So, I decided I had to have an entry that focused just on what I have accomplished so far in this pregnancy. I seem to spend a lot of time looking fearfully over my shoulder. But, I have put one foot in front of the other this month! Omigosh!
1) Information gathered, and decisions made (sort of) re: maternity leave. I have to say first that maternity/parental leave benefits are really good. Basically I can take 6 months maternity leave, and 6 months parental leave for a total of a year. There's a lot of details involved about collecting employment insurance, getting sick leave pay, etc., but the overall picture looks pretty good. So I'm grateful for that. Being a union employee has its advantages.
The back-and-forth in my mind was over when I should start maternity leave. I'm off for summer holidays till end of August (yay) but will be returning to work then for the last 6 weeks or so of the pregnancy. Rather awkward timing. And of course those are probably the most hectic weeks in the entire school year. I tend to spend a lot of time on my feet. Still, as far as I can tell, what most teachers with my board/union do is start the leave upon the birth of the baby. If they are unable to work right up to the birth, they take a sick leave, with doctor's note, before birth. This is what I've decided to do, in so far as I can make decisions about it right now.
People I've talked to have different views on working before baby's arrival. My immediate colleagues all seem to think I should be a home nesting and taking care of myself. Which sounds appealing, except that up to six weeks of that seems like a little...much. Also, if I take early leave I lose that time with the baby once born. And there there other inconveniences re: pension and benefits. My MIL had a different view: she said that there are many physical discomforts with late pregnancy and it helps to have a job to distract yourself. So, to make a long story short I decided that I would not put pressure on myself to make the "right" decision so far in advance. Later in August I will discuss it with my doctor again. I think it will be pretty obvious to me and to everyone else if I am unable to work in September, and I'm confident I can advocate for myself.
2) Signed up for prenatal classes. Actually, they are both pre- and post- natal: 5 weeks before and 5 weeks after birth. There are a variety of options available and I chose the longest course with the most detail. This was an easy decision to make because my knowledge of babies is natch, nada, non-existent. My life circumstances have coalesced to give me no exposure to or experience with infants. Neither of my older brothers is married or has kids. I never babysat. Mr. Turtle is eldest of his siblings and the other two have no kids (although that will probably change in the next couple of years). Neither of us have extended family nearby with children. I have exactly one friend my age with a child, and she lives in Scotland. The rest of my friends are child-free; some by choice and some by circumstance (or a bit of both). Although I work with a team of women who have children, most of them are older than me and their kids are bigger or adults. One colleague is only a year older, but she had her kids younger so they are school-age now.
Now, not gonna lie, when we were dealing with infertility I was quite grateful for this situation. Mr. Turtle and I could hang with friends and go to family gatherings and not be surrounded by babies and children and talk of children. I've read enough blogger tales of clueless friends/siblings/in-laws and harrowing baby showers/weddings/family holidays to be pleased that most of the time, I simply didn't have to deal with any of that. Nevertheless, it is a bit peculiar to now be contemplating the arrival of a baby amid all this cheerful childlessness. Ironically, Mr. Turtle works with a lot of younger women so he has a lot more people to talk to about babies and parenting. I'm happy for him, but what am I supposed to do?
Well in short, I still don't really know what to do but I figure an detailed course on babies is a good place to start. People also tell me that that it is a good way to meet other expecting parents and make friends. I'm not sure about this: am I supposed to become best buddies with people just because they happen to be procreating at the same time? But apparently this is how it works and what do I know, after all.
2) I start pre-natal yoga today! I'm a little nervous about this but also excited. As soon as I learned I was pregnant, I stopped going to all my dance classes. Many people do dance and exercise through pregnancy, but between the nausea and exhaustion and stress and mistrust of my own body, I couldn't handle it. I still walk a fair bit, with more or less enjoyment. But I have missed the peace and focus that physical activity can bring to me. I'm really hoping that yoga can be good for both body and mind.
3) I bought a swimsuit and am really looking forward to spending some time in the water. We have some good recreational facilities nearby that we haven't taken advantage of.
4) We have sort of a plan for the house/baby's room, although we haven't actually done anything. I haven't bought any baby stuff either, because at present I have nowhere to put it (and I haven't quite worked up the nerve). But that should start happening in the next couple of months.
Ember is 24 weeks today. I had another appointment with the ob/gyn. Heartbeat was a 135/140 bpm and the doctor could hear her moving around, although I couldn't feel anything at that moment. She said: "That's a very happy baby in there!" I have felt movement quite a bit in the past 4 weeks. It varies from little pokes and tickles: I think of those as her hands, though of course I have no idea, to bigger WHOMPS that I think of as kicks. Mr. Turtle has been able to feel movement by putting his hand on my belly.
I tend to feel movement in the morning (sometimes in the middle of the night) and then less over the afternoon, and then sometimes an increase again in evening or right when I go to bed. The doctor tells me this is normal and there's no expectation of how much movement is felt at this stage (although I am much happier when I feel it regularly. I admit I sometimes poke Ember to try to make her move, although that generally doesn't work. The one thing that did make her move was when I absentmindedly put a cup of hot tea up against my belly. WHOMP.)
I've had 2 kinds of groin pains off and on over the past month. One kind starts very low and then shoots upward toward the belly button, like I'm being pinched. It can be quite shocking. It can happen after walking or moving but also when I'm sitting or when I wake up in bed. Doctor said it was muscles and ligaments stretching and not to worry unless it starts to happen regularly and doesn't go away. The other kind feels like a throbbing pain in my vagina. She said that this was caused by pressure and it probably would continue throughout the pregnancy. Hurrah, another reason for me to be sticking my hand down my pants. I have been paying more attention to posture and body position while sleeping/awake and it does seem to help.
Emotionally I'm doing OK although my moods are pretty unstable. I admit that while I was accomplishing the things listed above, I had moments of feeling like I was a fraud. Like I am perpetuating a ruse on the world that I'm having a baby, and one of these days, the game is going to be up. The fear of something happening to Ember, or me doing something to harm her, is also a constant companion. Usually I can put it aside, but sometimes it hits me with paralyzing brutality. Although I do want to do some fun/healthy activities this month (I mean, other than reading and sleeping) I don't plan to venture too far from home or Mr. Turtle or my health care team. My feelings are just too changeable. One minute I can be really into something, having a good time, enjoying myself, then the next I can't stand it and I want to be alone/at home/lying down/away from everyone. So, I can't really see myself enjoying any long trips anywhere.
Anyway. This is getting rather long (that's what happens when I don't update for a month?) and the sun is shining outside. I will end with a charming encounter I had this morning. I was at my clinic, writing down my next appointment, when a very little girl walked up to me. She had been waiting with her dad for her mom and I guess she was restless. She was walking confidently, but had next to no hair and still looked baby-like. This little girl had great presence of mind and seemed very interested in me. I was charmed and showed her the flower pen I was writing with. I was rewarded with a big smile. Then, as I stood up to go, she walked helpfully to the door and put her hand on it (she could barely reach the handle) as if to open it for me. That made me laugh. I had to wait by the door for her dad to come retrieve her, as I'm sure if I had opened the door she would have walked right out with me.
Somehow the encounter with this happy spirit has strengthened mine. I can't see the future, but I feel like joyful sprites walk with me.
Oh, and erm. In honour of 24 weeks, I attempted my first awkward pregnancy selfie. Hardly the best picture I have of myself, but there it is.
(I actually much prefer this photo of a momma and baby seal, from San Diego in March.)