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Tales from the Belly: What’s in a Name?

We are on our final laps of pregnancy – 38 weeks today.  I had my last appointment a couple days ago (they don’t stalk your baby with weekly appointments here if there are no complications).  Now, we are just waiting … ah patience, not one of my virtues, so maybe I should say: “now, we are just trying to stay as distracted as possible.”

I’ve noticed a trend: a decline in the number of “how are you feeling?”s – probably because most people see the big belly & know the answer can’t be that enthusiastic.  So they stray to safer topics: “when is your due date?” or “are you ready?” or “do you have a name picked out?”

The last one is always fun because the answer is “no.”  That’s right, we are weeks away, and my baby does not have a name!  He has name options, but confound it, we cannot decide.

Maybe there are just too many choices, and nothing is new.  You have some kind of connection with every name you read from the book – someone you knew once, a popular or historical figure.  You could go celebrity & name your kid after a color or fruit.  There are place names, different spellings, old-fashioned names, and family names.  My head might explode.

There are serious problems to consider: avoiding funny nicknames or initials, making sure it flows with the last name, making sure a kid could spell it.  Eventually, you end up eliminating your entire list!

Then, you think you’ve picked a name, & a month later, you don’t like it anymore.  But then you like it again, but then you don’t.  And before the nine (ten) months are up, you are so tired of thinking about it that you just throw your hands up & move on to something easier – like washing baby clothes or making your hospital bag packing list.

Maybe it’s best not to have a name picked out. What if he comes out & we realize that he doesn’t look like the name we picked & then it’s embroidered on everything already?

Or even more likely, my husband has a tendency to call people the names he thinks they should have.  He has dubbed many of our friends with different names.  Just the other day, he asked why I had been letting him call our friends’ baby Charlie when his name is George (honestly, I didn’t notice), then he decided the kid was more of a Charlie anyway.  So, if I had named our baby, he may come out & get called something different by his father & then wouldn’t everyone be confused!

At this point, we’ve simply told our family & friends that we won’t name him until we meet him with a promise to not take 3 days like Wills & Kate.  We usually do our best work with a deadline anyway.

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Tales from the Belly: What are you doing in there?!

We just keep growing!  I now feel like I am smuggling a basketball under my shirt as I look down and see this belly poking out.  The locals like to call it a “tidy” or “neat” bump, but to me, it feels huge.  We are in our third trimester, and little man should be about 3pounds.

I’ve been able to feel him since around week 17, but the certainty, clarity, and frequency of his movements have increased exponentially since then.  With this trimester’s marked increase in belly size has come a marked increase in movement.  I feel everything!  I think my frame and his position affect it, but friends agree that he can be felt very distinctly – not just kicks, but little movements & little body parts, too.

Before the step-up in sensation, I had begun to notice a pattern.  He would get squirmy every couple of hours, and I would inevitably get hungry – apparently we have a very strict eating schedule already.  During my work morning, I would know it was about 10 o’clock because he would “wake up” and start his daily gymnastics routine.

Now, it’s always something: a little rollover, wiggling arms & legs, pushing & stretching.  He’s definitely my child; I am not known for my ability to be still.  It isn’t painful (uncomfortable at times), mostly just distracting because I can’t help but wonder: what on earth are you doing in there?!

I wish I had x-ray (ultrasound?) vision to peek in & see what actions are causing all of the strange sensations in my belly. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to have a tiny person hanging out inside of you.  And don’t even get me started on hiccups!  I hate having them myself, but little man gets them at least once a day.

It can look really crazy from the outside though, too!  Sometimes when he’s being squirrelly, we just watch my stomach as it jostles and leans and ripples and jumps as our crazy little pea does his most dramatic mime in a box routine.  I’m forever trying to catch a good wiggle on video to send on to the fam.  I’m sad they can’t be here to share in the baby-feeling fun, but our friends enjoy it.  Well, except those that are weirded out by it all, who I enjoy tormenting by bumping them with my belly or snatching their hand for a kick.

It’s a fun, sweet time for Sam & I, and I know we will miss it in the future.  Not too much though because we’ll be too busy enjoying seeing those squirms on the outside; I know he’ll have plenty for us to enjoy!

Tales from the Belly: Unnecessary Crying & Crazy Eats

You had to know that when I fell pregnant (as they put it here in the UK), there were bound to be some good stories on the way.

People are exceptionally nice to pregnant women, maybe too nice.  I mean, it’s awesome, but after 6months of being babied yourself, no wonder it can be such a rough transition to being at the whim of the hugely high-maintenance tiny humans.

But that wasn’t the point.  The point is people are really nice: they carry things for you and give you the best seats and, most of all, ask how you are feeling.  I’ve been lucky – so far my symptoms have been mild.  I’ve mostly dealt with fatigue, hunger, and minor annoyances as my body adjusts.  It’s not normal, but I’m adapting and mostly feeling good.

Besides caring how you are or reminding themselves how far along you are, the most common questions usually involve some of the more iconic symptoms of pregnancy: cravings and morning sickness.  Cravings have been a more popular topic in my experience because A) it does not involve nausea/vomiting, and B) most people probably figure you would have covered that in the “how are you feeling” response.

I haven’t really had any super-crazy cravings.  There have been no trips to the store in the middle of the night.  I have not slathered any ketchup on my brownies.  There have not been any “find me an oreo & nobody gets hurt” moments; however, I have said, “I would punch someone in the face if I could have a chili dog right now.”  I also have ardently wished for teleportation to hurry up, so I can go to a Razorback football game & eat one of those corndogs that’s longer than your arm – but that is actually not a new wish.  Woah, apparently I have a thing for hot dogs.

There have been changes though.  Having trouble finding something that “sounds good” to eat.  Going through phases of eating a lot of a certain thing that I didn’t necessarily bother with before; those have included pickles, butter popcorn, eggs, and cookies & milk.  And at the beginning, my blood sugar was even more high maintenance than normal.  Some kind of food every 2-3hours, or we were red alert for She-Hulk mode.

I do have one fun story to share.  So, here we are at our gender scan, chatting it up with our nice tech, and she tells us about a lady she scanned who had craved mayonnaise on everything … everything.  Now, I’ve always been a fan of mayo, I even embraced the dipping your fries in it that we encountered in Belgium & the Netherlands, but it has no place at all on my apple pie.  That is the kind of thing this lady was doing; Lord, help her arteries!  However, on our way home, I couldn’t get mayonnaise out of my head.  When I was a young kid, I would make mayonnaise & lettuce “sandwiches” – that’s in quotations because it was just mayonnaise spread on lettuce rolled up.  I guess that’s really more of a wrap, but 10-yr-old me didn’t know any better.  So, we were thinking along those lines.  I thought a nice sandwich would do the trick, throw some mayo on some spongey white bread with ham & pickles.  Problem one: no white bread.  Problem two: the whole heat your deli meats during pregnancy thing – the very thought icks me out, plus you just can’t get the right kind of deli meats here, the normal kind.  I did have good mayo & some nice pickles… So, I made a compromise.  Sam had to run to the store & get me some lovely white bread, and I had a mayo & pickles sandwich.  I gotta say, it was delicious.  I even had a second one a few hours later.

Boom.

It’s really tempting during pregnancy to just eat whatever the heck you want.  Who’s going to judge you, you’re growing a person?!  But, you have to remember that your little person needs good nutrition to grow from the size of a poppy seed to the size of a small pumpkin (yep, I’ve totally gotten into the fruit & veg size comparisons that I previously found annoying – oh how it changes when it’s you : )

Another prevalent factor of pregnancy that everyone knows but a lot less people talk about are the hormone-hijacked emotions.  I’m guessing people either ask the daddy out of earshot or just don’t want to wake the sleeping dragon.  I have had some irritability.  It usually pairs up with my fatigue, so if I take a break (& eat), I’ll usually recover my mood.  There have been some recent developments…

The day before the mayo/pickle sandwich incident, we had plans to picnic in a park in Cambridge while watching a performance of Romeo & Juliet – fabulous, right?  I wanted to plan some event-worthy snacks & such for our outing.  Sam had very specifically stated, “babe, I don’t want you to overdo it with this; just do easy stuff.”  What am I, fragile?!  (the safe answer to this is “no, you are special”)  So, Sam gets home & all my plans have not yet come to fruition and we are behind schedule.  I have a full-blown breakdown.  I’m not a crier, but here I am, uncontrollably bawling.  We’re talking hands over face, full waterworks, each word punctuated by a big sob: I. Just. Wanted. To. Be. On. Time!  My husband is staring at me bewildered, probably thinking “who on earth is this person because this is not the woman I married,” trying very sweetly to console me.  So apparently punctuality is extremely important to me.

The same weekend, I had a meltdown when something broke in our house.  It wasn’t irreplaceable or even expensive, but I was reduced to helpless tears.

I guess my 16-17 week mark just decided that it was high time for some good stories.  Luckily, we seem to have returned to a fairly normal level around here, and I have not started putting pot roast on my pound cake.  Maybe I should find some wood to knock on now because we are only just nearing the halfway mark.  Things could get interesting around here!

And Suddenly Everything Changes…

So, there we were, two unsuspecting dummies, just enjoying a vacation in Italy.

We had spent the day on the island of Capri, taking the hydrofoil out from Naples after breakfast in the hotel. It was our most leisurely, unscheduled day of the trip – kind of a recovery since we were nearing the end. We arrived & quickly talked ourselves into renting a scooter. What could be better than putting around the island all day on our own!
Scooter

We went to the northwest end of the island for an overpriced, but still cool trip into the Blue Grotto.
Blue Grotto

Then down to the southwest end to chill on the flat rock outcropping that they call a beach, lucking out enough to catch a bit of sun on the otherwise cloudy day.
Sunning

Back through the center of the island, stopping this time at Anacapri for a walk around. Then back through “the” roundabout to park & stoll into Capri city for a different view of the island.
Capri

Each little ride provided gorgeous views & a chance to hold on tight to Sam and let the wind blow through our helmets.  It was a beautiful day!
Capri

On the hydrofoil ride back, I was thinking of how we were almost at the end of our trip… then I realized that we were almost at the end of our trip!  Some mental math starting churning, and I knew something was missing.  On the corner by our hotel, I popped into the pharmacy, telling Sam I just wanted to grab something real quick. I scoured the shelves then resigned to warily approach the gentleman at the counter.  All I could think to say was “test” and fortunately the man knew what I was talking about.

You’ve probably guessed it at this point, the pregnancy test was positive.  I was shocked.  I always take them if I’m even the least bit late, and they are always negative.  I was also in the shower. The weird, possibly handicapped shower that was basically a slightly lowered area with a drain & curtain in the corner of the bathroom. The two pink lines were sitting on top of the toilet. I stared, returned the shower curtain quickly (Sam had been lecturing me on making sure I didn’t get all the toilet paper wet in this close proximity), and then took another peek. I’m not sure how long I stood there in the stream of warm water, but it was probably only a couple minutes, much shorter than it felt. I called to Sam, and he came into the bathroom a bit dubiously – I normally have my best ideas in the shower, and he gets a little tired of getting called away from what he’s doing to hear my latest epiphany.

Have I told you yet that I do not react to things like a normal human being? I am extremely slow to absorb anything of this magnitude and show the proper emotions.  So, I just looked at him with who knows what kind of expression on my face & pointed to the toilet. At this point, he’s probably thinking I’ve injured myself and can’t communicate how.  He glances over & very densely states, “I don’t know what that means.”  Instead of finding my voice and saying something sweet or cheeky, I can merely fish the box out of the trash & show him the picture on the back that states, gratefully in English, that 2 lines = pregnant. He, being more capable of sane response than I, looks at me wondrously & says, “We did it!”

I did eventually get out of the shower. There was hugging and “is this real”s and maybe a tiny pinch of crying, after I made him go get another one for confirmation, of course!  He’s staring at test 2, and I try to kindly remind him that you need to wait for a few minutes – he comes back with “No, You don’t!”  Then, we were both googling info like mad on our phones and sharing what we found: videos about fetal development, how to figure out how far along we were & the due date, how big the baby might be (almost the size of a Sweet Pea – thus began the nickname), on & on until we just had to go to bed.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been so shocked. I had taken a break from hormonal birth control over a year ago. A few months prior, we had decided to just let it be – we knew it was in God’s hands and we would be fine either way.  I was concerned, actually convinced that we would take a while due to family history on both sides.  I was wrong!  We feel so blessed.  After it finally sunk in, I feel all the giddiness & anxiety that comes with knowing your life is changing forever.

And we are already changed by it. Priorities shifted without a thought. Our little Sweet Pea is taken into consideration for all decisions. We’re joining the club. We didn’t, couldn’t understand it before, but suddenly we’re in it and welcomed heartily by its members.  There’s no turning back now, even if we wanted to, and we don’t want to. We’re all in, for the rest of our lives.

It’s a beautiful thing!