Holiday cheer

This was the best Christmas ever, and no one can accuse me of having had too much spiked eggnog when I say this. (In fact, this year I made sure that not only was my eggnog rum-free, but also that it was pasteurized.)

Being a person who loves Christmas, I have had many a great holiday — even when the only thing under the tree was underwear. After all, Christmas is about giving, and about being with family. Oh, and let’s not forget decking the halls!

But this year, I have to confess, it was a little bit about what I was getting. Because all through my twenties, I’ve wanted something that never ceased to elude me — babies. I received lots of great presents this year, but even though Chris went over budget in getting me all those little material things we like to find under the tree, he failed to top what he’s already given me: our little Pele, who can now be felt bouncing around merrily inside me just about every minute of the day (and night).

Yes, even more fun than baking gingerbread cookies and placing ornaments on the tree was feeling our little daughter or son somersaulting about and jabbing its little arms and legs into our hands.

Since the baby is due about a week from Chris’ and my birthdays, I suspect that those special occasions might be overshadowed by the sublime joy of the wee one, as well.

Happy holidays! Here are the Week 21 belly shots:

Birth yourself thin!

Remember the Rotation Diet in the 1980s? Well, I’ve found something even better — something that has thinned my heretofore unthinnable thighs and trimmed inches from my stubborn hips. And I did it all without diet and exercise! Even after gaining six pounds, my hips and thighs are sleeker and slimmer! What is this miracle pill, you ask? It’s not a pill, folks, it’s the anti-Pill. That’s right — by not being on birth control, you, too, will discover the secret to losing that lower-body pudge! I call it the Gestation Diet.

All you need to do is get pregnant. Almost immediately, your metabolic rate will rise. This diet will make you insatiably hungry, but there’s no catch. You can eat all you want — and your rapid metabolism will melt away those troublesome hips even as you gorge on “naughty” foods like pasta and popcorn shrimp!*

And unlike other diets, which take off weight even in the places where you’d like a little padding, the Gestation Diet won’t bring you down a single cup size. In fact, this diet is rich in safe, natural hormones that will actually increase your bust by two cup sizes — or even more! Imagine achieving the effect of liposuction and a breast augmentation … without painful surgery!

Of course, there is one tradeoff — instead of those flat abdominals, you’ll have a huge, rounded belly. But since this diet is for hips and thighs only, you may enjoy the fact that your enormous midsection will help to further minimize those unsightly saddlebags.

Satisfied customer Heather B. used to find her maternity pants snug in the hips and loose in the tummy. After just four and a half months on the Gestation Diet, she’s filling out that tummy panel quite nicely — but those big old pants just sag around her new, svelte bottom! After giving birth, Heather may have to buy a whole new wardrobe of “skinny” pants!

Are you ready for a thin new you? Are you willing to give up just 18 short years of your life? Then you may be a candidate for the Gestation Diet. Just throw away that Pill and birth your way to thinner thighs.*

And here they are: Pictures of satisfied customer Heather B. in Week 20 of the Gestation Diet, enjoying her beautiful new bottom!

*These results are not typical and since every metabolism is different, there is no guarantee the Gestation Diet will help you achieve similar results. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, dizziness, fatigue, frequent urination, weight gain, insomnia, hip pain, back problems, nasal and sinus congestion, nosebleeds, headache, heartburn, difficulty breathing, the sensation of fullness, uterine contractions and childbirth. Consult your physician before starting this or any diet.

A bowlful of jellyfish

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, and all through the room Not a creature was stirring, except in my womb; The grownups were nestled all snug in their beds, When baby decided, “It’s time for phys ed!”

One of the greatest highlights of pregnancy is feeling the baby move. Sure, the barfing and the sore hips and the feeling of having your stomach and lungs squashed up into your collarbone are exciting too, but for some reason, they’re just no competition for those first little kicks and punches.

I started feeling some weird tickling a couple months back, and some definite baby movement about three weeks ago. Soon the movement was unmistakable, and now I’m fairly sure I can tell the difference between a punch, a kick and a repositioning maneuver.

The baby is already beginning to fall into the sleep-wake cycle (or lack thereof) it will have as a newborn, but, as anyone who’s woken up to find the covers wrapped around them and the pillows on the floor can attest, that doesn’t matter. Awake or not, the baby moves about 50 times per hour.

I had hoped, since I have (well, had) a very flat tummy, that by Christmastime, Chris could feel the baby’s movements from the outside. Unfortunately, I have an anterior placenta, which is just that much more cushioning for little arms and legs to poke through. So, while I can feel the baby using my uterus as a trampoline in his or her nightly practice sessions for Gymboree as I’m lying in bed, feeling any movement on the outside has proven as elusive as finding that perfect nursery theme.

Until last night. That’s when I decided that, since I have been feeling kicks more strongly on the left side, that’s probably the part that isn’t covered by the placenta.

Having just gobbled down a few midnight snacks thanks to second-trimester super-hunger, I lay on my left side, tummy slightly down because I know the baby hates that and kicks like a little ninja whenever I lie in that position. It took about 10 minutes of futilely chasing stray karate chops and flying kicks, but Pele finally did it!

I had almost given up when I felt a kick from the inside and a minute twitch from the outside. Even Chris was excited, which is a tall order for most people who are awakened from a well-needed sleep by a crazy preggie jumping on the bed and yelling, “I felt the baby move!!!” and are forced to feel a tummy that now is completely still … even from the inside.

But now that it has happened once, chances are it’ll happen more and more often — just like the previous baby movements (and the vomiting).

So while I am trying to keep most of Chris’ presents secret from him, this is one thing I don’t mind saying he may get for Christmas after all.

And here they are: the Week 19 belly shots!

Whoomp! (there it is)

Pregnancy is a funny thing (and I say this now because I haven’t barfed in a good four days). In a mere two weeks, I have gone from stealth-preggie mode to being asked by strangers when the baby is due.

In aforementioned two weeks, I’ve also gone from feeling little “gas bubbles” to feeling three distinct THUMPS on Wednesday. In the same two weeks, little Pele has nearly doubled in weight and gained two inches in head-to-bottom height.

How quickly the baby is growing — and nothing exemplifies that better than his or her latest portraits. Last time we had an ultrasound, at seven-and-a-half weeks, the baby looked like a little seahorse and measured 1.3 centimeters from head to rump.

A mere 10 weeks and two days later, we were presented with a fully-formed baby flexing tiny arms and legs, measuring some 13 centimeters from head to bottom. Pele’s little teeth are developing underneath the gums, vital organs are all present and accounted for, and our baby’s tiny face was bowed ever so slightly toward his or her chest, just like daddy’s does when he’s sleeping.

Unfortunately, our ultrasound tech would not tell us what we were having, and the pictures we got were rather ambiguous and we’re not sure exactly what we’re looking at. So even though, if she’s a girl, her ovaries contain millions of eggs already, poor Pele will remain plain old unisex Pele even to Chris and me for just a little longer, until we can get another ultrasound.

Anyway, here’s little Pele in all his or her glorious ambiguity:

And here are the Week 18 belly shots.