Saturday, September 27, 2008

23w4d: Thumper

I've been quiet again, I know. Part of it is simply being busy, and part of it is feeling guilty about talking about pregnancy stuff while several of my favorite bloggers are having Bad Things happen to them. :( Another part is having just a bunch of random observations, rather than a cohesive theme, for this post. But, the weeks are passing, so here they go!

Thanks to several readers with their concerns about my "contractions." To be clear, I think they were Braxton-Hicks contractions, nothing more serious than that. On line, some websites suggest that BH contractions can start in the first trimester, and others seem to say that they occur at 30 weeks plus. I haven't felt any generalized contractions lately, though, so I'm not thinking too much about it. I do, however, sometimes notice that the L side of my uterus seems to contract on its own, while the rest stays pretty soft or contracts just a little bit. It almost feels like a hard ball on that side only. Very very odd! I have not heard anyone else mention this kind of sensation, so perhaps I need to do a little research and ask my doctor about it.

It reminds of me of how, during med school, I did the requisite OB/GYN rotation, and a lot of the pregnant women would come in to clinic or labor & delivery, saying that their baby was "ballin' up". This was an inner city population in Baltimore. In retrospect, I think it is really interesting to think about how these patients perceived the contractions (generally what they meant by "the baby is balling up") were caused by the baby itself, rather than the uterus squeezing down on the baby. I had almost forgotten about this term until I experienced it for myself. Now, over 9 years later, I can at least understand what they meant by that. Have you all ever heard that term, and if so, where do you live? I haven't heard it here in San Diego, but I don't work in OB/GYN anymore, so who knows?

For the past two Sundays (21w5d and 22w5d) I did some moderate exercise - gym and swimming one the first occasion, a hike in our neighborhood canyon on the second. Keep in mind, pre-pregnancy I was running about 2.5 miles several times per week. I was no iron woman by a longshot, but I was at least in decent cardiovascular shape. These days, not so much. My exercise has really dropped off, partially due to the early OHSS, and then just due to lack of discipline and a busier schedule.

I didn't feel like I strained myself with the exercise, but OMG I did not feel good on either Monday thereafter. On the first Monday I had pretty bad back pain, and I really do think that I must have strained something at the gym. It went away by Tuesday/Wednesday, luckily. And last Monday (22w6d), I had really uncomfortable anterior pelvis and round ligament/ovary-area pain all day. Now, Mondays are my full clinic day, so I am up and down between a central work area and 2 exam rooms all day long. That day, I was needing to literally scoot to the edge of my seat and prepare myself before standing, for fear of getting a really bad pain and doubling over or wincing in agony if I moved too quickly. (I don't really want my patients, most of whom are meeting me for the first time, to see me do that.) I took Tylenol, which helped a LOT, but it wore off after 6 hrs or so. Monday night, I remember that it was even kinda challenging to get in and out of bed. My biggest fear was that this was how it would be (and worse) for the remaining 17 weeks of pregnancy. Argh!

The discomfort was still there, albeit improved, last Tuesday. This time, I took the Tylenol and it pretty much disappeared and hasn't been back since! I am SO relieved but still kinda mystified about whether just hiking a little bit could have set that off. Meanwhile, I am determined to stay active!

Jen has a very timely post about weight gain. I am so grateful to be pregnant that it feels weird to complain about ANYTHING, especially something cosmetic. And objectively, I'm up about 13 lbs, which is pretty much average for this point in pregnancy. I'm actually not worried about how I look NOW. It's the future that scares me. I'm guessing that I'll gain at least a pound a week from here on out, putting me at probably 30-35 lbs gained by the end of the 3rd trimester. I started this process at 132 lbs, so right away that means that I'll be at about the same weight as S! I'm guessing that I'll end up about 145-150 lbs immediately post-partum. Now, I have been around that weight or even a little more in the past (1998-2003 or so), and I know I can lose it, but it is NOT fun. I know that breast-feeding will help, and I plan to do that for as long as I can, but I'm still afraid. I'm afraid that it's going to be harder now that I'm in my 30s, now that I'm married and can't just eat Lean Cuisine for dinner, and now that I'll be worried about whether I'm eating enough to produce good, healthy breast milk. At the same time, I want my little girl to grow up with a great body image and confidence and healthy eating habits... ah, the challenges of womanhood!

As for BabyGirl, we still don't have a name picked out, and we haven't even been talking about it much lately. No new ideas, either. I think we're both trying to figure out whether we can learn to love each other's favorites. His favorite is growing on me, but I'm not entirely convinced yet.

I'm also thinking of her as "Thumper" at times... remember Bambi's little rabbit friend?? Her movements are definite little thumps. Some of them I can feel from the outside, and some only from the inside. S still hasn't felt one, but I know that he'll be able to soon. I was trying to look at my belly last night and I could kinda see some of them (jolt-like, rather than a hand or foot sticking out), but it is difficult with the movements from breathing and my own pulse kinda obscuring things.

We haven't bought anything at all yet. We still have a bedroom set (bed and vanity) in the nursery-to-be, and we need to move it out of there. My aunt feels that she must have it (it used to belong to my great-grandparents, and it's old, but not valuable). However, my aunt will be moving it into my grandfather's garage as she doesn't have space for it. Also, none of us own a truck, so she needs to hire someone to come and get it. It is frustrating because she is trying to get a neighbor of hers to do it, but he is being flaky. I think she should go on Craigslist and just hire someone, but she hasn't done that yet. And so we have no space! S is kinda annoyed about the whole thing so he wants the items gone before venturing with me to BabiesRUs, etc. I've been OK with that plan so far... although I've looked a little bit on-line. I'm not really the type to get super invested in a certain theme or brand or decor, so it will probably be a bit of a hodge-podge anyway. I may or may not have a hand-me-down crib (need to look it over) from my parents, and a high chair and pack-and-play from my co-worker. And we're not going to paint; the room is sort of a warm neutral/cream color, and I think that with some nice wall hangings or other art it should look fine! I think that both S and I are most excited about getting some sort of stroller that will allow us to take the baby on our favorite local hikes/canyon walks. I think we'll be checking out REI for that one.

S is away at a conference this weekend, so I'm all by myself for only the second time since we've been married! I'm fine, but I do miss him! Next week we'll be attending the wedding of my dear friend (and reader) K's little sister in San Francisco. Very very exciting. But in the meantime I need to find a dress to wear. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to hit an outlet mall with a Motherhood/Mimi/Pea in the Pod outlet and hope that I can find something. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

21w2d: Quickening

Quickening. I love that word. It reminds me of stories that I've read at some point through the years (although I can't recall a specific book), in which the female character feels "a quickening in her womb," and this feeling confirms that indeed, she is pregnant.

I've been thinking about the fact that I would be writing one of my blog entries with the title "Quickening" for weeks. Thus, I've had plenty of time to think about the curiosity of this particular word and some of the different meanings of quick. Fast or rapid is the obvious one. But it also has an archaic meaning: alive, and that is certainly what fetal "quickening" must refer to. On the other hand, quicksilver refers to the actual metal mercury, or the "mercurial tendency" of being impulsive. And the quick of your fingernail is that sensitive part underneath that can other words, the part that is "alive." The term quicksand, according to various online dictionaries that I just consulted, literally comes from the meaning, "living sand." It's such a rich and evocative term; I hope that "quickening" does not completely disappear from our lexicon.

As I described in a previous post, I felt the first definite movements in the middle part of week 19, and then only with intense concentration, when I was lying down flat with my hand on my belly. However, it was really this Monday (20w6d) when I felt BabyGirl flip-flop around when I was just casually sitting at work in clinic, typing at a computer, and with my hand nowhere near my belly. And since that day she has been doing it in little bursts on and off for 5 minutes here and there. It is a truly wonderful (but somewhat odd!) feeling. I fall in love a little more every time I feel it.

I've been trying to call BabyGirl by all 3 of our top names to see if one feels right and natural. Let me clarify: these are not really either of our individual absolute favorites, but ones that we both like enough to agree to put on a short list. Of these three, S likes them in the order: 1) E, 2) A, 3) N. And I like 1) N, 2) A, 3) E.

S's favorite of the bunch, E, feels the "easiest" of the three right now, but I'm still not ready to commit to that one. It is cute, but too common. This feels like such a big decision. I would even consider waiting until the birth, and deciding when we finally meet her, but S feels that it will help us bond even more if we start calling BabyGirl by her name now. I think I could get him to agree to N if I really insist, but I'm not sure if I want to do that, either. My fantasy is that we'll somehow magically find a name that we both LOVE and that becomes both of our instant favorites, pushing all others aside. I'm not sure that any of the names that we've considered so far is the right name. It would probably be most "fair" to use A, which may be both of our #2 picks from the short list, but that one doesn't work well with the middle name that I'm currently favoring.

In other news, I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday at 21w1d. Strangely, the Women's Health office had moved from the second floor to the basement of the same building on the day before my appointment, so it felt kind of odd to be in that new location. The appointment was again really quick and anticlimactic. Pee in a cup, blood pressure, doctor enters and I ask my 2 questions, listen to BabyGirl's heartbeat (well, I love that part!) and then the doctor rushes away. She wasn't very impressed with my description of occasional contractions on-and-off for several weeks. She says, "oh, that's not Braxton-Hicks, it sounds more like growing pains in your uterus." However, trust me, these were true very intense contractions that made my uterus really, really hard for about 1 minutes, and then it relaxed again. I think they were contractions no matter what she says, and Dr Google and a few books I've consulted agree with me: they could be considered early Braxton-Hicks. But it doesn't really matter what she wants to call them, because as long as they're not regular or associated with pressure down below or fluid leakage, they're perfectly benign. So that part was reassuring, at least.

I still sometimes wonder if I would prefer a midwife. I mean, everything is OK with this doctor, but it's not like anyone has ever asked me to describe what kind of birth I imagine, how much I want to be monitored, whether I will want an epidural, a tub birth, a birthing ball, to be in a homey environment or in an OR. Whether I want the baby to be put on my belly afterwards or whisked off to be cleaned and weighed. I don't even know that I will do anything "alternative" but I wish that someone would at least ask me those questions and talk about various options with me. It would at least make me feel like more of a human being, a woman, going through this wonderful experience or pregnancy and preparing for birth. Right now I kinda feel like I'm just a quick-15-minute-appointment every-4-weeks person, and they are probably just relieved that I am such an easy, non-demanding patient with no complications so far and not many questions.

I hope you all are doing well out there... :) There has been a lot of excitement on my blogroll recently, and I'm really enjoying all of your posts.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

20w2d: Developments

The biggest news is that I have felt BabyGirl move a bit. (I've been thinking of her more as BabyGirl now, instead of Blueberry, now that we know her gender). I think I first really knew last Friday night (19w3d) and then again a few times over the next few days. I'm not sure if it's the anterior placenta or what, but these movements are kinda subtle flip-flops rather than true jabs. The other weird thing it that I can only feel them when I am lying down flat, and when I have my hand on my belly. I feel like I am feeling it from both the inside and the outside. I know that you're "supposed" to feel it inside, first, but to me it is easier to feel them both together. S has tried on several occasions, but he only has the patience to hold his hand still there for about a minute. And again, I don't feel "sure" that I'm feeling movement unless my hand is there. So, I imagine that it will be another week or more before he gets to feel it from the outside.

And now, let the whine-fest begin... after a very harmonious first trimester after the OHSS fiasco, I now have some various complaints to share!

Last Saturday, around mid-day, I started feeling a pain in my chest, on both sides, whenever I took a deep breath. A bit later, my entire throat felt "gripped" by pain. It wasn't a burning sensation, but at that point I figured out that I was dealing with heartburn. I can't figure out what triggered it; I hadn't eaten anything unusual before it started. I know that heartburn is common in the third trimester, but 19w4d seemed a bit early. It got a tiny bit better, but didn't resolve with Tums, Maalox, or Pepcid. To be honest, the stupid pain lasted all day and I went to sleep that night propped up on 3 pillows and fearful that I would be spending the enitre next several months in this kind of discomfort. It was almost gone by morning, though, and went away entirely soon thereafter. It hasn't been back since. :)

On Sunday, I think I was feeling pretty good. In the heat of the day, S & I climbed a local mountain (site of our first meeting and our engagement) with our friend J. It's only 3 miles round trip, but pretty steep, so I was initially a bit wary of doing it given the heat. However, we took a rather moderate pace and I did just fine.

On Monday (Labor Day), we went over to my parents' for a little family get-together. My aunt proceeded to start talking about names. Every name she suggested sounded like it came from the 1950s, 60s, or 70s, and she came up with a lot of others that were purposely dumb or sound ridiculous with our last name. It was truly aggravating. Honestly, my sister (age 9.5) has taste much closer to ours. I think I'll probably end up talking to my mom and a few friends about possible names, but definitely not everyone else.

By Monday night and Tuesday morning (20w0d), I started having my usual GI issue (ahem...constipation) and developed what I believe is round ligament pain in my left lower quadrant. I'm saying round ligament pain because sometimes I stand up suddenly and it definitely hurts in that exact spot. However, on Monday/Tuesday this pain hit me every few minutes, lasting only a few seconds each time, and was there regardless of whether I was moving or perfectly still. Fortunately, it is gone now, but that sort of thing creeps me out. It does seem strange that round ligament pain would be so perfectly correlated with episodes of constipation. Sometimes I wonder whether if I should be paranoid and demand a scan and/or colonoscopy after BabyGirl is born... I don't want to be a hypochondriac, though, so I'll probably only do that if it persists or gets worse. I was also sorta freaking out on Tuesday during the day that I wasn't feeling much movement, but when I finally got home and had a chance to lay flat for a few minutes, I felt some reassuring flip-flops from BabyGirl.

I think another source of general discomfort this week is that my old pants are fitting worse and worse, but I only have one pair of maternity pants that I like. The maternity jean-capris with a lycra band around the top are actually less comfy that a lot of my regular pants. I did a pretty exhaustive search of Target, Old Navy, and a Pea in the Pod last Saturday and came up empty handed. It is hard to find pants that are not designed for women who are 5'10". It bothers me to be 5'5" (perfectly average, I think) and I always have to buy short or petite lengths. What about the people who are 5'1" or so? They have to buy short length and then get those hemmed. It really annoys me. Men's pants make much more sense in this regard. I guess I will have to go to an online site and buy some pants because in another week or two, I'm sure that nothing else will fit. I also have pants from my pre-weight loss days, but those don't fit either (too big in the hips/butt).

I've been debating about posting a belly shot, but I still feel a bit shy about showing my entire face online. I probably will someday, but I'll at least wait for a photo that I like better than this one. In the meantime, I will go ahead and crop it to give you some idea. Here I am at 19w6d:

Definitely a rounded belly, but not 100% obvious to a casual observer who doesn't know me. This is a maternity shirt and non-maternity shorts (old shorts in a size above my now-usual size.) I'm still up 7-8 lbs, but feel increasingly awkward when standing up from a chair, grabbing something off the floor, etc etc.

In other interesting/TMI news, my breasts remain much larger than usual, but they are now back to a medium firmness. In contrast, a few weeks ago, they felt like mega-firm bad implants ready to burst through my skin. :) No hint of colostrum yet, though...

I know that this post has been pretty whiny, but please believe me when I say that I am absolutely 100% grateful to be pregnant! I am thankful every single day!!