17 weeks tomorrow – approaching the halfway mark!
I’m at that point where I don’t really “feel” pregnant. I’m no longer sick and exhausted, but the tiny little movements I’ve been feeling are still small enough to be debatable (was that Baby? maybe?). I do have a bit of a tummy already, much different from last time when even at 6 months I still didn’t look pregnant! I've gained a little over 4 lbs so far. At this point, Baby should be about 5 inches long – that sounds so big to me. Wow.
I’m looking forward to my first ultrasound in less than two weeks. (Unfortunately, my husband will be out of town looking at potential houses to rent for when we move in the fall, so he won’t be there this time. My sister will be joining the boy and me instead.) No, we will not be finding out the gender. We didn’t last time and won’t next time either. I just can’t give up that wonderful moment, after all the hard work of labour and delivery, when someone shouts out “it’s a ___!” That moment is too perfect for words. I was never one who liked to peek at my Christmas presents anyway.
Fortunately, I don’t have a nursery to worry about (pink or blue? green or yellow?), as Baby will sleep with us for at least the first 6 months, but likely longer. We don’t need a new carseat for Baby, who will get the boy’s Britax Roundabout while he gets a bigger model. We don’t need a fancy travel system, as we look forward instead to the “second nine months” (nine months in the womb, nine months outside the womb) with baby snuggled up in a sling or wrap next to Mom or Dad rather than strapped into a baby bucket to be lugged or rolled everywhere. Some cozy gender-neutral zipper sleepers will get us through those first days, with some gender-specific ones added in eventually if this bambino turns out to be a little girl. No, I may be an obsessive type A planner, but I don’t need to know the gender to be wholly prepared for this tiny one.
What we are beginning to prepare for, though, is the birth. I have found a midwife and have my first appt (by phone) next week. My childhood family doctor is providing temporary prenatal care in the interim. What a difference between his five minute whirlwind appointments and the personal care provided by a midwife! I do admit, though, that I would have had a much harder time choosing a care provider if we were still in Ottawa, as we loved our family doctor there. She was wonderful through my last pregnancy, but unfortunately was not the team doctor on call the night I went into labour. I think it would be that – as well as hospital births in general (but that’s another entry altogether) – that would have convinced me to switch to a midwife for my maternity care this time around. Still, moving made the decision easy. We are looking forward to birthing at home under my midwife’s care.
We have also been preparing the little guy for his upcoming role of big brother. He likes to sit on my knee and talk about the baby growing in Mommy’s tummy (he seems particularly focused on the baby’s arms – “Baby grow big arms!!”). We talk about what he can do with the baby, and most of the suggestions have come right from him – sing to the baby, read stories to the baby, show baby “gentle”, give baby hugs and kisses, and, of course, play cars with the baby (okay, so some things will need to be clarified when the tiny little bundle of joy is actually here – but at least his heart is in the right place). We talk often about who we love. “Who does Jacob love?” “Opa!” “Who else?” “Daddy!” And so on and so forth. Then, “who does Mommy love?” “Jacob!” “Yes, Mommy loves Jacob very much. And Mommy loves Daddy.” “Daddy!” “And Mommy loves Baby too.” “Love Baby!” We talk about how Baby will drink Mommy’s milk too, something he brings up quite often now (“Share Mommy milk?” “Yes, honey, you will need to share Mommy milk with the baby.”) And on and on, in many different contexts, making this unborn child very much a part of our family and something for him to be excited about.
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve yet managed to wrap my head around the idea that in just a few short months, we will have two little ones to love and raise. Who knows, maybe it won’t really be driven home until I hear those first cries, but it did become a bit more real a couple weeks ago. It was a very strange thing. I had just gotten the boy to sleep and was walking out of his room when he let out a tiny little cry in his sleep. Immediately my breasts tingled in that familiar let-down feeling – familiar and yet no longer familiar, it having been so long since they’d actually let down that way. It was that very strange sensation that made me take in a deep breath, suddenly vividly aware that I would have a newborn around the house again. The constant nursing, the sweet milky breath, the sleepy baby nestled next to Mom, the perfect tiny lips, that newborn cry – it all came rushing back in that moment. We’re going to have a baby.
Thank you, God.
Speaking of nursing, I had the bittersweet realization earlier this week that it had been a few days since my toddler had nursed – or had even asked to nurse. I wasn’t even certain I still had milk. The following night, wouldn’t it figure, he did ask for milk at bedtime, and I gave it to him. He seemed to be getting milk – but then last night, just to confuse his poor mother, he wanted to nurse again but most definitely was not getting milk this time (and wasn’t upset by the fact). I’ve never been able to hand-express, so I can’t tell that way. It’s just this surreal period of my baby possibly weaning, my milk supply possibly changing, and me feeling partly sad, partly happy, but mostly just accepting of it all. I’m content with where he is right now. He’s entirely nightweaned, he accepts his Daddy’s help when he wakes up at night (and sometimes going to sleep in the first place at bedtime), he nurses no more than once a day, and he himself seems quite fine with the whole thing.
While I choose not to actively wean my toddlers, nursing boundaries are definitely put in place along the way. Babies may not “twiddle”, a distracted baby will be given an opportunity to nurse at a later time when s/he is more focused on eating, a biter will immediately be set on the floor for a few seconds (and possibly be startled by my involuntary gasp or yell), older babies and toddlers must ask politely rather than tug on Mommy’s shirt for milk, and toddlers no longer get to nurse on demand – sometimes Mommy’s busy, and sometimes she just plain doesn’t wanna nurse you, hon. Because of my body’s sensitivity to nursing (extreme delayed return to fertility), I do limit nursing for toddlers slightly more than I perhaps would otherwise – morning, naptime, bedtime, nightwakings (though increasingly discouraged the older they get) and occasionally at one or two other moments during the day, but this is a gradual and gentle process that evolves along with the individual child. We tried, for example, nightweaning at a couple different points with the boy, only to find that he most definitely was not ready. When he was, the process went much smoother and with very little upset.
We’ve also found that a change in circumstances is a good time to change habits – moving to a toddler bed meant nursing for a while and then climbing into bed to sleep, rather than falling asleep while nursing as he used to. Moving to an entirely new house meant no more nursing in Mommy’s room – you can fall asleep in Mommy’s room, or you can have milk and fall asleep in your own room. Pregnant Mommy just can’t quite handle what she used to be able to, so we find options that we can both live with instead. It’s what we’ve always done, and I suppose it’s why I don’t feel as much worry as perhaps I should over the idea of adding another child to our family – we simply adjust the way we do things as they need to be. When something works well for us, we leave it. When circumstances change, we change it. “Flexible consistency”, I suppose I would call it. I know that things will change with a second child. Some of those changes we are already preparing for. Others we can’t do anything about until the baby arrives. The rest we can’t even begin to anticipate, having never experienced raising a toddler and a newborn before, but we can rest calmly in knowing that our lives will adapt to these changes, regardless of how much or how little we worry about the “how’s” and “what if’s” ahead of time.
Anyway! I can see the length of this entry is quite getting away from me. Time to leave some baby talk for another day – and time to get back to analyzing those strange feelings in my belly. Was that a tiny little baby kick??