Thursday, August 27, 2009

Something is definitely happening

Yup, hitting the growth period. Here's what the baby is up to right about now:

Growing the first layer of fat
Practicing suckling and swallowing
Developing fingerprints

And...the ear is developed enough that it can hear by now! Rest assured we're giving the baby a briefing on current events at regular intervals. Ok, maybe it's more like "hey, future baby, you're a tiny baby!"

Still feeling good. It's all visual at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mmm, sciency!

I just finished the book Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy by David Bainbridge. The author is a biologist, not an obstetrician, so his point of view was completely different from the other books I've read. He contrasted human pregnancy to that of different kinds of animals, especially mammals. The range among mammals is pretty astounding, regarding all the steps of procreation. How many eggs, when are they released, how many are fertilized/rejected, how the body reacts during pregnancy, etc. Did you know that humans and Old World primates are the only ones with monthly menstruation? Dogs do have some form of estrus involving what looks like menstruation but actually is different. The whole "shed your lining" thing is pretty much just us. I guess dealing with PMS and the mess is preferable to going into heat once or twice a year.

I learned so much about the process going on inside. The transformation is rather amazing. The baby's eyes, for example, grow from the stalks outward, but the lenses actually start as separate pieces that move inward. My mind filled with visuals of lungs sprouting from the early esophagus and the rest of the tube growing in odd spurts to make the bends of the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Just as you begin to succumb to the awe of the perfection of it all you read about the "first kidney". The first kidney the baby develops is actually grown in its throat. No kidding. This kidney serves no purpose at all. Even as it is finishing it's formation, it is taken apart, and eventually completely vanishes. Our closest relative that actually makes use of this phantom organ is the lamprey. The second kidneys that are formed actually function as kidneys for a while, but eventually become the reproductive organs. Can you imagine transforming from filtering waste to producing eggs or sperm? It's only after that that the baby makes the real kidney set. Crazy.

It's a common misconception that babies go through different "evolutionary stages" in the womb. No, they don't start out as amoebas, become fish, lizards, etc. There are differences between our development and animal development from the very beginning to the very end. However, what they do have is similar starting points, rudimentary forms that have been completely repurposed. For instance, no, embryos do not develop gills. They do have primitive structures called "pharyngeal arches" that become gills in fish, but become all different specialized things in humans, from your thyroid to your facial muscles to pieces of your inner ear.

There are more amazing embryo comparisons than I can remember. You know how your basic fish has a horizontal line running down it's side? This line is a sensory organ that detects electromagnetic changes in the water around it, among other things. The basic structures that grow into this sensory organ in fish are present in a human embryo - and they become the taste buds on the surface of your tongue. Awesomeness.

Pretty much everyone has heard of amniotic fluid. It's the stuff the baby is immersed in. When the "water breaks", it's amniotic fluid pouring out. There's a test called "amniocentesis" which involves extracting some of it for testing. But what is the stuff? It's...well, it's fetus urine. The fetus does actually pass liquids, and it then swims, breathes, and lives in it the whole time. Yes, really. Obviously the type of "urine" the fetus makes is totally different than the urine it passes after it's born, but it still makes you think, both about how weird and how amazing this process is. (I know I read this factoid before I read this book, but this book hit it home.)

Other great stuff in there - detailed accounts of the history of prenatal science and the scientists behind them, including those that were debunked and those that were ahead of their time.

All that said, if I were to recommend this book, I'd mention a few caveats. Printed in 2000, it talks about the controversies of fertility science, yet the term "stem cell" is never mentioned, as it was all too new then. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of the author's tone. Everything was conflict - the baby struggling to survive, the mother struggling to bear the child. I know that these struggles are real but he did seem to harp on them.

Still, it was easy to look past the tone and read the hard science. I'll even give him a special boost because he talked a lot about what we don't know. There is still plenty to be learned, and this, too, is somehow comforting...though maybe in the 9 years since it was printed, all that was solved. Right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weirdly normal

Ah ha, here is one of those things that the touchy-feely books tell you! Do not freak out over supposed small signs.

When I was queasy, I ate much of the time to help my stomach settle. Even after the nausea faded away, I still ate more snacks than I used to, still wanted more fruit. When I did get hungry I felt demanding - food now! But now I have found myself back to square one. As the early symptoms faded so did my visceral reaction to being hungry, causing appetite to recede slowly back to my previous, small appetite. Part of the reason I've stayed thin over the years is because I really don't want to eat all that much, and delay eating easily.

Of course as soon as I realized that this was true I started worrying. Is something wrong?? I became even more vigilant in checking all the possible signs of problems. Everything else seemed ok, but still, I started wishing my next OB appt were sooner.

Then, DING, it looks like I've begun the next stage. I think the baby has finished its basic formation and now it's starting to grow in earnest. The scale is starting to creep up. I feel a tiny bit bigger each day. Even my boobs grew another notch larger this week.

It's hard for me to make sense of this. Why aren't I wolfing down food at this point? Why do I feel so normal, except for the slight uncomfortable bit in the middle? Perhaps the kid is just ahead of me, and it will take my body a bit longer to figure out that my calorie needs have gone up. As it was, when I felt ill originally, it did take at least a few days for my internal metabolism to figure out that food was the answer to my tummy trouble, and another few days before any queasiness made me growl in hunger. Maybe this time next week I'll be back to stuffing my face. Maybe it'll take the real hunger of my adorable baby parasite stealing my nutrients to get my Pavlovian reaction going again.

Or maybe I should stop second guessing everything. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 14

Here's the visual update. Click on the photo for full size.

Yup, definitely gained a few pounds. It's surprising how easy it is to hide it under a flowing top, but my tight shirts give me away now.

Not much else to say at this point. More as it happens!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My little nerf football

We had a lovely time in San Francisco/Oakland, staying with friends. They're about to have a baby in September, so it was quite an education, seeing how she's coping with the large presence in her belly. The kid moved constantly, and she moved her position constantly to accommodate. We later found out she was also experiencing the usual Braxton Hicks contractions, completely normal "practice" stretches which get the uterus limbered up. Incredibly exciting!

We also had amazing timing, as another set of friends who were due that week had their baby on Friday night...and we were lucky enough to get to see them and their 2.5 day old bundle on Monday. Luckier still, the baby was in sleep mode, which is easily the best out of the three mode choices (sleep, breastfeed, scream). We even got to hold him as he was totally conked out. Mazal Tov!

Needless to say, it was incredible to see these future stages first hand, even as my pregnancy remains a baby bump that people wouldn't dare to label pregnancy over mere weight gain.

My condition didn't hamper our trip at all. Even through the winding coastal roads we chose on the way up, my slight carsickness felt normal for me, and easily relieved by a walk and a snack. We made sure to bring snacks and drinks, stopping when needed. It's all precautions that anyone should take on any sizable roadtrip.

I can't say I've gained enough bump to even be worthy of another photo. Perhaps next week. For now I simply feel like I have one of those mini nerf footballs inside me.

When I bend straight over at the waist I can feel it: a soft, seemingly inert object inside of my digestive tract, about 5 or 6 inches long. It's already affected how I walk, how I sit, how I recline. My legs naturally amble wider, my toes pointing away from me. The aforementioned bending leaves me a little dizzy and breathless. I'm learning to bend the knees, but that squatting position isn't desirable either. The most drastic part is that my usual sitting slouch has gotten to the uncomfortable stage, where it only takes a few seconds for me to be annoyed enough to actually - wait for it - sit up straight.

At this early stage it's surprising how I already feel like I'm acting physically encumbered, even though the 5 or 6 inches refers to baby plus placenta and everything else, and no one notices anyway. Apparently this is more of the getting-ready-for-what's-next stuff.

Standing next to those that either have a moving belly or an actual babe-in-arms does make me realize that my inert football and I have a long way to go, especially as I am probably weeks away from externally obvious changes. Right now, the books say it's growing hair and hardening bone (including the bones of the middle ear) so it's not a time for getting larger.

Guess I'll just have to be ok with seeming a bit overweight for a bit longer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ultra-sonic, super-visual!

Here it is, as promised, finally!

Click here.

In the first part we're hearing the baby's heartbeat as a whoosh-whoosh noise on the Doppler. When we first see the baby, we're seeing it from the feet upwards so it's a strange angle, then it flips around and you can discern the shape better. The doctor points out the spine and while it can be a bit tough at points to know what you're looking at, as it moves around you can tell it's a baby, for sure.

There's this great part at 1:35 or so when the kid does a little push up, arching the neck. Definitely watch that part!

The round of blood tests I did last week came back normal, phew. And according to that plus the ultrasound last week, they've changed my due date to Feb 3rd, my father-in-law's birthday. Two days sooner sounds good to me! Of course, nothing is for certain.

To answer some common questions I'm getting right now:
No, I can't feel the baby move yet. Maybe by about 4.5 to 5 months.
No, we can't tell the sex yet. They generally can tell by the 5th month.

It's always great hearing things are going well and being able to see the kid makes it all more real. Definitely a good 7th wedding anniversary.

To truly celebrate that, we're off to San Francisco this weekend, so there will be a bit of a gap in updates. I'll make sure to take it slow on our whirlwind weekend up north.

P.S. - I had to remove the countdown widget. Turns out it works in Firefox but not Internet Explorer. I'll hunt for a better one sometime soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Widget wha?

It may be a bit much but I finally found a baby countdown widget that will fit in my sidebar without any html messing. Remember that the size and development stats are generalities based on due date and as things progress it may be less accurate, but still, it gives everyone an idea of where things are at (and what the baby books are telling me). I've seen baby size estimates vary pretty widely depending on the book you read.

For those that don't know, and I know there are a few of you out there - a widget is a tiny program that automatically gives you a bit of information. For example, very basic widgets include clocks, or weather reports. Well, my baby countdown clock is the handy little program that you can see on the left hand side. All I do is put my due date in and it does the rest, calculating my time left and getting info on what the progress is. This week, it's ears and eyes moving into their proper places, which is good news, as it looked a bit like an alien on that last ultrasound! ;-)

Anyway, have a glance when you visit and you can see what's developing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Turned the corner

The dreams, the dreams! They warned me about the dreams.

I have the most amazing dreams. These dreams are complete stories, with a beginning, middle and end, and they feel completely real. It's like living a movie.

What are they about? Well, I wish I knew. I have a bunch of them, every night. When the dream ends, I wake with a start, contemplate reality for a minute, and as soon as I'm back to sleep I've forgotten it. Sometimes I feel as if I'm dragging myself out of the dream because it's so freaky. I know it sounds like fun but many of them are rather bizarre. I think that any dream, played out in an entirely involving way, gets freaky.

The bits and pieces I do remember involve the most simple of every day things - the TV I've been watching, the people I've seen recently, the issues I've been thinking about - and some seem to get very allegorical and deep. But again, they're pretty much gone the next day. Still, it's a little scary.


I've definitely turned the corner. My energy is up, the nausea is completely gone. My sense of smell is still acute but it doesn't prevent me from eating anything in sight.

We're in nesting mode, cleaning and organizing, cleaning out closets. It's actually kind of nice having something to work on before the registering and purchasing can be tackled. So far, we've cleared out some storage space for future toys, and the hall closet for future linens, among other small organizational projects.

Other than that, things feel pretty normal to me, even as my stomach feels more dense each day.