Abs of steel

There are things to be said for having babies — even when you put the wonder and beauty of the actual baby aside. Before I had Maddi, I was in terrible shape. I weighed about 10 pounds more than my ideal weight and hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in at least six months. After I had Maddi, I was in even worse shape — such bad shape, in fact, that I had no option but to go to the gym so I could fit into my prepregnancy clothes without looking like link sausage. Body-conscious tops, it seems, only work if you don’t have a tummy roll.

After several months of hitting the gym three to five times a week, I ended up weighing 12 pounds less than my prepregnancy weight and having better tummy muscles than before — something that is especially evident now. At 15 weeks pregnant with Maddi, people were unafraid to ask when I was due. At 15 weeks pregnant with The Bump (not-so-aptly named thus far!), not a single query has been made as to whether or not I’m pregnant. Even now, only those ubiquitous body-conscious tops have been put in storage — I fit in every single pair of pants I own!

Sure, there is a definite pouch in my abdomen. My tummy sticks out well past my hipbones at this point. But I could still be mistaken for someone who’s simply had a bit too much Krispy Kreme. Between my near-symptomless pregnancy and the fact that I haven’t developed the slight waddle that appeared sometime around 13 weeks with Maddi, and my nearly flat stomach, it is often difficult for me to remember I’m even pregnant.

The baby hasn’t been moving around as much as Maddi did, so there’s hope yet that we won’t be living in a house of insanity. I feel him (or her) mostly in the evening when I’m resting after dinner. It’s very odd, not feeling particularly pregnant at 15 weeks. However, I must say it is nice having a variety of pants to wear without elastic or spandex in them.

Today was my OB checkup, and I have gained two and a half pounds, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that it’s eight and a half pounds more than I gained in the first trimester with Maddi. There are things to be said for not feeling sick all the time!

My fundal height was 18 cm, which at this point means I’m measuring at 18 weeks — a bit ahead of where I am. Dr. Goncalves had to move the Doppler around a long time before he found a heartbeat. I’m not saying the old wives’ tale is true, but if it is, then we are definitely having a boy since the heart rate was a low 132. Chris is still thinking pink, of course!

And here, without further ado, are the 15 week belly pics:

Time flies when you have more than one

With Maddi, the first trimester lasted an eternity. Yes, this could be because I spent most of it trying to avoid the scent and sight of food and sleeping 18 hours a day. But it was also because I had nothing but time.

Now, I’m short on time. Instead of worrying constantly about the baby, I’m worried that I forget to worry constantly about the baby. Not only have I done this before, and am having a much more comfortable pregnancy, but I’m so busy chasing a certain nap-hating toddler around the house that it’s hard to find time to catch my breath and feel for kicks.

Somehow, I’ve entered the second trimester without really even trying. Good things do come to those who wait, although this pregnancy has been so easy (save for the bleeding and reduced activity) that I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. After we heard the heartbeat at 10 weeks, the chances of miscarriage were much slimmer than they had been, and that was a great load off my mind. As far as my personal physical comfort, I can’t imagine a pregnancy getting much better than this! There were times when I was carrying Maddi when I thought, “Boy, am I a whiny wuss!” But you know what? This is exactly what, long ago, I expected pregnancy would be like. A little barfing, a little fatigue, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I think I’ve thrown up fewer than 10 times this pregnancy and I only need an hour or two more sleep a night (and my starting requirement was a five- or six-hour sleep, so it’s not bad at all!).

As for the baby, all its parts are fully formed by now. Its chances of being carried to term are greatly improved over the period in the first few months where I was bleeding. And many people are finding out at 14 weeks along exactly what color to paint the nursery. (Unfortunately, we have to wait a bit longer for that here in B.C.)

As busy as I am with Maddi (and currently Kaija), I am still looking forward to getting the nursery ready for baby. If it’s a girl, she’s all set. Maddi’s pink and purple butterfly theme will do just fine when she moves to her big-girl room, and Daddy has even purchased the baby a pretty pastel onesie. If it’s a boy, we’ll need to cover the pink trim on the crib and gather an awful lot of non-pink clothing. Daddy is pretty convinced it’s not a boy, but I’ve been scouring the Web’s selection of baby-boy wear just to be on the safe side.

I can feel our little wiggler pretty regularly after meals and when I’m resting at night. So far as I can tell, this will be another active one like Maddi. I only hope we will still be welcome in playgroup with two crazy babies!

Butterfly twitches

With any pregnancy, it’s nice to have some sort of constant affirmation that you are, indeed, pregnant. With Maddi, that affirmation came in the form of crippling fatigue, unbearable nausea, and — later on — unpredictable vomiting. With this baby, I am only somewhat fatigued, and I could quite possibly make Limburger and sardine sandwiches without the faintest intestinal twitch. So I’ve really been hoping to either find an ultrasound machine on my doorstep with a big red bow on it one morning, or feel some kind of movement from within.

Well, as of eleven weeks and a day, I felt movement. Unlike with Maddi, where I felt movement for close to a month before I became convinced that it really was the baby, I knew right away what I was feeling. More nights than not over the past few weeks, as I’m lying down after dinner, I’ll feel a faint little twitch or nudge, like the edge of a thumb sliding gently against the wall of my abdomen. With Maddi I wasn’t entirely convinced it wasn’t gas until it turned into sharp, bona fide karate kicks, but it hasn’t been so very long since I’ve had a baby in my uterus and I still remember vividly what it feels like. Luckily, I haven’t yet started dreaming of being beaten about the ribs by thugs with baseball bats, but give the baby another 20 weeks and I’m sure I’ll be begging for mercy.

At this point in my last pregnancy, I was wearing a fair bit of maternity and my belly was rather round and protrusive. But this time around, starting nearly 15 pounds lighter and with abs of steel, I have yet to outgrow my prepregnancy jeans and the only time I look even slightly pregnant is when I’m wearing a baggy top or I’ve eaten a sizable meal. There are days when I think I’m finally showing, only to discover the next day that it was water retention and I’m back to just looking like I’ve been eating a few too many Cheet-ohs.

However, while I’m still waiting to break out the maternity pants (maternity shirts are already out since I can’t very well wear my old, form-fitting ones without a washboard stomach!), I at least have my little bean in there, twitching about and reminding me that while I’m still small and have very few symptoms, I’m still pregnant!

And without further ado, here are the week 13 belly pics! I promise I didn’t take any drugs or kill Sharon Tate beforehand; it was just a very, very long day on top of a very long weekend, and you can read all about it in Maddi’s blog if you want more information.

To exhaustion

Normally I’m a person of logic and reason. But for some reason, during my month of reduced activity, it failed to occur to me that the reason I was feeling so incredibly great this pregnancy was because I was on reduced activity. Two weeks ago, if you had asked how I was doing, I would have told you I had boundless energy. Well, what I know now is that it’s easy to have boundless energy when you are sitting or lying down 70 percent of your waking day. And when your waking day consists of only 14 hours (thanks to Chris for getting Maddi all those breakfasts!). When you have just come off a full year of sleeping 6 hours a night (or less, for the first three months), chasing after an active baby all day, and doing housework after said baby is in bed, of course you are going to feel energetic on bedrest, no matter what your hormonal situation!

The day after I got off reduced activity, I spent an hour working out, returned home, and did some long-overdue cleaning. Before 5 p.m. (let alone the end of my workday!), I was ready to crawl into bed and die a very rapid and hopefully restful death. The next day was no different, and in fact, the whole week has seen me exhausted by Maddi’s dinnertime.

I’m still not feeling any nausea or peeing very often and for some reason “the girls” have remained their standard size, but now that I’m off reduced activity, the old, familiar fatigue is back and I definitely feel pregnant.

And here I am at 11 weeks, looking almost as tired as I feel (don’t get excited, these pictures were taken after a big meal!):

The beat goes on

There’s a lot of time to think — nay, obsess — about the state of your baby when your ultrasound is at 7 weeks, your next OB appointment is at 10 weeks, and you’re spotting the entire time. At the outset of this pregnancy, I worried that I might not be as attentive with this baby as I was with Maddi when she was a little embryo. That was not to be the case.

Busy though I may be, I’ve spent the past three weeks wondering how my wee friend is doing in there. With Maddi, I always had that reassuring constant nausea and crippling fatigue. With this baby, I’ve had some heartburn and indigestion, and I’m feeling a little tired, but nothing that can’t also be chalked up to stress. I’ve neither gained nor lost weight, and all of my pants — even the skinny ones — still fit. This was definitely not the case when I was pregnant with Maddi, and all but three pairs of pants instantly stopped fitting. It’s hard to believe I’m pregnant sometime when I’ve come to associate pregnancy with pure hormonal misery and bloating.

With the near-lack of symptoms making it impossible for me to know, at any given time, whether I am pregnant or not, it’s made for some panicky times. For instance, I stopped spotting last week, and you would think that’d be reassuring. But no, after seeing pink blood for five weeks, it had become a reassurance knowing that there was still something in my uterus TO bleed. Once the spotting stopped, I began to worry that I had spotted out an entire baby and not realized it. Silly, I know, but these apparently are the thoughts that go through a person’s head between appointments in a high-risk pregnancy.

I also worried, of course, about the paucity of my symptoms. Where, I asked myself, was the life-ruining nausea? Where was the urge to sleep away 18 hours out of the day? Even the frequent need to pee seemed to have resolved itself.

Then, last night, Chris posted the 10-week belly shots. I compared them with the nine-week pictures and was horrified to discover that my tummy was significantly flatter this week. Of course, I had had a large meal before last week’s shots and probably wasn’t standing straight, but my tummy did look mysteriously svelte. Could it be that I had indeed lost the baby?

After a restless sleep and nervous morning, we went to Dr. G’s for the long-awaited 10-week appointment. My heart sank as Dr. Goncalves moved the Doppler around, listening for something, anything but the gurgling of my bowels. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably closer to 15 seconds, we heard an unmistakeable chugging noise. Not only was our baby’s heart still beating, but it was pumping at 182 beats per minute, right within the normal range for a 10-week embryo.

Not only is the baby alive and well, but I’m finally off reduced activity and pelvic rest. Tomorrow I’ll be back at the gym, where Dr. G said I can resume my normal workout regimen. With any luck, baby and I can continue to work out until the very day he or she enters the world. (The bonus is that not only will labor be shorter and less painful, but I will be getting unhurried daily showers!)

Needless to say, I’ve been walking on air since hearing the little one’s reassuring heartbeat. For today, at least, I can stop obsessing and worrying and simply enjoy my comfortable, non-showing pregnancy.

And here they are, those 10-week pictures that had me so worried!

Busy baby

It has been a busy few weeks. Two weeks ago, Chris and Maddi and I went to Whistler so Chris could interview for a job. Most of the time was spent sitting in the car or sleeping in the hotel, but it was exhausting nonetheless. I spent the next week resting up, but this past week we went to Oliver twice — once for Chris’ cousin Becca’s birthday, and again two days later for her dance recital.

My spotting had died down a bit after Whistler, but picked up after traveling the 60 or so miles to Oliver twice in one week. In response, I have reached new heights of laziness, laundering only Maddi’s clothing and rewearing mine more times than is appropriate. My thinking is that wearing smelly shirts won’t hurt the baby, but carrying a laundry basket down the stairs (especially since Maddi has decided this is one of her favorite methods of conveyance) just might.

The cat is out of the bag at Maddi’s playgroup. I tried to skirt around the questions about everyone’s efforts at conceiving new babies with vague, general answers. But one of the other moms asked me directly, so I had to spill. Back when I was pregnant with Maddi, I would have worried that this very acknowledgement would instantly cause the embryo to flee my uterus, but I have taken a much more laid-back approach with this baby, at least where superstition is concerned.

However, I am still steering clear of lunchmeat, soft cheeses, sushi, caffeine, and unpasteurized juice, as much as I may want to consume them. I’m also steering clear of cleaning the catbox, although that’s a lot easier to do than avoiding delicious, delicious salmon rolls, which I’ve so been craving lately.

Only one week until my next OB appointment, when I get to find out if I need to keep steering clear of the gym and Chris’ advances as well.

And here they are, the Week 9 photos! (Don’t get so excited; I had a big meal beforehand and we all know how pregnancy can back a girl up.)

It’s a baby!

This past week, so that I could obey doctor’s orders, Chris kindly babyproofed the entire upstairs. Not only are all the vacuum outlets taped over, but there’s now a baby gate between the dining room and kitchen so Maddi is relegated to the main living area. Basically, it’s like a giant rubber room. For the first time since she started crawling, I’ve been able to lie down and relax without having to leap up every three seconds and conquer some sort of imminent danger or destruction. And with Mommy relaxing, that means the new baby is relaxing, and the only person getting worn out is Maddi (but that’s a good thing!).

I’ve been completely slacking on vacuuming, laundry and even dishes, and Chris has been giving Maddi meals after her morning nap. That means that, although it’s not uninterrupted sleep, I am now getting 8 to 10 hours’ sleep each night, which is as much as the mom of an active toddler can hope for, I think.

And all my hard nonwork was rewarded today when I went in for my ultrasound and was rewarded with a real live baby. That’s right, folks, although I am still bleeding, the technician was able to find that elusive heartbeat and the baby seems to be fine.

I’m still on reduced activity, but it’s much more comforting knowing it isn’t in vain.

Rest for the weary

It’s always nice to be told to take it easy and not strain oneself, but not so much when it’s your doctor who’s doing the telling.

I went into today’s appointment slightly concerned because of a little spotting, but not too worried because I’ve been feeling exhausted and nauseated (good things when you’re pregnant!) and because I had admittedly overdone it, cleaning the house from top to bottom not once but twice over the weekend for Maddi’s first birthday and my turn to host playgroup. I simply promised myself I’d spend a few days slacking on the housework until I felt a bit better.

But I wasn’t prepared for “reduced activity.” Dr. Goncalves easily found a viable fetus, but the heartbeat was impossible to find with his office’s ultrasound equipment. Given the bleeding (which is common, as I knew, but still cause for concern, which I didn’t), he ordered another ultrasound at the hospital for a week from today, when the baby will be bigger and easier to see. He also put me on “pelvic rest,” and told me to reduce my activity and definitely not go to the gym, which broke my heart just a little bit because I started the pregnancy so healthy and was hoping to remain fit right up until delivering this baby. Of course, as dismayed as I am by the pelvic rest and reduced activity, it will be well worth it if it keeps the baby safe and sound.

Next Wednesday can’t come quickly enough, though. As much as I worried about Maddi when I was first pregnant with her, it’s nothing like the worry one experiences when one hears all may not be right with one’s pregnancy.

After the appointment, I came home and exercised every pregnant woman’s prerogative — the right to a good cry.

I’m not sure how I’m going to “take it easy” with a very active one-year-old, but I will certainly do my best.

And here they are, the Week 6 pictures, in which you can see I’m in the best shape of my late 20s (for now)!

Here we go again!

It’s official! After unofficially trying for another little one since my six-weeks-postpartum appointment, and after scheduling a doctor’s appointment for this coming month to see if I’m still ovulating, we have unequivocal evidence that my ovaries are indeed fully operational. That evidence came in the form of a positive pregnancy test after Chris determined my period was five days late.

I had noticed for a few days that I had to pee an awful lot, but I blamed it on the Cherry Vanilla Diet Cokes I’d been drinking. I’d also noticed that they tasted funny, but maybe we just got a stale batch, I reasoned.

Nope, the reason for the peeing and the funny tastes had nothing to do with Coke, stale or no, and everything to do with the wee embryo swimming, unbeknownst to me, in my uterus.

If only I’d thought to take the test 30 minutes later, it would have been a bona fide birthday present. I’m still considering it one, of course. And better still, the baby looks like it could be an anniversary present, as he or she is due on Jan. 1