Saturday, July 30, 2016

Week 33

Well folks, I might just squeak this in before midnight, which means that it will have gone up on Saturday, which is pretty darn close to on time, so I’m going to call that a victory.

We are on day 1 of our 2016 road trip extravaganza! Two weeks of driving through (mostly) Northern Ontario and a combination of camping in the Canadian shield and visiting family and friends. For those who are wondering: yes, I brought my pregnancy body pillow, but I won’t have a report on how it works for sleeping in the tent until after tomorrow night, so you’ll just have to wait for the week 34 update to find out how that went.

So, as it’s a bit early for reports on our road trip (which can currently be summed up as, we came, we saw, we ate food, we swam, we went to bed) I’ll just get you caught up on how the past week has been.

I have been struggling to get as much work done as I need to with the amount of energy I have in a day. It’s not as bad as it was back in yonder days of the first trimester, when just getting up and starting my day was enough of a drain that it required an immediate nap. But, napping is becoming a daily activity again, and I’m low on energy for the rest of the day if I miss out. And, with the amount of work I have, and the deadlines I’m currently working with (one self imposed, the other on contract) I need more hours in a day when I can be productive. But, I’m making it work for now, and hoping I can keep it going through the end of August.

Meanwhile, in the land of Speck: we had a midwife appointment on Wednesday, and Corey came too, because it was the appointment where we got the lowdown on all the details of giving birth in the birth center, and what that means compared to a hospital birth or home birth etc. Corey was just as drawn in by how beautiful the birth center is as I was, and our current plan A is that we will be birthing there. 

Of course we also had a normal midwife appointment as well, and Speck is doing well, seems to be head down (yay! fingers crossed that remains true), had a heartbeat of 135 (which is Speck’s normal), and my fundal height is 32 centimeters, so right on track. My blood pressure was normal (although a bit high for me, but I attribute that to the excitement of the appointment in which we get to hear all about giving birth in the birth center… also known as, SHIT GETTING REAL). As we were driving home from that appointment Corey said, “so, have you considered the possibility that you could go into early labor on this trip?” (Referring to our road trip.) 

Yep. Sure have. But I’m not about to keep us from having a nice vacation just on the off chance Speck decides to show up early. 

It continues to be difficult to get comfortable, sitting down in chairs that aren’t completely upright makes me feel like my stomach is inside my lungs and breathing and eating seem like activities that take up too much space. Walking still feels really good, and laying down is a close second. Sitting on my exercise ball feels awesome. I briefly considered trying to crush it into the car in order to bring it with us on this trip. Then I realized that was idiotic. Still, I thought about it.

Swimming feels great  and I was happy to do some more today, and looking forward to swimming again tomorrow. Yay swimming. All the swimming. So much swimming. May we swim every day for the next two weeks! 

Speck moves around a lot on any given day and seems to be working hard to drive elbows and knees into all the nooks and crannies of my uterus. I’m not sure how exciting that world is to explore, but Speck seems to be leaving no stone unturned. A+ for your sense of adventure Speck, now please kindly remove your hand from my cervix. Thank you. 

I get out of breath at the weirdest times. Standing up from the couch, for example, winds me terribly. While swimming for 750 meters or running 2km does nothing of the kind. Pregnancy is weird. 

Well, driving for 4 hours after not sleeping particularly well last night seems to be finally catching up with me, and my eyes are fluttering shut as I write this, so I think this is where I will leave you. Corey and I haven’t managed to squeeze in a bump shot yet, but I’ll try to get some pics of me in my pregnant bikini clad glory over the next few days to post in next week’s entry. For now I leave you with my Wednesday bump shot. 

Oh and PS. HICCOUGHS. All the damned time. Speck is a hiccough machine. Kinda cute. ;-)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 32

Ok. So, Monday. That's one day earlier than last week. A nice careful progression towards actually posting on Friday or Saturday again, right? Right.


Well, week 32 was busy and full of non-pregnancy related importance but I'll try to focus on the pregnancy related bits.

And week 33 is already so busy that I really only have time to do bullet points for this post. So here goes...

  • Corey and I had our anniversary last weekend and enjoyed a nice meal to mark five years of marriage and eight years of being together. The only downside was not having a nice beer to go with the meal. Le sigh... 
  • Despite how busy I've been with work endeavors I have managed to get plenty of walking in, along with a bit of running, swimming and hiking. This makes me feel pretty good. And, to make my walking go a bit farther I've downloaded an app that makes donations to an animal shelter of your choice just for walking your dog (or walking without a dog). I selected the no kill shelter where I adopted Artemis and this makes me happy. (Now all I have to do is remember to turn the damned thing on before I walk the dog. I'm currently batting about 500 in that regard. Freakin' pregnancy brain.) 
  • The swimming is so good that I feel it deserves its own bullet point. I once more went to a nearby manmade lake that is about 750 meters long and swam the length of it. It felt damned good, and this time I remembered to bring my goggles so I actually swam freestyle for most of it (mixed with breast stroke for sighting) and it was glorious. I would do that every day if I could. (And if I were willing to bike the 30km each way to get there and back and I could do that... and prepregnancy me would have enjoyed that bike ride but now... I'm not so sure.) Anyway, it's a nice treat when I can get there. 
  • Despite all that exercise, I still feel like I'm getting... fluffy. I miss having distinctive arm muscles, and I miss being able to do pull ups... Still, I'm pretty happy with my overall fitness level, and grateful for the amount of physical activity I can still manage. Fingers crossed I can keep it up all the way until Speck's arrival. 
  • This past week marks the first time I've really used pregnancy as an excuse to not do things I would normally do. For one, I didn't bother dressing up to go to a medieval fair even though I have the costuming for it. The thought of trying on yet more of my old clothes and not having them fit was too sad, and besides, it was hot with a possibility of rain in the future and I thought, eh, fuck it. Episode two of this was parking in a paid parking lot with a minimum two hour payment and not paying because a. I was only going to be there for 15 minutes and it was the middle of the night anyway and b. I'm pregnant, fuck you people, it's 11pm and I don't feel like tripling the distance of my walk just because you have a parking monopoly. (Hormones may or may not have entered into that last one.) 
  • Corey went on a crib buying spree last week. He bought two cribs (used) one of which he returned, and we now have a crib. Holy shit. We have a crib. Which is where babies sleep. We are having a baby. Holy shit! How did this happen?!? 
  • I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting stuff, but that's all I remember at the moment, and I have a ton of work to get done as well as house guest, so I really need to get going. I'll leave you with a bump picture of course (this one actually taken by Corey) and will endeavor to include all that I've missed in the week 33 blog. This pregnancy is flying by now. Speck will be here in no time. That is both exciting and pants shitting. 

Bonus dog who didn't feel like getting out of the shot. Also, hurray pre-preggo pants that still fit (granted they were huge before pregnancy and strictly purchased as working outside pants, but whatever, I'll take it)!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Week 31

Welcome to the week 31 post, yes, a few days late, but really just under a week after the last post went up, so I hope you'll excuse it...

Let's start with last week's midwife appointment, shall we?

The appointment went pretty well. My midwife and I talked about music for a good 20 minutes and then got down to the business of checking on Speck.

Speck's heart rate was 130 which, as you'll know if you have an excellent memory for numbers mentioned in previous posts, is just about the same as it always is, so that's good.

My fundal height was at 30cm which is exactly right for being between week 30 and week 31 (my appointment was last Wednesday). So yay! My uterus is the appropriate size. Huzzah! (Really this isn't that big a deal, but it's a good guideline that things are continuing as they should.)

Speck was moving lots and totally batting at the doppler wand and the midwife's hands. Speck is moving lots in general, and that's good news too. Basically, all is well with Speck.

My blood pressure was 90/60 which is still in the normal range, but is the low end of the normal range bordering on not normal. At least we don't have to worry about me having hypertension. Keep in mind my blood pressure is generally pretty low (the beginning of this pregnancy marked some of the highest BP I've ever registered) but I can't remember ever getting anything as low as 90/60 before. My midwife was not at all concerned, but I wonder if low bp is part of why I've been feeling so sluggish lately.

My midwife drew blood just to check out all my levels (which hand't been checked since the first trimester) and I already have results back and everything checks out in the normal range. However, my iron is on the low end of normal, so she suggested adjusting my diet to incorporate more iron and to be wary of eating foods that will inhibit iron absorption in the same meal as the iron heavy foods. So, you know, no big deal, but something to monitor.

And now, I would like to take a moment to appreciate the woman who draws blood at the lab that I usually go to. She is a master of blood drawing. Having your blood drawn by her is a complete non-event. You sit down, she preps you, you look away for a second and when you turn back she has filled five vials with blood and slapped a bandaid on you and you wonder when she managed to do all that. Not so my midwife. Of course, it is understandable that she wouldn't be as accomplished at it, her job, after all, is to do many things related to prenatal health and only one of those is taking blood. She probably only takes blood a handful of times a week, if that. Meanwhile, the lady at the lab probably takes blood close to 50 times a day, maybe more. She's really fast. I bet she could fit in even more than that. I don't really know, but... Anyway, I understand why there's a difference... but I didn't really appreciate that difference until my midwife spent a minute and a half prodding around in my arm trying to find my vein after stabbing it for the second time and claiming it rolled away. It was only weird and uncomfortable until she pulled the needle out and then it was suddenly (but briefly) painful, and then it bruised for a few days. It wasn't a big deal, but it made miss my lab tech.

So thank you, wherever you are, lovely lab tech who generally takes my blood, you are wonderful and deserve serious accolades for being good at your job. You probably do other things too, but I appreciate your mastery at blood removal. It is awesome and I now miss it.

Ok. Right. Probably no one cares about that but me, but it was a downside I didn't expect. (Though weighed against the convenience of the midwife doing stuff in house and still getting results back super fast it might be a wash.)

Meanwhile, the day after my midwife appointment I met a pregnant friend and we went to get Oh Doughnuts again. This was my second time to this wonderful land of magic, kittens, unicorns, sugar, and the short road to diabetes. However, you will be happy to know that I branched out and didn't simply get a repeat of the two wonderful flavors I tried last time. (Though to be fair I totally would have gotten the lemon merengue again, but it wasn't in the flavor rotation for the day.) So, I ventured into two new flavors and the results were mixed. I tried the French Toast doughnut and the Raspberry Curd doughnut and had mixed experiences with both. The french toast had an absolutely fabulous frosting, but the filling was a "vegan cinnamon cream" which had a perfectly acceptable flavor, but the texture was that of custard that had congealed. My guess is that the vegan custard served hot is still a good texture but once it has had a chance to cool all bets are off. Still, the overall texture of the doughnut (which was soft, chewy, and delightful) combined with the texture and flavor of the icing, made the overall experience quite pleasant despite the dubious texture of the filling. Meanwhile, the raspberry curd itself was fantastic, a smooth tangy curd that was the exact right texture for my palate but, sadly, it was wrapped in a perfectly plain doughnut covered in granulated sugar that was... fine but nothing special. So, in Virginia's ideal world, these two doughnuts would actually be combined, into something called raspberry french toast. That would totally rock my socks off.

Hmm... that somehow turned into a detailed doughnut review. Weird. The good news is, if you live in Winnipeg you can go check out the fabulous selection at Oh Doughnuts yourself and then you don't have to listen to me ramble on and on about it.


Next topic! So, I mentioned that Speck is moving a lot these days, and yet for a while every time I would want to show Corey the crazy spectacle that is my abdomen looking like a scene from Alien just before things get gory, Speck would stop moving as soon as I called Corey's attention to it. Well, the other night (maybe Thursday night? I can't quite recall) Corey finally got to see the shark circling my belly button. I have yet to successfully capture video of it, but Corey and I got to lay on the couch and be mesmerized by Speck looking as though s/he was trying to break on through to the other side. Which was a. cool, because it's always neat to watch, b. vindicating, because it felt like Speck had been gas-lighting me and Corey thought I was nutzo, and c. fun family time!

In completely unrelated news, I kind of got to use my budding hypnobirthing skills the other day because... *warning TMI coming up* I had a sudden need to poop and when I sat down to get to business it was suddenly really painful, but then I thought, "Fuck you, pain! Relax and breathe, body!" and lo and behold, my body relaxed, the pain went away completely and everything was just fine.

I found this incredibly reassuring, because it was a solid example of mind over matter which is all that hypnobirthing is. And, I know that birth is going to be quite a different level from "painful bowel movement" but, I've actually heard a number of women describe it as "the biggest, most painful shit of your life." So, I am taking this episode as a good sign that hypnobirthing will help me get through labor in a calm and positive fashion. Yay confidence boost!

And finally, on Saturday, Corey and I swung by a local used children's stuff store and then promptly ran away vowing never to return if at all possible. I, for some reason, thought that a consignment kids place might be less overwhelming than a "baby store" but I was completely wrong. The place was jam packed with stuff, there was barely space to turn around, and after we quickly ascertained that they didn't have any cloth diapering supplies, we shuffled awkwardly to the nearest place where turning around was possible, then tucked tail, and ran.

Apparently being 31 weeks pregnant has done absolutely nothing to change my hatred of baby clothes. Oh well. Luckily, it seems that my sister in law is sending some stuff our way, so hopefully I'll be able to put off buying any myself for a while longer.

And I think that covers it for this week. I'll try to post next week's blog by Monday at the latest, but I might even post it on Friday or Saturday if I have time. We shall see.

Here's this week's bump pic (Corey is failing at his job as bump photographer so it's another selfie for you). And, as a bonus, below the bump pic is an awesome wild flower I saw on my dog walk yesterday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Week 30

Well, this post is late, but then, I warned that it would be in last week's post. After all, I was fairly certain that volunteering for the Winnipeg Folk Festival combined with hosting my wonderful cousin for the weekend would ultimately result in not having time to blog. (Though to be fair to my cousin, volunteering alone would have led to me not having time to blog over the weekend.)

Yesterday was spent recovering from the Folk Festival and today... well, today was spent trying to express in the written word why the Black Lives Matter movement is important. After writing that fairly lengthy blog post, I didn't have the energy to get this one written and up by the end of the day. So, it will ultimately be past midnight by the time I finish this, and I may delay posting it until tomorrow (Wednesday) just to avoid the middle of the night death knell that results in posting something when the rest of the world is asleep.

So, a recap of week 30 (possibly squeaking into week 31 because Folk Fest went from Thursday to Sunday and leaving parts of it out to cover next week just seems silly)...

Well, I know we usually save the bump photos for later, but Corey took last week's bump picture after I'd posted last week's blog entry, so we'll go ahead and start with that. This was taken last Monday:

The angle is a bit weird because Corey was standing in a different location than usual (closer than he usually stands and thus had to angle the camera in order to get me fully in the shot) but BONUS: Artemis decided to stick her adorable mug in the shot. You're welcome. ;-)

So, Monday was the day after we returned from our adventures four hours north of Winnipeg in a land of no internet (blissful if you ask me), enough mosquitos to fell a moose (substantially less on the blissful side of things), and three hours of tubing down a slow shallow river with assorted beverages and good company (back to blissful since I stocked virgin mojitos and managed to only lightly sunburn the bump rather than full-on extra-crispy myself). In other words it was overall a good time and while I found sleeping in a bed that is not the one I'm used to far less comfortable than usual (once upon a time I could sleep anywhere without complaint) I enjoyed getting away from the city for a few days. 

We returned home Sunday evening, and I spent that evening and the following Monday promoting the end of a four day sale on my book and compulsively checking sales stats and rankings. Tuesday was largely spent updating my Patreon campaign with new chapters of my Victoria Marmot webserial, as well as dealing with the tail end of the aforementioned sale. Wednesday was spent in a frenzy of cleaning in preparation for the arrival of my cousin and then spent hanging out with said cousin. 

Thursday through Sunday were spent attending/volunteering at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. So, here's where things get a little crazy. Folk Fest is pretty tiring even when I'm not pregnant. This is my third year volunteering and between spending all day in the sun, being on my feet for each of my 10 hour shifts (only two of those- so not terrible), and not getting home in time to get enough sleep before getting up to do it all again the next day, I find the weekend wonderful but exhausting. This year I added extra sleep deprivation due to pregnancy discomfort to the mix, just for funsies, and the result was a slight reduction in my overall enjoyment of the festival. I was a fair bit grumpier by the end of the weekend than I would usually be, and quite a bit less willing to stay past the end of my shift than I normally would have been. (Most of which would normally be soothed by a beer or two at the end of the night, but that wasn't really an option this time around...)

Still, I had some wonderful moments of enjoying music, spending time with friends, and meeting some favorite musicians to make the weekend overall a lovely experience, plus I got to share the whole thing with my cousin, which was truly lovely. Speck also seemed to enjoy the music, and took quite a few opportunities to 'dance.' Seriously, Speck was moving rhythmically to the music from what I could tell, but I'm willing to admit it might have just been my perception of the movement. 

Ok. So all of that was basically just a long way of saying being pregnant made me grumpier and less tolerant of shenanigans over the weekend, but I still managed to have enough energy for all of the running around I did including the day where, according to the pedometer in my phone, I walked over 15km (that's over 9 miles) in the course of the day. And, oddity of oddities, aside from having sore feet at the end of my 10 hour shifts (spent entirely standing and walking) I felt much better all weekend for all the walking I did than I have on weekends when I've been more sedentary. Walking and staying busy is still making me feel way better than not doing so, and that makes me happy.

So yay for still having energy so far in the third trimester! Of course, the follow up to that is that yesterday, after sleeping for eight hours and then taking my cousin to the airport in the afternoon, I came home and slept for another two hours, and then slept for another eight hours last night. 

Today, I didn't have a nap, but I did manage to eat more than half of an extra large pizza this afternoon. 

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that over the past few weeks I have felt a lot of strange sluggishness and difficulty catching my breath when sitting in a chair or reclined on the couch. Luckily, lying flat still feels good, as does sitting on the exercise ball, as does standing up and/or walking... but resting is getting hard to do without getting fully horizontal.

Running was on hold during family visit/Folk Fest time, but I hope to start up again this week if the weather decides to cooperate (and maybe even if it doesn't). 

I'm struggling to jump to paragraphs with any sort of reasonable segue at this point (so much so that I gave up last night and decided to finish this today- Wednesday) so I'm just going to say fuck it and start the next paragraph without any introduction, and probably all subsequent paragraphs as well. Please forgive my seeming non sequiturs. 

So lately Speck has been moving a ton more than in the second trimester. Instead of being active for 30 minutes a couple of times a day (and particularly at night) I can now feel Speck move a bit a few times an hour or more. Which leads to constant reminders that Speck is there, and also to me learning more about Speck's personality, especially as Speck seems to react to certain stimuli outside the womb. For example, Speck totally seemed to be dancing during parts of folk fest, which seems about right considering Speck's parentage. Also, Speck pushes back at anything that prods her/him, such as doppler wands and midwife hands that are trying to assess how Speck is doing. All of this gives me small insights into what Speck's personality might be, and it makes this whole creating a new human things seem more real than it ever has. This has led to two very mixed emotions on my part:

1. Speck is totally a person in my mind who I already care about quite a bit and talk to periodically and... if anything were to happen to Speck I would be completely devastated. I have definitely bonded with this kiddo already.


Ahem. In other words, I'm torn between already feeling pretty attached to Speck and feeling like I might have ruined my own life, and nothing will ever be the same.

Now don't worry. Feeling number one trumps feeling number two for most moments of any given day, but I just want to make it clear that even this far along I am still feeling major moments of doubt and concern. I have decided that this is perfectly fine because a. I'm not spiraling into a pool of negative thinking, I'm just having brief moments of "oh holy crap!" and b. I don't think I'm alone in this. So, don't worry you don't have to write in with your sunshine and unicorns and tell me that "having a baby is something you'll never regret," yadda yadda. I get it. Intellectually, I understand, and I even have moments of thinking how cool this is rather than wondering what kind of drugs we were taking that made us think it was a good idea, so I think it'll all be fine. But read the fine print at the top of this blog again: there will be HONESTY. So there you have it. If I'm 100% honest, which I'm a fan of, I admit to still having moments of severe doubt. They tend to be brief, but they are totally there and I am willing to admit to them.

Mostly though, I think this is just going to be the next big adventure and probably a pretty cool one for the most part. 

To that end, I had a moment when my cousin was visiting where I for some reason got excited about cloth diapering supplies and I decided to go through the stuff that I bought at the sale a while back. Turns out we got a pretty good cloth diaper stash and when I went through it I may or may not have practiced folding a "pre-fold" diaper to fit a baby. My cousin wanted to take a picture me doing so, but I wouldn't let her. Shh.... don't tell anyone. I have a rep to keep. 

And in the final bit of randomness this week I've realized that it's time to buy some shit. I have made a list of the things we'll actually need for Speck's arrival and it's about time to pick some of that up so that we're not adding that to the shit we have to do when Speck is already here and we're just trying to stay above water with sleep deprivation and "Holy shit, did I just kill the baby? I think I killed the baby. Is it breathing? I didn't even touch it. How did it die?" *baby cries* "Oh thank, Gwen! The baby is still alive."

So we will be heading out to the local gently used baby items store sometime soonish to get a few items, or at least to start pricing things out. 

And I think that's it for this week. Chances are good that the week 31 post will happen on Saturday or Sunday, since Friday is probably a little too soon after this one.

Here is this week's bumpie, taken on Monday (and a bonus front facing shot just 'cause):