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In preparation for birthin’ babies and because my doctor had been insisting that I spend more time in bed with my feet up for the previous six weeks, I started working from home on March 31. See? I listen. Eventually.

And in return, that’s the day the itchies started. At first it was tolerable. But then it was flirting with annoying. So at my April 3 appointment, I mentioned it to my doctor. And she suggested I try an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream. I was already using Caladryl but found that drying agent in that was counterproductive to my daily-expanding belly.

BellyShot_36w0d
BellyShot at 36w0d.

IT WASN’T HELPING. By Sunday April 6, I was waking myself up in the night having scratched my belly raw, bleeding. At that point, the point beyond intolerable, I was trying Caladryl, 1% hydrocortisone, Aveeno bath wash, wet wash cloths, ice packs and prayer. Every two hours, twenty four hours a day. I was getting rare 5 minutes of relief in each section. I told the Beloved that I was demanding delivery.

So on Monday, April 7, at our doctor’s appointment, I mentioned the symptoms and then lifted my shirt. I ended up with nurses coming in JUST TO SEE THE CONDITION OF MY BELLY. We did the non-stress test monitoring, and thankfully, the RJBs were doing GREAT! But my blood pressure had crept up to 140/90 (no doubt in part due to the tension of the itchies). I actually cried at the doctor’s office. SO UNLIKE ME.

Doc thought it was PUPPPS. OR…my liver was shutting down. And I was all “Oh, that? no, that’s just my SANITY.” So she had some blood drawn. In the meantime, she gave me a prescription for a topical steroidal ointment, as well an oral 6-day pack steroid. The topical would pass through to the RJBs, but she told me that a low dose steroid, for a short period, would not harm them. Sure, I said, they’ll just come out 7 pounds, hairy, and talking. But I was willing to try anything if in return it meant that we kept them in the oven a little longer. We agreed, though, that we’d touch base again on Thursday, April 10, and if need be, we’d deliver on Friday, April 11.

On Tuesday, they called to tell me that we’d have to re-do the blood work because the lab didn’t prep the sample correctly. I still wasn’t feeling better. AT ALL. And every time I put that topical steroid on I felt guilty for giving the RJBs something after having gone this far without so much as a Tylenol for a headache.

In my day job, one of the things I do is risk management. And we’re in renewal period right now. And I’m in contact with brokers locally, and, through them, in negotiations with underwriters both domestically and overseas. People actually listen to me – CRAZY! Even our Counsel. So one would think that I could convince a 5’2″ physician to deliver me, right? Not so much. She was set on term delivery at 37 weeks. And, of course, so was I, provided she could get me some relief.

So I had to go in yesterday morning to have more blood drawn. Except by yesterday, I was actually feeling better. So my argument for delivery was not so compelling. I did, however, convince them to let me see the available doctor (mine isn’t in the clinic on Wednesday’s) and get my what-would-have-been today’s appointment out of the way to save me a trip. Agreed.

I’m happy to say I’ve been scratch-til-I-bleed-free for two days. Which equals a 1000% improvement over four days ago. Oh, it still itches and burns. But nothing some over-the-counter Sarna and Aveeno Anti-Itch lotion can’t handle to make it at least tolerable. I think after this morning, I’ve officially weaned myself off the topical steroid ointment and will only use it under acute circumstances. I saw my acupuncturist today, too – to “remove heat” and something about “the winds”. Um, ok, so long as it helps me stay off the topical steroid.

All I can say is that if I had known enemies, I wouldn’t wish this upon them. And bless those women who have to deal with more severe versions or those who do not get relief and go weeks with the condition. I experienced ten days of it and was prepared to deliver the RJBs myself if necessary.

Here’s a photo two days after I wasn’t itching/scratching as bad. And those aren’t stretch marks down there on the bottom of my belly, those are scratch/nail marks where blood has pooled at the surface. Like I said before, pregnancy ain’t all pretty.

PUPPPS at 36w0d - profile
PUPPPS at 36w0d.

After some meds and relief, this is me in the final approach to delivery:

BellyShot_36w0d (with steroids!)
36w0d after steroidal bliss.

In your dreams, when you are running as fast as you can from that thing chasing you?  But you look down and see ants moving faster than you are?  And they’re carrying mint chocolate chip ice cream in waffle cones?  And you want some?  But in Belgian Cholate instead?  And then you remember that thing?  And look back?  But now it’s a giant clown fish?  With teeth?  And scary movie background music?  And dangit, where do you remember that music from?  And then you re-realize you’re not running fast enough?  And the ants are giggling?  And you hope that your alarm clock goes off before the end of this scene? 

That’s my pace these days. 

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Belly Shots at 34w0d.

26w0d

Taken at 26w0d on January 30, 2008 .

Because nothing says “kicker” in Texas like jeans and a white shirt. And nothing says “woman” universal than an inappropriate amount of flesh showing.

OK, this was not my work attire on Friday. This is just the only full-frontal belly foto that will be published.  Ever.  

A special thanks to robalyork, one of our 2 1/2 husbands, for the borrowing of the shirt.

My personal profile: Short-term growth for long-term investments.

14w4d27w4d

Time Elapsed: 14w4d (November 11, 2007) to 27w4d (February 10, 2008).

Dear RaJenBabies,

I wish you could see how much my belly has grown on the outside. It’s amazing sometimes to catch a reflection of myself and see this protected mound, sheltering you while you grow in my womb.
Belly25w0d
Bellyshot 25w0d on January 23, 2008.

Matou and I are growing in other ways, too. We’re learning about how tough parenting decisions can be – like which day care we will choose to watch over you in our absence. Should we go with the reasonably priced small one in the neighborhood where you’ll be exposed to bilingual caretakers? Or should we take you to the more expensive, more established place that has a more formal curriculum? We’re also growing in exciting parenting ways – like meeting with an adoption attorney so that we are both legally your mommies. You’re not even here yet and we’re already practicing.

Just like the two of you are practicing things inside my belly: like breathing/swallowing and flipping and kicking. But we’re not the only one’s growing. You are both growing by leaps and bounds. We hadn’t seen you since December 12, so it was so wonderful to take a peek in this past Monday.

Sweet son, Baby A, you have your head firmly planted against my bladder “grinding away” as the doctor said. And when your head wasn’t there, it was against my cervix. Your little bottom is about even with my belly button, but on my left side. And your legs and feet go up towards my ribs. You are facing my right side, spooning your sister. (But sometimes, we saw you bumping your head against her back, too.)

Sweet daughter, your head is low in my belly, too, and you are also facing to my right. And your feet and hands are up by your head, like a pike position in a high dive. Which is very athletic of you, but I hope you’ll stretch out a bit so you can block off some space as you and your brother grow and the space you share gets smaller.

The doctor said you are measuring about 13 inches – EACH! And there are a mere 5 grams separating your current weights, so you both sit at 1 pound and 12 ounces – EACH! I will confess that I was a bit prideful when the doctor said you were both growing so very well. Matou and I were quite pleased to hear that since we’ve worked very hard on keeping me and the two of you well nourished and hydrated.

Matou is been amazing. She works so hard at her work, and then she comes home and works so hard to take care of us. This past weekend, your Papa Jimmy picked up your cribs and brought them to our house. And then we worked as a team to put your cribs together – me, reading the instructions, and Matou doing the putting-together. And then we just stood by one another, arm in arm, looking at your room, with the pretty yellow walls.

We didn’t say much out loud, but I bet you tasted every bit of honey dripping off our hearts.

Love,
Mommy & Matou

Belly23w4d
Bellyshot 23w4d on January 13, 2008.

  •  I can see the RJBs move on the outside now.  They are very, very active at pretty regular times.  Matou can play with them now, and, coincidentally or not, they respond to her.  I could stare at my belly all day long.
  • Finding a daycare, a good one available in six months, is a challenge.  Particularly for two infants.  Not that we didn’t know that that would be the case.  I just didn’t expect it to seem more elusive than, say, having Brad Pitt be your sperm donor.  
  • We’ve made an appointment with an adoption attorney.  So far, you know, other than preparing to have two babies, meeting with an attorney seems so, like, adult.
  • Saturday, we had a late lunch and then went to the Galleria.  We shopped and looked and walked.  For five hours.  My body was pretty miserable after.  I should have cut the trip short, but I didn’t.  That’s the least adult thing I’ve done.  This weekend.  
  • I think my boobs are going through another growth spurt.  
  • If you have wedding rings that just don’t fit well, do not try to force them on for a picture like I did.  I nearly pulled off the top joint trying to pull them off.  Even with soap and oil and moisturizer to lubricate the process.  Invest in a good, sturdy chain of some sort and wear them around your neck, close to your heart.  This all probably seems like a “well-duh!” to you.  But pregnancy has turned my brain to Fruit Pebbles and so I forget the logical stuff.
  • This has been a great time to do spring cleaning in the closet.  But I’ve had to remember not get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit.  Just the ones that I hadn’t worn in a long time, pre-pregnancy.  And the ones I’ll probably never get into again. I mean, seriously, why have I been hanging onto my size 4 black skirt for so long?  I haven’t worn it in at least that many years.    
  • A mobility-saving indulgence?  Prenatal massage.  It is soooooooo effin’ worth it.
  • That whole thing about your feet getting wider due to swelling and or ligaments relaxing is true.  It’s not that I didn’t believe it, it’s just that I didn’t believe it would happen to me.  But when your feet get kinda muffin-top looking after wearing heels, it’s time to change shoes.  I now take a pair of “dressy” flip-flops with me to work.  And if any of the guys say anything, I’ll go mama-bear on them.
  • Shoes
    These will be on the shelf more than they’ll be on my feet for the foreseeable future.

    Dear RaJenBabies,

    Every week I say I can’t believe that we’re another week along and here I am repeating myself: I cannot believe we’re at 22 weeks!  

    It is absolutely amazing to me.Matou read to us last night about all the things going on inside my belly around this week.  Like your eyebrows and eyelashes are fully formed.  And the hair on your head continues to grow.  And the angels of heaven have finally finished painting finger prints on your tiny little tips.  

    Matou says that you’re nearly 1lb each now and that you’re about twelve inches in length.  EACH.  That’s two feet of babies curled up on the inside of my belly.  No wonder it’s tight.  
    Belly22w0d
    New Year’s BellyShot: 22w0d and growing.

    It also said that you are using up my calcium, which is probably why I can easily go through a gallon of milk every few days.  One large coffee mug’s worth at a time.  After it’s been in the freezer for 10 minutes.  My favorite mix-ins are Quaker Oat Squares, Raisin Bran, and Mother’s Toasted Oat Bran cereals.  And that’s me being flexible.  I can only imagine how specific you’ll be about your snacks.

    I feel you move all the time now.  Several times a day.  And sometimes at night.  I enjoy playing with you, rubbing my belly where you are curled up, singing songs to you.  Matou kisses you good morning and good night every day.  Sometimes, I put her hand to where you are moving around and you give her a good kick.   

    We picked out your cribs last weekend.  And we pretty much finished your birthday party wish list.  I’m sad to say that we won’t be getting you our first choice car seats.  And they weren’t first choice just because they had orange in them (my favorite color).  I promise.  No, we have to pick another one because there is no such stroller that will fit/hold two of those car seats.  But we promise to get you safe ones, okay? 

    We’re in the middle of a long list of things-to-do in preparation for your arrivals.  We got a few of those things done over the holiday, but there’s still more to do.  Baby steps. You know how that is. 

    We’re in 2008 now, the year you will both be born.  I’m getting pretty big and my skin is pretty tight.  I’m not sure where the extra stretchiness will come from, but God is miraculously creative and I’m sure God will make it just so when the time is needed.  God is neat like that, does all kinds of wondrous things through us and for us.  We can’t wait to show you things we’ve learned about like Love and Rainbows and how cat’s have a purr box and how dogs have this funny tickle spot on their bellies.

    Loving you from the outside,
    Mommy & Matou 

    Belly Christmas!
    Christmas E! saying hello to the RJBs with grandma looking on.

    We’re visiting Grandma right now, but I managed to open up the Beloved’s Mac laptop long enough to unsuspectingly steal broadband from some unsuspecting neighbor. But hey, it’s for a good purpose: Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

    • Since we were in Mexico, we were late in taking a belly picture, too. Usually we take those on a Sunday evening, but this one had to be taken on Wednesday night which just so happens to be exactly 19 weeks old.  And since I forgot to post this post when I meant to, I’ve also included our regular Sunday programming photo at 19w4d.

    19w0d
    Bellyshot: 19w0d.

    19w4d
    Bellyshot: 19w4d.

    • I’ve noticed that my forehead doesn’t get oily like it used to. It used to be that someone might be able to reapply lipstick using the sheen of my afternoon forehead as a mirror. Now it’s not. I guess this is what it’s like to have “normal” skin.
    • I’ve been getting physical therapy and massages for the issue primarily located in my piriformis muscle, the muscle mass that extends from the bottom of my tailbone (sacrum) to the hip/femur connector, otherwise known as the source of my left-side ass pain.  We located the source at my last PT session and worked to “reboot” the muscle, so my pain has been more of a 5 today instead of the usual 7 or so.  I can’t wait to see the massage therapist again and have her work on that spot specificially.  Nevertheless, it’s all a small price to pay in pain for growing healthy twins.
    • Why is it that people want to tell a pregnant woman their horror stories about labor, birth, or pregnancy?  I had to cut one young mother off at Christmas Party when, she started to alarmingly tell me how she and her brother were twins and when they were born he couldn’t breathe and almost died.
    • As my pregnancy progresses, the heels I wear become shorter, and the (maternity) pants I have get become longer.  So two weeks ago, I took two pair to get altered.  I picked them up last Friday.  I put my black pants on Sunday evening to wear to a Christmas party.  AND THEY DIDN’T FIT.  WTF?
    • I have learned not to wear socks with strong elastic at the top.  Ugh.  Maybe I’ll post a picture sometime.   Let’s just say it looked like a crime scene.
    • Regarding underwear:  yes, there are the (under the belly) maternity bikini panties that sell well at maternity stores.  I bought some.  But they tend to ride up the crack, hear me?  I much prefer my Jockey cotton bikini cut panties in a size larger than I used to be.  Comfy. 
    • Speaking of a larger size…at a Christmas party on Saturday night, my stepmother-out-law and a friend of hers told me that they were going to get a sign for me to wear that said “Wide Load”.  Nice.  And my sister told me of some extended family members that told her they were going to get her a t-shirt that said “I’m not fat.  I’m pregnant.”  WHAT IS WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

    17w4d
    Bellyshot: 17w4d.

    Time is starting to go by quickly. I think more due to the holidays than being pregnant. It always happens this time of year: a ton more to do with seemingly less time. But it’s all good.

    My used-to-be-innie is now half-way-outtie. And my belly has POPPED! It seems like I get bigger every day and I feel pregnant in a different kind of I-feel-pregnant-kind-of-way. Not so much the bloaty, thick and tired experience of the latter half of the first trimester, but now more of a I-think-that-might-have-been-stomach-bile, I-actually-look-pregnant, I-can-park-in-the-grocery-store-Stork-spot-without-getting-glares experience.

    And I can occasionally and ever-so-slightly feel the RJBs now, and each time it renders me speechless, but with a little sly grin like I’m in on a secret no one else knows about. Or like the grin you’d wear when you just won the lottery but went to the office anyway.

    I discovered the belly band this week. I’ve always known about them, but it didn’t occur to me to try one out until I had to start wearing that SI belt contraption. The belly band is a good maternity support belt hider. Now I want one in every color.

    More Photos!

    The Aforementioned

    LesbianFamily.org
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