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Monday
Jun222015

Baby is a...

You guys, it's a boy.

I'm still reeling from that information! More importantly though, he's completely healthy! Here's how it went down. We requested to find out the sex at the end of the ultrasound because we wanted to focus on the health of the baby first. As she moved around his little body, looking at all his organs and stating that everything looked great, I became more relaxed and more able to breathe and enjoy the moment. His heart, brain, stomach, kidneys, spine, nose and mouth all look good. His limbs are all accounted for. He is measuring 5 days big but not enough to change the due date. His legs are measuring even bigger than 5 days, so he might be tall like his dad. The ultrasound tech was able to tell us a great deal of information, and then the doctor confirmed everything when we met with her immediately after. It was such an amazing high to get great news after all my worrying the past 20 weeks.

While she was buzzing around, I really thought I saw the three telltale little lines of a girl. It confirmed my suspicions about the sex and I figured I was just waiting for the tech to make it official. After we looked at the rest of the anatomy, she asked if we were ready to find out the sex. She moved down to that area and paused for a second. Long enough for my eyes to widen and for me to exclaim, "Is that a boy?!" Yep, it sure is. 

It has been five days and I'm still adjusting to this information. Until that moment, I didn't realize just how much I was planning on it being a girl. Someone, in hearing my reaction, asked if I was disappointed. No, absolutely not. That is not the emotion I'm feeling at all. It's more like bewilderment. 

For several years now, before Mo was even born, I imagined myself with two girls. Sisters. It's the vision I had for my family. Even though I knew there was a 50% chance it was a boy, that didn't match my vision and my hunch that I'd have two girls. So this is like adjusting my entire future, or my picture of my entire future at least. It's taking me a minute. 

A boy is exciting. I know lots of little boys that I adore - nephews and friends' kids. I can't yet picture myself with a boy, but I love this kid already. It's sounds strange to say "my son" but I'm excited to meet him!

One thing that surprised me, however, is the way this changed my concerns for Mo. I know that most mothers feel a level of guilt when number two is on the way, about how it will affect their first, about the decrease in attention that will inevitably occur. I assumed that would all come as the due date grew closer, I anticipated it. But when I thought it was a girl, I mostly felt like I was giving Mo an amazing gift. A best friend, a playmate, a partner. My sisters were and are all those things to me, and I was excited to be able to do that for Mo.

A boy though. What does that mean for her? I know it may be irrational, but I suddenly have this fear that some people will favor him over her. I can't really identify exactly who I'm worried will do this (more proof it's irrational) but it's just there, looming over me. 

I also worry about how this changes our larger family's dynamic. It now means there will be 5 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. My siblings all say they're done having kids, so unless that changes or unless I decide to brave a third, this baby is the last in the family. The other day at a family picnic, three of the boys, ranging in age from 2 to 11 immediately gravitated to each other while Mo played solo on the playground. She was not bothered by this at all, but what happens in 5 years? There will be a 16 year old boy (ok he'll probably lose interest in his younger cousins by then), a 10 year old boy, a 7 year old boy, and two 5 year old boys. And there will be a 18 year old girl (definitely not interested in her younger cousins!), a 10 year old girl (who can only come to about half the family events because of joint custody), and Mo, a 7 yeard old girl.

If you didn't follow that, basically, much of the time there will be a gang of four boys and little Mo on her own. Yes, she can theoretically play with the boys. I don't encourage gender separation, but it tends to happen. And I picture my sweet girl playing all by herself, left out by the boys, and it breaks my heart. I just want to swoop her up and protect her and tell her that she'll always be my best girl and let's just forget everyone else!

I didn't mean to turn this post about my baby boy into a post about my girl. Sorry buddy. Don't worry, mama loves you and I'm excited to bring a little boy into our family!

Now I need to get some boy clothes because the majority of the massive wardrobe Mo has accumulated through hand-me-downs probably won't work for a boy. We also need to figure out a name, which is not nearly as daunting now that we've eliminated all girl names. And we need to decide on circumcision. (I'll save that loaded topic for another day!) Even though this news took my by surprise, I'm eager to get started on planning the many things I put off until we knew the sex. I feel like, for the first time, I can actually celebrate this pregnancy a little bit instead of being consumed by worry.

Thanks for that gift, son!

Monday
Jun152015

Girl or boy?

On a lighter note (yesterday I was feeling feisty), anybody want to guess the sex of our baby? 

Yep, this time we're finding out (hopefully) at the 20-week ultrasound, which is in two days! I really enjoyed the suspense of waiting until birth with Mo, but for some reason this time it feels more necessary to find out. I attribute it to a few things:

1. I know someone who was not going to find out, then got devestating news at the anatomy scan, news that meant her child would almost certainly not live long outside the womb. With that news, she and her husband decided they wanted to know as much about their child as possible, as soon as possible, since they likely wouldn't know him or her for long. That stuck with me. The excitement and suspense of waiting began to feel indulgent (just like the birth announcement and gender reveal parties I guess), as if waiting meant that I had the luxury of worrying about nothing else but the sex of the baby. We decided we wanted to know as much about this baby as we could just in case something terrible happens and we don't know him/her for very long.

2. While we enjoyed waiting 9 months last time, there were a few elements that were more stressful than enjoyable. For instance, names. It seems like if we could eliminate the discussion and the options by half, we'd be relieving a lot of stress. And also, the circumcision debate. We're both balanced perfectly on the fence about this one, and if it turns out we don't need to worry about it this time, great! 

3. I think it will help Mo connect more to what's going on. We're constantly saying "baby brother or baby sister" and I think, especially at her age, it would help to start talking in more concrete terms with her.

4. We like to mix things up. We tried it one way, now we're trying it the other! 

Finding out the sex has nothing to do with the following:

1. Because we have a preference. We truly do not. I see so much value in any sibling combination. I've always pictured myself with two girls, but I would be equally thrilled for a boy.

2. Because we need to plan. We already have almost everything we need for a newborn, so they only things we need to figure out are a name, a nursery, and (possibly) whether or not to circumcizs. If it's a boy, we'll eventually want to get some more clothes, but I figure newborns can wear whatever, so we'dhave plenty of time regardless.

We debated how we wanted to find out. Obviously no gender reveal cupcakes or balloon boxes for us, but I wasn't sure if we wanted to find out in the ultrasound or find out privately together from something the tech writes down for us. It's really important to me that the ultrasound be primarily about the health of the baby. I don't want to be distracted about that, so I thought having the tech write it down might be better, so we could separate the two events. But in real life, Mike and I both have to go right to work after the appointment, so we wouldn't find out until later that day, and that didn't seem ideal either. In the end we decided we'd request, if possible, that we learn the sex at the end of the scan, after we confirm (hopefully) that everything looks good. We get to do the scans right in the office, so the tech is able to share a lot more then if we were at a generic radiology lab. If there are any major concerns, I'm sure she'd have the doctor go over them with us, but it everything looks pretty good, she will let us know.

Even though we won't be waiting in suspense until the birth, I have enjoyed a little bit of build up. I'm learning that a lot of women manage to find out the sex well before 20 weeks, and some folks encouraged me to ask about that option. But truthfully, I was ok with waiting. I wanted the best possible read on the full anatomy of my baby, and if that meant waiting until the standard 20 weeks, I was fine with that. 

For the record, my guess is girl. I don't have a super strong feeling about it, and sometimes I waver and think maybe it's a boy, but my official guess is girl. I don't put much stock in these things, but I recently did four different "gender predictor" tests, including the Chinese calendar one, and they all said girl. Most of my family think it's a girl, too, but there are a few outliers strongly in the boy camp, including Mike, his mom, and one of my sisters. 

So anybody else want to make a guess? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday
Jun142015

Where to share

I'm just going to say it:

I hate cutesy pregnancy announcements on social media, and I hate elaborate gender reveal parties.

A big part of it is that I'm not personally into that stuff, but that's just a personal preference and no reason to hate what others do. The rest, however, is that when I was in a lot of emotional pain after both of my miscarriages, those things were torturous. Pregnancy and birth announcements were tough anyway, but all the Pinterest-worthy stuff seemed...indulgent, I guess. Like only people with the innonence of never having experienced that pain would be naive enough to make light of the fragility that is pregnancy.

I know. That's unfair. Completely unfair! I get that, and I own that. I can't change others' behavior, but I have chosen to be subtle about my pregnancy on social media. It's such a wide open network and I never know who I might hurt. The same could be said about a blog, but let's be honest, almost nobody reads this. It's mostly for me to work out my stuff, save memories of my life, and maybe connect with a few people who can relate to something I write.

I was inadvertently hurt by others, and so I try to be considerate of others I might inadvertently hurt. I try to be careful about who I'm talking to or who is around when the topic of my pregnancy comes up. In real life, I try to be aware of my surroundings and be as subtle as possible. And on social media, I've mostly avoided it. The only mention I've made of my pregnancy was on Facebook when I shared an article about how difficult it is to be pregnant after a loss. 

I guess I feel like I have to protect this pregnancy by not making light of it. I know an adorable pregnancy announcement on facebook doesn't cause miscarriage, but it feels far too indulgent for me. And honestly? Kind of unnecessary. 

Monday
Jun012015

Mo - 28.5 months

I haven't written about Mo in awhile. She's now going on 29 months, and she seems so old. I think mostly because she talks so much. I can hardly remember a time that she didn't talk because now it's almost all complete sentences and complex thoughts spilling out of her. She can say just about anything she wants to say, and we understand almost everything. She does have a couple silly things she says that I love. Like "tangle" for "tie," as in "Will you tangle these mama?" as she shows me the draw strings on her pants. Or "rainbow" for anything striped. Or "ackey" for "actually." 

IMG_6728

So talking is going great, but listening is getting worse. My sister and niece have been living with us for a month and a half, and Mo is infatuated by her older cousin, who is nearly 5. But my niece is a spit fire, and Mo loves to emulate her. It's not all Scarlet's fault, of course. Mo is a 2 year old afterall, and she's starting to learn that listening is optional (it's not actually optional, obviously, but she's starting to think it is). She's still a really good girl overall, but we're getting a little tired of repeating ourselves so often. 

Mo is very consistent with saying thank you or thanks unprompted. But please usually needs a reminder. She got into a bad habit of saying "I need..." or "Let me..." so we've been working on "May I...?" and "Will you...?" She usually still says something like "I need a snack" and I'll tell her to ask a question, and she'll rephrase to "May I have a snack please?"

Mo sucker lollipop

Sleeping is still her forte. She goes to bed easily and sleeps long and well every night. She is still napping once a day, but does fine if we're busy and she misses it. Often before she falls asleep, she plays in her crib for a long time. She loves to be in there, it's like a little playhouse for her. A few weeks ago, during nap time, I was downstairs doing some work when suddenly Mo walked in the room. I was shocked because she has never done that before - climbed out of her crib, opened her door, and walked downstairs - when she was supposed to be sleeping. I feared we'd be forced to to move her to a big bed sooner than we planned, but she has not repeated the performance. She really does love her crib. At daycare, they transitioned her from the pack 'n play to a sleep mat about a month ago. For a long while, she was too social in the big kid room and kept the other kids awake, but now she naps like a champ. On her "rainbow" mat.

Our biggest feat lately is potty training. In a couple weeks we're dedicating a weekend to it, the 2 (maybe 3) day method, but we wanted to have a head start. We've been putting her on the toilet for months, but she never had any success there, not even accidentally. Finally, a couple weeks ago, she peed on the toilet and we've been slowly making progress since. She gets an M&M and a sticker each time she pees - today she got 6 stickers on her chart! To accomplish this, she spends a lot of time on the toilet, sitting there, waiting for something to happen. She's only once told us she had to pee, every other time it's an inevitability of sitting on the potty for long stretches of time. During our super duper potty training weekend, we're going to take off the diaper (or pull-up) completely, and hopefully her accidents will be uncomfortable enough to inspire her to recognize when she has to go. Poop is a whole other issue we haven't even addressed yet.

Mo and puppy

I'm often asked what Mo thinks about the baby. She's very sweet about it, but I don't think she really understands much of it. We tell her there's a baby in mama's belly, and often when we mention it, she'll talk to my belly in a high pitched voice. "Hi baby! Hi! Love you baby!" But does she know an actual baby will be occupying her home and much of her parents' time in five months? No. She has been acting like a baby a lot lately, in a fun way. She likes to be wrapped up "like a baby" after a bath, and she asks to be rocked like a baby and pretends to cry for a bottle. I have no idea if that's related to the baby that's coming, or if it's just a toddler who likes to pretend. Usually when I ask her if she wants a baby brother or a baby sister, she says sister, but the other day she said brother. When I asked what we should name him, she suggested Tetanus. Not sure we'll put her in charge of naming.

One of my favorite things about Mo right now is her ability to make me laugh. Intentionally or not. She has learned that if she gives me this one look when I'm trying to be serious with her, I'll laugh every time. Every single time. It's ridiculous, but wouldn't this make you laugh too?

image

Saturday
May162015

How this one came to be

Despite the fact that I've struggled to allow myself to celebrate this pregnancy, and despite all the heartache that preceded it, I actually love the story of how it came to be.

My miscarriage happened in October last year. As if it's not hard enough, my sister continued to be pregnant and soon my best friend, my boss and my direct report at work were all pregnant, as well. I was surrounded by people living what I lost, and it was a very difficult few months. I got my period back on Thanksgiving Day, and I hoped so much that I would easily get pregnant again and have a positive test on Christmas Day, the day my next period was due.

That did not happen. 

I was disappointed, but I also thought it was kind of perfect. In my family, there is this opal ring. It was my great grandma's, born in October, and passed on to my mom, also born in October. When I miscarried in October 2014, I had this idea that it would all work out because I'd get pregnant a few months later and have a baby girl in October 2015, putting her in position to someday get the opal ring from my mother. My first pregnancy loss happened in January 2012 and Mo was born a year later in January 2013, so October and October... It was a silly and detailed delusion that I focused all my energy on.

Had I gotten pregnant in my second cycle post-miscarriage, I would have had an October due date. I spent all of the next month full of nervous energy. I knew this was going to happen, but I also knew how easily it might not. We did what we needed to do to make it happen, and I spent the month meditating and throwing all my positive energy at my uterus. I even bought a root chakra candle and burned it every night. This was going to happen.

It did not happen.

I got my period on January 28. The hardest thing about that was that my sister (not the pregnant one) and I had planned a trip to Florida in February, the exact week in February when I would be ovulating next. We didn't have any flexibility on the dates of the trip, and I figured I'd be pregnant anyway so what did it matter. I was not pregnant, however, and now I'd be missing a whole month of opportunity, one whole cycle. I decided I was ok with that. I needed a break from the heartache and the stress. I need a margarita on the beach!

For those who understand how this conception stuff works, the details are that I would leave early on a Tuesday and ovulate that Friday. For good measure, we could "give it a shot" on Monday but that's four days before ovulation. Is it possible to get pregnant? Yes. Is it likely? No. But we tried anyway.

Despite needing a break, I brought my ovulation predictors with me. My cycles had been wacky since the miscarriage, so I was still trying to figure them out. The first afternoon we were in Florida, I took a test and wouldn't you know, it was positive. In case you don't know how these work, that means I would likely ovulate sometime in the next 36 hours. So things were looking up. My chances still seemed slim, but they had increased.

The next day, Tuesday, about 15 hours after the test, I was sitting at an outdoor cafe sipping a mimosa, enjoying the warm sun on skin, and I remember thinking: this is exactly what I needed, I'm happy and relaxed for the first time in five months.

I like to think that's when it happened. Silly maybe, but I like the thought. My sister happened to snap this photo at that moment.

 

IMG_3475

If this baby makes it, I think I'll put that picture in its baby book. The moment you were conceived. 

What makes this crazier is that later that night I got VERY sick. A stomach virus. I spent the night and the next day expelling everything from my digestive tract in unseemly ways. I ended up in the ER with extreme dehydration. They did two pregnancy tests (one at urgent care, one at the ER) and of course they were both negative because I was only two seconds pregnant (technically two weeks, but that math is just strange). When I was laying on the hospital bed waiting to have an IV placed, I thought: well if there was a chance I might get pregnant, it's gone now. This is definitely not a healthy environment for egg fertilization. (To make matters worse, after recovering and feeling good for about 24 hours, I got violently ill again. Most of ourFlorida vacation kind of sucked.)

I returned from Florida the following Friday. Four days later, Thursday, I had an appointment with my OB to talk about options. It had only been a few months, but I didn't want to wait another six months only to realize something was wrong and I could have take action sooner. The following Saturday morning, 9 days after ovulation, I woke up really early and, for no explicable reason, I got out of bed and took a test. I was fairly confident I was not pregnant and it was really early to best testing anyway. But I I brought it back to bed with me and waited three minutes. It was dark, and when I glanced at the digital screen of the test, I couldn't see it well. I couldn't see the NOT in front of the PREGNANT. I frantically opened my curtains to let a little light in, but I still wasn't sure. When I turned the light on, there it was, proof that I was finally the recipient of an unlikely gift.

I know there are people everywhere who would love a surprise pregnancy. Hell, any pregnancy at all would do. So I don't take this lightly, and I definitely don't take it for granted. But I do enjoy, when it's appropriate, sharing the joke that I got pregnant when I was in Florida while my husband was home in Michigan.