How Far Along?
Baby boy arrived one day before his due date. Since there is no "40 week journal," I thought I might write one final entry to capture the entire pregnancy. (A birth story to come later).
He's our biggest baby yet, and weighed 7lbs 8oz and was 20 3/4 inches long! He was about a pound heavier than we were expecting.
It's a boy! We, of course, would have welcomed either gender. However, we were hoping for a boy. We already had a name we loved picked out.
Phew! The baby belly reached epic proportions! I carry babies entirely out in front. Pregnancy isn't even noticeable from any angle but from the front. My baby bellies are like a big, defined ball sitting out in front. The downside of this is that my ab muscles get separated & my skin tears quite a bit. I didn't even know stretch marks could multiply or deepen as much as they did this time! The belly was so big and heavy, in fact, that I had pitting edema (swelling severe enough that an impression is left when the skin is pressed upon) on the underside of my belly. Towards the end, my back ached quite a bit from the weight of having to balance the belly weight. I also was highly uncomfortable regardless of sitting, standing, laying down etc.
Despite it all, I did actually enjoy the baby belly. I think baby bellies are absolutely beautiful. Pregnancy is such a special time in life. I cherish carrying another little one.
I started out rather underweight at 114lbs. I made up for that though by gaining 33lbs during the pregnancy, which is considered a healthy amount.
Weight hasn't bothered me in the past. This time, however, I allowed the careless comments of one individual to influence my perception of self. In retrospect, I wished I had held steady and blocked out these remarks better. So much energy and emotion wasted.
Sleep was a constant battle. Early on I lost sleep from frequent bathroom visits and wild dreaming. I had some of the most vivid and at times disturbing dreams! Yikes! Later, I lost sleep from the inability to get comfortable, despite my excessive use of pillows. By the end, I simply ached and hurt too much to sleep. I frequently desired to sleep but dreaded going to bed at night because I knew rest would be fitful. Functioning well the following day with such little rest each night was a constant struggle. I regrettably didn't hold myself together the next day as often as I needed to have done.
Exhaustion was a main theme throughout this pregnancy. It was very challenging to keep up with everything and everyone while feeling so physically depleted.
During the first and second trimesters I would have terrible migraine headaches. My hearing and vision would be extra sensitive. I would even have a portion of my face become numb as though I had had a procedure at the dentist. David would come home when possible and care for the children during these moments. I consulted my MFM (OB specialist) and apparently strong migraines aren't uncommon in pregnancy. It was a new and somewhat frightening one for me though!
I already mentioned wild, vivid dreams. That was also a new one for me! I don't believe I've ever had such dreams. I don't care for them to ever return, either.
Another new symptom was the appearance of vericose veins throughout my legs. There were many moments in which I simply had to sit and prop my legs up to find relief (something that wasn't easy for me to do!). I tried a few different remedies, but ultimately found medical grade compression hose to be the best solution. I felt oh so attractive in those, but they worked.
Little rest and hormones produced some wild swinging emotions. I didn't see it at the time (of course), but realize it now. Phew, my poor family.
I actually created a "capsule wardrobe" for this pregnancy and loved it! It was so nice to have a pre-coordinated set of clothing that I could feel nice wearing each day. I had just gotten by with as few pieces as possible in the last two pregnancies not wanting to spend too much money. I was so glad I went for it this time! It may be vanity but looking nice does help feeling nice!
Towards the end of the pregnancy, though, none of my clothes were fitting any longer. Pants would fit everywhere except in the band which wouldn't pull up over the belly. Even tunic tops couldn't cover the belly. I wore the same four pieces for the last couple of weeks. On delivery day, I was down to one baggy pair of pants an extra size larger and one of David's tshirts. I was looking c-u-t-e! haha
Movement? We went for stroller walks as much as possible. Some days I just didn't have the energy to load everyone into the stroller to sweat in the Texas heat.
As the due day approached, I put walking into high gear. We went for a stroller walk at least twice a day. One the day it was threatening rain, I loaded everyone up and we went to walk around the mall (this ended up being the day he was born! I walked through contractions but didn't realize they were labor contractions. haha).
Baby Movement? He was my most active baby yet! He had some amazingly powerful kicks and movements. He knew exactly how to find that gap between my abs too. Some of his movements were remarkable to watch. It was so defined it was as though you could see the shape of his little foot from the outside. Such an incredible experience to feel a baby inside!
Food Adversions? I didn't really have any. I enjoyed most foods.
Food Cravings? Milk and citrus! These seem to be my pregnancy favorites, especially with baby boys. I loved tall glasses of milk and big portions of fresh pineapple!
What I Miss? As I mentioned, I really struggled with exhaustion and managing our home and two other young children. So, I missed being able to do so positively and with enthusiasm.
What I'm Excited About?
I was so excited about another little person. As difficult as it can be to manage such young children all day every day, I look at each of my children and am overwhelmed with gratitude to have the privilege of knowing them. We were uncertain as to if we would have additional children, and I'm so glad God saw fit to give us another. I'm looking forward to getting to know this new person as he grows. I'm also excited to see he, Tennyson, and Annelise become friends!
What I'm Nervous About?
I as very, very nervous about arrangements for Tennyson and Annelise while we were away with the new baby. The children had never had outside care, not even a babysitter. They weren't accustomed to being placed in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people, and I didn't have confidence that they would react well (ie I foresaw one withdrawing and another screaming crying). We needed someone who they could "warm up" to prior to delivery. God answered this prayer in leading a wonderful family to fulfill this role. We gathered with them for weekly playdates and even had the children stay with them without us for several hours one evening. This effort made all the difference because when the time came we were all confident and comfortable. I was so relieved to know they were in good hands and I could focus on delivery, recovery, and bonding with the new baby.
Another great concern was going through the weekly injections again. This was the second time to receive them (they're awful!), and I just wasn't 100% confident of the necessity. Nonetheless, this is standard protocol in the U.S. for any woman who has had a history of preterm delivery. We complied, but did decide to stop a couple weeks early of the prescribed timeframe (same as we had done with baby #2). Once again, we went all the way to term despite the statistics. By the end, David and I have been convinced the level of monitoring and interventions (including the injections) may not be necessary, and would decidedly refuse the injections and limit the excessive ultrasounds and such if there were to ever be a baby #4.
Finally, I was concerned about delivery options. We currently live in an area in which a VBAC is not common, and very few physicians will permit one. A VBAC with induction (like my second delivery) is absolutely not done here. Fortunately, my physician was one that was comfortable with a VBAC. So, the plan was to attempt a second VBAC with the knowledge that it could always become a c-section. I really, really wanted to avoid a c-section though. I knew a major surgery would be very hard on myself and our family. (What would we do for childcare or how would the house be managed if I was out of commission for so long?). Ideally, I wanted to go into labor entirely on my own and do my best through the labor and delivery process. It hadn't been the case yet, but I was still hopeful that this would be my one shot at a limited-interventions or no-interventions labor and delivery.
How Am I Preparing?
I had quite the grandiose ideas of preparations. I just didn't get myself or those ideas pulled together though. We did a few freezer meals, but not nearly as many as I had wanted. Fortunately, things worked out anyways. (Not hosting extended family for weeks immediately after delivery helped a lot). We also had individuals from our church bring us a few meals, which was lovely. Freezer meals is a fantastic concept, but the extra time required for the additional prep/cooking just wasn't very feasible.
I lagged behind on getting necessary items as well. The week before my due date, I had finally made a trip to the store to pick up extra diapers, some clothes for him and anything else we needed before the big day. Funny how with Annelise I was fully prepared by the end of my second trimester having learned the lesson of not being prepared from my first delivery. You would think that lesson would reapply itself and I would be ready early once again. But, no. I was packing our bags while in labor, even! haha
I may never forget the moment of finding out we were expecting. Unlike the previous times, we were both completely surprised this time. (Although looking back, I should have known. Nothing is ever so dramatic or so desperate as when filtered through the exaggerated emotions of pregnancy hormones. haha). We really weren't expecting to be expecting a third time. I was excited, but also very nervous. Managing two closely spaced children can be a challenge, but three? When I considered each of my children and who they are, I couldn't wait to meet this next little one. Such a gift!
This was by far my most difficult pregnancy. While there were new symptoms that made things more difficult, the biggest struggle was simply keeping up with two young children and being pregnant. (We also moved into our house during the pregnancy!). Logistics of attending weekly appointments throughout the pregnancy also put a strain on us. We didn't have childcare, and so David had to work it out with work to get time away to care for them so that I could attend such frequent appointments.
On regard to future children, we said after #2 that we likely wouldn't pursue another biological child. We had been told repeatedly of my high risk status and we knew ourselves how difficult the interventions can be. But, then we were surprised by #3 and so grateful! However, going through everything again to monitor being high risk and prevent prematurity and growth restriction, we said we wouldn't do it again. Then, it became more apparent to us that perhaps all the concerns weren't accurate (because they are merely guesses) and we could, in fact, have a normal pregnancy and baby. Now, we're back to saying "we'll see" in regard to having additional children. That may mean another biological child, or perhaps even adoption in the future. Or, no additional children at all. We'll see. ;)
Right now, I'm so enjoy this little guy! I'm completely smitten by him. I just look at his little face and snuggle him close, and all the difficulties were well worth it. It's amazing how quickly it seems as though he's always been a part of our family!