Friday, November 15, 2013

Ten things about motherhood that surprised me

Ten things about motherhood that surprised me

(If you are pregnant -- please read!)

There are several things I can think of that I wish I would have known about being a mom. Mostly because I was unprepared for them. Here are just a few. The second baby will be so much easier now that I know the truth ....

  1. I turned into sleep Nazi. I have, more than once, used the reflective darkened screen of my cell phone to look at my baby over my shoulder or arm to see if she is asleep, because I was so afraid to move her and wake her up. I have also actually had violent visions of what I would like to do to the guy outside my door who decided to start up a leaf blower right when my baby finally went down for a nap.
  2. Speaking of sleep, most newborns do not sleep the way the powers that be tell you they should to be "safe." Especially if you are nursing, do your research. The whole anti-co-sleeping and "back to sleep" campaign is mostly for young mothers who smoke and drink and have premature babies. I am not even close to being in that demographic. I never in a million years would have expected I would co-sleep pre-baby, but if I hadn't, neither of us would have gotten any sleep, like AT ALL. I feel sorry for myself looking back at those first couple of weeks trying to get my baby to bed in the way I was told. Both of us were so miserable, but I just didn't know any better. Most moms do not admit to going against these "safe sleep rules" until you tell them what you are doing, and then they say they did it too (this has happened to me five or six times talking to other moms). It's really sad that moms have to be shamed into silence to do what is totally biologically normal for babies and moms to do.
  3. I have spent more time talking about poop - it's color, texture, consistency, frequency, faces and sounds made when it comes out, etc., than I ever imagined.
  4. Having a newborn baby seems to be an invitation for complete strangers (mostly older ladies) to talk to you, and share everything about their former babies and grandbabies. We have actually been held up and late places more than once because of this, or unable to look at a menu and pick a meal because of people talking to us in line. I thought being pregnant in public was bad, but this is much worse! One weird guy in a furniture store actually told me I wasn't holding her right!
  5. # 4 Part Two: I had to learn to ignore most of what older women say. They will tell you to put a hat on a baby or cover a baby's arm up -- in 80 degree weather, when your baby is sweating. They will tell you to give whiskey to your baby to calm her, let her cry because it's "good for her lungs," or give her bottles of water to fill her stomach and stretch out her feedings, etc. Once I was even told my baby would get an ear infection from a slight breeze (again, in warm weather). As a new mom it is easy to feel bad or incompetent when these women tell you what to do. But I've found upon looking these things up that 99.9% of it is just old wives' tales: Outdated, wrong, and most of the time really unsafe information! Trust your instincts and always do your homework.
  6. I have actually come to enjoy breastfeeding now and it's virtually painless - BUT, the first two months it was that toe-curling, sharp-breath type of pain every single time she latched (10-12 times a day). The first week after birth, breastfeeding also causes uterine contractions that, for me, were more painful than the actual childbirth contractions. I remember sitting up in the hospital in the middle of the night breastfeeding, feeling like my whole body was on fire and I could scream. I understand why so many women quit now. All the books say 'if it hurts, you must have an improper latch.' That is BS. Most of the time her latch was fine. You will bleed and scab and suffer, at first. It will get better.
  7. My doctor did not have all the answers. Sometimes he/she is as clueless as you. Raising a baby is largely a matter of theory, advice from people you trust, trial and error, and which methodology you believe in.
  8. The majority of toys, seats, bouncers, etc. that I got at my shower I was unable to use for at least the first two months of my baby's life. I just didn't know that. I never understood how moms would say it was hard to find time to shower, until I had a newborn. She rarely took long, consistent naps, and I had nothing to set her in, except the bassinet, which she hated with a vengeance. Until they get some head/torso control, you will be doing a lot of holding your baby. I learned how to fold laundry, open and eat a banana, and many other tasks one-handed. I waited until my husband got home to shower. And let's just say there will be times you will have to go to the bathroom while holding your baby. It's a learned skill :)
  9. My body was NOT healed in six weeks. I could get into more detail here but I will spare you. Just don't plan on being the same "you" and being able to do the things you did pre-baby, by six weeks.
  10. Maternity leave is not a vacation-like break from work. Don't make any big plans. I made the mistake of thinking I would use the time to learn how to sew. Ha!!! 
  11. To be more clear, cancel your magazine subscriptions. You won't have time to read them.
When I was telling a friend how little time I had to do get things done around the house anymore, she said "that's because you have to do things in 8-minute increments." That was the absolute best way I'd heard anyone describe it. You literally have about 8 minutes every now and then to do the things you need to do.  (with a newborn -when they get older you get longer naps).

Boy did I learn how to time manage those eight minutes! No more lolly-gagging around here : )

Monday, October 14, 2013


My daughter will be 11 weeks old this week.

These past few weeks have been, in a word, crazy. It has been the most shocking, beautiful, and also the most challenging time of my life.

Everything I have endured and achieved thus far in my lifetime does not even compare to what it's like to be a mom to a newborn baby. 

It is literally the hardest thing I've ever done (and the best). People always say it's life-changing, but you can't truly understand what that means unless you are living it.

There are so many blog ideas that have been bouncing around in my head these few sleepless weeks: Breastfeeding tips, things you definitely don't need to buy for a baby, funny moments to remember, etc. Those blogs will come. 

First, I've decided to write about what is weighing heavy on my heart. At least for today.

The reason I say motherhood is beautiful and challenging is because my daughter has had some health problems. These issues are nothing that other babies haven't been through and nothing that can't be fixed with time - she will be fine - but nonetheless they are hard for both her father and I. The gut-wrenching pain of watching your baby suffer, especially when there is nothing you can do but wait out her cries, is indescribable.

It hit me like a wall last night when I was cuddling my sweaty, crying, red-faced child with tears in my own eyes: Being a mother is like wearing your heart outside of your body.

It is, quite honestly, terrifying. 

As parents, you are the only people completely responsible for a helpless human being. Ultimately, you are responsible for their suffering or their happiness, regardless of the cause.

Was I prepared to deal with tough times and sickness and the suffering of my child? Yes. I pondered these things in the decision to have kids. Was I prepared to deal with all of this in the first two months of her life, when I'm still learning to be a parent?

No. Talk about initiation by storm.

There are so many decisions. You often don't have the answers, and you can do all the research you want - but the books, the doctors, and even your parents, all contradict one another on what is best. Often you and your spouse also contradict one another on what you think is best, which doesn't help things. 

At the end, you have to make a decision that you believe is right. You have to follow your biological intuition as a mother. It might piss people off, and it might be wrong, but you have to do something. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them but it will break your heart.

Or, sometimes the answer is to do nothing - there isn't always a fix -  you just have to do all you can to comfort her, and just sweat it out.

I think that mothers have it the worst. Mothers are often the only people that can truly calm their baby.

There is a biological bond that persists ... after all, my daughter has been part of my body for 9+ months. She has known my smell and my heartbeat for much longer than she has been out in the world.

In addition, when breastfeeding, mom is the food source, and basic survival instinct requires that babies be very attached to their food source. They say a baby can smell their mothers milk from 20 feet away. 

I think that sometimes, even if she isn't hungry, it's calming for my daughter just to be near me for that reason. 

On top of all of that, moms usually spend 24 hours a day with their babies on maternity leave. During this time I've become very attuned to what she needs, what works, and what doesn't. She became very used to me being around. It's a wordless and complicated dance that the two of us perform, day in and day out, but we do it pretty well. (I suppose we talk to one another, but it's not normal human conversation!)

All of these things add up to the reason that babies sometimes cry just because they want their moms.

This is a huge responsibility, and one that I wholeheartedly chose and accept and fulfill. I never wanted to be the only one that can calm her, but that is, in most cases, what happened.

There have been times when I've been so tired and frustrated and overwhelmed and I have to remind myself: If not me, then who? I am her mother and this is my job to care for her, even when it's hard. I have to continue to try and do everything I can and keep my cool. It is my responsibility to do so.

But that begs the question, what if something happened to me? If I am gone for a ten minute shower or a half hour run and my baby can get so incredibly worked up and choking on her own tears and sweating, what would happen if I hit my head or got really sick and was gone for hours or even days? What will happen when she is at daycare for hours? Will she cry for hours upon end and wonder why I am not coming to comfort her? 

I find that thought horrifying. 

My heart is so is easily bruised and sensitive to her needs. When she cries, I feel this unstoppable need to intervene and help her. I don't like that feeling, but sometimes I can't fight it. I may insult others when I want to hold her when she is crying, but nonetheless the feeling is there.

The love I feel for this little girl is unlike a love I have ever felt before. I would literally do anything for her. When she hurts, I hurt too. 

I've immersed myself in anything having to do with her, and somehow everything else has become incredibly unimportant. 

The cat, that used to be my baby, is now .... just a cat.

The job that used to drain every passion and challenge me mentally and physically is now ... just a job.

Time, like Salvador Dali's clock, melts away, day after day.

Drama, office gossip, arguments? Forget about it, I don't have the cerebral space for that anymore.

The aches and pains I complained about in previous pregnancy posts? They seem so incredibly minor.

Those easy dinners out on the weekend? I'd rather stay home. She will most likely cry most of the time and it will just be stressful anyway. 

A few months sacrificing dinners out for my baby until she is a little older to handle it - in the big picture of my long life with many years ahead - is really nothing. 

I think about the spare time I had for hobbies, the incessant TV watching and internet surfing. The incredible amount of books and newspapers I used to read. And I don't miss it. I had no idea I wouldn't be able to do any of that for a while - but still, I don't miss it. They will be there for me when she is older.

Did I expect to sacrifice my life in this way, to this degree, for my child? Not exactly. I expected sacrifice. But I didn't and couldn't understand the emotional ramifications and incredible responsibility I would feel in caring for her as she is now, a high-need baby with some health problems.

I would never, in a million years, go back to my life pre-baby.

I love her in an indescribable fashion. Yes, motherhood has rocked my world for now. But it won't be that way forever.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beautiful baby girl

My baby girl was born August 7, 2013, at around 4 a.m. She was 8 pounds 6 ounces and 20 inches long.

Sorry for the delayed post! In short, the past month has been an incredible whirlwind, and she has kept me very busy. 

When things settle down a bit I'll be writing mommy blogs! More to come :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Diara of a Preggo: Things that I won't miss when I'm a parent

This morning I was laying in bed thinking about the blog post that I haven't gotten to write this past 9+ month journey: The common things that people say when you are pregnant.

Pregnant women get used to the consistency of the same questions that everyone asks: sex, due date, name, etc. Even by strangers. 

But one thing I never got used to were the negative comments from current parents about life with kids. I could write ten blog posts on the negative things people say, but instead I'll focus on one in particular that bothers me, which prompted me to write today.

Especially when you get closer to your due date, parents and other "older and wiser" people just love to talk about how your life will never be the same, how everything is about poop and puke and you will never get any sleep again, and basically how hard it is to be a parent because your life is no longer for you

They talk about how you will never again get to take off and go out to dinner or take vacations or enjoy your life. 

Now I'm sure these people mean well ... they are just trying to help prepare you for parenthood and not meaning to sound as negative as they do, but I always find these comments pecuilar. Typically the people saying these things are people with several kids, so obviously they chose to grow their family regardless of their life getting "so hard" after their first. 

Plus, they see that I'm pregnant and not 15 and unmarried, so obviously I made this choice very purposefully and not without thought on the sacrifices I'd be making. They don't know anything about me or what I want out of my life. 

If I EVER become one of those people who go around telling pregnant women how hard life will soon get, please shoot me in the head! 

But anyway, I digress.

What bothers me about these comments is that I'm 32 years old - soon to be 33. I'm pretty sure my husband and I were literally the oldest people in our birth class. All of our friends have kids. We both have nieces/nephews that we have grown up with in close quarters. I've lived a lot of life so far. We understand there are sacrifices that come with having children. And we have been wanting these "sacrifices" for quite a while. 

I look back at my life pre-pregnancy, and I think about everything I've done -- my travels, my accomplishments, my late crazy drunken nights -- and I've had so many varied and wonderful experiences. I've had so much fun (at times too much) in my 33 years. 

To be honest I am bored with these experiences. I am ready for family, and faith, and selflessness, and the next chapter of my life. God gave me this child and I am ready for a higher purpose.

Sure, I have regrets or unfullfilled wishes from my past - as we all do. 

There are a few places I haven't traveled yet that I'd like to make it to (Ireland, Brazil, Thailand, Australia, west coast wine country, hike some of the Appalachian Trail, maybe the Grand Canyon?)

There are some skills/hobbies I'd like to learn (Karate/Tae Kwon Doe, knitting, writing a book, learning to write HTML, running a 10K)

Professionally, I'd like to network more, present at conferences more, perfect my craft. I'd like to have the time to work on building my resume and advancing my career. I've completely tapped out the position I am in as there is nowhere to advance in my current program. I wish I'd been able to get a more advanced position before baby, but then would I have had a position conducive to having a family? Probably not.

All of these things will obviously have to wait a bit while I'm preparing for baby and on maternity leave - and after, when I'll be working an alternative schedule and focusing on being a mommy.

And I'm okay with that.

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to have a flexible position so that I can work at home three days a week and not send my baby to daycare five days (as my boss has approved). I don't take these things for granted and I do believe everything happens for a reason, and I'm right where I was meant to be for this change in my life. So I'm fine with some things having to wait.

Plus, everyone always says there is no "perfect" time to start a family. 

If you keep waiting for everything to be perfect, that day is just never going to come. I can't really imagine a more perfect time to start my family, though - two years after marrying the love of my life, when we're totally financially secure, etc. etc. 

Looking back, there are a lot of times that would have been much worse for me to start a family. Looking forward, if I had waited any longer I may have missed my fertility window. So now is somewhat "perfect."

I think about the things I've done in my life and the things I've experienced, and I can't complain. Some people don't even come close to having the experiences I've had, just in my adult life. Some of them may have been a little crazy, and not even healthy. But they were learning experiences, and at the time I had a lot of fun. 

Below are just a few snippets if I flashback on my life and the things I've done/experienced:

  • I've always been a huge music lover and I've been to hundreds of rock/musical concerts - outside, inside, national, local. I've followed bands I loved and met and spent time/friendships/relationships with some amazing musical talent. I have some really fond memories of this and will never stop going to concerts and enjoying beautiful music - with my family in tow.
  • I've traveled to some incredible tropical places outside this country: Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, Bora Bora, and I don't even have room here to describe the beaches, the drinks, the excursions, rainforests, scuba diving and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays, the boats, the sight-seeing, the people I met and other beautiful and amazing happenings on these trips.
  • I've also traveled to incredible places inside this country: I'm sure I'm missing some but all over the west: Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, the Dakotas, Texas. And of course spent lots of time in Florida, the Keys, Sanibel Island, Miami, Kentucky, Nashville, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Virginia, Las Vegas, New York city, Washington DC, Michigan ski resorts and lakes and wineries, lots of time in Chicago etc. And those are just the fun places. I've been fortunate to travel alot.
  • I've had the experience of being so poor I had creditors chasing me and wasn't sure whether my house would be foreclosed on, eating ramen noodles and cheerios for lunch. Being forced to move in with my parents as an adult and start my life over completely. I've also had the experience of being fortunate enough to buy pretty much whatever I want, and right now being fortunate enough to build a beautiful, brand new house. Because of having both of these experiences, I know how to fully appreciate and respect money and instead of buying name brand purses or other ridiculous things women tend to waste their money on, I save what is probably a ridiculous amount of money, just to have the feeling of security which was once lost - and to be able to give my kids that feeling of security.
  • I have a love of learning and enjoyed all of the time I've had to nurture it: I have received a bachelors and masters degrees and a project management certificate, read a thousand plus books, joined and worked for numerous committees and volunteer/philanthropic efforts, and met some of my closest friends and other amazing acquaintances due to these experiences. I have won writing contests and when I was a reporter i had my work published in numerous newspapers and online sites.  In my current position, I am fortunate enough to work with children living in poverty, some of them refugees, getting to know their life experiences, their families, and being amazed almost daily at their strength despite adversity.
  • I have lived "on the wild side" when I was (much) younger - making crazy choices including riding motorcycles everywhere and joining in on biker parties, experimenting with drugs, drinking (too much) into the wee hours of the morning, closing down numerous bars, hanging out with groups of ladies that would go "out" Thursday through Saturday, numerous experiences spending time with "bad boys" who didn't care about anything, etc. etc. I'm left with two tattoos I usually try to cover up and a lot of memories, not all of them good (Including spending a few hours in a jail cell and a protective order and divorce against one of those "bad boys"). I regret a lot of it and I'm so glad to have grown up and removed myself from it all, but at the same time I also met some amazing, good people and had some fun, carefree experiences that I'll never forget (but have no desire to re-live).
  • Just some random things that don't fit anywhere else: I've camped all over the country, climbed the Black Hills and mountains in Arizona, ran numerous 5K races and two triathlons, touched baby tigers and stingrays and sharks and numerous other exotic animals, been "jeeping" up and down sand dunes and mud bogging through rocks in forests in trucks on private property, swam in a rainforest waterfall on an island, almost drowned in a big wave in Mexico, and not too long ago I accidentally dropped a kitchen knife, which stabbed into my foot, leaving me with a permanent scar. :)
  • I have been fortunate enough to have until 33 years old to be able to see myself grow as a person and as an adult -- into the person I really want to be -- spiritually, educationally, and emotionally. I am a completely different person than I was when I was 20, and I'm okay with that. I have  honestly never been in a more emotionally stable, confident, happy, normal, secure state than ever in my life -- I am finally proud of who I am and I don't care what others think of me, and most of all I feel that I'm the woman that God would want me to be -- and that is the absolute best place to be when bringing a child into this world.
The above are the things I can recall in my memory right now - but there are so many more that I'm sure I'm leaving out. So, my very long-winded point is I've definitely lived some life (pre-children).

All of the experiences that I've had with all of the different groups of people from different walks of life have molded me into the person I am today. They've shown me who I want to be and who I don't. They've taught me compassion for all types of people, and color-blindness, and selflessness, and gratitude, and personal responsibility for my life. 

Although there are things I wish I could go back and do over, things I wish I hadn't gotten myself involved in, the good and the bad both have made me who I am today. 

Everything that came before was necessary for me to be who I am - a person who has the capability of being a fantastic mother.

That being said, I see pictures of my friends making sweaty faces in bars on Facebook, and I want to puke. I see pictures of bachlorette parties, and I think: "Thank God I won't be going to any more of those." 

Do I care about not being able to pick up on a whim and go out to dinner or wherever once I have a baby? No, I do not.

Do I care about "missing out" on experiences because I'm "stuck with" the kids at home, or not being able to run wild without responsibilities? No, I do not.

I will value my family like the treasure they are, build a strong relationship with them and give them all the experiences I possibly can in their young lives, rather than running off to have experiences without them. 

And to be honest, I resent parents who do that. I think it's selfish. Having children is a choice -- not everyone can have kids. And your kids are only young for so long.

Sure, after baby there will be the rare time my husband and I may happen to have a babysitter and go out for dinner or to a bar for a drink or two because they have good food or a good band or because our friends happen to be there. I'm not saying I'll never step foot in a bar. 

But I am saying I don't have any real desire to be there, at all. I don't miss being in bars. I feel sorry for friends who feel like, at this age, they still need to be there all the time. There is nothing there for me.  Give me my family and a cup of hot tea and a good book and a nice workout and I have all the endorphins and true happiness I need for an evening.

So my point in this post that has become incredibly lengthy is this: No, I won't miss the life with no strings or all the wild and crazy times. You won't find me wishing I could "get out."

No, I won't feel like I'm "missing out" on all the "fun" being stuck home with my beautiful daughter (OK I know I have not met her, but yes she is already beautiful). 

I will not miss being able to pick up at a moment's notice and leave because a restaurant has a special on 20 oz. beers and 20 cent hot wings. 

I have had those experiences, and then some. Probably too many of them. 

They aren't worth it.

What do I look forward to? Family outings. Family vacations. 

Giving my kids amazing experiences so that they can have an amazing life.

The first time I dip my baby in a pool. Going to church with my kids. I want to learn Tae Kwon Do with my family. I want to hike the Grand Canyon with my children. I want to learn to knit when they have children and I'm retired. I want to take them to every museum, and camp with them, and kayak and canoe and make forts. I want to go sledding in the winter. I want to discover Australia's Great Barrier Reef together, as a family.

Am I being naive to say I will never get sick of my kids or never want any alone time? No, of course not. I know my husband and I will need to do things together as well to nurture our relationship. I know there are times when my kids will be sick of me, as well. I know alone time can be healthy. But it will not be often.

No, my life is no longer for me. I knew that when I got pregnant. 

And I embrace and welcome that. Poop and puke and all.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: 39 Weeks and counting

Yes, that's what I said: I'm 39 weeks pregnant today! I can hardly believe that I have spent almost the last year of my life pregnant, and here I am, at the home stretch.

It's been hard to keep up with much of anything in my life lately, and that includes creative pursuits like blogging. Nonetheless, if my due date is somewhat correct, I only have about a week left of being pregnant -- So I've made myself find the motivation to post tonight.

I would say the end of my pregnancy has been significantly tougher than the woes of the first trimester, but I've realized that in reality they are just different woes. 

I'm not sure I can compare the two. The third tri seems worse now because I'm in it. But if you would have asked me how I felt in the first tri, I would have talked about being absolutely miserable as well. To be honest it was just a different kind of miserable. I was pretty much unprepared for either kind of misery, but they are both tough when waddling your way through them.

So here's what I've been dealing with lately: 

  • Swollen and painful fingers/joints in my fingers (sometimes I can't even make a fist when I wake up)
  • Worsening swelling and pain in my feet/ankles
  • Lack of sleep and worsened fatigue
  • Harder to walk/off balance
  • Complete inability to bend over, almost impossible to tie shoes/put on socks/wash anything lower than my waist in the shower
  • Daily headaches
  • Constant urination that contributes to lack of sleep
  • Worsened sinus congestion (I've been dealing with that my whole pregnancy) 
  • General mental fogginess and lack of memory
  • Weekly doctor's visits (one that caused bleeding from a particularly painful cervical check)
  • Growing out of my maternity clothes/nothing to wear.
  • Shoes don't fit (even flip flops are hard to get on due to swelling)
  • Worsened hormones (urge to cry, get stressed/frustrated easily)
  • Strangely enough, a weird swollen/scratchy throat and larnyx that seems to almost close up when I sleep, causing snoring at night and sometimes even difficulty swallowing during the day. 
  • My body is uncomfortable pretty much all the time - sitting, standing, laying, etc.
So here is a snapshot of my average night: After a couple of hours trying to find a comfortable position in a bed that always seems to be too hot, I finally fall asleep in a fitful, mouth-breathing state, only to wake up approximately 45 minutes later crazy hot with an incredible urge to pee that is painful, like the baby is bouncing her head on my bladder (which she actually is, now that she's engaged head-down). 

I get up and awkwardly roll myself out of bed, usually with an audible groan, because somehow I'm always surprised by how much my feet hurt when they touch the floor (They ache down to the bone, like to the point of limping). So I use the restroom and return to bed, only to repeat the wake/pee cycle every hour or couple of hours. And that is if I don't wake myself up from snoring/lack of breathing or numb hips from laying on my side, before the urge to pee strikes.

That kind of night schedule makes it really hard to get any solid sleep and work the next day, even though I'm only working half days at this point (doctor's orders - but only three days of work left, yay!) It's tough to get through just four hours of work - especially since my feet swell up like watermelons if I sit for longer than a half hour.

And the rest of the symptoms don't help when trying to make it through any day, even without work. Small tasks completely wear me out. Today we went to the grocery store and one more store and I was so exhausted I came home and napped for an hour. 

There is, however, some good news. My sciatica/back pain is completely gone. I've been able to manage that through weekly visits to the chiropractor and exercises. Thank God for that! Next pregnancy I will visit the chiro early on to hopefully prevent that problem.

My husband has been super helpful, cleaning and cooking and taking on a lot of the work around the house. And we've been majorly slowing our lives down, just enjoying one another on the occasional dinner/move night and staying in, cooking and freezing meals for when the baby comes.

Everything is done that needs to be done at this point: We have all the supplies/clothes/diapers, etc. that we need, car seats are installed, maternity leave planned out, all the furniture, strollers, etc., put together. That gives my mind some peace.

It's a waiting game now and believe me, we are watching the clock! I get through each painful day with the hope and joy of finally getting to meet my little girl - a day that should be just around the corner. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Dreams of Sleep

So I know this title is an oxymoron, because you can't dream without sleep. So, using the word "dreams" in the meaning of "hopes," I really "hope" to be able to sleep sometime soon. 

I have been having some major bedtime woes for about two weeks. I get up approximately 5 times a night to pee, and sometimes it's hard to fall back asleep. My little girl loves to roll around and do somersaults into my ribs at night, when she seems to be at her most active. That doesn't help.

Other nights, I have such bad restless leg syndrome that I can't fall asleep for hours. It's impossible to get comfortable when your legs/nerves are twitchy and crampy and the body pillow you can't sleep without is making you super hot. Last week, I averaged about 3-4 hours per night. For a non-morning person who normally gets a minimum o f 8 hours per night, believe me, 3 hours of sleep is NOT enough.

Not sleeping tends to enhance the stress of a already hormonal and irritated momma-to-be. It is a terrible combination, and it's been a struggle to stay positive. Through daily walks, prayer, meditation and a magnesium supplement recommended by my doctor, things were a bit better this weekend.

But I've noticed that lack of sleep has a big impact on weight - or at least what your weight looks like. I don't know why, but around the same time I started having trouble sleeping, I also started looking and feeling much puffier and retaining more water. I've dealt with swollen ankles for a while, but this is the first time I can feel the water retention in my hands and see it in my face. I know this happens to pregnant women but I see myself in a mirror and think, yikes! I feel like a big sluggish whale! I could seriously just eat and sleep all the time (....if I could just sleep).

Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night to hit the bathroom, my feet feel painful - like stingy - and swollen just walking.

Maybe the water retention and lack of sleep aren't connected. Maybe they are both just by-products of being a month away from having a baby, I don't know. My weight, urine sugar, and blood pressure are always fine and healthy when I get my check-up. I just have to remember that.

Regardless, I'm fatigued and just worn out all the time. It's really hard to force myself to take my daily walk, and sometimes I don't make it. My feet hurt all the time, like I just worked a standing 8-hour shift, except I sit at a desk at work.

But enough complaining for now. I'm less than 5 weeks away! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Let there be Light

I can’t complain that much about the third trimester. You know why? No matter how miserable you are, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

When you are miserable in the first trimester, things are just more bleak. That’s because you have like 8 months to go and are incredibly afraid that all of these symptoms are going to persist. 

Also, the baby doesn’t seem quite real back then. You aren’t showing, you aren’t telling people yet, and you still are worried about the possibility of early miscarriage. Things are just so much more exciting when you make it to the third tri. At this point, even if I go into labor prematurely, my baby has a 99% chance of survival.

So when I named a recent post “Almost There,” I meant it. That has been my mantra ever since I hit seven months. At this point I have about six weeks left, and I feel like I can get through pretty much anything for six weeks. Especially since I am finished with all of the tough, stressful things I needed to get through during this pregnancy - such as moving and directing a huge event that I am in charge of at work. I have either slowed or temporarily quit my volunteer commitments, work is virtually stress-free, and I don’t have any major pressing things to be completed in the next few weeks. 

These upcoming summer days are going to be slow-going, which is exactly what I need right now.

 In addition, the major pain I had been feeling early in my third trimester has subsided. Thanks to twice-weekly meetings with a chiropractor and physical therapy, as well as watching my physical activity, I am almost pain-free. Some days it flares up a little, but it is NOTHING compared to what it was. My physical therapist actually said she thought I may have had a slipped disc that worked it’s way back into place, and that is why I’m doing so much better. It doesn’t surprise me, based on the level of the pain I had.

Plus, in your third trimester, people see that you are very obviously pregnant. They understand that you have to walk slow and need help opening doors/carrying things. Even coworkers totally understand your need to be lazy due to fatigue and other ailments. They know why you are bloated and swollen. My boss doesn’t even blink an eye about me wearing my gym shoes to work due to not being able to fit into any other shoes.

 People sympathize with your condition, which makes a world of a difference. Even my husband, a majorly active/borderline hyperactive person, has been good at finding activities to release his energy, such as a church softball league, so that he doesn’t run me down all the time. At this point, he can’t possibly expect me to keep up with him. I wish I could, but it doesn’t matter if it’s incredibly beautiful outside, all I want to do when I get home from work is lay back and put my swollen feet up. 

Sometimes I get into bed at 9p.m., even if I’m not tired yet, simply because my body hurts and I can’t get into a comfortable position anywhere else. (I have an AMAZING body pillow – plus it’s the only quiet place to read in my current abode).

I’m also getting excited about the birth, something I could barely fathom in the first tri. Strange as it may seem, I am actually really looking forward to it. I want to see my little girl and I want to begin this new life!

 I’ve been carrying her around for so long and preparing for her arrival that I don’t care what kind of pain it will take to get her out! I’ve already reviewed my birth plan with my doctor and he was incredibly kind and accommodating about it, which only confirmed that I made a good decision sticking with him. I am giving birth in a big, beautiful new hospital with my husband by my side. A couple of months later, I am moving into a big, beautiful house that is now being built. I will be happily busying myself decorating the nursery before then.

Yes, I have some major heartburn, a little back pain, restless leg syndrome, and majorly swollen ankles. I feel fat and disgusting. I am hot all the time and tired pretty much constantly.

 But --- I see that light at the end of the tunnel.

And based on the 16-year olds I saw in my birthing class, things could be a whole lot worse. Life is good. : )

Friday, May 31, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: My Vow to My Daughter

As I get closer to the birth of my daughter, I am starting to think more about life as a parent -- what kinds of decisions I will make as a mom and how I will handle certain situations. Although having a “baby” seems to be the major focus right now, and diapers and hospitals and onesies and bottles are on my mind, I know very well that my “baby girl” will not be a baby forever.

I will be raising a human being, the most important undertaking I think I have ever embarked upon. I need to be mentally prepared for this.

Through my own experiences as a child, as well as watching others parent throughout the years, I’ve come to some conclusions about some things I’m determined to offer my daughter so that she can have a good, secure, happy life. 

I’ve also come to some conclusions on some things I will not do as a mom (admittedly some of it is based on my observations of mothers while working for a cafĂ© throughout my college years, as well as working with students and parents in my current job. I’ve seen it all).

This list may not be exactly as my husband’s list would be –  he would probably add his own promises from his own perceptions and experiences in childhood, although based on our discussions it should be somewhat similar. : )

My vow to my daughter

  •   I will not spoil you. We are fortunate enough to be able to give you the world, and I will want to, but I will not. You will learn a work ethic and you will learn the value of money. You will need to save up for things you want to buy, and you will need to get a job when you are of age. You will learn how to get your hands dirty, help out with chores, and wash your own car every now and then. You will thank me later.

  • Your first period, first time shaving your legs, trying out makeup, wearing a bra, first high school dance date, and other female milestones, will never be a source of shame for you. We will talk about these things often and early, and we will CELEBRATE them as they happen. You will never feel embarrassed or worried to ask me or talk to me about anything.

  • I will never try to be a “helicopter” parent or run your life completely. I will not force my beliefs or political opinions down your throat or try to control you. I will educate you, and teach you how to question the world around you and seek out your own answers, but you are an individual who will need to make decisions. You will need to learn how to cultivate your own beliefs, as well as how to change them if needed, and fail sometimes, and learn from your mistakes. I will support your decisions, unless of course they cause you or others harm. Especially as you grow into adulthood, I will not push my nose into your business, tell you how you have to live, or get mad at you if you don’t do things the way I want you to. If you are making a huge mistake that could hurt you, I will tell you and try to help you. But, you should not be afraid to tell me what your decisions are or how you and your adult family choose to live. I will trust what I have taught you, and understand and embrace that you have your own family now.

  • You will know God from a very young age. We will cultivate a passion for goodness, a joy for life, and faith in your heart. You will understand that our family follows God’s rules, regardless of religious affiliation.

  • I will never criticize or judge you for what you want to wear, who your closest friends are, your body, your personal habits, etc. This can be very damaging to your self esteem. I will guide you in the direction you need to be, and tell you if you are very off track or doing something that will cause you harm or ridicule from others, but I will never personally attack or shame you for being YOU.

  • You will love learning. We have been inciting a love of learning in you from the womb, and when you are born we will be reading books to you as a baby and using every learning opportunity we can find, whether that be through play, travel, or just new experiences. We will help you learn to think through situations and assertively ask questions when you need an answer. You will not be afraid of school or feel you can’t achieve or learn something, and we will make sure support systems are in place to ensure that.

  • We will try our best to raise you without fear of the unknown. You will not be afraid or hesitant to try new things. We will be engaging you in new, different, and exciting things from the time that you are small to get you accustomed to enjoying every bit of this varied and exciting world, and help you adjust to change and embrace new opportunities as an adult.

  • I will never hit you out of anger. Not when I’m PMSing, not when I’m tired, not when you push all of my buttons. If you say “I hate you,” I will respond with, “I love you.” You will be disciplined, but I will not react to you in physical anger. I promise that with my life.

  • You will understand and accept diversity and differences in others, as God would. You will not hear stereotypical racial, religious or ethnic profiling or hate speak in our household. You will be exposed to differences at a young age so that you do not fear people who are different from you.

  • You will know what it’s like to enjoy and appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature. You will not sit in front of a TV all day or on your iPad for hours. You will go outside. We will make forts in the trees, build snowmen, walk the trails at the park, make snow angels, ride bikes, stare at cloud shapes, go canoeing, run around in the sprinkler, collect rocks and bugs and leaves and toads, make sandcastles, tell stories around the bonfire. You will know the smell of grass and dirt and fresh air. You will problem solve and use your imagination. You will be active, and I promise -- we will have tons of fun.

  •  I am not going to be a pansy mom. If I say you cannot have the candy bar in the supermarket checkout line, you will not get the candy bar. Not if you have a store-wide screeching tantrum. Not if you beg me for an hour. Not if you crawl around on the floor and throw things and embarrass me. You will be disciplined for your behavior, but you will not get that candy bar. If I were to give it to you, I would be teaching you that tantrums get you what you want. Mom stubbornly sticks to her decisions, and you will learn that quick.

  • I promise that even if I’m tired or not in a good mood, if you ask me to talk to you, watch you jump in the pool, look at the picture you drew, or otherwise, I will pay attention and be accessible to you. I will try my best to overcome these times to positively engage with you and be attentive, even when I’m not feeling like it.

  •  I will cultivate your self-esteem and sense of confidence from a very young age. You will know that you are beautiful and okay just the way you are. You are special and unique and God made you to offer something to this world. You will never feel less than worthy or not good enough. I will do this through my own words, messages and actions, positive programs for girls, youth groups, education, etc. This is going to help you immensely when it comes to your relationship with men in the future.

  • I will always advocate for you and stand up for you. You will feel secure, safe, and loved at daycare, school, home, etc. I will be present at your school and communicating often with your teachers. If other adults, teachers, students, etc., are treating you badly, I will intervene on your behalf. Even if you have done something wrong, no child deserves to be treated badly. You will learn the consequences of your actions, but I will not tolerate bullying, ridicule, or just mean treatment toward you, no matter who it is coming from. And whoever it is certainly better watch out once your father gets to them.

  • I will touch you in a loving way. I will hold you, and stroke your back when you cry, and give you lots and lots of hugs. When you are very young, I will tell you I love you often. You will get to the point where you are embarrassed of me and ask me to stop, but I promise I will never stop trying. You will always know how much you are loved.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Diary of a Preggo -- Almost There!

I named this blog post "ALMOST THERE!" for a reason.

I am 31 weeks tomorrow, and the third trimester has not been nearly as kind to me as the second. They said this would happen, actually. All the books said trimester 1 is horrible, 2 is great, and 3 goes downhill fast.

However, I hoped I would avoid some of the woes of trimester three. I thought, I put in my time with all the terribleness of trimester one, right?

I was wrong.

Now, I know this entire blog I've sounded like a major whiner -- not much like my normal "optimist" personality. But to be honest this is the only outlet I have to do it. My hubby is probably incredibly tired of hearing about all my issues. He often asks "what can I do," and I never have an answer. Much of it there is no solution to. And although people are constantly asking me "how are you feeling," I'm sure they don't actually expect me to list all my negative symptoms to them. I hate to sound like a complainer.

So, I am grateful to be pregnant but I am more grateful to be ALMOST THERE, because at this point I'm pretty sure birth is the only thing that will provide me with relief.

The past week and a half the sciatica nerve pain in my buttocks that I had in the first trimester has now flared up to about twice the pain level of before. Basically my uterus is pushing on my sciatic nerve, making it and the muscles around it flare up in pain. It can start in your back and run completely down your legs, but thank God I don't have the leg part. The pain can hit you anywhere on the nerve path. Mine is in a weird spot, like the part of my lower back/hip/pelvis bone at the top part of my butt. Sometimes it's worse in one side or another and sometimes it's painful on both sides. It hurts the most when bending over and twisting. Right now it is so painful that, upon standing up after bending over to shave my legs in the shower, I experienced such a traumatic shooting pain that I screamed. Loudly. It's getting harder to walk.

Tylenol takes the edge of the pain, but does not eradicate it by any means. Every time I have to bend over (and you'd be surprised how often you do that in a day - brush your teeth, grab something out of bottom of fridge, tie your shoes, get something out of a cupboard, etc.) I have to brace myself and I dread it to the point of avoiding bending over, even if I need something. Of course, being pregnant and clumsy I drop things all the time so this does not help at all. It honestly feels like someone stabbed or shot me in the butt. That's the only way I can explain it.

I feel like I now understand what it's like for people who live with chronic pain. They must be angry and depressed all of the time, because that is honestly how I've felt. I feel helpless, and the worst part of it is that it's keeping me from staying active. I've been doing so good keeping up my exercise routine, and now I'm in so much pain that I can't fathom even sitting on a stationary bike for a little cardio.

 Last week I went for a swim (which is supposed to be good for sciatica) and it didn't hurt while I was doing it, but later that evening it hurt much worse. Walking also makes it worse. Walking and swimming are supposed to be the best exercises for pregnant women. The less I work out, the more weight I gain, which depresses me even further. I can't win.

I miss working out. I miss my old body. I miss running the most. I can't wait to run again.

Today I packed a bag and had planned to try and go to the gym. Instead the pain got worse throughout the day. I came home, laid on the couch on the side that doesn't hurt as much, put a pillow in between my legs, and closed my eyes until the Tylenol kicked in, just so I could get up and help make dinner. I was close to tears. I then took a hot bath, and it was the only 15 minutes in the past two days that I didn't feel constant pain. A few minutes after getting out of the bath, the pain was back (a tiny bit better though).

I have a physical therapy appointment tomorrow morning (which took two days of phone calls and paperwork to set up due to referral paperwork and people being out of the office), but honestly I'm not that optimistic about it. The stretches the therapist gave me to do the first trimester are no longer working. It seems to be my doctor's only solution. We'll see if she has any more tricks up her sleeve. If not, the next step is acupuncture or a chiropractor, which I've never really believed in. At this point though, I'm willing to try anything. I only have about two months to go, but two months with constant pain is two months too long.

I can deal with heartburn, fatigue, and swollen ankles (all of which has hit me this trimester); but constant pain, that I can't deal with.

And, my whining is done for the day. Thank you :)

On a positive note, we went to our birth class last weekend and got a tour of the hospital's birthing suites. All my questions got answered, and I honestly feel really good about it. I'm looking forward to the birth. I can't wait to meet her, and tell her all about these 9 months of sacrifice ; )

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Why I'm always late to work

Why This Preggo is Always Late to Work

So, if any of you out there are thinking about becoming pregnant or have recently found out you are pregnant, I would highly suggest adding an extra hour or two to your morning schedule so you can get to work on time.

I am lucky to have a really flexible schedule and don't punch a time clock, but I still find myself getting in later than planned in the mornings now that I am further along in my pregnancy. I realized there are actually a lot of extra tasks, or slower tasks, that are taking up my time as I get bigger. Here are a few:

Five extra minutes: Just add that to your normal shower time. Twisting, turning, bending, etc., while washing is just more difficult. You will have no idea how often you do these moves showering until you are pregnant. Oh, and getting in and out of the tub is a lot more treacherous, so you have to do it carefully.

2 extra minutes: Add that to the normal shave time because attempting to shave your legs is a major, and probably eventually impossible, task.

30 seconds: Rubbing cocoa butter all over your belly.

1 minute: Recovering from running into something in the hustle of getting ready. As you get bigger, your center of gravity changes and you become more clumsy on your feet. I run into things a lot, and drop things a lot. The other day I bent over and flipped my hair over to dry it, and then went to stand up except I ran my head right into the doorknob of the open bathroom door. Ouch. Unfortunately these are common occurrences.

40 extra seconds: Tripping on your pant legs and almost falling over as you try to get dressed.

Ten extra minutes: Trying on a million outfits every day only to find you are bigger and the majority of them don't fit. When you find a pants/skirt, etc. that halfway fits, making it look presentable with either a rubber band, pants extender, or a fabric belly band to cover your open zipper, layered with the right amount of tank tops (sometimes employing all of these rigs together), is a task in itself.

3 extra minutes: The application of makeup and drying your hair while at the same time sweating all over and having to stop and wipe the sweat off (yeah, gross --- you will be hot all the time. I am about to just stop blow drying my hair at this point)

One extra minute: Putting on your shoes and tying them, which will require sitting down and some awkward yoga bent-knee positions.

Five to ten minutes: Preparing a nutritious breakfast, because a pop tart out the door or "no breakfast" will not cut it when you are preggo.

20 extra seconds: Climbing awkwardly in and out of your car.

Depending on your work location, one extra minute: Walking through the parking lot and up the stairs to my building (I used to be a major speed walker)

And let's add one more extra minute before I start my actual work: Chugging water and recovering from being completely out of breath from walking to my office.

If you try to do all of this at the gym locker room, it's even worse (navigating others, dealing with hairdryers that short out so you have to bend down and crawl under counters to re-plug them, not having adequate places to sit down, sweating, hearing gross noises or smells that make you want to puke, etc.) I am actually becoming fond of going to the gym after work, which I hated before, just so I don't have to get ready there.

Regardless, pregnancy is a good sacrifice, and you find what works for you. Pretty soon though, my hubby is going to be shaving my legs. Either that or he better get comfy with a hairy woman :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Pregnancy Myths

So I know I haven't written in a while. I am now 26 weeks - towards the end of my second trimester, and frankly, things have been pretty uneventful. I've also been pretty crazy busy at work so I guess I took my mind off of pregnancy things for a bit.

The second trimester has honestly been fantastic. I really feel like myself - and most of the time I have tons of energy. I'll have off days where I can't stop yawning and am still pretty worthless past 9 p.m., but for the most part I'm good to go. I'm even still able to get to the gym, using a maternity support belt. And I haven't been sick at all. I really hope this lasts!

I also went to physical therapy to work on my back/hip pain issues and it helped quite a bit. The therapist gave me stretches that I do every day at home, so I don't even have to go in there anymore. The other great part is feeling her kicking inside me constantly. It's just a reminder that there is this amazing being inside of me that I get to meet and shower my love upon very soon! She's very active, even the doctor has commented on how much she always kicks and pushes away from the doppler when he is trying to listen to her heart. I'm guessing that's a good thing ;)

Here is one thing I have noticed lately: The  things everyone told me I'd get to enjoy this trimester are really not happening. I guess in my case they are pregnancy "myths."

Here are a couple:

You will have AMAZING hair!

Okay, so my hair is the same. It is not thicker or shinier. In fact, it is probably more dry and straw-like. This is in no way amazing. It is, on the other hand, the complete opposite of the greasy hair I had in the first trimester, so I guess I should count myself lucky.

You will have AMAZING nails! 

My nails are not amazing. Maybe, they might grow a teeny tiny slightly bit faster. But other than that they are not stronger or thicker or super-growing. They are just normal nails. With dry cuticles.

You will GLOW!

Nope, I am not glowing. I'm not sure if that is just something people tell pregnant women so they feel better when they are all hot and puffy (Glow=sweat?), but it doesn't seem to be happening here. The funny part is I've actually had a couple of people tell me I'm glowing, when I know that in fact, I am not. My skin is the same, except it breaks out a little more. Unless I'm working out, I'm not flushed or red. Believe me, I own a mirror, and there is no natural bronzer on this face!

On the positive side, I've also (so far) not had even an inkling of some the other horrible things people said I might get (Can you say hemmorhoids?) Thank God for that. The worst thing I've dealt with in this trimester is a little swelled ankles when I stand or sit too long. That I can handle.

I guess that's all for now. I'm sure I'll be posting more in the third trimester - when things (i.e., me) start to get obnoxious and big!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Becoming Helpless

Diary of a Preggo: On what it feels like to become helpless

Lately I've had a hard time putting my shoes on, painting my toenails, or even stepping into pant legs. My uterus will be the size of a basketball in about a week, and that makes my back less flexible and bending over uncomfortable. I find this particularly annoying, and again, a symptom that no one ever seemed to mention pre-preggo. Being that I'm 5 and a half weeks, that means this is going to get much worse as my baby grows. So I can totally picture having to ask my hubby to help me put my shoes on later on in pregnancy.

Which brings me to the current topic at hand. I really don't enjoy feeling helpless and not being able to do some of the things I did before. Sure, I always found it nice and manly when a guy would hold open a door for me or lift something heavy. But it was just that - nice. It excused me from having to exert myself. But in most cases, except when something is really heavy, I probably could have done it myself. I mean, a door? Sure. I haven't found one I can't open yet. But as I get further and further in my pregnancy my body just seems weaker, and I'm definitely more off balance. The other day I was carrying something and tried to open the door at the same time and I pulled something in my already-painful back. Yea, I know, that's pathetic, but it is reality now. Sometimes people jump to try and help me with things, and I feel bad or embarrassed. I'm finally coming to terms that I do need their help, though.

Let me give you one example. For work I had to visit and oversee the videotaped interview of a 95-year old priest. He is nearly blind and walks with a cane and asked for some help getting back to his office. Surely he couldn't tell I was pregnant, but that didn't matter as my head sometimes forgets that my body is not in the best shape to be helping people around. So of course I agreed. He placed his hand on top of my shoulder and put a suprisingly heavy amount of weight on me and my knees locked in disagreement. As I shuffled around a couple of corners toward his office I felt increasingly off-kilter and even ran into the corner of a table (ouch).  I had pictures running through my head of me collapsing, along with that table and the poor blind priest. Lucky the man above was on his side and that didn't happen. But, that's what I get for trying to help out. Something like that would have been no problem pre-preggo!

Then yesterday, it was the first nice spring day and I was off work for Good Friday so I decided to take the dog around the lakes on campus. That was going to be my workout for the day so I thought I'd run around the lake once (1 mile) and then walk around it the second time. I didn't think much about the fact that pretty much my whole pregnancy, the little running I've been doing has been on a treadmill, which is very different than road running. I was just so happy to be able to run outside again, and I had one of those belly support belts so I thought it would be no problem. I started out fine, but towards the end my quads felt numb and my knees hurt bad. It's just a different type of impact and uses different muscles. Then when I got home and got in the shower, I looked down at my feet and they were all purple and veiny (sorry, gross). I was totally shocked and it freaked me out. That went away after a while but my ankles hurt and then when I went to the mall after, my feet hurt like crazy as if I'd been standing for ten hours. I decided I should either stick to the treadmill or at least work my way up again to road running slowly. I know eventually I will have to stick to power walking, but at least for now I'd like to continue running for as long as I can.

I guess the moral of the story here is that pregnancy is a total out-of-body experience. And it does make a woman completely helpless in some cases. I guess coming to terms with that is hard for me. I wanted to believe I'd be able to do everything I could do before, maybe just a bit slower. But I was wrong.

It's amazing how fast it's gone by. I am officially more than half of the way through, and before I know it, I will be holding my baby, rendering me even MORE helpless. So to those guys that hold doors and carry things, I say thank you. I need you now more than I ever thought I would. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Baby Kicks

Diary of a Preggo: Baby Kicks

Well it's been a wonderful week. My ultrasound has confirmed that my baby and everything else is healthy, I found out I'm having a little girl, and she has been kicking around a lot lately. It's a magnificent reminder of all that is in store in this new phase of my life. And it makes everything I've been through so far so very much worth it.

When I first felt her moving around, that is the first moment that I actually believed 100% there is a living, thriving life inside me. It's beautiful and scary and relieving and mind-blowing all at the same time.

It's so incredibly weird to be walking around for 4+ months knowing you are pregnant but not feeling it, and sometimes not even looking it. I mean sure, I was having all kinds of crazy symptoms, and I haven't had a period for a while, but a human life form growing inside of my body?


 I am capable of that somehow?

I spent so much time wondering why I wasn't showing much, thinking maybe the baby had died inside me or wasn't growing on schedule. Worrying that there must be something flawed about the process and my body couldn't possibly be capable of such a complex undertaking.

I even bought a fetal heart doppler so I could check to see if the heart was still beating now and then. Then when I heard it, I would freak out thinking it was too fast, or too faint, or too slow.

When you can't see, feel, or hear something, it's just so hard to believe it exists, even though all of medical science and a blood test and my doctor confirms it does, in fact, exist.

I guess it's the same thing as faith. You trust God is there for a variety of reasons, even if you can't see him or always feel his presence. And what I've found is eventually that faith is in fact confirmed.

When I first felt her kicks, I felt foolish for all that worrying I had done. The baby was there all along. Just like my faith, although at dark times in my life I've felt that was missing as well.

If anything, feeling this baby move inside me has confirmed my faith, confirmed everything wonderful I thought I knew about this world and this life. It's like rediscovering some sort of magical naive wonder, believing in things I haven't believed in for so long.

Yes, it is possible. Yes, I am capable of this.

Look around, every person on this planet - billions of them - was birthed by a woman. That's the only way they could have gotten here. As I type, the baby is moving all around and poking me as if she knows I write for her.

A reminder to keep the wonder. Remember the magic. Trust in your faith.

Never stop being amazed by the beauty all around us, and inside of us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Being sick while preggo

The Joy of Being Sick While Preggo

So, Eve ate the forbidden fruit and Adam went along like the fool he was. According to the story of creation, that is why we women now bear the excruciating pain of child bearing.

Well, thanks a lot, Eve. This post is dedicated to you.

But first: Although you may not be able to tell from these posts, I am incredibly grateful to be carrying a child and happy that I am healthy and physically able to do so. It took us a little longer than planned to get pregnant, and it’s been a life-long dream of mine to be a mom. I know this will be fulfilling in every possible way, and I am so grateful and blessed that it worked out for us.

However, as you’ve read in my previous posts, this pregnancy has been no walk in the park. Or run in the park….in the rain, for that matter. So this blog happens to be a perfect place to air my complaints. I'm sure once the baby comes the posts will be sprinkles with happy baby and mom stories. I'm just not there yet.

I’ve realized that being sick while you are pregnant must be some sort of torture, a pain so incredible that can only be designed to punish Eve. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the actual act of childbirth, but at least that only lasts a day or so, while I’ve lost about a month total to different sicknesses while pregnant (And I’m only halfway through!)

My first trimester, on top of being incredibly nauseous and tired, I also got a nasty sinus infection. I missed my husband’s work Christmas dinner and my head was in so much pain one night I was literally holding a heating pack on it and crying. Of course I could not take anything else but Tylenol and we all know Tylenol is a joke – it did nothing. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been in so much pain I was scared. I felt like I was having a panic attack and I was afraid my baby could feel how stressed and scared I was. I’ve always struggled with sinus issues in the past but I’ve been able to take decongestants, mucinex, and Advil sinus, which took away the pain and cleared it up quick. Nope, can’t have any of those while you are pregnant. And instead of knocking myself out to sleep with Nyquil, I struggled to sleep trying to mouth-breath since I couldn’t breathe out of my nose.

Fast forward to the second trimester. I’m feeling much better and my energy is up. But right when I get back on a workout schedule and start getting some sense of normalcy back, I get hit with a nasty cold virus, which then turns into bronchitis, which then morphs into another sinus infection. Wowza. I coughed so much my entire throat, esophagus, and lungs deep in my chest felt like they were on fire and swollen. A couple of Advil would have taken care of that swelling easily, but no. When I did get on a pregnancy-safe antibiotic, my throat got better but lo and behold, my nose closed up. I seriously went through an entire box of Kleenex in four days. I’m still dealing with it now, and although I’m a bit better, two weeks later and I’m still coughing sometimes and dealing with bouts of teeth pain and sinus headaches. Last night, my husband pushed me out of a blissful sleep to tell me I was snoring. 

If you are pregnant, you know it’s hard to fall asleep in the first place. And the minute you get woken up you have to get up to pee, which means by then you are going to have a hard time falling back asleep. Hello, I was snoring because I can’t breathe out of my nose. I don’t really have a choice in that. Sometimes I wish he could be pregnant…just for like a week or two…seriously.

Let me also add that I’ve been this sick even though I am a healthy person with healthy habits. I wash my hands often, have hand sanitizers in my car, purse, and office and use them frequently, take several vitamins daily, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise, drink lots of water, etc. etc. So there is no fathomable reason for me to be getting this sick unless it has to do with immune system changes due to pregnancy.  Just Googling “pregnant and have a cold” gave me solace as there are thousands of women out there struggling in a panic with the same problems. Yet another crazy symptom!

I know once the weather clears I will start to feel better, but this sick stuff is starting to get ridiculous. Can I pretty please just spend the second half of my pregnancy healthy? 

I swear, I will not make my husband eat the fruit!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Diary of a Preggo: Pregnancy makes people forget their manners

 Pregnancy Makes People Forget their Manners!

Now that everyone knows I am pregnant (18 weeks), I’ve noticed some strange reactions from well-meaning people.

For example, shortly after the “congratulations” go around, some women love to start talking about my weight. Now, I haven’t gained much yet - the normal amount of weight for being this far along. But even before I’d gained a couple pounds, women started focusing on weight as soon as they found out I was pregnant.

I’ll need to give you a little history here which explains why this bothers me so much. Since shortly after high school, I’ve struggled with my weight. I gained a little in college and spent a couple years kind of chubby before figuring out it was the stupid birth control shot I was on. As soon as I got off that, the weight melted off in like two months without changing anything. But that time period was still damaging to my self-esteem. I spent the next 8-9 years as happy and skinny as could be, without even exercising. Then my marriage and finances started to take a downhill turn and I became depressed. I could tell my metabolism had also slowed as I neared 30 years old. What do you know, the weight started coming back on, a little bit every month. I made some feeble attempts at exercising but didn’t have a gym membership or a gym buddy, so it was hard to stay motivated. Every time I tried to run, treadmill or not, my exercise induced asthma kicked in after 10 or less minutes and I quit.

Instead I started surviving on carrots, slim fast shakes, protein water and the occasional yogurt, eating like 800-1,000 calories a day. I was starving and miserable all the time and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t lose even a pound. After seeing a nutritionist and fitness experts years later, I learned I had actually broken my metabolism by eating less than half the calories I should have been taking in every day. Plus, being so hungry and depressed makes it really hard to get motivated to workout. If I had eaten enough calories of nutritious food plus practiced a good workout plan, I’m sure I would have been able to lose the weight. But I had no idea what I was doing and was too emotionally traumatized with everything in my life weighing on me to figure out how to fix it.

When I finally made the decision to separate from my ex-husband, I made a lot of other big, life-changing decisions. I would do whatever I could to not be back in that horrible place. Some of the weight melted off immediately, probably just a reaction to not being in crazy stress 24-7. I also talked to my doctor to figure out why I couldn’t breathe when I ran. I signed up for fitness classes and went to the gym by myself, even though I felt totally incompetent there. I started running outdoors, with the help of my new inhaler, and forced myself to push through the hard moments when I  thought I couldn’t breathe after one block. Getting away from negative influences and finding newfound hope in life gave me the happiness and peace to be able to sleep at night, giving me more energy during the day. I started getting interested in nutrition, and read up on how to eat right. I may have been broke and in a small apartment, but I had cheerios, laughing cow wedges, and drawers full of fresh fruits. My apartment gym was a walk away; I always ran there and back. I made new friends who were fitness oriented. I made sure any guy I even thought about dating was also active and interested in fitness. I needed a life partner who had the same goals as I did.

And what do you know, the pounds continued to melt off. Fast forward two years, and I’m at my happy weight, doing triathlons and 5K’s and married to a wonderful man who takes bike rides and runs with me daily.

With that history, you can see why I am a little sensitive when it comes to weight. I’ve always been careful about what I eat and would never call myself lazy, regardless of the couple of times I have gained weight. But it hasn’t been easy for me. I have never been the kind of girl that can eat dessert regularly or not pick and choose every little thing that goes into my mouth.  At  5’2 I am petite but also short and stout, so even two extra pounds is obvious on my small frame. Some women haven’t worked out a day in their life and stay skinny. Me, I have logged everything that goes in my mouth in a food journal for like two years. I work out most days a week, and if I didn’t, I would gain weight, even while eating healthy. But instead of taking the hand life dealt me and focusing on how “unfair” that is, I fight back with fitness and nutrition.

Normally, it wouldn’t be socially acceptable for people to walk up to me for no reason and say “how much weight have you gained?” or other comments on my body. But for some reason when I am pregnant, women think they can make rude comments like this all the time.

Women, hear me: Someone’s pregnancy does not give you a license to talk about their weight or give them unsolicited opinions on pregnancy weight gain. It’s rude. If anything, pregnancy is a time when women are even more sensitive about their weight. If they are like me and spent their whole life trying to keep it off, the prospect of gaining it on purpose, even if you have to for the baby, is incredibly scary.

The one I hear the most is “I gained 60-70-80 pounds when I was pregnant, that was such a mistake. I was stupid. It was SO hard to get it off. I’ll never do that again. Don’t be like me. Don’t eat everything in sight...”


How much of an idiot do you think I am? Of course I would never “eat everything in sight” or gain 60 pounds on purpose! What an insult to my intelligence! I mean yes I am much hungrier than usual, which is normal, but I’m eating a lot of protein shakes and healthy foods and not like entire pans of brownies (like Jenny McCarthy said she ate every day in her pregnancy book – yikes).

The only reason I may gain a few more pounds than I’d like is due to decreasing my exercise level. My first trimester I could hardly move and even now, though I’m back into a workout schedule, I often have back pain or other sickness that prevents me from doing as much for as long as I’d like. Even on the bad days I will sometimes force myself to power walk on a high incline for 40 minutes or do a yoga DVD, but that’s nothing compared to the almost daily 5k’s I was running in my neighborhood.

However, even if I do gain more than planned, I will be back at a major diet and fitness routine as soon as my doctor says I can. I’m already signed up for a 5K in October, giving me two months to train. I already have not one, but TWO jogging strollers given to me by friends and family. (one that has seats for two kids)To be honest, I’m only 4 and a half months and chomping at the bit to get back to my normal workout routine. And, I’ll be burning 500 calories a day breastfeeding. So suck on that.

I’ve also heard this a couple times: “I only gained 15 pounds. Just because the doctor says to gain 30, you don’t need to do that. Back in my day, pregnant women didn’t gain that much.”

Please, don’t pretend to be smarter than my doctor. The only way I could gain that little is by dieting, which is dangerous during pregnancy. I am not underfeeding myself so that my baby can leach calcium from my bones and cause me osteoporosis in later life. Babies will find a way to get proper nutrition to survive, it’s science. And modern science has seriously evolved since “back in your day.”

Oh, and with all due respect, shut up.

Last but not least, for those women I hear going around telling everyone in earshot how much weight they gained during their pregnancy and how dumb they were, I’ve noticed that each and every one of them are at a healthy weight. Not one person who has come up to me and said that was slightly chubby or overweight. So, obviously it was a temporary situation for them and not the end of their life.

So please, women, stop running your mouth and trying to scare the crap out of already sensitive first-time pregnant women.

And if you ask me “how much have I gained,” I will smile politely and say something vague, because I am not going to give you that answer. It’s none of your business.