The absolutely fabulous, amazing, wonderful last 24 hours of my life

The last 24 hours have truly been a blessing, and a time that has made me feel really good about myself and so very grateful for all the amazing people in my life.

Growing up, my dream was to be Lois Lane. Not so Super Man would come sweep me off my feet and save me from the evil Lex Luther. I didn’t want Lois’s man. I wanted her job. I wanted to be Lois Lane so that I could work at a big newspaper with a spinning globe on the top of the building. I wanted bylines. I wanted interviews. I wanted editors that marveled at my talent for the written word and my ruthless ability to pry the truth from even the most secretive public official.

Well, when I graduated and married in 2006 – just shortly after moving to Greenville – I thought for awhile that I’d get to fulfill that dream. I’ll never forget walking into the newsroom for my first day as a real-life “newspaper lady.” Well…technically, I was a “news assistant,” but I quickly convinced my editor to allow me to write articles and take pictures when I could. And for a few months, that was fine. But real life and a fledgling economy took hold (and the rise of the juggernaut that is free internet news), and soon enough, things began happening at the newspaper that made me feel like maybe I needed to truly look at my life and decide if I could afford to keep this dream of mine.

Being a grown up sometimes means making tough choices that aren’t what our five year-old selves would’ve wanted us to. This was my first experience with that principle, and it wasn’t an easy one. But when my running buddy Lucia – a very successful and intelligent sales coordinator at a global engineering corporation – suggested an opening in her group that might work for me, I knew I couldn’t afford to pass up an opportunity like that. Jonathan and I didn’t know exactly when we’d have kids, but we knew they were pretty darn expensive – and my current salary just wasn’t cutting it. Speaking of cuts, there were many on the horizon for the newspaper I was employed with, and I knew being one of the newer kids on the block wouldn’t bode well for me when it came time to decide who would get a pink slip. So through the end of 2006 and into early 2007, I interviewed several times with Lucia’s department director and somehow – by the grace of God, because, Lord knows I wasn’t a “natural fit” for the position – I landed the job. With it came a game-changing pay increase over what I was making before, but also a huge lifestyle change and the fear that I was letting my younger self down in some way. I wasn’t really sure of myself. I lost my confidence in myself for awhile, and I know it probably wasn’t a secret to any of my new coworkers that I struggled to find out how I could adjust to my new position.

Lois Lane had a choice to make, and a scary one at that. Everything within me goes against traditional “Corporate America,” but I knew that this wasn’t about just me anymore. I had Jonathan to think of, my own future plans and dreams, and – most importantly – the future security and opportunities of our kids. And I knew that the corporation I was joining had an impeccable reputation and the group I was joining seemed like a place where I could find a niche.

I won’t lie. The first year or so was really, really tough. For a creative type, the corporate world can be a very difficult place in which to feel comfortable or capable. There are rules you won’t fine written, and you have to be willing to shut up and just go with the sometimes unpreditable flow of the workload. Especially in the middle of a tough economy, it has been the biggest learning experience and the most complex of my adult, post-collegiate life. But I’m so glad I did it. In roughly three and a half years with this company, I’ve met some of the sweetest and hardest working people, as well as some of the biggest and most lively characters I’ve ever known. Sure, there are moments that remind me of a Dilbert comic strip. But overall, this small town girl with an English degree and a journalism background couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to just fall in her lap.

Yesterday was the baby shower that a few of my coworkers – including one I’ve worked with since day one on the job – came together and threw me, Jon, and Russ. It was an absolutely wonderful and gracious thing that was so much more than we deserved. The amazing show of generosity and support was absolutely heartwarming and left me at a loss for the right words to say. That, combined with the massive hot flash that began right after sitting down in front of everyone to open gifts, anyway. I’m pretty sure Jonathan surprised a few very buttoned-up corporate types with his trademark bear hugs, but everyone there deserved a huge hug and it was just a wonderful day. And it made me feel like everything happens for a reason, and that my dream of Lois Lane didn’t “die,” it just evolved. These days, instead of writing newspaper articles and interviewing police deputies, I write informative articles for the company intranet site and interview executives and directors about the presentations and documents that I help create and/or edit for them. There’s still an element of creativity to the process, but in a different way.

So, we are definitely far more ready for the baby today than we were yesterday, and it’s all thanks to the generosity of my amazing coworkers – love you guys!

And another WONDERFUL part of the past day? This morning’s doctor appointment, at which time I had my second meeting with the famous “Dr. Fishman.” Anyone remember him from that particularly awkward early second trimester meeting? Yeah, well, he was pretty cool today and Jonathan got to meet him. And the best part? Baby Russ is back head-down again!! Woohoo!! Of course, to be realistic, he could turn again a few times before he settles into his final birthing position, but chances are good that he may begin to settle sooner rather than later. We’re just looking forward to continuing to enjoy these last weeks (only 6 to go!!) before the baby comes. And as if the fantastic shower at my office yesterday wasn’t more than enough (which, it was way more than enough – we are still amazed!), my family is throwing me another shower in August, as well as some fabulous ladies from our church here in Greenville. So, Russ is going to arrive one loved little man, that is for sure. I cannot wait to have him here and let him meet everyone. Thank goodness he’ll get here before flu season kicks into high gear!

Until next time, peace & love! And head-down babies – yes!

Revisiting the c-section topic

One of the reasons I have this blog is because I’m one of those people who often finds resolution through writing. Even if nothing is ever actually “solved,” I can often find some sort of calm in getting my feelings and frustrations out in the form of written words. Thankfully, it appears that the c-section topic issue may end up being like this. Once I got my epic vent out in yesterday’s blog, I immediately felt as if a weight has been lifted off of me. By the time I woke up this morning, I couldn’t tell if Russ had flipped or not and I wasn’t going to obsess over trying to figure it out. Besides, if I were him, having mommy and daddy feeling up on the tummy where I currently reside would really tick me off – and we wouldn’t want that, now would we? Haha…

Adding to that, I post on a message board where a group of women sort of congregate and discuss various issues (mostly health & fitness, but I spend a lot more time on the pregnancy section of that forum lately, for obvious reasons). In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was a bit resistant to some information or advice I got from some of these women…I guess I just thought that I actually had any control over this process. And in reality, yes, I knew that I couldn’t control a large percentage of things having to do with pregnancy and birth and parenthood in general…but I think it’s very easy on the first baby to get an image in your head of how things will be. I’ve always been a “planner” by nature, someone who wanted to prepare for every possible thing that could come up, and with pregnancy (and especially labor & delivery), I’ve found that it is mentally and physically impossible to prepare yourself for every possible thing. You just can’t do it. But these women have really been great with sharing their birth stories (c-section or otherwise) and basically saying “Look – this isn’t what any of us envisioned, but it happened, and we don’t feel emptier for it. We’re happy, our children our happy, and in some cases, our c-sections might’ve been far less traumatic than our vaginal deliveries.” They’ve definitely helped bring me back down to reality a bit. So, a little shout-out to my O2 girls…it’s been a long, emotional ride and you guys have been great at putting up with my 21(,000) questions. Thanks. 🙂

At the same time, Jonathan is wonderful and has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. Whether I hold Russ first or Jonathan holds him first is immaterial to me, as it should be. And a sobering thought: It’s easy to forget that even though the U.S. has a relatively low maternal mortality rate, there are women that (in rare cases) don’t survive childbirth for certain reasons, and in those cases the baby may never be held by his mother. Daddies wait 9+ months while we feel every kick, every movement, enjoy the process of feeling this little life growing inside us…it’s okay if he gets to hold Russ first and I have to wait 30 minutes or so until I’m in the recovery room. It’s selfish of me to expect some sort of idealized perfection, when what I’ve been given may be so much more than some other women have received.

So, basically, I feel better. A c-section still isn’t my first choice, of course. But I think this situation is going to pan out the way God intended, regardless of what my intentions were. I have to trust him on this one.

Some not-so-welcome news

I guess the minute you think you’re “past” a pregnancy worry, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot! With the knowledge that Russ was head down and most likely had been for several weeks, I’ve really just been in “waiting” mode for the past few weeks. I certainly wasn’t thinking about any potential breech positioning issues. But for most of the day Thursday, Russ seemed to be very still compared to his usual jumpy and active character. By Thursday night, I was getting worried, and not feeling too great. I had the WORST indigestion – to the point where I had one of those “I just threw up in my mouth a little” moments (yuck) – and I couldn’t get comfortable, no matter what I did.

By Friday morning (yesterday), Russ seemed to be in a very weird position and I couldn’t feel any movement at all. Well, maybe the occasional nudge was happening, but I’d say his movements were down 90% compared to his usual habits. I called the doctor’s office, panicky and tearful, and they told me to come over immediately. By the time Jonathan got there, they called my name and we went back for what we thought would just be a quick date with Mr. Doppler…but what ended up being a surprising ultrasound. The tech told me that they tend to always do ultrasounds for “decreased fetal movement” checks, since they’re quick and pretty comprehensive. A few squirts of the sonogram gel and up popped an image of my little man’s profile…

…”Well, he’s breech. Maybe that’s why he quit moving so much?”

WHAT?! At that moment, and with the knowledge that my little boy’s heart beat was thumping along and he was already practicing his breathing (the tech said that was a very good thing), all my attention turned to the task of processing what she’d just told me. Breech? How? For weeks now, he’s been head down, why would he want to turn to a position in which he’s effectively bent in half, with one leg up by his head and the other leg…well, God knows where? It just didn’t make any sense to either of us, but Jonathan seemed to take it in stride (like he does everything…hmph).

But for Jonathan, it almost seems too easy – for one thing, he doesn’t have to actually endure birth and recovery. For another thing, he himself was a complete breech, c-sectioned baby and I often tire of hearing about it.

I don’t WANT a c-section. It’s hard for me to say it without inevitably pissing someone who has had a c-section off, but it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but me…I just DON’T want a c-section. And up until yesterday, I thought I had to be almost out of the woods. Of course I knew that Russ *could* turn breech, but honestly…I just didn’t think he would. I hope that doesn’t sound naive, but I just really thought maybe I was out of the woods. That the luck of this seemingly uncomplicated and easy pregnancy would continue. I guess everyone gets their reality check in some form, and this is a much easier pill to swallow than a lot of mommies-to-be get, but let me just repeat…I DO NOT WANT A C-SECTION.

It probably seems strange, perhaps even selfish, that I’m not just okay with this. But I know I’m not the only woman who has dreamed of or is dreaming of that amazing moment – when the culmination of the months of waiting and planning happens, the pain subsides, the baby is born, and everyone breaths a collective sigh of relief as the baby (yes, still covered in vernix and goo from birth, and no, I wouldn’t care one bit) is handed to the mother and cuddled to her chest for his first ever embrace. That moment is a big, big item to check off my “bucket list” as a woman, and not getting to experience that at some point in my life would leave what I fear would be a sort of emptiness. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t really think I’d take this in stride as well as a lot of women, and I admit, I know it’s probably a little silly. But I can’t change the way I feel over night, and it’s going to take me a little while to get my head around this potential change to my “best laid plans.”

My aversion to a c-section has plenty to do with any of the many other motivations I could have for trying to avoid such a procedure (easier recovery, quicker return to mobility after birth, less complications with breastfeeding, etc.). But missing out on THAT moment, that amazing first meeting, is what would absolutely devastate me. I mean, strapped to a table with my arms out in a “cross” position, being sewn up as my husband holds my son close to my face just isn’t my first choice for a birth. And for some strange reason, if there was an emergency and a c-section had to be done, I really don’t think I’d feel this way at all…but this breech thing is really irritating me, and I don’t know exactly why! And there’s nothing I can do to change this, it’s just the luck of the draw: will he flip or will he stay breech? And I know that anything can happen, and he could flip, only for something else to go wrong and for me to end up having a c-section for some other reason. I know that. All the things people say to try and make you feel better…yeah, I already heard it all, and it’s just not working. Maybe it’s my emotions, but I think I cried about 8 times yesterday (and 2 times the day before that, 3 times the day before that one, etc…).

And I know a lot of people who’ve had c-sections who feel like it’s either a) no big deal (which is fine) or even b) superior to a vaginal birth (which I clearly can’t agree with on the basis of the recovery alone, but I can see how parts of it would definitely be easier than a vaginal birth). But this is about me and my son and my husband, and this (albeit uncontrollable) situation that I just don’t freakin’ like. I know I’m being a bit of a whiner – seriously, I know that, and I know it’s a bit silly that in this day and age of such modern medical miracles, I can’t get over some abdominal surgery that is easy to schedule and almost always results in a cute little baby…I’m just having a hard time dealing with the very real prospect that I wasn’t expecting to get smacked with. Sometimes you just have to vent about these things. You know deep down that you can’t change it, and you know deep down that things could be so, so, so much worse. I know there are a million parents out there who have had much worse things to deal with who would’ve loved “just a c-section” to deal with. I KNOW all this stuff…but it’s not making it that much easier for me to swallow.

The upside to all of this, I suppose, is that if Russ does turn back into the vertex (head-down) position, I feel more motivated than ever to try for an unmedicated birth. I know I could get in there and find out that this is something completely different than I ever imagined and immediately be left yelling for the epidural – and that would be just fine. But I do feel more motivated to really focus and breathe and just see if my body can do what it was made to do. I think I’m definitely going to have to check my ego here, leave at 32 weeks, 6 days, and recognize the fact that I am NOT a failure just because x/y/z issue comes up during labor & delivery. As a mother of three (and a one-time vaginal birth and two-time c-section veteran) told me yesterday, “it is 30 minutes out of a lifetime with your child, and nobody can look at that child, tell how he was born, and judge you on it.” It’s hard to process, but I know it’s true. It’s just…like I say, hard to swallow all of this.

But I really would like to have the chance to avoid a c-section. I’m afraid that if I have one, I’ll be forced to have nothing but c-sections. Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) rates have risen over the past decade to the point that today, 60-80% of women with a prior c-section can safely deliver subsequent babies without a repeat c-section. But there are no guarantees.

So, what’s next? Well, I refuse to give up hope that Russ will somehow flip back into the vertex position. Chances are still pretty good that he will. But in the meantime, I’m going to do a little swimming (maybe a few headstands in the 5-foot section…*ahem*), get a prenatal massage (in the hopes that relaxation will knock something into an alignment that allows him to flip…yes, I know it’s a long shot), hope for good news at next week’s regularly scheduled appointment (though, I have “Dr. Fishman” again, so I’m not expecting to get any warm fuzzies from the whole experience), and just try to breathe and get over this.

If Russ hasn’t turned head-down again by 37 weeks or so, I have the option to have an External Version (EV) procedure done. If I have the EV done, it has to be done at the hospital and I have to arrive with my bags packed, arrangements made, carseat installed, and essentially be “ready to have a baby.” Which is a little crazy because that’s only 4 weeks away from now – eek!! The EV procedure has about a 65% rate of success in first-time pregnancies, with better rates of success in subsequent pregnancies (more room, uterus is more pliable, who knows?), so it’s not guaranteed. And EVs can send you into labor, break your water, or – far less commonly – cause complications that require an immediate emergency c-section. So knowing the risks and deciding what you’re okay with is key in this situation.

Hopefully this won’t even continue to that point, but I have to be thinking about it and discussing with Jonathan what we want to do. I guess this is a good time to repeat that whole thing about “I have no control. I have no control. I have no control. And this is not ‘my fault.'” It’s tough to admit that, even before we “officially” become parents, we can only do so much. I wonder how hard I’ll laugh at this situation when Russ goes to kindergarten, breaks his collarbone playing football, goes to college, gets married, or has a kid of his own (those last two are really hard to even imagine). But right now, I’m a 26 year old, first-time, very worried, nervous, anxious, excited mommy-to-be, and I can only see this through the eyes that I have.

And I don’t want an f-ing c-section.

We’re "edumacated" now

Well, today was our Prepared Childbirth class at Greenville Memorial Hospital, and boy was it a long day! But I genuinely enjoyed the class (and I think Jonathan even liked parts of it, too!) and we met some great people. In particular, we somehow ended up in the same class as a couple who lives just down the street and drives by our house daily (enough that they knew we’ve been replacing the siding this week); we also met a young woman whose husband is currently stationed in Aghanistan. He’s a Marine and he won’t be home until December, but she is due just a day or two after me – we joked that we might run into each other in labor! Talk about a humbling reminder of the sacrifices the men and women in the armed forces make for us each and every day – we live in a truly blessed nation.

The hospital tour was a fun little thing that we did at the end of class, and let me just say…I am NOT in Conway anymore. Not to down on Conway (my hometown), but you just don’t realize how small the hospital there truly is until you move to another (larger) city…I could get LOST in the labor & delivery ward alone, much less the endless halls of postpartum rooms. We saw one brand new baby in the nursery (most babies room in with their mommies, so not as many newborns to go gaga over) while we were touring the L&D ward, also. It was so sweet and wonderful to see that new little life, perhaps only 30 or 40 minutes old, lying there in the bassinet. It was also – let’s be honest here – scary as hell realizing that in maybe just 6 or 7 weeks, I could be pushing out something THAT size…eek!! But clearly, I won’t be the first person to ever do that – there’s some comfort in knowing that.

Yesterday, Jonathan and I hit Babies R’ Us and bought the first of the two car seats we’re going to need before lil’ man gets here. We ended up buying a seat by Safety 1st to go in Jonathan’s car – Safety 1st is a pretty good brand with great reviews that was on sale already. After one of the 20% coupons I’d been holding onto, we got the seat for around $120 – and it was regularly priced at $180 or more! Tomorrow after our breastfeeding class (shorter, only around 2 hours long), Jon’s parents are taking us back to Babies R’ Us to buy the travel system we’ll be using in my car – and yes, I have several coupons for that, too (haha)!

The siding installation is about 75% complete, but it is really looking great. It looks like a whole different house, at least to me. The workers should finish up on Monday, but there’s only a small side of the house left to complete – and a lot of clean up to get rid of all the dust and debris that’s scattered around the house here.

Well, it’s off to the gym for a little bit on the elliptical trainer – after sitting in the classroom all day long, I actually kind of want to move around. Until next time! 🙂

31 weeks and counting

What the crap? Am I really almost 32 weeks pregnant? The weeks are really starting to bump into each other now, and it’s hitting home that this baby could be here as soon as 6 or 7 weeks from now (though, if that happened, he would still be pretty early…so I’m not counting on that). I don’t want to say I’m “scared” anymore, because I’ve pretty much come to terms with my fear. It’s just that I don’t really have any way to relate to the person I’m about to become…I’m just going to wake up one day (or night) and become her. But I take heart in the fact that I believe wholeheartedly that she will be better than I’ve ever been.

Last week was also when I had some maternity pictures taken at the lakehouse, which was a pretty interesting experience. For one thing, it was a ton of fun and I can’t express my thanks enough to my friend and photographer, Kristen. And though I could upload tons of the pics (and probably will later on this weekend when I have more time), I felt like the above pic captured so much of what I’ve felt transforming within myself these past (almost) 8 months. In it, I see this person I haven’t always felt like. I see someone who is strong. I see a woman who is preparing for the greatest task she will ever take on. I see a person who has grown into herself – her mind, her heart, her sense of humor, her opinions, and her doubts. There’s something that expecting this little guy has brought about in me that I didn’t really see coming – the culmination of these opposing senses of strength and vulnerability. I want to be a strong role model for my son – I HAVE to be strong for him…but at the same time, I’ve never been quite so humbled by how much I need the amazing people in my life.
So, this picture kind of says it all, I think. Kristen nailed it. And I really think it’s a picture I’ll treasure as I get older.
Something else that I’m finding more and more interesting is how much more I appreciate my own body these days than I did a few years ago. I pretty much spent the last 15+ years of my life hating on myself (“Fat,” “ugly,” “useless,” “untalented,” you name the insult, I’ve hurled it at myself at least once or twice). I don’t find myself doing that much these days. Maybe it’s just a nice perk to being hugely knocked up and not having to care about it anymore, or maybe it’s a newfound clarity that will stick around after Russ arrives. I know that my body is going to go through some major, huge, ridiculous changes pretty soon here (changes potentially bigger than the ones it has already endured), but I feel like my perspective has changed. It was already changing before I got pregnant (thank goodness), but I definitely just feel more at peace with things these days than I ever did before.
Still, I do miss running, but for reasons I didn’t realize before. I couldn’t care less these days what running does for my ass (though it does help, I’ll admit)…but I miss the feeling of being this intense, powerful being that can power through exhaustion and find a place that pushes me to make it to my destination. Nobody bothers you when you’re midway through mile 4, sweaty and clearly focused on the mess inside your head…it’s just the best mental form of “housekeeping.” I know I’m going to need some of that, when the time comes after Russ is born.
But for now, I’m just feeling very peaceful and like I’ve fallen into those last 10 weeks – when everything is starting to become very real, but there’s no use in questioning it all. You just have to let go and trust that you’ll find your way. After all, I am most definitely not the first woman who has done this.

10 weeks to go!!

And we’re in the final stretch! Okay, I’m actually not officially “30 weeks pregnant” until Saturday, but whatevs. But we’re heading out for vacation, so I won’t be able to post again until 31 weeks and that just won’t do. Tomorrow after work, it’s off to the lakehouse for a week spent with family, floating in the water, going for long walks in the wilderness preserve, and possibly getting a pedicure with my nieces, mom, and sister-in-law. Also, one of my best friends is going to be coming to take some maternity pictures of me. You know…”maternity pictures,” the ones that girls way more stylish than myself get that look all artsy and pretty. I imagine mine will end up looking like some dorky pregnant chick just *trying* to look artsy and pretty, but I will try just the same.

We’ll also be heading to Charleston for the day at some point in the week to show my nieces around the College of Charleston (a sort-of alma mater of mine, even if it was only for one semester) and hit the market to purchase a few pictures from Tony Winn. I want to look for something with Sepia tones to hang in Russ’s nursery. Winn is a Charleston-based photographer that does really beautiful, reasonably priced work, which he sells at a modest little table in the large market off of Meeting Street. Though I have no idea if he actually does remember us, he always makes me think he does, and that’s a rare quality to find in people these days.

In other news, today was my 29-week doctor’s visit (would’ve been 30 weeks, but they had to move it up because of our vacation plans). It was my last monthly visit – I’ll be heading back in just another two weeks, as the more frequent visits of late pregnancy are now upon us. I had a great talk with Dr. G, one of the better-known physicians in the area who practices with the group I go to. He said I was measuring right on track, totally average – not too big, but certainly not too small (not that I ever really worried about that). He was really excited when he saw (gasp) “natural childbirth” scrawled on my chart. He goes “OH!! A natural childbirth? That is just great!” I sort of squirmed and said “Uh, well…haha…is that what that says? Um…well, I’ll take it one contraction at a time and let you know.” I’m sure there are plenty of women who go in there at 6 weeks and ask for no medication…it’s starting to hit me pretty fierce that I really don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into. But I do know that I’ll do it and as long as Russ and I come out okay on the other side, I’ll be happy with that. But it was a great doc’s visit and I gained a healthy 4 lbs. since my last appointment. During the third trimester, a gain of about a pound per week is to be expected, so hopefully I can keep things sane for the last 10 weeks here. But we’ll see…

Until post-vacation, everyone have a great 4th of July and remember exactly what the reason is behind the 4th of July. There are soldiers fighting right now and we need to keep them in our thoughts and prayers always.

Until next time – peace & love! 🙂