Friday, January 25, 2013

My Pregnancy Story

With just two weeks (or so) left in my pregnancy I thought I'd take a minute to reflect back on the last nine and half months. Finding out we were pregnant was one of the most incredible moments of my life. I'll never forget that rush of pure emotion and adrenalin. I knew I'd been feeling off for over a week when it finally dawned on me that I might be pregnant. When I'd purchased the pregnancy test I spent what felt like hours staring at the various kits trying to decide which one I should get and wondering if I should buy just one or get the two pack. It was such an odd experience - I had this really strange mixture of guilt and excitement, which I imagine would be similar to what a guy must feel like the first time he buys condoms. I wondered if the cashier would say anything to me when she rang through my purchase (she didn't but I still felt my cheeks grow hot). Even with the symptoms I tried to not get too worked up when I took the test but that quickly failed. My knees and hands were shaking. Then the positive result appeared and I had to wait until my husband got out of the shower to tell him. I ran a hundred scenarios through my head of what to say but in the end just said it - I'm pregnant.

The next few weeks were like being in a dream (cliché maybe but true). Knowing that something special was happening but wanting to still keep some emotional distance until we hit that twelve week mark. We remained cautiously optimistic, went to our doctor's appointments, and counted down the weeks then days until we felt it was ok to share the news with our families (although my husband did spill the beans to a couple of people one late night out...). I'll never forget hearing the heartbeat, so strong, that first time...

The first trimester did go well. It was a mixture of nausea and exhaustion but really nothing I feel I can complain about compared to some of the brutal sickness some of my friends and family have experienced. I was still able to eat but didn't put on any weight. I was so tired but mostly because I was working full time and teaching a night course twice a week for three hours and doing landscaping every weekend. But keeping busy was good.

We threw a big backyard BBQ to tell our families. Part of me wishes we could have come up with a more exciting way to tell everyone with some sort of big reveal but ultimately it didn't matter - hearing the exclamations of happiness, getting all the hugs, seeing all the eyes shiny with tears of joy really made it a special day.

Our next major event was the ultrasound. It was so incredible to see all the little developing bones. I have no words to describe what it was like when the technician switched over to the live view and we got to watch the baby, affectionately called "Itty" as in Itty Bitty baby, move and breathe and suck its thumb. Pure magic.

The second trimester was really great. I ate like crazy and felt good. My belly grew and yet for the first time in my life I loved my body. I was still working full time and teaching a class during the day but again had nothing to complain about. Actually my skin has sucked the whole pregnancy, and my hair never got that luscious texture, but these are so minor in the grand scheme of things.

Unfortunately I did "fail" the dreaded glucose tolerance test and the fasting one as well around 26 weeks. I don't have full blown gestational diabetes but have its precursor of glucose intolerance. I've had to test my blood sugars four times daily and follow the gestational diabetes diet and snack plan. My goal was to stay off of insulin and to keep myself and Itty healthy. Luckily through watching my diet and by walking after every meal I've managed to stay off the insulin as I wanted to avoid having too big of a baby or to try to avoid having to be induced or even have a c-section (chance of these happening increases significantly once you go on insulin).

Dealing with the glucose intolerance was still a tough mental and emotional situation for me to work through. Initially I felt like I failed myself and my baby. I agonized over every food decision I'd made up until that point. I recognize now that this is just the way I'm built (and actually I may be glucose intolerant period) but it took some time to work through it. Sometimes the responsibility of caring for and doing right by this little one inside can be overwhelming.

Having to go to the metabolic clinic in addition to my doctor's appointments has been tiring at times. I've spent so much time spent waiting to be seen but it's been a good way to get some extra reading in. Luckily my workplace has been extremely accommodating (they even threw me a lovely surprise shower!) so I've had little stress or worry from that end.

Now we are in the home stretch. Itty is doing great and seems to be running out of room even though my doctor says he/she is a little small (just under the 50% percentile but perfectly healthy). I still monitor my blood sugar levels just to ensure that Itty doesn't have a sugar crash at birth, but have been discharged from going to the clinic. I'll need to go do a glucose tolerance test in 2-6 months to see if I am actually glucose intolerant or if it was just brought on by the pregnancy. I'm physically tired but emotionally content. I've been nesting like crazy but am already starting to miss being able to get a solid night's sleep.

I'll miss feeling Itty moving around, even the hiccups that wake me in the wee hours of the night. I'll miss loving the changes in my body and am not looking forward to my post-pregnancy body. But I'll have Itty to hold in my arms. We can't wait to find out who our little one is. We didn't want to find out the sex so are eager to see if we have a son or a daughter. Hopefully we'll have settled on some names by then. In just a few weeks I'll be able to share my birth story, and introduce you to our Itty.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Biittner's Book (& Movie) Review: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Our January book club read was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. We deliberately timed it so we could read it over December and then go see the new feature film. First, the book...

I must admit getting through the book was a little bit of a struggle for me (I read the unabridged version). This was mostly because of all the sidetracking or contextualizing Hugo does; there are pages and pages of descriptions of neighbourhoods or battles or people that are only marginally connected with the main story line. Now I'm sure some would argue this makes the story, that this is what makes Les Miserables a piece of literary history, but in my opinion it is all this extraneous description that makes the book a difficult read. That said, the storyline glorified on screen and on stage as "Les Mis" is excellent, and Hugo's detailed descriptions of the characters and their back-stories is what makes Les Miserables great. I found myself hurrying through the extras to get back to the main story. I really liked the following the interweaving lives of the characters over time. I would recommend this book but suggest that most readers stick to the abridged version.

Now for the film...with a confession...

I have never seen Les Mis on stage. It's not because I haven't wanted to; I've just never gone. I love musical theatre. I love going to see plays and performances. So when I went to the film I only had the book for context and was only familiar with some of the more famous songs from the soundtrack. Honestly I am a little lukewarm on the film. Some parts were fantastic - I loved the sets and costumes (especially the "ladies of the nights" with all their scabs and sores). I hated all the close ups when the leads were singing; I loved the ensemble cast numbers. I liked Hugh Jackman at the beginning of the film but grew tired of him towards the end (I think he would have made a more intriguing Javert as Jean Valjean just seemed too easy for him). I think many reviewers were too hard on Russell Crowe, that he held his own for the most part. I think Anne Hathaway is over-rated; she sang a great song but her minimal screen time is not award worthy. Samantha Barks was amazing and deserves the kudos that are being sent Anne's way. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were ridiculous and over the top and, as such, were absolutely perfect; they stole ever scene and I just adored them. The film was also too long (a current trend in Hollywood!). If you are a huge fan of Les Mis then go see the film and take your tissues.

In sum:
- Les Miserables (the book): recommended in abridged version.
- Les Miserables (the film): for fans of Les Mis and who want to see all the Oscar buzz is about.