Archive for May, 2010

Top 10 Most Unpleasant Things About Pregnancy

Arguably one of the most beautiful things a human can accomplish, pregnancy can also be one of the most unpleasant.  While few women will experience all of the below, the majority of preggie ladies will certainly have the joy of experiencing some of these unpleasant, and sometimes gross, products of pregnancy.

  1. Varicose veins

Most commonly on the legs, they add color and radiance to your lovely stems.

The bright side? You were probably going to get them with age sooner or later anyway.

  1. Irritability

Uncomfortable for you, uncomfortable for your loved ones.

The bright side?  At least this time you have a valid excuse!

  1. Constipation

Prunes and more prunes.  And water.

The bright side?  Sometimes it’s better than the alternative…

  1. Incontinence

You have to pee so badly that – oops.  Adult diapers anyone?

The bright side?  You can relive that element of your life as a baby, so you’ll be more in tune with your little one when they arrive.

  1. Swelling

Everywhere.  Ankles, face, feet, fingers, etc.

The bright side?  It may make you feel fat, but you don’t have to diet to get rid of this weight!

  1. Vomiting

Usually in the 1st trimester, it can be uneventful to practically barbaric.

The bright side?  You enjoyed that bowl of Cheerios so much, that we’re gonna show it to you again!

  1. Night sweats

Like you woke up in the tub.  Only you’re still in bed.

The bright side?  You’ll sweat out some of the toxins from that fast food you had for dinner.

  1. Gas

As if you couldn’t button your pants already!

The bright side?  You’ll be able to introduce your man to a whole new side to you (if you haven’t been so frank already).

  1. Discharge

And you were planning on simply sneezing…

The bright side?  It’ll feel like the easiest (though longest) period you’ve ever had

  1. Hemorrhoids

Either causing pain, itchiness, or just make you feel like you’ve got a rock squeezed up there, they might make you dread going to the bathroom.

The bright side?  Are you crazy?  There is no bright side.  Go to the drug store.

And after all that… The bright side?  You get an awesome baby in the end, and all you had to do was walk around with bulging blue lines on your legs, yell at everyone who looked at you funny, not go poo for four days, while peeing your pants a few times, wear clunky orthopedic shoes for your big fat feet, hug the toilet like you were back in college, wash your sheets every morning, fart your way through breakfast, feel like you’re wearing a wet diaper, and apply cream to your you-know-what-in-the-rear multiple times a day.

Exercises to Prepare For Labor

If you are like most women, chances are that by your third trimester, you have lost that honeymoon feeling that enveloped you most of your middle months.  With your growing belly, swollen limbs and a lackluster supply of energy, what’s a mom to do for exercising?   As with any exercise program, it is essential to consult with your medical practioner prior to beginning.  Once you have the green light, here are a few exercises to try at home or at the gym which will help keep you in shape but help your body prepare for delivery.

Exercise #1: Side to Side lunges.

Why we love them: lunges really open up a pregnant woman’s hips and pelvic area, creating a wider cavity for baby to navigate through during the birthing process.  This move also provides stretching for the leg and back muscles.  Place your legs farther than hip’s width apart and hold the back of a chair or table to keep steady.  Sway from side to side, deepening the leg bend gradually (but never more than 90 degrees.)  Think of the movement as really exaggerated slow dancing from junior high!  Train up to 30 lunges on each side.

Exercise #2: Wall crouches.

Why we love them: similar to the side lunges, wall crouches help open up the pelvic cavity as well.  This is an extremely great exercise to perform the last couple of weeks and is especially helpful in preparing the pelvic floor.  For moms to be who have back complications, this exercise is heaven for the back!  Slide down a wall until your crouched down a the bottom.  Try to get your knees pointed slightly outwards like a ballerina plie, keeping your feet flat to the floor.  (Try to think of how young children can crouch on the ground to examine a bug; that is the crouch you are going for!)  Hold for up to five minutes.

Exhibit 100E: Female Homosapien Post-Miscarriage

I never thought I’d be so anxious to get a period. Yes, you read it right: anxious, not eager.  I’m starting to get jumpy here. Before the pregnancy, I was regular to the hour. It was actually kind of creepy. Now, I’m on day 35 of Period Watch. Yep – it’s an official event with official lingo.

I’ve adopted some of the National Weather Center’s lingo to help liven up the waiting. “Watch” actually means, conditions are favorable though no actual signs have been spotted. “Warning” means that there’s been an actual sighting.

Indeed, conditions are favorable. It’s been more than 20 days without bleeding and my last ultrasound showed no remaining products of conception. Plus, I really, really, want to get it. What’s not favorable about that?

Getting old Aunt Flo will be the first sign that my body is back in business. The second sign will be getting another one within a reasonable time frame.

I feel a bit like I’ve become my own science experiment. Watching, waiting, observing; adding variables like vitamins and folic acid: “Let’s see what happens if I take these.” And then, subtracting other variables: “If I don’t wear a pad, and I wear white pants, will karmic forces intercede?”

Soon I’ll be sampling my own cervical mucus and comparing it to pictures on the internet. But hey, it’s in the name of science! Exhibit 100E: Female Homosapien post-miscarriage.

Come to think of it though, when you’re trying to have a baby, conception is really more science than it is romance. If you look for information on trying to conceive, then you’ll probably come across three of the most popular topics:

Temping: the process of monitoring your basal body temperature to detect the subtle rise indicating ovulation is imminent or occurring. A decline in temperature after a slight elevation usually indicates the egg was released and not fertilized. If the temperature stays elevated, it could indicate implantation of a fertilized egg.\

Cervical mucus: I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to start sampling it. Otherwise known as CM, cervical mucus morphs throughout the month from sticky to creamy to slippery and thin like egg-whites. It’s the slippery thin stuff that helps sperm swim and when you see it, it’s time to get it on if you know what I mean.

Charting: the process of recording temperature and cervical mucus among other signs throughout your monthly cycle. There’s a whole system of checks, and circles, and squares and letters and morse code involved with charting (just kidding on the morse code part – but it’s almost as complex)

All of that is well beyond my reach at this time though. I’m still waiting for my monthly cycle to make an appearance for the first time since January.  I’ll give it two more weeks until I start to panic. In the meantime, I think I’ll go buy some white pants and see if I can tempt the universe.

Go back to work or stay home after the baby comes?

Why Your Pregnant Thoughts Matter

Let’s face it; when you are pregnant, your thoughts can be all over the map.  Your hormones are in full swing and so are your moods and its hard to get any forewarning when they might go up or down.  But new research suggests that what you do concentrate on or about just might matter to that growing baby inside your belly.  A recent study has shown that what we as mothers do while we are pregnant will have life-long effects on our babies.  This  is not cause for moms to panic; in fact, this information should be used to empower moms into being conscious of what they do and think during their pregnancy.

Scientists now know that a pregnant woman’s moods (and the corresponding chemicals produced by those moods) can have profound impacts on her baby’s brain development while in the womb.   If a mother is chronically stressed during pregnancy, the hormones secreted during those elevated stress periods will send “messages” to the baby’s developing brain which will gradually adapt to being in a “stressed” environment.  This newly formed baby’s brain will be better suited to react quickly and a dampened ability to remain calm.  If a mother can consciously spend time focusing on the joy of her pregnancy, or in other words “think happy thoughts” then  the development of her baby’s brain will be reflective of serenity and calmness.

So what is a mom to do?  Even taking five minutes a day to bring awareness to your thoughts and streamline them into positive feelings will manifest positive outcomes in your baby’s brain development.  Having a rough go at it?  Not to worry; put on your favorite music, treat yourself to a favorite food or nourish yourself in a way that gives you those good feelings.   This conscious approach to caring for your baby in the womb will be just another gift you can give your baby.

Questions After Miscarriage: Where Do I Find Support?

Between social mediums like Facebook and Twitter and websites like Craigslist and MeetUp, connecting with people who have similar interests and experiences has never been easier. Don’t believe me? Head on over to Meetup.com and try this experiment. Search for “working moms.” There are more than 3000 groups worldwide that meet under that topic. Now try “stay at home moms.” More than 4000 groups meeting!

Try this same experiment with “pregnancy loss” and you’ll likely receive the same message I did: “Sorry, no matches found for ‘pregnancy loss’ within 100 miles of your zip code.” Well I’ll be darned.

Not having luck with finding local support groups, I decided to head to a bookstore to look for books about coping with pregnancy loss.

The woman at the service desk in Barnes and Noble looked nice enough and I thought I could trust her with my secret so I said, “I’m looking for books about miscarriage.” I waited for her to grimace or flinch under the weight of that awful word. I had imagined her look of pity. Instead, I got nothing. I might as well have asked her where I could find the dictionary section.

She led me to the back, far corner of the bookstore. I followed her thinking, “How appropriate. A corner where I can browse through my tears for the perfect book on how to cope with the loss of my unborn child.”

The section also had books about other taboo subjects like menopause and anxiety. We were able to find exactly one book. One. “Really?” I asked. “There’s no other section? Maybe near the family planning area?” She offered to go check the inventory while I stood there and scoured the shelf thinking maybe she missed it.

For all of the information on conception and pregnancy, there is a fraction of information available on the topic of miscarriage. A search for pregnancy books on Amazon yielded nearly 24,000 results. A search for miscarriage books yielded 901.

The woman came back and said, “I can order one for you.” I declined.

At home I logged into my local library website, something I was avoiding because I have overdue fines from the prenatal yoga DVDs I checked out and was late returning. The library carried a small selection of books (more than I thought they would considering it’s not a well-funded or large library). “Oh good,” I thought, clicking on the first title.

“Due on May 13,” flashed on the screen.

“What? Whaaaat?” I clicked on the next title. “Due on May 13.” The third title: “Due on May 13.”

The library had 3 books and they were checked out! There was a woman, somewhere in my locality, who had checked out these books. Where is she? Who is she? Will she be my friend?

Desperate for a connection, to hear from other women who have been through this experience, I continue to search for local support groups and to lurk on online pregnancy loss boards. I have what seems like thousands of questions. When? What did you do? How long did you? What did your doctor say? What were your HCG levels? How long did it take you to? How did you? Who did you? What did she say? What about?

I don’t know where I’ll find my answers, or my comfort for that matter. It just seems that I shouldn’t have to look so hard.

Breast Pumps in the Work Place

Pumping at work is like being trapped in a candy store against your will: you’d rather not be held captive anywhere, but if it’s gotta happen, that’s a pretty great place to be.  There is not much in this world quite like having to strip half-naked, attach a plastic medieval-looking contraption to your bosom, while fearing that one of your bull-in-a-china-shop male coworkers could ignore your privacy sign and walk in at any moment.

Pumping at work is an opportunity to steal away for twenty (or so) minutes and be with Baby, even though you’re not actually with them.  Ideally, of course, you’d be nursing him or her yourself, but pumping in the back room, the office, or the ladies room, works as a lovely little reminder of the time you and Baby get to spend with one another.

So what do you tell your boss?  If they’re male, this is probably one of the last conversations they want to have with you.  Don’t ask them, like it’s an option.  Inform them that this is something you need to do and you have found the most convenient times of day in which to do it.  Pumping is a requirement for you, if you plan on continuing to breastfeed.  Don’t apologize for feeding your baby.  If your boss is female, they’ve either pumped before, know someone who has, or have no idea why you do it.  Regardless, don’t ask – inform – nicely.

How often should you pump?  As often as you want.  You may become uncomfortable for having a back-up of un-expressed milk and want to do it for that reason, or you may be worried that your supply will dwindle, so you’ll want to do it more.  To give you a general idea, some women in a 9-5 job will pump two to three times while at work.

It’s inconvenient and awkward, but it’s necessary and you’ll get the hang of it.  Think of it this way – it’s a perfect opportunity to sit and do nothing for a few minutes, and with a baby at home, that’s a rarity.

After Miscarriage: The Big Follow Up

I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. The day I first found there was a problem with my pregnancy my doctor was delivering babies. The day I didn’t see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, my doctor was on vacation and my husband was en route to San Francisco for a business event. The day I actually had the miscarriage, my hubby was in Washington, DC.  When the nurse called to schedule my two-week follow up appointment, it made sense that she said, ‘Ohhh. Gosh. The week we need to get you in is the week the doctor is scheduled for jury duty.” Come on universe! Really?

I digress, however. Today, I want to share my follow-up appointment saga.

Because my doctor was out fulfilling her civic responsibilities (and for the record, “I have to deliver babies” is not a valid reason to be excused from jury duty in the great State of Ohio), I had to select, from among more than a dozen, another doctor in the practice. “Do you have a preference?” the scheduling nurse asked.

I requested the doctor a friend recommended and didn’t hold my breath for anything special. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the women who walked in the room and said, “It’s hard coming to our offices and seeing so many pregnant women and babies, isn’t it?”  

Let me be really honest here. Her compassion wasn’t unprovoked. The nurse who called me in from the waiting room had the gall to ask “How are you?”

Well, after sitting in a waiting room full of glowing women in various stages of pregnancy, I was undeniably not OK. Through gritted teeth, I basically told the nurse about how sucky my life is right now.  She was lucky to walk away without bruised shins.

I guess my reaction was a bit startling because she led me to a room right away and the doctor was knocking on my door within a matter of seconds. I can only imagine what the nurse must have said. Probably something along the lines of “We’ve got a situation in Room 2. Take your tranq gun.”

Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand and uncurling my lower lip, I nodded in acknowledgement of the doctor’s question and thought about apologizing for my emotional behavior. I decided against it and let her make the next move.

The doctor was blessedly calm. She’s what my friend would call ‘granola.’ You know. The type of person to wear Birkenstocks with socks and play an acoustic guitar after dinner and before reading Organic Gardening on her soy sheet set.  In other words, exactly what I needed. (By the way, I have no idea if this doctor wears Birkenstocks or gardens organically but I would be willing to bet yes.)

We chatted for a bit and she jotted down notes as I recounted the events that landed me in that room on that day. She answered all of my questions, did an internal exam, ordered blood work and said, “There’s no reason to wait if you want to try again. You can start with your next cycle.”

“Let me clarify,” I said. “You mean, as soon as I get my period, I can stop using protection?”

Nodding, she said, “Yes. Your next cycle.”

For the first time in weeks I smiled. I was overjoyed. “Thank you. Thank you for your time and your patience.” I hurried out of the room nearly knocking over the nurse I initially almost knocked out. I went to the lab to have my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) draw and then made the good news call to my husband.

The excitement of that visit lasted just over 24 hours. I got a call the next day from my doctor’s nurse. “Your HCG is still at 13. We need to make sure it gets to zero. Can you come back for more blood work in two weeks?”

I was devastated. I am devastated. How can this be? I’m not pregnant but the pregnancy hormone is still in my blood?

“It can take some women a long time to drop to zero,” the nurse explained over the phone.

“Well, what if it doesn’t drop?” I asked.

“We have no reason to believe it won’t,” she said. “We just like to make sure it gets to zero.”

Through more probing I was able to find out that some women require an “intervention” if the numbers don’t continue to fall. The nurse didn’t care to elaborate on what exactly an intervention entails. Left to my own imagination, I pictured a cold hospital room and machines that beep. I hope I don’t have to find out.

Financial Fears With a New Baby

If you’re making more money than you imagined, or you’re both out of work, you’re still probably wondering how you will afford the things you want for your baby.  While food and clothes (and diapers) are essential, we all have dreams for our little ones that can include anything from a cozy nursery to private school. Dads aren’t the only ones worrying about how to support his family.  When we have a baby, we’re ready to drop almost everything just to provide for them.  We want them to have everything we had, and more.  How are you going to pay for it??

Getting pregnant can up the ante on fears like this.  Especially in economic times like these, most of us are concerned about our financial situations.  But there is nothing like getting ready to bring your child into the world to fill you with some pretty serious financial fears.  So what is it that you think you need?

  1. A house that’s big enough for all of you
  2. Clothes
  3. Toys
  4. Shoes
  5. Doctor appointments / medicine / health insurance
  6. Airfare / gas / bus tickets for trips to visit family
  7. Daycare
  8. School
  9. Diapers!
  10. College fund

If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t have all the money you need to make every dream a reality.  So you worry about it – maybe every time you go to the bank; maybe with every paycheck (or lack thereof); maybe every time you pay your rent / mortgage; maybe every morning when you wake up.

We usually let our lifestyles match our finances, instead of the other way around.  This means that if you were able to make the amount of money you ideally want to make, you would probably find more things you want for your baby.  So no matter how much money you have, you’ll always wish for something you can’t afford.  And this leaves us with the almost unattainable ideal for living with life: to want what you have, instead of having what you want.

But what if you’re reading this thinking, “We don’t have enough money to live, let alone buy toys and pay for school!”  It will all work out.  If need be, you sell everything and move in with your parents.  They’d probably never be so happy to have you move back home as when you’re bringing their adorable grandchild to stay with them.

And if all else fails, stand by the freeway off ramp and offer people photos with your exquisite baby for five-bucks a pop.

Top 10 Tips on Keeping the Love Alive (with a baby)

A lot of people say they stopped having sex as soon as they had a baby.  And it can be difficult maintaining romance when many of your conversations revolve around diapers and daycare.  So where does that leave you and your honey?  You can keep the love simmering during your newfound parenthood by putting in a little extra effort.  Here are ten tips to keeping the love alive when there’s a baby running the house (and your bedroom time).

  1. Wear sexy underwear.

    Having recently had a baby, you’re probably not feeling your sexiest.  So put on some flirty undergarments to wake up the sexy that’s sleeping somewhere inside you.  If you can make yourself feel sexy, you’re more likely to be able to make the deed get done.

  2. Say I love you.

    Tell your honey you love them when it comes to you (or even if it doesn’t).  Even though they already know you do… doesn’t it make you feel good to hear it out of the blue sometimes?

  3. Have sex, even when you don’t want to.

    You’re probably not going to be in the middle of doing dishes, with spit-up drying on your shoulder, and suddenly think, “I want to have sex!”  If you’re going to keep a little steam in the relationship, you’re going to have to make the choice to do something you may not be up to.  And don’t worry – once you’re in it, you won’t be thinking about the dishes or the spit-up (as much) anymore.

  4. Do little favors for one another.

    If you’re on a boring errand at the supermarket, buy your special someone their favorite candy.  Or if you’re going to the kitchen, get them a glass of water without them needing to ask.  It’ll make you feel good, and make them feel loved and cared for.

  5. Don’t wait until the evening.

    While many of us prefer the romantic, dark room, and sultry feeling of night, your poor energy level may have no interest in such a task once the sun has gone down.  So if you’re both awake, both in the same geographical area, and the baby is busy doing its own thing, take advantage of it.

  6. Take naps.

    If you’re not going to be doing it during the day, take a nap so you’re able to tackle it that night.

  7. Get touchy feely.

    Instead of just walking by your partner while you’re both doing busy work in the kitchen, next time brush your hand across their back while you pass.  This will remind them that you haven’t forgotten how much you like touching them.

  8. Don’t lose the teenager in you.

    Remember when you used to make out on the couch in fear that parents were going to walk in?  Well, now you don’t have to worry about parents… So if you’re just watching TV, make it a little interesting next time and have yourself a make-out session.

  9. Go on a date.

    Go out with each other on something that’s more than just errands.  Even if it’s taking a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, if you’re holding hands, it’s bound to be a little romantic.

  10. Snuggle.

    When all else just wasn’t possible today, end the evening by snuggling up to them in bed.  Romance and intimacy can be just as alive without the sex.  Just be close to each other, even if you pass out while doing it.

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