Warning to all those who are completed uninterested/nauseated/reasonably terrified of procreation/annoyed with mommy blogs or otherwise unlikely to enjoy reading my naval-gazing pregnancy notes: you should probably skip this post.
Our regularly programmed pithy comments and sappy reflections on life in China will resume next time.
A lot of people with blogs and baby bellies seem to make a habit of posting weekly about their pregnancy and using the space to update readers on a set of pre-determined questions and markers. I’m a sucker for reading those things but I’m not up to writing them.
Instead I’m going to randomly post updates from time to time on the things I’m currently fixating on as I stare into the mirror after work shouting at Chris to look at how huge my midsection and how it is must be expanding at the speed of sound. So yes, here we go, what I’m fixating on at 17.5 weeks:
As you may have guessed: my baby belly. Its huuuuuuge. Look at that! It’s like I swallowed a cantelope!
(Pardon the weird lighting, we don’t really do “natural light” here in the ‘du…)
Ok, fine, maybe its not that huge. But after weeks of everyone was saying “oh you don’t look pregnant,” I’ve all of a sudden got people at work petting my belly and squealing.
And weird or not, I’m calling that progress people. I’m not a terribly large person to being with, so rocking the “pudgy” look for first 15 or so weeks was a bit unnerving. I’m loving the whole baby-shaped look of things now, it’s just awesome.
And luckily, my meager wardrobe still contains a fair number of extra-long knit shirts that I can stretch to fit over the expand0-bump. I can still wear my normal pants with a belly band, but maternity pants do fit and they are far more comfortable than I’d like to admit.
I know eventually I’ll have to order some maternity clothes, (or go Chinese-style and start wearing moo-moos and overalls to work) but I’m trying to put it off as long as humanly possible.
For now though, it’s just all about reveling in the bump, enjoying the evidence that I’m actually growing a human being in there. I love that when I bend down to put on my socks and shoes, or roll out of bed, there’s all of a sudden this big ball of baby in the way.
And there’s something totally weird and cool about hugging Chris and feeling the bump of our baby pressing up against Chris’ stomach where there used to just be an empty space that we never noticed before. If that’s not a metaphor for something, I don’t know what is.
On the “bliss” that the 2nd Trimester is supposed to be:
People talk about the 2nd trimester as if its some sort of combination amazing weekend away at a spa/out-of-body religious experience. Supposedly, you are supposed to have glowing skin, massive amounts of energy, a knowing beatific mother-to-be smile, comfort, and a new found love for the whole world. Sunshine and rainbows. Puppy dogs and ice cream. Hmm ice cream.
Maybe when they say the 2nd trimester is wonderful, what they mean is those-few-weeks-after-the-beginning-and-before-the-end-of-the-2nd-trimester are wonderful.
So far the fabulous pregnancy acne that attacked around week 6 has yet to make a full retreat (though it is marginally better and I’m grateful for small victories). The tummy troubles of the 1st trimester have been replaced with the tummy troubles of the 2nd trimester. We don’t really need to go into detail on those. I’m not the walking zombie I was during the 1st trimester, but I’m still in bed, passed out, by 9:30 every night.
And perhaps most disconcerting: those round ligament pains they talk about? They really hurt! And they are scary!
Because, lets be honest, the last thing a pregnant lady wants to feel on a Saturday afternoon is pain in her baby-making regions. Especially when one is say, 17 weeks pregnant rather than 40 weeks and in labor. (Apparently pain is somewhat typical at that point?)
It didn’t help that while cutting up crostini the same day of the ligament-pain debut, I nearly fainted.
Did I mention this was the weekend my nurse practioner and BOTH American doctors at our clinic were out of the country?
Cue panic attack.
Can we talk about the jargon on medical and pregnancy websites for a second?
I mean seriously, how much more vague a description for round ligament pain does “dull and longer-lasting pain in the area of your bikini line” get?
Is dull a euphemism for “someone else would call this mild discomfort pain-not pain, you big baby!” or does it rather mean “something painful like a cramp but not a cramp (which would be bad and dangerous)”
And long lasting? What does that mean? 4:30-500pm on the Friday before Memorial day weekend is long-lasting, sitting through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or an NBA basketball game, could also be described as long-lasting.
Hell, 5 minutes feels like a long time when you’re a pregnant lady has to pee or one who is wondering whether she should be rushing to the emergency room for what she can only assume is “a completely normal symptom in the 2nd trimester.”
See what I mean? While the 2nd trimester is in sooo many ways much nicer than the first, it’s not like the worrying and feeling like crap all magically evaporates. I’m still waiting for my puppy dog.
Knock on wood though, I seem to be ok and we’ll find out for sure at my appointment next week. After a great deal of emailing with my mother (neonatal NP), debating whether to bother our Chengdu NP while on her birthday/vacation, and researching the sh*t out of round ligament pain and all sorts of stuff, we came to the conclusion that walking around all morning and then standing around baking and folding laundry all afternoon was too much for my wimpy little ligaments. The fainting? Most likely a side effect of my normally low blood pressure not playing well with my current huge, with child state.
I’m also currently fixated on when I’ll feel the baby move.
Technically, I think I’ve already felt the baby move a little bit. On our last morning in St. John we ate breakfast at the airport and I ate what will probably go down in history as the most outrageously unhealthy breakfast I’ll ever consume: a massive greasy, deep-fried johnny-cake stuffed with ham and cheese.
The thing is, I think baby really liked it. Evidence: I’ve been craving doughnuts and cheese ever since, AND immediately after eating, I felt this very pronounced swishing sensation low on my right side.
It was awesome, I knew it was Thumper, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever felt. I couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot. I’m pretty sure all of the retirees around us were all very amused.
Thing is, that was pretty early-only the end of 15 weeks. Since then I think I’ve felt tiny, tiny movements but then I can’t be sure. It might just be my pulse or gas (lovely) or my imagination.
So I can’t wait until Thumper is big enough and strong enough to start kicking me for real.
Another fixation: weight and diet.
Before I got pregnant, I really liked my diet. I’m a big believer in the “everything in small, sensible portions except water and veggies” philosophy (water and veggies should, obviously, be consumed with abandon). I usually ate a big breakfast, snacked on fruit and granola bars at work, ate lots of veggies for at least one but often 2 meals a day, meat once or twice a week, and I always saved room for a small dessert after dinner. I felt really healthy and I liked how I looked.
When I got pregnant, a lot of things changed. The raw vegetable dishes and pickles that I used to love became off-limits (grown in night soil and not well-cleaned) and so I stopped eating salads or veggies that I couldn’t wash in bleach at home. The hole-in-the-wall Chinese places I used to love and where I’d eat most of my daily intake of vegetables started turning my stomach. I stopped wanting anything for dinner but toast. I started remembering exactly how high the pesticide loads are on produce here in China.
Against this back drop, I also read alot about pregnancy nutrition. For some reason, a lot of this literature trends rather puritan-as if only an irresponsible mother would even think of eating anything besides organic veggies and whole-grains and lean proteins. God forbid you steal one of your husband’s french fries, those have trans fats.
Everything I read made it clear that I, simply by virtue of being pregnant, was in serious danger of gaining too much weight and that, if I consumed more than anymore than 300 extra calories a day, (from organic whole-grains, lean proteins, blah blah blah) I would basically be condemning myself and my child to life-long obesity and diabetes.
Seriously, I do the best I can to eat right here, but I don’t live in a yuppie D.C. neighborhood anymore, I live in Southwestern China.
If I want whole-grain bread, I have to bake it myself from scratch. If I want a salad, I have to clean and bleach my lettuce and hope it still doesn’t make me sick. If I want peanut butter without hydrogenated oils in it, I’m going to have to grind up the peanuts myself. If I want organic, it better be growing in a pot on our tiny balcony because even our organic coop farmer can’t control what his neighbors spray or what factories dump into the groundwater.
I do this sort of stuff (minus the peanut butter, I love my Jiff) but frankly I can only do so much without practically burning as many calories making my food as I would gain from consuming it.
Ok that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point. If I could wander down to Whole Foods for some organic yogurt and pre-washed spinach in a bag, I would, but I can’t. And I still gotta eat.
Furthermore, I started this whole journey at a really healthy weight, on the low end of normal for my height. I ate really pretty healthily. Why would pregnancy change those fundamental facts about myself and my body?
Which is all to say, I’m kind of over caring about the whole super-woman nutrition thing. But I’m also not.
I eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I feel satiated. Lately that means I eat slightly larger portions than I used to but other than that, I eat the same way I always have, minus a few servings of vegetables since I get lazy and don’t enjoy spending my week nights dipping greens in bleach. Plus, now I chug a glass of milk everyday, something I’ve never done before in my life.
I have no idea if how I eat is “enough” or “too much.” I know what a healthy size portion used to feel like for me, but I have less of a grasp of what 300 calories worth of ma po doufu looks like.
For now I’m just going to keep going with what I’m doing until someone tells me otherwise. Nobody has yet, but I do wonder about the whole thing.
Whether its a boy or a girl
Chris and I are headed to Singapore next weekend for a spot of medical tourism. We’re going to see the dentist, get my triple-marker blood test done, oh yea and GET AN ULTRASOUND.
We’re hoping to find out the sex of the baby (technically an illegal practice here in China). No waiting for the big day to find out for me, I’m sick of the “I wonder if he/she will love his/her 1st post.” I’ll be equally excited for either a boy or a girl, but right now the pronouns are a killer.
At first I was convinced this baby was a girl, now lately I think it’s a boy. Only another 6 days until we get to find out!!!
Ok, sure, on the face of it, this isn’t baby related but, let me tell you, it totally is. We just turned in our bid list and are now anxiously waiting to find out where our soon-to-be family of 3 is heading in April 2012.
Will we be somewhere with a great community of young families? With cleaner air and easier access to top-notch emergency medical care, like we noted in our preferences? Will we be somewhere with affordable child care so that I can work if I want to? (And will I be able to?)
Will it be some place that requires we buy a new car and drive it a lot? In which case we’ll want to make sure we get a really good car seat that fits well in whatever car we hope to buy. Or, if we end up somewhere we don’t want to bring a car, all of a sudden the car seat becomes a lot less relevant in our day-to-day lives (but still of course important!) and buying a stroller that can easily be hauled in and out of a metro system, or a carrier that doesn’t destroy our backs, becomes much more relavant.
Here in China, a stroller doesn’t matter much because we aren’t likely to use it that often (with everyone driving on sidewalks in our neighborhood, that kid is going to be strapped to my chest until it can walk), will we be headed somewhere similar where our stroller sits collecting dust most days?
It’s a seemingly silly thing to wonder about, but will we be somewhere that has bath tubs or is our kid destined to take showers forever like he/she would probably be here? I loved bath time as a kid, and I’m bummed our kid will probably have outgrown the size of our tiny kitchen sink here by the time he/she actually gets to China at 6 weeks old.
Will we be somewhere that Thumper can have his/her own room instead of sharing the guest room as will be the case here? (don’t worry guests! If you come visit us, baby will sleep in our room, not yours!)
So yea, there’s all of a sudden a lot more at stake in this bidding cycle and we are hoping to find out where we are headed next in the next 2-3 weeks or so. Between that and finding out the gender at the end of next week, these next few weeks are going to feel sooooo looooong.
That’s all on the baby front for now, until next time!