Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Primigravida aka, Noob

At my very first prenatal appointment the clinic confirmed that those pee tests were not lying and I was indeed making a baby. "Since this is your first pregnancy, we refer to you as a primigravida." Basically, they were using a big word to call me a pregnant noob. Bryan and I are ready for this new chapter to begin. We have no fears or big anxieties about being parents or caring for a baby (thanks in large part to 18 nieces/nephews and my 7 months as a full-time nanny), but we cannot deny that we are, in fact, noobs.

Expectations: I always knew I'd have miserable pregnancies because my squeamish morning stomach has given me many episodes of "morning sickness" throughout my adult life. I was wrong. This pregnancy has been (surprisingly) very easy for me. I am currently in the third trimester at 7 months and have yet to encounter any of the usual pregnancy villains, ie: morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, crazy emotions, swollen extremities, or varicose veins. However, I did not escape some fatigue during the first tri (apparently making a placenta saps all your energy), and although my desire for sweets declined in those first weeks, I never got to experience any strong food cravings/aversions.

Milestones: Despite going to bed about an hour earlier every night, everything felt completely normal for the first several weeks. I kept up my regular jogging 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week and my regular weekly aerobic yoga class. At 10 weeks pregnant, certain twisting yoga moves made me aware of a small, immovable rock in my stomach, although no visible bump had yet emerged. At 12 weeks Bryan and I could see a little bump. At 13 weeks I ran the One Heart for Justice 5k. At 15 weeks the bump was visible to others, and a week later I adopted some alternate yoga moves because I could no longer lie flat on my stomach. Although my first ultrasound at 9 weeks showed the little guy heart-beating and limb-twitching like a pro, it wasn't until around 18 weeks that I began to feel the little flutters of his movement. Intermittent flutters quickly turned into regular full-on pokes. At 19 weeks--about 5 months--we had the big ultrasound...

Well, Hello there! This ultrasound was much more in-depth than the first one. At 9 wks he was just a vaguely baby-shaped blob. Now, just ten weeks later, the same technology showed distinct bones and features. We were impressed enough by that, but then the technician switched to 4D imaging and we were in awe. My bump was still not very big at this point, but that image showed an actual living, moving human being in there. We always knew there was a fetus in that bump, but now there was a face. A perfect little face on the monitor moving his arms and legs and even stretching his lips to grin at us. We told the technician we wanted her to seal the gender image in an envelope and not tell us what it said. We told her our plans to give the envelope to my sister who was planning a gender reveal baby shower for us. Our technician had the brilliant idea to prepare two envelopes--one that showed the baby's gender, and one that showed the baby's legs crossed where the gender was undetectable. Brilliant. We gave my sister the fake envelope first and let her suffer for a couple hours thinking that they could not determine a gender before giving her the real envelope. At the shower we found out it was a boy, and we announced that his name would be James Alan.

The Alien Inside: I kept trying to get Bryan to feel James kick, but the movements would stop anytime he placed a hand on the bump. Finally at 23 weeks Bryan felt the kicks. He immediately spoke of the movie Alien, saying he half expected something to tear out of my stomach like the alien did to Sigourney Weaver's character. About the same time we began to actually see the kicks, too. I try to play with James and poke back where he's poking me. These days he moves quite often sticking his bum up and stretching his legs out and somersaulting about. They're nice little reminders that he's doing ok in there.

Annoyances: Ever since my bump became visible, it has felt 10x bigger at night when I move from one side to another. I've been sleeping great except those moments when the chore of turning over the bump briefly wakes me up. I started having some back pain in the second tri despite my continued exercising, and my bladder might as well be as big as James'. I can't jog as fast or as far as I used to go. I have to sit down to put on shoes. In yoga my arms struggle to support my increasing body weight and my bump resists any twisting movements. I'm at or below average on all the weight gain charts, but I feel huge and I've already been asked if I'm sure it's not twins. Although I feel extremely blessed that these are the only things I can complain about so far, I fully expect these discomforts to continue getting worse as I progress. At just 7 months pregnant, I'm already ready to not be pregnant anymore. I can't wait to feel and move like my normal self again.  **Edit: 9 mos pregnant now, and thanks to a new memory foam mattress my back pain has improved and I'm still sleeping through the night! I stopped jogging in the 8th month when I began to feel pressure on my pelvic floor, but I can still do most of the moves in our weekly yoga class. My ankles finally began swelling just in the last few days before James was born.

Nursery: Who knew that preparing a room for a baby came with such high expectations? I blame Pinterest for making everyone (including myself) expect a complete HGTV-style room makeover full of unique and special ensembles and color schemes that would make any interior designer proud. I've heard of pregnant women experiencing "nesting urges" when they want to prepare their home with every possible practical comfort for the baby. I'm still waiting for those nesting urges to kick in. I managed to paint our nursery room a nice charcoal color, but that's it. The grand ideas in my head are quickly giving way to the cheaper, easier alternative of just keeping the existing wall art and window treatments. It's kind of a mess in there too, with a half-assembled crib, disassembled changing table, and a glider piled with baby gifts. But hey, we've still got about 13 weeks and that's plenty of time, right? Right??

Looking Ahead: Last week the hospital called to pre-register me for delivery. That was a shock. Surely they had me confused with one of those other Sara Andersons, because it was way too soon for them to be calling ME about that. I went home that day and watched several YouTube videos about labor and delivery. Then I got on the treadmill and jogged a while just to feel strong again. I'm not really nervous about childbirth because I know it's what my body is made to do and I know whatever happens, it will all be over in about 24 hours. (I'm more nervous about regaining my figure afterwards!) But like any sane woman, I just dread enduring those 24 or so hours. (And the following 2-6 weeks of postpartum downers.) I'm not opposed to using drugs or epidurals during childbirth, but I will try to deny them if I can. I just keep thinking about all the women in history--so many less fit in body and mind than me--that have had natural childbirths. Even our Lord's sweet young mother gave birth in a stable without any medication or even a midwife. (And I'm sure well-meaning Joseph was not much real help.) But I may warmly invite the wonders of modern medicine when I actually experience the pains of intense contractions first-hand. We'll see. I do know that when it's all over we're going to bring home a tiny person who looks a lot like Bryan and colors our lives with vibrant hues we never knew existed. In the words of C.S. Lewis, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

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