Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twenty down, how many to go?

I cannot believe that I've made it through 20 whole weeks of pregnancy already. It feels like time has flown by this time. When I was pregnant with Kate, I wrote several notes on facebook during the process. I think I wrote one for every trimester and one for her birth. I've kept a more constant update on here about how things have been, but I think I'll recap the first 20 weeks.

Our hope was to be strategic in when this baby would be born. We live far away from our families and we live in the mountains, so we knew we didn't want a baby at a time that would impede our holiday travels or where the weather would prevent our family to come visit. My husband is also out-of-town several weeks in the summer, and I'm definitely not interested in having a baby by myself. So between December and February are good months for us to conceive, and between June and August. I went off birth control several months ago just to get my cycles regulated so that we could try between December and February. But I conceived in November. Both our babies have been conceived in November, actually. I should have waited til at least Monday, December 6th to test, but I was too anxious to wait. I bought a two pack of regular pregnancy tests on Friday the 3rd. I took the first one Friday night, and I was convinced there was a faint line. Kraig agreed. So we waited and I took another Saturday morning. Still a faint line, but definitely stronger than the night before. I couldn't take the anticipation anymore, so I went to Target and bought two digital tests. There's nothing like the word "pregnant" on the screen to convince you. Saturday night I took the digital test, and it was positive. We're pregnant! I still had another digital left, so I took it Sunday morning just to make sure the previous three weren't flukes. It also said "pregnant." It may be a month earlier than we planned, but we are ecstatic!

I felt the baby move pretty early on, which is always a comforting thing. I've never had morning sickness or most of the traditional pregnancy symptoms, so feeling the baby definitely makes everything feel real. I didn't have an early ultrasound with this pregnancy, either, so we hadn't got to see it yet. I went for my first physical appointment on February 7th and finally got to hear the heartbeat for the first time. I think the heart rate was 148 bpm. All the old wives' tales say that anything above 140 is a girl. I was pretty convinced we'd have a girl, so the heart rate was no surprise to me.

I scheduled my big ultrasound appointment for March 14th, my birthday. I thought it'd be a great way to spend my birthday. We found out Kate's gender on March 13th, so it was kind of neat to have the appointments on such similar dates. Our friend Sara took the day off work to keep Kate for the morning, so Kraig and I went by ourselves. We got in pretty quickly and got to see the baby very quickly. It was comforting to see that there actually was a baby in there. The tech took pictures of various body parts and organs, and then the time came to look for the gender. Before she even asked if we wanted to know the gender, we could tell it was a boy. She finally asked and I quickly said, "yes." I could feel my heart racing. I knew what she was going to say, but I wanted it confirmed. "It's a boy," she said without hesitation. My eyes welled up with tears. It was definitely an exciting moment. We're having a boy. Kate's going to have a brother. We would have been just as happy with a girl, but we could hardly contain our excitement. Before we had even made it out of the office and to the car, we were on the phone spreading the news. I was 18 weeks that day.

Yesterday, we hit the 20 week mark. The beginning was a little exhausting, especially when chasing around Kate. Once the second trimester hit, though, my energy returned. I'm feeling great and enjoying being able to feel Jackson move more and more. There's nothing like feeling a baby move inside you. It's a feeling that's only for you. No one else can share it. I cannot wait to meet this little boy. This first half has flown by. I'm sure the second half will go slower, especially as I continue to grow larger and larger. I'm just trying to savor every moment. It's almost April, though. August will be here before we know it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quick update

After a full day of cloth diapering Kate yesterday, I'd say it's been successful. My only problem with them is that they're so absorbent, I'm having a hard time telling when they're actually wet. I was convinced she was dry when I put her down for her nap yesterday, but she woke up and hour and a half later in a puddle. I'm about 90% positive that it was because she was already wet, not because the diaper was ineffective. I put two soaker pads in her diaper for overnight last night, and she woke up 12 hours later with a dry bed. I love it!! I can't wait to purchase a few more!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I am Superwoman!

(Umm...just kidding.)

Okay, I'm not Superwoman, but I've had one super productive week. I've had mass amounts of energy and I put it to good use. We've started some of the packing process for our upcoming move, so I've sorted through the stuff in the basement to make "keep" and "yard sale" piles. I went through Kate's baby clothes and pulled out the gender neutral things. Tuesday morning, I ordered five cloth diapers from Jack Be Natural. I ordered these pocket diapers and, so far so good! They came Thursday morning in a package neatly wrapped in tissue paper with ribbons tied around it. There was a personal note attached to the ribbons, thanking me for my order. As soon as I opened the large envelope it was in, I could smell something. It reminded me of a store my mom used to take me to that sold all different types of herbs and spices. I soon discovered the smell was from two sample packs of diaper laundry detergent that were made with a variety of essential oils. It smelled great!! They also included a sample disposable diaper liner. On top of the free stuff, there was a card inside with $2.95 of store credit listed on it. They give you $1 of store credit for every $15 you spend. Very cool! Their attention to detail has definitely kept me as a customer. I'll be back, for sure! The diapers are super cute. After a wash and line dry last night, Kate is in her first one today. The plan is to finish her off in cloth diapers, and then we'll be able to use these same ones for the new baby once he gets to be the right size. So far, I love them! We'll see how she does in them overnight tonight, though, and I'll post about it later.

I've also been excited to try making my own laundry detergent for a while, but I've had trouble finding one of the ingredients. With the help of a friend at church, though, I finally found the last one yesterday. It was at Ace Hardware of all places. Who would've guessed?

Anyway, after posting about making the soap last night on facebook, there was a good amount of response. I figured this would be an easier format for sharing the recipe. There are only three things you need for the type I made, though there are a variety of recipes out there for different kinds. I chose to make a powdered detergent. Next time, I might try the liquid. Back to the recipe:

Simple Laundry Soap Powder:
One bar of Fels Naptha or Ivory soap
One cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
One cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda (not the same as baking soda)

Grate the bar of soap into small pieces or cut it into smaller strips and put it through the food processor. Once done, add the borax and washing soda and mix thoroughly. The mixing process will not only help distribute the ingredients evenly, but it will also help break the soap into even smaller pieces. Some people recommend 1-2 Tbsp for a small load and 3-4 for a large load. Other says 1 Tablespoon for a normally dirty load of laundry and 2 Tbsp for a heavily soiled load. I've been using about 1 1/2 Tbsp. One batch should last between 24-48 loads, depending on the amount used. If you have particularly hard water, you may need more soap. With the six batches I made, I should be able to get between 144-288 loads of laundry for less than $8. Not too shabby for the wallet!!

The last two items you're supposed to be able to find in the laundry aisle, but no one around here other than the hardware store carried the washing soda. I bought a ten pack of Ivory soap for a little over $3, a box of 20 Mule Team Borax for around $4, and a box of washing soda for around $4. I made six batches at once, which used 6 bars of soap, pretty much the entire box of washing soda and I have probably close to two cups of Borax left. I've done two loads of laundry with it today and they smell and look clean and fresh. I can't really tell a difference between my old laundry soap and this. You can't beat that!

The Things They Don't Tell You, the FINAL part

As I've written these posts, I just keep thinking of more and more things to include. I never imagined this would take five segments. But here we are at number five! These final ten will be specifically related to after labor & delivery and through the postpartum period.

41) Standing may be difficult for the first time, particularly if you've had an epidural or C-section. Ask for help! You definitely don't want to end up on the floor. You've had enough trauma for one day.

42) Going to the bathroom may be difficult for the first few times, even just urinating.

43) Take any and all stool softeners the hospital gives you. If they don't give you any, find some. Take as many as you can, drink plenty of water and juice and eat lot of fiber. It's important to do as much of this as possible to avoid hemorrhoids, if you don't already have them, and anal fissures. Trust me, you don't want to go there.

44) You will have period-like bleeding for several weeks (up to 6!) after the baby is born. Believe it or not, everyone doesn't realize this in advance.

45) Use the pads and panties the hospital provides you. They are much more absorbent than ones at home and when you're done with the panties, you throw them away. You don't want to ruin anything nice of your own if you leak.

46) If you tore and now have stitches, the hospital should provide you with ice packs and/or a numbing lidocaine spray to help ease the pain and swelling. My hospital had pads with ice packs built into them and they were amazing. Using the two in combination was very relieving.

47) Standing for extended periods of time after you've given birth may lead to pain in the vaginal/perineum area. In my experience, this lasted for nearly a year. It's a rather dull pain, but it's there.

48) Your bladder control will take a while to return. You've probably heard your mom say that she still pees every time she sneezes. You may have this problem and you may not. It got better with time for me, but returned again about as soon as I found out I was pregnant again. This may be a problem during vomiting, as well.

49) You're going to have the "baby blues" for a few days, at least. With all the rush of hormones and the time it takes for them to level out, you're probably going to feel emotionally unstable for a while. For some people, it's a few days. If you have any of the following symptoms, you need to contact your doctor:
  • Your depressed feelings haven't gone away after two weeks.
  • Your depression symptoms are getting worse.
  • You've developed strong feelings of anger or sadness.
  • It's hard for you to perform daily tasks.
  • You are having trouble caring for yourself or your baby.
  • You are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.
  • You are seeing or hearing things that aren't there, or you are feeling confused.
  • You are having rapid mood swings.
Remember, these feelings are normal, but you may still need help.

50) Breastfeeding is not easy. If you're planning to breastfeed, take advantage of the lactation consultants or knowledgeable nurses at the hospital to make sure things are going well. This is the best opportunity you're going to get for help, so make the most of it.

51) It's okay to not allow a thousand people to come visit you at the hospital or at home. You need this time to adjust and get the hang of things. People can wait. Sometimes, this means not answering the door when someone knocks or not picking up every phone call. I've read others suggest changing your voicemail/answering machine to a message that reflects your need for some privacy right now. That's okay!

52) If you have visitors but it's time to nurse your baby, it's okay to ask them to leave or wait in the waiting room until your done. You're new at this. You don't need to feel like you have to nurse in a room full of people and you certainly don't want to miss a feeding time. It's important to keep nursing regularly, even before your milk comes in, to help establish your supply.

And one last piece of "knowledge": Everyone has different experiences when it comes to pregnancy, labor & delivery and the recovery period. If you have questions about what's going on, ask someone! Sometimes it seems embarrassing to discuss things related to this, but you need to get the right information to help you in the process. Don't be afraid to ask!

And with that, I think we're done!! I'm sure there's plenty more that could be said, but this will have to suffice. I hope you've enjoyed reading them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tomorrow's preview....

Tomorrow will be a big blog day. I've had a super productive week, which I'll share about. Our first cloth diapers arrived. I made my first batch (or 6) of homemade laundry detergent. Super fun stuff!! Not to mention, the final post in "The Things They Don't Tell You" series. I can't wait!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Things They Don't Tell You, part 4

Continuing the series, here's another ten things about the end of pregnancy, labor & delivery and postpartum that don't always get talked about.

31) You won't necessarily get to have your doctor deliver your baby. Generally, their goal is to deliver their own patients, but if your doctor's not on call and you deliver at a non-business hour time or if someone else is delivering at the same time as you, you may get the on-call doctor. Trust me, by the time you're ready to deliver, you won't care!

32) All epidurals don't work. Some people have wonderful experiences where they feel little to no pain. For others, the epidural doesn't work at all or only works on one particular side or the other. Many people recommend doing at least some form of birthing class, even if you're choosing an epidural, so that you'll be better prepared to deal with the pain if pain control isn't effective for you.

33) If you're being induced, it doesn't always work. Some mothers end up requiring a C-section after hours and hours of labor that proves ineffective.

34) If you're being induced or in labor without an epidural, getting up to go to the bathroom is quite a chore. For me, it involved throwing something at my husband to wake him up, unhooking the baby monitors, unplugging the IV unit from the wall so it could be wheeled, taking off the pulse/ox monitor and taking off the blood pressure cuff. Once the deed is done, everything has to be plugged back in or put back on. We could never successfully put the blood pressure cuff where it needed to be, so I also had to call a nurse.

35) Some women feel lots of pressure when it's time to push. My epidural was very successful, however, so I was completely surprised when my nurse told me I was completely dilated, the baby's head was very well descended and I was ready to push. I had no idea.

36) Pushing doesn't always come naturally. I've heard it referred to as a "learned process" many times. Some women are great at it right off the bat, others take a lot more guidance. Don't be frustrated if you don't get it right away. You're new at this!

37) Pushing out the baby can lead to pushing out bowel movements. Yes, it's disgusting, but it happens all the time. When you're induced, they don't let you eat and you've had time to clean out your system. If you go into labor on your own and it progresses quickly, fate is in the hands of your digestive system. You can, however, very specifically ask for the doctor or nurses to not tell you if this happens.

38) Pushing is very strenuous work and will leave you exhausted. If you need to take a break and get a drink, ask! You've got to keep up your strength until the baby is delivered.

39) The placenta is generally not difficult to deliver. It is, however, nasty to look at. If you don't want to see it, don't look. They're probably not going to shield you from it.

40) Once they take the baby away to clean it off and weigh it, etc, it can take a while to get the baby back. I sent my husband with the baby because I couldn't stand the thought of her being "by herself." By the time they were done with her, I was completely stitched up and the doctor was gone.

Next? The final post in the series, which will focus on the postpartum recovery period.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Things on the homefront

At my ultrasound earlier in the week, the ultrasound tech determined that I'm measuring a week ahead. Counting that way, I'll be 20 weeks on Monday! I'm going to stick with 19, but 20 sounds good! I can't believe how fast this is flying along.

Things are going well around here. We're set to close on our house on April 14th and we should have keys that day. We've been enjoying some spring-like weather, which has Kate begging to go outside constantly. Her vocabulary is rapidly expanding. I read something the other day that a kid her age should have a regular vocabulary of 5-20 words. This seems low to me, considering that Kate has around 150 regular words in her vocab. Not to mention all the words she comprehends. She's constantly surprising me with a new word and it's amazing how much easier it is to communicate now. Kraig's doing well. He's planning for a big summer with two trips and a week of camp, PLUS having a baby. I'm sure it'll be crazy!

I'm still feeling pretty well. I had some allergy issues earlier this week, since things are blooming here, but they seem to have dissipated. I'm still dealing with back/hip pain, particularly with sleeping, but I anticipate they'll be with me for a while. I had a massage when I was about this far along with Kate and it helped tremendously. I may have to see if we can work that in the budget. I'm getting excited about having a little boy. I sorted through all the tubs of clothing that Kate's outgrown in the last 20 months. There were ten total. I pulled out about a tub full of gender neutral clothes and loaded the rest to send back to my sister. She's going to store the girl clothes until we've both decided whether or not we're done making babies. We've got three outfits this week from friends and my mom bought me a new diaper bag for my birthday (Vera Bradley). We've got hand-me-downs coming, too. All-in-all, I think Kate had too many clothes, but I'm sure our little guy will have plenty.

I've come to a decision about cloth diapers, I think. I'm going to purchase Kawaii diapers. I think prefolds and covers are a great idea, but I don't think they'll be as great for us since they're a little more of a hassle to use. I love the idea of pocket diapers and all-in-ones. I'm planning to purchase mostly pocket diapers, but also a few AIOs to use if we're going out. I'm still debating between Velcro and snap versions. Velcro seems to make sense for ease of use, but they tend to wear out a little faster than snaps. Though, as a friend reminded me, you can replace the Velcro or even convert them to snaps eventually. Price wise, they're the same, so I may just order a few of each to start with and then add more once I decide what I like. Overall, I'm going to be able to get everything I need to get started, including some smaller diapers to use in the newborn phase, for around $150. That's about what it costs for two months of disposable diapers, but they'll last much longer. I can't wait to get started!

Next doctor's appointment, just a boring, routine checkup is April 11. A little over three weeks away!

The Things They Don't Tell You, part 3

As I finish up the last two parts of "The Things They Don't Tell You," I'll be transitioning to things more related to the end of the third trimester, labor & delivery and the postpartum period. I have a feeling there are more of these things than of the others!

21) All pregnant bellies aren't cute. Some of them grow in odd ways and you end up looking more like there's a pointy watermelon under your shirt rather than a basketball.

22) Too much physical activity can cause contractions towards the end. They may just be braxton-hicks, but they'll leave you feeling on the edge of your seat until they go away (or until you've wasted several hours and labor & delivery, only to be told you're not in labor).

23) If you think you're in labor, call the doctor. If it's past regular business hours, call labor & delivery (L&D) and talk to a nurse. They may decide you need to come in and be monitored.

24) There's a good possibility you'll think you're in labor several times before you really are. I took at least two trips to L&D before I was actually induced with my first.

25) Your water does not have to break for you to be in labor. Don't wait for it to break if your contractions are coming regularly and close together.

26) The larger you grow with pregnancy, the harder it becomes to breathe as your lungs become constricted.

27) Severe swelling is something that needs to be reported to your doctor. It can be a sign of things like preeclampsia.

28) When the doctor checks your cervix to see if you're dilated or effaced, it will hurt--particularly when you're not very far along in the process.

29) After the doctor checks you, some spotting is normal. If you feel it's excessive, call your doctor's office.

30) You're probably not going to deliver on your due date. I, for example, had to be induced at 37 weeks with my first because of preeclampsia, but there are many women who go to 41 or 42 weeks before they go into labor or are induced. I hate to bring out the negatives, but you should be prepared for whatever happens.

There will be at least one more post in this series in the upcoming week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Results Are In!!

(Pardon me while I take a break from the current blog series to make an announcement!)

Yesterday was a big day. We were celebrating my 26th birthday and we were having our big ultrasound. It was a great day! My ultrasound appointment was at 9:30. We got in pretty quickly, and it wasn't long before we were finally seeing images of our little one. This was the first peek we'd had, and we were ready to see it! The tech began taking pictures of different body parts, examining the heart, stomach, and other organs. Then came the obvious between the legs shot. I knew what she was looking at. Kraig knew too. And it was quite obvious that baby had boy parts! We knew before the tech even asked if we wanted to know. Finally, she asked. I said, "Yes," quite emphatically, even though I was pretty positive about what I was seeing. She said, "It's a boy!" It was shocking. We wanted a boy, but we were perfectly happy with our girl and another would have been fine--definitely more economical. But we're getting our boy. I cried a little because I was so shocked. It's still not quite settled in me. The ultrasound finished pretty quickly and Kraig and I left to make our list of phone calls. My actual appointment with my midwife wasn't until later in the day, so we sat in the parking lot sharing our good news.

Then we realized it was barely after 10 a.m. Our friend Sara was watching Kate so we could go to the appointment and then enjoy a lunch out for my birthday. So we headed to Target to kill some time. Once it was lunch time, we headed to our favorite Chinese restaurant and ate way too much food. It was great. Then we headed home in time to feed Kate lunch and put her down for a nap. Shortly after she went down, I headed out for my midwife appointment. After waiting in the lobby for over an hour past my appointment time, all she really had to tell me was that the ultrasound looked good. Good news, but such a wait! Then I went to do my weekly Monday grocery shopping. Once I got home, we rested for a while and continued to question our name choice. We want to be 100% sure about it before we let it out. I also decided I wasn't interested in cooking dinner, so we went to Cici's and enjoyed some pizza and salad.

It was a great birthday. It was very special to have our ultrasound on my birthday. We had Kate's the day before my birthday, since my birthday was on a Saturday that year. They were both great experiences. Now we're planning for a boy. We'll have a new room to decorate, clothes to collect, and I finally get to start ordering my cloth diapers! I'm super excited to finally know the gender. I'm very grateful that I'm still feeling well. I'm tired and having difficulty sleeping, but that's the worst of it! 22 weeks to go!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things They Don't Tell You, part 2

If you haven't read my previous blog post, it's part 1. Check it out. As I said before, there is lots of information available to you about pregnancy, labor & delivery, postpartum and dealing with a newborn. Unfortunately, some things you don't hear about until you experience them. Some things, perhaps, people are uncomfortable talking about and other things you read but ignored, thinking, "That'll never happen to me!" My hope is to be transparent in an attempt to help first-timers more aware of what they might encounter.

More pregnancy-related "secrets":

11) Your belly button may literally go from being an "innie", to being so stretched you can't tell where it was, to being an "outie" that very obviously protrudes from beneath your shirt.

12) You can get stretch marks ANYWHERE. Some people get them just on their bellies, others have them on their legs and breasts. Excited yet?

13) Your belly will most likely itch from the stretching it endures. Lotion helps!

14) Studies show that if you're born to get stretch marks, you'll get them regardless of what kind of preventative measures you take.

15) Even once your breasts stop being tender (generally after the first trimester), your nipples can remain very sensitive to things such as touch and temperature change.

16) Your sense of balance is a constantly changing thing as you adapt to an ever-growing belly. Simple things like bowling or tying your shoes can become complicated. (Yes, the bowling reference is from experience).

17) Reading about newborn care and breastfeeding is important. Yes, some things can and will come naturally, but having a good reference is vital in those first few weeks when you're sleep deprived and emotional. Start reading before the baby is born so you have a leg up on things.

18) It's never stupid to call the doctor's office and ask questions. They know you're hormonal and full of questions. You're not the first mom to panic about something every five minutes. The doctor's office is an important resource. It's important to call when there is potential for your concern to be important. If your doctor's office doesn't take your questions seriously, I would consider finding one that does.

19) People (including ones you don't know) will try to give you all sorts of advice once they realize you're pregnant. Some of it may be helpful, but most of it will be annoying or even shocking. Having a patent response such as, "Thanks for sharing that with me," can help you get through awkward situations. (It also helps if you can control the eye rolls.)

20) At your "big" ultrasound, you may not get the news you're expecting. Baby might not cooperate with the ultrasound tech and you may have no idea what the gender is. Also, you may find yourself disappointed at the gender that is discovered. If you're hoping for a particular gender and end up with the other, you may find it takes some time to adjust your thinking and re-excite yourself about your upcoming arrival. While you may feel stupid or guilty about this, it's normal!

How I'm feeling...exhausted. After spending the day on my feet cooking and cleaning, I'm ready for bed!

What's next?? Part 3 of the Things They Don't Tell You series.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things They Don't Tell You, part 1

Pregnancy is full of surprises for most people. Even if you read all the pregnancy related books out there, you're likely to experience something that you never read and you never heard your girlfriends talk about. Here's a few of the "things" that I've heard that can come as a surprise to pregnant ladies about the earlier parts of pregnancy:

1) All pregnant women do not get morning sickness. I've recently read statistics that said around 80% of women do, but not all. For some people, morning sickness lasts a few weeks. For others, it can last the entire pregnancy.

2) "Morning sickness" is not necessarily just a morning problem. There are plenty of women who are sick all day long or find themselves sick in the evenings. Don't let the "morning" part fool you.

3) Just because you're pregnant does not mean you can eat anything and everything. Yes, you will be hungrier than usual, but for a single pregnancy only an additional 300 calories are needed per day. That's like a yogurt and half a bagel.

4) While some women may appear "glowing" during pregnancy, others suffer from a variety of skin problems during pregnancy--teenage-like acne included.

5) Sleep will become increasingly difficult as you learn to not sleep on your back or stomach and your body becomes larger. My hips, in particular, become painful during pregnancy and make sleep difficult.

6) Though you are excited because your pregnancy test came back positive, your doctor may not want to see you for several weeks or more. With my first pregnancy, I did not see the doctor for the first time until 13 weeks. With my second, I was almost 8 weeks. This is not unusual, but it will definitely test your patience.

7) Your belly will mostly likely start to look a little fat before it starts to actually look like you're pregnant.

8) Your first ultrasound, if performed at an early appointment, will be mostly likely performed vaginally. I was completely surprised about during my first pregnancy.

9) At a typical OB/GYN office, you can literally wait for hours. This is a very sensitive practice. Doctors do everything in appointments from routine check-ups, ultrasounds and pap smears, to having to tell a woman she has cancer or may have lost her baby. These appointments take time. If you were in a sensitive situation, you would want the doctor to take as much time with you and not rush off. Remember this when you're looking at your clock, realizing your appointment should have started 45 minutes ago. It's also possible that another patient went into labor and your OB is at the hospital delivering a baby. You'd want him there if it were you! But be prepared!! Snacks and reading material are always helpful.

10) It's okay to feel like a basket case. Your hormones are crazy right now and you're adjusting to the knowledge that you're carrying a baby. It's a very emotional time. And it's very normal!

How I'm feeling...pretty good! Less than two weeks until our big ultrasound!!

Next time? More things they don't always tell you about pregnancy!