Reflections of a New Mother


Six weeks ago today baby Rachel entered this world!  So much has happened in those six weeks, so in a way it seems like a long time, yet in another way it seems like no time at all.  I know all new parents say this but it really is hard to imagine my life without Rachel now that she is here.

The last two days have been pretty rough (although the past two nights have been great), so I thought it would be therapeutic to share some of my reflections on motherhood thus far.me-and-rachel-penguin

  1. Being a mom is incredibly hard.  I always knew it would be; I was never naive enough to think this would be a walk in the park or all fun & joy.  Of course not.  But you just can’t understand how truly difficult it is until you do it.
  2. Motherhood is full of extreme emotions.  On any given day I cycle between extreme love, joy, devotion, fear, anxiety, frustration, & a whole gamut of other emotions.  This is all totally normal of course but it is exhausting at times to feel like an emotional yo-yo.
  3. That being said, the extreme joy & love truly do make up for all the more “negative” emotions.  I always worried that moms said that just because they felt they had to but it really is true.  Trust me, I’ve had moments when I’ve wondered if I made a mistake in becoming a mom.  And I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments for the rest of my life.  But the point is those are just moments.  They don’t last forever.  me-and-rachel-fire
  4. Taking care of yourself is absolutely imperative to surviving motherhood.  This is just one of many reasons that being a single mom (or dad) is clearly not how parenthood was designed.  I’ve quickly learned that it’s essential that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, spend some time outside, listen to music, take a shower, read a little here & there, & generally do all the things that help keep me sane.  My mantra these days is “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  In other words, Rachel needs a healthy, sane mommy & that means I need to take care of myself every bit as much as I’m taking care of her.  Which feeds right into my next point.
  5. Being able to take care of myself is largely dependent on my husband’s support.  I know every mom says this but once again it is so true: I’ve never loved my husband more than when I see him with our daughter.  When he changes her diapers, pushes her stroller, wears her in the baby carrier on his chest, & cuddles & kisses her my heart truly melts.  Furthermore, when he does the dishes or the laundry or cooks me dinner I want to kiss his feet.  Parenthood is definitely meant to be a two person job.  I never doubted that but now that I’m living it I can attest that it is 100% true.daughter quote
  6. Moms are the most giving people in the world.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful ladies who have reached out to me for encouragement & support over the past six weeks.  Y’all know who you are & you’re all amazing.  I hope someday I can encourage other new moms the way so many of you have done for me.  Seriously, THANK YOU!
  7. Breastfeeding is hard.  Like woahhhh.  To be honest, it’s actually not been physically painful the way I feared it would be.  However, it is still very demanding, both mentally & physically.  While I was pregnant I set two breastfeeding goals.  My ultimate goal was/is to make it a full year, but I will be perfectly satisfied if I make it to six months.  My minimum goal was to make it to six weeks, & I’m happy to say that as of today I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Woohoo!  I haven’t made it this far without a TON of support & encouragement though.  It’s truly been a team effort in so many ways!  There have been so many days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel & I’m sure there will be more of them, but knowing I’ve already made it this far will hopefully continue to encourage me on the difficult days.breastfeeding-cartoon
  8. Being a mom with anxiety & OCD tendencies is hard.  Thank goodness for a fantastic husband, a great mom, some dear friends, a wonderful therapist, & Zoloft.  And music.  (I switched from Prozac to Zoloft about 3 weeks ago at the suggestion of Rachel’s pediatrician because Zoloft is considered better for breastfeeding.)  Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or depression or any other mental health issue, don’t be afraid to seek help as a new mom.  I think EVERYONE could benefit from a few sessions with a good therapist & no one more so than us frazzled, sleep-deprived new mommies.
  9. As much as I love Rachel now & am enjoying many things about the newborn/baby stage, I still very much look forward to her being a little older.  I know most moms say they miss the baby stage & often yearn for those days, but I seriously doubt that will ever be me (at least not often).  I’ve always said I prefer older kids & teens, & I still think that is true for me.  Trust me, I am not rushing anything.  I am enjoying (most) of where we are right now.  But there is a part of me that still can’t wait for the day when I can have real conversations with her, even about the hard stuff like death, sex, war, etc.  Yes, I’m crazy, I know, but I really do look forward to that day.  I also can’t wait to take her on hikes & to concerts & share the joy of all of those things with her.  It might make me weird, but I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to say that I will probably love being a mom even more as she gets older.motherhood-quote
  10. There is absolutely no room for comparison in motherhood.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: motherhood is not a competition.  Some moms breastfeed, some use formula, some do both.  Some moms make beautiful baby books, some don’t.  Some moms decorate a perfect nursery, some don’t.  Some moms co-sleep, some don’t.  Some moms wear their babies, some don’t.  And some babies will sleep through the night or learn to walk/talk faster than others.  The point is none of these things makes one mom better than another.  We are not competing against anyone.  Some moms seem like they have it all together while others of us are just happy we took a shower & did a load of laundry today.  As for me, I’m never going to be the mom who pretends she has it all figured out.  I think the world could benefit from more candidness.  The truth is my house is frequently a little messy (& it was like that long before I became a mom; I just have a better excuse now), I’ve shaved my legs a grand total of twice since I gave birth, & sometimes I hate breastfeeding.  I’m not “perfect” but I’m doing the best I can, & that’s all any of us can do.  At the end of the day if mom & baby are healthy & happy that’s all that matters.  Everything else is just details.
  11. Being a mom really is the best thing I’ve ever done.  End of story.  🙂

I’m not sure this song totally fits with the post but I discovered it last week & I’m in love with everything about it so I’m going to share it anyway.  (Yes, I’m still listening to “heavy” music.  Thankfully Rachel seems to like it!)  Check out the lyrics below:

I’ve always been a fan of the night life
‘Cause it’s the only life I had
Expressing my mind with paper & a pen playing my guitar
‘Till my fingers bled on the carpet
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
It wasn’t easy being rejected by the thing I wanted so bad
To be accepted, to be wanted
To wake up & say this is gonna be a good day
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
More than your word
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born just a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
I got sick of it
I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it

New Mom’s Guide to an Easy (uh, Easier) Labor & Delivery/Recovery


Because I feel like I had such a terrific labor & delivery experience as well as a remarkably easy recovery period (thus far anyway), today I’d like to share my tips for how other women can also achieve a satisfying & easy (ok, easier- it’s never going to be easy) labor & delivery & postpartum phase.  While I am a nurse I am certainly no expert on labor & delivery or postpartum care.  I am just a regular first time mom trying to survive each new day.  Interestingly enough I went into nursing thinking I wanted to do L&D because I had volunteered on an L&D unit as a teenager & thought it sounded fun & exciting.  However, once I got to OB clinical I realized I just wasn’t that interested in this area of nursing.  I found I liked old people better.  Who’d have guessed?  Anyway, as with most things in life I truly believe the key to having a satisfying birth & postpartum experience is setting yourself up for success . . . aka being as prepared as possible.  Here are my tips for how to make that happen.emerald-doulas

  1. Hire a doula: I remember learning about doulas in nursing school & thinking they sounded a bit “hocus pocus.”  I couldn’t fathom why I’d need/want to pay someone other than my husband or best friend to be my labor support person.  However, as my own pregnancy progressed & I started to realize how difficult labor might be, particularly with my goal of avoiding pain meds or an epidural, the thought of a doula suddenly sounded brilliant.  I remembered seeing a card for Emerald Doulas in the waiting room of my midwifery office, so I started Googling them.  Within minutes I knew I’d found the perfect group for me.  I was 34 weeks when I contacted the group & was thrilled to find they still had openings.  At 35 weeks my husband & I met with two of the doulas (Melanie & Chelsea) & reviewed our goals for our childbirth experience.  Immediately I knew we were in the perfect hands.  At 37 weeks they came to our house to further review our goals for birth.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about my husband & how he handled my L&D experience, especially toward the end when I was getting pretty hysterical & difficult to console.  He was absolutely perfect & my love for him has grown exponentially because of how wonderful he was during this experience.  However, I truly believe part of why he handled everything so well was having the doula there to provide support for him as well.  If he needed to step out for a drink/snack/bathroom break, he didn’t have to feel guilty that he was leaving me alone.  Nor did I have to worry about him becoming overwhelmed because I knew he had a support person too.  I’m so incredibly glad I took the advice of a friend & hired a doula.  Both my husband & I swear I wouldn’t have survived a natural, unmedicated birth without her (Chelsea turned out to be the doula on call that day).  Remember, no matter how much your mom/sister/best friend loves you they are not (normally) versed in coaching a woman through childbirth, so having an objective labor support expert is often a better choice because they are more likely to remain coherent & logical when you’re not so coherent & logical.  Also remember labor can be a long process so having a backup person to help your partner is worth its weight in gold.lactation-consultant
  2. Hire/find a lactation consultant: The nurses in the hospital were great but they simply didn’t have enough time to devote to each patient for really detailed breastfeeding teaching.  As a nurse myself, I totally understand this so I made plans in advance to meet with a lactation consultant (Victoria) from our doula group.  I ended up having to put this off a few days when Rachel was readmitted for bili light therapy, but I am so, so glad I didn’t cancel it altogether.  At the beginning of Victoria’s visit I told her I was mainly interested in pumping because I liked knowing exactly how many mL Rachel was getting with each feeding.  But I also told her that our pediatrician (who is also a lactation consultant!!) told us we no longer really needed to worry about that because we could tell by her weight, labs, & output (# of dirty/wet diapers) that she was getting enough milk.  Victoria encouraged me to focus more on actually feeding at the breast, at least for a few days, before relying mostly/solely on the pump.  With her help, we had the best breastfeeding session up till that time.  Victoria gave me a list of personalized suggestions & tips including buying a larger nipple shield & larger flanges for the pump.  The former of these turned out to be the perfect solution for us.  I‘ve now exclusively fed at the breast for three days & I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.  Rachel has far less gas & hiccup issues & sleeps better between feedings (for the most part; cluster feedings ARE real but that’s true whether you’re pumping or not).  A few more helpful hints for breastfeeding are listed below:
    1. Target has great nursing bras, & they’re half the price of the ones at the mall.  The Gilligan O’Malley brand makes great ones.
    2. Get a Boppy pillow.  You will not regret it.  It makes nursing so much easier, especially since it frees up your hands.  Plus it has multiple uses outside of breastfeeding as the baby grows.
    3. Invest in some lanolin.

      7-months-pregnant-gym

      Here I was at the gym at 7 months pregnant.

  3. Stay in shape . . . Better yet, be in good shape before you’re even pregnant!  Seriously, I do not think I could have pushed through a natural labor (literally pushed!) if I weren’t in as good of shape as I am.  Trust me, I’m no supermodel, marathon runner, or Olympian, but no matter how hard it got I kept up some type of exercise throughout the entire pregnancy.  Honestly the hardest time to do that was the first trimester when the fatigue & nausea were overwhelming at times.  The last few weeks were pretty rough too, but I still forced myself to take the stairs as often as possible & to sneak in short workouts at the gym, even if all they consisted of was 10-15 minutes of free weights/machines & 5-10 minutes on the elliptical.  If nothing else, I tried to walk Chaucer (our corgi) around the community at least a few days a week.  I never counted that as exercise before I was pregnant but by the end of the pregnancy I definitely did.  There is so much research that shows that women who are in good physical shape before & during pregnancy have shorter, easier labors with fewer complications.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better reason to get my butt moving!ionized-water-pregnancy
  4. Drink lots of water, including during labor: This is one I definitely struggled with at times.  I was never a big water drinker before I was pregnant but I knew how important it was so I did my best to make it a priority.  During labor, if you can’t tolerate anything else, at least suck on some ice chips.  Whether or not you’re getting IV fluids your body needs as much hydration as it can get.  Plus your mouth will definitely be dry & a few ice chips or sips of water here & there can make a huge difference.

    nestle-popsicle

    The strawberry ones & the lime ones are especially delicious.

  5. Bring popsicles & other clear liquid (or solid) snacks to the hospital: My midwives are pretty relaxed so I didn’t have many restrictions on eating during labor.  However, once I was on the Pitocin I was only allowed clear liquids, which is pretty standard.  Prior to that I was eating saltines & Kind granola bars every few hours to keep up my energy.  Once the Pitocin was initiated I was so grateful that I had thought to bring popsicles with me.  Every hospital is different but many places won’t deny you snacks but won’t necessarily provide them either.  This is where bringing your own comes in handy.  Toward the end of pushing I was so exhausted & I’m so glad I had my husband & doula there spoon feeding me little bites of popsicle between pushes.ambulation-labor

6. Walk often, both during labor & afterward: I knew from the childbirth class I had taken as well as my own research that staying mobile during labor is a great way to both manage pain & help labor progress.  As it turned out whether I wanted to ambulate frequently or not I had to because I had to pee every 30 minutes to an hour!  As the contractions increased in intensity & frequency I found that lying in bed was the worst possible position.  Yes, I was tired so I wanted to lie down but it was actually the most uncomfortable position.  Plus I knew the more I was up the more likely labor would progress faster.  I was out of bed within two hours postpartum (to use the bathroom) & taking walks in the hall as soon as the next day.  Some of the nurses seemed surprised to see me up & moving around so much (I’ll admit I saw almost no other moms in the hall despite the unit being very full), but I knew the worst thing I could do for stiffness & pain was to lie in bed all day. senokot7. Take the stool softeners the hospital offers you: Ah, the dreaded first postpartum poop!  I had read so much about how horrible this experience would be.  At the risk of TMI, let me just say that if you drink plenty of water, get out of bed frequently, & take the stool softeners the hospital offers you, your chances of surviving this experience with minimal to no “trauma” are excellent.  I will say that only having required 2-3 stitches probably made this experience much easier for me than it is for some others.  Just remember, the longer you put if off, the worse it will be.ibuprofen8. Take ibuprofen regularly postpartum, even if your pain is only mild: One of the greatest things that has shocked me about the postpartum phase is how little pain I’ve had.  Considering the intense pain of labor, I was expecting MUCH worse.  Again I’m sure this is partly due to having a small(er) baby (6 lbs 12 oz) & only requiring a few stitches.  But I also think that taking the ibuprofen regularly, even when I didn’t really feel like I needed it, has helped immensely.  Remember, ibuprofen is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) so it will help with the swelling which will in turn help with the pain. mirror9. Ask for/bring a mirror to help you during pushing: When you tour the birth center, make sure to inquire whether they provide mirrors.  If not, bring your own.  Our hospital provided a nice large mirror & I can’t tell you how helpful that was during pushing time.  I was so close to admitting defeat, but every time I looked down & saw Rachel’s little head I knew how close she was & that gave me the strength to keep going.childbirth-class10. Take a childbirth class: And don’t be afraid to take it early in the pregnancy.  The sooner you have a birth plan in mind the better.  If at all possible, make sure your partner accompanies you because you’ll be amazed at the things they might remember when you’re in the throes of labor & can’t remember anything at all.  If you’re in the RDU area, I highly recommend Birthing With Confidence by Anne Brand.  My husband & I were both extremely impressed with this class.  It will be particularly useful if you’re trying for an unmedicated birth because she focuses a lot on the psychological aspect of labor.breastfeeding-baby11. Take a breastfeeding class: Even if you’re planning to hire a lactation consultant, I still recommend taking a breastfeeding class if possible.  I took the one offered at the hospital where we delivered.  This definitely can’t replace one-on-one time with a lactation consultant but it’s still a great way to learn the basics before you’re faced with the real thing.flexible-quote12. Keep an open mind & remain flexible: This might be the most important one on this list.  From everything I read during pregnancy the biggest theme I found in regards to having a satisfying birth experience was to remain flexible no matter what happens.  So much of the time things do not go according to plan, & if we want to be able to move forward with a positive attitude we need to adapt accordingly.  I definitely wasn’t planning on having an induction at 38 weeks.  In fact throughout the entire pregnancy I said over & over again that I wanted to avoid Pitocin if at all possible because I feared it would be so painful that I’d have to give up on my dream of an unmedicated birth.  But of course I wasn’t planning on developing preeclampsia either!  So I rolled with the punches & when it came time for the Pitocin I kept an open mind.  As it turned out with the amazing support of my husband & doula I survived even the dreaded Pitocin without an epidural or any pain meds.  So I still got my wish of an unmedicated birth despite hitting a few speed bumps along the way.  The point is that I adjusted my expectations to fit the reality I was given & made the best of it.  Remember, there is no need to compare your L&D experience to anyone else’s.  Childbirth is not a competition.  Neither is motherhood.  Focus on your own situation & make the best of it.

My Birth Story


Baby Rachel is officially one week old today!  How is that possible?!  I hate to sound like the stereotypical new parent but it really is amazing how much she has changed in just one week.  Before I forget everything that happened one week ago, I want to share my birth story.  Hopefully it will be encouraging or at least interesting to other moms to be (or just folks in general).pregnancy-meme

My birth story started, in my mind anyway, on Thanksgiving night.  I worked that night & felt tired but decent.  However, once I got home from work in the morning (on Black Friday) I started vomiting & generally feeling terrible.  I just knew something wasn’t right.  I texted my doula asking for advice & she recommended I call the midwife on call.  I’m so glad I did because the midwife ended up asking me to come in to the hospital for a preeclampsia workup.  By the time we made it to the hospital I had been up for 16 hrs straight or something ridiculous like that, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until I knew what was happening to my body.  As it turned out my BP was mildly elevated in the 130s/80s which isn’t too remarkable but higher than my baseline for the rest of the pregnancy.  (At that point I was 37 weeks 4 days.)  My labs also showed a slightly elevated protein to creatinine ratio but the midwife wasn’t acutely concerned.  However, she instructed me to rest & to call the office first thing Monday morning so I could be seen that day instead of later in the week as previously scheduled.  She also asked me to keep track of my BP over the weekend if possible.

dinosaur-rachel

Rachel ready to go home from the hospital

I felt reasonably well over the weekend but when I checked my BP at home it was consistently around 140/90.  Granted this was me doing a manual BP on myself but I felt pretty confident my numbers were accurate, so first thing Monday morning I called for an appointment.  When I went to the office a few hours later my BP was 142/88 & I had proteins in my urine, which was new for me.  The midwife was hesitant to call it true preeclampsia yet but she did write me a note saying I could no longer work (that was supposed to be my last week of work anyway) & instructed me to come back for my regularly scheduled visit on Wednesday & to call any time with any symptoms or concerns.rachel-cheering

The next morning, which marked exactly 38 weeks, I checked my BP at home & got 150/100.  Naturally that was when I really started getting concerned.  I decided to go to the grocery store & try one of the automatic BP machines at the pharmacy.  That gave me a reading of 130s/80s but I just had a feeling it wasn’t very accurate.  When I got home I spoke to the midwife on call, who turned out to be the same one I’d seen the day before, & she instructed me to recheck my BP in 4 hrs & then call back.  However, after about an hour or so, she called me back & told me that after discussing my case with the doctor they felt the best plan was for me to come in to the hospital to be induced at 1:00 p.m.  Part of me was scared but mostly I knew in my heart that this was the right plan.

I called my doula & she cautioned me that an induction at 38 weeks might be difficult & prolonged, but she also stated she would support me no matter what.  The whole pregnancy I had been very committed to a natural birth, but I knew that with an induction I would almost certainly end up on Pitocin & that alone would greatly increase my “risk” of getting an epidural.  But with her & my husband’s support I was determined to make the best of the situation.  She encouraged me that she had survived not one or two but FOUR labors with Pitocin without an epidural or any pains meds.  I also kept reminding myself that my mom survived an induction with Pitocin (due to hypertension) without an epidural or any pain meds.  If they could do it, I figured I could too.  Furthermore, I kept reminding myself that an induction due to preeclampsia, with a rather sudden onset no less, was not part of my original birth plan & that from everything I’d read the best way to have a satisfying birth experience is to keep an open mind & remain flexible while still staying true to your goals as much as possible.  With that mindset I felt ready to go.

rachel-tigers

I swear she has so much personality already.

To make a long story short, the first afternoon/night in the hospital wasn’t very exciting.  In the end that was probably for the best because it allowed me to get some decent rest to prepare for the big day that was to come.  (My poor husband didn’t sleep a wink that night so I am eternally grateful to him for still managing to be the best labor support person ever despite his own exhaustion.)  On arrival to the hospital my BP was 150s/90s.  That was when I knew for sure we’d made the right decision in going forward with the induction.  Unfortunately it took three tries for the nurses to get an IV in me, but I couldn’t be upset about that because I could look at my own hands & see how swollen they were.  They also told me I had tough skin which I know from experience makes IV insertion much more challenging.  Once they got the IV in place, they sent off labs & the midwife came in to check my cervix.  To our great surprise I was already dilated 2 cm & 80% effaced.  This was encouraging because it increased my chances of a successful induction.  The midwife started me on Cytotec around 3:30 pm.  We ended up doing another dose around 7:30 p.m. & a third dose around 11:30 p.m.  (Cytotec helps “ripen” the cervix” & thus potentially start labor.)

rachel-penguins

After her sponge bath this morning

By 3:30 the next morning I was only dilated 3 cm & my contractions were not much stronger or more frequent, not enough to put me in true active labor anyway.  The upside to that was I was comfortable enough to get some decent rest overnight, especially with the amazing sound machine (provided by the hospital) set to ocean waves.  Around 4 am the midwife decided to try a fluid bolus to see if that would kick-start my labor.  Unfortunately after 1L of IV fluids I still hadn’t really progressed.  Yes, the dreaded P word was coming.  I was “stuck” & needed Pitocin.  But I was so ready to meet our baby girl that I said “screw it, throw it at me.”  However, the nurse was kind enough to offer me a 1 hour break off the monitors to take a shower & eat a good breakfast.  I’ll be eternally grateful to her for that because that made such a difference in how I felt once “real” labor began.

Just before 7 am the nurse came in to turn on the Pitocin.  I was as ready as I was ever going to be.  I’d kept the doula updated overnight & let her know that with the dreaded P on board I’d probably need her soon.  Somewhere around 8 am my husband called her & told her we were ready for her support.  That should be an indication that the pain had started to increase beyond mild cramps to something more intense.  Over the next few hours things escalated pretty quickly.  At first I was amazed at how much deep breathing helped relieve or at least distract me from the pain.  However, eventually I started hitting a brick wall, so to speak.  A lot of that time is a blur to me but Jared & the doula both have told me that between 10:00 & 11:00 were the roughest times.  Believe it or not at that point the Pitocin was actually off because they were having so much trouble getting the monitors to read properly & I guess they figured they’d see how I did without it.  To manage the painful contractions I tried multiple different positions/locations, including the birthing ball & the rocking chair & the tub, but none of them worked for too long.  However, anything was better than just lying in bed.  Plus I knew that the more I moved around the faster labor would progress.  Somewhere around this time the midwife (a different one now) checked my cervix & I was dilated to 7 cm.  That was really encouraging & helped me push through the next few painful hours.  me-and-rachel-again

Eventually around 12:30 maybe I reached a point of utter exhaustion.  I felt like I had used up all of my coping resources including deep groans, back massages, & position changes.  I started crying & begging for an epidural or some kind of pain medicine.  I even used my code word which my husband & I had set up with the doula ahead of time to indicate that I really truly wanted medicinal pain relief.  The nurse & midwife were concerned I was too close to the pushing stage to safely receive either an epidural or narcotics but they needed to check my cervix to be sure.  As it turned out I was dilated to 9.5 cm at that point & it was indeed too late.  Part of me was massively disappointed while another part of me was like “Screw it, I’m almost there, I can do it!”  Everyone kept telling me the urge to push would be undeniable but to be honest it really wasn’t at first.  But it wasn’t long before the midwife told me my cervix was fully dilated & effaced & it was pushing time.  My doula kept reminding me to bear down during the pushing to help relieve the pain & make my pushes more effective.  As physically challenging as pushing was, it was actually not as painful as the previous few hours of contractions.  Unfortunately after an hour or so of pushing my body was simply wearing out & my uterus wasn’t contracting hard enough to match my pushes.  The midwife wanted to turn the Pitocin back on because we could see the baby’s head but I just couldn’t seem to progress (thank goodness for the big mirror because it really encouraged me to see how close she was when I was so ready to admit defeat).  I was scared to death to get the Pitocin back but I also knew that anything that brought me closer to the finish line faster was worth it so I said yes.  It was at that point that I realized my IV appeared to be coming out of my wrist.  I thought I was going to die when I saw that.  Thank goodness the nurses were able to save it & restart the Pitocin, & within a few minutes baby Rachel made her grand entrance at 2:35 p.m.

baby-burrito

I totally understand the term baby burrito now.

I’m not going to lie, in those first few moments I wasn’t as overwhelmed with that immediate love spell as I had hoped I would be.  As they placed her on my chest I was mainly just thankful that labor was over.  My mind was mostly focused on being grateful for an end to the pain & exhaustion.  I had read that this is fairly common so I knew not to judge myself too harshly & that soon enough the overwhelming feelings of love would wash over me.  As it turned out my placenta took a while to deliver.  The midwife kept the Pitocin on because once again my contractions just weren’t strong enough on their own to push it out.  Once the placenta finally delivered, the midwife & the nurses were astonished to discover that it had an extra lobe.  They told me this was extremely rare & asked to take pictures of it.  Being a nurse of course I said yes, as I was equally fascinated by this odd turn of events.

me-and-rachel

This was about 1.5 hrs post delivery.  Pretty sure this child came out sucking her thumb.

While we waited for the placenta to deliver, my husband cut the cord (we opted for delayed clamping of about 3-5 minutes which is actually standard practice with my group of midwives).  Next my husband held her on his bare chest for skin to skin care which was when I realized how much I truly love this man.  Then the charge nurse & another nurse took Rachel to the bassinet across the room to do her Vitamin K injection & newborn assessments.  The nursery nurse soon came & thankfully recognized that Rachel was acting a bit more jittery than average & thought to check her blood sugar.  When she announced it was 34, I almost yelled “Holy shit, get the D50!”  Thankfully as the nurse explained a newborn’s blood sugar only needs to be about 40 to be normal so it wasn’t actually that low (whereas a blood sugar of 34 in an adult is definitely a medical emergency).  At that point the nurse handed Rachel back to me, & the doula started helping me try to breastfeed.  Unfortunately Rachel was too jittery to really concentrate & I was too exhausted both mentally & physically to have a clue what to do.  The nursery nurse ended up giving her a small bottle of formula to raise her blood sugar & thankfully that was successful.  baby-burrito-2

Sometime while all of this was happening, the placenta actually delivered & the midwife assessed me for the need for stitches.  As it turned out I was very blessed & only had a very small internal laceration requiring just two or three stitches.  By that point the oxytocin love bath had begun so I seriously didn’t even feel the lidocaine injection they gave me to numb me before the stitches.

To make a long story short, over the next 12 hrs or so the nurses had to check Rachel’s blood sugar every few hours.  Unfortunately it did drop once & she had to receive another small dose of formula around 8 pm to stabilize her.  After that her blood sugar was never a problem again.  However, her bilirubin became an issue but was consistently just below the borderline of needing treatment.  We were discharged on Friday with an appointment to follow up with our pediatrician the very next morning.  My parents left Friday morning & that night at home was very rough.  I was breastfeeding Rachel every one to two hours but she was so lethargic that I could never be sure she was actually getting anything out of of it.  She also went from having tons of dirty/wet diapers in the hospital to having very few at home.  At some points she was inconsolably crying & in my heart I just knew something was wrong.  If we hadn’t had the appointment at 10 am on Saturday I probably would have taken her back to the hospital.linus project.jpg

When we went to the appointment on Saturday the doctor was extremely friendly & knowledgeable but she didn’t dance around the truth.  She told us Rachel was definitely jaundiced & had a high risk of needing bili light therapy to reduce her bilirubin.  She taught me how to use my breast pump (there’s a reason I chose a pediatrician who is also a lactation consultant . . . & whose office is 3 minutes from our house) & instructed me to feed Rachel at least 30 mL every 2 hrs & to supplement with formula (which she gave me) if needed in order to achieve that goal.  As soon as we left the office we headed across town to have her bilirubin rechecked.  Because it was a weekend they couldn’t do it in the office & get fast results but one of the local hospitals could.  The doctor promised to call us within a few hours with the result.  As it turned out we had just made it home from the hospital lab & I was pumping when the doctor called Jared to say Rachel’s bilirubin was too high & we needed to take her to yet another hospital for one to two nights of bili light therapy.

bili-light

My husband feeding Rachel under the bili light

Immediately I dissolved into tears.  Part of me was so thankful to know that my “mama instinct” was right & that Rachel’s behavior wasn’t normal, but of course the other part of me was scared to death.  We ran around getting our bags repacked, managed to forget one of them, & raced off to the hospital, which happened to be the one hospital in Raleigh that I had never actually laid eyes on in the four years we’ve lived here.  When we arrived at the hospital, I was pleased to see that they were expecting us at patient registration & got us up to a very nice room within about 30 minutes.  Not long after that the bili light was started.  My parents came back that night after I called my mom in tears & told her I needed her.  I will forever be grateful for their unwavering support during such a difficult time.  Overnight my milk came in, & this, coupled with the bili light, was exactly what Rachel needed to get better quickly.  We ended up staying just that one night & were discharged the next day, which happened to be my 28th birthday, less than 24 hrs after our admission.  Seeing our baby girl doing so much better was the best birthday gift ever. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it now.

milk-drunk

Now this is what you call a milk drunk baby.

First thing Monday morning my husband called the pediatrician to see when she wanted us to follow up with her.  Based on the information she received from the hospital she said we could wait until the next morning.  During our visit yesterday the pediatrician gave us a great report & was very pleasantly surprised to see that Rachel had gained 8 oz just since Saturday.  She said I no longer needed to worry about knowing exactly how many mL Rachel was consuming with each feeding, so she spent a great deal of time helping me breastfeed effectively.  Not long after we got home from that appointment, the lactation consultant from our doula group came over for a consultation.  Let me just say that was the best $150 ever spent.  By the time she left our house I felt super confident in my ability to breastfeed Rachel & no longer felt reliant on the pump.  It’s been over 24 hs now & I haven’t needed to pump at all other than to relieve some mild engorgement.  My milk might have been a little slow to arrive but now that it’s here I have an abundance!  Being able to breastfeed effectively has greatly increased my mommy confidence.  Additionally Rachel & I both slept so much better last night because she has had far less gas issues & hiccups now that she’s off the bottle.  Amazing!

rachel-penguins

This might be my favorite picture ever, so I’ll share it again.

Well, that is my long, somewhat complicated but also very fulfilling birth story.  We definitely hit a few speed bumps along the way but nonetheless I truly feel like I had the most fulfilling birth for which I could have hoped.  The best part of the process of course was the ultimate outcome of our beautiful baby girl.  But the second best part is the amazing confidence boost I’ve gained from surviving an unmedicated induction.  Part of the reason I was so determined to have an unmedicated birth was because I knew that for the rest of my life I’d be able to tell myself “I survived that so whatever else life throws at me, I’ve got this.”  Thankfully that prediction came true & I am feeling more confident than ever.  Not to mention in love with the cutest baby ever!

In my next post I’ll be sharing my tips for why I believe my pregnancy, birth, & initial postpartum period went/have gone so smoothly.  This first week of motherhood has been a wild & crazy ride, but it’s without a doubt my favorite journey ever.

Final Pregnancy Update


Well, here I am at 38 weeks & I’m officially out of work until after delivery.  This was supposed to be my last week of work, but this past Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) I ended up in the hospital being checked for preeclampsia.  After working all night I came home feeling less than stellar, then ended up vomiting & generally feeling horrible & unable to sleep.  My doula encouraged me to speak to the midwife on call so I did.  The midwife asked me to come to the hospital to have my BP checked & lab work done.  As it turned out, my BP was borderline high & some of my labs were a little off but nothing too serious so they sent me home.  However, the midwife instructed me to follow up with the office on Monday rather than waiting till my normally scheduled visit on Wednesday.  She also asked me to keep track of my BP over the weekend which I did.  Granted I was checking it myself, which is actually not so difficult with a little practice, but I consistently got 140/90 ish readings all weekend, so yesterday morning I called the office as soon as they opened to make an appointment to be seen ASAP.  Thankfully I was able to get an appointment for mid morning.  pregnancy-meme

Unfortunately at the office my BP was 142/88 & I had proteinuria, both of which are new for me.  Up until Friday I have medically had a picture perfect pregnancy.  My BPs had been stellar, my blood work was all normal, my urine tests were fine, & my ultrasounds displayed a perfectly healthy baby.  I’ve been working out a bit less the past month or so as I’ve gotten bigger & more uncomfortable, but overall I’ve still continued to be active & made it to the gym or at least taken a good walk around the neighborhood 3-5 days a week.  My anxiety has been another story . . . but medically at least I was doing really well. pregnancy cartoon

The plan for now is for me to see one of the midwives again on Wednesday to have my BP & urine rechecked & possibly a non-stress test & to stop working until after delivery.  (Like I said this was going to be my last week anyway.)  They aren’t considering induction yet but if my BP gets worse, they very well may.  It’s just a waiting game at this point.  I’ve been so committed to a low intervention birth so the idea of an induction doesn’t thrill me because I know it carries its own risks.  However, if my BP remains elevated &/or my labs are abnormal I’ll obviously agree to it because I know it would be the best choice for me & the baby.  I’m just hoping that being out of work will help my BP to normalize.

peeing-pregnancy

Story of my life these days!!

In one way it’s a relief to know that I’m done with work because 12 hr night shifts have become a serious challenge of late.  But of course I’m not thrilled that I’m showing signs of possible preeclampsia.  And I do feel a bit guilty for “bailing” on my colleagues, but obviously I have to do what’s best for my own & the baby’s health at this point.  I know it must sound incredibly stupid, but it’s so hard for me to give myself permission to just relax & pamper myself a bit.  I’ve always been such a hardworking perfectionist that it’s difficult to accept that my only “job” right now is to simply relax & take care of myself & the baby.  There is also a part of me that is disappointed that despite trying to take such good care of myself I’m still having complications with this pregnancy.  But I’m trying to remind myself that this is largely beyond my control, & as my therapist has told me a millions times, it’s not worth stressing about things I can’t control.

waiting-on-baby

Amen!  For a planner like me, this is a bit rough.

I should probably be sleeping but I felt like I needed to write a bit before my mind would fully relax.  So here’s hoping for a good night’s rest now that I’ve vented a bit.  And laughed at funny pregnancy memes.  (You’re welcome.)

I’m sure this song was written in a very different context, but the lyrics feel perfect for me right now.  Being a soft acoustic piece it showcases a very different side of Upon a Burning Body.  It also just so happens that the lead singer’s wife is currently pregnant & due a week after me.  In fact we’ve been following each other’s Instagram accounts throughout our pregnancies which has been rather fun.  In any case, it’s how I’m going to end this post since I’m otherwise a bit at a loss for words right now.

waddling

Accurate!!

See me staring back in the mirror
You don’t have to try so hard
Suddenly life is much clearer
You don’t have to change a thingI’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay

And I don’t care what they think of me
Cause I’m not ashamed
Of the person I am today
I want you to see the happiest that I’ll ever be
Is just being myself

Because I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)

Over and over, I pay the cost of playing this game
What can I do to escape?
I will never be the man I want to be
If I can’t learn from my mistakes

I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)

Pregnancy Update: Am I Normal or Losing My Mind?


I have no idea how to eloquently begin this blog post, so I’m just going to dive in & hope for the best . . . One question I’ve been asked a lot since becoming pregnant is “How are you decorating the nursery?”  Each time my answer is “I’m not.”  Seriously, y’all, it took me MONTHS of living in our house to even begin to decorate our house & even now, three and a half years later, there is no cohesive theme to our decorations, unless you count various scattered stuffed animals as a theme.  I know it probably makes me boring but decorating has just never interested me.  If anything I find it stressful.  I enjoy seeing other people’s decorated houses or nurseries but I have no interest in doing the same for my own.  And let’s be honest here: for whom do parents really decorate the nursery, the baby or themselves?  The answer has to be themselves because there is no rational reason to believe that a baby is going to notice or care whether his or her nursery is decorated or not.  By the time they’re old enough to notice it or form an opinion about it, they’ll probably want it redone to match their own particular taste.  And all of that sounds like entirely too much work to me!  baby-cartoon

On another note, is it normal that instead of being really excited about picking out baby gear I just find most of it stressful & annoying?  I’ve never been an indecisive person, but staring at literally dozens or even hundreds of different options for every baby thing known to man can be more than a little overwhelming.  Thank goodness for my college roommate, dear friend that she is, who helped me create our baby registries or else they’d probably still not be done.  Creating the registries with her guidance was fun but otherwise I really don’t know how it would have gotten done.  Seriously. baby-cartoon-2

I hear/read all the time about women who struggle not to buy every baby item they see but that has not been a problem for me.  I’ve only bought a handful of things myself, most of which were from a neighbor who was selling baby girl clothes for $1 each which was entirely too good of a deal to pass up, as well as a changing table/pad with attached chest of drawers which I found on Craigslist.  Part me of wonders if this means that I’m not as attached to my baby as I should be.  Or maybe I’m just being practical as always & realizing that having a bunch of STUFF won’t make me any more prepared to be a mom, no matter how much it might be nice to think it would.papparazzi-cartoon-baby

I’m sure I’ll start buying more baby gear once we have our shower in a few weeks & I can say more definitively what we actually need to buy.  I’m excited of course for our shower but at the same time I’m nervous about it.  I know that must sound ridiculous but I do not enjoy being the center of attention.  I felt the same way about my bridal shower five years ago.  Am I crazy or are there other moms to be who feel this way?

"Dear, when was the last time you just winged it?"

I think I’ll be doing a lot of “winging it.”

People have also asked me if I’ve read various parenting books & magazines.  The answer is no.  Considering my OCD personality traits (& my husband’s as well), maybe it is odd that I/we haven’t jumped into reading all kinds of parenting books but we haven’t.  There are plenty of things about parenthood that scare me & that I know will not be easy, but at the same time I feel like a lot of things will come to us intuitively.  If they don’t, we can start researching things, but in the meantime I really don’t feel like filling my head with other people’s opinions on how to raise our child.  Is that being selfish or proud or too self-assured?  Or even lazy?  I have no idea.  blankie baby

I’m trying to remind myself that when we got married I was equally ambivalent about creating a wedding registry & plenty of other aspects of wedding planning (the only things I really cared about were my dress, the color of the bridesmaid dresses, the reception location, & most importantly THE GROOM).  Yet our wedding turned out beautifully & more importantly we’ve been happily married for five years now.  People told me many times that I was the most relaxed bride they’d ever met, & while I’m sure I’m NOT the most relaxed mom-to-be, maybe not being too caught up in some of the “pregnancy hype” isn’t such a bad thing either?ambivalence-quote

I didn’t know how to begin this post, & I’m equally unsure how to end it.  I guess I’d just like some reassurance from other moms (or dads!!) out there that I’m not losing my mind & that at least some of the things I’m feeling are normal (or at least okay) on some end of the spectrum.

The Anxiety Monster, Pregnancy Edition


Those of you who know me in real life may have noticed that I’ve been a bit more anxious the past few weeks.  Between getting a bad cold in early August & then developing intermittent allergies that refuse to go away ever since then, some rough shifts at work (including violent patients & multiple deaths), the anniversary of my grandfather’s death last year, & just the general stress of pregnancy, my mind has been more than a little over-stimulated the past few weeks.  I guess my body has been over-stimulated too because I’m sick once again, this time with a viral throat infection that has left me feeling like I have knives in my throat (which is extra fun with acid reflux on top of it), congested, & having intermittent coughing spells if I try to talk for more than about 30 seconds at a time.  Oh yeah, my body hurts all over & I’ve had a mild fever too.  And my normal pregnancy fatigue has been multiplied times ten.  AND of course I can’t help but worry that me being sick isn’t good for the baby!  Arghhhh!!

hello-my-name-is-anxiety

I struggle with anxiety, but I’ve found that this blog is a great way to tame the “anxiety monster.”

On top of all that, I find myself feeling incredibly guilty for complaining about being sick & stressed about my pregnancy & impending motherhood.  I know there are so many women out there who would give anything just to be pregnant right now, so every time I complain about how much my sacrum hurts (it’s never my lumbar area, always my sacrum) or how much it sucks to be sick while pregnant, part of me feels like this wretched spoiled brat who ought to just shut up & realize how lucky she really is.  But that doesn’t change the way I’m feeling of course.  It just leads to a cycle of negativity that never ends.anxiety charlie brown

Up until the past few weeks I’ve been so proud of myself for how I’ve handled this pregnancy & not letting my underlying anxiety issues overwhelm me.  But here lately I feel like I’ve lost traction & I’m just barely keeping my head above water.  Thankfully I found out today that my glucose tolerance test & my hemoglobin are normal.  Those are at least two things that can no longer be a source of anxiety for me.  My husband & I have also managed to select & purchase a car-seat & stroller recently which, trust me, is a massive endeavor these days.  (Can we say too damn many options?!)  So that’s two major baby purchases out of the way.  Now if Buy Buy Baby can just deliver the stroller instead of some kind of jumper thing that they accidentally sent me instead . . . Seriously, whoever packed that order must have been drunk.  I could understand sending me a similar but different stroller but this wasn’t even close to the right item.  At least they have free shipping, including returns!  And in a week or two I’ll probably find this whole scenario hilarious.pregnancy cartoon

I’m sure this hasn’t been my most coherent or eloquent blog post.  Honestly I’m not sure what I’m trying to accomplish other than to just vent & let the world know that I’m struggling right now.  Overall pregnancy really hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it might be, at least in some ways.  But here lately my anxiety has definitely been getting the better of me, whether it’s obvious to others or not.  Maybe it’s just my hormones going haywire which is entirely possible of course.  Having obsessive compulsive personality traits & a higher than normal level of anxiety really isn’t the best combination for a pregnant woman.  But this is me, & I know that some of these “negative” traits have served me well in life thus far & I can only hope they will serve me well as a mother too in the not so distant future.  In the meantime, I’ll be listening to music, reading P.D. James & Bill Bryson, cuddling our corgi, & reminding myself that the anxiety monster has reared its ugly head plenty of times before.  Yet I’ve survived every battle thus far, which means there’s no (logical) reason to doubt my ability to win the battle this time.  

pregnancy-cartoon-2

Ok, I’m not quite this big yet, but bending over to pick up dropped items is definitely harder than it used to be.  Also, this cartoon made me laugh way more than it probably should.  But those of you who know how clumsy I am will understand why.

Happy Blogiversary/My Pregnancy Journey (So Far)


I was just sitting down to compose a blog post about my pregnancy journey to date when WordPress so kindly sent me a notification that today is the three year anniversary of my blog . . . or my blogiversary as I’m choosing to call it.  (Did I make up that word?  I doubt it but I’m not sure it’s a “real” word either.  Whatever, it works.)  So I’ll begin this post by congratulating myself on three years of blogging!  As I’ve written many times before, this blog, more than anything else, is an outlet for me to make sense of my own life & to mitigate my own anxiety issues.  As it turns out, I’m very pleased to report that I’ve received quite a few messages/comments over the past few years from friends & strangers alike telling me how much my blog posts have helped & encouraged them.  That is a truly unique feeling that reminds me over & over again that even my most difficult posts are worth sharing because I never know who else they might help.blogiversary

Now on to the original purpose of the post.  Today marks 20 weeks of my pregnancy which means I’ve officially hit the halfway mark!  Thus I figured this would be a good time to share my pregnancy journey so far, mostly for my own sake since I know I’ll never have time to do this once the baby is born.  But I also figured it would be fun to share with other moms & pregnant ladies (or those who hope to be pregnant soon) who can then share their own stories.  pregnancy superpower

If you don’t know me personally, let me preface this by saying that for years I said I was never having kids, & at the time I really, really meant it.  I was just never one of those women who imagined herself as a mom.  I’ve never spent a lot of time with young children or babies, & frankly I never much cared to.  In the back of my mind I knew I’d probably change my mind some day (as my husband frequently told me I would), but I was so focused on school & my nursing career & just enjoying being a young 20-something that for years I couldn’t imagine ever wanting a child.

childless-by-choice-260x182

I felt this way for a long time & I still think it’s perfectly ok to feel this way.  Not everyone HAS to be a parent.

Well, over the past two years things changed, & by last summer I knew I was ready to start trying for a baby sooner rather than later.  I ended up having my IUD removed at the end of January of this year.  Yes, I became one of those annoying women who takes a pregnancy test every single week, sometimes more than once, because over & over again I was sure I might be pregnant only to find out I wasn’t.  I NEVER thought I’d cry over a negative pregnancy test, but I did (more than once).  By the end of March I forced myself to take only one a week to avoid further disappointment.  Logically I knew it wasn’t realistic to expect it to happen so quickly, but hormones don’t always listen to logic (ha!!).  pregnancy hormones cartoon

Anyway, I got the positive test on Sunday morning, April 10 after I came home from work.  Fortunately I was able to get into the midwife’s office the very next day to have the pregnancy confirmed.  I was so excited to call my parents & to tell my closest friends!  I know a lot of people wait several more weeks “to be sure,” but I was way too excited to keep it a secret from my closest friends & family.  I had my first ultrasound on May 6 & afterward we immediately drove to VA to share the news with our entire families.  Hearing the heartbeat for the first time was truly an incredible experience.  What amazed me even more was that we could actually SEE the heart beating.  I didn’t realize you could do that so early in the pregnancy.  The ultrasound finally gave us a due date (Dec 13), which meant I was 8.5 weeks at that time.  I know that is pretty early to share the news, but the way I saw it was if I did have a miscarriage I’d rather people knew about it so they could grieve with me rather than having to grieve on my own with people wondering why the heck I was such an emotional disaster.  Plus statistically speaking the odds of miscarriage once you’ve had a normal ultrasound at 8 weeks are actually very low.pregnancy boob cartoon

As far as pregnancy signs & symptoms, the very first thing I noticed, before I even had the positive pregnancy test, was waking up hot in the middle of the night.  I wasn’t actually soaked in sweat but I was hot enough that I’d throw off the covers & lay there wondering what was wrong with me.  Soon thereafter I started noticing breast tenderness (woohoo!).  Around 8 weeks is when the nausea (& fatigue) started kicking in, which was when I found out that morning sickness is a huge misnomer.  Compared to a lot of women I probably had it easy because I only actually got sick a few times.  But I had such high hopes that I’d miss out on that lovely “side effect” of pregnancy because my mom swears she never felt sick with me or my sister, so I was really disappointed when I turned out not to be so lucky.  Over the weeks I learned how to handle it better though.  The biggest thing that helped me (which was often hard to do at work) was eating frequent small meals/snacks, even if it was something as simple as a few saltines or some applesauce.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat any meat or good protein for a solid month, which I hated, but bland carbs were about all I could tolerate most days.  I also learned that water with lime or lemon juice in it is very helpful, as are Preggie Pop Drops & Gin-Gins (both hard candies).  The latter were both great options for driving or for work (where I tend to encounter some not so pleasant body odors).  pregnancy cartoon

In week 13 I had the bad luck to catch a GI virus that landed me in the ER getting 2L of IVF & some Phenergan.  That was pretty horrible, especially since I thought I’d gotten to the point when I should have been feeling better.  As it turned out, I hit week 14 & I swear the nausea magically melted away.  People had told me that would happen, but I didn’t believe them.  It just sounded too good to be true.  Not only did my nausea resolve itself, but my energy level returned to (almost) normal).  I could go to the gym more than once a week & not feel like I was dying.  It was AMAZING.  Since then the only annoying symptoms I’ve had to deal with are intermittent acid reflux & occasional low back pain.  Sleeping with my Snoogle has helped immensely with easing (& probably preventing) the back pain.  I’m so thankful a high school friend of mine told me about this pillow.  It is worth every penny, & I’m quite sure I’ll be using “my anaconda pillow” (as my husband calls it) long after I’m pregnant (probably forever).  I do notice that I’m more short of breath with exertion (like going up 2-3 flights of stairs) these days, but I’m still able to work out without any real difficulty.  I take longer breaks between sets at the gym, & I’ve switched from the treadmill to the elliptical since it’s a bit “gentler.”  Whatever I’m doing, I try not to let my heart rate get > 150 so I can ensure the baby is still getting plenty of oxygen.  (No, I do not have a Fitbit so I am definitely that weirdo standing in front of the clock counting my carotid pulse.  Hey, it’s free & it works!)baby banana

Over the past few weeks people have been asking me if I’ve felt the baby move.  I hadn’t felt anything until a few days ago so for a few weeks I was having a lot of anxiety over that.  The midwife reassured me at my appointment last week that it is perfectly normal, especially for a first-time mom, not to feel anything definite till 21 weeks, but naturally I was still worried.  As it turns out, when I was at work on Sunday night around 0300 (so actually Monday morning), the baby “woke up” & suddenly I was sure that what I was feeling was NOT just gas or my stomach gurgling.  It felt like he or she was doing somersaults in there!  I would not call it a fluttering feeling as so many women say it is, but it’s a great feeling nonetheless.  When I got in bed Monday morning I could feel the baby kicking (or doing something) when I put my hand on my abdomen.  SO COOL!  Now I can’t wait for my husband to be able to feel it soon.boy or girl

I’ll have my anatomical ultrasound this coming Monday, so in less than a week we’ll know if we’re having a girl or a boy.  I can’t lie, I am really hoping for a girl.  I know in the end I’ll be pleased no matter what, but there is a part of me that just really wants a daughter.  Maybe it’s partly because I want to be able to prove everyone wrong who’s told me how much harder girls are.  Or maybe it’s because I don’t have a brother so I don’t feel like I have much experience with or understanding of little boys.  I’m certainly not a girly-girl so I don’t want a girl so I can dress her up in frilly dresses (I don’t even like pink & especially not baby pink).  I think it’s more that I have this idea that if I have a daughter she’s more likely to stay close to me as an adult.  I know it’s not always true, but in general I feel like mothers & daughters stay closer over the years (with the exception of adolescence usually) than mothers & sons.  I think perhaps that is the biggest reason I am hoping for a girl.baby names

Well, I think I hit all the highlights.  Pregnancy is definitely an interesting journey with unique highs & lows, but I know it will all be worth it.  Now that I physically feel so much better I do have a bit more anxiety about labor & breastfeeding & just being a mom in general, but I’m trying to take things one day at a time & remind myself that I’ve already accomplished a lot of things in life that I never thought I could do, so I can handle this too.  Plus I have to think that being a night shift nurse who is used to chronic sleep deprivation & generally odd sleeping patterns will help me be slightly more prepared than the average woman.

Ladies, please feel free to comment with your own pregnancy stories!