Category Archives: Health Stuff

Ess just got real, again – The first Doctor’s appointment

Today we counted down the hours and minutes from “wake up and get out of bed” to 3:15. Because at 3:15 today, we got to see the Bullet for the first time.

That’s right kids. The first doctor’s appointment was today.

We arrived the requisite 10 minutes early, filled out a little bit of paperwork, and I commented to the Hubs on how sad it was that there are two lines on the form:

Husband/Spouse or Significant Other:
Father of the baby:

Then my name was called, and Nurse A was excited to see us and congratulated us profusely. Weigh in (I have a little less wiggle room than I did last time around), blood pressure (perfect, huzzah!), a few questions about the particulars and then the agonizing wait for Dr. M.

I sit in the hospital room, in the belly length, open front blouse-y mess and a sheet to cover my lap, nervously tucking the sheet to cover my exposed butt crack, and I keep pestering the Hubs about questions for the doc. I felt like I had a lot of them before I got in there, but as I sit there waiting for Dr. M to arrive, I am drawing a blank.

I just want to see that heartbeat.

And then, Dr. M is rolling in the ultrasound machine and she cuts right to the chase.

“We’re going to do the fun stuff first.” I love my doctor. Have I mentioned this before?

Forget the pap smear, the questions about last menstrual period, blah blah blah. Let’s get that ultrasound going and see Bullet, already.

There’s just one in there, and it is ours. I laid there and held the Hubs’ hand and took it all in, our baby, this precious creation that was conceived in a trailer park during one of the most stressful and difficult months of my life, and I fell in love.

I did request a thorough scan for multiples, but there really is just the one Bullet. We aren’t getting double barrels this round.

We’re measuring at 7 weeks and 1 day. Our estimated due date is February 20. Everything looked good. Hudson’s baby brother or sister is on the way.

As the appointment is wrapping up, my doctor asks me a question:

“After Hudson was delivered, you asked me for information about any support groups. Did you ever find one?”

“No,” I responded. “But a friend of mine and I are thinking of starting one.”

Dr. M then explains that someone else in our small town just lost their full-term baby, and is looking for somebody to talk to. I told Dr. M to give her my information.

Losing a baby is an absolute travesty. After our appointment, I’m filled with joy for the healthy heartbeat, the tiny bean on the screen, but  I am also left with a heavy heart knowing that someone else, in such a tiny little town, will go home without their beautiful labor of love. And that there’s nothing that anyone can do to fix or change it. And that there isn’t even a good support if they wanted it.

I hope that this mother calls me, and I hope that I am given the opportunity to be that listening ear. As my doctor put it, “We [doctors] know what happened, but we can’t relate. We can’t validate how they are feeling the way that you can.”

It is a horrible position to be in, to be the best qualified individual to identify with somebody going through the worst experience imaginable. But here I am in this place, heartbroken for somebody I’ve never met before and hoping that they pick up the phone and call me.

Because even if its miserable, and even if it drags me back to the darkest places of my grief, I know that it is helping somebody, providing hope when somebody can’t imagine any day that could be brighter.

I’m astounded by the lessons I continue to learn because of Hudson. I have a capacity to love harder and deeper than I ever thought possible. I have an appreciation for the miracle of life that makes me value other people more, to cut people a little more slack. And I have learned to listen, to be empathetic, to be silent when it is necessary and to be selective in my word choice when silence is not enough. I know that these qualities are making me a better person, but more importantly, they are making me a better mother. Bullet will benefit from these lessons, and will probably teach me a whole new world of lessons him-or-herself.

But for now I want Bullet to focus on growing those arm and leg buds, getting less tadpole-like and more awesome.

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Ice cream, you scream

When I was pregnant with Hudson, I wanted ice cream all the time.

Now, I have a freezer full of ice cream, and for the last three months, ice cream has not sounded delicious at all.

Orange sherbet
Vanilla bean
French Vanilla (yes, those are two different things!)
Rocky Road
Strawberry
PLUS an assortment of ice cream bars…

“What am I supposed to do with all this sugary goodness?” I thought to myself the other day. The idea for an ice cream social came to me, and then I remembered that it is fall, and ice cream is cold.

And then I learned that eating a bowl of full-fat ice cream every day can help boost fertility.

All of a sudden, ice cream is sounding pretty delicious again.

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Abbreviations and codes: TTC, OPKs, OMG LOL

In our text-message, Twitter, 140-characters or less culture, one cannot be bothered to spell things out.

U know?

OMG.

I have learned a whole new language in the last few months as my preoccupation with making Baby Dub Dos has grown into an almost full-time occupation.

My doctor informed me that she’d like us to wait at least 6 months before we TTC (Try To Conceive). At first she said a year, and, as my husband put it, “She saw you were going to slap her,” (LOL!) so she backed down a bit and said “But try to wait at least 6 months.”

I burst into tears when she left the room. SIX MONTHS? You’ve got to me kidding me, lady. At the time, six months sounded like six eternities.

So I turned to the Internet for a second opinion, which is, FYI, a horrible horrible idea. We’ll talk about that in another post.

And in my Googling I stumbled across several forums about TTC. How long to wait between pregnancies? How long to try before you talk to a specialist? And on and on…

The first few entries were basically incomprehensible due to the excess of abbreviations.

“DH and I BD’d 3 days after positive OPK. We are now 10 DPO, when is too soon for a HPT? I don’t want to get discouraged by BFN if I test too early.”

Er, wha?

Just like learning any new language, you get the best results when you go full-immersion. So I kept reading until I could decipher the codes. Evidently the lady above and her “dear husband” did the “Baby-Dance” after an “Ovulation Predictor Kit” told her it was go-time. Ten “Days Past Ovulation” and she’s wondering if it’s too soon for a “Home Pregnancy Test” because she doesn’t want to get a BFN… okay I haven’t figured out what the B and the F stand for in that one but I know it means “Not pregnant”…

Whew.

Just like nobody who has ever been pregnant before will understand you if you speak in weeks to them, nobody who hasn’t made it their business to get knocked up ASAP will understand you if you speak in this cryptic language of codes and abbreviations.

Which is cool, because it sort of feels like I’m in some sort of awesome secret baby club.

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Rising temps… on taking your basal body temperature

At my six week check in, the nurse asked me if I wanted to get on birth control, and my answer was a firm and definitive: “No.”

We would like to begin work on Hudson’s baby bro or baby sis ASAP. Like, yesterday.

With that in mind, we aren’t supposed to start TRYING for a few more months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be “sort of” working on it in the meantime.

I’m a checklist person. I like to plan my day, write down the things I want to accomplish, prioritize my task lists, vigorously strike through completed items.

Check. √ Sign of progress.

STRIKE THROUGH. One less step on the journey.

Baby makin’ has a LOT of steps and many of them are completely outside of our control. However, there are a few things I can check off, a few items I can strike through, and some things that I do daily in preparation for Baby Dub Dos.

Lose the pregnancy weight.

√ Eat healthy and exercise every day

√ Take that prenatal vitamin

√ Take my basal body temperature

What’s that, you ask? If you aren’t familiar with this concept, you’re not alone. The Hubs asked me: “Is that some sort of babymakin’ herb thing?”

BASAL. Not basil.

Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature the body reaches when at rest, and a lot of women who are on the TTC (trying to conceive) bandwagon make best friends with their thermometer. Your BBT drops in the days prior to ovulation and then rises between .5-1 degree after you ovulate. You wanna know when you’re ovulating so that your babymakin’ efforts are well-timed.

And thus, I now have a new morning routine.

BRRRRRRING!!!BRRRRRRRRING!!! (imagine an annoying alarm sound)
*Grunting and wrastling about from the Hubs’ side of the bed as he attempts to push the snooze*
*Snorting and blind reaching for the thermometer on my side of the bed*
Beep (the polite sound of my BBT thermometer as I fire it up for duty)
Snore (me falling back asleep with the thermometer in my mouth)
Beep. Beep. Beep. (the polite sound of my BBT thermometer telling me its reading is complete)
*Grunting and wrastling about from the Hubs’ side of the bed as the three quiet polite beeps are mistaken for the second alarm*

image from: Fertilityplus.com

Like that, every morning. I don’t even look at the BBT reading right away anymore, since the thermometer stores the latest reading (convenient! high-tech!) so I can dig it out later when I’m a little more coherent. Then I chart it on the handy graph paper included with the BBT thermometer, and I proceed with my day.

There are all kinds of fantastic sites dedicated to helping women keep track of the signs of fertility and ovulation, from OvaOva to Fertility Friend. Or you can roll like me, with my handy graph paper. Whatevs.

In theory, after a few months of this half-awake routine, you can see a pattern and have a pretty solid idea of when you are ovulating, and then it is off to the races (if you weren’t racing before).

After a few months of doing this myself, I have not identified much of a pattern. What I have discovered is that I’m probably dying.

My morning temp is without fail in the 96’s. Hypothermia starts in the 95’s.

Follicular phase, luteal phase, whatever. I am now somewhat less concerned with when I’m ovulating, and more concerned with why I am so cold? To the Hubs, who claims my body is “like lava” when I try to snuggle him in the morning… I’m actually pre-hypothermic, and this post-snooze-button spoon session is a matter of life and death!

Okay, maybe I’m not dying. It’s possible that my $7 BBT thermometer isn’t the most durable piece of equipment. It’s possible that falling asleep with a thermometer in your mouth every morning isn’t a great way to get an accurate reading on your BBT (after all, I do tend to sleep with my mouth open). It’s possible that, while I’m not supposed to be actively TRYING to get knocked up 2.0, this morning ritual is less about identifying our “safe” zones and our “try to make a baby” zones and more about just having something to do daily that makes me feel like I’m making some sort of progress.

Whatever the case, I could always go for a post-snooze spoon session. Now THAT would be a good addition to the morning ritual.

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On groping yourself in a room full of strangers

Today’s birthing class was all about breast feeding.

My poor, poor hubby.

We started class by watching a video, and there were boobs everywhere.

I know, boobs become functional instead of sexual once you have a baby. But that doesn’t keep us new moms-and-dads-to-be from just wanting to look at the ground awkwardly whenever they flash a booby on the screen. “This is private stuff. Not for my eyeballs.”

We passed around breast feeding paraphernalia galore. Hand breast pumps (Mommy’s new stress ball!), breast feeding bras, books about breast feeding (including one entitled “So that’s what they’re for!”), the list goes on. We all had to pick out a doll at the start of class to practice different breast feeding positions.

Practicing involves:

1. Positioning the baby/doll.
2. Making a “C” shape with the not-holding-the-baby/doll hand.
3. Squeezing your boob with the C hand. (Yes, in a room full of strangers)
4. Tickling the baby’s… er, doll’s… face with your nipple (I apologize for the X-rated language here… again, this was done in front of a bunch of strangers!).
5. Pulling the  baby/doll to your boob.

The things we do in the name of preparedness. I was not looking around the room to confirm this, but I’m pretty sure everybody was avoiding eye contact during practice time.

The good news?

Breastfeeding is economical (formula can cost upwards of $1000 a year), environment-friendly (I’m saving the earth! No formula trash! Fewer bottle feedings and washings and sanitizings!), and burns a zillion calories (our teacher said it can burn as much as an hour of riding a bike uphill… and you’re just sitting there… or as we learned in class today, laying there… YES).

Better yet?

Babies who breastfeed have better immunity and are less prone to allergies. They tend to be less picky eaters. They’re less likely to be hospitalized in their first year. The list goes on and on! I’m a “Lactivist”! Boobies for everybaby!

So yes, I will make my hand into a “C” and half-heartedly grope myself in a room full of strangers if it means I’m more prepared and more informed about breast-feeding Baby Dub when she arrives.

Plus, you only have to sit through that class once.

Just like you only have to go through labor once (per baby). So that’s a double win.

That’s a Big Baby

At our last doctor’s appointment, The Doc expressed some concern about a dramatic increase in my fundal height. The size of the ol’ uterus increased a bit more than normal for a 2 week span, so Doc ordered an ultrasound, just to be sure baby’s not getting too big.

Say what?!

This was the first sign of troubles in my pregnant waters, and I can’t pretend I wasn’t a little more than worried. I don’t want a huge baby. I want a nice, normal sized baby. And if she’s too big, why?! What have I done to create a giant?!

My husband’s reaction was much more rational.

“What are you worried about, babe? That you’re so good at making babies that you need less time than most people to make them the right size?”

Oh, you perfect man.

Friday was the ultrasound. I was nervous, and a little stressed, but actually mostly just excited because we were going to get to see our daughter.

She didn’t disappoint.

Once we saw her little figure on the ultrasound screen, it was like falling in love all over again – craning my neck to see as much as I could, asking the ultrasound tech what each thing was, delighting to see her little heart beat, her intact femur, her normal sized head. The ultrasound tech announces, “Well, she’s definitely a girl!”

I’d been a little worried, having heard stories of the ultrasound being wrong and out comes a boy when you were exciting a bouncing baby girl. I know I used to want a son, but I’m pretty set on a girl now.

Our daughter is doing some sort of contortionist act, hands and feet all smashed up by her head. The ultrasound tech tried to get her to turn a little, or to open her mouth, a totally amusing conversation that eventually resulted in the ultrasound tech calling our daughter a “turd.”

We could see our daughter in profile, her little fists up by her face, nodding her head rhythmically.

“She is her mother’s daughter,” muttered the Hubs.

I do like to rock out.

And then the ultrasound tech said, “Woo, she’s looking right at us!”

And she was. There was Baby Dub’s adorable, chubby cheeked face. We got pictures.

It’s a real face, people.

I know I’ve said I’ll never post an ultrasound pic, so you’ll have to “special request” seeing the first picture of our daughter’s beautiful face. This is no “Ghost Rider” pic like we got at 20 weeks (The Hubs HATES this picture where her eye sockets are visible and she kind of looks like a skeleton face). Though she does have little Shrek ears, she looks like a human.

I’m excited to find out what our daughter looks like, in the flesh, for reals. But I can’t help but steal a look at the ultrasound pic from Friday every once in a while, comforted by the fact that our daughter has two eyeballs, a not-too-big nose, cute little lips and big chubby cheeks that I can’t wait to squeeze.

Our baby has a face!

And even better news… she is TOTALLY normal sized.

The ultrasound tech said she’s measuring perfectly for 36 weeks. She probably was just stretching out, thus the increase in the fundal height.

Did you know that ultrasound techs can make a pretty good guess at how much your baby weighs just from the measurements they take? Say wha?!

I shouldn’t have asked.

Baby Dub weighs in at just under 6 pounds. According to my baby apps, our baby should gain about a half a pound every week until she’s delivered. Which means if we make it to 40 weeks, she’s going to be just shy of 8 pounds.

That’s a BIG BABY right?!

I am becoming less concerned with keeping her in there until the 4th of July, that’s all.

Labor Pains – How I plan to deal with the owies…

A few weeks ago I started to think somewhat seriously about foregoing pain medication during labor.

This isn’t a crusade I’m on, I don’t see any problems with epidurals and I certainly won’t beat myself up if I cave and get one.

I had a spinal cord injury about 5 years ago, and when first consulting with my doctor she encouraged me to speak with an anesthesiologist about my injury to see if it might affect my ability to get an epidural. Good news: it doesn’t.

But during my whole broken neck ordeal, I did experience the wonders of pain killing drugs and I have to say… I’m not a huge fan. Not of the numbing effect… that part’s cool. I’m just not a big fan of the loopy and out-of-it way they make me feel.

I want to experience our daughter’s birth without any chance of weirdness.

I also kind of want to be able to push while squatting.

TMI?

The closest I have come to vomiting during this pregnancy was while watching a video of a woman receiving an epidural. I had to actually lay down on the ground for a good 5 minutes to avoid passing out. Evidently, spinal cord + needle = tunnel vision for Momma Dub.

Also around the time that I decided maybe I’d go natural for round 1, I experienced my first Braxton Hicks contraction.

At least, I think that’s what it was. It might have been gas.

I was getting up for my midnight pee break, and on my way back to bed, my whole torso tightened up. It wasn’t excruciating, but it lasted a good 3-4 minutes and no amount of breathing or stretch move contortion was alleviating the discomfort. As I knelt on the floor trying to stretch through the pain, I thought to myself, “Okay, maybe I can’t go all natural. Maybe the epidural will be just fine.”

I later confirmed with the Doc that what I had felt was indeed a Braxton Hicks contraction, and not a bad bout of gas.

Which is good, because if I’m considering an epidural over some gas pain, we’re in big trouble.

The memory of the fake contraction is fading, and I’m back to thinking seriously about skipping the epidural. The Hubs is encouraging me to keep an open mind (likely because he doesn’t want to see me in that much pain, or apologize for the loud and explicit language that I use to cope!). Let’s face it, nobody knows what to expect until they are literally in the throes of labor pain, so consider my mind open.

I’ll go as far as I can without it. If that gets me a drug-free birth, great.

If not, please just don’t show me the needle before you stick it in my back.

That ess will gross me right out. And I think you need to be conscious to push.

Birthing Class – Round 1

I didn’t meet my husband until after college. I have friends who met their spouse or significant other in highschool or college.

That’s neat for them.

That was not my experience. So I have never seen my husband in a classroom environment.

Until Wednesday.

We had our first birthing class this week, and it was everything I had dreamt it would be.

Informative.

Amusing.

Disturbing.

Overwhelming.

And my husband, while not the class clown he probably was in highschool, brought his A-Game to the class.

Walk into a room of expectant parents and you will be walking into a room full of nervous people. We don’t know what we’re about to learn and we don’t know if this class will somehow expose us as inadequate (or confirm how inadequate we might be feeling).

The tension is palpable.

Plus, class starts at 7 pm and goes for two hours. I’m not even confident I can stay awake for the whole thing.

I am fortunate to not be there alone. Not only do I have The Hubs at my side, but my dear friend LF is also knocked up and she’s due three days after we are. So I’m surrounded by people to make faces at and roll eyes at before, during and after.

The first thing we have to do is pick up a name tag and a baby.

Not a live, human baby. Just a doll wrapped in a pink or blue blanket. I pick up a baby of the pink-blanketed variety and immediately feel self-conscious about my baby holding skills. Am I being graded right now? Is this one of those babies they give highschool students that have the computer chip inside them to record and report any mistreatment??

We are, of course, judging all the other parents in the room. And they are likely judging us as well.

Some of the dads are trying to be friends with The Hubs. He’s already the cool kid in class.

Class Number One is all about newborn care. Our first activity is practicing changing a diaper and swaddling the doll. The Hubs takes charge. I sort of watch.

Fingers crossed this is how real diaper changing is. “Go ahead baby, it looks like you’ve got it.”

I’ve been told that if you can wrap a burrito then you can swaddle a baby.

Usually the stuff I’m putting in a burrito is not MOVING VOLUNTARILY.

The fact that I pack a lunch for my husband every morning that includes a meat and veggie wrap does not make me feel prepared for swaddling my baby. And the fact that my husband “palms the baby” to position her in the blanket just right doesn’t have me feeling particularly awesome about baby handling. Mine or his. “Palming” seems like a good strategy when dealing with a 2 pound plastic doll, but not when dealing with a squirming infant.

So far, I’m not picking up much of value.

Then the nurse teaching the class brings out the slide show and the huge laminated pictures. In trying to prepare us for the fact that our newborns won’t look like “Movie Newborns”, Teacher trots out all this mildly disturbing imagery of babies with cradle cap, baby acne, sucking blisters, smashed heads and missing chins.

There are some things that you would NEVER think about unless you were having a baby. One of them is the umbilical cord. Nobody teaches you in sex ed that your baby will have a crusty little umbilical stub for a few days after birth. My many pieces of prenatal literature have mentioned this, so I’m prepared.

This is news to the Hubs, however. And his face shows his displeasure.

His face says, “Uh, that is gross.”

I’m pretty sure baby’s first diaper will be pretty gross too. One of the pediatricians who came to speak to the class described baby’s first poop as “Black rubber cement.”

There is gonna be a whole lotta gross in our day-to-day for the next few months. I suppose it is good to be prepared. But seriously, what’s with all the scare tactics? My baby isn’t going to have cradle cab AND baby acne AND A sucking blister and a rubber cement filled diaper at the same time, right? Why do you have to freak me out?

The most valuable part of the first class was definitely the pediatricians who came to talk to us. They were a husband and wife team who share a practice and were right in line with me and Hubs as far as philosophy goes. Plus they told us about the “football hold” – which made me feel better about the earlier baby palming. So not only did we learn a thing or two, we got the names of the pediatricians we want to request when our daughter is born.

Double whammy.

Birthing class isn’t a competition, but my husband and I are both pretty competitive and we will find a way to make anything into an “I’m better than you” situation if we can. For instance, the Apgar Score. We learned about the Apgar during class, the initial test of baby’s vitals to determine if you’ve got a healthy bambino on your hands. My husband and I immediately latch on this – “Is that like an SAT score? ITBS test?” We are totally going to brag about our baby’s Apgar score. “Yea, Baby Dub got a 10 on the Apgar. No biggy.”

Despite some of the disturbing imagery and graphic descriptions of baby’s first B.M., I left class with a good feeling overall. I didn’t drop the fake baby at any point. I learned a few things, but most of the stuff we covered was stuff I was familiar with and felt like I had a handle on. The only real curve ball was the umbilical cord thing, which I think the Hubs has since gotten over. Looking around at the faces of the other expectant parents, nobody seemed superiorly suited to parenthood. Nobody in there was ready, and neither are we.

And that’s okay. We have 5 more classes to go.

Weighty things

Today, I carried a full laundry basket up the stairs.

And then I had to lay down for a few minutes and catch my breath.

So that’s about all I have for today.

Next up, a recounting of our first birthing class.

Belly Claustrophobia

My stomach is no longer a part of me.

It’s this gigantic, autonomous unit. It moves without warning. It causes me discomforts, I can’t detach from it, and it has a mind of its own.

When I described this to my husband as “belly claustrophobia” he made fun of me. Because technically that is not a proper use of the word claustrophobia.

The dictionary definition?

noun: an abnormal fear of being in enclosed or narrow places.

Okay fair enough. The “Word Wrangler” has been wrangled.

I can’t call my baby a parasite, but that might be a more appropriate word, in which case I have Baby-Parasite-Phobia.

It’s not my baby I’m having a problem with though, it’s the belly. And I’m not afraid of the belly, I’m more frustrated by it. You know when you get that angst in your stomach, that can’t escape it feeling you can’t talk yourself down off of, like highschool all over again? Sometimes I get that feeling about this belly I can’t control.

Maybe I have Belly Angst.

Most of the time I am delighted to have my belly moving about at will. I am amused by Baby Dub’s gymnastics and contortions and flips. It’s when I eat more than 5 bites of food that things get a little, how I say, claustrophobic.

There’s all of a sudden not enough room for my appetite and my baby. My belly feels tight and too-full and generally awful. I want to take another bite, but fear of exploding keeps me from doing so.

So perhaps I really have a phobia of Baby Dub’s claustrophobia.

Because when I eat a 6+ bite meal, Baby Dub is trapped in a more enclosed and narrow place.