Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Changes

You know that Johnson & Johnson commercial that ends with the statement "having a baby changes everything"?  Yeah, they totally don't lie.

We've been home in Pennsylvania with family for the holidays. Of all things to change, I never thought being home really would, but boy was I wrong. Let's start first with luggage. When you have a kid and have to travel, you essentially pack your entire house...though I will say that the bottom basket in my stroller was pretty handy in the airport. Then there's where you sit on the plane. Normally we'd have taken an aisle and middle seat. Easy access to the bathroom, easier to get on and off the plane. Not anymore! This time I took the window, which normally I hate, but it proved to be a smart move. I had some privacy (along with my hooter hider :) ) for nursing and we didn't have to worry about getting up and down for another passenger needing the bathroom or having elbows or the baby's head bumped by the drink cart.

Since we've been home, we haven't been in bed before 1 am. Normally this would have been because we'd be out and about with friends at night...now its because we've got a little guy visiting the East coast...who's still on West coast time. Let me tell you, I've never been more grateful than the mornings when Derek would wake up for the gym and hand the baby off to his mom for a little "mom-mom time"...which for me meant a few extra hours of sleep. I will truly miss that when we go back to Washington!

Then there's the holidays themselves. It's so different when you've got a baby for Christmas. From first Santa pictures to the abundance of visitors and the eight thousand red and green outfits Conner managed to poop, pee and look cute in. Christmas suddenly has had a magical new life to it. The change of having a baby for the holidays seems to make everything a million times more special, and while the traveling was overwhelming and the lack of sleep is exhausting...I wouldn't wish it to be any other way.

As we make our way to the new year in just a few days, I wish you all a magical end to 2011 and a beautiful start to 2012. And yes, Conner will be rocking the tuxedo onesie for NYE :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chronicles of a Nursing Newbie

I'm proud to say it. I'm a new momma...and a nursing momma. I'm everything to my son right now, and I love that so much.

I'm also proud to say that I have stood by my convictions of wanting to breastfeed my baby, and been respected about it...with a little help from my amazing hubby! Our first few days of nursing were wonderful...both for the soul, the heart and even my physical recovery...

As you've all read, Conner was born via emergency C-section and taken immediately to the NICU to have his heart monitored and to be given empirical antibiotics. While I was in the operating room being put back together, Derek went with our little boy to the NICU. And let me tell you, the incredible man I am married to knew how much it meant to me to breastfeed our son...and so when the question came upon him (while I was in recovery) as to whether or not they could give him formula until I was there and so that I could recover, my husband told them no...and made sure to help me down to the NICU as soon as I could,  as often as I needed, and as often as Conner was hungry so that I could nurse my little boy. And to my pleasant surprise, the NICU nurses gladly obliged! Before I was even brought to my room out of recovery, I was taken to my son. Though we didn't have the chance to have the immediate moments I wanted to right when he was born, I immediately had the chance to nurse him right away...and that bonding few moments was just what I needed.

Throughout the night, Conner's nurses would call when he seemed hungry and I would be wheeled down to feed him and love on him...and the next day, I got so sick of sitting in that awful wheel chair that I got myself up on my feet and walked my tush down there to the comfy rocking chair they had waiting at Conner's little "station". I blame the ease of my recovery on my determination to nurse my little boy...and the fact that he wasn't in the room with me.

I will say that nursing wasn't quite so easy those first few days though. Conner had trouble latching, in which a genius nurse discovered it was caused by the fact that he's got a high arch in his palette. It was an easy fix with the use of a Medela latching aid, and Conner is now eating up a storm. We're getting ready to wean off of using the latching aid, now that he's a few weeks old, and luckily for me our hospital on base has a wonderful staff of lactation consultants who run weekly meetings to help moms with breastfeeding support. I'm grateful to the fact that our medical system here is so BF friendly and incredibly encouraging!

Breastfeeding is something I was a bit weary about in the beginning...but something I've grown to enjoy. I love just how much my son needs me, and I love being his everything. And while nursing has certainly had it's challenges thus far (holy engorgement!! I swear just looking at them made them hurt those awful few days...), knowing how good it is for my baby...and myself....makes the challenges all worth it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life After an Emergency C-Section

If you didn't happen to read Conner's birth story below, the gist of it all is this: unfortunately during labor I contracted an infection called chorioamnionitis, and as a result ended up needing to have an emergency C-section in order to safely bring my son into the world.

It wasn't at all what I had planned, envisioned, hoped for...and while I was so grateful and glad that my little boy was born happy, healthy and just plain beautiful, I still have had to deal with the fact that my dreams of being able to push my son out myself were shattered.

Shortly before I was taken into surgery, I called my mom. I remember saying to her in tears how disappointed I was. I wanted to do it myself, I told her...I felt like I had failed. My body had failed me. I knew that the infection wasn't anything I could have prevented...and I knew that the doctors, nurses and midwife who took care of me that day did everything they could to avoid the C-section...but it just wasn't in the cards for me or Conner...and that was hard to swallow.

I still find myself getting emotional thinking about the whole thing. More than once I have broken down in tears over the fact that I didn't get to have the experience I wanted to. What's worse than that is the guilt I feel. My son was brought to me by my husband as I laid on the operating table so that I could give him a kiss before he was taken to the NICU. It's standard procedure when a woman develops chorio that the baby is taken to the NICU for evaluation, but because they had discovered the infection had affected my entire placenta, they needed to take Conner immediately and get him on antibiotics in case the chorio had begun to enter his blood stream. I didn't get more than a few seconds to kiss my son...and I didn't get to see him for several hours later as they needed to get my temperature under control, and a dose of antibiotics in me as well. I have never felt so guilty in my life. Guilty that my baby had to go through that. Guilty that it was my body's fault that that's how everything ended up.

It was so hard watching my baby be taken to the NICU and being so helpless on the operating table. I can say though that I was so grateful for my husband that night. He couldn't have been more amazing and I was so glad that he was able to stay with our baby boy the entire time I wasn't able to be. He went with Conner right away, making sure our baby was ok...and even that my wishes regarding nursing him were followed. What a guy, right?

Luckily for me there's been a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. A few hours after my surgery, before I was moved from the operating room to my room on the Mother-Baby unit, I was brought to the NICU. I had the opportunity to hold, kiss and nurse my son right away and it was incredible. Throughout the night, Conner's nurse would call when he seemed hungry, and my nurses would help me into a wheelchair and send me down to feed him and love on him for as long as I wanted. The next day, I was even on my feet and walking myself down to the NICU to spend my time with my baby. I was determined not to let the fact that I had a C-section limit me from being with Conner. I hated being in the wheelchair, and I refused to lay in bed without my son there with me, so I made a point to get on my feet as quickly as possible. I made sure that I could walk myself there and sit in the comfy rocking chair with my little love. For having such a rough delivery, the recovery wasn't so bad.

Even better for me was and still is the fact that the doctors, nurses and midwives at our hospital HIGHLY encourage VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), so even though my hopes were a bit thwarted this time, I can hope, dream and pray for my perfect delivery when we're ready for Conner to be a big brother....but that's not going to be for a while :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Conner

Four days after I wrote my last post, I awoke at 4 am to the worst, most uncomfortable pain I have ever experienced in my life. Thirteen hours later, at 5:01 pm, my sweet baby boy entered this world...

At 7:00 my contractions were becoming stronger, and closer together so Derek and I decided it was time to go to the hospital. We arrived to the hospital on our base to a triage nurse who could clearly see that my visit wasn't a question of "could this be labor?"...it was a matter of how much progress was my body making, and when is this baby going to arrive? The sweet nurse immediately escorted Derek and I into a triage room where they monitored my contractions and Conner's heartbeat. During each contraction, Derek held my hand and this amazing nurse talked me through the pain. Telling me to imagine my happy place (which, ironically ended up being an image of swimming in the pool at the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World...where Derek and I had been honeymooning almost a year ago to the date), breathe, and keep "soft hands", this nurse had a calming voice and a demeanor about her that was beyond comforting. I have to say that having such a wonderful triage nurse should have been my first clue that while my labor didn't end up exactly as I had hoped and prayed, my experience was still equally as beautiful and wonderful as I had wanted it to be.

Thirty minutes into triage, I was being given an IV, as I appeared a bit dehydrated and was planning to receive an epidural, being put into a gown and robe and being escorted to the cozy (yes, it really was cozy and nice!) labor and delivery room where I would spend the rest of the day. To give you a good idea of my room, the walls were a warm brown color, the bed (believe it or not) was comfy with warm blankets and soft pillows, the lights were adjustable, the TV was new and there was a comfy chair for Derek. It really was more than I was expecting.

I was met in my L&D room by another amazing nurse who ended up reminding me very much of one of my best friends, who also happens to be a nurse. Again, I found this to be comforting. She was friendly and not in the least bit overbearing, and she had no problems talking to Derek and I and answering any of the questions I had. I couldn't have been happier to have such a great nurse that day.

Around 10:30, I was in some pretty severe pain and was luckily ready enough to have my epidural. I wanted to be able to relax and be calm and enjoy experiencing my little boy's birth and with the nasty contractions I was having, it wouldn't have been possible. The anesthesiologist, Kelly, was wonderful. She gave me what's called a "walking epidural" where I still had muscle control in my lower half, legs included, and was still able to feel the pressure of contractions, just not the pain. Let me tell you, it was wonderful...and any fears I had of that damn needle went straight out the window. I'm now standing firm with the allegation that the IV was more painful than the epidural.

About thirty minutes later, some concerns were raised about Conner's heart rate. The base line reading was a bit high, as was my blood pressure, and it didn't decrease when I had received the epidural...which sent up a red flag that something may have been wrong, rather than everything being elevated because of my pain. At that point the doctors decided to have me try laying in different positions to get more oxygen to the baby. Laying on my side, I decided to take a nap and rest. I was already feeling exhausted, and was hoping that by allowing myself to rest, it would help Conner's heart rate lower as well as my blood pressure.

After a few hours of cat napping and changing positions, I was given an oxygen mask. The baby's heart rate still hadn't lowered it's baseline reading...instead it would raise a bit before a contraction and drop during. The hope was that by giving me extra oxygen, it would help regulate Conner....but things never really go as planned....

At about 2 o'clock I awoke from a nap uncontrollably shivering, and hot as a maniac. I was now running a fairly high fever, and Conner's heart rate hadn't changed. The doctors determined that I had developed an infection called chorioamnionitis, or chorio for short. A chorio infection, in my case, meant that my placenta had contracted the infection and this was causing a lack of oxygen flow to the baby. Essentially my placenta was becoming a toxic piece of the environment my little boy was surviving in. This lack of oxygen was the cause of Conner's heart rate being so wonky. As a contraction would start, it would begin to stress out the baby which would shoot up his rate. As it dropped and Conner relaxed, his heart rate would dramatically drop because of the lack of oxygen. Unfortunately, my infection was a bit of a mindbender to the docs and nurses because most women who develop chorio have had their water break...and mine was still completely in tact.

At that time a staff midwife came in as a consultant to the doctors and nurses who were taking care of me. The doctors and nurses wanted to do to everything they could to help me progress so that Conner could be born quickly, sans C-section if possible. Her suggestion was to continue monitoring Conner's heart rate, start me on antibiotics, administer Tylenol and have ice packs under my arms to try and regulate my temperature, and she broke my water to try and get things moving a little faster. They needed me to start dilating faster before it became too dangerous for the baby to continue in the stress of my laboring body, and they wanted to avoid a C-section at all costs.

After a few hours though, it was becoming unsafe for both the baby and myself to continue on in labor. They needed to get Conner out, and my body just wasn't cooperating. The doctors and midwives did all they could to try and avoid a C-section...but Conner's little heart was just working too hard for too long and he needed to be born. Around 4:30, I was being prepped, comforted and wheeled into the operating room. Lying on an operating table, surrounded by my loving husband, the caring anesthiseologist and the gentle midwife at my head, I breathed deep. Thirty one minutes later, the sound of a newborn baby boy filled the room and my eyes filled with tears. He was finally here. And he was ok. Ten fingers, ten toes, LOTS of hair, the sweetest little cry I had ever heard and big beautiful eyes. He was perfect. He is perfect.

Conner was immediately taken to the NICU where he spent the first few days of his life. Because of my chorio infection, he needed to be on antibiotics...and his heart was still a bit wonky after he was born, probably because of the infection, so he needed to be monitored as a precaution. The nurses there were beyond wonderful with him and me, and Conner spent our recovering days snuggled in a NICU rocking chair, learning to nurse :)


I'll never ever forget it.

It was truly the best day (and few days in the NICU) of my life...even if it didn't go the way I had really wanted it to...




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frustration and Worry

This week I had my 38-39 week doctor's appointment, which included discussing my labor plans, checking for progress and discussing the results of my group strep b test. I can easily say that this week was the most frustrating I've had throughout my entire pregnancy.

Part of the reason I'm not a huge fan of doctors stems from the fact that I find them to be overly clinical, under-sensitive, and too willing to explain bad things rather than good. Prime example? The results from my strep test.

Normally I see a nurse practitioner for my appointments, and have opted for a nurse or midwife to assist with my labor rather than a doctor (for the record, I'm not a fan of using the term "delivery"...no one is delivering my baby to me, I am giving birth!). I have always felt that nurses and midwives are more compassionate and empathetic, and more willing to take the time to spend with patients than doctors are. However, for this particular appointment, the only provider available was a female doctor. Fine. I can deal with that. It's a woman (I have a "thing" with male docs. Hate em.), and it's a short appointment. No big deal. By the end of the appointment though, I stood corrected. Once again, I found a doctor to be upsettingly clinical, uncompassionate and just not my cup of tea...

Immediately at the beginning of my appointment I was informed that I am strep-positive. About 30% of pregnant women become strep-positive during gestation, and it's something that is easily handled during labor. However, the way this doctor explained everything to me made it seem horrifically scary...and made me bawl like a baby when I left the office. I don't quite understand where this doctor's logic came from, but rather than telling me how easy it is to treat, her choice of explanation was one in which she told me every possible awful outcome of being strep-positive, and the terrifying potential that my baby could become very sick, even septic. Seriously?

Seriously. Rather than telling me that there are small potentials for things to happen, as there are in any case of carrying a child and giving birth regardless of strep status, she chose to scare the crap out of me. Rather than telling me that all it takes is a dose of medication when I get to the hospital, she chose to inform me of what would happen if I didn't get the medicine, or my baby didn't get it quickly enough.

I find this approach to be incredibly unnecessary. Why upset someone and make them worry over something that is dealt with every day? All I can say is thank goodness for the nice nurse who explained that everything was fine and really how "not that big of a deal, I promise" this is...for the medics my husband works with for confirming this fact...for my good friend Kim who's dealt with the same thing...and for my mom who made it all better. I don't know what I'd do without the support system I have....but I do know I wanted to smack that doctor.

On top of everything else, it seems I'm not making much progress towards active labor. While the baby is dropped and in a really good position, my body doesn't seem to agree and hasn't started to progress much at all. I know that I'm still 9 days from my due date...but I'm so anxious to have this baby, that not making much progress is incredibly frustrating. I guess it's just one of those weeks....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Am I Supposed to Be Scared?

It's funny, the closer I get to my due date, the more non-chalant I'm finding my attitude towards labor to be. It's not that I'm not a bit nervous, and it's not that I don't really care...it's just that I'm in a peaceful mindset of "what's going to happen is going to happen".

And apparently this surprises people.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "aren't you even a little scared of labor?" Um, no. Not really to be honest. It's funny because I'm normally such a planner and so uppity about things like this...but when it comes to going into labor and delivering my baby, I'm feeling anxious and yes, but very relaxed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm nervous alright...who wouldn't be? This is a totally foreign, new experience and I don't really know what to expect...and there isn't much someone can tell you to expect. I mean, can you truly explain what a contraction felt like? Can you truly describe the pain you experienced? Sure, there are the generic "it hurts like nothing you've ever felt before" and "contractions are like cramps...but different..." But what can you really tell another woman about labor? Not much, I wouldn't think, since everyone has a different experience.

And so I'm finding myself looking at labor and the birthing experience like this:
It's going to happen. This baby needs to enter the world and I have to help him or her get here safely, so what's the point in wasting time being scared out of my mind? I'd much rather go into the process with a clear mind, the understanding that this is something unknown to me so I want to play everything by ear, and a sense of relative calmness rather than stress. What's the point in stressing over giving birth? Unless someone legitimately tells me it's a time to worry, and gives me a good reason, I'd rather take my own approach.

It makes you wonder too, that if labor were as scary as some people make it seem to be...why would any one do it repeatedly? It's like a Freddy Kruger movie...if it scares you that much, do you watch it again? Probably not. But labor? Well, the human population is still thriving...so it can't be that horrific.

So no, dear curious cats, I'm not scared or terrified of labor. Am I supposed to be?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Holy For Ya

I was raised in a big, Irish Catholic family...spent 8 years in Catholic school...even taught a few years of CCD. That's right, I'm a good Catholic girl. Who would've guess, right?

Well, today I'm sharing a little tid-bit of my Catholic-ness. Sometimes a little prayer never hurts, no matter what God or being you're saying it to...and sometimes when you're feeling like you need a little help, a little prayer is just what you need.

To give you some background, Saint Gerard is the Catholic patron saint of pregnancy and expectant mothers. It occurred to me that this past Sunday (October 16th) was his feast day...ironically it was a day I was feeling particularly uncomfortable and seriously wondering if the last few weeks of pregnancy were a cruel joke....

And so I found a little prayer to him. I felt needed to say it and, in my own beliefs, know that someone was listening. And now I want to share it...

"Saint Gerard, patron and protector of expectant mothers, intercessor before God and wonder-worker of our day, I pray to you now and seek your aid.

Help me to always do the will of God. Preserve me in the dangers of expectant motherhood, shield the child I bear now and let my baby be brought safely to the light of day."

It's short and simple...yet sometimes that's what you need to ground you and calm you. Sometimes a little faith, no matter which one you share, is the reminder you need to get you through unconventional times.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Less Than a Month...

But it still seems like forever to go. Sigh.

I think part of my discomfort during this trimester has been my own impatience. I think I'm making things worse on myself with how anxious I am to meet this baby. I've never been so impatient in my whole life! And trust me, I am normally a very patient person...I used to teach one and two-year-olds for crying out loud!

And now here I am, indecisive about what I want for lunch, feeling slightly agitated by the constant aching in my ribs from the tiny little feet that feel permanently planted there, and not able to understand why the weeks seem to go by sooooo slowly now.

And I know what you mommies will say: enjoy the time before the baby arrives.

I know, I get it. I do.

But I'm just so anxious to meet the sweet little baby I've been harvesting all this time that I can't help but feel ready to be done. I want to hold my baby, smell my baby, kiss hug and snuggle my baby. I just want to be a mommy to my baby!





And try really hard not to judge me, but I also can't wait for a glass of ice cold pinot grigio. I think by the end of this, I'll have earned it...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Small Rant About Rude Men.

Let me first say this: not all men are rude and inconsiderate, but some really are. And when it's affects me or any other pregnant woman for that matter, it makes me really mad!

So here it is, my rant:

Dear Men Who Are Inconsiderate Jerks,

   The parking space you just took is marked "Expectant Mother", and while I'm ok with not getting that parking space for myself, there could be another pregnant woman who could have really used that parking spot. And you, Mr. Inconsiderate, just took that spot without warrant.

   Did you think about the possibility that some woman might have a baby sitting on her sciatic nerve (like me) and that it may be very painful for her to have to walk through a parking lot because you took the close space that was designated for her? Did the idea cross your mind that there may be a preggo who is running errands with little kids, and that the safest place for her to park is that "Expectant Mother" spot so that she only has a little bit of parking lot to chase her young children through? Or what about the woman who has been placed on bedrest or something similar, and just needed to run into the store to get some milk because no one was around to help her? No. You probably didn't think of any of that. You just figured that no one would notice that you, a man, parked in a spot meant for pregnant women.

   Are you a seahorse, Mr. Man? Or have you suddenly developed the ability to carry a child for any number of months, and then give birth? Because seahorses are one of the only species in which the male carries the babies. So unless you're pretty and living in the sea or Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior, get your butt out of that parking space! You're not doing anything to deserve it....but I promise you, that waddling pregnant woman who didn't get that spot because you were in it certainly does deserve it.

Thanks for listening,
Love,
Me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oh Hey October...

It occurred to me on Saturday: It's October. Next month is November. I'm having a baby next month.

Holy Cow.

Funnily enough, the holy cow isn't because I feel like it's coming too quickly and I'm not ready....it's because it's coming up fast and I am so excited. I can't believe how fast the time up until now has gone by...and how many changes I've endured these past 8 1/2 months thus far. I look back at how freaked out I was finding out I was pregnant...and how "not ready" I  thought I was. And now here I am, sitting in what is almost finished as our baby cave (half man cave, half nursery....gotta work with the space you have!), so ready to meet the little person inside me. I keep wondering if it's a girl or boy (though vibes are telling me boy now), how big he or she will be, what he or she will look like....I can't help but be so anxious for the day to come when the baby decides to make an entrance into the world. I can't help but realize how, actually, I really am ready.

And to be honest, labor isn't scaring me anymore either. While I'm not looking forward to the pain that I'm somewhat expecting to be in (though I'm told you can never truly expect what labor pain is until you've had it), I am looking forward to the experience of bringing my sweet little baby into this world. I am looking forward to the first few moments of gazing into my baby's eyes, and watching my husband lovingly hold our new bundle of joy. I'm looking forward to smelling that sweet, undeniable smell of a brand new baby...and really enjoying the fact that the brand new baby is mine.

Pregnancy has certainly had it's ups and downs...and in the next few weeks I'm anticipating many more (heck, I'm anticipating more in the next few hours. Let's be honest), but more and more these days I'm coming to appreciate all that I'm working towards with these ups and downs...and I'm anxiously awaiting the day when I get to really reap the reward.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Those Crazy Pregnancy Dreams

I've decided that pregnancy is easily the time in my life when my dreams have been so out of whack it amazes me. And I've decided that the dreams I've had at each stage of my pregnancy have reflected how I'm feeling in one way or another...

When I was first pregnant, my dreams were so outrageous and so crazed that I couldn't even verbalize what I was witnessing in my sleep. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed just right that those were the types of dreams I was experiencing because that's how I was literally feeling in life as well. My dreams were way out of sorts, and so was I, both physically and mentally. My emotions were all over the place, my body was taking this new experience and sending itself off the charts with things like insomnia (which, prior to pregnancy, I was the soundest sleeper ever) and morning (but really at night) sickness. It only made sense that as I was feeling like an out-of-whack crazy person, my dreams would reflect the same.

In my second trimester, as my craziness turned into being excited about the baby...but being very, very nervous about becoming a parent, my dreams again began to reflect my feelings. My once odd dreams suddenly became the most horrific nightmares I've ever experienced. Not because of monsters or murderers, but because I was seeing in my sleep my fears of parenting come true: the idea of losing a child without any control over the situation, the idea of losing my husband and feeling as though I couldn't be a parent anymore (which, I know would NEVER ever be the case), and worse. It made for some rough nights, that's for certain. And I was beyond grateful when those dreams ended.

Now that I'm about six weeks away from my due date, I'm finding that my dreams are reflecting my anxiousness and desire to have this baby. I keep dreaming about labor. Nothing else, just labor, in one form or another. It's funny because they're not dreams that scare me or wake me and make me think "this is not really going to happen, I can't do it"....they're dreams that almost disappoint me when I wake because they aren't really happening (minus the dream from last week where I was in labor, couldn't eat anything, and all of these visitors showed up to the delivery room with big pots of spaghetti and started chowing down in front of me while I'm trying to push out this baby). Like last night's for example...shortly before I woke up I had a dream that I had one big contraction and then my water broke. Imagine my disappointment when I opened my eyes and saw no such thing. And for the record, no, I'm not sad that I'm not in labor or close yet...obviously I know that this little nugget still has a few weeks of baking left....I'm more disappointed that I've still got that long to wait and see who's in there, and that I've got that long before I can hold, hug, kiss and share my little love.

Now, my curiosity turns to what my dreams will be about after the baby finally arrives....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How NFL Cheerleaders Made Me Cry.

On of my less-favorite parts about being a Military wife (besides separations, worry, deployments, uncertainty...) are a few of the visitors the USO sends to base to visit and sign autographs and pose for pictures. While we're always grateful to know that our men and families are supported and appreciated, sometimes those guests just aren't the most fun unless you're a guy with no shame in hitting on the hot women that are standing in the PX waiting to take a picture, flirt innocently back with you, and sign an autograph before you're on your way.

On occasion, we get some really great events and celebs. Take, for example, our 4th of July celebration. The Lt. Dan Band came and did a big concert. Yes, Lt. Dan (aka Gary Sinese) was really there, really sang, and was really awesome. It was family oriented, fun, and just flat out cool. Stuff like that I love.

But the fact of the matter is that most Military bases are composed of male servicemembers, many of whom are single, and therefore most of our visitors are geared towards them. Consequently, we see a lot of cheerleaders.

A few weekends ago the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders happened to be the visitors at our PX on a Saturday that Derek and I happened to be up on base, having lunch while we waited for his oil change to be done. And it happened to be a particularly uncomfortable "I feel like a whale and I walk like a duck" day for me. On top of the fact that I had discovered yet another round of battle scars (aka stretch marks) making their way up my growing belly.

Let's just say that those cheerleaders and their perfect hair, perfect smiles, perfect bodies with no unattractive marks covering their perfect abs and those damn teeny tiny uniforms were the last thing I really wanted to catch a glimpse of that day while I'm waddling around in maternity jeans with swollen ankles and the inability to see my feet.

I wanted to curse those perfect girls out.

And then I bawled like a baby.

Why? Why did it have to be that particularly lousy-feeling day that I had to see those reminders of the body I'll never have again? And why is it that I am so sad about this all?

I keep telling myself that it's not a horrible awful thing. My body is still my own, it's just a little different now, and for a very beautiful reason that I wouldn't change for the world. But telling myself that and believing it are two very different things apparently. It's a hard adjustment learning to love this new body...and preparing for it to be different once again after the baby arrives. It's going to be a process, but someday I'll get it.

And those cheerleaders can still bite me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Squished

You know that great aunt of yours (come on, everyone's got one) that just loves to squeeze you so tight you can't breath, squish your cheeks til they're red and get lipstick all over your face on Christmas? Well I've decided that late in pregnancy, we're all that aunt...well, maybe minus the bad red lipstick...

I feel like the baby is getting so big that I'm squeezing and squishing him or her all day long. I feel like there is just no more room in there for the baby to grow! I mean seriously....I get headbutted on the bladder all day long...and generally spend my days with either feet or a tushy pushed up in my ribs. So whereas I'm the one who's out of breath, the baby is the one that this Christmas aunt is squeezing and squishing and won't let go.

Rationally, I know that the baby is probably pretty comfy in there...but once in a while I have to wonder if some of those movements I'm feeling are his or her way of attempting to stretch out a bit....and I almost feel a little bad that I don't have any more room to give...

Eight more weeks, little one...and then you can have all the room you need in this big world...unless you'd just prefer the room in mommy's arms. Which is totally fine too <3

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Thousand Times Over...And Over...And Over

It's funny. In the beginning when people find out your pregnant, the advice and comments you get are encouraging and helpful. When you're nine or ten weeks along and feeling like poo, the words "it gets better" and "here's what I did that helped my sickness" are incredibly encouraging and helpful...and when you finally start feeling better, you're beyond grateful to those lovely encouraging people and their words that spoke no lie.

Then you hit the second trimester, and though this one is sometimes filled with inappropriate comments about the size of your belly....and worse, inappropriate touching of your belly, it's generally another trimester of people oogling over your growing, adorable self and reminiscing about how wonderful their own second trimesters may have been. It's not so bad. In fact, the second trimester kinda rocked.

Then came the third. And the eight million moms who come out of the woodwork and start telling you a thousand times over....and over....and over about how painful their deliveries were, how horribly long they were, how little sleep they got when their infant arrived. I've heard now about a million barfing baby stories, 200,000 breastfeeding horror stories, and so many poopy diaper stories that were so utterly gross, I've lost count and developed a way to look like I'm paying attention...but really I'm watching I Love Lucy in my head....

I don't really understand this concept of scaring the poo out of women who are weeks or a few short months away from giving birth. Is it really necessary to make mommyhood seem so awful, so messy, so exhausting and so BLAH that I almost kinda want to keep my kid in my belly forever? I mean, really...what is it about a hugely pregnant woman and the need to tell her about the sleepless nights and husbands who weren't super hands on?

I'm not a fan of this concept. I want to like being a new mommy. I don't want to look back and think of giving birth as this horrifically painful experience...I want to look at it for what it is: labor. It's work, it won't be easy...but the end result will be so worth it. And those sleepless nights, spit-ups, poops and breastfeeding troubles? The goal isn't to resent them or look back with disdain later down the road. The goal is to take everything as it comes and deal with it all...and then look back, appreciate the experiences...and laugh.

Now, that doesn't seem so bad...does it?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Surreal

As it gets closer and closer to the arrival of my little one, I'm finding myself often in a surreal state of mind about this whole thing. It still doesn't seem quite real to me that at any point within the next few months, I'll be holding a tiny little baby in my arms...and that the little peanut I'll be holding is mine.

It's funny because rationally I know it's coming. I'm obviously fully aware of the baby inside of me...and I'm obviously preparing for his or her arrival. I feel every move...every jab, kick, roll and stretch....and I pretty much watch them all at this point too. My apartment has gone from the home of two newly-weds to the home of two soon-to-be parents: we've moved from china patterns to bottle racks, and cook books to baby books. And I'm certainly feeling every physical and emotional strain that pregnancy takes on a woman...I'm tired, getting big, and starting to get achy and painy in ways I've never felt before (hello, sciatic nerve pain).

So yes, rationally I'm aware that I'm having a baby....but really, it still seems a bit unreal to me.

As a teenager I was a bit nerdy. Boyfriends weren't necessarily my forte...they never seemed to last long and I was always the one being dumped. As a result, at 17, I had fully convinced myself that I was going to be the girl that was single forever but who desperately didn't want to be. Yep, I said it. I was 17 when I convinced myself of that fact. Sad, I know....And then along came Derek, strolling into my senior Sociology class. It was all over at that point. When I was 18 we had our first date, when I was 21 we got engaged and when I was 23 we were married. I have proven my 17 year old self wrong.

However part of having convinced myself that I'd be alone forever was the fact that babies weren't going to happen either. Funnily enough I have always known that I was meant to be a mommy. Being raised Catholic we were always told that God has a plan for us...and somewhere deep inside I always knew His plan for me was to raise a family....I just didn't believe Him right away....

And now here I am, at 24, having a baby. And at almost eight months along, it's still just so surreal....

But in a very beautiful way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crafting = My Version of Nesting

Over the weekend I got the urge to get some things done for the nursery, and I must say I'm pretty proud of the two projects I finished! The changing table is all done and ready to go, the baby book is updated and I did a book crate that matches the changing table :) I'm thinking the next project is going to be a toy box and some shelves for storing blankies and stuffed animals...

Anyhoo...here are my two completed projects :)

Before and after of the changing table....

The drawers...










The book crate, featuring lines from "Talk To The Animals" from the Dr. Dolittle musical 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review Thursday: The Help

It's going to be a short post, but only because the best word to describe "The Help" is AMAZING.

I can honestly say that it was easily the best book I've ever read, and I highly recommend reading it. It's a book that made it easy to put yourself in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi while reading it....it brought me back to remembering and understanding just how recent civil rights was that eminent in our country....and brought me to a place where at times I wanted to be a young Southern woman who was best friends with Skeeter.

I had a really hard time putting this one down, and if you haven't read it yet, buy it or borrow it. You'll have a hard time dropping the book too.

"The Help" is available for download on the Kindle, and purchase on Amazon.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Short and Sweet...A Little Bit of Nesting

I've started getting the urge to get things really going for the baby...and I'm loving doing up the nursery. Today's project was taking the plain canvas drawers from the changing table and turning them into something special....

From plain and simple...


 To just a little bit special!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Baby Crap Explosion...And A Minor Freak Out

No, the explosion I'm talking about doesn't have to do with diapers...it's more or less the fact that my apartment has officially been taken over by the baby section of Target (pronounced Tar-Jay for those of you who like to be fancy). It looks like someone just dropped a big bomb of baby stuff and it exploded all over my home. I literally am a bit overwhelmed. Most of my baby registry has been bought up, and the UPS guy definitely knows us by name as the packages containing baby gifts keep coming. Not that I'm not grateful, because I certainly am. It's all things we will need for this peanut and I'm beyond thankful to receive it...I just don't think I was mentally prepared for my life to become one with less wine drinking at the neighbor's watching Sex and the City...and more milk drinking on my couch while reading pregnancy books...

Yesterday we took a trip to Target to buy a few things with gift cards we received at my shower. It was a good time, picking out things for the baby....I picked up some classic books that I think every kid should have (hello, Shel Silverstein books), we grabbed some basic onesies to get us started and a really cool bottle drying rack that looks like grass. It really was fun....and then I had a minor freak out.

It really is starting to hit me how quickly my pregnancy is going...and how soon our little one will be here. Tomorrow I am 29 weeks, which means that at some point within the next 11 weeks (or more if the baby decides) I'm going to be meeting the little person who's been growing inside of me. Sometime soon, I'm going to look my baby in the eyes...and really be a mommy. And while it's a totally amazing and beautiful thing...it's also pretty scary. I know I'm ready for it...but am I ready for it???

On top of the terrifying realization yesterday about how soon things are going to be happening, I also hit a low point on the "I feel giant and am tired of hearing it, seeing it, and dealing with it" scale. Derek and I went to lunch yesterday, and we were seated at a booth. As Derek is telling me how cute he thinks my belly is (what a guy, right?), I discover that restaurant booths are not meant for 7-month-pregger women. It was a depressing moment, realizing that I don't really fit into a booth right now. I know, I know. It's because I'm pregnant and it happens to lots of women...but it's not really a fantastic confidence booster when you're already feeling awkward, big, itchy and like an oversized duck with a waddle.

Sigh. Here's hoping for a happier, less terrifying and more self-confident day today...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Goodbye Pennsylvania, Hello Third Trimester

Well, it's official. I'm two thirds of the way done. The little bun in my oven is happily baking, and the timer is counting down!

Last week I made the trip home to Pennsylvania to see my family, and my mom threw me a beautiful baby shower. We had so much fun and family time was just what I needed to give me the extra boost for the third-trimester haul. I got a little pampered with a haircut from my favorite salon, a phenomenal mani-pedi from my place around the corner from my parent's house...and of course I was well fed :) Everything from an Italian hoagie to a cheesesteak to a rooftop dinner in the city...and of course the amazing food and *naturally* cupcakes at my shower!

And now we're at the point of just getting ready for baby to arrive. With Derek's schedule so wacky all the time, and him being home never a guaranteed thing, I'm finding the need to do a little nesting is starting to nudge me. I've assembled the changing table already, and we've rearranged some things in the man cave to turn it into the baby cave. I went out and bought a bottle of Dreft detergent to wash all of the baby's blankets, sheets and some of the clothes we have (which isn't much since Derek is the only one who knows what gender the baby is!)...and we've begun to assemble the rest of the items that are arriving at our apartment daily. I'm also pretty sure that I owe the UPS guy a batch of cookies for all the boxes he carries up the stairs to deliver to us! I know I've still got a few months to go, but it's keeping me stress-free knowing that things are getting done and that if Derek ends up going away for whatever reason prior to November, we won't have to be rushing to get it all ready too close to my due date.

Plus, baby stuff is just plain fun :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Short and Sweet: Will You Rub My Back?

A Friday night conversation with my husband that I hope you find as humorous as I later did:

Me: My back is killing me. I think you should be the awesome husband I brag about and give me a back rub.

Hubby: No thanks.

Me: Why not?

Hubby: My back hurts too. I rucked up a hill today.

Me: Wah.

Hubby: Well, what did you do today?

Me: (in a very matter-of-factly tone) Grew a baby.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

100 Days

It's a milestone day! Woo hoo for me and baby....according to my prego tickers, I'm 100 days out from my due date :)

Now, I fully realize that only about one percent of women actually deliver on their due dates, but it's still an exciting milestone to hit, regardless. Tomorrow I can count down from double digits, rather than the triples it's been the entire time, to my little nugget's arrival. Yay!

In celebration of 100 days to go, I'm sharing my favorite interesting pregnancy and baby facts...enjoy!

The world's longest pregnancy lasted 375 days, but the baby was born at only a little over 7lbs

After only 10 weeks in the womb, a baby can begin to favor usage of one hand over the other

More babies are born on Tuesdays than any other day of the week

The state with the highest birthrate is Mississippi

The world's first test tube twins were Stephen and Amanda Mays, born June 5, 1981

Babies born in May on average weigh 7 ounces more than babies born in other months of the year (perhaps the fact that the mommas are prego over Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter has something to do with that?)

A baby is born every 7 seconds

One in every 2,000 babies is born with a tooth

The most children born to one woman was 69, in which she had 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets

There are about 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year

Nigeria has the highest rate of twins in the world

30% of Dutch women opt for home births rather than hospital births, as opposed to about 1% in the United States

Over the past 6 decades, boy babies have outnumbered girl babies in the United States

The last organ to develop in babies are their lungs

The only male species in the world who can become pregnant are seahorses and sea dragons

A fetus acquires fingers prints within the first 3 months of development

Fewer babies are born on Sundays than any other day of the week

In the United States, more babies are born in July, August and September than any other months of the year

Vermont has the lowest birthrate in the country, with 10 babies born to every 1,000 people

By 25 weeks pregnant, most women's lungs and hearts are working 50% harder than normal

By 29 weeks, her blood volume has doubled and her kidneys are also working 50% harder

At 12 weeks gestation, a baby has formed fingernails and toenails

The average age of today's first time mom in the U.S. is 27

The odds of having quintuplets is 600,000 to 1

The only part of a woman's body that cannot change during pregnancy is her ears

It is believed that the Egyptians somehow used crocodile dung (gross!) as a form of contraceptive

Connecticut and Massachusetts have the highest rate of naturally conceived twins

According to a 2008 survey, potato chips, tacos and chocolate were the 3 most craved foods by pregnant women

Pregnant women are up to 50% more susceptible to sunburn (lotion up, ladies!)

The average baby goes through 7,500 diapers a year (better stock up!)

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day an official holiday

The average time it takes a man to change a diaper is 1 minute, 36 seconds

A baby's head accounts for 20% of it's weight

The original Gerber baby was Ann Turner

The first sense a baby fully develops in utero is hearing, though the others follow shortly

A baby can hear, see and feel in the womb....so touch your bellies and talk to your peanut!

A baby's heart beats at twice the rate of an adult's

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thank Your Mamas!

I've come to the conclusion that, while we always appreciate our moms and what they've done for us over the years, you can never truly appreciate your mom to the fullest until you're about to become a mom yourself...and maybe not even until you actually are a mom yourself.

I've been letting this idea stew in my head for several weeks. The thought first occurred to me when I was looking at myself in the mirror, examining all of the marks that pregnancy is so graciously giving me. Moms are pretty generous people to give up their bodies to these marks, just so we can exist. Especially since, at least for me and my marks, they're hideous. I for one am pretty grateful that my mom never held it against me...and seriously appreciative for all that her body went through for me to be here.

And lately the appreciation has just continued to grow. As the months pass and the baby's arrival gets closer, I'm learning that my life really isn't much my own anymore. Every decision, right down to what I eat, drink and what position I sleep in is being made not for me but for my baby. Every thought in my head about a decision I have to make comes with "is this going to be ok for the baby?" or "is this the right decision, now that I'm having a baby?". Just about everything I do I now have to consider the little one I'm about to bring in this world. And I know moms for centuries have had to do the same. And I'm grateful.

If your mom is a Military mom, really thank her. I've been learning throughout my pregnancy that as an Army mommy, I'm not only preparing to be a parent...I'm preparing to be a single parent who just happens to be married to the father of my children and living with him. Making decisions like what job is going to allow me the most stability for when my husband deploys or goes away for training, and thinking in my head that I need to plan for things like who can watch my kid in an emergency since my family is 3,000 miles away. It's all part of preparing to really be a Military family. These realizations especially have made me appreciate other Military moms....and every civilian single mom out there...ten times more. Everything has to be 100% about your kids all the time, almost, because there isn't always a daddy around to help with the load.

Moms are incredibly strong women who go through some pretty extreme changes, from those on their body to those in their lives, just for all of us to exist. I gotta, say, I'm pretty grateful to my mom for all that she's done and gone through for my brothers and I....and I hope you can be equally as grateful. But I will say this....becoming a mommy myself has made me look at my mom and truly, truly appreciate her in a whole new light.

So thanks, Mom.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review Thursday

On a Kindle store recommendation, based on my purchase of "Belly Laughs" by Jenny McCarthy, I downloaded "Taboo Secrets of Pregnancy: A Guide to Love with a Belly". Sadly, this was probably my least favorite Kindle rec ever.

The book is written by Michelle Smith MS, SLP and Leslie Fossen, and while it proves to show an interesting point of view with one of the authors being pregnant for the second time as she was writing the book, I found it to seem like a much less funny version of McCarthy's book. And not one I will probably read again. I found that the book tried to mix factual information with humor...and that it wasn't the best mix out there. In reading this book I decided it would have been better to read "Belly Laughs" over and supplement with a day-by-day pregnancy book I had received as a gift. That combination was easily more informative, and much more hilarious than "Taboo Secrets".

I never really like to give any book a poor review, but this one I have to say, was just not worth the $7 Amazon charged for it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dealing With Anxiety

Today I'm feeling the need to discuss something that affects pregnant women more than you might think, yet is something that is not commonly discussed: anxiety. And I'm not talking about the "normal" mommy-jitters...I'm talking about the kind of anxiety that makes you worry about every little thing, and stress out unnecessarily during a time when you're already emotional enough as it is.

I've always been an anxious, easily stressed out person. It's something I constantly work on, but also something I wasn't expecting to affect me so much during pregnancy. As someone who is predispositioned to experience anxiety, pregnancy, especially early on, has proved to be a challenging time in dealing with stressors and anxious feelings.

I experienced what I had assumed were normal fears when I first found out I was pregnant: am I really going to have to squeeze out a kid the size of a watermelon? How are we going to make room for a baby in our relatively small apartment? Can we afford this? I'm really having a baby??? Sure, these are normal fears for any first time (and probably second, third and so on) mom. But it was when these fears escalated into much more, and caused me much more stress, that I knew this was not quite "normal".

Pretty early on I was panicked about the potential to miscarry. Once I had gotten over the initial shock of being pregnant, I was excited to know that I had a little life growing inside of me...and petrified that with a rate of up to 20% of women my age having a miscarriage, I could lose that little life. My fears of miscarrying became so intense that at any little tweak or odd feeling in my abdomen, I was checking to make sure that I was showing no signs of having lost the baby. Even more so, my fears of miscarrying developed into a fear of going to the doctor...and them not being able to find the baby's heartbeat.

My irrational fears and anxieties only became worse from there. Feeling the baby move for the first time on Easter was a really exciting occasion for me...but when I didn't feel any movement for several days after, I worried...even though I knew in my head it was totally normal. And when I experienced round-ligament pain for the first time, and didn't realize what it was, I worried that maybe I had moved wrong somehow and had seriously injured my baby...who I knew was well protected in my belly.

After irrationally fearing that I had broken my baby's neck by bending the wrong way, I knew I needed to take up my concerns with my doctor. I didn't want to be stressing out and spending the rest of my pregnancy being an overly-anxious worry wort. I found that discussing my fears with my doctor was a great idea. She reassured me that the baby was fine, even letting me listen to the heartbeat for several minutes just for my piece of mind. She answered my questions about my crazy fears with great comfort, reminding me that my baby is fine, healthy and safe. And she gave tools, not medicine, to help me be able to reassure myself when fear and anxiety takes over. My doctor has made it comfortable for me to call the office with any questions or concerns I have, no matter how big or small they may be, and has provided me with the knowledge and resources to become more comfortable and less anxious with being pregnant.

Now at 25 weeks, I'm feeling good. As the baby has grown, I've become more comfortable and less anxious worrying about if everything is ok in there. Now that I can feel my little peanut move and thrive, and even react, I am more secure in knowing that everything is ok. And talking to my doctor proved to be a helpful tool in maintaining my fears and getting me to the point where the most stressful thing about being pregnant was eating right and picking out a theme for the nursery (or baby-cave, as my husband affectionately calls it).

As a stubborn person, I've always disliked asking for help. I'd rather do things myself...but in this case I learned, sometimes you just need to open your mouth. Help isn't always a bad thing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday!

Neely's Lime Bar Recipe, from Down Home With the Neelys on Food Network
I've made this dessert before, and it's the perfect summer treat! Super easy, and seriously yummy


Ingredients

Cookie crust:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch kosher salt

Lime topping:

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or bottled key lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch cake pan with nonstick spray.
To make the crust, combine the butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and mix another minute until well combined *Cook's Note: The cookie crust dough can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, then wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator. When you're ready to bake the bars, simply bring the dough to room temperature and pat out as described above.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, and pat out to an even thickness over the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, and cook on a baking rack.
To make the topping, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, and whisk until just combined, then whisk in the lime juice and zest. Pour the lime topping over the cooled crust, then bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Allow the bars to cool completely. Generously dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares. *Cook's Note: For the neatest presentation, use a metal spatula or a butcher's scraper to remove the bars from the pan. Leftovers will keep for 2 or 3 days at room temperature, or for up to a week in the refrigerator.

and our cocktail: Perfectly Fresh Margaritas again, super yummy, and this recipe makes a pitcher for 6
1 1/2 cups gold tequila
3/4 cup of triple sec
3/4 cup fresh lime juice, or more if a tangier margarita is desired
2 tablespoons of sugar
8 cups of crushed or blended ice
6-8 lime wheels (not wedges)
salt to rim, and lime wedges to garnish
Combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice and sugar in a pitcher, and stir to completely dissolve sugar. Add crushed ice and fresh lime wheels, stir lightly. Rim margarita glasses with salt and garnish with a lime wedge to serve. Enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review Thursday...on Friday

Don't hate me, Mommy readers. I definitely chose a much needed nap yesterday over writing the book review.

So here it is on Friday...

Today I'm reviewing "Belly Laughs" by Jenny McCarthy.

There is one word which best describes this book: HILARIOUS! I purchased this book when I was newly pregnant, as a little a little "maybe this will make me laugh about how crazy emotional I am" book. Let me tell you, easily one of the best pregnancy purchases, besides maternity jeans, that I have made to date.

McCarthy takes a ballsy and hilarious approach when it comes to describing the different stages and ailments of pregnancy, and even early motherhood. Her no-holds-bar approach to describing "the mask of pregnancy", the need to constantly pee...and even pregnancy gas (which, the chapter is entitled "Did a Sewer Tank Explode, or Did You Just Fart?"...the title alone had me in tears laughing) is enough to send any woman, pregnant or not, into a good fit of giggles.

Jenny McCarthy also takes a serious note in the book to discuss her difficult labor, and is quite frank about her experience, which I personally found refreshing. It's easy to appreciate her honesty when describing her not-so-easy birthing experience, and easy to appreciate the fact that she still finds the means to wrangle a chuckle in telling the story.

"Belly Laughs" is a really easy read (I did it in a few hours), but one you'll find yourself going back to read again and again. I highly recommend this book to pregos everywhere...and even those who aren't currently expecting. The humor is funny, the tone is light and this book is just genuinely enjoyable.

"Belly Laughs" is available on Amazon.com, and for download on the Kindle. It was also followed up by the books "Baby Laughs" and "Life Laughs".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yes, There Is Only One In There. Thanks.

Going right along with the fact that pregos do not appreciate fat jokes (as discussed in this post a few weeks ago), today I'm discussing the fact that we also don't appreciate the comments on how huge or tiny people think we look...that aren't meant to be jokes.

Let me start by saying this: it's not really a compliment to any pregnant woman when you tell her she looks big for how far along she is...or that she looks tiny. Telling her she looks big is like saying "holy cow you giant prego monster!" and telling her she looks too tiny is like saying "is your baby really ok in that teeny bump? It looks too small". First off comments like that can make any woman worry "do I really look that bad?", "have I gained too much or to little?" and even "hmmm...is my baby really ok in there?" Second off, do you really think that makes her feel good??? Not so much.

Now, do you want to be the culprit of an innocent pregnant woman's worry? I didn't think so.

This past week has been a particularly no-holds-bar week when it comes to what people say to me. No less than twice I've been asked if I was sure there was only one baby in my belly. No less than twice I've been told how a woman didn't pop until she was as pregnant as me, and looked about as big as I did when she delivered. And I've heard multiple versions of the phrase "you're huge!". It's not really a great confidence booster. And it's led me to the need to write about it.

If you've never been pregnant before (and even if you have and need a reminder), please learn this: every woman's body is different. Every woman shows at a different time and carries differently...but no woman appreciates unwarranted comments about her changing body, whether they were meant to be funny or genuine. For myself I can say that I happened to start showing fairly early on in my pregnancy. Not that it's anyone's business, but I had lost some weight prior to becoming pregnant, and according to my doctor it's normal for a woman who loses weight and then gets pregnant immediately to "pop" early. And I've only continued to grow since then. I can also say that I was quite bloated, as many women can be, up until almost 20 weeks...which means my bump appeared to be more swollen and protruded than it actually was. And now that I'm 24 weeks, my baby is right on schedule with what he or she should be weighing (according to the ultrasound) and I am too. So yes, there is only one in there!

Funnily enough, the women who discussed their tiny-ness with me were at least 4 inches taller than me. Let me tell you how much of a difference that makes in carrying a child. They had a good amount more torso than I do to carry that child, so naturally they're going to carry smaller than me. And the people who called me huge were either men, or clearly clueless women. So I guess I have to chuckle at the stupidity of it all. But still, words hurt and make you feel bad regardless.

So please, dear people of the world, be kind to pregnant women. Don't tell us how huge or how tiny we look. It doesn't make us feel good either way. Why not try the phrase "you look wonderful" instead?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It Feels Like Rocks In My Legs!

Ah, the ever pleasent joys of pregnancy...morning sickness first, then comes the heartburn...and now, leg cramps.

HOLY. COW.

I used to get leg cramps really badly when I was younger, especially when going through growth spurts. And even as an adult if I'm slagging on calcium or vitamins in general, I get them. But nothing compares to pregnancy leg cramps. They are officially ruthless.

I was hoping to be able to stave them off since I'm on prenatal vitamins (and taking them religiously every night), and mostly craving milk and dairy products. But as I've been informed by my doctor, leg cramps are unbiased to pregnant women, whether you're up on your vitamins or not. And apparently they hurt twice as bad as normal ones do...and stretching only goes so far to help.

My first experience with them came last week, when I awoke at 2 am to a sensation I can only describe as feeling like someone was pushing rocks around in my calves. And when I say calves, I meant plural. Yes, my friends, I had the pleasent experience of having both legs cramp up at the same exact time. Delightful, I know. I've had them twice since, and they show no sign of stopping...So I just keep telling myself that November is coming...and eventually I'll look back on the aches and pains of pregnancy...and decide to do it again.

And so to say that I think I'm getting the full on pregnancy experience, in my opinion, would be a fair statement. Morning sickness, heartburn, leg cramps and all. Naturally, there are plenty of upsides to pregnancy...but those are definitely for another post :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Daycare Chronicles

Recently a friend of mine came to me looking for advice on choosing a daycare for her daughter. Like many Americans, it's not an option for my friend to stay home, rather her household is a "2-incomes-necessary" machine. Having worked in a daycare, I was happy to give her a few tips...and now I'm happy to share them with you.

My first advice to anyone looking into daycare is this: when you walk in the front door, the facility should be clean, the staff should be friendly, and the kids should sound and appear happy. If one of those things are off, raise a red flag...with the exception of happy sounding and appearing kids...this one keep in mind that boo boos happen, time outs are majorly disliked, kids miss their parents...and just generally melt down. If you walk in and hear the sounds of an unhappy child, give it the benefit of the doubt. You never know who's mommy just left, who's in time out, or who bonked their little head.

Second, before you take a tour, sit down and talk to an administrator. At the preschool I worked at, it was standard procedure for a visiting parent to fill out some basic information, be given background for the school and have the opportunity to talk about their children and ask questions. Getting a feel for who is working in the office and who is directing the school is always a good move (and, might I say, my directors were awesome). If you don't have questions right away, don't freak out. Take the time to think about things you want to know while you're on the tour.

I always recommend, when it comes to taking a tour, that you see each classroom, meet each teacher and see the general facility. As a teacher, I never minded saying hello to parents who were touring the school...and let me tell you, the kids never minded saying hello either. It's never a bad thing to take a peek at who could potentially be your child's daycare teacher as he or she grows within the school, and even to meet the kiddos your kid will be growing and playing with.

I also say this: don't be put off by a daycare teacher's attire unless it's completely inappropriate. Yes, generally speaking, teachers dress nicely. But you're meeting teachers at a daycare or preschool. This is a whole different world. Whereas teachers in a grade school and above can wear crisp white shirts and perfectly ironed pants, preschool teachers cannot. Let me tell you just how quickly that crisp shirt would wrinkle and get boogers from a teary-eyed two year old all over it. And forget neatly ironed pants. That's just asking for glitter (well, at least in my classroom) and glue to ruin them completely. For preschool teachers, comfort and functionality are key...jeans and yoga pants are staples!

Now, when touring, ask yourself...do the classrooms, while potentially may have floors scattered with books or toys...or even Cheerios...appear clean? And safe? Are they decorated in a friendly manner? How do the bathrooms look? And does the changing station seem functional and safe? Where are lunches stored? Is there a refrigerator for perishable items? And how do the playgrounds appear? Are they well kept, with sturdy equipment and gates or fences that latch shut and/or are completely secure?

When you finish touring, don't hesitate to ask any questions that come to your mind. The more you ask, the better informed you'll be. I also suggest asking if the school does a monthly newsletter, and if you can have a copy in addition to any paperwork or information they may give you.

Finally, go with your gut. If you've done the whole shtick, touring and all, and something seems off...it probably is. And it's probably not the daycare for you. Daycare is a place you should feel safe and comfortable leaving your child...not a place where you feel you should worry!

And remember, when you do chose a daycare, the first drop off is always the worst...for the parent. I promise, you'll hate it more than your kid will.