Full Term!!

I am officially full term now, which means the baby can come at anytime in the next four weeks and he should be happy and healthy! I have a feeling myself that he'll be coming early- at my appointment yesterday he was already measuring close to 7lbs (this is number is usually about 90% accurate.) He's also dropped, which means he's dropped his little self into the "go" position. He's REALLY low, and it's now a constant pressure for me anytime I stand up! Makes my waddle even more waddle-y! Here's the only pic they gave us from the ultrasound- just a little outline of his cute little head.

I'm also having contractions pretty frequently- mostly Braxton-Hicks, which are sort of "getting ready" contractions that don't hurt, but just feel like a tightening of my abdomen and a bit of pressure. They are very common, especially in the third trimester, and the nurse in my labor class said that having Braxton-Hicks contractions can actually prepare your body better for a shorter labor. I hope she's right! Unfortunately, I am also having a few activity-induced contractions as well, which feel much different from the Braxton-Hicks. These actually hurt- the tightening and pressure are the same but are accompanied by pain that travels around my abdomen and into my lower back. They also tend to make my breathing pretty shallow. The pain isn't too intense though, and although I may have four or five of these in a row in the course of a short period of time, they seem to gradually get less and less painful instead of the other way around before going away. Although I am definitely ready to be done being pregnant, I don't want him to come before HE'S ready. So I'd rather not induce him with too much strenuous activity.  Sadly, this is coming to mean doing more than one normal activity in a day. Even walking for too long makes me have to sit or lie down to help calm the contractions. I've only got a few performances of Simon Boccanegra left before my maternity leave starts, and although I would normally considerate it a very easy and low-stress show for the chorus, there is one scene where I have consistently come off stage having a contraction! Agh! Let me tell you, this makes singing awfully difficult! So I'm taking these shows one at a time, and playing it by ear with what I can handle and what I can't. I'd really like to do the last two performances this week though, and I'm going to do my best to make sure I take it nice and easy all day long beforehand so I have as much stamina as possible to get through!

Here's a pic of me in my costume- the pregnancy makes me look an awful lot like the Virgin Mary on her way to Bethlehem! Ha! This is from a few weeks ago- I'm even bigger now and I can definitely see how he's much higher up in this pic.

So I guess now it's only a matter of time, and playing that lovely waiting game! Any guesses on when he might decide to arrive? My doctor thinks he could come anytime from tomorrow until December!


Baby Showers!

Since I don't have much about the progress of the baby to update this week, I thought I'd share about the baby showers my family, friends and colleagues have thrown me!! I've been very blessed with some very wonderful people in my life, and through the course of my pregnancy I've had three amazing showers! 

The first was in the Bay Area on a visit there in July, thrown by my sister-in-law Masha and my friend Karen. I posted about it a bit here. It was a mini-shower at a cute bistro and I received some seriously adorable clothes, which was perfect for being able to pack in my suitcase! 

My second shower was thrown by my sister and mom and some of my friends from church. Looking back at my posts, I just realized I never really posted about it! I think I was waiting until after I scanned pictures in, but unfortunately I still haven't gotten around to doing that. But it was an incredible shower. The theme was "Once Upon a Time" and was at a very nice Italian restaurant here in Chicago.
A lot of my family came in from Michigan and Wisconsin, which was incredible, and most of my friends from church were also there. It was so fantastic to see so much of my family come in from out of town! Even my Great Aunt Lorraine came, and being over 90 that's no small thing. There were some really cute games- my sister made a "design a onesie" station where people could decorate onesies with fabric paint and iron-on transfers, there was a "guess the belly size" game where people had to guess how big around I was, and a contest for making a baby out of play-dough. My mom and sister made sure there were prizes for all of the guests to take home and my friend Gaby had these really cute "honey spoons" and tea bags to take home as favors. The food was incredible and my cousin Kristy made a cake that looked like a book- The Hobbit of course! I received some incredible and much needed gifts, including a TON of clothes, books and necessary nursery items like crib sheets, a thermometer, burp cloths, a health kit, etc. It's amazing how exciting things like sheets become when they're intended for your baby! 

My third and final shower was today, thrown at work by my colleagues at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. My friends Yvette and Janet put it all together, and it turned out to be fantastic! Yvette came up with the theme of "Candyland. " Yes, that's a topiary ball made out of dum-dums!

I think it's pretty traditional when someone gets pregnant in the chorus to pool together for a big ticket item. This time, everyone pooled together and they gave me gift cards for my registry on Amazon, which I'll be using to get some much needed items!! I am also extraordinarily lucky to work with some very talented people- and not just with singing! I received a few other gifts from individuals as well, including this handmade quilt by my friend Liz, adorable bibs by my friend David, and a knit blanket and knit rattles made my friend Lynn! 

And my friend Ken made this incredible "Candyland" themed cake- Amazing!

All in all, I can not be more grateful for the people I have in my life. You are all so incredibly warm-hearted and generous, and it makes me so happy to know that I am bringing a child into a world full of such thoughtful and kind people. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!

6 weeks left!

Just a short update after that awesome guest post last week. :) Baby is doing well and all of my check-ups thus far have been right on target. My next one (in two weeks) I'll get to have another ultrasound so we can measure him and see how he's developing! I can't wait to see this little man. Supposedly he's currently about the size of a honeydew melon and he sure feels like it! He's now at a point of kicking, punching and elbowing me non-stop. I may be uncomfortable a lot, but I'm certainly happy to know he's doing well in there! Here's a belly shot for anyone who's interested in seeing how huge I am:
And I've still got six weeks to go! Right now it just feels like I'm playing the waiting game, because his room is pretty much done and I don't have too much left to prepare. I start my maternity leave November 10th, and I plan on using that time to hopefully prepare some freezer meals in advance, get the car seat and hospital bags put in the car "just in case!" and to re-read some of the books I read earlier in the pregnancy. We also have a few pregnancy classes scheduled for the next couple of weeks, which Philip will be going with me to. :) And my mom is even going to a grandparent's class to freshen up her baby skills! It has been about 30 years since she's taken care of a newborn, but I'm pretty confident in her abilities. She's even been proactive about making sure she got the Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diptheria and pertussis or whooping cough) especially since there has been an outbreak of whooping cough recently, and newborns are extremely susceptible to it.

So from now until November 10th it's performing Simon Boccanegra and Elektra and lying around a lot, and from then on it's a few little errands and more lying around until the little man comes and creates an entirely different life for us.  I can't wait!

Guest Post!!!

Hi, friends!  Philip here for a “guest” update!  I’m not much of a blogger, so I’ll go stream of consciousness, okay?

You know what would be an easy topic to start with?  The Hobbit.  I believe Marie has already told you (gentle reader) how I have been reading this book — tied for Greatest Book In The World — to her and the baby before bed.  And how the baby LOVES it!

See?  What’s not to like about this baby business?  Can you imagine, when the baby is born, all the stories we shall tell and the games we shall play?

I want you to see the AWESOMENESS that is the baby’s room.  It’s hobbit-themed, of course.  Yellow and green are the dominant colors.  Marie gets the most credit for the decoration.  Check it out:

The single best part is that Penny (Marie’s sister) painted some incredible reproductions of some of Tolkien’s art from The Hobbit.  These photos give you an idea of how great these look in the room, but they can not quite convey just how stunning they are in person.  I can say without wavering that these are now my most prized possession — I would rescue these from a burning building before my War of the Ring Collector’s Edition or Dungeons & Dragons White Box (but after the wife and baby and cat)!

So, thanks, Penny!  You’re the best!

Marie, though, is also the best, because, as I said, she did EVERYTHING else in the room.  Like, personally sewed it, and stuff.  She even made the Dwarf-rune ABCs!  How did I ever deserve such an amazing girl?

Anyway, we are now done with The Hobbit and on to The Book of Lost Tales — unsurprisingly, also tied for Greatest Book In The World.

What else?  Well, I joined a gym, because I want to be the most energetic papa ever.  Actually, I need the energy already, just to get through the day.  Poor Marie has such a hard time getting up, so she often has me go fetch things for her.  And the dishes aren’t going to wash themselves.  So anyway, I have a buddy that I have to drive to and from the gym at set times — 5 times a week, actually — which keeps me accountable.  So far I’ve only had to cancel about once per week.  Not bad!  But I weighed myself, and I have gained 9 pounds since I joined.  All muscle, of course, but, come on!  Luckily, Marie is glad I’m still heavier (much heavier) than she is, so, I guess that’s okay!

She really looks amazing, and is so brave to go to rehearsal all the time when she’s got such a great burden.  You can now see the baby pushing against the edges, creating a lopsided belly, and feel him kicking REAL hard!  It’s pretty crazy how close he is to being fully present with us, and yet so far away.

We had a scare about a week ago.  We were stopped at a light, when BAM, we got rear-ended.  For Marie, this was the second time in one week.  Of course we rushed to the hospital to monitor the baby’s heart-rate and Marie’s contractions.  Turns out everything is fine — thank God!  And our car, rear-ended three times in as many months, barely has a scratch!  While the cars that hit it are smashed up real good.  Gotta love Ford SUVs!  But, seriously, people, stop running into us, KTHX.

That’s enough for today, friends!  We ask your prayers for our baby as we enter the home stretch, the final two months (or less) of Marie’s pregnancy.  Holy Father Tikhon pray to God for us!

31 weeks down, 9 to go!

Only 9 more weeks to go! Only about 65 more days! Time is flying, but it also seems to be taking forever!

Pregnancy is a roller-coaster. At the moment, I am quite content to be lying down and just feeling the baby squirm around while Philip prepares a delicious breakfast-for-dinner! (I have the best husband.) Some days are great (today was one of them!) but others are just weird, painful or strange.

I actually got in a car accident on Friday- I was rear-ended on the freeway by some sixteen-year-old stereotype in her pink pajama pants and bleached blonde hair talking on her cellphone. Her front end was pretty smashed in, but our wonderful car had barely a scratch! Still, I had to go into the hospital and they monitored me for about 6 hours to make sure the baby was okay and it didn't induce labor. I had a few contractions, but nothing major so they sent me home. Then yesterday I started having contractions AGAIN, which totally freaked me out, but the on-call doctor didn't seem too concerned and just put me on bedrest for the night and had me make an appointment for this morning. Of course, today I'm having no problems, and the doctor thinks the two really painful contractions were from over-exerting myself and the less-painful ones were just Braxton-Hicks contractions and that I don't need to worry unless I have more than five in an hour, start bleeding or my water breaks. Phew! So glad none of that is happening! But the best part is that this little guy has been super active the entire time as if to say, "Don't worry mama, I'm doing great!"

I'm measuring a couple weeks ahead, which is exciting to me! But I do want him to keep cooking as long as he needs to- as much as I want to meet this little man I want him to be as healthy as possible even more.

After having these little scares this weekend, I am so happy to feel as prepared as I am. There's still a few things I'd like to get, I just signed up for a few of the classes the hospital offers (birthing class, breastfeeding class, and infant cpr/first aid) so I still have to take those and I have yet to pack my hospital bags. But if the baby came early and none of those things had happened I could deal. I don't think I'll ever feel completely prepared for the actual raising of a child (!) but at least we have a carseat and diapers and a few things for him to wear. :)

I've got the rest of my pregnancy broken down by my work schedule- I just finished the last of my music rehearsals, 2 1/2 weeks left of staging rehearsals, then 4 weeks of performances and then I start my maternity leave and the waiting REALLY begins. I think the rest of this pregnancy is going to fly by all too quickly!

80 more days!

I've decided to move from number of weeks to number of days because it feels more fun. :P

So far, the third trimester is my favorite. Things seem to be moving faster, and many of my physical woes are so much easier to bear than the the first 6 months. Other than exhaustion, everything is much more normal and mild than before, and I'm feeling a bit more like myself! Just tired A LOT, and I don't think that's going to get better any time soon. But tired I can handle. :)

The belly is really popping out these days, and I've had multiple people tell me I look like I'm going to deliver early. I don't think I seem bigger than what I'm supposed to be for the gestational age, but really, who knows? So many women are so different!

I'm just enjoying looking obviously pregnant. I don't know why I feel like it's so fun too look pregnant, but I do! I think I just want everyone to know and be as excited as I am that we're gonna have an actual baby in a few months.   SQUEEE!!!!

I'm definitely back in the swing of things at work, and it's been great so far. I am WIPED after every rehearsal though! That lack of lung space does not make for optimum singing! But I'm pushing through pretty well, and we had a concert on Saturday for the Stars of the Lyric at Millennium Park. (It's a free concert the Lyric does in the park every year as a pre-season show, mostly highlighting the Young Artists and a few of the leads from the coming season.) The concert was great, and I made it through pretty well! The chorus had a lot to sing, and I felt good about my personal sound contribution. I did, however, zonk out when I got home and had a deeper night's sleep than I've had in quite some time. I'll be interested to see what happens when we're in full costume on stage when I'm in my ninth month, but I think I'll be able to pull through.

I have a doctor's appt this week, but so far everything has seemed right on track with the baby's development. Like a good, growing Russian boy, he's almost the size of a cabbage! And he's still kicking and punching like crazy, which I love to feel.  It's so reassuring. Everything seems good, and I hope it stays that way until November!

Third Trimester!

We are officially in the double digits- only 91 days until the due date! And I am now officially in my third trimester... hooray for the home-stretch!

My mom and sister threw a wonderful shower, and it was so nice to have so much family there. (I just got the pictures from my wonderful Auntie Dina, so I just need to scan them in!) I'm finally starting to feel (materially) prepared, as the nursery is more or less done with all the furniture set up, I have just about enough clothes (minus a few things in the newborn size) for the first few months and the things we have left to get we've got budgeted out over our next few paychecks. Whew! Mentally prepared- well, that's another story! But there's only so much you can do on that front until the little guy actually arrives. Sometimes I don't think I'll actually believe we're having a baby until he's here, no matter how many kicks and punches he gives me!

Health-wise, both the little man and I are doing well. The third trimester is treating me well- I'm feeling much less sick in the mornings and haven't thrown up in almost two weeks now! I'm still having a bit of abdominal and hip/pelvic pain, but the doctor's not worried and is sending me to a physical therapist just to relieve some of it. The baby is doing great though, and is continually moving around in there. He is definitely an active little guy!

It's a good thing a lot of my first and second trimester woes have started to disappear, because I've started back up at work again! So much for the lying around all summer. :) It's been an intense week, and we already have a concert next week. But I'm feeling pretty good with my singing, and our new chorus master seems pretty great so far, so I'm pretty happy to be in the swing of things again. I may be coming home exhausted and ready to drop, but I really do love my job so it's definitely worth it. :)

November is suddenly seeming so much closer, and I really can't wait to meet this little guy!

Baby Weekend!!!

I am officially off of bedrest, which I am extremely thankful for! As nice as it sounds to have to do nothing all day and not leave the house, it's REALLY boring. I'm also thankful that the pain is gone! I have to wear a maternity support belt from now on, which helps support both my back and belly. I hope it makes a difference! But all in all, I seem to be doing well! Here's my belly shot for the week:

I'm also super excited because my sister is coming into town! She's helping throw a baby shower for me and it sounds like it's going to be awesome. A lot of family/friends are coming from out of town that I didn't expect! I am SO EXCITED to see everyone! It's so overwhelming to see the love and support that people bring when something like a child coming into the world happens. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. :)

Time for bed rest. :(

Turns out they mean it when they say to try not to be too active during your pregnancy!

After a long day of Vacation Church School, taking Ratbear to the vet, meeting up with Linden for a Chicago Opera Playhouse "business meeting" and then a lovely dinner date with my husband, I suddenly got a really strange pain on the lower right side of my abdomen. It was a kind of pain that made me feel like if I didn't sit or lie down ASAP my body might give out and make me do it anyway. Yikes! Needless to say, this scared the living daylights out of me. As soon as we got home I called the on-call doctor at my doc's office and she said to essentially sleep on it and call my doctor if I still had pain in the morning.

Well, the pain hadn't gone away this morning, so as soon as the office opened I gave my OB a call. She thinks I pulled one of my round ligaments (they are the muscles that support the uterus) and has put me on partial bed rest for the weekend. The good news is that this doesn't affect the baby- he's still happy and kicking away like crazy. I swear it's becoming non-stop lately! This only affects me, and means that if I don't watch myself I'm in a lot of pain. Yay. It's funny, because it's not like I was being super active- just walking around and standing for long periods of time, but apparently that's enough to cause problems! I'm glad it's just for the weekend though. :) And if it persists or gets worse I have to go in right away, but she seemed pretty confidant that things would resolve themselves with just a few days of rest.

So that means the rest of my week and my weekend will now consist of lying down in bed as much as possible and as many fluids as I can handle. I'm sad to be missing the rest of VCS, but at least I haven't started back at work yet and hadn't made too many plans. But if anyone feels like calling or visiting I'd love a break from the boredom!

23 weeks!

Well, I'm finally home in Chicago! I had a fantastic time in San Diego, and Masha's wedding was absolutely beautiful. I then got to see my brother in Phoenix, and he and his girlfriend and Philip and I all drove to Denver to visit my sister and her husband and we all went to a concert together at Red Rocks. It was so fun! Baby seemed to love rockin' out, although I was pretty exhausted by the time the concert was over. All in all, I had an amazing vacation, but I'm so happy to be home!

Philip and my mom painted the baby's room while I was gone, and my wonderful neighbor Marcia gave us her daughter's crib and changing table. And being who I am, I immediately got to work putting the basics of the baby's room together. After all the furniture was put into place, I made curtains, a teething rail cover, basket liners, a duvet cover (for the bed we're keeping in the baby's room) and then I dug out of storage the few stuffed animals/books/toys that Philip and I still had from when we were kids and washed them all for our little man to enjoy too. I love how everything is coming together!

I'm especially excited to get The Hobbit artwork that my sister has done. IT'S AMAZING. But you're all going to have to wait until she brings/sends it to see it!

Now that we've got all the basics in and ready, I'll have places to put the baby's things! Lots of empty drawers for cute clothes, bins for diapers/wipes/burp cloths/etc and an entire empty closet for storing any bigger things!  I can't wait for this baby to come!

On another cute note, Philip started reading The Hobbit to my belly yesterday. It was kind of hilarious because the baby was going crazy kicking pretty much the whole time he was reading. I, on the other hand, was starting to doze off, and when Philip stopped reading because I was falling asleep he immediately started kicking me harder as if to say "Wake up! I wanna know what happens to those trolls!" This is definitely Philip's son!