Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week 36: Destination Unknown

This Mother's Day has been surreal, overly poignant, and difficult. Most of the reasons why are explained in depth here, so no need to rehash.

That aside, I've received sweet messages from loving friends wishing me a "Happy Mother-to-Be Day" or similar. And as appreciated as those sentiments are, it really drove home one fact about my pregnancy that seems completely off-kilter from most women I know.

I can't fathom having a child. It's only three or so weeks away, but its still too abstract. I'm not scared. I'm not nervous. I'm nothing. I simply can't focus on the reality that's soon to slam in. Hard.

Last weekend, a dear friend -- mom of a two-year-old and Baby G's godmother-to-be -- visited us. Partially because we've been apart for too long; partially to help us with last-minute preparations and advice.

About 24 hours in, she turned to me and said: "So really. You're so zen. What do you want or need to know?"

I shrugged and replied: "Nothing, really. Which isn't to say I totally know exactly what to do with the kid. But I'm not there yet."

She raised her eyebrows. "How so? I mean, when I was where you were at, I was crazy reading books and preparing and such."

And I thought about it. Aside from installing the car seat, we're as physically prepared as we can be. I've read books. The Brit and I have chosen a pediatrician and agree on all major newborn issues. We even went to Costco today to stock up on Stuff and Things. There's not much else to do but wait.

So I replied: "I can't get past labor and delivery. We still have that major hurdle to survive. And only after the kid is here and we know what we're dealing with will it seem real. And THEN I'll probably call you in a panic state, but really. Until I have something to worry about, why even get there?"

I tell people I'm excited because that's the stock response, but the truth is: I'm, at most, curious. I can't get excited about something that isn't real. And perhaps that's because we were ambivalent for so long about having children. Perhaps it's because the romantic, rose-colored glasses about motherhood completely skipped my brain (having a newborn in the house when you're 17 will do that to a gal). Perhaps it's because death and illness is much more real to me than birth and renewal, and I do not count my healthy chickens before they hatch. Perhaps it's the postpartum hormonal roller coaster to come that scares the bejeezus out of me. Or maybe it's all of that combined.

The cliches do not apply here. I'm truly hoping all of this goes away within moments -- or even days -- of Baby G. making the scene. But only time will tell.

P.S. For those who are curious, The Brit posted a few pictures of the nursery and Baby G.'s big sister over here. Feel free to take a peek.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Week 35: Baby Got Back

No news is good news, as they say. And that's blessedly been pretty much been the story of this pregnancy since the end of first trimester.

Aside from some fatigue, I've had a really easy go of it. No major aversions. No morning sickness. No serious cravings -- except vodka martinis, but what can you do. Only up nine pounds (so far). Didn't pop until Week 27 -- and it's only been in the last month that I'm blatantly showing. Blood pressure steady around 110/72, and all tests/ultrasounds right on target. B-O-R-I-N-G, but also awesome.

We did have a blip on the Practically Perfect Radar when Baby G. stubbornly decided to stay breech a little longer than wanted. But we came home, did some hoochie-coo trickery involving slant boards and The Brit talking to my nether regions ("HELLOOOOO! THIS IS YOUR FATHER! COME TOWARD THE VOICE!"), and the kid miraculously flipped head down sometime in the past week. Which is great, because undergoing an external version (where two docs manually turn the baby from the outside) didn't sound fun. And involves *shudder* an IV.

What's fascinating, looking at this from the inside out, is how being plus-size has affected this project. Luckily, I work with a midwife who could care less about size, so long as the pregnancy progresses in a healthy manner. Aside from an extra glucose test due to family diabetes history, she's never asked me to do anything different from any of her other patients. In fact, when I didn't gain more than two pounds by end of second trimester, I panicked a bit.

"This is a first for me," I said to her, "But...I'm worried that I'm not gaining weight."

We both laughed at the absurdity of it all, then she reassured me I was doing great. "The baby is gaining on schedule. You're eating healthy and getting exercise. That's all that matters. Just consider it an overdue gift from your long stalled-out metabolism."

Being a big gal has other unexpected pregnancy compensations, too. Such as no strangers rubbing my belly to date. Sure, I get the "Is she pregnant or well-fed?" glances (to which I want to say "Both!" but don't). If that's the price to pay to avoid personal assault, so be it.

The downside? MATERNITY CLOTHES. Ask any pregnant plus lady with an ounce of style and she will throw up her hands in full, unbridled lament. To which I say to her -- there is a way, but only if you're bold and enjoy the fitted look. Knits, stretchy fabrics, tunics plus leggings, and high-waist dresses my friends -- and buy a size or two up.

I'm lucky in that I lost 15 pounds prior to conception, so all of my too-big tops and dresses fit great now. Pants are a different story, of course, but I've managed with one started-way-too-big-now-fit pair of black stretch pants. For jeans? A belly band extended my old jeans through second trimester, followed by one pair of not-great-but-manageable maternity jeans. In all, I've only purchased about $100 worth of actual maternity clothes. Of course, I then justified a splurge on a new spring tote, but hey. Mama's got a brand new bag.

Here are other tips I've found helpful:
  • Eat a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal.
  • Watch your sugar, processed food, and white carb intake. Once it's past your taste buds, it's not doing you or the kid any good anyhow.
  • Take a walk most every day (TIP: Having a dog is GREAT HELP in doing me, my lazy ass knows).
  • Drink lots of water, even if you're peeing every 20 minutes. I know, I know -- annoying, isn't it? It gets more frequent once the baby heads down. Sorry.
  • Let other folks -- especially your partner -- wait on you hand and foot. But be sure to thank them for doing so.
  • Let go of control. This is the hardest part, but it's a fact: Your body is in charge. You're not. And you can't change that -- whether it's now, during labor/delivery, or post-partum.
  • You're going to hear/read about gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, but don't panic -- and don't let your medical team freak you out. In fact, if you feel your OB or midwife is dwelling primarily on your size, assuming C-section, and/or trying to find associated complications without compelling test results, switch providers. Seriously. Even in third trimester. You are not a statistic waiting to happen.

All of this is to say to voluptuous gals considering or going through pregnancy: don't let your size define what your body can do or how it looks. If anything, you are more prepared for body changes (and how to stylishly dress a tummy) than our more svelte sisters. Relax and enjoy the fact that you, of anyone, are built to handle this challenge. Hips ahoy!