The last several weeks have been eventful ones for our little family. Three weeks ago, the same blood test that let us know the exciting news that we’re expecting our first baby girl also gave us the difficult news that our girl’s blood type is Rh+, meaning that she will be in danger throughout the rest of her stay in my belly. Thankfully, my antibody levels have been stable the past few weeks and our first MCA scan (a special ultrasound done to determine whether the baby is becoming anemic) showed that baby is fighting off the antibodies successfully so far. At this point, we’re just loving feeling our strong little fighter kick and praying that she makes it to our 37 week induction without needing any blood transfusions. It’s absolutely crazy to us that we’ll get to meet her face to face in just 17 weeks or less (and that she’ll arrive a full FIVE weeks earlier than her big brother did!).
Aside from the emotional roller coaster of our high risk pregnancy, this baby is giving my body a run for its money! With Knox, I felt adorable and glowing – this time around, I’m feeling like an enormous blimp with perpetual acne, under eye bags and dry skin that no amount of lotion or oil can cure. Girls steal their mothers’ beauty indeed. Thankfully, my morning sickness is gone and I can now tolerate a cup of coffee each day, which allows me to be semi-functional until my bedtime at 8pm sharp (and if you’re judging my small caffeine consumption, I’m totally willing to give it up if you’ll volunteer to keep up with my super-early-rising, always-on-the-go toddler while I go take a nap). We’ve cleaned out the office to turn it into a nursery and I’m literally bursting with excitement to get to work on my plan for our little lady’s room. This baby is so very loved, especially by her big brother who loves to give her kisses, “BIG HUGS”, share his toy cars with her and, after a week or two of insistence that she be a boy, finally exclaims with excitement that the baby is a GIRL.
Everyone’s idea of motherhood looks different. While pregnant, or even before, I think every woman considers what style of motherhood will be her own and how she wants to parent her children. Co-sleeping or crib sleeping, breastfeeding or formula, cry-it-out or attachment parenting – it’s an entire world of choices and everyone has to decide what’s best for themselves, their child, their family.
I have a lot of goals for what kind of Mama I want to be for Knox. Some of them have been easy to keep, some of them have been a daily challenge and some of them I feel guilty for compromising on, especially since I’ve been pregnant with our new little baby and daily life has just gotten a whole lot more difficult.
Things are changing and I’m sure there are one thousand more compromises to be made in the future. But for now, after surviving our first trimester (barely), here are a few things I want you to know about my expectations for myself as your Mama, Knox Elon:
I’m sorry for the days when, even though we planned not to start screen time until you turned two years old, we watched Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas not one, not two, but THREE separate times because I was too sick to move from the couch. In January.
I’m sorry for the snack times when I served you as many store bought, processed Ritz crackers as you requested because I was too tired to bake the homemade healthy foods I hoped would always comprise most of your diet.
I’m sorry for the middle-of-the-nights when I handed you, crying, to Dada and sprinted from your room to throw up after attempting to nurse you back to sleep.
I’m sorry for the mornings when you had to read a book to yourself while you sat beside me in the bathroom while I got sick.
I’m sorry for the times I didn’t have enough patience and I snapped at you because I was tired or grumpy or in the weirdest of moods.
So much thought went into our decision to try and have another baby, and so much of it revolved around you, Knox the fox. A part of me longed to extend these weeks and months and years that I have alone with you. Because as exhausting as it can get sometimes, there’s something truly magical about having one-on-one time with you all day, every day. You’re my little best friend, and part of me imagined how amazing it would be to have four or five years of being partners in crime – to get to give you my complete, undivided attention while you grew from the curiosities of a toddler to the adventures of a little boy. But another part of me wanted you to experience the joy of having siblings close to you in age (and also, most likely, the bickering and scheming as well) and to see you thrive as a big brother the way I totally know you will.
In the past few months, I’ve already felt the dynamics of our little family slowly beginning to shift. Some of it has broken my heart a little, like the times I’ve found myself giving you only half of my attention while the other half of my brain was deep into research on isoimmunization in pregnancy, the way my endless Pinterest searches for toddler activities and recipes have begun to share space with my searches for nursery decor and newborn outfits or the way we’ve had to encourage your growing independence to help prepare you for the job of sharing me with another little person. Some of it has been so sweet it makes me cry, like your constant requests to read the “baby book” (my pregnancy journal) or when I ask you where the baby is and you demand that I “open” my shirt so you can give my belly a kiss and a grin.
But with every change that comes, I’m just so thankful – for a husband who always helps, for this new little nugget growing in my belly and always for you, sweet boy, my little best friend who made me a Mama forever.
This pregnancy has been so different from our pregnancy with Knox, even this early on. My belly is already showing, the morning sickness has been almost unbearable and my legs and armpits are covered in the itchiest rash of all time. But the most drastic difference is that this pregnancy has been deemed “high risk” because we found out that I’m now Rh-sensitized. The short story is that my body may attack the baby and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. The long story follows here.
If you don’t know much about Rhesus (Rh) status, chances are you’re in the 85% of the population who are Rh+ and have nothing to worry about on that front. Rh is an inherited protein found on red blood cells. If your blood has the protein, you’re considered Rh+. If you lack the protein, you’re considered Rh-. Most of the time, your Rh status will effect your life in pretty much zero ways. But if you’re Rh-, your husband is Rh+ and you’re pregnant, it starts to matter a lot more. When an Rh- woman is exposed to Rh+ blood, her body will recognize the Rh protein as something foreign and it can develop antibodies to attack the Rh+ red blood cells. So if you’re Rh- and you’re carrying an Rh+ baby, there’s a possibility you can be exposed to the baby’s blood and become sensitized (develop antibodies against Rh+ blood). To combat this, it’s standard in the US for Rh- negative women to receive two shots of “Rhogam” during pregnancy to help prevent sensitization – one at the end of the second trimester and another right after delivery. According to the (hours and hours) of obsessive online research I’ve done in the past several weeks, the Rhogam shot is effective in 99% of women, meaning they go on to have totally normal, non-sensitized pregnancies for the rest of their lives. I received both of my Rhogam shots while pregnant with Knox, but it seems I was the unlucky 1%.
I went off to our first prenatal appointment feeling on top of the world. It took us 14 months to get pregnant with Knox so we were ecstatic to be expecting our new little one so quickly. Our pregnancy with Knox was as healthy as can be, and (aside from a significantly squishier midsection and chronic lack of sleep) I’m just as healthy now as I was when we got pregnant with Knox, so we expected a gleaming early pregnancy report. I sat down with the nurse, I got my official positive pregnancy test, I listened to the same pregnancy info I’d heard two years prior and I skipped off to have approximately 963 vials of my blood drawn for all of the standard early pregnancy blood tests.
When my blood work came back a few days later, our doctor called with the news that I am Rh sensitized. Which means that my blood now contains antibodies against the Rh protein. Which means that my blood might begin to kill off our baby’s red blood cells. I asked her what we should do to treat this – to prevent this – and she told me there was nothing we could do. Once the antibodies are in your blood, they’re in your blood forever.
We found out more information gradually – that our pregnancy (and any other pregnancy following this one) will be considered high risk and will be closely monitored with frequent blood tests to check my antibody level and frequent ultrasounds to check the baby for signs of anemia. We learned that if the ultrasounds show signs of anemia, our baby will have to receive blood transfusions while still in utero. We read about the damage anemia can do to a developing baby. We learned that to be safe, we will have to deliver the baby at 37 weeks at the latest. And we found out that before 20 weeks, when the baby is too small to receive a transfusion, there’s nothing we can do but hope that the baby stays safe.
I can explain the situation to you as if I’m executing a verbal science quiz, as detached as can be. I can laugh about the absurdity of being that tiny ONE percent. But I’m scared. I’m frustrated. I’m so disappointed. And I feel like my body is betraying me – this body that is supposed to nurture our babies, to protect them, to give them life, and now it may try to take that life away. But I also feel like this baby is strong. This is the baby who has been knocking me out with the worst morning sickness, the baby we watched dance and wiggle for the camera at our 10.5 week ultrasound, the baby who came to us so quickly and surely.
This baby is a fighter. And things are going to turn out well. I can feel it in my soul.
I spend at least 90% of my life in yoga pants and zero percent of my life doing yoga. My signature scent is eau de spilled coffee, with a sprinkle of leaky breast milk and occasionally, a splash of toilet water from spraying off a poopy diaper. Literally the only time I actually style my hair is when I know I’m going to be photographed that day.
Yes, I’m a hot mess mom.
When I envisioned my motherhood, this isn’t what I expected of myself. I imagined that, even though I was half of a hot mess already from spending my days working from home, motherhood would make me get my act 100% together. I thought I would magically make the time for showers and make up and curling irons (I know, you guys – I’m laughing at former me, too. Apparently the pregnancy hallucinations were real strong over here). And for the first three months, my messy buns were fine. I mean, you’re not supposed to have your life together three months after having a baby, much less your physical appearance. And then those three months stretched into six. And twelve. And I thought, alright – year one is down! NOW, I’ll finally start dressing and looking like a human again.
But here we are, on the verge of 16 months and I’m chasing a toddler around gym class in the same sweatpants I wore all weekend long.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled “how to be a put together mom”. I’m not even kidding – I’ve literally Googled those exact words (other phrases I’ve Googled since becoming a Mom: “how to fix your hair after a sweaty workout without taking a shower” and “fastest make up routine”). It would be embarrassing if it weren’t so damn amusing.
I’ve read one thousand times on one thousand different mothering blogs that I just need to make the time to get ready in the morning. That I’ll feel so much better if I do – I’ll be more productive, I’ll be more self-confident, I’ll be happier. And it’s totally true. When I do get a chance to spend an hour actually showering, primping and dressing in clothes that don’t involve elastic or spandex, I do feel good. Occasionally I even feel pretty again. But you know what feels better? Spending an hour baking healthy cookies with Knox (and a second hour cleaning up the mess from letting a toddler help bake cookies). Or spending an hour working out so I can be a saner, more patient mother (and to counteract those times I’m not a sane mother and I eat my weight in not-so-healthy cookies). Or spending an hour with Knox scooping out pumpkin guts and watering the garden, the sidewalk, himself and me without worrying how many stains my clothes are acquiring.
Some day I’ll have time to properly prepare myself in the morning. Some day I’ll be a put together mom. Until then, I’ll take my under-eye bags and my dirt smeared yoga pants with a big side of clingy toddler hugs, please.
This past weekend was one of my favorite kind. The kind where we don’t make plans that involve wearing make-up or real pants, where the baby takes good naps and we catch up on bad TV, where we end the day with belly-laughing tickle fights, where it’s totally acceptable to stop for a donut on the way to the beach for a family run and where, when you plop down on the couch on Sunday evening, you’re exhausted but happy to start Monday with a sparkling clean house and a checked off to-do list.
Today begins the first full week in a month that we have no visitors and won’t be visitors ourselves. And as much as I LOVE our always-wild summer travel schedule, I have to admit that I’m so ready for a little break. I’m going to miss the adult conversation something fierce and I’ll miss the good excuse to go out touristing in our own city and of course I always miss seeing our friends and family when they’re gone, but deep down in my soul I’m a creature of habit (and also, a creature who likes hanging out at home in pants not suitable for public viewing). Our schedule is back to revolving around errands and naps, batch cooking baby breakfasts, never-ending diaper laundry and reading and re-reading and re-reading again ALL of the board books (especially the Elmo puppet one…PLEASE, for the love of God, someone hide the Elmo puppet one).
Kids are such resilient creatures, you know? I’m always worried about my to-do list, my plans, my schedule. Every summer I stress about when I’m going to find spare time to clean the guest bathroom again and how to plan meals to feed more than 2.5 humans and, this year, whether or not our visitors are going to be bored out of their minds accommodating a mini-toddler who likes to fight the naps he desperately needs and prefers not to ride in the car more than absolutely necessary. And meanwhile, while I’m worrying about all of these trivial little odds and ends, Knox is waking up to a revolving door of friendly but not 100% familiar faces, having his sleep schedule tweaked and bumped and interrupted, eating new food in new places and logging extra hours in the carseat or strapped to Mama’s body while we drive across the city or hike up a mountain when what he’d really prefer to be doing is running free, touching all of the things he shouldn’t be touching. The world as he knows it, flipped on its side. But our friendly little man has LOVED all the company, and all things considered, he’s taken the hiccups in his routine like a champ.
The next two weeks will be just our little family of three (five, because fur babies count, too). I’m going to soak up the one-on-one time, the monotony, the boring old routine before we get to welcome more of our favorite people in the world in August. That little nugget of ours is always teaching me – how to stress less, adapt more and enjoy it all, both the busy, chaotic, adventure-filled moments and these sweet simple ones.
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