Preparing for Childbirth: What I Know Now

Facing childbirth the second time around is a very different experience. While every pregnancy and every birth is unique I do have an idea of what to expect this time. Perhaps in contradiction, I not only know that I am capable of getting through this, I also am more open to medical intervention. I am more trusting in my midwife practice to guide me either way and I trust more in my own ability to make decisions in the moment, something I was very unsure of before.

I became pretty overwhelmed emotionally as we got closer to our due date with Haines. Like 100% totally terrified. Although I was constantly reassured that my body was built for this, I still maintain that being totally terrified is a legit way to feel. That shit’s no joke and you have no idea which way it could go. There’s only so much you can control as well. Once you become pregnant, you’re no longer in control. There’s this tiny little being announcing its needs, subtly or loudly, and they can sometimes conflict with your own.

It’s great to have a plan. It’s great to have an idea of what you’re hoping for or what your limits are but the best you can do is build your toolbox.

Prenatal yoga// I’ve talked about this in detail before. I’m a big fan of prenatal yoga. I feel like it taught me patience, calm in the face of chaos and the ability to breath through discomfort. It also gave me physical strength and flexibility in preparation for the physical act of labor.

Hydration// All medical professionals tell you to drink up when you’re pregnant. It gets old, but it can prevent preterm labor. Put your big girl/mama undies on and drink more. Infuse it, flavor it, do what it takes.

Get physical// My exercise regularity has really dropped off but I’m still trying to get moving as much as possible. My work offers fitness classes Monday through Friday and I try to make it to at least two. I spend most of class making modifications, which pisses me off, but I’m going to try to keep going. I constantly have to remind myself to prioritize exercise over work or just life as I know it made me more physically ready for labor and helped in my recovery previously. Can’t stop, won’t stop, right? (Until I can’t take it and then I’ll be taking a lot of tiny walks.)

Read up, but don’t go crazy// I’ve known moms on both ends of the “I google everything” spectrum. One of my coworkers purposely read nothing around labor. She felt like more knowledge was going to be too terrifying. Most other women I know read obsessively about it. I purposely have kept away from the Internet (I mean, as much as I can- I’m only human!) as too much information feels dangerous but I did read The Birth Partner which I found helpful for pain management tips. I also forced Tyler to read it.

Go with the flow// Mentally prepare yourself for a drastic change in plans. As in all things with a baby, there are only things you can impact. There is nothing you can control. You can’t control another person right? It feels like you should be able to as they’re living inside you but no way, no how. During labor with Haines I tried eating (nope), taking a bath (nope), using a warm sock filled with rice on my back (nope), walking (not really) to help me manage the pain but none of my prepared activities worked with how I felt. I sat in the recliner with my eyes closed and Tyler held my hand. I couldn’t tolerate anything else.

Get support// I think one of the most important things you can control (for the most part) is who your support/medical team is. You can choose a doctor or midwife who you feel comfortable with and who agrees with your general philosophy on medicine. You can also add in a doula to advocate for you and coach you through the process. It’s expensive but for many it’s a great additional member to your team.

We opted not to do a doula as Tyler wanted our experience to be more intimate. I was on the fence about it as Tyler’s been known to be super queasy/light-headed with blood, etc. In the end, we were fine. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The most important thing I told Tyler was that I was never to be left alone once I started laboring. Mission accomplished.

Remember the end goal// There are only two things that really matter in the end. It’s that you and baby are healthy. Sometimes that means going against what we had hoped for our birth plans. It can mean incredibly difficult situations, but as long as you and baby come out okay everything else will work itself out. Try not to get too wrapped up in the rest.

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32 Weeks

What a whirlwind year. All of the sudden I’m 32 weeks pregnant today, 8 weeks (hopefully) left until we’re a family of 4. Where did the time go?

This pregnancy has been so much easier in a sense as I haven’t had time to focus on it. Every hour of the day seems accounted for. It’s only stolen moments that I can think about baby boy #2. Whenever he kicks or somersaults or hiccups I am reminded of his quiet presence, waiting to make his debut. My belly is so large that I imagine it’s hard to believe I don’t spend all my time conscious of him but as must be common with younger children, the anticipation is more subdued, more of a bear hug than a champagne toast.

I worry he’ll think he was less desired, less welcomed, less celebrated than his older brother but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. To know his brother only increases our excitement. Now we know what love can feel like and to know that is to understand the world is absolutely limitless. That we will love him perhaps more easily because our hearts have already been opened.

This year has been full of challenges. Some have felt well beyond my ability to handle them, but we are still here, still standing, still reaching out to the universe asking for more.

So, the countdown begins baby boy! See you soon!

Enjoying Pregnancy

We are quickly closing in on the third trimester! It’s so hard to believe. All of the sudden I find myself thinking, this pregnancy may be actually flying by. Just kidding, I have 13 weeks left. It’s definitely not, but realizing that this is my last pregnancy has had more impact on me than I would have expected. I’m relishing in the moments I didn’t soak up before. Every little kick and somersault, the little pains that irk me when I move from seated to standing, and the times Haines pulls up my shirt to check out my belly. (No, he has no idea what’s in there. I’m sure he thinks I should lay off the snacks.) I’m even thinking about having maternity photos taken… although in fairness, I’m still really cheap and very uncomfortable in front of a camera so I have a friend who wants to take my photo for free, call me!

I didn’t enjoy being pregnant with Haines. It wasn’t particularly painful or tough but the emotional turmoil I felt was constant. I really struggled with what becoming a parent meant, what it was going to do to my life, to my identity. I felt obsessed. My first pregnancy and many of the months afterwards was almost solely focused on processing what it meant to embrace my evolving sense of self while making room for the needs of another life. It was easy and insanely difficult all at the same time. There is nothing like being needed by your child to put aside your own needs without another thought. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to power forward, go without sleeping, live on snacks, etc. You can’t power on forever without a toll and I have learned to make the most of the moments I have to myself- even if it’s just nap time.

This process is not done, of course. I have no doubt I will learn this again with #2 and continue to learn with each phase of our lives.

But these days at least, I’m finding joy not only in Haines but in this pregnancy and anticipating the littlest member of our family. Where before I thought I might burst with fear, now I am a strange combination of calm and elation. I want to celebrate this time! But as baby #2 grows, I’m doing my best to make time for the two of us (me and the tiny, growing bun in my not-so-tiny oven). Once I have two children out in the world, there may not even be nap times to catch a moment of quiet.

Prenatal yoga// I won’t go on about this any more. If you’ve read any post I’ve written in the last few months, it’s been all prenatal yoga is the best thing since sliced bread. This is still true.

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Baths// When I was pregnant with Haines I was able to take a bubble bath every week. Now some tiny toddler keeps dirtying up the tub with his playground dirt and leftover dinner in his hair. For these last few weeks, there will be more baths. If I tell you I can’t hang out because I’m washing my hair, it’s a lie. I’m just reading a magazine in the tub.

Beauty regimen// I don’t know what else to call it, but I’m trying to slow down and actually pay attention to taking care of myself. Haines keeps me busy enough that repeatedly I get to work realizing I haven’t brushed my hair, put deodorant on or checked my outfit. I won’t look in the mirror until my first bathroom break at work. Clearly I’m not vain but I’m often disappointed when I get that first look. It makes me feel like a slob. So I’m slowing down. I’m remembering to rub almond oil on my belly, put mascara on in the morning and a couple bobby pins in my hair. It’s not impressive for sure, but I’m hopeful less people will look at me like I’m an injured whale.

Friends// These weeks I don’t get halfway through the week without mentally formulating a plan for some weekend social activities. I don’t care what it is as long as I’m chatting to someone else for an hour or two each day. It’s not enough to really satisfy my needs but it takes me from surviving to enjoying life. This weekend my husband sent me to beach yoga, we had friends for dinner, checked out a new coffee shop with a neighbor, and we’re going to a goodbye party.

Date night// Since Haines turned 3 months we’ve tried to take a date night every month. We have mostly been successful in this mission, but with number 2 on the way we’re trying to get in more whenever we can.

Only 13 more weeks to go y’all. No one panic.

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I’ll never let toys take over my house and other lies I told myself. 

There are toys all over my house. I actually strategically place toys in each room of the house. So not only do I do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I said pre-baby, I do it on purpose.

There are lots of great reasons to not let toys take over your house.

  • It’s not attractive.
  • It’s not welcoming to your adult friends, who you still want to hang out with you but struggle to make time for.
  • There is no child-free area. Nothing feels sacred anymore.

But alas there are toys in Haines’ room, toys in our living room, toys in our guest room (just extra books and a single wooden puzzle), toys upstairs in my office/craft area (I’m still waiting for my creative juices to come back so I can utilize this space), toys in each bathroom and toys in the kitchen.

Yes, it sounds awful. If you do not have children or your child is young enough to have not taken over your house, you might think I’m crazy. But I have shit to do. In every room of my house.

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Our living room is where we hang out and is where there is the most space so that’s where a lot of Haines’ toys are. Eventually I want to get to a place where they be easily hidden, but right now it’s just a goal.

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In the kitchen we have one lower cabinet that I have let Haines take over. Every time he leaves a toy out in the kitchen, that’s where it goes. I have also moved all his baby bottles there. He likes to throw them all over the floor. It’s not as annoying as it sounds. We’re working on him picking things back up. I’d say it’s a 30% success rate.

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I originally put these shelves in here for cute things like plants or towels. Ha!

The bathroom is one of the most important places to have toys. Sometimes your bathroom business is not quick. Sometimes you need a few minutes. It’s not as though your 18 month old can just wander around the house safely entertaining himself. No, he has to be in the bathroom with you. He might be satisfied taking your tampons and pads out of the bottom drawer for a few minutes but now you need to wash your hands, brush your teeth and check your hair. Time for a police car that makes siren noises and a book.

 

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To be totally honest, I only have toys in my office as part of my fantasy where I’m going to do work up there and Haines will entertain himself. This has never once happened. I only work up there during nap time and “work” is really cleaning up the piles of bills and other things I let stack up for weeks at a time. A girl can dream.

So I have toys all over my house.

Sometimes I also feed my child fruit when he refuses to eat the dinner I made him. Berries mostly. Yep, he throws food on the floor and then I give him fruit. Sometimes I cry about it too.

Several times a week he watches Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger, another thing I said I’d never rely on before he was born.

Even though I thought I’d only expose my child to awesome musicians that Tyler and I love, we listen Pandora’s Toddler Radio or Family Folk Songs every single day. In fairness, watching Haines try to do all the gestures to Wheels on the Bus makes my heart explode. Who knew, right?

 

Pregnancy Update: Halfway!

So we finally crossed over the halfway mark in pregnancy. According to friends my pregnancy is flying by… I’m not sure I feel the same way, but I’m enjoying it more than I did with Haines.

With Haines I was incredibly stressed about what it was going to mean to be a mother. I assumed I would feel an insane love for him but I didn’t know what that meant. I couldn’t imagine what that felt like and I certainly didn’t understand what a driver that would become in my life. I was worried about experiencing a loss of identity and missing out on the things I enjoy.

They weren’t unreasonable concerns. I did feel lost for a while in the fourth trimester. I felt overwhelmed and without purpose. My sole activity was just to keep Haines alive which wasn’t very fulfilling despite the joy I felt holding and loving him. I still struggle with finding time for the things I enjoy. This blog post will probably take a week to write and yet it’s all fine. I have a better sense of “this is temporary” and more excitement rather than nerves this pregnancy. Although the idea of having two children to chase is terrifying.

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Pregnancy has treated me very well so far. My nausea was worse in the first trimester than with Haines but it was still manageable. Our anatomy scan showed a healthy baby in there and so far our only concerns are:

  • My placenta is underneath the baby which is not where it’s supposed to be. We’ll get an additional ultrasound at 28 weeks to see if it moves, which is apparently very common. Worst case scenario is a c-section which is not the end of the world.
  • Making sure I get antibiotics before delivery to reduce the risk of group strep b this time. I definitely want to avoid another sepsis experience!

This are both things we can prepare for and although I think about them from time to time, I’m not overly worried. We’ve chatted with the midwives and the pediatrician on our concerns and feel pretty good.

I’ve discovered I’m waddling already, much to my chagrin. I’m just a waddler apparently. I’m making a bigger effort to exercise despite hating it more and more. Today I went to a High Intensity Interval Training class and made so many modifications that I wondered why I was there. Still, it helped to be in a class setting and I did exercises that I wouldn’t have thought of to do on my own. With Haines I severely reduced my exercise starting at 32 weeks. I’m hoping to make it that long again.

Otherwise life is pretty much:

  • Drinking gallons of water every day (Okay, I average around 90-100 ounces) and peeing every 45 minutes
  • Obsessively coating my skin in sweet almond oil to prevent stretch marks
  • Hosting family- tis the benefits of living at the beach!
  • Surviving 90F+ days with 80% humidity
  • Re-reading Great With Child for the second time (recommend!) as well as reading Fever Dream (recommend!), Educated (recommend!), And Now We Have Everything (3 out of 5 stars), and What We Lose (don’t recommend). My night stand stack of books is shrinking… but I have a back up pile ready!

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Every day I feel more kicks and somersaults which I am relishing. It’s a total gift to know this little guy who is a total mystery and yet I know more about him than anyone else. What a strange thing to be a mother, isn’t it?

I finished this all in one sitting. I’m beyond impressed with myself.

 

So long spring, hello summer!

I’m sad to say May is gone. It’s an annual tragedy. May begins quietly, sweet with budding flowers and not too hot. The humidity waiting in the wings but not yet present. By Memorial Day June is not just knocking at the door but full force body slamming it. Humidity has taken over. The heat has picked up and I’ve given in and turned on the AC. Damn you southern summer. I am not strong enough to keep the windows open.

May, as always, proved to be the best month of the year so far.

We went to the aquarium not once, but twice! (Thank you year long membership!) We finally checked out the Children’s Museum which proved to be a huge hit (more on that tiny adventure later).

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Tiny crab

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Standard post-aquarium position

The family trekked to Winston to see my mom, a trip that included a lot of nostalgia cleaning out her attic, walks in my favorite places and the best fried chicken.

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I got another year older, which is one of my favorite activities. I’m glad it doesn’t happen more than once a year but I’m very grateful to continue on this journey!

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Our garden is starting to show life. Our yard is in bloom. We’ve already been to the pool twice, which is proving popular with Haines.

My dad came for a visit, a long overdue trip! As he lives overseas, he hadn’t gotten to see Haines since he was still new to the world. Not surprisingly he immediately took to his Granddaddy.

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Haines is talking more and more each day, imitating all the words we say to him. Baby #2 is growing away (as am I) and I’ve started to feel him kick and roll around. The summer is off to an incredible start.

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Why We Chose to Find out the Sex

We didn’t know Haines was a boy before he was born. I loved the surprise of it all. I loved the anticipation of finding out. I loved avoiding gifts decorated with trucks or tutus. A lot of people told me they needed to know the sex of their babies to prepare. Prepare for what? It’s a baby. It’s only opinions are about milk (now!), diapers (faster, I hate this!), temperature and being held (NEVER put me down fool!). They don’t care about the room decor or if the onesies you choose are considered more feminine or masculine. This soapbox ramble can go on and on but I’ve already shared most of my feelings on this previously.

Despite feeling pretty strongly that not finding out is awesome, this time I wanted to know. I wanted to be able to picture the baby and more easily imagine them as part of our lives. I want it to feel less surreal. Perhaps, it is naive to think knowing the sex will make a difference and yet I found myself asking to know the sex at our ultrasound regardless. I just wanted more information. If there’s anything to know about this peanut, I want it. Toe count? Yes, please. Belly size? Yes, please. Sex? Okay, I want that too.

If I’m totally honest, I also had a moment of… disbelief and maybe even disappointment when Haines was born and turned out to be a boy. Tyler and I had totally convinced ourselves he would be a girl. For no reason whatsoever, we thought we were definitely having a girl. And when he was placed on my chest, I was shocked. My mental state took a while to recover (as did everything else). I was scared to have a boy, that I wouldn’t know how to connect with him. I feel ashamed that I had that reaction, but it is a part of life and a good lesson to learn about getting your mind set on something that you have no control over! I didn’t want to do that again.

Now, I know that if we had had a girl, then we would not have Haines. And Haines is the best thing to ever happen to us, how could I want anything else?  I also feel strongly that sex tells us very little about what a person will be like. It might inform certain things later on, but not their hobbies or passions. Not their personality. Not who they’ll love or how they’ll love. Not the things I can’t wait to know about them.

So this fall, we’ll be adding… a little boy to our family! Yes, I’m bummed my carefully selected girl name will go unused but I’m ready to start brainstorming others! Baby boy, your mom, dad and big brother anxiously await you. We can’t wait to lay eyes on your precious self.

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Tiny tootsies!