Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ten Months...

So yesterday was 24 weeks with Luke. One could say (although it's different, the whole weeks/months/gestation conversions) six months.

Today is 10 months without Matthew. One could also say 40 weeks.

In just a few days, the time I had with Matthew will be less than the time I've had without him. That hurts. I knew it was coming. It looms every day as the 28th of November comes. I've been reading (though I am SO behind in my Google reader!) about women remembering this very time of year last year...or the year before...feeling the same things--how they were so close to bringing their babies home; what to do for a birthday now?; how has this much time passed?; just so much confusion and disbelief still, even though every day there are so many things that hammer the reality home.

So my pressing thoughts (well two of them, there are a couple of other big ones, but I am assuming John would prefer me to hold off on thinking about them for a bit) are what to do for Matthew's birthday and what to do for a Shower/Sprinkle/Party for Luke.

Which, coincidentally, will be most likely be within a week of each other. Honestly, I sort of feel that's best--like the faster you take the band aid off, the better. Same for the more intense things you can squeeze into a shorter amount of time, the faster you'll get through them and not really have enough time to think about how intense they really are. Of course, that's all theory.

For Matthew's birthday, it's the weekend of Thanksgiving and we'll have family in. Lots of it. I am really, really glad for this. John's finishing the basement bathroom; we're picking up a couple of more beds for the bedroom downstairs and it will be, for at least a few nights, tons of hustle and bustle. I love that...that's how I've always envisioned holidays--just envisioned them with more of my children adding to the mix.

Anyway--I don't feel like throwing a big birthday party--I think that will just hurt. Matthew's funeral was really such a big gathering of so many people, and the service was not just mourning but a message...we've had lots of support over the last year, and I just know that there's no way I could ever even begin to repay anyone for that support, so to try and do so would be physically and mentally exhausting.

I'd like to do something for our hospital, but honestly, they are so wonderful, I don't know what I could even offer.

I'd like to do something for Georgetown, but that will not be logistically easy and again, I don't even know what.

So...the only thing I know I want to do for sure is send out Remembrance Cards. One of my big regrets was that I never sent out birth announcements, and that sweet baby deserved them, no matter what my state of mind was. He'll get them for his birthday.

I have absolutely no idea what we'd like to do for Luke's party. I know the idea of a shower for a second baby is one that stirs up so much controversy. "Showers are for new moms or first babies only."

I know.

But my shower wasn't wonderful because we received so many lovely gifts, though we were really blessed with gifts.

My shower was wonderful because it was celebrating the joy of the most precious little life growing inside of me! There were smiles all around and laughter and joy just filled the entire afternoon. And it was for my sweet boy and the excitement we all had for his life.

And I want that for my Luke. He deserves that, but more than whether or not he deserves it, as his mother, I want that for him. I want him to know he is loved, loved, loved and joy over his life could not be any greater.

But what to do? We obviously don't need anything for him. We have his bedding and nursery decorations to buy, some more cloth diapers for his stash, and we might ask Grandma for a video monitor for Christmas (we already have the AngelCare, but I think I'd like video as well...). Other than those things, he's pretty set in the way of things needed.

I just hate that my second son doesn't really need anything because he gets (by default) all the new things his brother never got to use. That tears at my gut. I'm grateful we don't really need anything, but again, as Luke's mother, I'd like for him to have some things that were thought of because of who HE is, not because his brother is dead and left a whole bunch of stuff.

And again...I've heard the whole, "You'd use Matthew's things with Luke if Matthew had lived..." about a million times.

I would. But it wouldn't hurt. It would be joyful as I watched my TWO little boys play together and think about happy times in those outfits and with those hand-me-downs.

Everything that was/is Matthew's and now is/will be Luke's is bittersweet...so I guess in wanting some things just for Luke, I'm wanting to have just some sweet for a change...and lose some of the bitter, if I can.

Suggestions have been to have a party to celebrate Luke and have any gifts people feel inclined to buy donated to a local charity. That smacks too much of something I'd ask for to remember Matthew, not necessarily to celebrate Luke.

Or a "Welcome Luke" party after...which I'd LOVE...if it wouldn't be right in the middle of cold and flu season.

I asked John (who is REALLY gung ho about all this) if he wanted to do a 'couples' shower/party. He said, "No." I asked why and he told me that he felt showers were things girls liked to do.

This made me laugh for several reasons.

One, that he even says those things.

Two, because I believe that he's hoping that while 'girls' are doing something, 'boys' will get to do something else--something fun like fishing or watching a football game on his monster screen.

Three, because I think he's still retained enough innocence (don't know how) to think that anything we'd do for Luke would still have that silly (and blissfully ignorant but wonderful!) feel to it--where we'd measure my stomach with toilet paper or play Pin the Paci on the Baby.
I think those days are long gone.

So...at a loss. For a lot of things. It's just been one of those days. Again. And they seem to come more and more often. I think that's inevitable as Matthew's birthday comes up and Luke's due date follows...

I didn't post a picture yesterday because John didn't get home until after I'd written Luke's update. Here's 24 weeks--believe it or not, the yard in back is wet with RAIN! Hallelujah!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Twenty Four Weeks...

We hit the milestone that Dr. Shonekan said she'd love to see. The next one she's psyched for is 30 weeks.

I know it's a very big deal--especially for so many who don't ever make it here (or who make it here and then something happens and that whole "The baby is viable!" statement doesn't really make you feel all that much better because it's still so, so dangerously early)...trust me, it's a big, big deal for a woman who spent about 8 years figuring she just wasn't meant to be pregnant and yet, in the last 79.5 weeks, has been pregnant for 64.8 of them.

Like I've said--according to my caregivers, I'm apparently pretty good at being pregnant. It's just the getting pregnant that is near impossible and the bringing a baby home that has thus far BEEN impossible for me.

I guess it's pretty obvious these days are hard. I feel it, I say it and I write it. They are hard. John and I went to the cemetery after church yesterday (our usual) and I told him these days are just getting harder and harder. He asked me why I thought that was.

I think it's because this is the time of year last year that I was so close to Matthew being here, I could taste him. Around this time last year, everyone was telling me that they just KNEW I was going to go early (ha ha!) and I started to REALLY swell and had to stay off my feet. I just felt so, so close to the end.

The end where I held him and kissed him and dressed him and would never ask for another thing in my entire life.

Not the end where I visited his grave every week. Where my biggest worry about a transfer (save something happening to John on a deployment, of course) is that my poor baby's grave will be dormant for who knows how long until we get back up here? An end that makes me mad every time John watches one of those dumb survival shows or "I Shouldn't Be Alive," shows.

Those people SHOULDN'T.

Matthew should.

I know, I know...there are no shoulds.

In any event, I am thankful, thankful, thankful we've made it to 24 weeks. I'll order Luke's nursery things this week and start taking Matthew's things out in the next few. I'm excited about what we plan to do with Luke's room and I think John is too.

I think that's the first time I've called it Luke's room.

No doctor appointment this week. I've seen a doctor 3 times in the last week and a half (still have white blood cells; no infection, though, so no medicine and no need for any more visits this week!) and we'll see Dr. Sweeney again (and Luke) on Monday. He's moving a lot still and I'm so thankful. I just hope that keeps up as MUCH as he wants!!! He has pretty definitive patterns--a few kicks in the morning as I stretch and wake up, almost every time I eat and A TON as I go to bed! Last night, I was reading and had my book on my stomach and he was bouncing it off! He also had hiccups yesterday--I think I've been able to feel them once or twice before, but yesterday was for sure the hiccups and adorable.

I'm growing. My scale is a filthy liar sometimes, though. One night this week, I went to bed and the scale said 111.2. The next morning, after I went to the bathroom, it said 111.4. LIAR! Who gains OVERNIGHT? Another night, it said 112.4. I took my clothes off (denim is HEAVY!) and it STILL said 112.4!!! I'm beginning to question its reliability!! (For the record, I'm going with 111, so that's a net of 11 pounds at 24 weeks. This is really where I started packing them on with Matthew, though, so....)

Regardless of what the scale says or doesn't, I AM growing--my stomach measures anywhere between 34 and 36 inches, depending on time of day and position of Luke (he's transverse as of the last ultrasound, but I wonder if he's moved?) and my belly button is still half-out, half-in but getting more and more out rather than in! He's so high--breathing and walking and talking are laborious. Heartburn is notorious. My back hurts off and on, but nothing like it did with Matthew--consistently and necessitating my back pillow wherever I went. With Luke, it's my sciatica on both sides. There are several times a day that I'll be sitting or laying and my hip bones/pelvis will just lock and I seriously can't move. It's really, really hard to believe how much that can hurt! I had a little of that with Matthew, but it gave way for my back. So, seeing as we still have 14 weeks left, we'll not rule out that happening still.

Sleep is just hit and miss. I'm basically taking it where I can get it and I'm ok with that. It's hard when John has early morning briefs and has to go to bed early the night before. Thankfully, he can sleep through just about anything. TV included. Even Sister Wives. Which is another story entirely...

Anyway, Luke's doing fabulously and it's really hard to believe there are only 14 weeks left. There's so much going on in the next few weeks, I really feel like they will fly. They seem like they already have.

Here's Luke's update:

Week Twenty Four: Practices breathing

You are 24 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 22 weeks)
  • The child is now gaining around 3 ounces (90 grams) a week.
  • Baby weighs about 1.3 pounds and is 12 inches long.
  • Baby weighs about 600 grams and is 30cm (crown to heel) long.
  • The eyelids can be seen very clearly.
  • If born at this stage is officially considered viable, they may well be able to survive.
The lungs are developing branches of the respiratory tree and cells that produce surfactant. This is a substance that helps the air sacs inflate easily and also keeps the small air sacs in our lungs from collapsing. The baby practices breathing by inhaling amniotic fluid into developing lungs. The unborn baby is covered with a fine, downy hair and the skin is protected by a waxy substance. Some of this substance may still be on the child's skin at birth at which time it will be quickly absorbed.

24 weeksBaby gains about 3 ounces this week. The weight is in muscle, bone mass and organs. The body begins to fill out with its appearance increasingly becoming more like that of a newborn. Taste buds begin to form. If mom drinks something strange or bitter, baby may be observed showing his or her distaste.

Little creases have appeared on his palms. The muscular coordination of the hands has improved as they sucks their thumb. Over the next week or so, the sweat glands will be forming in the skin.

Mother: Gentle exercise will keep you fit and help you cope with the delivery. Pregnancy yoga, pilates or go for a swim, aquanatal classes are a great way to make friends.

Baby now weighs about 1.3 pound (600gm) and is around 12 inches (30cm) long.

After this week your baby is officially considered viable. 36% of babies can survive premature birth at 24 weeks - However, serious complications are still possible.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Fair...

It's county fair time.

We planned to go today after church.

We forgot and didn't bring clothes. I asked John if he wanted to go and he told me he didn't, really.

I said we might want to since a transfer next year may take us from here for a bit and he won't be able to take Luke.

He asked if I would really want to take an 8 month-old to the fair.

I sure did want to take a 10 month-old this year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's hard.

I don't even know what to say but that it's hard.

It's hard to be hopeful and realistic at the same time.

It's hard to expect the best, but know that the worst happens.

It's hard to plant flowers at your son's grave on your way to the OB appointment for his brother.

It's hard to think about whether you should plan a birthday party or a baby shower in the same month.

It's hard to want both and neither at the same time.

It's hard to take pictures of one son's nursery as you know you are about to dismantle it for another son.

It's hard to extend grace to those you love when you feel so justified in your anger with them--and the hormones DO NOT HELP.

It's hard to balance the desire to do everything and nothing at the same time.

It's hard to justify doing a ton of stuff because it's been neglected and not doing anything because your most important job is taking care of you and the baby.

It's hard to sweep the pieces of your broken heart up every morning as you simultaneously feel them just burst with love over every sweet little wake-up kick and jab.

It's hard for things to be so normal and so surreal.

It's hard. I saw Dr. Shonekan yesterday and just about cried the whole visit. She said she thought of me the other day as she knew we were getting closer to Matthew's birthday and imagined it must be hard. It is. And she was the one who reminded me that as if we don't have enough to deal with, hormones only make it worse.

These days are hard. Conflicting, guilt-ridden, exhausting (because as much as I really am filled with such joy over Luke, every day is a purposeful determination to ACCEPT that joy I am given. Make no doubt that it is God-given, but we have to ACCEPT it and that takes purpose and determination and choice) and hard.

Just hard.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So similar...and so different....

One of the things about having pregnancies so close together is that it's not too hard to remember how things were and compare them to how they are. Even if you don't want to, you just can't help it.

So, periodically, when my heart can take it, I go back and read about how things were with Matthew at this point (23 weeks!) in my pregnancy with Luke. Because as much as it shouldn't be too hard to remember...it's painful and my brain just doesn't always let me go there. I am so, so thankful I wrote as much as I did, and I wish it was more. Every time I read one of my posts about Matthew, I feel motivated to write more about Luke so that I have every morsel of him available to me whenever I want.

Then life gets in the way and I just need to make the time.

Last July, I was 23 weeks with Matthew. We saw Dr. Sweeney at 23w3d and yesterday, with Luke, we saw Dr. Sweeney at 23w0d. I love that I had appointments with both of the boys at this point. So many things similar....but so, so different, obviously.

Luke looked fabulous yesterday! Dr. Sweeney (who was very, very missed these last few weeks!!) said Luke was a very easy, easy baby to examine and was just adorable. (I have to agree!) He was measuring at 1 lb., 4 oz. (52%ile and 4 ounces heavier than Matthew did at this point) and had really full little cheeks. He definitely has my chin and it is getting more and more pronounced to the point that you can see the dimple and I again am so thankful for that in him because it is one of the most precious things I loved about his brother. I thought about going to one of the ultrasound places for a 4D video, but honestly, I get the same pictures at Dr. Sweeney's (better, I think!) and it feels like hanging out with your family watching the baby there!

I haven't gained anything; in fact, I went back to about 108, but honestly, I think the prior weeks were a little fluffed from cruise indulgence. Luke's gain is just lovely, so that's what counts. The heartburn is way worse than it was with Matthew (probably because I'm carrying so much higher!) and sleep is evasive. John tells me every night that he hopes I sleep well. I thank him and then say, "I just hope I sleep." Of course, I type this as I've been up since 5 am because that's not happening, but that's ok...I can nap if need be.

It turns out that there was no UTI (but took the medicine anyway), but Dr. Shonekan's office wants me to come in on Wednesday and test again to see if anything is going on. Dr. Sweeney isn't the least bit worried--he said that a lot of time there is white blood cell contamination in the clean catch samples and as long as there was not any bacterial growth (there wasn't), he'd not worry.

So I'm not. Honestly, I am not worried (much) about Luke. I'm more worried about something happening to John...and that seems to be getting worse and worse, but I was telling a friend on Sunday that I really and truly have been blessed with a peace about Luke and his little life. She told me that she could actually see that on my face.

So when you see pictures and see happiness and joy, know that it is the grace of God, pure and simple.

That joy and lack of anxiety lives with such a deep and drowning heartache every day...and wins.

That's grace. That's mercy.

Here are a few pics!

22w6d...not thrilled to take a picture because we were about to give the dogs a much-needed bath, but John insisted...

Luke...look at those cheeks!

"I wanna rock and roll all night!"

Sweet little grin...

Practicing his swallowing...in the middle of a swallow!

"That's all, folks. No more pictures, please!"
(For the record, this is SUCH a familiar face...I've seen it on my grandmother and my mother and in the mirror many, many times!)

Like I said, I had an appointment with Dr. Sweeney yesterday at 23w0d with Luke and last year with Matthew at 2323d...and I am so glad that I have similar pictures. There are definitely similarities in the boys--especially their penchant for keeping their hands up by their face and their chins. Luke (on the right) has fuller cheeks and Matthew had his Granddad's eyebrow structure. Love, love, love the pictures I have. I am so grateful for them.

Here's what's going on with Luke this week:

Week Twenty Three: Sense of balance develops

You are 23 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 21 weeks)
  • He or she measures over 28cm and weighs up to 550 grams.
  • The baby is over 11 inches tall, weighs about a pound.
  • The eyebrows are visible.
  • The child can successfully suck.
  • Bones located in the middle ear harden.
23 weeksYour baby does a regular 'workout' inside your womb. He or she turns from side to side and head over heels. Thanks to a fully developed inner ear, which controls balance, your baby may have a sense of whether he or she is upside-down or right side up in the womb.

Skin pigment is now forming. The fetus is now proportioned like a newborn except it is a thinner version of a newborn baby since its baby fat has not developed much yet.

The pancreas, essential in the production of hormones, is developing steadily. Baby has begun producing insulin, important for the breakdown of sugars.

If born now, your baby would have a 20% chance of survival, the odds going up with each passing day. By this week, your baby weighs a little over 1 pound (500g). Its crown to heel length is 11 inches (28cm).

Friday, September 17, 2010

So much to do...

I have been meaning and meaning and MEANING to take pictures of things that have been sent to us...things for us, things remembering Matthew and sweet little things for Luke. I've also wanted to take pictures of things we've bought for Luke so he knows how I am looking forward to seeing him in and use things we've gotten just for him.

I've been meaning to write about the Women of Faith conference.

I've been meaning to post the cruise pictures.

I need to post a picture for this week.

I need to do about a million things.

I'm behind in things I want to be done.

But, as I told John the other day (as he is feeling very, very much the same way), there's really nothing that can't be put off for a hair longer and if it means that putting it off gives him a few minutes of sanity, he needs to do so.

Of course, putting it off just gives me so much more anxiety (and it does him too) that that's not really feasible for either of us to actually do happily (put stuff off) but at least saying it makes us feel like it's an option.

*An aside bonus was that I was telling this to John the other day in counseling...that he needed to just let things sit a bit if he needed them to so that he could relax and take care of himself and my counselor said she couldn't believe that those words were coming out of my GAD/OCD mouth. Then again, do as I say, not as I do mentality could certainly explain that!*

So anyway, as a compromise, I am going to post the Bermuda pictures so that's one thing off my list (though not in the order I wanted things done!) and I can move on to others that are more tangible in the house. Like make vacuum lines. Yesterday the kitchen got the 'toothbrush and baking soda' deep cleaning treatment and today is swapping out summer/winter clothes. Oh, and eating chocolate-covered strawberries. John secretly (or not so) thinks this is Luke telling me he likes chocolate like his brother. I don't want to burst his bubble, but even though I've never liked chocolate much, I have always liked chocolate-covered strawberries because I like strawberries so much.

But this is when Matthew started to really let me know he loved chocolate, so who knows?

First, me at 22w1d (and of course, Dixie!):

She loves giving kisses. I love that I still have ankles!

We always take Matthew's Lovey with us....

Waiting for our room to be ready!

The obligatory 1st (of many) self-portraits as we waited!

John playing at Horseshoe Bay with his camera!
The water and beach were amazing!

One of us doesn't like to put on sunscreen. Can you tell which one?

Loving the pool!

Water's a bit too cold for me (and Luke) still!

This water was WAY warmer, but still chilly just getting in!

We LOVED this day!!!!

John getting ready to go Dorkeling....

He lives to do this!

We got a rainstorm, but it was ok because we just covered our stuff and hung out in the water. It was like being in a big, beautiful hot tub!

There were some really neat little caves and alcoves at Horseshoe Bay!

This was in one of the sort-of caves!

It started to *really* rain while John was dorkeling and he came back to me hiding out under the umbrella...Thankfully he angled it better so I didn't have to keep holding it!

John was supposed to *warn* me about waves because I was wearing my contacts. This is how he warned me. He'd take a picture like this, and then he'd say, "Big one." Thanks.

Always, always, always in our hearts and on our minds.

As we were leaving the port at St. George's....cute, cute little town and check out the rain we missed!

On the ferry back to the ship!

It was SO windy!

Vacation took its toll on poor John!

Big difference in me in this suit at 21 weeks...

...and me at 11 weeks!

Our tablemates...all from Baltimore and a lot of fun. They found us entertaining as one of them said she'd like to turn a video on of me and John and then she'd sell it and be a millionaire. Not sure what to make of that...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm waiting too....

So, I'm just going to put it out there. I've been very, very aggravated with the story of Job since Matthew died.

And if I'm really honest, a little aggravated with God's mentality (or what I believed it to be) in the whole resolution and ending of Job's story.

Because while there are many lessons learned, pieces of wisdom and insight to be gleaned and comfort found (although I admit, still some questions!)...one thing has just really, really bothered me.

At the end...when Job's faithfulness is 'rewarded' and he is 'doubly blessed', I've been aggravated with the notion that everything he lost doubled and some new children could make it all better. More specifically, he lost seven sons and three daughters...and getting seven new sons and three new daughters was supposed to be a reward? Like those children were just replaceable with seven new sons and three new daughters?

I've often thought, "No wonder Job's wife felt like cursing God. Her babies were gone and she thought God did it." I don't believe that's the way to go about it, but I have to admit I could sure see her perspective.

So anyway...I've not been happy with the resolution of seven new sons and three new daughters. They don't replace those first children, nor could the space in Job's heart or his wife's heart be filled with 'new children'.

I had a CASA meeting tonight and was driving home. I had the radio on and it was XM station 170, Family Talk. It was some preacher, and I didn't necessarily recognize his voice. I listened mindlessly for a few minutes (long day!) and then decided I'd put some music on. So right as I was about to turn the channel, I heard the guy say something about death and the book of Job. I stopped for a second and he went on to further say that for anyone who's ever lost a loved one, and more specifically, a child, the book of Job should present problems at first. Well...I was hooked. And listened. He said that if we paid attention, all the stuff Job had in chapter one was replaced and in double the quantity by the end of Job. All but the children. I'd never actually paid attention to the number of children Job was again given, if I think about it. I just knew he'd been given more children and somehow life was good again. So, the guy goes on and says, "If you have ever lost a child, this should bother you. Children are not replaceable."

I teared up.

He then noted that we had to dig a bit deeper, though and note the significance. Job received seven more sons and 3 more daughters--NOT 14 more sons and 6 more daughters, as would fit the double blessing recipe.

Why not? Everything else was returned and he was doubly blessed. Why not the children too?

Because, just as this guy said...children are NOT replaceable. Job WAS doubly blessed with children...it's just that the first seven sons and three daughters were waiting for him in Heaven and his 'double blessing portion' of children, if you will, was there on earth with him now.

He *was* doubly blessed with children...but half were just waiting in Heaven for him.

As my Matthew waits for me.

And oh, my sweet Matthew....mommy waits for you.

I too have been doubly blessed...with one in Heaven waiting for me and one inside me kicking around for more ice cream.

There are no coincidences, friends. That random man's words were meant just for me.

Maybe for you too?

Monday, September 13, 2010

22 Already?

My sweet boys are always on my mind....

Wow. It seems I just did the 21 weeks post (probably because it was only a few days ago) and we are already at 22! I believe it and don't at the same time. Mostly I do believe it since I feel Luke a lot! I'm feeling him more during the days now than I am at night, so that's nice...there really is nothing more reassuring to me (other than the ultrasounds!) than him wiggling all over the place. I can tell he's getting bigger because the movement is so much more pronounced.

Today was a busy day...actually, it's been busy since we got back, so I haven't had time to post the cruise pictures. John had a night flight tonight, so there isn't a 22 week picture either. I'll try to post some of the cruise pictures, but it takes so long to only do 5 at a time. The one above is from the beach at Horseshoe Bay. As I was writing Matthew's name, some guy walked by, laughing and trying to be funny, and pretended like he was going to stomp on my writing.

Not funny, buddy. I even said, "You're a funny guy," to him as he walked on. John said he wondered what that guy would feel like if he knew what we were writing. Had he stomped on it, he would have gotten a 109 pound-fueled kick in the shins that he wouldn't have thought was so funny.

I saw Dr. Polko today. It's like seeing an old friend. I haven't seen her since May when we were just 9 weeks. She said Luke had a very cute nose. It's true, he does.

We discussed my back...she'll give me a PT referral again if I want, but I didn't feel like it made a big difference with Matthew, so we'll see. We discussed my breathing. As figured, it sucks for me. Just have to try and be as straight as I can possibly be. My ribs are growing...that and the cartilage is spreading. So that certainly doesn't feel great when trying to breathe either. We talked about the stomach shocks and as I thought, I'm basically pinching nerves when moving certain ways and it's normal. We talked about some slight spotting I had on the cruise. It was really, really not enough to worry me (if it was, we'd have hightailed it to Dr. Sweeney's office on our way home) and hasn't happened since and was really much of nothing and if I didn't know better, I'd almost feel like I'd imagined it. She said she wasn't one bit worried, especially since it was hardly anything and out of the blue and not back, so I am not worried either.

She said I wasn't anywhere near as neurotic as I could be and that just goes to show why I love her and that office so much. The reality is, even if I was, they'd still be just as wonderful to me, and there's so much peace in knowing that. I made them chocolate covered strawberries because I had some Friday at a party and literally have been dreaming about them all weekend...but good strawberries are hard to come by right about now, so I didn't want to eat all the ones I made for them and I only ate ONE! A small one, to boot. Of course, I stopped by the grocery store tonight after my photography class (yeah, I'm trying to figure out that stupid camera!) to pick up some strawberries and there were none!!!! I'll be going out tomorrow for some, trust me.

Anyway (seriously still obsessing over the strawberries), I DID have a UTI. I had one with Matthew (and didn't have a clue) and so since I don't have a history of them but have had one with no symptoms, one of my neuroses has been testing frequently just to be sure. Well...lo and behold, not 10 minutes after me telling Dr. Polko I was sure I was being neurotic and I was sure the results were going to be fine, she and her checked the strip and they called me back into the office to give me a prescription.

Which led to picking up a prescription and going through the drama of Tricare not paying for it because they insist I still have Blue Cross/Blue Shield (thanks, Tricare....so glad I went in weeks ago to try and make sure this DIDN'T happen), but whatever. So... I feel totally justified in being vigilant about frequent testing. Not that I care whether I'm justified or not.

Luke's doing fine. My stomach (whatever they are measuring for!) is measuring fine, his heartbeat was just chugging along and he didn't even try and shy away from the doppler like he normally does. (Dr. Polko said, "It's because babies like me!") I was 109.2 on their scale, and hit 110 on mine tonight, so I'll go with between 109-110 and count it as 9-10 pounds net gain. I know a lot came on quickly in the last two weeks, but she didn't care as overall my weight gain has been just fine. My belly-button is very weird! It never popped out with Matthew at all. It got to the point where it was really, really, really flat...but never popped out. Now, with Luke, the top part of my belly button is sort of out and the bottom half of it is still in. Funny.

Here's how he's grown since 21 weeks.....for the record, this lies because my enlarging abdomen IS pretty large and DOES get in the way. Nor am I able to bend over (stomach shocks!) or sit (stiff as a board so I can breathe!) comfortably still....but that's ok. Luke's taste buds are definitely specific...to the point that the guys at El Cerro Grande know what my order is without me ordering it...right down to the extra sour cream and the orange soda. Ole!

Week Twenty Two: Taste buds develop

You are 22 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 20 weeks)22 weeks
  • The fetus reacts to loud sounds.
  • Baby starts having a regular sleeping and waking rhythm.
  • The mother's movements can wake her baby.
  • Taste buds are forming on your baby's tongue.
  • The baby is 28cm long (crown to heel) and weighs over 450 grams.
  • The weekly weight gain has increased to around 70 grams.
Your baby is about 11 inches long and weighs in at about 1 pound. The eyebrows and eyelids are fully developed, and the fingernails cover the fingertips. Sounds from a conversation are loud enough to be heard by the fetus in the uterus. If you talk, read, or sing to your baby, it's reasonable to expect him or her to be able to hear you.

By this week, your waistline is definitely gone. The top of your uterus is now about 1 inch (3cm) above your bellybutton. Your enlarging abdomen is not too large and doesn't get in your way much. You're still able to bend over and to sit comfortably. Walking shouldn't be an effort. Your friends and relatives can tell you are pregnant. It would be hard to hide your condition.

The baby is about 11 inches (28cm) long (crown to heel) and weighs in at about 1 pound (450g).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

World Travels at 21 Weeks!

Okay...so not necessarily the world, but Luke was in international waters, traveled to a place for which his mommy and daddy needed passports stamped and enjoyed every bit of the non-stop food opportunities that accompany a cruise. In fact, he quite enjoyed eating about every hour and a half!

I didn't write much on the trip...really only the first day because we were busy enjoying ourselves. Which of course means that I have a million things in my head that I want to get out for Luke to know and will just have to probably do in stages. This was what I wrote from our first full day:

In these last few months, I *thought* I had been out and about--dealing with 'those' questions and fairly effectively, at that.

Ummm, no.

Nothing like a cruise ship full of strangers who come to be new BFFs with all their shipmates to give me some perspective.

"When are you due?"

"Is this your first?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry."

Peppered with the appropriate consolation looks, of course, and then depending on where you are or with whom you're speaking, awkward silence or continued conversation. Awkward silence in the elevator; continued (and kind and compassionate) conversation at breakfast or dinner.

Sometimes, it's as easy as, "You look really nice pregnant. Some people these days look so..." and the words are mumbled by the little old ladies making the statement but not wanting to essentially say they think there are some pregnant ladies wearing things they find inappropriate.

Or, my reply of, "No, he's our second," followed by, "Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations!"

Others--more difficult. "No, he's our second," followed by, "Oh, how wonderful! How old's your first?" or "Oh, but look at you now...you look great and you'll have a healthy baby this time." (One of these days, I'll have the courage to say, "My son WAS healthy. Perfectly beautiful and healthy. Which makes it all the more tragic, doesn't it?" Or, when someone tells me, "Everything happens for a reason," I will be able to respond with, "So...what do you think the reason my baby died was?")

Of course, their comments are well-intentioned, but so indicative of most people's inclination to see a smile and believe all is well. I don't blame them. I'd like to look in the mirror and smile and believe I have the perfect life...great husband, family, friends, home, comforts, new baby on the way and celebrating with a lovely cruise.

But as I told John yesterday, as nice as this vacation is--and it IS NICE!--I'd rather be at home trying a new food with Matthew or trying to get a stain out of his cloth diaper.

John said, "That's a given."

So, when it's a given that your reality is not what you thought it would be, you adjust.

I'm reading Pete Wilson's Plan B: What to Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Think He Should.

Great title. Very appropriate. And, I have to say, even just starting the book, I hope at some point he notes that when it's too late for God to show up the way you think He should (like your child is dead and not coming back), it's never too late to realize He's always showing up the way He's going to show up and there are blessings in that.

It takes some time to see them (and will probably continue to take the rest of my life), but that's where people get the idea that time heals. Time doesn't heal. Time is just God's way of helping you acclimate to the way it will be, the Plan B, if you will. (My apologies to Pete Wilson if that's what he says somewhere in his book. If he does, I concur.)

We really had a lovely time, and I have lots of pictures for Luke to have. I'll post them soon. For now, the update on Luke is pretty benign. We didn't see any doctors this week. This was the first week since April (save our 2ww) that I have gone without seeing a doctor for Luke. Weird. He's doing well, though, and loving his food. He wiggles a lot when I am hungry and he wiggles a lot right after I've eaten. I measured my waist before we left and I was 35 inches (so a gain of 5 inches since 8 weeks) and I weighed myself when we got home today and was 109.2! So...that's a net gain of 9.2 pounds. Not too bad for 21 weeks, and pretty funny how quickly it is adding on! I'm going to have to pull my pillow out because those places in my back that were so uncomfortable with Matthew are rearing their heads again. I'm also going to talk to Dr. Polko on Monday about my breathing and what I am calling stomach shocks. I am having a really, really difficult time getting full breaths (and it's not my asthma) and there are times when I move (not even really doing anything special) and it feels like someone is electrocuting my stomach. My guess is that it's just nerves that I am hitting the wrong way, but I never, ever, ever felt anything like that with Matthew, so I'd rather be safe than sorry. My scar is also getting bigger and puffier and tougher, so Dr. Shonekan told me to rub bio-oil in it often because there's really not much to do...for that or for the rib/ab muscle pain. Every time I see her, she always looks so sweetly at me and reminds me that getting pregnant as quickly as we did after what happened was bound to bring these things on, and we're so grateful for Luke that we of course will deal with anything, but it's nice to have your doctor feel sorry for you because she understands that though you are carrying a miraculous little blessing, it's still hard.

Sometimes I think people forget that...pregnancy is hard. It doesn't mean I am not grateful or would trade it for anything; it means that I'm human and no one enjoys being in pain, so having compassionate doctors that let you know that even though there's nothing really they can do but to tell you that you'll have to suck it up, at least they feel sorry for you in telling you that.

Here are two 21 weeks pictures:

Luke Enjoying a Fruity Drink...

...And More Food!! Hooray!

Here's the update on Luke's growth:

Week Twenty One: Nourishment evolves

You are 21 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 19 weeks)
  • Length is now measured crown to heel.
  • The fetus has grown to 10.5 inches (27 cm) - 12.7 ounces (360 grams).
  • It is now gaining weight steadily, with fat being added to the body.
  • Bone marrow has started making blood cells.
  • Their small intestine is starting to absorb sugars.
21 weeks
Your baby's bone marrow has started making blood cells, a job done by the liver and spleen until this point. The placenta has provided nearly all of your baby's nourishment, now your baby will begin to absorb small amounts of sugar from swallowed amniotic fluid.

Based on the size of baby's head, which is about 2 inches (5cm), the date of birth can be determined to within one week. The fetus is steadily gaining fat and has grown a whitish coat of a slick, fatty substance to protect skin in amniotic fluid and to ease delivery.

In girls, the vagina is formed and the ovaries already contain over six million eggs which will be reduced to about 400 by the time of puberty. For boys, the testes begin to descend from the abdomen this week. (Boys don't produce sperm until puberty).

The baby can hear and recognize the mother's voice, and may respond to some types of music.