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

The Mommy Abroad Reloaded

Now a family
Welcome to The Mommy Abroad, reloaded.

That is, this is not the first time I have created a “mommy blog.” It was late in November 2014, seemingly a lifetime ago, when I found out I was seven weeks pregnant. To celebrate the occasion in true webbie fashion, I bought a .com, created a separate cPanel account on my reseller for my WordPress CMS, and signed up for matching Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter accounts. I even created a FaceBook Page that people could like. The title was The Mommy Abroad, to indicate my impending induction into motherhood and the fact that I am an expatriate.

This initial incarnation of my motherhood journal was officially launched on 28th November. Sadly, my online project barely lasted a month. Read on, from the very beginning.

It was on 26 November 2014 when I went to see my dentist for the surgical extraction of my bottom-left wisdom tooth. The tooth had been bothering me since earlier that month. As I age, the tooth sunk deeper into my gums, incomplete in terms of growth since it had no space to fully develop. Like my top-left wisdom tooth, which was removed in 2010, it started to hurt as time went by and removing it was the best solution to get rid of the recurring pain.

Earlier that same week, another health-related occurrence had been bothering me: my period was late. I never had a delayed period in my entire life, since I first started getting the monthlies when I was 11 years old. It was due middle of November, but almost two weeks on, there were no signs of my period. I mentioned this to my husband and we decided to wait until the end of the month before I took a pregnancy test, since climate changes often cause delayed periods.

When it was my turn at the dentist’s chair, she asked me if I was pregnant, which was standard procedure for all her female patients who would be administered anesthesia. I informed her about my delayed period and she asked me how often do I get delayed. I, of course, told her “never.” She advised me and my husband straightaway to get a pregnancy test kit from a nearby pharmacy. She would not proceed with the surgical tooth extraction until she was certain that I was not pregnant.

My husband got the kit and I used it right there at the dental clinic. Three minutes later, I saw two stripes. Positive.

Needless to say, the dentist did not proceed with the dental surgery. Instead, she put temporary filling on my problematic wisdom tooth and advised us to see an obstetrician as soon as possible, recommending a few in our part of the city.

That very evening, my husband and I went to see the specialist doctor at the medical centre close to our apartment building. She recommended that I go through some laboratory tests, including an ultrasound. I was prescribed some vitamin supplements for a healthy pregnancy. I was also advised to stop intense exercises and, generally, change my diet and fitness routine. It was figured out that I was six weeks into my pregnancy and, thus, well into the first half of the delicate, crucial first trimester.

This was my first pregnancy. The news was met with joy and excitement by my our family and friends. More so when they saw me in person, already showing, when we went home to the Philippines in the first week of December.

Midway through the month, at around 10 weeks of pregnancy, I had my first ultrasound that had a heartbreaking result: I was pregnant with twins. Neither twin had a heartbeat. I was advised to give it two more weeks and given medication that could potentially turn the situation around. We traveled back to Oman, with mixed emotions of anxiety, hope and sadness.

I had another ultrasound on the 1st of January 2015, following two days of increasingly heavier bleeding. The results were, tragically, the same. Given the fact that I was already bleeding significantly by then, the obstetrician/gynecologist at the hospital advised that I should get a D&C as soon as possible. Further delay could cost my own life.

My husband and I decided right then and there to have the procedure the following day. On January 2nd, I checked into the hospital at 7:30 AM, got prepped by the nurses and was put to sleep around noon with a general anesthetic. I woke up a few hours later, alive and safe, my belly emptied of my babies. I was home that evening, crying most of the time.

The road to physical recovery was fairly easy, due to my natural strength and athletic background. The emotional bit was much harder; even after more than a year, sometimes I still remember the twins, who never had their shot a life, and shed tears.

In August 2015, I found out I was pregnant again. The child was conceived in July. In an ultrasound the following month, the baby (not twins this time) was found to be healthy. More scans in the last quarter of 2015 informed us that our child was a girl. Her due date was 14 April 2016.

Our daughter Arya was born in Muscat a few days before she was due, at 39 weeks and two days of gestational age. I was in labor for 25 hours, but every minute of anticipation, pain and tension was well worth it.

I did not really think to go back to blogging and web design until after my first child was born. It took me a few more months to decide to return to writing my experiences as a first-time mother. I am an author and journalist, after all, and I will always go back to words to complete my life.

Thank you very much for visiting my site, and for reading this. You are in for a ride. And I have a feeling this is only the start of something amazing and beautiful.

Image credit: Pixabay

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