did you just stumble upon this blog? welcome to my musings on life as a pregnant 30-something who was humored by how much wool gets pulled over our eyes. i recommend you read from the beginning...

>> jump back in time to september 2009



i used to hear about that pregnancy "glow" but when i was pregnant, i never felt like i had it... instead, i always felt either bloated, nauseated, or a slow, waddling duck.

but... some good changes DID happen to my skin, hair and nails thanks to all the hormones and vitamins that i was on. i think i started to notice them sometime around the start of the 3rd trimester...

first - my hair defintely started to grow a little faster, and i lost a little less than normal. this is nice since i was trying to grow out a short haircut. also, my hair is long and dark and never looks so great when shed all over the bathroom floor.

unfortunately we pay for the (lack of) hair loss post-partum. once the estrogen levels kick back towards normal, the hair goes right out the head with it... every other pregnant woman i've talked to has had this experience. we're talking CLUMPS of it falling out, around 4 months after birth. thankfully, it does stop (or so i'm told) before we all go bald... but it's still kinda gross.

anyways - another awesome thing i noticed was my skin. not so much the skin on my face (same old) but the skin on my body... you see, i normally suffer from psoriasis which is an irritating skin condition that is kind of like eczema... little patches of flaky, scaly, itchy skin will pop up on my elbows, scalp, legs, or other random places from time to time. i usually have to manage it with gooey medicines and salves. but, when i was pregnant my psoriasis all but DISAPPEARED. not a patch to be found on my bloated arms or expanding thighs. it was amazing and liberating.

but again, i'm paying for it now. yup. 4 months after baby was born, and it's flaring up worse than i've ever had it. lovely.

but... there is good news. at least for me. see, the third amazing change from pregnancy occured with my fingernails. i have lived my whole life with thin, flaky nails that tear apart like a puff-pastry. i always keep them short with polish on them because they are otherwise unmanageable.

well, lo and behold, the pregnancy was half over, and i started to grow stong nails. long nails. nails that didn't tear! i had the best manicures i've ever had in my lifetime, and it was truly amazing.

i used to tell my husband that if i could have 1 surgery to improve my body it would be fingernail transplants. looks like i don't need them afterall! apparently i just needed to get pregnant. and it seems as though my nails aren't going anywhere... at least, they haven't yet. keep your fingers crossed.


things don't always go as planned

i was just forwarded this blog post from another mommy friend of mine... i thought at first it was just another woman's account of birth and how moving & life changing the experience is...

but, it's actually so much more. it's an emotional and honest account of a woman's experience giving birth to a baby with down syndrome, complete with some of the most beautiful photographs of the mother and baby throughout the first few days of the "little bunny's" life.

>> nella cordelia

it really made me think about how lucky i was to have my own daughter -- no complications, no emergency surgeries, no illnesses or unexpected issues...

it also reminded me just how important it is to have family & friends who are 100% supportive and loving when life doesn't go the way we expect it to go.

anyways, in order to give pregnant women as much truth about all things being pregnant and becoming mothers (as i hope to try & accomplish with this blog), i feel it is my duty to share this story with you. just as a reminder that yes, things might not go the way you plan them to. but that doesn't mean they won't go the way they're meant to be...

you will love your baby more than anything in the world, no matter what or how or when... becoming a mother is truly the most AMAZING and beautiful and life-changing experience.

don't be afraid if it's not a perfect journey... it will always be YOUR journey. embrace what comes to you.


sheer size

i seem to have had a few conversations lately around clothing for the last month, and it got me to reminiscing about how freakin' huge i was at the end of my pregnancy.

it was pretty astounding to see how large our bodies grow - but as the baby packs on 1/2 lb a week for 4-6 weeks straight, it is also no surprise. however, until you truly experience it first-hand, it is unimaginable.

moving around with a belly literally the size of a very large watermelon takes some getting used to...

your concept of space has to change in order to avoid bumping into things like tables, walls, countertops, your desk... i can't count the number of times i thought i could squeeze by something only to find that i didn't fit. or the times i didn't even think about it and walked my belly straight into a pointed corner of a table.

i swear i must have given my baby some bruises in utero, but she came out fine (thank goodness!)

i often used the analogy that it felt like i was driving an SUV when i'm normally used to driving a compact car!

and speaking of driving cars - parking one became the ultimate risk. it never failed that i would find a spot with lots of room for me on the drivers side to get in & out of my little mazda. i would park, go do whatever i needed to do, come back... and wham. some asshole had parked next to me leaving barely inches for the door to open. my skinny husband wouldn't have been able to fit, let alone an 8-month pregnant whale!

i got pretty adept at shimmying into the drivers seat from the passenger side... knocking my stomach on everything from the dashboard to the rearview mirror, to the steering wheel. i accomplished major feats of acrobatics.

and then there is the point when the clothes you bought mid-pregnancy (to see you through to the "end") stopped fitting. even the large shirts become too small, and the little base of my stomach would hang out from the bottom like a proper white-trash woman. it was awesome going to work like this, constantly pulling my shirts down so as not to bare my abdomen to the onslaught of male engineers that i worked with.

yes... you get really big right before that kid comes out. my tummy is still paying the price, 4 months later.


watch your organs get squished

install the adobe flash player if you don't already have it, then watch this little pair of videos:

>> organ squishing


linea nigra

i'm one of the lucky 75% of women who had a fascinating thing called the "linea nigra" appear on my abdomen when i got pregnant.

for those of you who don't know about this crazy phenomena, well, the name means "black line" which is completely appropriate... since that's essentially what it is.

i can't remember when i first noticed it, but it starts way down low near your pubic region and slowly creeps its way up your abdomen (vertically, centered, right on through your belly button), lengthening as you grow.

it's more like the color of a burn after it heals and scars over temporarily.

anyways, i swear its height exactly matches the height of your uterus because every time i went to the doctor and they told me how tall my uterus had gotten, the line was right there with it. no one ever confirmed this theory for me, but i'm sticking to it.

which i think is pretty cool - it was essentially my own little utero-ruler. albeit a slightly crooked one.

i hear they go away after birth usually... but again, i have yet to experience that portion of the magic. apparently a lot of things are supposed to go back to normal afterwards and didn't seem to do so for me. maybe i need to wait longer than 4 months?

anyways, at last check - the normal bus passed me by. i'm still striped. sorta like an inverse skunk.


baby stuff con't

after publishing my last entry i remembered a few other items worth commenting on...

- baby monitors: you probably don't need this from day 1. if you know what your sleeping arrangement will eventually be, and it involves using a separate room for baby, then sure - it's fine to purchase one ahead of time. but if you aren't sure what the sleeping arrangement will be, or if you plan to co-sleep or share a room with baby, you're best off waiting.

even having separate rooms, we don't NEED our monitor... it has been found to be most useful during daytime naps in month 3, when we've gotten her to sleep upstairs in her crib (and we are downstairs). it is also useful in month 3 now that we put her to bed a few hours before we go to sleep (sometimes she wakes back up while we're watching a loud movie downstairs so the monitor helps us in those situations). but generally at night, her crying is loud enough to wake us up w/out a monitor and/or she doesn't wake up and thus we don't need one...

our video monitor is fun to have but not a necessity in the slightest. i like it best to spy on her when she's in between sleeping and awake, but could surely get along without the cool infrared nighttime vision if i had to...

- strollers: i like having our stroller, but our baby hated it in the first few months. we ended up wearing her (via sling, moby or bjorn) until only recently. we are finally at a stage where we can take her on long walks in the stroller, but this is a very recent, 3-month milestone. of course every baby is different and some love their strollers the moment they pop out of the womb... so it's totally your call here. just don't feel pressured that you HAVE to get one, because you don't. besides, baby wearing is better anyways (reduces their likelihood of getting a flat head... plus it helps you bond with baby, and strangers are less likely to come touch your child, unsolicited).

- diaper pails: if you have the space, get one. poopy diapers stink! but a good old-fashioned trash can works fine too, if space, money is an issue and you can tolerate poo smells. just be sure to keep a lot of garbage bags on hand... newborns soil a LOT of diapers!

baby stuff

ahh the holidays! always makes me think of stuff. stuff we want. stuff we don't need. stuff we get as gifts (good or bad). good ol' stuff.

babies need a lot of stuff -- but there is also a lot of stuff they definitely DON'T need... or don't need right away. here's my quick and dirty list of stuff that i found was essential:

1. stuff to get before the birth, for use immediately after bringing baby home:

- newborn sized diapers (that's "N" not "1")

- several boxes of wipes (you go through a lot!)

- a permanent place to change diapers, that you don't have to bend over to get to, and that you don't have to "set up" each time... you will be doing a LOT of diaper changes! we just set up shop on top of a normal dresser by using a diaper changing mattress and a box (for stability), and put all our diapers and goods in the dresser drawers.

- washable changing pad covers (3 is a good number)

- pack (or 2) of cheepo white, generic old cloth diapers (to use as burp cloths...) they are the most absorbent! waaaaay better than the designer burp cloths out there, and much cheaper. we keep a few downstairs, 1 in our bedroom, 2 on the changing table, and the rest in a stack easily accessible to the changing table.

- 6+ pack of white long-sleeved tees and/or onesies that have fold-over hand mits on the end of the sleeves, so baby doesn't scratch their face. loose mits also work but the built-in kind are much better

- variety of onesies, pants and socks that are newborn sized (or 0-3 month for the bigger baby) and appropriate for the season your baby is born... for example, we have a ton of spring-colored, thin, short-sleeved onesies we'll never use because our baby was born in the fall & needs warmer clothes. likewise, we just got a long sleeved christmas onesie as a gift that is too big this year and will be too small by next year!

- 3 swaddling blankets... nothing fancy, just the basic, non-stretchy old blanket (make sure you have your nurse at the hospital show you the right way to swaddle... and remember, the tighter the better! as my baby daddy likes to say "if they start to cry, it's tight enough")

- somewhere for baby to sleep - could be a crib, a bassinet, a bouncy seat, a co-sleeper... whatever you prefer. newborns sleep a lot!

- a permanent place for breastfeeding (you only need this for the first 2 months, until you get your skills down, the baby gets bigger and baby feeds less often... until then, you pretty much camp out here). should consist of:

1. comfortable seat for mom
2. lots of pillows and/or a bobby/my breast friend pillow for baby and arm support
3. small table to place water glasses (drink a lot of fluids!) snacks, magazines, books, mobile internet device & TV remote control
4. (nice to have) a stool, ottoman, or foot rest to relieve leg pressure while nursing

- see my "lochia" post for the stuff mom needs for post-labor healing & recovery

- comfortable clothing for nursing (soft, loose tops with deep v-necks or buttons in front or wraps... think about easy-access to the boobs which doesn't require you to pull it up over your chest and bare your tummy to the world)

- disposable nursing pads for mom at nighttime (and sometimes for daytime in the beginning!) + "lilypadz" (reusable, prevent leakage)

- baby nail clippers or a glass nail file for baby's rapid-grow fingernails

- place to bathe baby (we used the sink + a baby bath seat for the first month or so, and now co-bathe with baby who still sits in the seat) & soap or shampoo that is safe for newborns

- a few style pacifiers (assuming you plan to use them) to try out and see which ones baby likes best

- a few bottles just in case (sometimes pumped breastmilk fed to baby in a bottle allowed mom a much needed feeding break or a chance to get out of the house for an hour or two)

- car seat (you can't take baby home without it!!)

2. stuff to get after baby is born & home / wait to buy

- a sling or wrap to wear the baby... i liked the Moby style wraps for the first 1-3 months at home, but the bjorn for adventures out of the house (though you can't use them for the newest of newborns). the Moby grows with baby, so you can use it in many different ways, but it's a bit of a mess to learn how to get on & off.

- a swing or bouncy seat (if you aren't already using one as the place where baby sleeps) for daytime naps or to set down baby while you do a chore

- a place on the floor for baby to play (we use a quilt)

- activity arch / mat that has toys that hang above baby's head for swatting & grabbing. some of these come attached to a mat, some are stand-alone. either way, you won't really need this until baby is in the 2-3 month range.

- baby toys (you won't need these until baby is at least 1-2 months old, and basic rattles are good-enough for a while)

- high chair (you won't need this until they're sitting up & eating solids - at least 5-6 months after baby is born!)

- all other baby crap (just get as-needed, if needed!)


babies the movie

i know 6 people due to have a baby between mid-april and mid-may. seems fitting that this movie is going to come out at the same time. it looks adorable! not to mention fascinating.


lochia & the post-birth healing

this post is going to be long, FYI. but the topic warrants it - heck, i named my blog after this topic!

the reason for writing so much is because i felt like no one ever talked about the post-birth life (it was sort of mentioned in some books, but either i didn't read those passages or it wasn't described well). therefore, i wasn't really prepared for what happens to ME, the mother, after i delivered... i don't see why that has to be the case. i don't want other women to feel like the wool was pulled over their eyes.

i mean, i expected the sleepless nights, the diaper changes, the baby crying, the breastfeeding discomfort. i figured i'd bleed and be sore for a while, but what i didn't know was how MUCH you bleed. how TIRED you are. how simple things like walking and sitting become nearly impossible for a little while.

i figured after i had one good meal, then i'd be fine... i'd sleep on my newly empty belly and enjoy my non-swollen feet... ha. feet were still swollen for weeks. not even the tummy sleep felt good because of my engorged boobs! what a racket.

post-partum is an exhausting, messy, long, and totally 100% un-sexy period of your life. you need to be ready to give yourself the rest and time needed, to heal. and you really need a baby daddy who can help in any way possible, to remind you that no matter how gross, tired, and raw you might feel - you are still amazing and beautiful and strong. heck, you just had a BABY.

the vaginal birthing process is really messy & organic... the hospitals do an astounding job of keeping it all amazingly clean, but there is no two ways about it - at some point, you are fully exposed. there are a lot (a LOT) of liquids. you sweat. shiver. puke. poo.

... and that little baby spilling from your loins is inevitably going to be covered in oodles of goo and blood. it ushers a geyser of bloody fluids out of your body with it. and THEN there is the afterbirth (placenta delivery)... maybe some stitches (if you need them)... labor is not all tidy, like they make it out to be in the movies.

and then, just when you think you finally make it through, you realize you need to heal from this mess - and that takes WEEKS.

so while you're pregnant, please please please enjoy the months of period-less living. enjoy the freedom of not worrying or carrying or tending to your monthly friend...

once that kid pops out, buh-bye.

you will immediately endure 4+ weeks of non-stop bleeding. this goes for vaginal or c-section deliveries. the medical world calls this "lochia" and, believe me, it's no joke. your body is shedding your pregnancy and shrinking your uterus back down to it's original size.

the first week is heavy bleeding - not gushing, but pretty damn close. you'll be changing yourself as frequently as you change your baby. you will get a little water bottle ("peri" bottle - short for "perineum") from the hospital to hose yourself down each time you sit at the toilet, and it will become your best friend.

sitting on the porcelain god is going to suck. you will become an expert in figuring out how to not drip all over the place while you try to clean up and change your pad. i suggest you keep your peri bottle, pads and a change of undies ready & within arms reach... in fact - make sure the pads & undies are waiting for you by the toilet BEFORE YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL TO GIVE BIRTH. you'll need them the moment you get home, and you don't want to be scrambling around to find them in a frenzy when you also have a baby screaming in the background.

i didn't do that - and couldn't remember for the life of me where i'd put the box of pads i'd bought a week earlier. everything was so easy & accessible & clean at the hospital - it was really scary being home and suddenly feeling disorganized & unclean... to be worried about staining my bathmat... i had a total panic - stupid emotions i could have easily avoided with a tiny amount of preparation.

also, if you're anything like me, you haven't touched a pad since you were like 12 years old. returning to a world of pads was extremely unappealing, heck frightening! but no tampons are allowed (for good reason), and i will say, i was amazed at how far pad technology has developed since my preteens. if you haven't a clue what to buy because you're a 100% tampon user, i highly recommend the always infinity pads. they're magic.

i also purchased some cheapo granny undies for my post-birth life, and it was a wise, wise investment. forget the thongs. since you'll essentially be in diapers for the first month, you need big, fat, cotton-y, comfy loose panties that have plenty of room for the giganto pad you need to stick in it. plan to just throw them out when you're done. then you won't feel guilty worrying about ruining any cute little pairs of undies you may have from your pre-pregnant life.

besides all the bleeding - there are other things going on with your body worth noting.

for example, you will have a few days where walking is more of an uncomfortable waddle. it's a different waddle from the 9-month pregnant waddle... kind of how you feel after a 100 mile bike ride! it will be a few weeks before the idea of a long walk or a run is palatable. take it easy and don't rush this because if you try to do too much too soon, your bleeding will get noticeably heavier. even seemingly-mundane activities like trying to do some laundry or clean during that first week will wear you out and might increase your bleeding. rest rest rest.

and you may or may not be hungry after birth. some women have no appetite. but some (like me) were ravenous. it might be related to how long you labored (19 hours without eating is enough to make anyone ravenous!) - i honestly have no idea. go ahead and have some snacks ready at home for your return from the hospital just in case. i needed several emergency snacks those first weeks (apples, crackers, etc) because of my breastfeeding.

and water water water - you should drink a ton, so get out that big old nalgene and keep it full! (actually, task baby daddy with the job of refilling it... you should be resting). you need a ton of water, especially if you are breast-feeding. and it's not uncommon for women to get constipated, so the water will help relieve that too...

be patient with your abs. i'm still amazed at how non-existent they were after, and 10 weeks later i'm still trying to get them back!

i'll talk about boob issues when i get into a blog post on breastfeeding...

but if all the physical changes aren't enough - your brain will also be experiencing highs and lows as it comes off the hormones and you'll likely be an emotional time bomb. the tears will come out of nowhere, about the dumbest things. honestly, i got very sick of feeling so icky for weeks on end. some days, i wondered if i'd be like this forever...

but i promise that the lochia eventually gets lighter and stops. the walking eventually gets easier, the stitches eventually heal. you finally get to throw out the granny panties and put on your thong again...

i think the only advice i can really give is to just be prepared to be one big, hot mess for a while... and embrace it!

don't even bother trying to look sexy for your man during post-partum life. heck, you just pushed his child out of your vagina. you get a free card to look like ass for at least 2 months (and you should remind him of this every day if you need to).

i am truly amazed that so many women have experienced & survived birth, labor, and post-partum... my respect for the mothers of the world has multiplied exponentially since going through this myself. and knowing they all made it through and look great and feel great gave me hope every day...

if they can all do it, why can't we?



as december 17th creeps closer & closer, it has dawned on me that it will be a full year since i last had my period... such a simple, yet often overlooked, perk of this whole pregnancy/baby thing!

i found it particularly humorous at my 6-week post-partum checkup that, when asked for the start date of my last period, i had to state the year for clarity sake (2008).

granted, the 4+ weeks after labor are like one glorified menstrual period - so i suppose this isn't such a great milestone afterall... oh. that reminds me that i need to explain the title of this blog. next post.


for your entertainment

starting mid-pregnancy i became (and continue to be) a huge fan of all video/entertainment about birth and labor. for example:

tv shows:
- 16 and pregnant
- i didn't know i was pregnant
- a baby story
- birth day

- knocked up
- away we go

- babycenter.com's labor videos

some of these gems just made me feel inifitely better about my own situation. like "16 and pregnant" - those dads are all a bunch of a**holes and if reminded me why i love my baby daddy so much.

some of them provided me with pure aw and disbelief. like "i didn't know i was pregnant"... i simply cannot comprehend these stories.

some of them just felt relatable, like the movies... i highly recommend "away we go" if you haven't seen it. the acting is so honest!

and some were merely educational. the labor videos helped my husband and i get over the shock of how organic and messy labor is... and the two shows "a baby story" and "birth day" show a wide variety of very real albeit different birthing experiences (without showing you the actual "details" of the birth, if you know what i mean...).

it is particularly interesting to watch "a baby story" and "birth day" after the fact, now that i've been there. i have a whole new perspective and understanding of these womens' experiences. it's also a little nostalgic for me.

you see, it turns out that "having a baby" is way less about the MOMENT when the baby pops out, and much much much more about the whole process getting there... and i don't mean the 9 months of making the baby (although that process is clearly important). i am specifically talking about the process of birthing it. labor can be long, it can be slow, and it can be exhausting. but these 2 tv shows are pretty damn truthful with their depiction about what the "laboring" process might be like for you, too.

oh - there is also a show about the first 48 hours after the baby comes home, too. i haven't watched it yet but will try to soon, and let you know if it hits the nail on the head or not.


after birth: parent/baby groups

so... this topic is for those of you approaching your due dates.

at the urging of several friends, my baby daddy and i are participating in two support groups for new parents that are offered in the seattle area. they're designed for new parents (with children 0-3 months), but usually the places who offer these classes have others that extend to older ages, too.

our groups meet once a week. one is a free, drop-in class offered by our hospital. it has a moderator that runs the class, but usually starts out with a guest speaker. we've had talks about infant eye care, diapering options, games & songs to play with infants, etc.

then, during the second half of the class, we go around the room. each person has the opportunity to introduce themselves, and talk about the highs and the lows of their week with baby.

they can also ask the group questions - anything you want, that has to do with you & your new baby... and the room chimes in with ideas, comments, etc. to hopefully help you out (or reassure you that everything is OK).

the other one is a couples group, that meets at night. it has a similar format, but is a smaller group designed for people in our neighborhood, and it's a fixed attendance (not a drop in). it's a little more expensive, but it's much more intimate.

honestly, yes, some days it seems silly to sit around listening to everyone else talk about sleep patterns, milk supply, or whatever other random thing is bothering them... but, for the weeks when you're the one with a concern, it's REALLY nice to have a room of people listening to you & willing to help out.

it's also a good excuse to get out of the house. it can be hard figuring out how to function away from the comfort of home, when you have a new infant... these classes are a great way to "practice". they usually don't care if you're late, if you're a mess, if you're in your pajamas. etc.

they also don't care if your baby cries during class, needs a diaper change, needs to be fed, etc. ... therefore it's good practice, too, for how to do those things in public (without the glaring eye of strangers). it's safe.

i encourage all new parents to look into finding similar classes in their cities before their baby is born. they're great for a few key reasons:

A) so you know you aren't alone.
B) to help you realize that all the things you think are weird, scary or bad with your new baby are really actually very normal. it's highly likely that others are experiencing the same things.
C) sometimes you learn some random tidbits that make a huge difference in your sanity as a new parent (especially during the earliest weeks... weeks 1-4 are the most chaotic).
D) you get to be around other adults for a few hours.

bring your baby daddy too, if you can (many of them tend to focus on new mothers, but the mothers like having a male perspective in the room!).

in seattle, we are participating in PEPS and evergreen's parent/baby "snugglers" class. there is also a similar class offered in the city, at the birth & beyond store in Madison Valley.

in san francisco, natural resources offers a similar class.

in boston, isis maternity also has these types of classes.

i'm sure there are many other options around the country... a google search can probably help you find some! or, ask friends you know (who have kids already).

have fun!



i started my love affair with pillows while i was pregnant.

it began around week 16 or so, when sleeping started to ever-so-slightly feel a bit uncomfortable. we were staying in temporary housing at the time, and therefore had very few pillows (ok, 2 exactly).

i felt like i needed another pillow to help prop up my leg (because of some cramping that was beginning to happen frequently in the night). so i sent my baby daddy off to bed bath & beyond to purchase another pillow...

he kindly bought me a giant body-length pillow, which i admittedly felt was overkill... and maybe, at week 16, it was.

but BOY was i wrong about that body pillow, come the third trimester!

that pillow was used to initially prop up cramping legs. but soon, it was also used to wedge around my expanding belly. at some point i had a phase where i wrapped it down my back, through my legs and then used another pillow to hug my front... then i flipped that a few weeks later. in fact, the mutations of pillow usage from week 16 through 40 were numerous and varied.

the body pillow became such a staple in our bed that even my baby daddy started to snuggle up to (and hog it) from time to time.

taking a cue from "the girlfriend's guide to pregnancy" (where the author jokes about her body pillow becoming her new boyfriend), we might have even named ours... frank. or fred. or ralph...

ahh sweet little body pillow! and all it's little backup dancer normal-sized pillows that eventually accompanied it... sweet sweet pillows... what a fine performance you put on during the third trimester.

it's amazing how much better a little sack of fluff can make you feel!

(or two) (or three)

and it doesn't end after labor... i still use all my extra pillows frequently. sometimes for breastfeeding comfort. sometimes, to prop me up (or my baby daddy) in a slightly-reclined 45-degree angle sleeping position so that we can get an extra hour of snooze-time at 5am while our burpy, grunting, refusing-to-go-back-to-sleep-if-we-put-her-on-her-back infant lay on our chests... sometimes, just to decorate my bed on the rare days when i actually make it.

at any rate, i love a lot of pillows now. i never would have made it through pregnancy without, at minimum, the body pillow + at least 2 others.

if you find your own home lacking in pillow abundance, it might be wise to go stock up on some extras!


the glucose test & other pricks & pokes

prenatal care is not for the faint of heart. if you don't like getting blood drawn - i suggest that you don't get pregnant.

for the first several months, you will likely endure MANY tests that all involve your blood... vials will be extracted from your body at a rapid rate.

(of course, this depends on your doctor and your level of prenatal care, too...)

thankfully our bodies start making 20% more blood (or something like that - don't quote me) in order to support the child growing inside... though, i wondered in the first several months of tests if my doctor removed all the extra blood i was working so hard to create!

i usually don't mind getting my blood drawn too much, but the sheer frequency is really what i hated most of all.

assuming things progress smoothly, it should all come to a head at around 28 weeks when they do the glucose test (the most fun of all). this is to test whether you have gestational diabetes. you have to drink a container of gross liquid an hour before your appointment and then you aren't allowed to eat anything until the blood is drawn.

the liquid is gross. i drank mine ice cold and chugged it in a meeting while at work... if you don't pass the test, you have to do it again! but the second time you will have to wait for a longer interval of time than 1 hour between drinking the liquid and getting your blood drawn... i'm so glad i passed my test! telling a pregnant woman not to eat for more than 1 hour is just cruel.

another annoying poke that you might get is a rhogam shot - though you only need this if you are RH negative (which i was). it's a big old needle, right in the ass. you'll get it twice - around 28 weeks, and again right after birth.

>> here is information about being RH negative

aside from all the prenatal tests, there is a decent probability you'll need to get more needles stuck in your body during labor. not everyone is lucky enough to have a fast, painless, natural child birth.

sadly, i've heard more stories about the opposite experiences than i have about the quick & fast... now that i think it through, i'd estimate that 75% of my pregnant friends have ended up having emergency c-sections after 18+ hours of labor (only my dear sweet sister-in-law was blessed with the quick, fast & painless). i don't have a lot of friends who've had kids (i can definitely count them on 2 hands), and 5 of them have had emergency c-sections.

c-sections require an epidural because they use it as the primary anesthetic during the surgery (at a much higher dose than they give you for pain management).

i had an epidural anyways (for pain) despite my fear of being physically attached to my bed for my labor.

an epidural = more pokes & prods...

- IV in your arm
- needle in your spine
- urinary catheter in your hoohaw

honestly though, those things were insignificant in the heat of the moment.

and at the end of the day... being a lab rat for 9 months was DEFINITELY worth the little child that i have in my life now!

sorry for the lapse

my apologies for the lack of posts lately.

apparently a new parent has significantly less time to themselves when there are no relatives visiting to help you care for your newborn!

i know, that should be obvious...

but i honestly, thought i'd be able to do the same amount of activities while my child napped regardless of whether my mom was in town to visit or not. turns out that is definitely not the case. i've been lucky to clean the kitchen, do laundry, and read my emails these past 2 weeks, let alone write in my blogs!

actually, my child coincidentally decided to take less naps in the daytime around the time my mom went back home. i learned that around 3 weeks old, babies often have a little growth spurt... this means:

- more frequent feedings (mine ate nearly every hour!)
- more fussiness
- worse sleep

all this adds up to: no time for mom to blog.

now we're at 5 weeks and life has stabilized... we've had a few awesome sleep nights (2x 7 hour stretches, several 5-6 hour stretches, and the norm is to get at least a 4 hour stretch, which is WAY better than the 1-2 hour stretches in the beginning).

its amazing how good it feels to sleep for 4 hours straight after you endure the first 3 weeks of life, when babies wake up all the time. a typical night went like this in the beginning:

9pm: bedtime
10pm: wake up, change diaper, feed
11pm: done with above, mom goes back to bed
12pm: wake up, feed
1am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
2am: wake up, change diaper, feed
3am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
4am: wake up, feed
5am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
6am: wake up, change diaper, feed
7am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
8am: wake up... mom decides she's had enough so she stumbles downstairs to make a strong pot of coffee, turns on the morning shows & breastfeeds

but now it's like this:

10pm: bedtime
3am: wake up, change diaper, feed
4am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
5:30am: wake up, change diaper, feed
6:30am: done with above, mom goes back to bed
8am: wake up... mom stumbles downstairs to make a strong pot of coffee, turns on the morning shows & breastfeed

ahh bliss!

but, i hear word on the streets that babies have ANOTHER growth spurt around 6 weeks... so, i'm not looking forward to the next 1-2weeks.

if i disappear again, this is why.


easy pee-sy

being pregnant means ushering in a new era of bathroom intimacy... never in your life will you pee as much as you do both during and after your child is born.

in the beginning - you will start waking up in the middle of the night to pee at least once. this will feel surprising because the baby isn't big enough to put pressure on your bladder yet... you can thank all the new hormones rushing through your system, instead.

ah hormones... delivering such amazing sensations as morning sickness and frequent urination... thank you!

in the middle of your pregnancy, the pee flow at night slows down somewhat, but it's the calm before the storm. instead, you'll generally just find yourself feeling like the bladder is insanely full after you spend time walking around (gravity takes hold of the baby inside you and causes it to bear down on your unsuspecting bladder...). thankfully, you should find relief when you're not up and about.

then, in the weeks before the end, your pee frequency (day and night) will start ramping up...

the once-a-night pees will multiply. once, twice, three times... maybe more!

in the daytime, you may as well never go further than 100 feet from a bathroom.

your bladder is going to feel like the size of a pea. moving around or not -- the baby is simply growing. there isn't room inside your abdomen for both a full-term child and a normal-sized bladder, so your bladder takes the hit. it gets sandwiched between baby and pelvic bone.

sometimes, on a really fun day, the baby will headbutt your pelvic bone and cause you to wince in pain AND pee your pants at the same time. yay.

did you ever hear about pregnancy causing incontinence? well - it does. thankfully it's TEMPORARY, so don't get too disheartened (1 week after birth i regained proper bladder control)... but i'm telling you this so you won't be alarmed if you wet your pants unexpectedly during the daytime now and then.

the good news is that your pea-sized bladder can't hold much liquid, so its not enough to drench through your clothing and become obvious to your co-workers. phew!

i wish i'd logged how many times i urinated during the last 48 hours before birth... i would venture to guess it was upwards of 30 times a day. truly amazing.

finally - during the labor experience, i recall vaguely having to pee every hour in the beginning 12 hours (but maybe i was just wishfully thinking i'd pass my mucus plug or my water would break while i sat on the toilet)... i'm not sure i actually had to GO.

and after i'd checked into the hospital and received my epidural, they put in a urinary catheter. so, goodness knows what was going on from that point forward...

(btw, for the record - i was really freaked about the idea of a urinary catheter. it was one of several reasons i wanted to avoid using meds if i could. but, it turns out that once you're drugged up with an epidural you just don't give a shit anymore! and, you don't feel a thing when they do it).

i'd love to hear about a non-epidural, non-catheter birth experience to see if it matches mine in the post-labor pee department. i basically had a few days afterwards where bladder control was NON-EXISTENT, then slowly it was 50/50, and about a week later i was functioning normal again. but was this due to the catheter? or was this standard procedure? i have no idea.

my guess is that the lack of bladder control was really due to the sheer fact that you pee BUCKETS after birth for a few days, as your body starts expelling all the fluids you built up... yes, you literally pee away your swollen feet and hands. the volume of liquid was so surprisingly grand, i can only imagine that my little bladder just tripped out! i mean really - it went for months as a wimpy little pea-sized sac, and now suddenly it has to hold gallons? it simply couldn't cut it.

but - at least you're wearing monster-sized pads at that point in time due to the other fluids also exiting your body for the weeks following birth... apparently the pads are not just for the lochia, but also for the bladder issues. who knew?

well - that's that! baby crying... gtg.


maternity clothing

prepare to spend a little money on maternity clothes.

you'll need 3 basic phases of clothing:

1. the early days (~4-5 mos) aka size "small"

you might be OK getting by with your largest non-maternity shirts, your old jeans buttoned with an elastic hairband and only half-zipped, a bella band to hold up those same jeans if the hairband isn't sufficient, and some loose sweaters.

or, you can buy some clothes for the next phase and wear them loose for a few weeks, if you want to... at this point in time, i was fitting perfectly into the small sizes in maternity stores (for shirts). a couple basic tops went a long way here because i could layer them under non-maternity tops for variety in looks without baring skin.

in this period of time, you will start to appreciate that maternity shirts are longer than normal shirts... there will come a day where you put on a non-maternity top and realize you look like white trash with your belly half-showing at the bottom end... though cute to do at home, its not very appropriate in public.

target has the cheapest maternity clothes - their basic t-shirts and tank tops are the best (~$10 each). they often sell a good, loose pajama-y cotton pant with a big old stretchy band around the waist which are uber-comfy, too. i bought a staple pair in all black pretty early on in my pregancy - and they pretty much saved me at the end when all my clothes (including my maternity jeans) stopped feeling comfortable to wear for more than an hour at a time.

in fact, 2 weeks after birth and i'm still wearing them nearly every other day!

but target also has some terribly ugly clothing too... the kind of clothing you'd imagine some middle-aged midwestern mom in mom-jeans would purchase. so dig through the cruft to get to the good stuff, then go to the gap to get a few trendier items. the gap maternity section is pretty nice (and cheap if you stick to the sale racks).

2. the middle days (~6-8 mos) aka size "medium"

your old pants will stop fitting you outright in this phase -- the butt gets too tight, the thighs get too tight, and forget about zipping them or buttoning them at all... if you are lucky enough to get them up that high, there won't be room around the belly to get them closed, and a hair band won't do a lick of good either.

i invested a decent chunk of change into 2 pairs of designer maternity jeans at pea in a pod, and they were money VERY well spent - i needed nice pants to wear to work. jeans are versatile, so these saved me for a good 3+ months... and the designer jeans were great because they have a stylish fit that makes you feel sexy still, but a big old elastic band that pulls up around your belly to keep everything tucked in and held up. i recommend getting at least one pair of nice jeans if you can.

if not - there are plenty of cheaper pants you can get at target and at the gap with the elastic waistbands (critical from month 7 onward), in a variety of styles. these waistbands become important because one day you will find that any kind of pressure cutting into your lower abdomen while you sit down during the daytime is extremely uncomfortable and painful. it will illicit visions of your clothing slicing into your unborn child's head and causing warpage to their otherwise perfect face (don't worry - it DOESN'T do this... but you will irrationally think it does). it also adds unnecessary pressure to your already compressed, pea-sized bladder. trust me, your bladder doesn't need extra compression.

the bands also offer some support, which feels nice as you get used to the growing mass on your front side. you'll have a heightened sense of growth in these months as your skin really starts to stretch like it has never stretched before.

amen for elastic.

3. the end (month 9 - birth) aka size "large" or "house"

thankfully, all the maternity pants i bought pretty consistently fit me during my pregnancy up to the (almost) end. if you buy a good set of staples, hopefully you will be covered the whole 9 months as well... just be prepared for the pressure to build up near the end as i mentioned, so have at least 1 pair or more with a looser fit around that area, to tide you over in the final days.

as for tops... that's a different story!

during my pregnancy, i bought a mix of black & white tanks, tees, long & short sleeves, in small, medium and large sizes. the large shirts looked HUGE when i bought them and i couldn't imagine i'd ever fit inside something so big. i tucked them away in my closet and nearly forgot i had them. then one day - lo and behold, they fit perfect. the smalls were laughable at this point in time... the mediums could work in a pinch, with the right pants or sweater.

your belly will get very very big at the end. you don't need the large tops for long, but you WILL need a few. i recommend at least one sweater, too - or steal from your baby daddy's stash (if they are larger than you). you will want to feel covered up and cozy during most of this month because you'll be larger than you've ever been in your life and it's a strange sensation - one i'm not sure we ever get used to.

thankfully, it's fleeting - one month, and then you're back to the middle-sized phase after birth.

... other staples

i was lucky enough to be pregnant during the summer so i never had to buy new shoes. i wore heels, flip flops & sneakers up through month 7, then exclusively flip flops through the end (the heels stopped fitting, and i couldn't reach my feet to tie the sneakers without the help of my baby daddy!).

if your feet swell a lot & you're pregnant during the winter - i'm sorry! i hope you can find something cheap that will tide you over. i was astounded when my flip flops got too tight.

sweaters that open in the front and tie around the waist are great - you can wear them the full term because they're cute when they fit right and cute when they have a belly peeking out of them. if you find one you like, get it.

same goes for coats - try to find one with a belt or a tie so you can use it long after you're too big to zip or snap it up.

flowy dresses with an empire waist are cute and sexy until about month 8 when you realize your ass is much too big & they make you look like a house. these are nice-to-have garments, just for variety or the occasional party you need to attend.


boobies! part 2.

PART 2: Nursing Boobs (days 0-5)

i waited to buy my nursing bras until after my milk came in. i'm extremely glad that i waited, even though it made for a slight panic during my first day home from the hospital.

i had NO idea what would occur with my breasts - and never in a million years dreamed i'd be trying on D-cup bras...

but lo and behold! engorgement happens. this perpetually flat-chested vixen can vouch.

i'll talk loads about breastfeeding in future posts... sticking strictly to the topic on nursing boobs, here are some observations:

1. you should start getting slight leakage during the end of your pregnancy - this is the first sign the ladies are working, when they spill out a strange, clear liquid called colostrum. thankfully it's not enough to soak through a normal bra (so your co-workers should never notice...) but when you're home in your pajamas, don't be alarmed to find a small puddle spring up from time to time.

2. the first day or two (or three) after birth, your ladies will still only be making colostrum - which apparently works wonders for clearing out your baby's digestive tract, hence the reason we don't make milk the moment the first contraction hits.

given this - the boobs don't change much right away, and the unfortunate thing is that the magical elixer (colostrum) comes in small quantities. so, your baby drops ounces off its birth weight despite being physically attached to you for what seems like 2 days straight. sucking sucking sucking - and it doesn't necessarily feel good.

our nurse called this the marathon feed -- and claimed it's like your baby placing an order with the boobs for how much milk to make. meanwhile, the baby's mechanism for "ordering" its future milk supply wrecks havoc on your nipples... so you might want ask the hospital or your lactation consultant for a free sample of modified lanolin to lube them up afterwards. or, just rub colostrum all over them & air dry (it's truly magical! heals them right up before your next feeding).

breast milk has the same magical healing properties - i was even told to put some on my baby's face if she scratched herself with her nails. she did, so i did - and the next day, there was not a trace of her injury anywhere on her beautiful cheeks. awesome!

3. as the milk starts to arrive, you might start feeling achy or feverish. take some tylenol or advil from time to time so you don't feel crappy and can instead enjoy being a new mom.

4. the engorged breast feels hard to the touch, and you may notice lumpy areas that come and go - massage them during a feeding and it helps the milk flow out (and it just feels good).

5. the nipples may also be really sensitive. clothing might become a big issue - not just to find something that's easy to breastfeed in (turns out nothing i own is!) but to also find some fabric that feels good on sensitive tits... scope out stores that sell breastfeeding tops, bras and pajamas before you give birth so you know who to come rushing to in a panic when you get home and the milk shows up to the party & you have nothing to wear...

6. buy yourself at least one shirt that opens easily in the front (via ties or buttons) for that first day home. or just be prepared to walk around without a top on (you will lose all sense of modesty at this time anyways).

7. nursing bras are really weird and come in all sorts of styles - some clip at the top, some snap at the bottom, some have stretchy fabric that pulls apart to reveal a place to slide your booby out. i never would have know what to buy before i gave birth - possibly because i didn't even "get" the bras & how they worked.

yet somehow afterwards, i instantly "got it". and again, i'm really glad i waited to buy them (even though it meant a shameful, bra-less walk to my maternity store where i entered in a panic demanding that they bra me up and tame the wild beasts). everyone is different, and everyone's boobs behave differently. i never would have picked out the right size beforehand.

8. boobs leak. a lot. like, when you're using one to feed, the other one gets jealous and starts dripping all over you. or, when you get out of the shower, they might both start dripping away despite your beast efforts to towel them off. i slept with a washcloth for 2 nights just to soak up the leaky breastmilk until i was able to get to the store to buy absorbent pads (wow, what a difference they make!).

9. buy a breastfeeding book to have at home. you don't need to crack it open until the kid comes out - but you will definitely want it in a panic at least once afterwards, when it feels like everything you're doing is wrong.


boobies! part 1.

there are lots of changes that happen with our hooters during these 9 months - and due to my recent labor, the most significant changes are in the process of happening to me RIGHT NOW... may as give it to you real-time!

PART 1: Pregnancy Boobs

all the books i read said that your boobs might start growing bigger as early as your first few weeks of being pregnant. in fact, some women i've talked to said that it was their boob growth that "gave it away" long before their bellies popped out.

but, being a small A-cup all my life, i cautiously looked forward to seeing such changes... i was pretty convinced my boobs just genetically didn't know HOW to grow.

in my early months, my nipples got really sore - very tender & red. they often hurt quite a lot after a long day of work being stuffed in a bra. but aside from just feeling swollen, the boobs themselves were the same old size. all the pain, none of the gain. great. why don't the books talk about the woes of the small-chested?

i bought a new B-cup bra around 12 weeks or so namely to give my nipples extra breathing room so they wouldn't sting. i felt a little silly wearing it since the rest of the bra was so damn saggy. it helped, a little. i'm not sure what another solution could have been to help the pain - i'm not exactly an expert on boob care.

so that's how it was... many months went by and nothing happened... tick tock tick tock... no boobs, just sore nipples. what a racket.

right when i'd about given up, sometime around month 6, i started to notice that i was busting out of my old A-cup bras. the B's were still loose, but... hmm... interesting progress.

it probably took the full 9 months, but i eventually made it to a cup-runneth-over B. hooray for cleavage! but the unfortunate thing was that you couldn't tell because of the relative proportion of boobs-to-belly.


i think the most humorous thing about the experience was that during months 8 and 9, if i bent over while not wearing a shirt, my boobs actually bumped into my belly. that's a weird feeling for someone who has never had either boobs or a belly for bumping!

well... i have no point to this story except: don't get too excited about boob growth while pregnant, if you are flat chested too. in my experience it was a huge disappointment overall.