Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Littlest Dickherber | 30 weeks

WEEK 30: Baby is the size of a pineapple! We're three quarters of the way through our pregnancy and our little guy weighs between 2.5-3 pounds and has become quite fond of tickling my ribs. This past week has brought with it some major sleeping disturbances. I'm not sure what's been waking me up in the middle of the night, but holy WOW, when it does I just can't seem to turn my brain back off (which has led to a few 4 and 5 AM wake up calls and one absolutely terrible morning when I was up for good at 1AM). 

This week, I was also able to check another pregnancy goal off of my list - to keep up with running through my 30th week of pregnancy. This baby is a workout fiend - I actually crave exercise and I consider myself super lucky to have had no complications thus far that have kept me from staying really active. 

And aside from the slow and continual transformation of my belly button from innie to outtie, gradually declining energy levels and some finicky bouts of heartburn, all has been relatively comfortable around here. Just counting down the days, my friends! 

(P.S. We're all caught up on the pregnancy updates now! Here we go, real time...)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Littlest Dickherber | 27 weeks

WEEK 27: The littlest Dickherber is the size of a head of lettuce! And at over 27 weeks, we've officially entered our THIRD TRIMESTER. Thus far, I've gained a total of 18 pounds (!), some lovely melasma across my cheeks and the ability to entertain all with my pregnancy brain and mood swings (incidents include attempting to put a pancake in the dishwasher and spending a solid 24 hours mad at Ryan because he didn't want me to eat popcorn in bed). 

At this point, our little beastie shows increased brain activity, can open his eyes and can recognize sounds and voices - he seems to be especially pleased when rap music comes on in the car and when I read to him (sorry it's just lame pregnancy books right now, bud). We can't wait to meet this wiggly boy!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hold the vision, trust the process.

The passage of time during pregnancy is a fickle, funny thing.

Some days I look at our countdown and I'm stricken with crazy panic because the nursery's still a hot mess, there's still painters tape clinging to our almost-finished stairs and mildewy caulk in the guest bathroom and I haven't yet read all of the baby books in the history of existence.

And some days it feels like every hour and every week is absolutely dragging on. Like time is standing still and I'm just banging my fists against the calendar page, willing it to fall away. Like, how-on-Earth-am-I-ever-going-to-distract-myself-for-"X"-more-months-before-I-get-to-hold-our-baby?! (The logical answer would be to distract myself with nursery crafting and caulk replacing, but let's be real here...logic is virtually meaningless to a pregnant woman.)

Today, I'm stuck wallowing in the latter.

For the first half of pregnancy, there's so much happening and so many milestones. Every day brings wild new changes for your baby (a beating heart, developing arms and legs and the beginning of each of the five senses). Every week brings visible changes in your body as you start to see that little bump grow and grow. The first half of our pregnancy wasn't necessarily a cakewalk, but it seemed like all of the sudden we'd reached 20 weeks in no time flat!

But the past 9 weeks have been SLOW. Slow like molasses. I've got the belly, we've bought the baby supplies and my daily pregnancy apps are on a repetitive loop of "your baby is packing on fat". I love being pregnant - I adore my bump and I love to have our baby so close, to feel him stretching and rolling inside my belly. I love this special bond we're building and I'm cherishing what an absolute blessing it is that I get to carry this little miracle inside me. But some days I just get so impatient to see that little face I've been dreaming of and to feel those soft, tiny fingers against my own - and it's a long, endless, unbearable-sounding TEN weeks away still.

Ohhh, sweet little boy - you will get here when you're meant to get here and not one moment sooner. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Littlest Dickherber (part II)

WEEK 16: Our baby boy is the size of an avocado. He made his first cross-country road trip, pushing on my poor tailbone the entire 27 hours (thank goodness for neck pillows functioning as cheap coccyx cushions!) and he's beginning to make himself known in the form of a real, itty bitty baby bump.
WEEK 17: Our little guy is the size of a pomegranate - about 5.5 inches long and weighing in at about 6 oz! He's growing by leaps and bounds...and so is his tiny wardrobe. Seriously, there's nothing like an after-Christmas sale at Gymboree to inspire a girl to load up on miniature corduroys, skinny jeans, flannel shirts and little old Grandpa cardigans!

WEEK 19: The Littlest Dickherber is the size of a mango! This week we hired a great doula and can't wait to work with her to prepare for our delivery. On Friday we had our anatomy scan and, like the photographer's baby he is, this guy posed perfectly for the camera. He waved hello, yawned, sucked his tiny thumb and is getting chunkier every day. No matter how many times we get to see him, it never fails to completely amaze me.

WEEK 21: Our favorite little man is the size of a pomelo! He's been kicking harder over the past three weeks and it makes me smile every time I feel those little thumps. He's most active when I eat and before bed at night and we love talking back to him when he kicks mom or dad's hand. 

WEEK 23: The Littlest Dickherber is the size of an eggplant! He's around 12 inches long, weighs in at just over a pound and is packing on fat like it's his job. The past few months have been some of the happiest of my life - I love my job, our friends and our life, but growing this baby has filled me with an amazing new sense of peace, purpose and joy each day. Preparing to be a mama is the best :)

WEEK 25: Our sweet boy is as big as a large cauliflower. His hair is thickening and he's now viable outside of my belly (though we've sternly instructed him to stay in there for at least 13 more weeks). This week I've got a shout out for this little nugget's Daddy - the man who's been sanding, painting and staining all the nursery projects I dream up, who massages my back when it aches, who greets my stomach after work each day and who continues to ask me if I need anything on his way home, even though that question has proven to lead him on many strange and inconvenient detours. Though I've often questioned whether I'd make a good Mama, there's never been a doubt in my mind that Ryan will be the most wonderful Dad. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's a...

From the moment we found out about our little one, I've imagined this tiny being growing inside me as a boy. When I thought nine months ahead, I pictured his cozy, rustic nursery, a smirky boyish little grin and the tiniest pair of hipster baby jeans and suspenders. When I imagined raising our child, I thought about trips to the beach in trunks and a miniature surfboard, mysteriously dirty cheeks and an extra special, best friend bond between mother and son. In the early weeks I was constantly trying to check myself when I was day-dreaming in a blue, non-gender-neutral haze. It wasn't at all that I didn't want a baby girl - I mean, boy, girl, pug...we love ALL forms of babies over here. I just felt so strongly that there was a little boy in my belly.

As Christmas approached and I (obsessively and gleefully) counted up each day and week of pregnancy we surpassed, I discovered that the week we'd leave for Missouri would be our 16th week of pregnancy. And, though it was a long shot, I started envisioning how cool it would be to be able to reveal the littlest Dickherber's gender to our families in person.

We scheduled our last doctor appointment for our last morning in California. We were at 15 weeks, 5 days. And as the doctor was prepping the ultrasound machine, I timidly requested that, though we knew it was early and we knew it was highly unlikely she'd be able to discern anything, could she please check for the baby's gender, you know, if possible? She gave us her most skeptical face and told us the very earliest she had ever been able to tell gender was at 16 weeks. Right, right, we acknowledged...but just in case.

She scooted the wand across my belly and we saw a sweet little face, two wiggly arms and then a pair of skinny chicken legs, knees bowed out and feet crossed casually at the ankles. And our doctor paused and let out a laugh. And, well, it was pretty obvious - our BOY is an exhibitionist, folks. And he's already breaking records from the womb.

You can imagine what an exciting 28 hour drive to Missouri immediately followed (did I stop talking once? The answer is no). And we were able to surprise our families and friends at our Missouri baby shower with the revelation of our baby's man-status in this photo.

Mama's intuition for the win! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Littlest Dickherber

Let's play a little pregnancy catch up, shall we? It'll be the fastest you've ever seen a baby bump grow!

We found out about the Littlest Dickherber's existence right at 4 weeks and the first thing we did (post-Mexican restaurant celebration, of course) was schedule our first doctor appointment. The (one and only) perk to having infertility grace your medical record is that they treat you to a few extra tests and early ultrasounds, just to be sure everything is going well and nothing needs to be supplemented. At 5 weeks we got to see our little blip of a pre-baby yolk sac and eye strain or not, it was pretty miraculous!

At 6 weeks along, we went in for a second ultrasound and we got to see our nugget's beautiful heartbeat for the first time. We called family and friends to tell them the news - because we were bursting and because after going through so much by ourselves already, I knew I would need the support if anything were to happen to this baby. 

And at 6 weeks on the dot, morning sickness arrived to punch me directly in the gut! Ohh, it was bad. From weeks 6-9, the morning was considered a great success if I managed to keep anything down before noon. It was amazing if I could get up off the couch before lunch. It was a shock and delight if my head stopped spinning for a few moments at a time. These were the weeks of Spaghetti-Os, soup, watered down Gatorade and my beloved best friend string cheese - the crutch that fortified me for the first trimester and promised to never come back up once it traveled down my esophagus. They were rough, rough mornings (and less vomit-y but still exhausting afternoons and evenings), but those 3 weeks were wildly reassuring that our baby was kicking baby-growing butt. 

WEEK 10: The Littlest Dickherber is the size of a walnut in shell! This week came with another ultrasound where we got to see our wiggly dancing machine of a tiny baby and a healthy little heartbeat of 158bpm. Things in the barfing department are beginning to improve a bit and I picked up running again after a brief, sickness-induced hiatus.

WEEK 11: This week, our baby is the size of a lime! Every time I think of our little munchkin, I can't stop imagining that it's a little boy in there - but Ryan's family history says there's not a chance this baby is anything but girl. We'll be so happy either way, but like the OH-SO-IMPATIENT girl I am, I can't wait to find out and to really begin thinking of our baby as the burgeoning little person he or she will become.

WEEK 12: Baby has grown to the size of a tangerine and headed out on its first trip to the East coast to hang out with friends and photograph a super amazing NYC engagement session (a hardworking baby already - I approve). The plane ride was a challenge (especially the part where I used not one, not two, but THREE barf bags before the don't-you-dare-get-out-of-your-seat light turned off) but we persevered like champs. I'm really feeling the stretching pains as this little one keeps growing, but still just looking like someone who recently finished a very large Thanksgiving dinner.

WEEK 13: The Littlest Dickherber is the size of a tomato, and at 13 weeks and 3 days, we've officially made it to the SECOND trimester! And while I'll be worrying about this little life for the rest of mine, it's such a relief to know that the risks for our baby have dropped dramatically. This week, we had our NT scan. Though we want this baby no matter what, I'm a planner to the core and want to be prepared if there are any health challenges we'll face. The results came back perfectly normal, but we did discover that it appears I'm harboring Pinocchio in there (look at that nose shot!). 

WEEK 14: This little one is the size of a Meyer lemon. And after 13 weeks of expanding in girth but not weight, this week (as the morning sickness has continued to subside) I've packed on a whopping two pounds. Bring it on, baby weight! 

WEEK 15: Our baby is as big as an apple! And I'm positively dying to know if we're expecting a boy or a girl. We're not sure just yet, but we've been entertaining ourselves in the meantime with some old wives's tales. Let's see if they're true or not :)

Heart rate: BOY at 10 weeks, GIRL at 12 weeks
Cravings: BOY (bring me all the salty things!)
Chinese gender chart: BOY
Morning sickness: GIRL
Wedding ring test: BOY
Acne: GIRL (thanks a lot, yo)

Ryan's prediction: GIRL (based on logic and reason, of course)
Andrea's prediction: BOY (based on emotion, of course) be continued! (cough, cliffhanger, cough) 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's not the story I wanted.

Over the past two years, I've started to write this story so many times. More times than I can count.

First, it was a story about waiting. Waiting to try - until we both felt ready.

Next, it became a story about trying - about each month that ticked past with only a handful of one-pink-lined pee sticks, 10 pounds of stress-eating weight and one stint of probably undiagnosed clinical depression to show for it.

And suddenly, it became a story about miscarriage. And that soul-crushing, rock-bottom-hitting kind of heartbreak that goes along with it.

Finally, a year of trying had passed and it became a story about infertility - the unexplained kind - and I had to do a bit of a reality check. Because my life - the desperate baby-wanting, the punishing my body with food and lethargy for its lack of cooperation, the total lack of ambition for anything unrelated to pregnancy - had become a very unhappy and unhealthy place.

And then, after one round of failed IUI treatment and Clomid, we decided that maybe we needed a break. Because fertility treatment takes a lot out of you - weekly appointments, uncomfortable side effects and the necessity to drop everything and run to the hospital at the first sign of ovulation. We had travel plans that would interrupt our appointments and the holidays were right around the corner and I just couldn't imagine how I would handle it all. So we resolved that we would wait three months before doing a second treatment. In the meantime, I would try to refocus on the things I used to love, we would ditch the ovulation kits and basal body temping and fertility charts. We would return in 2015 for a fresh start with a fresh attitude.

We started taking herbal fertility supplements, but I had zero expectations (which is really saying a lot for this girl who had managed to remain 100% hopeful and be completely crushed month after month after month...). In September, we flew to Missouri for a friend's wedding (Ryan a groomsman, me the photographer) and I stayed an extra couple weeks to throw myself into more photography projects. I was a hot mess, but I was trying, dang it! At the end of the month, I headed back to California.

Then it was a Friday afternoon, a few days after I'd returned. I was loving the fall breeze, cleaning the house like a madwoman and waiting for Ryan to get home so we could go out for Mexican. I went upstairs to jump in the shower and while I waited for the water to warm up, I had the urge to take a pregnancy test. I knew it would be negative - I mean, I knew it, I KNEW it - but sometimes you just have to see the lone line for yourself to prevent that dreadful optimism from festering up inside you. I took a test and hopped into the shower before it was finished.

Twenty minutes later, I stepped out into the steamy bathroom and saw the stick - the test I had completely forgotten existed - perched on the edge of the counter, displaying a very distinguishable TWO pink lines even from several feet away. My heart was racing - but everyone knows pregnancy tests can't be trusted after 10 minutes. I took another test (thank goodness for internet cheapies) and watched it like a hawk as it went from white to one line to two. And wow - those feelings were the kind of feelings I can't even describe.

It's been odd not having an outlet for my writing, but I just wasn't ready to talk about what was happening (or, rather, not happening), and fertility issues can be so all-consuming, I couldn't imagine talking about anything else. And a little part of me felt a bit guilty and embarrassed to be going on like this, because to those who have been trying to have a baby for 3, 5, 10 years, our wait to have a lasting pregnancy seems laughable. But now, about 24 weeks later, I'm sitting here all fat and happy at 28 weeks pregnant and I'm finally telling this story I've been trying to begin for months and months.

It's certainly not the story I wanted, but I'd like to think that maybe there's a really good reason it's the story we ended up with.