Friday, August 27, 2010

7th letter to my child

Dearest daughter,

We are now in the 3rd trimester, and you continue to grow very well! In fact, I'm more and more amazed with you every day, even before you've ever seen the light of day! I'm told you're over 17 inches long now, and over 4 lbs. We've got another 7 weeks to go until your due date, and you're perfectly on track with your growth. One reason I say I'm amazed with you more and more is that I can feel you wiggling in my belly more and more each day, and your Daddy and I even think sometimes we can tell where your head is, your little body, and bottom, and arms and legs, and you're big enough now that you can tickle me on both my sides at the same time! It's kind of a surprising and funny experince, and the other day you made me jump! I wonder if truly it's your hands and feet wiggling in different places at the same time, but I love being able to interact with you already. I like it less when you seem to kick me in the ribs, but I'll take all of you that I can get! :}


Also, it seems very clear that you know your Daddy's voice, because when he puts his head down by my belly and starts talking to you or feeling around for where you're at, you always seem to respond to him. Just so you know, you are already delightful simply by being, and it's all very exciting for us both.


I know we have a long way to go, both until your grand entrance in this world, and particularly until you can understand all these feelings and experiences we're already having with you now, but we're very much looking forward to having you join us, to getting to know you, and to watching you grow.


We love you already very much,
Mama

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not perfect, but not stupid

Perhaps it's the hormones raging their nasty, ugly heads. Or perhaps I've been primed for it for a few days. Or perhaps I'm just a normal woman, like everyone else, insecure, with my weak areas an open target.

But I had a breakdown today, and at home on my lunchbreak, in Jason's arms, I just cried and cried, for about 10 minutes. 10 minutes of crying, if you're not a child, can actually be a long time. In fact, I still feel a little like crying. And the reason for my emotional wreckage? I'd gotten my feelings hurt in the area I have weakness in--my insecurities, and the fact that I just can't get everything right (as hard as I try and even though I'd like to!).

Of course nobody's perfect, and Jason said it and I've said it--I don't really even LIKE perfect people. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to be one.

In a work meeting this morning, in an area and with a group I already don't feel the most secure, I misread someone's cues, I interrupted with some exuberance and made an ass of myself, and I got the look. You know it, the "yeah, everybody already knows that, do you know what you just did and who you interrupted, and why are you being so stupid" look. Or at least that's what it felt like. It felt like daggers to my heart's question of "am I good enough?" It made me feel like I didn't belong, I didn't know how to do my job, and like the people on the team were just tolerating me. All in just someone shooting me a look. (Did I mention it was another woman? In every way my senior? Who likes to make sure I know my place? And someone whose approval kind of impacts my employment?)

And then on the drive home, even though I shouldn't have, I rehearsed it. Over and over it played in my mind, along with the message--not good enough, stupid.

So by the time I got home for lunch, I fell on my knees where Jason was sitting and started to cry. He totally let me, and held me, and said all the right and most soothing things, things that I know are true, but things that I needed to hear. He reminded me that it's ok, and even a good thing not to be perfect. Which I love about other people, but hate about myself, but know is true. And that it's just personality conflict, and that there's nothing wrong with me, and that I am NOT stupid, and I DO have what it takes. He listened to my weaknesses as I admitted my fears, and although nothing was resolved, it felt much better to just cry it out with him. I sometimes think I'm not very good at crying because I want to hold back, and when I finally do just let go and cry it feels kind of foreign. But today, I cried it out.

I had been feeling that vulnerability building for a few days now--for some reason building from things at work (do they really need me, or will they notice on maternity leave that I don't do that much and I'm not that special), and even in taking our maternity photographs. Am I normal? Am I okay? Are people just acting like I am? And today the daggers just found their way home. But the truth is, I'm not perfect. I'm not the best at anything. I have my faults, and failings, and quirks the same as anyone. But I'm not stupid either.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Internal feelings... very internal.

Why do I pee both night and day?
This feeling, it seems, won’t go away!

I go all the time, but a trickle at best,
When can I get uninterrupted rest?

My daughter, she’s moving, with things seeming grand!
But me? I know every bathroom, all over the land!

Big or small, clean or dirty I’m now undiscerning
This habit I’m forming is really concerning!

When we first learned of baby, 9 mos seemed a long time.
Now everything’s slowed down, even this bladder of mine!

I’d love to chat longer, but by now you know,
My bladder is calling, and I’ve got to go!

Friday, August 20, 2010

32 week check up and thoughts on labor and delivery

Head: down.
Measuring: perfect.
Weight gain: awesome!

Or at least that's what the doctor said! I was all smiles today!

We're planning on having this baby naturally (did I just say naturally??) and I got to talk to the doctor about that some today too. I had never really thought very much about birthing or labor, but Jason felt like it was very important for me to consider natural childbirth, so we really started thinking about it. My mom had both me and my brother naturally. And for years before her, women were having their babies naturally! (Can you just imagine Mother Mary screaming at Joseph to get her drugs??) So the acknowledgement has to be that women have been having babies naturally for at least millennia, and we see evidence that the species has survived it so far, so we know it can be done! Natural childbirth isn't a new thing! Millions of women all over the globe don't have any other option, and they can do it. Billions if not trillions of women have done it in the past. And something like 80% of births today are without complications. I think I can do it. And also, the more I thought about it, and this was really the biggest motivating factor for me, I really want to be "with it" during labor and birth, to really be present and to know and experience all there is about bringing this precious being into the world, and to know it and experience it for myself. Does that sound a bit hippie? Or a bit high and mighty? I don't know. Of course advances in medicine have made it possible for women to stay alert and not feel pain, but still somehow it seems to me that I'd be missing something vital about knowing what was going on within my own body. And then, I flat out have questions about the cross-over effects of drugs during labor and birth to the baby. In fact, at one doctor's visit while I was asking about pain management options short of an epidural, the doctor mentioned to me that they could also do a systemic IV which contained a narcotic, so the effect there isn't localized like a nerve blocking epidural in your spine, it's being pumped throughout your body. Interesting. "And," he added, "if your baby comes out drowsy, don't worry, we've got something right there to give her a shot to counteract the effects." WHAT??? Narc up my baby, then give her another shot of something else I don't know anything about to jolt her back "up"? Needless to say, that was an option that was never even considered. If I weren't on board before, I was then.

Almost all of the children I know now are epidural babies. And they're perfect! Happy, beautiful, smart, lively. I do not think there is anything wrong with getting an epidural, and even though there's competing research about whether the effects of the anesthesia technically travel to the baby or not, it's clear enough from so many happy and healthy babies that it doesn't hurt them and it isn't a problem. But. If I can do it, I want to have my baby naturally. And I'm learning a lot, and preparing my body for it, Jason and I are in it together, and short of complications, I think I can do it.

And so, for Jason and myself, for our little Adria, we are going to pursue natural childbirth. It's been really powerful to look into it and prepare for it with Jason. He will be such a vital part of this process and of our daughter's birth, I'm kind of even looking forward to it. I feel like with Jason life is always an adventure, and together we're able to meet challenges. And I am so looking forward to the adventure of Adria's birth, and I believe that we can do it together!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

3D/4D

Well, we went to have 3D/4D images of little Adria! We found a place in Cumming, GA called The Window to the Womb, which was pretty cool. We were a little disappointed overall, but it was more to do with the techs and getting some good shots than with how cool it was to get to see little Adria's sweet face! Out of about 40 or so pics they took, these were the only 2 that we thought turned out really good.


Here's our sweet girl with her little hands folded in front of her face. She's praying to God already, just like a good Presbyterian! (Teach them young!)


And this is what our sleepy girl will look like when she's yawning! Or maybe also when she's screaming!

We LOVE this little munchkin already! We're so proud of how well she seems to be growing and doing so far... we're officially 31 weeks 4 days, but we're measuring at 32 weeks, and they estimated 4+ pounds already, which really is right on or just a little ahead, but which just means she's growing and healthy and strong! I want her to be big and strong, and she's already getting chubby cheeks and we saw her sweet arms and legs during the session too, which I can't wait to hug and squeeze!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So smooth

My sweet parents (along with EVERYONE ELSE, it seems) have been so wonderful in caring and helping prepare for little Adria's arrival. Here is their latest contribution!


Jason is laughing because I had already taken about 5 pictures of him putting the chair together!


Ahh... trying it out!


I could be quite comfortable here! (Good thing, I think!)


And Max-Dog, hanging out in the nursery, trying to pretend he understands everything that's going on, and that he doesn't want to tear into all the new baby toys he's been told "no" about so many times!

Surprise!

Well, my wonderful and sweet co-workers surprised me with a baby shower on Friday for lunch! I've been working for JAG Probation for about 4 years off and on (I was on right out of college, then off--to State/Felony probation, to the Public Defender's Office, to Sarajevo with Campus Crusade for Christ, and then back on again in the Fall of '07), and it has been one of the most consistently supportive environments I've worked in. We usually do try to take care of each other, and in fact, celebrated the marriage of our receptionist earlier in the week! So the fact that they'd be wonderful to me isn't a surprise, but the fact that they pulled it off without so much as a whisper of suspicion definitely was!

Jason was in on it too, and he came by and took me on a date to an early lunch and just hung out in my office a few minutes afterwards (having been instructed to by Bo, the Chief Probation Officer), when I was paged to the front lobby to speak with someone.

Bo: There's someone up front to see you.

Me: well who is it?

Bo: I don't know, I think it's an attorney.

Me: Well can't you ask him? Who's he here to see about?

Bo: He's here to see you!

And so it was that I dragged myself up the hall and into the lobby, where not only my co-workers had gathered, but numerous friends from the courthouse too! One of the State Court judges came, and the secretaries from the other two judges' offices came, along with my law clerk friend, and several friends from the Solicitor' office, and even Bo's wife made it! It was just wonderful and special, and it was doubly so to have Jason there with me.




Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knowing and Being Known

One thing I'd been VERY apprehensive about for years with regards to having children was giving myself so completely away, and losing myself. In fact, I had a boyfriend in college and we would laugh together at a random "Reason #345 not to have children", etc, etc. A lot of them were silly and had to do with screaming, crying, or pooping, but truly, the idea of sacrificing my body, my time, my identity, and so much of myself was terrifying.

But now that we're actually pregnant, years later, I'm happy to say: It's still terrifying! I woke up one night a few weeks ago with an almost panicky feeling about losing myself and my identity, and this absolute fear that my baby won't KNOW me.

Of course she'll know so many things, like the sound of my voice and the sound of my heartbeat, the smell of my skin and the look of my face. She'll know me in a way that perhaps none ever have, which is in itself a bit overwhelming. But my fear is that because of that crazy new relationship, she won't know who I am as a woman, as a person. As a baby, she'll know me because she depends on me, because I will always be there for her, and because I WOULD give myself for her. But it's a true risk, I think, and a real sacrifice, for one of the nearest and dearest people in your life, and one you'll come to know inside and out, not to know the real you. In the light of day I feel better about the whole panic attack, and I'm sure things will end up fine, but it is still a very real fear, I think.

I'm only now beginning to ask my own dear mother questions about what her experiences were like with me, and it's only because I'm going through them now. I'm still so self-absorbed! I suppose I wouldn't know what questions to ask, or to even know to be interested otherwise. When I was in school, I thought stories of her as a child were wonderful. When I started being interested in boys, I wanted to know what her experiences there were like. And as an expectant mom, now I'm finally asking her questions about that. And I love my mother fiercely, and with a love that is especially reserved for her and no one else. And I know the things that make her laugh, or worry, or about her daily ins and outs. But all of my images of her are viewed through this lens: mother. Perhaps I've known her better than some, but perhaps there are those even now who know her better than I.

So I have a legitimate question: will I lose some of myself or my identity when Adria joins our family? At least for some years, before she's able to think of me more as a person and a woman instead of just as her mommy? I'll be honest, I'm still not the person I want to be, and I'm not sure I entirely know my own self. Which may also be why it's scary to think about losing that even more. I already think of her all the time, and when I'm not thinking about her, she'll start moving around in my belly and all my love and attention will be drawn there. Perhaps I'm afraid of losing part of my identity in that because she'll be so important to me. And although I'll remain the same person to others outside our bond and our family, to my precious little daughter, I won't be all of the things I think I am now. I need to give myself a break on this--in some ways I'll be more.

I think a huge focus for me will need to be on Christ, in order to weather this particular storm. So much of this pregnancy has been amazing, healthy, good, and positive. But internally, this IS a storm, and I don't feel like a bad person for acknowledging that. But even now, B.C. (Before Children), I need a rock to hold onto. In order to become more of the person I want to be, I have to give myself away more and more to Christ. I do a crappy job of that too, but I desire to reach the fullness He's set for me, made me for. The irony doesn't escape me that in order to be firm in Who I Am and not lose myself with my child, I need to strive all the more to give myself away to my God and Father--and the one who knows me better than I've ever been known.

Lord, know me! Help me! Keep working on me, and please, oh please keep making me more into who you want me to be!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baby Adria

After having called her Imogen for a few weeks, and after all the strange and funny reactions we got to that name ("So the baby's name is imagine?" And, "Did you say Ima Gene?" pronounced with a particularly southern drawal, or better yet, the non-reaction from my parents--I could practically hear the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" oozing through the phone), we decided that as cool as the name was, it wasn't right for our little girl. Which is kind of funny, because that's the name that both Jason and I thought of immediately when we found out we were having a girl!

But, after each of us had strange and uncomfortable encounters when trying to explain the name (it's like people just couldn't comprehend the sounds we were making!), Jason and I kept referring to her to each other as Imogen, and then looking towards the other--is that her name? We just couldn't ever really settle on it.

Jason and I had both picked out baby names in our youth that didn't quite make the cut, either. In my high school Psychology class, we talked about identity and personality, and we talked about names. Kind of as a joke, because I couldn't come up with any serious boy names and because I had a short stint where I was enamored by Antonio Banderas in Zorro, I decided on the name Juan D'Angelo for a boy. I'd have to marry a Spaniard, of course. (Aren't we all glad I married Jason instead, and for that matter that we're having a girl??) But my girl name was Gabriella Laine. Unfortunately, after not one, but TWO of my cousins (on the same side of the family, if you can believe it!) have already named my little second cousins Gabriella, that name is clearly out of the running for me. And I don't care a thing about the name Laine, it just went with Gabriella at the time.

And Jason had picked out a baby girl name early on he'd become attached to as well--Isabella Star. Unfortunately, we're not trying to raise a vampire/werewolf loving Twilight Saga character, and we both decided we didn't want a name that was too common for our little one, so both because of Twilight, and because the name is on the Social Security Administration's top 10 list, Isabella was out. And Star--well, we'll just say it didn't make the cut.

I began thinking of the name Adria as a name while Jason and I were still serving with Campus Crusade for Christ in Sarajevo, BiH. That whole part of the world is nestled on the Adriatic Sea, and practically anywhere you looked you'd see advertisements for Adria Airways, or Hotel Adria, or some other derivitave of the Adriatic. Folks in the Balkans aren't quite Mediterranean, but they are darned proud of their Adriatic. Adria is also the name of a town or region of Northern Italy. In itself, the name doesn't literally mean too much--it refers to a region. But it was in that region that Jason and I truly fell in love, it was there that we were engaged, shared so much of ourselves, and, cliche as it sounds, where we shared our hopes and dreams with each other. And those were hopes and dreams of a life together, and hopes and dreams of a family together.

I think we could very easily say that our daughter, Adria, is among the firstfruits of seeing our hopes and dreams coming true. Our Adria is the fruition of a lot of love, and an extension of our very important time in Sarajevo and that part of the world. How beautiful a name. How treasured an epoch in our lives. How greater to honor and call our daughter?