Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week 39 Update

Lauren (my 5 year old niece, greeting me at my parent's house)- I want to see your baby.
Me- The baby is still in my belly, but you can say hello.
Lauren- (nuzzles up and gives my belly a kiss) I want to see the baby come out of your belly.
Me- Hmm no one really wants to see that, how about we call you to come meet the baby as soon as he/she is ready for visitors.
Lauren- Ok....can I name the baby?
Me- Well Uncle Chris and I were planning on naming the baby. But you can make a suggestion if you'd like.
Lauren- Ariel.

Still Pregnant!
It's Saturday, I'm due on Tuesday.  I'm sitting out on the deck right now, it is gorgeous out. At this point we are trying to stay close to home and close to the hospital. Chris is playing tennis with a friend in our Condo's courts because he doesn't want to leave my side :) We'll venture out today but definitely chilling, it's so nice out I want to be out and about but at the same time I know I should be resting up. 
Feeling good this week, no Braxton-Hicks yet, my energy level is still pretty much the same but I am still catnapping here and there when I can. I sleep on the recliner for a few hours in the night to give my hips a break and that seems to really help. It allows me to wake up in the morning without being in pain. I'm still getting out walking, the low back is still trouble but lots of ice. 
Went to the doctors this week, met the fourth doctor in the practice, again really like him as well as the other three- I have no preference really as to who ends up delivering. They are all really nice, seem to enjoy what they do and explain things really well. I like that this practice is what I call a little crunchy-granola, one doctor a few weeks ago mentioned that they want to intervene as little as possible and just let things go the course. I like that. 
I'm really in no hurry, I want to know what the gender of the baby is definitely and I can't believe we are going to meet the little one soon but otherwise as with my entire pregnancy I'm just try to enjoy everyday. 
Got to catch up with some friends this week so that's good, I know the next time I'll see them I'll be sleep-deprived and out of it. I did some reading up on the nursing this week, I know I am a hands-on, trial and error learner but I found it helpful to read some information. I'm not sure I'll remember any of it for that first feeding but I know that's what the nurses are there for. Then I think as additional feedings occur and as the nurses mention tips and tricks I'll remember reading it and that should help me. I really just want to focus on learning how to nurse while I'm in the hospital, I'm not going to worry about anything else- visitors, etc. As far as I am concerned all of that can wait but establishing a good nursing routine is critical. I hope it all works out for me and the little one, but we will just have to see how it goes.
I'm also reading Harvey Karp's 'The Happiest Baby on the Block' it's been helpful. I don't want to become one of those people that reads one book and takes it as gospel but I appreciate that he is a Pediatrician and am definitely drinking the Kool-Aid a bit with the whole missing fourth trimester theory and that recreating the womb as much as you can is what will soothe the baby. Based on his book and the information I have read from the AAP and other sources on nursing it does seem like there is no scientific basis for spoiling the baby when it is a newborn. Feeding around the clock, holding the baby lots, and nurturing him/her for the first few months is really the job at hand and isn't going to spoil the baby. But with everything it's just a wait and see situation. 
I am still doing a few things in the baby's room but just organizing, nothing that needs to get done before he or she gets here.  I think at this point we are all set up to give the cloth diapers a try, we have a starter kit, as well as a cleaning system in place. We got the sprayer that hooks up to the water on the toilet for easing solids removal and we also got a bucket with a lid to make up a water/Bac-out solution to store the to-be-washed diapers in. I figure the first week or so we'll use disposables then try out the cloths for during the day. If it goes well I think I will invest in a second set of the cloth diapers (currently have 6 but 12 is the recommended amount). But my motto is just see how it goes, like with some many other things. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 38 Update

The home stretch!
Still feeling really good which is pretty amazing and I know I am lucky to still be feeling good. The most trouble I have at this point is sleeping comfortably through the night and since I know a full night's sleep is going to be missing from my life coming up soon I am ok with this symptom, especially since I can catnap. And catnap I do. Also I need to elevate my legs a lot in order to keep the blood flow to my toes, otherwise my legs swell and it's uncomfortable. 
We went to the doctor almost two weeks ago and had the final ultrasound done. The baby was being camera-shy (he/she gets that from me!) so when the technician toggled to the 3-D format to get us a nice facial picture the baby was not cooperating, hands in mouth the whole time. So no 3-D picture but we can wait seeing as we are going to meet the little one soon enough. I was surprised to hear from the doctor that the estimated weight of the baby then was only a little over 5 pounds, even though that is totally normal at the week count we were at I thought the baby would be bigger especially taking into consideration that at the end of March another doctor (they rotate in this practice so we see different ones for the various appointments) commented that the baby would be big. But it just goes to show that you can't take too much stock in a one-off comment. Since the baby is only about 5 pounds I do hope we make it to/near the due date (June 10th) so the baby packs on a few more pounds and is a nice healthy weight upon arrival.
This was taken on Mother's Day before we heading out for a walk. Loving that one pair of my shorts fit and some of my favorite comfy t-shirts still fit over my ever growing bump.

At this point, and hopefully I am not jinxing myself, I am pleasantly surprised with how well my body has handled being pregnant. I've heard that chronic pain and pregnancy can be a rather uncomfortable combination and I always just planned on it being a tough experience. I remember saying once to Chris that 'being pregnancy was going to be...' and as I said 'challenging' he said 'terrible' in context of my normal, everyday pain. October was definitely rough with throwing out my back and I still have this low, low back pain localized to the left side that acts up after cardio-walking but it's nothing that ice and my regular chiropractor appointments can't minimize. I know a huge reason why I have had success is due to my low stress work and because I get to work from home. It's crazy to think how things work out, all for a reason seeing as my forced career change from my previous work was a very hard blow to suffer. Looking back I know that job was way too demanding and stressful for someone with my pain situation and I know being pregnant and working that job would have resulted in a much different pregnancy for me. 
In terms of the master to-do list, things are looking good. I'm working on a mellow playlist to load onto Chris's iPod that we can play during labor and delivery. I was and still am on the fence as to what kind of music I want to listen to while in labor. I prefer faster-paced rock and metal for the most part but I'm not sure if I'll want to listen to that while dealing with labor. We are not very high-tech when it comes to devices so we both just have old iPod shuffles that can't handle more than one playlist. So my plan is to make a mellow playlist on Chris's shuffle and then if I have time a more rocking one on my iPod then bring both and see what I am in the mood for. The hospital bag is packed, as much as it can be and Chris even put it in his truck the other day. We'll need to throw some additional items in a tote when we are heading out but most everything is in the bag already. Chris installed the car seat and I threw together a basic diaper bag to leave in the trunk since we got a new one at the shower and hand-me-down, I figured might as well just have one in the trunk  at all times (for the first few months we are only going to have one vehicle that works to drive the baby around but in a way that makes things simpler because we know the baby will only be in that one car). Stuff around the condo and in the baby's room is pretty much done. I'll plan to do some more organizing if time allows but if not, no big deal.  I've been reading up on labor and delivery, as well as general infant care and I plan to read up on nursing as well. My thoughts on reading about the whole nursing thing are if I get to it I get to it but otherwise I'm much more of a hands-on learner so it's not until I actually have the baby that I will really learn and I know they will give me plenty of help and advice in the hospital.
Food-wise I feel like the bottomless pit, even if I don't feel particularly hungry I just want to eat and eat. Still not really having any cravings, a few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night craving Gatorade. Now one would think this is because I'm not getting enough hydration, but I drink around 100 ounces of water a day, which is crazy. I think the need to quench my thirst may have to do with the whopping dose of thyroid hormone I am taking since I know it can cause dry mouth. I bought the powder mix of Gatorade and have been making batches of it and have gone through the majority of it in a few weeks. 
Baby J is pretty active in there, although I suspect he/she is running out of room. At this point I feel like we are bonding when he/she kicks me and I usually rub my belly where I can feel the baby kicking. It generally makes me laugh and reminds me to talk to the baby. We are almost finished reading 'The Phantom Tollbooth' and I might even have time to start the first Harry Potter before the big arrival. At this point I'm not really in a hurry to deliver, I'm still comfortable, the weather isn't too hot (yet) and I'm enjoying the quiet time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baby J's Nursery

I was a little all over the place when it came to deciding the theme of the baby’s room. I love so many pop culture things that I wanted to put in the room that I couldn’t settle on one thing. Plus in terms of making blankets I knew I wouldn’t be able to find character fabric to coordinate with the characters that I wanted to paint on the walls. So ultimately the baby’s room is a mishmash of different characters, bright colors, animals, and DIY. The second bedroom in our condo was already painted a fun, bold blue-we both love the color blue and we aren’t finding out the gender so we decided to stick with it and add pops of lime green- which makes the color scheme that of Monsters, Inc. Babies R’Us actually has adorable Monsters, Inc.  nursery décor and had I known that going into decorating I might have just committed to one theme but it was too late for that by the time I saw what they had. With the blankets I stuck with the blue and lime green theme and went with various animals and geometric patterns. The characters we included in the room are Winnie the Pooh, Baby Muppets, and Baby Mario from the Super Mario video games. See what I mean about being all over the place?
                I wanted to do some sort of a wall mural in the nursery but knowing I’d be pretty pregnant by the time I actually did it I wanted to cut myself as much slack as possible. Even though I am successful at drawing cartoon characters I have never painted them on a wall. So I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea of finding images online I wanted to use, tracing them onto transparencies and then renting an overhead projector to project the images onto the wall to trace. I really wanted to do Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, and Baby Princess Peach- I thought it was a nice way to tie in two things that Chris & I both love- I love Mario (plus my eBay Mario stuffed characters collection will be displayed in the nursery) and these characters appear in MarioKart, a racing game and Chris loves racecars (and some of his racecars will be displayed in the baby’s room). I planned to incorporate the character’s racecars as toys into the mural. I first focused on these characters- there weren’t tons of options to choose from online for images and they were all separate, so I picked three individual images for the characters and then scaled down Mario and Peach’s racecars to put next to them as toys, putting the overall design together myself. I couldn’t really find exactly what I wanted for Peach’s car so I ended up drawing it myself. After I got all the images onto transparencies I went to my local craft store and picked up all the paint I needed (on sale! Woohoo for planning ahead). Originally I was going to get wall paint in sample sizes from Lowe’s but Chris had the idea of using craft paint and I’m glad he did because the smell of real paint has bothered me throughout my entire pregnancy.
                As more time went by before the project was launched I realized there was no harm in finding images for my other favorite characters- the Muppets and since it’s for a baby’s room, the Muppet Babies.  I was strategic about picking the characters since I wanted the colors to match up with the Mario characters, both for continuity and also because I already bought the paint and figured it’d be nice to not have to buy an entire separate set of colors. Mario and Luigi are primarily green, blue, and red and Peach is blonde with pink clothes- which perfectly matches with three main Muppet characters- Kermit (green), Gonzo (blue with red), and Miss Piggy (pink clothes with blonde hair) unfortunately that meant that Fozzie Bear was left out. I was able to find a lot of images online for these three and I quickly selected an image of Kermit and Gonzo riding a bike together, and an image of Miss Piggy also riding a bike- I thought this coordinated with the racecar theme of the Mario characters. I traced these to transparencies and figured I’d just see how it went the day of the project as to whether I was going to do both murals on two separate walls.
                The day we rented the overhead projector we started by projecting the images on the wall, one grouping at a time (in the moment we decided what the heck let’s at least trace out both while we have the projector rented for the weekend, we could always just paint over it with blue if we decided to only do one mural). First we traces the outline only of the overall picture in chalk, then Chris painted within the chalk outline with primer. 

We opted to work exclusively on getting the outline of one set of characters with the transparencies in place (we taped it to the machine while working) even if we turned the machine off this ensured it would lie up while we were getting the outline on the wall.  So we waited for the primer to dry fully before I went back and did all of the outlining for the characters with black paint. 

After that was done, we repeated the process for the Mario characters.  Once the characters were fully outlined in black we were done with the overhead projector and then it was just a matter of coloring in the characters.  I took my time with this, doing the colors over several days. We love the way it came out and I am so happy we used the projector.

             Since we have a two bedroom condo and not a sprawling house, we have an in-one, out-one policy with furniture so if we bought all new furniture for the baby it would have meant getting rid of some of our furniture. I really didn’t want to part with my grandfather’s desk and book case so we decided to rework both pieces, the desk will be used as the changing table and the book case was updated from black to the lime green and will house mostly my books for now but the babies as well. 

Chris built a shelf to attach to the back of the desk and painted that lime green as well to give storage for wipes, diapers, lotions, etc. We ordered a changing table pad and he built a box for the pad to sit in so the height is more ergonomic for my back. 

We did splurge and get a pricey nursing glider in a durable, light blue fabric with a recliner which means we’ll be getting rid of Chris’s old beat-up recliner. Randomly on Ebay one night I found the cutouts to make Muppet Baby pillows, so I impulse-bought Baby Beaker and Baby Bunsen to stuff and sew.

 In terms of wall décor, we are sticking with some things that were already in the room like a framed puzzle we did of a hot air balloon festival and an original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie poster (fitting since I’ve already read the book to the baby). We also ordered a ‘Wookie the Chew’ print from artist James Hance who wrote and illustrated the book of the same name (which, sadly, is currently unavailable) the book is a mash-up of Winnie the Pooh and Star Wars (another favorite pop culture thing of ours).
We are waiting on our hand-me-down crib from my brother and sister-in-law which will go on the wall where the Mario characters are, I got some cute Monster's Inc. sheets and some lime green polka dot ones as well for it. And the crib mobile is Winnie the Pooh, to continue with our pop culture mash-up!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Planning ahead: Cooking

         Ok, so I have talked about planning ahead as much as I can with some of the regular day-to-day stuff. I have put together the comprehensive grocery shopping list as well as to-do list for cleaning in the condo to help both Chris and I in the later stages of my pregnancy as well as the first few months of being parents. I have also printed up a 'When to pay bills' list because I am worried I’m going to forget when various bills are due.

          Another extension of the food category is cooking up some freezer meals to store for easy meal prep when the baby is here. This is recommended for any new parents but for me this is particularly important. If we don't plan ahead and freeze some meals we'll be eating take-out every night and even with my prescription stomach medicine my stomach would not be able to handle living off of take-out. In addition if I am successful with nursing I won’t be able to take my prescription that allows me success in occasionally eating foods that are full of flavor, spice, oil- pretty much anything from a restaurant (I am hoping with the help of my dear Lactaid pills I will still be able to eat take-out pizza in moderation). So for nursing moms it is important to continue to eat healthy after pregnancy but for this mom planning to nurse it is essential. As long as I eat basic, healthy meals I should be ok to go without my prescription med while I nurse (as you can imagine it is largely a quality of life medicine, certainly not a necessity and thus I can make the call on my own about not taking it if I want to nurse). In order to ensure we eat healthy and not order out for the first few crazy months, I wanted to tuck away a decent amount of meals in the freezer that we can just heat up when we are sleep deprived, new parents.
I started a few weeks ago and made my chicken pot pie and taco pot pie both of which I have previously frozen and cooked up in the oven a few months later. Next I took to Pinterest where I found a great pin linked up to a blog written by a mother, who at the time of writing the post was very pregnant with her second child. She had somewhat similar reasons for wanting to ensure she was going to be able to eat healthy during the first few months with the new baby and she provided a list of crock pot meals that can be thrown in a freezer bag, thawed in the fridge 24 hours ahead of time, and dumped into the crock pot to cook up when wanted.  I took a couple of her recipes and then went back to Pinterest for some more- quickly finding pins under the ‘freezer crock-pot meals’ search. As one would suspect, most of these recipes involve chicken, so I tried to diversify looking for recipes with different proteins, also I have this general policy of trying to add one more vegetable to most recipes if they seem lacking to me. For example for the Thai chicken dish, I added broccoli as well since when I make a fresh peanut sauce chicken dish I include it. Broccoli was listed as an ingredient for some of the other freezer meals and it’s pretty hearty so I figure it will freeze well. I initially found three chicken dishes- the Thai chicken dish, a chicken tortilla soup, and a honey-lime chicken (this one has no veggies in it, just pineapple but I left is as is because I wasn't sure what vegetable to toss in), and three beef dishes- a Mongolian beef recipe with carrots, a chili, and a Mexican beef and sweet potato recipe. I tried to find a group of recipes that used different proteins, veggies, and flavor profiles.
I should have taken more pictures while I was prepping the meals, the chicken tortilla soup for example was so colorful it looked delicious making it tough to put it in the freezer for later. Speaking of the prep, the blogs I got these recipes from did all the meal prep in one day, I didn't go that route. I bought the ingredients for one or two recipe(s) per week and in some cases chopped the veggies and stuck them in the freezer bag in the fridge for a day and then added the rest of the ingredients the next day. I definitely paced myself. Also when looking to take pictures of my finished work, I noticed one of the beef meals already has some freezer burn on it, I must not have got all the air out of the bag so if you are planning on doing these kind of meals make sure you get all the air out!

 I’m a bit nervous about freezing, thawing, and cooking but hopefully they will turn out good, since I didn't plan far enough ahead to test a recipe out fully (freeze for a month or so, thaw and cook it up before the baby arrives). For each the recipe instructs you to defrost in the fridge for a day before you throw it in the crock-pot. Also if they needed anything else added to the crock-pot (only one did- lots of chicken broth) or should be served with a rice or noodle I wrote that on the freezer bag with the name of the dish and the date.  Our freezer has never been so full! Although I read somewhere it's less energy to keep a well stocked freezer cold than it is to keep an empty one cold so that's good. The nice thing about all of these recipes is they should serve for at least two meals for the both of us so there are 2 pot pies and 6 crock pots meals in the freezer- the pot pies have 6 servings each and the crock pot meals should at least get us 4 servings (in some cases I scaled down the amount of protein used since it's just the two of us and although we love having leftovers we try to only make enough of a given meal for two additional servings per person otherwise we get sick it). So there is at least 16 meals in that freezer. The other thing that is nice is I paid for the meals while I am still working so while on maternity leave when money is a little tight the grocery bill will be less. 
Another idea I read, or actually heard on a YouTube video embedded in an article with helpful tips about first-time parenthood, was making a grocery list and putting aside the cash for it and asking a family member or close friend to food shop for you the day before or the day you are scheduled to come home with the little one. I definitely plan on doing this so we know we’ll have fresh milk, fruits, and veggies for when we come home! We'll also plan to stock up on some of the basic, non-perishable items each time we go to the market. For us that is cereal, canned corn, canned black beans, chicken broth, macaroni n' cheese, and my guilty pleasure Pasta Roni which I at least now always add some vegetables to in order to make them more of a meal. 

Here are the links to the original blogs I got these recipes from-,  these two blogs had the recipes for the crock-pot meals I used (and in some cases slightly adapted to get more veggies in the recipe or make smaller overall meals). Unfortunately I can't find the link to the helpful article about being a first time mom, with the video that suggested preparing a grocery list for a family member to buy and deliver to your house while you are in the hospital. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Baby Shower!

My baby shower was great, a beautiful day in early April, surrounded by lots of family and friends who showered us with tons of gifts for the little one. My mom let me partake in some of the prep because that’s just the way I am, so she kept me informed of all the major decisions as well which was nice. There were about 40 people there and my mom booked a private room at our favorite, local Chinese food restaurant.  Admittedly the Chinese food menu was a little out of the ordinary for a shower, but it was so yummy and I was looking forward to it in the weeks leading up to it. Since it was a few weeks before Easter my mom stuck with an Easter theme (which went nice with not knowing the gender, lots of pastels) she ordered a cake and cookies from her favorite baker friend. The cookies were made to look like Peeps- pink bunnies and blue chicks with little chocolate morsels for eyes and the cake was a strawberry flavor with peppermint frosting, decorating in white with real peeps and jelly beans on top. It said ‘There is wonder in the waiting!’ which is a cute phrase we saw on several of the cards as well. There was also Easter candy spread about on tables and in the little goodie bags the guests took home. 
            The guests played Baby Shower Bingo using a game card I created, I ended up making my own but used the good old internet for inspiration. The premade ones weren’t quite what I wanted, especially since the game is largely based on the presents you open and since we are getting a lot of hand-me-down items from my brother and sister-in-law we didn’t have all the standard items on our list. So I decided to go through and create my own bingo sheet in PowerPoint and then I just mixed it up so there were 5 different game boards and printed up 8 sets of them.

 I wanted to put together the gift baskets that people could win and I went with the baby theme- my favorite was the basket called ‘The baby-maker’ that had a bottle of champagne, chocolates and two movies- Magic Mike and Knocked up! There was also a ‘baby your body’ basket that had lotions, hair products, nail polish, etc. and two  for your ‘baby’ baskets one for a girl and one for a boy that had little, easter-related candy and toys for people with kids or grandkids. 

My mom also did a raffle for two of the baskets, she put a sticker on the inside of two different plastic Easter eggs, and then went around the room and had each person select an egg. The two people that had the eggs with stickers won a basket. Another cute thing she did was send around a notebook and asked people to put their gender prediction, we got some really nice notes in there.
                I went shopping the previous week for a dress, I had a maxi coral skirt that I was going to wear but I wanted to get something special for the shower especially since I haven’t bought much clothes to get through the pregnancy so I figured I owed myself the splurge. We went to the outlets which I knew didn’t have a maternity store but figured I could try some larger stuff on in regular stores. We tried the Gap first and I found a really cute maxi chevron dress. I tried it on and I looked huge! Plus the chevron stripes did not match up at the seams, which drives me crazy especially because when you are  pregnant people also look at you from the side. So I went with a completely different approach and tried on a little navy blue cotton dress at Ann Taylor that was fitted with extra ruching on the side. It is a dress I would normally never wear because it was fitted (and cotton so not too forgiving of a fabric) but I figured what the heck, might as well try it on and I really like it. I thought for a non-maternity dress it looked really cute over my bump. I also liked that since my bump was so out there in it, it created an optical illusion almost in that my bum looked smaller in it. I did make the mistake of wearing non-maternity pantyhose. I am normally not a big pantyhose wearing but I was impressed with myself that I remembered to go to CVS the day before and get the largest pair they had.  But once I put them on the day of (or rather had Chris help me into them) I realized they must make maternity ones and it was going to make for an uncomfortable day! But once we got to the shower I forgot about them.
                I got a wonderful surprise as the guests were arriving, my college roommate flew up from Florida for the shower. I was totally not expecting to see her because not only does she live all the way down the coast but she is a new mother to a three-month old herself and she just started back to work the week before the shower.  When I saw her walk in I cried! It was great having her there and I was so touched she flew up, with the little one and hubby, to be with us on our shower day.
                We ended up getting all the major stuff on the registry as gifts, as well as plenty of gift cards to pick up the remaining necessary items. We got some really great homemade blankets, a beautiful quilt that Chris’s mom made that must have taken so long, it is patchwork with some really cute, different fabrics including a Sesame Street one. She also made bibs and burp cloths and a few other blankets- she’s been very busy! We got a lot of onesies and some sleepwear, I did find since we don’t know the gender  a lot of people opted to buy non-clothing gifts, which is fine with us. I also have noticed from the shower and in general that the one thing that is tough to buy ahead when you don’t know the gender is pants! Because baby boys tend to wear what look like sweatpants and baby girls wear leggings, so Baby J does not have many pants thus far. But it will be summer so that’s ok. But otherwise onesies and pjs are universal as far as I am concerned. Based on what we got at the shower, and a few little shopping trips we have done we aren’t going to buy anymore clothes until the baby comes. Certainly we are held back by gender, but also regardless of that we don’t know what size this baby is going to be and I don’t want to have a ton of stuff that is too small for the baby to wear.

                All-in-all it was such a great afternoon, spent with family and friends, eating yummy food and cake and feeling all the love this little baby already has!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Week 32 Update

Well technically as I am writing this I am starting my 33rd week which means I’m entering my ninth month which was cause for a little panic attack this morning. I feel like we are on the right track in terms of accomplishing things but I feel like there is still so much I want to get done before the baby arrives. I’m working on a separate baby shower post but that has come and gone and was great. The reason I haven’t been writing much was because I think it’s really important to write out thank you cards as soon as you can and I focused on those during work downtime the past two weeks, they are all written and sent out! I am also working on a nursery post and might even detail one of the DIY projects in my other blog site, which I have been seriously neglecting. I have one science article that is almost ready and luckily a non-science article that is ready to post to use when I have been particularly dormant just so I’m still active on there. At this point there is some science content that I would have liked to have researched and wrote about on this blog pertaining to both the developmental biology of the baby and the science behind pregnancy that I just don’t have time for but that’s ok. The most important stuff is baby prep at this point, everything else is gravy. We took our prenatal class and have an infant CPR class scheduled, we ran out of time in terms of taking an infant care class but hopefully we can look up and read up on what we need to. We are scheduled for our whooping cough vaccines and I met with the pediatrician we are planning on going with, so I feel like the major stuff is taken care of. The paperwork for the baby has been sent off to the hospital and I have spoke with my HR contact person regarding my maternity leave so everything is underway. Next up on my to-do list is to write out my birth plan and figure out what I need to pack in our hospital bags. I also plan to continue to look over the all the information we got from our birthing class.
We’ve been very busy in the condo the past two weeks, working on the art project in the nursery and doing our last (big) home improvement- pulling up the carpet in our living room and hallway and putting down pergo floors. It came out really nice and I’m so glad we got to it before the baby’s arrival. It was the last major home reno on our original list (there are still more things on the list, of course, but this was the last big undertaking) so I’m so happy to have it done. The baby’s room is still a mess- all the shower gifts are in various places, tucked away pre-floor project (yes there are some in the second bathroom tub!) but before we did the floors I was able to wash almost everything we got from the shower with the baby-appropriate detergent and put them away in the baby’s dresser. The floors need a little more work and then we'll be free to focus solely on getting the nursery organized. 
                Knock on wood, I’m still feeling really good, decent amount of energy heading into the final stretch, still able to do about an hour of cardio Monday-Friday.  I definitely need to rest more, but sometimes it’s just a matter of lying down for 15 minutes, not even sleeping but just elevating my legs and chilling for 15-20 minutes after I’ve been out somewhere or worked out. I'm still doing my regular cooking, cleaning, and errand running so that is nice. I don’t feel totally out of control eating-wise and I haven’t had any crazy cravings yet. I thought at this point I would wake up starving in the middle of the night but that has only happened a few times. And emotionally I feel pretty good, thought I’d be all over the place mirroring how I felt in the first trimester but so far not too many emotional outbursts! I feel excited and anxious most of the time which I think might be trumping the fatigue.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 29- Major points from Prenatal Class

We were told on Monday at the OBGYN that this baby is BIG, quickly replaced by the word ‘healthy’ but the doc put it out there and now that’s all I can think about! Really there is nothing wrong with a big baby and maybe it means the little one, if I can even describe him/her that way anymore, will be ready to come out a little early on the timeline. Chris & I have just been planning all along that we have until the end of May, since I am due June 10th, in terms of planning/scheduling things.  We figure treating the last few weeks as extra is a good way to go, so if we are surprised early we will have all the preparation done.

This was taken around 27 weeks.

I haven’t been writing much and I haven’t researched any more topics I want to look into yet and I feel like the list of what I want to look into is growing. I’ve been busy with other things mostly baby & work-related. Although I certainly wasn’t asked to help do some things for my upcoming baby shower, I like to help (which is a nice way of saying I’m a control freak) so I’ve been working on a few little things for that. I also had the idea to get the RSVP list from my mom as it comes in so I can at least give myself a head start on writing out the thank you cards by addressing the envelopes for people who have confirmed they are coming. I’ve been working on a few nursery things, finishing up the second blanket- which is getting increasingly more difficult to lay it out on the floor and straight pin, needed Chris to help me the other day. Also I’ve been working on a TBA art project for the nursery. The nursery is looking good, Chris has blown through a Honey Do list which is great. I’ll dedicate a full post to the nursery when we have decorated it.

Even though I haven’t had time to do any pregnancy-related research this week that might be a good thing since it may have been information overload since we took an all-day prenatal class on Saturday of last weekend. (We opted for the all day as opposed to the multiple class format). It was largely focused on labor & delivery and since we took it at the hospital we will be delivering at we got a tour of the ward and some information of what to expect while we are there which is great. I think the two major things I learned from the class are that I don’t need to panic and rush right to the hospital the second I start having contractions. Now that I better understand there are three stages to the first part of labor- early, active, and transition- as long as I am tracking my contractions and speaking to the doctors to let them know where I am at I am good to stay home for a while during early labor. I think this is great because it means even if Chris is at work (45 minutes away) he’ll have time to get home to me to go with me to the hospital.  I opted to not research anything about labor and delivery before taking this class because I honestly feel like there is no point stressing yourself out about it until its closer in time to actually occurring. Even though I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on the subject, I want to go into my labor & delivery with an open mind as far as pain medication is concerned. Before the class I didn’t feel strongly either way, I know there are a lot of women who feel strongly that a natural birth is the way to go, while others are 100% for the epidural before they even start their contractions. But I felt I wasn’t leaning either way, I think establishing a birth plan is nice but who knows if what you plan on and what actually happens are going to even remotely look like each other at the end of the day. I guess my overall status on the birth plan was flexible, as things happen we’ll make decisions.

After taking the class I was surprised to find out that in theory, and in theory is the key word here because I have absolutely no idea how I am going to handle being in labor and dealing with the pain, I’m leaning towards the ‘as little pain medicine as possible’ side of the argument. Although I understand the common stance of not wanting the baby to come out drugged I feel like sometimes it is unavoidable. Many, many women have had epidurals and many, many babies have turned out just fine. Also we learned in the class that the other major pain relief given to a women during pregnancy has a two hour timeframe, so for most women the medicine will come into their system and leave their system before they deliver and thus the baby comes out au natural. If in the rare case that the doctors and nurses miscalculate how much longer the women will be in labor and the baby is delivered while still under the influence of the medicine, there is an injection they will give to the baby to rid the baby’s body of the narcotic’s effects.  So that isn't my major reason is coming to my stance.  The major reason why I learned a natural birth is great if you can handle it is because you are then able to play a much more active role in your delivery. If you are on pain medicine you are confined to your bed and if you have the epidural you won’t even be able to feel when you need to push.  If you go natural, you can walk around, take a bath, stretch out, try different positions to see where you are most comfortable. This was really interesting to me because my preconceived idea was you are in that hospital bed and that is your only option. Now I, at least, see the no-drug side of the argument in more detail.
But in the end I really do plan on going in with an open mind because I have no idea how I’m going to do in the situation. Also some things are out of the women’s control/not even an option. On the video we watched in the class, we saw real women giving birth in a variety of situations- 100% natural birth, slightly medicated, epidural, planned caesarian, and unplanned- a few women were in labor for so long and their bodies were not progressing that the doctors insisted on the epidural and in some cases on a caesarian.  It was good to see all the possibilities.  Another thing I learned from the class, although I had heard previously that on additional labor with second/third children, the overall timeframe gets condensed I didn’t know the time frame for a typical first pregnancy. In our class we were taught that early labor can last from 4 to 8 hours, active labor another 4 to 8 hours and the pushing stage can go for about 2 hours giving an overall time for a first labor & delivery between 8 and 16 hours. With that in mind I think it’s really impressive women are able to do natural births, seems like it’s a more achievable goal with a second or third pregnancy since the timeframe typically shortens.  But we will see how it all goes.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DIY Baby Blankets

Another addition to my pre-baby Leah-centric list was the inclusion of these patriotic place mats I, admittedly, started about two years ago. My plan was to make them in time for June because they’d be appropriate all through the summer. Well as I am a novice sewer, it took me longer than expected and I didn’t finish them in time, then the following year I was busy doing wedding related DIY projects, including sewing all the table runners for the wedding. Cut to now when I decided I wanted to make a baby blanket and I realized it’s now or never for these place mats. So before I hopped into baby-mode I decided to finish the place mats once and for all. I followed an idea in a beginner’s quilting book but adapted it for red, white, and blue. I bought two types of star-spangled fabric, cut strips of them, sewed them in an alternating fashion, then added batting and bound them with a dark blue fabric. To finish them off, I cut out stars in the leftover solid blue and used bonding adhesion to adhere them to the front of the place mat. They are definitely a beginner’s work but hey I finished them.
Better late than never!
And they were good practice for the baby blanket because I want to do a similar method. First off I looked online to determine an average size of a baby blanket, based on what I saw I went with around 30x40 inches which works well with fabric by the yard. I bought two somewhat coordinating animal fabrics, instead of cutting strips I cut blocks, with the plan of sewing them together, four blocks across in an alternating patter and then use a green and white pinstripe to back it and bind it. I ended up cutting the blocks to around 9.5x10.5, and then before I sewed them together I made sure the blocks were similar enough in size. I’m not really advanced enough to strive for perfection with either the accuracy of my cutting skills or the accuracy of my sewing skills. 

Once I cut the two different animal prints I realized I wanted to go back to the fabric store and select two more fabrics, this time a stripe, polka dot, or geometric and use one of each of these new fabrics with one of each of the animal fabrics and make two separate blankets. I have enough of the green stripe backing to make two and I figure you can never have too many baby blankets. 
I planned to use the chevron for the multi-animal print and the geometric pattern for the elephant print.  Turns out cutting and sewing blocks together is a heck of a lot easier than sewing strips together, plus my skill level has slightly improved. Now I am in no way claiming that the first blanket came out perfect, I definitely made some mistakes but overall I’m really happy with it.
I’m hoping to quickly tackle the second one since the pattern is already set and most of the fabric is cut out.  After I finish that one I am going to figure out the type of blanket to make with the adorable woodland animal print (below).  Chris had the great idea of making the crib bumpers with it but my registry research pointed out that other than breathable mesh bumpers, the AAP doesn't recommend them. But I figure I'll do another blanket maybe with a trim or a fun hem.
I'm in love with this fabric, it's so stinkin' cute.

Binky Linky

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Helping Hubby help me

          A few years ago when Chris moved in with me to my place back when we were dating, I vowed to not fall into gender roles in our home. Fast forward to now and gender roles are the way of the house. Chris does a lot of home improvement projects, so I let him off the hook with most of the day-to-day cleaning, cooking, and shopping (food and toiletries).  He does vacuum, dust, and take out the trash and recycling, as well as cook breakfast for us on the weekends. Plus we each do our own laundry. But largely the cooking, cleaning, and shopping are my responsibilities (and honestly I don’t mind doing them). However, now that we are heading into my third trimester responsibilities are going to shift to him and being the control freak that I am, I still want things done my way. For grocery shopping the shift has already started, for the past few months he comes with me most of the time to help carry the items in. And the past month he’s also been popping in to the store after work to pick up what we need for the week. And no fail, every time he is ‘that husband’ who calls his wife from the store to either ask what aisle something is in or the specifics on an item on the list.
         I decided a while back that I would construct a master grocery list that includes the brands, flavors, and items we most commonly buy as well as organizing it (as best I can from memory) by the general layout of the grocery store (we shop exclusively at Market Basket but week to week we may hit a different location, so the layout of each one differs slightly). I’m picky, I’ll admit it. We buy the generic/store-brand of most items but there are a few that I’ve tried and just don’t like so it’s important for me to have a list of what is what. Also I think the list will help me as well- I plan on printing out two copies and leaving on in each of our cars to refer to- because I know I’m soon to have a lot more on my mind and I want to be able to remember his favorite brands/flavors of things when he asks for them when it's my turn to shop. This way we’ll still put together a hand-written list each week but we both will have this master list to refer to when needed.

                In terms of cleaning, I was actually thinking about making this master list even before I got pregnant just to give Chris an idea of what is done around here, often times when he is not home. Just so he can appreciate what is being done every week in addition to the home-cooking he gets. Now that I’m pregnant I thought it was a good time to finally put it together, so when I am tired during the last trimester and then sleep-deprived and cranky during the first few months, he can refer to the list and help out without asking what needs to be done. Or without me asking him to take care of a particular chore. I am particular about how things are cleaned (I’m particular about a lot of things) so I tried to be clear on the list. I also think this list will help me because everything is broken down into 5-10 minute tasks, expect the kitchen floor although it’s a galley kitchen the three step process takes a while but it’s the only way to not have water marks on the pergo floor,  so I can tackle things here and there as the week goes since I know finding bigger chunks of time to do a thorough clean will probably not happen as often in the near future.
Overall I am hoping these two lists will help us as we become first-time parents. I hope with a little planning, we can get organized on the shopping, cleaning, and cooking front. I have some plans for cooking that I have found on other blogs that I want to incorporate into our food plan, which I’ll discuss in another post. I also want to get organized about bill paying, as you can probably guess I am a fan of spreadsheets and I already have one that has our monthly bills on it. I’d like to make a cheat-sheet with when bills are due and which of us pays what and print it out as to not forget. Ultimately I know no amount of organization will prevent the chaos that is taking care of a newborn but a little planning now should help us out a little.
Binky Linky

Friday, February 28, 2014

Constructing a Shower Registry

Putting together a baby registry is a daunting task. In one respect, it is great to know you are not responsible for buying all of these things yourself if you are lucky enough to have someone throw you a shower and lucky enough to have generous friends and family buying things to get you started. But nonetheless building the registry is complex. Most stores have a checklist as a starting off point but I'm always leery of these and feel additional research may be something you want to do to ensure you are not being swindled into buying everything little thing the store wants you to think you must have for a new baby. In addition to determining overall what items you need, many of the individual items come with a decision as to which specific type and brand you want to get. This may also require a little research on your part- whether it be heading online or asking other recently new moms to weigh in.

                For our registry we started in what I like to call the ‘Beg, Borrow, or Steal’ category although I guess it is more appropriately known as the ‘Hand-me-down’ category because I don't really plan on stealing anything (haven't gotten to that point yet!). Again if you are lucky enough to have friends and family with little ones, don’t be shy in asking what you can take off their hands. For the most part they want to give some things away, as they know it will being going to good home and it clears up space in their home. And it’s a generosity cycle, for the most part someone helped them out when they were starting out as new parents and surely you’ll want to pass your things down to friends and family when you no longer need them. I sat down with my sister-in-law and we went through everything she planned to give us from her collection as well as the things she would not be able to give us. This was all very helpful for a number of reasons- I have somewhat of a general idea of the things we need (crib, high-chair, stroller, car seats) but overall I am new to this so having a mother of two go through what she is and isn’t giving us was a great starting off point on what I need. Sitting down with an experienced parent is also recommended because you can pick their brain about what they had too much of and what they didn’t have enough of- for example I was surprised to hear my sis-in-law say they didn’t have enough clothes because they didn’t ask for a lot on the registry and she suggested we put a decent amount on there. I also think that works well with building a registry in general since clothes are the inexpensive items and it is a good idea to have a range of price points for your shower guests to choose from.
 Another helpful tip from my sister-in-law was what you should put on the registry and what you should leave off the registry and purchase yourself. For the latter things if you want to splurge on and get a specific, high-tech version of something you are probably best off just purchasing that yourself because on a registry someone might buy a slightly different one. For anything that is on the registry, it is up to your guests discretion to make a slightly change in what you asked for and what they give you so for the things you know you are going to be really particular about it’s probably best to go ahead and get them yourself to save the hassle of return and exchanging it later.  For us, we are leaving the baby monitor off because we want to research it, splurge for one with a video system and get exactly what we want.
                Next I sat down to actually registry or registries since we opted to do both Babies R’Us and Target. Both stores provides the check-list and by this point I have become a bit more familiar with what we need. Most of the checklists have the items categorized by furniture, clothing, health, toys, etc. I opted to start with the health/safety and furniture/equipment because I feel like those are the categories I should pay the most attention to in terms of specifications and recommendations on what is best to use. By the time I get to clothes and toys I’ll probably just add things quickly and that seems fine for those categories.  Another tip, if you know other new moms you can do a quick search for their registries on the popular sites. I easily found a few of the latest moms that we know and was able to look at what they had asked for.
Starting with something as simple as the thermometer sent me down the rabbit-hole- there are different options in terms of where the thermometer is going in/or the baby. A quick online research yielded the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of using a rectal thermometer on babies 0-3 months as this type is the most accurate. Around six months, the parents can switch to the ear thermometer since by then the baby’s ears are larger to accommodate it. I checked with a mommy friend of mine to see what she uses and she confirmed the rectal is the one you should use for newborns, and she reassured me with a little Vaseline the thermometer goes in easy and doesn’t cause the baby discomfort.  The other health & safety items come in cute little kits- the one I added had the nasal aspirator, nail-clippers, comb, little toothbrush, etc.  I'm going to look into medicines and creams at some point as well, but for the registry I moved on.  A lot of the equipment is being handed down to us which is great, the major things we need to ask for/get ourselves are car seats and swings/bouncers.
For the car seat I spent some time online looking at recent consumer reports and I matched up the brands and makes that were consistently mentioned on several different reports. Then I went back to Babies R Us and Target to see which options they  and both have them at the same price. (For the most part these two places have the same prices on the equipment, I have a feeling Target will have better prices on clothes when I get to it though). I went with the Chicco Keyfit 30-Foxy.  The only question mark is it both my husband and I really need our own or if two bases, one car seat is enough.

 I spent some time looking into swings as well, this along with the car seat was the major thing my sister-in-law will not be handing down to us. It seemed with the swings the best bang for your buck is when it swings in multiple directions. Also having both battery-operated and plug-in options seemed to be the most positively reviewed if your baby finds peace while swinging and you don’t want to go through tons of batteries.  After much deliberation I went with the Fisher-Price My Little Snugapuppy Cradle 'N Swing. Funny, Fisher Price's swings all seem to be named after animals and I assumed they were all the same otherwise. I saw a review where another women made the same assumption and she got the Snugapuppy instead of the 'My Little Lamb' and was shocked to find out they were different. One was noisy or bulky, something mechanical not just the animal depicted on it. Thanks for making things easy on us Fisher Price.

          Diapers, ok well this is probably more appropriate for another post but the long and short of it is we are going to try to use cloth diapers for some of the time. I’m going in with a really flexible ‘just see how it goes’ mentality but I would like to use them at least part time to alleviate the cost of buying disposable ones. (I read somewhere that all the laundering you do to the reusable ones mostly puts them on an even playing field with the disposable ones taking up space in a landfill, so environmentally they are almost even. But something about throwing away all those disposables away does seem cruel to mother earth). I have a lot more research to go, there are so many questions and I’ve found some great resources online so to be continued on this issue. But for the registry I, at least, was able to some research and add the Charlie Banana’s starter kit, along with a separate request of the disposable inserts (the starter kit comes with the cloth diapers themselves and 12 reusable inserts). We are also going to ask for some newborn sized diapers as well for night-time use/back-up plan.

            For clothing it’s important to think season, I’m due in June so we’ll need more short-sleeve onesies than long-sleeve to get us started. Also as pointed out by this great list,, a sunhat and sunscreen will be necessary for when I’m home with little one and venturing out for walks during my maternity leave. We are not finding out the gender so we mostly are picking animal-adorned things from the boys section. One of the reasons I didn't want to find out the gender was to not gender imprint the baby so much, since I know we imprint so much unconsciously. It is starting to drive me nuts that almost everything is denoted as 'boy' or 'girl' just based on the color. Really? A boy can't have a purple binky and a girl can't wear blue. I think it's all very silly. (Below is the most adorable thing we have picked out as of yet).
                Ok that’s it for now, the registry is not done but this blog post has helped me organized myself as I have gone through the list of getting it started. Please feel free to let me know what you think about my choices, as well I’ll gladly take suggestions for any must have items.

Binky Linky

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

25 week update

Whoa- we are moving right along here :)

As I'm heading into my third trimester, a comfortable night's sleep is being to elude me. I think for any pregnant woman this is normal but for me, my back and hip problems certainly aren’t helping the cause. I’m tired at night and ready to go to bed, fall asleep right away after reading for a little while (I am currently reading the Expats by Chris Pavone, it’s good, nothing great, quick read, perfect for bedtime. And yes still chugging away at Crime & Punishment, some nights before dinner I’ll lie down with my Greek yogurt and read it for about a half hour) but then I wake up a few hours before the alarm clock is set to go off with left hip pain, so I switch to the right hip, but that is short lived. Then I go back to leftie and the pain follows. I’m thinking of trying to get up and curl up on the recliner in the second bedroom (soon to be nursery but that’s another blog post altogether) to sleep the last few hours in a slightly different position. Other than that I’ve got no complaints! I feel good, my energy level is still pretty good, I’m still able to do my cardio and I’m back to eating a well-balanced healthy diet (no cravings…yet). I’m looking forward to the weather shaping up a bit, less cold, less snow so I can get out and walk and actually make more of an effort with my wardrobe. Below is really all I’ve got right now and that’s not saying much!

My bump is out there! I looked at it yesterday in the mirror when I was putting on cocoa butter lotion and I was surprised how big it is. I think especially with the winter the bump is hidden, even from me, most of the time so when I see it in all its glory I am surprised.  I have found that it totally depends on what I am wearing out and about in terms of whether people can tell I am pregnant. For example I went to the dentist last week with a long black sweater, and my ubiquitous black yoga pants and sneakers (it’s still icy out there) and both the hygienist and dentist were surprised I was pregnant. (As with any doctor you want to let your dental professionals know you are pregnant as soon as you know because they will not do x-rays even if you are due for them, plus gum disease during pregnancy is an important topic-one I might dedicate a post to- so it’s critical to tell them). It was a nice little boost to my self-esteem that I look good enough to pass for a non-pregnant woman. But then two days later I went to have my thyroid blood work done and this time I was wearing a white sweater (you can probably guess what else I was wearing with it, so predictable) and another patient chatted me up about my pregnancy while we were waiting. So I think a lot of it has to depend on what I am wearing. Also on a related note I am hoping the cold weather starts to go away soon because I am just to the point where my buttoned up winter coat has no more room in it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pregnancy Brain-Is it Real?

You've probably all heard of it by one of its many names, Pregnancy Brain, Baby Brain, Preg-Head (my personal fave), or Momnesia, a condition characterized by forgetfulness plaguing pregnant women. But is there scientific proof to back it up? Well it depends who you ask or more specifically whose research you trust.
Source: Getty Images

For every study seeming to prove Pregnancy Brain's existence, another comes along pointing out it might not be caused by anything other than being a pregnant woman. That is to said a woman who is all of the sudden thinking 24/7 about all the decisions a new mother needs to make-Day care? Breast feeding? What type of crib to buy?- including is she staying healthy during her pregnancy, avoiding the wrong foods? eating the right ones? taking her vitamins? going to all the appointments, etc, etc. Also sleep is often not normal during pregnancy, so it is possible the temporary memory issues are due to a combination of much more on one’s mind and a lack of sleep.

Some studies, according to their research methods, have claimed to prove that Pregnancy Brain exists and it is linked to an increase in hormones found in the woman's body. But the major thing to keep in mind here is their research methods. One particular study, done by the Diane Farrar and others at the University of Bradford, England in 2010 compares pregnant women to non-pregnant women in various cognitive tasks testing their memory. When looked at as a whole, the pregnant group didn't do as well in the memory tasks as the non-pregnant group. In addition, blood samples were drawn and the hormone levels of progesterone, estradiol, and prolactin were higher in the pregnant women. Well there is no surprise on the hormone levels, and it seems that because the levels were higher and the memory was decreased the researchers made the stretch that the two were connected. (Despite being able to track down some of Farrar’s other publications, I can’t find this exact paper so I’m not entirely sure how much the authors attempted to correlate the hormone levels to the memory issues). There is a major flaw in this research design pointed out by another researcher, Helen Christensen, and I completely agree. The flaw in previous studies is they compare pregnant women to completely different non-pregnant women. What does that really prove since we don't know what the memory functioning was like in the pregnant women before (or after) they were pregnant?  Comparing two different groups of people’s memory skills without getting a baseline measurement really doesn’t tell us much. Christensen set out to change the experimental design when looking into Pregnancy Brain with her 2010 study. Christensen’s study followed not-yet pregnant women (age 20 to 24) for four years, applying the same cognitive tests the first year and so on in follow up years. In order to ensure there would be enough pregnant subjects to compare with their non-pregnant baseline the researchers started with around 1200 women, and sometime within the four years of the study 76 of them became pregnant and were tested with the same tests while pregnant. And the researchers didn’t find any significant differences in the tests run comparing individual women to their non-pregnant and pregnant results. This is, of course, only one study but more studies like this would go further to prove or disprove the theory of Pregnancy Brain than the boatload of studies like Farrar's comparing to separate groups of women.

To me it seems a lot of these studies don’t have sufficient research methodology to conclude that Pregnancy Brain exists. That is not to say that I don’t believe that pregnant women suffer bouts of memory loss from time to time. I just think it all can be explained by the overall change in status a pregnant women goes through- the many additional things on her mind combined with the change in the amount of sleep she is getting. And to be honest, I'm not sure what doing all of these studies will accomplish.


So what do you think? Have  you suffered from pregnancy brain?

Binky Linky