Friday 5 July 2019

A Baby Blog

The spring semester at Olivet wrapped up about a month and a half ago. It is always a transition out of a semester and into a new schedule, but I've particularly enjoyed not having to travel down to IL during the week. My online summer class started two days before the official end of the semester, and we've been moving steadily forward since! My students' final projects were due Wednesday, and then I had the rest of the week to get their final grades submitted. I had three students in this class, and they did well. I will plan to talk about that class in more detail, as well as the other work I've been and will be doing this summer in my August blog post. 

In this post, though, I thought I would do a baby blog with updates on how things have been going the past 20 weeks or so. I am 29 weeks pregnant, which means that I am within both my seventh month and the third trimester of pregnancy. It has been a journey, and I would say so far, it has been a positive one! If you're not interested in all this baby stuff, though, please come back in July, and I will catch you up on all my summer work. I do think that part of my feminist praxis is to share not only the academic work I am participating in but the embodied physical work that is also happening, and a lot of the time, takes over my daily energy.

I found out that I was pregnant while I was eight weeks along. I have been taking a photo every week since to document the transition, so I thought I'd share the thumbnails of the past twenty weeks or so of photos of Baby Bruce growing away! It is still very surreal to me how these pregnancy changes just happen. I have very little to do with the very literal growing and changing happening inside of me. I don't know that it will/would ever stop feeling strange. Here is Baby B, weeks eight to 29!

There is a lot to do when getting ready for a baby! Our list has included the following items: track the pregnancy on an app, read about birth, sleep, and child training, meet regularly with our midwives, find a pediatrician, tour the hospital birthing suit, take a birth class, make a swim lesson plan, enjoy our shower, take a babymoon, find a birth photographer, practice prenatal yoga, get the nursery ready, make a birth preference plan, clean the car, install the carseat, clean the house, bedding, and baby clothes, and pack a hospital bag. I'd say we are about 70% done with the list, which I feel good about with a little less than three months to go. I'll share the details of what we've done so far, in case it's helpful to anyone to know!

When I first got pregnant I wanted to find a good app to tack my pregnancy and to help me understand what the heck was happening to my body. Now, as is true in a lot of these categories, there are so many options to choose from. As I talked to people and looked at the app store, The Bump app kept coming up. I downloaded that app, and it has been really helpful. It gives me daily updates on the size of the baby, but even more helpfully, it tells me each week what to expect both for myself and the baby. It is pretty accurate, and it helps me to know that what I'm experiencing is normal. There are also good articles linked everyday to help me learn more.

We got lots of recommendations for books that we needed to read before the baby comes. Unfortunately, there is only so much time and so much attention span that we have for all things pregnancy related. Some of that is used up with podcasts, and we particularly loved Dax Shepard's interview with Dr. John Gottman on the February 28th episode of Armchair Expert. We made our book reading choices primarily based on the recommendations that we kept hearing over and over. I'd say at least three people recommended each of the two books that we decided on reading. The first was to help us have a good kid, the second was to help us sleep well. The fact that the books were recommended by people with good kids who sleep well didn't hurt! I gave some other books a shot including The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy, What to Expect When You're Expecting, and another one from our hospital, but I found them too dense to continue. Here are the two we read/ are reading together with their Amazon synopsis:

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

"When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby in Paris, she didn't aspire to become a "French parent." But she noticed that French children slept through the night by two or three months old. They ate braised leeks. They played by themselves while their parents sipped coffee. And yet French kids were still boisterous, curious, and creative. Why? How?
With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman set out to investigate—and wound up sparking a national debate on parenting. Researched over three years and written in her warm, funny voice, Bringing Up Bébé is deeply wise, charmingly told, and destined to become a classic resource for American parents."

On Becoming Babywise by Robert Bucknam & Gary Ezzo

"For over 25 years, On Becoming Babywise has been the de facto newborn parenting manual for naturally synchronizing your baby's feeding time, waketime and nighttime sleep cycles, so the whole family can sleep through the night.

In his 29th year as a licensed Pediatrician, Dr. Robert Bucknam, M.D. along with co-author Gary Ezzo, demonstrate how order and stability are mutual allies of every newborn's metabolism and how parents can take advantage of these biological propensities."

We really liked Bringing Up Bebe; we even had my mom read it. We are working our way through BabyWise, and we're determined to get through in order to have a sleep plan. On the recommendation of a couple other friends, I also read (pre-crazy) Jenny McCarthy's book Belly Laughs, which was light, funny, and honest, if not a bit outdated. I'd recommend any of the three!

Baby Boy: 20 Weeks
The very first decision we had to make (prior to even knowing 100% if I was pregnant) was what kind of maternity care we wanted. We had the choice between a traditional OBGYN doctor and team of midwives through our local care clinic/ insurance. Very quickly we came to the conclusion that the midwives sounded like the best plan of care for us. Three of the reasons that we initially decided to go with the midwives (and have really enjoyed working with them so far) are as follows:

1) There is a team of care. We don't see the same midwife every time, but we see one of the nine midwives of the team every time. It also means that when we deliver, we will have one of the nine midwives in the delivery. In opposition to the OBGYN, who might not be available for delivery, we will have one of a team of people who has been monitoring our care throughout the pregnancy. This is also true of after hour care, as whenever I've called, I've always talked to a midwife directly.

2) They take their time in the appointments. Never having worked with an OBGYN through pregnancy I don't know how different this would be, but we have never once felt rushed by our midwives in our monthly (soon to be more) appointments. They come in, and very literally, make themselves comfortable. We chat, they answer questions, they ask questions, and they take their time. I've never left feeling frustrated or unheard by a midwife after an appointment, and I've appreciated their attentive care. We've done three ultrasounds so far, and I don't think we'll do anymore. We do get to hear the baby's heartbeat via the doppler at every appointment, and they measure the baby.

3) There are very few options off limits to us. I feel very blessed to have had a healthy pregnancy thus far, and we are praying and hoping that continues. If it does, and there are no complications, our midwives are very open to any type of delivery we want to engage in. We will deliver at our hospital, but they are open to medication or not, self-soothing through music, yoga, or essential oils or not, and even multiple types of positions for delivery. They say that they are there to support me in my birth, and that is very empowering. Our birth class instructor has told us how important that is, and I've already so appreciated their attitude toward delivery. They emphasized this through our birthing center tour at the hospital as well, which we appreciated.

The one exception to delivering with the midwives would be if we need a c-section, but I'm hoping that won't be the case. We've also found a pediatrician that we like a lot. She followed the same model of care, where she came in, answered questions, asked us questions, and spent time with us. We're glad to have to have that set and ready to go prior to the birth.

First Birth Class
Again, the choices in Madison for birth class are slightly overwhelming in terms of what direction to go. So, we relied on suggestions from friends. Friends with a three year old fondly remembered their birth class experience and recommended the same. They suggested taking the Embracing Birth Classes with Jodi Bubenzer on the west side of Madison. We've completed four of five birth classes with this teacher, and we've learned a lot from mindfulness to breastfeeding to types of medication to massage exercises to postpartum solutions to breathing techniques. We have one more class to go, but both Wade and I have enjoyed our time in the class learning from the teacher and getting to hear from the three other expecting couples in the class.

The same friend who recommended the birth class also gave me a suggestion for swim lessons! I've been reading about the importance of getting children comfortable in water and teaching them, as early as possible, how to flip in the water in order to be able to breathe in any type of emergency. The friend said they took their daughter to Little Strokes Swim Academy in Waunakee; she said her daughter loved it and is a really strong swimmer now. We'd like to get our little guy in this coming March to learn those same crucial skills. I'm glad to know of a quality place that provides this kind of instruction.

The month of June was very fun; I got a facial, manicure, hair cut, color, and style, prenatal massage, and pedicure all in one month! We definitely felt spoiled by so much love, attention, and opportunity to enjoy this time this month, as well. The weekend of June 22nd, my sister and some of my best friends threw us our third and final shower, and it was a lovely baby shower. My friend hosted at her house, our moms helped out, and so many women attended and showered us with love, attention, and gifts. We know that we are lucky to be part of such a strong, supportive community, and we don't take it for granted. Wade attended for about half the shower, and I'm so glad he was there to also feel all the love! The theme of the shower was High Tea for Baby B, and everything was done so beautifully. We had tea, scones, clotted cream, jam and lemon curd, tea sandwiches, macarons, lace decor, baby's breath, and decorated tea pots. So classy. So special. We used Baby List for our registry site, and I think it worked really well. I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful friends who would go above and beyond to make a day like this so special. Sharing this journey with my friends has been one of the highlights of the pregnancy for sure. Over 30 women attended the shower, and it will be such a wonderful memory for us.

Lovely Shower Hosts
First Family Photo

Amazing Display

Sweet Guests
The very next weekend, Wade and I got to enjoy some time away on our self-declared "babymoon" in Lake Geneva, WI. We spent three days and three nights in this idyllic lakeside town. We stayed at The Abbey Resort, and we really enjoyed the resort's amenities. We spent one day getting massages (my first prenatal!) and lounging at the Avani Spa, which was very relaxing. We spent time in downtown Lake Geneva, eating twice at both Tuscan Tavern & Grill and Egg Harbor Cafe. We also took a fun afternoon ice cream social boat tour through the Lake Geneva Cruise Line and learned about the history (mostly old, rich, and white) of the people and homes surrounding the lake. We spent some time reflecting on common goals, getting coffee and tea at Boxed and BurlapAvant Cycle Cafe, and the resort's Cafe Latte, and just enjoying time together. I always say, too, that one of the best parts about going away is getting to come home-- especially to dogs as cute as ours!

Enjoying Our Spa Day

Downtown Lake Geneva

Lovely Vine Wall 
Hey Baby Bump!
Another decision that Wade and I thought about early on was who we wanted at our birth and delivery. Once again, there are so many options. Did we want family there? Did we want a doula? Did we want any other kind of assistance? One thing I have learned through this pregnancy is never say never, as we just cannot plan what our future will hold, as much as we (especially as enneagram ones) want to do that! That being said, we are not planning on having any future children via birth, so one thing that stood out to me that I wanted was a birth photographer. I thought: if we photograph other momentous occasions in our lives like weddings and anniversaries, why would birth be different? I talked to Wade about it, and we decided to hire the wonderful birth photographer Nicole Streeter, who owns Nicole Streeter Photography, to do our maternity and birth photography. Every time I visit her blog or social media page, I am always swept away in the stories she tells through her photos. I'm excited to have her be a part of documenting our birth experience.

In 2013 I was preparing to run the Color Run in Indianapolis with my sister and my cousins, and I would experience extreme hip pain following the training runs. I eventually saw a chiropractor, and he diagnosed me with overextended ligaments, where my ligaments would stretch well but then not properly retract back into place after the stretching. This is both a genetic ailment, as well as one that was probably exacerbated by my 13 years as a dancer. The diagnosis has since been confirmed through both a medical doctor testing for carpal tunnel and a physical therapist who has helped me work on strengthening my wrists and hips, the primary areas affected. When I first received that diagnosis, the chiropractor suggested taking up yoga as a way to strengthen my core muscles and also gently stretch my ligaments. Following the Color Run, I did just that, stumbling upon a yoga instructor named Erin Motz on YouTube.

Fast forward six years (probably almost exactly), and I still practice yoga with Erin Motz regularly. So much so that we pay for a monthly subscription to her Bad Yogi Studio, and I practice yoga in our new home yoga area four to five times a week. Erin is an American who lives in Nice, France, and she is one year older than me (again, almost exactly). I appreciate her mindset, teaching style, and general outlook on yoga and life. What I could not have anticipated is that she would get pregnant about two months before me. What this has blessedly resulted in is a whole slew of prenatal yoga classes available through her studio, which I already have a subscription to, that I can practice again and again. This coincidence has been one of the biggest blessings of my pregnancy. I've literally cried some mornings getting out of bed with back pain (more on that below) to open my email and find a new class from Erin labeled "Second Trimester Back Pain." I never could have known how this would work out, but more than probably anything else listed above, this has helped me move through the last five months of this pregnancy more easily and comfortably.

Well, this is turning into a very long pregnancy post. If you've made it all the way thus far, congratulations to you! As I'm writing, I'm realizing that this may be more for me than anyone else-- a way to remember this unique time in our lives before s*** gets real and we have a new, live human baby boy in our house. There are more things on our to-do list that I mentioned above, but we haven't quite gotten there yet, and I think that's OK. I anticipate the next couple weeks being about building nursery furniture, cleaning cars, making birth plans, and packing hospital bags. To wrap up, I'd like to touch on some of the lows and some of the highs of this pregnancy journey. I know everyone's path is different, and I know that the last fourth of this pregnancy may be different than it has been so far, but here's where I'm at:

As can be expected, this pregnancy has not been a total walk in the park. Weeks before I even knew I was pregnant, my nose started running and it has.not.stopped. Seriously. Seven plus months of a runny nose. Thanks to my Bump app, I know why. The condition is called pregnancy rhinitis, and I guess it happens to about a third of pregnant women. I've gone through more tissue boxes than I can count, and it is especially bothersome at night, which is fun since sleep is so easy anyway. Ha. Speaking of sleep, other bothersome elements of the pregnancy include having to pee a lot of the night, my hands falling asleep if they are ever above my head (like under my pillow), and consistent lower back pain. A midwife said it's sciatic inflammation, and it's not very fun.

I dealt with some pretty nasty headaches my second trimester, but my mom suggested sugar-free Gatorade to help replenish electrolytes, and that has helped, as has moving into another trimester, as hormones and blood (never knew I could hold so much blood) shift around. Brings me to my swollen ankles, which at one point prompted a friend to say: "What is happening to your ankles??" Makes me think a third trimester through July and August will be a joy. I feel grateful to have only ever thrown up once, which prompted me to take a pregnancy test in the first place, and to have had very minimal heartburn.

Some really good things have come out of the pregnancy, as well. Overall, my skin has been clearer, and my moods have been fairly normal. I feel healthier in moving to more natural ways of living, which I touched on in my May blog. I also have had no problems with these prenatal vitamins or probiotics, and I also take one magnesium pill everyday and try to supplement my iron intake due to pregnancy induced anemia. I tested negative for zika and gestational diabetes, and a midwife also confirmed that due to the successful pregnancy I also no longer have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which I was diagnosed with in 2012 and was the main reason we thought birthing a child would not be an option for us.

Probably the best, best part of the pregnancy has been feeling Baby Bruce's little kicks, wiggles, and hiccups from inside. Our plan to grow our family was always to adopt, and that is how we would like to add at least one more person to our family in the future. That being said, this journey of pregnancy and carrying this baby inside of me has been special and unique. It wasn't what we had planned, but the feeling of carrying this person has been both difficult and very rewarding. I don't know what the last few months of this pregnancy will bring, and even less about what life will look like after the baby is here, but I feel like these last seven months I have been given a gift of carrying this person.

As I've said before, our friends and family have been so happy, so supportive, and so wonderful during this time. They know me well enough to know that I don't do great with unexpected change, and yet their joy and consistent encouragement has been such a support to carry us through the pregnancy thus far. I also feel lucky to also have friends who are currently doing this baby thing right along with me or have been in the trenches for the past year or more. As this blog post is witness to, they are an invaluable resource to us. Here's a shoutout to some of the best:

Awesome Baby Mamas

Our Crew

Lovely Ladies

Double Knowledge

Five Cousins: Two Adults, One Toddler, Two Babies
Baby's Four Grandparents

We've learned, we've grown, we've laughed, we've cried. 
I'll be sure to update when we've reached the other side!