Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

I’m officially 37 weeks now. Which means, in addition to the baby being basically fully cooked and safe to come out, I am officially eligible to labor in the tub at the birthing center, if I want. Hooray!

But let’s talk about Week 36.

The primary features of Week 36 this time around:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Lightning crotch
  • Hairtrigger crying reflex
  • Stress eating, and the subsequent return of heartburn

Pregnancy-wise, it wasn’t too rough of a week. I think I’ve finally completed the midwife circuit at the practice I go to, and I’m now on a weekly appointment schedule. At the 36 week appointment, I got the Group B strep test (presumed negative, as I didn’t get a phone call), so I won’t have to get antibiotics during labor.

Life-wise, it wasn’t an especially pleasant week. I’m still swamped with freelancing work (which is a good thing! And a fun project! But not the greatest timing on my part), had to spend two daycare mornings dealing with minor but inconvenient car issues, and The Toddler is once again going through a weird developmental phase (please, God, let this just be a phase) where he is refusing to nap and regressing with his potty-training habits. The Husband, too, was stretched thin, and worked late three nights last week, so while he did his best I felt like I was flying solo through a lot of turbulence.

The Toddler napped one. time. last week. And has had about four costume changes a day, thanks to his refusal to tell me when he needs to go. On the bright side, no naps means he is crashing for bed by 6 p.m. But then again, so am I.

All of which made that freelancing work pretty tricky to tackle, and all preparation for his family birthday party on Saturday had to wait until Saturday morning, which meant by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon I was just frantically running around the house, tears streaming down my face, as I tried to put everything together at the  last minute. I’ve got to stop being enormously pregnant during the holidays.

Fortunately, The Toddler’s grandparents and aunts and uncles were (at least outwardly) unbothered by our mediocre food offerings and only wanted to shower the Toddler in gifts and affection. He had a blast, and is enjoying the infusion of new toys. (And my mom gets to live to see another Christmas, despite her gift of a thousand-decibel tractor toy with no off switch, because she watched him Saturday morning so we could pull everything together.)

I don’t have any additional pregnancy wisdom or whining to throw your way this week, so here are a few shots of the quick-and-dirty advent calendar I put together for The Toddler. Obviously, it’s way too late for this to be useful for this year, but maybe it will come in handy next year if you feel obligated to make something homemade but want to keep it super simple (like, say, if you’re enormously pregnant.)

 

Super-simple Toddler Advent Calendar

Materials

  • 1/2 yard green felt
  • A way to affix the felt to your wall (maybe Command strips/velcro? I’m lucky to have a brick hearth that holds the felt all on its own)
  • Several yards of cotton string (I used craft baker’s twine)
  • 25 buttons
  • Yarn or ticker cotton string the length of your mantle
  • Multicolored cardstock
  • Hole punch
  • 2″-ish circle template (I traced the inside of a roll of masking tape)
  • 25 clothespins
  • Metallic Sharpie
  • 25 stickers (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut out a triangle shape from the felt. (Mine is about 30″-36″ tall and 18″ wide at the base).
  2. Sew 25 buttons onto the felt to give your toddler a way to hang up the ornaments.
  3. Hang the felt tree on the wall with Command velcro strips/brick.
  4. Cut out 25 circles from the cardstock. Number them 1-25.
  5. Punch holes in the circles and tie a loop of string to each.
  6. String up the yarn/string on your mantle and evenly space the 25 clothespins out.
  7. Pin each ornament up on the mantle, clipping a sticker behind each. (For older kids, you could also write something on the back of each ornament — an activity they get to do that day, a special memory you have with them, a riddle, whatever.)
  8. You’re done! Just help your little one take down an ornament each day and hang it on a button on the tree. I like to use the empty clothespins to hold Christmas cards as they come in.
Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

Pregnancy Week 34: Date with Destiny

Today marks the last day of Pregnancy Week 34 . I am big, big, big. I had a midwife appointment the day before Thanksgiving during which I learned I had gained 6 lbs in three weeks, which is more than the recommended 1/2 a pound to a pound a week.

Not exactly a great way to kick off Thanksgiving weekend, but it’s not like I had made any major changes to how I’ve been eating and/or moving (answer: kind of a lot, and not much, at this point, TBH). I think the baby is just packing on the ell-bees him or herself, and I have not been getting in the way of that.

I did eat salad during both Thanksgiving dinners I enjoyed this week (and avoided seconds, for the most part), and have been filling up on kale smoothies during breakfast #2. I certainly don’t want to get myself into any health trouble, but I also am trying not to panic about something I have limited control over.

The week remained busy as heck as I tackle an extra freelancing project, and The Toddler’s most recent foray into part-time child care has, of course, brought with it a nasty cold that has made each night an endless battle. If it’s not a crying toddler waking me up, it’s the pregnancy insomnia. I’m feeling pretty worn out.

While I know that I’m not going to feel less exhausted when this baby is out, I’m looking forward to being able to get off the couch (or the floor, or out of bed) unassisted. Labor has become less of a faint, fuzzy memory and more of a looming reality.

One way I’ve begun to prepare is to start eating dates each day. I’ve had an unusual craving for dates throughout this pregnancy, but I’ve ramped up my consumption to six a day over the past week or so. There have actually been a few published studies demonstrating a statistically significant difference in the overall duration of labor and need for pitocin between women who eat dates in the weeks leading up to labor and women who don’t. (There was no evidence that dates start labor any earlier than it would have otherwise.)

Pregnancy week 34.png

The Husband has made this task much nicer with a lovely just-because (you’re huge and miserable) gift, a sampler box of different types of dates.

So sweet. (The Husband and the dates.)

So. Judging by my to-do list, I’m not ready for this baby, necessarily, but I do feel done with pregnancy. If it goes the way my pregnancy with Baby 1 did, I have just over four more weeks to go. That measure feels both impossibly endless and like no time at all.

Pregnancy Week 34: Date with Destiny

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

The latent sense of not feeling prepared for the baby at the end of this pregnancy is becoming more of a constant buzz in my consciousness as I find myself at the end of my 33rd week of pregnancy. Assuming I go into labor around the same time I did with my first, I have just five more weeks to get my shit together, and my to-do list looms long and neglected while life keeps getting in the way.

At 33 weeks, the baby is somewhere in the 17-19 inch range and anywhere between 4 and 6 pounds, and the estimations from here on out look to be pretty sketchy at best, as babies start to really diverge as they approach their final birth weight/length. Judging by the movements I’ve been feeling lately, the baby is mostly feet. One weird progression I read in my weekly updates is that, while awake, baby is keeping his or her eyes open in utero. I wonder what it looks like in there.

As for me, well…

I think this about sums it up.

I’m humongous. I can’t stop eating, but also, heartburn. I can’t breathe. It takes me 30 seconds to roll over in bed and a full minute to get up off the floor. My back hurts if I’m on my feet too long (oh, and also if I’m sitting too long). I’ve been super emotional–crying over very silly things, or for no reason at all. My abdominal muscles hurt from being stretched. I’ve had a few dizzy spells. I’m getting to the stage where only really long maternity shirts cover my huge, huge belly. My huge, huge belly that my toddler thinks is a trampoline.

And while I’m starting to look forward to not being pregnant anymore, this past week with The Toddler has also reminded me that I’ll be trading in immobility and indigestion for mind-numbing sleep deprivation.

While I’ve been using it as a blanket excuse for every behavioral hiccup for the past five months or so, The Toddler is finally, truly sprouting two-year molars, and that has manifested in really rotten sleep. He’s pretty miserable, and his parents are pooped. I think it’s affecting his dad more than me, because in the middle of the night, I am the last person The Toddler wants to see. So I get to go back to bed while The Dad tries to soothe him. It’s a good thing we put a twin bed in his room.

Though the teething hasn’t been particularly fun this week, we have pressed on in one important way toward preparing our household for the baby: The Toddler has started going to daycare (though we’re calling it “school”) a few mornings a week. I’ve been both meaning to do this forever and putting it off, first because my freelance work has been so feast-or-famine, and then because I wanted to feel he was fully through potty training before I threw off his routine.

So when my freelance work picked up this week, it ended up being the perfect catalyst for getting him out of the house a few mornings a week. (And, conveniently, the perfect excuse for further baby-prep procrastination.)

The Toddler has been struggling with drop-offs a little, but otherwise has a great time. And so has his mom! I’ve gotten a bunch of work done–mostly the paid version, but this morning I spent most of daycare time blowing leaves that have piled up on our front sidewalk and then did some shopping.

I picked up some stuff for my hospital bag (future post to come–after my next midwife appointment this week I plan to finalize my checklist to share with you) and for those special breastfeeding-time play kits to keep The Toddler occupied. That, too, will be a future post.

In the meantime, here’s hoping those teeth pop so The Husband and I can catch up on some sleep and tackle more of our to-do list.

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

Pregnancy Week 32: Preparing a toddler for big-siblinghood

It’s another eeeeeaaaarly morning in the TLMB household, and a “late again” post from yours truly. Let’s skip the excuses and move along to the good stuff.

Week 32 pregnancy stats

Baby is… FOUR POUNDS (or just under) and again, around 17 inches. The size of a half-gallon of milk, a large jicama, or a napa cabbage. I like the half-gallon of milk reference because it sounds the heaviest, and this baby feels like a half-ton of sentient bricks rolling around in my uterus.

Aside from enormous, I’m feeling about as good as can be expected this far along. I had a weird dizzy spell the other evening that seems to be pretty common (and was not accompanied by any worrisome headache or swelling, before anyone asks.) Squatting, reaching, rolling over and shoe-tying require a lot more grunting than usual, I still have a perpetually stuffy nose, and apparently I snore now. The nesting instinct is still both fierce and usually abandoned to more pressing priorities, such as laundering The Toddler’s clothes so he has underwear to wear, or swapping out the frozen water for the goats and chickens (Oh, hey winter! Forgot you were a thing.)

Anyway, since I haven’t been able to keep up with my schedule of posting more than once a week, I thought I’d give you a twofer and share a short list of ways we’ve been preparing The Toddler (who will turn two a week before our due date) for the arrival of his little brother or sister.

Pregnancy week 32

Preparing Toddler for the New Baby

  1. Including the baby in conversations. The Toddler is talking up a storm these days. Sometimes I will ask him to tell the baby what we did that day, or show the baby a picture he drew, etc. Basically trying to regularly remind him there’s a person in there in a low-key way on a regular basis, and not just, “Please don’t step on my belly, you’re going to squish the baby.” I think this casual, inclusive approach has served me well so far, as The Toddler will often pull up my shirt to “see baby” and will hold up his toys to my belly, press his face against it, or just chat for a minute. It’s very heart-melty.
  2. Lots of books. We’re library rats, and every time I see a book with a sibling relationship in it, I try to grab it (all library browsing is done at top speed while The Toddler ransacks the children’s room). They aren’t all about new babies, and while I haven’t shied away from books about the mechanics of it all, he’s not really interested. The one we’re currently reading over and over again is Gemma and Gus, one of the “Gossie & Friends” series by Olivier Dunrea. We also read The Baby is Here! (Daniel Tiger) two million times.
  3. Exposure therapy. Probably a mislabel since he absolutely does not have a baby phobia, but I have lucked out in having several friends with new babies and have also recently joined the local chapter of a MOMS club. So every chance I get, I introduce The Toddler to a new baby. During these greetings, with the baby’s mom’s permission, I try to let The Toddler gently touch a foot or hand while describing how the baby interacts with the world–lots of sleeping, not a lot of moving around, no playing yet, and only eating milk. I know the reality of sharing his parents is not going to sink in full force until he’s doing it, but I’m hoping these repeated introductions to babies will give him a little perspective on how his little sibling will need a lot of help at first and instill whatever degree of empathy he’s capable of at this stage.
  4. Baby dolls. Baby dolls are for all kids, not just girls, of course. The Toddler has three (I recently bought him a very small, soft-bodied baby to go along with the bigger, hard-plastic ones he got from his grandmas). He likes to push them around in a stroller, or wear the smallest baby in a toy backpack on his back (like I carry him in his carrier sometimes still), pretend to feed them, etc. He even has started demanding that I change their diapers, and he steps up on a little stool at the changing table to pick out a diaper to put on them.
  5. Encouraging a spirit of helpfulness. The Toddler is becoming more independent as he approaches two, and wanting to do lots of things himself. Of course, this leads to a lot of power struggles, but whenever possible I try to harness this independence for good, and ask him to help me with easy chores (stacking up toilet paper rolls in the bathroom closet, handing me clean spoons out of the dishwasher, feeding the pets.) I always say, “Thanks, helper!” and can see he takes a lot of pride in these little chores, so hopefully this will carry through when I’m trapped under a nursing baby and really need him to bring me something.
  6. Introducing a part-time daycare routine. My freelancing work has picked up lately, and will stay busy through my due date, which has pushed me to do something I’ve been intending but putting off: enrolling The Toddler in a part-time daycare a couple days a week. We had a visit on Thursday last week, and his first morning will be tomorrow. While I’m not super thrilled at the inevitable myriad of colds he’ll bring home with him, I am thrilled he’ll be getting more running-around time, developmental enrichment and exposure to children his age. I’ve been really trying the past few months to provide this for him, but my energy is low, and I know it will only be harder to do in the first few months after baby arrives. So as long as we can afford it, we’ll keep up this routine.
  7. We got a TV. I’m not as proud of this item on my list as the others, but I’ve conceded it’s a necessity. Up until now, we haven’t had a TV in our living room. When pregnancy fatigue steamrolled me a few months ago, I caved and started letting The Toddler watch Daniel Tiger on my laptop. As is customary, I feel immense guilt about this. However, while an episode or two of age-appropriate TV isn’t going to kill him, climbing onto our trash can (something he did earlier this week) while I’m nursing a baby might. And a laptop isn’t exactly toddler-proof, so we bought a TV this week. I will use it judiciously keep him entertained and safe when I’m occupied with the baby (or, in the meantime, while I’m dizzily chugging water or clambering to make dinner.)

Still to come:

  • Preparing for first introduction. When The Toddler comes to visit us after the baby is born, our plan is to have the baby in a bassinet and first shower The Toddler in affection and attention before we introduce the baby to him. We’re also planning on picking out a small present “from the baby” to give him. These are pretty standard recommendations for helping The Toddler not to feel too displaced.
  • Busy bags for breastfeeding time. I’m planning on breastfeeding again, and can’t really wrap my head around how I’m going to keep The Toddler busy during marathon nursing sessions (and don’t want the aforementioned TV to be the only tool in my toolbox). I got a great recommendation from a MOMS club friend who has four kids, including a new baby: Make up a few boxes/bags of special toys that only come out during nursing time, and must be put away when it’s over. This keeps them exciting and novel and helps keep the big sibling happily occupied, at least in theory. I’m not sure yet what will go in these bags–The Toddler still always wants help/my active participation when he’s coloring or playing with Playdough, etc.–so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
Pregnancy Week 32: Preparing a toddler for big-siblinghood

Pregnancy Week 31: Still pregnant

It’s 4:37 a.m., two days into Week 32. Because my son doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, neither do I.

Anyway, sorry for the late post, but I’ve been busy with work the past week. Also, I’ve been nesting maniacally, though it doesn’t feel that crazy because we genuinely have a lot to do before the baby gets (though I guess every nesting lunatic says that, right?)

Anyway, backing up to the facts:

During Week 31, baby is more than 16 inches long and 3 pounds, or the size of a coconut or a football. Baby is losing the werewolf look (I hope) as lanugo starts to shed, and continues to run out of room to move around (though that hasn’t stopped him or her from getting in some pretty hard kicks). The baby is also packing on fat in preparation for life outside of my toasty-warm uterus.

I’m still feeling pretty sleepy, though not nearly as worn out as I was when The Husband was out of town last week. I’m also sniffly–either just your standard pregnancy stuffy nose, or I’m headed toward another cold, I can’t quite tell. One symptom I forgot to mention along the way (I think) that I’ve been dealing with all pregnancy is a flare up of eczema on my hands. This is something I’ve dealt with on and off throughout my adult life, but haven’t seen for a good four years or so, so it’s been an irritating addition to my other symptoms. It got so bad I had to get a prescription to treat it.

Let’s see, what else…heartburn, of course. And shortness of breath, which I don’t always notice, but which has my heaving great big sighs that trigger The Husband to ask me if I’m okay all the time. And I’m just generally feeling humongous and cumbersome, especially when The Toddler demands I sit on the floor and then gets up and runs away while I roll around trying to get up like a flipped-over turtle.

I had an appointment with the midwife this past week, and she reported that Baby 2 is head-down (hooray!) We’re finally getting a tour of the Holistic Birthing Center tonight, which will then allow me to plan a realistic hospital bag checklist (last time around, no joke, we brought two duffel bags that we could have smuggled adult humans in.)

In other prep news, The Husband made and froze some chili for us last week when he came home. I didn’t manage to make a freezer meal this week, but I think I’m going to try for some enchiladas this week? Either that or I’ll take a nap. We’ll see.

Sorry the last few updates haven’t been particularly interesting (or on time, or consistent.) This part of the pregnancy just feels like a slog. I’d like to say I’ll make an effort to have these be more useful to anyone other than me, but honestly, no promises. If there’s one thing I learned in the wake of having my first baby, it’s to set realistic expectations for yourself.

Pregnancy Week 31: Still pregnant

Pregnancy Week 30: Sleepy, solo parenting

This is gonna be brief, because [see blog post title]. I’m at the end of Day 3 out of 4 of The Husband being out of town for a work conference. Just in time for pregnancy fatigue to come back in full force.

The Toddler is going through some sort of developmental leap this week. I’m calling it “Mommy, Look!” Week because he’s been saying it over and over again. Sometimes it’s cute (he has colored something or figured out how to open Mr. Potato Head’s storage hatch) but usually it means he’s standing on the dining room table while I’m trying to cook us something for dinner. It could also be called, “I’m No Longer Going to Tell You When I Have to Poop” week, which also has been fun.

Baby 2 is the size of a cantaloupe, or a platypus! (I know I’ve been complaining about baby size comparisons this whole pregnancy, but I’m pretty psyched about the platypus.) That equates to 17 inches and about 3.5 pounds. His or her lanugo will start to fall off this week (though judging by the full blown acid reflux that’s kicked in this week, he or she will still be covered in fur at birth).

Um, what else… I don’t know. I’m tired. I can’t stop burping. Or whining. I And I’m on solo duty for one more night. Wish me luck.

platypus_by_lewin
By John Lewin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pregnancy Week 30: Sleepy, solo parenting

Pregnancy Week 28: Sick and pregnant is nothing to sneeze at

Welcome to my third trimester, readers! Week 28 kicked off with a cold, courtesy of The Toddler. (More on that in a minute).

First things first, though: stats.

The baby is about the size of a coconut, an echidna, a rollerblade (I call B.S. on that one, Ovia), or a large eggplant. In less nonsensical terms, that is somewhere around 2 1/4-2 1/2 pounds and 15-16 inches.  Baby is working on self-regulating his or her temperature and is producing the hormones that will kick (my) lactation into gear after birth.

Pregnancy-wise, I’m feeling pretty good. After a quieter Week 27 (not alarmingly so, but the baby’s kicks went from “I’ve got a belly full of elbows” to light flutters and nudges, mostly in the evenings/at night), Baby 2 seems to have gotten settled in the closer quarters resulting from his or her increasing size, and is once again doing kick-flips throughout the day. I’m still relying on Prilosec to allow me to eat, which bums me out but is truly necessary for my well-being.

What’s really new this week, and a pregnancy first for me, is a cold.

Pregnancy Week 28 - Sick and pregnant: Nothing to sneeze at

You see, back when I was pregnant with The Toddler, it was very easy to avoid germy people. I had zero contact with children and a very large supply of hand sanitizer. My top priority, aside from snacks, was avoiding illness, and I did so with reckless disregard for anyone’s feelings.

In fact, I remember once in my third trimester, a colleague of mine who had stayed home sick the day before came to my desk to discuss a project we were working on together. I saw his red nose and watery eyes, heard the sniffles, and looked at the paper he set on my desk as if he had placed a petri dish labeled “Mad Cow Disease” in front of me. I like to think I wasn’t enormously rude, but the conversation did go like this:

“Are you sick?”

“Well, I was yesterday, but I’m feeling better today. Anyway, about the numbers–”

“No. Why don’t you go back to your office and I’ll call you and we can discuss [project] that way?”

Stares pointedly from him down to the paper on my desk until he picks it up and walks out. Gives him 45 seconds to get back to his desk before I call him to proceed as if I hadn’t just unceremoniously thrown him out of my office. Sorry, Dan.

Now, The Toddler licks everything in my house, including me. I am essentially a giant tissue, as he wipes his snot on my shirt whenever it’s convenient. If I washed my hands as much as I should, I’d have no skin on my hands. If I washed everything else as much as I should, I would get 15 minutes of sleep a night. I am, by necessity, a cesspool of germs.

Having a toddler while pregnant means that also having a cold while pregnant is hardly noticeable, though. It’s like being repeatedly but gently kicked in the head while someone is stepping on your foot, and also you have to pee. Just another generally unpleasant stimulus.

I have a lot less time to sit still with a cold, pregnant or not, so I’m often too busy to really notice how shitty I feel. That is, of course, until a sneezing fit hits and I have to go change my pants. Twice. In a span of 10 minutes. (Yesterday was fun. Do your kegels.) Even if I do notice how shitty I feel, I still have to feed my kid dinner and keep him entertained to some degree.

The other extra-lame part of having a cold, having a toddler, and being pregnant, is that of course The Toddler also has a cold (where do you think I got it?) and is sleeping terribly this week, nights and naps. So I haven’t been able to rest as much as I should. Fortunately, The Husband had yesterday off work, so I was able to catch about 40 minutes of sort-of sleep.

I had been thinking about getting The Toddler into a once-a-week daycare situation to give me more time to work on freelancing and get him around other kids (which he’s really into right now), but as I approach labor and true cold-and-flu season, I’m reconsidering. Having a cold while having a toddler while being pregnant sucks, but it’s probably nothing compared to having a cold while having a toddler while going into labor. Maybe I just institute a quarantine now.

Pregnancy Week 28: Sick and pregnant is nothing to sneeze at