Sunday, October 30, 2016

10/30/16: Almost November!

Well, I'm happy to report I am now 31.5 weeks, we officially have less than two months to go, and this baby is kicking and squirming as much as ever, staying nice and secure in my womb, and while my contractions have continued to get stronger and more intense, he seems to be settled on staying in there for a good little while more. Also I do NOT have gestational diabetes--I was just dumb and ate a cinnamon roll before my first test last time without thinking so my numbers were high and they had to make sure. And lastly, I have now finished my second round of antibiotics to try and get rid of my Group B Strep that keeps showing up and making the contractions way more painful than they should be. So I would say I'm enjoying my third trimester more than my first and second (no nausea, and the contractions are less painful, more just pressure now)--and I'm loving getting to know this little guy's schedule and different movements. It feels like this special bond that only I get to have with him because no one else gets to feel all the nuance in the movement like I do right now. Of one else has to be kept awake in the middle of the night because he's going crazy either...but honestly, I don't really mind it--it feels like a privilege to be let in to his world already before I've even met him.

So I said last time that I would try to write a blog that would actually catch people up on our lives OUTSIDE of pregnancy--and this is my attempt. It feels like this semester has been go-go-go and full of fun things, while also being really busy with school (isn't it always though?). Over the summer, Dave and I splurged on a nice new camera because we were getting tired of our old one having focus issues and wanted to get back into taking good photos before the baby arrives. We both have had spurts in our lives where we've been more and less invested in photography, but we both really love it. Dave absolutely loves that we have the camera because we've never shared a hobby in our whole marriage to the extent that we share this one, haha. We took a few classes over the summer up in Salt Lake to just get a refresher on the basics, and since then we've been playing around taking photos of people and babies and Remus to practice. It's been a blast and I'll post some of our best shots here because we're proud of what we're learning!! We've learned that I really like taking photos of newborns and babies, and basically anything close-up, while Dave enjoys the wide-angle shots of scenery and nature and basically the exact opposite, haha. But he's coming to like shooting people too with our new 50mm lens that we are completely obsessed with.  Also, we've spent a TON of time learning Lightroom and working on our editing skills which has been a blast as well. It's so interesting to see our natural styles come out and see where we're different in our preferences. The differences are usually pretty symbolic of the patterns we've seen in the rest of our marriage too, which cracks us up every time, haha. So photography has become our go-to past time for our weekend nights when we're over school and too tired to be productive anymore--and we love it! (p.s. If anyone has a baby they'd let me photograph, please let me know! I'm trying to practice before baby boy comes!)

As far as school goes, Dave has made some huge breakthroughs on his dissertation this semester, which means he's close to proposing and hopefully defending sometime in the next calendar year--which would complete his program!!! He was also asked to help teach (which means teach) a class this next semester about Bayesian statistics (his dissertation stuff) for his program, which is pretty awesome since he loves Bayesian stats and teaching and he's great at both! We can't even imagine what life without school would be like, but it's feeling like at least somewhat of a possibility at some point in the nearish future now--which is more exciting than we can describe!!

I've also made some strides in my dissertation design, which means I'm getting closer to being able to start the official process of getting it approved, proposed, and defended eventually--but my timeline is much longer than Dave's, because it'll be qualitative and it's going to take forever. But I'm really really fascinated by it, so it makes it relatively easy to work on and once I get going I never want to stop.

Let's see...pregnancy and school...those are the main things in our lives. Oh, and our Sunbeams, of course :). A few weeks back Dave randomly said, "Should we do like an end of year party with our Sunbeams?" and I'm never one to turn down hosting a party, so I of course said yes and he suggested doing it before all the end-of-year holiday craziness and before this baby comes, so we decided on a Halloween Sugar-Cookie Decorating party. We did that this week and it was.......complete chaos. To say the least, haha. Just having seven 4-year olds in our little kitchen who couldn't really do anything by themselves meant that Dave and I didn't stop moving the whole night just to keep things manageable, but it was really fun to see them a little more relaxed than we see them every Sunday. And they were so polite and nice to each other and to us the whole night. We ended the cookies in about 30 minutes and let them play outside with Remus in the backyard for the last 20 minutes and they all just had a ball. Kids are Remus' favorite people, hands down. He just loves being around them and he's so gentle with them. It was really sweet to see some of the kids who struggle emotionally every week really quickly feel safe and bond with Remus. It makes me excited to see Remus with his own little brother coming soon!! So we count the Halloween Sunbeam party as a success because we have been told we are back at the top of the prayer list for one of our little guys--he used to thank Heavenly Father for "Brother and Sister Rackham" regularly, but apparently, we'd slipped in position, and now we're back to being at the beginning of his prayers, haha! And the kids were the most well-behaved I've ever seen them in primary today and just seemed relaxed and comfortable, so I think it was really fun for them and they enjoyed hanging out outside of church together.

I also had an MFT baby shower a few weeks back that my really good friend threw for me. It was just the girls from my cohorts (PhD and Masters) and one of my professors (female, haha) and I felt so loved and supported, it was so sweet of them to do it for me. I sort of had a mini panic-attack as I was opening the gifts because all of a sudden it hit me really hard that we were going to be having a real live baby boy and for some reason I started freaking out about that, haha. But it was sort of like a good freak out. Like...excitement? or something? Who knows? I have another shower this weekend that one of my best friends in the ward is throwing for me too and I'm excited about it--if only to get some adult interaction with these women--it's been forever since we're in primary every week! It's really been amazing to see how generous people have already been with us, and we are so grateful to everyone who's sent gifts and helped us prep for the baby already. Every little bit takes away some of the financial stress of of it all and makes us feel so loved and supported.

The only other thing I can think of is I've been getting trained in EMDR--Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing--which is a therapeutic technique/model for helping clients heal their trauma. I'm totally in love with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and that's for sure my primary model of doing therapy, but I wanted to be able to do EMDR with my clients who get stuck due to past traumas and severe reactivity around them. I did some EMDR myself with my therapist about a year ago and it's effects are pretty incredible (and quick!)--also the research on it is really really good. I finish my training in December so I'll be fully able to do it with anyone at that point! It's been fun to start practicing it with some of my clients and learn how to integrate it into my couples model when it's so focused on the individual healing. I feel really blessed and lucky to live so close to Salt Lake where all these trainings are offered--and usually discounted for students. I feel like I've been able to improve exponentially as a clinician over the last year and a half or so just because of the networks of people mentoring and training me here and helping me continue to push myself.

Okay! I think that hit the main points! Overall, life is really really good right now, and we can't wait for this baby to make his appearance--once we get the nursery ready and feel just a little more prepped with the right gear. As always, thanks for reading! Especially if you got to the end!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

10/12/16: Third Trimester Update!

We made it! Last Thursday marked the official start of our third trimester with this pregnancy (28 weeks). It feels like time is flying and at the same time 3 months seems like a looooong time to have to wait to meet this little guy...oh yeah, it's a boy! We never really got around to doing an official announcement for some reason on Facebook about the sex, but we found out around week 14 or something ridiculously early like that so we've known for a while now and we couldn't be more excited :). Dave was convinced it would be a girl, but I had a feeling it was going to be a boy. I'm surrounded by boys in this house--Dave, Remus, and even though we call Pepper a girl, we're pretty sure she's actually a boy, hahaha. So we'll add this little munchkin and it'll just be me to represent the female gender in the house! So different from how I grew up--5 girls, 1 boy! But I was surprised to feel pure excitement and love when we got the ultrasound telling us the sex. I worried I might feel a tiny bit disappointed if it was a boy, but I didn't at all! Maybe because I had mentally prepared for that. Now I only get a little sad when I see baby girls with their darling headbands and bows...but boys have some pretty darling outfits too, so I'm not too worried :)

I'm feeling really really grateful to be past 28 weeks and into the third trimester. I never really got that "second trimester boost" that some moms talk about with pregnancy where the second trimester just gives them energy and they don't feel sick and they feel like they're glowing. For me it was filled with lots of painful and intense contractions, a bladder infection, severe back pain (the combination of both, I think), and residual sporadic nausea and vomiting. The third trimester has already felt a little better for me because I FINALLY got a doctor to listen to me about the contractions (the fact that they aren't normal, I mean) so they tested me for infections and once I took antibiotics, they became significantly less painful, which has been such a relief.

I still contract every day sometimes up to 10 times in an hour and I have to stop and breathe through them or do my relaxation techniques to manage the pressure and discomfort, and they're getting more intense as the weeks go on, but at least now I know what's going on so there's less emotional anxiety around it. I have what they call an irritable uterus, haha. Yes, you read that right--an irritable uterus. Our birth class instructor thinks I should reframe it in my mind to "ambitious" or "eager" uterus just so I can enjoy them instead of dreading them, but I don't know, "irritable" seems to capture the sensation best. It just feels like my uterus is mad at me so it's going to put me through labor pains for 7 months instead of just 1. During the second trimester I was anxious all the time about going into premature labor because everything online said that if I was contracting more than 4 times in an hour (please...more like, when have I NOT contracted 4 times in an hour), if it was causing back pain, and if it was regular and didn't go away with lying down it was probably changing my cervix. So that's the difference between an irritable uterus and normal Braxton-Hicks, apparently. The irritable uterus contractions feel a LOT like active labor, and you can't do anything to slow them down really, but they don't affect your cervix (thank goodness), whereas Braxton-Hicks are usually a different, slightly more comfortable sensation than active labor contractions, and they'll generally calm down if you change positions, while still not affecting your cervix.

We still check my cervix and everything at every appt. just to be sure it's closed and not headed for labor and we've done the test to be sure my membranes are still in-tact a few times, which has helped my anxiety disappear almost completely, but every once in a while when I have a night where I'm waking up every hour or so with strong contractions I get nervous again that I could be going into labor. But I never do, I just contract and contract and contract, so at this point, I guess we'll just wait until I feel the urge to push or my water breaks before we head to the hospital! Apparently a lot of women with irritable uterus' accidentally don't make it to the hospital just because they can't tell the difference between their contractions and it's not until they're basically pushing that they realize they've been actively laboring in the last day or so. I'm hoping that's not the case for me, but I could see how that could happen really easily...luckily our hospital is literally 5 minutes away if something like that were to happen. And also luckily, anyone who knows me knows I'm incredibly hyperaware of any and all new symptoms (understatement of the century) so I really doubt I'll miss the signs of active labor with my first baby...

I have been really grateful for the hypnobirthing prep we've been doing, though, because, I've needed to use the meditations and relaxations to get through these contractions (sorry..."expansion waves"...) already and it's helped me understand physiologically what's going on inside of me a lot better, which always lowers my anxiety. We finished our last class last night and Dave and I are both feeling really excited to try an unmedicated birth at the hospital. I've loved how much the class involved the birth partners and worked on what you can do as a couple to cope with the long labor process together and the inevitable bumps in the road. We found an amazing instructor who is very Type A personality, very pro modern medicine, and all about empowerment in the birth process rather than having to birth a certain way or avoiding certain interventions. So we've left feeling that it would be awesome if we could do it totally unmedicated, and if we decide that that's not the right thing for me in the moment, then that's awesome I have other pain relief options I can choose to use, but I do know that unmedicated birthers tend to recover significantly faster and that's important to me as school starts about a week after this little guy is supposed to make his wish us luck please!

I think the only other thing of note about the pregnancy is that I failed my first gestational diabetes test so I had to do the 3-hour fasting one at the office yesterday and should get my results tomorrow. I'm praying I don't have it and the first test was just messed up because I had eaten something sugary beforehand (my bad...won't do that next time). But honestly, if I do have it, that would probably be the best thing to ever happen to this baby because I'd be forced to cut back on indulging my candy cravings and start eating mostly vegetables, protein, and some fruit. That would only do good things for both of us I'm sure, I just would rather not feel forced into that diet if I didn't have to be.

Sorry this was just all details on the pregnancy--most of this is just for me so I remember what's happening right now, but if you got to the end, congratulations, thanks for reading! Hopefully I'll write another post soon about our actual lives outside of pregnancy since there's been a lot going on there too! But for's a bump picture to enjoy :)

28 weeks!