bottle, cheese. (Along with a slew of animal- and vehicle-related onomatopoeia.)

He is climbing into our rocking chair and looking at books by himself, helping put kitchen towels and clean spoons away. Choosing (and lifting!) big bags of cat food and putting them in our basket at the pet store. Watching frogs in the pond and offering clover to the chickens. Listening for distant planes and seeking them out in the sky. Turning everything into a train and lining it up on invisible tracks. Watching the pair of house finches outside our kitchen door feed their babies and pointing, “A nest!” He is curious and exuberant and nurturing and wild and so, so big.

I know I will love our second baby with my whole heart just like I love him, and I cannot wait for them to meet each other, but I also feel like I need to hold onto every second I have in the next six months while it’s just us. I don’t want to lose focus and find when I step back that I’ve somehow missed out on this short, precious time.

Today is also my seventh wedding anniversary. I won’t get too mushy here (I think I’ve probably used up my weekly allotment above), but I must say I feel pretty damned lucky to have found the person who wraps me in his arms when I wake up from a nightmare, jumps into every new adventure with both feet, is absolutely worthy of his son’s hero worship, and lets me talk him into scrapping our semi-fancy anniversary dinner plans to get burritos in our old neighborhood because it’s all I can think about eating.

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies

My Second Rodeo

Guess what, Internet! Choose your favorite euphemism. I’m once again with child, expecting, knocked up, got a bun in the oven, in the family way, eating for two, etc.

I am pregnant with Baby No. 2!!!

pregnancy_test_result
Fun party trick! Might I recommend this for your next girl’s night or backyard BBQ?

I am beginning this post right around the 7 weeks mark, though I won’t publish it for a few more weeks unless I get an itchy trigger finger. But I thought it might be helpful for any early-pregnancy readers who are Googling their brains out to consume real life accounts of other women’s early pregnancies.

Before I proceed, let me revive the caveat that pregnancy is something that happens to a human body, so if you don’t feel like learning the details of mine, steer clear. I’m not going to post pictures of my bathroom trips or anything like that, but I also won’t mince words much about the joy and agony of the next nine months.

Here’s a quick highlights reel of the weeks that have transpired since that second line turned pink.

Four weeks: A six pack and a two pack

I was on my way to a meeting of the Ladies Craft Beer Society (which it seems I’ll forever allude to and never actually explain), stopping off at a grocery store to pick up some beer. I had felt a little funny for the past week–a weird dizzy spell, some very strange cramping, and light spotting nowhere near when my period was due that quickly ended. My cycles had been irregular leaning toward long (like 35 days) since they returned in December, and I was hesitant to test at just 28 days (as I had recently enjoyed the one-two punch of a chemical pregnancy, boo), but it had been a long week and I wanted to knock back a couple of beers without hesitation.

So I impulsively threw a two-pack of early detection pregnancy tests in my basket next to the beer and then dared the woman at the checkout to say something. I detected a small eyebrow raise but was impressed with her professionalism.

When I got to my friend’s house, I asked to use her bathroom and took the test, fully expecting it to be negative so I could carry on and have a good time. Practically before I could get the cap back on the test, the test line turned a dark, dark pink and I shoved it in my purse with shaking hands.

The walk back to the deck to join my friends was a frenzied and disorganized attempt to develop a strategy. “Just pretend to drink a beer and don’t tell anyone!” I said to myself. But to my horror, I found my eyes welling up with tears I could not suppress. This didn’t go unnoticed. A silence fell across the table.

“I…I just took a pregnancy test… and…it’s positive.” I stammered. The reaction was a lot of, “What?!” and laughing at the absurdity of my impulse-testing, followed by cheers and congrats.

Oops. Definitely should have told The Husband first. I was determined to have an hour or two to myself, though, so I sat down, made a dreamcatcher, caught up with my friends and then drove home to break the good news.

Five weeks: Take it queasy (or, so metal)

I had maybe one day of real nausea when I was pregnant with The Baby. This week, actual, full-blown nausea hit me and settled in. I also had some dizzy spells.

Maybe more intolerable than the nausea, which could be quelled by eating the right amount of buttery toast, was the constant taste of metal in my mouth. Sources vaguely suggest “hormones” cause this bad, bad taste (you don’t say, pregnancy books…) but for a couple of weeks I couldn’t shake the sensation I had been perpetually sucking on tarnished green pennies out of a mall fountain. Interestingly, the one food that seemed to overpower it temporarily was pickles. Perhaps, indeed, this is where the stereotype of pregnant women craving pickles comes from. We’re just trying to exorcise the penny-demons from our mouths.

Six weeks: Painted into a corner

My gift-giving tactic lately has been action-based instead of stuff-based (because it’s really hard to shop with a toddler, and any minor skill I used to possess at buying good gifts has long since been lost to the brain-frying of early motherhood).

So for one recent gift I told my parents I’d help paint their bedroom in addition to installing new floors. They called the painting favor in during the weekend of Week 6, forcing my hand at the probably baby announcement. So I called them over and wrote “Big Brother in Training” on The Toddler’s chalkboard and had him help with the big reveal. The Husband simultaneously texted his family so we’d all be on the same page.

As someone whose first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and who guarded the secret of her second pregnancy with a fierce and dwelling worry that it wouldn’t stick, it felt very strange, but also pretty liberating, to not care that people knew even before I’d had a confirmatory doctor’s appointment. This pregnancy feels sticky, and even if it ends, that’s what happens sometimes. It will suck, but I’ve decided at this point that I would rather have people know than carry that wound in secret again.

Seven weeks: Eating for four

Oh, boy. The nausea this time around, while not debilitating, has been pretty consistent and demands my near-constant consumption of carbs. And I’m still nursing The Toddler twice a day. This, coupled with the fact that my digestive system has come to a screeching halt, means that I’m constantly walking a tightrope between nausea, bloating and feeling wildly overfull. It reminds me of how I felt in late pregnancy when The Baby occupied my entire abdomen and I could eat neither enough or little enough to ever feel comfortable. So this week it felt like I was eating for four: myself, The nursing Toddler, Baby No. 2 (better nickname coming soon), and the myself who makes bad decisions like buying a donut at the grocery store.

I have already gained about 5 lbs, not at all a good track record, but it’s been raining incessantly and the daily walks I started a few weeks ago have been impossible to maintain. I’m hoping to pick it back up when the rain lets up, and also hoping my nausea wears off soon so I don’t have to eat every waking second.

Eight weeks: Snooze fest

Just like my pregnancy with The Baby, fatigue has hit me hard. This time around, instead of sitting at my desk at work fighting to stay awake, I’m wrestling The Toddler into his high chair for lunch and praying he’ll take a nap so I can empty the dishwasher and then fall into bed for a drooling 40 minutes of rest.

You’d think it would be easier to rest as a SAHM with a napping toddler, but there’s a sick paradox to the whole thing: The mounting laundry and dishes and unplanned dinner give me too much anxiety to sleep, but the bone-penetrating fatigue keeps me from slogging through much of this to ease the anxiety so I can sleep. Pair that with The Toddler’s threats this week to quit napping and I’m basically a whining couch potato by the time The Husband gets home from work. In addition to the unchecked anxiety, I enjoy a heaping mound of self-inflicted guilt that The Husband has worked 11 hours only to come home to deal with The Toddler, sometimes dinner, and always chores while I lay listlessly on the couch until bedtime.

In other symptoms’ news: Nausea remains a daily part of life. I told The Husband I might die of gas yesterday (Happy birthday, dear), and I simultaneously crave and hate the same foods. (Internal monologue: “You know what sounds good? A frosted cookie. Barf, no! That would be the worst!” Repeat.)

Also this week, we made the decision to visit a midwifery practice instead of my beloved (but restricted to the county hospital) OB/GYN. I want another unmedicated birth, and this gives me the opportunity to try water birth (and just as importantly, go home wayyyyyy before the agonizingly long 48 hours I spent in the postpartum ward before). The appointment went as smoothly as it can when you bring a 17-month-old along, and we got to see the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. So this is real.

Oh, also, I’m not sure what the odds are on this (one in 365, I guess?) but Baby No. 2’s due date is the exact same day as The Toddler’s was–New Year’s Eve. So, guess we’re having another Christmas baby. Oops.

Here we are, week nine.

Today marks the first day of my ninth week. From here on out I’ll try to update weekly or so (no promises). Today we’re leaving for an overnight trip (without The Toddler, for the first time!) to a bed & breakfast for The Husband’s birthday. I’m looking forward to a nice, loooong night of sleep.

My Second Rodeo