Posts in July 2018

8 Months Down

July has been a bustle of activity. After vacation, we went right back into day camps and other summer activities. Regarding the last post, my tests results came back negative for cholestatis, so life has continued as busy-normal. Wesley’s 7th birthday marathon (which still hasn’t ended – duckpin bowling with the Shattucks this weekend!) has been fun and memorable. He spent the week with my parents at “Grandma Camp,” swimming, playing with cousins, visiting museums and even going to Dave and Buster’s.

CAN YOU BELIEVE MY PARENTS PLAYED ARCADE GAMES? I cannot.

 

We invited neighborhood friends and a handful of other close family friends to his Pokemon-themed birthday party.

   

July is usually hot, and because we still have an empty family room and less indoor seating than normal, I thought having his party at a park with a splash pad would work well. (Plus I wouldn’t have to do as much house cleaning!) And it did – despite the rain showers. But since the kids were already wet, it was really only us parents who had to cope with the weather.

 

A few of the dads hid “Pokeballs” (DIY Easter eggs half sprayed painted red and filled with minifigures of Pokemon) throughout the park, and I think the kids enjoyed that activity just as much as getting wet.

 

We had a quiet birthday celebration at home, and because I spent all my available energy on the massive 4-layer cake (it was a brilliant spontaneous decision) for his birthday party, we were happy to grab a few Flying Cupcakes and toss a candle in one for this birthday evening.

He had asked for “a bird, hamster or bunny” for his birthday. Uh, no. Over the last few weeks, martial arts has come into conversation, so Steven and I surprised him with a uniform and two weeks of Tae Kwon Do lessons to see if he’d like it enough to continue. (The building is a former Dairy Queen, and the running joke is that we’re going to Dairy Qwon Do!) And just a week in, he’s already earned his white belt and three stripes!

 

On the baby front…

I had my 36w6d OB appointment a few days ago, and now I’m at 37 weeks and considered full-term. “I’m going to pick on you a little today,” said my OB. Because of my slightly-too-old-to-be-pregnant status (though she said I’m “barely old” haha), I’m now having weekly non-stress tests up until delivery. I also had another lab to test my blood platelet count, which has been on the lower side, and I had a call today that they’re still lower than normal. I’m to continue having lab work throughout the duration of pregnancy to keep an eye on my levels. If they dip too low, I may not be able to have an epidural, and an early induction may be necessary. (I’ll only start worrying about this if my doctor becomes concerned!)

To further add fuel to the fire, I also tested positive for Group B Strep, which, sparing the gross details, is a gut bacteria that comes and goes in healthy women. It’s not really a big deal, but I’ll need to be given penicillin during labor and delivery to prevent any infection to the baby. Being “advanced maternal age” or AMA definitely makes for a more interesting chart and case!

When I was at this stage in pregnancy with Wesley, I tracked our weekly stats. It’s been fascinating to refer back to over the years, and I thought I’d continue in carrying Maisie.

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 140 bpm, 36 cm, 102/40
  • Weight Gain: Total weight gain thus far is 30 lbs. I’m a little surprised it’s this much, but equally interested that I haven’t gained anything MORE than this. I gained 45 total lbs with Wesley, so it’s less than the last pregnancy, but I still feel like it’s a lot.
  • Movement: She was a little stubborn during my non-stress test, and moved very little. The tech had to use a special vibration zapping device to startle her enough to move around so they could get more readings on the monitor. She’s typically pretty silent during the day, increasing in movement as the evening progresses. She loves the hours between 9-11 p.m. and a certain spot under my right ribs.
  • Dilation: 2 cm, which, as I told Wes, is about the size of a penny. I was exactly the same dilation with Wesley at this time, and I feel like I stayed there for a few weeks. I didn’t get any stats on effacement. Being pregnant around a school-aged kid can get interesting. Wes is observant, and he is following this pregnancy and my body changes closely. Trying to explain dilation to a 7-year-old without getting too graphic has its challenges, but he seems satisfied with my answers! (Which then prompts new questions.) “Mama, how did Mary and Joseph have baby Jesus without any doctors?!”
  • Cravings: Egg McMuffins, but I haven’t yet given in. Ice cream and really cold water always sound refreshing, too. And watermelon.
  • Moods: I’m usually pretty steady and upbeat, but I do get frequently frustrated at myself. It’s like my brain forgets that this body is busy with another job.
  • Biggest Gripe(s): I’ve had Braxton-Hicks (false contractions) all week, and though they’re not painful, the tightening of my stomach causes Maisie to move around, which feels awful against a tight uterus. I know I had these in the last pregnancy, but I don’t remember them being this uncomfortable. Unfortunately my feet and ankles are starting to swell, and it’s super annoying. I think the other biggest gripe is the sight of my “popped turkey” belly button. It looks lovely poking out of all my clothes.
  • Biggest Like: Perhaps the reason for all the contractions is because I’m still attending CrossFit classes. Monday’s workout was tough, but I managed to complete 60 weighted lunges with a 35 lb sandbag, row 2,000 meters, and throw 65 9-foot tosses with a 10 lb wall/medicine ball. It was the first time I’d worked out in a week, and my legs were feeling the activity the next couple days, but I am pleased and proud of my progress. I do have to modify ab work and anything on the rig, and I sweat like crazy. It’s likely not a pretty sight – still aiming to go as long as I can! I joke with my gym friends that I should just think of the actual birth as a WOD (workout of the day).

While at my parents’ condo last week, I saw a photo of myself 7 years ago at the same week of pregnancy and in the same dress I was currently wearing. I thought it would be fun to recreate the photo, and had Dad snap a picture of me.

So I’ve aged a bit, but I like what I see. I’m not self-conscious about my looks or wrinkles or vein-y hands. I’m much stronger in body, mind and spirit than in 2011. Isn’t it fascinating to see side-by-side? Or maybe I’m just in awe of the whole situation – how I’m actually pregnant again!

Ironically the photo on the left (photo credit to Angie Cinnamon Photography) was taken at an open house for Joy’s House, my former employer, and I went to the same event yesterday evening. I was 36 weeks pregnant there, and it was one of the first years we had decided to have an summer ice cream social and open house for the public. I remember planning the prepping for the event, thinking it was one of the last events I’d assemble before maternity leave. It was fun to see people I loved that evening, doting on my baby belly.

Last night was a similar experience. I went by myself because the guys went to Tae Kwon Do, but that meant I could catch up with my Joy’s House family. People who carried me through Wesley’s pregnancy doted on the Maisie bump, and it was sorta like an anointing or dedication experience. I love the people of Joy’s House and the special relationships I maintain with the families, employees and volunteers involved.

You guys, for all the crazy (and sometimes challenging) stuff, life really is fun, isn’t it? My prayer for this pregnancy has been for health and peace, and I feel blessed with support networks and wonderful people in our lives.

 

Want to see the rest of Wesley’s birthday photos? There are some good ones here.

Posted: July 27th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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What to Expect When You’re Not Sleeping

“It’s like, when, you’re talking about lice and your head starts itching.” I described to my parents. Though I’ve had restless and itchy legs and feet for a few weeks, it seems worse than ever now that I’ve been tested for a liver condition, cholestatis of pregnancy. Likely because I’m more aware of it?

What I thought was a normal pregnancy symptom could possibly be something bigger and more serious, though it’s highly likely I don’t have it. I causally mentioned my restless legs at the 34/35 week appointment a few days ago, and after a series of follow-up questions, my OB ordered a couple tests to rule the condition out as a precaution.

Cholestatis can cause problems for a baby born at full term. If tests come back with positive results, I could be induced as early as next week. Next week!

On Wednesday I completed a non-stress test to make sure baby Maisie was fairing well, and she did great. Doc isn’t concerned about her. Whew. (Remember when I had multiple NST conducted while admitted for a complicated migraine during my last pregnancy? It brought back a flood of memories.)

  

I’m willing myself to take things in stride and trust that God has a handle on this situation. It’s probably nothing, and I’m doing a fair job of keeping myself preoccupied (except my coworkers have heard me moan about it!) until we know more; however, these feet seem to be even more tingly than before, and it’s keeping me up at night.

My typical regimen when flair ups happen (usually 2-3 times a week), is to eat a banana, drink coconut water and pop a couple Restful Legs homeopathic pills. The combination is typically enough to help me fall asleep, but I often wake and move to another room to prevent Steven from not sleeping, too.

PREGNANCY INSOMNIA. I woke at 3:30 this morning and eventually threw in the towel, giving up at the possibility of any rest. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can expect:

  • Eating Cheerios at the crack of dawn is best when watching Anne of Green Gables. (I think I cried through the whole thing – likely because of stress and because it’s that good.)
  • People-watching is a fun activity even in the beginning hours of the morning. (I now know there are a handful of dedicated early walkers in our neighborhood.)
  • You can get a lot of household chores done when no one else is awake.

So, we are in limbo. We’ll have an idea of what to expect when results are available after the weekend, and I anticipate it to be a very long few days indeed. I keep checking my email and phone for any updates from the lab, and yet I know it won’t be there.

I’m not worried about my health or her health, really, but this earlier delivery possibility wasn’t one I was anticipating at all. Wrapping up work within an extreme time constraint makes my head spin, but heck, it will be ok. I guess I better start packing a hospital bag and secure a car seat – just in case!

Meanwhile, Wesley had a busy camp week – both Springhill day camp and VBS. I attended the closing ceremonies of both, and he was given a Leadership Award for his bossy guiding personality. He’s going to be a fantastic, protective big brother. I’m proud of this guy who turns 7 next week.

“Mama, remember at Christmastime when you told me about the baby? She was smaller than an ant! I can’t believe how big she is. Oh! I felt her move again. Whatcha doing in there, Maisie? Gymnastics?!”

Dear Maisie, your brother is SO READY to meet you (and so are your parents!). Perhaps he won’t have to grumble about the lengthy waiting period much longer. And I’m grateful that our doctor is keeping close tabs on both of us.

Posted: July 13th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Tiny House Living

I’m all about a bargain, and when you’re in late pregnancy, convenience + bargain is basically a gold mine. I’m usually the one who does the vacation planning, but the guys usually enjoy what I scramble together.

The bullet list for 2018:

  • within a 4-hour driveable distance (I can’t sit comfortably in a car right now)
  • access to water (Wes is a fish and it’s cheap entertainment)
  • less than a week booking policy (the guys don’t like to be away from home longer than 4-5 days)
  • around $150/night (to save money for baby preparations)
  • available the week of July 4 (less PTO consumed and away from loud neighborhood firecrackers)

In January I found a quaint house within our parameters RIGHT ON THE BEACH in South Haven, Michigan. We have vacationed along Lake Michigan (Holland in 2014 and South Haven in 2013) and enjoyed our stays, so it seemed perfect. And it was! Just, tiny.

It’s called the Little House, but it’s smaller than “little.” Wes is convinced it is actually the former garage of the house next door, and he’s probably right. Except the Little House was finished in HALF of the “garage.” Equipped with a full bed in a separate bedroom, bathroom with a shower (“I can’t believe there is a shower smaller than ours [our master shower is a mere 2.5 sq feet] that actually exists.”), kitchen and living room with futon, it has all the essentials in miniature form. When you look out the sliding glass doors, you not only SEE the LAKE, you see how it will take you less than 5 minutes to dip your feet into water.

We got a glimpse of trendy living in a tiny house, and appropriately we renamed the Little House as “Tiny House” for our stay. I learned how to move things around every time I wanted to sit or stand somewhere. In one of these moves – in fact, the very first one when we arrived – my phone dropped into the toilet and went instantly dead. On Day 1. I told myself not to work up about it and enjoyed being wireless for several days.

The kitchen was not quite fully stocked with pots, pans and utensils needed for cooking, but I learned to get creative and strategic, and Steven mocked me saying this multiple times. But we made most of our meals in the Little House, next to (or on!) the beach itself. “What a woman,” says Steven.

Being 34 weeks pregnant on vacation isn’t really ideal in any location, but the proximity to the sand was very welcome. I packed my folding zero gravity chair and looked quite a site with feet propped up, sun hat, Kindle, water and bulging belly.

“Look at you, multitasking mama!”
“Your baby belly is adorable!”

^Those beach comments were always better/more positive than while walking around in town, of which we did quite a lot.

“Whoa, your belly button has popped!”
“It must be tough in this heat!”
“How much longer now?!”

And then Steven’s favorite, “Do you know what you’re having?” It doesn’t bother me, really; people are curious. But his argument is it’s not phrased correctly. “Why do people ask if we KNOW what we’re having? Why don’t they just ask if it’s a boy or girl? And why do they care anyway?”

I gotta say, though, I feel really good even at this stage. Walking miles on the beach and around town didn’t phase me, I didn’t ever feel self-conscious in my swimsuit, and I generally vacationed near as similarly as I would have, NOT pregnant. The only differences were frequent bathroom breaks and multiple wakings during the night.

So, what did we do on vacation?

THE BEACH – We were right on North Beach Park in South Haven, so naturally we spent the majority of our time there. Wes and I slept poorly one night, so we got up and spent the early hours of the morning in the sand, watching tractors plow over footprints from the day before. Wes “made friends with the waves” by “playing with them” – for hours upon end. He crashed hard after 6 hours of constant playing one day.

He also made friends with the many teenagers and young adults who spent their July fourth holiday at the beach. I’m so glad I’m not in that awkward stage of life anymore. Watching unsure-of-themselves girls with their proving-themselves boys was entertaining, and Wes saw past it. He swam right up to them and joined their games. He only occasionally lingered over ill-fitting swimsuits, but he didn’t ask me questions afterwards. (Steven still asked/reminded him to play with kids his own age!)

We played many rounds of water frisbee and kite flying. We assured him any freshwater sharks would be far from the beach, and he is basically now a beach pro.

 

We also met a cat on a leash and discovered she’s a motorcross celebrity. Check out Mya the #Motokitty.

IN TOWN – We hardly drove anywhere. South Haven is extremely walkable, though Wes might tell you otherwise. We visited all the staples – Bunde’s, Captain Lou’s, Clementine’s, Sherman’s Dairy Bar – but we also enjoyed a river cruise where Wes was so chatty that he became a part of the small boat crew. We seemed to need to walk across the drawbridge every half hour when tall boats could pass through.

FOURTH FESTIVITIES – The tradition in South Haven is to watch the large fireworks show off the south pier on the night of the 3rd. These were amazing to see over water.

And the following day, we caught the annual Fourth of July parade and stuffed our pockets with candy. Multiple popscicles were handed out, too! Our favorite was lighting sparklers on the beach at dusk.

 

“[The four sparklers are] like it’s me, you, Daddy and Maisie!”

U-PICK BLUEBERRIES – Besides swimming, Wesley’s favorite activity of the week was picking our own blueberries at DeGrandChamp Farms. None of us had ever done anything like this before, and we all were pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had. While hunting for the biggest, juicest berries, we talked about the similarities to Blueberries for Sal kaplink, kaplank, kaplunk! – and how we would eat them – out of the pail? in pancakes? in pie?

We picnicked near the blueberry shrubs, then purchased our own 2-year-old Legacy plant to take home with us.

By our last day, we had grown weary of our confined space and spent a very windy afternoon on the beach. The water was choppy, the air was slightly cold, and it was too windy for frisbee. But it sure made for a fun, wet experience on the pier!

We came home last night and slept in our own beds. Though not a direct quote, Steven’s comment was something like, “It’s a strange sensation to be in a house with so much space.”

I guess we’ll never downsize into a tiny shed on wheels, but we did have an enjoyable week. Wes helped me plant the blueberry bush today, and I spent the better part of the afternoon reconnecting my old iPhone 4s from four years ago to my phone number in order to rejoin civilization.

Next planning adventure? Maternity leave.

Posted: July 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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