In an effort to keep our family blog, The Parker Pack, from being overrun by pregnancy photos and updates, I’ve started this blog, A Belly in Bloom, to record my voyage through these next 9 months. Check back often for belly pics, sonograms, and just general posts about Mom’s thoughts throughout this journey. Keep watching our original blog, The Parker Pack, to see videos, photos, and more from our day-to-day lives.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

3D/4D Ultrasound

Since we didn't get to do it with Aiden, we decided to splurge and go for a 3D ultrasound this pregnancy. My mom, Marilyn, and my grandmother, Charlotte, joined Brad and Aiden and I to get a sneak peak at Aubrey Ryann.

She didn't want to cooperate at first--apparently, my daughter is using the placenta as a pillow and likes to keep her face buried against it--but after some walking around, a few yoga poses, and some maneuvers from side-to-side, we were able to get a clear view of her face. Brad was elated to see she has the signature "Parker chin" with the adorable dimple, and I was happy to see she has inherited the chubby "Brum cheeks" from my side of the family. Aiden got a kick out of seeing her yawn and smile, and he was pleased to see that she was "cool" and had fat feet like Aiden and I (we tell daddy that he isn't cool because he has skinny feet). And we can all rest assured that we won't have to return any pink clothing--Aubrey is definitely a girl, and gave us a good shot of her butt and girl parts to prove it!

It was such a neat experience, getting to see our little girl for the first time. We got a tiny glimpse at her personality, seeing her grab for her feet, smile, and rub her forehead with her fist. It makes me even more excited to meet her face-to-face!! I hope these next 8 or 9 weeks fly by so I can hold her already!

Here is a slideshow of the stills--you can click on the pics to be taken to a larger version of them. I've tried several times to upload the DVD, but my DVD ripper software isn't working, so I'll try to get it added as soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Practice Run

Aubrey gave us the opportunity to practice our "labor dash" to the hospital late Monday night. I had been eating dinner when I noticed I was having quite a few Braxton Hicks contractions, so after I finished eating, I laid down on the couch and began timing them. 6 minutes apart, then 5 minutes apart, then 4...I figured it was time to call the doc! My OB told me to go in to the hospital to be monitored and have them check my cervix, so Brad and I began throwing things into my labor bag and calling our friend, Emily, to come and sit with Aiden (who was, thankfully, sleeping through the commotion). It was ironic, I had purchased a new duffel just to use for my hospital bag, I had even come up with a list of items I needed to remember...but not one item had found its way into the bag, so Brad and I were trying to think of things we'd need "in case" I was going into real labor, but also hoping desperately we wouldn't need a thing in there.

When we got to the hospital, they put me in a room and hooked me up to monitors. I was contracting away at about 4 minutes apart, so they checked my cervix, and it had changed slightly since the week before at the doctor's office. They called my doc, who prescribed an injection of terbutylene, in hopes it would stop my labor. They gave me the shot, which caused me to feel miserably jittery and like my heart was going to pound its way out of my chest. At this point, it was almost 2 AM, so I sat in a drugged stupor, feeling like I had drank 50 cups of coffee, for several hours. Finally I felt as if I could sleep, so I tried to get comfortable (pretty impossible with a blood pressure cuff, contraction monitor and fetal heart-rate monitor strapped to me). I managed to get a few catnaps in here and there through the night, then they sent the doc in to see me in the morning. The contractions had not disappeared, but they had spaced out considerably and weakened, so they sent me home on modified bed rest around 10 AM. I don't have to stay in bed all day, but I need to spend the vast majority of my waking hours either sitting or lying down.

The whole experience gave me a sense of deja vu--Brad and I went though almost this exact same scenario with Aiden at 31 or 32 weeks. Same contractions, same meds to stop it, same outcome. Pretty strange!!

I'm still having contractions from time-to-time, but they haven't become regular at all. They've also discovered that I have a urinary tract infection, so they are putting me on antibiotics (the UTI could be the culprit behind the pre-term labor). For now, I am trying to keep myself busy with sewing and scrapbooking and reading. The next few weeks are going to be LONG and boring, but worthwhile if they can buy little Aubrey some additional "cooking" time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

31 Week Belly Shot

OK, Blogger is acting goofy, my 31 week post is published but doesn't show on my list of blogs (weird!), so here's the pic I forgot to add.

31 weeks

Only 9 weeks to go! Ms. Aubrey is growing like a weed--she is still measuring ahead of schedule. Luckily, my weight gain has slowed back down to normal after that growth spurt a few weeks ago! Aubrey is very active, especially at night. It seems she decides it is time to tap dance on my ribs every night at about 8:00 and doesn't stop until around midnight or 1:00 AM. She has gotten so strong--she'll push a foot out or dig an elbow into my belly, trying to get comfortable, and even Aiden can see my belly move. Yesterday he leaned down to kiss my belly and got a kick on the cheek--his startled look was priceless!

We had a growth check ultrasound today, and Aubrey is doing great. On U/S, she measures 4 days ahead of schedule, her heart rate is strong, she moves a lot, and my amniotic fluid levels are good, so all is well. Starting next week, we'll be going to the maternal-fetal medicine specialist every week for a biophysical profile (BPP). Because of the lupus issue, they want to watch the placental function carefully and make sure Aubrey continues to do well in utero. The BPP is all done via ultrasound (so we'll get to see her often) and is basically just for them to observe her movements, make sure her heart rate varies with activity, watch her practice "breathing," and check on my fluid levels. It will be good to see her each week and know she is OK, but it will be a lot of driving and waiting room time--my regular OB will also be seeing me weekly! Guess I'll have plenty of time to catch up on crappy magazines and work Sudoku puzzles!

Here's the latest belly shot. I feel so big! My belly attracts quite a bit of attention these days--perfect strangers feel compelled to touch it and little kids point to it and ask about the baby growing inside. It's gotten Brad out of a ticket, and usually prompts people to get up and offer me a seat. I've got a pretty good shelf to set my book on when I read, and Brad laughs at how I use it as a table when I'm snacking on the couch.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Aubrey's Nursery

All of that "nesting" has finally paid off--we've finished Aubrey's nursery. It was a project--the room was being previously used for storage, so it took a lot of cleaning out and organizing to get it emptied and ready for her! We also re-finished a dresser that used to be Aiden's and re-purposed what used to be a dining room buffet from our old dining set into a changing table. I sewed all of the crib bedding, dust ruffle, a valance and pillows, made a French memo board, and covered all of the knobs with fabric as well. I've sewed a matching quilt to go in her room, too, but I haven't been able to assemble the quilt yet--that's my current project, and considering this is my first attempt at quilting, it is probably going to take me FOREVER! Maybe I'll have it finished before she is born!

Aiden is very cute about the nursery. I catch him in there at least once a day, admiring her toys, pushing her swing, and rocking in what used to be HIS rocking chair. He doesn't seem jealous, just curious. He usually tells me all about the things he's going to do with his sister--teach her how to play with her toys, rock her, pat her back, push her in her swing, etc. Let's hope he feels the same way when she arrives!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The honeymoon is over

Yes, pregnancy can be a wonderful, miraculous thing. It can provide moments of sheer joy and amazement as you watch and feel this life growing inside of you. But contrary to what so many women want you to believe, it is not 9 months of bliss. Yes, I am grateful for the fact that I am pregnant, and I know for some women they would do anything to be able to share in this miracle--I am not overlooking how fortunate I am to be able to get pregnant and carry my own children. However, the experience isn't all glowing and happy, either.

For me, the "honeymoon phase" of this pregnancy is definitely over. For most of the second trimester, I felt well, I had energy, my hormones were (fairly) stable, and I was excited about the pregnancy. But now that I'm 29 weeks and growing more uncomfortable by the minute, those days are long over.

It's gotten impossible to sleep, between having disturbing dreams every night, Aiden waking me up for drinks of water or bathroom breaks, the inability to get comfortable, waking up drenched with sweat several times a night, etc. My body is tired from carrying around a whole other person--my back hurts, my ribs hurt, my legs feel like they have pins and needles all the time, and I've got someone's knees or head or elbows poking me in the gut all the time. I've been horribly irritable and cranky lately--the exhaustion and the discomfort of being pregnant, especially in the heat of the summer, is wearing on my ordinarily sunny disposition.

My poor husband is probably feeling pretty "neglected" about now, but I'm just so tired lately and I feel huge and not exactly beautiful these days. My brain has gone to mush, I can't remember a thing, I'm clumsy and awkward and tired all the time and feel like my body has been taken over by someone else and isn't my own anymore. I want to cry at the drop of a hat and the smallest things annoy me to no end. I don't want to be at work, I hate my job, I just want to clean my house, obsess about getting ready for the baby, and get everything I possibly can done and organized before she gets here, because I know once she arrives our lives are going to be turned upside down.

And then there are the worries--about the baby; the birth; my health; the stress another kid is going to put on my marriage; how I'll ever manage taking care of Aiden and Aubrey; how I'll ever be able to love another child the way I do Aiden; how I'll ever be able to care for the demands of an infant while still making Aiden feel important and special and loved; how another family member will affect our finances; whether I'll be able to take my time going back to work or whether I'll have to return quickly or pull Aiden out of school because of budget concerns and, if so, how I'll ever be able to handle putting an infant in day care...the list goes on and on and on.

I know, rationally, that this pregnancy will end soon enough and I will miss having her inside me. I know that many of my worries and concerns are probably unfounded and will work themselves out. "Don't worry" people tell you, but that's like telling me not to blink--sure, I can control the urge for a while, but eventually, my body is going to give into the reflex.

I don't want to rush her out, I want her to stay in and "cook" for another 9-11 weeks, as planned. And part of me thinks that this may be my last pregnancy (we haven't decided), so I should be treasuring every moment. But another part of me just wishes there was a fast forward button on this pregnancy.