I'm halfway through this pregnancy, as of this past Sunday. I hit 20 weeks, my belly is looking more pregnant than fat (the fat is there, I just no longer feel obliged to suck it in since people can now pretty much tell I'm pregnant and assume my belly is all because of that), and the baby is starting to become a uterine acrobat. Fabulousness.
I was asked to present a session at a conference today, and it just so happened said conference was put on by the agency I used to work for. This means I ran into a lot of people who I used to work with (Board members, staffs of other agencies in that field, etc.), and for the first time this pregnancy the pointed glances at my belly were quite obvious. Most of the day, it went something like this:
Other Person: "Hey! Good to see you! How are :::looks at my belly::: things?"
Me: "Great! I'm just staying busy with work and family! How are you doing?"
OP: "Great, busy as well. :::Furtive glance at my midsection, questioning whether I could be pregnant or just helped myself to too many buffet trips over lunch::: How's your daughter?"
Me: "She's wonderful! :::Letting them off the hook and rubbing belly::: We're expecting our second baby next March."
OP: "Oh, you are?!?! :::clearly relieved they didn't have to ask, and seemingly presuming I didn't notice the belly stares::: Congratulations!"
Funny enough, EVERY ONE of these conversations involved the OP asking me about Luca, presumably to create a segway for me to either tell them I am pregnant again OR explain how, when she was born her twin was left in my uterus, and that's why my gut looks like an old man's on a beer binge.
There was one lovely woman who, when I offered up that I am expecting baby #2 in March, looked at me in shock and exclaimed, "My daughter is due in March! And she is easily twice your size! You look fabulous!" LOVE LOVE LOVE that woman. Want to fold her up and put her in my pocket, and take her everywhere with me so that when I fell shlumpy or fat or lazy I can unfold her and she can bestow me with praise and compliments.
In other baby news, I've been doing a ton of reading to prep myself for the labor and delivery this time around. Among the books I've read (and there have been many, many books), I'm loving these:
The Birth Partner (by Penny Simkin, who is like the Queen Goddess Supreme of all things pregnancy and birth): This is a fabulous book, which was actually suggested to me as part of my Doula training. It's intended for birth partners (duh), whether they be the baby's dad, a family member, a friend, or a professional such as a doula. Much of the book focuses on natural birth, and each section goes into great detail about what the laboring woman is experiencing, what the birth partner might feel, how they can help mom, and what the medical professionals may be doing. I think it's a great book for partners to read, but it also has been helpful to me because it gives me a better idea of what to expect, what 'signposts' of labor to look for, and comfort measures to try. I really recommend this book!
Birthing From Within (Pam England): A great book about ways to mentally and emotionally prepare for birth. A little crunchy and 'soft', even for my hippie liberal bleeding heart self, but an inspiring and centering read none the less.
Gentle Birth Choices (Barbara Harper): A fabulous book covering a variety of 'gentle' idea for labor and delivery. Covers the basics (lighting, people present, comfort measures), as well as in depth information on things like the history of water birth and data on medical interventions and their safety and risk factors.
In May's Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin. If Simkin is the Queen Goddess Supreme, Ina May is the Ruler and Protector of All that is Birth): This book is like THE Bible of natural birth. Gaskin is credited with starting The Farm, a commune in Tennessee where natural birth reigns. Her knowledge and experience provide the structure of this book, and it's full of stories and anecdotes. In fact, the first half of the book is entirely birth stories from women who gave birth at The Farm. It's my #1 suggestion for women wanting a med-free delivery. It restored my faith in a woman's body to DO labor without having to be helped or medicated or rushed along.
I have an appointment with my midwife this weekend, and I'm hoping to begin talking to her about prepping for birth. I've been trying to stretch regularly and get out walking as much as I can, since I know those things are important in pregnancy. But I'm hoping she has some other ideas for me of things I can do to prep.
One last weird note: I've noticed that my skin is reacting strangely to metals this pregnancy. I've worn my engagement ring for 7 years, my wedding band for nearly 5, and my earrings for a year now...all without a single problem. However, a few weeks ago I noticed the skin below my rings turning red, itching, and peeling. And just this past weekend, my earlobes started to itch and get red. It's leading me to believe this baby is causing my skin's pH to change....so add that to the list of reasons I suspect we're having a boy.One 20-ish weeks until we know for sure!