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.


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! ;)


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?
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