By the quick’ning in my tum, something kickin’ this way comes

Well, it’s 99 percent official. The baby is definitely moving around in there. (I think.)

It’s been happening since about Week 12. I’d be sitting in the car or lying in bed, and I’d feel a little flutter in the general vicinity of the uterus. If I happened to be listening to the baby’s heartbeat on my fetal monitor, this tickling feeling would be accompanied by a distinct plunking noise in my headset.

At first, I chalked it up to gas, but this week it’s been picking up and feeling more definite. Unless gas normally commences within minutes of ingesting sugar or caffeine (yes, I have been naughty and had a few small caffeine drinks here and there in the second trimester), it is most definitely the baby experiencing a brief burst of energy. Also, I have noticed that, unlike gas, the bubbling kicks up a few notches if I poke at my belly.

If that’s not enough, I know the baby has been hanging out a few inches southwest of my belly button for as long as I’ve been monitoring its heartbeats, and that, coincidentally, is where I’ve been feeling the fluttering. Now, theoretically, it could be that the baby and the gas are coincidentally situated in the same region. Yesterday, however, Chris and I ran over a dead deer on the highway and when the car bounced, I came down hard on my right side. The heartbeat moved over to the southeast for a few hours, and so did the “gas bubbles.” Then, when the coast was clear, everything moved back to that old, familiar southwest portion of my abdomen.

Now despite all this, and the fact that the baby’s movements are expected to be felt between weeks 16 and 20, I am still not quite sure it’s not just intestinal rumblings.

But I’m 99 percent certain that little Pele is not only living up to his reputation as the namesake of the volcano deity, but also living up to expectations as the namesake of the Brazilian soccer star.

Diversionary tactic

On visiting my parents last week, I had decided to make the big announcement on our second night there rather than right away. Like anyone who has been busting out of her stretch pants for a good month and a half, I naturally was worried that my unnaturally poochy tummy would make that big announcement for me … the minute I entered the house and peeled off my rather snug jacket.

In hopes of delaying the news of my pregnancy, I spent a day and a half wearing the same belly-concealing black turtleneck (which in itself should have been a dead giveaway, seeing as how I meticulously rotate my wardrobe so that things are never worn twice in a week, let alone two days!) and sucking in my tummy, cramping the poor baby and causing my abdominal muscles much discomfort.

Oh, what a blind and naive fool I was! While I was fretting over the obvious (to me) tummy bulge, my mother was wondering why on earth her lovely daughter had gone and gotten a boob job.

And here they are: the Week 16 belly shots, which prove that while what Chris has dubbed “the monsters” are indeed distracting and should not be viewed while operating heavy machinery, I have actually experienced some growth in the tummy area as well. You will have to excuse the wardrobe. Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best that day.

Pele on Board

Now that the second trimester is here and I’m starting to tell people the good news, the first question on many people’s lips is, “What names do you have picked out?”

Officially, we haven’t really gotten to that stage yet, since it will be weeks before we find out what we’re having. Sure we’ve tossed around a few names, but nothing that both of us love. Well, except Emma if it’s a girl — until we discovered with horror that it was last year’s No. 1 baby girl name. Having grown up with the No. 8 female baby name of the 1970s, I know the pain of being one of several Heathers in a given classroom and invariably having my name appended with my last initial. So officially, we’re still looking for a name that is classic, easy on the ears, and little-used.

Unofficially, I have dubbed my frolicsome fetus Pele the Volcano God (or Goddess, if you believe Chris and Hawaiian mythology).

It started about a month ago, at the end of Week 10. The first time it happened, I figured it was a fluke. The second time the volcano erupted, I started to wonder. Then, in the last few weeks, when it became a near-daily occurrence, I knew that deep within me dwelt a powerful entity who was apparently displeased with something I was doing around breakfast time.

Apparently, little Pele the Volcano God is angered when I fail to sacrifice a food offering first thing in the morning. Bile and prenatal multivitamins will be forced from deep within the angry bowels of his dwelling place, followed by the release of pressurized gases, in what many call “the dry heaves.”

Another thing that displeases Pele is the ill-advised Granny Smith apple offering, which apparently constitute an unacceptable sacrifice. Twice, I have made this breakfast-time oblation. Twice have I felt the wrath of Pele in the form of large chunks of crunchy, undigested apple being painfully upheaved through my raw and swollen esophagus. We will not be offering Pele any more first-thing-in-the-morning apples.

Also on the list of sacrifices that incur the terrible wrath of little Pele is Mexican food. If one were to toss a burrito and some Sobe cranberry-grapefruit juice into the crater first thing in the morning, Pele would be very displeased indeed. So much so, in fact, that last night’s food offering might be ejected as well in the violent eruption that followed.

Offerings of whole-wheat crackers, Ruby Red grapefruit juice, Raisin Bran and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches also are unacceptable in the eyes of Pele the Volcano God. However, Pele is pleased when he is offered things such as yogurt, baked potatoes and shredded wheat cereals.

Of course, being a fiery deity of carnage and vengeance rather than, say, a benevolent forest god, Pele’s wrath is incurred not only by morning offerings, but also by previous sacrifices and even by the actions of those living in the direct vicinity of the volcano (i.e. his mother).

Nighttime sacrifices of pizza will not immediately anger Pele, but come morning, retribution will be meted out upon the offending villagers, believe you me!

Chris also theorizes that blow-drying my hair upsets the wee volcano god. Indeed, the majority of eruptions are preceded in the previous few hours by my leaning over to dry my tresses. The hypothesis is that the motion and balance changes are detected by the angry little volcano god, who expresses his displeasure with our disruption of his slumber by causing a violent and showy eruption, punishing those who would threaten his ecosystem. Chris believes that to appease Pele, I should wear my hair back rather than down (coincidentally, the way Chris likes it).

It is to be hoped that the baby will not remain Pele the Volcano God throughout the entire pregnancy. Comfort issues aside, it would be difficult to stop calling the wee one Pele after his arrival if the eruptions were to last right through Week 40.

On the other hand, there is a bright side to harboring a wrathful volcano god within one’s person and calling the new arrival Pele. Unlike with some names we’ve tossed around, our child will most assuredly be the only Pele in his or her kindergarten class.

And here I am, in all my Week 15 glory:

You’ve come a long way, fetus!

Today my little lemon-size baby probably doesn’t feel any different, but he or she has just had a birthday of sorts — the passage into the second trimester.

Twelve weeks ago, two gametes joined forces to become a rapidly-growing cluster of cells. Today, what latched onto my uterine tissue in August as a microscopic, 100-cell blastocyst has become a 1.5-ounce fetus who measures nearly 4 inches from head to rump and who swallows and expels amniotic fluid, makes faces, may suck its thumb, is producing its own hormones and is beginning to grow hair and eyebrows.

It’s been a busy few months for the baby, although the only changes apparent in me are fatigue, a lot of nausea, a little vomiting, a little weight loss from aforementioned nausea and vomiting, my sudden metamorphosis into Dolly Parton, and an increasingly bloaty-looking tummy where my abs used to be.

Now, I can look forward to again enjoying food, an acceleration in weight gain, the “popping” of my tummy to make it evident to all that I haven’t just been binging on pizza, and best of all, feeling the baby’s movements. Additionally, I can look forward to more energy, less nausea and vomiting, more assurance that the baby’s stuck nice and tight in its little apartment, and (I hope) the feeling that it’s all a little more real.

Of course, since the baby doesn’t know it just became a second-trimester fetus, I woke up today about 1:45 p.m. still feeling exhausted, ate breakfast and promptly ejected my prenatals into the big porcelain bowl in which so many other vitamins have ended up lately. But I trust that once the wee one notices it’s covered in downy lanugo and can taste the onions in the Greek salads I’m constantly putting away, it will say to itself, “Hey, looks like I’m getting pretty big here. Time for me to give Mommy a break!”

Because really, little one, you are now officially too old for this kind of behavior.

Baby Madness

Every pregnant woman worries and wonders about her unborn child, but I suspect it is especially bad for those who have suffered through infertility and miscarriages.

While other pregnant women toss back cappuccinos, Taco Bell nachos and Krispy Kremes, I feel guilty for having that medium fry last week. No medication is ingested before extensive research is undertaken (even the doctor’s recommendations are suspect until proven completely risk-free), and if there were any way to safely install a tiny window in my abdomen so that I could gaze continually upon this marvelous little life growing inside me, I would — out of concern for the baby– have it installed without anesthesia.

I’ve cut back on drinking vitamin-fortified fruit juices to avoid getting harmful megadoses of certain vitamins, and I’ve scaled back the time I spend with the kitties, just in case there’s any trace of toxoplasmosis lingering in their plentiful hindquarter fur. In short, my paranoia rivals that of people who spend their days bouncing off the walls of their padded cells.

Worse yet, my next ultrasound is five weeks away. Sure, there’s a heartbeat, but how are my baby’s organs? Are all the fingers and toes there? What if there’s a neural-tube defect, since I was taking prenatals so sporadically before I got that positive pregnancy test?

Unfortunately, since nobody’s invented a handy little Plexiglass window for the uterus yet, I will have to take it on faith that the baby is doing fine. The bigger my belly gets and the more I vomit and break out and feel the need to nap three hours after waking up, the better the little bean is probably doing. In a few short weeks, I should be able to feel the baby moving, which will be a great source of relief. On the other hand, knowing me, it also opens up the potential for a great source of additional worry and wondering!

And here they are, the Week 13 belly shots:

My cups runneth over

Ask most women what they look forward to most in pregnancy and they will tell you it’s the boobie fairy. This magical being comes in the middle of the night sometime early in the first trimester and adds an extra cup size whilst the mother-to-be lies in slumber. The boobie fairy returns many months later and does her thang all over again when a new mom’s milk comes in.

Now, in a world of logic and reason, the boobie fairy would bestows her full blessings upon smaller-chested women, while larger-chested women would gain, say, half a cup size. After all, pregnancy is hard on the back as it is!

However, in the real world, where chaos prevails, the boobie fairy has seen fit to add to my already ample bosom not half a cup size, not a full cup size, but TWO full cup sizes. That means that the salesgirl at Victoria’s Secret has to go back to the sample room to find a bra in my new, outlandishly large size. Which, just so you know, is so capacious that it could easily serve double duty as a support garment for my behind. (And I know, because I tested my theory.)

If “What to Expect” is correct, I can expect to add another cup size after the birth. I will then have to shop in specialty bra stores, where 700-pounders and heavily-augmented strippers buy cup sizes we’ve never heard of, and in whose windows hang brassieres that could easily pass for porch swings.

I realize that this is a natural and normal thing, but for goodness sake — how much milk can one tiny baby need? These things aren’t bottles or even jugs; they’re kegs!

Meanwhile, some other woman is probably sitting around, still a AA cup at three months and wondering where that capricious little fairy is …

Hello, my name is Ralph

Just when you get used to pregnancy, it throws you for a loop. Last week, my nausea was pretty much gone. I could eat whatever I wanted. Chris could make pasta with a garlic sauce upstairs, and I could smell it from downstairs even with the door closed. And like it. My appetite was getting stronger and smells didn’t bother me as much. Better yet, I had gone through most of the first trimester without vomiting once (except the time I was swabbing tea tree oil on my tonsils, but that could happen to anyone). Being pregnant ruled!

Then, two Fridays ago, I was riding in the car when suddenly I started feeling extremely queasy. Pretty soon, I was really queasy. Within five minutes, Chris had to pull the car over. Right! Now!

I vomited and vomited, then (since there had been almost nothing in my stomach to begin with) dry- heaved and dry-heaved. Shortly thereafter, I felt much better, except for having stinky nostrils, and devoured large quantities of chicken at KFC. I thought nothing of it, except how weird that I, who never vomit, had tossed my cookies.

Then, on another drive a week later, it happened again. I barfed and barfed until I couldn’t breathe, and then dry-heaved a bit for good measure. I gave Chris the go-ahead to drive. We made it a few yards, then I made him stop so I could projectile-vomit some more. Where it came from after all that dry-heaving, I couldn’t tell you. I felt fine the rest of the day, but later noticed I had broken copious amounts of blood vessels in and around my eyes.

The next day, I woke up feeling fine. I swallowed my prenatals, showered and applied my makeup. I looked fabulous. Then I started blow-drying my hair. I bent over at the waist and began working on the back of my head. After a very short while, I realized that an eruption was imminent. I ran to the toilet and, once more, hurled and hurled. I noticed that the adorable shirt I had selected had an unfortunately-placed ribbon that tied at the neckline. With great presence of mind, I peeled it off and proceeded to vomit and dry heave and vomit some more. Naturally, I broke yet more blood vessels.

Afterward, as usual, I felt absolutely fine and proceeded about my business, which unfortunately included the complete re-application of my makeup, and I am sad to say it didn’t look half as fabulous as it did before I offered up the contents of my stomach to the great porcelain god.

I have come to a few conclusions after ruminating over the curious occurrence of Week 10 and 11 vomiting.

1.) All three incidents occurred on a mostly empty stomach, rather early in the day. I have taken steps to remedy early-morning emptiness, and no more vomiting has occurred.

2.) Twice, the vomiting occurred after I had consumed pizza the night before. As pizza causes stomach discomfort immediately after consumption as well, I am staying away from pizza.

3.) Why am I just now starting to throw up, at the very end of the first trimester? Obviously, it is because I became cocky about not having vomited.

4.) At least I don’t have to use my heartbeat monitor every 10 minutes to make sure the baby is still there. Obviously, something is making me barf, and I’m guessing it’s bigger than an ant, smaller than a breadbox, and that its synapses are forming this week.

So yeah, while I’m enjoying being able to eat garlic and burritos again, I’m not going to get too excited about the glorious second trimester. If this baby likes anything, it’s letting everyone know it’s here. If it’s not sore breasts, it’s going up two cup sizes in two months. If it’s not nausea, it’s the amazing traveling vomit show. And as it gets bigger, I’m sure it will think of more ways to make its presence known. Broken ribs, anyone?

And now, the Week 12 belly shots. Without makeup, because when you’re this exhausted, you just don’t care anymore.

Love Train

I’d been looking forward to yesterday for a long time. It was my 11-week appointment, and at 10 weeks the baby’s heartbeat should be audible on a handheld Doppler. I was prepared for the worst — no hearbeat and a confirmation by ultrasound that the baby expired a few weeks ago when I had the flu. I was prepared for other scenarios, such as no audible heartbeat, but then a quick ultrasound showing that the baby was fine and its heart was still beating. I was prepared for everything except what actually DID happen.

I got up on the table and rolled down the band of my stretch jeans, and Dr. Goncalves placed the Doppler on my belly. Immediately, the examination room was filled with a rapid chugging noise, like a little locomotive racing around my uterus at 156 clackity-clacks per minute. Without having to so much as move the Doppler, the doctor confirmed that the baby is just fine and dandy and that I am a paranoid crazy person.

And here they are: the Week 11 belly shots!

Hard body

A few years ago, when I was working out for an hour and a half every day, I had rock-hard abs. That all went away for awhile after I decided to start taking med-school prerequisites in addition to working, but today, once again, I possess a tummy of steel.

No, I haven’t spent my first two months of pregnancy doing crunches. Although I had started running daily before I knew I was pregnant, that regimen fell prey to extreme exhaustion and I am still as out of shape as ever. Nope, my hard tummy is all uterus.

In the past few days, while doing my daily routine of petting the baby and admonishing it to stay in there, I’d been noticing firmness in my pelvic area — even on the rare occasions when I didn’t have to pee. I thought it was my imagination until yesterday, when Chris was feeling my tummy as usual and announced to all who had gathered to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving at his parents’ that he could feel a very definite “pooch.” If you run your hand down my abdomen, it will start out flat and (thanks to my recent lack of activity) rather soft, but then starting below my navel and ending above my pubic bone, there is a round, firm, definite pregnancy pooch. (Either that, or a really stubborn pocket of gas.)

You could see the pooch, too, if I were to wear a close-fitting top. That, however, isn’t happening, since I am only bulging enough to look like I have PMS bloat rather than an adorable baby belly.

Of course that will happen soon enough. The baby has officially graduated from the embryonic stage into fetus-hood today. It has all the same parts (in some form or another) as an older baby and is now gearing up for accelerated growth. If I’m anything like my mother, this little one has nowhere to go but outward, and in another six weeks I will start to look as if I’m smuggling Al Roker in my midsection.

So for now, I will enjoy my rock-hard tummy, which, if I stand up as straight as I can and flex my abs, could almost pass for one that hasn’t been co-opted as a baby apartment.

And without further ado, here are the Week 10 belly shots:

And I Am a Maternal Girl

Well, here we are at nine weeks and two days already! It’s looking more and more like the little bean is here to stay. I’ve been getting a break from the nausea lately, although it’s still mostly bland foods and citrus here. Onions are out, as are smokies, fish, and anything that smells remotely like coffee. Fortunately, hot peppers and wasabi are still in, as are green olives. While I still bear some resemblance to a postsurgical Pam Anderson, I am not in quite as much pain (assuming she still has any nerve endings there). And while the literature I’ve been reading says it is caused by progesterone’s relaxing my digestive tract and causing gas and constipation, I would like to think that at least a little bit of my bloating is caused by that little grape-size embryo.

When Chris came back from California, he stopped at Thyme Maternity at my behest and bought a few maternity items. No, not the hideous jeans where the hips and above are cut off and replaced with a navy-blue Lycra panel. These are cool fattie pants. They look like something I’d normally wear, except they have elastic in the back part of the waistband so they will stretch as I grow. I realize that it is silly to wear maternity pants at nine weeks, but hear me out: I am too bloaty for 80 percent of my pants and skirts, which usually lean more toward “fitted” than toward “plenty of room to smuggle embryos.”

At this point, I am left with:

One pair of unforgiving but still wearable low-rider stretch jeans
One pair of last year’s supertrendy (and now not) stretch pants that tie at the ankle and have satin cargo pockets
A pair of tan Limited flares that will fit me for a few more weeks.

I have two options. 1) Buy new pants one size bigger, which will fit for approximately a month or two, or 2) buy maternity pants, which theoretically should fit for all seven months. I think the answer here is pretty obvious and does not involve the dreaded Moving Up a Size.

And now, for the Week 9 belly shot (in which I model those stylin’ cargo pants):