Saturday, February 28, 2015

Baby Clark #4

I wanted to document this pregnancy for a few reasons.  Firstly, I don't know if this will be the last time I'm pregnant, but it very well could be and I want to remember it and enjoy it.  I love being pregnant, especially after I get through those first weeks.  Secondly, I would like to have something that Lilly and Hannah can read if and when they embark on this journey when they're older.  As time moves forward, memories start to blend together.  All the pregnancies blur into one; the newborn days blend into babyhood which blends into the toddler years.  It is a natural progression, especially when life is so full of little children.  So, I'm introducing you to Clark Baby #4.

November 4, 2014

Here we go again!  It's always surreal thinking about this tiny little human who is growing inside me--especially this early on when I still can't feel the baby move.  Finding out that I'm pregnant is one of those indescribable feelings.  It takes a few days (and a few pregnancy tests) for me to believe it is real.  This time, I knew I pregnant a good week before I saw the little blue line.  Every day, after I put Hannah and Jack down for a nap, I try and sit down.  It doesn't have to be for long--usually just long enough to have a cup of tea or put a photo on Instagram.  On this particular day, September 15 to be exact, I sat down at 12:30 like I usually do, and when I next looked up, it was 2:30pm and I'd been asleep for the past 2 hours. Not just dozing; out cold for 2 hours.  I started to panic thinking about all the things I should have accomplished during that time, but I quickly stopped and smiled.  I knew exactly what that nap meant.  I hadn't seen a nap like that since I was pregnant with Hannah.  I sent Jim a text telling him that I had just fallen asleep for 2 hours in the middle of the day, to which he replied..."you're definitely pregnant." And right he was.  From that day in the middle of September until just last week, I have fallen asleep every day.  Sometimes it's a graceful nap, tucked into my bed while the little two sleep.  Sometimes I can't make it until 12, and I have fallen asleep on the basement floor while Jack and Hannah play their games around me.  I always forget how exhausting the first trimester is; it seems counterintuitive.  During those early weeks, the baby is so tiny.  My weekly emails when I was pregnant with Lilly used to tell me the size of the baby as it progressed from a poppyseed to an appleseed, blueberry, raspberry, green olive and now at 11 weeks, a lime.  I've learned many things during my pregnancies, and while I loved knowing the size of the baby, I no longer get those emails because I think they instill more fear than anything else with subjects like, "What you should be feeling like at this point in your pregnancy," or "7 signs that something is wrong".  I have enough things to worry about on a daily basis, and so I will look after myself and eat (mostly) well and workout regularly and do everything I can for this little baby growing inside me, but I will not read those emails or 99.9% of parenting blogs or books for the same reason.

I have felt pretty good so far--my number one pregnancy symptom would be exhaustion.  And the smell of coffee makes me sick.  I've been nauseous on and off during the past four weeks, but the nausea is dying down, as is the exhaustion, and I'm starting to feel like myself again.  Jim and I didn't tell anyone right away.  Since we've done this a few times now, we wanted to enjoy some time where we were the only two people who knew.  There is plenty of time for everyone to know and there's something special about keeping a secret between the two of us, especially a secret that we're dying to share!  I couldn't hold out very long as I saw two of my best friends a few days after finding out, and they looked at my face and they knew. And then I turned down a cucumber jalapeno margarita, which I would never, ever do, and there was no going back.

I was 11 weeks pregnant yesterday, and we have still only told our family and close friends, as well as some friends in our neighborhood who we see on a regular basis and who can't help but notice my expanding waistline and the fact that I've turned down every drink they've offered me for weeks now, after enjoying beers with them daily in the cul-de-sac towards the end of the summer.  Next Wednesday, I go for my 12 week ultrasound.  We saw and heard the little heartbeat at 8.5 weeks and I don't think that's a feeling that I will ever get sick of.  Jim and I took Hannah and Jack with us while Lilly was at school.  For the most part, they had no idea what was going on, but when we went into the ultrasound room and the technician turned off all the lights, Jack wanted more of an explanation than, "Mom is going to the doctor" so Jim told him he was going to see a movie on the big screen--a movie about a baby."  After about 3 minutes, Jack told us that he didn't like this movie and didn't want to watch a movie about a baby!  So appropriate.  We laughed, told him it was almost over, savored that little baby's heartbeat (which was 175 beats per minute...can you imagine?!) and went on our way with a little ultrasound photo in hand.

I keep thinking back to my pregnancies.  With Lilly, everything was new and surreal.  There's nothing like feeling your first baby kick for the first time!  And then, to my pregnancies with Jack and Hannah.  Since losing a baby, I get less nervous with each pregnancy, and although I will always have this sick feeling in my stomach going into the ultrasounds, my life is busy enough and happy enough that feeling usually only hits me the day of the ultrasound.  Next Wednesday, I go in nice and early and am looking forward to seeing this little one who will join our family at the end of May (or more likely the beginning of June, if he or she takes after Jack or Hannah).

Baby Clark at 12 weeks

November 16, 2014

I look pregnant now!  There's no getting around it.  I'll be 13 weeks pregnant on Tuesday and yesterday, I packed up my regular jeans and pulled out my maternity ones.  I treated myself to a new pair of maternity jeans this time around--so many of my clothes that I bought when I was pregnant with Lilly are very worn, or out of style.  So I'm loving my jeans, and the comfort of the stretchy waistband again.

I had my 12 week visit on Wednesday.  Jim and I got to see this little boy or girl kicking around and looking good!  I was nervous going into this ultrasound, and didn't sleep well on Tuesday night, but it was quick and the doctor got the measurements he was looking for.  I would like more information than they can give me this early on, so it was a little bit of a disappointment.  But so far, everything looks good, so we'll keep chugging along until December 12, when I go back for a 16 week check.

The most exciting part of the week was on Wednesday night, when we decided to tell Lilly (and Jack and Hannah, but they didn't have a clue what we were talking about)!  Lilly had seen my ultrasound picture earlier in the day and asked me what it was.  I thought this would be the perfect lead into a conversation with her, and told her that we would wait until Jim got home and then we could talk about it.  So, at the dinner table on Wednesday night, Jim brought out the ultrasound photo and asked Lilly what she thought it was.  Her reply was, "I really have no idea!"  Jim showed her the head and the feet and asked her if she thought it looked like a baby.  "Oh yes!  It does look like a baby," she replied.  And then we told her the exciting part--that the baby is in my tummy.  Lilly's face just lit up!  "Wait, you mean Mom is pregnant?  And there are going to be four of us? I've always wanted four children in our family!"  She kept looking at the picture and asking questions.  How soon was the baby going to be here?  Was I going to have to go to hospital again?  Lilly told us that she bets being pregnant is really fun--except for the hospital part.  Then, later on that night, she said she actually didn't want another brother or sister because things are perfect with just Jack and Hannah.  It was really sweet.  We could see the little wheels turning in her head, thinking and asking questions.  And then she would go back to playing and running around. Lilly asked if she could take the picture of the baby into school the next day to show her class, so it was Lilly's idea to tape the ultrasound to a folder "so that the other children don't ruin it."  I came into school later the next day for my parent-observation afternoon and was greeted like a celebrity!  She had shown all the teachers and all her classmates, many of whom came running up to me asking to touch the baby in my stomach.  Lilly was so proud, and I tried to soak it all up; to make sure that I wouldremember this moment, when this proud little 5 year old told some of the most important people in her life that she gets to have another little sister or brother.

December 4, 2014

Well, the Christmas season is well underway in the Clark household, and baby Clark is growing up a storm.  I'm almost 16 weeks pregnant, and have had my first strangers ask me when the baby is due.  I feel really good now...I'm in that sweet stretch where I look pregnant and not fat anymore, but I'm not huge and uncomfortable yet.  I'm still nervous, and will be up through the next round of bloodwork (which I have next Friday) and the 20 week ultrasound (which is on Jan 7) but I'm less nervous and more excited every day.  I've been working out a lot this pregnancy--still spinning and going to my favorite weight and circuit classes.  And then once a week, I workout at Kate's house with Christina, our favorite trainer and motivator! Those workouts are amazing, and I look forward to them each week.  Plus, working out with friends is so much fun.  Marie and Kate have both just had babies, so are getting back into shape, and I'm going in the other direction.  We're quite the trio and we laugh a lot while our muscles are burning and shaking.

Lilly keeps telling me that "this baby must really be growing because your stomach sure is getting big!" Just in case I couldn't tell from the way all my shirts are starting to become too short, I have helpful reminders from a little five year old.  Jack asks if he can see the baby under my skin, and doesn't understand why that's not possible.  To be fair, it is a strange concept, especially to a 3 year old!  And Hannah loves babies, but when I point to my stomach and tell her there is a baby in there, she says, "No mommy, belly button!"  She will have quite the shock in May!  I haven't felt the baby move yet, but I have felt shooting pains in the stitches that I have from my hernia surgeries, so that's almost the same thing.  All of my babies, at some point, have managed to jab their little limbs into my stitches, especially early on when they're so little and there's so much room to move around.  Every pregnancy, I get so excited to feel those first kicks.  I know I still have about 4 weeks to go--the earliest I have felt any of them move is 20 weeks, so hopefully in early January those little kicks will start to become part of my days.  And then, before I know it, those sweet little kicks turn into powerful punches that keep me awake at night.  As I write this, I am reminded to take it one day at a time and enjoy my nights full of sleep while I still have them.

December 12, 2014

I had my checkup and blood work today.  I wasn't nervous until I got to the doctor's office, at which point she could barely hear the baby's heart beat because mine was so loud!  It was a quick appointment, and I'll find out the results of the bloodwork on Monday or Tuesday, so now I just have to wait.  Well, really, I have to teach two SAT classes, have an extra help session, tutor two students and see Santa arrive in the culdesac on a firetruck. So it's not like I'll be sitting around on the couch waiting for the doctor to call.

I felt sick to my stomach all afternoon, just thinking back a few years and then trying not to go down that route.  I long for my pregnancy with Lilly, when I was naive and didn't know anything other than happy news.  Since I am now 6 years older than I was then, and there's no turning back time, I try to be positive.  I look at my growing stomach and picture this little baby who will join our family in May, and hope that everything is "normal."  Now, I wait for a phone call.

December 16, 2014

The bloodwork was normal!! I finally feel like I can breathe easy.  I'm excited, nervous, relieved...and mostly excited.

Christmas 2014, 19 weeks pregnant

January 28, 2015

Wow, this pregnancy is flying by.  I remember thinking exactly the same thing with Hannah.  Once I hit 20 weeks, it felt like I blinked and my due date was here.  It is going even faster this time, if that's possible.  I was 23 weeks yesterday and this little person, whoever he or she is, is already a part of my daily life.  I feel the the little kicks all the time now.  I felt the very first kicks on New Year's Day--picking the first day of 2015 to make his or her presence know is one way to make sure I won't forget baby #4's first kicks.  Now, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I usually have to stop and sit down...and then the baby starts kicking.  When I'm lying in bed at night or first thing in the morning and feel those little kicks, I smile and think of how this little person will fit into our family.  This is the amazing stage of pregnancy.  I got to see the baby at my 20 week ultrasound in early January, where I never take for granted how special it is to see this not-yet-one-pound baby in such amazing detail.  All the little fingers and toes.  The chambers of the heart.  This one was sucking on his or her hands.  And go figure--he or she was extremely active (and thankfully cooperative) during the ultrasound.

I saw my stomach moving for the first time yesterday--another pregnancy milestone that always makes me smile.

20 weeks, with his or her little feet and hands above the head.

February 19, 2015

As I enter my third trimester on Monday, almost 27 weeks pregnant, everything seems more real.  My huge stomach (which still has 3 months to keep growing!) bumps into things and people all the time.  It's getting harder to put on my boots, or to get down and look for toys under the couch.  My last comfortable days are approaching and I'm taking advantage of them.  I'm still spinning and going to my circuit classes that I love, and training with some friends and a trainer who keep me so motivated despite my growing stature.  Lilly loves asking questions about the baby in my stomach and is getting excited to have another baby in the family at the end of her school year.  Jack has come to terms with the fact that it's really a baby in my stomach--not a truck as he had hoped.  And Hannah points to my stomach daily asking, "Is there a baby in your tummy?" and then asks to see and touch it.  At bedtime, she lies against my stomach, saying hi to the baby and then tries to push it out of the way so she can lie down properly and listen to the story (she hasn't figured out that it never works and my stomach doesn't move).

I have moments where I think I'm ready to have this baby now, and then I get nostalgic and think about not being pregnant anymore--and I love being pregnant.  Lucky for me, I don't have a choice at the moment.  So, we cruise along into the third trimester.  I have my glucose test on Monday and another checkup at the doctor.  Until then, I get to keep feeling this baby do cartwheels for most of the day and night.  I smile when I imagine how this little person will fit into our family in 3 months. Then I get terrified at the thought of having another little person to take care of.  But usually, I end up remembering what it feels like to hold a tiny newborn at the hospital--seconds after he or she enters the world.  There really is no feeling quite like it.

February 28, 2015

Well, on Monday, I passed my glucose test and heard again from my doctor how active this baby is (yes, yes, I'm aware as he or she is either partying or hiccuping in my stomach for most of the day).  Lilly and Jack felt the baby move for the first time the other night and their faces lit up when they felt the little kicks!  It was very special for me to see their reactions, knowing that they will always be the "older two" in our family.  Hannah asked to feel kicks too, and put her hand on my stomach and just started laughing, like the other two did, even though she moved her hand before she could feel anything.  I hope this little baby already knows how much he or she is a part of our lives!  And so begins the third trimester...    

27 weeks down...13 to go.  Officially in the 3rd Trimester!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Growing Up

February 2015 has brought with it below freezing temperatures, coughs and runny noses, and bubble baths.  Lots and lots of bubble baths.  Baths are instant fun, and bubbles are an added bonus.  So, that's how we spend the last part of our days.  No matter how exhausted I am, the genuine excitement over bubbles always makes me smile.  As I enter the third trimester of this pregnancy, I become more reflective; more sentimental; more nostalgic; and more excited. I've been writing down some of my thoughts since the day I found out I was pregnant with baby #4 and have a whole blog post ready to publish--I just need a picture of me pregnant!  I'm 27 weeks along and the last picture of my growing stomach was around Christmas.

When the screensaver pops up on the computer and I see pictures in the hospital after Lilly, Jack or Hannah was born, all the emotions of their birth days come flooding back.  I can't believe that I get to experience that again in 3 months.  I'm ready for another little baby in our family.  I picture (and eagerly await) the summer, when the three "older" ones get to meet and spend time getting to know their little brother or sister.  Lilly makes comments about my stomach all the time.  Last night at dinner, she said that one of her teachers asked how I was and how the baby was, and her response was, "Oh, Mom is good and the baby kicks all the time but Mom's stomach just keeps growing and it drives me crazy!"  It drives her crazy?!  I didn't know that my stomach really affected Lilly's life, but it sounds like it does more than I know.  Jack frequently asks me when "my baby" is going to come out (apparently I'm the only one who will be taking ownership for this new little person) and knows that he has to wait until the Memorial Day parade--which he associates with ice cream and now the new baby arriving.  And Hannah pushes on my stomach all the time, asking if the baby is still in there.  There are lots of little opinions in my life this time around; it's a completely different experience than being pregnant the first time.

Pretending it is summer...when it's really zero degrees outside.
As I get more pregnant and more sentimental, I feel like Lilly, Jack and Hannah grow up overnight.  Lilly told Jim and me last night that one of her best friends is getting her ears pierced for her 6th birthday and can't she PLEEEEEASE get hers pierced too?  Jim and I have already had many conversations with her about how we would like her to be a bit older before she gets her ears pierced, so we reiterated that.  And then, Jim tried a different tactic last night: "Lilly, you know they have to put needles through your ears when you pierce them, and that it will hurt?" to which Lilly responded, "I don't mind Dad.  It will barely hurt.  Really."  This from the girl who doesn't like Ursula or King Tritan in The Little Mermaid.  She is already willing to make sacrifices for beauty--and she's not even 6.  She is asking to have sleepovers and trying to make her teeth wiggle and fall out.  She asks to stay up later than the little two so that she can read.  She has started getting Hannah out of her crib in the morning, taking her to the bathroom and then bringing her into bed with her, where we often find them snuggled up with blankets and stuffed animals and books.  Jim and I are in the process of deciding what school she will attend next year for first grade. I wish, as always, that I could slow it down, but I can't.

Jack has been asking a lot of questions about why grownups get to do "whatever we want" or why grownups are "always in charge."  His running list of things that he's going to do when he is a "grownup like Dad" includes:

  • having 2 pieces of bread with his soup
  • holding his cup with one hand
  • having as much dessert as he wants
  • staying up late and watching Mighty Machines, even when it's dark out
  • watching "boys basketball" whenever he wants
  • bringing his blanket downstairs instead of having to leave it on his bed all the time
  • wearing his dinosaur pajamas every night, even if they're dirty
  • going on the train to work whenever he wants
Jack has settled into school nicely and told us at dinner last night that he loves school days because he loves painting and doing sandpaper letters and having a snack everyday and learning the French alphabet. 

Hannah is 23 months going on 13 years old.  She knows how to sigh when I've told her to do something that she doesn't want to do.  She has opinions on what clothes or shoes she would like to wear and not wear.  She knows how to run away and hide (quietly!) when I ask her to put a toy away and she doesn't want to.  Her vocabulary amazes me, when she tells me that she's "chilly" or that something is "disgusting" or that a book is "ridiculous."  She walks around the house singing the ABCs or Yellow Submarine or the Itsy Bitsy Spider or Mambo Number 5 and constantly repeats phrases she hears Lilly and Jack use.  My current favorite is "It's alright, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear."  Right there is the difference between the first and the third child.  Lilly learned that at school, repeated it at home and now I have a 1-year old who says it, even though she has no idea what it means.  I'm pretty sure Lilly was still walking around the house singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" when she was this age.  

Hannah loves my friends' babies and brings them toys and wants to hold them and feed them bottles, so I'm really hoping those feelings stick around when this baby is born.  Especially now that Hannah and I have our mornings together, I can see her baby days slipping away.  Potty training her was a piece of cake--because she wanted to do it.  I know that if I waited any longer, her strong little opinions would have taken over.  So, for a few short months, we get to be diaper free, before the teeny tiny little newborn diapers make their way back into our house.  

That is where we are this February.  Busy and chatty and changing every day.  We're eagerly awaiting spring but need about 2 feet of ice and snow to melt before our backyard becomes usable again.  So, for now, I spend my afternoons inside with 3 very opinionated little ones.  

Waiting for Dad to come home from work.