Pregnancy Retrospective - Letters to Baby Girl Part II

Monday, August 22, 2016

January 22, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

I love that I can address these letters like that now! It has been a whole month since I wrote to you last. As I’m writing this, the first snow of the winter is falling outside, and it’s quite the blizzard! I can’t wait until you’re big enough to play in the snow. I don’t like being cold, but I can’t wait to see how you feel about it. It’s is amazing to think that at this time next year, you’ll have been here for 6 months. What kind of person will you be? I can’t wait to find out. (But please don’t come early. Please, please, please stay in until at least June 10th.)

Since I last wrote, a lot has happened, as it tends to do over a month. Our last OB appointment was with Dr. Salva, and while I’m sure she’s a fine doctor, she wasn’t the most personable. We didn’t get to peek in and see you, but we did get to listen to your heartbeat and you sounded great. It was exciting, but since we have the at-home Doppler, we can listen to you whenever we want! We try not to disturb you too much, but sometimes, your Mama and Daddy can’t help but check on you! The next time we’ll get to see you for sure is on Tuesday, the 29th. We have our anatomy scan, so we’ll have a nice, hour-long session to make sure you have all of the important parts. All of the screening tests that we’ve had have been perfect, so we’re expecting Tuesday to go well, too.

We spent New Year’s Eve as we have for the last few years; at Victoria and Vinny’s house. Victoria is one of my college best friends, and we were each other’s maid of honor in our weddings! She and Vinny will be your Aunt Victoria and Uncle Vinny, and they are SO excited to meet you. Another couple we’re friends with, Alicia and John, were there too. Victoria and Vinny already knew that you were in there, but we told everyone that you are a girl, and it was a great moment. At midnight, we clinked glasses (I had sparkling cider, don’t worry!), then ate apples for a sweet new year, and threw pennies in the street to make a wish for the new year. When you’re older, I’ll tell you what I wished for.

We started the new year with a dinner date with another “aunt” and “uncle” of yours, Mike and Jen! I’ve known Mike since we were 11, and I was the “best man” in his wedding. We also saw the new Star Wars movie, and let me tell you, Daddy is the biggest Star Wars fan out there. He is already excited to share his favorite movies with you, and I think it’s incredibly sweet. He is going to be such a great dad, and he loves you so much already.

The second semester of my second year of med school started shortly after that, and it was rough getting back into the swing of things. Things are cruising along with the pregnancy, and my bump is getting bigger every week. I haven’t really felt you yet; at least, I can’t be sure. Sometimes when I lay down to go to sleep at night, I think I feel you fluttering around in there. It’s still pretty early to feel things regularly though, so I’m trying not to be too anxious. (Spoiler alert: It’s not working very well. I’ve been listening to you more frequently because of that!) Over the long weekend we had for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Daddy and I went to Florida to see your Grandpa and Bubbe. It was really exciting for me, because they didn’t know that you existed yet, so I got to surprise Grandpa at the airport. He was SO happy, he started to cry a little! When we got home and we told Bubbe, she wouldn’t stop yelling, “Oh my God! Mazel tov!” and rubbing my belly. It was cute! It was nice to be in Florida while it was so cold back at home. I love visiting there, and I can’t wait to take you there to see the beaches and the palm trees! Bubbe and Grandpa are so excited, because you will be their first grandchild! I’m pretty sure your Bubbe is going to go overboard and buy you lots of little outfits. On Monday, before we left, she took me shopping for maternity clothes, and of course we had to pick up a few things for you! It was sad for us to come home; I love spending time with your Grandpa, and I wish we lived closer together. Maybe someday we’ll live in Florida… who knows!

And now here we are, in the middle of a snow storm. I’ve been having a lot of hip and pelvic joint pain, so I have an appointment on Tuesday morning for OMM at the clinic at school. Then Tuesday afternoon, we’ll head to the Maternal Fetal Medicine office to have our anatomy ultrasound! We’re also meeting with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist to talk about any complications that might arise due to some of my health issues. Hopefully, everything will be fine, but it will be good to talk to a specialist who will keep a close eye on you!

It is so crazy and amazing to me that we’ve almost reached the halfway point of my pregnancy. This past week, we met and interviewed 5 doulas to see who we wanted to hire to help with your birth. We met lots of nice women, and two who were kind of crazy, but in the end, we decided to hire a woman named Lee. She is very chill and Daddy and I both got really good vibes from her. We’ll be in contact with her via email and phone, and she wants to know all about how you’re doing while you’re growing in there. Then we’ll meet with her around 30 weeks and then again at 36 weeks to discuss our birthing plan (which trust me, is flexible, because we just want you out here safe and healthy), as well as some tools for pain relief and ways to make labor easier. After you’re here and we’re settled in, Lee is going to come to the house and help us get into a good groove as a new family. It should be really nice.

Daddy and I are also 99% sure we know what your name is, but we reserve the right to change our minds! Right now, we think you’re Mara Jane. I know I said before that my Mom-mom’s middle name was Jane, but her first name was Mary, so Mara Jane is pretty close to that. Some other options that are still on the list are Aveline, Aviva, and Everly. Really, we’re just going to have to see who you are once you get here, so we won’t be getting anything monogrammed any time soon! The next thing on our to-do list is to get a color picked out for your bedroom and then get the room painted, and then we get to register for lots of new things for you, like your bedroom furniture, some toys, and other important things like a swing, a car seat, and a stroller. I am glad you’re going to be a summer baby, because it means we can take lots of outdoor walks even when you’re brand new. I think you’re going to like it here. Until then, stay nice and warm in my belly, where you are safe and have everything you need. And if you don’t mind, give me a kick soon! I want to know you’re okay in there. I’ll try to write sooner next time. Daddy and I love you so much, Baby Girl. See you in about 5 months!

Love always,

January 31, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

You are officially half-baked! I can’t decide what is crazier; that you’ve been in there for 20 weeks already, or that in 20 more weeks, you’ll be here! It was nice that you listened to my request in my last letter and started moving around so I could feel you. It’s still only every once in awhile, but I love it every time. Keep up the good work!

This past Tuesday, the 26th, we got to see you again! We spent about 45 minutes getting an anatomy scan to make sure that all of your parts were present and accounted for, and then we met with a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor named Dr. Oxford. The anatomy scan was amazing! You were lying on your back for most of the time, and you were wiggling and moving around so much! The sonographer was really good, and told Daddy and me about everything she was looking at. Daddy was so amazed by how big you’ve gotten! Apparently, you weigh 12 ounces and are about 10 inches long. My phone app that keeps track of this stuff says that you’re the size of a banana, or a Belgian endive. I don’t really know what an endive is, so we’re going to go with banana. I have another app that compares your size to non-food items, and one of the categories is “weird but cute animals”. This week, on that setting, you’re the size of an Axlotl, which is a Mexican amphibian. They’re pretty cute, but you’re cuter.

This is an Axolotl...
And this is you at 19 weeks! See? Way cuter. 
Anyway, the anatomy scan was great. I was nervous because I wanted to know that everything was 100% normal. As the scan was going on, I kept a running tally in my head; 4 chambered heart, 2 kidneys, stomach below the diaphragm, both halves of your brain, cerebellum, all of your bones, and on and on. You were a little stubborn and made it hard to take pictures of your heart, but once we got it in focus, it was amazing to watch those little valves open and close. I could watch that all day. We got LOTS of pictures to take home with us. Your Mom-Mom says that your ultrasound looks a LOT like mine from when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me, so maybe you’ll look like me? I keep saying I hope that you have blonde hair, but since Daddy has almost black hair, it’s probably not likely. We’ll love you no matter what color your hair is though. I’m sure you’re going to be beautiful!

After our ultrasound, we met with Dr. Oxford, who said you looked great. Because I have an autoimmune disease and PCOS, I’m at a higher risk of having issues with pregnancy, so they’re going to do extra monitoring just to make sure you’re growing and doing well. At 28, 32, and 36 weeks, I’ll be having growth scans, which means I get to see you more frequently, so I’m pretty excited. Also, at 32 weeks, they’ll start doing twice weekly non-stress tests, which look at how your heartrate responds to your movements. Don’t worry, it won’t bother you. We’re just going to listen for 20-30 minutes to see how you’re doing. You are so precious, little one, I would do anything for you.

This week, Daddy and I are going to try and pick out a final color for your room, and next weekend, I’m hoping we can start registering! Your Mom-mom has been buying you little presents every month, and you are collecting quite the assortment of adorable clothes. We also have to sign up for birth classes, so we can kind of know what we’re doing when you decide to arrive, and we’re going to start interviewing daycare centers for you to go to once Daddy has to go back to work and I have to go back to school. We are so excited that we will both be home for 2 months with you, then I’ll be with you for another month, and then Daddy will take over for another 6 weeks! Since we can’t leave you with the cats once we’re both out of the house, you’ll go to daycare and get to hang out and play with other babies. I bet you’ll love it!

As for me, this week is going to be full of studying because I have another big exam on Friday. I’ve been resting a lot and trying to stay off of my feet because my hips, pelvis, and pubic bone start to hurt after being up for an hour or so. I started seeing Dr. Cooley for OMM treatment, which I think will help. I’m also getting trigger point injections for my migraines, which helps to keep them from coming back. Fortunately, studying is pretty low-impact, although it is hard to sit in one place for so long! I’m going to try and walk for at least 30 minutes a day, just to get some exercise, even though it’s cold out now. When you get here, it will be nice and warm, so we can go outside for walks all the time. I’m looking forward to it, and to so many things that we’ll get to do with you this summer. Until then, keep growing, growing, growing! And keep it up with the kicking. We love you so much, Baby Girl.

Love always,

March 11, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

It’s been almost 6 weeks since I wrote last, and a lot has happened! We finally made our “announcement” to the world that you are joining our family. It wasn’t much of an announcement, as all of the important people in our lives already knew, but we still had a lot of fun. This was around 22 weeks, and you were the size of spaghetti squash or a papaya, and weighed almost a pound!

Sorry kiddo, your parents are nerds.
Anyway, my med school friend, Margaret, took the photos for us, and I think they came out great! School has been pretty nuts, and I need to be studying a lot more for my boards and I am… not. I should really get on that, because they’ll be here before I know it. And then you’ll be here right after that! Please don’t be early; as much as we love you and can’t wait to meet you, I want you to be fully cooked in there! (Also, I really need to take my board exam before you get here, so… don’t be early.)

A few weeks later, I saw one of the midwives in my obstetrician’s practice on February 26th, which was almost 24 weeks. It was a quick appointment, but your hear rate sounded great. It’s always so strong! Through the Doppler, it sounds like you’re going, “wub wub wub” in there, so we joke that you’re “dropping the bass” like we’re at an EDM concert or something. (Will that reference even be relevant by the time you read these? Who knows.) My next appointment will be around 28 weeks, but before then, I have to do my 1-hour glucose tolerance test and get some bloodwork done. After the appointment at 28 weeks, I’ll start seeing the doctors every 2 weeks instead of every 4. Also, we’ll get to see you again for a growth scan at 28 weeks, and then again at 32 and 36 weeks! I’m glad we get to see you so frequently. I love watching you move around in there!

The second trimester has been pretty nice, honestly. I’m not nauseated at all, just tired, but not nearly as tired as the first trimester! My hips, back, and pubic bone still cause a lot of pain, but between OMM, ice, Extra Strength Tylenol, and resting as much as I can, it’s manageable. I recently picked up a support belt, so I’ve started wearing that when I’m up and around, and I think it’s helping. We’re trying to get a few things done around the house before things get too nuts with school and studying. In the next couple of weeks, Daddy and Uncle Levi are going to paint your bedroom, and Kristian, one of my friends, is going to install your closet shelving. We recently ordered your bedroom furniture, which means you don’t have to fight with the cats to sleep in the cat bed, and we won’t have to stick you in a drawer or something. Mom-Mom, Aunt Kathy, and Uncle Don got together to give us your furniture as a gift, and we are so thankful. Grandma and Grandpa are taking care of your stroller and car seat, which is another weight off of our shoulders. Things are starting to come together!

You and I had quite the adventure on Wednesday, the 9th. On my way home from the neurologist’s appointment, I took a sip of water and started choking, and then I rolled into the back of the car in front of me! There was a ton of traffic, and I felt really stupid about the whole thing. It was especially silly because I was driving a rental car, because my regular car is on the body shop because I hit a curb a few weeks ago! Your mom is not doing well with operating motor vehicles, lately. I called the doctor’s on-call line to make sure I didn’t have to go in to the office, and much to my surprise, they told me to come in to the OB Triage unit to get monitored for 4 hours. So, at 8 pm, I drove over the bridge to Philadelphia and spent 4 hours in the Perinatal Evaluation and Treatment Unit (PETU), making sure everything was okay with you. You sounded great, but you kept kicking the monitor. I don’t think you liked having it there very much! Finally, at 1:30 in the morning, I was able to drive home and go to bed. I was so happy that you were okay though, so being up all night was worth it. Hopefully the next time we go back to triage, it will be to welcome you to the world!

Love always,

March 28, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

Here we are at 28 weeks, officially in the third trimester (!!!), and you’re still doing great! Last week was spring break for school, so I flew to Kentucky to see one of my best friends, your Aunt Sarah, and her husband, your Uncle Josh and their son, Patrick, who is 18 months old. I spent a few days there, then drove to Columbus to have dinner with a friend, and then spent a couple of days visiting your Aunt Emily (yes, you have a real life Auntie Em, which I realize you don’t know who that is, but hopefully we’ll have shown you The Wizard of Oz at some point!). We had a lot of fun, and went to the Cincinnati Zoo, where I fed a giraffe named Tessa. It was pretty cool. After that, Aunt Emily and I drove up to Cleveland and I met another friend, also named Sarah, and she is having a baby in May, so hopefully, you’ll have a cool friend in Cleveland!

Me and Sarah, with our babies (and coffee!)

I was really excited to feed this giraffe, Baby Girl!
Since then, I came back and took my 1 hour glucose tolerance test. It was pretty gross, but I felt okay. Hopefully the results will show that my glucose levels are just fine, and I don’t have to do the three hour test. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to take it, because with a huge family history of diabetes, it wouldn’t surprise me if gestational diabetes was in the cards for me. I suppose we shall see! We also had our first growth scan with Maternal-Fetal Medicine, to make sure you were growing on schedule. You looked perfect! It was such a relief to know that you’re doing well in there. You are so important to us, and we love you so much already. Lastly, I went to a baby shower for Daddy’s cousin Lori, and that was fun.

Aunt Lori is growing one of your friends! 
You seemed to get pretty excited and were moving around a lot that day. In another month or so, we’ll be having the shower for you! I can’t wait to get your nursery set up; it will feel even more real that you’re going to be a part of our family soon. Until then, keep on growing! Daddy and I love you more than anything, Baby Girl. You are so precious.

Love always,

April 30, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

Holy cow, another month has flown by! A lot has happened in the last month, too. At the very beginning of April, I went to a baby shower for your Aunt Colleen, who is having identical twin boys sometime in June! You should be close in age with them, so they will hopefully be good playmates for you. In fact, we took this photo:

We also had our first prenatal meeting with our doula, Lee, who will be there at your birth to help Daddy and me. We learned about the birth process and everything you need to do to get out here, and we talked about pain management and some labor positions. I’d like to be able to labor as long as possible without an epidural so I can get out of bed and walk around, but if I’m in a lot of pain, I’m definitely going to get one. It’s all so uncertain and hard to plan, which is really difficult for me to wrap my brain around sometimes. As I’ve been saying, I guess we’ll see?

A lot of other things happened in April too, including Aunt Julie’s bridal shower, a trip to Maryland to see some family, lots of med school exams and finishing my second year of med school, touring daycare centers, and going to see contemporary ballet! You reacted a lot to the music at the ballet, so I’m hoping that means you love music when you’re here! We chose Chesterbrook Academy for your daycare, once Daddy has to go back to work and I’m back in school. You’ll be almost 5 months old when you start there, so I think it will be okay. You’ll get to meet lots of other kids, and hopefully you’ll make some friends! It’s going to be hard to be away from you after being with you all day for so long, but it will be good for both of us. You’ll get to go to a “try-out” day there before we start you there for real, so I hope that you like it and get to play with lots of fun toys. It blows my mind that we’re already thinking about daycare and you aren’t even here yet!

Then today, we had our second growth scan at Maternal Fetal Medicine to see how you were looking. You were kind of stubborn and didn’t want to show the ultrasound tech your kidneys, but she finally got a few pictures. The best part was that you are 100% healthy and growing exactly on schedule. You have been head down since 28 weeks, so we’re all hoping you stay that way because it makes being born a lot easier for you (and easier on me, too!).

Here you are, 32 weeks and 5 days!
It looks like you’re blowing bubbles, but that’s the umbilical cord in front of your face. Daddy thinks that your profile looks just like mine. I definitely think you have my nose and my lips, but I think you have Dad’s chin. We can’t wait to see what you look like when you get here. You’re going to be so perfect, no matter who you look like. It was a big relief to see you today, and to know that you’re doing great in there. We’ll check up on you again in 4 weeks. Until then, stay put, keep growing, and we’ll be ready for you when you get here!

Love always,

May 27, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

Getting close now! You’ll be here in less than a month, which is completely insane and also totally awesome. You are very active, especially at night and not so much in the mornings. Your dad and I love to sleep in, so hopefully, you will too! Your favorite thing to do lately is to push your little butt into my rib cage, and you’ve started to slide what I think are your hands and feet around in there against my belly, which feels really weird. I love feeling you move though, and I will miss you when you’re not in there anymore! May was pretty busy, because even though I didn’t have any classes and have been studying for my board exam, our weekends were super busy.

First, we had your baby shower on May 15th! Lots of people came to celebrate your impending arrival, and we had a great time with lots of food and cake. Also, you got a ton of presents. There are so many people who love you so much, and you’re not even here yet! It made me feel really special to know that you are so loved by so many. Aunt V and Mom-Mom did a great job planning the shower. It was book themed, and everyone brought you a book for your library! You have tons of books now, and I can’t wait to read them all with you. I wonder which will be your favorites? We got a lot more set up in the nursery, and now I go in there and sit and try to imagine what it will be like when you’re here. It’s a very calm room, and I think you’ll like it. (Also, I hope it makes you sleepy, and that you have lots of nice dreams there!)

After the shower weekend, Aunt Julie and Uncle Michael got married! I was Julie’s matron of honor, and it was a really great day. She looked so beautiful and they are so in love. There were actually 2 babies in her bridal party! There were supposed to be 4, but Aunt Colleen didn't know if she'd be able to be at the wedding. We took this photo with all of us, which I think turned out pretty cute.

Ledya, Steph (with Baby Boy), Aunt Jules, Aunt Colleen (with Tater and Tot), me (and you!), and Liz!
Your daddy and I always have so much fun at weddings, dancing and eating lots of delicious food. We especially love dancing to the first song we danced to at our own wedding, “At Last”. In fact, they started playing it while they were waiting to announce the bridal party, and your dad came to get me because he couldn’t let it go by without dancing to it! It was very sweet. Your dad is pretty romantic and sentimental, and I am so lucky that he is my partner. You couldn’t ask for a better daddy, either!

The following weekend, we had our maternity photos taken by my friend Chrystina! We had a lot of fun, and the pictures came out so nice. I forget how big and round my belly is because I never see it from the front, so seeing the pictures was really fun. I am really glad that we had them taken to remember the time when it was just me and dad, when we were so anxiously waiting for you to arrive. It won’t be long, now!

Photo by Chrystina Noel

We also had our final growth scan with MFM, and once again, everything looked great! You are really running out of room now, and your cute, little, face is smooshed into my placenta, so we couldn’t get very good pictures of your profile. The important stuff was all easy to see though, and we don’t have to see MFM anymore! Next time we see you, you’ll be in our arms. Just another month to go!

Love always,

June 8, 2016

Dear Baby Girl,

We’re getting impatient to meet you! But not too impatient; we want you to be ready! Really, you’re “fully baked” and are just putting on weight now, so if you wanted to come early, you’d be okay. Just a few updates since the last time I wrote.

First, Aunt Colleen had her baby boys on May 31st! So much for June babies! Their names are Sam and Elliot, and they are very small right now. Fortunately, they are both champs and are already home with their mom and dad, learning about life. Daddy and I are going to go meet them on Sunday, and I’m very excited. They seem to be doing well, so hopefully they’ll grow lots before you get here and then they can come meet you!

Tater and Tot, your new best friends!
Also, I changed my board exam date. Last week, I took a practice test and I failed it, which really freaked me out because I had done decently on the last one I took two weeks before that. I talked to the Dean of Academic Affairs at school, and we decided that it would be best if I took my exam in August, after you’ve arrived. I feel so relieved! I’m still studying, but not intensely, and I’ll take a couple weeks off when you get here before going back to it. Now my exam is August 23rd, and I think I’ll be able to do really well. I can even push it back until September if I need to, but I don’t think I will. I hope that I can spend September just hanging out with you!

You gave us a little bit of a scare this past weekend, by the way! I woke up on Sunday morning and you weren’t moving a lot, which was scary. I drank a glass of cold Gatorade, which usually wakes you right up, and laid down on my left side for awhile to see if you would get more active, but you didn’t. I went back and forth about whether to call the on-call doctor, but I did, because my gut just said something wasn’t right. They told us to come to triage right away, so we did. They put me on the monitor and right away, you were there, and your heartbeat was perfect and strong. It was the best sound I had ever heard. After 20 minutes, you showed the doctors what they wanted to see, so they took the monitor off. You’re still not a fan of it, and like to kick it when it’s on. The doctor came in and did a quick ultrasound to see what the fluid levels in there are looking like, and they’re also great.

The general consensus is that you’re just out of room, so you weren’t moving so much. Since then, you’ve been back to your wiggling around, which makes me feel a lot better. You’re especially active between 9 and midnight, and I have lots of uterine cramping, which I guess is my body getting ready for the real thing! You’re still head down, but you’re facing up, so we hope that you turn over at some point. Again, it’s way easier if you do that. Daddy and I were joking that since I moved my exam, I’ll go into labor tomorrow, exactly when I should have been taking my exam. I don’t think that’s actually going to happen, but it would be pretty funny. We’re hoping you stay put until Dad is finished with the school year, next Thursday, but whenever you want to come, we’ll be ready!

For now, I’m just doing some light studying, trying to catch up with friends, and getting the last few things ready for you at home! We installed your car seat in the car, and we’re getting it checked for safety tomorrow by the fire department. We also interviewed a pediatrician for you, and are interviewing one more on Monday. I’m going to spend Saturday with Mom-Mom to get some more organizing done, and then I think the house will be really ready for you! We can’t wait to meet you, Baby Girl. You are my heart, and I cannot wait to say, “I’m your mama,” when they put you in my arms.

Love always,


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