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 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 27: Bigger, bigger, bigger

Late again with my weekly update. I’ll happily blame a toddler cold and some well-earned social time this weekend. I seriously don’t understand how other moms carve out time to blog several times a week, or daily. Don’t you like sleeping? Doesn’t your kid assume an open laptop means an episode of Daniel Tiger paired with a barrage of snacks? Don’t you  have goats to feed?

Pregnancy Week 27

Anyway, last week was Pregnancy Week 27, the last week of the second trimester. I’m officially rounding the bend toward the finish line (and, you know, the starting line to a much harder and longer journey that is parenting another child. Holy crap, we’re going to have two kids soon.)

Baby: Is about 2-ish pounds and 14.5 inches, head to toe, or about the size of a head of cauliflower or a bunch of bananas. Is opening and closing his or her eyes, packing on fat, and  undergoing some serious brain development.

Mom: I am feeling “bigger, bigger, bigger!” as The Toddler likes to say (not just about me, in general. At least that’s what I tell myself.) I’ve succumbed to the daily Prilosec, as heartburn has gotten the best of me, and I need to sleep. And also eat.

Speaking of The Toddler, this is also the point at which his bladder control is better than mine. Aside from one unfortunate nap-related accident (someone was too tired and belligerent to sit on the potty, or perhaps it was engulfed in flames I couldn’t see, judging by his reaction to my trying to get him to go), he’s been using the potty like a champ, and as soon as the next load of laundry makes it through, he’s got a new set of 2T-sized boxer briefs with trucks on them to officially move him into underpants territory permanently. We also are giving up diapers for nights and naps, because we’ve found a night pee buys us a much later wake-up call in the morning, and he never wets his diapers anymore, anyway.

Also this week marks the official beginning of my heavy-handed hint-dropping at The Husband in the form of strategically placed literature on his nightstand. I went to an honest-to-goodness bookstore this week (instead of Amazon, although it was still a Barnes & Noble) to pick up the latest edition of The Birth Partner, and I am confident (very hopeful?) he’ll get through all 400 pages before I go into labor. (Honey, I know you read this. You have the rest of your life to read about Ulysses S. Grant before bed. <3)

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re not hiring a doula this time around, even though having her was very helpful with our first baby. The combination of added expense of delivering at a birth center and the assumption (and sincere hope) we’ll have an even quicker labor than the last time just suggested it made more sense to equip The Husband with the tools to act as my sole labor coach this time around.

Though, honestly, it’s hard to imagine carving out any sort of time before Baby 2’s arrival to really focus on childbirth. I know I’ll feel differently when I’m as big as a house and truly can’t reach my feet anymore, but I don’t feel at all ready for this pregnancy to be over. There’s just so much to do.

Pregnancy Week 27: Bigger, bigger, bigger

Things my toddler won’t eat

I was a picky eater growing up, and the list of things I didn’t like included tomatoes, peppers, cheese (yes, seriously), olives, anything remotely spicy, most fish, onions, and a myriad of other things. Combine this with my on-again, off-again status as a vegetarian, and my diet was pretty much peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When I was around 21 or so, I decided being finicky was an obnoxious personality trait and made it my mission to acclimate myself to a wider variety of food.

I realize calling pickiness an obnoxious personality trait is kind of mean, and everyone has the right to eat (or not eat) what they want. Sure, there are still foods I prefer over others, and some things I will never love no matter how much I try (looking at you, green bell peppers).

But If everyone can complain about sanctimonious vegans or millenials’ love of avocado toast, I can tell you to shut up about not eating mushrooms. If you don’t like something, just quietly don’t eat it. As they say, “Don’t yuck my yum.

I’m digressing pretty stupendously, though. My point is that I hoped to raise an adventurous eater when I had Baby 1. We did the whole Baby Led Weaning thing, and I’ve made it a point to never say, “Yuck” to anything that wasn’t, for example, a ball of lint or a dead bug heading toward his mouth. When everything is new to him, there’s no reason to prime him to expect certain foods to be superior or suspect.

Being nonchalant about what he eats means that he’ll generally try new things voluntarily, but as the toddler years have crept forward, he’s become far more selective in his food choices. I suppose it’s inevitable.

Things my toddler won't eat

Here’s a short list of things my 21-month-old won’t eat right now:

  1. Anything sandwiched. Quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, a sub. Bread? Delicious. Cheese? Can’t get enough. Jelly? He’d gladly lick it off the rug if the opportunity arose. Put any of these items together in a stack and he’ll either dismantle it and eat just the insides, or stare at me like I’ve put a kitchen sponge on his plate and suggested he might eat it. This also counts for toast with a topping (usually), and pizza.
  2. A mandarin orange if I’ve broken it into segments. Or other times, a mandarin orange if I haven’t broken it into segments. It’s impossible to predict which one he wants, even if you ask.
  3. Similarly, apple slices. If I cut an apple up out of his sight, he’ll probably eat the slices, but if he sees the whole apple, it’s game over. It doesn’t matter if it’s the size of a softball, he wants the whole thing. Nevermind that he’s done with it in two bites and leaves it to slowly decompose under the couch while I’m not looking.
  4. Shrimp. He called it “egg” when I tried to serve it to him at dinner the other night. He loves eggs, but wouldn’t eat the shrimp. Whatever, I get it. It’s a little weird. I’ll keep trying.
  5. Cereal with milk. He’ll ask for it over and over again. He’ll pry my cereal bowl out of my hands so he can drink the sweetened milk. But if I serve him a bowl of his own cereal with milk, it inevitably becomes chicken food. (Parenting tip: If you have a picky toddler and hate seeing food go to waste, get some chickens. They eat pretty much everything.)
  6. Sliced tomatoes. He’ll eat halved cherry tomatoes until he explodes, but if they’re any larger, they’re apparently poison.
  7. Cheddar cheese sticks. He eats about 15 mozzarella cheese sticks every day, but come at him with an orange one and he’ll fight you. Similarly, I had to buy muenster cheese slices because they were out of provolone cheese at the grocery store when I went this week, and I’ve had to start cutting them into circles with a rocks glass because he will only eat “circle cheese.”
  8. Rice. I can’t fathom how this is unpalatable to him, but it is. At least this week.
  9. Pineapple and melon. Those cheap mixed fruit bowls they serve at restaurants, with the melons, pineapple, and grapes? They’re just a scavenger hunt for grapes with gross filler, I guess.
  10. Leaves of any sort. I doubt this is an unusual toddler food aversion, but he won’t touch lettuce/salad, or cooked greens. He’ll also pick around them if I put them in a frittata, and refuses to eat pasta with spinach pesto. He will annihilate a smoothie, though, so that’s how I tend to sneak in any leafy greens.

None of this is helped by the fact I barely have energy to plan meals lately. Oh well, he’ll survive off cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, broccoli and blueberries for the foreseeable future. That, and the half-eaten apples he has strategically stashed around the house.

 

Things my toddler won’t eat

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

Pregnancy Week 22 has come and gone. According to people whose job it is to identify things that might be the size of a fetus at any given time, 22-week-old Baby #2 is about the size of a sack of six supermarket bagels (yummmm), an ear of corn (which is not at all the same size as a big bag of bagels, am I right?) a spaghetti squash, or a standard hatchet head (what?). In more literal terms, about 7 inches crown to rump (or a foot long head to toe) and finally hitting the one-pound mark.

Symptoms-wise, I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said before (or that I’m willing to permanently attach to my Google-able Internet identity… all I will say that certain digestive and circulatory issues have arisen that are less than pleasant and that are quite common among pregnant women, according to What to Expect and the Internet at large. Shall we move on without further comment or speculation?)

The baby is kicking up a storm this week, though it seems to still be more of an internal sensation than one people can feel with a hand on my belly. The Husband felt two or three of the dozen successive kicks I felt as we were going to bed the other night. The Toddler even claimed to have felt a kick at one point this week, though he’ll say “Yes!” to just about anything.

While every kick was a novel thrill the first time around, with this second baby I feel a sense of guilt along with excitement every time I sense movement. Because I am definitely not as focused on this pregnancy as I was before. The Toddler demands so much of my attention, that while I see my belly in the mirror and try to eat well and exercise when I can, I feel like I’m only halfway in tune to this baby. So the kicks feel like a, “Hey! I’m still here! Take a second and think about how crazy and amazing that is!”

Pregnancy Week 22

Other things those kicks seem to be saying to me, with increasing insistence as the pregnancy progresses:

“You don’t have a SINGLE boy’s name picked out that you’d be okay with calling me? What if I’m a boy? Shouldn’t you get on that?”

“Um, where will I be sleeping when I get here?”

“I feel WIRED!!! Are you really drinking coffee? You didn’t drink coffee the first time around. I’m going to come out CRAZY.”

“Remember all those green leafy vegetables you ate with my brother? Idk if a prenatal vitamin is going to make up for the fact you’ve eaten frozen yogurt ice cream sandwiches for lunch every day this week. Also, don’t blame that muffin top on me.”

Is this how it usually is with second babies?

Oh also, I had a really fun pregnancy nightmare that had me crying so loudly in my sleep that my husband had to shake me awake. I dreamed I went for a routine brain scan (as one does when pregnant?) and the doctor told me I have a giant tumor that will kill me within six months, and that it also spread to the baby’s brain, making the baby incapable of surviving outside my womb, so I’d have to terminate. Ugh.

On a lighter note to end, we did end up getting a minivan: It’s a 2014 Honda Odyssey with a ton of miles on it, but it’s also loaded… backup camera, built-in vacuum cleaner, bluetooth, heated seats, remote start… we figured if we were going full dork, we might as well enjoy some luxury. I gotta say, it’s not the worst thing ever.

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

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