One Last Letter to That 1 In Embryo

Written on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010

I spent several hours this evening, Easter Sunday, reading birth stories, particularly those of LDS women. For weeks I’ve known that I wanted to take some time to sit down and write about my feelings surrounding your impending arrival, but I never felt like I was in the right place. Now, after hearing stories of strong women, of women who trust their bodies and had beautiful births in hospitals and at birth centers and at home, I know what I want to say.

I have spent many hours pondering my feelings surrounding childbirth. I do not fear your upcoming birth. Why am I not afraid? Should I be afraid? I’ve realized that I trust completely in the Lord’s design for my body. I was made to be a mother, your mother, and that I can accomplish more through trust, hope, faith, and a belief in my powerful abilities as a woman than I ever could if I spend my time worrying about the unknown. The unknown will always be there, this I cannot change. What I can do is rely on the logic, rationale, and intelligence that God has granted me, and above all I can seek the Holy Ghost, to feel His comforting presence and know that I am not alone. I am never alone, and neither will you be. We are both spirit children of a Father in Heaven who loved us enough to send us down to experience both the pleasures and the pains of life. If I fear anything, it is that I won’t live up to the great expectations that are heaped upon me as I undergo this great responsibility.

Whether you are a girl or a boy, I hope you will leave our home with the knowledge that I believe that God blessed women with strong and capable bodies, able to handle the rigors of childbirth. I want you to know that I believe the labor of childbirth has a purpose, that when God said unto Eve “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception” that he did not intend for her to suffer as a punishment for her choice to partake of the fruit. Eve, and all women after her, would need to be willing to sacrifice, to put away the natural man and experience the pains of mortality, but in that sacrifice, in the midst of all that pain, they would experience the joy that comes from partnering with God in the creation of life and the fulfillment of the plan of salvation. I want to be completely present for the entire experience for I believe the bitterness of the pain will only make the reward of your presence in my life that much sweeter. No matter how bad things get, we, with God will make it through this together. You are truly a gift from God in my life.
Sometime within the next few weeks, I will join with billions of women before me in reaching down into the very depths of my soul and making the transition from woman to mother. From that time forward I will never be the same again. I will have you.

by Carol Lynn Pearson

How enviously
I watched
The rose bush
Bear her bud —
Such an easy
Lovely birth.
At that moment
I wished
The sweet myth
Were true –
That I could
Pluck you
My child
From some
green vine.

But now
As you breathe
Through flesh
That was mine,
Gently in the small circle
Of my arms,
I see
The wisdom
Of investment

The easy gift
Is easy to forget.
But what is bought
With coin of pain
Is dearly kept.

Meeting With the Midwife: Appointment 9

Pink or blue? Pink or blue? The closer I get the more I want to know!

I was hoping that appointment 9 would be my last, but I’m leaving for appointment 10 in two hours with no signs that labor is starting anytime soon, so 10 appointments it is. Things are still looking great, my blood pressure went up a tiny bit to 108/72, but that still isn’t a level to be stressed about, so still no peeing in a  jug and induction worries. Fetal heart rate has been steady at 140 bpm, which according to this site means that we have pretty much equal chances of having a boy or girl. Bad news from this visit? 8 lbs gained in 8 days, which I’m hoping I can attribute to swelling and having my appointment really late in the afternoon, when usually I have it in the morning. As of last week I weighed in on their scale at 220 at my 38 week appointment, with my phone showing that according to their scale I’ve gained 38 lbs since my 21 week appointment. I’m really hoping the next pregnancy goes a bit differently in regards to weight gain…

Sarah gave me the results from my last blood draw and all is well. Even better, I got my Group B Strep test results, and I tested negative! This is fantastic news because if you have Group B Strep it’s treated by running a course of antibiotic treatments through an IV line during labor, and IVs are something I would really like to avoid at all costs (one of the biggest reasons I’m not setting foot in a hospital actually).

My feet were swollen, of course, so Sarah recommended I start soaking in Epsom salt baths. I also switched to sitting on the birthing ball when I’m at my desk, which has made a really big difference.

Sarah was also a bit worried about baby’s position, as the little one has been camped out on my right side for the past 3 appointments, which could be no big deal at all, but could also mean that I’ll be dealing with some unfavorable positioning during labor. She told me to start walking “exaggerated stairs”, skipping a stair or two at a time and working to move my hips vigorously from side to side. Bending over at the waist and rocking my hips from side to side, rocking on the birth ball, getting into a deep kneeling position and swaying back and forth. All are meant to encourage baby to be a little adventurous and try something new. At this point it looks like Sarah is going to feel baby on my right side once again, but maybe I have no idea what I’m feeling and all of my birth ball swaying has made a difference.

Let’s hope the 10 week appointment will be my last!

End of Pregnancy Sleep

Sleep. I do a lot of it lately, and when I’m not doing it I want more. Then I climb into bed and the discomfort begins. I spend my nights trying not to count the bathroom trips and waiting for the sun to appear. The bathroom trip when I see the sunshine outside is my favorite one, because it means I will only climb back into bed one more time that sleeping period. I’ve started enjoying my naps even more than ever because they are so short that I don’t find myself climbing in and out of bed due to my potty breaks.

Somewhere around the third trimester I started sleeping with two pillows on either side of me, as I need the support to keep me from rolling over too far and putting pressure on my stomach. Within the last few weeks I found my hips aching throughout the night, as my body and belly get heavier and heavier, and so I took the advice of Mrs. Shortcake and started sleeping on a blow up mattress. I didn’t want to use a blow up mattress at first because I didn’t want to be hauling myself up off the ground 5 times a night, but my genius husband solved that problem by suggesting we put the mattress on top of our bed. Genius! Now I call it “the castle” and wake up without sore hips each morning. (I also stopped making the bed as it doesn’t make sense with this setup and I obviously didn’t even try to pretend for this photo.)

The only drawback to the castle? That Husband and I stopped sleeping together as it takes up a lot of space. I miss him, but it’s not like we actually touched at night anyway (I am NOT a cuddler), and with all of the extra weight I put on I’m always hot and he doesn’t like sleeping with the ceiling fan on high like I do. Also ,I apparently started snoring. I really hope that is a pregnancy symptom that will disappear when my internal organs are allotted their proper amount of space once again.

But, even with all of the sore hips and the grunting as I turn from side to side and the “oooofing” as I make my way into the castle over and over again through the night and the husband sleeping on the futon in the office, I know that nights of averaging 9 hours of sleep are quickly drawing to a close so I try to count my blessings. Soon, I’ll my body and my bladder back. (Except my chest, that will belong to baby.)

That Maternity Session: Part III

Unless otherwise noted, Bethany took the photos and I edited them (for better or for worse?). Please visit her blog to really see how lovely her work can be!

I’ve put myself on “maternity leave”, which means no more Jenna Cole, no stressing about school, and stressing over my to-do list is a thing of the past. This mini vacation of mine is finally giving me the time I’ve been looking for to finish up some personal photo editing I’ve been pushing off to the side for months and months now, and my maternity session was at the top of my list of things to finish editing before baby comes. This was definitely the coldest part of my session, with my hair a mess and most of my makeup melted off by this point, but the photos that resulted from all of my planning and incorporation of my props are my very favorite.

I love this one!

Lynn’s shot.

This is the one I chose to hang in our bedroom.

So many balloon shots because I just couldn’t narrow it down.

I should start focusing on more unique angles at my sessions as I find myself gravitating toward those that are a bit untraditional like this one.

Holding a dozen balloons while wearing rain boots made me want to skip around a bit.

Again with the unique angles, brilliant Bethany, just brilliant!

I adore these hearts on my toes. I’m going to ask for hearts again (right now I have polka dots which I also love).

Lynn grabbed this one…

and this one too!

I admit to puffing out my stomach to try to make it nice and round for these shots with me on the ground. I wanted a nice big round belly but I got a flat one instead. These last two are another set of favorites.

As we were all getting in our cars to go home, Lynn stopped me and said she wanted one last portrait. The content look on my face, which to me seems to say “the place where I’m at in my life right now feels so right”, makes it one of my favorites from the day. I’m a little sad that this stage in my life is almost over, but somehow I think the next stage is going to be even better!

Once again, a big thank you to Lynn and Bethany for the beautiful photos they’ve provided!

Taking Risks… While Pregnant

I’ve taken many risks while pregnant. I’ve consumed cold deli meats, cheese made with raw milk, and frozen yogurt. I eat spoonfuls of dough/batter containing raw eggs when I’m cooking.  I like to eat my eggs sunny side up with yolk running all over the plate. I’ve dyed my hair, rode my bike during the first half of my pregnancy, and didn’t switch to prenantal vitamins until close to my 20th week (which may or may not have been the reason why I had so little nausea my first trimester!). Once I was so congested that I took a cold medicine pill. I ate a hot dog. I didn’t switch to organics, possibly exposing my child to pesticides.  I used bleach to clean the tub and made myself sick for an entire weekend. I chose not to get vaccinated for the flu or H1N1. I take baths and don’t worry about the temperature, I just go with what feels right to me. I never consulted my healthcare provider when I wanted to exercise, I chose activities that felt appealing to me at the time. I did some painting during my third trimester. Oh yeah, and I’m choosing to give birth at home, a decision which carries it’s own risks and possible negative outcomes, that I don’t deny.

Though some may place me in the “selfish baby maimer” category for admitting all of this, I don’t feel I deserve the title. We all take risks every single day, whether pregnant or not. These can include going for a run after dark because you *have* to squeeze it in that night, checking your phone while driving, not buckling our seat belt as soon as you begin driving, driving over the speed limit, driving in inclement weather, laying out in the sun in an effort to achieve that oh-so-popular sun kissed look, etc, etc. Though there are certainly individuals who are naturally inclined to play it a bit safer (my husband being one of them) I think it’s important to realize that when a woman learns she is incubating a fetus in her womb her very nature isn’t going to change overnight.

Am I worried that my baby suffered permanent damage because of my choices? For some of them, yes. The weekend of tub bleaching, for example, was an episode of complete irrationality, where I felt that the entire apartment just had to be cleaned or I would go crazy. I also wish I was smart enough to figure out how to fill our house with organic food without breaking the bank, eliminating pesticide exposure completely. I personally think though that these risks were small, and I’m not beating myself up over them after the fact.

Other choices though, were made because I believe in the importance of relying on a little thing called common sense. Exercising and bathing fall under this category. If the activity I’m engaging in hurts, I quit. If the water feels too hot, I cool it down.

Then there were some risks I took either because I am, as all are humans, inherently selfish, or because I carefully weighed my options and decided to go against the common recommendation. Eating deli meats, cheese with raw milk, and frozen yogurt are examples of pure selfishness, as I most certainly did not have to eat any of those things, there are plenty of other options out there, but I chose to consume them anyway. I could certainly stop eating my eggs sunny side up, and life wouldn’t end without spoonfuls of cookie dough on my tongue (although I might argue that it would be a lot less enjoyable 🙂 ), but I choose to take the chance the small chance of listeria for my own enjoyment. Dyeing my hair, not switching to prenatals right away, and passing up the flu vaccinations are all examples of deliberate risks I took because I felt I had researched my options, and I made an informed decision to choose something different than what might be recommended for/by others.

I am certainly not a perfect pregnant woman, and I will never be a perfect mother. I’ve made mistakes throughout my pregnancy, some I’m sure I can’t even see the consequences of now, but I feel confident that I can accept the consequences of my decisions, even if those consequences are regrettable in the long run. After reading this article which points out that stressing about one’s pregnancy while pregnant can actually harm the baby, I hope that other women will work to come to terms with the idea that some risks, some selfishness, some mistakes, are a part of life. Know your options, weigh the risks, learn from your mistakes.