8.04.2009

A Baby's Breast Friend.

As the third trimester has his and we're cutting it down to the final days of the pregnancy a lot has been going on.

Adam took a trip out to WA to visit his side of the family. We got a lot of flack for the solo trip decision. Well, I've got a finger for everyone who has attitude about it. So there. Because we knew the trip was going to be at a point when I would be very pregnant it just would have been a very uncomfortable drive and stay for me.

Not that I didn't want to get out there and visit with the Newman clan! I have often thought that I couldn't have picked a better family to marry into. Everyone has always made me feel like part of the family in an effortless way that never has felt forced. Plus they're just as trouble riddled as any normal family and that makes me comfortable in being myself with them. If they were one of those perfect families you see on TV they'd suck. Hopefully we'll have the time and money to bring the new baby out to see everyone next summer.

Of course, things couldn't go smoothly while Adam was gone. We had something in the apartment break, a lengthy power outtage during a horrid storm and to ice the cake the kids and I were riding to the state fair with the in-laws and we were in a car accident! I have a distinct aversion to ambulance rides that has increased greatly in the six days since the accident. Unfortunately pregnant women are pretty much forced to go to the hospital and be seen at the ER whether they want to or not. I will say I was a bit worried about 'evil fetus' because of a lack of movement. As soon as my claustrophobia kicked in while being loaded into the ambulance I think my own crazy heart rate and such told the baby I really needed to know that she/he was okay. There was plenty of movement before we reached the hospital and while I walked out with a pretty bad cervical strain (whiplash) and a neck brace the baby had a clean bill of health as far as they can tell.

In other news... my neurologist is apparently out on maternity leave! Bah! So I had to see an intern when I wanted to sit down and discuss the pregnancy and my seizure disorder a bit. Dr. Jones was a very nice man but I got the impression he's never dealt with a situation like mine before. He added a folate suppliment and magnesium oxide to my current lot of pills. I feel like all I do is shove vitamins down my gullet lately. Let's hope all these help the baby be healthy, strong and have the super smarts.

We also discussed the BIG issue that has plagued me since before I became pregnant. I want to breastfeed!!!!! I can't imagine not being able to do it. I know lots of women who find the idea pretty disgusting. Some are too used to their breasts being sexual objects to be comfortable with the mother/child aspect of things. I can respect that to some extent but I could make the same claim over plenty of other body parts. For others they have to go back to work or are in a situation where they can't because of medical conditions with them or the baby. That is where I am kind of sitting. I don't want to be unable because of my medicine. From what Dr. Jones could tell me I will likely be able to breastfeed. I've done some research and he did some searching through his medical texts and so far the advice is not to feed for about two hours after I take my medicine and to just watch the baby for signs of overly sleepiness. I do want to talk further about it though with my OB, my regular neurologist and possibly the pediatritian we set up for the wee one.

So here's to hoping we get to enjoy breastfeeding again! Adam thinks that once I know better what our options are I should invest in one of those ooky electric milking machines. Which makes sense to me but they look scary. I tried a manual pump with Arik and it was painful and messy. But with dad and big brother around to help with feedings this would be a good way to make it possible. I just wish I knew now so I could start planning what I need—like the breastpump—so we'll be ready.

I did find out that this week is the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Awareness' World Breast Feeding Week! A big thanks to the bebeaulait.com site for sending out the email to remind everyone. ANNNND if you're a breastfeeding mama the email also noted that they're giving away a big basket of goodies to one lucky winner who buys a Hooter Hider or Bebe au Lait nursing cover this week! Very cool. I totally want to buy a Hooter Hider anyway but rats I dunno if I will get to use it.

So it has been a very eventful few weeks and I'll be having my glucose test on Friday morning (YUCK!) so wish us luck! Luck for healing so I can get out of this uncomfy brace and the pain will go away. Luck for getting to breastfeed our baby. And lastly, luck for having a smoother month of August and so on!

7.17.2009

Deciding what baby really needs.

Once upon a time when I was nineteen, unmarried and pregnant all this stuff was pretty simple. Read some books about pregnancy and labor. Figure out if Adam and I liked/loved one another enough to commit to more than just being parents together. Let work know when I wanted my last day to be. Buy what we could afford and pray we'd find those we couldn't second-hand. Pick a name.

I think the hardest parts of the whole process were getting up my nerve to tell my mom I was pregnant and convincing my boss I couldn't work after Thanksgiving even though I wasn't due until December 11th.

This time around you would think it would be even easier. I've already done the pregnancy and labor part once. Adam and I will have our 10th anniversary the month we're due. We can certainly afford most everything we need for the baby and this time we know what crap we definitely do not need. I don't have a job with a boss to worry about.

Yet for some reason this time I feel like we have a lot more to worry about. With just three more months of pregnancy to contend with I am certainly feeling a bit of pressure.

With a child about to start fourth grade I have a lot of worries about how he will adjust to not only the new school year (this year marks a lot of transition from little kid to big kid academically and socially) but how he will adjust to being the big boy at home. You can tell that Arik already loves our baby, we've tried very hard to make sure he is involved in as much of the pregnancy as we can. I do feel like I might be frustrating him a lot with how poorly I've felt at times between the morning sickness and the recent onset of headaches, back pain and misery from the heat. Only time will tell how he copes with being the 'other' child. I have no doubts in my mind that we can't love both children equally so much as that he won't see it that way. In the long run I forsee him being a very affectionate and protective big brother.

I also have concerns about how our blended family dynamics will become more complicated. The story of Miyah and how she came into her parents' lives is very long and fraught with the mistakes of teenagers. When Adam and I met they were no longer together and Miyah wasn't yet born. In ways it's a strange comfort to have been part of her life since before she came into the world. When she was born it was a very tumultous time for the relationship I had with her dad. I still have times when I feel a little bit like my presence in his life then kept her from having her dad more involved in her life even though we all know that the relationship between Adam and her mother would never have been happy. I am definitely worried about when she hits her teens and finally says all those sorts of hurtful things she will need to say. I am even more worried now that if Adam and I are blessed with the baby girl we're hoping to have together it might cause feelings of alienation and resentment. As with Arik, only time will tell how she feels and reacts to having another sibling. Afterall, she and Arik are so close together in age (eleven months) that most people assume they are twins and so she wasn't old enough to know what was going on when he was born.

In addition to the obvious worries about our changing family dynamic I have health concerns this time around I didn't have before. When I started having complex partial seizures seven years ago I thought they were just anxiety attacks. It wasn't until four years ago when I was having as many as eight a day every day that I began thinking I should do something about them. But I didn't want to admit I was that stressed out by the things going on in my life. A grand mal seizure landed me in the ER and I've since been stuck taking medication to prevent further occurances. I haven't had one in almost three years but I've been taking a medication that has really helped. The only problem there is that antiseizure meds can cause birth defects and it is not recommended you breatsfeed while on them. And I am a devout breastfeeder. I know lots of women who can't/won't breastfeed but for me formula is not an option unless the doctors believe it will harm the wee one. We're still dealing with this one because it requires multiple opinions. So far my online research has been a bit promising but I think in the end it will fall on me to make the decision. While I think logic says there's no reason it's less safe than taking the meds during pregnancy it does worry me.

As I sit and worry over these and other issues I've been doing my best to get ready for the baby's arrival. We've got most of what we'll need and want picked out, we're just waiting on a better idea of the gender to lead us to our final purchases. I feel a little bad that with Arik everything was handed-down or second hand for the most part and this one will be getting mostly new things. I remember I so badly wanted to buy him the John Lennon baby bedding from Carters with the cute little line drawing animals. Unfortunately it was very pricey so I splurged and bought him a little outfit with it and settled for the Blue Jean Teddy crib set which I honestly never really cared for. I figure if we get a boy this time I want to go all goth... okay joking there but I found these cool crib sets that are black and white geometric type stuff. For a girl it will be harder to resist the allure of a set I found online that is whites, pinks and green and had unicorns and frogs! Could I have asked for a more ME set?

I'm hoping to drag Adam out to buy the carseat this weekend. I have two picked out. One infant seat that can be popped in and out of the car and one seat that works from infant to booster which would be the better buy in the long haul but with as much in and out of the car as we will have (and possibly needing to put baby in Grandma's car) it makes sense to get both. I've also decided that whether we find out what the bambino is at our next ultrasound or not I better just buy the crib and get it over with. I had hoped to go with one color for a boy or the other for a girl (to match the themes I chose) but at this rate I won't be buying the crib until after the kiddo arrives. I'm very much in the mood to get some of this going already!

Speaking of babies and baby stuff... since I have no friends (:P) I guess Adam's co-workers are throwing a shower for us. I really wish we could wait and do it in October or wait until November and do it after the baby comes along but I think it will be next month. I can't complain because with school clothes and supplies, Halloween costumes and then Christmas I completely understand no one wanting to be buying baby gifts later in the year. Still, a little part of me is excited about having a "Halloween baby" and would loooove to have a Halloweeny theme for a baby shower. I mean, we literally have a Thankgiving baby and a Christmas baby why not throw in that too. Guess we shall have to wait and see what the gals Adam works with come up with. If we weren't in a shoe box of an apartment I'd just throw my own shower, as unbecoming as that is. Why? Because I actually reeeally love throwing themed parties.

I wish there was also a way to set up a shower with my family back home but there just isn't. So those of you wanting to send a gift either in time for the shower or whenever just let me know and I will give you our address, registry info, etc.

7.16.2009

"Oh... you ARE joking!"

Everybody has one. Not everybody likes theirs. Some people have big ones and some people have little ones. Some are really common and some are really rare.
I'm talking about names here people.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the area of names. When I was a teenager I checked out a book of baby names from the library. I even carried it around at school. Looking back I am quite sure some people thought I was nuts. Back then I didn't even want to have children. Ever. But since I can remember I have had an intense fascination with names and where they come from, how the originated and who shares them. And yeah... that has a lot to do with trying to accept and like my own name growing up.

I often wonder what other names my mom and dad considered for me. My mother hated her given name and never went by it, she goes by (and recently legally changed her name to) her middle name. My father never seemed to mind his name and with our Irish-American pride I think our last name mattered more to his side of the family than anything. Could I have ended up named Samantha or Judith or something equally common? I've never actually asked them.

Growing up with the name Rhianna was extremely frustrating. When you're a child it isn't often appropriate to correct adults so I was called many variations on the various sounds of my name. From what I can recall the way my parents intended it to be pronounced (Ray-On-Uh) isn't even remotely close to how it is spelled. If I explain this to folks I often get strange looks... as if I had any hand in picking this name!

Going to school was where it was the worst. Teachers, staff and students rarely got the name right and in my elementary days I wished I could be one of the girls named Crystal or Misty. I blame it on my unicorn obsession. But then there were the many Nicoles, Jennifers, Megans, Emilys, Heathers and Kristins. Girls who magically fell into the shared name slots. Girls who had to be differentiated by the addition of the last initial. When you're a first grader the idea of sharing the same name equals a sense of special kinship, something that I wanted at that age. Alas I was the one and only Rhianna and only once in my life have I met another.

Then there is the matter of the Brianas and Breannas of the world. They are secretly still a thorn in my side to this day. Why? Because any time I introduce myself I have to clarify that I am a 'RE' and not a 'BREE'. Somehow my own name picked up no popularity in the past three decades while this variation of it has become massively accepted and therefore well known. Thus the constant need to clarify that there is no 'B' within my name.

So where did my name originate from exactly? If you happened to be around in the 70's you might recall a little band called Fleetwood Mac. They had a song titled "Rhiannon". If by chance you were not around back then you can check out a live version of "Rhiannon" on YouTube. Check out how many people have commented saying they were named after this song or that their parents wanted to name them after it and you might understand how the phenom came to be. Had I not been blessed with a last name that rhymes with Rhiannon I would have been named after the song without the small edit.

It was in my teens that I developed an obsession with understanding the origins and meaning of my name. You'll often hear in mythologies and cultures where names hold power so perhaps on some level I was kind of seeking out the root of my power, or rather... how to have a power over the name I was given. At sixteen it is hard to find that happy medium between following the crowd and being an individual. My name was certainly one of the more obvious unique things about me and therefore it was at this age that I began to like it.

In Celtic mythology Rhiannon was a goddess with ties to horses, faeries, the moon and fertility. It has many meanings including goddess, witch, nymph and queen. Call me crazy but those all sounded very mythic and powerful when I first learned the meanings and origins. Being named after the song was a little hard to explain when I was too little to really get it myself but as a teen I found that teachers and other adults simply needed to hear "It's Rhianna, after the Fleetwood Mac song..." and then they would get it. Of course, this always also prompted a lot of comments on how pretty the name was.

Now, at nearly thirty, I'm very happy with my first name. I think it suits me well, can't really imagine myself as a Misty or a Heather. Sure, I still hate introducing myself because it always requires pronunciation correction and explanation but I've come to terms with it. Those who really can't handle the name or are very close to me simply call me 'Rhi' (RE) though my uncle (and occasionally other members of my family) has always called me Anna which for some reason I'm very fond of.

When I became pregnant with our son the last thing on my mind during those first several months was what to name my baby. In all honesty when Adam had mentioned what he and his daughter's mother had planned to call my step-daughter if she was a boy I just figured we would go with it. I think most people of the female persuasion pick out names for their future children at some point even if they don't plan to ever have any. I never quite had a boy name picked out, probably because I like unusual boy names, but I had my girl name picked when I was seventeen. I won't say what it was since it'll never get used for one of our children but it's actually not at all a name you would expect me to have chosen. I liked it because a) a famous book character had this name, b) there's a song I really like with the same name (yeah, yeah... I wanted to curse my kid the same way I was) and c) it is a variation on one of the women in my family's name. Because I grew up struggling with my name and the identity it gave me I always knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I could never pick simple, common names for my children.

Traditionally within my family, and somewhat within Adam's too, middle names are passed from older members of the family down. For example my grandfather went by his middle name which then became my uncle's middle name, my brother's middle name, and two of my uncle's sons' middle names as well. If we hadn't chosen a middle name for Arik from Adam's family I would have given my son the same. For a girl I just knew I did not want to pass on my own middle name. Sorry mom, I know you go by it and gave it to me but I have never really cared for it. (I blame this on the tradition of the first-middle being used whenever I was in trouble). Middle names have strangely become our starting point in choosing the names for our kids. We had picked out my mother-in-law's middle name for a baby girl since we both like it and it's actually what Adam's cousins call me in lieu of a nickname. But last year my brother and his fiance had a baby girl and used it because someone suggested it. I'm a bit disappointed but it also opened us up to the other name I really have wanted to use as a middle for a girl too.

Which brings me somehow to where we are with picking a name right now. If this baby is a girl we have a middle name (after my aunty!) picked out and though we had originally planned to use the above mentioned middle name for a boy we've changed our minds a bit. My great-grandfather passed away in April and we were always quite close. He was dying of cancer at the ripe old age of ninety-five and we knew he wasn't going to make it long enough to see his third great-great grandchild be born when Adam's mother actually made the suggestion we use grandpa's name for the baby's middle if it's a boy. Now it's up to us to find suitable first name choices.

That there, my friends, is where this story gets ...funny?

Years ago when Adam and I were living in Germany we were at a point we knew we'd have more children but not when. Arik was still just a toddler and we were expecting to be living overseas for a few years so it wasn't going to be any time soon. But we were talking about it and Adam joked that if we ever had a girl she was going to be named 'Adamina'. It was then that I got inspired to look into ways to incorporate his name and/or my own and/or both into a name. It was through this goofing off—and I mentioned how I am about names earlier so this should come as no surprise—that I managed to create a name that does both, has a great shortened version and sounds great with our middle-last choice.

The trouble with this name is that at first mention all those years ago, Adam hated it. I loved it so much I actually used it for a couple of different bits of creative writing I've done over the past seven years because I figured he would never warm up to it. Only now he likes it and wants to use it! Because it is a name that I literally came up with using parts of other names it doesn't exist and I have the Google proof. If I were to disclose the name and you were to Google it the only results you would get would be unrelated to it or point you at links that tie to my previous creative writing stuff.

So why the non-disclosure? Aside from that fact I don't want anyone who trolls on by stealing it for their own baby girl, the worst thing happened!

For my mother-in-law's birthday we all went out to dinner. As we were sitting around nibbling our dinner salads Adam's mom asked what names we had picked out. Adam and I had previously agreed not to mention any names until we had decided for sure on them and we had a better idea of the baby's gender. But, of course, Adam has mentioned said name several times in front of Arik. I gave Adam the look and began to say we were still tossing ideas around as our darling son piped up and told her that daddy likes [THE NAME]. At this her face squinched up in confuzzlement and she said 'what?'. I then had to explain how it was said, how it was spelled (I finally had to write it out on a placemat in orange crayon) and naturally... where the name came from. To this she replied something to the effect of 'Oh. It's a joke.' Which lead to us kind of giggling at her and replying in the negative. Apparently our giggling brought on the next line 'Oh... you ARE joking!" because for some reason she couldn't possibly fathom why we would do this to her grandbaby-on-the-way.

So, for the past few weeks we have had a bit of an ongoing bit of teasing going back and forth about how she intends to make Adam put what she wants on the birth certificate while I'm tied up with post-birthing business. Nay says I! She's also reminded me several times now about my own name and the difficulties I have had with it growing up. Yet that is the one reason I won't give up on this name if we both like it enough to give it to our baby. It might be tough to deal with as a child but there will come a time when I am quite certain that the baby will feel the way I do about its name. If not, she can always go by her middle name as my mother has.

Besides, Arik's name still gets mispelled on birthday cards from family members and he doesn't seem to really care. He's quite happy to share initials with his dad and if he gets his way and the baby is a boy he is most insistent that we name the him Jude after a cartoon character we share a mutual like of. But as we keep reminding everyone 'J' names for a boy are a no-no with the initials we have already set up. Now I just need to start working on the Adam about the boy name I like before we have another incident with people thinking we're joking about our name choices.

And in pure randomness... I had never seen Arik's name with his spelling before Adam suggested it. Since then I have read three books with guys that have that name as characters. Romances. [insert lots of snickers and giggles here]. Poor kid. Fortunately for him it's just a derivative of the aforementioned boy middle name in my family which is one of the reasons I warmed up to it. Every Eric I knew as a kid was a brat and so I hated the name. Leave it to Adam to find a way to make it work for me.

We still have a few months to figure out what name(s) we are solid on so I think we're doing alright. I'm in no rush to settle. We didn't have Arik's name decided until about six weeks before he was born anyway. All we have to do now is keep Adam's mom away from that birth certificate. Maybe I will have to agree to let her video tape this birth? Eep.

7.01.2009

Just Bumping Along

Not much news on the baby front the past couple of weeks...

I'm looking quite epic right now to the point of needing MORE maternity clothes. Did I just say epic? Yes, I really did. Because when you're normally somewhere around a size 6 other women don't take kindly to you calling yourself fat. I tried pulling on my favorite pair of maternity jeans on Sunday only to discover my hips are now a bit too big for them. Which resulted in a misguided desperation trip to Old Navy to buy a larger size. Of course, Old Navy has decided that maternity does not sell well in store and they were in the midst of clearancing out all of their maternity wear. This would have been great had any of it been things I wanted. I did manage to snag a very cute top I had been eye-balling since I got pregnant and two pair of jeans but most of it was either in the XL or XS size ranges and I'm definitely in a M or a L depending on the cut. Bummer they didn't have any cute tops and such left though.

What I did strangely break down and buy, however, were two string bikinis. Huh? Yeah, I know. Not exactly bikini body right now but I can't fit a one-piece barely when I'm not pregnant (my torso is too long) so add in a baby bump and I'm screwed. I must admit though I had to buy the largest tops I've ever had. It's like having grapefruits for boobs I tell you! With Arik being a bigtime swimmer now though I needed to have something to wear when I take him to the pool. We actually went today in spite of the less than scorching weather and it was very nice. No, I did not parade around showing off my gut to the world in my bikini, I wore one of Adam's white tees over everything but I was quite comfy for a change. If the water hadn't been so chilly and the day a bit windy I think I might have actually swam a little. The water was such a relief to the weight I'm having to adjust to.

It seems that the baby has shifted position somewhat. Unlike big brother who was always doing flips this one seems to find one positon and stick with it. This was very much evidenced last night when Adam came home from work. I was laying on the bed reading (been doing a lot of that since I get winded easily) when he got home and told him to come in there. The baby hasn't been kicking much of late and that does make me a little nervous when I don't feel anything all day. So I told him to talk to the baby and see if he couldn't get a response. Baby definitely likes to hear daddy's voice! He was making silly voices and talking to my belly and we went from stillness to what felt like a hissy-fit. We even managed to get Arik in there just in time to put his cheek down on my belly and get kicked in the face. I LMAO at that one! The sibling rivalry begins. *dun, dun, dun*

We meet the new OB next week and I'm a little nervous. I hate starting this process all over again. I've had the same OB since I was pregnant with Arik but she's moving at the end of July so she won't be around this time to deliver this one. She had good things to say about the new one though so hopefully we're a good match. I don't know how other women feel but for me being able to feel at ease enough to be open, honest and ask anything is very important with an OB/GYN. Now I'm just crossing my fingers I like her AND her nurse. Funny how that works. I HATE my neurologist's nurse. She's so cranky and mean. I dread any time I have to deal with her. Here's hoping everything works out well with the new OB and her nurse.

But that's really about all there is to report today. It's been very quiet for us. TTFN!

6.18.2009

Today's Mantra: My Body is a Temple

Those of you whom I share blood relation with and probably most of you who know me personally know I'm not cute or petite or dainty. I've been pushing 5' 10" since the seventh grade and my weight—while it's gone up and down a lot in the past five years—could never be classed as average. That whole 'skinny bitch' thing has definitely been tossed my way a few times.

Growing up I always wanted to be tall... ask my aunty Mel, I wanted to be 7 feet tall when I grew up. I suppose some of this stems from the fact that up until a couple of years ago I was the only girl in the family and the shortest full grown guy in the family is 6' 2". I had to compete with the guys somehow! Now that I've married into a family known for being the exact opposite of my own in the height department I'm kind of glad I didn't become the circus freak I thought I wanted to be at the age of twelve. Phew!

With the height and the slender build my first pregnancy was in one way awesome and in another pure suck. Quite literally the moment I found out I was pregnant I began getting horrid red zebra stripes in places I didn't think one should have stripes. My poor, poor boobies! Once a perfect (if tiny) matching set of perky breasts... enlarged and stretched to what for me felt like epic proportions! What were these horrific markings like guidelines on a road map I was developing? I quickly learned the evils of stretchmarks. But these evils stayed far from the area I was told I would get them... until the three weeks before I gave birth to the son I occasionally curse when forced to look at myself in the nude.

Yep, with my son I didn't look pregnant at all until the seventh month rolled along. Hell, my mother was modeling in runway shows at that point while pregnant with me so it has to be the good genes eh? But darnit all if that last few weeks wasn't a doozy. I didn't get huge, yet I managed to get stretchmarks in places I'd rather not go into detail here on the blog lest I terrify some other first-time mother into therapy. Let's just say I'm not a big fan of swimsuits because they don't cover my thighs.

Like any smart woman I had been using what seems to be deemed the product of choice for preventing stretchmarks during pregnancy- Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks. Despite it's awful texture I did my best to apply it twice a day, often needing Adam's help to get my lower back and booty. Oh yeah... you didn't know those would stripe up like a tiger's ass? Believe it. So just what did this miracle lotion do for me? Aside from frustrate me as I tried to reach my back not a lot. I came out of the pregnancy looking like I'd let a pack of toddlers armed with red and purple markers have playtime all over my body.

In part I blame WIC for my stretchmarks. Why WIC?

Well, first let me say that WIC is truly an excellent program for pregnant or nursing mothers and children under the age of five. Adam and I didn't have a lot of money back then so the help we got from the program made sure I had lots of milk, cereal and other staples both while pregnant and while nursing. If you are a young mama-to-be or have small kids find out if you qualify by visiting their site! Not only do they help you with groceries but they provide classes about pregnancy and parenting.

I blame WIC because at the time—and this was ten years ago, I've heard this has changed since then—they wanted me to gain 60 lbs. during my pregnancy. That's right. SIXTY POUNDS! The said I was extremely underweight not taking into consideration my medical history, good health, genetic predisposition for high metabolism and active lifestyle. If I wasn't gaining loads of weight between visits they would give me the finger shake and a talking to. Meanwhile, my OB was only concerned with the obvious good health of my fetus and whether or not I was finally able to keep food down. The guilt and pressure put on me from WIC as my due date drew near and I had only gained about half what they wanted was very stressful.

Now think about it... if an average newborn weighs about 7 lbs. and you factor in a bit of extra weight for breast growth, uterus growth, placenta/fluids/etc. Anything over about 30 lbs. is likely just body fat. I'm not really one to watch my weight but I believe in healthy eating and maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index). So for me forcing myself to pack on fat just to meet an unrealistic goal set by a non-doctor is just plain ridiculous! If I hadn't been so worried about getting another lecture about my eating habits and weight gain maybe I wouldn't have ended up quite so darned striped.

And for those of you wondering just how close I got to meeting their weight goal... I gained 40 lbs. If you look that up you'll find that by current standards for an underweight (pre-pregnancy) woman, that is the high end.

So how is it going this time around? I don't have a weight goal. My OB/GYN has been seeing me since my first pregnancy and knows my health history and my body. She knows that I suffered from an 18 month bought of anorexia that was not related to weight issues (if this is news to you I don't mind talking about it so just ask!) about six years ago. My OB also knows that I don't gain the weight right away because I get so sick and that if she gives me time I will be just fine. The lack of pressure this time around has made me feel more in control.

Aside from the Hobbit diet I've made it a point to continue eating pretty much how I was before the pregnancy. I've just added in a lot more fresh fruit, bottled water (cause the tap water tastes funny for some reason), yogurt, and though I'd eat it a LOT if it weren't for the mercury issue I eat fish/seafood at least once a week. Do you know how hard it is trying NOT to eat wild salmon, tuna or shrimp more than once a week? Okay, I am probably the only American woman this far inland that would eat fish every day if she could! Right now I would kill to be able to have a nice plate of Mahi Mahi and a glass of white wine but for now I'll just have to settle for a cup of Lemon Zinger and a handful of almonds. To top it off we just got a sushi bar! The fact that it's in the old Big Sky Bagel Bakery building where I used to get a bagel every morning (because bagels are easy to vomit up) during the first trimester of my first pregnancy is just a slap in the face.

Strangely enough two of my former can't-live-without-it foods don't appeal to me right now. Coffee and chocolate. Which is good because I didn't think my four cups of black coffee a day habit was going to be easy to kick. During the morning sickness phase just the smell of it was enough to make me gag. I'll still eat a little chocolate here and there but only if it's coating something. Right now it's Butterfingers and ice cream bars.

But now we've gotten all sidetracked. I started this out to be about stretchmarks and we've fallen into me talking about food. I suppose while they say men think about sex every eight seconds I think about food about that often so...

Back to the stretchmark discussion. Here I am at five months on pregnancy #2 and so far not a one. Thank goodness I was able to breastfeed Arik because my boobs got huge from that and thus have learned how to grow without looking like fleshy watermelons. What I'm really worried about though is my belly. I'm carrying this baby way different from Arik. Where he was way high and didn't poke out much, this one is low in my hips and the placenta is in the front so I'm getting major outwardness already. My belly button (which never poked out before) is slowly starting to make its way into being a true outtie.

Figuring I should start worrying about stretchmarks I bought some of the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula stuff early on but got it as an oil instead of a cream figuring it would be easier to apply. Uhm, that'd be a huge no. Greasy, messy and doesn't absorb for crap. Worse yet... it smells so bad like chocolate and flowers mixed together it made me sick to smell it. I asked Adam to help me with it one night so I could get my back/booty area I had the bad time with last pregnancy and even he was disgusted by it. Needless to say that one is no longer being used. Sorry Palmer's you guys might be the go-to for other women but not this chica.

I definitely don't have the budget to buy the really expensive stuff that supposedly works. I just missed getting a free bottle of BELLI Elasticity Belly Oil ($40+) from Amazon.com's Vine program because of course a bunch of middle-aged post-menopausal women figured they needed it more than the actual pregnant woman in the program. Me bitter? Yes! Ah well. So I knew anything over $20 was pushing it. Could I get away with just skipping this time around since not a mark has shown yet? Maybe. But then the bad ones didn't pop up until the last month with Arik so I'd rather not chance it.

I started checking around for a better product and was in Target buying pajama bottoms when I spotted Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter . I have been a Burt's Bees fan since I was a teenager before anyone had even heard of them and all this 'organic' and 'eco-friendly' stuff was so trendy. Their classic lip balm is my personal favorite beauty product to the point I even use it on my cuticles when they get nasty dry and sore. At about $13 a jar I figured it was worth giving it a try but I was definitely worried I was buying another stinky (flowers and chocolate) cream.

Fortunately this stuff is not only not stinky, it has a light honey-like smell, but it's also very thick. Thick, but spreadable! The best consistency I can think to compare it to is maybe peanut butter? Someone else might be okay with a regular lotion or an oil but I like that this stuff requires me to rub it in and doesn't run everywhere and get on my clothes. It is a little bit sticky and you can tell it is there for a few hours after but my skin feels so soft and not itchy or tight. The smell does get a little annoying over time since most smells still bother me a little but it's not gross, just stronger than I would prefer.

I don't know how effective it will be in helping prevent stretchmarks or if they are even an issue this time around since I no longer have the weight gain pressure. But so far, so good and while I'm certainly not feeling really attractive with this beachball look going on I suppose it will all be worth it come October.

6.10.2009

Pink Versus Blue

It's definitely no secret that Adam and I have been hoping for a girl. Sure, we have his daughter from his previous relationship but it's just not the same. Miyah has always lived with her mother and has never really shown a great interest in having me be her 'other' mommy. For some step-mothers this would probably be pretty difficult and sure there are times when I feel frustrated by it but I've been a step-child too so I understand her side of things more than most. Having a girl would never be about replacing Miyah—though I can honestly say I worry she might see it that way if the baby is a girl—but rather, it's about getting to raise a girl that is ours, his and mine.

So we had THE ultrasound today. You know... the one where we were supposed to find out whether we're supposed to be buying blue or pink. I was so anxious over it I didn't even want to get up this morning. "What if it's a boy, am I going to be disappointed?"... "How is Arik going to take it if the baby is a girl?"... "What if they say it's a girl and when it's born they were wrong?"...

Oh yeah. I was freaking out!

From 2pm until my appointment at 3pm I felt sick. The fact that I had to drink four 8oz. cups of water didn't help. My stomach was filled with water and a little bit of pumpkin ravioli I managed to choke down for lunch. Not the best combo sloshing around in a nervous tummy. Then of course there's the simple fact of the matter... pregnant bladders aren't fans of large quantities of liquid!

Finally we get on over to the clinic to have the ultrasound and this really awesome gal named Ann (maybe it was spelled Anne?) took us back to the 'cave'. I've always thought of ultrasound rooms as caves. They keep them so dim and such that you feel like you're in a cozy cave or animal's den or something. From there it was pretty much what you'd expect... I lay down, lift up my shirt, get a gigantic blob of clear goop squeezed out over my belly (warmed tyvm!) and the tech runs the wand over my belly like some sort of computer mouse on crack.

Most people who have never had kids find this whole thing pretty boring to hear about and most people in general find it really creepy or gross. Call me crazy but I love getting the ultrasound. Seeing the baby's body from various angles and being able to pick out it's parts is really fascinating to me. The parts weren't so obvious when I had mine with Arik but ten years later the technology has really improved. You could see so much of the baby it was crazy! Eyelids, kidneys, toes, hands, the heart beating! And it kept opening its mouth and putting it's hand up there like it was trying to take a bite of some invisible snack. haha! I think what I strangely found the coolest was seeing the baby's spine and ribs all connected and in good view. I've been so worried about complications because of my anti-seizure meds that kind of defect has worried me.

So overall the baby looked very healthy and normal. No missing limbs or anything unusual. There is a small issue with the left kidney not being drained like it should but they said that usually goes away as the organs mature so we'll be keeping an eye on it. Thank goodness you only need one kidney to live eh? We're all quite sure it is a small issue and the doc and tech said it likely won't be anything serious.

But none of that is what everyone is waiting for right? All everyone wants to know is if it's a boy or a girl. Now let me just say we got some reeeeeally great pics from the ultrasound. Adam is working on getting them scanned in so we can put them up so keep checking back! Unfortunately while we could get the baby to do all kinds of cool things like putting it's feet over it's head and having it's arms up as if it were saying "Wheeeeeeee! This is fun!" the little monster would NOT open it's thighs a bit. We tried and tried to get a peek at the privates but apparently this one lacks the show-off tendencies of its older brother. With Arik it was "Hey everybody look! I have a penis!" as he spread his legs a mile wide—not that that attitude has changed much in ten years.

So what's the consensus? Ann said it's probably a girl based off what we could see. We got an okay side view where she said usually you'd see a penis sticking up if it was there. Does that mean for sure it's a girl? NO. We're not convinced yet. Obviously we tried to conceive a girl and my childhood BF, Brooke, did some Chinese zodiacy thingy that said I was having a girl and my former neighbor, Brandy, did the pendulum thing over my belly and it too said girl... so what can we say? LOL We think it's probably a girl and will likely start planning for a girl but don't settle those bets just yet! ;)

6.03.2009

Eating like a hobbit...

One of the most challenging parts of pregnancy for me last time was gaining weight. Between those awful months of vomiting up a lot of what I ate and just having always had a pretty high metabolism I couldn't seem to add it and keep it. My wonderful OB never really made it a big issue during that pregnancy but at the time I was on the WIC program and they were really mean about it. I swear they thought I was trying NOT to gain weight.

Up until the past year I've never really cared about my weight. I blame darned good genetics for that one. But, of course, when you're trying to grow a healthy baby you suddenly have to make a concerted effort to not only eat the right foods but to try and gain some weight with them!

Now how the hell am I supposed to do that when my organs are all crammed up into my chest cavity? :P Now that the evil all-day sickness has subsided I've finally got the belly. To me I don't look pregnant... I look like I have a giant bee sting on my tummy. This baby is definitely being carried lower than Arik was and so that belly that everyone notices and wants to pat isn't the baby. It's soooo embarrassing explaining it too! "Oh, no. No, that's not the baby... that's my organs... I'm having intestines." Yeesh.

So what's my new eating strategy? Eat like a hobbit. No really.

Quoted directly from Wikipedia: "They enjoy at least seven meals a day, when they can get them – breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and (later in the evening) supper."

Of course this mostly has resulted in me eating toaster waffles, salads loaded with grated cheese and dressing, chicken pot pies and bowls of cereal at all odd hours of the day between and sometimes immediately following other meals. I had a salad, a pear, a string cheese AND a chicken pot pie before bed last night. I think tonight I might just order us a pizza... or well... one for me and one for them. That way I can eat half at dinner and half at bedtime. Because I am slowly but surely becoming a character straight out of a damned Tolkien novel whether I like it or not. Hmmm anyone else suddenly have a craving for mushrooms?

5.29.2009

So long "morning" sickness!

They say every pregnancy is different and that be no lie. While Arik was definitely not planned and thus it took the sudden soreness of the breasts and vomiting every morning to clue me in... I got neither this time around. What I got was an INSANE new type of "morning" sickness. Instead of waking up and having a nice hard puke and being fine the rest of the day I would wake up with head to toe nausea that would last almost all day. The few times I did throw up I only felt worse. Hence I pretty much spent the latter half of February through the middle of May sleeping through as much of the daylight hours as I could get away with. I discovered that as long as you're asleep the nasty nausea can't really bother you. :P

But what kind of solution is that honestly? None!

I'm open to trying just about anything (within reason) to not be sick like that so I started doing my research. I tried all the classic stuff with Arik like crackers and gingerale—two foods I no longer consume because I associate them with vomiting. Nothing worked better than just getting sick and brushing my teeth. But I had learned something very important through that experience: avoid ALL strong scents. To this day I cannot smell Calvin Klien's Eternity for Men without getting green around the gills thanks to Adam wearing it every day while I was pregnant. So this time around I made a point to put all the scented stuff away. I promise you that if you're suffering from "morning" sickness this is by far one of the best things you can do to help.

A list of unscented products I switched to:

Bath & Body Products
Tom's Of Maine Moisturizing Body Bar in Unscented/Fragrance-free (they also have an unscented body wash)
Secret Clinical Protection Hypoallergenic (unscented for sensitive skin + hormonal uber-sweat gets busted)

Home & Laundry
ALL small & mighty Free Clear
Clorox 2 Free
Bounce Free Dryer Sheets
Green Works Dishwashing Liquid in Free & Clear

I wish I could have found an unscented shampoo and conditioner or body lotion but didn't have much luck. I never did switch toothpastes but let me tell you... I never thought the flavor of mint would make me gag! I suppose I should have just brushed with baking soda for a while but ewww.

Aside from switching to unscented products we ate a lot of take-out or cold-food based meals because the smells of cooking meats and spices were enough to send me to my room to hide out like a monk on a mountain top.

I wish there had been more fruit in season but I found that apples, oranges, strawberries and fresh raspberries were a good snack because they didn't have strong scents and their acidic qualities made them leave less aftertaste.

Cutting out caffiene was surprisingly easy! The smell of coffee which I am normally a lover of turned my tummy in knots and teas with caffiene made the nausea worse. The taste of tap water was horrid so I started buying bottled water to be kept at room temp, strangely the temp of the water also made a difference for me. Early on when I would be so sick in the morning when I would get Arik up for school I found that adding a little bit of Gatorade powder (Orange or Lemon-Lime) to my bottle of water would help. That slightly sour flavor with just a little sugar seemed to help perk me up and didn't make me get that sloshy filled with liquid feeling that plain water did.

By the end of April and moving toward the second trimester I said to heck with it! I was sick of being sick and nothing really helping. By sheer chance while researching another topic I'll talk about in a future post I found the Morning Sickness Relief section of doulashop.com. Well, a CD wasn't going to help me at that point and the PsiBands didn't seem like something I could tolerate so I broke down and spent the $30 for the Morning Sickness Kit. Inside are five different products to try Crystallized Ginger, Gin Gins Hard Candy, B-natal Green Apple Lozenges, Morning Wellness Tea and Preggie Pop Drops.

So how did these products rate for helping with my all-day "morning" sickness?
Crystallized Ginger: One word. Shudder. I think that candied ginger is best suited to maybe being tossed into a cup of tea or perhaps baked into some cookies. The package does have a recipe for Chewy Ginger Snaps which sound pretty good but as a morning sickness aid I found the stuff awful. Definitely something to be added to another remedy.

Gin Gins Hard Candy: Actually, if you like ginger or enjoy the warming sensation of a cinnamon hard candy these are pretty tasty. But since we're rating them based on helping with an upset tummy from morning sickness... I didn't find them helpful. They're nice after a meal if you're feeling a little icky from a smell or a taste but they leave an aftertaste of their own.

B-natal Green Apple Lozenges: The theory is that large doses of vitamin B6 aid in reducing the nausea associated with morning sickness. So these little green monsters pack an uber dosage. Because of that they can't be taken more than 3 times a day at 8 hour intervals. The flavor was a little funny, green apple with a hint of... stem? There is a cherry flavored version also but it didn't sound like something I would like (all I could think was cough drops yuck!). They did help me with the nastiest boughts of nausea when I was under stress but I found that the effect only lastest for a short time after the lozenge was gone.

Morning Wellness Tea: Ginger root, spearmint leaf, chamomile flower, orange peel, lemon balm and peppermint leaf blended together into single serving herbal tea bags. If you're not an herbal tea fan I doubt this one would help you. Since I LOVE herbal tea this one was fantastic! I would let mine steep a few minutes before starting to drink and leave the bag in so that by the time I hit the last few sips the ginger would be really strong. Out of the five products this was the one I used the most and while it wasn't super effective on my worst days it was very good in the morning with a little plain toast when I didn't feel well enough to really eat. I liked it so well I'd drink it just for the soothing herbs it's made with.

Preggie Drop Pops: I actually thought these would be the least useful and effective of the bunch. These are completely drug free! Just essential oils and sugar pretty much. Four mildly sour flavors include raspberry, green apple, lemon and tangerine. These are the drops, a candy about the size of a bite size candy bar, but they are also available as a lollipop. In the end these were the most effective remedy I found. Combating dry mouth, offering a sour flavor but the sugars to help boost energy, and just overall being pleasant (not all mediciney or weird tasting) enough to be tolerated these were a staple on my morning walks. In fact... I was digging in my purse for a B-natal when nausea hit and my cousin and his wife asked if I had tried the Preggie Pops yet which she said had helped her! So you get a double endorsement there (Thanks Dusty & Brennan!).

Now that my fourth month has passed I'm feeling much better though I still occasionally get a wave of the green gills in the late afternoon. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what safe, effective remedies she suggests. If you're having trouble keeping down your prenatals ask her if you can try children's chewable vitamins in the meantime or take them right before you go to bed. That was the only way I could take them during my first pregnancy and this time around I don't pop mine until I am ready to go right to sleep. There are few things you will vomit up in life that are more unpleasant than prenatal vitamins!

There's definitely no perfect solution for "morning" sickness but there are some definite ways to make it more tolerable. My advice in summary:

• Make sure you get as many hours of uninterupted sleep as you can. I found that if I was well rested I didn't feel as badly.

• Hydration, hydration, hydration!!! You and your baby need to be well hydrated no matter what. Try your water at room temp. If needed a little Gatorade powder might make it easier to swallow. My favorite water I found was Dasani Lime Essence, it's water with a hint of lime flavor and no carbonation or sweeteners.

• Avoid strong odors and perfumed products around your home. Switch to free & clear household detergents or unscented/fragrance-free body products to reduce sudden waves of nausea. Pack up your favorite scented products and perfumes in an airtight box and put it away for after the baby comes.

• If certain foods or cooking smells really bother you don't force yourself to tolerate them. It's better to have plate of raw veggies and beans & rice than vomit up your husband's favorite pot roast.

• Even if toothpaste makes your gag BRUSH YOUR TEETH regularly!!! I cannot stress this one enough. Frequent vomiting really wears down and damages your teeth. Colgate makes these tiny pre-pasted brushes called Wisp (in 3 different flavors) that are perfect for tossing in your purse, glovebox or work locker for emergencies. Plus sometimes just brushing out a yucky flavor helps.

• If all else fails don't be afraid to look into alternative remedies. Just make sure your doctor says they are safe for you!

5.27.2009

Our Baby Story

I didn't really intend to start a baby blog. Really. But I've had so much to talk about with this one that I haven't known where to talk about it. All the new things I've tried, what's different from my first pregnancy ten years ago, what it's like finding out your beloved OB/GYN you've been seeing for the past decade is moving out-of-state three months before you're due... oh yeah, there's been a lot to discuss!

Keeping such a blog with my first pregnancy would likely have been a completely different story but then I didn't even own a computer at that time let alone know what a blog was. When I was pregnant with our first born I also worked full-time, something I have the great fortune not to be doing now.

Another reason I decided to start a blog for this one is that with most family members and friends having computers and internet access they can drop by at their leisure to read up on what's new with the pregnancy. Now if only I had everyone's most current email addresses.

So what's the story so far?

Well... once we decided it was time to either have another child like we've wanted to for years or just give up on the idea completely there was a lot to be done. My OB/GYN and my neurologist both needed to feel I was in a physiologically good place to be pregnant. Knowing the risks that come along with anti-seizure medications and birth defects was definitely my biggest concern. Unfortunately, I've had to continue taking my medication because having a seizure would be far more dangerous than the medication itself. No matter what there are risks there's just no getting around them.

Given the green light for pregnancy we were hoping to have bought a house before we started working on that but well... sometimes you just can't let those kind of circumstances hold you back. That's when I decided I wanted to research ways to increase the chances of conceiving a girl. A little googling later I had learned of the Shettles method and the basic ideas behind it. I can't say we followed it to the letter because we were in a hurry to conceive (to avoid having another November baby!), but we hope that it at least increased our chances a little.

So why did we want to bother with trying specifically for a girl?

During our first pregnancy I wanted to have a boy. Adam already had a daughter with his ex-girlfriend and at the time I was the only girl in my generation of kids. I really wasn't sure I'd know what to do with a girl. The idea of dealing with French braids and pierced ears scared me! So when we saw our son on the ultrasound I think we were both pretty happy. But we've had ten years to enjoy parenting a son and though he really wants this one to be his 'little brother', we can't help but hope that we will get to enjoy a new realm of parenting we haven't been through before.

That's not to say we will be unhappy with another boy—I think Arik will be thrilled more than anyone—as long as our baby is healthy we can't ask for anything more.

The getting pregnant part was definitely the easiest part of this entire process. Once we had that part accomplished we knew the first person the news had to be shared with was of course Arik. Next to ourselves he was going to be the most affected by this change in our lives and our household. But at nine-years-old it is a completely different scenario than it would be with a toddler. Obviously he is old enough to know that babies don't just arrive via stork special delivery or grow in the mother's stomach. The only trouble was, we knew there were going to be questions we weren't sure how to answer with both the scientific accuracy and sensitivity to maturity level that was needed.

This meant a parents-only bookstore trip. We had to find two books. One about becoming a big brother that wasn't a cheesy toddler tale that would make him think we were idiots and one to explain where babies come from. In the end we settled on three books. The classic Berenstain Bears' New Baby, A New Baby Is Coming!: A Guide for a Big Brother or Sister, and It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. Once we were all at home we sat Arik down and I read the Berenstain Bears book and being the way-too-smart-for-his-own-good twerp he is he immediately asked if we were having a baby.

Since then it's been doctor's appointments, morning sickness that lasts all day and trying to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the big changes that are soon to come.
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