Halloween is tomorrow (yay!) and while I’m pretty excited to take my little goblin  daughter out for her tricks and treats, my head has already jumped ahead to Thanksgiving (I don’t know what it is, but I haven’t been able to get into Halloween as much this year…always next year, I suppose!).

Starting November 1st, our family has the tradition of writing down what we’re thankful for on scraps of paper every day until Thanksgiving, then we go around and each read a scrap of paper until they’re gone. We’ve done this for the last two years and I’ve saved the papers inside our Thankful Jar (which is actually a glass pumpkin). I’m really looking forward to doing it again this year, though I have to hunt down some paper for us to use, because, after two years, we’ve finally used up most of the construction paper I had.

But I’m adding two new elements this year: one very simple and easy (and already done, see below), the other with details not quite ironed out.

So, here’s the first:

I made this using , which generates pretty awesome word clouds using either words you type in/copy and paste yourself or from a website. My plan is to print and frame it ASAP (hopefully this weekend) and hang it by our kitchen table. I plan to make one of these every year, adding a new year of thankful paper scraps each time. I think it will be really wonderful and interesting to see how these change over time, especially as E. gets older and the little guy becomes verbal.

The second thing I’d like to add this year has to do with going beyond our family. My first thought is somehow contributing to charity – perhaps “donating” a dollar (or more or less, depending) along with our thankful scrap each day and then picking a cause to donate to after Thanksgiving. Or, with the same idea in mind, with our “donated” money, going out and buying a gift for a child in need for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving (basically braving Black Friday for someone other than ourselves). I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet, it’s a discussion we have to have as a family, but I think we’ll think of something good.

With the “big” holidays coming around the corner, what sort of traditions do you find yourself coming back to or thinking of revamping?

With this baby brewing in my belly, it’s hard to not become nostalgic about my big baby, E.

Four and a half is very grown up…and extremely childish (the good kind). I’ve caught myself saying things to E. that I distinctly remember my mom saying to me, except I think I was sixteen or seventeen at the time. Example: It’s getting really exhausting to argue every little detail with you! She’s able to do math which blows me away, and her love of books and learning her letters and drive to write seem so out of place with the baby girl I held in my arms for so long. 

She can seem so old, but then I’m  reminded of just how much she is truly a little girl. Her baby dolls that are dragged from the house to the car to the grocery store. Her impossibly small, but oh-so fashionable jeans and shirts. Her quick willingness to climb into my lap and wrap those arms around me, her chubby little hands clasped behind my neck. 

This age, four and half and this little girl, are so precious to me right now. It’s not as though she was not precious to me before or that any other age were less special, but, despite the multiple frustrations of a too smart preschooler, there is something I’d love to bottle about this time in E.’s life. I love that she can simultaneously be so brilliant and wise, but without the jadedness and lack of innocence that we so often find ourselves plagued with later in life. I wish she could be like this forever. To be so smart and so loving, to eager to learn through play, to not take herself too seriously. To be naive about some things, but wise enough about others. It’s a tall order for children as they get older these days, and it’s not to say that some of these most loved traits won’t stick around for years to come, if we help preserve them…But I know some of the protective shell of early childhood will crumble away and no matter how I desperately try to paste it back on her, it’ll only get knocked off again. 

And I suppose that’s part of growing up. 


Week 23  (October 12 – 18) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Lots and lots of movement! I’m also starting to feel a bit tired again, or at least run down more easily. Also, heartburn and Braxton-Hicks can make me feel fairly uncomfortable.  

Body Changes: Okay, I think I officially look like a cute pregnant lady, not a total fatty. 

Cravings: Carbs, meat, and my sweet tooth is starting to resurface a bit, mostly wanting chocolate.

High Point: I finally got my hands on some maternity clothes! Because I lost about 40 lbs. between January and May of this year and then didn’t replace any of my wardrobe, my clothes still fit me, for the most part. But…they look really awkward. Like, it’s not cute to have your dress pants pulled all the way up your belly almost to your boobs. I mean, it takes the concept of mom jeans to a whole new, even more unflattering level. So, now that I have maternity clothes, I look incredibly cute and fairly fashionable. It’s amazing what this one change has done for my confidence. 

What’s even better? I got six pairs of pants, a dozen shirts or so, and a winter coat all for $50, courtesy of a teacher in my district who put an “ad” out on the school e-mail Market Place (sort of like a Craigslist). I was so excited to stumble across this deal and have it work out so perfectly. 

I also went to see my midwives this past Wednesday. I love going to see them – it’s incredibly personal, fun, and informative. I can bounce ideas off them far more comfortably than I feel I can do with my OB (despite the fact that I still really like her). I’m totally thrilled that one of the apprenticing midwives I’ve been working with since before I even got pregnant (I went to see her about preconception stuff) has agreed to be my doula, possibly with another apprentice midwife, who I also really like. This makes me feel so good and so at ease with my upcoming birth.  

Low Point: I’m starting to drag a bit and feel really stressed about how little we have for this baby. I know, in the end, a lot of this worry will be for not, but it’s still hard, because this pregnancy is blowing by! I sometimes feel like I’m going to go into labor and not even have the car seat to take our baby home installed in our car!

What I did to prepare this week: We took a trip to Target this week and I bought one outfit (the hubs is insisting we wait a bit longer to buy a lot of stuff). While I was bumming about the lone baby purchase, it is a wicked cute outfit. It’s little footie jammies that are white with light blue little penguins all over it, little penguins on the feet, and a little penguin face on the tush. I pretty much will buy anything that has something cute on the tush (ruffles, animal faces, butt flaps, etc.), never mind the adorable penguins. 

Paranoid Moment: I’ve been getting some serious heartburn that always manages to trick me into thinking that something bigger is wrong! 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Turn on the radio and sway to the music. With her sense of movement well developed by now, your baby can feel you dance. And now that she’s more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound (about as much as a large mango), you may be able to see her squirm underneath your clothes. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and the sounds that your baby’s increasingly keen ears pick up are preparing her for entry into the outside world. Loud noises that become familiar now — such as your dog barking or the roar of the vacuum cleaner — probably won’t faze her when she hears them outside the womb.”

Weeks 21-22  (October 1-11)*

*A Note on the Dates: Okay, first of all, I realize that two weeks amounts to fourteen days, not eleven. Secondly, I’m really not sure what happened, but when I wrote my entry for week 20, I was way confused as to how the dates were working. They seemed off. I “turn” a new week each Thursday, so on my calendar, I have a week labeled. The dates were just getting wonky on here, so I’m sort of hitting the reset button.

Esitmated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: A few more Braxton-Hicks :-/

Body Changes: Nothing too new here

Cravings: Carbs, meat, and my sweet tooth is starting to resurface a bit, mostly wanting chocolate.

High Point: Not a whole lot to report here. It has been awesome to finally feel the baby move on a consistent basis and I’m definitely feeling some kicks on the outside. I’m just waiting for it to be stronger and more consistent so the hubs and E. can feel the baby!

Low Point: Also not a whole lot to report here, which isn’t a bad thing, I think. 

What I did to prepare this week: I added more stuff to my registry (the one I’ve made even though I’m not having a baby shower). It’s almost gotten to the point where I’m adding my weekly grocery list for the sake of wanting to add stuff. It’s the only way I can feel like I’m preparing sometimes. 

Paranoid Moment: I’ve found I have to keep reminding myself about the lack of consistency in movement at this stage of pregnancy. There are days where the baby is a wild man and he’s moving all over the place. There are other times where he’s really quiet, and those days tend to make me a little nervous. But, in reality, there isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to what he does in there, so I have to try and not worry too much. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: 21 weeks – “Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long — the length of a carrot. You may soon feel like she’s practicing martial arts as her initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges. You may also discover a pattern to her activity as you get to know her better. In other developments, your baby’s eyebrows and lids are present now, and if you’re having a girl, her vagina has begun to form as well.”

22 weeks – “At 11 inches (the length of a spaghetti squash) and almost 1 pound, your baby is starting to look like a miniature newborn. His lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct, and he’s even developing tiny tooth buds beneath his gums. His eyes have formed, but his irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment. 

If you could see inside your womb, you’d be able to spot the fine hair (lanugo) that covers his body and the deep wrinkles on his skin, which he’ll sport until he adds a padding of fat to fill them in. Inside his belly, his pancreas — essential for the production of some important hormones — is developing steadily.”

Week 20  (September 24 – October 1)

Esitmated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Lots and lots of movement! And I’m starting to get Braxton-Hicks contractions…more on that in a bit!

Body Changes: My belly be popping…but I still feel like I look just fat sometimes :-(

Cravings: Carbs, meat, and my sweet tooth is starting to resurface a bit, mostly wanting chocolate.

High Point: I saw my OB this week and I love how every time I leave her office I feel great about my pregnancy. She said I looked great, the baby looked great (based on my ultrasound results from the week before), and that everything appeared to be going well. As confident as I feel most of the time during this pregnancy, nothing quite compares to your doctor telling you that everything is just fine. It was also really good to know that my weight gain is on par with what my OB wants to see, both because I don’t want to gain a lot of weight during this pregnancy and also because it will help with my chances in having a VBAC.

Low Point: I had to get a flu shot :-( . Also, I had a scare on the 28th. I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions that morning as I was driving to work, though, at the time, I didn’t fully realize they were just Braxton-Hicks. I didn’t have contractions like that when I was pregnant with E. Maybe some light cramping, but not actual contractions of my uterus. While painless, they felt really, really weird and made me nervous. I called my OB’s office after I got to work and they recommended that I drink lots of fluids (I had been drinking ALL morning) and that I get some rest or at least try to sit a lot. I tried not to laugh really hard at these suggestions (I work in special education…we don’t sit) and talked to my head teacher. She told me to go home. I did. I went home and pretty much slept from 10 to 2 and woke up having more painless contractions. Thoroughly unnerved, I called my OB’s office and the nurse I spoke with suggested I head to a local ER.

At the ER they checked all the goods and the baby’s heart rate. Everything looked good. Michael sounded perfect (though it took the ER doc FOREVER to find the heartbeat because I’m pretty sure he’d never used a doppler before in his life). While I was told several times everything was fine, they weren’t exactly reassuring when I asked why I was having these contractions. They said it wasn’t uncommon for women to have Braxton-Hicks at this point in pregnancy (and my mom said she had the same kind of contractions with me around the same point in her pregnancy), but if I were in preterm labor there wasn’t a whole lot they could do for me. Well, geez, thanks. That’s reassuring.

I get that at twenty weeks a baby’s viability is virtually non-existant, but I sort of feel like when you’re telling a pregnant lady who’s just had a scare that she’s just having Braxton-Hicks contractions and to chill, you shouldn’t add that had she had a real problem you wouldn’t have been able to do anything to help. A little annoying.

What I did to prepare this week: Not a whole lot… We’re at the point where we need to buy a LOT of stuff, but we’ve pretty much been told to wait until after Christmas to make most of our purchases. Ugh. It’s hard to wait.

Paranoid Moment: Other than the Braxton-Hicks incident on the 28th, not a whole lot of paranoia going on. And after the trip to the ER, I’ve felt pretty confident.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby weighs about 10 1/2 ounces now. He’s also around 6 1/2 inches long from head to bottom and about 10 inches from head to heel — the length of a banana. (For the first 20 weeks, when a baby’s legs are curled up against his torso and hard to measure, measurements are taken from the top of his head to his bottom — the “crown to rump” measurement. After 20 weeks, he’s measured from head to toe.)

He’s swallowing more these days, which is good practice for his digestive system. He’s also producing meconium, a black, sticky by-product of digestion. This gooey substance will accumulate in his bowels, and you’ll see it in his first soiled diaper (some babies pass meconium in the womb or during delivery).”