Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Do You Think?

Okay, let's have a little fun!

This Saturday, I will be thirty-four weeks pregnant. Yea! I'm sure most women at this point are ready to have their babies in their arms and to put pregnancy behind them. That's how I've been feeling for months!

Anyway, when do you think baby Michaela will make her grand appearance? I'm not talking specifics - just which week of pregnancy you think will be the week.

We'll keep it simple for now, but I'm thinking about having a giveaway shortly that will be tied to guessing the most accurate birth date and time. I'll let you know more soon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thirty-three Weeks

These are baby pictures of Michael (on the right) and me. My mom put this together for my shower last week. We both had a lot of hair and chubby cheeks!

With Michaela measuring about two weeks ahead of schedule, I'm guessing she weighs about five-and-a-half pounds by now. She's already head down and I hope she stays that way! Her movements are pretty strong, but even though she could kick me in the ribs, she hasn't done so yet. What a good girl! One day this week, I realized she had the hiccups.

It has been so much fun going through all the gifts I received at my shower last week. My mom and my sister came over on Wednesday, and we sorted through all of the clothing grouping everything by size. My goodness! I have never seen so many beautiful baby clothes! I'm going to have to take her picture every time we change her clothes to capture the cuteness. We decided to wash the first group of smaller clothes, the bassinet and crib sheets, towels, some blankets, and a few other things so that they are ready to use. I have to thank my mom for doing that.

I have still been enduring reflux (it's truly awful!), back pain, and insomnia. My lower legs, ankles, and feet are frequently swelling up due to edema. My mom accurately remarked that they remind her of my great-grandmother's feet and ankles. I had thought the very same thing. Anyway, some days are better and some days are worse in regards to all these things. Tuesday night and Wednesday were lousy (I'll spare you the details), and I am so thankful that my mom could spend the day with me on Wednesday. I hate being alone when I don't feel well. I am very much ready to not be pregnant anymore. I just want to have my baby girl in my arms and to have my body begin to recover. At this point, I truly can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My First Baby Shower

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Free digital slideshow created with Smilebox

Yesterday my sister, my mother, and several friends threw me a beautiful baby shower. There were so many sweet details to look at and enjoy. I was very blessed to be surrounded by many of my family members and dear friends. It was truly overwhelming to be showered with such love and generosity.

I have to thank my friend Stacey for taking these beautiful photos!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thirty-two Weeks

I saw my OB on Friday, and we agreed that my back pain would not be helped by returning to work. Therefore, my leave has been extended to April 18th and will be extended again after that. I am relieved.

We talked about how big Michaela is measuring. Between Monday's ultrasound and the measurement of the fundus yesterday, she is about two weeks ahead. I expressed to Dr. S that I do not want a nine or ten pound baby, and I asked her if we could keep that in mind as we get closer. She said yes, and that she would check with Dr. I (her partner) and the hospital to make sure that it would be okay to induce before Michaela grew to be nine pounds or more.

In two weeks, I will need to start going to the hospital every three or four days for Fetal Non-Stress Tests (NST). This is something the perinatalogist had mentioned to me on Monday. A NST is:

The test involves attaching one belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement is measured for 20-30 minutes. If the baby does not move, it does not necessarily indicate that there is a problem; the baby could just be asleep. A nurse may use a small “buzzer” to wake the baby for the remainder of the test. (from americanpregnancy dot org)

The reason for this is due to my "advanced maternal age". Whatever, I don't care. I just want everything to be all right with the baby and I don't see how this type of monitoring could hurt.

I have begun to pack my hospital bag.

Packages have been arriving from friends and family for the baby.

My first baby shower is tomorrow.

So it really does feel like I'm in the home stretch now, but there's still a lot to do in the nursery. Somehow it will all come together...

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Scan

Here she is - all 4 pounds and 7 ounces of her! Everything is looking really good as far as her development goes. She is in the sixty-first percentile for her size. Once again, she would not cooperate for a 3D scan. Maybe she's a bit stubborn (like her mommy and daddy).

I just hope her large size means she can be delivered a bit early. I don't want her to grow to nine or ten pounds!

When my mom and I pulled into the medical office complex, pulling out was a white SAAB. Just a little reminder that Michael is always with us.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thirty-one Weeks

Belly shot taken on Monday, March 7th

This week Michaela likely weighs more than three pounds and is eighteen inches long. However, perhaps she weighs more and is longer because the perinatalogist did say she was measuring a week ahead. I'll return to the perinatalogist on Monday for another scan, and we should have more accurate information about her size and development then.

I am benefiting from my visits to the chiropractor. I don't know that it will be a complete cure for my back problems, but it may be the best way to manage the pain.

Other pregnancy symptoms that I'm still experiencing include reflux, slow digestion, mild insomnia, leg and foot cramps, some swelling in my feet and legs, and nasal stuffiness. In addition, sometimes food just doesn't taste the way it should. I'm so hungry that it doesn't keep me from eating, though. Fruit has been particularly appealing to me, and now that strawberries are in season I'm eating a lot of them. I also crave honeydew melon and cantaloupe, and my parents brought me the sweetest oranges from a stand out in Riverside. They are so good and surprisingly they don't give me heartburn.

Today my sister and I will be meeting with my doula. I think the intention is to discuss the birth plan. She's already had me fill out a birth plan with my wishes, but I haven't shared it with her yet. As I went through the birth plan, I was happy to see that a lot of the options on it were things that my hospital does anyway. So I won't be asking for things that are unusual over there. Hoag promotes itself as being very "baby friendly", and they seem to have implemented a lot of practices that doulas and midwives advocate for.

I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Realistically we could be just six weeks from delivery, if she decides to arrive early. Please. In light of that, I think it's time that I start putting my hospital bag together. I've got a good list to guide me. Most of the things I already have here at home, but I will need to shop for a few things, too.

I had a really nice visit from a friend and her three-month old baby yesterday. Her baby is so precious, and so good. I can't wait to have Michaela in my arms!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Remembering Michael

Fourth of July 2009 - we spent the afternoon at my parents' house. Michael brought his ukulele and played some old songs for us while we sang along.

Several of Michael's family members and mine met me at his niche late this morning to mark the first anniversary of his passing. I had thought about what I wanted to say over the weekend, and I read this while we were gathered there together:

First of all, let me say that it is hard to believe that it’s been a year already since he had to leave me. Each month that has passed since then, I have been struck by how quickly time goes on. It doesn’t seem right at times. On the one hand, I hate that my time with Michael is already one year in the past. On the other, I know that I am one year closer to the time when I will be reunited with him in Heaven.

I have loved Michael most of my adult life. Loving him is as natural to me as breathing. I love Michael. That’s a huge part of who I am. When he was sick, and I would tell him that I loved him (which I did multiple times a day anyway), in addition to telling me that he loved me, too, he would thank me for loving him. I would tell him that I couldn’t help myself. And that was the truth. I couldn’t help but love him.

I love his gentle nature.

I love his beautiful smile.

I love his warm laugh and the sound of his voice.

I love his sense of humor.

I love the way he enjoyed life.

I love how he could make anything fun.

I love to listen to and watch him play the guitar.

I love the way he loved me.

I could go on and on because there are so many things that I love about him. Even some of his faults were endearing. Despite his self-doubts, he was a wonderful husband. He took such good care of me. He would rise early in the morning to prepare me a hot breakfast before I had to leave for work. When he wasn’t on the road, he would take care of most of the household chores. How many women have husbands like that? He made me feel so cared for – so precious to him. In fact, he frequently called me his “precious wife.”

Our relational journey may have been long and tumultuous, but it culminated in our marriage, which although short, was very, very sweet. Even though we had huge challenges with infertility and then cancer, we always knew we were blessed to share each day together. We rarely disagreed or argued, and I have to give him a lot of credit for that because he was so easy-going and he desired to please me. He knew that a happy wife meant a happy life, and I heard him say that phrase several times to friends of his. He made me very happy, and while he was slipping from this life to his eternal life, I made sure to tell him that.

The greatest gifts he gave me were his love and commitment, choosing to put his faith in Jesus our Savior, and now this baby girl of ours. Those gifts have given me beautiful memories, an assurance of an eternity spent together, and the anticipation of seeing him in the face of Michaela Grace.

It has not been easy adjusting to life without Michael in the last year. I know that the only reason I can stand here today is because of the grace of God. He has carried me through my grief – each hour, each week, each month since I last saw my husband.

I expect that like loving Michael will always be a part of me, so too will be mourning his absence. But I mourn with hope and expectation. It’s such a paradox that mourning and hope and expectation can be experienced together, but it’s supernatural and of God. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I do not sorrow as others who have no hope. My hope is in Christ, and my husband is in His glorious presence waiting for me.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

52 Sundays Ago

I remember a lot of visitors the day before as family members came to say their good-byes, but by Sunday I can only recall my immediate family, Michael's mom, and his aunt being at the house with us. There was a hospice nurse, as well.

Michael had been in a coma since Saturday morning. I honestly do not remember his last words to me, but they were probably I love you.

Around dinnertime, my family went home, and my mother-in-law and her sister left to attend mass at a local church. No one intended to return that evening unless I called for them to do so. Therefore, I was facing the night alone with just the nurse here.

For some reason, Michael's mom and his aunt decided to come back after their mass was over. I'm so glad they did. I was just weary and overwhelmed, and I remember breaking down at one point. Michael's Aunt Sally, herself widowed at a fairly young age, was incredibly comforting. She made me get into bed and she held me. I would have liked to stay there and sleep, but I could sense that it wouldn't be long before Michael left and I wanted to be with him. Hospice had prepared us for what we should expect, and we could all tell that it would be soon. So I got up and went into the back bedroom where he was.

It was the first time that I had ever been with someone while they passed from this life to the next. It was very sacred. I held his hand and watched him closely. I wasn't afraid for him. I knew he would be okay.

At 7:35 that evening, Michael took his last breath and the nurse confirmed that his heart had stopped beating. I felt somewhat relieved for him because his suffering was over, but I knew that my life would have a huge hole in it and that I would miss him with every breath from then on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thirty Weeks

No picture this week. Oh, well. For those of you who are asking for a belly shot, I will try to do that. For now, trust me when I say I look very pregnant. I have gained about thirty pounds.

At this point, Michaela weighs over three pounds, and she will gain a half-pound per week for the next seven weeks. Yikes!

I'm still hurting. Sciatica and all that jazz. Reflux periodically that causes me to vomit. I saw the OB on Friday, and she recommended Nexium for that. She also extended my leave another three weeks. Bless her heart.

Friday morning I was feeling really weird. I had been awake from 2 o'clock to 6 o'clock in the morning the night before due to terrible back and hip pain. Then I was struck with crazy hunger pains. Got up to have a small bowl of cereal, and that brought on the reflux. By the time I got up again in the morning, I was feeling really shaky. My sweet mother came and picked me up and took me to my OB appointment because I didn't think I was fit enough to drive then. Once at the doctor's office, they checked my blood pressure and it was normal. Not sure why I was feeling so shaky, but the doctor said it could be pregnancy related.

I have to admit that I'm feeling really low. I'm so tired of not feeling well, and I've spent a lot of time by myself. Not a good combination. Seven to ten weeks to go. Lord, help me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Crack" Baby

The title of this post refers to the t-shirts and onesies that were for sale at the chiropractor's office yesterday. My mom was puzzled by their meaning. But if you've ever been to a chiropractor before, you know that there is a whole lot of cracking going on. It's so weird that our bodies can do that!

After talking with the chiropractor about my sciatica and other back issues, he gave me a deep tissue massage. To accomplish this, I had to lay face down on a massage table. That's not easy to do when you're eight months pregnant. However, they have a special pillow to support the belly. I've had lots of massages over the years, but I always ask for medium/light pressure because I'm a big baby. He coached me on how I needed to relax and breathe to get through it. He was able to crack my mid-back during the massage. I've been hurting so badly in that area. Then he worked my glutes to get to the sciatic nerves. When I arrived at his office my left sciatic was hurting so much that I had a difficult time getting out of the car and walking into the building, so this was a painful but necessary part of my treatment. It was at this point that he had to coach me on my breathing and relaxation, because I reared up in pain and he was afraid I was going to hit him! I wouldn't have done that. After the massage, he did some adjustments.

The chiropractor told me that it's realistic to experience results after three or four sessions. I will be going back up (he's in LA) to see him next week. Fortunately, he's opening an office closer to where I live later this month.

So, tomorrow I will see my OB again. I don't think I'm ready to return to work yet as I have just started treatment for my back pain. That has to be the priority right now. I wish that chiropractic treatment had been suggested when I first saw my OB about my pain. Not only would I be feeling better by now, but perhaps I'd be ready to go back to work. But I've learned from Michael's experience that doctors are so specialized that they rarely take a holistic approach to treating the patient. I'm very thankful a friend referred me to this chiropractor, and I'm hopeful that my back pain can be managed or alleviated with ongoing treatment.