Thursday, March 29, 2012

28 Weeks: Family "Babymoon"

When I was pregnant the first time, Mike and I took a fabulous vacation to Antigua.  He played soccer or beach volleyball every day, took sailing lessons, and stayed as active as he wanted to be.  I relaxed by the pool, and let the wonderful salt water of the ocean take away my back pain.  I had just stopped working to leave the last 3 months as a time for regenerating, preparing, and writing.  It was January, cold, a perfect time to leave and kick off the last trimester of the pregnancy.  It was money we could have saved or put toward baby gear, but it was a trip we knew we would not forget, and one we would we never experience again in the same way, and we didn't regret the decision for a moment.

This time around, we want another getaway experience.  True, we have even more expenses now, and I haven't been working outside the house in 3 years.  But, it was worth it the first time, and we think it will be worth it the second time.  We aren't naive enough to think we can recreate a semblance of the relaxation pre-child, but we do hope to experience a getaway where we can leave a lot of our stresses behind.  This baby deserves to have a relaxed womb for a little bit of time, as well.

So, after a good deal of research, I decide this year, the Caribbean isn't for us.  As much as I am craving an island with a blue ocean, there are too many warnings about the dengue fever.  While I'm sure the resorts have fewer mosquitoes than the villages, and the odds would be in our favor no one would contract it, for the off chance that someone would get it (and mosquitoes do love me--day or night, repellent or not), because it can cause awful sickness, death (and death of a fetus), it is not a risk worth taking, especially while pregnant.  I will give the authorities a bit more time to get the dengue fever under control before returning. 

Instead, we opt for the semi-next best thing: A family resort to Club Med, Sandpiper Bay, in Florida.  We will still get that pampered all-inclusive feeling (no carrying around a wallet or scrutinizing the menu on a budget), have the warmth of the sunshine state, a bit of water (granted, it's a river, not the ocean, but hey, probably warmer that way anyway, and the pools are just fine by me), and we can turn our cell phones off, listen to the cheery music, and forget about our responsibilities back at home.

Mike and I aren't comfortable or ready (at least I'm not--not sure if I even ask Mike) to leave for a week without our toddler, so he comes with us.  In addition, we also invite both sets of parents, who come along for the vacation, as well.  So, while traveling with 5 additional family  members is not quite the same as just the two of us, we are excited to spend time with our parents, and they graciously say they will babysit to give me and Mike breaks to hang out alone.

So, toward the end of March, we head off for our fun filled family-style-babymoon vacation!

Of course, in some obvious ways, this babymoon is different from the last.  With our toddler in tow, we have to think about his getting proper food 3 times a day, taking his naps, getting him to bed "early" enough (although later than at home), lots of trips to the bathroom, toys to entertain, and not sleeping in.  But these are routines we're used to, D travels very well with us, and for the most part, he cooperates and is cheerful.  It's fun to go to the pools with him, the splash park, and to hear entertainers and musicians through his ears (he even gets to play the drums and sing "Party Rock is in the House Tonight" on the microphone after one concert ends. And yes, he gets plenty of applause!), and see his excitement of getting to eat watermelon 3 meals a day!

But we do get down time also.  Most of the days D naps, one of our moms babysits, so Mike and I can go out.  And I hang out with D at some pools (often with the grandmothers), Mike explores on his own.  And many mornings, when Mike takes D to breakfast, I sneak off to an outdoor yoga class by the water, then join back up with the gang toward the end of breakfast (D still typically eats long leisurely meals).  Mike gets to play soccer, beach volleyball, and water polo.  He takes sailing lessons, rides on a standing paddle boat (not sure what that is called!), and goes to the shooting range for some golf practice with his dad.  I get a massage, and relax by the pool or the beach to watch Mike's activities, and Mike and I have time to lay out together, play ping pong, go to the "Calming Pool" (i.e. no kids under 18), and we even have one dinner out together after Dylan goes to bed. 

As an extended family, we have almost every breakfast and dinner with the whole gang, and most of us are able to go on a private boat tour of the river together.  Our parents spend their time at the spa, or golfing, trying mixed drinks, watching the entertainment, lots of pool time and fun with each other.

And our little womb baby enjoys himself too.  The extra vitamin D from the sun is always a boost to our moods, and he takes his first plane ride.  It's fun being pregnant at the resort, walking around in light summer dresses, comfortable bathing suits and skirts, talking with a few other pregnant moms, and hearing tips from moms with several kids.

And then, reality sets in as we step off the plane at Laguardia.  The air is cool, we have a lot of projects still left to get the house ready for the baby, to clean up after renovations, and just to get this sorted out, in general.  But my parents are staying for another week, so we are happy to have an extended holiday with them.  And we have our pictures, our slight tans or sunburns, and all those wonderful, happy, endorphin-releasing memories to turn to if we become a bit overwhelmed as we search for a new car, put together bookcases, clean out closets, and install curtain rods.

We've had a beautiful time, so thank you, womb baby, for getting all of us together, to make these awesome memories.  And next time, we'll be able to see your adorable face in the pictures too.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

27 weeks: A little bit about you, Baby...

To our little Baby Boy,
I've known you for over 6 months now, little Baby (how did we get to only 2+ months left of the womb baby life style??), and here is a little bit about you.  Because I know that our toddler, not even three years old yet, loves to hear about himself as a baby, but also loves to hear about the months inside Mommy's belly.  So here are some things I know about you already:

1)  You are strong.  Yes, you are.  While a doctor may think it's crazy that I started feeling you 10-12 weeks old, I know that I did.  There is nothing like the movements of a baby in your belly. I mean, really.  There is nothing like it.  I had no idea what I was feeling the first time around, but this time, I did, and I felt you moving, and I saw you moving on an ultrasound, even at 12 weeks.  We pray every day that you be happy, healthy, and strong, and entirely trust that you will be all those things.  Now that you are 27 weeks old, your movements are giant.  For a few months now, I've been able to see you moving on my belly, which, by the way, for anyone who has never seen this before, is totally wild.  It was more subtle at first, but now there are giant bangs and kicks and stretches that surprise me, that make my hand resting on my belly jump a little, that push things off of my belly (e.g. monitors at the doctor's office).  I wonder what you are doing when I feel you in various positions, feel you kicking or stretching in 2 spots at once, or 4 spots at once. I sometimes think you're trying to stand up in there with all your might.  You might be exercising, you might desperately want to get out of that small womb, or you might just be doing your thing.  But you're a strong little guy.

2) You get the hiccups. :)

3) You like music.  You may not be hearing whatever music I'd normally choose to hear, while I'm calmly sitting on the couch alone, letting you hear some tunes on the stereo, or putting an ear bud up to my womb.  Your brother picks some of the songs you hear, so you have more of a toddler variety, but you also get some awesome danceable rock tunes which he loves too.  And at night, when you are keeping me awake banging around as I try to sleep, if I sing a little lullaby for you, it immediately calms you.  It worked for your brother in the womb, and I thank God it works for you too!  "Edelweiss", "Lullaby" (and Goodnight), and "Old Toy Trains" are my three go-to songs. I usually only have to get through 2 songs or verses and you've settled down entirely. 

4) You are a night owl.  So far.  To a degree.  I know it's the calmness, the stillness, they say that sometimes activates babies in the womb.  When you're running around, on your feet, moving, you don't feel the baby as much, and it can rock the baby to sleep.  When you're still, it may be a nice time to wake up. So perhaps you like rocking too, Baby.  I'm sure we will do plenty of that when you're born.  In the womb, it's at night, when your older brother has gone to bed, when I'm starting to unwind from the day, and mostly, when I lie down at night to sleep, that you wake up.  Maybe you're just readjusting to the new position, but I doubt it would take you that long to readjust.  This is the time when I can call your daddy to come and feel you easily, when you won't stop moving when he arrives.  My belly is greasy from the How Now Brown Cacao ointment I put on my expanding skin, but Daddy feels you and talks to you. "Whoa! That was a big one!" he exclaims over your strength, your energy.  This is your time to shine.

But, I will also comment that while you are a night owl to a degree, you could be more so (because I know your brother was up more at night in the womb), then again, we still have 2+ months to go...But you do sleep at night.  You wake me up at night sometimes, true, but you sleep at night too.  Or you're at least still enough that it allows me to sleep.  I'm not going to get my hopes up that you'll be an instantly good sleeper at night (this would be naive on my part, especially the second time around).  But I can have a little hope. :)

5) You make your wants known.  Or want.  I don't know much of what you want already; it's hard to tell a womb baby's opinion on things.  But I know that you don't want me to lie on my back or my right side.  You've been like this for almost 2 months now.  In bed, if I turn to lie on my back or even my right side, you will immediately start banging around, telling me to switch back to my left side.  After about 20 weeks pregnant, it is advised to sleep primarily on your left side.  Most women try to avoid the back, and then favor the left side as much as possible.  For me, it's not merely favoring the left side. It is the only way I sleep.  Luckily, I prefer sleeping on the left side over any other position, however, I would always flip in the night a few times, give my body some balance. But body balance is a thing of the past at the moment.  I stick to the left side, because I know there must be something undesirable, unpleasant, uncomfortable or unsafe about sleeping any other way to you.  And you are telling me so, in no uncertain terms. These are bangs that tell me to move.  Now.  So I do.

6) Similarly, you get me to do things.  I give up those things you're not supposed to have or do when pregnant.  I have friends who say, "Eh, chances are it'll be fine, so I'll eat a raw egg," and they are right. Chances are you will be fine.  Chances might be greater that I'll get struck by lightning than eat a deli sandwich with Listeria that will harm you (actually, just googled it and see that surprisingly, the number of cases of  listeriosis in pregnant women is 17%--either 17% of the total people with listeriosis or 17% of the total pregnant women, I'm not sure, but I'd assume the former?).  Chances are I will not catch the Dengee Fever in the Caribbean if I stay at a resort.  But these are chances I just don't take, because the risks, as low as they  might be, are great if they occur.  So I give up some foods, alcohol, go to Florida instead of Turks and Caicos.  These are small things to give up to me, no major sacrifice, for the peace of mind that I'm lowering my chances of losing you or harming you.  I take my prenatals and DHA without fail. I keep on those daily probiotics too because of that study showing moms with allergies had less of a chance of passing them to their kids if they took probiotics when pregnant.  I try to exercise every night, stretch, but not twist, and give you happy endorphins.  I limit picking up your brother, stay away from artificial sweeteners (using mostly painfully strong natural and pure breath spray instead of sugar free gum), force myself to stop watching Battlestar Gallactica with Daddy late at night because I have to make sure my body gets some sleep.  I even try to delay going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, because if you are sleeping peacefully, I don't want to wake you up (but alas, I can't delay for too long, and yes, I often do wake you up).  It's not so much that you are getting me to do things.  It's that I want to do things for you.  I want to give you the absolute best possible chance at everything good in life.  And that is why I'll also set limits, not let you do all the dangerous things you might want to do.  Because I know more than ever, it is my job to keep you safe, healthy (at least for a while! And even when it's not my job, yes, I'll still want to), and give you the tools to be happy, successful and a good person in life.

7) You know me already.  A baby is sharing so much physically, and studies have shown, emotionally, with the mom.  You are used to me.  Used to my voice, my body, my hand on my belly.  When I talk, I don't make you stop moving because you're listening to a new voice.  You carry on as usual with me, because, well, we are sort of One right now.  And the classic issue often occurs because of this: you're moving around, being all cute, showing slithering movements, I can feel body parts, I exclaim to your dad or your brother to come feel "the baby move."  And as soon as another person puts his hand on my belly, you stop.  Sometimes, time is of the essence, and that is all.  But many times, he takes his hand away, then I put my hand on my belly, and you are back again, moving casually.  We have learned that we have a greater chance of your continuing your business if I keep talking, or keep doing whatever I have been doing.  Daddy and I always wonder--how do you know? How do you know this is a different hand on you?  Does the darkness of the hand, covering the light, seem noticeably bigger or smaller than mine?  Can you sense a different amount of pressure?  Do you just know?  On the same note, I am certain you know your brother, his playful voice, his high-pitched voice he uses when he is talking to you, his very very light touch on your belly.  And you know Daddy.  That lower voice, the hand that always pushes down slightly with every sentence he says, emphasizing his points, making sure you know there is someone up there talking to you directly.  And why wouldn't you know these people? We're your family.  D and I are always around you, and Daddy often is when you're most active at night.  We don't know each other on many levels yet, of course.  But we, well, we know each other.  A little.  And regardless, we feel each other.  And that sometimes means more than knowing.

8)  You are loved.  I know this about you, more than anything else.  You are so strongly loved by so many people.  And our little family who talks about you every day--Daddy, me, your brother--because yes, even your big brother talks about you at least a few times a day--love you every day, all the time.  And we all say it to you.  You have received, hands down, more kisses from your brother than anyone else.  Your daddy always tells you he loves you in a sing songy voice before bed, and I say it in quiet moments in the shower, in bed, while typing on my laptop.  The bond starts now.  You are our gift from God, and know this about yourself always, you, my precious baby, are very very loved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

25 Weeks Pregnant: Belly Shots

I have finally resorted to the obligatory self-taken pregnancy picture!  Face a mirror, camera in hand, snap a shot.  Granted, no flash, but you get the idea.  It was a pleasure to have my toddler join me for some of these (he's in many more shots, crawling through my legs, hanging on, etc). 

At this point, I love that I have a nice round genuine, obvious pregnancy belly.  Every time I go out, I receive comments from strangers--an employee at the local hardware store talks about how his wife is due at the same time, a neighbor offers to push D's stroller up the hill for us, a delivery man brings our food up the stairs to our apartment, women in classes we go to ask how I'm feeling, stores we shop in ask when I'm due, give their insights into having a second child.  Luckily, I have no "a stranger just touched my belly" stories to share.  Apparently that happens to a lot of women (everyone seems to have a story), but either due to the tri-state area I live in, or the vibe I give off, strangers refrain from touching my belly.  They know their boundaries, but still, they are warm and kind, and they do make me feel special to be carrying this awesome little boy inside of me.