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     The inevitable FMLA / maternity leave has finally begun. No, there is no baby yet, but this Mama's health had been deteriorating (along with her sanity) and she needed a break to help prepare this abundantly rotund body for the vigorous workout that is called labor. And frankly, I'm not sure who is more nervous about this whole process, me or my husband. He routinely informs me that he can't rest because he's anxious with not knowing the when, where, and how all this is gonna go down, like we're waiting for a nuclear attack or something. In fact, when I was having contractions the other day (which occur daily at this point), he demanded that I tell him if the baby was coming right then or not..... as if! And then today, he informed me that I'm no longer allowed to call him during the day because it freaks him out that I'm going into labor. In the meantime, he wakes me up almost nightly to ask how I'm doing.... I thought all men had an innate sense of self-preservation that warned them away from ever waking a pregnant woman, especially when she's in her 9th month!! And then, to top things off, he just stares at me while I'm in the shower.... and not in the way he used to stare at me in the shower, but in an entirely new way, as if he's watching in astonishment as the world's largest woman attempts to shave her legs without falling and taking the curtain down with her or as if she's a time-bomb ready to explode.
     Even little Isaac is amazed at my big belly. He routinely tries to climb the mountain that has become his Mama, and he lifts my shirt to try to poke my "button" back in, rubbing my stomach while saying "baby" like it's a magic lamp. He is also quite taken with my equally enlarged "upstairs" as he tries to push those "buttons" back in, too.... I think he's pretty convinced that everything in my torso is a baby, the entire womb-concept proving to be a bit to much his 18-month mentality. Cameron and Taylor are just excited that I'm no longer working. There were actually cheers (complete with fist pumps) when I informed them of my last day of work. Even if I have to spend half the time lying down while they're home, you can see the happiness radiating off of them. Taylor was thrilled that I got to watch her in gymnastics once again and Cameron's homework is improving greatly. Not to mention my own health is improving, just in this first week off! My feet are far less swollen and my back pain is much more manageable. Even my tonsillitis is nearly cleared up (thank God, no surgery was needed!) but the bronchitis is still sucking up my life. In fact, this morning, in the middle of an extra long coughing spell, my bladder just couldn't take the pressure and I ended up wishing I had saved some adult diapers for myself instead of donating them all to my work when I left last week. But lesson learned.... I now know the importance (nay, the necessity) of heading straight to the restroom when I feel a cough coming on!
     And now, it's just a matter of time.... the wait is agonizing, but the end result will be fantastic! Just knowing that my cervix is softening rapidly (although not dilated yet) helps me come to grips with the few stray stretch marks that have made their way from my hips to the lower left side of my belly, and the fact that I'm nearly two hundred pounds (holy crap), and that my groin feels like I have pulled every muscle in the forbidden zone that is humanly possible. Still, it's almost over. Will I miss it? Hmmmm, some say that I will. I say those people probably smoke crack, but whether I do miss it or I don't, I will have my little man in my arms and I will feel so grateful to have had this experience. I know it's one I'll never want to repeat again (not for love nor money!) but I'll have experienced the greatest miracle of a woman's life, an experience I didn't think I was capable of having. So, until the big day, my goals are to 1) find a machine that will carry me up and down the stairs, 2) get a catheter installed, 3) stay under that 199 pound mark, even if it means taking up jogging in my 9th month, and 4) rest (when not jogging) so that I can have a safe delivery for my little guy. Until later!!

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