It's been nearly a month since I last wrote, and there is no specific reason why. Most importantly, baby is healthy and so am I.
Christmas was really hard for me this year, and as I was reading others' blogs, I saw that I was certainly not alone. It was harder than last year, maybe because last year I was in too much shock still from the recent miscarriage to feel much of anything else. This year, I just couldn't engage. Usually, I LOVE to decorate for the holidays. As usual, it took a week of reminding for Paul to bring in my totes of Christmas things. For about one hour, I pulled things out and put them in their usual places. He set up the tree. That's as far as we got. At one point, I suggested we just put up lights on the tree, but we never even made it that far. Everything came down right after Christmas, when I usually like to enjoy it until almost February. We never got around to taking a Christmas card picture, let alone order cards or write a letter. And all of this was okay. Okay because these are the material things. I love the tradition, but my heart just wasn't in it this year.
I had been a bit nervous about Christmas Eve church services because of how everything had been going, and last year, I nearly had a panic attack as I tried to avoid people. Instead, I basked in a wonderful feeling of calm. My heart still connected with the wonder of the birth of Jesus. And I loved every minute. Mom and I (and sometimes Grandma) have been playing piano-organ duets for about 15 years for every Christmas Eve service and this year was no different. This year I loved sitting at the front of the church in my cute shirt that showed off my baby belly while playing the music that reaches in so deeply. The hardest part - trying to keep playing while people think it's a good time to start a conversation and hug me.
As usual, the pastor's Christmas sermon was perfect. The first part focused on what the angels said as they approached Mary and others. Do not be afraid. I felt like that was spoken just for me. Do not be afraid. Everything will be okay because God is taking care of me. And the tears are starting again now. I really couldn't hold back the tears when the pastor went to pick up a three-week old baby. This is how Jesus came to us. As a child, as one of us, to live among us and die for us. Wow. That's overwhelming. A baby. I'll have a baby in my arms soon. My admiration for Mary grows even more. There's much to be afraid of, but there's no need. This has been a lot for me to process, from the larger Christmas season to the specific sermon. My heart is peaceful.
On New Year's Eve, Paul and I talked about the last two years. (In case you didn't see it on the news, North Dakota enjoyed a couple of blizzards over New Year's. We ate eggs and toast for dinner that night and didn't leave the house for days.) I said I would go so far to call 2009 a bad year. With two miscarriages, the death of a niece, many weeks of both anxious pregnancies and heart-wrenching grieving, it was not good. As for 2010, it was hard. But hard doesn't necessarily mean bad. I worked really hard in 2010 on myself. I committed to doing my grief work, and found the most incredible network of women. I struggled with my depression and worked through it in a variety of manners. I saw a counselor regularly and then a psychiatrist. We found the right combination of medication to help me. In the middle of that all, I was undergoing tests to try to find out why my body wouldn't carry a baby through the second trimester. I received a diagnosis of a genetic blood clotting disorder. It's not necessarily life-changing, but it drastically changed how future pregnancies would be tended. All of this happened in the first five months of the year.
In June I found out I was pregnant again. My excitement outweighed the fear, but probably not by a measurable amount. From day one, I've been on Lovenox. It's obviously working and I will fight to make sure we follow the same regimen with future pregnancies. But that's been hard - letting go of my own needle discomfort for the good of me and my baby. I did so happily and understand being a mother just a bit more. I've spent more hours at the doctor than I'm sure some women do throughout their childbearing years. But I've done so eagerly, and always leaving with my mind and heart more at ease. In December I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The nutritionist told me the other day, as I gave her two weeks of food diaries and blood sugar charts, that tracking is hard work. Yes, but it hasn't been bad. I was quite proud of being able to show them how healthfully I eat (actually changing very little) and my excellent blood sugar patterns. I'm doing so well, in fact, that I no longer have to keep a food diary and I only check sugars twice each day. I know how foods affect my levels, and spot checking keeps me honest. It's hard, but not bad. Being pregnant is hard work all by itself. These additional layers certainly add to that, but hard does not mean bad. And good can, and often is, hard. Now, Paul tells me I'm good at being pregnant. Who would have thought?!
That's my update...perhaps mildly interesting at best. Baby updates are more interesting.
On Monday I started weekly BPPs and OB appointments, and today I start weekly NSTs. At 32 weeks, baby measured about 1.5 weeks ahead, weighing in at approximately 4lbs 11oz. I've been guessing baby will be an eight-pounder all along, and I may be right. Baby scored 8/8 on the BPP...it was so fun to watch him/her breathing! Now I can't wait to go listen to that heartbeat in a few hours. My blood pressure remains very good (112/64 consistently), no bleeding or cramping, and I'm still losing weight. Overall, I have lost five pounds this pregnancy. My doctor said she's not worried because baby has been growing right on track and is thriving. She did say that it would be okay if I happened to gain 10 lbs now, but not to worry about it. Maybe having a baby will be the unexpected start of a bit of weight loss!
Baby's room is set up now! I need to load the photos onto the computer, and then I'll post. I've actually had energy the last two weeks and have accomplished a fair amount of organizing, cleaning and setting up. We have a baby room, and I can just sit in there for hours. It's no longer the extra bedroom; it's baby's room. We're bringing home a baby next month!