Monday, October 20, 2014

Full-Term Update, Plus Great Things About Being Due in November

"In case you ever foolishly forget; I am never not thinking of you."
(Virginia Woolf)

I'm 37 weeks along today, which means that baby girl is full-term now, but we have about 3 more weeks to go before she should really make her debut. The past week has been the most difficult for me of this otherwise great pregnancy. We're in good health -- I'm fine, the baby is fine -- but she's breech, so I have some decisions to make very quickly. There is a lot to take in and potentially let go of. In the meantime, I have been practicing various techniques and hoping that she turns. Only 3-4% of babies are breech at this point. Prayers welcome for me and my little troublemaker.

33 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a durian.
  • She may grow up to a full inch this week alone, and is going through more major brain development; soon, she'll be able to coordinate breathing with sucking and swallowing; her bones are hardening, and she has started to keep her eyes open when awake.
  • 33w1d: Heart rate of approximately 138 bpm.
  • Hospital obstetrical unit tour at 33w2d: It was very helpful to take an advanced trip to the hospital where I'll be delivering (and where my husband and his siblings were born), walk through the entire process, meet some of the staff, and have my questions answered. Compared to the major hospitals in NYC, this one is so nice, and has all private LDRs and postpartum rooms, which is a bonus. They are also opening a natural birth center soon.
  • Symptoms: Braxton Hicks contractions, acid reflux, unusual dreams.

In Frankenmuth, Michigan's Little Bavaria, at 33w2d
My list of questions for the maternity ward tour

34 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a butternut squash.
  • She can recognize and react to simple songs, and may find them soothing after birth; also urinates about 1 pint per day.
  • Appointment at 34w1d: Urine screen, weight, and blood pressure taken. Baby's heart rate approximately 140 bpm; measuring perfectly.
  • 34w2d: Prenatal massage.
  • Childbirth class at 34w5d: We took a childbirth preparation class at the home of a longtime L&D nurse who has worked at my hospital for around 35 years, has been teaching private classes for almost 30 years, and is highly recommended by my OB. Neither of them approve of the hospital-run childbirth classes, which staff outsiders who don't always know or give correct information.
  • Symptoms: Braxton Hicks contractions, increased pelvic pressure for the past couple of weeks.
  • Cravings: Cheese, biscuits, scones, pumpkin donuts.

With my fwends at the liberry at 34w5d

35 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a coconut.
  • She won't get much longer, but will put on a pound or more of baby fat before birth; her hearing is totally developed, and she responds best to high-pitched noises.
  • Symptoms: Braxton Hicks contractions, with a couple of stronger ones; acid reflux.
  • Cravings: Indian food, warm pastries.

In Detroit for dinner at 35w5d

36 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a honeydew.
  • Her skin is getting smooth and soft, gums are rigid, liver and kidneys are in working order, and circulation and immune system are good to go; and she's getting closer to being able to breathe on her own.
  • Appointment at 36w1d: Urine screen, Group Beta Strep test, weight, and blood pressure taken. Baby is measuring perfectly; heart rate of approximately 147 bpm. Received a phone call at the end of the day, asking to come in the next day for an ultrasound.
  • Appointment at 36w2d: Blood pressure taken. OB performed an ultrasound and confirmed that baby is in a frank breech position, with head up on the left, spine towards the left, butt on the bottom, and legs towards the right. October 15 is also annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
  • Symptoms: Braxton Hicks contractions, with some stronger cramping; hip and leg soreness overnight.

Chilly autumn evening at 36w5d

 Great Things About Being Due in November

To end on a positive note, below is my list of reasons to look forward to having a November or autumn baby:
  • Fall maternity photos.
  • Apple and pumpkin flavors, comfort food, fall everything.
  • Not having the last few months of pregnancy during the hottest time of the year.
  • Lots of time to wear roomy, thick clothes, and oversized sweaters.
  • Sharing the holiday season with a newborn.
  • Something amazing to be thankful for.
  • Baby's 1st Thanksgiving.
  • Baby's 1st Christmas.
  • Baby's 1st Christmas ornament.
  • Christmas cards doubling as birth announcements.
  • Staying home for the holidays, rather than running around for travel, shopping, etc.
  • Being able to hibernate and be less social/stressed.
  • Enjoying holiday coffee drinks, New Year's Eve champagne.
  • Cozy newborn and family snuggles during the cold winter months.
  • Not overheating when babywearing.
  • Not working during the holidays.
  • 2014 tax deduction.
  • Being in Michigan this year, it will be nice to have things quieter and slower paced and be able to do what we want.
  • Baby will be big/old enough to enjoy spring/summer outings, swimming, etc. when the weather gets warm.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Maternity Photo Session at Heritage Park

"The best thing to hold onto in life is each other."
(Audrey Hepburn)

We recently did a maternity photo shoot at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, MI with Lisa of Turtle Street Photography. We were lucky that the weather was ideal for September -- not too warm, chilly, or windy, with late-day sun -- and Lisa made us feel very comfortable, even though I was definitely out of my comfort zone. And, it turns out that her husband went to middle school with my husband! That night, they looked each other up in their old yearbooks.

We did everything quickly, within an hour or so, including 3 outfits for me and 2 for Sam. I wore: 1) a royal blue one-shoulder Mark & James by Badgley Mischka dress, 2) an ivory lace maternity gown from SilkFairies with a floral maternity sash from PaisleysPretties (both via Etsy), and 3) a sheer burgundy printed open cardigan and solid tank top from Motherhood Maternity with Old Navy jeans; all with different shoes and jewelry, though I ended up kicking off my shoes in the 2nd segment. To coordinate, Sam wore a dressier outfit and then changed into a more casual one.

Interestingly, I was most comfortable with the photos taken in the maternity gown, which I had thought would feel unnatural, given that it's not my usual style of dress/undress. I felt literally close to the earth though, and didn't focus on smiling or posing or even interacting with Sam, but was able to stand/sit/lay there and just be for a short while.

Huge as I may be, I'm happy to have some nice images to commemorate the near-end of my pregnancy. Not much longer before we meet our baby girl, the silent star of these photos!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

3rd Trimester: 27 to 32 Weeks, Including My Baby Shower

"Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch."
(E.B. White, Charlotte's Web)

I've said this before, but it's astounding how quickly this pregnancy has moved along. I'm at almost 33 weeks now, so there are only 4 more weeks until I'm considered full-term!

I'm barely at the stage where I've been thinking about actual labor and childbirth and bringing home baby, so I need to get up to speed, but I don't want to fill my head with too many perspectives or negative experiences. Oftentimes, our minds get in the way of our bodies, but we have to remember that our bodies are designed for this. My prenatal yoga instructor is a doula and childbirth educator, and she said that some of the "easiest" or least complicated birth stories involve either very young moms who haven't really done much research, or moms with mental challenges who can't or don't overthink the process. I want to be well-informed, but not overly so, so that I can have my own unique experience. I'll have a basic birth plan, but will ultimately go with the flow and do what is best for my baby and myself, not being too adamant about sticking to any pre-set ideas.

Aside from backaches and major issues sleeping -- which I'll chalk up to God getting me used to sleepless nights -- this pregnancy has been quite uneventful in a good way. Still, I have fears and anxieties that haven't gone away, and probably won't until at least after I give birth. I sometimes worry about her movements stopping and her heart ceasing to beat. I'm nervous to get the room we're going to use for her ready, and to unpack all of the lovely and generous gifts we've received and items we've purchased because I'm afraid something bad will happen and we'll have to return them. Overall, however, I'm happy and excited and I think I just need to de-clutter and organize and that might give me a little peace. Over the next few weeks, you'll find me nesting and preparing to welcome our baby girl. I've been working on some baby crafts, which I plan to post about soon.

Below are some details and photos from the beginning of my 3rd trimester until now.

27 Weeks, Start of 3rd Trimester
  • Baby is the size of a rutabaga.
  • Her lungs are going through major developments, which (combined with the opening of previously plugged nostrils) means she's now able to practice inhaling and exhaling.
  • I started drinking organic pregnancy tea -- containing red raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, stinging nettle leaf, and a blend of spearmint leaf, bitter fennel fruit, rose hip, alfalfa leaf, and lemon verbena leaf -- which is suppose to help to support pregnancy and prepare the womb for childbirth; and reading my one book on pregnancy, labor, and childbirth that I've had for a while now, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
  • 27w4d: Heart rate of approximately 147 bpm. I also noticed movement on the outside of my belly today, which felt like little people doing the wave, or hot tub jets, and turned me into a real shape-shifter.
  • Symptoms: Acid reflux with mild, brief nausea when getting up from lying down position; series of memorable dreams.
  • Cravings: Grilled or fried cheese (sandwiches, mozzarella sticks); candy (gummy/sour gummy candies are my favorite); chocolate (I'm pretty much always in the mood for cookies 'n cream ice cream or cookie dough flavors).

27w1d during our mini babymoon to Mackinac Island
Pregnancy tea and book

28 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of an eggplant.
  • She is breathing and showing brain activity, lungs are maturing, and skin is still pretty wrinkly (from living in amniotic fluid) but will smoothen as fat continues to deposit.
  • Gestational diabetes screen at 28w2d: Drank fruit punch-flavored glucola beverage at home and then went into the office; weight, urine screen, blood pressure taken, and 2 tubes of blood drawn. OB answered some questions about the flu shot, Tdap vaccine, and pediatricians, and then measured my fundal height and checked baby's heart rate, which was 156 bpm (a little higher than usual because of the glucose drink), and told me to return in 2 weeks. After the appointment, Sam and I got our flu shots at CVS.
  • This was the first week I had strangers ask about and congratulate me on my pregnancy, and store employees ask if I needed help taking groceries to the car. 
  • Symptoms: Round ligament pain, insomnia, heartburn/acid reflux at night.

Glucose drink for screening at 28w2d
Post-bagel outing in downtown Detroit at 28w5d

29 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of an acorn squash.
  • Her energy is surging, thanks to white fat depositing beneath the skin, and she's growing fast (weight will triple before birth).
  • 3D ultrasound at 29w0d: Note that dark areas in the photos below are shadows from fluid, or areas where she was pressed up against the placenta or my hip bone, which she was snuggling and wouldn't budge from! I used to think 3D ultrasounds were a little creepy because the babies often looked alien-like, but I'm so glad we got an early look at our baby.
  • 29w6d: Heart rate of approximately 143 bpm.
  • Cravings: Animal crackers, chocolate Teddy Grahams.

I already think she's the cutest!
Outside of a Toledo, OH mall at 29w2d

30 Weeks, 75% There!
  • Baby is the size of a cucumber.
  • She is moving a lot and plumping up; skin is smoothing out; increased surface area of grooves and indentations in her brain making more room for essential brain tissue; and her grip is strong enough to grasp a finger.
  • Appointment at 30w1d: Weight, urine screen, and blood pressure taken; Tdap vaccine received. Nurse practitioner checked baby's heart rate, which was approximately 138-140 bpm, and measured my fundal height. She said that the main concern in pregnancy at this point is preterm labor: If my belly gets tight and hard and cramping occurs, increase water intake, get off feet, lie down on left side, check for movement; and if tightening/cramping occurs 5-6 times or more in an hour, call the office or go to the hospital.
  • 30w2d: Prenatal massage.
  • Symptoms: Tightening pain, most likely Braxton Hicks contractions.
  • We went to NY at the end of this week for our friends' wedding as well as my baby shower, which my sister and sister-in-law hosted at Francois Payard's FP Patisserie on Manhattan's Upper East Side. I also got to meet my friend Angela's brand new baby girl, and have dinner with my family before I returned to Michigan.

Sunglasses to protect eyes from the glare of my pasty legs at 30w2d
30w5d, dressed up for the wedding and looking huge!

My Baby Shower

I need to figure out how to use my camera settings for better photos, but please see below for several shots from my baby shower at Francois Payard Patisserie 2 weeks ago. The "Ready to Pop" theme was carried out in the invitations, the prizes (mini Pommery Pink Pop Rosé Champagne and Essie Poppy Art Pink nail polish), and the popcorn favors.

Ready to Pop invite from Le Partie Sugar
Me with the hostesses, Grace and Maureen
Table setting with wish cards and menus
A handful of the handwritten wish cards
Unsure of our answers during one of the games
Baby headband-making station
So many flowers, embellishments, and colors
Some of the ladies' adorable creations
Speaking of adorable, how cute is this?
Beautiful flowers, tea, and mini pastries
More food, including scones, tea sandwiches, and macaron ice cream sandwiches!
3 delicious favor flavors from Popcorn Palace
Parting gifts from FP Patisserie: a box of macarons and orange peel breakfast brioche

31 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a pineapple.
  • She is going through major brain and nerve development; eye development, as irises now react to light; and all 5 senses are in working order.
  • Consultation appointment with prospective pediatric specialists at 31w2d: Spoke with a couple of medical staff members and saw the office and patient areas.
  • 31w4d: Heart rate of approximately 149 bpm.
  • Symptoms: Backaches; Braxton Hicks contractions; some discomfort from lots of movement that felt different (starting the evening of 31w1d) -- the best way I can describe the feeling is that it is like when you try to twist an inflated balloon, but you meet resistance and aren't sure it will twist successfully -- since baby is running out of space and trying to get comfy herself.
  • Cravings: With the drop in temperatures, apple cider donuts and hot chocolate, as well as grilled cheese and brownies.

31w5d at Trader Joe's... Yikes, baby is the size of a pineapple?

32 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a squash.
  • She is getting ready to emerge, and has even less space as she tries to fit in my increasingly cramped womb and prepare for her eventual descent.
  • Appointment at 32w0d: Urine screen, weight, and blood pressure taken. OB measured my fundal height, and checked baby's heart rate, which was 150 bpm, and told me that this is usually the time when things get more uncomfortable.
  • 32w0d: I took a short video clip of her movement (which I'll try to post here when I get the chance).
  • 32w2d: We had professional maternity photos taken this week by Lisa of Turtle Street Photography. I'm always uncomfortable in front of a camera, but I hope we managed to get some nice photos to remember this special time.
  • Symptoms: Back aches, Braxton Hicks contractions, series of memorable dreams.

32w4d and enjoying the beautiful transitional weather

I look back on previous pregnancy posts, when I couldn't imagine how I could possibly get larger, but the expansion keeps happening... It's like Manifest Destiny within my body.

Coming up, we'll be taking a tour of the obstetrical unit, since I've never been to the hospital where I'm going to deliver, and a day-long childbirth class with an experienced L&D nurse, and I want to schedule an infant and child CPR class as well. And I need to pack our hospital bags: one for me (L&D/recovery), one for Sam (personal items/tech bag), and one for Ava (baby bag).

Thanks for reading if you made it this far with me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Summer 2014 Michigan Eats

"Shedding late-summer tears for the end of cherry season. Patiently and hopefully waiting for pumpkin pie season."
(Terri Guillemets)

Summer in Michigan has passed so quickly. I didn't do much cooking, but we ate at home a lot, and also went out to a good number of local and regional restaurants, which we probably won't get many chances to do later this fall and winter. Please see below for photos and links.

Summer Home Cooking

Chicken yakisoba (used soba noodles) and honey-ginger baked salmon (which I first made almost 2 years ago)
Cherry walnut chicken salad via
Cherry lime galette prep
Cherry lime galette via
Chopped Italian salad prep
Chopped Italian salad (minus salami and pasta)
No-prep veggie lasagna with grilled eggplant, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and spinach
Veggie lasagna (I'm like Garfield... I love lasagna!)
Southern peach and cinnamon cobbler prep
Peach and cinnamon cobbler
Blueberry coffee cake prep
Blueberry coffee cake
Buffalo chicken pizza with shaved celery salad prep
Buffalo chicken pizza with shaved celery salad
Frozen pink lemonade pie prep
Pink lemonade pie
"Better than Augusta egg salad" prep
Egg salad
Tuna salad and cheese roll-ups prep
Tuna salad and cheese roll-ups
"The Best Zucchini Bread" recipe with orange zest and cinnamon
Zucchini bread

Summer Meals by Local and Regional Restaurants, Chains, and Food Trucks

American: Ashley's (Ann Arbor), Bubba's Restaurant & Bar (Traverse City), Coach Insignia, Comerica Park, Friends with Food (Traverse City), Griffin Claw Brewing Company, Kruse & Muer on Wilshire, Oakland Hills Country Club, Social Kitchen & Bar, Toast
Fried lobster corn dogs at Coach Insignia
Comerica Park treats, including maple bacon-on-a-stick, elephant ear, and Tiger Traxx ice cream cone
Faygo Rock & Rye at Griffin Claw Brewing Company
Yummy meal at Social Kitchen & Bar, ending with banana pudding
Asian Fusion: BD's Mongolian Grill, Tomokun Noodle Bar (Ann Arbor)
Cold hiyashi soba and pho ramen at Tomukun Noodle Bar
Bagels: Detroit Institute of Bagels
Bagels and more at Detroit Institute of Bagels
Bakeries: Grand Traverse Pie Company (Traverse City)
Barbeque: Pigs Eatin' Ribs (Traverse City)
Burgers: Bagger Dave's Burger Tavern
Coffee & Tea: Bubble Island (Ann Arbor), Teahaus (Ann Arbor)
Scone plate and refreshing iced teas at Teahaus
Cookies: Insomnia Cookies (Ann Arbor)
Cupcakes: Cupcake Station (Ann Arbor)
Delis: CityScape Deli, Maize and Blue Deli (Ann Arbor), Steve's Deli, Zingerman's Delicatessen (Ann Arbor)
Delicious sandwiches and sides at Zingerman's Delicatessen
Diners: Kerby's Koney Island, Leo's Coney Island
Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt: Stroh's Ice Cream Parlour, Sweet Earth
Superman ice cream cone at Stroh's Ice Cream Parlour
Various frozen yogurt flavors and toppings at Sweet Earth
Japanese/Sushi: Ajishin, Saica (Ann Arbor)
Long lines but worth the wait at Ajishin
Korean: New Seoul Garden
Mediterranean: Elie's Mediterranean Grill & Bar
Mexican: Huerto Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Mex, Rojo Mexican Bistro
Mexican meal at Mex, ending with avocado icebox pie
Sandwiches: Olga's Kitchen
Wraps, fries, and three cheese bites at Olga's Kitchen
Thai: New Bangkok Thai Bistro, Sy Thai Cafe
Tasty Thai at New Bangkok Thai Bistro

Though not limited to Michigan, I've also been to Arby's, Jimmy John's, and Little Caesars here (pizza pizza!). You don't really see those in the NY area, at least where I used to be.
Pizza and crazy bread from Little Caesars

To take a look at my past 2 years of food in Brooklyn, check back on previous posts:
Summer 2012 Brooklyn EatsFall 2012 Brooklyn Eat, Winter 2012/2013 Brooklyn Eats, Spring 2013 Brooklyn Eats, Summer 2013 Brooklyn Eats, Fall 2013 Brooklyn Eats, Winter 2013/2014 Brooklyn Eats, Spring 2014 Brooklyn Eats

Now that we've gotten all of the above out of the way, bring on everything pumpkin!