Weeks 35 & 36

Total weight gain: One lb away from 50. I’m going to make it!

Baby’s Weight: 5 lbs, 13 oz

Percentage through pregnancy: 90.4%. The survival rate for babies born at this point is 99+%; of surviving infants, the rate of serious complications is about 5%.

Time until due date:
Four weeks, 27 days

Food of the week (a.k.a. size of baby): A crenshaw melon.

Pregnancy symptoms:

— Trips to the bathroom have increased at night. Not by much; I’m still only getting up two times. By all accounts, that means I’m probably not drinking enough water. Fun Fact: At our childbirth prep class last weekend, the instructor said pregnant women should drink 1/2 of their body weight in ounces of water (not liquid, just water) every day. At my pregnancy weight now, that would be 100 oz of water daily. I am nowhere near that.

— For about a week my intestinal track just stopped working. Like it got tired or something. That was a very uncomfortable few days. But I can’t complain; this is the only time in pregnancy this has happened. I hear it’s very common for other women.

— For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing this clicking sound in my belly, most often when Charlie moves around. A Google search revealed I’m not the only woman who’s experienced this, but the best guess among doctors is that the baby’s bones and joints are cracking. If anyone has seen Charles crack his neck, you know how horrified I am that his son will repeat this disgusting behavior.

— I went for a walk one day and decided to stop at the local liquor store for a water bottle. When the cashier rang up the bottle, I realized I didn’t have enough money (how embarassing!). On my way back to the cooler to return the bottle, a stranger tapped me on the shoulder, held out a dollar bill, and said, “Here.” I tried to say it was OK, but he insisted. I thanked him profusely, bought the bottle, then rushed outside the store where I crumbled into tears because isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? Ah, preggo hormones.

— Had a scary moment with my heart. Ever since elementary school, I occasionally have episodes where my heart speeds up extremely fast. I get nauseous and can’t stand  without feeling faint. I have to sit or lie down and do a series of deep-breathing exercises until the moment where my heart switches from super fast to regular beats. This is not a gradual process. One minute it’s raceraceraceracerace, then there’s a pause where my heart does nothing, and then slow beats return. That is a terrible feeling. I’ve seen two heart docs over the years who found nothing wrong. I also discovered this happens more when I’m out of shape.

It triggered again about an hour before Baby Shower #2. Charles had left, so I had been schlepping tables and chairs up and down the stairs all morning, in addition to all the cleaning. I am pregnant and out of shape and I overdid it. The episode began and I immediately laid on the ground and tried to work on my breathing. But since this was the first episode I experienced during my entire pregnancy, I started panicking. That makes calming down much harder. After a few minutes, my heart switched back to regular breathing, but I was terrified that I had somehow hurt the baby. I made it downstairs to my bed and immediately pulled out the Doppler. Baby’s heartbeat was strong, and I could feel him moving. I did some more Googling and read about women who have constant tachycardia during pregnancy, so that made me feel better. No episodes since, but I learned a valuable lesson about SLOWING THE FUCK DOWN. I am no longer the half-marathon-running Jess, at least for now.

36-Week Appointment:

— I’m going to the doc every week now. At this week’s appointment, the nurse said, “Please remove the lower half of your clothing. The doctor is going to do the Strep B test, which is a vaginal probe, followed by an anal swab.” WTF HOLY SHIT THAT SOUNDS TERRIFYING! It was actually super fast and barely felt like anything. But that description is not something that you hear every day.

— Ultrasound revealed that Charlie is head down, but posterior, meaning his head is facing outward, instead of toward my butt. If he stays in this position, labor would be much harder on my body. Butt babies can move through the birth canal much easier. Something to do with moving plates in their head. The instructor at childbirth prep class suggested that women late in pregnancy avoid reclining on the couch or in chairs, as the gravitational pull can keep the baby posterior. She mentioned getting on all fours, which led Charles to make a crude joke about some all-fours activities that he can help me with.

— We also saw Charlie wiggling his little fingers near his lips. Probably practicing that sucking skill!

Worry of the Week:

I am getting anxious about anxiety. Does that sound weird?

About a week and a half ago, I started feeling slightly anxious about my intestinal track slowing down. I felt physically terrible and didn’t know when things would…er…start moving again. Within about 30 minutes, the slight anxiety turned into full-blown, unstoppable panic. For no reason. My mind is irrational during these episodes and I began ascribing what I was feeling to fear about Charlie being born — everything from labor, to being in the hospital, to bringing him home, to zomgthereisnowayIcanbeamother. I was even freaking out about feeling him move inside me, which obviously makes no sense because it’s been one of the best joys of pregnancy. My rational brain knew these were crazy thoughts, but this part of my brain helps very little when my amygdala is on the fritz.

In the past, an episode like this would trigger full-blown panic for weeks at a time, until I stabilized the misbehaving seratonin in my brain (see, haven’t I learned a lot over the years?). Luckily, within a day or so, I was able to work through the panic and now I’m back to feeling normal. I don’t know if pregnancy hormones helped, or if all the coping skills I’ve learned over the years are beginning to work.

Regardless, it was a huge wake-up call. For me, panic is triggered when there is a huge change in my life: going to Spain, moving in with Charles, my father dying, finding out I was pregnant, even sleeping in a strange place! Is there a change more profound than giving birth to a child and bringing him home?

Now I’m worried about falling into a deep, dark panic/depression hole that will begin when I go into labor, continue as I give birth and proceed into the postpartum period, where I’m already at risk of developing PPD. I guess I can take comfort in knowing that I know enough about these disorders so that I don’t waste any time suffering. But who knows how my brain will react. :/

Pregnancy moments of the week:

— Our intensive, two-day childbirth prep class was surprisingly fantastic. Essentially, it was two days of Charles learning how to massage me. We learned about the three stages of birth, when to go to the hospital (contractions every 4-6 minutes, lasting a minute, for one hour…or when your water breaks), and even practiced giving birth. I am confident that Charles will be a fantastic birth coach, regardless of how it happens.

— We received an E-vite to a gathering  after Charlie’s due date. It was the first time I could mark two adults and one child on the RSVP form, assuming he isn’t 8 days late. ZOMG.

— Speaking of timing, Charlie is due May 21. The series finale of LOST is May 23. What will come first?

— I still love how pregnancy unites all women. One of the janitors at work (who I barely know; I know how cliche that sounds) stopped me to remark on how big I was getting. Then she proceeded to describe the births of her three children. I love moments like that.

— Out of the blue, Charles asked, “So, do you want a Mother’s Day gift?” I burst out laughing, because what kind of question is that? Why wouldn’t he just buy me one? But Charles, being awesome-husband-who-knows-his-wife-so-well, replied, “I didn’t know if you would think it was a jinx to get a gift before he was born.”

Circumcision:

Houston, we have a decision! We will not be circumcising Charlie. We did a lot of reading, researching and talking, but in the end, removing a piece of our son’s penis just because society says it looks better just wasn’t enough of a reason for us. And we have no religious reason to do so.
Baby Showers:

Since my last post, I’ve had TWO baby showers, bringing the total to three. THREE! I am blown away and touched by the love and generosity of my friends, family and coworkers. What did I ever do to deserve such amazing, caring people in my life?

Baby Shower #2 was hosted by BFF Ashleigh. Originally, my mother was going to throw me one baby shower of family and friends, but it became clear there was nowhere to fit all the loved ones that were to be invited. My mom deputized Ash to host the second shower, and away she went. It was held at my house and was just fantastic. Great food, zomg cake, decorations, babies, and amazing gifts for Charlie.

— My mother gave me the baby book she filled out for me as a newborn. I didn’t even know I had one! Apparently, she’s been hiding it for years. My favorite part was the news headlines the day I was born: Israel agrees to cease fire with Lebanon. The more things change…

— Friend Amy from Reams Photo gave us the final photos from our maternity shoot. They are so incredibly fantastic. I thought I’d look at them and think, “OMG, I’m so huge,” but I am so thankful that we took the photos.

Baby Shower #3:

My coworkers organized Baby Shower #3 yesterday.  Friend Robyn spend a gazillion hours making a cake that matched the design of our crib bedding. Mind blown. Another coworker made me a “diaper cake” that had a million gifts wrapped inside. Where do people learn these mad skillz?

As expected, I was gifted a lot of adorable marine- and green-themed baby gifts. And everyone chipped in to get us the crib mattress! Several coworkers who I don’t know well were there and were so generous (see previous comment about what I did to deserve such amazing people in my life).



What I’m Looking Forward To: I’m excited by how close I am to meeting my son. Look how close I am! 

Baby Milestones:
Your baby is gaining about an ounce a day. He now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. He’s shedding most of the downy hair that covered his body, as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that protected his skin during his nine-month amniotic bath. Next week, your baby will be considered full-term.

Quotes of the Week:

— “You look so plural.” — Mother in law
— “I plan to give you as much space as you need after you get home from the hospital, but if you need me to stay with you for three, four, five days, I’ll totally be there.” — My mom
— “You could bring this machine back in time 1200 years and rule England.” Charles, at our last ultrasound.
— “You look like you’ve really enjoyed pregnancy.” — Work colleague who I rarely see. I think this was a fat remark.

Pregnancy-related Tweets:
— Just got a call from the hospital for my pre-delivery check-in. PEOPLE, THIS BABY THING IS GETTING SERIOUS.
— How am I supposed to stay in shape by walking when every step makes me need to peeeeeeee?!?
— Charlie appears to like The Fugees #pandora

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