It's hard to believe that Rob and I will meet the newest addition to our family in just a few short weeks. This last phase of the pregnancy has been incredibly busy and we are finally tackling the final items on our baby to-do list. I'm excited to share my 37 week bump update. You'll notice the photos are a little (ok, a lot) better quality than usual this time around. Rob and I had maternity photos taken a few weeks back and it seemed like a great opportunity to share a few of my favorites with you.
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I thought I'd share a few general thoughts and observations about this last stretch of my pregnancy, then address a few specific questions that I often find myself answering to friends and family.
One remarkable thing that I've noticed is that (so far) not a single stranger or inappropriate person has reached out to lay a hand on my belly. I've often heard pregnant women complain about inappropriate stranger behavior, but I must emit some kind of “please don't touch me” vibe. Lots of people smile at me or ask about the pregnancy, but thankfully, their inquiries are very hands-off.
I'm also never offered unsolicited baby care advice. Like, ever. I actually have a theory about this one. I've discovered that people just love talking about babies to pregnant women. And who can blame them? A baby brings new life, along with a feeling of hope and possibility. There are only so many small-talk topics to have with a pregnant woman that you don't know very well, so baby advice is often the easiest (and least-invasive) topic that springs to mind.
Unless you don't know what you're having. In which case, people love making predictions about the baby's sex. Every time I'm at the grocery store, or anywhere else for that matter, I get asked two questions:
1 When am I due?
2 What am I having?
The moment that people hear that the sex is unknown, they chime in with their predictions. It's very sweet and it never really bothers me. It's just entertaining to hear the various reasons why they know it will be a boy or a girl.
It's also amusing that almost every time I tell a woman over the age of 60 that I don't know what I'm having, she gives a nod of approval and tells me that she thinks it's great that we are letting ourselves be surprised. Rob and I have been to childbirth and breastfeeding class and we are always the only couple at the class who doesn't already know the sex of our child. I'm aware that we're not exactly mainstream in our way of doing things, but at least I bring a smile to the face of women from previous generations.
How is the last month of your pregnancy going?
Things are getting pretty uncomfortable in this body of mine. Both of my feet started to show early signs of swelling back in May, but things got pretty interesting a couple weeks ago when my right foot, ankle and calf swelled pretty dramatically. The difference is notable and I was experiencing some tenderness throughout my leg as well. My doctor ordered a doppler ultrasound on my leg to make sure the swelling wasn't due to a blood clot. Thankfully, there's no evidence of a clot – I just happen to have a huge club foot. And a leg that's really sore to the touch. I put lotion on after every shower and I can't believe how tender my leg feels as I rub lotion on it. There's very little bruising and discoloration, but the entire thing feels like it should be covered in purple bruises. Sadly, my left leg has been feeling left out of all the attention and has also been increasing in soreness for the past week, although it's really no match compared to the right leg.
I also have a few other standard pregnancy discomforts: constantly out of breath, lots of heartburn and difficulty sleeping. The lack of sleep has been particularly challenging. It's a mix of insomnia, stubborn nighttime heartburn and dealing with my leg pain. My right leg may be sore to the touch during the day, but it consistently starts to throb in the middle of the night.
Up until very recently, I had a few straight weeks of really terrible sleep and insomnia. As Rob and I went to bed one night, I bawled from exhaustion because I wanted to sleep so desperately and it simply was not happening for me. Miraculously, I actually got a decent night of sleep after all that crying. I've been sleeping semi-well ever since. Still not great, but well enough to keep me alert and functional during the day.
Which leads me to one more noteworthy trend during this 9th month of my pregnancy. I cry easily these days. Sometimes it's valid: like the sheer mental and physical exhaustion from sleep deprivation. Other times, it's a little more trivial: like when I sat on the floor of the nursery yesterday to work on a project and had to strategically roll to a position that wouldn't put too much pressure on my swollen calf and ankle. Was I in pain? Not really. Did I break down and cry anyway? You betcha.
Any signs that Baby Gavin might arrive early?
Nope. Not even a hint of an an early arrival at this point. I had my weekly checkup a few days ago and I haven't begun to dilate. I also haven't suffered from a single contraction (regular or Braxton-Hicks). Strangely, I don't even have back pain at this point, which is mind-blowing because I suffered from a lot of discomfort between my shoulder blades during the second trimester.
Pregnancy is seriously so weird.
How much weight have I gained?
I was holding steady at 16 pounds of weight gain for several weeks. That is most definitely no longer the case. I've gained about 6 pounds in the past two weeks, and I have a suspicion that most of it is due to so much water retention in my legs and ankles.
Any stretch marks?
I'm actually a little surprised to report that so far, the stretch marks have yet to make an appearance. There's only a few weeks yet so maybe I'll get lucky in that department.
Do you have any names picked out?
Yes! Rob and I finally had a chance to sit down and really give baby names our complete attention. We have a girl name and a boy name all picked out, plus a back-up name for each just in case one of us (me) panics when we finally meet our baby and needs to change our mind.
How is Rob doing during this last month of the pregnancy?
Amazing. Truly. I knew Rob was a wonderful man when I married him, but this pregnancy has revealed a deeper compassion in him than I had ever seen before. If I need anything, he has been at the ready and willing to provide whatever it is that I desire. Whether that means an unscheduled drive to IKEA after a long day of work, grabbing something from the second floor of our bungalow because I simply don't have the energy to walk the stairs myself, or rubbing my feet after a particularly active day; Rob selflessly does it all without complaint. And when I spontaneously break down in tears (as I'm doing right now as I type this … seriously, it's like a disease), Rob will stop everything to try and comfort me. When we have meals together, he even limits himself to eating whatever carbohydrates and sugar I eat so that I don't feel like I am living with gestational diabetes all by myself. There isn't any doubt in my mind that Rob will be an exceptional father. I can't wait to see him hold our baby for the very first time.
Am I craving anything?
I miss all things sugary, fried, and carb-loaded. Don't get me wrong, I'll have a small serving of ice cream or an occasional hamburger on a bun, but I have to carefully monitor how much I eat, thanks to gestational diabetes. I look forward to the day when I can enjoy those foods as much as I want and feel guilty about it afterwards like a normal person. It also seems particularly cruel that I can't have a lot of fresh fruit right now while it's all in season and extra delicious. I eat a lot of berries because they have a lower sugar count, but I really, really miss the sweet juiciness of fresh watermelon.
Have I been busy nesting?
My nesting instinct kicked in at school before it did at home. After my kindergarten students graduated, I spent a solid week giving my classroom the ultimate organization update. I'm generally pretty organized at school, but my closets and cabinets have never looked so good. Once every inch of storage space was organized, I then took to my back-to-school files and prepped 5 weeks of lesson plans. Copies are made, project materials are cut and ready to go, and rough lesson plans are even typed up. I also have a list of every possible material that needs to be labeled with student names when I get my class list.
Once school was taken care of, my attention shifted to home. I haven't felt the urge to scrub or disinfect anything, but I've been busy organizing and decluttering our closets and basements. It's been a bit of a rabbit hole and for a few days it looked like a bomb went off in the house. I've gotten a pretty good handle on our household items and just need to get rid of the unwanted possessions that we've been holding on to.
What else do you want to accomplish before the baby arrives?
Thankfully, our baby to-do list has significantly dwindled. Rob and I both treated ourselves to having our cars detailed last weekend (another facet of me nesting, I'm sure). Now that both of our vehicles have been cleaned and scrubbed inside, we are ready for car seats, which we will have installed tomorrow.
This weekend we are also treating ourselves to a delayed one-night anniversary out at a local hotel and spa. I have big plans to soak in the pool, enjoy a relaxing prenatal massage, and prop myself up with tons of pillows and space to sprawl in the king size bed.
I have a long list of everything to place in our hospital bag, and I intend to start packing it as soon as we return from our anniversary night getaway. The only remaining items on our list are to type up a list of emergency contact information to keep on the refrigerator and to prep as many freezer meals as we can during these last few weeks to stock up our small chest freezer with plenty of easy dinner options during those first crazy weeks as parents.
Can we please talk about those maternity photos?
Now that you're all caught up on all things pregnancy, I'll fill you in on a few details from our maternity photo shoot. My friend Ania is a local maternity and newborn photographer and she does the most incredible work. She shot our pregnancy announcement photos in her studio at Lulu and Lula Photography this winter and she outdid herself when she captured these maternity images at a local park.
In the weeks leading up to the shoot for the maternity photos, I scoured the internet looking for the perfect dress. I knew I wanted a maxi dress in a neutral color and when I discovered this mint sequin dress with a pleated tulle skirt (similar here on sale) on ASOS Maternity, it took my breath away. I ordered a few different (budget-friendly options) from ASOS, but the sequin dress was the winner. And Rob, bless his heart, didn't even blink an eye when I told him this was my favorite dress. With such showstopper of a dress, I wore a simple white gold necklace that Rob bought as a Christmas gift a few years back and the cuff bracelet I wore for my wedding (I love that this jewelry can be worn for other special moments and milestones in my life). As for Rob, it was purely by accident, but he happened to wear the same purple shirt that he wore for our engagement photos three years ago. I love that our life seems to be coming full circle.
It will be interesting to see what the next few weeks have in store for us and when we will finally meet this tiny baby that has been rolling around in my stomach for the past nine months. I promise to keep you posted along the way, and you might also want to follow us on Instagram to see little glimpses of our life behind the scenes as we prepare for baby.