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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