Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday's Child...

"Monday's child is fair of face..." as the poem begins. I was born on a Monday. Being a natural redhead with freckles who doesn't tan easily, I certainly could be called "fair" as in pale. As far as the "fairest in the land" context goes, that's open for debate. I've been called an ugly duckling and a swan. These days bloated and waddling around I think I'm leaning more toward the duck!

My baby was supposed to be born last Monday (the 23rd.) I've read that a mere 5% of people actually give birth on their due date so it's really little more than a guess. 50% of people have their babies late. I've heard it's really common to go later when it's your first child. So I guess this is nothing out of the ordinary. But I was really counting on having her last week. She will still be a Monday's child tomorrow, the 30th, since my doctor is inducing me. Unless of course she surprises me today/tonight (in which case according to the poem she would be "bonny and blithe and good and gay.")

I'm a bit nervous about the induction. The doctor explained to me that I'd be given oxytocin and my water would be broken. I had heard that when labour is induced it is more painful than when it happens naturally (which frankly for someone with a phobia of pain is NOT good news!) She admitted that it would be more intense. The trade-off is that it is shorter lived. Natural labour tends to last about 24 hours and induced labour about 12 hours, on average. More pain for less time? Not sure I'm sold but I know that labour is no picnic regardless. Having gone a week overdue though, I know that I don't want to be pregnant one more minute! Enough is enough!

My feet have been bloated for a long while. Mostly the tops of my feet (big and purple and puffy). Now even the soles of my feet hurt. They are bulbous and sore, making it that much harder and more painful to walk. It's like walking on hot coals or a bed of nails. I am reminded of the little mermaid when she had her wished for legs but every step hurt like a knife.

Speaking of mermaids, and other sea creatures, my niece and I created a sea theme mobile for the nursery. I hadn't been able to find a mobile like I wanted so my talented niece Shannon and I created our own. My sister joked that the baby hadn't been born yet because she was waiting for her mobile to be finished. Well, we're done baby so you can come out now! Everything else in the nursery was done. My frantic nesting pretty much covered everything else.

Shannon and I designed our little creatures, cut them out of felt, stuffed and sewed them. She did a seahorse, octopus, starfish and fish. I made a seahorse, whale, mermaid and fish. We had fun making it and I'm thrilled with the results. I think it's really cute and much more personal than just going out and buying a mobile. My niece is an artist like me. I'm hoping maybe my little girl will be too...













I've been trying to keep busy. Sewing mobiles. Going out on excursions. Might as well. I can't just sit around and wait. A watched pot never boils. A watched belly never births. I have had a lot more energy for the last while, despite the physical challenges of moving around. Though the doctor denied it, other people have told me that walking around helps to bring on labour. I figure it can't hurt. My doc did say that the baby was lower and that my body was getting ready. I am getting more intense pain and pressure "down there" so stuff is definitely going on. I read that it's helpful to visualize your body as a flower blossoming or a fruit ripening. I think I'm pretty ripe at this point. Now I just have to bear the fruit of my womb. Hopefully more like an apple than a watermelon. (I'm still trying not to think about how any woman survives passing a baby through there! I know it stretches A LOT. I'm counting on the epidural to save me from feeling most of it. And I'm hoping I shrink back to my original size -- inside and out -- when it's all over.)

We went swimming again. Might as well try to enjoy the summer sun some of the time. As you can see, I look like an absolute GIANT! The water was refreshing but I seem to feel the cold more than usual. Sometimes I get the chills. I enjoyed just feeling the sun on my big old legs for a bit and watching my sister with her kids in the water. She is my inspiration. It's still hard for me to believe I'm going to be a Mom! It's an incredible blessing and an overwhelming responsibility at the same time. When I see how much my niece and nephew love her and need her I realize how much it means to be a mother -- Mama is God. You are their world, their joy, their teacher, their safe place, their everything.

When May is out of sight, even for a few moments, Reggie is asking where "Mama be?" For much of my life I had been looking for an all-encompassing love. It looks like I've found it because being a mother you experience more love than ever. Of course you lose the ability to have more than a moment to yourself, but the reward is worth it.

My sister has been a godsend for me through this process. Each step of the journey she has been so supportive and nurturing. She reassures me, calms me down, keeps me grounded, makes me laugh. I don't know how I would have gotten through it all without her. My Mom has been there too of course but Mom is a worrier and can stress me out! She drives me crazy sometimes! She checks on me every day to make sure I'm all right. She seemed to think I was going to have my baby early. Now she has to admit she was wrong. If she'd had her way I would have been sitting around carefully avoiding doing anything, with my hospital bag ready. I'm glad I kept busy instead and didn't let the possible onset of labour stop me from going out and doing things. It would have made the last month even harder to get through.

At least I know that tomorrow is it. The day is finally here. No more waiting. My niece asked if I was scared. "Yes." She asked if I was excited. "Yes!" All of the above. This is the biggest day of my life, by far. Everything is about to change. My sister told me that once I see my baby, I will be mesmerized. I won't be able to stop staring at her for quite a while. I will be absolutely overcome. I've been carrying her around so long, talking to her, singing to her, feeling her move, that I feel such a strong bond already. I can't wait to meet her. I know that she will be worth the (even longer than expected!) wait.

I just hope that labour goes relatively smoothly and pain-free...

Wish me luck tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fashionably Late...

Well Monday July 23rd was my due date, but baby missed her big debut!

At least my doctor said that my baby girl and I are both very healthy. My blood pressure is good. The baby's heartbeat is good and strong. She's still dancing around in there. Her head is where it needs to be. The doctor told me  I have a "favourable cervix" (Why thank you! No one has ever told me that before. I bet you say that to all your patients!) I wasn't entirely sure what it meant but it's a good thing. It means my body is preparing itself to have the baby. Softening. Ripening. I guess I need to become much more pliable down there so baby can get out. Still, there was no sign that labour was imminent. So it looks like we'll be going for the induction on Monday (my doctor had promised that if my baby didn't come before then she'd induce on the 30th. At least the end is in sight...) She confirmed that that was OK with me. I said the sooner the better. She told me that it's best to let Nature takes its course if possible, so hopefully labour starts on its own before then but as a last resort we'll induce. I am just SOOOO ready for this to be over now. Enough is enough. Why do they call it nine months? It's actually ten months really! I've gone over 40 weeks now.

It definitely feels like something is happening. I've had a lot more pain, for longer intervals. At one point I actually thought "Is this it? Could this be labour?" So much pain and pressure. I felt twice as heavy. It was like the baby was pushing down, trying to come out. But there was no regularity, no intervals. Just solid pain. Nothing I'd read about labour contractions sounded like this. This must just be the body getting ready. I feel so much heavier. It's even harder to walk. My feet are even more swollen and sore. Even my hands and fingers are swelling up.

Most of the time my abdomen feels very firm. Hard. Tight as a drum. Sometimes though, usually when I get up in the morning, it's really soft at the bottom of my stomach. I had heard that your tummy gets soft when you're getting ready for labour. I don't know. Every woman has such a different story of how her labour began that it doesn't really help. Even one woman could have three very different stories of her experiences with her three kids. You just don't know. Until it happens, you don't know how it will be for you.

The due date is kind of a tease. All those months you count down and prepare for that day and then it comes and goes and nothing happens. It's a bit anti-climactic. No other life event would be like that. Then again it is just a guess, really. Not carved in stone. It's just meant to give you a vague idea. Some people have the baby sooner, some (lucky saps like me!) have the baby later. People kept telling me that it's common to go past your due date when it's your first child. How many people actually deliver on their due date I wonder? I like to plan and be prepared. But if this baby has taught me anything, it's that you can't plan and prepare! She is the biggest surprise of my life as it is. I just have to go with the flow and be grateful for this incredible gift, whenever she comes.

I asked the doctor at my last appointment if it was safe to make a long drive. She said go for it. So we went to Collingwood over the weekend to celebrate my niece Eve's birthday. I thought my baby  might end up having the same birthday (it seems to happen a lot in our family) but it didn't quite pan out that way. My Mom was worried about me making a long trip in case I went into labour (Mom worries about everything!) I thought, I should be so lucky! Besides from what I understand of labour, especially with your first child, even when it starts it's a long process, a whole day thing so we'd have more than enough time to get to the hospital. If worse came to worst, I could go to the hospital in town. Of course it didn't come to that. The car ride was a bit of an adventure though. My poor sister had hurt her back just before we left so she had a pillow behind her and some ibuprofen for the pain. I had my bum wrist (carpal tunnel in left arm) and big ole 10 month pregnant belly to contend with. It hurts to sit in a car for a long stretch these days and I swear someone needs to invent something to make seatbelts more comfortable for pregnant women because THEY ARE BRUTAL! The pressure on my already stretched out sore abdomen is no picnic. Between the baby camped out headfirst on my bladder/colon and the seatbelt crushing my stomach as well, the pressure to go to the bathroom was intense.

I had to go to the washroom really badly a couple of times during the trip and that proved to be a nightmare. The first time we stopped was at a seedy looking gas station which surprisingly had very accommodating facilities around the back. A toilet that flushed. A sink, soap, paper towels. I was in Heaven. What a relief! The weight of the baby on everything these days is a bit much. Plus it seems like my system is cleaning itself out. I have to run with the runs more often than usual now. (Having suffered from IBS for years, I was no stranger to bathroom blues but it is far worse now that a full sized baby is pushing on the area.) Unfortunately, the next time Nature called, there was nowhere convenient to answer it. We stopped at a convenience store/cafe and I waddled in asking to use their bathroom. The most unfriendly Korean woman on the planet barked at me "No bathroom!" Now I'm pretty sure they have an employee washroom because with nothing else around, she would have to squat behind the store. And I doubt she does that. You would think that seeing a 10 month pregnant woman frantically waddle into your store out of breath might elicit an ounce of compassion. You would be wrong. The next place we stopped was a restaurant with 20 signs posted saying that bathrooms were for customers only. I was willing to take my chances anyway but it was locked. Then we finally found somewhere with an available public bathroom unfortunately the ladies room had a toilet with a broken handle (wouldn't flush), no toilet paper or soap. There was no way I could do what I needed to do (a possibly volcanic #2) under those conditions. I had flashbacks to the scene in "Bridesmaids" where they are trying on dresses in an exclusive boutique and are overcome by the after-effects of food poisoning. Those sorts of things are hilarious (albeit disgusting) in a movie. It's not so funny when it's happening to you. I wasn't about to squat in the street or to leave my mark in an out of order toilet. So I went into the men's bathroom. What's the difference? Just a stick figure on the door not wearing a skirt. The toilet flushed, they had toilet paper and soap so I felt like I'd won the lottery.

We finally made it to my brother's place and had a very nice visit. Though I'm feeling a lot more pressure a lot lower (ironically they call it "lightening" but you feel heavier than ever) it doesn't look like the baby is any lower. My belly looks like it's still up in my ribs. It's very uncomfortable to sit, nearly impossible to walk. My feet are more swollen than ever. I look and feel like an absolute whale. The belly is like an entity. It has taken on a life of its own! I can barely even move with it now.

You have to love kids and their unabashed honesty. Eve informed me that I was "really big!" I had to agree. My precocious nephew James told me that a new baby was going to be a lot of work and that I was going to have to feed my baby "milk from my boobs!" I told him that yes I would. My youngest niece Kayla used me as a large (and I do mean gigantic!) sticker book, placing stickers on my massive belly and swollen legs. She found it quite amusing. I was feeling too weak to protest. I think letting kids walk all over me is good training for having my own little one. She's already completely taken me over and she hasn't even been born yet!

 







Dinner was great, but dessert bordered on a religious experience! My sister in law made the most delicious brownies I have ever tasted in my life. Now I know it's not ideal to be having sugar and all. It's not great for the baby etc. But Hell, at this point, I'm close to 200 lbs. I'm ready to explode. I'm uncomfortable 99% of the time. I think I deserve to indulge now and then. So I couldn't say no to a second helping!

The ride home proved to be quite an adventure as well. The sky darkened, peals of thunder began, bolts of lightning and then rain so thick you could barely see the road. Traffic was backed up and crawling. My Mom was suggesting we stop somewhere. My sister and I informed her why that was the worst possible idea. Why be stranded in some random town? We might as well be making our way home slowly rather than not at all. I suggested the rain might let up as we continued driving. Sometimes I've been caught in heavy rainstorms and drove right past them, the next town would be mysteriously dry without a single drop. Once again of course I did have to stop for a bathroom break. I just can't hold it anymore. There is far too much weight and pressure down there these days with the baby pushing down headfirst on all my plumbing. By the time we got to the highway, the rain had eased up. At least that would be the last long trip I'd ever have to make while pregnant.

People have been calling and emailing to ask about the baby and I've had to tell everyone that no, she hasn't shown up yet. I am anxiously awaiting her. I am also anxious to get my body back, at least to some degree. A few kind people have suggested that I'm carrying the weight well, that it's all baby and water weight and will most likely vanish instantly when I give birth. So here's hoping! One woman with slim little legs, tiny ankles in gold high heeled shoes nearly made me cry. I looked at my cankles and tree trunk legs and shook my head. I was 125 lbs this time last year. It's OK. I will get there again.

I can't even believe how heavy I feel right now. Even just since I left the doctor's office. It's like her examining me did something. Now baby is just hanging there, waiting to come out. My belly and legs and feet weigh a million pounds. I can barely move. Maybe I won't need to be induced. Maybe I'll have the baby tomorrow, or the next day. Sometime over the weekend. It's hard to know what to think or what to do. I just have to wait. And at least I know that if nothing else, I will be induced and have my baby on July 30th. I will be a Mommy before August hits!

I have been through a lot over the past nine months. There were many points where I wondered how I would get through. I always found that I was stronger than I thought and that everything would be OK.

As difficult as this late stage is, I know that I will get through it. I know that the end is in sight. And the most important beginning in my lifetime. A whole new adventure. A baby. I'm excited. I'm scared. At this point, I'm mostly just eager to get on with it!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Light at the end of the Tunnel...

I'll have to make this short and sweet. I can't type for long because now I have CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME to add to my list of discomforts!!!

I awoke yesterday morning with numbness and tingling in my left hand, particularly my middle finger (and no it wasn't from giving too many people the finger!) I had pins and needles. I tried to shake it off. My fingers did look a bit swollen. Nothing compared to my feet. Then I noticed that even my face was a little puffy and my lips were a bit swollen. Great. So I'm actually blowing up. My feet are the worst. They have become so big they're almost black and blue.

I mentioned to the doctor that (on top of everything else I'm going through) my left hand felt weird, numb, swollen. She tapped on my left wrist to see if it hurt and I yelped in pain. She wasn't expecting such a strong reaction. She told me I have carpal tunnel and that's it's common late in pregnancy. Great. Each fresh hell that I've experienced lately is apparently "common." I guess that's somewhat comforting. So she gave me a prescription for a wrist brace (isn't it enchanting? So lovely with my fuchsia dress.) I thought at first that I might have brought this affliction on with my overzealous nesting/cleaning frenzy (organizing and clearing out my cold cellar and garage, making a trek to the thrift store with my monster haul, cleaning the house more thoroughly than I ever had etc). Maybe I overdid it. Lifted too much, scrubbed too much. Then I realized that if that were the case I would have injured my right hand more because I'm right-handed and no doubt use it more. Suddenly I remembered that on one of my umpteen trips to the bathroom through the night I had bent my wrist back once while trying to lift my enormous carcass off the bed. It is very difficult getting my big belly up off the bed now. Unfortunately I have to do it at least once an hour to go to the washroom. Each time rolling back and forth helplessly like a beached whale until trying to catapult myself up on my spindly wrists (my wrists are about the only thing that hasn't gained weight. I think they're the same size they were when I was a child.) So it makes sense that I would have strained myself lifting all that weight off the bed. I'm sure that if I tried to bench press 200 lbs I'd hurt my wrist too.

200 lbs actually isn't far off. When I stepped on the scale in the doctor's office I just about fainted. I have now gained close to 70 lbs. I can't believe it. My niece weighs 70 lbs. She's 10. So I could have a baby the size of my niece walking out! Of course a lot of it is water weight and blood judging by my massive legs and feet. And now even my bloated lips. I feel like a freak. I'm huge and ungainly and stumbling around like Frankenstein's monster. You could tell me to stop pouting but I can't help it, that's just how my lips are now! I could console myself that some women, mostly celebrities, pay for collagen injections to make their lips more plump. Somehow that doesn't help. This wrist thing is the last straw. I picked up my brace from the pharmacy and started to cry. Enough is enough. This is too much.

It is so uncomfortable and so difficult moving around. My belly is so big that it hurts to sit, hurts to walk, hurts to lie down, to get up, to be in a car (the seatbelt around the stomach is a killer. Strangles me), to be anywhere, to do anything. Now I have to try to push myself up with only one functioning hand. I am so ready for this to be over. Unfortunately the doctor said there is absolutely no sign of my going into labour anytime soon. I asked about going to the beach, taking a road trip etc. She said go for it. Might as well. My next appointment is on Tuesday (the day AFTER my due date.) She says if I don't have the baby this week then she will induce me the following Monday, if I wish. "Oh, I WISH!" I said. I am done with this! Done. So at least I know if worse comes to worst, I will have my baby by the end of the month. July 30th at the latest. Light at the end of the (carpal) tunnel.

So we went to the beach. It seemed like a nice day. I was surprised how cool it was by the water with the wind. I had some fries and an ice cream (might as well. When you're getting close to 200 lbs, what's the difference?) It was nice putting my big ole feet in the soft warm sand, listening to and watching the waves. The breeze was pretty cool by the lake so I chickened out of actually swimming but I did dip my feet in at least. It's a far cry from last summer when I was living in bikinis and at the beach just about every day. I found a men's swimsuit that was comfy as a bathing suit bottom. Unfortunately even the XL tankini wasn't enough to cover the belly now so I just put a black tank over it. I feel like a tank at this point.

As we were leaving the beach we ran into an old friend. I couldn't believe it. Seems a lifetime since I've seen him. Of course he looks amazing and I look like a giant bag of hell. I said I couldn't believe the coincidence of us being there at the same time. He said there are no coincidences. Sadly his kids didn't even recognize me. Of course the last time they saw me I was 125 lbs in a bikini. I barely recognize myself these days. I am hoping I will get back in shape after the baby. Eventually. Right now I'd be happy just to be able to walk without waddling. To be able to breathe properly. To be able to get up from a seated or reclined position without breaking my wrist. To not have balloon feet and trunk legs, a puffy face and big lips.

I shouldn't be complaining. Some wonderful things have happened recently and I am grateful. I was feeling so full of energy and excitement. There are going to be some rough days, of course. I'm going through a lot. My body is stretched beyond its limits. I'm on very little sleep. It's a lot to handle. Not to mention all the hormones. I have to cut myself some slack. It's hard to feel positive spiritually when you feel so rough physically. In the end it's all worth it. I love this baby. She is an incredible blessing. Even if I miss my due date on Monday (and everything seems to indicate that I will) at least I know the end is in sight and I will meet her the following Monday for sure, if not sooner.

Life is strange. It's not always easy. That's part of the adventure. And when you look back, sometimes it is the struggles that you look on fondly. You realize how much you've been through and it makes you stronger. I will get through this.

My sister suggested that maybe it gets so difficult toward the end (just about every woman late in pregnancy experiences the frustration of "Let's get this over with already!") to make us brave enough to face labour. We want it to be over so badly that we are relieved to go into labour. We embrace the pain because at least it is the end, it is the way out, the way through. We are done with being pregnant. We are ready to meet our babies and begin the exciting new phase of our lives. The frustration trumps the fear. I was so afraid before. I didn't feel ready, wondered if I was strong enough, worried about the pain. Now I'm like, OK let's get this show on the road! I just want to have this baby! I want my belly back. And my legs and feet and wrists and lips. I want to be able to walk again. I want to feel normal again. I don't want to go another week. If I get any bigger I may explode!

Just one more week and I will begin to feel like me again, hopefully. I will get her back -- the girl I used to be. She will be a little different. She'll be a Mommy. But when I get the OK from the doctor (likely a couple of months after delivery) I am working out hardcore. And come next summer, I will wear my bikinis again. Baby and me will hit the beach in style. I have a little pop up tent so baby will be safe in the shade while Mama tans her legs. And I will look back at photos from this summer and think, Wow, was I really that BIG?!

The end is in sight. One woman I spoke to who said that she was bloated and swollen everywhere while she was pregnant also assured me that the swelling went down almost instantly after she had the baby. All that extra blood and water weight just disappeared. Something to hope for! Then again another friend told me that she knew someone who went into the hospital hoping for a miracle after delivery. She brought her skinny jeans to go home in and was shocked that they didn't fit. I won't go quite that far. I'm assuming my extra large comfy drawstring pants and loose dresses will serve me well for a while after I give birth. But I am motivated to get back in shape. I got there once. I can get there again. Just caring for the baby will be a workout in itself. It will feel good to get back into yoga again too. I've missed it.

Hopefully the sore wrist thing won't last either. I'll need my wrists to cradle my baby most of the time! I saw someone at the beach today carrying their baby in one of those Snugli kangaroo pouch things. That can be me next year! I'd rather be carrying her on the outside than the inside. This belly is ready to bust!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nesting!

I had heard about and experienced my own version of "nesting" many months ago. Back then it manifested as wanting to paint the nursery, organize baby clothes etc. It is also a phenomenon late in the pregnancy when you're suddenly overcome by the urge to clean and tidy the house just before baby's arrival. I wasn't feeling the slightest desire to clean at first but after going through a period of fatigue I did have a sudden surge of energy and began a mega organization/decluttering kick. I emptied out my cold cellar. My ex had "organized" it for me while he was living here, basically Tetris-ed boxes and containers neatly like puzzle pieces stacked floor to ceiling. He meant well I suppose -- at least in that instance, in others, not so much! -- Unfortunately he buried the things that I needed access to and kept a lot of things I don't need/want at all and I should have thrown out years ago. So I reorganized it (yes Mom, I had to lift a few heavy boxes and containers by my lonesome! I'm a stubborn bull, deal with it!) in a way that makes more sense so I can get what I need. I also got rid of the empty boxes and clutter which were just taking up space unnecessarily.

It felt so good to get rid of things! It's very cleansing for the spirit, very Feng Shui to remove dead energy that's weighing you down and to have space to breathe again. I filled several bags with trash, several with donations for thrift shops and some with items I'll either keep or try to sell. The remaining storage items were put back in the cold cellar in an orderly fashion that allows me to get what I need and the things that I won't need any time soon are tucked away in the back. I know that M was trying to help (considering he stayed at home while I was out working hard for 12 hour shifts he had to do something to feel remotely useful) but it's really hard to organize someone else's things because you really don't know what's important to them and you'll probably get it wrong.

So in the throes of my organization mission, in 40 degree celsius heat, I loaded up the car with my bags for the thrift store. I filled the trunk and back seats. I had called ahead to make sure they were accepting donations and that there wasn't a limit. I told him I'm 9 months pregnant "Oh, you're nesting!" he replied warmly. "Oh yeah!" I agreed. He said that someone would come out to help me unload when I got there.

When I showed up there was nowhere nearby to park. I waddled in with the first two bags, sweating, panting, holding my belly. The cashier was having a conversation with a couple of customers. I finally got her attention and she asked with concern "You're not going into labour, are you?!" "No," pant "but can I please," wheeze "get some help?" gasp. My lungs aren't what they used to be. I'm easily winded. Add exertion and heat to the mix and it's a miracle I can breathe at all! A nice older man came out and loaded a cart with the bags for me. Once my car was empty, I felt lighter. It was like a burden was lifted off my shoulders.

It felt good to clear things out and to have the basement tidy for a change. It had been in a state of disarray for a while and I just kept putting off doing anything about it. I saw a very disturbing episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" the other day which inspired me. It featured a man who was a level 5 hoarder, basically as bad as it gets. He had filled a one bedroom apartment with enough debris to fill three large trucks. There was an absolute sea of belongings, piled so high that as they walked on top of it, they could touch the ceiling! You couldn't even tell what the rooms were anymore because they were buried. It was overwhelming. Somehow they managed to get through it. He had purchased a new house and the show ended with him in his new place, turning over a new leaf. In his case, and in most cases of hoarders, it stemmed from depression, loss, loneliness and the urge to fill a void in his life. It's an addiction to things. Like any other addiction, carried to excess, it destroys you. You get your fix and feel happy for the moment but it's never enough. You need more and more. Before you know it, you're out of control and drowning in the mess you've made of your life.

I can sympathize. My Mom was always a shop-a-holic, packrat and I inherited a little of the tendency. I have to be careful. When I like something I tend to like it too much. I can go overboard. (The ocean theme for instance, has taken over my house. But I love it!) I have a number of collections. (Barbies, bears when I was younger. I don't collect them anymore but I am fond of those I have. They were in my guest room. They were relocated to the basement when M moved in. He demanded a space for his office. It was meant to be because when he left the room was free to transform into the nursery.) I think the important thing about collecting is to know when to stop, to keep it organized and aesthetically pleasing. I knew other Barbie collectors back in the day who kept their dolls in the box, stacked in closets and under the bed. What is the point of a collection you don't enjoy? It's not just about amassing things. It's about appreciating the beauty of the items, as works of art. My dolls are in glass cabinets where I can admire them. The designer dolls are my favourites. I haven't collected for years (buying a house pretty much did away with any disposable income I had in my youth!) but I still enjoy seeing them and remembering that period in my life (I used to attend conventions and was even in a Barbie club with a bunch of gay men. We got together once a month, went on field trips etc. It was a riot.) I always want my home to look like a home, not a storage unit for collectibles. As your tastes change over time, you just have to be willing to let things go. Out with the old, in with the new. I went through a Victorian/gothic phase but I love modern decor now and have let a lot of the fussy and frilly items go.

I'm feeling more positive and more driven than I have in a while. It's a good thing. Bringing order to chaos is empowering. It helps me to feel in control. Instead of just waiting around for labour (something which I can't control), I'm taking action, doing something constructive. I feel better when things are organized. Clutter drains me. It hurts my soul. I breathe better, feel happier when energy can flow through the house. When everything looks beautiful and tidy. A harmonious physical space leads to a peaceful spiritual space. Shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive show the psychological damage that clutter creates. It's a vicious cycle. The mess is borne out of pain, loss, loneliness and desperation and perpetuates those feelings -- causing more pain, greater loss, isolation, hopelessness. People literally bury themselves in their problems until they can't see a way out.

Knowing that my baby is coming home is the best motivation to clear out things that I don't want or need, that don't add anything to my life or my home. A lot of it was stuff that I hadn't unpacked since I moved here in 2005. I probably shouldn't have even moved it. At the time it was hard to let go so I just left things in boxes and bags. They were just taking up space. If you haven't wanted/needed something in 7 years, it's probably safe to get rid of it! Letting go is therapeutic. It's saying goodbye to the past and making room for the present and the future.

I cleared out the garage too. I got sick of seeing things piled up out there. I cut/crushed the cardboard boxes. Got rid of waste. Relocated things that I will actually use. It's a great feeling of relief (for a control freak!) when everything is in its place. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all. Perfect divine order.

I guess "nesting" can take different forms for everyone. It's basically feathering the nest, getting your home ready for baby. For some it's scrubbing grout. For me it was mostly decluttering. I love when things are organized. And I certainly don't want to be tripping over, bumping into things when I bring baby home. I will need extra room for baby gear and toys as well.

Apparently most pregnant animals (birds, mammals, humans) have the nesting instinct, the urge to prepare a home for their newborn. Kangaroos are one exception. They don't feel the need because they already have a built-in nest attached to them (their pouches) that is a cozy perfect home for their new baby. I feel a bit like a kangaroo these days carrying my baby around in my massive pouch! And little Roo is kicking around in there as much as ever. You'd think she would have run out of room by now! I read that they refer to bonding with your newborn as "kangaroo care." Close physical contact, breastfeeding, holding your baby, especially against your bare chest helps to form a bond that makes them feel safe and loved. It's so important to give a baby this nurturing because it will be imprinted in them for life. It is the most important thing you can teach a child -- how to love and be loved, how to get close to another human. Not having that nurturing early in life can have disastrous effects, can render them incapable of ever having healthy human relationships. Just look at my ex...

My mother (and this is the same woman who guilted me into cleaning weeks ago when I had no energy at all) tells me to be careful and not overdo it. She thinks I should conserve my energy and get lots of sleep because soon I may not get any. I figure the best thing is to go with the flow, to listen to my body and the baby. When I'm exhausted, I'll rest. When I have energy, I'm using it! There is a lot to do and it only makes sense to do it when I'm motivated to move. Once I have the baby at home with me it would be much more difficult (if not impossible) to get these things done.

I've also been busy getting other things in order like my finances which have been a huge source of stress. I've had to rethink a lot of things. I sat down with a very nice girl at the bank and went over my options. We came up with a plan that's a little more liveable for me. You just never know how your life is going to change and you have to adapt accordingly. I was panicked for a while there but I'm trying to stay positive. There is always a solution. It just may not be the one you expect. I never thought I'd be a single Mom but here I am. I am grateful and excited about the baby. She is worth any sacrifice I have to make. She is my priority now.
I know that we will be OK because we have to be. I just have to be more careful with my money than ever. I've become a little more blunt with telemarketers. I have even less time or patience for marketing spiels these days. I usually tell them "I'm a single Mom on a tight budget! Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying!" and then there's nothing they can say.

With so much on my mind sometimes it's nice to just zone out and escape into a fantasy world for a while. My friend kindly treated me to a matinee of "The Amazing Spiderman." It was amazing! I loved it! I always like superhero movies. The outcast turned hero formula has always been close to my heart. The special effects were incredible. The only embarassing thing was that I cried several times throughout the movie. I think I'm the only one who did. I'm so emotional these days. I was pulling out my tissue again and again. Then in the middle of the movie, in one of the action scenes where Spiderman is battling Lizard Man, I started to feel something happening down below. Uh oh. Pain. Pressure. More than the Braxton Hicks. I got a little scared. Please don't let me go into labour at the movies! My back was aching. It felt like a lead weight was pressing on my uterus and colon. Either the baby was dropping or had just gotten much heavier. Maybe I'd nibbled too much popcorn. Something was definitely going on. Maybe I just had to go to the bathroom. If this was Nature calling, it was more urgent than ever. I hate going to the bathroom in the middle of a movie but I didn't really have a choice. So out I waddled. At least I was alone in the washroom, thank goodness because I had a rather explosive (and noisy) episode in my stall. Sorry, I know, TMI! I had my own action movie going on in there! My body was battling the popcorn. The popcorn was winning...It was a relief to know that it was just my bowels and not the baby. I still got to see the tail end of the Spider-Lizard melee when I returned. Somehow in my absence they moved the fight from the sewer to the school.

It was strange coming out of the theatre afterward. Movies always transport me into another world. It's pure escapism. For those two hours in the dark I forget my own life for a while (until Nature calls to remind me!) Then you leave the dark cold theatre and head out to the hot sunny day and the world looks a little bit surreal. It's somewhat disorienting. I am grateful to my friend for suggesting the movie. Sometimes I need to take a break, mentally and physically from all that I have going on. The movie made me think how the world needs more heroes. There are some of course. You'll hear on the news about a Good Samaritan who rushes to save a stranger. People who stand up for what's right, try to make a difference. It's always good to know that there are good people out there, honest, kind, generous people with integrity. (Then there are people like my ex...Oh well. He did one good thing at least, even though that was accidental -- he gave me this unexpected gift, the miracle of this baby. So I am grateful to him for that.)

I am happy to report that chivalry may not be entirely dead. I've had several guys hold doors open for me lately, step aside to let me through, offer to help me with things. Strangers have been extra nice it seems. One even called me a "pretty Mama" (mind you that was a woman!) I guess my belly is so big now that people see me coming from miles away. I almost feel like a celebrity. "Look at the huge pregnant lady! She might give birth right now!" Or maybe because I've been feeling happier and more energetic I'm radiating a more positive energy and so attracting more favourable responses. I finally managed to get the item I had stood in line for that time at Canadian Tire (I mentioned my little episode of the endless customer service line in "Worrying, waddling, weeping: The Worst Trimester." Things were looking pretty bleak when I wrote that post but it seems everything has turned around now. I'm happier, have a lot more energy and things seem to be working out in my favour.) Even some random positive things and surprises have been happening -- I got my driveway sealed at no charge because they had the wrong address! They couldn't make me pay for it when it was their mistake so now I have a superblack driveway for free! I don't think the asphalt was that dark even when it was first paved. It's something I never would have done myself (I'll be on a very tight budget and cosmetic things for the house would be the very bottom of my priority list. Baby is at the top!) Still it's nice to get an unexpected gift. Those are the best.

Once everything was tidy and organized, I finally did give the house a thorough cleaning as well. And by thorough I mean like never before! In the kitchen for instance I usually just clean the counter and sink. This time I even polished the cupboards. Polished all the appliances (even the toaster.) Scrubbed out the microwave (you don't even want to know how bad it was in there! I think I've cleaned it maybe twice over the years!) Cleaned the inside of the fridge and even the TOP of the fridge (had to use a stepstool to get up there) which I have never done in the 6 1/2 years I've lived here! It felt good to wipe away almost 7 years worth of dust.

I figure the baby is the most important person I've ever brought home and I want everything perfect for her. Plus I know that after she comes I may not have the time or energy to do much aside from looking after her (feeding and changing every few hours from what I hear.) It's strange. A lot of it is probably biology, natural animal instinct, the body knows it's almost time and so kicks in extra reserves of strength to help you get things ready. I didn't have this much energy before I was pregnant! I was a procrastinator and had a hard time pushing myself to get things done. Now I have a massive belly and swollen feet yet I'm crouching down and stretching up to clean the nooks and crannies that I barely knew were there before.

I reorganized the kitchen counter to make room for the baby's whale bath. Most people I have seen bathe their baby by the kitchen sink. I didn't think I had room to do that but I've made room now. It's like the instinct took over and I just knew what to do. I think it's a lot easier having the bath at that level than killing my back trying to bend over in the bathtub or on the floor.

My friend told me that everyone that she knows who had that burst of energy at the end of their pregnancy and went around cleaning went into labour very shortly afterward. So she thinks I could go any time now. "Save some of your strength!" she warned "You're going to need it for labour!" I guess we'll see. Maybe my baby will be early instead of late? Maybe this weekend? Or maybe she'll be right on time on Monday. I was born on a Monday too. "Monday's child is fair of face." She might be a pale little redhaired girl like her Mama...I really don't want her to be late. At least not by more than a day or so if she has to be.

Everyone I talk to has their own pregnancy story/opinion. They even warn you in some of the pregnancy books to ignore what everyone says because there isn't just one way for things to happen. Everyone is different and someone else's experience won't necessarily be yours. One guy said to me "I don't want to scare you but..." (and pretty much anytime someone begins a sentence that way, you should just ignore them because they WILL scare you!) He proceeded to tell me that when his wife was pregnant she went two weeks late which her doctor had said was normal for a first child. So they weren't worrying until toward the end when she couldn't feel the baby move and went to the hospital to find that the baby had been left too long, had all kinds of complications, almost didn't make it and went on to have developmental problems as a result. So I'm definitely telling my doctor at my appointment that if she still thinks I'm going late, let's not leave it too long! I know there are risks to inducing but there are risks to waiting too long as well. Maybe we can pick a backup date for induction so I don't have to worry. I know that when people have a caesarian they can pick their date. I don't want a caesarian but it would be nice to know for certain what day and time it's going to happen rather than waiting and wondering helplessly.

It still boggles my mind that all this is happening. Just a few days until my due date now. It doesn't seem like nine months have gone by. It almost seems like yesterday that I took the pregnancy test and saw that shocking yes. On the other hand, it has been an amazing journey and in some ways feels like a lifetime in itself. I've come so far. I feel so different than I did back in November. And my life is completely different. I didn't know back then that I'd be going through this without a partner but it feels good to be making it on my own. (Mind you, I do have an amazing support system of family and friends that I adore and am so grateful for.)

I'm ready. The nest is ready. Now I just have to wait for my baby bird to hatch!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Waiting Game...

I'm due in a week!
The countdown is on!
My doctor says I may go late.
My Mom "has a feeling" I'm going to be early.
I just hope baby's on time.
You can never predict these things. Baby will come when she's good and ready.
I've done my best to prepare. Crossed off the checklists -- hospital bags packed, nursery ready, carseat installed, etc. Now it's just a waiting game...

I've been seeing my doctor every week for a while now. At my latest appointment she checked to see if there were any signs of impending labour. There apparently weren't (though she qualified that by saying that after examining one pregnant woman and telling her there was at least another week to go, the baby surprised them all and she went into labour the next day. So one never knows...) My blood pressure was normal. The baby's heartbeat was good and strong. The baby must be really low because when Doc examined me internally to see what was doing down there she was even able to touch the baby's head from inside (which frankly, freaked me out!) Doc said that I wasn't dilated but that my cervix had thinned out at least. Making it the only part of my body that has!

I've gained a LOT of weight. I'm bloated beyond belief. It felt like my belly had gotten much bigger, even since my baby shower three weeks ago so I decided to check it out. I had kept the winning piece of measuring tape from the "What Size Is the New Mommy's Tummy?" game. I wrapped it around my belly and sure enough, I've gained a couple more inches since then. I step on the scale and am in disbelief. Can this really be me? Of course some of it is the baby. Some of it (my ballooned up legs and feet) is swelling from blood pooling and water weight gain. So some of it may be gone (hopefully) immediately after birth. I have this fantasy of giving birth and my body instantly going back to normal. Sure. It could happen! Well the reality is I probably have to wait 6-8 weeks after delivery before I can begin exercising and then after several months of hard work I may get close to my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm planning to return to The 30 Day Shred and yoga which worked for me in the past. Though I've never had this much weight to lose. How much exactly? Oh, around 60 POUNDS!!! Not that it's a mystery how I've gained so much. They say you should gain about 35 lbs anyway, including changes to the body, extra blood and water, extra nutrients for the baby etc. Then you factor in the not exercising like you used to, not being able to move around as much. Add to that the pregnancy cravings (Oreo McFlurries), eating for two, figuring what the heck, I'm already big, might as well indulge and enjoy myself while this lasts!

I've heard from people who said by the time they reached this stage, they felt like they could go into labour any minute. Each day they thought, this is it! I haven't really had a moment like that although I have had some weird new stuff going on physically...

I'm getting more of the Braxton-Hicks contractions. They're more frequent, last longer and hurt a little more. Baby definitely feels lower. She's putting a lot of pressure on my bladder and colon. And every so often there's a pain, really low that feels like the baby or something is about to come out. One day while I was driving I suddenly had to go to the bathroom so badly it was excruciating. My lower back was aching, my stomach felt like lead, my head was spinning. I was almost going to pull over to the side of the road and go in the bushes (unfortunately I had to go #1 and #2! So it would not have been pretty!) To my relief I managed to make it to a Tim Hortons (good old Tims!) and waddle as fast as I could past a congregation of bikers in the parking lot and a long line-up of customers inside and made it to the bathroom just in the nick of time. Aside from the urination and colonic volcano, I passed a little blob of something. I figured it might be a bit of the mucus plug? Which I hadn't seen any sign of before that unless my sinuses count. (I often wake up with my nose all stuffed up for some reason.)

Another day I had a particularly ugly bathroom moment. One of the lowest points of my life. I was on the toilet already with a bad set of the runs (Sorry. This is way TMI!) when suddenly I felt nauseous. "You've got to be kidding me!" I thought. "No. This can't be happening!" But it was. I couldn't stop what was already going on in the toilet. Now the wave of nausea came over me and there was no stopping it. I wound up throwing up on myself. My leg, more specifically. It's a moment I won't soon forget. I've heard of burning the candle at both ends but exploding at both ends is even worse! So after I showered off and had a good cry I tried to calm myself down and figure out what was up, besides lunch. Did baby not like what I'd eaten? Did I have food poisoning or the flu? I researched online and found out that this late in the game it's actually common to have diarrhea and nausea. How lovely of them to show up at the same time! Note to self: keep a barf bag by the toilet, just in case.

My feet are more swollen than ever. Supposedly if you elevate them it brings down the swelling but how often can I do that? I decided as an experiment to hold my foot in the air as long as I could and see if it would shrink a bit. My toes started to feel more like toes and less like overstuffed sausages but it took quite a while and the difference in my foot (about a millimetre) was negligible. Perhaps for those who have a loving partner to do things for them, they can sit with their feet up while hubby does things around the house (theoretically, but how many hubbies are helpful, even if they're around? Me cynical? Oh, a tad!) and give their tortured tootsies a rest. For those on their own, like me, the chores don't do themselves and I never get to sit down for very long. I can always think of something else I could/should be doing.

During the waiting game I like to keep busy. We'd had so many hot days that when the weather cooled down a bit I decided to take the opportunity to do some gardening, specifically weeding. I can't be too fussy anymore. So I limit myself to just pulling the biggest, ugliest monster weeds. It is more and more difficult bending over the bigger I get but there's no one else to do it and I don't want my plants and flowers bullied and overrun entirely. While I'm out pulling weeds I suddenly feel a sharp pain, like a needle through my hand. A bee (or something) stung me! Right through my garden glove. It hurt like a mo-fo! Gheesh. I've gone my entire life without being stung by a bee and then I get stung while I'm pregnant?! Like I'm not going through enough?! (Note, the bee in the photo is innocent. That's just a pic I took in the garden previously.) I didn't get a look at the suspect who stung me. I was worried it might be dangerous to the baby. Could the poison affect her? And what if  I was allergic? My Mom is deathly allergic to bee stings. I didn't know if I was or not because I'd never been stung. I had a bump just a bit bigger than a mosquito bite but I put some ice on it and it all but disappeared. The glove probably protected me a lot. I figured I mustn't be allergic or my whole hand would have blown up or I would have died or something. And I read that the poison is localized so there was no harm to baby. That was a relief. If I'd been stung in my foot I wouldn't have been able to tell if I was getting swollen or not because my feet are already huge.

                        
















I love that the nursery is done. I go in at night and sit in the rocker and recite Goodnight Moon (I started reading it to my baby every night since February and eventually had it memorized so now I just say it) and sing lullabies to my baby. I love puttering around in the room. I can't wait for baby to see it, though I know she wouldn't really be able to appreciate it for a while. I made a new little seashore themed shadowbox for the room. I had a seahorse and some shells I'd gotten in Florida. I'd always planned to make a shadowbox with them someday. I couldn't have dreamed that it would wind up being for my baby's nursery!

I got a great deal on a cabinet for the nursery as well ($20!) which I found online. It's the same wood as the rest of the furniture and even has glass doors with fish etched onto it!

I've never seen anything like it. It's perfect. Had to make a bit of a trek to get it but  I was in the mood for a road trip and my friend and I made a day of it. I had my hospital bag in the car just in case. Any time I make a long trip now I figure it's better to be safe than sorry. (It's partly my Mom's doing as well because it was in the news that some pregnant woman was on a roadtrip and gave birth in the car and my Mom hasn't stopped going on and on about it.)

It wound up being a nice drive and a nice day. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in a subway car which was pretty cool. After my "super" burger I was super stuffed! It's fun stopping at random places to eat when you're driving. We were starving and actually looking for a McDonalds but then we stumbled upon this quaint little burger joint instead. I can't say that I've ever eaten in a subway car before!

Despite what the doctor says about me going late, My Mom is paranoid I'm going to be caught off guard and go into labour early, unexpectedly. She doesn't really want me to go anywhere or do anything. I guess I'm just supposed to sit and wait for baby's arrival. No way. There's still too much to do and I'm going to take advantage of my bursts of energy while I have them (the energy itself is supposed to be a sign of impending labour.)

My Mom tends to be (more than) a little neurotic. She calls me twice a day to make sure I'm OK and that nothing has "happened." She's having sympathy pains in her stomach and sympathy dreams (that she's pregnant too -- which given her age and the fact that she's had a hysterectomy is quite impossible!) She's so afraid I'm going to go into labour and have to drive myself to the hospital. I do have a friend nearby who can drive me in a pinch but from the sounds of it labour takes a day to get through and the beginning stages should be mild enough to function through. I've talked to people who were in the mall shopping and felt some cramping but ignored it. Then they finally went to the hospital several hours later and were 10 centimetres dilated! So who knows? I always imagined contractions being so unbearable but now I've had a number of people say that they're much like menstrual cramps and I'm an old pro at those after 30 years of suffering from severe cramps every 3 weeks and 3 days. I guess contractions would only be a shock to the lucky girls who never suffered from menstrual cramps before. I know that when I have random pains or Braxton-Hicks that it's not actual labour because they don't come in any sort of pattern and don't last long. I read that there's a formula 4-1-1 to tell when it's the real deal -- if you have contractions that are FOUR minutes apart, lasting ONE minute and this goes on for ONE hour -- get yourself to the hospital. Easy to remember. I'm not too panicked about going into labour all of a sudden. I trust my doctor's expertise a little more than my mom's intuition. Though I really hope I don't go late! I am done with this pregnant stuff! Enough already! Plus, I'm excited to meet my little girl.
I try to take it easy some of the time -- read and relax on my garden swing, watch a movie, surf the net but I also try to take advantage and get things done when I have the energy.

When it's too hot I escape the heat by going for a drive (at least my car is air conditioned) and shopping (stores are always an air conditioned haven). There was a sale on baby dresses and I couldn't resist picking up a couple. Is there anything cuter than tiny dresses?! My friend commented how lucky my baby is and how well dressed she'll be. I'm fortunate to have gotten donations, gifts and picked up a few bargains myself to add to her wardrobe. They've all been washed in baby detergent and are organized in her closet and dresser.

I also visit with friends and family. I'm very close to my Mom and sister and usually see them once a week. We went to the beach the other day. Last year I practically lived on beaches but it's quite different this year. Carrying all this weight it's hard to be out in the heat too much. And I'm less enthusiastic about appearing in a swimsuit with my big ole belly and elephantine swollen legs and feet. I went from size small or medium string bikinis to an XL tankini and it's still tight. I'm hoping I will get my bikini body back at least by next summer. And I hope the stretch marks don't show. Until recently I was hoping I might escape stretch marks. I've been slathering on a variety of anti-stretch mark creams (coca butter, vitamin E etc) for months. But with how big I've gotten now I guess there was no escape.

At the beach last year
At the beach this year






















My belly has changed from a big round beach ball to more of an egg shape now with baby's head down at the bottom bringing it to a point. I feel a lot more pressure lower so when nature calls it's much more urgent. I also get more pains there. Another side effect of my skin stretching so far is that it's itchy as Hell! My belly, legs and feet itch like there's no tomorrow. An arsenal of anti-itching creams and lotions (from zinc oxide powder to cream to calomine to aloe to vitamin E) hasn't really helped. The only thing that helps temporarily is scratching them like a rabid cat. It feels great while I'm scratching the itch. Unfortunately when I finish, my skin is sore and itchier than ever. I guess it's all the blood in the area making my nerve endings more active than ever. I'm hoping these symptoms will disappear instantly after I give birth. I spoke to one woman who said her entire body (even her hands and face) swelled up and that the swelling disappeared immediately after giving birth. So here's hoping!
  
At least I'm feeling happy and energetic these days which makes everything easier to deal with. I still haven't felt the urge to clean per se though I did begin to tackle the basement and cold cellar which really need to be organized. It's just something else to keep me busy and hanging out downstairs makes sense when it's hot. (Not having air conditioning, the basement is the coolest place to be.) I was proud of myself that I even figured out how to hook up a TV and DVD player downstairs so I can hang out down there and watch movies when it's too hot upstairs. I'm not much of a techie and always had someone (the guy in my life at the time, whoever it happened to be) to set up my electronics for me. Now alone to navigate the back of the TV and DVD player, I realized I had no idea where the wires went but I just kept trying them in different spots until something appeared on the screen! When there's no one around to help, you have to figure these things out on your own. And it is empowering when you realize you can do it all by yourself!

I'm excited. I still can't believe my due date is just seven days away! I was worried if I did go late that I'd have a really big baby but I talked to someone who said she went more than a week past her due date and still had a relatively normal sized (7 pound) baby. So you never know. 

I guess the due date is really just a guess anyway. They can't know the exact date. All they do is go by your last period. They don't know when you actually conceived. I don't know when I conceived. I try not to think about it! It could have been anytime in late October-early November. I still can't believe it happened. But it was Fate. Everything that happened last year was for a reason. Every event, every triumph, every setback, every meeting were all leading me to this. The universe placed M on my path so that I could have this little girl. Though he was the most unlikely source, he was meant to give me the greatest gift, the greatest love of my lifetime. If I hadn't met him for coffee, if I hadn't let myself fall for him too hard, too fast, too soon, she wouldn't exist.

You're my destiny, baby! I can't wait to meet you. I'm ready when you are! No pressure. As long as you're healthy, you come out when you feel like it. (Just try not to make me wait too long!) And if you could please give Mama some advance notice/warning signs. I'll be watching for them!