Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 25 Weeks

Elizabeth at 25 weeks.jpgCarson and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary (4+ years as a couple, though; it's weird to "start over" at 1) last weekend. We went to the county fair, which is where we started our honeymoon, and watched sheepdog trials and the rodeo. We also won first place for our wildflower honey! It's fun to sell "blue ribbon honey" at the farmers market.

Here in Mendocino County, the summers are long. We are still picking peaches in my in-laws' orchard, and it's been 100+ degrees three days this week, so it's hard for me to wrap my head around the reality that it's already the end of September and I'm due in just over three months (January 10). Our "nursery" is still a messy combination of our office, my closet, and boxes we haven't unpacked from the move.

I mentioned in my 23 week post that if I didn't show strong "integral growth" I would need to get an ultrasound to make sure everything was OK. Well, that happened today. I was a bundle of nerves - and also a frequent bathroom flyer because I read that if you drink a ton of water your ultrasound will go better - but it went as well as it could. Statistically Mae is about 10 days behind "average" development (I'm confident about her date of conception) but she had all her limbs and organs and the ultrasound tech said everything looked good. We have to wait a few days for the radiologist to give her official opinion, which may include a recommendation for a follow-up ultrasound. Meanwhile I will continue with twice-monthly prenatal appointments to continue tracking integral growth. The best case and most likely scenario is that Mae is just a small baby (like I was). The worst case is that she has intrauterine growth restriction, which is considered rare though it affects 1 in 20 babies born in the U.S. each year which doesn't seem *that* rare to me. I don't have any of the specific risk factors for IUGR: I don't smoke, I don't have diabetes or syphilis or any other disease that might impact it, I'm not malnourished, and I'm not under the age of 17. This is both comforting and frustrating since there's not much I can do to impact what's going to happen, other than continuing to eat well and, you know, not take up smoking. If she does have IUGR, she might be developing enough that I can carry her to near-full term; or, she might be in dire straits and I'll have to deliver her early so she can start to develop outside the womb. Obviously that is not ideal but the survival rate is incredibly high. I might loathe our medical system but right now I'm grateful for the comforting presence of NICU! Overall I'm not stressing about this *too* much, as all signs point to Mae being perfectly healthy and just a wee bit small.

Symptom-wise, my heartburn has mysteriously dissipated to about once a week - can I get a hallelujah? I'm pretty tired but I'm getting lots of sleep - most nights we are in bed before 10 and I often don't get up until after 8 (usually with an hour or two in there of laying awake after a bathroom visit). I can feel Mae, but she isn't kicking with anything you could call an uncomfortable force. It still feels like popcorn, or gas, or very mild cramping. Carson has yet to feel her but I can tell it's close to being noticeable from the outside, usually when I'm laying down to go to sleep. He read that if we pay attention to her schedule now, we'll have a pretty good idea of when she will be awake once she's born. Which is a lot of the night.
I'm starting to notice some very mild back aches, likely because all of a sudden I'm walking differently to compensate for the extra weight in front. I still feel totally normal body-wise with full range of motion, so it startles me to see the mirror reflecting back a noticeably pregnant woman. And I'm not the only one noticing - I've had my first three uninvited belly rubs in the last two weeks. Honestly, I don't get it. First of all, everyone touches too high; I want to tell them they're massaging my organs. Second of all, if I'm not saying something like "oh she's moving," what is the point? What are they expecting to get from this inappropriate pat-down? Carson is really excited to catch someone in the act so he can try the "reach out and rub their belly in return" trick, but I don't think he has the guts. (Also, my friend and I have an idea for a comedy sketch where a pregnant woman walks around rubbing men's beer bellies.)

Emotionally, I'm mostly fine with occasional meltdowns. Two days ago I finally had to leave work after crying at my desk three separate times. Carson was working on a big fire and I hadn't heard from him; I was working myself up over the ultrasound; and I was struggling to find a way to deal appropriately with some ancient interpersonal dynamics that I feel powerless to change. Today I feel better because Carson is fine and Mae is probably fine and a good cry is always cathartic. I'm working on the "serenity to accept what I cannot change" part. Wish me luck.
Photo: Carson caught me balancing peaches on my belly while taking a break to eat one. I can't wait for Mae to help us pick fruit at her grandma and grandpa's house.

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