Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week #38: Antsy or Excited? Maybe Both.

38 weeks and 3 days. Besides my nonexistent St. Patrick's Day festivities, I'm celebrating being one step closer to my due date and arrival of baby girl. Today is a great day.

At my Doctor's appointment this morning, she noted that while my cervix is still closed, it is thinning out, which is exciting. My baby belly measures 37 cm and baby girl's heart is beating at 135 beats/minute. She is growing splendidly. I'm so thankful for her continued healthy development and trying to be present with each passing day, rather than wondering when I'll finally get to meet her.

This is no small feat, however.

Every day now I think to myself, "Is this the day?" and "What if she comes 2 weeks late?!" or even, "What if she doesn't want to come out - she seems so happy inside my belly?"

I laugh to myself, as I realize that baby girl will come out soon, it's just a matter of time. Time is such an uncertain thing, especially in this season of waiting for her arrival. I've been much antsier than normal as I glance at our hanging "Goats in Trees" photo calendar on a daily basis, counting down the days until my due date. No, it's not because those goats can climb so incredibly high up in those scraggly trees - instead, my anxiety is triggered by my own expectations and perhaps those of others, as I wait patiently on the timing of baby girl's birth.

This last week, I felt very exhausted. I've been sleeping less than normal, as I get up to use the bathroom 2-4 times a night and constantly try to find a comfortable position for my growing body in bed. I've also been experiencing more vivid dreams at night. All of this is normal, according to my reading but it sure feels weird to me in never having been pregnant before.

Likewise, my excitement is growing with each new day. I feel more empowered and encouraged to have this baby in the most natural way possible, especially after talking to my Mom this morning. She shared how for each of my sisters and I, she had a relatively short labor, and viewed her contractions as waves of energy that she worked through - rather than "pain" that she needed to overcome. I'm praying, rather intently, that my labor is as short as hers. I'm also praying that God will surprise me in enabling me to become much stronger and more relaxed than I think is possible, so that I can move through each stage of labor and experience the incredible joy of birthing a baby rather than focusing on the potential discomfort of it all.

Please join me in this prayer.

On a separate note, as a fun pregnancy treat for myself, I recently purchased my first heat roller system for curling my hair. My stylist told me that it could be a nice alternative to using a curling iron, since I've been exhausted standing and curling each section of my hair in the mornings. Instead, she said, I can set these 'bad boys' in my hair and do my makeup or anything else, while I wait for my hair to set. I found this idea fascinating and tried out my heat curlers for the first time last week.

At first, everything seemed so ridiculously easy. I got out the heat curlers. I plugged in the unit. I waited for the light to change from red to "translucent white."

But the light never changed color.
And still, I waited.

I waited for 30 minutes while these heat rollers heated up, and let's just say that when I went to put these rollers in my hair, I cursed louder and more passionately than a drunken sailor. I used words that I didn't even realize I could speak. And I screamed them - alone in the bathroom - as I waited for the pain of my burning fingers, my singed ears, and my fried hair to subside. Sometime during this whole process, I broke down crying, unplugged the rollers, and decided that this was not the best system for me.

Fast forward to two days later - I decided that I wanted to try again. So, I came prepared with my thick, black fingered gloves and lots of patience. I plugged in the heat curlers and waited about 10 minutes before using them. The rollers were ridiculously hot and with the aid of my gloves, I was moderately successful in getting all of my hair into a roller. Then, I waited 30 minutes while they 'set' and did my makeup. I'll include some photos.

Heat Curlers - Second Attempt
At least I'm smiling this time...
Awesome hair!! (Albeit worth the emotional cost? Not sure.)
It seemed to work in making my hair look nice, but I'm skeptical as to whether this process is truly easier than using a standard curling iron. I may be making a trip back to the store to return these heat curlers very soon. I'm trying to give it a week and not make any rash decisions. 

I'm also planning on this week's pregnancy 'treat' being something much safer and/or comfortable. Perhaps a seasonal latte at Starbucks or a new pair of socks? Trivial things that won't make me freak out. I would like to keep my language well-mannered, as baby girl can hear me pretty well these days...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Week #37: Bags Are Packed & I'm [Almost] Ready to Go!

I'm now at 37 weeks into pregnancy. With my due date drawing close, I decided that it was time to (finally) pack my hospital bag - like a true procrastinator. My reading leads me to believe that I should've had this bag ready to go by Week 35, but I figured no need to rush things. Similar to this pregnancy, I feel like 'wading in' to things has been best for me, especially as I've taken my time in deciding whether I will try to go the more natural (drug-free) route in childbirth and what my birth plan will look like. 

Since I scoured the internet on "What to Pack" in one's hospital bag, perhaps the checklist I put together will help some other ladies in this process. Here's my compilation of necessary items. 

Click on photos to enlarge: 

Let's take a look inside my bag, shall we...

Comfy slippers and socks
Camera with built in video camera (not sure if we'll use that part.)
Makeup, headbands and hairbrush
Fun movies
First onesie (just in case we can use it)
Going Home Outfit #1
Going Home Outfit #2 (If she spits up on the other one.)

I love ziplocs.

Well, I better get back to organizing Baby Girl's nursery, which happens to also be the home office for my wedding & event planning business (www.maileleiweddings.com). I look forward to sharing pictures of the completed room with you soon! 

Until then, here's a pic of my growing belly. I'm getting so excited to meet our precious little girl!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 35: Is this Nesting or am I Going Crazy?

What was I thinking? I asked myself yesterday, as I straddled one foot on the bathtub ledge and the other on the toilet seat cover, trying to unhook our mildew-stained shower curtain for laundering purposes - left foot wobbling, right foot slipping.

Then again, while down on 'all fours', scrubbing furiously and painstakingly reaching for the far corners of the bathtub - maneuvering my giant belly into the most awkward of positions, the thought came to me, "Why did I wait until I'm 35 weeks pregnant to do all the chores I've been avoiding?"

Five loads of laundry.
Deep-cleaning the bathroom.
Vacuuming the house.
Organizing the nursery.
Reviewing our finances.
Hosting friends.

I can say with pride that I slept amazingly last night. I was so physically exhausted from all my cleaning, organizing, and rearranging.

Is this the "Nesting" instinct? The term I've heard about and never quite understand. Or am I going crazy?

A smirk takes shape, as I recall my bout of absentmindedness this morning. While taping up a flat rate box, just moments ago, I snipped the skin on my left index finger, rather than the strip of packaging tape I intended to cut. As I watched the blood pool near my incision, a wave of nausea passed over me. I told myself to calm down, rather than drop down to my knees, which felt like the most reasonable reaction at that point.

I need to be strong for my baby, I voiced internally, as I sat down and bandaged my cut.

In many ways, this past week of pregnancy has been rather difficult. My emotions, triggered easily by the slightest situation, have been marked by waves of sadness and feeling overwhelmed. On Sunday, Ken and I spent six hours in a birthing class at the local hospital. Our instructor was awesome, and I enjoyed taking in her wisdom and insights. I was blown away by how incredible the female body is. We watched videos of live births and walked through the different stages of labor from start to finish. In my excitement, I cried each time a baby was born on the big screen, and felt both encouraged and challenged by the opportunity to have our baby without the use of painkillers. Many of the women in the class were hoping for the same outcome as me, and it was cool to practice pain-management techniques (positions, breathing exercises) with our partners. Ken and I found ourselves laughing and joking, as I moved through varying birthing positions and tried to keep in sync with breathing exercises. It was fun seeing the different options for how women work through the intensity of contractions.

After class, despite the exciting things we had just learned, I broke down crying. I couldn't stop crying. It was so much to take in, all at once.

Eventually, I did stop crying and was able to process through many of my feelings. It's true - I'm so excited to birth this baby inside of me. I can't wait to meet her and see her beautiful face for the first time. I'm also scared - more scared than I've been in a long, long time. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the thought of how I'll get through the contractions, and grapple with whether I can manage the pain without an epidural. I vacillate between a deep sense of idealism and realism.

Another struggle that I've been constantly giving to the Lord in prayer is my fear that I'll allow myself to be defined by the expectations of others. I've noticed in this whole experience of being pregnant, that it is much like being engaged. Everyone - friends, family, coworkers, and even random strangers (like the middle-aged food server at Costco who flamboyantly screamed, "It's going to hurt like hell!" to me the other week, in referencing childbirth) - has an opinion, and many people want to share their opinion whether it's asked for or not. I'm surprised, I guess, by how people often think there's a 'one-size-fits-all' method for pregnancy, or anything in life. As a wedding planner, I can attest to every wedding I've coordinated being uniquely different in the bride/groom's needs, desires, and even in their obstacles/setbacks. You can only plan so much, and then things take their course - often in way that's not expected. It's important to be prepared, but that only goes so far.

My Birth Plan is pretty simple: have a healthy baby and do it as "naturally" as possible. Beyond that, I want to practice peace and pursue faith and trust that God's in control, especially if/when my pain feels out of control.

In many ways, I hope to be an example to my daughter - even now, of living life with open hands, in joyful expectation of God's goodness, accepting setbacks as an opportunity to grow and make peace with things I may never understand.

Week #36, I think I'm officially ready for you now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Very Special Valentine's

This Valentine's Day was special for us in a unique way - it marked week #34 in pregnancy! In the past, Ken and I have typically celebrated February 14th by going out on a fancy dinner date (where I would treat myself to a pretty new dress to mark the occasion - here's an example). We'd enjoy seafood together at one of our favorite restaurants, and then take a leisurely stroll around town. This year, we opted to mix things up and enjoy dinner at home. Ken crafted me a delicious spread of shrimp fajitas (with all the fixings) and then we enjoyed brunch out today after our final ultrasound appointment. We also exchanged fun gifts with each other, which I'll include pictures of below. 

A highlight of our three-day weekend was seeing our beautiful baby girl - healthy and radiant - napping in utero this morning. She is gorgeous and already has lots of hair, according to our ultrasound technician. Surprisingly, baby girl is measuring at 35 weeks today and while this won't affect our current due date, it could mean that she might arrive earlier than expected! An approximate guess of her current weight is about 5 lbs, 12 oz, which is great. In speaking with my mom yesterday, she noted that my sisters and I each arrived two weeks later than our due dates. I'm curious to see when baby girl actually arrives! 

Here are some photos of our sweet baby:

So cute!

Her face

Her profile

Her thick head of hair (it's the white textured shadow to the left)

 And here are some pics of our Valentine's celebrations:

Brunch downtown!

Seafood dinner by Chef Ken!

For gifts, I bought Ken dark chocolate sea salt caramels and this cute little robot tea infuser. 

Ken blessed me with this lovely turquoise necklace. 

And lastly, we finished installing wallpaper in the baby nursery! This is our accent wall, complete with wallpaper by my favorite designer, Rifle Paper Co. 

I look forward to sharing more photos of our nursery progress with you soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week #33: Healthy & Kicking!

33 weeks and a couple of days. 
This is where I find myself at in pregnancy.

My belly is growing steadily and as of this morning's office visit, measures 34 cm. My doctor said that baby girl's heartbeat sounds wonderful and she's definitely getting stronger with each passing day, as her kicks, twirls, punches, and hiccups are very noticeable.

A few days ago, I noticed something extremely new to me! Baby girl responded to my voice, I think, and reached out either her hand or foot toward the right side of my belly button. I pressed my hand onto that spot and noticed the indentation of her reaching back toward me. Initially, I freaked out and may or may not have screamed. This was the first time I could see an actual foot/hand pressing out far enough for me to make out the shape. It was incredible and beautiful and kind of scary. According to my reading, this week my amniotic fluid has maxed out, meaning that baby girl has less and less room to move about freely. Perhaps that's why I can now I see her more easily?

She is amazing - our very own miracle in human form.

Baby girl is now about 17-19 inches in length and the size of a pineapple (or heft at least) and weighs in at 4 1/2 lbs or so. Her eyes open and close easily, depending on when she is awake or asleep. Her skeleton is hardening and her head circumference is also increasing, by about half an inch this week, as her brain develops and grows. She now has her own immune system as well! How cool is that?

Baby girl is getting ready to make her debut!

As far as mama's developments, I'm currently experiencing shortness of breath as a common part of life. While I'm getting ready (i.e. reaching toward my feet to put on socks and applying makeup), I find myself pausing to catch my breathe and will usually sit down to relax rather fast. I don't know how I can get used to this feeling - like the wind is knocked out of me without being hit in the stomach with a soccer ball or sprinting a mile. Baby girl obviously needs my energy and I'm happy to share with her. If only I could realize in the moment that I'm not having a panic attack or about to pass out but rather, it's just a momentary lapse in deep breathing. I think I'm getting there slowly, and as Ken says, by the time I finally give birth to baby girl, I will probably come to accept being pregnant. How ironic.

This past week, both Ken and I were hit with some variation of a cold and are still on the mend. I compensated for a few sleepless nights by taking 1-2 naps a day throughout the week. Napping and eating are great. Speaking of which, my appetite hasn't failed and here are some of the meals I've been enjoying:

Lots of berries! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries...
Loaded spinach salad with a tuna sandwich
Homemade moose chili
Veggie frittata (crustless quiche) with toast, greek yogurt and berries 

One week from today, Ken and I are scheduled for our final ultrasound. I can't wait to see baby girl in utero one more time before she arrives. I look forward to sharing a couple of those photos with you!

Thank you for praying for us and for baby girl's health.

Your love and support - as evinced by the beautiful cards and gifts we keep receiving - are so appreciated. Ken and I are currently saving for a baby stroller along with a few more equipment items and trusting God to meet us in all these things (especially the cost of actually having a baby!) as we just got hit with some large, unexpected financial setbacks.

I'm reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ”

And this verse: "Therefore we do not lose heart...For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

In faith, I believe that God will continue to provide for us in every circumstance and every season. We are so very blessed.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Baby Shower Time!

Today marks week 32 of pregnancy! To celebrate this mile-marker, my dear friend Alisa, along with my mother-in-law and cousins, hosted a very special baby shower for Ken and me.

Thank you to our friends and family (near and far) who blessed us with oodles of adorable baby outfits, bedding for the crib, lots of diapers, baby bathtubs and shower products, a carseat (!), toys, words of encouragement, books, and delicious food! We also got a kick out of the more creative presents. For example, the bottle of tequila and earplugs gifted to Ken, and the massage certificates given to me.

It was incredibly fun having a co-ed baby shower, particularly when the guys had to play a "what's in the diaper" guessing game.

On a separate note, I would have to say that things started to get a little dicey when Ken's mom brought out the large, present-shaped piñata. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ken swinging a makeshift bat - blindfolded and disoriented - whilst in the downstairs living room of cousin Kim's house. Yes, there were children present, and yes, we totally broke the piñata open. Thank you again to Ken's mom for sponsoring this activity. It was awesome.

Baby girl is already so loved by her community, and we are excited to greet her in the next 8 weeks (depending on when she makes her debut.)

Here are some photos of the day’s festivities.

Again, thank you all so much for blessing us in this way!

{Click on each photo to enlarge.}