35-36 Weeks Prego

In the words of my two year old, "I wanna open baby!"

Two things I love about this quote. Number one, it tells me she understands the concept of pregnancy (to a small degree), and she's expecting a baby one day. Number two, the simplicity of her view on the whole situation just puts everything into perspective, doesn't it? Plus, it eloquently encapsulates everything I'm feeling right now--my anticipation, eagerness, excitement, joy, etc.

Well, I wouldn't say that I'm ready, but I'm close! Tomorrow my daughter's going to be at my mom's for the whole day. I plan to make a mad tear through my to-do list (see below), and pamper myself as well. Prenatal massage is scheduled for late morning. I can NOT wait! I don't feel the least bit guilty about spending these dollars. It's going to be bliss!

Here's my to-do list (and I've already marked quite a few things off, so this is a shortened version). Can we say type-A? It gives you a good idea of why I say I'm not quite ready for this baby to come; and it gives you a peek inside my head to see what's consuming my thoughts lately.

Finish editing projects (2 left)
Pack hospital bag (yep, after that big rant and lots of warnings from friends about early deliveries, I still haven't finished this. I do, however, have a bag started. And when I say "pack," that means I'm going to make a list of everything I want in the bag. I probably won't pack until I go into labor or closer to Sept. 11th--my self-prescribed due date).
Make a big-sister crown for A.
Paint picture frame (technically it's painted, but it needs another coat, and we ran out of spray paint--this should say "buy spray paint" too).
Hang picture frames (which won't be possible until after Saturday when my hubby picks up our furniture. Until then, it's just a task hanging over my head that I really can do nothing about right now).
Babies R Us shopping--any of the necessities I haven't received from my showers and still need to be purchased. (I've actually done most of this online, so I might be good to go, but you never know).
Type out (reminders, breathing patterns, pain management techniques, birthing positions, etc. as a) cheat sheet for my hubby. (Since we're going doula-less, he's the doula. I've been giving him tips every night so I don't overwhelm him all at once. And, the cheat sheets should cover all the basics).
Prep hubby's birthday (i.e., at least buy him a present--and maybe the ingredients for his cake/dinner. His birthday is six days after my due date. I know I won't be buying anything--unless it's online--once baby's here. I probably should plan family birthday parties, too, but those might have to wait until we see which day Baby Ninja actually comes).
Type out a food preference sheet--a friend has already volunteered to arrange meals for me; I just need to write down some suggestions/guidelines people can follow if they want.
Pack my daughter's suitcase (again, by "pack" I mean make a list for now).
Applique curtain (I made a curtain to cover the bookshelf in the nursery that houses my work supplies, books, and sewing. Right now it's plain white. Once the nursery is assembled, I'll pick something fun to add to the curtain. This is another task that has to wait till at least next week. It's pretty low on the priority list.)
Order baby shower present for another friend--I might be out of time for this one. May have to just contribute to group gift =)
Put up fall decorations in my house. (Fall is BY FAR my favorite season, so I go all out. I've got boxes of decorations organized on recently purchased handy shelves in my garage--thank you, nesting--and I know if the decor doesn't go up before baby arrives, it's not going to make it up this year, and that would make me very, very sad).
Prep camera and video camera--download all pix/videos, clear memory, charge, pack chargers.
Put together a nursing box (this is the box my daughter will only be allowed to pull out while I'm nursing. There will be special toys in there that she can play with during nursing times. The goal is to make sure she doesn't feel excluded during numerous baby feedings throughout the day).
Pick music I want playing in delivery room
Pay taxes (ah, the joys of being self-employed. The nice thing about the timing of this baby is I won't be making any more money this year, so I can pay through the end of the year and not have to worry about it again until next year).
Order baby shower gift for my cousin--she's long distance, and she waited to find out the gender of her baby (born yesterday--it's a boy!); so my family has put off buying her a present until now. I really want to find something special and practical!
Order mattress for crib--the semi-organic one I want is only available online. This isn't a top priority because I won't be using it for awhile, but it would help to have the mattress with bedding on it to really bring the nursery together. So I'll probably order it sooner than later =)
Finish photoboBoldok--free photobook on Picaboo right now. I'm trying to do a book with just December of 2009 in this one--that's how far behind I am. At least it's free. I'm liking the program so far, but Snapfish is still my favorite to work on).

I'll knock a good majority of this out tomorrow. I'll probably pack (really pack) after Labor day. And I plan to knock a few of the other things out after I finish this blog. Are you overwhelmed just reading this? Sorry, I actually feel more organized and calm knowing it's all written down, and I have a plan to be completely ready for baby.

As far as what I'm going through right now--I'm definitely bigger (pointier) and more uncomfortable than I was with my first pregnancy at this point. Sleeping usually leaves my hips feeling sore because of my belly's weight pulling on them all night. I'm gaining more weight than I did with my first--only a few pounds, but all of those pounds have been from this last month. I'm constantly hungry, and I'm craving sweets (especially ice cream) like crazy. So, instead of my average pound-per-week weight gain, I've been averaging two pounds the last three weeks. I keep remembering how hard it was to get rid of baby weight the first time around, and I'm trying to use that as motivation to put the spoon down and walk away from the sugar; but it's not working very well =(

I haven't made much progress as far as dilating or effacing, but that doesn't bother me. First of all, I plan to do as much walking as possible in the next week to get things moving. Plus, I've been resisting the contractions up until now. From this point on, I'll be welcoming the contractions and allowing my body to use them to prepare the baby. Plus, I had made no progress the morning I went into labor--my midwife checked me and figured I'd go until 41 weeks at least, but I started labor that night--so I know my body doesn't necessarily need to progress a long time in advance before labor begins.

Okay, time to get back to that to-do list!


Baby Shower/Sprinkle

Got my dress from Ross--stretchy, scrunchy, and black--hides a world of sins! (It's not even maternity.)

My shower, thrown by my incredible SIL and friends, used this wording on the evite:
A baby bookworm is on the way
Let's shower, Joy
our literary mama
with love and books

Although cards are nice
They're read once or twice
A book is a treasure
Forever and Forever
So instead of a card
To be put aside
Please give the little baby ninja
A book with your name inside, along with your gift

Could you pick a more perfect invite for an editor/writer's baby shower? I love it!

My shower was fabulous! And I'll tell you the key to making it really fabulous--not knowing the gender of the baby. I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. If you don't know the gender of the baby, you're forced to buy from the registry (or buy practical stuff any baby could use). That means I had a shower packed with practical stuff (cloth diapers & accessories, baby shampoo, bedding, and gift cards). It's all practical stuff I know I'll use, so it's a big blessing.

I dare you to find one item in that bounty pile that I won't use and need to take back--double dog dare you!

I'll let you in on a little secret new moms won't tell you--cute gifts are usually just that--cute. They don't get used. They collect dust on a shelf in the nursery until enough time has passed that it isn't offensive to sell them in a garage sale or throw them away. Meanwhile, Mama is rocking her baby to sleep trying to count up the cost of all the cute-but-not-usable toys and clothes she got and wishing she had that extra cash to buy diapers, wipes, and fun items like humidifiers, convertible car seats, and baby thermometers (note my sarcasm). If you really want to bless the person you're buying for (this includes wedding presents too), BUY FROM THE REGISTRY!

Okay, rant over. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.

Back to my shower--the whole time I was opening presents, I kept exclaiming how wonderful each present was--and I meant it! It's encouraging and calming to know that after the shower my to-buy list has actually shrunk, and I might be able to invest a little more in my furniture and nursery decor. I don't think anyone (except the other mamas in the room) believed me, but it's true. I loved my shower and all of my gifts!

While we're on the topic of baby showers, I thought I'd share a few tips to keeping the shower affordable and a blessing for the mama-to-be.

1. Set your priorities and stick to them. If getting a big group gift is the priority (which it usually is for me--guarantees the mama is spoiled, which is most important), then don't spend all the hostesses' money on frivolous decorations, favors, and whatnot that's going to be thrown away after the shower.

2. Get lots of help. If anyone volunteers to help--say yes! Delegate the parts that cost money, so each person feels as though they're contributing yet not going broke in the process. Have everyone make something to eat/bring something to drink--again, it keeps costs down.

The lovely ladies who volunteered to host my shower (my sister is missing from this picture). I am so blessed to have so many people care enough to invest in my second shower. Thanks, ladies!

3. If you're going to splurge on a professional cake/cookies/etc., then cut the rest of the food costs way back so you're not breaking the bank.

These are my all-time FAVORITE cookies I requested. Mmm mmm good! Definitely worth the splurge!

4. Make it a come-and-go shower (check with your guest of honor first to make sure she isn't expecting a traditional shower, and be sure to state that it's come-and-g0 on the invite). Here are my favorite reasons for having a come-and-go shower--people are more likely to show up if they know they aren't going to get sucked into a couple of hours of games and sitting around talking to strangers. Also, if you make it a come-and-go shower, you don't have to do games--that means there's no money needed for the game supplies or the gifts for the winners.

But if you're going to do games, be sure to get lots of pictures of classic moments like this!

5. RSVP-ing is quickly fading away as a lost tradition. There are a couple of ways to deal with this. Number one, if you use evite.com for your invite (another great cost-saving idea), there's a better chance of people RSVP-ing, but it's still not a guarantee. The other nice part of an evite is it sends out an email reminder a day or two before the event and reminds people it's coming up. It also gives people a chance to see who's coming--if they see their friends are coming, they're more likely to show up--which means a better turnout for you.

Second valuable tip in lieu of RSVPs: In general, about 30 percent of the people you invite will come. So, as far as food and paper products go, if you're not getting a lot of RSVPs, plan on about 30 percent showing up. If you have a target number of people you want to show up to make the mama feel blessed, encourage her to invite anyone and everyone so that her total list is about triple the number you want to show up. This rule has yet to fail me.

BONUS TIP: As fun and romantic as a couples' shower sounds, it's usually a bust. Guys have a hard time wrapping their brains and their manhood around the idea of attending a "shower." And if the guy doesn't want to go, the girl won't show up alone. You'll probably have a better turnout if you keep it to the girls. And for the sake of your hostesses investing money in your shower, you'd rather have a good turnout than a bunch of leftover food, cute decorations, and empty promises from no-shows for a present.

Please don't think I'm being cynical. I know there are exceptions to all of these rules. I've had showers and attended showers that didn't follow these guidelines, and they were wonderful and a huge blessing. I just wanted to put some guidelines on the Internet that would be helpful to know if I was looking for baby shower advice. I think the most important factors of a shower are blessing the mama and having a good turnout--these are the top ways I can think of guaranteeing that both of those things happen.

Speaking of baby showers . . . in Michigan (my old stomping grounds), they call a shower for a second baby a "sprinkle." Here in Oklahoma, it's more common to have a "diaper shower" for the second one, and for the most part, people just fill your closet with diapers for the first few months. I have to admit, I'd never even heard the term "sprinkle" until recently. Is that a northern thing or do people use it across the country? Let me know in the comments section where you're from and what lingo you use for the second shower--or if you even bother having a shower for baby number two.
A friend of mine HAND KNIT this giraffe! Could it be any more perfect?


34 Weeks Prego

the roaming suitcases
**Photo courtesy of Noizyboy**

Just got a Babycenter email encouraging me to pack my bag for the hospital. I'm really conflicted on this advice.

A.) I would guess the majority of the people receiving these emails are first-time pregos. If that's the case, then the chances of them going full-term are pretty stinking good. Doesn't this just set them up for being even MORE anxious about the upcoming birth by having them pack FIVE WEEKS in advance? There's so much of a mental game during the whole pregnancy term--hearing everyone's crazy story and battling the fears that your imagination conjures up; being patient and letting your body do it's thing, yet being impatient because you're so uncomfortable and "they" say you can deliver a healthy baby as early as thirty-six weeks; "eating for two" yet not wanting to gain an exorbitant amount of weight so not sure what to eat and when; etc.--wouldn't it be more prudent to send out these emails with disclaimers or statistics.

For example, "There's a small chance (about 15 percent of you) who will go into labor in the next couple of weeks, so it may be prudent to start putting together a bag for the hospital." That way, if the person packs and then doesn't deliver the next day, they can calm themselves with the fact that they're part of the 85 percent of women who go into labor at forty weeks or later. (I completely made up this statistic for illustration purposes. Did you know 83 percent of statistics are made up anyway? Yeah, I made that up too.)

B.) Is this another sign that I'm going to have this baby early? I know everyone gets this email, but does everyone bother to read it? And does everyone get this riled up over it that they feel the need to blog about it? I'm guessing I'm in the minority here.

C.) Even if I do go into labor in the next couple of weeks, how likely is it that I won't have time to labor at home and pack my bag? I mean, seriously, we all know that most labors are over ten hours (again, I'm just guessing), so how come you couldn't use those first few hours of less intense contractions to distract yourself with some packing and prepping for the hospital?

Okay, the rant is over. I probably won't pack my bag this week or next. I figure September 4th is the soonest I'd go into labor (because that's my self-imposed deadline to finish all my editing projects), and I've got to push some of those last-minute hospital prep items off until then. I'll be fine, right? (Famous last words) We'll see how this plays out!


33 Weeks Prego

I have to be honest, I'm not so solid on my gut-instinct that it's a girl anymore. I know I told you I don't put any weight in all the "signs" people follow that show it's a boy/girl (e.g., heart rate, how you carry the baby, etc.); BUT I'm having a hard time ignoring the fact that this pregnancy is so different from my first. I know, I know. That doesn't mean anything either--I, too, have friends who had completely different pregnancies and same gender babies. It's all a mental battle, but I'm starting to think it's a boy now. Either way, I'm using "she" more often to refer to my baby; it just sounds more humane and personal than "it." And it gets me excited for a girl every time I use it, so that's definitely a major plus. Plus, I realized that the only item I bought way in advance for this baby was a girl's onesie. Perhaps it's a sign?

Another reason I think it might be a boy is my appetite has been through the roof again. I thought with a growing baby, my stomach would be shrinking; therefore, I wouldn't be able to consume as much in one sitting. I figured I would just have to eat more often. But that's not the case. I can eat . . . a lot . . . in one sitting, and thirty minutes later, I'm hungry for another meal. It's ridiculous. I know my baby's gaining more weight now, but still . . . it doesn't account for the junk I've been allowing myself to indulge in "in the name of pregnancy." I really want to gain a minimal amount of weight, and I want to have healthy eating practices established before the baby's born so it will be easier to shed this weight once the baby is here. So it's taking everything within me to resist the urge to binge on sweets and creamy deliciousness every day.

Oh, and I had my ultrasound at 34 weeks--it's not nearly as exciting as the 20 week ultrasound because the baby's so big you can't see much at once. Here's what I learned at the ultrasound:

1. Baby's already head down facing the back--GOOD!
2. Baby's already got a head of hair (see pic below). That extra think kinda wavy line around the rim of the head, yeah, that's hair.
3. Baby's measuring 5 pounds 8 ounces. Um, that's at 34 weeks! If the measurement is accurate and the baby gains the average half pound per week, we're looking at a nine pound baby again. YIKES!

Going on gut again, I know this baby is coming early. First of all, my work load freed up tremendously, so I'm taking that as a sign that I needed to wrap things up earlier so I could be ready for this baby. I'm contracting all the time--which did not happen with baby number one. I can tell my body's preparing for labor. And then there's just that gut instinct that says I'm going to go early. Ideally, I'll deliver September 11. I know, weird date to pick, but my favorite nurse is working that day =) Plus, wouldn't it be good to have new life to celebrate on that day instead of just thinking about the hurt our nation went through? I think so.

I know last week I said I'd take the measurements with a grain of salt, and many have reminded me since that the measurements are often wrong--so I'll let my body do what it needs to. September 14th is another great day because my nurse is working that day too =) Regardless, I'm not going to fear having a big baby. My body grows big babies, so it can handle birthing them too.

I can't believe I'm a month away. I've gotten a lot done (laundered clothes, cleaned car seat, organized papers, NESTED--you should see my closets!); but I've got a lot to do (finalize birth plan, finalize name options, install car seat, pack hospital bag, buy/assemble furniture, finish nursery, make "big sister" crown for my firstborn, finalize and pack big sister's stuff, etc.) . Plus, I need to finish up my work (I've still got five books in progress that I'm editing). More than enough to keep me occupied the next few weeks.

I must admit, I keep seeing myself showing up for a regular check-up and hearing my midwife say, "Are you ready to have this baby today? Because we're going to the hospital now." Hopefully that's just my imagination. I want to labor as much as possible at home . . . and I'm just not quite ready for this baby to appear. Soon, very soon though!