Monday, August 17, 2015

Penumbra Baby: 28 week bumpdate

I'm not much of a "bumpdate" person. (Though I'm not much of a birth story person either, and I wrote one of those.) When my favorite bloggers post pregnancy updates, I mostly just look at the pictures. I never blogged regular pregnancy updates when I was pregnant with Lucia but somehow, this time, it just seemed right - maybe even necessary - to share a little more gratuitously about this pregnancy.

A while back, I read this article that discussed the use of the term "penumbra baby" for a child that comes after loss. I've never really felt comfortable with the more common term "rainbow baby" (not sure exactly why) and it was somehow very fulfilling to find a term that really resonated with me. Here's an excerpt from the article that explains the word an exactly why it's so apt:
The word penumbra means “partially shaded area” and while I like and use the term rainbow babies, I think this one might be a better description. These babies are born in the shadow of their older siblings who died. Because I’m fascinated by words and their meanings, I find it interesting that she used the term penumbra, meaning partially shaded, and not umbra, or fully shaded. With a penumbra, some light is still coming through, which I find rather beautiful. Children born in the shadow of loss are definitely not replacement children! Unlike a rainbow, a shadow is not fleeting or illusory, but always present and always changing. When the sun rises and sets, our shadows are long, casting a deeper, darker presence over our lives. When the sun is high overhead, our shadows are barely present. No matter where you go or what you do, your shadow is with you. It changes as you change. It is unique to your shape. A shadow cannot exist without some light, even if that light is small.  
When you are pregnant after a loss, the shadow of your past pregnancy will always be there. Some days you will feel its presence deeply, as if the light were dim and the shadow in front of you. Some days, you will hardly notice it. The sun will be bright overhead.
It's important to me that this pregnancy and this child are never "fully shaded", that I allow some light to come through. So I'm determined to celebrate this pregnancy in whatever ways I can. I may not be taking weekly beautiful, well-lit and well-orchestrated pictures with fruits and veggies, but I have been taking grainy, poorly lit picture sporadically because I do want there to be pictures. (And we are going to get professional maternity pictures next month.) I do want there to be memories. I want to be able to look back and say, that was a blessed time when my child was growing within me. I've always thought I would do a pregnancy update post at some point in this pregnancy (although probably only one) and 28 weeks, the start of the third trimester, seems as good a time as any.

how far along: By the "official" dating: 28 weeks, 3 days; by my dating: 29 weeks, 1 day. I'm totally fine with going along with the doctor's date though. Lucia was 8 days "late" so a later due date just prepares me for a little longer of a wait and, more importantly, gives me an extra cushion before other people start asking "Have you had the baby yet?"

days until due date: 80

symptoms: I've had pretty much the full gamut of "normal" pregnancy symptoms. Morning sickness, lethargy, etc. in the first trimester. Mostly feeling better during the second trimester, other than a few tough weeks around our move when I probably was just doing way too much. In the past few weeks, the third trimester symptoms have really hit - heartburn, swelling, hip and pelvic pain. I have had a few symptoms that I think are pretty unique to me though. One of the first early signs that I'm pregnant is frequent headaches. Unless I'm ill, the only time I ever get headaches is during the first trimester of pregnancy (it's been consistent with all of my six pregnancies so far). Also, I've developed allergies to peanuts. Nothing major, just an itchy throat when I eat them. I had this with Lucia too, only not with peanuts but with bananas and almonds (so far, those don't seem to bother me). Apparently food allergies just during pregnancy is a thing, though not particularly common.

cravings: Hmmm, I probably need to ask David about this one. Hummus. A bagel with lox. Honestly, it's pretty much like my pregnancy with Lucia - I don't crave much in the realm of weird and cravings don't come out of nowhere, but if I see or hear someone talk about a food that sounds good, I can't get the thought of it out of my head. So commercials and cooking shows are my worst enemy right now. Though heartburn is severely cutting down on my appetite because no matter how good something tastes, I know it is just NOT worth the heartburn.

On our fifth anniversary
comparisons: Obviously, this pregnancy is emotionally much more difficult than my very blissful, naive, and perfectly healthy pregnancy with Lucia, but it's also been physically harder. Not so much so that anything is out of the ordinary, it's all within the range of "normal", but it's certainly a noticeable difference. Other than the first trimester morning sickness and fatigue and third trimester heartburn, I otherwise felt amazing my whole pregnancy with Lucia. This entire pregnancy I've been tired and sluggish and just not feeling quite well. The morning sickness was worse (I think I only threw up twice with Lucia, but often a half dozen times per day this pregnancy) although both times it tapered off around 13 weeks. Heartburn has started much, much earlier this time - at around 25 weeks compared to probably 34 with Lucia. I remember that being the absolute worst part of her pregnancy and was hoping to put it off as long as possible.

I've also just been so much more sore this time around. I never had hip or pelvic pain with my first pregnancy and it's been a bit surprising (and painful!) this time around. I also never had Braxton Hicks contractions before this pregnancy, and I've been having them since around 18 weeks. I usually don't have them too often other than when I'm upset and then they are super painful and constant. Not having any BH made it really easy to tell when I was going into labor - I'm worried about not being able to tell real from false labor as the due date gets closer.

I don't think having an older child to care for has affected the pregnancy all that much (other than Lucia making me melt with her really sweet, adorable bonding with baby - that is so precious). Lucia tends to nap every day and I nap with her so I still get my daily nap in. I haven't been sleeping very well at night the entire pregnancy (whereas I slept like a baby until the heartburn kicked in last time), but I don't think that's related to having an older child because Lucia usually sleeps through the night. She's old enough that I'm not constantly on my feet running after her and she's pretty independent and helpful, but I am probably more active this time walking over to the school playground with her and taking her to parks and such.

I've gained a lot less weight this pregnancy. I'm sure that's due to the increase in morning sickness and early onset of heartburn more than anything else. But I'm also carrying low, so maybe these differences mean it's a boy? Oh, and probably the biggest difference is that this baby is extremely, extremely active. Way more than Lucia ever was. The movements and kicks are much more frequent and sometimes actually really painful which is crazy for a baby this small (and it's already been happening for weeks). I can often see my stomach very noticeably moving which didn't happen very often with Lucia and not until the end. David is convinced that this means we are having an active little boy.

speaking of baby's sex: No, we didn't/we don't find out if we're having a boy or girl. It's just the way we like to do it. We didn't find out with Lucia and the surprise was just so exciting. And it drives other people crazy which is fun too. I will admit I was much more tempted this time to peek during the ultrasound than I was with Lucia, but I stayed strong.

Do I have any gut feelings? Boy, I guess. But I was 100% sure Lucia was a boy from my gut feeling and I have the reputation of being 100% wrong when guessing the sex of friends' and family members' babies so I think my gut feeling of boy means that it's most likely a girl. Obviously, we really don't care if it's a boy or girl and we're just super excited to find out exactly who this little person is that God has sent to our family.

names? We do have a boy and a girl name picked out and most of our friends and family know them, but I'm not ready to share here yet. We're having a bit of trouble with a girl middle name, so I emailed Kate at the Catholic baby naming blog, Sancta Nomina, for a name consultation and it will be published next month so at least our girl's name will be out of the bag then.

Lucia is: very excited. And super, super sweet. She talks about baby all the time and asks every person she meets, "Did you know my mommy has a baby in her tummy?" She's very excited to hold baby and play with baby and teach baby everything. She will randomly come up to me and kiss my belly and talk to baby. She calls it "my baby" or "our baby". The last of her friends to have a younger sibling, she's so excited to finally get to be a big sister. I'm not sure how this will play out when baby is actually here, but I have a feeling she'll be very helpful and the jealousy will be minimal. My younger brother and I are five years apart and I was a helpful big sister who adored the baby and was never jealous. Lucia and baby will be four years apart and although her temperament is much different than mine, I think the reaction will be much the same.

We got this gorgeous family photo taken at David's cousin's wedding.
First professional photo as a family of four!

best part of pregnancy so far: I've loved holding my belly in the last few weeks. I've finally gotten big enough that I have a round, very pregnant belly and I think it's beautiful and pretty amazing. Just looking in the mirror and rubbing my belly has been such a blessing. I don't know why, but it seems so strange to actually be this physically, visibly pregnant. I think there was a part of me that thought I would never get to this point and that kind of didn't believe I was actually pregnant with a real, live baby (despite the ultrasounds and really obvious symptoms). But now that I can see it, it's starting to feel very concrete. I catch myself smiling when I see my belly in the mirror.

As for the best specific moment, yesterday, we went to a Rockies (baseball for those non-sporties out there) game yesterday and toward the end, a woman came up to me on her way out and said, "I just had to tell you you're a gorgeous pregnant woman. If I ever get pregnant, I hope I look like you - all belly!" And then she told me how beautiful Lucia was. Yep, that was a winner, especially since I was greasy with sunscreen and had be sweating profusely the whole game so basically felt like a hot, slimy whale. But apparently a gorgeous one.

prayer request: One of baby's kidneys was larger than normal on my 20 week ultrasound, so I have a follow up ultrasound next month. The doctor made it sound like this issue is fairly common and often resolves itself, but even if it doesn't it is not a major problem. I'm not particularly worried, but prayers would be appreciated. I've entrusted baby and this pregnancy to the intercession of Blesseds Zelie and Louis Martin (the soon-to-be canonized parents of St. Therese of Lisieux). Also, prayers for the financial/insurance concerns of this pregnancy would be appreciated as well. Thank you!


  1. You ARE a beautiful pregnant lady and I am so, so happy that you are so close to meeting your little one! Prayers for your intention and the rest of your pregnancy!

  2. You are so lovely! I had a lot more Braxton Hicks with each subsequent pregnancy, even painful ones... Then lots of prodromal labor with my most recent pregnancy, but I could still tell when real labor had begun, so I think you'll be able to also :) Prayers!

  3. You totally are gorgeous! Thank you for the updates!

  4. You are looking beautiful! You and your baby are in my prayers Mandi!

  5. Aw, I love the update! You look great. I prayed for you last night (and will continue to!) :) and I just have to say that I'm always 100% wrong with the gender of my babies...thought all 3 were girls. Oops.

  6. That family photo is so beautiful! I will keep you and baby in my prayers.

  7. You and your bump look absolutely adorable! I would have said the same thing at the baseball game. :) praying for you all!

  8. :)

    What a glorious update. This made my day. Prayers are still coming for you guys from the depths of my heart. So, so happy! Bless you all. {hugs}

  9. Loving the bump pictures, chica! I am ecstatic for you.

  10. Enjoyed reading an update from you! And you do look lovely!
    I love st Thérèse, she is basically my patron saint even though not my confirmation saint. I pray to her often and love her book and books about her. Have you read Everything is Grace? I can't recommend it enough. It shared some sweet details about her mother that I emphathized so much with as a mother myself and truly appreciate St Therésè's parents raising their girls the way they did.
    If st Therésè has taught me anything it is that suffering brings us closer to heaven, and that is the goal after all. I can't say that I welcome suffering as she did, but I am trying to get better each day.

    God bless, my friend!