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37 Weeks

        

Well friends, we have reached the end of our journey.

This sweet child of ours will be born at 37 weeks and three days gestational age. In less than 72 hours these bony knees and exploring hands will be held and kissed, their every minute detail marveled over. This funny little being we have come to know and love in a fierce, abstract way, will be here, in our arms.

When I first wrote about my pregnancy, about seeing that second pink line, I said:

Within that single defining moment, life didn’t simply go on, it expanded, exploded – pulled apart our cozy little circle of two and insisted that we make room for a third. A teeny, tiny third.

I was more right than I ever could have known. Pregnancy has been a constant process of splitting and tearing open, stretching a life that fit two in order to gradually, week by week, make room for more. Each experience has pulled apart pieces of ourselves and stitched us together closer, tighter.

I have seen glimpses of Adam as a father, a strange secret tender side that he doesn’t talk about, doesn’t feel the need to explore and tease apart and share like I do, but one that has slowly emerged nonetheless.

The way he made it a priority to sit beside me in all of those waiting rooms for all of those appointments (no small feat considering I have seen midwives, geneticists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, nephrologists…the list goes on).

He supported every decision, helped me through each small molehill made mountainous by my fixations. And every so often he would fall silent and I’d find him just looking at me, a strange, quiet contemplative stare.

And that look said it all.

       

                 Not this look…this look is saying “Hey! Look what I did!”

Physically, my body has earned my eternal respect and devotion. I joke a lot about my physical failings and all of the ways my body lets me down -I have zero hand-eye coordination, horrible eyesight, my kidneys don’t work- and this pregnancy has brought on many more of the same jokes -my disobedient placenta, lazy insulin receptors- but still,my god, despite all of that, LOOK:

      

      

How is this possible? It really is incredible.  I have gained 26 pounds, 13.5 inches. My belly has swelled, my breasts filled. My tears spill more easily and my tastes have changed from craving all things savoury to desiring everything sweet.

Physically there will be almost no part of me left untouched by this experience, yet from day one I have felt blessed (a terrible, simpering word. But yes, blessed). I’ve been buoyant, happy – I haven’t been uncomfortable or in pain. I have had an easy pregnancy, I’m swelled with gratitude for this.

I’m grateful that I made it to 37 weeks, full term. Thankful for no emergencies, middle of the night panicking phone calls, I’m grateful that this little baby has always been so active – I’ve never had to worry about feeling that eerie stillness, the ominous absence of movement.

So. Here we stand, this is the last week of updates, the last photo of me crammed into this pink dress (and honestly, that’s probably a good thing because as this gargantuan belly grows out, the dress goes up, and I don’t know what these pictures would have looked like in another 3 weeks.)

I didn’t know where to begin writing this last post, I put it off all day yesterday, sorting through words in my head. I feel inadequately equipped to describe this, to offer the sort of reflection I would have liked to read.

      

I was reluctant to tape up those numbers, I didn’t want to to sit here and write an ending (because despite the fact that it is truly a beginning, it sometimes doesn’t feel that way from this side of things, with the future such an unknown.)

I feel like I should be able to offer some poignant, overarching reflection on pregnancy. But as I sit and search for words, (which, in a surprising turn of events, seem to be eluding me) I am just swamped by memories, overwhelmed by how quickly the past few months have passed, how many firsts have been crammed into these two hundred and forty nine days. How can I even begin to sum it up?

The first time we heard the heartbeat, the first time we saw the baby’s sweet profile. The first kick, the first hiccup. These 37 weeks have been filled with some of the most incredible moments of my life, and I say that with unabashed awareness of how syrupy I sound, how cheesy.

I can’t avoid it, won’t apologize for it.

I have been laid flat by this experience. When I think about what has happened, when I think about building a child within myself, when I imagine Adam holding that tiny pink bundle in his arms, I have no excuses anymore. I’m stripped bare and my snark disappears, my sass hides its sharp edges. I am left soft, tears streaming down my face, a heart aching with love and happiness and a fierce desire to thank someone,anyone, for being allowed to do this, feel this.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

      

I guess here is also where I tell you that I’m not sure I’ll share the baby’s birth story. Not in the way that many bloggers do anyway, where each stage of the process is described and recorded and written about in detail.

I know that I approach a situation differently if I plan to write about it. I notice different things, feel pressure to record and document and inevitably I end up approaching it from a place where I am reporting, rather than experiencing. 

What’s more, if I’m actually part of the situation I’m writing about I really can’t be sure that my own actions aren’t being affected by the need to have a good story, develop a good narrative. I don’t want to go into this experience needing to take pictures for the blog, remember times and details simply so I can write about them later.

I don’t know that I have the words to write about something that feels this big. I wouldn’t know where to begin, I don’t know that I’m capable.

Basically, I don’t know how it’s going to go and despite how much I have shared about this pregnancy, I want to leave open the possibility that I won’t write about it at all.

I suppose the final thing to do here, at 37 weeks, is to express my appreciation for everyone who has followed along through all of this – the pictures and the panics, the decorating and the crises of conscience big and small.

It’s been amazing to have so many people – both in “real life” and through this blog- supporting me, offering advice and feedback and a sense of community.

I’m going to continue writing after baby is born -it’s a form of release for me, rather than a chore- and it’s amazing to know that as I write these words, there’s people (real, live people!) reading them. 

Thank you.

        

37 weeks. See you soon, baby.

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36 Weeks

        

I am so happy to be writing this post, so grateful that we have gotten here- Internets, we are NINE days away! Single digits!

Wow! Wow. Not going to lie, I’m freaking out just a tiny bit over here. I thought I had all of this time left and somehow it has just dissolved and left me here with this small handful of days, this giant list of things to do, and a heart that keeps thudding like it’s going to rip out of my chest and run far, far away. 

In the face of this, Adam has become even more laid back and optimistic. It’s like we are morphing into extreme versions of ourselves. I am ratcheting up the OCD and the anxiety to never before seen levels, while Adam is becoming less and less worried the closer we get – it’s as though he literally does not have a care in the world, he keeps talking about how excited he is to have a baby, to become a dad.

It’s adorable, and endearing, and heartwarming – or would be if I wasn’t too busy suffocating under the weight of my own neuroses to notice.

“I don’t think we’re ready for this” I whispered last night as we lay in bed, listening to music and feeling the baby squirm around inside my belly. Adam turned to me and grinned, “Of course we are!” he exclaimed, “It’s going to be great! Aren’t you excited?”

And I mean yes- yes! Of course I’m excited. But excitement is just one of about fifty-seven other complex emotions that I’m feeling- emotions that also include fear, stress, incomprehension, hope, terror, gas, etc.

I’m glad I have him here, without his naive optimism I think I would be reduced to a shivering puddle, compulsively folding and re-folding baby blankets with only the rodents for company (oh yeah, p.s. the rodents are back. I don’t want to talk about it)

     

Physically, I think that 36 weeks was the week I became ginormous. Upon seeing me yesterday, my midwife exclaimed, “Woah Madeleine! Your belly has arrived!”. Walking past a man in the parking lot the other day, he did a triple take and the look on his face can only be summed up as abject terror.

For my baby shower I searched for three days to find a dress, finally at the last minute stumbling upon a simple sheath with a pattern that looked like water. It was down to the wire, it fit and the decision was made. In retrospect however, I think it was one of those things where it looked great when I found it (possibly because my only other option was to wear the same long tank top/leggings combination I’ve been rocking daily these past few weeks), on the day of, however, I just wasn’t feeling it.

My hair wasn’t cooperating, my makeup was wonky, and when I looked in the mirror, suddenly the water pattern seemed to woefully echo the way I felt – like a large ocean mammal. A whale perhaps – or more in keeping with my skin tone, a manatee.

I know it’s not just me that is noticing the, ahem, largesse. At the shower we played a game where everyone cut a piece of string estimating the circumference of my belly, and my god, MY GOD, barring two or three kind souls, every. single. guess. came out about two feet too long.

     

                                               Me: Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

It makes sense though, the tech at my ultrasound on Friday said that she’d estimate the baby’s weight at 8lbs. Eight pounds at 36 weeks! (According to my friend google, the norm is about 6.5lbs. Yeah.)

I’m starting to think that perhaps this c-section is a good thing for my delicate ladybits.

Of course Adam was as proud as punch when he heard that our “little” demon was measuring in the 90th percentile for weight and height, but the tech was obviously not as impressed with my ability to gestate humongous human beings. She kept shaking her head and muttering in a thick Hungarian accent, “Oh dear, ohhhhh dear. Iss gonna be a beeeeeeg baby.”

Well big baby or no, we’ll find out in nine days!

I currently weigh 139lbs, and everything is going swimmingly for being 9 months pregnant. I’m sleeping well (and lots), eating well, generally feeling great (aside from the over-thinking and the generalized anxiety)

And, now a special gift to commemorate reaching the nine month mark. In case you think (as some have alleged recently) that this whole pregnancy has been a hoax – a desperate attempt to get more page views, or attention, or goat cheese, and I am not in fact pregnant but instead, smuggling a mixing bowl or a basketball or even a pumpkin- BEHOLD!

        

Yes. This shit is fo REAL. That is my belly. In all of its strangely flushed glory.

I have been fortunate enough to avoid stretch marks for now, but I’m still sort of confused about where exactly all of this extra skin came from? And, perhaps more pressingly, where it will go after all is said and done.

It’s bewildering, but I’ll keep you posted.

In closing Internets, just to drive home how we are NINE DAYS away, this is my second-last weekly update, my second last belly picture. I only have to don this long-suffering dress one more time, tape up those numbers once more. And then we’re done.

And what’s inside of the that ginormous mound of belly, will be outside. And I think despite my anxiety, I have to agree with Adam after all- it IS exciting, it WILL be great!

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35 Weeks

It occurred to me today that out of all the time I’ve spent thinking about how I have “only two and a half weeks until the baby comes” (and trust me, there has been a LOT of thinking along those lines), I haven’t even considered the flip side – I have only two and a half week left of being pregnant.

That feels so strange to wrap my head around, it’s such a bittersweet realization. Of course pregnancy is just the journey, the means to an end- but it’s also just such a delight.

Truly.

The world, in my limited experience at least, adores pregnant ladies. Pregnant ladies make people smile, they look at me, down to my belly, then back to my face, as a grin creeps over their features. There’s a strange sort of kinship with other women with kids, especially young babies. A look gets exchanged where you just know that she’s looking at your big belly and swollen feet and waddling gait and thinking, “I used to be there – that was me, just six months ago.” and in exchange you are peering at the face of her baby, its perfect features and also how utterly comfortable the woman looks with her child, and you’re trying to wrap your head around the fact that “This will be me in six months.”

I haven’t experienced any of the judgement or inopportune belly touching or pushy advice that I’ve long heard pregnant women lament about. Instead, Adam and I both have been incredibly lucky to be on the receiving end of a thousand-thousand well wishes, good luck’s and congratulations. Adam has customers who have given us baby gifts, knitted us blankets. My neighbour is insisting on cooking for us in the days after we arrive home from the hospital, and it goes without saying that our families have been incredibly excited and supportive. I think they are almost more eager to meet this new little person than we are.

So. Letting go of all of that – the excitement and planning and anticipation, it’s bittersweet.

        

Of course I’m looking forward to the “after”. The actual holding of this baby, the naming and knowing and seeing Adam become a father. But a small part of me is a little sad to be saying goodbye to this closeness, these wicked thumps and bumps and the sense of being more than one.

Part of it, I’m not ashamed to admit, is fear. Fear of the surgery, and the pain, and the recovery. Fear of everything that can go wrong between the first cut and the last stitch. Fear that we won’t know what to do. Fear that I won’t be a good mother – and then simultaneously, fear that I will, but that it will change me in some irrevocable way. Fear that it will change Us, in some irrevocable way.

Another part selfishly mourns the loss of this “special” feeling, this privileged status. It’s been so nice to be taken care of, treated with kid gloves. It’s been a treat to have people open doors for me and offer their place in line for the bathroom.

Finally, a large part of this wistful feeling is just sheer incomprehension. I do not know how to put into words how little I can do to wrap my head around the fact that in 16 days a little human being that looks sort of like Adam and sort of like me will be pulled out into this world from an incision in my belly. What’s more, I will be in charge of feeding this creature with milk that I somehow produce in my body, and then after a few days we will be allowed to leave with this little being. No questions asked.

Boom.

Just like that.

Sixteen days.

A son or a daughter. A name. A face. And for Adam and I, new identities. A new slant to each other after ten years as partners – parents.

Last week I was done. This week I realize how close I am and I’m trying to claw those words back – done? I’m not done! I’m just getting started! I’m finding myself fantasizing about arriving at my last ultrasound (taking place Friday morning) and having the nurse tell me that WOW! My placenta has somehow miraculously moved and I can go full term after all!

(I know this won’t happen.)

(But a girl can dream.)

In less esoteric ramblings: the stats! I’m wavering between 137-140 lbs, which takes me 22-25lbs  up from where I started. I still feel good, I’m sleeping well, eating well, I’m happy.

I still have a few posts I’d like to do before baby, (so, in the next 16 days) (have I mentioned it’s 16 days away? 16 days. But who’s counting?) including what changes we’re making to prepare our first baby – the hairy, slobbery 180lb one – for the new family member; a detailed breakdown of how much moolah we have spent on baby stuff (because this is something I always wondered about – how much all of that stuff would really cost us); and an overall reflection on pregnancy, the unexpected, the strange, the stuff I would have wanted to know prior to seeing that little pink line.

In closing, of course, we must once again give proper thanks to the Pregnancy Goddesses for seeing that I made it here, to 35 weeks.

And we mustn’t forget to say a  fervent sort of prayer that we make it through each and every one of the next 16 days without incident.

35 Weeks!

    

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34 Weeks

      

Let me preface this post by first saying how immensely grateful we are to reach 34 weeks. Can you feel it? The gratitude, I mean? Good. Because now that that’s out of the way I have some complainin’ to do.

Internets, 34 weeks is the week that it happened. It sort of snuck up on me, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on but last night in the middle of a no-good rotten terrible mood, I realized: I’m kind of done being pregnant.

Yeah.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I was all “I keep waiting for it to get unbearable, but it just keeps getting more awesome!” yeah, I don’t feel that way anymore.

It’s not unbearable by any means but it’s also definitely not getting any more awesome. Not feeling the awesome lately. The awesome has plateaued.

The reasons are nothing exciting, in fact I imagine that they’re fairly typical of a woman in late-stage pregnancy: I feel gigantic and unwieldy. I have constant heartburn. I pee a million times an hour and am going bankrupt from buying toilet paper. I’m tired of counting carbs and timing my meals and I just want to eat what I want god dammit.

I am getting increasingly emotional: I cried while singing along to Oasis Wonderwall because of the line “and I don’t believe that anybody/ feels the way I do /about you now”.

I cried while folding impossibly tiny baby socks into my hospital bag.

I cried when Adam told me a horrific story about a woman he met the other night who had five birds tattooed on her arm. They were chatting and he happened to compliment her on the tattoo, and then she told him that each one of the five sparrows was in memory of one of her miscarriages. (I bawled for about ten minutes after that one.)

Things in the ole uterus are getting a bit cramped so the baby movements have transitioned from me calling Adam over excitedly exclaiming “Oh my god, can you feel that? It’s so cute!” to “Adam your child is trying to forcibly kick its way out of my bellybutton can you DO something, please?”

(What I’m expecting him to do in this situation, I have no idea. I think I just want to remind him that I am carrying his child and said child stretching and rolling around is getting a wee bit painful)

        

I feel so horrible writing this, because although I’m kind of over being pregnant, I do NOT want this baby out yet. (Oh look at me! Pregnant lady full of contradictions! I’m such an enigma!)

What I mean is that given our situation, I am acutely aware of how valuable each day is. Other women with placenta previa have compared it to feeling like a ticking time bomb, because you can just start bleeding at any point and at this stage in the game that would probably mean an emergency c-section. So while I am getting uncomfortable and restless and a bit tired, I simultaneously wish I could bake this little demon the full 40 weeks.  I am so uncomfortable with the idea of it being forced out early – it just seems rude somehow. An unnecessarily abrupt eviction.

But despite all of that, despite how grateful I am for each day that passes and we get closer and closer to full term, the feeling pervades. And it’s not just me! Adam is impatient too but his impatience is because he just really wants to meet his child. He’s now convinced that it’s a girl and he has expressed numerous times over the past few weeks that he’s ready.He wants to be able to hold her and interact with her and put her in little hooded towels after a bath.

I just want to go back to being one person.  (With a baby! A healthy, happy, strong baby.)

A large part of me feels guilty even giving voice to these thoughts, because what if I jinx it?What if twenty minutes after I hit “publish”, something happens and then BOOM the baby is delivered tonight? And, given the story of the woman with the 5 sparrows, the five losses, what kind of a dick am I to complain?  But I wanted these weekly updates to reflect my honest emotional state, and if that makes me a dick, then 34 weeks was the week I became a dick I guess.

Nothing physical has changed to precipitate this, I’m still sleeping well, I’ve lost a pound or so, and aside from my tripping over a curb last weekend and essentially ripping off the top of my big toe, I feel good.

But it seems like every other day is a doctors appointment, either Nephrologist or Midwife or obstetrician or ultrasound, many of these involve a 2 hour round trip to the city, and they just keep multiplying. It’s gotten to the point where Adam and I are trying to talk our way out of a lot of them, “I mean, do you think we really need to meet the doctor doing the c-section?” he asked last night. And I didn’t even have the energy to argue, I just lay there eating Tums and was like “Whatever. Someone’s got to cut me open. I don’t really care who it is.”

THAT’s where I’m at right now.

So, Past-Madeleine, you were wondering when you would feel done? When that “I wish I could be pregnant forever” feeling would dissipate?

The answer my dear, is 34 weeks.

       

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33 Weeks

       

We made it another week!

33 Weeks was the week of heartburn. Did you know that water can give you heartburn? Did you know that you’re only allowed eating 7 Tums in a day, so some evenings you will find yourself feverishly waiting by the medicine cabinet until midnight because then the two Tums you eagerly scarf as soon as the clock strikes technically count towards tomorrows daily allowance instead of todays?

Look, I know that this is nothing new. In the first trimester pregnant ladies are all “Oooh, ahhhh, I feel nauseous.” and then in the second trimester they’re all “Oh man! I feel fantastic!” and then in the third trimester it’s all downhill to “Wahhhh, I have heartburn. And sausage feet. And gas.”

And here I am, wearing thin that same road, but seriously, these are stereotypes because they’re TRUE- I DO have heartburn. And sausage feet. And…well, I am a LADY so I’m not going to discuss the last one. Let’s just say that poor Gus is taking one for the team these days.

Speaking of that adorable hound, he will remember 33 weeks as the last week that he was allowed in our car (hopefully ever). Why? Because due to his massiveness and shedding and slobbery nature, my car looked like this:

     

I can’t even believe I’m showing you this. I mean, it’s so embarrassing and awful and truly doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the gross that was my car.

ANYWAY, let’s move on as a team, okay? All that disgustingness is in the past! THIS, my friends, is the future!

That right there is a clean car! And in that clean car is a car seat. For a baby. A car seat for a baby to sit in and ride around in. Outside of my body. Even though said baby is currently gestating inside of my body, this car seat is proof that that will not always be the case.

Do you understand what I am saying?

If so, you’re doing way better than we are because Adam and I took like twenty five minutes to digest this sight and I have walked right past my car in parking lots twice now because “My car has never been that clean and it certainly doesn’t have a carse- OH MY GOD.”

Yeah.

So poor Gus has been ousted from the car, and the lovely (and brave, and patient, and meticulous and long suffering) man who did the detailing work said that it was one of the worst dog-hair cars he had ever seen. And then he asked what breed Gus was so he could remember to never get one because he had never seen dog hair that was so difficult to remove.

(He may have also threatened us with bodily harm if he ever saw a dog head flopping out the backseat of our car ever again).

It was such a wonderful way to spend money and I’m not at all ashamed to say that some evenings I put on black pants and maybe even something made of wool and then I go and roll around in my clean car and sigh softly to myself.

It’s bliss. 

      

The exciting news of the week is that we have a date for my c-section. Did I tell you this already? No? Well, WE HAVE A DATE!

That date is October 5, 2012. Mark your calendars folks, it’s 28 days away! Also of note: October 5 is official James Bond day, just so you know. (Adam totally planned that).

On Friday we drive down to meet with the anesthesiologist who will be helping during the c-section, and apparently this ONE PERSON decides where I will be operated on, whether or not Adam can be in the room, whether or not I can breastfeed right after, plus a million of other things.

I’m hoping he/she is in a good mood and we can push some of my hippy ideas onto him/her. Do you think it’s inappropriate to try and bribe anesthesiologists with booze and/or fine chocolates? Because I am not above bribery. Bribery and tears are how I got this far and I’m not about to change now.

Anyway, aside from the heartburn, I’ve still been feeling good except for the fact that I am suddenly gaining a kajillion pounds a week. I currently weigh 137 lbs, for a total weight gain of 22 lbs. That total isn’t huge, but the fact that like 4 of those pounds have happened in the past week is. Maybe less cheese and more carrots? (“But I LOVE cheese”, she whines petulantly).

Going forward I am counting on Murphy’s Law working in our favour – since we have everything ready and waiting to go at a moments notice, I’m hoping the next 28 days will be boring and uneventful. (As opposed to if we were unprepared, in which case the baby would probably bust a move outta there like, today).

Adam is still on his cleaning/organizing/fixing kick, and I think Sarah hit the nail on the head when she said “He’s nesting!”

Except I guess for men, instead of washing baby clothes and hoarding cloth diapers, nesting includes doing a lot of work to your truck that looks like this:

      

Welding and drilling and…well I don’t know what else is going on in there honestly, but he seems pretty happy doing it!

I will close this update by saying that the baby has been lying head down for a while now, and because I can sort of visualize his/her position, I can identify the movement of what can only be hands, and it is pretty much the weirdest thing ever.

I feel them reach out and sort of trickle along my sides by my hipbones, in that weird uncontrolled flailing motion you see so often in newborns. I feel them sliding up and down and I alternate between feeling tickled and feeling sick. Because seriously dude, you are tickling me FROM THE INSIDE! I had no idea it would feel like this, no idea that body parts would feel so distinct.

Happy 33 weeks, Baby! 4 more to go!

(Also, we still don’t have baby names. Well we do and we don’t. My sisters keep boycotting one, Adam vetoes the other, I’m falling out of love with my boy name and you know what? Calling the baby STEVE is looking better and better each day)