Third Trimester!

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In the last weeks, the bump got…pointier?

I’m 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant, meaning I’m a month into the third trimester, and about two months from having a baby. Eeeeep!

I’ve been relatively comfortable throughout the pregnancy so far – short of wearing terrible shoes and straining the top of my left foot (a feat I didn’t know was possible) several weeks ago and limping around in running shoes like a dummy for a month, I’ve managed to avoid things like sciatica, pelvic pain, swelling, back pain, and a bunch of other horrible pregnancy symptoms I don’t even want to type out for fear that the universe will curse me with them. Basically, besides being increasingly winded by stairs and needing to pee 100% of the time, I’ve made it to 32 weeks relatively unscathed. (Unscathed by the pregnancy. I have gotten more prone to being an idiot klutz, however, as evidenced by my burning a patch of skin off the top of my thigh with a curling iron yesterday. I don’t even know anymore.)

That being said, being 32 weeks pregnant is really uncomfortable. God bless the women who suffer terribly and go on to have more children. I’m pretty much only dealing with the physical ramifications of having half a watermelon in my abdomen, which makes eating, sitting, laying, putting on shoes, and walking really cumbersome, and it’s still enough to make me want to stop speaking to anyone who hasn’t been pregnant.

Things I’ve Learned in the Third Trimester:

1) I have freckles inside my belly button.

2) Toilet paper companies aren’t scamming me. They aren’t skimping on the TP. I am legitimately just in the bathroom all the damn time.

3) Lounging at a 45-degree angle is a thing of the past. I can either lay on my side with my head propped up or sit straight up like I’m Miss Manners. Super cozy.

4) It is possible to high-five a human being who isn’t born yet. I’ve done it several times.

5) Everyone has an opinion on the size of my belly. Intellectually, I know it’s because people want to be involved or show support, and that’s actually kinda cute. Emotionally, it weirds me out to have that be the only thing people want to talk to me about. I used to be interesting in a whole bunch of other ways, people! Hopefully, I still am!

6) I have very little body hair now – except for on my belly, which is ideal because that’s what everyone wants to see.

7) Despite having to roll out of bed because my core muscles don’t work anymore and getting sickly full on tiny meals, it is entirely possible for me to forget I’m pregnant, which occasionally leads me to totally panicking about some weird physical thing I just did that might have compromised the baby. (Read: in particular, the time I tried to stabilize our new washing machine when it was jumping all over the place by holding it down with my arms during the spin cycle, before remembering that there’s a person inside me who shouldn’t be vibrated super violently.)

8) I am very into smoothies. And avocados. And hummus. (And, let’s be real, also ice cream, chocolate, and cereal.)

9) People are really insanely generous. We have very nearly everything we need for the baby’s first few months, and haven’t actually purchased anything ourselves.

10) Having focused on being pregnant for the last eight months, it is both exciting and terrifying to start thinking about how there will be an actual baby here in a matter of weeks. As a former terrible baby who kept my parents up for several years in a row, I hope the baby is nothing like me and is kind to us.

Head down, butt up on his favorite side, like a good little boy.

Head down, butt up on his favorite side, like a good little boy.

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California Knows How To Party.

I just got back to England after a glorious two and a half weeks back home in California. The fact that the trip has come and gone already is unbelievable to me. It feels like I looked forward to it FOREVER. The adjustment back to the UK has been hard, because putting 6,000 miles between me and Target my family and friends who are so excited for the baby was pretty traumatic. However, England has been kind to me – the last two days have been the warmest, most gorgeous days of spring, which makes leaving the endless summer of Southern California a little less upsetting.

I flew into LAX on a Wednesday night, saw my grandparents and great aunts, and then decided it was time for bed when I got dizzy after being up for 27,000 hours. Thursday morning, I was 22 weeks exactly, so I rolled out of bed in the room that was once The Middle Child’s and took this photo:

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Everyone was aghast at how small I was. They were all kind enough not to say anything about how I still don’t have an ass.

The first week I was home, I saw tons of people near and dear to me, and ate all the food. I also:

1) Found Hershey’s Eggs my parents’ refrigerator, which was a comforting sign that nothing ever really changes:

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I mentioned to my dad that I wanted to take some of these back to England, and he came home from the market with six bags of them. I am proud to say I took them all.

2) Hung out with Fertile Myrtle and Fiece #1 and 2:

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3) Spent a lot of time reveling in the fact that I could be outside and comfortable, without battling wind, rain, humidity, mist, or bone-chilling damp:

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4) Experienced many pregnancy-related skin fun times, including this random cheek bone hive:

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5) And took a long walk in the hills with my mom, on a pleasant morning that quickly turned into a blazing hot day:

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LOOK WHERE I’M FROM. SO PRETTY.

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California poppies!

IMG_1782  Then, it was all about Mexican Fiesta Baby Shower Preparation. My mom had conscripted all the members of my family into Baby Shower Prep for weeks before I got home, so I missed out on most of the work. However, I am now super proficient at creating tissue paper flowers, having toiled for hours with my grandma and great aunt pulling apart thousands of sheets of colored paper until our fingers bled all over them.

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The baby shower itself was one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever seen. My mom, along with her crew of unsuspecting family members, worked so hard to make everything so colorful and detailed and thoughtful and thematic. There were tons of games, onesies for people to decorate, trays of tacos and mini burritos catered by my favorite Mexican restaurant, and most importantly: churros. In addition, my mom decorates one hell of a cake, which shouldn’t surprise me anymore, as she’s done it my whole life. However, I’m still always amazed.

The amount of time, energy, and Pinterest-trolling that went into the shower was incredible. Thank you, Mom! It was fabulous!

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The diaper (and washcloth and bib) cake.

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My mom’s amazing cake.

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Let’s play a game called Find The Churros.

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Fertile Myrtle and I…and chips.

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We used the cake to do a gender reveal for the family members who hadn’t had the surprise blown for them by either my mom or me throughout the week leading up to the shower (as it turns out, starting conversations about circumcision and asking for advice on dyeing a cake blue are both really good ways of indirectly telling people what the sex of a baby is):

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IT’S A BOY!

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Sensory overload, in the best possible way.

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A beautiful photo of me and my dad.

We were so, so fortunate – people gave us so many fabulous things. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about buying the baby any clothing until he’s 20.

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And, because we set up an Amazon.co.uk registry, tons of things were sent directly to our house in England, meaning that we’re currently swimming in delivery boxes that are just waiting to be moved to our new place next month. I can’t wait to build the nursery glider and the stroller, but The Boyfriend (The Grinch) insists it will be easier to move them while they’re still boxed up. THANKS, OBAMA.

While I was home, it was also Fiece #1’s fourth birthday, which I can’t even believe. Fertile Myrtle and I brought mini cupcakes to her preschool classroom, where her evil teacher sat all the kids down to watch the Fiece eat a cupcake while they had to wait to eat theirs for two hours until after lunch.

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Then we went home to open presents. The Fiece told me she was really into the new Lego Friends line of Lego, which is all painted-on eyelashes and ice cream shops and purple and pink and while I loved that she is into building with Legos now, I just could not with the totally gendered Lego Friends line. So, I did what any self-respecting adult does when giving gifts to a child: I got her something I would have wanted. Namely, I threw her a bone and got one set of Lego Friends (the vet ambulance, which seemed to be the least offensive) and then bought a bunch of pirate Legos, which came with a cannon that actually shoots pieces, a skeleton, a treasure box, and a shark with a mouth that opens and closes.

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Shooting cannonballs. “NOT IN THE EYES.”

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Ripping the heads off the Lego pirates, while our skeleton friend gets eaten by a shark.

Basically, I think I did a really good job.

Then, on my last night at home, the family celebrated Passover. To celebrate the occasion, my father, who has been married to my Jewish mother for 30 years, brought (French) macaroons from a cool new bakery in downtown Los Angeles. It was an adorable, delicious mistake.

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I left California two weeks and one pair of maternity pants after arriving.

Everyone was aghast at how huge I got.

I already can’t wait to go home again.

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Full of Hot Air.

Because I am currently in the beginning stages of crafting a PhD project about maternal health, with a focus on childbirth specifically, I’m reading tons about pregnancy and labor (for work, okay?). As my interest is in childbirth, I’m focusing my time on what leads to various kinds of childbirth experiences. One of the more interesting things I’ve read concerns the rise in the reporting of “back-to-back” labor in the later 20th century. A labor is said to be “back-to-back” when a baby starts its descent into the birth canal with its spine aligned with its mother’s spine and its face toward the front of her body. This means that the widest part of the baby’s head (the forehead and face) enters the cervix first, which has a lot of implications for the mechanics of childbirth (which I will spare you) and essentially means a slower, more painful labor (leading to higher rates of induction, epidural use, Pitocin, and eventually c-section).

An explanation for this rise in back-to-back labor is that as women moved out of mostly housekeeping roles and into office work, they stopped performing tasks that kept them leaning forward (cooking over a massive cauldron, washing clothes, scrubbing floors on their hands and knees, etc). Instead, women began spending their days leaning backward into office chairs, which can lull their children into the back-to-back position, as the babies aren’t being forced forward by gravity all the time. My opinion on this theory is: who knows. This sounds a little like all the evolutionary psychology theories I used to love as an anthropology undergraduate, and have now come to side-eye pretty hard all the time. However, because I am a crazy person, after reading the book a few weeks ago, I committed to spending more time leaning forward as the baby grew. Every little bit helps, right?

This means that I’ve been sitting like an idiot on my chair at work, legs on the sides of the chair with my knees bent, and my belly forward and under the desk. Essentially, I look like I need to fart all the time, which coincidentally, is now constantly the case.

In previous weeks, I could feel the baby at very proscribed times: in the morning just as I woke up, in the evening laying in bed, and, very occasionally, if I really focused during some quiet time during the day. However, now, it’s all over the place all the time. I woke up to a dance routine at 2 am the other night. I feel kicks when I’m sitting like a moron at my desk. I am punched in the guts while standing around grocery stores, deciding which foods I am not going to be able to stomach. I also saw it from the outside last night for the first time and then spent more time than I will admit taking videos of my stomach, trying to document it. (Did not happen.) The baby is super active, and I think my insides are now beginning to feel it.

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Why yes, I have nicknamed my baby Kickpuncher.

 

I made a super not great decision Friday night and ate Indian food, which haunted me for the rest of the weekend, because my digestive system can no longer handle foods that are not apples, avocado, or bread. In an ironic twist of fate, I finally found the time to spend hours on my hands and knees in Child’s Pose on my bedroom floor, my belly down, gravity pulling the baby into its proper position – at 3 in the morning, after frantically Googling remedies for what the English so delicately call “trapped wind.” Face down on the carpet in the middle of the night, sipping peppermint tea by the mugful, miserable and desperate for sleep, at least I was maybe preventing back-to-back labor.

It’s the little things.

20 Weeks.

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On Thursday, when I was exactly 20 weeks pregnant, I had my 20-week anomaly scan. According to the ultrasound technician, the little bub is measuring totally normally and was very cooperative. (This is something this very same tech said to me at the 12-week ultrasound, so I think it means I’m guaranteed to have a very well behaved child for the rest of my life. A GIRL CAN DREAM.)

We got to see its brains and its kidneys and its ten little fingers wiggling around. In the photo above, it’s basically dancing a contortionist jig, with its arms all over the place and its legs up over its head. When this photo was taken, the tech asked us, “So, looking at this, who does it take after?” prompting a sex joke from The Boyfriend, which the very English technician then pretended not to have totally set up for him.

At various times throughout the scan, as the baby moved around and we saw bits of facial bone and dark shadows, it really did look like most of the terrifying online ultrasound photos my mother and aunt tried to convince me were fake, so I win. THEY ARE REAL.

We also found out what the little bub is, and as much as I want to tell everyone I know on any and all social media platforms, I am keeping my huge mouth closed about that until I go home for my mom’s Most Epic Baby Shower In History. I’m also kinda in love with the idea that the people who might get me gifts (because that is so not an expectation) will have to do it without knowing what the gender is. This kid will love cupcakes and dinosaurs no matter what its genitalia is!

Maybe I’ll have that printed on a t-shirt and make Baby wear it on the first day of kindergarten.

Creature Feature: The Kick Came From INSIDE My Body.

I am now 19 and a half weeks pregnant! I am officially too enormous for my favorite jeans, which I have now shelved indefinitely. Before I was growing a human being, I used to despise that all denim is now 2% Lycra, because it meant that for the most part, I could wear a pair of jeans one time before they were all stretched out and falling off my ass. (And I’m disgusting and cannot be asked to wash my clothes often enough to keep up with that kind of demand.) However, now, those previously maligned, instantly-too-baggy, only-skinny-for-four-hours jeans are my saviors. They hang below my belly and are just stretchy enough. Plus, they still fall off my ass, which at this point in my life, I really appreciate. Thanks, 2% Lycra, for making 5 Month Pregnant Sarah still feel thin enough to have her pants falling off her. 2% Lycra is also allowing me to get through the weeks before my trip to California without paying tons of money for maternity jeans. Basically, a win-win at the moment.

In other news, we are days away from finding out what this little creep is, and I am very excited to pin one of the two names we’ve chosen on this little unsuspecting person. In addition to allowing us to define the rest of our child’s life by giving it a name, finding out what the sex is also means I will know what proscribed gender stereotypes I will be battling for all of Creep’s childhood. (No one is more humorless than me!) Yay!

In the cutest, most adorable development thus far (barring, of course, all the baby clothes I’m starting to collect): my mother has discovered the gender reveal party and is going to fold that into a baby shower she’s throwing for me when I go home in a few weeks. She’s also running full steam ahead with the “Mexican fiesta” theme I suggested initially as a joke, which is fabulous. I wanted to avoid the seemingly inevitable lean toward pink or blue, so I chose something that would force the use of every color in the rainbow. Inspiration:

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Who could care about pink for girls and blue for boys when there’s glitter in a Modelo bottle?

Also, I currently have a fiesta flag banner hanging in my bedroom in England as part of the normal, every day decor, so this is pretty much perfect.

Finally, while I’d felt tiny flutters and occasional “bubbling” before, just this week, I’ve started feeling actual baby movement. Last night, I drank a glass of cranberry juice from a hotel bar (as you do) and then laid down in my hotel bed at 9pm (again, as you do) and absent-mindedly put my hand on my belly, because I’d been catching little movements here and there and it’s reassuring to know that all is well in there. Seconds after I placed my hand on my skin, the baby kicked the hardest it has thus far and I felt it from both the inside and the outside and was immediately creeped out by my own body. It’s one thing to feel something that could be misconstrued as an upset, rumbling tummy and another thing entirely to feel something almost deliberate knocking around in your insides. Again, it’s comforting to know that the babes is okay and doing well and I’m actually loving the growing reminder that yes, there is a baby in there, because for weeks, I just felt fat and bloated and moody, but unable to drown my sorrows in wine. Now, I am pregnant. For reals. However, imagine for a moment that you are holding onto a small plastic bag full of water and someone drops a big fish in your bag and this big fish bops around in the too-small plastic bag, hitting its face and tail on the plastic lining and you can feel this fish if you put your hand on the outside of the bag. Imagine all of this, except now the bag is your guts and the fish is a baby person. That is what fetal movement is like.

Fish Baby: debuting July 2015.

Surprise!

Inspired by the comments and emails I’ve received from people telling me that their lives would be empty, wasted shells if I were to stop blogging, I’ve decided to be brave and stick around. Thank you all for your kind words. I had no idea this blog gave all your lives so much meaning. (In all seriousness: thanks for the encouragement!)

The following is both a dramatic recreation of why I’ve been absent and a sign of things to come. I’ve struggled a lot with whether or not to publicize this, because it’s hard, fast proof that I am moving into a vastly different life than I ever could have imagined for myself when I started this blog two and a half years ago. However, I really do loving blogging, I love this space and the people I’ve connected with, and if I were to not share this, I might as well give up on writing here altogether. So, here goes:

On November 7th 2014, I left home for a four-week work trip around the UK. I was touring with an exhibition I’d spent the previous several months curating research for, and so I packed a month’s worth of underwear into a suitcase, said goodbye to my boyfriend, and flew out of Southampton. I was exhausted.

On November 16th 2014, I stayed up working until 3am and woke up five hours later with a vicious head cold, which was both terrible timing, because I was deep into my UK tour, and really surprising, because I hadn’t been sick for over a year. I was exhausted.

For dinner on November 27th 2014, nearly three weeks into my UK odyssey, I ate a “jacket potato,” which was basically a baked potato covered in Heinz baked beans and is essentially a totally justified way for me to eat as many carbs as possible in one sitting.

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Vomit.

 

Then I stayed up until midnight in my Birmingham hotel room and Skyped with my entire family for Thanksgiving – the first I’d ever missed. Seeing everyone (and the amazing Southern California weather and all the food) was both really wonderful and also super sad, and I ended up balled up in my rented bed, sobbing like a maniac. (I had the decency to end the Skype conversation first.) I was so emotional. I was exhausted.

On November 28th 2014, 24 hours after devouring my jacket potato, I glanced at the photo I’d taken and almost threw up. No exaggeration. A food I’d gleefully forked into my face on Thursday had become totally repulsive to me on Friday. Given my sudden, intense food aversions, my ever-present fatigue, my recent crippling head cold, and the fact that I had grown out of my bra, I figured something might be up. Feeling a little suspicious, and in an effort to shut up my boyfriend and Fertile Myrtle, who are both saints who tolerate nonstop text messages about my various (real and imagined) ailments, I took a cheap pregnancy test in my hotel bathroom. I left the test and went to eat an apple, content that the result would be exactly what every pregnancy test result had been for all the years I have frantically taken pregnancy tests.

Despite the symptoms that encouraged me to invest in some £3.85 pregnancy tests, I knew with absolute certainty that they were a waste of money. The tests always had been and always would be, because my insides were made of sourdough bread and dust. So, as you might imagine, I had a complete emotional breakdown when I went back into the bathroom and found this:

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And then later, this:

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On Black Friday, 5,000 miles away from my family, alone in Birmingham, England after being on the road for three weeks, in a hotel room that shared a very thin wall with my boss’s room, knowing there was still a full week before I could see my boyfriend again, I found myself holding a positive pregnancy test for the first time. The insanity of the situation was not lost on me. The Universe is nothing if not consistent.

Right this minute, I am thirteen weeks pregnant. I AM PREGNANT. I am pregnant and living in England and starting a PhD.

Never a dull moment.

Old News.

This just in: Germany is looking for an adventurous female human surrogate for some 30,000 year old Neanderthal DNA.  I hate to disappoint all of you fertile human women who were interested, but I’ve already applied for the position.  I have been dreaming of this moment for years – the time when my intellectual fascination with anthropology would meet my obsession with babies at a perfect crossroads.  A time when I could yell at everyone who balked at my earning both Anthropology Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees while dreaming of eventually having the money and time to have a child, “Guess what, guys?  I am pregnant.  And not just with any stupid human baby.  It’s a (50% human) girl (cooked up in a lab with the help of some DNA from a Homo sapiens sub species from the Ice Age)!”  I might have to work on the wording of that for the announcement.

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Baby Thaly, generated with the help of Internet goldmine morphthing.com from the photo of me below and a photo of a Neanderthal facial reconstruction. Isn’t she…something?

Speaking of old things and babies with crows feet, until this past week, I had really only considered my newest self-centered concern in the fleeting moments I’d read about it in Glamour magazine, on the page nestled right between the anti-wrinkle advertisements and the airbrushed photos of the latest celebrity cover girl.  However, I can now safely say that I am a woman with both acne and wrinkles.  There was a glorious time in my early 20s when, with the help of Accutane and hormonal birth control, I managed to have good, healthy-looking skin for about four years and now it is all downhill from here.  Wonderful.  In addition, a friend at work pointed out (and then forcibly removed from my head) my very first gray hair this week.  Oh, youth – it was fun while it lasted.

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Me, face makeup-free, and so very pimply and shiny. Thanks, Universe!