Happy 33 Weeks!

Excuse me a moment while I catch my breath–I cannot believe that I just typed ’33 weeks’… This little Peanut has about 7 weeks left on the inside. Have mercy on my heart and my tear ducts… I am so happy to share Peanut with Drew in a whole new way, but I’m going to miss this, too.

Whew… Moving on.

The stats:
4.4 pounds
17.5 inches

33 weeks peanut
Photo by Elsa Konig

Mum–
Swelling of the ankles and feet is normal, especially at the end of the day.
The baby’s movement feels very different because the size of the baby has changed.
I am so tired.

I am nesting like the baby arrives next week. The activity is comforting somehow and organisation gives me a sense of control in a situation where I really am not. This baby is a human being with his or her own level of comfort and desires for entering the world and I can only do so much to assert my wishes! In general, I am just excited and making room for the baby helps me to focus on the time when the baby will be on the other side of my skin. I put the first group of individual dinner servings in the freezer this weekend–I am excited to make the next big dinner.

Baby–
The baby is likely get into a head down position at any time now and just move around in variations of that position. However, all babies are different and some wait until later–even as late as the start of labor. I suspect that Peanut is head down, but I can’t be sure. I will definitely ask the midwife to help me figure it out at the next appointment. I keep wishing that we had a proper studio type set up for getting video of this little alien making mountains on my belly. We take video, but then can’t see anything when we play it back!

We enjoyed our first NCT class this Saturday and our last NHS class tonight. The NCT group seems more likely to result in a nice group of friends, the mums being able to call each other and meet up during maternity leave. I must also point out that the NCT teacher doesn’t look at me like I am crazy when I have a question like some NHS midwives sometimes do. I feel quite comfortable with the medical terms and the straight facts, I just need to know the practical bits that are literally foreign to me–I can’t tell you how many different answers I have gotten when I asked how to get the baby home, haha!

We are crazy excited about Peanut. Stay tuned.

The Huddleston Three

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Happy 32 Weeks!

Happy 32 weeks Peanut fans!

Peanut is estimated to weigh approximately 3.8 pounds and be 16.5 inches long. There is likely to be hair on the head, inhaling/swallowing/excreting are normal now, and the baby is gaining weight exponentially. This means I feel very full. I still feel incredible movements. It is pretty clear that Peanut wakes me up several times a night. This weekend we suspect that Peanut even woke Daddy. Daddy says the benefits of snuggling are worth the risk of getting woken up. Yeah, ‘course it is : )

jen at 32 weeks
Big Mama waddles.

We had our third NHS course tonight at which we learned about methods for improving progression, induction, vaginal birth aids, c-section, and warning signs being watched for during labor.

Refurbishment works are ongoing in the flat at the moment and I am definitely nesting. It may sound too early to be ready for baby and house guests, but the truth is that I am very tired and it takes me longer to do anything. Starting early is the only way to meet my deadlines : ) We are getting refinished kitchen countertops, little shelves in the bedrooms for storage, new seals for the oven and washing machine, a new filter for the stove top extractor fan and working curtain rod in the living room for the privacy of guests who might be sleeping in here. Thank goodness the landlord agreed to the request!

NCT courses start Saturday. It’s time to start making double size meals and freezing portions for post Peanut dinners. We have everything we absolutely need to bring Peanut home if Peanut comes early, but we will be gathering the last bits between now and the end of October.

We love this little Peanut like crazy. It still so incredible to us even as we watch each day unfold.

We love you too and we appreciate your support. Thanks so much for your responses, for your facebook comments, and for reading and commenting on the blog posts. Thank you Tennesseans for taking care of Drew and sending him back to me in one piece. We can’t say enough how much we appreciate the way you offered your help. And thanks to everyone who keeps us in their prayers, regardless of your locale!

The Huddleston Three

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Back on the Island

Despite the mileage traveled (8500+ miles) and the difficulties of the past two weeks, Drew returned home with presents for me. They are the perfect kind–simple, straightforward, useful, thoughtful, and just right for sharing. Good man.

Martha White and Crisco–I don’t know how to make North American Southern-style biscuits with anything else. My mom and dad made sure that an appreciation for these treats was instilled in me and Granny Young made sure I understood the importance of Martha White flour.
martha white and Crisco
[Drew also brought home a precious hand written recipe from Granny Huddleston for Chocolate Gravy. I don’t have permission (yet) to give that out, so you will have to trust me.]

Then there were these… Hot diggety. Old El Paso Taco Seasoning, for the Relatively Low Drama Baby Mama who has specific, but simple needs. I am pre-preparing some taco/burrito filling for freezing without a doubt. When Peanut arrives I need to know that taco night can still happen.
old el paso taco seasoning
P.S. Vegetarians, this seasoning packet works wonders on beans, soy crumbles, I would assume seitan, refried bean dips, soups and dressings just as it does for your carnivorous counterparts…

Before he had unpacked his suitcases, this happened.
dad with pram

Have mercy on me.
dad with pram 2
[Look, that’s Kassi and some of Kelsey on tv!]

What is cuter than this?
dad with pram 3

Yes, we will attach the rain shield. We just never know…
dad with pram and rainshield

My uterus aches.
dad using pram window

This is definitely on the list of Top Ten Most Precious Things I Have Seen In My Life.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Awww, thanks!

Peanut has fans. Just look at the sweet gifts that hitched a ride home from Tennessee with Drew.
aunt andrea duck elephant

You know who is responsible for this by now, don’t you?
from aunt andrea ut

Have you seen a sweeter Christmas tree ornament than this?!
peanut ornament aunt andrea

Thank you Aunt Andrea! Peanut is going to look great in orange. (You may have to give the little one some lessons on when to cheer, and I’ll handle passing down the guacamole recipe…)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

All the Women in His Life

From time to time (more than I am proud to admit), I have been jealous of the matriarchs in Drew’s life. The love and respect this man has for the incredible women who raised him can be overwhelming to a novice wife such as myself. Just look at the facts: they make better biscuits and fried green tomatoes, they kissed his boo-boos, and have never made him speak about cramps—or begged him to give copious details about his day at the office (which he rarely wishes to describe once he’s on his own time, fair enough).

The point I am making is that I have not felt confident that I could ever measure up. I have wondered what in the world lead him to me—a nutty, over-sensitive, blabber mouth with zero fashion sense or super model qualities.
not a model jen

Suddenly a light has come on. In considering his devotion and the qualities he values most in them, I feel humbled. I am in my early days of becoming awesome still, but he chose me because of these women, not despite them. It makes sense; I’ve always said that I see the qualities I favour in my dad in Drew. He likes to laugh (bathroom and geeky humor), he’s really intelligent, he is organised, logical, thoughtful, generous, he challenges me, he values honesty, he plays guitar, he has simple needs, and he’s creative (there is probably more). If this is true for Drew, it makes sense it might be true for me.

These women instilled in him high standards; his high standards brought him to me. His love and respect for these women is nothing if not a direct reflection on what he sees in me. I am a candidate for that club—I could hold my own among women of this calibre some day. They are seasoned livers of life, strong, full of love, incredibly kind, prone to laughter, quick to add a seat at the dinner table for any friend you bring home, smart, practical, family oriented, loyal… These are also the qualities I saw in my mom on her best of days. I have what it takes to grow into these shoes and, God willing, there is still time.

There are more women in Drew’s life with whom I could never compete–and I just wouldn’t try. I have seen Drew struggle to grow into his role as an adult big brother to three amazing ladies; it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to him… (Women are infinitely complicated, bless him.) But being able to see his heart straight through his chest, even when his words fail him, I know what he feels for them and how far it extends. This gives me all the peace I need to know that his well is deep enough to hold all the love his baby will ever need. His patience may wax and wane (as it does with us all), but he has an incredible heart.

I can’t promise that I won’t ever feel a pang of jealousy again (what women could?!), but I can’t imagine that I will ever go back to feeling quite the same about all the women in his life. I am so honored that he saw something in me worthy of being among them.

drew loves me
Photo credit: Brooke Kelly Photography

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Reveling

Friends and relative strangers keep reminding me lately how incredible my life is. Case in point:
jen and drew favorite

Look again at those dimples. His Mama put those there for me to treasure and melt in. He is my matching puzzle piece, my very best friend, my night light, and even my sparring partner when I need it.

No matter how lonely life in London can sometimes seem, I am counting the chance to live here among my blessings. The strength of the love that our family and friends extend to us, despite our distance (or city-ness––as the case may be with London friends) is beyond measure.

There’s so much more; you would need all day to read my list.

We have also both been reminded more often than seems fair lately that we aren’t guaranteed time–we are not guaranteed life. I always face the temptation to let loss wash over me indefinitely, but I see that it is loss that should make us all more determined to be grateful each day for what we have, even as it slips like sand from our hands.

I watch the people in my life who have endured (and continue to battle) the most unthinkable circumstances as they continue to love, continue to give, put one foot in front of the other, struggle to laugh, find time to cry, cling to meaning, and count their blessings. If they can, I certainly can.

My list starts with this.
drew and peanut

It radiates out like spider’s web beyond where it tangles you. It is true what everyone says; my life is incredible. I have more than I need, more than I deserve, more than I can find words to describe.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

We Will Keep Them

I can’t seem to put the right words in place to mark the day and I can’t think of any I’d like to borrow either. I am 4000 miles away from where I feel I ought to be and yet spent moments of the day completely present on an island which doesn’t really exist. On purpose I filled the day with distractions and the warmth of friendship, but the moment has come that I am alone with my thoughts.

red flower for granny

You are here. You are all here. Slowly the miles melt away; if I close my eyes I know I am sitting next to you.

Together we will keep the loved ones we’ve lost alive in the world.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

A Moment of Silence

A moment of silence does a lot for me.

It has not been my intention to turn the blog into a continuous update about the baby. (A handful of regulars have noticed the gaps–it’s hard to write about anything else…) Knowing that everything I post is automatically shared on Facebook for friends and family to find more easily also means that other people who aren’t interested get reminded that we are celebrating a miracle. Being 4000 miles away from home makes technology like this all the more like a life line. However, I know that little cracks form in the hearts of some precious friends and family members the more I bang on about it. Others are just plain annoyed.

We can’t contain our excitement; there is certainly no ‘off’ switch that I can find. And I know that I owe it to Peanut to be this in awe of every wiggle, every kick, every new development… I owe it to myself (and to us) to share what we can with the people who want to be involved in the only way possible. But it is a struggle to do something which feels self-centered. (What about keeping a blog is not almost entirely self-centered, though?)

I might not be so sensitive to these feelings in others if I had not myself experienced them. There were times when I wanted to ‘un-friend’ connections on Facebook because I couldn’t bear to read constant updates about their baby. There were periods that I didn’t update my own status because nothing seemed to matter except the loss we had experienced. Innocent comments made by others at the time, who didn’t know the full extent of what our miscarriage was like, still cause me a niggling frown every now and again.

What I am really trying to say is that I’m sorry there have not been more updates and I am sorry that there will be more now. This isn’t a passive aggressive message to anyone; the people concerned know who they are. We have friends in all stages of growing or not growing a family–some absolutely opposed, others not interested, more than we can count just struggling to be healthy, a few just dipping their toes in, a good many happily rolling along, a handful desperately waiting, a number delicately and carefully rolling along, some considering alternate action and many whose families have grown–with and without medical intervention or adoption… Others are enduring complicated situations and separations–my heart doesn’t stop wishing them well.

I want to share our experience with those who would like to tag along, but it would be great to turn our joy into something positive for those others out there walking a different path. A moment of silence, a prayer, a little more awareness… I am not even sure what I am asking of you. Let’s just be in this together, ok? Let’s not feel guilty about being happy or being sad. Let’s not be so preoccupied with hurting each others’ feelings that we stop being honest. Me especially.

If you were interested enough to read this far, I love you and I miss you. (I also love and miss some of those other suckers who only like fart jokes and funny blog posts; we’ll try to catch them next time.)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com