Oh hi there, it's me and my big ol' bump checking in for a pregnancy update. I'm 34 weeks + 3 days, which means we're steaming into the drop zone at breakneck speed.
When I was 34 weeks with Niko, I was completely and totally ready for him to arrive. He could have come 3, 4, 5 weeks early, and it would have been fine. The clothes were washed and organized, the diaper station was set up, and the bassinet sat beside my bed ready and waiting.
This time, on the other hand, I am completely and utterly unprepared. I've been putting off a trip to Ikea, where I need to buy Niko a new bed so the baby can have his crib, and order a new storage system for the room that they will share so I have somewhere to put stuff. I need to get back baby clothes and supplies I've leant out, do a crap-ton of laundry, and get the teeny tiny clothes organized.
I need to assemble the extension kit for the stroller, and create a new diaper change station in the bathroom since the one in the bedroom won't work with two kids in there. I need to buy teeny tiny diapers, and butt cream, and nipple cream, and all that stuff I've forgotten about over the last couple of years.
I was totally convinced that Niko was going to be born early because my mom had all of her babies early (I, the first, was born three weeks ahead of schedule) but he showed me who was boss and turned up eight days late, narrowly missing being born on February 29th just to be extra dramatic about it.
This time I'm completely banking on this baby turning up on schedule or a week-ish late, because I need each and every one of those five weeks and 4 days to get shit done. Probably he'll be a turd and turn up early, so I need to get my act together, pronto!
How are you feeling?
Pretty good, thanks, other than the constant feeling that I'm carrying a brick in my vagina that might drop out at any moment. Turns out that no matter how strong your pelvic floor is (and mine was mighty strong) your body takes one heck of a beating during pregnancy that it never truly recovers from.
Oh, and veins. I've got varicose veins in places - not comfortable places, mind you - that I didn't know you could get varicose veins. I'm tired - some days so tired that I end up going to bed without any dinner - but in general I'm one of those people who is obnoxiously good at being pregnant.
Being a self-employed mother of a 2.5 year old I find that I have a lot less time for myself than I did the last time, so I'm not fitting in as many swims or prenatal yoga sessions as I would like, but am making up for it by commuting on my bike and standing precariously on stools to take food photos. That's basically the same thing, right?
My body feels heavy, but strong and agile, and I don't really expect that will change too much over the next 5-ish weeks. My biggest complaint currently is having to pee eight zillion times a night, and these awful toe-curling leg cramps I wake up with from time to time; a magnesium supplement is helping with those.
Emotionally I feel uncertain about how things will go when this little guy arrives, but I'm confident that things will click into place.
People keep asking me if Niko gets it, and I honestly don't know. He knows there is a baby in Mom's tummy (and he can properly explain the exit route), and that the baby won't have any teeth and won't be able to talk or walk or play.
I often tell him when I can feel the baby moving, but he's not really interested in putting his hand on my belly for much more than one half of one second. But, yesterday morning when he crawled into my bed for a cuddle and was snuggled up against me, the baby started doing its morning calisthenics and Niko said, "Mom, the baby's kicking!" unprompted. So maybe he gets it more than we know?
We're shamelessly up-selling how cool it will be to be a big brother, how the baby won't get to have cookies or ice cream like Niko does, and how he won't be able to do cool things like go to the playground or ride a bike. I'm planning on having a gift ready "from the baby" to soften the blow when they first meet (another item on my to-do list!), and some special activities lined up to spoil him in the early weeks.
Hopefully my guilt and anxiety over so rudely disrupting his only child status is worse than how it will actually go down.
How much weight have you gained?
Don't know. Don't really care.
I did have to weigh myself recently to provide some data for a research study I'm involved in (about gut bacteria in pregnant women and fetal outcomes, which means I get to put poop in the mail!) and the number was smaller than I was expecting.
Pregnancy is a time where people feel uniquely entitled to comment on your body, which I find annoying and disrespectful. It's either about how big you are or how small you are or where you are and are not gaining weight.
I like to remind those people that I'm busy growing a human person all by myself, and I am a g-damned warrior miracle maker and my body is none of their business. K? Thanks.
How do you feel about giving birth again?
I honestly haven't thought about it a whole lot, so I guess fine?
My labour and delivery was super straightforward and uncomplicated with Niko, so I'm not super worried about it this time. My biggest concerns at this point are what we are going to do with Niko when the time comes, being that we don't have any family around, and getting to the hospital on time, being that I pushed for all of five minutes with Niko.
Other than that I haven't put a whole lot of energy into thinking about it. I have to hand in a birth plan for my next visit with the midwife, which basically reads, "let's see what happens?" and "I want to speak English in the delivery room." but that's pretty much it.
How much time are you going to take off work?
I'm very fortunate to live in a civilized country with extremely reasonable parental leave. I'm using the word reasonable rather than generous because a) we pay for it with our taxes, and b) the WHO recommends exclusive breast feeding for 6 months, so I'm of the opinion that anything less than 6 months of paid leave is completely unreasonable.
Here in Sweden we get approximately 18 months of paid parental leave, which is intended to be split between the two parents. Last time I took 13 months and Paul took 5; it's normal and expected that the dad will take a portion of the leave.
This time around the situation is slightly different because I'm self employed. I still qualify for a full paid leave (like I said, I live in a civilized land), but I don't necessarily have a job waiting for me when I'm ready to start working again.
I'll probably take a few months fully off from contract work and seeing clients, and then start back up in a very part time capacity. It'll kind of depend on whether we get a chill baby who will let me get some work done, or if it turns out to be one of those d-bag babies that requires constant holding and bouncing. Time will tell.
My ambition is to keep the blog running other than a couple of weeks when the baby first arrives, which is why I've been furiously working ahead while I still have the time and energy.
When I was pregnant with Niko I used an Epi-No to "train" for giving birth. One of my nutrition clients recommended it to me, completely unsolicited, and I had such a positive experience that now I chase down random pregnant women on the street to tell them all about it, so I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it here.
It helps strengthen your pelvic floor, which aids in both pushing while you give birth, and in your recovery afterwards. You basically do your kegels but with feedback from a pressure gauge that tells you whether you're doing them correctly.
It's also used to stretch the perineum in preparation for birth, which some people think sounds weird but I explain it like this: if someone told me I was going to have to do the splits some time in October, you better believe I'd start training for it in advance; why should this be any different?
Niko was a big baby who was born very quickly and I didn't need any stitches afterwards, which I totally attribute to the preparation I did with the Epi-No. And no, that's not an affiliate link, I just really believe in this thing! I don't think it's available in the US, but is widely available in Canada and in Europe.
Recommended reading and other stuff I like
I read Angela Garbes' new book Like a Mother in the spring, and I seriously can not say enough good things about it. It's a feminist journey through the science and culture of pregnancy and childbirth, and I could not put it down. I'd recommend it to anyone, pregnant or not. It's a really fantastic read.
Registered Dietitian Lily Nichols' book Real Food for Pregnancy has been my pregnancy nutrition bible this time around. I left a well thumbed copy of it in Canada accidentally, and have bought another copy to have on hand since it's such a brilliant resource.
The Good Birth Companion was recommended to me during my pregnancy with Niko, and I found it super empowering and not preachy about doing things one way or another. It's written by a UK author, so depending on where you live the resources may not be relevant, but overall it's a good and worthwhile read.
I've been using Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter and I loooooove this stuff. It smells great, is super hydrating, and doesn't contain any scary chemicals. It's also worth noting that their baby shampoo is the best smelling baby shampoo in the entire universe. I want my kids to use it until they're 25 at least.
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