Welcome, baby girl

Abigail Lake Conner

April 29, 2018 4:23 pm

6 lbs 2 oz, 19 inches long

Worth every minute of the wait.

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Due Date

We’ve been told 2 due dates:  4/25 and 4/26, so today we are really here.  I started bleeding early on the morning of the 25th, and since then have had intermittent cramping.  Is the cramping contractions?  Hard to tell.  Regardless, I feel like I’ve been in some ambiguous phase of early labor for the last couple days.  As I’ve been told, first pregnancies often go late and labor is slow, and I am no exception.

I am one week into maternity leave as of today and it’s been AWESOME.  I left not a moment too soon; the very next day, my super easy pregnancy took a bad turn and I’ve taken on some terrible S.I. joint pain which makes it hard to walk.  I’ve been told this is a sign the baby is moving down, and along with the bleeding and cramping I can’t help but think the real thing is juuuust around the corner – but who knows.  I’m in no rush.  Do not mind AT ALL taking a few more days off where all that is expected of me is to rest and take it easy.

But if she comes today, we are ready for our little lady.  The baby room is 90% done (still need to hang pictures and unroll the area rug from overstock), baby laundry washed and put away, the freezer stocked with make-ahead meals, the hospital bags packed and everyone we’ve ever known is asking “is she here yet??”

The one piece of crucial preparation we are lacking is a name.  I hope we will see this baby girl, look at her, and just know.  Also still no luck with childcare.

It’s hard to believe I won’t be pregnant anymore in  just a few days.  I’m told the transition into parenthood will test my marriage in ways I won’t expect, and the hormones and the exhaustion will only make things worse.  So I am savoring these last few days of excitement and anticipation.  I love having an excuse to lounge around the house with my cats, let other people get things for me and insist I stay seated.  And this pregnancy metabolism has been remarkable.  Now that this kid is almost done, I’m less worried about eating healthy.  I’ll clean it up again once she’s born, but for the last week it’s been a delightful buffet of carbs and desserts and I’ve actually lost weight – it defies science.  Mind you I’m not exercising at all either, due to the pain in my joints and hips.  I’ve gained a whopping 11 pounds total as of this morning.  Pregnancy eating and cravings have been different; I’ve been satisfied easier, stop with smaller portions and can let my favorite foods go untouched in the cabinet for days or even weeks.  For the first time in my life I feel like I’ve bee able to eat what I want, feel satisfied as a result, and I haven’t packed on weight. This is how life should be.  What was it before? A mix of emotional eating, overeating, turmoil of what I should vs. shouldn’t eat and a general unhealthy focus on food.  I expect my hormones and metabolism to shift after I give birth, but I hope some of this positive food experience will stick with me.

Already, we have been asked by many people how many kids we will try for.  Really?  It’s an innocent question to many, but for those who know our history I just want to tell them to back off.  I know we are in a better position now than when we started, but asking an infertile couple about their procreation plans is just never ok in my book.  It took us 5 years and tens of thousands to get one, and I feel blessed and lucky to almost have this little girl home.  Let us enjoy this.  I’ve learned to expect the unexpected with infertility; that closed doors may open, and open doors may close.  I’ve learned to take each step authentically, with prayer and humility and an open heart.  I don’t try to make plans or goals because this journey is touch-and-go.  And for today, we are expecting one miracle baby who is on her way to see us very soon.  This in itself is enough to satisfy my joy quota for a lifetime.

Can’t wait to meet you, little girl, and see what your very special story has to say.

1 week to go…

Technically it’s 1 week 3 days, but who’s counting?

Also- posting on my iPhone today, so please excuse any typos or technical difficulties. This is what happens when you are collapsed on the fluffy chair on a Monday after work, 39 weeks pregnant with 2 cats on your lap. There is simply no chance of getting up.

My last day or work is Wednesday and I am sooooo excited. One regret I have about this pregnancy is not taking time off work sooner. It’s our busy season and hard to pull myself away, and I wish I had. Almost there.

This week I’ve started to have decent pain in my left hip which makes walking a little difficult and exercise sound miserable. It’s really the first ailment I’ve had, so I can’t complain. I continue to hear the reaction of “you’re so small!” When people learn I’m about to have a baby. I’m sure it’s partially my body type, partially what I’m wearing and also just luck of the draw that my stomach didn’t grow much. Whatever it is, it’s wonderful to hear and really unexpected that I’d get such and easy time of it. Weight gain has held steady this last month at about 13 lbs.

so that’s my body. My baby snuggles inside of me and is most active mid-morning and late evening. I love to feel her move and know she is safe in her warm, dark place. I wonder if people can sense a child’s personality before they are born. I feel like I can tell what this little girl is about; she is independent, self sufficient, and doesn’t need any coddling. Her dad and I are going to love her to pieces and absolutely smother her, so we will see if my hunch is correct.

We are so excited to meet the little lady! I wonder what she looks like and if she will have Ryan’s curly hair. Will it be blonde, like his as a child? Or fire engine red, like mine? (As adults, I think we are both considered to have “brown hair.” Yawn.) I want her have Ryan’s dimples and his (perfectly long and lean) legs, and get his ambition and his ability to make friends with everyone in the room. I hope she gets my discipline and work ethic and ability to be content with your imagination and little else. Ryan and I are both serious animal lovers, road trippers, fans of comfortable beds and blankets and good music, so she will be bombarded from both sides. Whoever she is, she is completely unique, entirely her own and will show us her personality little by little. We’ve waited so long for this and it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she’s almost here.

Ryan is worried for the adjustment he will face of having less time for himself, golf and socializing. He is excited about meeting her and introducing his little buddy to the world. I am nervous about the birth and finding childcare about how our beloved cats are going to adapt (seriously- they run our lives. It’s going to be hard). I am excited to FINALLY be joining the ranks of parents and adults. I never knew how to function in the adult world as a home body with an inner 80 year old. Having a family to put first I think will feel natural.

I am thankful for the 5.5 years I’ve had with Ryan as his wife. We’ve been through many ups and downs. We’ve learned how to communicate better and how to be gentle with each other. I love him considerably more now than when we got married, which I believe is nothing less than the most gracious gift from God. So much hardship and struggle at times felt like my marriage was bad joke, but I see now it was all to strengthen us, to show each other our worst and our most broken, only so we could rise up together. This next chapter will bring its challenges and new roles and I feel like we are prepared to navigate the uncharted territory side by side. With another little mini in between.

35 Weeks and Nesting

35 Weeks! It occurs to me this is it. Pregnancy is basically over.  I am trying to enjoy it and savor these last 3 weeks, knowing very well this could be the only time I am ever pregnant.  It went by fast.

“Nesting” mode has kicked in and it’s been awful. I thought nesting meant surges of creativity when decorating the nursery, or the insatiable urge to clean out closets, but not for me.  For me, “nesting” is this overpowering sense of urgency to get everything done.  I have a web of to-do lists ranging from at-home to at-work to baby-related to insurance and admin, and they are all stressing me out.  Every evening after work, every weekend all day long, I am making phone calls and running errands.  There is no rest, and I feel enslaved to this instinct. I am stretched thin and the sleepless nights have returned.  I’m hoping I have a breakdown soon enough so I can throw in the towel and just ignore responsibility and not feel stressed about it.

Although I have slowed down and gained some weight, the super-easy pregnancy continues….

Month: Just shy of 8 months

Week: 35

Weight gain: As of this morning, + 12 lbs, but in all honesty, there have been higher days

Physical changes: Not a lot of changes, aside from the pregnant belly which appeared around week 32 and have been growing steadily since.  Fortunately, no stretch marks, no water retention, no swelling.  I am carrying low.  No changes in skin pigment or linea negra.  I do feel like I have an extra ½ inch of fat all over my entire body, though.  Arms, legs, back, face, everything is a little more squishy.

Mental/ Emotional changes: The nesting synopsis above pretty much covers it.  I haven’t experienced any “pregnancy brain” and the moments of weepiness or unexplained rage have been few and far between.

Maternity Leave: My first day of leave is April 19th, 4 weeks from today, and 1 week before the due date.  I’ll be taking 14 ½ weeks off to begin with, with another 4 weeks off later in the year over the holidays.

Biggest Fear:  Right now, I am worried because I’ve been having a really hard time lining up child care for when I go back to work.  Labor and delivery I’m not so concerned about; it will be what it will be.  Parenting, too.

Most looking forward to:  Seeing what she looks like!  Taking time off to just sit at home alone with my family, quietly, and soak up every moment of infant bonding.

Nursery prepped:  We have it painted and baseboards installed, but no furniture yet.  We have a baby shower this weekend that I hope will yield a big-ticket item, and help us determine what we still need to buy ourselves.

Food/ Cravings: Same as usual – carbs, sweets, fruit, dairy.  I am kind of over the Asian soups and ginger, finally.  Still not very interested in meat.  In fact, I find myself often saying “nothing sounds good.”  Water is a MUST.  I can go from belly full of water to dramatically dried out and thirsty in no time flat.  When I am no longer pregnant, I am REALLY looking forward to a deli sandwich piled high with turkey.

Coffee/ Alcohol: No booze, but I do drink 10 oz of coffee every morning.  Two or three times when I’ve been having a particularly exhausting day I’ve been bad and gone for an extra 4-6 oz in the afternoon.  Sssshhhh.  When I’m no longer pregnant, I am REALLY looking forward to a glass of good red wine and a tall, bitter IPA.

Exercise: I’m still moving.  Still walking, still taking 1 weight training class a week, and doing prenatal yoga.  I’m learning to turn my knees out when I squat or bend over, and just embrace the change of being out of breath and slower and weaker.

Birth Plan: This may sound bad, but I don’t really know what a birth plan is or even much about childbirth.  Ryan and I are taking a birthing class next week.  My philosophy is that this is natural, women have been doing this since time immemorial, and there will be doctors to guide me, so no need to stress myself out or over-educate.  I know Ryan will be the only one in the delivery room, and we will be giving birth at our local hospital.  If it’s a straightforward birth that progresses steadily, I will try to do it without an epidural.  If it last for days, I’ll probably be begging for anything they’ve got.  As a licensed paramedic, Ryan has actually delivered several babies, so he may know more about the process than me 🙂

What I will miss most about being pregnant:  Maybe always having my little girl with me, snuggled under my skin in her safe place.  Or always having the excuse to take it easy and get out of obligations due to my delicate condition.  It’s been affirming to see my body change and do what it does, naturally and without direction.  Especially after truly thinking I would never experience pregnancy, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy, natural and at times subtle the whole experience has been.  I hope it’s an indication of what it to come.

31 Weeks

It’s a relief to be in the 30’s – not lost in the ambiguity of the 20’s. I know where I am now, and it’s close.  The baby girl kicks and squirms and pokes regularly throughout the day.  I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time just THINKING ABOUT THE BABY.  Where she will sleep, what we need to do, when she will come, etc.  They say this preoccupation is what leads to “pregnancy brain,” but fortunately I haven’t experienced any absent-mindedness. Yet.  In fact, things continue to be textbook, easy, and moving right along.  We had a hard time for many years, but once that IVF cycle started it’s been smooth sailing.

Due Date: April 25/26/28 (been told all 3)

Week: 31 weeks

Month:  7 months

Weight Gain: Last weigh in was 2/17/18, I’m up 9.8 lbs. I know this doesn’t sound like much so I always feel compelled to state that I also gained 7 during IVF.  I asked Ryan the other day if my butt is getting bigger and he said, “maybe a little bit bigger,” so that 9.8 lbs isn’t all belly.

Sleep: I’ve had a cold for about a week which is keeping me up, but I’m hoping my great sleep will return. Usually I get up to pee 1X a night, if at all.

Diet: I average 1 pineapple a week and 1 orange a day.  Still hitting the carbs and dairy hard and not really into meat.  Milk chocolate has been really tempting lately, too.  Overall, I feel like my metabolism has been more forgiving than usual.  I’m eating generously (but healthy) and not seeing the weight gain I’d expect.

Exercise: I’ve just started to drop off at Pilates, due to unusual muscle strains and generally feeling uncomfortable.  But I’ve kept up hiking, weight training and regular walks.  I count every week that I can continue to exercise as I used to a major victory.  It’s so good for my mental health and relationship with my ever-changing body.

Physical changes: I swear in the last week I’ve gotten a pregnant belly on me. It took a while to get here, but it arrived overnight. My center of gravity and flexibility are a daily learning curve, and getting in and out of bed a little more challenging.  Not much else to report though, no stretch marks or swelling, no widened feet, no dark line down my belly, no crazy hair growth.

Maternity clothes: Definitely maternity pants are needed, but I can still get away with a variety of pre-maternity shirts.

Nursery prepared: Not even close. We have to install baseboard in our front bedroom before we move the contents of the back bedroom (which will be the baby room), and then we have to patch/ paint walls and install baseboards in the back bedroom.  And THEN we can start to prep the nursery.

Alcohol/Caffeine/Forbidden Foods:  I drink a 10 oz cup of coffee every morning.  Any other caffeine intake may come from chocolate, but I’m not drinking any tea or soda. I haven’t touched alcohol for the duration of the pregnancy, either.  Steering away from the “bad” food list hasn’t been hard, but I will say I can’t wait to eat a gigantic turkey sandwich.

Names: We have a few.  It’s been a hard road coming to terms with the fact that I will not be naming my daughter a name I really like or want.  But it will be a name Ryan and I agree on, and our baby will give it a world of character and meaning all it’s own.

I have a nagging suspicion she will be early.  I don’t plan to go on maternity leave until about April 18th, which is probably why my paranoia is kicking in and telling me she’ll be born on April 15th.  As an accountant, Tax Day is a big deal.  Coincidentally, it’s also the day Ryan proposed.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also the day this independent little mover and shaker decides it’s time to make an entrance.  9 weeks and counting, and let’s hope she sticks….

Infertility advice to myself and to whomever may want it….

It’s been just over 6 months since Ryan and I got the news that our textbook fresh cycle worked (!!), and we gleefully lost the “infertile” descriptor and took on “pregnant.” While I count myself invariably lucky, the sharpness of infertility is still fresh.  Not to mention, Ryan and I are not magically cured.  Should baby #2 be a possibility, it won’t happen naturally.

For that reason, I wanted to take time to recount some of the most poignant lessons learned, advice to share, and survival tips. I may need them again one day.

In general:

Infertility is about as personal and as painful as it gets: It’s your sex life and your finances and your health and your marriage, all wrapped into one big bag of bad news.  For many, becoming a parent is what they’ve been waiting for since they were children themselves.  We all know family is the most important thing.  At its best infertility is searing disappointment, at its worst it is death, loss and grief.

Everyone is different.  Each couple, each diagnosis, each personality with insecurities and hopes and fears are all unique.  Some people may need to share their journey, others may want to keep it strictly confidential.  Couples may not be on the same page, treatment may not be clear cut, and finances can be all over the board.  There is simply no one-size-fits-all for this camp.

For those in the trenches:

Get a second opinion:  I know, this means more time and money thrown down an endless well, and it’s hard to see the value when you are invested in a certain doctor or protocol.  It took me a year to work up the nerve and goodwill in my marriage to drag Ryan to another doctor, but it literally made the different from being told “you’re hopeless” to “you’re pregnant.”

Be gentle with your significant other:  In my personal journey, my marriage was the most treacherous terrain.  Ryan and I did not see eye to eye about 90% of the time, and the resulting opportunities for frustration and resentment were insurmountable. Be judicious with your battles and be delicate; carefully weigh the costs and benefits in this minefield.  Your significant other is your only teammate now and always, and you want to keep that relationship the best it can be.

…and be honest with yourself: Recognize the truths, and give them time to sink in.  This is unchartered territory; you aren’t an expert.  Give yourself time to grieve, to think, to determine what you need and want.  You may change over time, your opinion may change over time, and you may consider avenues you’d previously sworn off.  At each turn, think critically and ask yourself “will I regret this down the road? Will I regret not doing this?”

Lean on each other: As someone who still dreads sharing my infertility story, even at 7 months pregnant, I will say that the infertility community was a great source of comfort.  There was no salve to my wounds like knowing other people were enduring it, too, and to hear their advice and see their strength and not feel so alone.

Lean on your faith: If you are a person with a spiritual force guiding you, you will need it now more than ever.  Even in my darkest days when I didn’t understand why life was unfolding in such a disastrous pattern, I took comfort in knowing it wasn’t me calling the shots.

Speak up:  I wish I had spoken up more.  Communicate your needs, your fears, your questions and concerns to those you feel comfortable with.  Advocate for yourself and the support you need from others.  Your family and friends will only know what’s going on in your mind if you tell them.

For family/ friends of the interfile:

Follow their lead: Some of your infertile friends will want to talk about their journey, others will want to keep it private.  Please don’t dismiss the former and push the latter, or assume all are the same.  I realize this is asking you to sometimes be mind-readers and walk on eggshells, but your careful consideration can truly make or ruin a person’s day.

Don’t ask. Don’t ask a couple when they are having kids, or when they are having their second kid, or if they’re pregnant or off birth control or whatever.  This is like asking how much credit card debt they have or how much they weigh.  It’s simply none of your business.  You never know if someone is struggling with infertility, and these questions can be triggering and torturous.  I wish everyone knew it was bad manners to pry in this way; my life certainly would have been easier.

Don’t talk about how becoming a parent is the most life-changing thing ever:  I cringe when I hear those without children described as “selfish” and “immature.” I very well may have ended up childless, and resent mightily those who would think less of me for it.  The years of battling infertility and all the woes of finances, marital stress, self-doubt, bargaining, Dr.’s appointments, grief, disappointment, and uncomfortable judgment have brought about a great deal of maturity that those who conceived easily will never know.  And there is much selflessness in draining your emotional, financial and physical resources for the hope of new life.  Or agreeing to start or stop treatment even if you don’t want to, but your spouse is ready.  Perhaps well-meaning people mean their own lives were selfish or immature pre-children, but please specify that, and please be conscientious.

Don’t tell them “you will be parent one day:” A better alternative is “you will get through this.”  The infertile person constantly walks a thin line between having a positive attitude and not being delusional.  For some, being childfree is the best or only option after a long, embittered battle.  The easy-out, cavalier “you will have a child one day, I just know it!” can be dismissive and make us feel even more alone and misunderstood.

My infertility wounds are still healing. In some ways, I am still working on forgiveness and acceptance, but I know the scar will fade overtime.  I hope to always retain the sensitivity and kindness to be one less person in the world who doesn’t understand.  I hope you all are surrounded by a support group and sympathetic friends and family.  If not; find your community, and keep at it.  You may be just one more clinic visit away from turning the corner.

24 Week Update

Week: 24

Month: Middle of the 5th month/ just shy of 6 months

Trimester: 2nd

Weight Gain: Last weigh in was 12/21/17, and I was up 3.8 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, but up about 12 lbs from my pre-IVF weight.  Eating habits got totally derailed over the holidays, and I’m a little scared to get back on the scale.  I am giving myself a couple weeks of better diet and exercise before I weigh in.  I’ve said it before – gaining weight, even pregnancy weight, in this Hollywood-body-obsessed culture is a mind trip.  Hard to get comfortable with.

Maternity clothes: half and half.  Today I am wearing normal work pants, but this week or next is probably the last I can get away with it.  Maternity shirts are the BEST, since I am on the tall side anyway and appreciate extra length.

Stretch marks: No new ones 😉

Overall physical feeling: Great! Like my normal self, just with some extra padding that makes me a little slower and a little less flexible.

Overall physical look: Not pregnant.  As Ryan says “You can tell you’ve gained weight, but it just looks like you’ve started drinking beer.  Like every night you come home from work and just and drink beer.”  If only.

Sleep: These days sleeping has been greeaaaat. Maybe it’s the cold, dark weather.  Maybe it’s that our house is finally warm after our heater was temporarily broken. (Such a terrible, terrible time, I don’t like to think or talk about it.)  But either way, the sleepless nights of the first half of my pregnancy have completely disappeared.

Diet/ Cravings: Holiday food fest aside, my diet has been pretty tame. I think I’m eating more than I did pre-pregnancy, but not a ton.  No severe cravings, although fruit (especially oranges and pineapple) have been a staple.  As has hot peppermint tea, CARBS such as toast, bagels, crackers, etc. and (cooked) sushi rice rolls piled high with ginger.

Food aversions: Nothing severe anymore, however I have noticed meat is generally not tasting good – too “meaty.”  I don’t reach for it, and when I do I am usually unimpressed.   I also have been eating significantly less vegetables than I used to, which I will try to correct.

Exercise: Sadly, my great pre-pregnancy fitness has really lapsed.  Now more than ever I need to re-vamp it, and I am determined to start up this week.  The combination of dark evenings, bad weather, and busy schedules has wreaked havoc on my routine.  Not to mention weekends are booked up with painting and house projects and appliance/fixture installation trying to get his place finished before the baby comes.  Getting back on the horse at 24 weeks pregnant in early January won’t be easy, but it must be done. Simply must be done.

Names: Nothing yet. We are terrible at agreeing on names, and this had sparked many a heated argument.  We are currently avoiding the topic.

Overall emotional feeling: We are getting EXCITED.  It’s feeling so much more real, the baby girl hopping around in my stomach all the time, and we just can’t wait.  Some close friends of ours just had a baby girl and we are gleeful our turn will be here soon enough.

I am so, so thankful and humbled that God has been so merciful and good.  How did we get so lucky when so many are still struggling? People in our lives are starting to forget our history and recent plight, and only focus on the future.  No more questions or special treatment or comments about how hard or how thankful or how unfair.  We are blending in like any other expectant couple, and I couldn’t ask for more.