Monday, July 29, 2013

Diara of a Preggo: Things that I won't miss when I'm a parent

This morning I was laying in bed thinking about the blog post that I haven't gotten to write this past 9+ month journey: The common things that people say when you are pregnant.

Pregnant women get used to the consistency of the same questions that everyone asks: sex, due date, name, etc. Even by strangers. 

But one thing I never got used to were the negative comments from current parents about life with kids. I could write ten blog posts on the negative things people say, but instead I'll focus on one in particular that bothers me, which prompted me to write today.

Especially when you get closer to your due date, parents and other "older and wiser" people just love to talk about how your life will never be the same, how everything is about poop and puke and you will never get any sleep again, and basically how hard it is to be a parent because your life is no longer for you

They talk about how you will never again get to take off and go out to dinner or take vacations or enjoy your life. 

Now I'm sure these people mean well ... they are just trying to help prepare you for parenthood and not meaning to sound as negative as they do, but I always find these comments pecuilar. Typically the people saying these things are people with several kids, so obviously they chose to grow their family regardless of their life getting "so hard" after their first. 

Plus, they see that I'm pregnant and not 15 and unmarried, so obviously I made this choice very purposefully and not without thought on the sacrifices I'd be making. They don't know anything about me or what I want out of my life. 

If I EVER become one of those people who go around telling pregnant women how hard life will soon get, please shoot me in the head! 

But anyway, I digress.

What bothers me about these comments is that I'm 32 years old - soon to be 33. I'm pretty sure my husband and I were literally the oldest people in our birth class. All of our friends have kids. We both have nieces/nephews that we have grown up with in close quarters. I've lived a lot of life so far. We understand there are sacrifices that come with having children. And we have been wanting these "sacrifices" for quite a while. 

I look back at my life pre-pregnancy, and I think about everything I've done -- my travels, my accomplishments, my late crazy drunken nights -- and I've had so many varied and wonderful experiences. I've had so much fun (at times too much) in my 33 years. 

To be honest I am bored with these experiences. I am ready for family, and faith, and selflessness, and the next chapter of my life. God gave me this child and I am ready for a higher purpose.

Sure, I have regrets or unfullfilled wishes from my past - as we all do. 

There are a few places I haven't traveled yet that I'd like to make it to (Ireland, Brazil, Thailand, Australia, west coast wine country, hike some of the Appalachian Trail, maybe the Grand Canyon?)

There are some skills/hobbies I'd like to learn (Karate/Tae Kwon Doe, knitting, writing a book, learning to write HTML, running a 10K)

Professionally, I'd like to network more, present at conferences more, perfect my craft. I'd like to have the time to work on building my resume and advancing my career. I've completely tapped out the position I am in as there is nowhere to advance in my current program. I wish I'd been able to get a more advanced position before baby, but then would I have had a position conducive to having a family? Probably not.

All of these things will obviously have to wait a bit while I'm preparing for baby and on maternity leave - and after, when I'll be working an alternative schedule and focusing on being a mommy.

And I'm okay with that.

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to have a flexible position so that I can work at home three days a week and not send my baby to daycare five days (as my boss has approved). I don't take these things for granted and I do believe everything happens for a reason, and I'm right where I was meant to be for this change in my life. So I'm fine with some things having to wait.

Plus, everyone always says there is no "perfect" time to start a family. 

If you keep waiting for everything to be perfect, that day is just never going to come. I can't really imagine a more perfect time to start my family, though - two years after marrying the love of my life, when we're totally financially secure, etc. etc. 

Looking back, there are a lot of times that would have been much worse for me to start a family. Looking forward, if I had waited any longer I may have missed my fertility window. So now is somewhat "perfect."

I think about the things I've done in my life and the things I've experienced, and I can't complain. Some people don't even come close to having the experiences I've had, just in my adult life. Some of them may have been a little crazy, and not even healthy. But they were learning experiences, and at the time I had a lot of fun. 

Below are just a few snippets if I flashback on my life and the things I've done/experienced:

  • I've always been a huge music lover and I've been to hundreds of rock/musical concerts - outside, inside, national, local. I've followed bands I loved and met and spent time/friendships/relationships with some amazing musical talent. I have some really fond memories of this and will never stop going to concerts and enjoying beautiful music - with my family in tow.
  • I've traveled to some incredible tropical places outside this country: Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, Bora Bora, and I don't even have room here to describe the beaches, the drinks, the excursions, rainforests, scuba diving and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays, the boats, the sight-seeing, the people I met and other beautiful and amazing happenings on these trips.
  • I've also traveled to incredible places inside this country: I'm sure I'm missing some but all over the west: Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, the Dakotas, Texas. And of course spent lots of time in Florida, the Keys, Sanibel Island, Miami, Kentucky, Nashville, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Virginia, Las Vegas, New York city, Washington DC, Michigan ski resorts and lakes and wineries, lots of time in Chicago etc. And those are just the fun places. I've been fortunate to travel alot.
  • I've had the experience of being so poor I had creditors chasing me and wasn't sure whether my house would be foreclosed on, eating ramen noodles and cheerios for lunch. Being forced to move in with my parents as an adult and start my life over completely. I've also had the experience of being fortunate enough to buy pretty much whatever I want, and right now being fortunate enough to build a beautiful, brand new house. Because of having both of these experiences, I know how to fully appreciate and respect money and instead of buying name brand purses or other ridiculous things women tend to waste their money on, I save what is probably a ridiculous amount of money, just to have the feeling of security which was once lost - and to be able to give my kids that feeling of security.
  • I have a love of learning and enjoyed all of the time I've had to nurture it: I have received a bachelors and masters degrees and a project management certificate, read a thousand plus books, joined and worked for numerous committees and volunteer/philanthropic efforts, and met some of my closest friends and other amazing acquaintances due to these experiences. I have won writing contests and when I was a reporter i had my work published in numerous newspapers and online sites.  In my current position, I am fortunate enough to work with children living in poverty, some of them refugees, getting to know their life experiences, their families, and being amazed almost daily at their strength despite adversity.
  • I have lived "on the wild side" when I was (much) younger - making crazy choices including riding motorcycles everywhere and joining in on biker parties, experimenting with drugs, drinking (too much) into the wee hours of the morning, closing down numerous bars, hanging out with groups of ladies that would go "out" Thursday through Saturday, numerous experiences spending time with "bad boys" who didn't care about anything, etc. etc. I'm left with two tattoos I usually try to cover up and a lot of memories, not all of them good (Including spending a few hours in a jail cell and a protective order and divorce against one of those "bad boys"). I regret a lot of it and I'm so glad to have grown up and removed myself from it all, but at the same time I also met some amazing, good people and had some fun, carefree experiences that I'll never forget (but have no desire to re-live).
  • Just some random things that don't fit anywhere else: I've camped all over the country, climbed the Black Hills and mountains in Arizona, ran numerous 5K races and two triathlons, touched baby tigers and stingrays and sharks and numerous other exotic animals, been "jeeping" up and down sand dunes and mud bogging through rocks in forests in trucks on private property, swam in a rainforest waterfall on an island, almost drowned in a big wave in Mexico, and not too long ago I accidentally dropped a kitchen knife, which stabbed into my foot, leaving me with a permanent scar. :)
  • I have been fortunate enough to have until 33 years old to be able to see myself grow as a person and as an adult -- into the person I really want to be -- spiritually, educationally, and emotionally. I am a completely different person than I was when I was 20, and I'm okay with that. I have  honestly never been in a more emotionally stable, confident, happy, normal, secure state than ever in my life -- I am finally proud of who I am and I don't care what others think of me, and most of all I feel that I'm the woman that God would want me to be -- and that is the absolute best place to be when bringing a child into this world.
The above are the things I can recall in my memory right now - but there are so many more that I'm sure I'm leaving out. So, my very long-winded point is I've definitely lived some life (pre-children).

All of the experiences that I've had with all of the different groups of people from different walks of life have molded me into the person I am today. They've shown me who I want to be and who I don't. They've taught me compassion for all types of people, and color-blindness, and selflessness, and gratitude, and personal responsibility for my life. 

Although there are things I wish I could go back and do over, things I wish I hadn't gotten myself involved in, the good and the bad both have made me who I am today. 

Everything that came before was necessary for me to be who I am - a person who has the capability of being a fantastic mother.

That being said, I see pictures of my friends making sweaty faces in bars on Facebook, and I want to puke. I see pictures of bachlorette parties, and I think: "Thank God I won't be going to any more of those." 

Do I care about not being able to pick up on a whim and go out to dinner or wherever once I have a baby? No, I do not.

Do I care about "missing out" on experiences because I'm "stuck with" the kids at home, or not being able to run wild without responsibilities? No, I do not.

I will value my family like the treasure they are, build a strong relationship with them and give them all the experiences I possibly can in their young lives, rather than running off to have experiences without them. 

And to be honest, I resent parents who do that. I think it's selfish. Having children is a choice -- not everyone can have kids. And your kids are only young for so long.

Sure, after baby there will be the rare time my husband and I may happen to have a babysitter and go out for dinner or to a bar for a drink or two because they have good food or a good band or because our friends happen to be there. I'm not saying I'll never step foot in a bar. 

But I am saying I don't have any real desire to be there, at all. I don't miss being in bars. I feel sorry for friends who feel like, at this age, they still need to be there all the time. There is nothing there for me.  Give me my family and a cup of hot tea and a good book and a nice workout and I have all the endorphins and true happiness I need for an evening.

So my point in this post that has become incredibly lengthy is this: No, I won't miss the life with no strings or all the wild and crazy times. You won't find me wishing I could "get out."

No, I won't feel like I'm "missing out" on all the "fun" being stuck home with my beautiful daughter (OK I know I have not met her, but yes she is already beautiful). 

I will not miss being able to pick up at a moment's notice and leave because a restaurant has a special on 20 oz. beers and 20 cent hot wings. 

I have had those experiences, and then some. Probably too many of them. 

They aren't worth it.

What do I look forward to? Family outings. Family vacations. 

Giving my kids amazing experiences so that they can have an amazing life.

The first time I dip my baby in a pool. Going to church with my kids. I want to learn Tae Kwon Do with my family. I want to hike the Grand Canyon with my children. I want to learn to knit when they have children and I'm retired. I want to take them to every museum, and camp with them, and kayak and canoe and make forts. I want to go sledding in the winter. I want to discover Australia's Great Barrier Reef together, as a family.

Am I being naive to say I will never get sick of my kids or never want any alone time? No, of course not. I know my husband and I will need to do things together as well to nurture our relationship. I know there are times when my kids will be sick of me, as well. I know alone time can be healthy. But it will not be often.

No, my life is no longer for me. I knew that when I got pregnant. 

And I embrace and welcome that. Poop and puke and all.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: 39 Weeks and counting

Yes, that's what I said: I'm 39 weeks pregnant today! I can hardly believe that I have spent almost the last year of my life pregnant, and here I am, at the home stretch.

It's been hard to keep up with much of anything in my life lately, and that includes creative pursuits like blogging. Nonetheless, if my due date is somewhat correct, I only have about a week left of being pregnant -- So I've made myself find the motivation to post tonight.

I would say the end of my pregnancy has been significantly tougher than the woes of the first trimester, but I've realized that in reality they are just different woes. 

I'm not sure I can compare the two. The third tri seems worse now because I'm in it. But if you would have asked me how I felt in the first tri, I would have talked about being absolutely miserable as well. To be honest it was just a different kind of miserable. I was pretty much unprepared for either kind of misery, but they are both tough when waddling your way through them.

So here's what I've been dealing with lately: 

  • Swollen and painful fingers/joints in my fingers (sometimes I can't even make a fist when I wake up)
  • Worsening swelling and pain in my feet/ankles
  • Lack of sleep and worsened fatigue
  • Harder to walk/off balance
  • Complete inability to bend over, almost impossible to tie shoes/put on socks/wash anything lower than my waist in the shower
  • Daily headaches
  • Constant urination that contributes to lack of sleep
  • Worsened sinus congestion (I've been dealing with that my whole pregnancy) 
  • General mental fogginess and lack of memory
  • Weekly doctor's visits (one that caused bleeding from a particularly painful cervical check)
  • Growing out of my maternity clothes/nothing to wear.
  • Shoes don't fit (even flip flops are hard to get on due to swelling)
  • Worsened hormones (urge to cry, get stressed/frustrated easily)
  • Strangely enough, a weird swollen/scratchy throat and larnyx that seems to almost close up when I sleep, causing snoring at night and sometimes even difficulty swallowing during the day. 
  • My body is uncomfortable pretty much all the time - sitting, standing, laying, etc.
So here is a snapshot of my average night: After a couple of hours trying to find a comfortable position in a bed that always seems to be too hot, I finally fall asleep in a fitful, mouth-breathing state, only to wake up approximately 45 minutes later crazy hot with an incredible urge to pee that is painful, like the baby is bouncing her head on my bladder (which she actually is, now that she's engaged head-down). 

I get up and awkwardly roll myself out of bed, usually with an audible groan, because somehow I'm always surprised by how much my feet hurt when they touch the floor (They ache down to the bone, like to the point of limping). So I use the restroom and return to bed, only to repeat the wake/pee cycle every hour or couple of hours. And that is if I don't wake myself up from snoring/lack of breathing or numb hips from laying on my side, before the urge to pee strikes.

That kind of night schedule makes it really hard to get any solid sleep and work the next day, even though I'm only working half days at this point (doctor's orders - but only three days of work left, yay!) It's tough to get through just four hours of work - especially since my feet swell up like watermelons if I sit for longer than a half hour.

And the rest of the symptoms don't help when trying to make it through any day, even without work. Small tasks completely wear me out. Today we went to the grocery store and one more store and I was so exhausted I came home and napped for an hour. 

There is, however, some good news. My sciatica/back pain is completely gone. I've been able to manage that through weekly visits to the chiropractor and exercises. Thank God for that! Next pregnancy I will visit the chiro early on to hopefully prevent that problem.

My husband has been super helpful, cleaning and cooking and taking on a lot of the work around the house. And we've been majorly slowing our lives down, just enjoying one another on the occasional dinner/move night and staying in, cooking and freezing meals for when the baby comes.

Everything is done that needs to be done at this point: We have all the supplies/clothes/diapers, etc. that we need, car seats are installed, maternity leave planned out, all the furniture, strollers, etc., put together. That gives my mind some peace.

It's a waiting game now and believe me, we are watching the clock! I get through each painful day with the hope and joy of finally getting to meet my little girl - a day that should be just around the corner. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Dreams of Sleep

So I know this title is an oxymoron, because you can't dream without sleep. So, using the word "dreams" in the meaning of "hopes," I really "hope" to be able to sleep sometime soon. 

I have been having some major bedtime woes for about two weeks. I get up approximately 5 times a night to pee, and sometimes it's hard to fall back asleep. My little girl loves to roll around and do somersaults into my ribs at night, when she seems to be at her most active. That doesn't help.

Other nights, I have such bad restless leg syndrome that I can't fall asleep for hours. It's impossible to get comfortable when your legs/nerves are twitchy and crampy and the body pillow you can't sleep without is making you super hot. Last week, I averaged about 3-4 hours per night. For a non-morning person who normally gets a minimum o f 8 hours per night, believe me, 3 hours of sleep is NOT enough.

Not sleeping tends to enhance the stress of a already hormonal and irritated momma-to-be. It is a terrible combination, and it's been a struggle to stay positive. Through daily walks, prayer, meditation and a magnesium supplement recommended by my doctor, things were a bit better this weekend.

But I've noticed that lack of sleep has a big impact on weight - or at least what your weight looks like. I don't know why, but around the same time I started having trouble sleeping, I also started looking and feeling much puffier and retaining more water. I've dealt with swollen ankles for a while, but this is the first time I can feel the water retention in my hands and see it in my face. I know this happens to pregnant women but I see myself in a mirror and think, yikes! I feel like a big sluggish whale! I could seriously just eat and sleep all the time (....if I could just sleep).

Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night to hit the bathroom, my feet feel painful - like stingy - and swollen just walking.

Maybe the water retention and lack of sleep aren't connected. Maybe they are both just by-products of being a month away from having a baby, I don't know. My weight, urine sugar, and blood pressure are always fine and healthy when I get my check-up. I just have to remember that.

Regardless, I'm fatigued and just worn out all the time. It's really hard to force myself to take my daily walk, and sometimes I don't make it. My feet hurt all the time, like I just worked a standing 8-hour shift, except I sit at a desk at work.

But enough complaining for now. I'm less than 5 weeks away!