When we wake up together and do everything together

As Pookie Bear has been getting bigger, I am much more aware of all her movements. I can feel her distinctly when she is turning, rolling, undulating, kicking, wiggling her hands and feet. I can even differentiate now when she is hiccuping vs. actually moving. It is not only adorable, but it always fills me with this inner joy and calm every time I can feel her. So many other women have struggled and are currently struggling to conceive, whether it’s naturally or with fertility treatments, yet somehow I’ve been lucky enough to make it to this stage. Sometimes, I really can’t believe it. I don’t take a moment of this for granted, and every day, morning and night when I am rising or going to sleep, I give thanks for how far we’ve made it together. I’m 31 weeks pregnant now. It’s mind boggling to me that it feels like just yesterday when I was agonizing over the IVF retrieval results, wondering if the embryo transfer would “stick,” praying that for each progressing week after that first positive pregnancy test that I’d still continue to be and stay pregnant.

With her getting bigger and bigger, I can feel her wake up with me throughout the night when I have to urge to go pee. Sometimes, she is already having a party of her own, kicking and squirming and waving her hands down at my bladder when I wake up. And I wonder – why haven’t I been invited to that party? Or am I just a bit of a punching bag, or rather, is my bladder a punching bag for her, which is why in any average night during my third trimester, I’ve had to wake up three to six times to pee? And when I wake up in the morning, she wakes up with me, too, and she kicks and turns and makes her presence known.

I’ve loved every moment of being pregnant (well, minus the sciatica, which, knock on wood, is gone now, and the constant peeing). And despite the increase in weight and the additional cellulite on my thighs and the stretch marks on my hips, I love how my body has changed to accommodate and make room for her. It will be a bittersweet moment when all of this ends, when she is finally ready to come out and be born, as then she will be outside of my body and no longer a physical part of me. We will no longer be attached. She will no longer be physically dependent on me, but will be dependent on me in a different way — for nourishment, cleanliness, love, and support. It’s strange to think that this is all going to come to an end soon and will be a new beginning for the both of us. I hope I will remember these special moments with even her smallest movements, even when she is throwing tantrums or food or toys or even my favorite belongings in the future, because they have been some of my happiest. Soon, we won’t do everything together, but I will always look back at these times before she came into the world with warmth in my heart.

Mourning what could be

My therapist and I were discussing my family situation, and I told her that pretty much no fail at every conversation that talked about the baby’s birth and coming home, everyone has asked about whether my mom will be there to help support us. And my general response is, no, I think that would cause more problems than it would actually help or comfort me. And while all of that is true, in an ideal world, my parents would be there to support me bringing new life into the world. My mom had the support of my grandma, her mother-in-law, when she brought Ed and me home from the hospital. Even though my grandma was a bit of a psycho witch to her in her initial years after coming from Vietnam, she did take care of my mom and us. She cooked my mom food and helped out with the baby as much as she could. In Chinese culture, as with many other non-Western cultures throughout the world, there’s this concept of postpartum confinement or nourishment, when after a woman gives birth, she is cared for and nurtured by her mother, aunts, sisters, other members of her family to recover as quickly as possible from child birth, which is very obviously physically and mentally taxing on the birthing person. In Chinese, it’s known as “zuo yuezi,” or “sitting the month” (after child birth). The birthing mother’s sole job for about 30-40 days postpartum is to a) recover, heal, and be replenished from childbirth through eating nourishing foods and resting, so no going outside and lying down / sitting as much as possible; and absolutely no housework, and b) breastfeeding her baby. All other tasks are for the baby’s father and the rest of the family to take care of. We have endless photos of my grandma holding and carrying us when we were babies, so we know for a fact she played an active role in our upbringing. My mom recounts often the times postpartum when my grandma fed her nourishing, delicious postpartum Chinese dishes and helped with diaper changes and baby needs, and to this day, she is grateful for her help and support (especially since my dad was pretty useless, but that’s another story for another day). My mom hasn’t offered to come to support us, and well, even if she did, I probably wouldn’t want her to come because I know she’d cause a lot more angst and stress than needed. That doesn’t even include the fact that she’s not really physically or mentally all there; she’s constantly unstable and cannot even hold a coffee mug, resulting in endless coffee stains all over the carpet at home. She causes more problems in her head than actually exist in real life with everyone, whether it’s my aunt or my cousins or who she claims to be her “best friend.” I need to deal with reality, not the reality that she has chosen to make up in her head and run with.

So my therapist suggested this to me: it’s okay to feel sad or frustrated that the experience you wanted isn’t going to happen. It’s okay to mourn what you wished could happen but cannot for the given circumstances. I’m not sure if I would call it “mourning,” or wistful thinking about what could have been. But I just know it won’t happen the way it would in an ideal world with the ideal family that I do not have.

Enjoying the little things

While on my short walk to dinner with a friend just 10 minutes away, I was thinking about how everyday a dinner with a friend currently is, and how it’s not going to be as easy once the baby comes. Going to the theater or a comedy show is just an everyday thing in New York, but all these seemingly everyday fun outings aren’t as simple with a child. In the future, I’ll have to think about who’s going to look after the baby when I am out, or if Chris will be able to, or if a friend or babysitter will be needed. That’s actually one downside of not having grandparents around: you don’t just automatically get free babysitting when you need it. And with friends, most friends won’t be willing or able (who wants to change diapers?!) to babysit, while others… well, their ability or trustworthiness with a tiny human who can’t fend for herself may be a bit questionable. Once upon a time, it would “take a village” to raise and look after a child. Now, it’s really just the parents assuming grandparents aren’t around, and whatever hired help they can find or afford. And when I had a pediatrician online consult today, she suggested that the baby not go on the subway or any public transportation until she at minimum has her first set of vaccines at around 2 months of age, which means that we’ll be restricted to places walking distance from our area, or Uber/cab rides.

Life changes pretty quickly with a new family addition. But my hope is that amidst all the lack of sleep, blow-outs, poop and pee everywhere, and disheveled household, that I’ll be able to enjoy these moments because babies grow up so fast. Time really flies quickly, especially the older I get. I can’t even believe we’re already in autumn of 2021 and that I’m now in my 31st week of pregnancy!

Lying down and sleeping – what joy!

For the first time in almost a week, I actually fell asleep lying down last night. I couldn’t believe it. It actually felt like a miracle! Even though it was about 4-5 nights of pain and being forced to sleep sitting up, being able to sleep half on my side last night and partly on my back felt joyous and amazing, like a great feat that was achieved. It sounds ridiculous when you think about it, but it really felt that way to me. I was terrified that I’d have painful shooting sciatic pain for the rest of my pregnancy. It may come back depending on the changing position of the baby, but for now, I will enjoy my little respite.

A lot will change once the baby comes, as pretty much every professional, doctor, and parent will tell me. I’ll need to enjoy the seemingly little things or small moments, whether that is being able to sleep an hour or two at a time, getting outside for fresh air for just 10-15 minutes, having enough energy to prepare an actual from-scratch dish, or having what I perceive to be a full-on shower with my hair fully washed and towel dried. So I might as well start enjoying the small wins now while I can, and sleep as much as I can for as many uninterrupted periods (well, other than peeing what feels like every two hours).

Jo Koy at Radio City Music Hall and fetal activity

Last night, we went to see the comedian Jo Koy at Radio City Music Hall. It was a much longer show than expected that also ended with a bit of a ’90s R&B concert series; Jo Koy can really sing!! Every time we’re at the theater, comedy, or at events where there’s lots of noise and social interaction, the baby tends to get a lot more active than usual, kicking and waving her hands all over the place, shifting, turning, and making her presence known. It’s almost like she knows that fun is outside of the womb, and she wants to be included in the action.

I’ve also noticed that recently, I think I can detect the difference between her movement and her hiccups. The movements are like more distinct kicks, turns, swivels, pushes, and waving, whereas the hiccups are like her whole tiny body shakes… which feels like my entire uterus shaking from being started. I suppose she is drinking in all the amniotic fluid, which is supposed to taste like what I am eating!

30-week ultrasound

I went into the maternal fetal medicine/ultrasound unit at the hospital this morning for my fourth complete ultrasound, the 30-week ultrasound. At this ultrasound, the goal is to assess the amount of growth of the baby to ensure she is on track (and actually growing) to survive outside of the womb. Unfortunately, Chris was allowed to go only to the 12- and 20-week scans, so the 16-week and this 30-week scan I had to do on my own. Fortunately, the sonographer did allow me to record some of the scanning she did. It was much, much shorter than all of the previous hospital scans I’d done. The 20-week scan was excruciatingly long, but this one lasted probably less than 10 minutes, which I was really surprised by because on the phone when I confirmed my appointment, they told me to set aside at least 30-45 minutes. The sonographer took a close look at her hands, feet, limbs, and measured her head and stomach. She also took a closer look at the baby’s brain. Baby growth still looks good, and her heart beat looks good as well. The doctor said everything looked normal and on track, and he had no concerns. So the next time I go in, which I believe is my last hospital scan, is at 35 weeks.

The sonographer also tried to focus in on the baby’s face to get a 3D image of her, and when I saw it, I thought… wow. She really looks like Chris did when he was a little baby. My little baby looks like my big baby now. 😀

When the baby shifts and the limping begins again

Two chiropractor visits and $150 later, I thought I was on the road to recovery. And last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and knew that something had regressed in my leg right away when I tried to bend it, and my knee immediately hurt. I felt the shooting pains again, and I hobbled my way to the bathroom to pee. Nooooo, I thought to myself. My limp was getting better, and I didn’t need to hobble like this, so why am I hurting AGAIN?

I felt the baby move, and I noticed that again, her position had changed. This is all really being caused by her shift in positions. So maybe the chiropractor helped. But maybe not enough because nothing he does can really prevent the baby from moving into a position that will push down on my nerves.

How long is this going to last? Am I going to be in an on-again, off-again pain situation for the rest of my pregnancy? I was hoping to be physically active and productive for the rest of this pregnancy, and I’m not sure it’s going to be exactly as I envisioned with this sciatic nerve issue. I’m downtrodden. Whyyyyyyy?

First visit at the chiropractor’s

The baby had moved positions in the wee hours of the morning before my chiropractor appointment, but I wondered if this visit would additionally help me at all. I went in, spoke with the doctor, and told him where I was experiencing pain and what it felt like. He asked some follow up questions and asked some clarifying questions, and he came to the conclusion that I was suffering from facet syndrome with mild sciatic neuropathy as a result of the uterus pushing down on my facet bones in my pelvic region and ultimately my sciatic nerve. He massaged my lower back, some pressure points around my butt bone and hip, and also adjusted me in three different spots. Well, no one is going to complain about a massage! And the adjustments felt really good, though the first one did seem a little scary initially. While all of this was a new experience to me, I actually found it a little comical that it had taken me this long to see a chiropractor. Both my parents regularly see the same chiropractor. When Ed was still here, he saw the same family chiropractor, as well. It was really only a matter of time before I finally saw one, too.

He ended our session by whipping out an object that appeared to be a cross between a drill and a multiple-bullet nerf gun. It looked pretty terrifying. He said that it might hurt a bit, but he also insisted that it would help relieve a lot of my tightness along my hip and IT band in my leg. So he applied it on both sides, slowly running it up and down the sides of my thighs and hips, and while it was a little painful initially, the pain gradually transitioned into a rough massage feeling, and when he finally shut the device off, I felt even further relief. “So, what is that called, and I can get one of those things?” I asked him, grinning.

Welp, lay people like myself can’t just pick up one of those devices from Amazon. You actually have to be a certified chiropractor with a practice to use those things. At least I tried to ask.

I went back again today. If anything, the visit was worth it just for the massage and that amazing drill-nerf gun device, which could be like my new best friend.

Another poor night of sleep

Last night until about 2-3am, it was pretty much impossible to find a position that was comfortable and didn’t result in burning sensations or shooting pains down my hip and right leg. I kept trying to adjust in bed, and everything failed. Chris finally dragged the sturdy leather chair from the second bedroom into our bedroom, and we took a big diaper box and plopped it in front of the chair as a makeshift leg stool. He arranged the pillows and blankets on the chair for me to attempt to sleep there. It was much more comfortable there, and I pushed the ice pack onto my right hip for relief. It still hurt, but I felt more comfortable half lying on something that was more sturdy since our mattress really isn’t too firm. The pain lingered until about 3am, and suddenly, something, or SOMEONE, shifted in me. I could feel her movement change and the areas where I felt her hands and feet were not the same anymore. At that point, I needed to pee, so I slowly tried to get myself up, and I quickly realized that it was so much easier than a few hours ago. While my right leg was still weak, I didn’t have the same kind of weakness in my knee. I could walk more comfortably, and it seemed like a relief. The shooting and burning feelings were gone, too. THANK GOD.

After I used the bathroom, I attempted to go back to bed to sleep. I still couldn’t lie down and feel comfortable, so instead, I just sat at about a 45 degree angle and fell asleep. It felt like a small victory… all because baby likely decided to shift her position.

This little baby could very much be both the biggest blessing and the biggest pain of my life.

Lying naked and in pain on the floor

This morning, I was limping. I knew that I wasn’t even close to 100 percent, but I wasn’t experiencing any shooting pains down my leg, so I figured I could at least go to the gym to walk on the treadmill, do some upper body exercises, and stretch my back and limbs, so I did that. Except, well, the stretching of the limbs didn’t really go so well. I knew something felt wrong when I got up from my child’s pose and felt a deeper dull ache on my right side. I limped my way out of the gym and onto the elevator, back to my apartment. Undressing for the shower was extremely uncomfortable; I had to sit down the whole time while undressing. And then finally when I got all my clothes off, I tried going to the bathroom and totally failed. I ended up crouching, then lying on the floor naked, wondering how I had come to this. I kept trying to get up, but my right leg felt so weak and the shooting pains were starting again that I could barely gather the energy to get my entire body up. So I gave up and just laid there, feeling miserable and sorry for myself. I Slacked my boss to let her know I had to take the afternoon off and that I’d reschedule all my meetings.

Then, I laid there for a good 30 minutes before I was finally able to get up, limping even harder into the bathroom. I somehow found the energy to make it into the shower. Boy, did THAT take a lot of effort. I think the warmth of the water really helped because after that, I was actually more mobile and nimble. I then proceeded to call multiple chiropractor offices to see if they’d take my insurance and tried to make the closest appointment possible. Unfortunately, none of them were in-network with ANY insurance (how fun for me), but I was desperate and I needed SOMEONE to help me feel better.

I finally made an appointment for 10am the next day, and I hope this helps. It will be my first time at a chiropractor’s office, so I hope I leave feeling better and not broken.