Pregnancy Week 35: Lightening Up (my belly, and my hospital bags)

The first day of my 35th week of pregnancy, I was sitting on The Toddler’s floor bed rubbing his back and trying to get him down for a nap when, suddenly, I felt it: the unmistakable pleasure of being able to take a deep breath. To make certain, I took another one. Yes! The baby had dropped!

I hadn’t even realized just how hard it had been to breathe until it got easy(ish) again. (Well, I sort of did, because The Husband asked me if I was all right every day because most of my exhales sounded like exasperated sighs.) Suddenly it was also the tiniest bit easier to move around, as my center of gravity was lower and my belly even felt a little smaller.

Of course, there is a tradeoff for easier breathing and improved balance when the baby drops. Here’s a few of my Google searches from this week to give you an idea of what that tradeoff might be:

  • 35 weeks can you feel dilation happening
  • cervical pressure 35 weeks
  • late third trimester cramping

Basically, it feels like the baby is getting some work done on the getting-ready-to-come-out front. I’m trying not to convince myself I’ll go into labor any earlier than I did with Baby 1 (39 weeks, 1 day), because I know it will only make me crazy to surpass any arbitrary deadlines I set. Despite this, baby-day is looming close enough that I am finally getting some of the major to-dos checked off my list. One of those is packing my hospital bags. I still have a few odds and ends to add, but if I were to go into labor today, I would not be caught completely empty-handed.

With our first baby, we packed everything imaginable. As most first-timers will tell you, almost none of those items got any use. My temptation this time around is to drastically underpack, both out of sheer laziness and because I’m hoping to not spend much time at the hospital either in labor or recovery afterward.

Again, setting myself up for potential disappointment, but second labors are usually shorter than first, and my first labor was only 12 hours last time, only three of which were at the hospital. Additionally, because we’re working with midwives, there are a lot of extras–like an exercise ball–I won’t have to bring in because they’re well equipped to support intervention-free birth. And finally, I don’t want to stick around any longer than absolutely necessary afterward. I hated our hospital stay last time and just wanted to go home.

However, because we’re dealing with a 40-minute drive to the hospital instead of five minutes, and because I’m not worried about getting pressured into interventions, we’ll be heading to the hospital sooner than we did last time. (Plus, again, it’s possible this labor will be shorter. I’m not interested in having a highway baby.) So I did add some things to the list that I might appreciate earlier on in labor.

Without further ado, here’s my pared-down hospital bag list this time around:

In case the hospital drive gets messy

  • A towel (if I don’t need it on the ride up, it might be nice to have a big towel for the post-birth shower, in case the hospital towels are tiny and scratchy again)
  • A few absorbent underpads to protect the car seats in case my water breaks

Labor essentials

  • Wooden back massager
  • Charged Bluetooth shower speaker (I can suction it straight to the birthing tub and not worry about getting it wet)
  • Headphones
  • Camera with charged batteries and a cleared SD card
  • Mini LED battery-powered Christmas lights (Since childhood, my “happy place” has always been sticking my head under the Christmas tree and staring up at the lights. Considering how much I withdrew into myself during my first labor, I expect this will be a soothing, easy focal point.)

Post-birth essentials

  • Change of clothes for myself and The Husband (just pajamas. I will probably hang out in a hospital gown in the immediate aftermath, and I don’t have a particular desire to get fully dressed for the drive home.)
  • Baby clothes (one set of newborn and one set of 0-3 month clothes in case this baby is bigger than the last one), plus a hat, booties, and a swaddler
  • Mini toiletries (I’m delivering at a different hospital than last time, but the toiletries at the county hospital were, I am assuming, jail grade. I’m not a soap snob, but my first post-birth shower was pretty unpleasant.)
  • Slippers and flip-flops (the latter for the shower)
  • Sleep mask to give me even the remotest shot of catching a nap

Paperwork/resources

  • A few copies of my birth plan
  • Pre-registration paperwork and insurance information, plus a copy of the informed consent paperwork I signed for the Holistic Birthing Center
  • Quick guides (from The Birth Partner and doula/podcaster Adriana Lozada’s “The Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit”) for The Husband
  • Birth affirmations on index cards (maybe laminated, if I’m feeling really ambitious). I spent most of my previous labor with my eyes shut, so I’m not planning to post them up anywhere. Instead, the intention is to equip The Husband with things I actually want to hear.

Digital prep

  • I temporarily upgraded to Spotify premium so I could make and download a few playlists to my phone. So far I have a “fun” playlist (for earlier labor, probably), a “serious” playlist for when the going gets a little tougher, and a “zen” playlist in case I just want instrumental music.
  • An app that has a contraction timer. I also plan on changing the settings on my phone when labor hits so it stays unlocked and is easy to access.
  • Important phone numbers programmed into both mine and my husband’s phones (midwives, hospital, etc.)

Things I’m on the fence about

  • The midwife I saw most recently recommended I bring a Boppy pillow. It just takes up a ton of space and I don’t really feel like hauling it around.
  • Same goes with a regular bed pillow. Maybe it would help me feel more “at home” to sleep, but I’m not sure the slightly enhanced comfort is worth the extra baggage.

That’s it for my hospital bag(s), I think. Second+ time moms, what did you add to your hospital bags? What did you ditch from the first time around?

Pregnancy Week 35: Lightening Up (my belly, and my hospital bags)

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 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 26: Looking ahead to delivery day

Today closes out week 26 of my pregnancy with Baby 2, and also wraps up the nesting frenzy that started last week.

First, a quick stats and symptoms rundown:

Baby weighs in at about 2 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to foot, or the size of a butternut squash, a slow loris, a bowling pin or an adult human skull???

Me? Oh, I’m good, thanks. Just rushing through this post on my way to nap-town because I was awake for hours last night with insane heartburn, which was 100% deserved because I celebrated my (presumed) passing of my glucose test by eating the following yesterday:

Breakfast: Homemade apple pie (my husband is amazing) and most of an everything bagel (split with The Toddler) and Neufchatel cheese

Lunch: Homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream, also half a mango

Afternoon snack: Vanilla ice cream

Dinner: French fries

I am contrite. This college freshman diet will not happen again during this pregnancy–if not for the sake of my unborn child’s health, then for my own sake.

Speaking of my husband is amazing, we plowed through a ton of to-dos over the week he took off work, despite the unrelenting heat wave. Rather than rewrite the list, I’ll direct you to my Instagram post listing off all the stuff he made possible.

Shoutout to @immortaldavis for kicking ass on his weeklong staycation, which was mapped out hour-by-every-waking-hour so we could tackle some long neglected projects, some farm-related and others in preparation for Baby #2. Here he's catching his breath from digging up a grounding rod that got stuck in three feet of drought-hardened clay after we moved the goats. Other things we accomplished this past week: garage clean out, barn clean out, freezing gallons of apples, setting up an office in the basement to make room for the new nursery, rearranging all our closets, and finally tackling a few episodes of Fargo Season 2 after the kid went to sleep on nights we still had any energy left. He also baked me an apple pie last night, and spent lots of quality time with our son, and made sure I got to put my feet up when I got too worn out. I don't say it enough: I'm lucky AF. I couldn't have dreamed of a better partner. ❤️❤️❤️ #farmlife #famgoals #parenting #partnersforlife #luckyme

A post shared by Reanna (@arkayokay) on

What I really want to talk about this post is what’s been weighing on my mind this week aside from prepping our physical space for another baby: Impending labor, and how I hope to approach it this time around.

My first childbirth experience went pretty much how I hoped it would. While we were bound by insurance to deliver in a county hospital with 90 percent+ epidural rates and limited accommodations for anyone pursuing an unmedicated birth, I managed to get through L&D *without an epidural and felt like a goddamned rock star. (Here’s my birth story if you’re interested.)

.*I super don’t care how you gave birth or plan to give birth–alone in the woods, with an epidural in place beginning at 36 weeks, or a scheduled C-section and tummy tuck, so please don’t take my satisfaction at my birth going how I wanted it as judgment about your birth plans or experience.

That said, there were parts of my experience that I hope to improve upon this time around, and now that I’m approaching the third trimester, I’m starting to consider these goals in more concrete terms. I’ll probably tackle this topic from a few directions in the coming weeks, but I thought I’d start with a general list of worries and hopes, and go from there:

  1. I hope my labor is shorter than last time, but not alarmingly so. With Baby 1, it was 12 hours start to finish. I waited as long as The Husband could stand it before we left for the hospital, but back then it was a (very difficult) 10-minute drive. This time, we’re looking at a 40-minute commute, so I’m hoping to balance getting labor off the ground at home and not pushing our luck on the road.
  2. I’m worried my more sedentary second pregnancy is going to make this labor harder. I wasn’t insanely in shape the first time, but I was walking 3-4 miles almost every day, and that’s just not in the cards this time around. I’m trying to work exercise into my days when I can, but I don’t know if it will be enough to give me the strength, stamina and flexibility I had last time
  3. I want pushing to go better this time around. I talked to one of the midwives at my appointment this week about how the directed pushing (the counting, the nurses and doctor telling me when to push and how long) just didn’t feel right, and how it resulted in some moderate (and painful) tearing, along with a lot of popped blood vessels in my face and eyes. She told me she doesn’t ascribe to this method, and generally advises moms to let their bodies tell them when and how to push, so I’m hoping with enough preparation on my end and a more supportive environment at the birthing center will mean a better time of pushing, and less damage control in the aftermath.
  4. I hope my husband feels equipped to help me with birth, without a doula, this time. This birth is costing us more, so we’re not hiring a doula, and while The Husband was a great labor partner last time around, it was also really nice to have a doula to support us both. He’s got some studying up/refreshing to do (hoping to get a hold of this book soon), and I also need to do my own work to figure out what types of affirmations, massage, positions, etc. I remember being helpful last time or that I think I’d like this time so he can be ready to help me get what I need when the time comes.
  5. As I think is extremely common with second-time moms, I’m anxious about how we’ll make sure The Toddler feels included in welcoming his new sibling, how our relationship will evolve, and (of course) how the heck I’m going to survive on 3 hours of sleep a night for a few weeks while also being responsible for a 2-year-old.

Speaking of The Toddler, looks like he’s not going to be napping for awhile, so neither am I. Better wrap this up.

Pregnancy Week 26: Looking ahead to delivery day