Yesterday, I experienced my first bout of Braxton-Hicks contractions, and it must be stated with firm certainty that without my friend Jessi and my sister, my anxiety levels would be excessive and unmanageable. After I established that what I was feeling did in fact sound like a contraction of sorts, we began timing their presence and gauging the level of intensity. Lying down and chugging from a giant bottle of water seemed to help, as did the arrival of my husband with a Subway sandwich and a chocolate chip cookie. Later last night, Ferris was more active than normal, and we interpreted it as an attempt to let us know that everything was cool down there.

I stumbled across the online baby boutique Two Blue Peas, and this is the first time I've really wished I knew what we're having so I could order some of the adorable clothes. As it stands, I'll probably be sitting in the hospital with my laptop and credit card as soon as Ferris makes an appearance.

The nursery is slowly but surely coming along - the only thing we lack is the crib, which we'll be getting sometime in March. I haven't yet begun to organize the few items we have, as my obsessive nature means I want to have a better sense of total inventory before I undergo the task of determining which drawer will house blankets vs. onesies vs. burp cloths. My mom and I picked out fabric for the curtains and the cushions on the glider rocker (the rocker belonged to my sister and the cushions were blue, so we're recovering them in a neutral fabric) and while she is holding the cushions hostage for fear the dogs will destroy them, she assures me they look great.

My goal is to get all of the items crossed off our to-do list before it gets warm, so I can enjoy the time before Ferris arrives without worrying about whether the guest room is ready, if the kitchen cabinets have been reorganized enough times (the answer is always a resounding NO), if the railings on the porch need fresh paint, and if this house is as baby-ready as it can possibly be.



Ferris is now joining the ranks as the second member of our family to be packing on the weight. At just over a pound, we're entering the stage of rapid growth - about 6 ounces each week. I'm in the sixth month, which marks the last stage of the second trimester - where has the time gone? At times, I feel like June will never arrive...and then other times leave me struggling with how quickly this is happening and I'm struck by the notion that June will be here before I know it.

As Ferris gets stronger, I can feel the kicks and turns more often and with increasing strength. At times I can even see the twitches in my stomach as tiny feet and fists push against me. Ferris is most active after meals and at night as I lay in bed, and it's become a routine for me to place my hands on either side of my belly to await the rhythm of soft thumps.





A few of the things I've learned so far about being pregnant:

  • The burps that result from Omega-3 Fish Oil capsules are of the devil.
  • Forgetting your dogs' names is acceptable. Forgetting your husband's is not.
  • I miss balance. That is all.
  • It only takes a matter of months to master the act of getting up 5 times a night to pee without ever opening your eyes.
  • Babies R Us is a scary place. Also, they should have a bathroom in each corner of the store.
  • Watching other people drink is boring.
  • Girlfriends and sisters know more than any book, period.
  • A hungry woman in a grocery store can be dangerous. A hungry pregnant woman in a grocery store is a recipe for disaster.
  • When a dumbass stranger at the mall comments that you look like you're having twins, and you aren't, you will forever regret not saying anything in response.
  • Despite the fear of labor that will strike you consistently throughout these nine months, this baby does have to come out - so you better deal with it.
  • Having a husband that endures the mood swings, whims, and cravings is a gift from God.
  • Even if you think the constant nausea will never end, it will.
  • Unsolicited advice comes from everywhere.
  • Laughing until you cry and crying until you laugh is wholly interchangeable.
  • Watching birthing shows on TLC and Discovery is a bad, bad idea.
  • Naming your unborn child is much harder than you'd think.
  • After the first time you feel your baby kick, your life will never be the same.





Most mornings, I wake up to the sounds of my husband getting ready for work - and the sensation of guilt that immediately washes over me. Guilt that he's up and at it again, facing the daily grind...while I'm lying in bed. Guilt that he's bearing the weight of our financial responsibilities, dealing with the frustrations of a job that sometimes takes the spark out of his eyes and the bounce out of his step. Guilt that he tells me on a daily basis that it's not a problem, that I'm the most important person in his life and given the chance, he'd make the same decision again to support me as I left a steady paying career to find myself.

Most days, I find ways to turn my guilt into motivation to find new ways to make our lives better. I stay on top of the housework, I pay all the bills, I clip coupons and try to find ways to cut corners without sacrificing any of the things we love to do. I attempt to maintain a sense of purpose, all the while knowing that there are millions of women who do these things while holding down a job and raising children - many without the help of a supportive partner to ease the load. I try to make our home a good one, a place he wants to come to at the end of the day - and while most days I succeed, there are the days where I want to fall apart. Those days are the days that I beat myself up for being so selfish as to put the burden on him, for putting him into this situation and for allowing our roles to become so clearly defined. I put myself into a box and allow myself to dwell on the mistakes I've made, even as I acknowledge they cannot be erased. I wonder where I'd be had I not found out I was pregnant shortly after leaving my job to find a new one, and then I push that thought out of my head as I realize the what ifs don't matter.

Most nights, I stare at him while we are eating dinner, watching tv or getting ready to go to sleep - and I am overcome with emotion. I cannot even adequately express the amount of respect and admiration I have for this man, the one who loves me unconditionally and takes me as I am. He's the one who wants to spend his life with me, who would do anything and everything to make me smile, and he's the one that has given me the gift of becoming a mother and finding out who I really am in the process. He's allowing me the opportunity to find myself, to figure out all of the answers to the questions I've always asked myself, and he's doing it without an ounce of remorse or resentment. I'm not easy, and I'm not perfect - but as complicated and flawed as I may be, he makes it all disappear the second he kisses the top of my head and places his hand gently on my stomach to say goodnight to our baby before we drift off to sleep. I'm damn lucky, and I'm blessed to be where I am. I may not know all of the answers, and I may not know where we'll end up. But we are a family, and we will figure it out. Together.



According to the books I'm reading and the websites I consult to track Ferris' progress, this week puts the baby at about 8 inches long and a little over 12 ounces. I try to keep that generalization in mind instead of wondering about the actual size of the squirt inside me. Up until that last ultrasound, I was perfectly content putting all my eggs in the book basket, having no qualms whatsoever with accepting that we were going on averages and probabilities instead of actualities. However, after seeing Ferris on that screen, yawning and squirming and swallowing, it hit me like a ton of bricks that this baby is not a part of someone's average - not a piece of a calculated puzzle. This is our baby, and that means a whole new set of circumstances and milestones.

I'm trying so hard to manage what I eat, hoping against hope that at my next doctor's appointment, I won't see an excessive increase in my weight when I step on the scale. My weight gain so far has been high enough that my doctor warned me of the potential for gestational diabetes and - hold on to your maternity jeans - high birth weight. The phrase "larger baby" is enough to stop me in my tracks and make me forget the fact that all I want is chocolate and Mexican food. So not only did my last trip to the grocery store require walking past certain sections with my eyes closed, meal planning is back and even when I'm not in the mood for roasted chicken with broccoli, it still finds its way to my plate.

After all, it's not really about me anymore, is it?



In contemplating what it will be like to be a parent, and considering the things I want to incorporate into our child's upbringing - contrasted by the things I hope to leave out - I'm drawn to memories of my own childhood.

When I reflect on what it was like to grow up in our house, I'm immediately drawn to the earlier memories and my younger years - the years before our family dynamic shifted seismically due to circumstances both closely within and drastically beyond our control. I prefer to focus instead on the time when things seemed simpler, before we were drawn apart and against each other...before I was forced to acknowledge that shit happens and sometimes the only option available is to deal with it in whatever means available at the time.

I recall snow days, rare as they were in the South. I distinctly remember the smell of a fire in our fireplace, the taste of snow sprinkled with crushed Sweet Tarts, the sight of my mom in the kitchen window holding up steaming mugs of hot chocolate in an effort to draw us in from the cold.

I can feel the slippery plastic sensation of the tablecloth we used as our dinner table, spread on the living room floor as we settled in with loaded plates to watch tv. We never really sat at the table for a meal; instead, we sat cross-legged on the floor and became entranced in Disney movies or America's Funniest Home Videos, silent save for the incessant chatter that would erupt once the commercials began. It was these breaks that allowed us to catch up on everyone's day, sharing funny stories, school concerns, and the latest neighborhood gossip.

Summer days were spent outside, where swim team practice came early and the fireflies stayed late. I have fond memories of donuts at dawn before a morning spent driving my dad around on the golf course; lazy afternoons by the pool, where I'd squint through the blinding sun at my mom lounging on a deck chair; nights in bed, struggling to stay awake by focusing on the glow of my nightlight.

I never questioned the way things were, never doubted that this life was the best life anyone had ever had. I always felt safe, happy, and loved - and always knew family to be something secure and solid, full of sacred routines such as being tucked in every night and being pulled from sleep with the promise of a new day ahead.

These memories fill me with knowledge and inspiration- that providing for a child is more than a fiscal responsibility, more than physical presence and material belongings. It goes beyond putting food on the table and clothes on a back, beyond helping a child maneuver throughout days and nights. It's larger than I can even begin to imagine...and while I know I'll never be perfect, I have a bank to draw from and experiences to call upon as I attempt to figure it out.



It's official - the second half of this pregnancy has begun. 20 weeks down, 20 to go!

I'm reminded of the sensation I had when I was a kid in school - the first part of the school year always seemed to drag itself out, excruciatingly slow....only to pick up steam and begin to fly rapidly following the Christmas break. Before I knew it, it was time to clean out lockers and turn in books. It's almost like a freight train, taking time to pick up the speed before it can truly chug along.

I know the next few months will fly by, and while there is a part of me that is so ready for it to be over so we can welcome this little one into the world, there is another part of me that wants to be pregnant forever. The unpleasant aspects aside, this has been the most amazing and special time of my life - the new sensations, the surges of love and affection towards something I've never met, the planning and hopes and dreams and expectations...

I had lunch with my dad yesterday, and we laughed until we cried as he recounted the names of his family members in an effort to strike inspiration for baby names. I'm not sure what book people got their babies' names out of back then, but...wow. So it's pretty safe to say we won't name our child Truby, Renso, or Ida - but I think we finally have settled on a boy and a girl name. Granted, there's plenty of time for me to change my mind, so I wouldn't start embroidering anything quite yet.

I received a cross-stitch quilt set from a friend yesterday as well - an adorable quilt pattern with baby animals on it. I'm excited to make something for Ferris, and while it's been about 20 years since I cross-stitched anything, I'm hoping it's like riding a bike. I'm heading to Mississippi today for a funeral, and since I get insanely carsick if I even try to read in the car, I'm glad to have something else to do on the ride down.

Some friends of mine were looking at the pictures of Ferris, trying to determine if he/she looks more like me or my husband at this point. It's hard to say of course, but most people have said my nose and my husband's mouth. It's just another reminder that I'm creating a life with this person and we're sharing something so amazing and so surreal - and that thought just floors me, every time.



Oh. Wow. This is real. As in, there is a baby in there. A baby that looks like a baby.

Today's appointment was full of good news (if you ignore the part about how I'm gaining weight too quickly and should...you know...lay off the goods.). Baby has all the right parts and pieces, and in keeping with a stellar sense of humor, wiggled all over and kept those tiny little fists firmly planted up near that tiny little face. We did get to see a foot that seems shockingly long, a yawn of epic proportions, the mouth moving and drinking fluid...and as evidenced in the picture on the right, our little 11 ounce squirt greedily sucking a thumb.

The temptation I felt when the technician told us she knew the sex was overwhelming. I almost caved, and it was only by squeezing my eyes tightly shut and turning away that I was able to resist taking a peek.

We'll go back in ten weeks for another ultrasound. My placenta is very near the cervix and they need to make sure it shifts in order to determine whether a c-section will be necessary. I'd give anything to be able to see Ferris every week, but the anticipation makes it that much sweeter.



At this point, Ferris is anywhere from 6-7 inches long, and weighs approximately 10 ounces or so. We have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, and I'm so ready to see that little squirt on the screen. I've somehow convinced myself that we're accidentally going to find out the sex, although my doctor (and my friends who've been there, done that) have assured me I'll have no clue what I'm looking at.

We got bags of blankets and clothes from my sister this weekend, and as I sorted through stacks of navy blue onesies with baseballs on them, socks with "All-Star" written on the cuff, and a hat that says "Daddy's Little Guy", all I could do was smile and fold them back up. I also accompanied a friend to Babies R Us, and quickly became overwhelmed at the variety of items and my lack of knowledge about what's an absolute necessity and what's not. My sister is taking me to register in the next few weeks, and I'm grateful for her guidance and expertise.

As my husband and I walked to one of our favorite brunch places yesterday morning, enjoying the brief respite from the cold weather, I commented that 5 months from now, our walks will include a stroller and a third person. It's little things like that which strike me and make me realize what we're embarking on.

Ferris has begun moving with increased regularity, and we've even become able to feel the shifts from the outside. Every time I feel movement, my husband places his hand on my stomach hoping to get the sensation. I think we have a jokester in the making, as the baby typically chooses that exact moment to be still.

We are still working on names - we're getting closer, but I'm having a hard time landing on something that sounds just right. Certain names, while seemingly perfect at first, tend to fall from the list after we realize that they would likely get our kid's ass kicked on the playground. Plus, there's the whole issue of not knowing what he or she will look like, as that could change everything. How do you name someone you haven't met yet?