Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is a crenshaw melon?

Oh, OK. She's the size of a crenshaw melon.

I totally WON'T miss the fruit comparisons. It was totally cute at first, but now it's just annoying. And no, I'm not grumpy and it's not a hot day or anything. I just didn't know what a crenshaw melon looked like, and so the comparison was not helpful.

Still, a look at what I/we are expected to experience in week 36.

From BabyCenter

"How your baby's growing:
Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her first bowel movement.

"At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely she's in a head-down position. But if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an "external cephalic version," which is a fancy way of saying she'll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating her from the outside of your belly."

She has been head down since week 32. We are steph B-free. She might still be facing forwards, which can lead to back labor and an all around tougher labor. But I've been doing the cat/cow postures to convince her to roll around.

Two nights ago, she was absolutely rolling around! Limbs sticking out against my belly flesh, head grinding into my bladder (I describe it as a pinching or a pinging, 'cause it's sharp and really should make a noise, feels like a high-pitched noise) fists punching, feet kicking. My belly did some strange stuff.

And in the morning when I walked by the mirror (naked, of course!) I gasped! The belly looked different. A bit lower. Much more like a beach ball than a thorax. Maybe she turned over and she is facing back?

That would be good.

More of the 'posed to.

How your life's changing:
"Now that your baby is taking up so much room, you may have trouble eating a normal-size meal. Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to handle at this point. On the other hand, you may have less heartburn and have an easier time breathing when your baby starts to "drop" down into your pelvis. This process — called lightening — often happens a few weeks before labor if this is your first baby. (If you've given birth before, it probably won't happen before labor starts.) If your baby drops, you may also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, which may make walking increasingly uncomfortable, and you'll probably find that you have to pee even more frequently. If your baby is very low, you may feel lots of vaginal pressure and discomfort as well. Some women say it feels as though they're carrying a bowling ball between their legs!

"You might also notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labor with your practitioner and find out when she wants to hear from you. As a general rule, if you're full-term, your pregnancy is uncomplicated, and your water hasn't broken, she'll probably have you wait to come in until you've been having contractions that last for about a minute each, coming every five minutes for an hour. Of course, you'll want to call right away if you notice a decrease in your baby's activity or think you're leaking amniotic fluid, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or vision changes."

"Even if you're enjoying an uncomplicated pregnancy, it's best to avoid flying (or any travel far from home) during your final month because you can go into labor at any time. In fact, some airlines won't let women on board who are due to deliver within 30 days of the flight."

BH contractions: Constantly!
Has she dropped? Not much.
No leaking, no bleeding, nothing persistent or painful.

So, I'm thinking, no baby til week 37 or 38. Which would be right on MY schedule. We'll see!

Preggo pants, my favorite and theirs

I sent a letter to my mother and sister, praising my new comfy pants. I hoped it would inspire at least one gift. It did! Thanks, mom! Also, both sis and mom had asked me what size pants I thought I'd be in maternity wear -- I plan to go the whole damn 38 to 42 weeks without a single pair of maternity pants. Seems like a big ol' waste of money when I don't need them!

"This is the kind of thing that all my preggo friends are rocking. They are great for later in the game, and great postpartum as well. At 35/36 weeks I am not so interested in belts or zippers (can't see the damn top buttons, anyway.) Currently, I only have one pair, and will likely go back for other colors. Or find another cheapy version (Old Navy, I think has something similar.)

"Anyway: Here they are. Target, Merona, pull-on cropped pants, with a fold down waist thing (like some yoga pants) perfect to cover the belly when wearing a pre-preggo shirt.

"These are SUPER soft. Comfy. Not nearly as short on me... they make a long version as well. I bought a medium which is still quite roomy (Mary, I don't imagine you'd ever need more than a small!) And it is mostly cotton, so I can always shrink it later after I'm not quite so round.

"Other than the lovely shirts you've given me (and mom's dresses) I haven't bought any "maternity" clothes. I have hit thrift stores and clothing swaps for larger, or stretchy skirts. I have had not much luck with pants (bought some too-big-pants early on, but grew out of them by month 6, which is when I really started to show), though, so now that I need them, these are great! Of course, my low-rider jeans still fit, so aside from the button feeling funny in my belly (yes, sometimes it digs in) I have had them and leggings as pants."

My wardrobe needs are much simpler than those of many women: I work from home and it's summer in Northern California. Lucky me!

35 weeks was

I neglected to post this info. Funny, the closer I get, the less interested I am in sharing the physical changes I'm experiencing with the world. I mean, if you ask me, I'll tell you. But I'm for sure spending more time on house projects or working or my taxes (oh and napping) than I am thinking about how important it is to document or share.

But it is interesting. And in the past few weeks, I know of a handful more pregnants! With them, too, though, I hope to interest them in the political aspects of midwifery and/or the history of birthing more than I am interested in telling them about my occasional leg swelling (happened during dinner on a recent hot day) or the incredible amount of food I eat (and poop out).

Yes, interesting, my body and its passenger is/are. Here's what the world says about week 35:

"How your baby's growing:
Your baby doesn't have much room to maneuver now that he's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds (pick up a honeydew melon). Because it's so snug in your womb, he isn't likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he'll spend the next few weeks putting on weight."

Kicking? Why yes! And sometimes, punching at the same time. Yay!

"How your life's changing:
Your uterus — which was entirely tucked away inside your pelvis when you conceived — now reaches up under your rib cage. If you could peek inside your womb, you'd see that there's more baby than amniotic fluid in there now. Your ballooning uterus is crowding your other internal organs, too, which is why you probably have to urinate more often and may be dealing with heartburn and other gastrointestinal distress. If you're not grappling with these annoyances, you're one of the lucky few.

"From here on out, you'll start seeing your practitioner every week. Sometime between now and 37 weeks, she'll do a vaginal and rectal culture to check for bacteria called Group B streptococci (GBS). (Don't worry — the swab is the size of a regular cotton swab, and it won't hurt at all.) GBS is usually harmless in adults, but if you have it and pass it on to your baby during birth, it can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, meningitis, or a blood infection. Because 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women have the bacteria and don't know it, it's vital to be screened. (The bacteria come and go on their own — that's why you weren't screened earlier in pregnancy.) If you're a GBS carrier, you'll get IV antibiotics during labor, which will greatly reduce your baby's risk of infection.

"This is also a good time to create a birth plan. Using our form will help you focus on specifics — like who'll be present, what pain management techniques you want to try, and where you want your baby to stay after you deliver. It will give you a starting point to discuss your preferences with your medical team. Childbirth is unpredictable, and chances are you won't follow your plan to the letter, but thinking about your choices ahead of time — and sharing your preferences with your caregiver — should take some of the anxiety out of the process."

Let's see:
Steph: I tested negative for Strep. Which means we are a go for home birth.
Peeing: Well, yeah, but only once or twice a night. About the same as when I drink booze and then water to avoid a hangover. In fact, yeah, I'm still getting up less as a pregnant than I did as a drunk!
Birth plan: our midwives have a nice one that we can work from, so that should be easy.
Size and stuff: My uterus measures "perfect" whenever the midwives get out their measuring tape. My urine and blood pressure, the same, "perfect."

The major change for me, at this time (35 to 36 weeks) is that I'm either starving or so full the food is sitting at the bottom of my throat. And by 11 pm or midnight I have to eat another full dinner. Often consisting of two hamburgers. Of course, then I go to bed and am too full. Ah, week 35, glad you are gone.

Breast pads and other people's contractions

Back in the spring or maybe even winter when I told all my friends about the whole peeing on a stick and the (to be expected?) results, a few of my closest went out and immediately bought me wonderful goodies. Or gave me useful items. (You know who you are and you KNOW how much I appreciate it!).

Elka ordered me some breast pads, made by her friend, Lucy. They are called Honeysuckles and they are adorable. Elka took great care in describing my likes (and Ross's desire to veer well away from the all-pink, all-the-time palette that haunts many a tiny human female) and these are the two wondrous pads I get to sport here in a few weeks.

So, cute! Right? Yes.
So, I bought a pair for each of my pregnants.

Kate, who had her baby Ivy Cat a few weeks ago, reports that they are GREAT during the day. But are no match for the deluge that comes at night. So, Kate, Lan, Gitta and I will all have the occasional, cute, washable and totally functional breast pad. But we're destined to use the plain-jane or disposables like most normal ladies.

This one just kills me! I think I gave it to Lan. Not sure if it's the monkey butts or the mix of monkeys and pogo sticks that does it for me.

Speaking of the pregnants.
Kate, Jason and Ivy Cat are adorable and doing well. Kate blogs and Jason posts tons of photos and videos. We fans of the new family even got updates DURING labor via text and Facebook!

Lan, Michael and Nikko are a fully realized and human family. Nikko is about 10 days old. He has his very own Facebook page. He was born with the guidance of the very same midwives we use. "A lovely home birth" is how we describe it.

Gitta and I went for a hike today. I had to stop a few times to breath. She had to stop to allow the contractions to do their thing. She is one or two days past her EDD -- but I'm thinking she's going into labor within a few days.

Kitty posted on Facebook that the contractions are starting.

I'm not jealous. Or anything. Or competitive. But I do have to say, I'm not used to being "last" at anything. Grrr. Argh.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

34 weeks

At this point, we're in the "all-clear" zone as far as premature labor. Which was not something I've been worried about. But it was fun to hear my brother Bo's girlfriend Tami report that she and her team of neonatial intensive care providers wouldn't even see our tiny human.

So: 34 weeks, according to BabyCenter:

"How your baby's growing:
Your baby now weighs about 4 3/4 pounds (like your average cantaloupe) and is almost 18 inches long. Her fat layers — which will help regulate her body temperature once she's born — are filling her out, making her rounder. Her skin is also smoother than ever. Her central nervous system is maturing and her lungs are continuing to mature as well. If you've been nervous about preterm labor, you'll be happy to know that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the neonatal nursery and may have a few short-term health issues, but in the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies."

So, yay! I'd rather have her come out with some fat on her tiny bones, because babies usually lose weight in the first few days until breast feeding really sticks.

And now, more about me!

"How your life's changing:
By this week, fatigue has probably set in again, though maybe not with the same coma-like intensity of your first trimester. Your tiredness is perfectly understandable, given the physical strain you're under and the restless nights of frequent pee breaks and tossing and turning, while trying to get comfortable. Now's the time to slow down and save up your energy for labor day (and beyond). If you've been sitting or lying down for a long time, don't jump up too quickly. Blood can pool in your feet and legs, causing a temporary drop in your blood pressure when you get up that can make you feel dizzy.

"If you notice itchy red bumps or welts on your belly and possibly your thighs and buttocks as well, you may have a condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP for short). Up to one percent of pregnant women develop PUPPP, which is harmless but can be quite uncomfortable. See your practitioner so she can make sure it's not a more serious problem, provide treatment to make you more comfortable, and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. Also be sure to call her if you feel intense itchiness all over your body, even if you don't have a rash. It could signal a liver problem."

Fatigue: Well, I sure get tired when I get tired. I can go go go, just like before, but when I slow down, it might take me a full day to feel like going again. And, as hard as it is to admit, I embrace this. Comatose for a few hours, lots of naps, more meat eating, and then I'm back to multi-tasking.

I haven't had any of the rashes or dizzineses thus far. And I only wake up to pee once at night. And that's just habit.

The little lady, does, however, deliver the occasional quick kick to my bladder. Which feels weird. But I've yet to run to the bathroom or had to drop my drawers on a hike. I do use the "I'm pregnant and have to use the bathroom" in order to escape conversations sometimes. Like I said, I get tired...

Suggested weight gain

OK, this photo is a few weeks old. But I don't think I've posted it yet. I THINK, this is from the night Ross and I went to dinner for my birthday, so that's about 3 weeks ago. Closer to 31 weeks than my current 3435 weeks.

Note: I still have definition in my legs! Thanks to all the hilly hikes I take with Spider and the pregnants. My arms, however, have long since given up the muscle tone. This week I've picked up my 10lb weight and am making my arms a bit sore with high reps, cause, c'mon! I need to have the strength to pick up the baby, baby gear (strollers aren't light when you're cheap like me.) And maybe even lug books to grad school (yes, I'm still imagining myself able to juggle new baby, recovery and my first semester at CAL for my masters in city planning. We'll see...

The last time I weighed myself, right around the time this photo was taken, I had gained 20lbs. Which was right on target.

I'm certainly not watching my weight: If I want it. I eat it. And I'm actually at a point where I eat way more than I want to, because I'm much more frequently hungry than I want to be.

Gone are the days when women were told NOT to gain too much weight, and even put on diets. Back in the day (one of the days that somehow informed much of what modern Obstetrics goes by) many a woman had a disfigured pelvis due to malnutrition and other hardships that most of the Western world's population had to deal with. The idea was that if a woman kept her weight gain down (ie: starved herself during pregnancy) she'd have a smaller baby and therefore more easily pass the baby through a disfigured pelvis.

Well, yeah. Gone, really are those days. Again, not dieting or worrying about weight gain during this whole process. I do, however, like to feel strong, even when I'm all tired and stuff. Hence the hikes and the occasional weight.

Here's what I"m supposed to gain... which seems about right. I'll put on three to five more pounds, depending on when she arrives. Sounds good to me. I think I'll have some ice cream to follow up my super eggy-french toast.

Do check out the below: I for sure have the extra poundage in my boobage (as you likely know!) AND how crazy is it to have gained POUNDS from the extra blood? Preggos make and store 50 percent of their blood volume. It makes us a bit bigger, heavier and shorter of breath. But hey, we're gonna bleed a bit in order to bring a new life outta our body(s), so the extra blood volume is very welcome.

Water weight gain: Yes, I can see and feel some slight swelling. My ankles still look like my ankles, but they are a bit bigger. Again, no complaints! Just an observation.

Pregnancy weight gain estimator

You should gain roughly 25-35 lbs. during your pregnancy.Over the last two trimesters you should gain about 4 lbs. every 4 weeks.
How it breaks down

If you gained the average of range above, this is where the weight would go (totals are rounded):
Uterus 2.39 lbs.
Breasts 1.0 lbs.
Blood 3.09 lbs.
Water 4.15 lbs.
Fat 8.27 lbs.
Subtotal 18.89 lbs.

Fetus 7.5 lbs.
Placenta 1.6 lbs.
Amniotic Fluid 1.97 lbs.
Subtotal 11.07 lbs.

Total 29.96 lbs.

Still snoring

I really don't have any complaints right now.

Except that I'm snoring. And still snoring so hard, that it makes my throat sore. I woke myself up several times last night, with the snoring. And I had to get up at least twice to drink water to relieve my throat.

Also, by the time morning came, I had an icky coating in my mouth and on my throat that suggested I have once again, snored so hard that I'm making myself sick. Last week I had a horrible sore throat AND A COUGH. Part of that was recovering from the awesome four or five days of hosting family and friends. Most of that was snoring.

I mentioned to Ross this morning that I heard myself snore last night. His response:

"Sometimes, when I have the pillow wrapped around my head [to keep out the snoring!!!???] I can feel vibrations and I wonder what the hell is that? And then I remember, oh, yeah, Jen's snoring alot lately."

Me: Mortified silence. And then: laughter. "Gimme a glass of water. My throat hurts."

Photo: Me and Lan and Kitty at Kitty's shower at Kitty's bar.) Lan and I ate multiple hamburgers, cupcakes and pieces of chicken. We even signaled to the men who were hovering around the bbbq that the next round of meat was ours. Because, hey, have you seen this belly? So. Much. Meat. And a glass of wine. And more meat later. A Sol beer! Thanks for a great day, Kitty!