Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Journal Excerpt: Our First Ultrasound

December 13, 2011 
(11 weeks)

I saw a miracle today.


The nurse came in the room first, and tried to find baby's heartbeat. Quietly we waited while she worked. It took a while to find it ... and for a moment I was nervous that we weren't going to be able to. And then, all of a sudden, there it was--"thump, thump, thump, thump...", strong and fast and so very real. Bobby and I locked eyes, knowing in that instant that as we heard your heart beat, you had completely stolen ours.

Later, (the doctor) came in for an ultrasound. And there you were! Our baby. She could hardly get a sonogram for as much as you were moving! You were so very active, moving every which way. (I told Bobby afterwards that it seemed obvious we either had "an athlete or an Emily!")

As we watched the screen in absolute wonder, the doctor said, "this is the real deal, guys!" People say that pregnancy feels more "real" once you've seen the baby, and I can now say that I concur. There is, without a doubt, an active, growing, alive baby inside of me...the "real deal". And, thank the Lord for that!

It was an incredible experience. Another beautiful milestone on this journey. I could have watched you wiggle on that screen for hours, Little One. You are breathtaking, and deeply treasured.

I saw a miracle today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Trimester Memories

As of this past Tuesday, I am fourteen weeks pregnant. And, during those fourteen weeks, I have shared nothing about the entire experience via this blog. (However, to my credit, I have documented the time somewhat in a private journal, so that's something. And, to be fair, I didn't learn I was pregnant until I was six weeks along, so really, I've only missed out on writing about it for the past eight weeks.) If I were doing it over again, I would have chosen to write blog entries throughout the early weeks, and then post them after the secret was out. Oh, well. Next time.

Although I'm somewhat frustrated with myself for not chronicling the events of the past eight weeks a bit better, as I reflect on the dark pit of discomfort that was much of the first trimester, I'm remembering the constant state of "...bleh..." that I found myself in. And, I'm finding it hard to imagine that I would have been in any sort of condition to write much more than "well, I threw up again...this is ridiculous"...and that's really not particularly eloquent.

In any case, as I begin what I can already tell really is going to be a much more pleasant second trimester, I'd like to share some of the memories from the past two months, for posterity's sake. Because pregnancy seems to very much be a journey with throw-ups-and-downs, good times and bad, happy moments and puny ones, I'm going to borrow a format (with a bit of variation) from my cousin's blog that she uses frequently and that I admire. So, without further ado, a -/+ look at some of this pregnancy's early occurrences.

(-) Waking up at 4:00 a.m. to throw up
(+) Having a job as a substitute teacher and being able to choose to stay home for the day

Let me say right off the bat that I vastly underestimated the phenomenon of "morning sickness". I knew it was a possibility, of course, but I didn't appreciate (how could I?) what it means to truly be in a constant state of near 24-hour nausea. I was not prepared for that miserable feeling. The morning after Bobby and I found out we were expecting, at six weeks exactly, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and headed straight for the bathroom. I would say that it was only a psychological response, that I was perhaps expecting to get sick...were it not 4:00 a.m. But no, it was very much the real deal. 

For the five-ish weeks that followed, this was a normal trend that continued throughout the morning and eased around noon. There were several times when I was already committed to going to work, and there were a few days when it took all the energy I had to blow-dry my hair...while I sat on the floor...and took breaks to hover over the toilet again. Not fun. 

There were a couple of days when I was subbing at my mom's school, and during that time I was feeling miserable but still trying to hide my symptoms. And when you're feeling sick and your mother is one door down and you "can't" tell her all about it...well, it's rough, I tell you.

Still, I am incredibly fortunate to be able to stay home when needed and allow myself to rest. How expectant mothers working full-time do it, I don't know. 

(-) Getting sick
(+) A vast improvement in my attitude about it, 
in large part due to Bobby's constant encouragement

No one likes throwing up. I really don't. And that first week or so of tossing my cookies 3+ times per morning was really a strain on my mental health. I was discouraged, and I'm embarrassed to say that there were brief moments of feeling a bit of resentment about the whole thing. I knew the queasiness was a healthy sign, and I was thrilled to be expecting. The problem was that I didn't feel pregnant at that point; I just felt sick

Bobby was a significant source of strength during that time. He was constantly encouraging ("you're such a trooper!"), and saying he was proud of how I handled it. As unpleasant as it was for me to wake up in the middle of the night to vomit, it couldn't have been especially great to wake up to hearing it on a regular basis, or hear me complain about my symptoms. He was a trooper, patiently taking care of me as best as anyone could.

Anyway, Bobby thinks I "got better at getting sick". True, it turned into a bit of hobby, if you will, and around week ten, I started just taking care of business and moving on with things. It had a lot to do with gaining a better attitude, but was also a result in the changed physical state of no longer feeling constantly drained. By that point, I was getting sick, and then getting better. 

(-) Not sharing our news with loved ones right away
(+) Sharing a big secret between the two of us

Because the chance of miscarriage is greater during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, Bobby and I chose to keep our baby news private for the first few weeks. It was a challenge not to share such major information, because we were both immensely overjoyed, and I was also really quite puny. Having family support a bit earlier may have made those initial weeks of sickness more bearable, but it was still special for Bobby and I. We got to celebrate our little one's upcoming arrival together, and that time of secrecy was time that I'll treasure. 

(-) The need to eat...constantly
(+) Dill pickle spears

Pregnancy nausea seems to be relieved by maintaining a full tummy. Ironic, since nausea doesn't at all inspire eating. But, that was exactly what was required. Aside from the vomiting, my biggest early pregnancy complaint was the need to constantly eat. I've always had a healthy appetite, but this incessant eating took a lot out of me. It was mentally draining to be continually thinking about not only what food I could eat next (often not more than half an hour after my previous snack), but what healthy food to eat. A healthy food that sounded appealing and wouldn't cause more nausea. It was tiresome! And it was constant. When I did substitute teach, I took a grocery bag full of food to get me through the day. It looked like far more food than one needed, and I didn't always eat all of it...but I sometimes did. I just couldn't risk running out of food lest I feel sick again. 

There were several foods that brought relief in those early days: lemon drops, oyster crackers, mints, chicken broth, ginger ale, pretzels, dry Cheerios, popsicles, Rice Krispie Treats, applesauce, bread, saltine crackers (so help me, I never want one of those again!)...and dill pickles. 

Cliche as it is for a pregnant woman to crave pickles, crave them I did. I bought three jars of them at the grocery store...for three weeks in a row. They were so satisfying, and I couldn't get enough. If I had to be eating, having a food that was so appealing was a blessing. 

I'm sorry to say that my desire for pickles has waned significantly, but not to worry! I still have a cabinet-full should the craving return. (And I'm really hoping that it does.)

(-) Having a dirty house
(+) Having a husband who understands

I am just now realizing just how exhausted I really was in those early weeks. I'm enjoying a boost of energy now, and things like grocery shopping, loading the dishwasher, and folding the laundry are actually getting done now...which just makes me realize how much time went by when they weren't. Bobby never complained when the laundry sat unfolded in a pile at the foot of the bed for days. (Hey, at least it got washed! Most of the time.) He never complained when he had to stop on his way home for dinner because I couldn't bring myself to make him a home-cooked meal. He wasn't suffering, but it wasn't the standard of married-living to which he's accustomed, and that I so enjoy regularly providing. I hated having a messy house, and feeling as though a nap was all I had energy for. But, I'm so thankful for a husband who not only didn't let me know that he probably hated it as much as I did, but did his best to make it better. 

(-) Getting sick in the BedBath&Beyond parking lot
(+) Only having two public morning sickness incidents

I'll spare you the details. It wasn't pretty. But, for feeling nauseous so often and having to leave the house on occasion like a normal person, I'm quite pleased with my track record of public "incidents". The first experience was actually at the doctor's office, after having blood drawn. (But, I figure it's a clinical environment, so surely they've seen it all, right?) And really, both experiences took place in relative privacy, so that's something to be thankful for. 

(-) Waking up at 4:00 a.m. to eat
(+) Not waking up to throw up

The nausea eased considerably around thirteen weeks, and I am highly enjoying this new pregnancy phase. My drive to eat has eased considerably, too...such a blessing! I still have an appetite, and when I need to eat, my body lets me know...but it isn't the constant annoyance that it was, and it feels easier to manage. My body's new habit, though, is hunger in the early morning hours. I've never been a midnight-trip-to-the-fridge kind of girl, so waking up with a growling stomach is a new thing for me. Two nights last week I woke up and had to make myself peanut butter cracker sandwiches in the kitchen at 4:00 a.m. (If you ask me, nothing tastes good at that time of morning. Nothing.)

After walking through the cold house twice, my new method of hunger control is to make my crackers the night before, store them in a plastic container in the bedroom, and munch on them one by one almost every time I'm up to go to the bathroom...which is frequently. So, throughout the night, I'm eating approximately four peanut butter cracker sandwiches. I'm hoping this pattern doesn't continue for long, but for the time being, it's tolerable, and is keeping my hunger at bay until the morning. (And yes, I'm eating hearty dinners with protein. This nighttime snacking is hardly a result of an insufficient meal, I assure you.)

I think that just about covers it (with the exception of a couple other momentous occasions, deserving of their own posts). What a memory-filled few months it has been!

(++++++) Knowing that in a few months, I get to be a mom

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We're Having a Baby!

Our little "Firecracker" is due July 3rd!
Words cannot express our joy.