I'm grinning from ear to ear as I write this. A lovely three weeks of vacation in the U.S., from which we just returned, was capped off today with the wonderful news that the baby is "100 percent" (in the doctor's words) a girl!!

The doctor was doing the usual ultrasound and pointing out the various parts, taking measurements, etc., and when she got to the key parts region, she stopped and asked "Do you know what the baby is?" In other words -- "It's clear to me what it is, and I want to make sure I don't blab if you don't want to know!" And we said that no, we didn't know, but we wanted to.

So she then asked "Do you want me to tell you or do you want to figure it out?" which meant that it must be pretty obvious. And Andrew, being the inquiring type that he is, said that we wanted to figure it out. So the doctor moved the sensor around until she got a good picture on the screen and then waited for us to figure it out.

I couldn't tell a thing. In fact, I guessed initially that it was a boy. The doctor then pointed out the bladder on the screen, and Andrew immediately said "Oh, it's a girl!" And sure enough, you could clearly see the vagina running up to the bladder. "It's 100 percent a girl," said the doctor. (So much for my earlier thought that you could never be definite in diagnosing a girl baby in utero.) She then went on to comment "And she certainly moves a lot." It took me slightly aback for a moment to hear the baby officially referred to as a "she," instead of an "it." But I need to get used to referring to HER like that!

Anyway, as I mentioned, we just got back from three weeks of vacation in the U.S., most of the time spent on Martha's Vineyard, which was wonderful. Our trip started with a get-together of my family in New Hampshire, including a baby shower for my niece, who is pregnant with her first child (and the first child of the "next generation," the first great-grandchild for my dad). And when the shower got underway, I was shocked to discover that it was for *us* as well!

I had specifically told my sister organizing the shower to not do a single thing for us and to focus on her daughter (my niece), and when I reminded her of this, she just smiled and said "Well, I ignored you." She then went on to say "It's just a little 'sprinkle' for you, not a real shower," but the "sprinkle" turned out to consist of wonderful baby clothes, towels, receiving blankets, toys, and a fabulous diaper cake, PLUS presents for Spencer! I couldn't believe it. It was such fun admiring all the baby clothes and toys and envisioning the little person who will be using them.

The shower also reminded me of how generous people are, particularly when it comes to happy events like new babies. Andrew and I received four showers when I was pregnant with Spencer, all of which were very much appreciated, as we needed everything, and we continue to receive so many wonderful gifts for him. We are so very fortunate, and I am very appreciative of this fact.

Having said this, can I now complain? It was SO HOT on Martha's Vineyard -- in the 90s many days with no significant cooling at night, and our house had no air conditioning. In this heat, I underwent a transformation from fairly perky pregnant woman in her 7th month to cranky sluggard feeling like she was in her 9th month. I didn't want to walk anywhere, my back and ligaments hurt when I did, and I became short of breath when I did anything more strenuous than read the paper. In short, I'm afraid I was probably a real crab.

The baby, of course, wasn't bothered by the heat at all -- SHE is still very active, and the movements are now all over my stomach. When I first started feeling the baby's movements, they were down in my lower stomach, but now they're up above my belly button, over by my hips -- pretty much everywhere. The only movement that I'm not feeling yet is the feet in my ribs, and I know it's only a matter of time for that one.

I've also been introduced to the joy of round ligament pain with this pregnancy, another side effect that I didn't have while pregnant with Spencer. Lifting anything even remotely heavy seems to aggravate the pain, so I try my best to not lift anything heavy, and pretty much fail as miserably as you can, given that I have a two-year-old child instead of a personal valet. Not only does the two-year-old want to be carried at times, but I also need to do things like grocery shopping that require me to do a bit of lifting. And I can't ask Andrew to do everything, nor do I want to! "Hi, handsome, I'm at the grocery store -- would you mind leaving work, meeting me here, and carrying home what I just bought?"

Upon our return from the States we were greeted with with a letter from the hospital where SHE will be born asking us to provide them with some information and an up-front payment of 15,000 Swiss francs -- roughly US$ 11,600 -- to cover the birth, in light of the fact that we don't have Swiss insurance (we do have insurance, but it's based in the U.S. and therefore completely irrelevant to the Swiss healthcare system).

The hospital wants this upfront payment because, since we don't have Swiss insurance, there is no way that it can be guaranteed payment for its services in the event that I "deliver and dash" -- have the baby and then flee without paying (which will certainly be top on my list of things to do after giving birth, particularly if an episiotomy is involved). We had to make this upfront payment with Spencer, and it was much more of a shock then, since we weren't expecting it at all! The hospital of course refunds the difference between the upfront payment and the actual cost of having the baby (which is nowhere near 15,000 Swiss francs), but that doesn't change the fact that it's a decent chunk of change to have to shell out.

And that's the update from the mother of HER. :)PregnancyAndBaby.com


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