Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 29 Weeks

Elizabeth at 29 weeks.jpgYou may or may not have noticed that I skipped the 27 week blog. My apologies! Carson and I were in Seattle for my sister's wedding and our baby shower, and we took a mini road trip in between, and blogging went by the wayside. I'm happy to report that both the wedding and shower were great successes (I didn't cry once!), and Mae is going to be a very well appointed baby girl with the full wardrobe she now owns. I saw a lot of aunts and female family friends at the wedding and shower in Seattle and I had prepared myself for the questions and belly pats, and I was actually able to enjoy most of the attention. These are women who have known me since I was a baby and can't wait for me to have one of my own; it was heart-warming. However, one of them did this weird, vigorous patting of my stomach while yipping "baby baby baby baby!" I hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes after that trying to rid myself of the yucky feeling it created. That was a small blip on an otherwise joyous trip, though. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun with my family, and seeing Carson's total integration into our pack was touching.

What I'm unhappy to report is that, earlier this week, I was laid low with an old nemesis of mine: E. Coli. E. Coli is sort of like herpes or mono, in that once you have it, you basically always have it. I first got food poisoning from good ol' E.C. 10 years ago, and since then I get it about once a year (which is also why I am a maniac when it comes to sterilizing everything after handling raw meat). The most notable of those experiences was a full month of being sick; I was traveling through South America and didn't give myself any time to rest and recuperate at first, which resulted in a two-week hunker-down in a rented vacation apartment in Buenos Aires during which I only left to buy potato chips and lemons to make homemade Gatorade.

Having E. Coli is basically like having the flu, except when you have it during flu season it doesn't inoculate you at all; I'm eyeing my co-workers wearily as they drop like flies. Being sick is never fun, but being sick while pregnant is a special kind of awful. Warning: TMI ahead. First, there's the whole issue of bladder control. A mere sneeze is enough to test the limits of that particular organ, so just imagine what happens during an ab-splitting upchuck. And I mean ab-splitting literally: at this point in pregnancy, one's abdominal muscles are pulling apart from each other to make more room. I spent the better part of two days curled around a heating pad in the fetal position because my muscles hurt so much. But worst torture was the baby herself: when she kicked, she wreaked havoc on my very sensitive insides. But when she didn't kick, I was terrified that the illness was impacting her. I did kick counts throughout and kept in touch with my midwives, and I went in to get Mae's heartbeat checked out the first day I was able to get dressed. The student midwife who saw me was great: "Usually babies don't care when we're sick. They just keep taking what they need while you suffer." Is this a metaphor for motherhood?

Anyway, I'm feeling much better now and should probably share some other relevant updates. When last I wrote, Mae was small but OK. Since then she seems to have had a growth spurt and I'm right on track in terms of fundal height (i.e. 28 cm at 28 weeks). I still look small though; last week a coworker asked me if I was "past three months yet." I responded, "Girl... I'm SEVEN!!" She gasped. "What?! Where are you keeping the baby in there??"

For the most part I can't complain. Nothing is swollen; I have no visible veins or marks to speak of (yet); I'm still sleeping well; my appetite is normal, neither dismal nor voracious; and the heartburn is intermittent. Carson and I drove to Seattle and back and I wasn't uncomfortable at all. We even toured the Oregon Caves National Monument, which includes a lot of steps up and down and some very narrow, claustrophobic passages. I asked the tour guide if she thought I could swing it; she said they have a guide touring the caves at nine months pregnant and told me I should be fine. She was right, and the caves were totally awesome.

Even with such an "easy" pregnancy, when people ask how I'm feeling I don't generally respond with "great!" (More and more I say that I'm feeling sick of that question, because at this point all of the askers are repeat offenders and should know better.) I am jealous of the women who love being pregnant. For me, being pregnant is weird at best. I don't know what I thought it would feel like to have a tiny human kick me from the inside, but it's WEIRD, OKAY?? It feels like small eruptions, or bubbles bursting, or like an alien trying to poke its way out of me. I feel uncomfortably exposed for public consumption when I wear anything vaguely tight. I'm tired all the time. I have sciatica. But what's weirdest of all is how my life and nearly all of my daily interactions completely revolve around being pregnant, as if everything else about me has vanished in a maternity haze. I would love it if someone would ask me if I've read anything interesting lately. (I have!)

Here's a final, irrational complaint: I can't open jars and bottles thanks to Relaxin. Although this hormone means Mae has enough room to grow and isn't being prematurely ejected from my body and therefore I should be very grateful for it, instead it makes me intensely angry. If he's nearby, I yell at Carson for closing things too tight. If the item has never been opened, I yell in his direction that things shouldn't be so hard to open. In response he wordlessly opens whatever I'm struggling with, which makes me EVEN MADDER. I probably don't say it enough: Carson has the patience of a saint.

Photo: Carson and me at my sister's wedding, which had a really fun Haunted Mansion theme. I'm closer to 27 weeks here but I look exactly the same today.

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