Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pregnancy Week 19: People are noticing my pregnancy belly...

Yes, now it's really official. From my friends to my mother-in-law, people think I look pregnant. In the last week or two, it seems I've hit an onslaught of people saying, "Wow! You really are showing!"

I am also starting to wear tightly fit sweaters, which helps show off my "fashionable bump." (One of my pregnant friends pointed out that it is less noticeable in my pictures online here, since I'm not wearing a fitted top)

In fact, this week, I have my first experience with an acquaintance thinking I look pregnant.

So this guy who sees me a few times a week at the yoga studio/juice bar starts up a conversation seeing a pamphlet on hypo-birthing. He makes a joke about it and I say, "Yeah, I know someone who is doing that right now."

He suddenly feels bad he's made fun of it, and I quickly put him at ease. "Oh, I don't care. I'm not doing it, but it's working for her." Then I add, "I'm 4 1/2 months pregnant myself."

And as I say this, he sort of looks at me with this interested but stoic expression. I'm thinking, poor cute guy. He thinks he's offended me. But I am a little surprised by his seemingly reserved response (he's usually very personable).

Then he breaks into a smile and explains. I guess he's just been taking it in, because he says, "I thought you were pregnant! But I didn't want to say anything, just in case. But I thought you were pregnant!"

"Really? You're the first person who's thought that just from seeing me! Or at least who's told me!"

"Well, it's only because you're so tiny normally, so it's easier to see. Congratulations!"

Not only am I looking pregnant, but I also feel the baby moving every day, reminding me that there really is a living being inside of me. I look pregnant, and I might be actually starting to feel pregnant. I was taking a shower last night and tried to suck in my stomach. Seeing how I could no longer do that like I used to made me grin with the excitement of Christmas. There's a bell pepper-sized baby in there! I always know that I am pregnant, but it's in these small moments, when it truly hits me, for a brief second--the life-changing aspect of this experience, this event. And it always sends my stomach fluttering, my mouth gaping, and my eyes wide.

Of course, there are still times when my whole being cannot wrap itself around the intensity of being pregnant. It is just so huge, so vast, and for now, somewhat muted, in my control. There is no crying or giggling baby, I can go where I please when I please, I can still simply take care of myself and Mike. Yes, I take prenatal vitamins for the baby, I don't drink for the baby, we sing to the baby (we are adding new songs to our repertoire each week), we read to the baby, talk to the baby. But these are still our own self-started actions. We are not reacting or responding to a live being we can see or hear in front of us. And, like the idea of death, I don't know if I can truly understand the concept of creating life. It happens, I am part of it, I understand it on a human realistic level (i.e. I am not out of touch with reality, thinking life and death don't happen), but it amazes me beyond my human comprehension.

Again, I am struck with how lucky I am to experience this. And I don't think I do need to comprehend it completely, because, all science aside, it is truly a little miracle. And that's what miracles are--the incomprehensible and amazing. And that's what our baby is to us...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Baby Packs a Punch..!

[posted by Mike]
Well, as those of you following us here know, Tara felt the baby for the first time about 6 days go, on Friday. Today, I got to share a little...

I was typing away about something mindless, and Tara called me over, "Mike, if you come quick you might feel the baby!" I'd heard this before, and had not yet succeeded, and was also in the middle of a sentence about 'social media marketing', so I continued to type. (The best husband in the world, I am not.) Then she said, "I just felt it again!" Then again, "Again!"

I added a period to whatever I was writing, pushed my $10 Walmart 'office chair' away from my computer, and walked over to Tara to place my hand on her sexy belly, like she showed me.

Within seconds, WHAM! It felt like someone had just lightly tapped on the inside of Tara's belly with their finger. My eyes widened a bit, and I laughed out of surprise. WHAM! "Oh sh#t!" I said. We both laughed a bunch more, and I gave Tara a kiss.

I really had no idea I'd be able to feel the baby this early...sweet!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pregnancy Week 18: I feel the baby moving!

So this weekend, I have one of those life experiences that, at 31, I can still say is a "first" for me. Yes, I finally feel the baby move inside of me!

I have felt little sensations before, unsure of what I'm feeling, but this time, it is different.

While my parents are visiting, on Friday, we go to White Plains. We have lunch out at 42 (a window-filled restaurant on the 42nd floor of the new Trump Tower), then walk around the city for a bit. We drive around and make a quick stop at a store. Mike runs in to get something, and my parents and I sit in the car.

I suddenly feel a little poke very low in my belly. My eyes widen--again, that internal dramatic "movie moment". My parents keep talking. I have never felt this before. It is not the feeling of "butterflies in my stomach" or "popcorn" or "bubbles" as some have described. It really just feels like a little push, a tap, someone very very tiny bumping into me from the inside.

"I think I may have just felt the baby move..." I say hesitantly.

My mom exclaims and is excited. She lives almost 6 hours away, so I am happy she can be here when I first experience this. I am excited too, but I can't believe it. When Mike returns to the car, I tell him the same thing, still using the words "think" and "may." His eyes widen too and he says, "Really??"

But I think I am still not certain. Really, I am certain, but in the same way I spoke in "ifs" and "maybes" that first night after seeing the positive pregnancy test, I feel the need to use these tentatives now, as well. (Yes, I just turned "tentative" into a noun) Later that night, while we are watching the movie, The Changeling, I feel this movement again. It is an intense movie, but I whisper to Mike that I think I am feeling the baby move. My hand has been on my belly and I have felt a little "tap" from the outside. He puts his hand on my belly, but it will probably be a while before he can feel the movements. We try nonetheless!

From that night on, I begin to notice these moments of movement. When we are sitting in an off-broadway theatre watching Little Red Riding Hood sing in her wolf-skin cape in Into The Woods, when I am sitting in church listening to the words of Rob Morris and his organization, Love 146, when I am facebooking on my laptop, when I'm watching reruns of King of the Hill on tv. It comes when I am still (the baby is awake and I am quiet yet alert enough to notice), and it feels like a little flutter of movement, or occasionally a real poke or push.

I have a lot of control over the various muscles in my body, and ever since I have been a child, I have made it my mission to learn how to isolate and flex individual muscles. If there was one muscle I could not move unless I moved another muscle, I would work hard to separate the two until I could control each individually. I remember being a very small child, sitting in my car seat (so younger than 4 or 5 probably), and leaning my face against one side of the car seat in order to keep one eye closed, while keeping the other open. I would practice this for as long as the car rides were to understand how to relax one eyelid muscle, while flexing the other eyelid muscle. I gradually used the side of the car seat less and less, and through this practice, I eventually learned how to wink each eye.

So controlling the movements of my body is something I have found fascinating, a challenge, and rewarding once I achieve my goal. But this--the movements inside of me, the pushing, the kicking, the poking--all what happens now and is to come--as exciting and novel as they are, these are things I cannot control that are directly affecting me.

I guess that is a lesson I'll need to be learning a lot in the months and years to come, so I suppose starting now is not such a bad idea...

(btw--both of these pictures were taken at the same time, but I think it's interesting, because in the second picture, probably because it's more of a profile and my hand is not on my belly, I feel like my belly is a little triangle--it just pops out below my belly button, like something is sticking out of it!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Other children in the world...

While Mike and I are, naturally, focusing a lot of our child-energy on our own little womb baby, we have an experience today that reminds me of the vast needs for children throughout the world. I am referring to a specific crime against children, and a specific charity championing for the children--and I think is important enough to share with my fellow baby-followers out there.

Today, Mike and I, along with my parents, who are visiting, and Mike's parents, who live nearby, go to Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Rockland County. We go there occasionally because the music is good, the church is full of warmth, and the pastor is incredible. When he preaches, he is interesting, engaging, and always shows us something new. We leave the church feeling inspired--never down on ourselves or negatively critical, but rather uplifted and ready to make positive changes. For those of you who go to church, or have been, you probably know, this is actually a difficult task to achieve--I have been to many churches where they make you feel bad about your life, they are too "over-the-top" or radical for me, the pastors seem out of touch with the world, or more frequently, I am simply bored and get nothing out of the experience.

But today, the experience has my total attention. There is a guest speaker, Rob Morris*, who is the president and co-founder of Justice for Children International, recently renamed Love 146. Love 146 is a not-for-profit organization which works toward the abolition of child slavery and sex trafficking. Rob is careful to point out that while 2 children are sold per minute into slavery, his organization is not working to merely minimize statistics--they are working toward completely abolishing this crime. The charity works mostly in East Asia (where Rob and his wife have adopted children) from a two-fold approach:

1) Prevention: Through raising awareness and reducing the risk for children in "high traffic" areas.
2) Aftercare: "training caregivers, providing safehomes and researching best practices for aftercare."

Rob's stories are heart-wrenching, but hopeful. There is much pain and struggle, but there are positive outcomes and resilience. Rob shares about how they discovered many sex traffickers were gaining business by advertising on Craiglist. Love 146, along with other organizations and state attorneys general, petitioned to have Craigslist put safeguards in place to deter criminals from using the site. Apparently, Craigslist resisted this for a few years, but just recently conceded to add safety features to cut down on the number of sex crimes advertised (the article mentions nothing of the resistance to putting these into effect--probably not something Craigslist advertises, but regardless, the outcome is positive). This also hits home, that while brothels and child slavery do exist in large numbers in Southeast Asia, they exist in the US, as well.

Here is a video in which Rob speaks about his experience seeing a child-brothel, and how the organization was formed:

Rob talks about how it is a challenge to engage in the issue of sex trafficking since most of us do not have a personal involvement (we become involved in issues of cancer or AIDS oftentimes when we know someone who has cancer or AIDS, etc.). While most of us will probably never know someone who has been involved in sex trafficking, this video is Love 146's small attempt to have you put yourself in the place of a child and imagine what it is is like in theory (or at least pull on your heartstrings with the music and printed narration):

I am not really sure how to end a post like this, so I guess I'll just leave it at that.

*Note: The link is to when Rob spoke at the church 2 years ago. The current talk is not uploaded yet on the church's website.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pregnancy Week 17: Flu shot drama

I have been hearing a lot about how pregnant women should receive the flu shot, as they are considered "high risk" since their immune systems are lowered (interesting enough, I recently read the reason the immune system lowers is to prevent it from attacking the developing baby--makes getting a cold seem more noble!). I've read about it on the internet, and my OB recommended it. Of course, since there is all this debate out there about mercury in shots for children, I figure there ought to be for pregnant women who are carrying children, as well.

My friend, Laurie, helps me research it a little and finds that there are basically 3 types of flu shots:
1) No thimerosal (the mercury-based preservative). This is what they give to children now.
2) Trace amount of thimerosal, but considered to be negligible.
3) A larger amount of thimerosal (probably the cheapest, given out at clinics, like CVS etc).

So, I decide I will get a flu shot as long as it is thimerosal-free, or contains only trace amounts. I call my doctor's office and the woman on the phone has no idea what kind of flu shot they have at their office. She says I can make an appointment and ask the doctor. I decide chances are decent that they'll have one of the better shots (this is the Westchester Medical Group, after all--filled with wealthy suburban moms who must be as concerned as I am), so I don't bother trying to speak to a doctor on the phone ahead of time, and simply to go my appointment.

Once in the exam room, I tell the nurse what I'm looking for. Immediately, she says, "We just have the regular shots."

"You don't even have the trace amount one?"

"No. And it's gonna take you a long time to get one of those. Do you wanna talk to the doctor anyway?"

"Yes," I sigh. Might as well.

The doctor enters and I tell him I'm pregnant, want the flu shot, but don't want the full amount of thimerosal in the shot.

And here begins his convincing/bullying:

He starts out by giving me his opinion based on government research. "There is nothing wrong with the flu shot. It's perfectly safe for pregnant women."

I tell him my opinion. "Well, given the debate about mercury in shots, and since I'm pregnant, I'd just rather not take that chance. If it were just me, I wouldn't care, but since I have a growing baby, I'd like the mercury-free shot."

Clearly, I am not responsive to pure facts, so he tries another approach. "Do you eat fish?"

"Not the kind that has mercury in it, not while I'm pregnant. No. And do you know how much mercury is in one fish compared to how much is in a shot?" (I mean, hey, if it's the same amount, that's one thing, but if it's concentrated and 100x the amount, that's certainly another)

"No, I don't know the exact amount."

Mm hm.

He uses another comparison. "Well, do you walk down the street? You know you're inhaling exhaust and all kinds of metals then. Mercury is just another metal."

"That may be," I say. "But I can't do anything about the exhaust fumes in the air. I can do something about this shot, so why not do the least risky thing, since I have a choice?"

He takes another angle. "Regardless, your body is very well equipped to get rid of toxins. Very little of it will actually stay in you or reach the fetus."

"Maybe, but I'd still rather put in as few toxins as possible if I have the choice."

He argues with me a little bit more and seems a bit annoyed with me. I'm sure he is hoping I will break down, get the shot, and make this easier on all of us. And I can see how some people might, since he is quite the badger.

Finally, I take one for the team and label myself something I don't believe I am, "Look. Call me a crazy pregnant woman, but I want the mercury-free or trace amount of mercury shot. Can you order it for me, or tell me somewhere else I can get it?"

Then he concedes. "Well, I guess pregnant women all have their own worries. I can order it for you."

So I take the little condescending remark and smile. "I really appreciate it."

I walk out to the waiting room, he tells the receptionist to refund my copay since he was not able to help me (I do appreciate this, because $20 for an argument does not seem right), then a minute later, he returns. He tells me the shot is back-ordered and he doesn't know when it'll be in. He suggests I check in the next week. I thank him and receive my $20 refund.

So now, 2 weeks have passed and still no mercury-free flu shot. I will call again today or tomorrow to check in.

I really wonder why they are so in demand, I wonder why they even make them at all, if there is no purpose for having these shots mercury-free? I wonder...

When I come home and tell Mike what happened, he says, "Thank you for protecting our baby!" and hugs me.

And he's not even a "crazy pregnant woman." :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

4th Doctor's Appointment

Our 16 week OB appointment is probably the least eventful we've had so far, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The visit starts out when Mike and I are shown into an exam room. I sit on the paper-covered table and Mike plops himself down on the rolling stool with wheels. We talk and wait for the doctor to come in as usual.

A few minutes later, the doctor arrives. He stares at Mike for a beat as he makes his way into the room and remains standing, seeming uncertain of something. Mike pushes himself around in the stool a bit, stretching his legs out; he's having good time. The doctor looks at Mike, then looks at the plastic chair in the corner, then to Mike again, then the chair in the corner. Mike notices he is looking a bit annoyed, and suddenly realizes why. "Oh, you probably want your seat, huh?" He asks. Immediately, the doctor nods and points at the stationary chair, "Yeah, why don't we swap here?"

I laugh, as I hadn't thought about the fact that Mike was wheeling himself around in the doctor's mobile stool before, but it is a rather comical site.

Then I explain how I have been feeling under the weather this week--sometimes feeling quite nauseous (that hang-over feeling of being dizzy too), feeling sooo tired (and of course, still not sleeping well despite that), with a headache, and sometimes fever. It hasn't turned into a full blown cold, but it's made me feel lousy all week. I am starting to wonder if this is what some women feel during their first trimester. I have been so happy to have escaped my first 3+ months feeling fine, but now am not so certain this doesn't have to do with pregnancy...time will tell, I suppose.

My doctor gives me some advice on this, and advice on sleeping, including various options of medicines/herbs I can take. I am still wary of taking anything for my sleeping problems, but I think I might break down and try something in the next month. There have been days or weeks at a time where I will wake up every hour for most of the night, or receive only 2-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It still remains frustrating.

Our real excitement of this appointment is that we hear the heart beat for the first time. Up until now, we have seen the heart beating with the ultrasounds, but never actually heard it before. It's a swishing sound, almost like the ocean.

Below is a video of a fetal heartbeat I found on youtube. It is NOT our baby's heartbeat, but it gives the basic idea of what it sounds like (we need to remember to videotape our next appointments!).

He gives us a number for the hospital so we can schedule our anatomy screening (which is also where we can find out the sex). When we schedule the appointment, I am disappointed to learn the earliest they have available is December 2, which is the latest end of our window of time to have the screening. Ah, well. More time for people to get in their votes!

BTW--I've switched my header countdown ticker. The panda/quilt ticker has been traded up for a cleaner look. Thanks to Robyn for that ticker!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A New Song...

[wrtten by Mike]
I love it when a moment in time injects within you with enough inspiration to let a little creativity pour fourth. (That last sentence was not an example of creativity, but cheese.) What better than a growing little baby to shake things up -- a few weeks ago, I thought it'd be great to write a song for ours. ...I guess you might say, the inspiration here wasn't quite as sudden, as I sort of 'decided' to write a song, rather than just started 'writing' one. In any case, I'd love to write something sweet, simple, perhaps lullabye-like, without too much lyrical depth or chord progression craziness to distract.

The good news is, I found a nice little finger-picking guitar 'lick' and some lyrics to go with it that should form a seed capapble of growing a little "song-plant". My first 7 lines of lyrics seem to be passing the "don't make me puke" test, so that's good. But it'll sound even sweeter now, as Tara will help me finish writing it and record it -- our first duet!

Our first song dedicated to the new baby. (And potential blackmail material for when the child enters teen-hood and adult-hood.) Wish us luck!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pregnancy Week 16--Cast your vote!

I'm not talking McCain or Obama here (although do that too)...I'm talking XX or XY, people!

Yes, Mike and I are finding out the sex of our baby! I could say we debated the issue--that we thought about the pros and cons of each possibility, that we discussed it with each other, slept on it, and made a well-thought of decision. But we really just both said, "Yeah, why not?"

We will definitely have enough surprise and excitement the day of delivery that we don't feel we're gypping ourselves of that experience. Sure, it's convenient to know if we're having a boy or girl so we can prepare with clothing, get a room ready knowing what colors we might want, and start narrowing down names. Mostly though, I think it will just feel more real to both of us. Our baby will be a "she" or a "he." And we'll have less of a chance slipping up and calling the baby an "it."

And I love seeing how excited Mike is when he thinks about it. Obviously he is involved and happy we are having a baby, but he is so excited when he mentions finding out the sex. And that makes me even more excited.

So cast your vote now (in the column to the right)! We'll be finding out the sex in about 3 weeks. In the mean time, consider the outcome of the following Old Wives' Tales for predicting the sex of your unborn baby!

1) How you are showing:
-Belly only--Boy
-All over (or a full face)--Girl
Outcome: I am definitely starting to show now (the baby is the size of an avocado, 4-5 inches "head to rump"!), and so far, it's pretty much limited to my belly, although not at all sure it will stay that way, but we'll say that for now.

2) Fetal Heartbeat:
-Under 140--Boy
-Over 140--Girl
Outcome: Last we checked, the heartbeat was around 170 or so.

3) Sweet or Sour/Salty Cravings:
-Crave sweet things--Girl
-Crave sour/salty things--Boy
Outcome: Pretty mixed here, but I guess I'd opt for salty since hummus and crackers seem to be my meal of choice right now.

4) Picking up a key:
-Pick it up at the round end--Boy
-Pick it up at the thin end--Girl
Outcome: I picked it at the round end. Can't even imagine picking it up at the thin end.

5) Mother's intuition:
-If the pregnant mother thinks she's having a boy--Boy
-If the pregnant mother thinks she's having a girl--Girl
Outcome: I really am not thinking strongly either way, but if I had to choose, I'd say girl.
(btw--this is the most accurate, as mothers guess correctly 71% of the time!)

6) Pendulum swing:
-If a pendulum over the woman's head swings in a back and forth motion-Boy
-If it swings in a circular motion--Girl
Outcome: It swung side-to-side.

7) Chinese Zodiac Sex Predictor:
Compare the number of the month you conceived with the age you were when you conceived.
-If both numbers are even or both are odd--Boy
-If one is odd and the other even--Girl
Outcome: Conceived in month 7, was 31 years old. Both odd.

8) Online "Boy or Girl" quiz:
I took a quiz which asked a variety of questions, including some of the issues I bring up here, but others as well, like, "Does your pillow face north or south?" "Are your feet colder than before?" "Do you eat the heel of a loaf of bread?"
Outcome: 50% BOY, 50% GIRL

So those are the "facts." Now you can make an informed decision when you vote. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Updating old posts--the "real" story

So I actually only started this blog around week 14, at the beginning of my second trimester. All the posts I wrote before that, I wrote quickly in one day, to catch this blog up to speed. This was great to get dates recorded, pictures online, and important moments noted, but I didn't spend much time writing the details (or even proofreading the words!).

I finally have gone through all the old important posts and re-written them with more details. You can read the posts on how Mike and I found out I was pregnant, the tale of telling our families, friends finding out, our first, second or third doctor's appointments, see more pictures from Las Vegas, and any other number of updated posts. Enjoy!