Full Term! 37 weeks 2 days

So we’ve reached FULL TERM! Hooray!

I keep going back and forth, depending on the day, feeling like she could come any minute and we still have some time to wait. But every day I think I feel just a little more ready.

I haven’t “dropped” yet. I am feeling more pressure in my lower abdomen, but I don’t look like I am carrying any lower. This is a bit discouraging as what I am reading on line is that this happens ‘a couple of weeks’ before going into labor. I really don’t want to go past my due date (who does??) so I am hoping this isn’t something that is always true.

I also haven’t had any bursts of energy where I want to scrub my floors at 2am. Apparently this is another sign that things are getting “close” and they say it is part of “nesting.” I have been feeling pretty motivated to get everything checked off the to-do list, but I wouldn’t say that this has come with any extra energy, unfortunately.

Last night Beau and I went to the baby store to buy the rest of the “necessities” off the registry and use up the gift cards we accumulated from the baby showers. Which, of course, turned into buying just about everything that was left on the registry even though much of it we don’t need, or at least won’t need right away. Oh well, we are overly prepared now I think! But boy was that exhausting… so glad to have it done.

It seems like we have a task on our to-do list every day. Tonight we are packing the hospital bag. I am nervous about this task becoming a monster too. The more lists I look at the longer my list becomes… and it’s starting to feel a bit daunting. And then I think, am I even going to open the bag once I am at the hospital? I am sure there’s about 2 things I will end up using. Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, right?

 

Mom’s out there:  Did you “drop”?  Did you get a sudden burst of energy and clean your whole house? How long from getting these ‘signs’ until labor started? 

Baby Shower! 35 weeks 6 days

OMG. Tomorrow I will be 36 weeks! One more week until “Full-Term” and 4 more weeks until due date. I can’t believe it’s coming up so quick!

This last weekend my friend and neighbor threw me an adorable baby shower. I felt so much love from my friends and family who helped me celebrate. I really felt spoiled by all the stuff I received.

Here’s a picture with some of my family members who attended the shower:

baby shower

As I get closer I feel less ready for the labor! I am sure all mom’s to be go through this… I thought I was ready – and I AM ready in a lot of ways. But goodness, the thoughts of labor can be overwhelming. I am taking a birthing class, that has been labeled as a Hypnobirthing class, but when I read descriptions of what Hypnobirthing is, I don’t think this class 100% fits the bill. I am under no delusions that I will be able to hypnotize myself into a trance during my labor that will allow me to not feel pain or experience my birth. I have only been to one class so far, but this class was really great. I love the instructor.

A few take aways from that class:

  • She does not like the term “natural” to describe an un-medicated birth. It implies that if medicine is used, it somehow becomes an un-natural birth. So instead she chooses to just call it an un-medicated birth.
  • She rejects the “birthing without fear” methods because she thinks it’s okay to acknowledge our fear and birth through it, not try to deny it is there.
  • Women should follow their birthing instincts and not feel inhibited from using movement, vocalizations, etc… as they labor.

I still can’t help but wonder how I will handle it. You never really know how your labor/birth experience is going to be. I hope I can handle it without the medications, I am trying to have confidence in my abilities…but doubts are creeping in.

Any advice out there from mom’s? However you chose to birth (medicated or un-medicated) I am open to any assuring words you can offer me! 

Doulas

Sorry I suck at blogging right now! I have so much to share I just haven’t had time to sit down and share it. Growing a baby is a lot of work! Today I am 31 weeks and 6 days! 

We interviewed our third Doula a couple weeks ago and I think we’ve found our winner! She seems really open and calming, just exactly what you’d want in a Doula, but almost just as important is that she is midwife certified and has attended around 300 births! She still charges less than the first Doula option we interviewed because she doesn’t offer any of the little extras. For instance, the first Doula takes notes about your birth during the process and writes you a birth story and also gives you some kind of trinket or charm after you’ve delivered. I am totally fine with passing up those little extras, in return for a more educated Doula who can come to my house and is certified to check my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate and my cervix for dilation while I am in labor, thus giving me a better opportunity to labor at home longer and knowing when I need to go to the hospital. I can’t tell you how reassuring this is.

I have had many friends give birth in their homes. Somehow it is more common in my area of the west than the general population. I assume this is something to do with the culture of frontierism and libertarianism. People around here are a little more suspicious of government and somehow that bleeds into modern medicine and doctors. Even some of my friends who I would consider to be more liberal on most issues (as opposed to libertarian) have chosen to give birth at home with midwives rather than at a hospital. However, I am not one who feels totally comfortable giving birth in my home without trained doctors and medical equipment on the ready should an emergency arise. 

I fall somewhere in the middle of showing up to the hospital and just doing whatever the doctor says, and not wanting the doctor involved at all. This is where the Doula/Midwife comes in. I think it is the best of both worlds to have a birth advocate who can keep me comfortable in my home for as long as possible, and help me to achieve an epidural-free hospital birth, which is my goal. 

I have a few reasons for wanting to try and epidural-free birth. The most important being that I have low blood pressure. Epidurals can cause your blood pressure to drop further, and if that happened to me and it tanked my blood pressure to be “too low” I would end up with an emergency c-section. That is the last thing I want. So that is the biggest reason, in addition to not wanting to be considered a “fall risk” and then restricted to the bed for the entirety of my laboring. Being able to move around and try different birth positions (squatting, all-fours, etc…) seems to be the key in finding the most effective way for an individual to give birth with the least amount of complications (delayed labor, tearing, etc…).

At the same time I am trying to keep an open mind and be gentle on  myself. If I end up in stalled labor without the epidural and the contractions are getting to be more than I can handle, I will allow myself to give into the epidural. I will not see this as a failure if it happens. As long as I bring a healthy baby girl into the world at the end of it all, it will be a successful birth. I truly believe that there are no wrong decisions to be made when it comes to giving birth, we all do what we feel is best for ourselves and our babies.

I have, unfortunately, encountered some people who have stronger opinions on the matter. I don’t bring up my birth plan in conversation with anyone, but if someone asks I am open to letting them know what my intentions are. I have been disappointed in a friend who recently gave birth, who I thought would be more sympathetic to the plight of pregnant women and the judgement we all receive, only to be met with comments like “women who want to have an un-medicated birth are trying be martyrs so they can brag about it” and “our ancestors who didn’t have pain medication in birth would think we were stupid to decline them.”

None of her comments have made me question my choices. It’s just sad that we as women place so much judgement on each other! I never once told her that choosing and epidural for her birth was bad in any way. It was the right choice for her. She had an easy, uncomplicated birth with no tearing. I am happy for her. It’s just that I want to try something different. We need to practice more acceptance of each other as women and not be so quick to compare ourselves to others or judge them for the choices they make.

On a positive note: Weekend before last I had a friend (a different friend) take some maternity photos of me! And then this last weekend Beau and I took a short babymoon to Las Vegas to enjoy some warmer weather and a some relaxation before this baby arrives! Expect updates on both soon! (if I can get my shit together and actually blog haha)

Finding Balance

So I will be 28 weeks along tomorrow! I am officially in my third trimester – home stretch!

third-trimester

It’s becoming clearer to me by the day (by the minute!) that I need to take care of myself first and foremost. Because right now, caring for myself and my baby are one in the same.

But there are so many things happening so quickly in the world around us. It is hard not to want to simultaneously get outraged at ALL of it, and bury my head in the sand and ignore it all. I see friends on both extremes. The ones posting constant Facebook updates of what has is happening and how terrible it all is. It’s all happening so fast that there’s a new article, meme, or breaking news livestream at least every thirty minutes. It’s exhausting.

And then there’s the friends who are are asking when we can all go back to just posting cat videos and pictures of our food. Not wanting to address any of it.

I believe in  balance. I know I cannot get outraged about every issue – there are just too many of them. I am happy to show my support in many ways to many issues, but I cannot show up to every march and every rally.

So here are the things I am doing:

  • Calling or Emailing my Senators
    • it only takes five minutes to let your opinion be known
    • The staffers taking calls are usually polite and they have to pass your views onto the senators (even if it’s just tallying yays and nays on an issue)
    • I feel like I can speak up about a lot more issues if I restrict myself to doing just this one thing for most of the issues I am hearing about.
  • Re-posting information I find helpful and thorough on social media
    • I know this isn’t always helpful, I have said before that I am mostly preaching to the choir. Though I do have some friends with different views so perhaps I am reaching them in a small way
    • I discriminate which things I will share. Only things from trusted sources, nothing click-bait-y or extreme.
  • Commenting with Caution
    • If I feel someone genuinely wants to engage in a discussion, I am willing to oblige.
    • But only on topics I feel knowledgeable about! (this is key, don’t get into something unless you really know what you are talking about!)
    • If it turns petty I tune out. No reason to keep arguing with someone for the sake of arguing. That only drives a further wedge.
  • Get Educated
    • You cannot be an expert on all things, and that’s okay! If you feel strongly about an issue that is happening, learn more about that issue!
      • This goes in hand with the above, if you care about something and want to engage in conversation about it – learn all you can!
    • Focus on one or two issues that really hit home for you and try to learn as much as you can about them and how people are affected.
    • Do not feel guilty that you do not care about the same issues as other people. Do not let other people make you feel guilty for not latching onto their issues, and don’t get mad at others for having their own concerns. 
      • Change can take a really long time. You will burn out, we will all burn out, if we all try to take on every issue that comes across our Facebook feed. Let some of them go. Have faith that good, hard working people will stand up.
  • Marches and Rallies
    • Certain subjects do strike a chord with me more than others. For those issues I truly connect with, I think showing up in numbers does make a great impact. If I tried to go to them all, I would probably be burying my head in the sand already with exhaustion. Pick your battles. There’s going to be a lot, and you’re going to need to rested and prepared!

REMEMBER WE ARE ALL HUMANS. I am seeing friends post things on Facebook like: “Okay friends who supported Trump, is this really what you wanted? How can you keep supporting him after ‘X’ (chose anything he’s done in the last two weeks).” It is tempting to call people out and hold them accountable. The problem is, people who voted for Trump did so for a wide range of reasons. They may not agree with what he has been doing, but cognitive dissonance is a real thing. They may be struggling with their feelings about some of the things that are happening and if we call them out and ask them to defend Trump’s executive orders and tweets and press conferences before they’ve had a chance to REALLY think about it, you can bet that they will justify his actions. They will find some reason why what he is doing is okay, because we are all human, and we all defend the choices we make when we are pushed up against a wall.

I think the best strategy is to approach them with compassion. This is hard. But give them the space and the safety to come to their own conclusions about what is happening. Some will continue to defend everything he is doing, they will refuse to admit that anything he is doing is wrong and they will insist that liberals are overreacting. However, there will be others who say ‘this isn’t what I wanted’ and will slowly come around to understanding the potential damage of the way he is conducting business. But we cannot be tempted to force this view. We must stop ourselves from “I told you so’s!” Shaming and blaming are not how we move forward with progress.

If we get enraged by every issue. If we pick a fight with everyone with a differing view from our own. If we try to re-post every article and meme and purport to be experts on all topics. If we attend every rally and march. We will burn out. We will not be effective catalysts of change.

Everyone has different thresholds. Find your own balance.

What are some of the ways you find balance in your lives? 

Morning Sickness

Sept-Nov 2016

Morning sickness is different for everyone. But those who get it know how terrible it can be. For me, it was constant nausea. I didn’t throw up but I was constantly nauseated, 24/7, no relief.

Image result for morning sickness

My first couple of weeks after finding out I was pregnant were strange. I had some boob soreness, but otherwise didn’t “feel” pregnant. This is not uncommon from what I hear. So I planned to go about my life as usual. This baby had other plans. My usual routine is to make a couple of meals on the weekend that Beau and I can eat throughout the week. I love cooking and it helps keep us healthy and on a budget. So I decided to try out a new slow cooker curry recipe. I love curry. At least I thought I loved curry. Then overnight my stomach turned on me. The smell of the curry made me gag. I didn’t even get a chance to eat it once!

It was so bad I had to go outside while my husband ate it. I couldn’t even open the fridge because of the smell of the leftovers. And it wasn’t just the curry. Pretty much any food that had a smell was intolerable. So thus started my diet of crackers, cold cereal, and toast. Bland, white flour, carbs. Not how I had envisioned my pregnancy diet. I had high hopes of eating all organic, naturally healthy foods to have the best health for myself and the new little one growing in my belly. I still cannot completely understand the evolutionary benefits to morning sickness and how they wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy, well-rounded diet. But here’s my best guess:

Back when we all lived in caves and wilderness, life was a lot more stressful and harrowing. We as a species may also have not been able to tell that we were pregnant in that first trimester. Due to our lifestyle and activity, it would seem doubtful that we were tracking our menstrual cycles and would have realized a late period -which is often our first clue nowadays. So perhaps feeling suddenly ill was a good sign to ourselves and our tribes that we might be with child. At the very least, it might have forced us to take it easy and take care of ourselves for those first few weeks until we realized that we were carrying another life around. That is the ONLY thing that makes sense. Being sick may have kept us from putting our lives in the everyday dangers and kept us back at the cave with some of the other more frail members of the tribe to help care for us. The fact that eating made it feel a little better makes sense that we would be encouraged to keep eating and to eat a bit more than normal to keep ourselves nourished for carrying a baby. This is really the only thing that makes sense to me. Otherwise it’s pretty counter intuitive!

Things that helped:

  • Eating a small amount all the time (as mentioned before)
  • Sour things (no idea why, but lemon in my water, sour patch kids, Preggie Pops)
  • Ginger Tea
  • Ginger Chews
  • Being Asleep

Eventually I saw my doctor for a first Pregnancy checkup. I was probably 8 weeks in by that time. Thank goodness my husband was with me. I was under the delusion that because I wasn’t throwing up that my morning sickness was not that bad, so when the doctor asked, I downplayed it. Beau corrected me and told the doctor that I was pretty nauseated even though I wasn’t throwing up, and that I’d barely eat, or even be around, real food. The doctor suggested Diclegis. Thank God for Diclegis. It was a miracle drug for me. Slowly I was able to tolerate more and more foods. I know there are other drugs available as well. If you have morning sickness there are options! Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor. You do not need to suffer!

 

Anyone else out there have tips on dealing with morning sickness?

Clomid and Second Opinions

May-July 2016

So I started on the Clomid in April of 2016 and didn’t have any luck that month, so I decided I needed a second opinion about the endometriosis. I scheduled an appointment for May with an old OB/GYN that I had gone to for many years and only stopped going to when my insurance changed.

Most of what this second OB said was the same as the fertility specialist, with one exception. He would DEFINITELY do the laparoscopy on me before jumping to IVF. He said he’s had success with others in the past. Still was great news! Though for some reason I wanted to give it just a little more time before I decided on the surgery. (Now I am questioning why I was hesitant! Still I had two conflicting recommendations from different providers. So I had a lot to think about).

May was also our anniversary month and it just happened that our anniversary fell on the same weekend that I would be most fertile. So we decided to give ourselves the best chance possible and booked a romantic weekend at a hotel away from home. I was on round two of the Clomid and thought “this is it! this is the best chance we’ve given ourselves so far!” I really thought this would be our moment. We had also vowed to take it easy and stress free for the rest of the month during the dreaded Two Week Wait (TWW).

It is just not in my nature to sit around and wait for things to happen, so I started researching endometriosis and infertility. I work in research, so I only wanted to get information from reputable sources and scientific evidence. I started scouring the NIH research studies on the topic and found some great support for laparoscopy and increased fertility. So, when AF showed up in June after our anniversary getaway I was crushed, but I had a plan of action. I called my old OB and scheduled my laparoscopy for July 14th  – Just two weeks before our planned trip to Charleston to visit my half brother and half sister and their families.

We had to stop “trying” while leading up to my surgery, which was a bit of a nice respite actually. No roller coaster of hope and waiting and disappointment to look forward to. So there’s not much to say about the time between, but the surgery went well though apparently my endometriosis was worse than they thought. I was back at work in four days but certainly did not feel fully healed by then! We were also put on a two week “no sex” restriction right after surgery to let my body heal.

Two weeks later AF showed up right on time. I met with the OB for a follow-up and he said everything was healing nicely and I was allowed to have sex again, haha. He also said he expected me to be pregnant within 3 months. After everything else I couldn’t quite believe him, even though I wanted to. Two days after that appointment we flew to Charleston. It was drearily hot (I do not recommend Charleston in July!) and I still felt like I wasn’t fully healed from the surgery, I couldn’t lift and carry my adorable nephews. Still, I will take vacation over work any day! It was just what I needed.

 

 

 

 

Icing on the Cake

Let me back up a bit here…. I forgot to mention something that happened last December

Christmas 2015

Christmas Day last year my brother calls to let me know that they are expecting their second child! It’s been just over one year since their first child was born (her birthday is December 6th) and this one was a SURPRISE. Apparently my sweet sister in law did not think she could get pregnant while she was still breast feeding… Oops! Apparently she had suspected for a while she was pregnant, but didn’t tell my brother right away. She put a pregnancy test in his stocking for Christmas. Cute.

It’s difficult for me to explain my feeling about this. On one hand, I was happy for them. A baby is always exciting news. On the other, I was having my own struggles to get pregnant and to hear that someone got pregnant ‘accidentally’ was tough. On yet another hand (I had to grow a few extra hands for this scenario), aside from my own struggles with it, my brother was not exactly expecting to have another child so fast, and while he wasn’t upset, he was definitely stressed-out about finances and so I felt bad for him and this sudden unplanned pregnancy. On an additional hand, I thought my SIL was a bit of an idiot for believing that she couldn’t get pregnant, and I blamed her home-school education for her ignorance (though public school education is also severely lacking in sex-ed in a lot of places too). Also, part of  me was a bit suspicious that she wanted to get pregnant again so soon but knew my brother wouldn’t go for it, so perhaps this was a sneaky plot on her part more than a total accident. I also found it suspicious that when she told my brother on Christmas, she said that she had expected she might be pregnant for a while but wasn’t sure (turns out she was about 4 months in by then!!!!!). Wouldn’t you tell your husband if you thought you were pregnant for the last 4 months?? And wouldn’t you take a test immediately? It just didn’t totally make sense to me that this was a complete surprise.

So needless to say I had a lot of weird feelings floating around about the whole thing. I really did want the best for them. It was just hard for me to not compare myself to my sister in law. For one, she is quite a bit younger than me. She was 25 and I was 31 at the time. Not a huge difference, but she still seemed pretty young while I felt like the clock was ticking. Also, she’s not a terribly healthy person. She is thin, but she never exercises. I don’t know what kind of diet she follows but I think she pretty much eats what she wants (though definitely not in excess). I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercise regularly and definitely pay attention to my eating (sometimes better than others, of course). So again, it wasn’t adding up to me that she should be able to get pregnant so easily and me not.

In fact, this was a thing that would bother me ever so often. I wasn’t always upset when I’d see that other people were pregnant. Seeing most other people pregnant did not bother me at all, and I seemed to be seeing them everywhere. What did sometimes bother me was when I’d see a visibly unhealthy person pregnant or with their newborn baby. I am sure you’ve seen them too: very overweight, baby in one arm and giant soda in the other. When I’d see those moms I would get a bit agitated. Why do unhealthy people get to have a child and I don’t! In some ways, it still doesn’t totally make sense to me. But I guess our evolution hasn’t caught up with modern day unhealthy lifestyles to prevent the ability to procreate in unhealthy individuals (not that I would wish infertility on anyone!). In fact, having extra body fat and a sedentary life was probably at one point in our evolution as humans considered to be more ideal for carrying a child.

My sister in law does not have extra body fat, she’s quite thin. But she definitely leads a sedentary life of little activity. So I didn’t know what to think as I was gaining weight from my lack of activity (with my foot injury) and worried that gaining too much would decrease my fertility. So what I learned is that things sometimes just don’t make any sense, and the more we try to control every little aspect of our lives, the less control we actually have.

I would definitely not recommend giving up exercise and activity as a means of boosting fertility. I am convinced that there is very little we can do to change our personal fertility. There are no magic supplements, or levels of activity, or lifestyles that have much effect on our fertility at all. If you are struggling with fertility, it is not your fault. There is not something more or less you need to be doing to change your circumstances. I tried all of them, and felt no change. My only advice would be to seek answers from professionals. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we just need the proper tools to find it. Not everyone who meets with a fertility specialist will get answers, but it’s probably more effective than trying to figure everything out and control it on your own.