Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: What's Coming

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

Today, I’m 19 weeks pregnant. I think.

Hang on. Let me check my online pregnancy calendar.

(Insert cheesy hold music here.)

OK. I’m back. And it’s true – the calendar says 19 weeks. But dang if I can remember it without help. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older or more tired or too distracted. But I’m just not focused on this pregnancy like I have been the others.

I suppose that’s the curse of being the fourth child. Nothing you do is original. You are always following in the wide swatch cut for you by your older siblings. And it’s true – I’m still amazed at each little baby kick, and the ultrasound yesterday was thrilling (especially since it allowed us to discover the sex of the babe in utero). But it doesn’t pop with the same fizz as that first pregnancy.

Do you remember your first trip down mommy-to-be lane? Everything is new. Every turn is exciting – and a little scary. You don’t know what to expect, even after you’ve poured over “What To Expect when You’re Expecting.” You know EXACTLY how far along you are (18 weeks, 5 days), you know exactly when the third trimester will begin. Your doctors appointments are booked months in advance, and you’re already obsessing over which kind of pacifier to buy.

And this time, for me? I’m just wondering when we have to move the toddler out of the crib. (Do you think the night before the new baby comes is too late?)

Still. I know it’s a miracle. I remind myself every day to appreciate this, to treasure this. If all goes as planned, I won’t be walking down this path again.

And every curve is a joy. Even if I know it’s coming.

Kelly’s fourth child is coming May 2010, which still seems like a long way off to her. You can find her personal blog at Love Well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: Need to Know

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I haven’t confirmed this scientifically, but I’m convinced there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who can wait until the birth of their baby to find out the sex, and those who must know the minute it’s physically possible.

I’m squarely in the second group. I have never, not for one nanosecond, had the urge to let it be a surprise. I don’t mind if you want to wait. Many of my good friends have waited, and while I may have threatened to bribe their OB with chocolate until I was given access to the raw ultrasound tape, I certainly respect their choice.

I just don’t relate to it.

Here’s why:

If I know the sex of the baby now, I can plan for the future.
Yes, this pegs me as a planner, but it’s a label I embrace. I love to organize, to research, to strategize. If I know the sex of the baby before birth, I can get gender-specific bedding and blankets. I can paint the nursery. I can also let myself get sucked in by the appropriate side of Carter’s. (When it comes to baby clothes, resistance is futile.)

Knowing if we’re having a boy or girl also allows my husband and I to start playing The Name Game – but with only half the entrants. We are horrible at deciding on names together (usually, my top 5 are his never-in-a-million-years, and vice versa), and narrowing the field and giving us a few months to discuss is hugely helpful.

If I know the sex of the baby now, I can stop torturing myself.
When I was pregnant two years ago, I was slightly obsessed with the gender of the baby. I think it was because I had a miscarriage earlier that same year, so by the time we got around to the ultrasound for Teyla in September, I felt like I had been pregnant since January. (Which I had been, almost. There wasn’t much time between the miscarriage and the next conception.) The internal debate of boy versus girl threatened to take over my life. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the question was finally answered.

Conversely, I’ve watched friends who were determined to wait drive themselves crazy the last four months of the pregnancy as they agonize and cry and fret over the possibilities. Usually, they are secretly longing for one gender over the other, and the weight of knowing their hopes could be crushed in a few short weeks (or granted, depending on the outcome) makes “the surprise” a burden.

If I know the sex of the baby now, I can deal with any emotional fall-out before the birth.
This relates closely to the last point, but let me give a personal example. When I was pregnant with our second baby, the pregnancy was almost identical to my first. This led me to believe I was having another girl. It wasn’t something I admitted openly; it was more of a subconscious belief.

So my soul reverberated with shock when my OB announced, “It’s a boy!” at our 18-week ultrasound. I was ashamed of this at the time, but it took me weeks to come to grips with the boy diagnosis. I actually needed a short window to grieve the girl I thought I was carrying and get excited about the boy who was entering out lives. By the time he was born, I was thrilled to welcome Connor. Finding out his sex early gave me a chance to walk the emotional minefield before his birth, instead of after.

If I know the sex of the baby now, I can bond with the baby.
Maybe this is just me, but I have a hard time bonding with a gender-neutral alien. Once I know the sex of the baby, he or she becomes very real to me. It helps me to get excited and psyched for the last days of pregnancy.

This is also helpful for our older children, who definitely have opinions on what the sex of the next baby should be. If we can tell them now, “It’s a brother (or it’s a sister),” they have a chance to accept our new family dynamics and get excited about reality, instead of counting on something that may not be.

If I know the sex of the baby now, I can focus on the birth of the baby during delivery.
Many of my friends who elect to wait say, “Oh, but I want a surprise on delivery day!” I understand that; I was never tempted to open my Christmas presents early for that very reason.

But childbirth tends to be a surprise in itself. It’s complicated, astonishing and rarely what you expect. My first two deliveries were dramatic, each in their own way. (With Connor, we barely made it to the hospital before I started pushing.) So I’m perfectly happy spreading out my surprises over the course of the pregnancy. Because no matter when you find out if you’re having a girl or a boy, it’s always a surprise – be it at 20 weeks or 40.

So what about you? Are you like me? Or would you rather wait? And if you like to wait, please chime in with your own reasoning behind your decision. This is intensely personal and there’s ample space for both opinions. I'd love to hear your take.

Before she was a SAHM, Kelly was a TV news producer and newspaper editor, which further explains her need-to-know appetite. She currently blogs, without copy editors, at Love Well. And yes, her ultrasound is next week, in case that wasn't obvious.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: The Box

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I was sitting in my toddler’s room last night, surfing the Internet and waiting for her to go to sleep, when I heard the faint toot of a horn. “Beep, beep, beep.”

Then an over-enthusiastic voice added, “Let’s go!”

At first, I chalked it up to one of the older kids playing a game when they should be laying quietly in their beds. I jotted a mental note -- “Must go take away game as soon as Teyla is asleep” – and went back to scanning the headlines.

Then I heard it again. And again. And again.

And then I recognized it. I wasn’t hearing a game or an electronic book. I was hearing the cloying sounds of a baby toy, deposited deep in the bottom of the box of infant toys stored under Teyla’s crib.


Why was it going off now, at 9:30 on a wintery night, when it had been stowed and silent for the previous six months without incident?

I have no idea. I only know this toy – a small steering wheel, for the record – has annoyed me since the day it was given to me. Not only does it have more buttons and baubles than my first car, but it lacks one crucial element that betrays it was designed personally by Beelzebub in the very bowels of hell.

It doesn’t have an off switch.

That means, there was no way to make the beeping sound (take it either way) stop without digging out the steering wheel and pounding it with a sledgehammer .

So I did (except for the sledgehammer part). In the process, I had to turn on the lights, take the toddler out of her crib, move most of the toddler’s bedroom furniture, take the toy – and its neighbor, a stackable tower of stars also without an off switch – to the kitchen to remove the batteries and then spend five minutes trying to stuff the Junk in the Box back to its proper place while simultaneously shutting the lid.

By the time it was over, the toddler was wide awake, the wall was dented from the crib slamming into it and I was a sweating, quivering mound of incensed pregnant lady.

That box, stuffed with rattles and blocks and the bouncy seat and a red-black-and-white play mat, used to make me nostalgic. All those baby memories, stored in a blue bin. I couldn’t imagine the day I’d get rid of it.

Suddenly, now, I can. Not only can I imagine it, but the thought makes me smile.

And that’s how I know this is my last baby.

Kelly is pregnant with her fourth -- and oh-so-final -- baby. She's excited about having one more infant, but she's getting a little overwhelmed with saving all the stuff. You can read more about her life at her personal blog, Love Well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: Movement

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I felt the baby move last week.

I was laying in the dark, waiting for sleep to descend, when I felt little flutters way, way, WAY down in my abdomen. I was tempted to chalk it up to gas, and truthfully, I’m never sure about those first baby movements. "Did I just feel what I think I feel? Could it be a muscle twitch? Maybe my liver just quivered?"

But then I remember that I’ve been through this three times before and I’m 37 and at this point in my life, I darn well better be able to tell the difference between a kink in the tubing and a baby.

I lay there in the dark, willing the little sensations to keep going.

They did.

And I grinned back to the angels surrounding my bed.

Fast forward to last Friday. It was my 15-week OB check, and since it was the day after Thanksgiving, I took the whole family with me. (Because nothing says I’ve got my crazy on like taking three small children and your husband to the doctor’s office.)

As she was taking my blood pressure, my nurse asked if I’d felt the baby move yet. I answered a tentative yes.

She helped me up on the table to search for the baby’s heartbeat. It was slow in coming. I wasn’t really worried. Typically, my placentas form in the front, which muffles both sound and movement coming from the baby. So while the nurse listened and moved and listened and moved (and my husband, more alarmed than me, came over to stand at my side), I tried to feel. I tried to shut out all the other sensations in the room and be one with my uterus.

All of a sudden, we heard the heartbeat. The characteristic loud swooshing rang loud from the Doppler’s speakers.

And then it stopped.

“Darn. The baby must have moved,” moaned the nurse.

“Try over here,” I said, pointing to my left side. I thought maybe, just maybe, I had felt a little bubble over there right when the heartbeat stopped.

She moved the Doppler. And the heartbeat came back into range.

Oh yeah. I know what I’m doing.

I can feel the baby move.

Kelly is currently 16 weeks pregnant, although if you see her after she’s eaten dinner, you might think she’s closer to 25. She blogs at Love Well.

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