ValerieWell, we left Ohio in nice, spring-like weather and arrived back in the midst of winter. But I'm getting ahead of...

Well, we left Ohio in nice, spring-like weather and arrived back in the midst of winter. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We were experiencing lovely weather the week before we left for vacation. It was so nice, in fact, that the kids were wearing shorts. I didn't think it was THAT warm, but apparently it was warm enough for them. Our weather on the way down to Florida was good for travel: very little sun, not too hot, not too cold, and only a small rain shower as we passed through central Kentucky. The rest of the time we were in Florida, it was sunny and warm.

For the past several years, Florida has conjured up bittersweet memories for me. The last time I was there, I flew down with my three children, 16 weeks pregnant, to meet my mom for a last-minute winter vacation. That was in 2000. Before we left on vacation I had the suspicion that something wasn't quite right with my pregnancy. I desperately wanted to go on vacation, though, so I shoved aside my intuition and plowed on ahead. I spent most of the time on that vacation in denial, ignoring my intution, trying to convince myself that the contractions I was feeling was just me over-doing things traveling with three small children. Deep down, though, I knew that pregnancy wasn't going to 40 weeks and that my baby was likely in the process of dying, if not already dead.

When I got home from that vacation, Peter's passing was confirmed by several ultrasounds. At 18 weeks, on February 25, he was removed from my body, a body which convinced itself it wasn't going through another spontaneous miscarriage. But how could I explain to my husband that I was feeling sad in Florida. Either he wouldn't remember or wouldn't understand. After all, he isn't the one who held that baby in his womb...

So yeah, Florida holds some sadness for me, particularly the Tampa Bay area, which is where our first few nights of this vacation were spent.

Fortunately God is good and we received some unexpected joy on this recent visit. I had purposely not packed any listening devices for the trip, since I knew it would just make me obsess over the baby's that whole fear thing I'm trying so much to conquer. One evening, while winding down from the day's activities, Matt and I were lying down in the bedroom reading. I thought I had been feeling bigger movements for a couple of days, but wasn't sure if anyone else would be able to feel them. Now, Matt's not the kind of guy to hang out waiting to feel a baby kicking. I think that must be a novelty that wears off quickly for a man after the first child is born. Still, he unconsciously rested his hand on my belly, and a moment later the baby moved. He asked if the baby was moving, and I said, "Yep." It doesn't seem major, but it was such a cool event.

The baby has been moving more and more each day and it is such a thrill to me, as if it were the very first time. I love the fact that my belly is growing and I can sometimes feel it harden with a Braxton-Hicks contraction. This kind of thing used to worry me, feeling these contractions earlier in pregnancy. However, the uterus contracts throughout's only once the baby become bigger that we are able to feel it. I've also been able to hear the baby's heartbeat with my fetoscope. I guess that means that I will be giving up my rented doppler now, sending it back via FedEx. That was definitely a nice reassurance, well worth the monthly cost.

That leads me to some thoughts on prenatal care. I've started looking at it all from a very different perspective, perhaps because I am STILL not seeing anyone for routine prenatal care. Over the years I have picked up the skills and have become very in tune with my body during pregnancy, that routine prenatal care just doesn't seem necessary to me. Even the midwives I've spoken with agree that the main point of the prenatal care schedule for a midwife-assisted homebirth is really for the midwife and the birthing woman/family to get to know each other. But back to my changing perspective.

I've started looking at my prenatal self-care as nurturing myself through the pregnancy in preparation for a positive birth experience. Some of this includes getting regular massages and taking time for myself spiritually. Other things include paying attention to my diet (trying to make every calorie count, but man do I love Girl Scout cookies!), making sure I get enough rest and relaxation, and eliminating stress as much as I can.

Sure, I still do things like listen in on baby, measure my uterus (just for fun, really, because I DO know it's growing), weigh myself. I haven't yet gotten my blood pressure taken...I just haven't been curious enough or felt like it needed to be monitored. I also haven't gotten any urine test strips, at this point I doubt I will.

Our tenth wedding anniversary was this week and my husband sent me something very sweet. He can seem so unromantic at times, and people (co-workers) give him grief about it. But, then, I'm a fairly practical, low-maintenance person who doesn't like expensive things like jewelry, fur coats, and luxury vactions. Heck, we have five kids! If he spent that kind of ridiculous money, I'd be pissed off rather than happy.

An example of my practical leanings? For my birthday, I asked for a new vacuum cleaner. Now, he spent more money on it than *I* would have myself, but it *is* a great vacuum and I am tickled pink! Other gifts I've asked for in the past include a steam cleaner, a bread machine, and, of course, the massages. Still, I do like flowers and nice dinners.

We usually try to go out alone for our anniversary, but since we just returned from vacation, we settled for a moderate dinner with all the kids at Red Lobster.

Anyway, back to what he sent. The doorbell rang in the afternoon. I knew it wasn't the neighborhood kids because it was well before school let out. I answered the door to see before me a flower-delivery person. Oh, how sweet...white roses. He hasn't sent me roses since he first wooed me long-distance, and those were white. I thought that was sweet enough. He explained there were eight roses, instead of a dozen. I hadn't even counted. He asked why there were eight and I didn't know why. His answer, "For our eight babies." *sigh* Just when you think a guy doesn't remember or understand...

Until next time,

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