Thursday, February 3, 2011


That is how I feel. Really big already. Several folks have been requesting belly photos, and I put some up when I was pregnant with Hudson, so I guess it’s only fair that I do the same for Jackson.

8 weeks

12 weeks

16 weeks

20 weeks

24 weeks

But the striking thing is how BIG I am now compared to where I was at this point (and much later) with Hudson.  I told Ed I wanted a do-over when I have not just eaten a big meal.  Compare the picture above with the two below and you will see what I mean.   

With Hudson at 26 weeks!

With Hudson at 30 weeks!
Speaking of big, I had my follow-up ultrasound on Monday to check in Jackson’s growth. He is still measuring above the 97th percentile overall, but apparently that is largely due to the size of his head. His abdomen (88%) and leg (75%) measurements are now in a much more reasonable range (but still big), but his head is measuring so big that it’s apparently jacking up the rest of the measurements. Hmmm… The perinatologist then asked if either of us wear big hat sizes. I said that I do. She went and found a measuring tape and actually measured my head, saying, “Yeah, that’s pretty big.” I told her that while no one ever commented about it when Hudson was in my belly, she was always above the 90% for head circumference after she was born, even as her body weight dropped into the 25% range. So maybe our kids just have big heads (although I fear it getting to the point that people start talking c-section—I’ve got big hips and did it just fine the first time on my own, so hopefully it will never get that far). His heart rate was a good 150 bpm. The echogenic focus is still there on his heart, but the perinatologist told us that she’d just gotten back from a conference about fetal imaging where there was a big argument about this and wanted to reassure us that most every doctor in the country agrees that without other markers, it has no clinical significance.

Of course, we couldn’t get through an appointment with just good news, could we? My amniotic fluid index (AFI) is just a smidge high. There’s apparently a debate about what is considered normal. Some say 22cm, some say 20. Mine is 21.3cm. At 25 and over, one is diagnosed with polyhydramnios, or excessive amniotic fluid. Most of the time they have no idea what causes this condition (so it’s idiopathic, as in no known cause, as in “we’re such idiots, we can’t even figure it out”), but it can be associated with some birth defects that would cause the baby not to swallow the fluid like he’s supposed to (although the perinatologist said other indicators on the ultrasound appear to rule that out), or with gestational diabetes (there goes that one again), or with other things that are rare. It can also just be the result of a big baby that makes a lot of amniotic fluid, which is obviously what we will hope for in this case. Unfortunately, it can also be associated with some very nasty complications, including pre-term labor (because your uterus gets so big, it thinks it’s time to deliver even though the baby isn’t cooked all the way yet), as well as cord prolapse and placental abruption (because when the sac actually breaks, there is so much fluid in there that it gushes out and can push the cord through first, which is VERY bad for the baby, or it can tear the placenta away from the uterine wall before it is time, also pretty bad since it causes hemorrhaging). So… I’m scheduled for another follow-up ultrasound in 4 more weeks to check on the AFI. Not that I’m not happy to get a look at the Penguin as often as possible, but I’m not happy at all about the reason why. We didn’t have any issues of any kind with Hudson—I guess I didn’t realize how lucky I was.

I then saw the regular OB on Wednesday for my monthly prenatal appointment. This time, I saw the same doctor who was with us through most of our pregnancy with Hudson, and who would have delivered her if she’d gotten there in time. Instead, she just did some of the follow-up stuff—she missed the big event altogether. But she is a great doctor, and sat there patiently as I went through the entire litany of things that are worrying me right now (I had them written down)—whether I should worry about the AFI thing, a rash on my thigh (which is just eczema), feeling like I have to pee all the time and nothing comes out (hmm… pregnant much?), a pain in my upper back, which I’d become convinced was probably a symptom of lung cancer (yes, I am that insane right now—I have had back pain of all kinds for more than half my life, mostly associated with a disc problem, but this time it is lung cancer), worrying that I might be having Braxton Hicks contractions and just couldn’t tell (this one is probably a legitimate concern). She was just as kind and patient as she could be, answered all my questions, said she totally understood my paranoia, and when I asked about when we’d start doing appointments every two weeks, she said usually we start at 28 weeks, but that if I’d prefer it, we could go ahead and start now. I’m sure you can imagine how grateful I was. I also drank the disgusting orange syrup for my glucose challenge test—I am very hopeful that I pass. The doctor seemed to think that was likely since my sugars were so good when I tested them myself a month ago. Hopefully I can get those results tomorrow.  Everyone cross your fingers for no gestational diabetes.  This baby’s head does not need to get any bigger than it will get on its own. 

I keep wishing I could allow myself to just let go of all this anxiety, enjoy being pregnant (although I can’t say that I was one of those happy, glowing pregnant women the first go-round either), and really start focusing on emotional preparations for being Jackson’s mom and still being Hudson’s mom all at the same time. But I’m grateful to have compassionate caregivers and perhaps some new creative outlets that can help distract me for the next three and a half months. I’ve also committed myself to getting back into therapy—I’m in the process of trying to find a good behavioral therapist around here who can help me manage the anxiety of all of these transitions hitting at once.

Big. It’s all so big. My belly. Jackson’s head. The anxiety. The grief. Hudson’s memory. The enormous challenges ahead of us. Very, very big.


  1. Mandy you look beautiful with that belly of yours! I need to come see you in person :-)

    I am sorry there is so much anxiety and worry around your pregnancy, and I am sympathetic to your feelings. I will continue to pray for you, Ed, Hudson, and Baby Jackson.

    We are rooting you on as you move forward with all the wonderful blessings ahead of you! xoxo

  2. Thinking of you Mandy. I know it must all seem so overwhelming sometimes. I know it gets that way for me. Take it day by day. I'm not going to say that everything will be okay, cause I don't know that, but I believe it, just the same. xoxoxo

  3. Hi, Mandy -- I have to go back and re-read but I wanted to comment on the excess amniotic fluid -- when I carried the twins (who are now 10) Michael had excess fluid, Eden did not. They took tons of ultrasounds to determine if he had cleft palate, I had to monitor my glucose, and on and on. My sister (an M.D.) told me that a study had been recently done that some 'big' babies just have excess fluid - which was certainly the case with Michael -- at 36 weeks, Eden was 5lbs9oz and Michael was almost seven pounds -- and, yes, I had googled and read about all the nasty stuff that can happen with excess fluid, but none of it did and I was over 40, having my 4th c-section and definitly considered high-risk. The worst part of it was carrying all that extra weight -- but everything else was fine. I'm sure I've told you this already, but look for one of those 'pre-natal cradles' -- they have them in maternity clothing stores -- they are elastic and look somewhat bizarre. You wear it when you are on your feet and if Jackson is going to have extra fluid, you are going to want the extra support. It will save your back and the rest of you as he continues to grow. Take care -- hope this helps -- (((hugs))) Mariann

  4. Well, first of all, you look so beautiful. It is amazing how different it is the second time around with size-- I gained significantly less with JH, but was in maternity clothes at 8 freakin' weeks! My head was so small that my pediatrician apparently measured my mother's head when I was born to make sure I wasn't deformed-- my head, and my kids' heads, are so tiny. I wish they didn't have to give you all the "maybe" stuff-- if it makes you feel better, I had way too much amniotic fluid with JH, and my labor started at 42 w 3 days, and it didn't affect him at all. And your new sewing stuff looks like fun, too! It really is such good therapy to sew for your children.

    I know your emotions must be so hard to identify, and so hard to deal with, right now. We are all thinking and praying and rallying for you right now.

  5. I understand your concern. My fluid level with Tyson was 22.3, so I went in for ultrasounds weekly. They were worried about the placenta tearing for me as well. I have tons of pics, but was nervous the whole time. When I had my first, Dylan, I looked like I was just very overweight! But with Tyson, there was no mistaking my being pregnant. Very big! The closer I came to term, the fluid levels actually dropped. He was due June 26th, and graced us with his presence July 15th! Very last, but he does things when he's ready as will Jackson. I was worried about everything during Tyson's pregnancy, moreso than with Dylan. I tell you these things because I had to keep saying to myself that stress and worry wern't going to help either one of us. Just take a breath, and know that everything will be ok. Side note: I have a hernitated disc in my lower back, and with Tyson being so big I had back labor. I chose to have a natural child birth, but they were able to give me something for the back pain 3 or 4 hours before his birth that really helped. I can find the name if you are interested. It didn't effect my faculties at all, just helped ease some of the back pressure. You are always in my thoughts, and I'm very glad you found a new creative outlet that you enjoy!

  6. Thanks for the update on Jackson, I'd been wondering. I can understand why you'd be anxious but it sounds like you're in good, caring hands with your OB. I will continue to think positively and send good vibes. Wish there was more I (we) could do to help, but I know there isn't; but know that I am here, reading and listening.

    As always, thinking of all four of you.

    And by the way- you look great!

  7. You are looking beautiful mamma. Yes, it is all big. So too though, id the love in your heart which will parent both Jackson and Hudson in the most beautiful ways possible.
    I am thinking of you...

  8. Beautiful mama, beautiful baby belly.

  9. Mandy - you and your belly are adorable! Thanks for the pics. Your new sewing projects are very impressive! So, every class you complete something new??!! Amazing!

    Love, Rebecca

  10. Oh Mandy - you look fabulous!! And, I LOVE the belly... it couldn't be more perfect or beautiful! Funny to see what you say about it being larger than w/Hudson at this point in the pregnancy... but if it makes you feel any better (and I know it doesn't truly bother you in a vain sort of way... probably just comfort, etc.), I was HUGE with Giuliana very early on!! Obviously, larger w/the twins in my second pregnancy. But, gosh... the third, you'd have thought I had a ship in my belly! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful, treasured photos... so much fun to see the change over a period of weeks!! Keep up the great work of growing a big, strong and healthy little man! Getting very excited to meet that 'lil fella virtually!! Hugs always! xoxo

  11. You look beautiful in both sets of photographs Mandy. I'm sorry that your AFI measure was a little high and I hope it turns out to be absolutely nothing to worry about. Fingers firmly crossed for your gestational diabetes test.

  12. Oh pshaw on it all--you have a big-headed baby because obviously he will be a smarty pants like both his parents.


  13. Kate Ackley ZellerFebruary 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    You also have BIG support and BIG love coming from too many directions to even count. ... Also, I LOVE the craft projects. You have so many talents!

  14. What Kate said...BIG SUPPORT AND BIG LOVE YOUR WAY. You look gorgeous Mandy, just beautiful! Renee P.

  15. Of course your and Ed's baby has a big head! For the brains, of course!

  16. You're also carrying lower it appears - typical for boys. You look fabulous!

  17. It is striking how much you look like Mom in the 24 week Jackson pic.