Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hello Third Trimester,

Dear Baby,

We are venturing into the last trimester together as one body this week. I'm always fascinated thinking about the two of us as two separate souls contained in this one body, sharing blood, sharing oxygen, sharing life. I am so excited you're a girl! I love thinking about Russian dolls, and knowing that should you decide to have children, the eggs are already inside you right now! So in theory, multiple generations of our family are all contained in our shared body at this sacred point in time. What an honor.

You are currently in the transverse position. I feel you move around all the time, but just around the edges of our anterior placenta, so it still feels so funny to me! You catch me off guard sometimes with your kicks, but I love feeling your movement. We also discovered extra amniotic fluid this week (("polyhydramnios")) that we will monitor every 2 weeks with sonograms. The cause is idiopathic, they don't know why! So in other words, I'm not sure if it's you or me, but we've been up to some mischief already together.

The polyhydramnios is why I'm looking so much further along than I really am. Also why I'm experiencing symptoms typically expected later in the third trimester ((heartburn, fatigue, swelling, pelvic and lower back pain, leg pain while sleeping)). We've been fortunate to have such kind and helpful people in our lives helping us out. Your sister is a busy 2 year old, and your daddy works a lot of hours, so both your grandmas and your Aunt Laura and Uncle Jordan have been very helpful with giving me a break. Of course, your sweet dad is the most helpful. He rubs my back every night, helps me stretch, gets me water and Captain Crunch cereal, and tells me how beautiful my ever-growing body is. I'm so grateful he's your daddy.

Your big sister is patiently waiting for her new best friend to get here!!!

Cravings: I'm still rockin' that ricotta cheese. Also loving cream cheese and yogurt. I'm really all about that dairy! I think my body is craving the calcium. I've also been loving childhood cereals. Captain Crunch, Trix, Fruity Pebbles, Reeses Puffs, and Lucky Charms have all been in the rotation. I'm jonesin' for some Captain Crunch right now as I type...

Size: The maternity photos in this blog are from a fun photoshoot with your Aunt GZ! They were from a couple weeks ago. I'm actually quite a bit larger today. I've gained 30 pounds, and even maternity clothes are starting to be uncomfortable unless they have the full-belly coverage. I started wearing a back support band, and the relief is INCREDIBLE! 

Chiropractic Care: I saw a chiropractor specializing in maternity care today for the first time! She was awesome. My sacrum, hips, and lower back were all out of alignment. Using maternity pillows and a drop-table, she adjusted my whole body, and I felt relief immediately. I felt like my body went back to two weeks ago in terms of discomfort. I'm going to continue seeing her throughout the pregnancy. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act covers complementary health care now, and we can use our HSA card for these visits! The ACA also covered our breast pump, at 100%. 

Work: I will continue to work 3 days a week until you are born, or unless I go on bedrest. Currently, I work Tues/Thurs/Fri, usually 0630-1630. I love my co-workers, my boss, and my job. I am sitting more frequently, and everybody at work has been so kind and helpful. 

I love you so much, sweet girl. I trust that you are going to be a happy, healthy, smart, and kind little baby. You're perfect. I've been saying "I can't wait to meet you" but I need to be more intentional about my words... I can wait to meet you. Please stay safe and sound in our weird little ((transverse lying, anterior-placenta, polyhydramniotic)) womb, and no more mischief until December 15th. 


Monday, September 7, 2015

Dear Baby,

Well hello, there.

Feeling you move around has been such a delight. Our placenta is anterior, so I've had a more difficult time feeling you when you were smaller, but now at 24 weeks, I definitely feel you move regularly throughout the days and nights.

You've been such a great baby! You haven't made me sick, and I've felt really happy and peaceful carrying you with me everywhere we go. I like knowing that even on my drives to work, I'm not alone; we are together, pumping the same blood, sharing space in my body. I am honored to be your mama.Your daddy and sister love you so much, too! Lilah has started even called you "her baby" instead of "the baby" a few times. She'll often pat on my tummy and say "I love you" or "Hi Baby" all on her own. When it's just you, me, and Daddy in bed, he'll put his hand on my tummy and talk to you. We love knowing that you can hear us now, and that the sounds of our busy home are already becoming familiar to you. Hopefully that means when you arrive, the constant barking of Teddy and Stella won't wake you up or annoy you. Hehe.

Cravings: The oddest craving I've had has been ricotta cheese with a spoon, followed by a spoonful of cherry preserves. Mmmm. Still sounds good, actually. I've really enjoyed cannoli, too. I think you really like that good ricotta cheese. I'll be sure to get you started on lasagna early in life. Also, coffee still sounds perfect, at any hour of the day. Alcohol has been much easier to give up than cutting back on coffee has been. I have 2 cups of "half caff" a day. And I could easily have 10. No aversion to it whatsoever. Honestly, this has been the toughest part of the pregnancy, but it's much easier now that we're in the second trimester and I'm not as tired.

Sex*: When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought "BOY!" I have had 2 dreams so far, and in the first you were a boy, and in the second, a girl. About 6 weeks before we knew for sure, I had a gut feeling that you were a girl. Before our gender reveal party, I kept saying how SURPRISED I'd be if it was a boy. I'd be so happy either way, of course, but I just envisioned having two girls. When people asked if I had a preference, I was honest. I would prefer another girl. If you were a boy, the surprise would be very fun, and having the experience of raising both genders would be a fun challenge, but I really loved the idea of my children having the same sisterhood that I had growing up with your Aunt Laura. I think the potential for friendship is so strong with the same gender. You two will really understand each other, and hopefully be able to talk to each other about things that maybe you don't want to talk to us about.

Size: I've gained about 20-25 pounds so far, and absolutely loving my pregnant body. I'm eating whatever I want, I'm sleeping well, feeling refreshed in the mornings ((most of the time)), and I'm not fatigued or swollen//uncomfortable. I love getting dressed and showcasing my growing bump as my favorite part of any outfit.

I love you so much already! I am so excited for December to get here, so we can hold you, kiss you, and have hours upon hours of snuggle sessions. I pray everyday that you are happy, healthy, smart, and kind. Take your time in there, but know that we are ready for you. We've been ready for you. I even re-read a journal entry from a couple years ago, when your sister was still an infant. I wrote "Even though I'm feeling levels of contentment like never before, I know our family is not complete. Even though Lilah Grace is currently our only child, I know she is really our oldest child." We loved you before we made you, and will love you forever.

As you wiggle around in my tummy, I know you are caught between realms. I feel so honored to be connected to the spiritual realm through you. I want you to know, sweet little one, that when you arrive earth-side, it will be my honor to teach you how we do things here on this planet, but I will turn to you to remind me what the other realm is like. I will sit and stare at you with awe while you sleep, and wonder what you're dreaming of. I look forward to hearing your sounds, smelling your head, and staring into your wise and infinite eyes. Your dad and I are already so proud that we made your precious little infant body, but we know that your spirit within that body is eternal, and we honor the Divine in you. Namaste, little bun.


*Originally, I used the word "gender" but that was just out of habit. Fortunately, a progressive-minded friend pointed it out to me. The world is changing, and so am I, and regardless of your sex OR gender, I will love you infinitely.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Musings From Another Mother: Luanne.

Once a month, I've been making an effort to share musings from other mothers who inspire me.

January: Janelle 
February: Ashton 
March: Andrea
April: Allison + Annie 
May: Jen
June: Mallory 
July: Becky
August: Sherri 

This month, I am beyond privileged to share musings from Luanne.

We are family, luckily. But if we weren't, and I somehow met her despite our age difference and geographical distance from one another, I know we would still be friends. We're kindred spirits. Luanne is married to my mom's cousin Eddie. Eddie's mother and my mom's mother were siblings. Romagnolos. Luanne lives in Rochester, New York.

I think the best way to describe Luanne to someone who doesn't know her, is by simply explaining how she submitted her responses to this very blogpost. All of the other wonderful women who I've featured have responded to my questions either via e-mail or Facebook messenger. Luanne handwrote her responses, alongside a 2 page handwritten letter. She is heartfelt, thoughtful, generous, and loving. I love having her influence in my life. I am convinced the internet is a good force when it brings people like Luanne and I closer together, when before this modern day, we probably would not have had much of a relationship. I'm beyond grateful for her thoughtful responses and her wisdom. Enjoy!

Definition of a feminist: 
     My definition of a feminist is someone who genuinely celebrates the power of women...seeing them as equal in every way, with the same rights and opportunities.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? 
     Yes...absolutely. I want my 3 daughters to have the same opportunities as my 3 sons.

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since having a 'feminist awakening'? 
     I never had a feminist awakening. I come from a long line of strong and powerful women. My grandmother ((Nani)) came from a big Italian family of 6 girls and 2 boys. No one dared to mess with these women! They were opinionated, honest and direct. They were always willing to fight for what they believed in. They called the shots and didn't feel inferior to anyone. 
     I knew from an early age I could be and do anything I set my mind to. My parents valued me and my opinions from a very young age. With my Italian family I grew up with mass, saints, candles, feast days, nuns, and Holy Water. So religion has always been a part of my life. However, I have found my faith has gotten stronger the older I get and the more I live and experience life.

Do you think feminism and spirituality are related? 
     I see my spirituality as the act of honoring my spirit. And my spirit, the essence of who I am, is definitely a feminist. Actually it is broader than that. My wish is for all people to be included, treated equally and respected for who they are and what they believe is true for them.

What do you do and what encouraged you to get into it? 
     I have a Master's Degree in Elementary Education. I taught for 6 years and loved every minute of it. There was never a doubt about the career I would pursue. I was teaching 'school' on my street and to my friends since the age of 6. However, as much as I loved what I did, I wanted to be home full time with my children. Once we could afford it, I happily gave up teaching to spend my days with my son, Michael...eventually our family grew to include Lauren, Alison, Joe, Sam, and Grace.

What spiritual habits/practices/routines do you incorporate into your life? How do you bring spirituality into your family life?
     I love to read. Currently I am re-reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I find websites, blogs, and videos on my iPad and read or listen to deep thinkers and their ideas on life.
     I also religiously watch Joel Osteen. Every Sunday at 8pm I am in church...really I am sitting in my living room watching Joel's current message. I also listen to him in the car. He is uplifting, positive, and puts things into perspective for me.
     As a family, we try to help people in need. If someone is sick or hurting we will light a holy candle and keep them in our prayers. We keep up with our family and friends near and far. And, of course we cheer each other on every day! I love having a big family. 

Do you want your children to have the same religious experiences you did? 
     I was raised in a very traditional Catholic church. I went to Catholic schools where I had a wonderful experience. I even returned to my elementary school to teach 4th grade!
     Ed and I picked an all inclusive Catholic church for our family. We wanted our children to see the value in a church that invited EVERYONE to communion, had women in the clergy, and a place where gay people could get married. The church is located in the city of Rochester ((New York)) and funds many charitable outreaches for the poor. Although we don't attend weekly mass, our children have made all their sacraments in this church. The atmosphere is open and welcoming to everyone, so the children can develop their own ideas around religion, morals, and values.

Is there a difference between religion and spirituality?
     For me the two are interconnected. Religion is your belief system in God//A Higher Power. Your spirituality is how you practice not only those beliefs but how you honor your soul. 

What do you think happens when we die?
     I was watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday with Marianne Williamson. Marianne described death as "extraordinary...a light show...fabulous..." She went on to say, "Death is not the punishment but the reward." I want to go with that!

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?
     With 6 children, we let life happen. Life provides us with plenty to discuss and debate. Our children are free to discuss anything that is important to them at anytime. We listen, advise, and guide as needed. We are a very open family where feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are put on the table and discussed openly and freely.