So July was a big month for us. We closed on our house. We moved. I wrapped things up at work and survived the tail end of what was, honestly, a really delightful pregnancy.
And then, on August 2, we said hello to Henry.
There’s a long, drawn out story to read below – if you want the bullet points, here they are:
• He was born at 9:51 p.m.
• Labor was a beast and I had an epidural and there is no shame in my game.
• He weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz.
• He is absolutely the most beautiful baby ever to be born in any hospital.
I started having contractions around bedtime the night of August 1. Not at regular intervals and not more painful than I could handle – just occasional tightened-up feelings in my belly and back. I went to sleep thinking it would probably be a couple more days before things really got going.
And suddenly, it was 3:00 and I was wide awake, feeling significantly MORE tightened-up feelings and at far more regular intervals. The piece of paper hanging on my fridge told me to call the doctor when the contractions came every five minutes for at least an hour, so I opened up the Sprout app on my phone, hopped in the bathtub, and started timing.
After an hour of five-minutes-apart contractions, I woke Josh up to tell him I thought this might be it. We scrambled to finish packing our bags and I let my Mom know that she should probably get ready to start her drive down from Virginia soon. I called my doctor’s office, and the nurse who answered told me to stay at home for now, since I was still able to talk through the contractions, but to go ahead and plan on coming in to the office when they opened in the morning. I ate a Trader Joe’s pop-tart and tried to sleep some more, but that was pretty hopeless. I was too excited (and nervous) to close my eyes and rest.
Mom got to our house at around 7:00. We ate breakfast and hung around as calmly as possible while my contractions kept progressing. I called the doctor’s office back at around 9:00 and they told me to come on in.
I was pretty anxious heading to the office. What if I hadn’t progressed at all? What if they sent me home? Luckily, my doctor gave me a quick once-over and told me this was the real deal. I was 4cm dilated and 90% effaced – and so relieved that the contractions I’d been having all morning were getting some work done. We headed over to the hospital, where things got tougher (and tougher, and tougher).
The doctor came in to break my water, and my contractions quickly ramped up from mildly uncomfortable to the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I had to stay in bed for a long time — the nurses kept telling me they needed to monitor me for “20 more minutes,” which wound up lasting a few hours. I think having to stay still made my discomfort a lot worse than it would have been if I had been able to move around and use all the cool poses and positions we learned in our classes. Once I was allowed to move, I was too far gone to do anything other than sit in my rocking chair and make animal noises. I was out of my mind – I couldn’t talk or move or do anything other than try and survive the contractions. They were coming fast and furious – I was NOT getting the three minute breaks I was promised in childbirth class!
When the doctor came back in to check me, I hadn’t made nearly as much progress as I had hoped – and so I asked for an epidural. No second thoughts – I knew I needed help if I was going to survive this. Unfortunately, the epidural only worked halfway – meaning my legs were numb, but I could still feel every bit of every terrible contraction. I felt pretty hopeless at that point – completely unable to move AND in just as much pain as ever.
Luckily, something big happened then – the nurses had their shift change. Into my room breezed an angel named Meleena, who took one look at me and declared that none of this was going to work. Up until this point, my nurses had been scarce – pretty much only coming in to read the printouts from my monitors and change my towels. When Meleena showed up, she saw that we needed to make some changes, NOW. Her first move was to start rocking me back and forth to get Henry turned around into a better position. Unfortunately, my contractions were so intense that I threw up from the pain. When she realized I was still feeling my contractions that extremely, she called the anesthesiologist to give me more medicine. She tucked more warm blankets around me and told me things were going to be ok soon – and she was right. Within 15 minutes, the epidural was working (for real this time) and I was human again. I introduced myself to Meleena and pledged my undying love to her. Mom and Josh couldn’t believe the change – I know they were glad to see me back to myself again.
No more than 20 minutes after my miraculous transformation, Meleena checked me and told me we were ready to start pushing. Lucky for us, I was a pushing PRO. Three contractions later, Henry was crying and squirming in my arms, beautiful and healthy and hungry and the most perfect little thing I have ever seen in my life.
“You’re ready to pop!”
“Any day now, right?”
“You sure there’s just one baby in there?”
“He’s going to be a BIG BABY!”
“You won’t make it to your due date!”
It’s like every stranger is a doctor, everyone thinks you’re WAY bigger than you should be, and everyone is certain that you’re going to deliver earlier than your actual doctor thinks you are. And all this insistence that my time as a pregnant mom-to-be is going to be OVER BEFORE I KNOW IT is kind of bumming me out.
The actual comments aren’t a problem. Well, that’s a lie. I just got done crying to Josh on the phone over something someone said to me at work – so yes, the comments are a problem. I mean, think about it. NO woman enjoys the insinuation that she is ”HUGE” or “SO BIG” or that her baby is some kind of extra-large genetic monster who is going to rip her in half on his way out. In no other situation is it appropriate to point out to a woman and anyone else in the surrounding area that she has gained a TON of weight and her stomach has evolved from belly to planet-in-orbit.
But in the grand scheme of things, the comments are meant with the best of intentions – just the kind of thing people say to a pregnant woman when they aren’t sure what else to say. (Not that this makes it ok. Please, world, stop and think before you tell a pregnant woman how ginormous you think she is. It’s never a nice thing to say to a person – especially if that person is someone you only sort-of know!) Hurt feelings aside, Poncey is perfectly sized and growing steadily and my doctor hasn’t given me any reason to believe I’ll have anything other than a normal, on-time, healthy, average-sized baby boy. I’m not worried.
Here is what does make me a little sad: I feel so rushed when I get these comments.
I have loved being pregnant. LOVED IT. I haven’t been sick, I haven’t been terribly uncomfortable, I haven’t had any problems to speak of. I have had a textbook pregnancy, and it has been one of the best times of my life. I know that once Poncey gets here, time is going to shift into warp speed immediately.
If everything goes according to plan, we’ve only got about 45 more days to wait. 45 more days to dream of what his nose is going to look like, to plan his nursery and guess his hair color and imagine his little hands and feet grabbing and kicking as he gets to know the outside world. 45 more days where it’s just me and Josh and our quiet little life together. 45 wonderful days where Poncey is 100% safe and content while the rest of us do everything we can to prepare our world for his arrival.
I’m trying to savor every last minute of my time with Poncey before the big day arrives – and don’t get me wrong, I am SO EXCITED to meet him and see his face and show him off to the world. But I don’t want a single minute to go by faster than it has to. And when the rest of the world is pushing you forward, insisting that this wonderful time of my life is going to be over sooner than it needs to be…I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that I wish everyone would just slow down and let this happen as it happens.
Either way, he’ll be here before we know it. There’s no need to rush.
So here we are, officially in the third trimester! Days are seeming to creep by at a snails pace while weeks are disappearing faster than I ever thought possible. We still have SO MUCH to do before “Poncey” (that’s my nickname for Baby Cole – we joked about naming him Ponce De Leon and I decided I liked the sound of it) arrives, and I’m starting to wonder how we’re ever going to find the time to get it all done.
No stressing, though. We’ve got a lot to power through, but I somehow still have faith that everything will fall together when it’s supposed to.
How big is baby?
Depending on which app you ask, Poncey is now the size of a cucumber or a head of lettuce. He’s big enough that I’m now feeling every little move he makes, and we’re not talking little butterfly flutters and angel kisses. This kid has muscles and he is using them to try and make more room for himself inside my uterus, which means I’m spending a lot of my time trying to shift into a position that’s comfortable for both of us, which is kind of like searching for the Holy Grail.
How big am I?
I’m up 24 lbs. from my starting weight and feeling every pound of it. Gone are the days of my pre-pregnancy shirts and dresses stretching over my belly. I understand maternity options have come a long way over the past few years, but there’s still not a lot to choose from that fits into my budget – so I’ve stocked up on regular maxi dresses and upsized flowy shirts to mix in with my maternity clothes. It seems like I outgrow another item of clothing each week – this belly is growing at hyper-speed, and I’m just trying to help my closet keep up.
How am I feeling?
Good! Still good! Of course, I’m getting uncomfortable. I’m 30 weeks pregnant. These things are to be expected. My tailbone hurts, my back is sore, my feet ache, my belly is heavy. But every time I start to feel sorry for myself, I read a pregnancy blog or a message board post from some poor woman who is still vomiting every day or who wets the bed every night, and I am quickly reminded of how easy I have it. Despite my aches and ever-increasing size, I feel healthier than I have in years, and I am well aware of what a lucky duck that makes me.
What am I eating?
I have to admit, I’ve gotten a little slack in recent weeks – I’ve been eating with convenience in mind over health, and I need to knock it off. There have been some major players in my diet throughout this pregnancy, and those are still around: strawberries, avocados, carrots, ice cream, and chocolate are still in strong rotation. Now that all these summer fruits are coming into season, I’m adding in nectarines and watermelon to the snack lineup. And of course, it’s prime popsicle time.
I’m still so happy and excited – I find myself laughing all the time, relishing the pure joy that comes with knowing that Poncey is growing and wiggling and sleeping and dreaming. I think about him constantly – about holding him, about his little face, about sitting around at home with my little family. This is such a wonderful time, and I know it’s only going to get better.
I’ve just got to get through this sweaty, achey, awkward, uncomfortable, pregnant summer.
He was sleeping. Our sheets soft and cool, our room exactly the perfect temperature. He came home from work and immediately started working from home, grading quizzes and reading essays until finally he had checked enough off his to-do list to earn his reward: a few short hours of sweet, blissful sleep.
It couldn’t have been long after he came to bed that he was jolted awake. By his wife. Who had clearly lost her mind.
I blinked my eyes groggily and looked over at Josh, sleeping so sweetly beside me. I wondered for a second why I was awake, but my thoughts were interrupted by a soft scratching noise. Confused, I struggled to focus — and then I saw it. It was big, and it was green, and it was crawling just inches from my beloved’s face. I sprang into action.
I sat straight up in bed and threw the covers off of both of us. I scrambled for the light, knocking things around on the night stand until I finally found the lamp’s pull-chain. Josh blinked, bleary eyed and half asleep, as I threw my pillows off the bed and then started clawing at his, grabbing at his shoulders and shaking to try and move him out of my way.
“Corley, you’re dreaming!” he tried to tell me. “This is a dream!”
But I wasn’t dreaming. I was wide awake and chock-full of adrenaline and sure of one thing: there was a praying mantis somewhere in our bed.
“It’s REAL this time!” I kept shouting. “This time it’s not a dream! This time it’s REAL!”
All he could do was try and talk me back to rational consciousness. He tried to grab my shoulders, but I dodged, busy running my hands over the fitted sheet as if I had lost a contact. Only I hadn’t lost a contact. I had lost a praying mantis, and I needed to find it NOW.
I know why I kept telling him “It’s real this time!” — because crazy dream Corley is self-aware. She knows that her testimony is shaky in these situations. Since we’ve been married, I have done this to Josh no less than ten times. I have dreamed about our bed being infiltrated by spiders, snakes, mice, birds and (my personal favorite) a lobster. Each time, of course, I have been proven wrong by logic and a thorough search of the bed. Bt this time. THIS TIME. All those other times were just drills for this time, because THIS was the real deal. Code green with big front claws and skinny legs and an alien face. Initiate PRAYING MANTIS PROTOCOL.
I remember my frantic search, but I don’t remember coming to my senses. Eventually, I guess, Josh got through to me and convinced me that there probably wasn’t really a praying mantis lurking beneath our pillows. Reason must have won out in the end, because we did fall back asleep, giggling this morning over my crazy mantis-hunting nocturnal adventure.
Honestly, I’m still giggling. It’s pretty ridiculous, right? A praying mantis in my bed. Of all the random nightmares.
I’m sleeping with a flashlight and a flip flop tonight, though. Just in case. Provided Josh doesn’t banish me and my nighttime extermination gig to the guest room.
Friday could not come soon enough this week! J and I both crashed before 9:00 last night – they do say you should get as much sleep as possible before the baby comes, but I think last night’s toddler bedtime was pushing it just a little. For some reason, this week has just sucked the life out of me – I’m so ready for a weekend of fun and relaxing (and plenty of napping, let’s be real).
This week’s Favorite Things make up a fun list – starting with the sweet puppy pictured here. I know animals are hyper-intuitive, but I was still skeptical when I first read in my pregnancy book that our dogs can likely sense that I’ve got a bun in the oven. We’ve got a dog who can’t tell the difference between a real threat and her own reflection; how could she possibly have the intuition to know that I’m going to have a baby?
And yet Reno, our hound dog, has changed a LOT in the past few months. She’s still a clumsy, crazy, thunderbolt of a dog, but she’s gotten really attached to me – walking right by my side whenever I move through the house, crying by the door to get to where I am, snuggling up to me every morning and every night, resting her head right on my belly. It’s so sweet, and I love all the extra snuggles.
More Favorite Things for this week:
• I love everything about this reddit thread, in which a 9-year-old girl gets a bunch of microscope slide suggestions from some really kind scientists.
• In addiction-feeding news, this Little Women tote bag would make a fantastic addition to my collection!
• This cat who loves his vacuum cleaner is guaranteed to make you giggle, provided you have a heart and a sense of humor.
• My multi-talented hero Felicia Day is just showing off now in this dreamy Maroon 5 – Snow White mashup collaboration with LuieLand:
• And if you didn’t already know about Miranda Sings…well…you’re welcome:
My name is Miranda you can call me Miranda.
If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed I took a fall last week:
Just wiped out in public, which is not a new thing for me. But this time, I’m pregnant, which makes running away unnoticed WAY tougher.
— Corley (@corleymay) April 24, 2013
Heading home now to take care of my bruised knees. And ego. Can you ice your pride?
— Corley (@corleymay) April 24, 2013
I deserve a milkshake.
— Corley (@corleymay) April 24, 2013
When I say I fell, I mean I FELL. All the way down. The bags I was carrying flew through the air. There was a nightmarishly loud THUD as I hit the ground – knees, then elbows, then the rest of me. I heard a ringing in my ears. I felt my pulse in my face. I thought I might vomit. It was humiliating. It was painful. I gathered myself up from the cold tile floor, assuring people (and there were so many people) as I left that I was FINE and the baby was FINE and I just wanted to GO HOME, PLEASE. I limped to my car. I called Josh to tell him what happened. He left work right away. I did not cry.
I stopped for a milkshake on the way home, which I ate with a spoon on the back porch, my leg propped up on a chair, mom on the phone. I told her the whole terrible story. I still did not cry.
Josh got home and sprang into action. He got me ice for my knee, set me up on the couch, propped a pillow behind my back, started cooking dinner. He let me vent about how embarrassed I was, he was appropriately sympathetic to my already swelling and bruising knee. I told him the whole story again. And still, not a tear.
Eventually, Josh headed back into the kitchen to finish dinner.
He called to me from the stove – “What do you want on your pasta?”
“Butter and parmesan cheese,” I answered. “Lots of parmesan cheese.”
“You got it,” he said. I heard him open the fridge. And then there was a terrible pause.
“…Corley? Did you buy parmesan cheese?” he asked.
I should clarify something here: I didn’t ask him to buy parmesan cheese. I hadn’t mentioned that we needed any cheese. Short of reading my mind, Josh would have had absolutely NO WAY of knowing we needed parmesan cheese for dinner.
“I thought YOU bought it,” I replied.
There was another pause, and I could tell Josh was choosing his next words very carefully.
“I don’t think we have any, babe,” he said gently.
You guys, this next part is not an exaggeration. When I heard that we were out of parmesan, I threw my arm over my eyes like an overwhelmed debutante from the early 1900s and cried out “I CAN’T BELIEEEEVE IT.” And then I burst into tears.
And here’s what a champion my husband is. He calmly walked over to the side of the couch. He sweetly gazed down at me, a sniveling, roly-poly mess of tears and matted hair and smeared mascara. He tenderly placed his hand on the side of my face. And he said this:
“I know your knee hurts really bad, and that’s why you’re crying.”
HE GAVE ME AN OUT. He could have called me on the absolute craziness that is crying over cheese. He could have laughed at me. He could have told me to suck it up. He could have pointed out that healthy, responsible grown-ups shouldn’t eat pasta with butter and cheese for dinner. And instead, he gave me the chance to pretend I wasn’t crying over the cheese at all – that I was in the throes of injury, a warrior whose pain was simply too much to bear any longer.
“Stay there,” he told me. “I’ll be right back.”
“Where are you going?” I sniffled. And then Josh, my darling hero of a husband, stood up straight and said the most beautiful words I have ever heard.
“I’m going to get you some cheese.”
[eggplant watercolor source]
Somehow it has been 10 weeks since my last update. I always thought I would be the type of pregnant lady who documents every symptom, every twinge, every kick. Who takes weekly belly photos and updates her blog obsessively to keep a well-catalogued and exhaustive record of her pregnancy.
And yet, here I am. 10 weeks between updates, just floating along, not sure of when my belly “popped” or when I went from bloated to bumped. I think it’s that I have had such an easy time of it all – there really hasn’t been much going on, except for the fact that I seem to get bigger every single day. Sometimes several times a day.
So how are things going at 26 weeks?
How big is baby?
According to The Bump, I’ve got a baby the size of a head of lettuce, or an eggplant, depending on your preference. I was shocked to see such big vegetables at first, but considering how often I’m getting kicked and shoved from inside my own stomach, I can buy it. Baby Cole is growing, and he’s growing fast.
How big am I?
I’m up 15 lbs from the day we found out, which my doctor says is right on track. It took me a while to start gaining – I lost some at first, and then it was like I stayed at the same weight for a few weeks while everything shifted around to my belly. There’s no denying that I have a baby belly, which I love. I’m trying to stock up on cute, lightweight maternity dresses to get me and my growing belly through the coming Carolina summer.
How am I feeling?
Wonderful. I hear horror stories from women who were sick for months on end, and I know I am so lucky to have skipped that part. I have plenty of energy, my spirits are high, and I’m sleeping like a rock. Now that I’m bigger, I am starting to experience some of the back pain I knew was coming. To combat, I bought a hemorrhoid pillow to sit on at work, and I’m icing my back and tailbone pretty much every evening. A few weeks ago, I talked with a woman on a message board who said she spends her day sitting on bags of frozen peas, rotating them as they thaw. I giggled at the idea when I read it, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider scooping up a few bags from the Trader Joe’s frozen aisle yesterday. My own frozen pea time is probably coming soon.
What am I eating?
I’m still maintaining a fairly well- balanced diet, but my main cravings have been pretty steady throughout: Strawberries, Bananas, Avocados, and Ice Cream. At about 20 weeks, my doctor told me I was coming in a little under my target weight, which I took as an excuse to go a little crazy ordering and eating whatever I want. Now that I’m back up to speed, it’s time to show a little restraint and climb back on the healthy choices wagon – or at least cut back my milkshake intake from daily to every-other-daily.
As I mentioned at 13 weeks, my Sjogren’s Syndrome/Lupus puts me at an elevated risk for congenital heart block. The risk is highest in the second trimester, which is why we’ve been monitoring baby closely for signs of a block. Since 17 weeks, I’ve been going in for weekly fetal echocardiograms, which are essentially ultrasounds where we pay attention to the baby’s heart, veins, and general cardiac function. Luckily, my baby is a cardiological all-star who has, and I quote, a “beautiful heart.” The doctors and nurses and techs at the fetal echo lab have been so sweet to me every week as we check on his heart, and I love the reassurance of seeing him wiggle around on the ultrasound screen once a week.
I know it’s time now to buckle my seatbelt for the bumpy ride that is the third trimester. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that things keep going as smoothly and happily as they have been. I am so happy to be living this part of my life – I laugh all the time, and I’m just trying to soak in all of this anticipation before our lives really get flipped upside down in the best way possible.
Did I tell you or did I tell you? You can make an interrupting knock-knock joke out of anything.
I catch myself saying “That’s Awesome!” about far too many non-awesome things. Do you have an inaccurate catchphrase, too?