day-to-day pregnancy

[ Monday, June 28, 2004 ]

From WebMD, about the 16th week: Your baby now measures about 4.3 to 4.6 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 2.8 ounces. Fingernails are well-formed and the fine hair, lanugo, may be growing on the head. Arms and legs are moving. The nervous system is functioning and muscles are responding to stimulation from your baby's brain. You may be able to hear the baby's heartbeat in the doctor's office. Your uterus has grown significantly by now and weighs about 8.75 ounces. Within the next few weeks you may start to feel your baby move, called "quickening." It's often like a gas bubble or subtle fluttering movement. As it happens more regularly, you'll know it's your baby. There are other physiological changes happening in your body. Increased blood volume to support your growing fetus may produce nosebleeds, and veins may become more apparent.

[ Friday, June 25, 2004 ]

Wednesday afternoon I started feeling a sharp pain in the abdomen, which I thought was just because I had carried too much stuff while grocery shopping. A couple of hours later, however, I was crying and screaming in pain, unable to reach the phone to call the doctor. When I finally managed to move and speak with a nurse, she told me to hold still for 30 minutes, in hopes it was just trapped gas that would be absorbed by the body. Otherwise, she said, call 911 and go to the emergency room. Counting each second, I waited 30 minutes. The pain did not disappear, but it got much better and I was able to move a little. I thought she was right and it was just gas, so it was a matter of time until it went away completely. At 4 am, the pain came back full force and would not get better. At 6 am, David and I entered the emergency room at Alexandria Hospital. The first thing they did was start an IV (which proved to be, as always, a difficult task because my veins are so thin). For the next 10 hours, they did everything from blood test to CAT scan. I got two IV doses of Demerol, a narcotic, so the pain was very remote. After the whole ordeal, they still didn't know what caused the pain. Possibilities: air trapped between the organs in the abdominal cavity, muscle spasm or constipation complicated by the pregnancy. Without answers, but blissfully without pain, I came home late afternoon. Two good things came out of this nightmare day: I had a full check up, and everything looks ok. And for the first time, I saw the baby moving its tiny legs and arms on the sonogram screen.

[ Monday, June 21, 2004 ]

I understand why people say the second trimester is the most enjoyable time of pregnancy. The morning sickness is gone, fatigue is only occasional now, and I am starting to come to terms with the disappearance of my waistline. Maternity clothes may not be the most fashionable or flattering outfits, but they are pretty comfortable, and at least they give the rest of the world a decent explanation for my expanding figure. On the downside, sleep has become quite a luxury. I have been waking up every hour or hour-and-a-half during the night, sometimes just to switch sides (which has become a 5-minute process, with the re-arranging of several pillows). At least I know I will be used to a broken sleep schedule when the baby arrives.

[ Friday, June 18, 2004 ]

Morning sickness gave way this week to a blinding sinus headache that is entering its 4th consecutive day. There is suspicion of a sinus infection, which would put me on antibiotics for 10 days. So far I've been fighting the pain with Tylenol Sinus Extra Strength, which leaves me so dizzy and groggy I feel like a drunk vegetable.

[ Wednesday, June 16, 2004 ]

It seems you can find anything on the Internet these days, from Recipes with Insects to Sex Life of Birds. That is why I was shocked to realize that there were no websites with travel destination ideas for pregnant women. David and I are trying to decide where to go in August, when we celebrate our 5th anniversary (and I approach the end of my 24th week). There are plenty of websites about what pregnant women cannot do: no scuba diving, no roller coaster rides, no horseback riding, no parachuting (who would parachute on their 6th month anyway!?). I would have liked to find a website with ideas on where to go! At the moment we are torn between a caribbean cruise (no diving!) and a week in Orlando (no roller coaster rides!).

[ Monday, June 14, 2004 ]

I used to laugh about "pregnancy craving" stories. The notion of a grown-up couple involved in a treasure hunt-like search for pickles or odd-flavored ice cream at 4 am was just too funny. I have a whole lot of respect for those stories now. I've had 4 cravings so far: the first one, (fried rice) was documented here. Then I had the most incredible desire to eat beef fajitas (which I never order), and poor Elsie had to run to Dancing Peppers and bring me some. Last week, while spending a quiet afternoon reading on the couch, I was overwhelmed by a Cheetos craving. I changed, rushed to the store and bought two enormous bags of bright orange, artificially-tasting, artery-clogging Cheetos. I devoured 3/4 of a bag in about 5 minutes, and then felt sick for the rest of the night. I've had the good sense to keep the other bag in the pantry. And finally, yesterday I kicked poor David out of bed at 9 am so we could go to Cosi for a squagel (square bagel) and mango smoothie. We've been fortunate that my cravings don't include exotic Brazilian food or disgusting combinations, and so far they've hit me during business hours.

[ Wednesday, June 09, 2004 ]

What's with the food comparisons? Every website, book or magazine that I read about stages of pregnancy always compare the fetus with some kind of food to explain its size. In the beginning, the baby was the size of a raspberry. Later, it became a strawberry, then a medium shrimp (!), then a large lime. Finally, entering the 13th week, my little baby is being compared to a peach.

[ Thursday, June 03, 2004 ]

From WebMD, about the 12th week: The fetus now measures about 2.5 inches from crown to rump and weighs between three-tenths of an ounce and half an ounce. It is fully formed, from tooth buds to toenails, and your baby's job now is to continue getting larger and stronger for the rest of your pregnancy. With the most critical development behind the fetus, the chance of miscarriage drops considerably after this week. Nausea and energy start to improve. You may be experiencing occasional headaches, dizziness and fatigue from hormonal changes. Fathers-to-be might also experience pregnancy symptoms, called couvade or "hatching," during the third month and at delivery, including nausea, abdominal pain, appetite changes and weight gain.

This week we received two packages from Brazil, loaded with gifts for the baby. The first one came from my mother, who is obviously set on pampering her only grandchild from thousands of miles away. She sent very cute outfits (photos to come) for the winter. My lovely friend Rosinha also sent her share of baby outfits, complete with two pairs of colorful socks :-) By the time this child is born, he or she will have a wardrobe bigger than mine!

[ Tuesday, June 01, 2004 ]

I got to hear the baby's heartbeat again today at the doctor's office. It sounded strong (and fast) and the midwife was very pleased. My next appointment is at the end of this month, when I will meet yet another doctor and go through a second blood test, this one to check for Down Syndrome and other genetic defects. It's considered the last big hurdle of early pregnancy; if the test is negative, we have nothing to worry about until close to delivery.