Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 29: Winding Down and Gearing Up

Week 29 was also the second to last week that I had at home. The to do's that had been waiting until go time were finally ready to be checked off, and the sort of anticipation and excitement that comes with any big change started to fill my heart.

I spent the week doing what I could to prepare for our trip to Turkey. Making sure we had all of the supplies needed for the dogs' to fly, confirming their vet appointment to ensure their health clearances would be done in time for our departure, applying for the Military Star Card (*interesting tidbit - gas in Turkey is like $9 a gallon (!!!)  but you can get the Star Card and have a chip installed in your car so you will be able to purchase gas off base at on base (American) prices), organizing our documents, and working on my game plan for maximizing time with family before we leave.

I worked in a mountaintop dinner at the Pisgah Inn with my Mamaw and Papaw, a pedicure date with sister and my mom, followed by a delicious dinner al fresco at the Oyster House in West Asheville, a late lunch with Will's mom and grandmother, and a sort of impromptu dinner of pizza pie at Standard Pizza Co. with my parents, sister and Jeffry, and Jill and Missy (can you tell I was trying to work in some restaurants at the last minute after basically not eating out all summer?). Then the weekend filled up with an early Saturday breakfast at my cousin Tug's, followed by a family reunion, and a rainy night originally intended to be spent downtown substituted with a family outing to the bowling alley. I was holding my position as the overall winner with a big score of 145 until in the very last game my Dad pulled out a 165 and totally smoked me. I'll demand a rematch when I don't have a bowling ball attached to me getting in the way ;)

This week everyone's guesses as to what Baby J is seemed to change due to the way I am carrying. In this picture it looks like I have a torpedo belly. So now everyone is guessing it's a boy.

Sunday I finally made it to church with my mom and dad, ate a quick lunch at my Granny's, then went back to the church for our last baby shower. I wasn't quite sure who would be attending, but was absolutely amazed when an entire fellowship hall of friends and family showed up. It was a beautiful shower, and Baby J was spoiled rotten. Unfortunately all of the pictures my mom took were accidentally deleted from her memory card so I don't have much to show for it, but the theme was The Best Nest book. The tables were decorated with fresh flowers and real birds' nests the host and her son had collected over the years when he was a little boy. We had cake and my favorite church mints (what's not to love about butter and sugar mints??), and church punch. Everyone decorated little onesies and t-shirts, and by the end we had about two tables full of goodies for the baby.

That afternoon my parents and I worked to sort through all of the baby stuff I have received or bought while home, washing the newborn stuff so it was ready to go, removing packaging to maximize space, and packing what we could into Will's big green military sack which I will check as luggage on our flight, and the rest into boxes to be shipped. Thanks to my Dad and I's excellent packing skills we managed to fit everything into three boxes for shipping. I still anticipate a hefty shipping cost, but I feel like it could have been much worse.

That night I ended the week over at Sister's for another Sunday dinner.

It was a full week, with not too many changes on the baby front. I learned that as the baby is getting bigger and slowly running out of space to "swim" around in there, the kicks become less frequent and the bigger movements like rolling or a jab to the rib become more prevalent. I've been seeing a lot more movement from the outside than than before, and Little Bit has made it a hobby to roll over my bladder from time to time putting me in a panic to find a bathroom. Ahh the joys of pregnancy :)

With just 11 weeks to go I'm getting so excited to meet this little person. I'm also realizing that I don't think I've done near enough research on how to actually care for a newborn baby. I woke up this morning wondering how the heck I'm supposed to know their schedule. I know new babies typically eat every 2-3 hours, and nap pretty much on and off for 2-4 hours at a time throughout the day and night, but exactly what time does that routine start? Haha! I realize when the baby arrives I will probably fall into their routine naturally, but being the planner that I am I can't help but want to know what kind of schedule I'm looking at...which I realize is impossible. But to appease my poor mind I will probably be picking up a few books in the next few weeks so I will feel a little more prepared.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts On The Move

On Sunday my Aunt Jill, Missy, cousin Nedge, and sister tried to prolong the weekend as long as possible. In full on gusto-grabbing mode we chased the sun all day until it finally went down behind the mountains and Hannah had to hit the road back to Asheville if she hoped to make work the next morning. But just before our Sunday funday ended, we slowed the boat down, turned on our "cove playlist" and soaked up the last few minutes on the water.

I had been on a day-long search for a position that would give my back some relief from the constant tightness and stretching, and found myself on the front seat of the boat with sister. Jokingly I laid back on her, expecting her normal reaction of pushing me off and scoffing at the idea that she would allow me to use her as a pillow. To my surprise she not only let me lay back, but wrapped her arm around me to make me more comfortable. Within a minute or so the whole boat got quiet, and I could feel her chest rise and fall in quick spurts, then big breaths. I knew she was crying. I refused to look around because I could tell everyone on the boat had gone quiet, and I couldn't handle seeing the tears on anyones faces. I was doing all I could to fight back my own.

For a few moments I felt my throat close up, my chest tighten, and my eyes burned. I desperately tried to find any other thought to fill my head and take away the feeling of sadness and disregard the ending that is coming in a matter of days.

It's those moments that make moving feel like your whole world is ending.

It's also those moments that I have to fight to take a step back and remember that it isn't.

Turkey is only two years. With any luck I'll be back home, with a new baby, in just four months. In less than a year, family will start making trips to our new home to visit and explore places they've never been (and probably never thought they would go). In less than two weeks I will finally have my husband back. In three months we will welcome our first child. In a matter of days we will finally get to live overseas, fulfilling a lifelong dream of ours.

Our world isn't ending. In so many ways it's just beginning.

I hate to always seem insensitive to my family by shutting down morose conversation discussing us leaving, I hope they realize my heart is tearing in two as well, but I seriously can't think about leaving and what and who we will miss, if I'm ever going to survive.

It always feels as if the heartbreak is ongoing. A wrestling match between an insatiable desire to see the world, and an unending love for my family. And often, a wrestling match between being with my husband and being with my family, as the two seldom seem to coincide. My happiness seems to live in two separate worlds and I wonder if I would explode if the two ever came together.

It's a clash of crazy excitement, met with the sadness of leaving. The thrill of the unknown, met with the loss of the comforts that create the "home" you know and love. The need to move on, met with the feeling that you are leaving everyone behind. And the realization that you don't know if there will ever be a solution that leaves you, and those you love, content.

I keep reminding myself to be thankful I was able to be home for two months instead of one...and that I got to come home at all. To appreciate that I still have almost two weeks left, which was the amount of time I considered to be substantial when we were able to come home from South Dakota to visit for Christmas.

I'm having a hard time leaving feeling like I didn't "live it up" while I've been here. Unfortunately the summer months aren't a time when everyone is off work and available to play. In some ways it feels like I've barely seen anyone or done anything. But that's another situation where I can't dwell on what I have or haven't done.

Moving both sucks, and is wonderful all at the same time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 28: Playing Dress Up & More Tests

This past week was full of a bit of nonsense. I spent the beginning of the week at the lake with my parents, then drove back to Asheville in time to work on a little DIY crafting project and do a maternity photo shoot session, before heading back to the lake for the weekend.

Putting It In Pictures
I've been a little disheartened about my maternity photo shoot, since I had pictured months ago a sort of rustic, boho, campy session, and of course a simple flower crown and some kind of flowing lacy dress. But then everywhere I turned it seemed like people were wearing flower crowns and lace. By the time the shoot rolled around I was less than enthusiastic about the sort of theme I had in mind, but in spite of the fact that the whole flower crown/boho look is beyond overdone at this point, I'm still very happy with how the photos turned out. I can't tell you how many times I considered just canceling, but I'm thankful to have documentation of this special little miracle. Will and I didn't do any kind of engagement photos, and outside of a handful (and I mean literally like 4 or 5) photos of the two of us at our wedding, we don't have any professional photos of our family. Unfortunately he couldn't make it for the session, but it's nice to have some photos taken by someone who really knows what they are doing. These are a few of the photos I've received in the "sneak peek" from the photographer. I always feel like such a goober when having my picture taken. The "serious face" is my arch nemesis, but Gabrielle did an amazing job of disguising the goober :) I can't wait to see the rest!

Growing Pains
I haven't talked much recently about body changes and how I'm feeling in general. Overall I'm still very, very thankful to say that I still feel good. As in, I'm fully functional and don't feel like pregnancy is just totally wearing me down and making me miserable. With that said, that doesn't mean I don't have a few aches and pains. Pretty much daily, from mid-afternoon on, it feels like whatever muscles and ligaments run from my back through the side of my belly are just stretched to the max. Like, I would love to have a belly brace to help hold it up. Mostly this is on the right side, and I think it's due to my right hip being out of place. I went to the chiropractor a couple of weeks ago for a quick adjustment and confirmed my suspicions that my hips are out of whack, explaining the pain I've been feeling.

*On a side note ladies, I also learned that getting at least a few chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy is not only beneficial in regards to helping you feel better, but getting your pelvis and such properly aligned can help line up the birth canal reducing your labor time by up to four hours!

I'm hoping to get at least one more adjustment before we leave for Turkey. I would give anything to have a chiropractor friend that would just adjust my back, hips and neck every day or so!

The Latest Tests
At this last doctor's appointment I was subjected to a few more tests. Generally at this point in pregnancy you are tested for gestational diabetes, retested for things like HIV and the RH factor, and a test for your hemoglobin level.

Unfortunately my hemoglobin was low (I learned that my mother and my grandmother's have always been low as well). I wasn't technically anemic, but I was only off by 0.2 so I was instructed to either take a supplement or focus on increasing my iron intake in my foods. A major side effect of iron supplements is constipation, and not to get into too many details but so far I haven't had that issue and I wanted to avoid it if possible. So as usual I've turned to relying on foods to try to give my iron intake a boost. Today's lunch was a dark green salad topped with whole oysters. It wasn't delicious, but I would much rather eat real foods than deal with the consequences of a pill.

I refused the gestational diabetes test. And BEFORE any of you reading get your panties in a wad, let me explain my reasoning. First, contrary to what many (if not all) doctors want you to believe, you have the option to refuse pretty much any test and procedure you don't want during your pregnancy. There aren't any laws requiring you to participate in any of the routine checks and tests. However, many of the tests and procedures are done for very good reasons that include making sure you and baby are healthy, and that anything preventable is taken care of along the way.

For the most part I've been fine with everything I've been asked to do, but when it came to gestational diabetes I just really felt it was unnecessary. Based on the risk factors, I was considered very low risk. But my reasoning didn't end there. Our main objective it to have a natural (drug free) birth. In order for us to be given that chance, I need to remain as low risk as possible. The GD test is based off of a blood test measuring your body's reaction to a sugary drink (that just so happens to be FILLED with disgusting and terrible ingredients). Not only is the scenario in which the test is administered not representative of a typical meal or real-life situation (most people don't fast then sit down and eat spoonfuls of sugar), but often times women receive a false positive result (this happens even more frequently in women who typically eat a clean, low sugar diet), which then leads them to have to endure a longer 3 hour test to determine if they really do, in fact, have gestational diabetes. About 15-23% of women receive a positive on the first test, but only a third of those women are actually diagnosed with GD. All in all, only 2-5% of expectant mothers actually develop gestational diabetes.

While this may seem harmless, a false positive result can cause you to be labeled as a higher risk pregnancy, setting you up for more medical interventions and an even harder fight to have a natural birth.

Beyond that, in most cases, even if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is usually managed by diet and exercise. Only in rare cases are insulin treatments needed. I felt like I already make it a priority to eat healthy, and being diagnosed would not really change how I approach my nutrition.

And lastly, and possibly the most important, when I researched how gestational diabetes affects babies, I learned that the effects are minimal, and all easily treatable. These include macrosomia (a large baby) which could result in the need for a c-section (although it is very common for women to give birth to 9-11 lb babies completely naturally), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar generally corrected by breastfeeding upon birth), jaundice, respiratory distress syndrome (in which case they will be given oxygen at birth), and low calcium or magnesium which can be treated with supplements if severe enough to warrant it.

So I said no, and I do not regret it. I did a lot of research and talked extensively with my Bradley instructor and Will before making this decision. Surprisingly my doctor agreed that I was low risk and didn't give me much grief about it. She appreciated that I had done my research and had valid reasons for refusing the test. Everyone has to make a decision for themselves and their body and baby, and I feel confident in this decision for us. My advice always is to research, research, research and ask lots of questions...then do what feels right and comfortable for you.

Feeling That Precious Little Body
The newest experience I've had was feeling Baby J's little body. I was driving home from the lake and happened to rub my hand along my stomach and felt this hard little mass nestled against my belly to the right of my belly button. It's the first time I have been able to feel something solid in there and it was pretty amazing. It didn't care for my poking and prodding and moved away pretty quickly, but it was definitely another step in making this all feel that much more real. It's been much harder than I anticipated to feel connected to the baby, and to accept that there is a real human being in there. I'm happy to say that each day as the kicks and rolls are more pronounced, and now that I've actually felt a little body, it's becoming easier to think of the baby as a person. I'm dying to get to know it's personality, to see what a combination and myself and Will will look like, and to experience the change in the dynamic of our little family. For so long you think of it as just a baby, and then you realize that it's actually another soul, a new member of your clan, and a whole other personality that is joining your family. That is a really exciting thing to think about. It's like waiting to meet a new friend :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Week 27: A Solid Dose of Vitamin D and a Visit from Dad

Our activities in the last week have been limited to applying sunscreen, floating in the water, and seeking some breeze by way of cruising down the lake on my aunt's boat. Life at the lake is hard.

Trying to Not Compare Baby to an Alien
The baby's movements have gone from a small kick here and there to full on boxing sessions against my belly button, and a series of acrobatic rolls when I'm trying to go to sleep. I love thinking of those little punches as part of the baby's personality, but I'll also admit, when it's rolling around in there I can't let myself think too much about it or I get totally weirded out that there is actually something alive in there moving and squirming around. No one wants to compare their baby to the aliens you watch move around in the peoples' bellies before Sigourney Weaver comes to the rescue...but I can't say the thought hasn't crossed my mind. Sadly Will has missed most of these moments of activity. It seems any time he is around the baby is totally calm. I keep telling him it may be a good sign that his voice and touch calms it down. 

Another Milestone
This week wraps up the second trimester according to most of the sources I've found. It seems like the second trimester flew by. It's hard to accept that we are already in the final stretch. 13 weeks is still a significant amount of time to go, but seeing as it will be filled with a move to Turkey, trying to settle in our new life, and then moving onto Germany for the last few weeks, I think it's safe to say time is going to fly by. I'm happy to know that if Little Bit decided to come early it would have a better than 90% chance of surviving at this point. I still want it to stay in there and bake till it's good and ready, but I can't help but feel impatient sometimes to meet this little person that is going to change our lives so completely. 

The Last Few Weeks in NC
Time has dwindled down and I'm looking at the last three weeks at home. I've got one more free weekend, then a weekend with a family reunion and one last baby shower, then we leave the third weekend. 

I don't really feel sad (yet). Once again I've adopted my survival tactic of just not thinking about what July 26 really means. It would be easy to get caught up in thinking about leaving, and having to say goodbye again just when I've started to feel settled in again. Luckily unlike our last move to South Dakota, I'm REALLY excited about Turkey. At this point I'm already convinced we are going to run out of time and money long before we do everything we want to do there. It also doesn't hurt that I've barely seen my husband all summer...and I miss him a lot. 

This coming week I'm spending a few days with my mom and dad at the lake house then heading home for a maternity photo shoot and another doctor appointment. These days are slow and I'm trying to soak up all the relaxation and rest I can knowing that in the coming weeks and once baby arrives those things may be non-existent in my life. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 26: Running the Roads

If there is one major difference between home and South Dakota (although I know I've named a few more than one), it is that there is A LOT going on. It's easy to think about summer and make grand plans to spend the majority of your time horizontal on a floaty in some body of water, but in reality, there are things to do and people to see. I love that I come from a large family that values spending time together and celebrating life's milestones and events...but that can mean a lot of slots filled up in your calendar. I remember when Will and I first started dating and he would complain about having to go back to Asheville (we lived in Charlotte at the time) for the third weekend in a row for another Sunday birthday dinner. Since then we've both agreed that it only makes sense to either live IN Asheville, or far enough away that driving in every weekend just isn't feasible. Otherwise you basically live in Asheville and just commute to Charlotte for the workweek. But I wouldn't trade the time with my family for the world.

This past week the tables were turned a bit. I ended up going down to Charlotte to visit Jill and Missy for a few days. We didn't do much besides eat and talk, but I got in some much needed rest (I think baby is going through a growth spurt this week) and I was able to see Charlotte and visit their house possibly for the last time. Jill is retiring in a few years and plans to move back to Asheville, and obviously we will be in Turkey for the next two years, so it's possible we may not have the opportunity to visit again.

Although I'm so excited about them moving to Asheville, and Lord knows I really don't like Charlotte, I'll still admit it will be bittersweet when they pack up. Most of my life has been highlighted with trips to visit Jill in the big city. I remember when I was younger how much I loved and anticipated going down to visit for a few days after Christmas, or getting to go for a weekend to catch a concert. I'll always cherish memories of curling up on Jill's white sectional couch and watching Curly Sue and Sister Act for the upteenth time, and marveling at all the big buildings and twinkling lights that lit up the city. I loved it so much that I went to college there. In those years following my love for Charlotte faded, but the city and its memories will always hold a place in my heart.

Showers in the Forecast
The weekend was full of showers. Baby showers. And this time not for myself. I'm convinced there is a major baby boom going on this year. It seems like everyone I know is pregnant, including multiple members of my family. Saturday morning we had a shower for my cousins girlfriend Tieghan. My mom came up with the adorable idea to put my cousin's well-used and much loved Tonka trucks to use for the decor, and we all showered baby Evan with love on my Mamaw and Papaw's patio. I think we were all a little skeptical of how the Tonka theme would turn out, but I'm happy to say it was way cuter than any of us thought it would be.

That afternoon we made our way to another part of town for my cousin Erin's shower. I have to give two thumbs up to the hostesses. Everything was beautiful, and they did a great job coming up with unique ideas for the shower. One activity included videoing Erin answering a few questions about her pregnancy and being a parent alongside her husband Brock. Brock had also been asked the same questions and his answers had been turned into a sweet video filled with pictures of their journey through the last 9 months. I kept thinking that would be such a fun keepsake to show your child one day.

And to end the already very long day we met up with my cousin Brittany and her husband Brett for drinks and dinner (the cousins all dressed in black totally by coincidence) and then sitting for a spell on my mom and dad's porch.

Shakin' A Leg
This week baby made up for lost time. I had been feeling kind of bummed about not feeling a ton of baby kicks, but Baby decided this week to give me what I asked for. This week I actually saw a kick for the first time. As in saw my belly moving and popping around while Junior decided to practice its kickboxing. Baby J has also taken to using bedtime as time to work on its somersaults. It feels like little one is rolling around in there while I'm trying to get some zzz's.

I've been tired this week. I don't know if the baby is going through a growth spurt and sucking every last bit of energy out of me, or if just a week away from the third trimester the exhaustion is already setting back in. I hope its the former because we've still got a lot of transition to get through in the next couple of months and I need all the energy I can get!

I've been lax on taking belly shots the past couple of weeks so I've made a mental note to make that happen this week. We are taking a week of rest and relaxation at the lake, so look forward to a nice preggo belly bikini shot in the near future :)