Archive for April, 2010

When Having a Baby Doesn’t Sound So Hot Anymore

No matter how much you wanted to get pregnant, no matter how much you felt like your life would never be complete if you never had a baby, you could very well be sitting there, pregnant, wondering if there’s anyway to just take it back.

There is nothing like listening to every parent (and their mother) tell you how you should get sleep now while you can, or how difficult labor will be for you, or how your life will never be the same, to make you question your initial intention. This is not to say that you’ve never thought of these things before. You’re no idiot. You’ve always known that a baby would mean a decreased social life, sex life, mental capabilities, etc. But now you’re in it. You’re pregnant. There’s no turning back. And suddenly you feel… scared.

If you express to someone that you’re afraid of the delivery the most calming thing they might be able to say to you is, “it’s coming out one way or another”. And that’s sort of a good motto for this whole shebang: you’re going to be a mother one way or another. It’s a done deal. And you know what? Most people would bet money that you’re gonna love it. You may even be lying there in the delivery room and when the doctor tells you to give one… last… push you might turn to her and say, “I’m scared to be a mother”, and she’ll probably just smile at you (knowing you have no choice in the matter now) and say, “You’ll be fine”. Because you will.

Many women have these feelings of “Wow, I wanted it so badly, but now that it’s actually coming, I don’t know if this is for me anymore” but they don’t really talk about it. It’s taboo, or irrational, or ungrateful, or immature, or… It’s normal. It probably just means you are one of the few women who truly understands what a big deal this is you’re getting yourself into. You’re no dreamer… you’re a realist. You’re one big, beautiful, hormonal realist.

Top 10 Tips For Liking Your Pre and Post Natal Body

No matter who you are, or how great your six-figure income personal trainer is, your body is going to change when you get pregnant. Being in the society we’re in, and being ladies who like to look our best, getting a thicker tush or squishier thighs is certainly something we like to avoid. But that’s one of the sacrifices, right? You wanted a baby, you gotta live with the consequences. (This attitude, of course, doesn’t make us feel the slightest bit better). Here are ten tips to help you be happy with that changing body of yours.

  1. Compliment the mirror.

    You may feel like Stuart Smalley doing it, but stand in front of the mirror (naked) and tell yourself you look great (even if you don’t believe it).

  2. Buy new clothes.

    If you’re short on cash, go to the local Wal-K-Tar-Mart and find the cheapie stuff. Just buy yourself something you like, so even if you don’t like what’s inside, you’ll like what’s outside.

  3. Don’t try on clothes you know won’t fit.

    Again, even Ms. Angelina Jolie had to leave a button or two undone when she was pregnant. You’re supposed to gain weight – so bump that size up a notch!

  4. Think about your baby and how it’s all worth it.

    Sappy, sappy, but feels good anyway. You may not look like you did before, but hold that baby or rub your tummy and know what a sweet deal you’re getting.

  5. Stop asking your partner if you look fat.

    Chances are, you just might. Most people are bad liars, and some even tell it like it is. So don’t ask the question if you can’t handle the truth.

  6. Embrace it all day long.

    “I just had a baby! Of course I look this way!” Anyone who looks at you and wonders how you could be pregnant or just had a baby and be a bit heavier is a big… dumb… idiot… completely.

  7. Don’t look at magazines

    You know those magazines that show off how preggie celebs look better now than they did before? Just ignore them. Stop comparing yourself. Speaking of Ms. Jolie, she has her own personal chef, trainer, masseuse, acupuncturist, Photoshop editor, liposuction doctor (not known as fact, just speculation, please don’t sue), and nutritionist –don’t compare your ability to keep your body in great shape with someone in her workout shoes.

  8. Don’t spend time inspecting the fat.

    While you’re looking in the mirror complimenting yourself, do not (again, do not) start tugging at the rolls to see if they’ve gotten bigger. Cut it out. Seriously.

  9. Dress like you think you look great.

    Fake it till you make it. Dress like the woman who’s got it all, and you just might start to feel like her.

  10. Just think about how fat you could have gotten!

    You can always be fatter. Congratulate yourself for doing as well as you have.

What to Expect During Pregnancy…Because Everyone Insists It’s Going To Happen

A very pregnant and wise woman said, “You know you’re really pregnant when you have to consider the importance of the dropped object on the floor before opting to pick it up.”

Getting big and lopsided is a given in your pregnancy. But what else can you really expect? Your mother will tell you that heartburn will hit around month six, while your co-worker will warn you against the round ligament pain that will haunt you at month four. Perhaps you’ll be standing in the post office one day, innocently trying to mail a Christmas package to your ailing Great Aunt Enid when the woman behind you on line threatens you with the dreaded spider veins of the third trimester and how they still cover her legs to this day, twenty-something years later. She also doesn’t refrain from asking you in her “inside voice” amidst a line of strangers if you intend on having an episiotomy. (There is no more decorum of privacy when you’re as big as a small woodland cottage).

Will you get heartburn at the same time as your mother? Will Braxton-Hicks contractions bring you to your knees? Not necessarily. Most women enjoy regaling pregnant women with their experience as expectant mothers. It’s not far from the Al Bundy’s of the world who just can’t let go of the play he made in the last big football game in high school. But we like it – for the most part, we enjoyed being pregnant, we’re excited for you, and a part of us wishes we could do it all over again (well, maybe not all of it). The fact is, however, that just because friendly post office lady had spider veins, doesn’t mean you’ll get them. And just because your mother is a blood relative, doesn’t
mean you’ll inherit her heartburn. Pregnancy is the one medical phenomenon where everyone (and their mother) is an expert. Perfect strangers will see you buying smoked salmon and interrupt your shopping to say you can’t eat fish, when the reality is that you can eat it in moderation. Someone at the gym will tell you not to hurt your baby when
they see you working out your leg muscles.

The rule of thumb – don’t believe anything anyone tells you about your pregnancy. It’s your pregnancy. It’s your body. So unless they’re wearing a white lab coat and walk around with people calling them “doctor”, take it all with a grain of salt.

So what should you expect? You should expect the most common and bizarre things to start happening to your body; maybe nausea in the first trimester, maybe some back pain in the third. Your gums may start bleeding profusely when poked too much – enlarging reproductive organs require more blood flow in order to feed the baby, so the amount of blood must also increase (usually between 25 to 40 percent). You may get a yeast infection in the second trimester – increased sugar in the vaginal secretions on which yeast can feed may cause an imbalance, leading to too much fungus. (On that note, there is no such thing as TMI when talking about pregnancy).

If it’s happening when you’re pregnant, it’s probably normal. But if it’s debilitating, bright red, or has a funny odor, call your doctor. And most of all – fear nothing, but expect anything.

Questions After Miscarriage: When do we try again?

It was a long cold winter and everyone must have been baby-dancing at the same time because there are pregnant women everywhere! And Facebook posts and e-mails announcing pregnancies. And baby showers (I personally witnessed three in the past week). It’s an epidemic.

There are reminders everywhere of what we’ve lost. The reality of miscarriage is that even after the physical process ends, the emotional recovery goes on. Every time I see a pregnant woman, or hear a commercial on the radio for daycare, or read an e-mail from a friend announcing her pregnancy, I’m sad. I think, “That should be me.”

I’ve erased what milestones I had marked in pencil on my calendars and scratched through the ones in pen. Remarkably, the dates are still in my head. I wish my brain were like a VCR tape so I could take a gigantic magnet to my head and erase my memory from the past couple of months.

My mom suggested I set new milestones even if they’re just daily or weekly ones like one week without crying or two weeks without bleeding. In case you’re curious, I’ve only ever made it to three days without crying. Happily though, I’ve graduated to panty-liners instead of pads so I think I’m on my way to reaching at least one milestone.

Then there are the milestones set by my doctor: “We always recommend you have three normal cycles before trying again.” Note she didn’t say three months. It could be four or five or six months before I have three normal cycles.

From chatting with women on pregnancy loss message boards, opinions on when to conceive after a miscarriage are varied and dependent on each woman’s unique loss experience. The reason my doctor recommended waiting three months is to give my body time to reset its hormones and to allow my uterus to fully recover. She said there is a slightly higher risk of a miscarriage because of my last experience and that waiting will give me a better chance of having an uncomplicated pregnancy the next time.

So when should we try again? We’re undecided about whether to take the doctor’s advice or throw caution to the wind and see what happens. It’s an impossible choice really. If we take the doctor’s advice and I have another miscarriage, I’ll think, “We waited and it happened again. What was the point?” And if we don’t wait and have another miscarriage I’ll think, “We should have waited! We ignored the doctor’s advice and look what happened!”

Yes, a truly impossible choice and one I hope I won’t dwell on. I hope that when the time is right, we’ll know in our hearts. That means I’m going to have to turn off my brain and trust my body, trust God, and trust the process. It’s like contemporary philosopher Alexandra Stoddard says, “Slow down; calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.”

Related Podcasts

Do You Expect Your Husband To Share 50/50 In Baby Care?

Thinking Positive with Gestational Diabetes

My first pregnancy didn’t go quite the way I planned. I came from a line of women who couldn’t say enough good things about their pregnancies. My mother and grandmother always told me that they felt their best when they were pregnant. Naturally, I thought my pregnancy would be the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For the first six months I experienced what has erroneously been called “morning sickness”. The error in this label lies in the word “morning” as this sickness can last all day or hit you unexpectedly at any time of the day. It was not at all attractive.

Towards the end of my third trimester, I was finally able to keep food down. I felt stronger and happier. It was nice to be able to indulge in some of the yummy treats many women crave during pregnancy. I still lacked energy, but I reasoned this was just a result of my getting bigger. I figured my last trimester would be a breeze.

Then the results of my routine glucose screening tests came back. My numbers were higher than normal. I returned to the lab for a glucose tolerance test which confirmed glucose intolerance. My numbers were just shy of the diabetes mark. At first I felt relieved, but my OB/GYN said since I was borderline, I had to treat it as gestational diabetes. The only difference was I didn’t have to prick my finger four times a day as long as I was able to manage my weight gain through proper diet and exercise. Great.

According to the American Diabetes Association, (ADA) gestational diabetes affects 4% of all pregnant women. It is one of the most common health problems in pregnancy. It begins when our bodies are not able to produce and use all the insulin we need during pregnancy. When gestational diabetes is left untreated, our pancreas works overtime to produce the insulin needed to support us and the development of our growing babies. While insulin does not pass into the placenta, glucose does. The increased amount of glucose puts stress on the baby’s pancreas to create more insulin to get rid of the extra blood glucose. As a result the baby gets more energy than it needs and this extra energy is stored as fat. Babies with excess insulin at birth face a number of health risks including breathing problems, and macrosomia.

I had my nutritionist explain this to me about three or four times. If only I had Dr. Swaim’s explanation in the podcast referenced below, I may have grasped it quicker. The bottom line was I needed to stick to a specific diet or my health and the health of my baby would be at risk.

The diet itself wasn’t bad. It was basically portion control and balancing the right amount of carbohydrates throughout the day. But the last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is the word “diet”. At first I focused on all the things I couldn’t eat. What was I going to do with that wonderful bag of peanut butter cups in the pantry? How would I get by without potato chips? Is life worth living without cookies n cream? I realized quickly that if I was going to succeed, I had to turn all my negatives into positives.

  1. Positive #1: Getting in my five servings of fruits and veggies everyday

    At first glance this may not look like much of a positive. Who wants broccoli when you’re salivating for Doritos? I’m very competitive though. So I made my mind over and convinced myself that this was a game – and I had to win it. Every day I made it my aim to eat all five of my servings of fruits and vegetables. To my surprise this made it easier for me to make better food choices.

  2. Positive #2: Taking full advantage of my three snacks a day

    This was my opportunity to feel like I was eating more rather than eating less. Eating more often during the day kept me feeling full and I didn’t overindulge at dinnertime – nighttime eating has always been my downfall. In that last month, these regular snacks really helped to chase away the crankies.

  3. Positive #3: Enjoying the things that I could eat

    I had to let go of my grudge against healthy foods. A handful of almonds paired with a cup of fruit or applesauce was my snack of choice. And it really was yummy – no, not yummy as chocolate or ice cream is yummy, but it did the job most of the time. I also found that indulging in a sugar-free Jell-o pudding snack cup or a “Baby Needs Chocolate” Belly Bar helped out when the chocolate cravings were just too much.

  4. Positive #4: Using exercise as a way to bond with my husband

    My late pregnancy was in the winter, so we took advantage of our local mall and just walked circles around it. It sounds monotonous, but it was a great opportunity to talk about the baby, what we looked forward to, what we weren’t looking forward to, our hopes, and our fears. It really helped us to stay connected as a couple and fortified us for the change we had ahead.

  5. Positive #5: The satisfaction of knowing I was fulfilling my responsibility as a Mommy

    Sounds cheesy, yes, but it really did help. I felt I had gotten a head start on Mommyhood which is full of sacrifices and making changes in my lifestyle for the sake of baby. Of course, pregnancy alone does this for any Mommy to be, but this mindset kept me motivated on the rougher days.

By following the diet and including regular exercise in my weekly activities, I found myself having more energy – in a relative sense of course, it is true that pregnancy takes a lot out of us. At 41 weeks I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. In the end, whatever I endured during my pregnancy was well worth it. My gestational diabetes went away immediately, but I found the strategies of the diet to be a sensible way of eating that I try to continue to this day.

For more information about gestational diabetes, its causes, symptoms and treatment visit:

4 Non-Traditional Baby Shower Gifts

Whether you’ve had children before and are stocked with plenty of hand-me-downs, have limited space, or are generally opposed to the accumulation of stuff you’re not sure you’ll need, you don’t need to miss out on the support and fun of a baby shower. Rather than set up a registry to request traditional gifts, consider these four alternatives:

  1. A 529 contribution

    No matter what your financial circumstances are, it’s wise to start planning your child’s financial future early. If you have established a 529 college savings fund for your child, consider asking shower invitees to make a deposit to the account rather than bring a traditional gift to your shower. The administrator of your 529 plan should be able to provide you with information about how friends and family members can make a gift to the account.

  2. A tree

    One of the urgent concerns facing parents-to-be is whether the planet will remain sustainable for their children and future generations. Help make sure that it will be intact for your child by asking your guests to buy and plant a tree in your child’s name. The Arbor Day Foundation has an online tree store where gift trees can be purchased.

  3. Cloth diaper service

    Perhaps you’ve considered cloth diapering, but have written it off because it seems too time-consuming and labor intensive. In many cities, cloth diaper services have sprung up in recent years, offering pick up and washing services. Check on service options by calling a local diaper service, and ask if shower guests can purchase gift certificates or credits toward service.

  4. Education for kids in developing countries

    You’re blessed to be able to provide your children with opportunities that parents in many developing countries can barely imagine. If you truly don’t need any traditional shower gifts, consider asking guests to make a gift in your baby’s name to an organization like Room to Read. Room to Read, which focuses on literacy development, is a reputable organization that allows donations to be earmarked for specific causes. Would you like your guests’ gifts to support girls’ education or to benefit children in a specific country? Room to Read can work with you to do just that.

Related Podcast

Questions after a Miscarriage: Why Do I Want a Baby?

“Why do you want a baby?” There it was; the question that left me speechless.

There I was. Back in the psychologist’s office and facing the one question I never thought about answering. “Why do I want a baby?”

I looked across the room at her, blinked a few times, and said, “That’s a good question.” And then I laughed. I laughed because I legitimately didn’t have an answer.

And now, I can’t stop thinking about it. Is there a right answer to this question? There are definitely some wrong answers, at least according to pop psychologist and TV talk show host Dr. Phil. He writes on drphil.com that a child should be wanted, not needed. “Don’t give a child a job before they’re even here — the job of saving your marriage, of making your spouse settle down, of living out your unfulfilled dreams.”

Good advice Dr. Phil.

At least I can sincerely say that I want a baby; I don’t need one. I just don’t know why I want one.

I’m not a person inclined to want. I have a four year old cell-phone and it doesn’t cross my mind to want a new one. My car has nearly 110 thousand miles on it and I don’t want a shinier, newer model. My closet doesn’t have the latest trendy clothes from an expensive retailer and I truthfully don’t want those things anyhow.

I guess I haven’t thought about wanting a baby because “want” to me has always meant something material and in the case of a baby, it means something different. It’s the desire to give myself to something meaningful. It’s the desire to be something more than a married couple: the desire to be a family. It’s weekend walks with the stroller. It’s family fun night at the ballpark. It’s Christmas’s with Santa Claus and Easter with the Easter Bunny. It’s all the things I remember from my childhood like big family parties and vacations, running through the grass behind my grandmother’s house, and simply being loved more than anything in the whole world.

I want, more than anything, to give that to someone else. I want to take all the love that’s been given to me and to share it. That’s why I want a baby.

Related Podcasts:

It Finally Happened: Misoprostal Induced Miscarriage

Just wanted to give a quick update: The last time I wrote, the first dose of Misoprostal didn’t appear to be working. I took the second dose and my experience with the second dose was more consistent, though not entirely, with what was described by my OB. She said something like “Within four hours, you will start cramping and bleeding. Both these things will get progressively worse and you can expect to expel the contents of the uterus within 24 hours.”

It’s true that within four hours of the second dose, I started cramping and bleeding. In fact, it was within that time that I decided if I am ever blessed to give birth, I WILL be having an epidural. Yes. The cramps were that strong and came in waves…like contractions.

The pain slowly subsided over the course of the night and by the morning, I was feeling a little crampy, but not horrible. I actually felt OK until nearly 48 hours later – that’s when I passed the gestational sac. If you’ve been through this, you know that the moments preceding this one are fairly painful. There I was, hanging out with my husband a wave of cramps washed over me. Then, just like that, it was over. I had read that after you pass the sac, the cramps subside almost immediately and I found that to be true so I thought I was in the clear and I was relieved to be starting my physical recovery.

The next day at work was gloriously busy and I was grateful to be so occupied. Same thing the following day until around 4:30. It was at that time that I had horrific cramps and the sudden urge to use the bathroom. Dizzy and sweating bullets, I struggled to get myself into a stall. Just as I landed on the cold seat a gush of fluid splashed in toilet and I doubled over with a contraction.
I sat there for 25 minutes alternating between long contractions and a few short seconds to catch my breath and prepare for the next one. What a strange time it was. I was in the throes of a miscarriage in a public restroom. Never saw that one coming!

Thankfully, I had my Blackberry and was able to get a hold of my manager (also a trusted friend) and get help. She was able to get me out of the building and off to my mom’s house which is, literally, across the street. From there, my mom who happens to be a nurse, took over caring for me.

After this physical experience, I have a hard time believing there could possibly be more…Of course, that’s what I believed a few days ago so who knows. I will keep you posted.

Dads Are Parents, Too: Six Ways to Include Your Partner in Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery

It was at “my” baby shower when I first realized that dads are often pushed to the side during pregnancy. I was surrounded by family and friends who wanted to know how my pregnancy had been. Had I experienced morning sickness? Did I feel the baby kicking yet? Did I have any strange cravings?– I watched my typically extroverted husband withdraw from the conversation, grabbing a handful of peanuts and a cigar before heading for the porch swing – alone.

I felt sad for him, though I wasn’t quite sure how to draw him into the conversation, especially as he was the only man at the shower. I let him smoke his cigar in peace as I talked about what it was like to suddenly detest coffee during the first trimester and described how much I was enjoying the second trimester. I told my captive audience about the sonogram- how the technician couldn’t determine whether our baby was a boy or a girl because it moved around so much its sex wasn’t immediately evident.

Francisco had shared every single one of those events with me. He’d rubbed my back as I stood over the toilet, dry heaving the breakfast I couldn’t keep down. He’d tried different teas as coffee substitutes. And he’d been with me at the sonogram, tearing up as he watched our baby moving around and as he heard the technician say, “Your baby looks perfect.”

As the pregnancy went on, I noticed that this tendency to push men aside occurs a lot and it troubled me. If we expect men to be full partners and parents in our families, why don’t we treat them as equals during pregnancy, labor, and delivery?

I asked that question on my blog and elicited some howling protests in response. “Because women are the ones who carry the baby and it’s hard work!” said one commenter. True. But that doesn’t mean that your male partner isn’t having his own experiences of pregnancy, labor, and delivery: he is. And he’s usually experiencing them alone.

Involving your partner in all stages of getting ready to welcome your baby to the world not only makes him feel involved, it makes your experiences of pregnancy, labor, and delivery more fulfilling, too. Here are a six ways to make sure your partner gets included:

  1. Invite your partner to appointments.

    By accompanying you to your prenatal appointments, your partner has the opportunity to ask your midwife or obstetrician questions that may be on his mind that you haven’t considered. And most midwives and obstetricians welcome the partner’s presence- they realize that he is a vital support and that he’s likely to remember information and perform tasks that you can’t.

  2. Make time to talk.

    Whoever perpetuated the notion that men don’t like to talk should be sentenced to talk with a man whose partner is expecting. When their partners are pregnant, men are confronting all sorts of anxieties and excitements, but they rarely have anyone to share them with. Make time to talk with your partner and ask how he’s experiencing the pregnancy. Ask how he wants to be involved in the labor and delivery.

  3. Make a birth plan.

    Some men want to be present for the birth of their children; other’s don’t. Long before your due date, you and your partner should have a conversation about what you both want, and should make a birth plan that clearly defines the roles of both partners. The plan doesn’t have to be formal—though it could be—nor does it have to be shared with anyone else.

  4. Take a parenting class.

    My husband wasn’t thrilled that we had to spend two beautiful weekend days in a birth preparation class, but afterward we both agreed that what we’d learned was valuable and that the time was well spent.

  5. Don’t let others edge him out.

    Once you’re aware of the extent to which he wants to be included, defend his right to be present. At the shower, I could have brought Francisco into the conversation by inviting him to talk about the experience of the sonogram.

  6. Do something special together.

    Whether it’s a dinner for just the two of you, or projects you work on together in anticipation of your child’s birth (keeping a baby book or decorating a nursery, for instance), don’t let the excitement of a new baby keep you from nurturing the relationship you share.

Related Podcasts: