A Month of Milestones

How quickly time flies. How quickly moments come and go.

Aside from being my birthday month, September has been a month of beautiful, memorable milestones for my baby daughter, Arya, who turned five (5) months old a couple weeks back.

1. Sitting
She could bring herself to a seated position. That is, she has grown strong enough to move her upper body upward on her own and sit. She could not hold this for a long time and still requires support after, but it’s a start. I first observed this during her bath last 15 September, when she brought her torso up and reached for her rubber duckie in the tub.

2. Kissing
I have taught my baby to kiss, at least in her own way. She mostly licks my and her daddy’s cheeks to reciprocate our kisses. She does this with a smile and in great relish 🙂

3. Talking
Arya has started uttering single syllables since last month, around the time she turned four (4) months old. She said “je, je, je” a lot late in August and into September. Midway this month, however, she said “Mah-Meh” very clearly for the first time. She now likes repeating this occasionally during bath time and when I am dressing her.

My husband and I have also recently bought her a walker to help her learn how to take her first steps. She enjoys her new gear tremendously and loves the feeling of being able to cruise around the house on her own two feet, not to mention having something shiny, large and new to chew.

Image credit: Pixabay

Preparing for Baby’s Arrival

Throughout March and well into the first week of April 2016, I dedicated most of my free time to preparing for the arrival of our baby girl. I still worked full time and did not go on leave until the Easter weekend.

On the 2nd of March, I went to see the ob-gyne at my hospital and was made to take blood and glucose tests. The results, released the following week, were good and basically normal.

Two days later, on a Friday and the local weekend, my husband’s sister and brother-in-law, who both also lived in Muscat with their young son, hosted my baby shower. It was a very pink and frilly affair, since we were celebrating the upcoming arrival of a girl.

My husband and I had balloons in various shapes designed into arrangements that mimicked overly large flowers, as well as pink-and-white single balloons scattered throughout the outdoor venue. The menu was a barbecue spread of salad, potatoes, flat breads, kebabs, large chicken slices and tuna fish fillets.

Our guests were our peeps based in Oman, most of whom we had met and befriended over our almost nine years’ residency in the Sultanate. Some were friends and family acquaintances from way back, from the time we still lived in our home country. There was a generous amount of gifts, from clothing and diapers, to bed and bath equipment.

Aside from the ceremonial opening of gifts, our guests were also given the floor to share words of wisdom based on their own parenting experiences. We received lots of practical, touching and even amusing nuggets of knowledge. Some of the moms present even shed tears when they spoke of their own memories of raising their children.

On the Monday that followed, 7th March, hubby and I returned to the hospital for my ultrasound and Doppler scans. The results were released less than half an hour after the procedures, following which we went to see my doctor for a post-scan check-up. My blood pressure and other vitals were normal. The scans had very positive results as well. My baby was of the expected weight and length for someone in her stage of development. Her heartbeat and activity were excellent, too. Best of all, she was already in “engaged” position: head down, feet up, ready to pass through the birth canal and join the world.

In the second half of March, after a series of thunderstorms that struck Oman, weekends were spent shopping for baby items. After taking inventory of our shower gifts, I figured out what else we needed and we bought these from various hypermarkets and department stores in Muscat. I was very happy that our purchases covered most of what we needed for my delivery and afterwards.

I was able to prepare our hospital gear and had two bags at the ready weeks before my actual due date. One bag contained items I required for labor and a subsequent post-natal stay at the hospital. The other, a kitschy and cute diaper bag, housed everything for our baby girl: clothes, blankets, bath and diapering supplies and, of course, bottles and a pump for feeding.

Image credit: Pixabay

My Pregnancy Truths

Looking back at the past year and the first quarter or so of 2016, I must admit that pregnancy is not all about hearts, roses and cuddles.

I shall be very honest and say that I am one of those blessed, and perhaps lucky, enough not to have such a difficult time in my first step towards motherhood. Maybe my athletic and fitness background had something to do with this, but, either way, I am certain a lot of other expectant moms had it tougher than I had. For this and more, I am extremely grateful.

Allow me to break it all down into two lists.

My Pregnancy Woes

1. Loss of Muscle Tone
The first bit to go was my abdominals, naturally. I pretty much had a six-pack prior to my first pregnancy in late 2014. What followed was the muscular definition of my arms, legs and back. There was weight gain as well, but that was expected.

2. Swelling of Hands and Feet
I increased a shoe size (or two), even with my most comfy of slip-ons. Some of my rings, including my engagement diamond, could barely fit my fingers. My wedding ring had to be slid on and slipped off with the use of lubricant.

3. Loss of Stamina and Cardiovascular Endurance
I used to be able to run a couple of miles and consider this a warm-up to some insane fitness routine or a series of exercise classes. However, the mere act of climbing stairs became quite tiring when I was pregnant. I would huff and puff after picking up items that had fallen to the floor.

4. Joint and Muscle Pains
My wrists were the first to go, early into the second trimester. I thought at first I had slept on my hands wrong, but the pain kept recurring for months. Apparently, this goes along with the swelling part (see #2 above). Whenever I tried to stretch my leg muscles, especially in the mornings, I got curse-worthy cramps.

5. Skin Problems
Blackheads popped out on my neck in the second trimester. I used a hypo-allergenic facial scrub and cleanser, which promptly and quite effectively dealt with the situation.

My Pregnancy Non-Woes

1. Morning Sickness
I was very lucky not to have experienced this throughout my pregnancy. I felt slightly nauseous in the afternoons during my first trimester, especially in the ride home from work, but otherwise I functioned as I had prior to pregnancy.

2. Cravings
I did not crave unhealthy foods, thank goodness. During my first trimester, I demanded fresh strawberries and fresh apple and orange juice like a boss. My dairy consumption (milk, yogurt and laban) tripled at least. During the third trimester, I was big into bananas.

3. Hormonal Behavior
I worked full-time throughout my pregnancy, with no extended holidays except for last Christmas. I did not throw any tantrums or behave erratically at work despite constant busy blocks of time. However, I was a bit slower in physically getting from place to place.

4. Marriage
I was closer to my husband since we confirmed the pregnancy in August 2016. Since then, we had made a lot of beautiful memories in our relationship, such as fun trips to Dubai and our biggest vacation yet to Thailand at the end of 2015 and into the first few days of the new year.

Image credit: Pixabay

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