Sordid Stories at 8 Months

32 weeks and 5 days. According to my iPhone app, our son is as big as a honeydew, roughly weighing in at 4.5 lbs and 29 inches. He seems to be doing great flip-flopping in belly. Enjoying being heads up before he settles down for his hopefully undramatic arrival.

But it's not all fun and games in the pregnancy world these days. At my last appointment, which my mom was joyfully able to attend, my blood pressure was fairly elevated. Apparently, it wasn't the first time (though I don't remember a previous warning flag) so my midwife ordered a battery of blood and urine tests. This week I got some results and next steps that left me leaking a few tears as I pulled out of my "stork parking" spot at Kaiser. My blood work all came back normal. My urine tests needed to be repeated. My blood pressure was high again. After an unexpected conversation with the OB on call, she requested my blood work to be repeated and begin 2/week non-stress tests (NST) at the hospital until our son is born. She also dropped a bomb that bed rest may be in my future if my blood pressure doesn't start cooperating. WHAT?!?

With these added appointments, I literally have over 20 scheduled appointments between now and his due date. It's a part-time job.

I went for my first NST on Tuesday and what was supposed to take 40 minutes took an hour and a half. During the NST they are checking his movement and heart rate, my blood pressure, and I get an ultrasound every time checking my amniotic fluid levels and his breathing. We both faired wonderfully on Tuesday and I began reading Anne Lamott's latest book, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son.

Monitoring our every move....

All and all it was a great experience. The nurses are fabulous. The leather reclining chair was uber soothing. The reading was fitting. The extra peak at our son was beautiful.

Today I went in for NST #2 and within a few minutes she unplugged me and apologetically announced that after my ultrasound she was going to hand-deliver me to labor and delivery to be further monitored. My blood pressure was 142/100 and she did wanted me to be monitored by a doctor. Bleh. More blood and urine tests were run. My blood work came back normal. The "other test" requires 24 hours of gathering the evidence. Gross. My blood pressure was automatically checked every 15 minutes and vacillated from too high to normal. Baby Boy seemed to not notice as he rocked it floating obliviously in my belly. What I planned on being a 40 minute NST turned into a 4 hour detour in L&D today.

Tomorrow morning Brian and I head in for a 2 hour hospital tour, though I got the speedy version today. Tomorrow afternoon I get to hand in the "other test" and have another NST. And we'll go from there. A weekend at the hospital. Just what I was hoping for in the midst of the bathroom remodel. Who wouldn't want to spend their day off strapped to monitors instead of playing with little Ethiopians?!?

My BIGGEST prayer is that my blood pressure will stabilize in a normal zone and that I don't have to go on meds, bed rest, or any other terrible alternative (preeclampsia can be quite dangerous for mother and baby if untreated). The rest of my family also needs some prayer. Brian's pulling most all the weight at home and with our kids. He's always on, never off and getting oh-so tired. The introvert in him is screaming for care and I can't help. Judah and Addise are also starting to act out a bit. They are needy, whiny, and want their mommy. But mommy can't do what she normally does with them. I hate this the most. This weekend Brian and I are going to do some re-evaluating for these last 7 weeks and determine what must give for me and the baby to stay healthy. I need to listen to my husband and my limits more than ever...which is not my strong suit.

To leave this sordid post on a positive note, Brian and I determined over text messaging this week (the 21st century couple we are) what our son's full name will be!!!!!! Even after this week, his name means so much. We can't wait to share it with you after his safe arrival. Here's also a few pictures of the big brother and sister who get cuter and cuter by my assessment. Thanks for your love and prayers and help. We need them.

Making gluten-free oatmeal cookies together.

"Hurry up and cool down!"

My snuggle boy

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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

March: Looking Back.

March. Oh March. Where did you go? As the weeks fly by and we get closer to baby #3, our days get fuller and fuller. Our life margin is as narrow as it's ever been. But life feels abundant and wonderfully good.

If you know me (or my mother), you know I'm a woman of lists. They help me settle my ADD brain and make life manageable on paper. I've created a couple lists for these last 8 weeks and 3 days until our son is scheduled to arrive (who's counting?). One list for work seems impossibly long. The other list for personal projects is just called "Ticking time bomb tasks...". Last month we crossed off a number of HUGE tasks including buy a minivan, sell a Honda, file taxes, finish paperwork for Judah and Addise's legal name change, social security cards and adoption re-finalization, organize the garage and finish registering for my baby shower.

There was also about 2 weeks of sickness that invaded our house as we passed around some flu/cold virus. It spared no one. We also had 5 different doctor appointments between the 4.5 of us in a week's time. Glorious.

Did I mention all this was on top of growing a baby in my bulging belly, developing two little breathing beings, working full time in a high capacity job, and nurturing my most valuable marriage? Yeah. No margin. 

Last month was also graced with my parent's presence for the last week of the month. My mom is a picture perfect grandma - present, fun, affectionate, authoritative, teachable, and willing to be bossed around. Judah and Addise LOVE her and wish my parents didn't have to get on an "airplane to go bye-bye". My dad was also here for part of the time and though admittedly not a little kid guy, he found ways to connect with our kiddos - tickling, ongoing jokes, and loud noises - and they adore him. My favorite repetitive moment was Addise refusing to call my dad "grandpa" but insisting his name is "gamma". It started as a teaching experience and turned into hysterical laughter all around.

I won't even get into what this month - my month! - looks like other than a master bathroom remodel, hospital tour, have our carpets cleaned, and organizing whatever space isn't 100% utilized in our modest condo so we can accommodate another child and ensuing stuff. The month of May is equally as ambitious.

Pregnancy is well...not my favorite. My dad identified that I'm experiencing this pregnancy more as a task to be completed than an emotional journey. It's true. It's hard to do the latter with all the other happening. Currently, my favorite pregnancy symptoms are carpal tunnel, swollen face (especially my nose!) hands and feet, a dozen skin tags, itchy belly, utter exhaustion, compressed lungs that leave me breathless after walking up the stairs, snoring that keeps my dear husband sleepless, red rash around my nose, and waking up to pee or flop into a new position 3-5 times each night. And I may very well gain 40 pounds in these last 8 weeks. I'm insatiably hungry and munchy. I've also had a couple doctor appointments in the last few weeks that have indicated that my son and I are measuring about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, which either means he's coming early (PLEASE SOVEREIGN JESUS!) or he's going to be huge. Please pray. I'm begging you. Brian was over 8 lbs and his itty-bitty Puerto Rican mother had to push him out. I'm praying for a different end to our story. Otherwise, all is going well in this final trimester. "One and done" - this is the motto of my pregnancy.

Judah and Addise are impossibly cute and giggling at their shenanigans after bedtime, sometimes infuriated, often baffled, and ever grateful for their beautiful lives. Here are a few snapshots into this past month.

"PIZAZZ!" Is what my mom has aptly identified as Addise's 1-word descriptor. Her newest phrases are "what?!?!?", "mommy, where's dat?!?", "come on, mommy", while furiously nodding her head in a sing-song voice - "Ya like it?!?" She's also fond of saying "NO MOMMY" with some undisclosed authority, which is often met with stern discipline and a chance to do-over. 
Lord, have mercy.
Judah's first time constructively contributing to our grocery trip. He thrives on being a helper. I recently submitted this picture to a Gap open casting call which begins next month. I'm whipped over this one.
Addise got to ride a horse at a family celebration on Palm Sunday at our church. The cowboy who lead her down the suburban parking lot had her giggling with glee as the horsey galloped. Priceless.

BOUNCY! This is a pregnant mother's nightmare as climbing in to said bouncy house to collect her enthralled children is pretty much impossible. Eventually they came out. I don't know why or how.
Judah loved chasing and playing with some sheep, goats, bunnies, and chickens in a petting zoo on Palm Sunday. I have to catch my breath when I see my little Ethiopian having these childhood experiences for the first time. The longer he's with us, the more we see his confidence and boldness increasing. It's a reminder that our attachment work is not done.
Addise got her grubby hands on 4 freshly washed apples and gnawed into them with her little teeth. She was proud of her achievement. I was not.    


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

7 Months

I'm now 7 months knocked up. I'm in my third trimester and June 10th cannot come soon enough, I think. I've struggled a bit in writing about my pregnancy because like I've mentioned before, this has been no cakewalk for me.

There are so many layers to that sentence above that I hardly know how to coherently begin peeling them off. One realization I had weeks ago was that though this is my first pregnancy, this is my third child. When most women are pregnant for the first time, they aren't working full time and raising two very active, verbal, and opinionated toddlers. During a first pregnancy, women have more of the "luxury" of paying attention to every bodily change and responding accordingly to it. I imagine them napping regularly, nurturing their changing bodies, and making lifestyle adjustments to accommodate their changing body. I don't feel like I've had any of those privileges. "Enjoying my pregnancy" as I'm often encouraged to do, truly seems like a luxury that I don't have time or energy for.

I feel pregnant and it affects every waking - and sleeping - moment of my day.

I stand up and feel the pain in my hips and lower back. Waddling is becoming my walking style. I wake up in the middle of the night due to a sharp kick into my ribs. First thing in the morning, I wiggle my fingers try to regain feeling in my fingers due to the onset of pregnancy carpal tunnel. I weekly feel like my stomach is going to stretch to snapping like a too-taught, old rubber band. None of my shoes fit, but I'm still squeezing into them every day and Brian has to help me get them on. Walking up from my garage into our second story condo causes me to lose my breath for at least 5 minutes. I can't rock Addise before bed anymore because my belly is too big. I have to be careful bending down to pick my kids up. And once I bend down, I fear not being able to stand back up. My skin has sucked since being pregnant. Generally speaking, "exhaustion" is my life's most defining word. Brian is doing WAY more than he should and is also wiped out. Shaving my legs is becoming a joke. I will say: I do not have hemorrhoids or stretch marks. Yet. Thank you, Jesus. I can't regulate my own body temperature. I'm my own easy bake over and ice cube tray. My son insists his most active times being while I'm trying to fall asleep, and his favorite position is forcefully pushing against every rib. The stretching of my belly and his movements inside me are painful most of the time. Fashion is becoming a cruel joke. The smell of pork causes my body havoc, mainly resulting in puking or loss of appetite. I've thoroughly blown it a few times at work and have let down my team as a result of my new limits. I've been asked multiple times if I'm carrying twins. Awesome.

And I still have 12 weeks to go!

Last night I burst out to Brian, "Am I just going to be exhausted for most of 2012?" His gentle, reluctant "probably" was all I needed to sink into a deeper funk.

I've struggled to write about how I've struggled in this pregnancy because I do not want to be misunderstood as ungrateful. My lack of enthusiasm about pregnancy is not a reflection of my love for our son. I do not want a woman struggling with infertility or recent miscarriage, which I know full well, to hear a pregnant woman "woe-ing" about how hard it is. I used to hate those women. I haven't wanted to share my honest feelings about being pregnant because I haven't wanted to seem ungrateful for this miraculous life growing inside of me after 5 years of "trying" to get pregnant. My discomfort, unease, and general loathing of these 9 months is purely about how hard it's been for my body and our life.

And the thing is: I KNOW many woman have much worse pregnancies than I do. I know women who would give anything to be in my place right now. I know the Ethiopian mothers who carried my first two children, did not have the kind of care or resources I've been given these past several months. So, my own discomfort and melancholy attitude, makes me feel even worse for not just being grateful. Double-edged sword.

Maybe the last reason this pregnancy has produced such a tension within me is that I feel like I should enjoy pregnancy and marvel at it like the rest of womanhood. The lie I can believe is: "a good woman would treasure these nine months." I normally do not "should" all over myself, but my femininity has been attacked over the past 6 years: a woman should be able to carry a baby and when she does she should revel in its miraculous nature. I'm already not "feminine" in many ways [though I adore MAC makeup and a kickin' pair of heels] and do not fit society's description of a woman so this has thrown another kink into identity. These are the lies that creap in during hormone attack or a bad case of heartburn.

At the end of the day, would I change my circumstances? Absolutely Not! I've followed Jesus long enough to know that his ways are not my ways and are always better than mine. I've experienced the deep transformation that only occurs in pain and struggle. And I've come to chuckle at his humor in how's he's chosen to grow our family. I accept his ways. I surrender to his plans. But it's not without my full-on struggle within trust and submission.

So there it is. I hope you don't judge, but if you do at least you know the whole story. And even in your judgment, maybe you'll find some desperate words to pray for that crazy Diaz family and their growing brood.

Oh, here's what 7 months pregnant looks like on this momma...and please don't ask if I'm carrying twins.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.