(If you’d like to start at week four of my pregnancy, click here!)

 

HAPPY FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT!!!!

We’ve made it!

Finally, my belly has caught up to how far along I am in this pregnancy. Now, no matter which 18-week forum I am on, everyone has a gigantic belly like me.

Except for the supermodel freaks of nature. We ignore them.

 

Also, I know just told you that I only take belly pictures with my hand on my hip because that’s my favorite pose, but I changed my mind this week because unpredictable is what I am now, and even that word doesn’t scratch the surface of the week 18 chaos you’re about to read.

 

At 18 weeks, baby is the size of a…

Sweet potato

Artichoke

Croissant

Big bell pepper

 

Baby is 5.5 inches long (crown-to-rump), and she weighs about 6.5-7 ounces right now.*

*My friend recently told me that her OB told her that all of our pregnancy apps are way behind on weight, meaning our babies are actually heavier than the apps say they are. At 16 weeks, her OB told her that her baby weighed 6 ounces, which is how much my apps told me Baby weighed at the end of 17 weeks.

Either way, ginormo-baby.

 

And ginormo-MOM.

18 weeks pregnant!

 

18 weeks pregnant!

 

I took the second picture before I went for a long walk with Rucker, and I took the first one after my walk, since my mom requested a front-view shot of my bump when I returned.

I send her (and Sister) bump pictures all the time.

 

Did you know that, at 18 weeks, a pregnant uterus is the size of a cantaloupe?

 

Speaking of walks, I’ve been toning my workouts down lately. Really, what I’ve been doing for the past week is taking Rucker on 45-minute walks all around the neighborhood. I break a sweat, he has the time of his life, and I don’t feel like I’m going to topple over like I sometimes do during at-home video workouts.

This baby is REALLY throwing me off-balance. Moderate exercise is good enough for the both of us.

Plus, when I don’t do crazy workouts, my tailbone doesn’t hurt as badly, and once you have tailbone pain, you do whatever it takes to minimize it.

And most importantly, we want to keep baby safe, so grueling intensity isn’t necessary at this stage.

The whole reason I am working out is because I want to be in shape for the MARATHON of birth. I am also trying to stave off as much weight gain as possible. But mostly, I don’t want to die on the delivery table.

Walks seem to be just the ticket.

 

Now, look at the size of Baby’s hand at 18 weeks!

Baby's hand size at 18 weeks!

 

Guess what? My app now includes a FOOT size.

So, for the first time ever in Brooke’s pregnancy posts, here’s the size of Baby’s foot during week 18!

Baby's foot size at 18 weeks!

So, so cute. Best app ever. It’s the Ovia Pregnancy app.

 

So, I went to my first free parenting class at the hospital: The Importance of Breastfeeding.

This class was amazing.

I learned a TON that I did NOT know before walking into that room.

 

Things I Learned During My Free Breastfeeding Class:

  • Fussy babies like to be breastfed in the side-lying position (where you lay on your side on the bed and lay baby on his/her side facing your boob). Something about the body-to-body position calms the baby.
  • Right after baby is born, you should try to breastfeed him/her AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Even if you’re only getting a drop out at a time. You do this because you want to train your breasts to produce lots of milk when your real milk comes in 2-4 days later.
  • You must wake baby at least every three hours to feed him/her in order to turn your boobs into autonomous mucho-milk-producing Wonder Machines.
  • You should try to breastfeed a baby WELL BEFORE BABY STARTS CRYING. If I hadn’t learned this, I would have taken Baby’s cries as a cue to feed her. DUH. You have to calm a crying baby down before that baby will feed, so you should keep an eye out for the “hunger signs” before the signs turn into squalls.
  • The larger your nipples are and the smaller your baby’s mouth is, the greater your chances of having bleeding/cracked nipples until baby gets bigger. When you come to my house and find me crying in the corner, that’s because I have areolas the size of dinner plates and I am suffering (but NOT GIVING UP).

 

I left that class feeling a billion times more confident about my ability to breastfeed. I was actually very excited to try it. Watching all the videos of other new moms breastfeeding was really reassuring.

I also learned that Baby’s poop goes from black tar to green slime to yellow slime/cottage cheese within a week of birth.

Gross!

 

Good thing I learned that, because if I was at home and I opened Baby Girl’s diaper and saw GREEN SLIME in it, you bet your bottom dollar I would have panic-dialed my doctor.

 

Speaking of panic, I’ve been having lots of panics lately about the reality of having a baby.

I’ve known this all along, but the same fact just HIT me the other day: I am on a one-way train to Baby Town and there is no going back.

You know how facts you’re aware of sometimes just hit you in the face and scare the crap out of you?

Anyway, I felt much better the next morning after that panic, but I wanted to tell you about it because I am 150% certain I am not the first mom to feel this way.

The idea of caring for an infant all by myself is scaring me a little.

Husband will be in the advanced portion of flight school when she is born, which means it’ll be me and Baby Girl and baby Rucker alllllllll day long and alllllllll night long.

Husband told me he was going to need to sleep in the guest bedroom sometimes to get good shuteye, and you should have seen me, you really should have, because I almost burst 8 blood vessels in my face right then and there.

 

Which brings me to new symptoms week 18 of my pregnancy…

Rage. Lovely, blooming, fluorescent RAGE.

My GOD, it sprouts up everywhere. All the time. Someone will make a dumb comment on someone else’s post on Facebook and I will take it as a PERSONAL affront and get VERY, VERY angry.

Husband will leave a drop of Kool-Aid to dry on the counter top (seriously? who does that?), and I will stare at it for A WHOLE F#*$ING DAY just seething, wondering when he’s going to clean it up (and then I clean it up).

I can’t even help it. I’m squirrel-gathering all of the crumbs he leaves on the tables and the drops he spills on the counter and I’m packing them DEEP down inside a Brooke Volcano that is definitely going to erupt one of these days.

I can’t even help it!! I know I’m being crazy and that normally I’d just clean up his messes like a mother does a toddler, but lately, I don’t know…I just want to stare at him in the darkness where he can’t see me but I can see him.

Poor Husband, I am on the warpath and he is the innocent stepping stones on that path.

I’m trying to make an extra effort to be nice to him because it’s the only chance I’ve got to ensure he doesn’t divorce me while I’m sleeping.

The reason I’m feeling so “temperamental” lately, I’m sure, is because I am having some Baby Nerves. When one is afraid, one A T T A C K S.

Get out of the way or you’ll be next!

 

Just kidding, I love all of you.

 

And really, most of the time I feel fine. And I can’t even TELL you how much I am looking forward to holding Baby Girl.

And I know for a fact I’ve got what it takes to keep her alive and breastfeed her without dying or dropping her on her head, so I don’t even know where this panic is coming from.

Truly, the only DYING around here is me dying to meet her and hold her and love on her.

I know I will love her immediately and probably growl at Husband when he looks at her. But now, I am panicking, which is why my lovely, incredible, unbelievably selfless and supportive mother told me she would come and stay with us for TWO WEEKS after Baby is born, if I want.

I told her I want her to move down here, but I will take two weeks, if that’s what I can get.

 

So all is right with the world.

Except for this crazy, pink-haired purple dragon inside me that I’m failing to tame every day.

Roar!

 

Other new 18-week symptoms:

Back pain. Mostly in my lower back, but sometimes it spikes up in my sides/upper back, too. The weight of Baby Girl sort of pulls my whole stomach forward, which pulls my whole SPINE forward, resulting in a very uncomfortable, achy stance these days.

Stretching and walking help.

Another symptom: Well, this isn’t really new, but the DREAMS you have when you’re pregnant, I mean, WOW. They are just bananas. Most of the dreams I have are sexy dreams (AKA awesome dreams), but some of my dreams are just batshit crazy. Meaning I am batshit crazy. Tell me something I don’t know!

Another symptom: C O N G E S T I O N. This is a very common pregnancy symptom. All the extra blood you’re carrying around causes everything to swell, including nasal passages. And, plus, you’re producing a lot more fluids in general at this stage, so if you’re me, you are a sneezing, snot-nosed princess every morning. It goes away within an hour after waking, though.

Another symptom: stronger Baby kicks. And sometimes she kicks me in more than one area, which lets me know how BIG she is, and let me tell you…she’s huge.

Also, one time, I felt her kick me, and her foot/hand/head stayed there and then sliiiidddd down my belly. Craziest thing I’ve felt yet.

I also think I can distinguish a kick from a roll, now. So, so cool.

I can’t wait until she gets so strong you can feel her kick from the outside!

 

Speaking of strong baby, in one of my pregnancy apps, someone posted this picture for week 18 of pregnancy:

Size of fetus at 18 weeks.

 

Isn’t that CRAZY?!?!?!

 

Almost too crazy.

The more I look at that picture, the more I think it can’t possibly be right. I mean, I know I’ve got a giant wiggly infant inside me, but she certainly doesn’t feel as big as that picture tells me she is.

 

So I did a little more research and discovered this similarly sized fetus replica, only this one is 20 weeks, not 18:

20 week fetus replica.

 

I don’t know. It’s really hard to tell.

 

Look at this next spread. If you look inside the parenthesis, you’ll see the “16 week” fetus is 18 weeks LMP, which means 18 weeks since Last Missed Period, which is how ALL babies are aged/measured, gestation-wise. So the one on the far left is an 18 week replica.

18 week fetus replica.

 

Maybe that first picture shown on my pregnancy app is correct, and Baby Girl really is that big. It’s just…where is she finding the room?

I mean, I know I have to pee every 20 minutes and sometimes I can’t breathe properly and I am ALWAYS HUNGRY, but still.

 

After a few more days of research, I stumbled across this picture, which feels the most accurate to me:

18 weeks pregnant

 

So that settles it. Baby is “big.”

 

I think it is important to note that, every DAY, I wake up with a 5-month baby bump, and every NIGHT, I go to bed with a 7-month baby bump. This thing grows throughout the day, and especially after I eat.

 

Here’s another 18-week belly shot for you.

18 weeks pregnant

 

In other news, we took baby Rucker to his very first grooming appointment.

If you’re wondering why we’re taking our Great Dane to a groomer, it’s because this Great Dane is way too big for me to force into nail-clipping submission, and SOMEONE has got to do it.

 

This is him on the way to his appointment. It’s like he KNEW it was going to be the worst day of his life.

Baby Rucker

 

NOW, LET’S TALK ABOUT ANAL GLANDS.

My STARS, it’s like people just can’t even handle this topic of discussion.

Here’s a canine anatomy lesson for you: inside a dog’s anus, there are glands that excrete stinky, clear liquid every time dog goes #2.

SOME DOGS have overactive anal glands, which means those glands excrete more than can be expressed in an average day’s #2 sessions.

WE HAVE ONE OF THOSE DOGS.

I did a lot of research on this, and it is 100% luck of the draw on whether you get an overactive anal gland dog or not.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about and have never SMELLED a dog with overactive anal glands, then hooray for you!

If you have smelled them before, you’d know it. It’s a really gross musty smell.

So, sometimes baby Rucker stinks. And it’s really gross.

So when I took him to the groomers, I asked them to clip his nails and express his anal glands.

WHICH IS A TOTALLY NORMAL AND COMMON PROCEDURE AT THE GROOMERS, AND IF YOU’VE EVER TAKEN YOUR DOG TO A GROOMER, THERE IS A VERY HIGH CHANCE THAT THOSE GROOMERS EXPRESSED YOUR DOG’S ANAL GLANDS WITH OR WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

It’s like cleaning their ears. Standard procedure.

Standard procedure, people!

 

So at Rucker’s appointment, I asked for the two things mentioned above, and she told me I could have the Sparkle Package or something similarly named, which included anal glands, nail grinding (ground nails are less likely to scratch my couch than clipped nails), ear cleaning, a “spritz” (which, post-appointment, Husband and I determined to be essential oils), and a cute bandana tied around his trembling neck. I said sure to this package, because this package was less $$ than having anal glands and nail grinding alone. And it came with a bandana. So duh.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to get ANAL GLAND INFO out there so that y’all know about anal glands now and you don’t FREAK OUT when someone talks about anal glands, because those glands are a totally normal thing and get out of my way because my hormones are in FULL SWING, people!!!!!!

 

Anyway, that poor, poor baby Rucker, I thought for sure they were going to tell us to leave and never return.

He tried to HANG himself by jumping off the table.

It took TWO PEOPLE to manhandle him into submission so they could grind his nails.

He was shaking like the shakiest leaf you have ever seen on a tree. It was actually very sad to watch.

Husband refused to watch and instead shopped for rawhides (we’ll get to that in a minute) and calming chews for future visits (if they let us come back).

Rucker was a nightmare for those two groomer girls.

A NIGHTMARE.

Finally, one of the heroes girls took him into the back room for anal glands and ear cleaning, and he emerged terrified as ever 5 minutes later with a bandana that said “I am handsome.”

 

That poor, poor Rucker.

Not as poor as those groomers, though, which is why I apologized profusely when she returned my forever-scarred dog to me.

She said, “Oh no, he was fine, seriously! For a Great Dane, he did an incredible job. This is his first appointment, right?”

I said yes and tried to retrieve my jaw from the floor.

She said, “Well, then, he did amazingly. Especially for a Great Dane. He’s welcome back any time!”

 

I was stunned and Rucker was in shock so we thanked her and escorted the baby boy to the truck where we gave him a rawhide so he wouldn’t be mad at us for the rest of the day.

 

(Great Danes are very skittish, babyish, and clingy, and they HATE being picked up/elevated. So…being leashed to a tall table and subdued by two strangers while a lot of grinding noises were going on was basically three shades away from a heart attack for him. BUT I HAD TO DO IT. I CAN’T CLIP HIS NAILS ANYMORE. AND I’M GOING TO TAKE HIM BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN SO HE GETS USED TO IT. Besides, the groomer said that, once he was in the back room and he realized nothing terrible was going to happen to him, he was 100% fine and stopped fighting her.)

 

Handsome boy.

 

I posted this picture on Facebook, and everyone told me to THROW THAT RAWHIDE AWAY IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO GET STUCK IN RUCKER’S GI TRACT AND PROBABLY KILL HIM.

 

Holy shit I had no idea! I mean my GOD, okay, already!

So I yanked it out of his mouth and threw it in the trash!!!!!

I DIDN’T KNOW. I DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE SO TERRIBLE FOR HIM.

 

Not only does Rucker have a stinkier-than-average butt sometimes, he also has a VERY sensitive stomach. I can’t even tell you how many long nights I’ve spent making trips to the yard with him so he could diarrhea all over the place.

Since those times, we’ve learned to feed him dog food and dog treats ONLY. And even then, he still has tummy issues.

He has tummy issues when he’s stressed out.

He has tummy issues when he’s not stressed out.

He has tummy issues if you look at him the wrong way.

But man, do I love him, so I will (un)happily hose diarrhea out of my yard for the rest of my life. Because I don’t have a choice.

 

Actually, Husband will be doing dog poo duty after the baby comes, because it’s one of the many things I have shouted at him that HE NEEDS TO DO WHEN THE BABY GETS HERE BECAUSE I WON’T HAVE TIME AND I MIGHT DIE.

He said he would clean up his dog’s poo.

Good thing they’re such great pals.

Baby Rucker loving on dad.

 

My house is going to fall to shambles post-birth, I just know it.

When you come to see the baby, you had better ignore the dirt and dog toys everywhere, because they will be there whether you notice them or not.

Better yet, grab a broom!

 

Kidding!

Am I though?

I seem to have taken a sharp left turn onto Entirely Irrational Street a week ago, so I am really capable of anything these days.

I am devolving into a spastic lunatic, and it takes everything in me to stop my eyes from rage-bugging out of my head multiple times a day.

Help me!!!!

 

I am going to have to start doing some calming things, like puzzles and coloring in my zen coloring books my mother-in-law gifted me for my birthday.

It’s just baby stress, people.

It’s just fear of the unknown, and uncertainty about how to care for an infant while bleeding like Niagara and learning how to breastfeed.

 

Did I tell you yet that my mom said she would come stay with me for two weeks after the baby is born?

Did I?

Have I mentioned this fact to you, yet?

Did I tell you how much RELIEF that brings me?

I keep thinking about the fact that she’s coming to help me, because the thought brings with it a wave of relief, no matter when I think about it.

Insta-calm.

I don’t even need her to change diapers or get up in the middle of the night or do anything other than sit next to me on the couch while I try to learn how to be a mother.

Like I said, Husband will be in the most intense part of flight school when Baby is born, which means he will be gone all day and he will have to study all night, and he will definitely need his sleep.

All that equals a frazzled and increasingly neurotic Brooke.

 

My mom proposed that, seeing as how I am the most capable person she knows (her words, I swear), she assumes all of this stress comes from the fact that I am so isolated down here.

It’s true! No friends and family down the street in Alabama.

I KNOW I will be just fine when the baby comes and that I have nothing to worry about. I really am a natural mother. I really am.

It’s just that I keep forgetting that fact and freaking out accordingly.

 

Anyway, the walks I take with baby Rucker are an insurmountable help to all of this pent-up aggression.

For a while there, I waited to take him for a walk until I was finished with my work, which put our walks at 10-11am. Which seems like a reasonable hour for walking unless you live in Alabama.

 

You should not be exerting any kind of energy outdoors after 11am in this state. It’s just too damn hot. It’s SWELTERING here. The humidity is outrageous and the sun is RIGHT over your head. Plus we are closer to the equator which makes the sun just feel hotter. Plus it’s like 90 degrees out every single day (and getting hotter).

Anyway, back to the morning walks story.

 

So, as much as baby Rucker loves these mid-morning walks, he was having a hard time staying cool while we traversed the scorching landscape. Think: panting on the linoleum for 15 minutes post-walk. Which was starting to alarm me.

So my mom proposed I wake up at 6am and take him for walks then.

Excuse me?

 

Seriously, this is the conversation.

Baby Rucker

 

So, since I don’t want to overheat my dog, and because he loves walks SO MUCH, I have since transitioned to walking him before I get my day started (7-8am). Which just throws me off so much because I want to do exactly NOTHING when we get back because I am five months pregnant and doing things is becoming really, really difficult.

But anything for baby Rucker, right?!

 

My sister asked for a Rucker size update, with an object beside him for reference, and this is what I sent her:

Baby Rucker

 

I do love that puppy.

 

On a positive note, I have noticed zero new stretch marks since the ones I found on my butt a while ago. Though I am pretty sure those marks are longer. Who knows.

Also, I am up a total of 14 pounds since conception, which means I’ve only gained a pound a week for the past few weeks. Which makes me happy. And which I attribute to my walks with baby Rucker, since I am absolutely still eating everything in sight (and then some).

 

You know what I have been craving? A waffle cone with scoops of real ice cream inside it.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT ALABAMA, THE HOTTEST STATE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE IT’S SUMMER ALL YEAR ROUNDDOESN’T HAVE?!?!

F*@%ING ICE CREAM STORES.

 

MICHIGAN does a better job at ice cream than Alabama does. What is up with that?

You can get soft serve from any ice cream chain around, but finding a real ice cream shop where you can get REAL scoops of ice cream in REAL waffle cones is virtually unheard of.

If I’m wrong, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TELL ME WHERE THE SHOP IS.

 

I actually have a nice ice cream story for you.

 

It’s the perfect What It’s Like to be 18 Weeks Pregnant story.

Are you ready?

 

One day, I made Husband drive 10 minutes out of the way for ice cream, because I had been surreptitiously typing “ice cream” in my Maps app and I found a shop called Milky Moo’s or something equally promising.

He begrudgingly agreed after I gave him three evil eyes and shouted at him that this is what you do for pregnant ladies.

 

We get to the ice cream shop and I run inside (Husband doesn’t like ice cream. I know.), where I proceed to stare at the most sluggish and self-loathing employee while he takes my order.

After taking my money, he TURNS TO CHAT WITH A FRIEND FOR 45 SECONDS before moseying on over to the ice cream chest to scoop my ice cream into a waffle cone.

 

Despite HIM, I was very excited for my real-ice-cream-in-a-waffle-cone treat.

 

He grabs his scoop, slowly, and then drags his eyes to the ice cream buckets, and then he drags them back to an empty plastic case, and then he drags them to my expectant face and proceeds to tell me, he has the AUDACITY to tell me, “Oh, uh, looks like we’re all out of waffle cones.”

 

 

 

 

!

 

 

 

 

I HAD LITERALLY JUST ORDERED A WAFFLE CONE, FOR WHICH HE PROMISINGLY CHARGED ME AND FOR WHICH I PROMISINGLY PAID.

 

And he stands there drooling while I reach up and grab the flames that are shooting out of my head before they burn the place down, and I say, “Well, I need a refund for the waffle part, then.”

And he goes, “Oh, yeah, right.”

And he snail slugs his way to the counter and takes 50 seconds to do the math and return 87 cents to me before dragging his feet back to the ice cream containers and asking me “if a bowl is fine.”

Yeah, I guess! I mean, I’m still getting the ice cream!

 

And I say, “Butterfinger, please,” because I still have manners, and he slowly leans over and scoops me two scoops of “Butterfinger” ice cream and hands it to me with a spoon. And then I get the F out of there and into the truck so I can immediately regale Husband with the unbelievable tale of what I had just endured.

 

And I do, I tell Husband, and then I taste my “Butterfinger” ice cream.

And it tastes nothing like Butterfinger.

There wasn’t even Butterfingers in it!!!!

Rather, it tastes 100% like butterscotch.

Yeah. BUTTERSCOTCH ICE CREAM. Labeled “Butterfinger.”

 

*sob*

 

What I REALLY wanted was chocolate, but they were all out? What?

What I really really wanted was Moose Trax, but this is the south and happiness doesn’t manifest itself like that around here.

 

So there I sat, with butterscotch nastiness on my tongue, laughing hysterically in the passenger seat because that’s how pregnancy works, while Husband drove me home with fear in his eyes.

 

That, my friends, is what it’s like to be 18 weeks pregnant.

 

Now, I want you to know that all of the intermittent RAGE of week 18 was interspersed with moments of pure, raw bliss.

First source of bliss: the surprise baby shower gift my sister mailed to me…

 

A GLIDER AND OTTOMAN SET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mama's new rocker!!!!!

 

This thing rocks so smoothly, it feels like you’re floating in the waves of the ocean.

And it’s ADORABLE.

Mama's new rocker!!!!!

 

I didn’t even put one of these on my registry, because it seemed like such a glorious, unattainable frivolity.

But my sister. She knows. She knows what I need even more than know what I need.

I can’t even tell you the relief I feel knowing I have something to rock Baby Girl in. I felt 80% more prepared for Baby’s arrival after I set this rocker up.

MY SISTER IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD, AND SHE IS WAY BETTER THAN ANY OTHER SISTER.

 

Also, I have the best husband in the world.

See how quick my emotional turn-around is these days?

Husband greeted me Mother’s Day morning by saying, “Happy soon-to-be Mother’s Day!”

Which made my spirit soar.

 

And then he gifted me this!

Mother's Day presents!

 

(I look so red-faced and sweaty because I had just returned from a walk with Rucker.)

 

This is what was inside my blue bag!

Mother's Day presents!

 

I squealed like a piglet when I opened both of these things because I LOVE CHOCOLATES and because I am obsessed with miniature things.

 

I have always wanted a miniature lawn chair in my house.

 

I’m not even kidding. I registered for one of these bad boys when I married Husband.

Alas, it wasn’t the right time then, because this little blue chair was WAITING for me to become a mother before it entered my house.

Now, it sits right beside me while I watch TV, just so I can glance over and grin at it.

 

The chocolates won’t survive much longer. I tasted every single one immediately. Husband always puts on a face of “surprise” when he sees me biting every single chocolate in the box, like it’s “surprising” that I immediately consume the chocolate he gives me, even though I have been doing just that since I MET the guy 11 years ago.

You give me a treat, I will eat that treat immediately!

 

I followed up the remainder of week 18 getting furiously annoyed by the sheer stupidity of people on social media and venting about said stupidity to my mother, sister, and friends, who all agreed with me but are surely starting to question my sanity and thus accountability as a resource.

 

Now, I must go, because Baby is kicking and I like to lie down and see if I can feel her kicks from the outside.

 

Stay tuned for week 19’s post, when I am sure to be even more of a joy than I already am! 😉

 

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