10 October 2015

Almost time for baby!

My due date is only 8 days away, and I wanted to take some time to reflect on a few things that have been on my mind lately. I am grateful for a roof over my head and food in the frig on this rainy, windy day and also for the fact that, no matter when the little guy decides to come, we are ready "enough". It's hard to believe that a year ago, we were at Oktoberfest in Leavenworth and a baby really wasn't even on our radar, and that just a few months later we decided that maybe we were ready to attempt this next shaky step in our lives together. I am thankful that God was clearly the one who planted those seeds of thought and hope, since just weeks later, we were pregnant. For me, this was one of the "best" times to get pregnant and to take an academic leave, as I am at a sort of halfway point between coursework & exams and the beginning of my dissertation. I plan to submit my prospectus in the next several days in order to be able to be as focused on the baby as I can until heading back into research and school in the new year. Our families have already given much time, love and energy to the preparation for this little guy, and I am lucky to have my mom around much more often, thanks to her retirement a few weeks ago. 

One thing that I have thought often about the past couple of weeks especially is how hard Michael has worked to prepare for our baby. While it may seem to him like I still find many things to nag about, the fact is that he has not shied away from any of the little things that we needed to work out to make our home ready for this new little human about to make his entrance. His creative mind and able skill-set when it comes to all things fixing, altering and building have been amazing to watch in action, perhaps more than I've ever gotten to see, these past months. Sometimes it's hard to see past the time things take, since he already works a physical job during the day and doesn't always have the energy to keep going into the evening. However, I am incredibly grateful to have him by my side, and so impressed with everything that he's done for us. In addition to the physical labor he has put in around our home, he has also been a strong advocate for my mental and physical health these past 9 and a half months. While I do wish that I had maintained a more rigorous and regular exercise regimen throughout my pregnancy, he has helped me to focus on the task at hand, which at many points was an extremely demanding academic one. Preparing for my PhD exams asked much of me, but also of him, as I was often exhausted and impatient while at home (and at school, I suppose - but he was spared that, luckily!) in what little time remained after finishing reading and preparation each day. I have found that it just doesn't come naturally to me to maintain any kind of regular exercise schedule during such intense academic work periods, and he helped me focus on what was essential during this most recent of those periods. Since I have finished teaching and passed my exams, and thus been home more often, he has encouraged me in whatever I felt able to do physically and also pushed for me to rest - not easy for me, if you've spent any time around me longer than a day or two! I just do not feel free to stop, and the times that I do find myself getting up off the couch after hours of watching Grey's Anatomy, Bones or whatever other show's latest season as finally come to Netflix, I have a hard time not feeling deeply guilty. While I in no way aspire to becoming a professional and proud couch potato, I do appreciate why he so often says to me, "Relax!" and pulls me away from whatever house chore I am working on. The fact is, they aren't usually a life or death matter, and in a week or whenever baby arrives, everyone tells me that I won't be doing any of them, anyway. Hard to imagine, but I am trying to find a reasonable balance for trying to micromanage anything at all in order to avoid total mental chaos at that all-too-inevitable time! Michael also tirelessly attended birth class with me, and, it turns out, was our teacher's "go-to" student for feedback! Ildi has become our doula also, and when she was at our house earlier this week said that she knew she could always count on Michael to give his opinion or answer the questions. He somehow didn't ever let on just how much he was dreading the class when we signed up, but always said how glad he was to have gone each week. We learned a lot and it was a great group of couples that we were able to share the learning process with!

So, thank you, Michael, for being you and for loving me. I can't wait for us to meet this little boy and to watch you grow and mature into what I know will be an amazing father. I hope that, as the years press on, I will learn to love you better with each day despite myself and that God will help us learn from Him and from one another as we deal with our individual isms and particularities. After 6 and a half years, I really mean it when I say that I love you more now than I ever have!

I wish I could write these in the baby journal that I have relatively faithfully filled in at various points throughout the pregnancy, but my most uncomfortable symptom has emerged these past several weeks - numb fingers! It has not been fun at all, but I am so grateful to have been really quite fortunate in the discomforts I experienced (and didn't!). Since I can't write by hand, I want to capture some thoughts about the pregnancy and impending delivery.

Things I will miss about being pregnant:
  • Feeling the baby move. While often a bit uncomfortable, I must admit that this has been one of my most treasured things about pregnancy. How he responds to me reading to him or to a voice is just an amazing experience, and I will miss it.
  • People being [generally] nicer and more courteous. Let's face it: once you start showing a bump (that is clearly a bump), most people will at least try to avoid scowling at you, if not offer you their seat at the bus stop. Some of them remain as glued to their mobile devices as ever and I did give a glare a time or two, but the fact of the matter is, it's just nice when someone notices that maybe that round piece on your front weighs a bit awkwardly, and offers to open the door, give you their seat, or just smiles at you and attempts a conversation. It was tempting, the few times when people asked me questions openly about the pregnancy, to say, "I'm not pregnant!", but I know that, even those who make that mistake with someone who is not with child always mean well. 
  • Minimized guilt about what I ate (though not completely!). It's hard not to let oneself lose all control when it comes to eating sweets and carbs during pregnancy, and it's true that those extra 200-500 calories needed really don't justify a daily banana split with all the toppings. Having said that, I don't regret one bit that I did end up eating ice cream most days! I'm glad that I already had a healthy eating routine before pregnancy, and that that did allow me to feel a bit freer when it came to indulging a bit more often. 
Things I will NOT miss:
  • Carrying around that extra weight. Everybody and every body is different when it comes to how us women put on the pregnancy pounds, and we should all try to be mentally prepared for gaining more weight than we'd like during this time of growing a human. Having said that, I'm pretty sure it's easier said than done for most of us! As I mentioned above, I didn't maintain the consistent exercise regimen that I would have liked to throughout my pregnancy, and that may or may not have had a significant impact on the weight that I put on. Either way, most of the weight I have gained IS in the bump, so it will be nice to at least have some of that gone after delivery (though I know that it is in no way a magical return to pre-baby weight a week after baby). 
  • Feeling like my sole purpose is to grow and carry this baby. I understand why people seem to only talk about the pregnancy and the baby once it is open information. However, at a certain point, I was ready to stop talking about the human that was sucking all of my energy and start talking more about ME. It could even feel a little demeaning in certain instances, being thanked for "doing this". However, babies make people lose certain filters and I understand that, so I'm just looking forward to having my own self and body back...mostly!
  • The gas. There, I said it. If you've spent time with me recently and I know you well enough, then I've apologized openly for my bodily air escapades. If I don't know you well enough, I'm apologizing now. For someone who had periods of not-so-rosy-smelling gassiness BEFORE being pregnant, the past few months have been especially pungent, and I so hope that that will mostly resolve itself after delivery!
I'd like to close this post by saying a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have so generously given Michael and I gifts and giftcards at my many showers over the summer. I apologize if you have yet to receive an actual thank you note - I had four showers and the last two were huge groups of people, so my goal has been boiled down to just getting them out before the baby! Unfortunately, even that may not happen... Anyway, we have been so incredibly blessed by all of you and are truly grateful. Having said this, we will likely need lots of help and support over the next several months that I am on leave, which also happen to be the holidays. If you are able to make a meal or buy us a few grocery items, please let us know. In addition, our Amazon.com and Babies'R'Us registries should remain accessible through the new year, if I understand the fine print correctly, and I have now updated them to what I anticipate will be our most immediate needs over the next several months. And if what you can offer is time more than anything, please let me know so that we can work out a time for you to come over - let me know if you just want to give us a spell and time to either take a nap or run errands, or if you prefer to be set to a cleaning task or errand yourself!

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