Monday, March 30, 2009

Pregnancy Week 36: Classes, Doulas, Pediatrician, Life Insurance, and Nesting--oh my!

Yes, another list and "oh my" post! Tomorrow begins Week 37, so I figured I should catch up on this past week before it disappears! Week 36 is busy, but we accomplish a few big items on the ever-mounting "to do" list, which feels really, really good.

We attend a breastfeeding class last Tuesday, which is interesting. I have read some about breast feeding, but more in regards to keeping your baby on a semblance of a schedule, than the actual process of creating a good "latch-on" etc. So it is good for Mike and me to see what the experience might be like.

We also have an OB appointment last Wednesday and a pediatrician interview the following Monday (today). The pediatrician is very warm, thorough, friendly, has a great demeanor and seems very smart and current. The practice has 4 doctors, with appointments 7 days a week, if needed. They have separate "well" and "sick" waiting rooms and exam rooms, which is a huge plus. The office is very modern and attractive, in a building by a marina; there are boats in the parking lot and you can see the water from the window. I think we will choose this office as our baby's pediatrician for now. They are staff at the hospital I'm delivering at in Connecticut (and I need to choose one), but after that, we may check out a few other pediatricians closer to where we live. This office is only about 15 minutes from our place (with no traffic), but if we hit traffic, it could be a lot longer, and there is a large practice less than 5 minutes from our apartment that someone recommended, so we shall see...

On another note, the pediatrician asks who my OB is and when I tell him, he informs me that this doctor is known as one of the best ob/gyns in the area. He is very knowledgeable, thorough, attentive with patients, and people come from as far as Buffalo and Albany to see him for periodic exams and procedures. I have met a few other people who have the same OB as I do at classes, and they share this sentiment, but it feels good to hear this from another doctor.

We also finally have life insurance! I have been begging Mike to get this since well before we conceived, and it has taken a while, but finally, it is almost complete. We have met with the agent, given the checks (so we are technically covered), and I take my medical exam last Thursday. Mike will have his medical exam this Friday. Since Mike's cholesterol is naturally high, he has been careful to limit (or eliminate) his intake of junk food, milk, cheese, saturated fat, and increase his intake of oatmeal, flax seed, fish oil. He successfully lowered his cholesterol by around 40 points at his last doctor's visit, so hopefully he is able to keep that up for his insurance exam.

I call to sign up for an infant CPR class, but after speaking with the hospital coordinator, she convinces me to purchase an Infant CPR Kit instead. She says the class is really geared toward people who need their certification for jobs, and for a much lower cost, I can purchase the kit, which includes a dvd, a blow up baby with lungs, and a booklet. She also points out that I can review the information on the dvd at any time, and will not have to remember everything from the class. I am relieved to have this option, as another pregnant friend recently complained that the Infant CPR class was the most boring class she'd ever been to. So when this arrives, Mike and I can learn together, and if we have questions, we can ask the hospital staff or our pediatrician.

On Friday, Mike puts together the baby dresser/changing table while I am away and this sets into motion many things. When I return home, we have 15 minutes before we are to leave to meet friends for dinner. During that time, we arrange and rearrange the furniture in the baby room until we are fairly satisfied. We grab a carpet that has been stored in our closet since we moved, and throw that on the floor. I set up the lamp which matches the crib bedding (which I also receive just this week). It is beginning to look like a baby room...

The next day, I pull out all the 0-3 and 3-6 month clothing we have received and we start washing it. My friend visits, and we fold and begin putting it in the dresser. As the weekend continues, I attach the matching diaper stacker to crib, put all the books we have received in a baby basket, attach the crib mobile (a cool Cirque du Soleil one my aunt gave us), open all the toys and put them in a tub, and sort through the bins we have been storing of various baby items and gifts (like a bottle warmer, baby carrier, blankets etc). I have recently cleaned out the baby room closet, reorganized, consolidated, and thrown out items, clearing shelving for baby supplies. Now I am able to start putting items in the shelves and cases.

Mike does all the wash (carrying the baskets outside and down the steps, into the locked basement), puts up hooks in the baby's room, screws in the changing pad to the dresser, carries bins up and down from the outside storage shack for me. He is so helpful! I read recently that fathers often have an urge to "nest", as well, organizing things they never would have thought about previously. Mike admits he does not feel the urge to nest in the least (and I don't see that desire in him either), but he is a good sport for helping me out, and he also is getting more excited as the room takes on a true baby shape.

We continue to interview doulas. Since we have switched to interviewing non-certified doulas, I find I connect more with the women. I think we were limited, by price, to the certified doulas we could meet, and now that price is not as much of an issue (since they cannot charge what the certified doulas charge), we have been able to see many doulas. I believe we have finally found one that we will offer the "position" to (it sounds weird to say "position"--I'm not sure what else to say--offer the "experience" or "the birth" to?). She is young and I will be only her second birth, but at this point, I don't feel I need a super experienced doula, and her enthusiasm seems a big plus. It will be a relief to have the interview process end, and the doula-preparation process begin.

Even though we keep thinking that we will slow down our activities, we find most of our "free time" is scheduled. I visit one of my pregnant friends who is due a week before I am. We go out to dinner with local friends. Another friend visits for the day; we plan to see Mike's father's art exhibit on Monday. Between the appointments and our activities, Mike and I still rarely find a night to ourselves. I am hoping that we will find more couple time as we enter April, but our weeks have a way of filling themselves up. We still have managed to see a movie or two at the theatre or at home, and plan to take advantage of our "Free Movie Tuesdays" now that we have completed our Tuesday evening classes. But again, I am grateful to have social things to do, even if we are kept busy. We will not be able to make plans so easily in a few weeks, so I am enjoying all the time we have with friends and family.

I also have completed the playmaking class I've been teaching, so this frees up one additional afternoon a week. I still need to create and edit the play we've worked on, but after that is done, I will have finished all "work" pre-baby.

Again, with my "in summary!" As we approach the 3 week mark, things are definitely becoming more real. Mike and I are both getting excited to meet our little guy and hold him in our arms. I still can't say I'm "ready" to have the baby yet, but I am getting closer and closer. At least to "feeling" I might be ready!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

36 Week Doctor's appointment

This week, we see the OB for our 10th visit. He is kind and reassuring, as always, and again says how everything is progressing right on track. He does a Group B Strep test, as scheduled, and I tell him about a sharp shooting pain I have been feeling at my cervix lately, mostly at night. It is quick, but usually is followed by several more of these shooting pains. I imagine it is the baby moving, and my friend who is also pregnant tells me she is experiencing the same thing, and her midwives confirmed it is probably the head of the baby moving downward at the cervix.

My OB agrees it is probably the head, but he checks to make sure everything is fine (which it is). He says he can tell the head has descended further down into the pelvis. This is good because it indicates the head is not too big for my pelvis (phew!). He says everything is continuing to measure on track. I ask if he has a guess as to how big the baby would be at delivery. He guesses between 6 and 7 pounds, but tells me we can do an ultrasound at the next visit where he will take measurements.

I ask him more questions about delivery, his thoughts on forceps and the vacuum suction (which, after seeing it at our birthing class, is not as scary as I had imagined it from the name), episiotomies etc. The doctor is very thorough and answers each question with a thoughtful response. At one point, I look over at Mike and notice it appears he is squinting, or, more likely, fighting to keep his eyes open. I give him a "what are you doing look?" and his eyes open a bit more. The OB stays focused on my eyes and doesn't follow my gaze to see Mike's lids lowering, so I'm relieved at that.

After the appointment, I ask Mike, "Were you falling asleep in there?"

"Kind of," he admits.

"Mike!" I exclaim. "Don't you want to hear what he's saying?"

"Yeah, but he's so calm and was just talking... If he had a visual demonstration, like a movie or something, I could stay awake, but just his voice..."

I encourage Mike, as always, to go to bed earlier on work nights (he often stays up until 1 or 1:30am on weeknights). He says he will try, but this is a constant battle. I sleep miserably, waking up several times a night, and recently, even getting up to eat, take a shower, go to the bathroom. So needless to say, I spend hours each night not sleeping, but wish that I could. Mike is capable of sleeping very well through the night, but chooses to go to bed at a time so he cannot get the sleep he needs, even though he sleeps solidly. Physically, he remains healthy enough not to force him to go to bed "early", but mentally, he struggles when sleep deprivation takes over (which affects not only him, but coworkers and me, as well). I feel he is squandering a gift that I wish I had--the ability to sleep soundly. Yes, I am jealous of the pregnant women who say they are sleeping 8-10 hours a night and taking 1-2 hours naps. I am lucky to get 4 hours of sleep at any one time.

In any case, all is well with the baby and the pregnancy. Our OB is going to be out of town April 6-10, so I am a bit apprehensive with his leaving so close to my due date. Most first timers deliver on time or late, but I have been hearing many stories of first time moms delivering early. Because he's a single practice doctor, this is more of a concern for me. I have not met any of his backups. He insists his backups are both "reasonable" doctors and will respect my birthing preferences, that I am in good hands, should I go into labor early. However, I have really gotten to like and feel comfortable with my OB. It would be a shame to not have him at the last minute.

Regardless, I believe that, since everything in my pregnancy has been measuring at its appropriate week, I will go into labor very close to my due date. And until then, there is nothing I can do about it, so I am not losing any of my precious sleep over it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Local Church Shower

On Monday, I am blessed to have the local church in Harrison throw me and another pregnant parishioner a joint baby shower. Mike and I have been attending the church on and off for a few years and have found the community to be warm and friendly.

We have a potluck dinner, play a Scramble-Baby-Word game, mingle and have a yummy cake. One woman makes beautiful flower arrangements for each of us (I have a "boy" arrangement and the other woman, who is having a girl, has a pink "girl" arrangement). I am touched they offer this shower for me, and it is a wonderful opportunity to meet many of the ladies of the church.

Thank you to Liza and Carolyn and everyone else who attended and has made us feel a part of the community!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bouteneff Family Baby Shower

On Saturday (March 21), Mike's mother, and two of our awesome cousins throw us a wonderful family shower! We are greeted at the door by his mom who gives us a soccer ball to kick the fete off (yes, Mike has already figured out our son's soccer schedule), and we have a great time.

Pregnancy vibes abound, as two of his other cousins are also pregnant, and three cousins have toddlers, adding great energy to the mix (the pregnant gang is to the right--the others are 12 and 16 weeks).

Mike grew up with many extended cousins within only a few years of his age, making large family events fun social times. We are excited that the next generation is keeping the tradition going by procreating within a few year time-span as well!

At the shower, we play a fun game of "Nursery Rhyme Pictionary" (complete with large white flip board and colored markers), have delicious food, and a cute soccer ball cake for BBB (my mom keeps up the soccer theme, unknowingly, by making and sending along cute soccer overalls).

It is great to feel the love from the Bouteneff-related family, and we are blessed to have caring relatives so close to us! Thanks to all for your pictures, generosity, and love!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Week 35: Pregnancy Dreams...

"They say" women who are pregnant have strange dreams. Of course, this is a bit redundant to me, as my dreams usually are strange and vivid. However, I have noticed a slight change in my style of dreams, and some seem clearly pregnancy-related.

One straight forward pregnancy-related dream occurred in my early months, and was of my having a fuzzy little baby bird as my child. The bird was adorable, and I saw Mike holding the blueish chick. I was overwhelmed with love for him and the baby bird.

But since then, the difference I have noticed in my dreams, from the second trimester on, has been that they often involve running, hiding, being chased, attacking things, things trying to attack me, sci-fi freaky happenings...It is not out of the ordinary for me to have dreams like these, but it seems that these dreams are the majority of what I remember at this point, which is unusual. I don't go to bed necessarily feeling anxious, but I suppose my subconscious may be trying to work some things out.

So, here are three different dreams that I have had. The first I had in December (around 24 weeks or so), the second was in February, I believe (around 31 weeks maybe) and the last was just this week, 35 weeks.

Dream 1: The Sci-Fi/Fire/Bomb Dream
I am on a school bus traveling with a friend from childhood (either Tiffany and Elisabeth--I forget now). The bus is eerie and we are quiet. We pass by a car whose driver has green glowing eyes and he stares at me, which chills me to the bone. This stranger is from the past or the future and it is not a good thing.

A tall thin man, the "leader" on board, stands at the front of the bus and turns around to face us. He mentions how each one of us has an object taped under our seats. My friend and I pull ours out. It's a sort of plastic thing--maybe a cross between a syringe and an all-inclusive resort bracelet. My friend or the leader pulls a tab on the object (I used to remember who did this, but can't anymore), and this creates a moment of panic among the bus riders. But the "leader" is happy. He throws the object out the window and somehow this causes a great bomb to explode ahead of us. A huge fire is roaring now across most of the road. There is a bridge ahead of us and our bus driver steps on the gas in the hopes that we will make it onto the bridge and pass through before the flames engulf the whole area. We do make it across, but just in time, and I look back to see all the destruction behind us. I am glad we are safe on the other side, but I am devastated at the chaos and death I see.

I wake up.

Dream 2: The Falling/Dying Dream
Mike and I are in our car driving along a narrow road which winds around a mountain cliff. There is a steep drop-off to our right down a long wide canyon. Mike is driving. All is fine until we realize we are going in the wrong direction. Since the road is narrow enough for only one car there is no way he can turn around on the road. He says he will back the car up. I do not want him to do this. The road is too narrow and curvy and we could fall off the road into the canyon. I want to continue straight until we are off the cliff, then turn around somewhere else later, even if it does mean we will waste more time. He says he knows what he's doing and even though I plead with him not to do it, he starts backing up the car.

I decide I will close my eyes, trust him, and not watch as I will only make him and me more anxious by turning around. Mike does a great job and we are staying on the road. Then he comes to a lookout point; the road juts out allowing for a space where he could back the car into and turn around, doing a 3-point turn. We are both so happy to find this spot!

Mike starts to back the car up and either he gives the car too much gas or the lookout point slopes downward, because before we know it, the car is slipping off the road and we are falling backwards, in the air, down the long canyon.

I instantly know three things: we are going to die, there is nothing we can do about it at this point, and that Mike must feel horrible. He is, understandably, upset--crying and feeling guilty. I hold his hand and say, "It doesn't matter anymore. I love you. I'm not mad at you and you didn't do anything wrong."

And while I am scared, I feel a sense of calmness, as I have instantly (I have only an instant after all!) resigned myself to my outcome. I then keep saying over and over, "I love you" to Mike and "God, forgive us" (not of falling, but I guess of all our sins since we were about to die). I am glad to be dying with Mike, and I just want him to feel better. The physical sensation of gravity pulling me down so quickly, backwards, with no resistance, is extremely real and vivid.

I wake up before we hit the bottom.

Dream 3: The Fighting a Powerful Creature Dream

I am outside in the woods, being chased by something. I am trying to hide but also trying to make my way somewhere safe. I step out from behind a tree and start walking cautiously. I then see a lioness walking toward me. She doesn't see me at first, so I stand still and quiet. I think I have a 50/50 chance of her not seeing me at all, so I am somewhat hopeful. But then she walks a bit closer and sees me. I try to act casual and start to walk calmly in the opposite direction, thinking that if she doesn't know I'm scared, she won't care about me. It seems to be working as she continues walking away from me.

As I glance at her again, even though I am almost in the clear, I am suddenly struck with terror as I imagine her attacking me. As if on cue, she turns around, looks at me again and starts running toward me. Instantly (again, I only have an instant!), my mind plays out a few options: I can run, but I know she's faster than I; I can climb up a tree, but I know she can climb up a tree better than I also; I can fight, but how could I beat a lioness; I can do nothing and hope she won't kill me.

I decide to fight. I pick up a stick next to me from the ground. It is not even a foot long, but it is going to be my weapon. The lioness charges at me and jumps up so her body now seems more like a bear or a human. I jab the stick into her chest and am surprised it actually pierces her. Her body is heavy and I use all my strength. I even feel the warmth from her body against my hand as the stick disappears into her flesh. I pull the stick out quickly and she jumps at me a few more times. Each time, I must jab the stick into her chest again.

I wake up.

So...these are a few of my pregnancy do they mean?

Interpretations anyone?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pregnancy Week 34: Doulas, Doctors, Family, Yoga, Cribs and Classes--oh my!

Week 34 of my pregnancy has been a very eventful baby-related week for us, so I'll just jump right in before I bump into Week 35!

My parents visit last weekend on their way back from a vacation in North Carolina. The weekend is low-key and fun; we enjoy games, make-your-own-pizza night at home, they try Indian food out for the first time (they liked it!), church and a day with Mike's parents, as well. Mike and I are happy that our parents have an opportunity to feel our son move and shake a little bit. It is strange to know that we will not see my parents again until after the baby is born--but equally strange to know that we will see them in just 6 weeks or so!

On Thursday, we have my 9th doctor's visit. Our OB says my measurements are right on track, and it feels as though the baby has turned head-down now (yay! Hopefully I'm breaking the cycle of firstborn breech babies that my mom and her mom experienced). I mention the "hardening sensation" that I posted about in Week 33, as since then, several people have told me it sounds like Braxton Hicks. He immediately says, "Yes, it's common to experience Braxton Hicks contractions now, and you can expect they will become more frequent." I explain how sometimes I feel it only on one side, and he says that is quite possible. Apparently, my description to him of this sensation in the past ("I feel like I'm going to pass out and then my baby turns into a hard ball!") must not have been sufficient for him to diagnose it as such at that point!

I mention that we are interviewing doulas this week, and he encourages that decision. He says I am the perfect candidate for a natural birth (if I choose that), and he gives thorough advice on questions to ask the doula, emphasizing I should feel comfortable with her and she should do more than just simply hold my hand. He says he recently discovered how expensive doulas are in our area (the one doula he specifically mentions, I tell him, I spoke to, and she is $1500! We are not interviewing ones that expensive!), so he also points out that if the cost is too great, that with the support from the nurses, Mike, and my own body & self, I will do a great job and probably achieve my goal. He says he has a very good feeling about my labor and delivery.

Mike and I are both a little surprised he says this to me, but this sentiment, although the most non-scientific (it is his "feeling" after all), is the most encouraging of all. My sister-in-law once told me the same thing, and when I shared what she had told me with a yoga friend whom I don't see very often, this friend expressed a similar thought. "I wasn't going to say this, because I thought you might think I was crazy," she said, "but since you brought up what your sister-in-law told you, I feel comfortable sharing. I also have this strong feeling that your delivery will go very smoothly."

Of course, these are all feelings, and one cannot predict the future, but it does give me encouragement.

This week, we receive our rocker glider and ottoman (Thank you, Mom and Dad!), and our dresser and crib (Thank you, Nick and Olga--my parents-in-law!). Mike puts together all but the dresser so far, and he does a fantastic job! I cannot believe how big the furniture is (doesn't it seem like a crib should be small?), and I am so excited to see the baby room start to fill up!

On Tuesday night, we attend our first class at Stamford Hospital (where I will be delivering). It is entitled "Basics of Infant Care," and while the teaching maternity nurse does show us how to bathe an infant and take care of the cord stump (what a great name for a body part--"cord stump"), she focuses mainly on what will happen to the baby while in their care at the hospital. We even learn that each baby will not only have a matching ID bracelet with the mother, but will also sport a security tag. If the baby is taken too close to an exit, an alarm will sound, all doors will immediately lock, and elevator buttons will not function. No baby snatchers in Stamford!

On Sunday, we attend an all day Child Birthing Class. This is informative, interesting, and probably warrants a separate post, so I shall save my thoughts for later!

We interview doulas on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. They all offer similar services. They will come to our apartment for one or two prenatal visits, going over our birthing preferences, getting to know us, and showing us various labor management techniques. Once I reach the first stage of labor, I would call the doula, and she would come to our house when I am ready for her, supporting me during home labor. Once my labor progresses far enough, she would accompany us to the hospital and stay with us through labor and delivery, continuing to offer techniques, massage, encouragement, and advocate for my preferences. After delivery, the doula would remain for an hour or two ("If you're breast feeding, I'd stay to make sure you get that first 'latch-on'," they all tell me), then check in a week later for a post-natal visit to debrief the experience, and answer questions.

So far, I am not sure if any of the doulas are the perfect match for me, so we may interview a few more this week before we make our decision.

I have an excellent yoga class on Monday which helps to alleviate some of my lower back pain, and I must remember to keep using the poses that work my hip flexors. Then on Saturday, Gina (one of the owners at the yoga studio) and Megan (a friend and yoga teacher) throw me and Jaime (another friend and yoga teacher who is due 5 days before me) a joint baby shower. Megan has a great baby-photo guessing game, as well as crepe paper belly contest, and an ongoing clothespin "don't say the word 'baby'" game which she and I take very seriously! It is fun to see the yoga gang and receive their love and support. Thank you to all!!
(Guess whose baby is actually a balloon in the above picture?)

So do I really need an "in summary" for this post? I suppose ideally, I would be keeping up on all these events and posting separately during the week, but alas, my days and nights have continued to be busy (besides all the things I have mentioned in this post). Time is truly flying by...and no, I am not yet wishing that the baby "would just be out" of me yet! I still am loving having him in me! But the time is drawing near...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pregnancy Week 33: Pregnancy and how I physically feel

Since in this blog, I tend to focus mainly on my emotional feelings, events that happen, doctor's appointments, stories etc, I think it is time I give an update on how I am feeling physically. When people ask how I am feeling, I typically say, "I feel great! I've been lucky and have had a really amazing pregnancy so far." And that is completely true. I am blessed, and I have had an easy pregnancy compared to a lot of people. But obviously, I do not feel as I did before I was pregnant, so for the blog record, here is my list of physical aspects that are different since I became pregnant (mostly from the second trimester on--the first trimester, I barely felt any different):

1) Heartburn: I had this more in the second trimester than I do now, but occasionally, I still feel it. It is as though a pill is stuck in my chest and burns there. It usually passes after a few minutes to an hour though (and like I said, is pretty infrequent at this point). It seems to help when I breathe deeply, drink water, lift my hands over my head.

2) Acid Reflux: Yes, this pesky little thing has made its way into my life. This started toward the end of the second trimester and has continued into the third. I notice it especially when I eat "too much" (not necessarily too much by my old standard, but apparently too much to fit into my squashed stomach at one time), or if I drink a lot of acidic fruit juice. It is gross when it happens (maybe 1-3 times a day), but it is pretty short-lived, so I forget about it quickly (hence eating too much again and having it happen again! I'm like a fish.)

3) Lower back pain: This actually started for me in my first trimester. I initially noticed it when a few juice bar employees left the Yoga Studio I managed, and I was covering part of their shifts. I was standing for long periods of time, and after just a day or two of that, I suddenly had lower back pain (which I'd never had before in my life). A month or so later, we did replace the employees, and I did not work as much on my feet. This helped some, but from then on out, I had lower back pain when I would stand or walk for relatively short periods of time. Even in Antigua, where I was very relaxed, due to the amount of walking I did, my lower back hurt a great deal. It still hurts now, especially if I am standing with my weight on one leg, then have to move and shift my weight to both legs. I have finally purchased a pregnancy band which I wear around the house, and sometimes stick a heating pad in it. That seems to help a little bit. There are good days and bad days with my back. I do still go to a chiropractor, so he helps relieve some of the pain from time to time also.

4) Numbness: For a few months now, I have been experiencing a decrease in sensitivity in my left leg hip/leg area. It falls asleep frequently when I lie on either side, and even when it is not "asleep," I can tell it is less sensitive than my right leg. I told my OB about it and he could not give me a definite answer. He said it could be a lot of things related to being pregnant, but not to worry about it.

Over the past month or two, I have also noticed a true numbness in my right side, near my ribs and stomach. I first noticed this when I would feel the baby push against my ribs and then stay there, very close to the surface, as a hard oval ball. After a while of this, I noticed the skin against his body had gone numb. My skin does return to having sensations later, when the baby moves, or I move around, but it has continued to do that several times a day now. My OB said this may have to do with my having a petite frame, and the baby's body pushing against nerve endings close to the skin. But again, he said there is nothing to worry about.

5) Shortness of breath: I have bouts of becoming out of breath for no apparent reason. It has nothing to do with exercising, but may happen when I'm simply typing on my laptop, in the car driving, or watching a movie. I just suddenly feel out of breath with an increased heart rate. I know this isn't abnormal either, depending on the positioning of the baby.

6) Discomfort from my belly: I love my belly and I love being so close to my baby, but I have the obvious effects as all pregnant women do, of not being able to bend straight over. To put shoes and socks on, I now lift my leg up sideways now, instead of straight up. It has taken me some time getting used to turning the heel of my sock to the side before putting it on. I also now feel the baby up in my ribs quite often, either just pressing there, hanging out there, or kicking there, which makes sitting in many ways (especially driving) very uncomfortable. My larger belly also causes me to bump into things, or accidentally scratch it on items! I'm still not used to it in all ways, or used to the fact that I can't suck it in to get past people, or to squeeze in somewhere.

7) Weird-feeling stomach muscles: My stomach muscles feel...yeah, weird. I don't really know how to describe it. I gave up sit-ups a few months ago. It felt so strange to try to do them, it almost grossed me out, the feeling of utilizing the stomach muscles like that. And in something as common as going from lying down to sitting up in bed, you use your stomach muscles. But now it feels weird to use those muscles. When I lie back and make a stomach muscle, it also looks strange in my belly. It looks skinnier than usual, a lot of this appearance is probably because I am not used to seeing as much belly surrounding the stomach from the sides, so it turns into a sort of triangle.

8) Round Ligament Pain: According to babycenter, this is "a brief, sharp, stabbing pain or a longer-lasting dull ache that pregnant women commonly feel in the lower abdomen or groin, starting in the second trimester." I did feel this in the second trimester, mostly when coughing, sneezing, or getting up quickly, but it was not very often. I still occasionally feel this when I stand up quickly, but again, not frequently.

9) The Baby's Hardening Sensation: I have no idea what to call this, but for the past month or two, usually a few times a day, I feel a very odd sensation. I will suddenly feel my heart rate increase, and I feel as though I might pass out (but I know I won't)--just a very strange feeling. Sort of like my blood pressure is dropping dramatically. When this happens, I will put my hand down and feel my belly and there will instantly be a rock hard area of my belly where the baby is. I don't feel the baby moving during this process, but somehow my odd sensation and the baby's "hardening" seem to correlate. I asked my doctor about this and he wasn't sure, but again, said, it could be the baby pressing on nerves. It does happen fairly often when I stand up suddenly, as though the gravity change affects the baby's positioning. I will say to Mike, "Quick! Feel the baby--he's becoming a hard ball!" And then after about a minute or so, the hardness will go away.

With any of these physical changes, I still must emphasize that I quickly forget I have these "symptoms" as soon as they pass. Even if someone asks me how I am feeling an hour after I have had shortness of breath and acid reflux, most likely it won't even come to my mind that I was just feeling that. My back pain has been the most persistent, but I suppose I have sort of adjusted my expectations of how my back ought to feel, so again, I don't think it out of the ordinary to feel back pain any more (although I do appreciate and notice not having back pain!).

All in all, everything I've described seems minor to me, fairly common, nothing worrisome. I still feel great, and appreciate my good health during these baby-carrying months!

(Pregnancy Belly Shot Picture Note: In the second picture, I think it's neat to see how the baby is really in a basketball uterus in my belly! He juts right out there!)