What a delivery.

I am going to try to jot down the short version from my phone here in my hospital room, but will work on transcribing some of the little details later.

We checked into the hospital for our scheduled induction at 7pm on Thursday night and sometime around 9:30 they finally had a room ready.

They prescribed me a drug called Cervadil which is basically like a tiny dry tampon that is inserted vaginally for 12 hours. It was uncomfortable going in and coming out – at which time they advised that it had done little to progress my cervical ripening as I was still only about 1 cm dialated. Around 11am on Friday they removed the cervadil and started me on oral misoprostal (which was a little hard for me because I had taken that some drug vaginally to induce my miscarriage last year so it brought all kinds of emotions with it) and after 2 rounds spaced 4 hours apart each, I was STILL only about 2 cm dialated. They gave me a 3rd dose around 8pm which did induce more contractions and cramping, but they prescribed me 5 mg of Ambien to sleep and said I likely wouldnt feel those “mild” contractions throughout the night.

If you are good at guessing…they were wrong. I felt them about an hour into the most restful sleep I’d gotten since arriving at the hospital and the doctor prescribed me an IV painkiller since they said it was too early for an epidural. The nurse also did another cervical check ahead of my midnight miso dosage and said that my cervix was thinning even more and that I looked to be perhaps another cm dialated. She must have done a spectacular job of her exam as I fully lost my mucous plug when she was done. Everytime I went to the bathroom (which was often as they had me on IV fluids) I kept wiping away pieces of the plug. Then, around 2-3am I started to feel small droplets of liquid on my leg when I would get up to use the bathroom so I figured my water was breaking or I was becoming incontinent.

I was really loopy from the ambien and the painkiller (both of which the doctors assured me were safe for both baby and I) and I lost track of time but think I was getting up in 5 minute increments at one point to pee. After the last time as round 4:30 am, I climbed back in bed and felt a pretty major contraction at which point I felt a gush and I was laying in a puddle of my own fluid. My wife hurried to call the nurse to advise her of my water breaking and by the time she came in I was howling in pain and told her that I KNEW the baby would be coming quickly and felt a guttural need to start pushing. She told me it was too soon, and rushed to find an anesthesiologist to administer my epidural. While she was gone, I had several back-to-back contractions and another nurse stopped in and said she would go to track down our nurse. By this point, I was literally squeezing my legs shut and doing everything I could not to push as my poor wife frantically paced the room and tried to predict what command I would bark next so she could keep me as comfortable as possible.

You guys: it was INTENSE.

At one point I started screaming, “where the fuck are all of the doctors and nurses and why are we alone?! Call for someone….anyone!” (I apologized to everyone afterward and thanked them all for their help. It was like I had no control over my body, words, or emotions in those intense moments.).

Our nurse came back in and coaxed me onto my back in bed and checked me again, indicating that I was 8-10 cm and indeed ready to push, and she called for the doctor.

They had everything down to a science. She pushed with me for about an hour (it felt like 15 minutes and I- oddly – began to doze off between contractions/pushes), and I thought it was going to be just me, my wife, and the nurse delivering the baby as no one else was in the room.

All of the sudden – it was if we were in a TV medical drama and one-by-one a series of nurses, the doctor, the pediatric doctor, and assistants were in the room and they quickly “broke the bed” (I was sleeping in a bed that split  in two and stirrups pulled up at the bottom so the doctor could more easily catch the baby). I didnt know why at the time but a few times they rolled me on my side between pushes and I later found out that it was because baby’s heart rate was dropping.

Finally, I saw the doctor smile and I bore down with all of my weight and felt something warm and slippery and they put baby girl on my chest to clean everything out. Then they whisked her away to a table at the front of the room to be examined. While she scored an 8 on the apgar scale, she had some trouble clearing out her lungs due to her rapid delivery and she is currently in the NICU recovering. I am hoping she will be in our arms this evening or tomorrow morning as it is absolutely heartbreaking to be away from her and to watch her cry helplessly in an incubator and not be able to fully hold her and comfort her.

Again, there are a lot of parts missing to this story (like the rapid fire contractions I experienced after the cervadil on Friday morning) but overall, it was an amazing experience (far less painful than anticpated) and I somehow found the strength to not only deliver vaginally, but to do so without an epidural: something I NEVER though I could do.

And miss Hadley is absolutely perfect, and I still cant believe I have a daughter.

I’ll get a picture up after her NICU stay…promise!

Love to everyone. Xoxo.

39 weeks: almost at the end.

When I last left off writing, I was getting ready to go into battle with a giant mosquito and a serger. Bug lovers….cover your eyes for this part:

The mosquito met an untimely demise. Hey, it was either me or it, and I’m not savvy (or fast) enough to go find a jar and somehow manage to catch it and slide a paper underneath it and release it outside. And anyway: I don’t want any mosquito born illnesses either. So I squished it with a fly swatter and that was that.

The serger made out better. I threaded it in about 10 minutes, and quickly whipped up a knit receiving blanket, followed by a baby hat and finally a pair of pants.

Alright, so I made the blanket that day, the hat a few days later, and the pants about a month and a half after that, but I did it. whalepantshatblanketI am hopeful that the pants will fit well and plan on making more. It was a pretty cool pattern I found from a website called Baste and Gather and the pants are called “Baby Got Back” as they have an extra panel in the rear for babies with larger cloth diapered booties. I have heard that some pants fit poorly with cloth diapers so I’m excited to try these!

(P.S. the whale pattern that is going one way up one leg and the other way down the other is um…intentional. Yes, I meant to do that 😉 )

http://www.basteandgather.com/blog/free-sewing-pattern-baby-got-back-leggings-for-cloth-diapered-babies

I then made another set with a head band, knot cap, and a big receiving blanket to match a set I had seen online for about 4x the price. I thought it would be cute for photos in the hospital as I’ll have a somewhat-matching navy blue bathrobe to wear in the hospital. We still aren’t sure if babes is a boy or a girl, but are ready to go with a little bow just in case. I figured a BLUE bow would somewhat be breaking stereotypical gender norms, right?

bowhatblanket

 

So we are at Week 39. Overall, I’ve had an uneventful pregnancy (which is just fine by me since the rest of my life has had enough events for me AND baby). After the shower, I started to get nervous that some symptoms that showed up would be staying for the remainder of the pregnancy (I had some pretty severe pain in my left rib at one point, heartburn, and some back pain while sleeping) but everything ended up being mild and short lasting. I feel like one of the luckiest pregnant women. I am actually really sad that its almost over.

Tomorrow will likely be the last full day with baby inside. They are inducing me tomorrow evening due to the single umbilical artery (the recommendation is to not exceed your due date with this diagnosis and since I’m due on Sunday the latest they wanted to have the delivery is Friday – hence a Thursday evening induction).

I’m feeling a decent amount of pressure. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and they did a membrane sweep along with my standard cervical check. I’m hoping that helps to bring on labor without the drugs: I’ve heard that pitocin inductions are much more painful than regular deliveries.

Doctor said that I’m 80% effaced, a little more than a centimeter dilated, and that baby’s head was pretty low. In fact, both he and the doctor who checked me last week said they could touch the baby’s head during my cervical check. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not, but I can totally feel that pressure when I walk or sit.

This baby has been so chill throughout my pregnancy, though. They move regularly enough for us to feel comfortable that they are safe (though we did have a “scare” or two that was quickly quelled by our doctors and a brief kick count), but I haven’t had anything crazy. I’ve heard of women being woken up in the middle of the night. This baby has done that maybe three times this entire pregnancy. The kicks are usually pretty gentle and always make me smile.

I don’t know if I’ll feel differently after delivery, but I really think that after we complete our family (which we are still discussing how/when we want to) I’d like to be a surrogate for another couple who can’t have their own baby: particularly a gay couple if I can. I think it would be something wonderful that I could do with a body that seems to tolerate pregnancy relatively well, given the hardships we’d encountered to get here.

I had no gestational diabetes, my blood pressure has been excellent, I’ve felt great, I didn’t gain a TON of weight (though I did increase six pounds from last week to today which is odd given my overall weight gain of 40 pounds) and I just think it would be a cool gift for another couple. Again – may feel totally different in a few days after giving birth, but it’s a thought for sure.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to meet this babe and absolutely terrified of labor. I don’t tend to tolerate pain well, and I’m just so afraid that I’ll chicken out and not be able to go through with the vaginal delivery. Women have told me that you find strength that you didn’t know you had during the labor process: I just hope that is true for me, too.

We finished the peanut’s bedroom. I’m attempting to incorporate some minimalist concepts into our lives, so even though we already have a lot of baby “things” as a result of our shower, we’re really trying to minimize any other nonessentials that we bring in to keep down the clutter and focus on things that really make our lives better. I’m happy with the neatness of the room and am hopeful that we can keep it this way as baby grows. I love to watch YouTube videos featuring minimalist lifestyles – some of it is a bit too advanced for me, but I love incorporating as much as I can. I welcome any suggestions that any of you may have! Would also love any cloth diapering tips if any cloth diapering mamas follow me here.

(please ignore the backpack and items on the floor. I was packing the babe’s hospital bag and really just wanted a quick picture before I finished this blog.)

babysroom

 

I really need to get better with my updates. Wishing you all well and I can’t wait to update this blog with a birth story and vitals on the baby after tomorrow.

xoxo

Seeing red.

On a scale of one to really-fucking-petty, how bad is it if someone genuinely considers cutting out extended family who can’t seem to help themselves from gleefully proclaiming their support of Trump in spite of the vile things he continues to do and the havoc that he stands to personally wreak on their little family with his Supreme Court Pick? Asking for a friend….

 

 

 

Baby shower, birthing class, and new crib (oh my).

I’m sitting in the glider in baby’s room side-eyeing the brother 1034D serger that is sitting on the desk across the room like the evil villian in a super hero movie just waiting for me to make my first move.

(Can you tell I’m dramatic? In all seriousness, though, new projects are HARD for me to start. I sew regularly – nothing fancy – and I really want to use this to make a few blankets and cloth diaper inserts that I found patterns for online, but I’m so intimidated by the threading and can’t figure out how to even slip my fabric underneath. I felt like I had maybe hopped up to Level 200 sewing, but feel like an novice all over again with this machine).

20180616_090025

(The offender in all its evil glory)

I’m going to commit to figuring it out and at LEAST sewing a test piece after I finish this entry. Hold me to it, blogging world. Make me show you the next time I post.

Anyway, our families threw us a beautiful baby shower two weeks ago at a local pizzeria. Unlike our bridal shower, it was very casual. Everyone dined on pizza and salad at their leisure along with wine, the best cake ever (from my family’s favorite local bakery) and homemade Italian cookies made by some of the women of my wife’s family.

We got to catch up with many people we hadn’t seen recently and got lots of great advice from both new and experienced mamas.

I have to say: there wasn’t a single moment when I felt like we weren’t every other couple in America who was getting ready to welcome a baby. No one asked how we got pregnant, or who the donor is, or anything that you wouldn’t typically ask a straight couple. Overall, the only people who seemed comfortable enough to ask us those questions throughout this process anyway have been close friends and family – so I’m not entirely sure why I was expecting that.

Despite being wonderful, it was an exhausting and slightly overwhelming day and four hours felt like it passed in 45 minutes. We didn’t really get any photos with any of our guests (or even as a couple with the exception of a few candids as we opened gifts) but my wife snapped this one afterward. The pose was intentional as we took the same one with my sister when she was pregnant with my niece. I want to put them side by side in a frame and get one made for each of us.

20180603_195034

I wish I had a photo to share of the baby’s room after the shower. My wife – a self proclaimed neat freak – was almost hyperventilating when all of the boxes and bags were unloaded after the shower. Fortunately, I’m a master organizer and it only took me 5 days to get everything unboxed, sorted, and put away. We are so fortunate to have such generous friends and family and – aside from clothes – really have everything we need for most of the first year of baby’s life. We also bought quite a few of our big ticket items ourselves (many via a local yardsale site, and others from Babies R’ Us as they wrap up their final days before closing). I actually just ran out last night to get a second convertible car seat (we have one infant car seat and two bases, but only thought to get one convertible car seat initially, which is silly as you can’t take it from vehicle to vehicle easily). It was a $300 Chicco Nextfit IX and ended up being $150 as it was marked down 50% at BRU.  Our other carseats and stroller are Britax (which we selected due to the superior safety ratings, but BRU didn’t have anymore Britax models and we read great reviews about this Chicco) and we have a wonderful neighbor who works for emergency services and is trained in carseat installation who offered to help us set everything up.

One of our FAVORITE Babies R’ Us finds was our highchair (which we registered for and promptly removed from our registry when we found it at Babies R’ Us). It is a Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair (in the Walnut color) and it was initially $250 and we found one left at Babies R’ Us for $100 at the beginning of their going out of business sale. I couldn’t believe it, and can’t wait to try it out. It is designed to grow with baby and turn into a stool and even a child to adult chair once the tray and baby set (that we received as a gift from a relative) are removed.

We (mostly me as my wife already does a good job with this) are trying to be minimalist in our approach to baby gear and find items that can be reused and not tossed out, donated, or sold (though we are open to the last two when necessary). I really pushed her past her comfort zone when I insisted on cloth diapers and she is extremely skeptical but excited after seeing all of the cute patterns and different diaper designs. Since I’ll be home for the first three months, I’m going to have to work really hard to keep up with the laundry and prove that we can do this. I’m fortunate that if I sent anything up with enough solid evidence for my wife, she’ll usually support me, but I absolutely have to respect how neat she is and work hard to stay on top of the maintenance of the diapers so she doesn’t get overwhelmed and throw in the towel. Plus they’ll save us a significant amount of money, which we can use in other ways for this baby.

Our childbirth education class was last weekend: we were the first of four couples to arrive and were greeted by our instructor as we stepped off of the elevator to look around for our conference room. My wife was carrying the two bed pillows that we were instructed to bring and the woman asked if we were each expecting. When we said we were not, she asked if we were a couple, to which I responded, “Yes, but it’s just me who is pregnant. She’s just carrying.” Then I realized how awkward that sounded before I added…”the pillows, not the baby.”

Fortunately, the awkardness didn’t continue throughout the day, and the class was actually very pleasant (albeit terrifying at times) and we learned about breathing and relaxation techniques before touring the state-of-the-art hospital including the birthing rooms and postpartum wing of the hospital. It was kind of surreal standing in the room in which we would soon be welcoming our baby (or one just like it, at least).

While we were in class, my brother-in-law sat at our house and waited for our crib to be delivered. We arrived home to the delivery folks putting it together (an unexpected but much welcome surprise!) and we were able to put in the mattress, launder the bedding, and dress it up afterward. The finished product (which is a deep navy blue but is looking very black):

 

20180616_085539

(yes, yes, we know. Pillow and bear come out of the crib before use. Also: don’t mind the messy desk next door. It’s getting cleaned up and moved). 

The entire process of getting a crib was quite an ordeal (Long story short: We ordered our first crib from a company called Evolur via Amazon. It was slated to arrive in 5-8 weeks. About 4 weeks in the order was cancelled due to no inventory. Why they took the order in the first place is beyond me. The Amazon rep generously offered me free shipping if I wanted to order another crib on the spot while I was on the phone with her, but I had to explain to her that I did hours of research and couldn’t pick a crib on the spot, plus I already got free shipping as a Prime member). Then I wrote a long letter to Evolur basically explaining how disappointed I was and asking if they could double check their inventory. They didn’t find it necessary to even acknowledge my email. So I wouldn’t recommend furniture orders from either.)

The story has a happy ending though, and we are thrilled with the crib we DID get (not from Amazon or Evolur).

We’re waiting for our changing table and a toy box we’d purchased from that same local Yardsale site, as we hired a woman to paint them for us to match the crib. Once those arrive, we can finally start to put everything back together.

In the meantime, we have an ultrasound on Thursday, and I always hate to say this when people ask, but I really feel great overall. I get a bit of heartburn here and there, had some rib pain earlier in the pregnancy, had some nausea in the first 12 weeks, but nothing serious and nothing lasting. I would say the hardest part of this entire pregnancy (aside from the SUA diagnosis and routine fear about baby’s general wellbeing) was having two colds and not being able to breathe at night.

I do get a tad restless at night sometimes and have to pee pretty much all the time, but other than that I feel great and so incredibly fortunate. I’m sure the tough times are ahead, but I’m trying to enjoy every moment leading up to them (and we DID have our share of heartache throughout our IVF process and with our first pregnancy so I’m feeling extra fortunate for a calm 2nd and 3rd trimester so far).

Okay. Back to battle with that serger (and a VERY large mosquito that I just saw wandering around baby’s room before I lost sight of it and retreated from the room with my laptop before closing the door behind me). I guess I’m up for two wars this morning.

Wish me luck…

28/29 Weeks

I have been so bad at keeping up with this blog. I always wondered why people dropped off writing after they were able to successfully conceive. While I still don’t have the answer, I am going to guess that it’s a combination of fatigue (oh you all: it’s so, so real), investment in planning and preparation (though I must confess that I haven’t made it all the way through a single baby book, yet, and the baby’s room is still a hot mess with no crib – long story – and piles of unwashed clothes and baby gear all over), and just general chaos.
I’m currently starting this entry on my Kindle as I’m parked in a beach chair with my toes in some densely packed, damp sand under a fishing pier at a beach not far from my in-laws home in South Carolina. I figured: no excuses. It’s now or never (or more accurately now or 32 weeks or whenever I set aside the rest of my chores to write again))). This is devotion, though. The keyboard on a kindle is larger than my phone, but smaller than a regular keyboard so typing is awkward and I can’t balance it on my belly because every time I set it down the baby must wind one of its limbs back in an effort to shove the device out of its space. I’m not complaining, though. I waited all morning for one of these kicks and began to grow panicked when the first one arrived later than it did the last two days. I swear: some days it feels like my life revolves around drinking enough water, peeing, and waiting for that next kick (but it NEVER grows old). Every one is still magical and even though this kid has been nestled in close for almost 7 months, I still can’t believe that I’m pregnant and I feel so freaking lucky every morning when I wake up.
This week, the baby has been in five different states. We started out at home on the east coast (drove to a neighboring state to catch a flight to the Midwest where we spent the next four days for work) then we caught another flight to South Carolina (and had a layover in between). I really want to plan to travel often once the babe gets here. I didn’t travel much as a child and I want this babe to experience everything we can expose it to. We actually even planned the nursery around that idea and have an assortment of map prints and a beautiful blue and gold globe with which to decorate the nursery.
We haven’t had any big scares since the SUA diagnosis at 20 weeks, and that feels like a distant dream, now. But every so often (such as this morning) when baby’s movements seem irregular, my wife and I both tend to panic and I lay on my side and grab a cold drink and hold my belly waiting for kicks.
Babe moved pretty regularly this week during my travel (which was a blessing since I tend to worry even more without my wife there to calm me) but when we arrived at her parent’s house (where she was waiting for us after a flight she took earlier in the week) the movements got stronger than the rest of the week and I really do wonder if the baby was happy to hear her voice after 4 days away from her. Whenever she puts her hands on my belly she tends to elicit some kicks, too. What can I say: babe loves its Mommy.
(I sound so horrible calling my baby an “it” but he/she takes longer to type…please know that our little “it” is loved profusely. ❤)
My colleagues at my travel office threw me a shower when I was in town this week. They told me I had a short meeting at the end of the day and had a conference room waiting with cake, a guessing game, gifts, and adorable Oreo truffle favors that one of my favorite co-workers made.
They were even kind enough to ship everything back to my office for me as I grew increasingly panicked with each beautiful gift that I opened that I wouldn’t be able to find a home for it in my small carryon bag (I’m a good packer….but not THAT good!)
Our families are throwing us a shower next week. I honestly prefer to be surprised, but they felt like it would be easier to plan if they didnt also have to worry about figuring out how to surprise me with an elaborate story.
If you live in the US, you probably know that Babies R’ Us is going out of business. My wife and I stop in weekly as the sales climb and have already bought a lot of what we need. She is starting to get overwhelmed thinking of the additional piles of STUFF that are going to flood the house post-shower. I suppose we will figure it out.
My wife is incredibly neat, a minimalist, and cant stand when things get messy. After a small disagreement a few weeks ago when we both started to get overwhelmed by how we’d fit everything for baby into our – already crowded – two bedroom condo, we decided to rent a small storage unit. It helped tremendously, but now we have to make sure we dont amass too much more just because we have the unit to fall back on.
Anyway: at 28 weeks (now 29 as I am finalizing this post the next day and officially turned 29 weeks today). Babe is supposedly the size of a butternut squash and weighs 2.5-3.5 lbs. (Which is unfortunate to read since I gained about 20 lbs so far…) It kicks pretty regularly now (except on days like yesterday when we have dry spells and I freak out) and we have learned that it either loves or hates live music (I like to think it loves it) because whenever we hear live music it starts kicking more than usual.
I still feel pretty good for the most part. Every so often I have cramps for a few minutes at a time, and I have this pain in my left rib that comes and goes and based been on what I’ve read I think it may be costochondritis which is inflammation of the cartilage(?) tissue in my ribs. Some days it is unbearable, but stretching seems to help and it isn’t consistent which is nice. Sleeping is getting harder (especially this week since I haven’t slept in my bed for 7 days now), but overall I really cannot complain. As long as this babe is healthy, I’m happy.
Leaving you with an obligatory  beach bathroom shot. I forgot to ask my wife to snap a picture in this full outfit with the hat while we were out so I grabbed one before I jumped in the shower. I’ll try to get a few more before we wrap up our trip.
20180525_141709
Xoxo
Jenn

A nightmare in a dream.

“So everything looked great today,” the ultrasound tech said as she wrapped up our anatomy scan. “But I do have one TINY concern. Nothing to worry about at all. I’m going to have the doctor talk to you before you leave. Your baby is supposed to have two arteries and one vein going into the umbilical cord, but it only has one. No big deal.”

My heart sank.

I felt the way my niece must feel after she falls or bumps herself and I scoop her up and tell her she’s fine before she has the chance to react or cry. Stunned. Confused. Not worried? Kind of worried. Panicky.

My wife and I looked at each other, and I think my eyes started to well up a little. “Seriously, you guys. Happens all the time. Practically normal. You’re VIP today so I’m going to grab the doctor and he’ll come out to get you in the waiting room.”

My brother-in-law happened to work on a play with one of the doctors of this particular MFM practice, so he called her and asked if she could help to ensure that we were placed with my sister-in-law’s favorite ultrasound tech (since she just had my niece two years ago and basically knew them all.)

My wife and I walked silently to the waiting room, and I began frantically googling once my butt hit the chair.

Still birth.

Heart defects.

Chromosomal Abnormalities. 

Low birth weight. 

Kidney problems. 

My face must have registered my panic. “You need to turn your phone off and stop googling, now.” My wife glared at me.

By the time the doctor called us back, I already had a list of questions ready. He explained that while Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) is often found in conjunction with other problems – including chromosomal abnormalities – it is often found on its own and in those cases it is simply a variation of normal. Pregnancies progress with no problem and babies are born perfectly healthy. Of course, if SUA is caused by another factor: it could lead to a host of other problems, but he recommended a fetal echocardiogram and monthly growth scans and sent us on our way.

“Do you think we should hold off on buying the crib?” my wife asked. My eyes welled up. “I mean, just in case…you know…”

Nope. No way.

This is my baby. This is our baby. There are no guarantees with pregnancy. Ever. If this child isn’t meant to be ours forever, it is at least ours now and I plan to prepare as though it will live a very long life. And that means purchasing the convertible crib we picked out that will follow our child into adulthood once it turns into a full sized bed.

(Side note: it still took me a month to buy the damn crib, but not because of the SUA. I’m partially indecisive and partially a procrastinator, but the crib is officially on order as of two days ago.)

evolurparker

An appointment with our regular OB the following day, provided more of the same information.

Variation of normal.

Early testing showed no signs of chromosomal abnormalities.

Fetal echo and growth scans will help us monitor things.

A week later, we went in for the fetal echocardiogram which was done at our local MFM by a pediatric cardiologist from one of the leading children’s hospitals in our area, and she said that baby’s heart is looking PERFECT and she has no cause for concern. She confirmed what two other doctors (and my best friend, a Nurse Practitioner) all also confirmed: this appears to be a stand alone case of SUA with no other complicating issues, and we have every right to hope for a normal pregnancy and birth.

(although my friend added that we should likely not expect to go past my August 12th due date, as research suggests that babies with SUA should be delivered on or before their expected due dates to prevent further complications and since we are 100% certain of the due date because of our IVF procedure, I can expect that we’ll be meeting this kid in 113 days or less).

What a rollercoaster ride pregnancy is.

We started out fearful. Afraid to get our hopes up. Anxiously waiting.

For the 12th week.

For the heartbeat.

For the kicks.

For the week of viability.

And throughout that process, the little milestones set your heart on fire. Those first kicks. (oh, those first kicks). Those ultrasound pictures. Those sweet little baby belongings that pile up in the guest bedroom (that is really no longer a guest bedroom) waiting to be washed and sorted and put into the baby’s closet and drawers.

Then you get some kind of crazy news. Either a health problem for you, or a potential complication for baby.

And if you’re lucky, it resolves itself.

Gestational diabetes.

A hole in the heart.

A cyst.

Hypertension.

Sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re lucky, you still get to walk away healthy at the end with a sweet little babe to raise.

Then there are the ones that don’t walk away. Either at all, or with a baby. And those hurt my heart and scare me the most.

Bu then you feel another kick.

And everything feels right in the world.

Overall I feel so incredibly blessed. I have wanted this experience for longer than I can remember.

My mom said that when my sister was born [I was 17 months old at the time] she would find me trying to “breastfeed” my own dolls like she would feed my sister. When I got a little older, I would stuff a rolled up blanket under my shirt and tell her I was pregnant.

When I got older, still, I got this doll: it was Magic Nursery doll (shout out to my fellow 80s/90s mamas!) and it came in this pouch that you could wear on your belly (like a backwards backpack of sorts) and when you pushed a button it would mimic kicking sensations). I mean…in retrospect, it was probably a bad idea and maybe contributed to the rise in teen pregnancy rates in my generation…but I thought it was SO AMAZING and anxiously awaited the day when I’d feel it for real. I was like…8-years-old, y’all.

My sisters and I used to play “house” all the time as well. I was ALWAYS the mom, and had a plethora of children of assorted ages.

I get that having a baby is half of the process. Raising a human is the larger – inevitably more important half – and over the years, my dreams of baby kicks and snuggles grew to include teaching a toddler about being kind, and teaching a elementary school child to learn, and love art, and volunteer. Now my dreams even include watching a young adult graduate from high school, college, grad school, and whatever level of education and reach any level of success that his/her heart can possibly dream of: enjoying life and friends and art and culture and every piece of joy that the world has to offer in the process.

But first, I can’t wait to snuggle them.

And now…I can’t wait for that next kick.

Every day I realize how lucky I am. I try to remember to say a prayer of gratitude every night (not always successful, but I’m working on it). This was my dream. This IS my dream. And I am so thankful for it all. And with that, I leave you with what was my favorite printed shot from the anatomy scan session.

babyfoot

(have you EVER seen such a cute little foot?)

A letter to my baby.

Dear Zophia (although that isn’t your name, and might be even stranger if you end up being a boy, it’s what you’re Mommy named you a few weeks ago, so it’s what we’ve been calling you in our texts to each other. If you’re wondering why…..don’t. I’m honestly not sure.)

Today you’ve been growing inside of me for sixteen weeks and five days. Technically, I’m nineteen weeks and three days pregnant with you, but the way that is all measured is really funny to me.

Some days, it feels like you’ve been a part of me forever: almost as if I’ve never worn pants that button at the waist, and I’ve always approached medicine with trepidation – terrified of what it could do to your tiny developing body: no matter how congested and sick I feel.

Other days, this process feels as though it’s taking forever, as I longingly stare at the wine cabinet in the corner of our living room, with my phone open to The Bump app, as I scan it to learn more about our most recent developments. I stand in front of the mirror and push my shirt down around my growing belly and imagine how much of that bump is comprised of you. I wonder where you are curled up as I poke and prod my belly, hoping you’ll tap back and remind me that you’re in there.

Last week, you did for the first time. I’d felt sensations that reminded me of bubbles and based on what everyone had told me, I’d figured it was you moving around. Then, on Wednesday evening, I was sitting with your mommy on the couch – eating dinner after a very long day – and I told her I thought I’d felt you move. A moment later, you kicked me with an intensity that I hadn’t felt before (and have longed to feel, since) and she was able to put her hand on my belly long enough to feel it, too. I felt you again and my eyes must have widened, as she looked at me and said, “that was a kick, wasn’t it?”

Since that day, you’ve only kicked me lightly, and now I’m much more aware of those sensations and I try to stop and enjoy them. Sometimes I think you know that, and like any child trying to tease their parents, you stop just when I get excited – leading me to wonder if I was just experiencing gas bubbles.

I wonder what you’re going to look like all the time. Next week, we’re going to have your anatomy scan: we’ll see all of your organs close up (well – almost all of them as we’re hoping to keep your sex a secret until you’re born), and I’m so excited to see your face again. I know you won’t look like me, and sometimes that makes me a tiny bit sad, but then I remember how much you’ll look like your beautiful mommy and I smile. Both she and our donor have curly hair, so I’m expecting to have to learn how to brush and style curls – a modest challenge for your mama who has had straight auburn hair her whole life. Your mommy straightens her curls every other night: pulling and ironing each curl into straight submission. You can do that too, if you want to, but I hope you love every part of yourself the way I already do: every hair, freckle, inch of your skin.

I hope you grow up to be happy. The world is sometimes a scary place, but I plan to expose you to as many of the happy and loving parts as I possibly can, so that you never know darkness more than you know light. When you experience the scary parts of this world, I promise to always remind you of your strength, your voice, and your heart – living in this family, I know you’ll have a steady voice and a good heart.

Speaking of this family: you’re going to love it. In addition to me, you have a really amazing mommy. Just tonight, she was out in the snow cleaning both of our cars so that I could get to work with no trouble in the morning. That’s pretty typical: she had a day off from work today, so she cleaned our entire house from top to bottom. She works so hard so that we can all be comfortable, she she must ask me 10 times a day how you are doing and if I’ve felt you move. She is patient, and quiet and will teach you so much about sports: I can say with total confidence that you’ll learn much more from her than almost all of your friends will from their dads. She’s a fantasy baseball champion (four years in a row now, but don’t remind her – she can be cocky about it!), and she follows football almost as closely. If you want to know about hockey, you have three uncles and an aunt who are total fanatics, and a Pop Pop who can rattle off stats about almost any sport you can think of. In fact, he can rattle off random facts about almost anything: he’s a trivia whiz, and will undoubtedly teach you lots of things about different topics. You have a mom mom who already loves your two cousins fiercely, and uses her precious vacation time after driving two hours just to watch them while your aunt goes to work. I hope she can retire sometime soon, although she’ll always be doing something (probably offering to watch you, if she does. She’s really excited that you’re going to live so close to her…she asks about you all the time). On the other side, you have another Pop Pop (who we’ll have to watch as I have a feeling he’ll try to teach you some pranks and….probably inappropriate jokes) but he’ll absolutely make you laugh when he says something unexpected. Your Nana always corrects him (she is very sweet and polite), and in addition to helping you to become a good person, she’ll teach you how to make all kinds of delicious Polish cookies like her mom (Great Nana) used to make. Although Great Nana isn’t with us anymore, I’m confident that she helped bring you to us: I would tell you that you’d love her, but I think you already do.

Finally: going back to our little family of four, in addition to me, you, and Mommy, you will have an amazing little guard dog – Barley. She’s kind of temperamental, and if you lay under a blanket and she decides to lay with you, don’t move any of your extremities until you lift them above the blanket: otherwise she’ll think it’s some kind of a monster and try to attack it. I may have had a toe or two nipped by her, but I swear she’s just trying to protect us. I ask her where you are sometimes: they say that dogs can sense babies, but she hasn’t let on that she knows you’re coming, yet. One time, a few weeks ago – when I was sick with the stomach virus – she stayed by my side for hours, even though your Mommy was also sick, and she’s usually Mommy’s best bud. I can only imagine that she knew I needed her (although we’ve also speculated that she sensed that Mommy had a fever and she was avoiding that), but either way: you can expect to be part of the group she guards with ferocity, and I hope your chubby little baby hands aren’t too hard on her curly fur.

We’re starting to prepare your nursery: since we won’t know your sex for a while still, we decided on a neutral color theme: gold and navy (which I just realized as I was writing this, is just like your Pop Pop’s favorite football team: Notre Dame. Clearly, though, it’s not why we chose it…especially since your Mama’s loyalty lies with a different school. But whether we like it or not, Pop Pop will definitely still try to teach you the Notre Dame fight song – so I guess I better start singing it to you now…). Some people have told us that it seems girly, and other’s have assumed you’re a boy because of it. This is why we’re keeping your name a secret until we have you snuggled in our arms: we love our (your) friends and family, but they can have some strong opinions (you probably will, too). That’s totally fine: but right now, we are just trying to figure out what is best for you, and we already second guess ourselves at least 100x a day: no need to add more stress to that.

Sweet baby, there is so much more I want to tell you, but I’ll save it for another letter on another day. Until then, please don’t be afraid to move around and kick me. I’ll admit: it did scare me the first time, but since then I’ve looked forward to it. I just like reminders that you’re still close by (I mean, aside from the app updates and my ever-growing belly…)

We love you very much. See you in 144 days if you come on your due date (or somewhere around 151 days if you take after me…)

Love You Always,

Mama