A few more things…

After the amazingly positive response I received on the post I made yesterday, I wanted to add a few additional thoughts.

Sharing the News

Getting pregnant is an exciting thing and it’s natural to want to share that news.  People go to great lengths to plan funny or exciting ways to share their news.  They make funny videos, do photo shoots, take cute pictures with their older child holding a sign saying “only child expiring July 2016” or with a tiny pair of baby shoes between the parents’ shoes.  When I got pregnant with Julia, Ken and I told our parents right away.  Within a week of my positive pregnancy test, we had told the rest of our immediate and extended family.  Within a month we had told pretty much all of our close friends, and by the end of the first trimester we posted on Facebook to share the news with the world.  We were blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy and we got to bring a baby home at the end of 9 months.

I am the type of person who likes to share exciting news with the knowledge that if anything horrible were to happen, I would want the support of my friends and family.  I’ve never been a private or secretive person.  (If I were, I wouldn’t have this blog!)  But deciding whether or when to share news of a pregnancy is a very personal decision.  When we started telling people, a couple friends were surprised and suggested that we wait until 12 weeks to tell more people.

This time we did the same thing we did last time… we told our parents immediately and shared the news with some close friends.  We told Ken’s whole family on Thanksgiving (my sister-in-law asked if I would drink some of the sangria she was planning to make, and when I said no, she immediately knew something was up!)  I don’t regret telling people, even though it has been hard to un-tell people.  I’ve had to send texts and messages to people saying “Never mind, there won’t be a baby in July.”  But the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from those same people has made it all worth it.  Next time I will definitely be a bit more guarded with my emotions surrounding pregnancy and I have no doubt I will be on pins and needles until we have a healthy ultrasound and see a heartbeat but I don’t think I will hesitate to share our exciting news because even if it ends with sadness, it’s still exciting at the time, and if anything were to happen again, I know I will need the support of friends and family.

The one regret I have is that we told Julia, too.  People warned us not to tell her but I think because my first pregnancy went so well I expected this one to be uneventful, too, and I didn’t want to wait.  She’s sometimes a rough-and-tumble kind of kid and she was being a bit too rough with me, wanting to sit on my belly to “ride the horsey.”  So we told her by explaining that she needed to be gentle with me because there was a tiny little baby inside of my belly.  We told her it was teeny tiny and that it was going to grow and grow and grow and eventually come out and she would be a big sister.

On Friday after my appointment, when we found out that the pregnancy was not viable, we had to tell her that we were wrong and that there wouldn’t be a baby.  Her reaction surprised me–she started bawling.  She was devastated and kept saying, “I want a baby brother!  I want to be a big sister!”  She still brings it up even a week and a half later.  Whenever we are sad, she asks, “Are you sad because there’s no baby?”  And every time she asks it breaks my heart.  Next time we will NOT tell Julia until much later in the pregnancy.  I can’t bear to break her heart again like we did this time.

Why I’m still very blessed

I have one beautiful healthy 3-year old.  I know I can get pregnant (and fairly quickly at that).  With Julia I got pregnant the first month we tried.  This time, I stopped my birth control (and weaned) in July.  I got pregnant our 5th month trying but my guess is that the first few months my hormones were leveling back to normal after birth control and breastfeeding.

I know that the number one predictor for having a healthy pregnancy is a prior healthy pregnancy, and when I came home after my D&C, Julia was there waiting for me, giving me hugs and promising to take care of me.  She reminded me why this is all worth it.

Many many women don’t have that when they lose a pregnancy and that would be so much harder to handle (in my opinion).  At least I know that I’m only 30 and that my body seems to know how to do this.  Unlike so many friends of ours, we do not seem to struggle with infertility because I can get pregnant, it’s just a question of getting pregnant with a healthy embryo and staying pregnant.

My heart goes out to families struggling with getting pregnant in the first place because that is a very difficult road to walk.  We are lucky to live in an age with lots of technology but it’s not easy to need testing, to take hormones or shots, to make your body ovulate if it’s not doing it on its own, to create embryos using eggs and sperm removed from the body.  That’s a much more expensive and treacherous road to walk and I feel grateful we have not had to do that.

Comparing Losses

Pregnancy loss sucks, no matter when it happens, and no matter how.  And everyone experiences that loss in their own personal and unique way.  I don’t think there’s ever a need to compare one person’s loss to another.  I do think the timing and type of loss we experienced may be slightly easier to handle than it would have been if I had been farther along, or if we had seen a heartbeat one week and then went back to see no heartbeat the following week.  But pregnancy loss is not something to compare or compete on.  It sucks and each person experiences it in their own way.  A loss at 7 weeks is just as sad and tragic a loss as one at 13 weeks.  It’s a personal experience and sad no matter when it happens.

The “M” word

After I posted yesterday’s blog post, I got about 12-15 messages from people saying “I read your post.  Thank you for sharing your experience.  I had a miscarriage too and never felt comfortable talking about it.”  There is this horrible silence that surrounds miscarriage.  It’s as though the word is a bad word.

I really think that needs to change.  Because people don’t talk about it, when it happens, you feel so alone until people start sharing their experiences and then you realize you are in good company.  The statistic I’ve heard is that one in 5 known pregnancies ends in miscarriage.  On top of that, there are miscarriages people experience when they never even knew they were pregnant.  They assume their period is just late and heavier than usual but it turns out they were pregnant and just never knew it.  One high estimate is that 1/3 of pregnancies ends in miscarriage.  And yet there’s still this silence around it such that people feel so alone and isolated when it happens.

I don’t know how to change the culture around Miscarriage but I’m going to do my part by talking about it, sharing my experience and encouraging others to share their experiences.

Miscarriages suck.  I wouldn’t wish one on my worst enemy.  But it’s not a bad word.  It helps to talk about it and to know that you’re not alone when it happens.


Pregnancy Confessions & Things to NEVER Say to a Pregnant Woman

I’ve been thinking lately about some of the things that have been getting to me lately that people say, and also about some of the deep dark secrets that I’ve been holding onto regarding pregnancy, so here, in no particular order, and intertwined, is my list of Pregnancy Confessions and Things you should NEVER say to a pregnant woman:

1) NEVER say “You’re getting close now!”  In response to this, I want to say something along the lines of, “Thank you Captain Obvious!”  or “No S*** Sherlock!”

2) NEVER tell a pregnant woman that her belly is either really big or really small… it will make her question whether the baby is too big and maybe she has gestational diabetes and won’t be able to birth a 10 lb. baby or it will make her think that the baby is too small and is going to have intra-uterine growth restriction and won’t be able to breathe on his/her own.

3) Don’t ask a pregnant woman how she’s feeling unless you are actually prepared for her to answer your question truthfully and honestly and you also must be prepared for her to start crying. 

4) Confession: I have an irrational fear every time I go to the bathroom that my water is going to break, so even when I’m at work,  I bring my phone with me to the bathroom every time just in case I need to call for help from the bathroom.

5) Confession: I hate it when people tell me that my lack of sleep is just my body’s way of preparing me for when the baby gets here.  If my body really wanted to prepare me for when the baby gets here, then my body would let me sleep as long as I want to every night so that I’m well rested and relaxed when the baby gets here. 

6) Confession: Every time I start feeling crampy or feel like my belly is getting tight and hard, I pull up the Contraction Timer on my phone just in case but I’m really afraid of actually going into labor.

7) Confession: During pregnancy, I’ve eaten deli meat, sushi, soft cheeses, and I’ve had caffeinated beverages.  And you know what… I don’t care!

8) This one is for Husbands of pregnant ladies: If your pregnant wife tells you she wants you to go to an appointment with her, or wants  you to help her make some decision that she feels is important, even if you couldn’t care less, pretend it’s one of the most important decisions of your life, and just suck it up and go with her. 

9) Confession: I’m not too scared of having a C-Section… I’m not too scared of the first few days in the hospital or recovery… and I’m not even that scared of the first 3 weeks at home with the baby since I know my mom will be there with us to help us, but the thought of being home by myself with the baby after my mom leaves is terrifying.

10) I’ve woken up in the middle of the night several nights in a row now because of baby-related nightmares having to do with nursing, poopy diapers, drowning the baby in the bathtub accidentally, or leaving the baby in the car.  This makes me scared I’m going to be an unfit mother.

Funny Realization

I just had a very funny realization… I’ve been so wrapped up in being pregnant and in all of the ins and outs of pregnancy that I realized that I know very little (i.e. nothing?) about newborns and babies in general… I mean sure, I’ve played with babies, I’ve babysat for babies, I even worked at a day care for babies back when we lived in Baltimore but I don’t know anything about babies getting sick, techniques for getting babies onto a sleeping schedule, how much babies need to eat, when you start introducing baby food and then solid food, how to take care of first aid issues, when babies should reach certain milestones, etc.  Babies are really a mystery to me!

I think that having a baby of our own is going to be a lot different than going to visit babies or playing with other peoples’ babies.  When our baby starts crying in somebody else’s arms, they’re going to give the baby to me or to Ken to calm her down or feed her.  Rather than being able to leave the house when it’s time for the baby to go to sleep (like I used to do when I babysat), we’ll be the ones coming home to put the baby to sleep.

I figure that a lot of it is stuff that Ken and I will learn together over the first few weeks and a lot is probably different with each baby.  Our task in the first couple of months is to learn our baby… what soothes her, what makes her happy, what makes her giggle, what she doesn’t like, etc. and to establish some routines with her: a diaper changing routine, a feeding routine, a bed time routine, etc.  All of the health and safety types of issues we can sort of deal with as they arise–we’ll have an idea of when she’s sick by looking at her symptoms and seeing how she’s acting, and luckily we have a lot of friends who are Pediatrics residents or Med/Peds residents and can come check on her to see if everything is okay.  Plus, when we really need her to be seen, that’s what Pediatricians are for!

So much has happened since I last posted!

I just looked at the calendar and realized that the last time I posted was the last day I was at work, and today’s my first day back since then!  So much has happened in the interim that it’s hard to know where to start!  I guess I’ll start in the most logical place… last Monday, right where I left off! 

Monday afternoon at work, everyone was getting ready for the storm–people with desks near the windows had to put plastic bags over their computer monitors to protect them in the event that windows broke and water got in the building.  Everyone was talking about their plans: evacuate?  Shelter in place?  etc. etc.  It was quite hectic and stress-inducing just hearing all the talk about the storm.  All of the anticipation is what scares me the most.  Around 2 PM we got a message that we were free to go and that we would get updates about when to come back to work.  Ken also got out of work around that time and then found out later in the day that he would also be off until Thursday at the earliest.  Knowing Ken would not have to work definitely made me feel better about our plan to stay at home during the storm.  I had been really nervous about the possibility of being stuck at home by myself without power while Ken was at the hospital. 

Tuesday we hit the 32-week mark, and the Baby was the size of a Squash!

Tuesday morning when we woke up, the wind had started to pick up a little bit but there was nothing crazy happening yet.  We went on a walk down to Stein’s Deli to get bagels for lunch.  It was absolutely packed since apparently it was one of the only places open Tuesday morning.  Around 1 or 2 in the afternoon is when the wind started to pick up, and so did the rain.  Most of the afternoon and evening the wind and rain was pretty constant.  We ended up spending a lot of time next door with our landlords, watching TV, sitting around and chatting, playing with their kids, etc.  Over night on Tuesday, our windows were rattling and the wind was whistling outside.  We got ourselves set up with flashlights nearby so that if the power went off, we would be ready.  The storm continued all day Wednesday and into Wednesday night.  By Thursday morning, it had pretty much stopped.  Somehow we were EXTREMELY lucky and we never lost our power.  All of our friends lost power sometime on Tuesday night or Wednesday and some people ended up not getting their power back until Monday or Tuesday this week!  We were really lucky, so a few friends came by to store food in our fridge and freezer.  People also came by to charge their phones and use our internet.  It’s amazing how dependent we all are on electricity to live our day-to-day lives!  Thursday, Ken and I took a drive around the city to check out some of the damage–there were a lot of trees that fell down and lots of power lines that were down.  A couple of buildings had a lot of damage but for the most part, the buildings in New Orleans proper were okay.  Several other parishes had a lot more damage and they are going to need a lot of help getting back on their feet.  Ken ended up not having to go back to work until Friday morning and I found out I was off until Tuesday (but since I was already taking Tuesday off to spend the day with my mom, I didn’t actually have to report back to work until Wednesday morning).

Friday my mom arrived in the evening, and then she, Ken and I went to Shabbat dinner at our Rabbi’s house.  It was very hectic and busy because they were hosting a lot of people who didn’t have power and therefore didn’t have a place to stay or to make food.  It was really nice of them to open up their home like that to so many people!  Saturday, Ken was on call so my mom and I spent the day together–we went through baby clothes, we went out for lunch, we went to Macy’s to do a little shopping, etc.  We had a great day together!  Saturday night when Ken got home, the three of us went over to the home of some of Ken’s colleagues and we played a couple of rounds of Texas Holdem and Black Jack.  My mom really enjoyed meeting some of our friends and seeing a bit of what our lives are like on an every day basis.  After poker, we came home and went to bed since Ken had to work early the next morning. 

Around midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I woke up with HORRIBLE lower back pain on my right side.  I had no idea what it was but it was really bad.  I couldn’t find a comfortable position to lie down in and I was tossing and turning because it hurt so badly.  I woke up Ken, who rubbed my back for a while, but I felt bad waking him up because I knew he had to get up early the next morning to work.  Finally the pain was unbearable so I went into my mom’s room and woke her up.  We figured out that the only thing that made the pain any better was putting pressure on it, so we rolled up a blanket for me to sleep on and we put it right under the spot that was hurting.  That made me feel a little better but the pain was still pretty bad.  In the morning the pain had not gone away, and Ken said I should call the doctor.  I called the on-call doctor (who happened to be my own OB!) and she said to come in to make sure it wasn’t a kidney or bladder infection or pre-term labor.  So I woke up my mom and told her that we had to go into L&D at the Hospital for me to get checked out. 

We got to the hospital and they hooked me up to monitors.  The baby’s heartbeat was doing fine and she was moving around a lot and luckily I wasn’t having any contractions.  They took a urine sample for me and the quick Urinalysis showed that there was bacteria in my urine, so the doctors decided they were going to treat me for a UTI.  They sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics and said to call them if I had a fever of 100.4 or higher.  Right around the time they were about to let me go, I started to feel very feverish.  I’ve always been good at knowing when I have a fever because my symptoms are very clear to me.  The resident took my temperature and it showed 98.8 degrees.  She felt my forehead and said I did feel rather warm but she decided to go by what the thermometer said, so she sent me home with my prescriptions.  We dropped off the prescriptions and then went home.  I crawled into bed and was going to try to take a nap but I was still feeling feverish so I took my temperature with our own thermometer and it read 100.85.  At that point we called L&D and told them that I spiked a fever, so they said to come back in and they would be admitting me for IV antibiotics.  Ken met us at home when he got off from work, and we went straight to the hospital.  Admitting me took several hours but finally they put me in a room and hooked me up for IV Fluids.  I got one dose of IV Antibiotics Sunday night and they said they were going to monitor me over night.  We got different stories from different people about when I would be able to go home–the attending said I would probably be in the hospital for 2-5 days and the resident said it would be around 24 hours.  Ken stayed in the hospital with me over night on Sunday night, and in the middle of the night I spiked a fever of 101.6.  They told me that because of that they were going to keep me for at least 48 hours without a fever.  Luckily I didn’t spike another fever and I ultimately got to go home late Tuesday, around dinner time after 2 more doses of IV Antibiotics.  I was sent home with prescriptions for more antibiotics–I’m on a treatment dose of antibiotics for 11 days and then a preventative dose for the rest of my pregnancy and until the baby is 6 weeks old. 

Apparently the reason that kidney/bladder infections are so common during pregnancy is that as the uterus gets bigger to accommodate the baby, it presses on your urethra and bladder which can cause the bladder to not empty completely, which can in turn cause infections.  So they need to keep me on antibiotics until my uterus shrinks back down to a normal size before the risk of infection goes away.  I’m still having some pain in my back from the infection but hopefully as I continue to take the antibiotics the pain will subside. 

In other news, on Tuesday we hit the 33-week marker, and baby is now the size of a Honeydew Melon or a Durian (I had never heard of Durians so I looked them up on Wikipedia–apparently it is a very smelly fruit that is sometimes banned because it’s so stinky! )

(I thought this sign was really funny!)

Tuesday night after I got discharged, my mom and I went to another La Leche League meeting at Zuka Baby.  This one was nicer than the last one I went to, partially because it was much smaller and there were fewer militant people there.  I think the ladies who were there also really enjoyed the fact that my mom was there because she shared her stories about breastfeeding me until I was almost 2 and a half.  After the meeting, anyone who attends gets a discount on certain products at the store, so my mom very generously bought me the breastpump that I had registered for!  Wednesday I took the day off from work to spend with my mom since we didn’t get to do the fun things that we had wanted to do on Tuesday.

First, I had an appointment with the MFM and my mom got to come with me!  The appointment went well and we finally had some questions answered that we had for a long time.  It turns out the baby is still head up and chances are, because of the size and shape of my uterus, that she will not have space to turn around.  She does still have 4 more weeks to turn around, but if she’s not head-down by 37 weeks, I will probably be scheduled for a C-Section around 39 weeks.  We asked about the possibility of doing an ECV or a vaginal breech delivery, but my doctor advised us against either of those because they are just too risky because of my Unicornuate Uterus.  It’s important just to keep the end goal in mind: a healthy baby and a healthy mommy and if the healthiest way to achieve that end result is with a C-Section, then that’s what we will do.  We did get a couple of cute pictures of the baby during the Ultrasound including this one of her face with her chubby cheeks and kissy lips!

After the appointment, my mom and I went to get coffee and then we went to the Maternity Store.  We went with the goal of getting a Maternity Support Belt (which we found) and while we were there we found some clothes for me–3 shirts and 2 pairs of leggings!  We then went home to pick up Ken and the three of us went out to lunch at Rum House, one of my favorite restaurants.  After lunch, we dropped off Ken and my mom and I went for some spa treatments–I got a mani/pedi and my mom got just a pedicure.  At the Spa, my mom also bought me my birthday present–2 prenatal massages!  I scheduled the first one for next Saturday, and after that one I’ll schedule the second one for sometime a little closer to my due date.

Finally, since I didn’t get a chance to post HDBD photos for the past couple of weeks, I do have this photo that my mom took of me & Ken yesterday afternoon.  I really love this photo and my mom said she thinks the Baby will like it a lot, too!

Now I’m hoping to stay out of the hospital for the next several weeks and to keep this baby cooking at least 3 or 4 more weeks.  I’m also hoping to have a fun and enjoyable birthday celebration this weekend since my 27th birthday is this Sunday.  Not sure  yet what the plans are, but whatever they are, I’m sure they will be lots of fun!  Hopefully my next update will be much more routine… no more hurricanes, no more trips to the Hospital, just a regular old weekly pregnancy update!

No Clever Title

I have a bunch of random things to talk about today so this post is going to be somewhat random and rambling.  For that, I apologize in advance.  It’s not all baby-related but there’s just a lot on my mind today. 

Last night I went to my second pre-natal yoga class.  This one was taught by a different instructor, and it was lovely!  We did a couple of poses or stretches that I’m going to try to remember because they felt really nice… one felt really good for my hips and another felt really good for my lower back and pelvis.

After the class, I asked the instructor if she knows of any poses that are particularly good for encouraging a breech baby to flip around and go head-down.  She suggested doing a lot of the poses that involve going on hands and knees–I think they’re called the cat and the cow, or something like that… I have a feeling Ken would laugh at me doing some of these poses, so I’ll probably try to sneak in some time to do them every day while he’s at work! 

It’s hard to believe, but there are now only 60 days left until my due date, but G-d only knows how many days there are until the Baby makes an appearance.  All I know is that each day brings us closer and closer to meeting our Baby Girl!  As the time gets closer, I get more excited while also getting more nervous.  So 60 days to go!

This weekend we have much to celebrate.  The 7th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up on  Wednesday, and this weekend, partially in honor of that, our synagogue, Beth Israel, is having their big dedication weekend.  Before Hurricane Katrina, Beth Israel was in a building in Lakeview that was destroyed during the storm.  The whole Jewish community was devastated by the loss, but because of some strong-willed and dedicated individuals, the Beth Israel community has been slowly rebuilding itself.  For the past 7 years they borrowed space in a Reform Synagogue in Metairie, and we’ve been having services in there.  Ken and I became involved with Beth Israel shortly after we moved here in the Summer of 2008.  It has been a very welcoming, warm and loving community to become a part of.  Over time, the Beth Israel leadership decided that it was time to build a new building, and so over the past couple of years we saw them pick a spot, go through discussions about what the building should look like, pick a contractor, clear the space, break ground and now finally the building is done and this weekend is the big Dedication weekend for the brand new building. 

There is a famous picture that appeared in newspapers around the world, of someone (a relief worker?  A Jewish volunteer? A rabbi?) carrying one of the Torah scrolls out of the old Beth Israel building and I think it only begins to touch on the devastation that Katrina brought to the Jewish community of New Orleans. 

But this weekend, we’re celebrating the renewal, the dedication, the rebirth of Beth Israel.  Here’s a photo of the new building.  Walking into it the first time a few weeks ago for services brought tears to my eyes.  Even though I was not here and was not personally affected by Hurricane Katrina, I have been a part of this community and I have felt the warmth and strength that the community has a whole and that many individuals have.  People have dedicated their whole lives to Beth Israel and have thrown so much of themselves into it.  I’m sure that this weekend there will be lots of laughter and tears, remembering what happened but also celebrating what is to come. 

It’s kind of ironic that while all this is going on this weekend, there is a Tropical Storm, Isaac, brewing and heading towards Florida, then Cuba, and then possibly into the Gulf and towards New Orleans.  As of right now (11 AM on Friday morning), New Orleans is within the 5-day cone showing the likely path of the storm, but as we’ve all learned, the cones don’t necessarily mean much of anything and a lot of this will be a wait-and-see game.  Storms change paths all the time depending on weather conditions, currents, temperatures, winds, etc.  

Of course it’s important to have a plan–what would we do if a storm were in fact headed towards New Orleans and we were told that we needed to evacuate… now that Ken is a resident, he’s considered to be a necessary personnel so I could leave, but Ken probably wouldn’t be able to.  Where would I go?  Would I take the cats?  What if I were to go into labor while evacuated and miles away from Ken?  A couple of weeks ago we were talking about what our plans would be and I think that this close to my due date, and knowing that I’m at risk of going into preterm labor, I would probably choose to stay in New Orleans if a storm were headed this way (unless, of course, there were a mandatory evacuation).  I would park my car somewhere high in a garage, and I would probably stay home with the cats unless something happened, in which case I would head to the hospital (hopefully I could get an ambulance or police officer to drive me there if necessary!).

Furniture & Childbirth Education Class #2

Yesterday, as a surprise to me, Ken put the crib together!  I had asked him earlier in the day if we could assemble it together, and his response was essentially, “No way, Jose!”  He said there was no rush to put it together, but I responded that I thought it would be fun.  So when I got home, he told me, “Don’t go upstairs!”  Ten minutes later he said I could go into the baby’s room, and lo and behold he had put the whole crib together!  Best husband ever?  I think so!  (Though his biggest “best husband ever” prize came on the day that I told him it was International Chocolate Cake Day, and his response was essentially “Go to hell–there’s no way I’m making or buying you a chocolate cake!” then when I got home from work, he had made (from SCRATCH!) homemade brownies that were absolutely scrumptiously delicious!)  Anyway… here’s the crib:

The thing is… each little thing that we get done makes this feel more and more real to me, and somehow makes me feel less and less anxious about the whole thing.  I like to feel prepared and when it comes to getting ready to have a baby, I guess to me, that means having things physically ready for when she gets here–having things set up and organized so we can take her home from the hospital and just get settled into some sort of a routine with her.  Ken’s right that there’s no point in worrying and stressing out about the pain of labor and childbirth because the thing is… there’s no way to know how I will handle the pain until I’m there in the situation.  We can talk and think about coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques but really there’s no way to know how I’ll handle labor until we’re there and in the moment.  So instead, I will focus my energy on things I do actually have control over, like getting things organized and prepared in the nursery!

We don’t have all of the bedding, but we did get the quilt as a gift from my mom’s friends, “the Girlfriends.”  It’s a group of friends she has had since I was about 6 years old.  They have always gotten together for tea or lunch, to celebrate each other’s birthdays, etc. and since I was little, they always included me in their annual Holiday Tea, which would be at a fancy tea room at one of the hotels in San Francisco.  I would get really dressed up in a holiday dress (when I was little they usually had big bows on the back, and I would wear them with black patent leather shoes) and I had to act like a lady when I came to join them.  It was always a special treat for me.  Now that I’m older, they include me in their get-togethers whenever I’m in town.  So anyway, in case you can’t read it in the photo above, the girlfriends got the quilt for the baby and it has the cutest personalized embroidery on it:

It will be so nice once the baby is a little girl, to take her with me to Holiday Tea with the girlfriends each year!  She will get to put on fancy dresses with big bows on the back and black patent leather shoes and I’ll remind her that she has to act like a little lady–with her napkin on her lap, and her elbows off of the table.  It’s these kinds of presents that are often the most special because they have meaning behind them!  For the longest time, I was the “Little Girlfriend” because I was the only daughter of a girlfriend, and now my baby will be the “Littlest Girlfriend!” 

In other news, last night we went to our second childbirth education class.  This one, I found to be much more informative and educational.  We talked about pain management–narcotics, epidurals, and natural ways to manage pain such as hydrotherapy (getting in the tub or shower), movement, guided imagery, hot and cold therapy, Lamaze breathing, etc.  We also talked about Medical Interventions in childbirth such as vacuums, forceps, episiotomies, breaking the water bag, and we also talked about fetal monitoring.  After the educational portion of the class, we were taken on a tour of the Labor and Delivery part of the Family Birthing Center as well as the Post-Partum part of the Family Birthing Center.  In the Post-Partum area, we were taken to the nursery–there were about 7-8 babies in there when we stopped by and they all just looked so tiny.  It was somewhat surreal to see the tiny little babies all wrapped up in their isolettes while feeling my baby kicking and squirming around inside of me.  It still doesn’t seem possible that the little thing that kicks me in the bladder and shoves her elbow into the inside of my belly button is going to come out in a few short weeks as a tiny little newborn who needs our love, care and attention.  When we were standing there staring at the babies, I definitely started to tear up a bit, and I noticed some of the other soon-to-be moms also were wiping tears from their eyes! 

In non-baby news, tonight my friend Leah is arriving from Dallas with her boyfriend, Luke  (whom I have never met).  Leah and I went to  undergrad together (sort of) and I’m so excited that she’ll be coming for the weekend!  They are staying with us until Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately Ken has a rather busy weekend, since he’s on call Friday night and has to work Saturday and Sunday, but he’ll at least get to see them tonight and Saturday night (if he’s not too exhausted after being on an overnight call).  Since Leah & Luke have never been there, I’m thinking I’ll take them to the French Quarter one night to take them to all the classic places… the Carousel Bar, Pat O’s, Preservation Hall, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, and Cafe du Monde, and then I know that one night they are hoping to check out some live music so maybe Saturday night will be a good night to do that–we can find somewhere not in the Quarter to go for some good music.  I’ll also probably end up giving them a little driving tour–I can show them St. Charles Avenue, Audubon Park, the Garden District, etc.  I probably won’t be posting again until next week since I’ll be busy entertaining our out-of-town guests, so until then, have a lovely weekend!

It’s Hump Day Bump Day!

This morning, possibly because of having gotten enough sleep, or possibly from sleep deprivation, Ken was in rare form (he was being very silly!), and when I asked him to take a photo of me he started saying, in his creepy southern red-neck voice (yes, he has lots of voices), “I’m gonna take a purrrrrty picture of you!”  So naturally I was cracking up, but somehow he managed to snap this one, which isn’t too bad, if I do say so myself!  Here’s me this morning at 30 weeks and 1 day:

We didn’t end up going to our Childbirth Education Class last night, but instead we went to an Irish pub that we frequent–we watched the Orioles game (they beat the Red Sox!) and played Bar Trivia.  Despite having a pretty small team, we came in 2nd place overall and won a $20 bar tab to go back again sometime soon. 

Luckily, the class is flexible and you can go on either Tuesday night or Wednesday night, so tonight we will go for Class 2, the topic of which is Pain Management and Medical Interventions.  I assume they’ll be talking about epidurals, narcotics, etc. and also about things like C-Sections, forceps, vacuums, etc.  Also, they’ll be giving us a tour of the Labor and Delivery Unit during tonight’s class.  I’m a little worried that there will be women going through hard labor while we’re on the tour, and it will terrify me even further, but Ken reminded me that they’ll probably have doors closed to any rooms where women are actually in labor.  I’ll update again after tonight’s class!

Emotions Surrounding Pregnancy and a New Baby

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to have a baby… it’s true that there are pictures of me at the age of 2 or 3, lining up all of my baby dolls in the hallway, putting blankets over them and putting them to sleep.  When I was little and my mom would take me to doctor’s appointments near what was Children’s Hospital in San Francisco (it has since been re-named), we would go up to the nursery (this was before the days of crazy hospital security) and we would peek at the babies through the window.  I would ooooh and aaahh at them and say that I wanted to be a Mommy some day.  Apparently if you asked me at the age of 3 or 4 what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always, “A Mommy!”  So this is clearly something I’ve wanted for a long time. 

After my surgery (in May, 2010) we got the very scary news about my Unicornuate Uterus.  Doing a Google search on Unicornuate Uteruses gives you scary statistics and bleak information about carrying pregnancies to term and about getting pregnant in the first place, so Ken and I both sort of felt a little bit of pressure to get started a little earlier than we maybe otherwise would have since there was a good chance that I could have trouble getting pregnant in the first place (I only have one ovary connected to my uterus), or that I would face many miscarriages before being able to carry a pregnancy to term.  With a unicornuate uterus there’s a high chance of pre-term labor, intra-uterine growth restriction, incompetent cervix, and breech presentation so at each doctor’s appointment I would prepare myself for the worst.  Ken always said that he wanted to have at least one kid by the age of 30 (he will be 29 at his next birthday in February), so when we first got the scary news about my uterus, we decided that we should start trying to get pregnant as soon as it would be reasonable… we figured that the earliest possible time that we could have a baby would be in October, 2012 because by then Ken would be settled in his residency program, we would have an idea of our general plans for the next 4 years, and we would be supporting ourselves financially.  So we counted backwards from October and figured we could start trying in January, 2012.  We emotionally prepared ourselves for a long road ahead… yet I got pregnant on the first cycle trying.  I found out I was pregnant on February 12th and, as you all know now, my due date is October 23rd. 

At the beginning of the pregnancy we were very cautious–we didn’t want to get too excited too fast for fear of losing the pregnancy, and we didn’t want to get our hopes up too high.  We kept saying at the beginning that we were “cautiously optimistic.”  Then as time went on and we kept hitting all of the developmental milestones without any complications to speak of, we slowly started to have a shift in our frame-of-mind.  Ken stopped saying, “if we have a baby” and started saying, “when we have a baby.”  We started having more serious chats about baby names, and we started actually looking at baby registry items online.  Now that I’m at 30 weeks, we’re not totally safe (you’re never completely safe) but it’s pretty certain that we’ll be having a baby girl very soon (knock on wood!).

Pregnancy is kind of like a roller-coaster, and I think even more so when you pushed things along faster than you otherwise would have knowing that you could face difficulties, and when you have a high risk pregnancy.  We were both shocked by how quickly it happened and I think in an ideal world, it would have taken us a few months longer so that we could be a little bit more settled.  Of course we’re excited and joyful about having a baby but, being so young, we are apprehensive about the financial strain it is going to cause: we have to pay for diapers and daycare, put money away for college and private elementary/middle/high school, all while paying off our own student loans.  Since Ken is an intern and has pretty crazy hours most of the time, I’m nervous about feeling very alone and isolated in the first few months while Ken is working and I’m at home with a baby, and Ken is worried about feeling guilty and about not having enough time to be at home with the baby.  He keeps expressing that he’s worried he’s not going to be a good father.  (I reassure him by saying that what matters is the quality of the time you spend with the baby, not the quantity of time… so when he has time, it’s important to make it special.  They’ll have to develop some father-daughter traditions and routines that are special for the two of them.  It’s all about quality, not quantity.)  I also don’t have that many friends in the New Orleans area who are pregnant or who recently had babies so, though I have a lot of great friends here, I don’t have a support system of people who are going through the same thing at the same time.  I think there’s also the stress of knowing that in January or February I’ll have to start looking for a new job in Baltimore, hopefully with benefits as good as the ones I’ve been getting through my job here, and that in June, we’ll be moving with an 8-month old up to Baltimore and we’ll have to find a new place to live, get settled in a new city, find a day-care and a new group of friends.  There’s just a lot going on. 

Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge all of the emotions that you’re feeling and one emotion will sort of take center stage.  Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve tried to put on a happy face for everyone–when people ask how I’m feeling I say I’m feeling great and I’ve been very lucky to not have too many tough symptoms to deal with.  While that is true, I haven’t given much credit to my other emotions of fear and anxiety, and I think the other day when I started crying, that’s what I was doing for myself… acknowledging that I’m terrified and apprehensive.  That doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m thrilled and ecstatic but I do think that I have to pay attention to all of my emotions. 

Luckily there are things I can do to prepare myself which will lessen some of the fear and anxieties… when I told Ken the other day that one of the things that scares me the most is that from here on out we really have no idea when this baby is coming… she could come tomorrow (I sure hope she doesn’t!) or she could come up to a week or two after her due date, he made a really good point which is that the uncertainty scares me because I like to be in control.  There are ways I can feel more in control though, and I’m doing all I can to make myself feel like the reins (sp?) are in my hands: We’re going to our childbirth education class (we have the second one either tonight or tomorrow night), we’re getting a Doula to help with labor and delivery, I’ve gone to a pre-natal yoga class (and I intend to go back a few more times between now and the time the baby comes to meet other pregnant ladies), and I went to the La Leche League meeting to meet other new moms who are breastfeeding.  I also contacted a lady who runs a monthly mother’s group/meet-up and I’ll be going to their next event.  I’ve gotten some information about the Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital and I intend to go to some of their baby play groups to meet some more new parents. Being organized helps me to feel more in control, so I can do things to organize the nursery, pack our hospital bag, pack our diaper bag, etc.  I can also read–about labor/delivery, about breastfeeding, about sleeping, about soothing babies and about health and care of a newborn–and that helps me to feel somewhat better prepared. 

But I think what’s most important is just acknowledging that I have all of these emotions and that they are all normal.  On that list of the top ten most stressful things in life, I think having a Baby is number 1.  It’s stressful–that doesn’t mean it’s not fun and enjoyable and exciting–but it’s stressful and it’s okay to feel nervous, scared, terrified even.  What’s important is that I do things to make myself feel better prepared to handle it. 

And just cause I thought this was funny, I’ll leave  you with this, as well as excitement about the fact that tomorrow is Hump Day Bump Day!  Enjoy!

30 Week Update!

How far along? 30 weeks–only 10 weeks until my due date (which is only 70 days from now!)  For some reason, counting down in days makes it seem much closer than counting down in weeks.  Plus think about it… 61 days is exactly 2 months!  Scary!

7 weeks until we reach “full term” (37 weeks), and according to my doctor, 6 weeks until we’re “golden”!

Size of baby: Baby is about the size of a cucumber or a squash.

Loving this week: I love feeling the baby moving around–now it’s a little easier to tell when she’s kicking, elbowing me, rolling around, or just shaking her head since different body parts feel different and different types of movements are easier to distinguish.  I just can’t wait to see what she looks like and to kiss her little cheeks and give her my finger to grasp onto!

Milestones:  Apparently this week, baby girl is strong enough to grasp a finger!

Gender: She’s still a girl as far as we know… next ultrasound isn’t until the day after Labor Day (i.e. 3 weeks from today) so we can double check then, but as far as we know, she’s still a little lady!

How’s the belly look: Getting bigger and bigger but it still seems to depend a lot on what I’m wearing, and I have a line of hair on my belly going down from my belly button.  Some people seem shocked when I tell them I’m due in 10 weeks and some think I should pop any day now.  Everyone definitely has an opinion and nobody is very good at keeping their opinion to themselves.

Movement: Constant, it seems… though the doctor said you can never have too much movement!

What I’m wearing: Well it’s hot out… so on the weekends I’ve been wearing sun dresses, skirts and t-shirts, and to work I still have to wear slacks and nice tops.  Plus, inside they usually crank up the A/C as high as it can go, so it’s freezing.  This morning when I got dressed, Ken told me I looked like I was ready for winter, and for hibernating!  I guess it’s cause I’m wearing dark colors–black pants and a dark purple shirt.

How’s sleep: Not too bad… I’m not really uncomfortable, and I don’t really get up to pee in the middle of the night.  There are just still days where I’ll wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning totally unable to get back to sleep for no reason.  That’s really annoying!  It’s just hard to turn my brain off sometimes… so much to think about!

Mood & energy: I had my first mini break down the other night… Ken was getting in bed to go to sleep, and I said I had to go check something… I went into the baby’s room and I just started crying.  There’s just so many emotions mixed together and I haven’t really had a good cry yet throughout my pregnancy.  I’ve just been acting so excited, but really I need to acknowledge all of the emotions I’m feeling… of course I’m happy that we’re having a baby, and I’m excited to meet her, but I’m scared of labor and delivery, I’m scared of being mostly by myself with the baby for the first few months, I’m scared that I’ll feel really lonely and isolated, etc. etc.  I think all these emotions are normal but the other day they all started to feel very overwhelming.

What I’m craving: I really haven’t had cravings… but when I first think of having a snack, usually the first thing to pop into my mind is a piece of fruit–I love summer fruits, and we’ve got a lot of them in our kitchen at the moment–cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, etc.  Yummy!

What I’m missing: Cooler weather.  When it’s nice out, Ken and I like to go on walks together, and it’s just too damn hot to do that these days.  I can’t wait until the weather starts to cool down a bit so that we can go on some walks around the neighborhood together.  Plus, they say that when you’re in labor, or trying to get labor started, that walking can be one of the best things for you! 

Any new symptoms: It’s not really a new symptom (I had it in the first trimester, and then it went away in the second trimester, but now it’s back to rear it’s ugly head) but I’ve been having a lot of Heartburn.  It’s gotten horrible… to the point that I’m taking 2 Pepcids a day and about 6-8 Tums.  The worst thing about it is that it doesn’t seem at all tied to what I’m eating.  At least people who have acid reflux can tie their heartburn to certain foods–tomato-based foods, spicy foods, greasy foods, etc.  but my heartburn happens no matter what I eat!  It sometimes makes me not want to eat at all. 

Looking forward to: Thursday!  My friend Leah, who I haven’t seen in over a year, and who was one of my best friends in college, is coming to town with her boyfriend, Luke.  They are driving from Dallas and will stay with us from Thursday through Sunday.  I’m really excited to see her and to meet her boyfriend.  We don’t really have any plans but it will be fun to show them around and play tourist with them a little bit!

Doctor’s Visit Update

I saw the regular OB this morning for my 28 week check-up.  She was in a bit of a rush during my visit today because she had arrived to clinic late (traffic?  children not cooperating getting ready in the morning?  hard to say…) and she seemed somewhat frazzled.  Luckily I was still able to get my questions answered.  My doctor’s appointments lately have been really boring… she listens to the heartbeat (found a strong one with no problem), measures my belly to see where the fundus of my uterus is, goes over any test results (last time I had to have my Glucose Tolerance Test as well as a few other blood tests), and today she felt to see if she could tell what position the baby is in… turns out she’s head-down and facing backwards, which is exactly where we want her!  She did say that there’s still time and space for the baby to move around but if she’s already head-down, it’s likely she’ll stay that way.  She said by 32/25 weeks or so, we should know for sure if the baby’s going to stay head-down. 

The doctor also told me today that she doesn’t think I’ll make it much past 38 weeks (statistics with a Unicornuate Uterus), but that if we get to 36 weeks, we’re “golden.”  Scary thing is… 36 weeks is September 25th.  That’s next month!  That is so soon!  (Unfortunately that’s right when Yom Kippur is–Kol Nidre is the night of the 25th and Yom Kippur day is the 26th).  I don’t feel like knowing that is going to make me do anything differently though… we’ll still probably pack our hospital bag around 32 weeks or so, we’re still planning on going to the August Childbirth Education Series class at Touro, there’s not really much we’ll do differently with that news but it’s crazy to think that the baby could be born next month and would probably be fine, health-wise.