Everything Under The Sun: This is a long one…

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I blame this blog on my hormones! I can’t pick one thing to write about so I’m going to write about everything! Which actually seems about right because at the moment and lately, I am all over the place with emotions and thoughts. I’m feeling everything under the sun as they say. (I wish it was sunny right now, ah, Seattle)…I digress. Okay so get ready this blog is going to get a little crazy! I’m going to give it to you straight and I’m going to tell it like it is. If you’re pregnant I say grab a snack and curl up honey, it’s about to get REAL here….

“How are you feeling?” This is the sweetest question and at times the most frustrating. Why? If you’re like me and you are having a rough pregnancy and not feeling well most of the time then answering this thoughtful question only forces you to talk about how not great you’re feeling. That said, it’s unavoidable and is always coming from a caring place no matter who’s asking. At almost 26 weeks pregnant, I’m a little sick of my answers as they’re often the same. Sometimes I just want to lie and say “great.” Mostly because I wish that could be my real answer. It’s not though. I have a headache every single day still. Sometimes it goes away, sometimes it morphs into a migraine. I’m also always exhausted and sometimes light headed or dizzy. Sometimes my stomach is a mess. Sometimes all of the above at the same time. How am I feeling? I’m feeling like I can’t remember what feeling amazing feels like. But, I know I will feel that way again.

The one thing that makes even the yuckiest day feel better? Feeling my baby girl moving inside me. She moves ALL the time now. She kicks, stretches, twists, turns. I don’t know what she’s up to in there but I feel her all the time and I LOVE it! I just revel in her movements daily (and nightly because she really gets going when it’s time to go to sleep- which of course then keeps me up).

Making this little girl makes every day I don’t feel well worth it and I’d do it again in a heart beat just so I can hear hers. Truest thing I can say. I can feel her inside me and I just hold those moments of serenity and peace, happiness and the purest joy one can feel. I hold them very tight and I say “thank you.” I couldn’t feel more blessed or grateful if I tried.

That doesn’t mean I’m all zen all the time over here though. Nope, not exactly….

“Out of respect for my decisions as a mother, please keep your opinions to yourself. You do things your way and I’ll do things my way. “ This is what I’d like to say to everyone who seems to have an opinion about how I should do things with my pregnancy, my birth and my newborn care. It seems everyone has an opinion these days and feels like it’s their duty to share it with you. It began the first time I got a pedicure when I was only 9 weeks pregnant. The nail tech doing my toes had a boat load to tell me about what I should and shouldn’t do while pregnant. She asked me questions about how I was going to do certain things when I gave birth and with newborn care. Oh my God lady really?  Now, this doesn’t mean that when I ASK someone I think is an amazing mother for advice on things that I don’t want to hear what she has to say. I DO! That’s why I’m ASKING!!!! It’s all the unsolicited chatter that’s both annoying and hard to tune out. These days everyone has an opinion and seems to want you to know it. Here is my take….

I have always wanted to be a mother. I’ve been studying moms for years- watching, learning, making mental notes about what I do or do not want to do when (if lucky enough) it’s my turn. I’ve read all the books I think important on pregnancy and newborn/childcare, I’m taking classes to get certified in infant CPR and newborn safety. I won’t let anyone be alone with my baby unless he/she is also certified in these courses because that’s my choice as a mother. I don’t take Tylenol for my daily headaches because that’s my choice as a mother. I don’t drink ANY alcohol while pregnant because that’s my choice as a mother. I eat insanely healthy making my fetus’ nutrition requirements in the womb my #1 food decision making factor and only occasionally go nuts on a food craving because that’s my choice as a mother. I’ve decided my baby will go right into her crib and not have to re-adjust to a crib after finally adjusting to a basinet, because that’s my choice as a mother. I will breastfeed. I will swaddle my baby, wear my baby and treat my newborn as if she’s still in the womb for the first 3-4 months of her life because that’s what I think based on all I have learned, is best for her. P.S. check out “The Happiest Baby on the Block” for more on this concept- I totally dig it. The list goes on but it’s my list because these are my choices as a mother. I own them. They belong to me. I didn’t make them lightly.

I will love her and care for her with all my heart, with all my might, with every once of everything I have inside me just like I’m trying to do now, because she’s my child. I am her mother. This is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my entire life so please, R.E.S.P.E.C.T me. Unless I ask you for advice, in which case bring it baby because if I’m asking you that means I truly value what you have to say. Oh and women who feel compelled to tell us pregnant ladies about horrific miscarriage/childbirth or death stories? Really? Keep it to yourself. Not cool. We’re worried enough as first time moms to be as-it-is! Can I get an amen?!?!?

“What’s Your Birth Plan?” Why is my birth plan your business? Why is my birth plan up for judgment? What if my birth plan isn’t at all what I’d want it to be because maybe, it’s not something I have the luxury to “plan” at all?! Perhaps this is personal and maybe not the grocery store clerk, hair dresser, society or anyone’s else’s business except for me and my husband? Perhaps. Although it certainly doesn’t seem that way. Since the beginning of my pregnancy I’ve been asked this question. I feel like there’s a lot of “chatter” going on in society these days around natural birth, using midwives vs doctors or being in water vs in a hospital. I’m all for au natural routes, trust me but I also value the medical field and I believe that OB’s are with us for a reason. Thank God for them. Seriously. So why am I so annoyed by this question? What’s the big deal? The big deal (to me) is:

#1 I would love to have natural childbirth with out an epidural, totally drug free and I would say bring on the labor pain baby let’s do this. I would LOVE to have that “birth plan.”

#2 I have to have a C-Section birth. I have no choice in the matter. I have had 4 opinions from OB’s/surgeons, etc. based on a medical circumstance I can do nothing about.

3# I’m 26 weeks pregnant and I still am working hard at making peace with my situation. This is not what I would want but I also have no choice. It’s too dangerous for me to have natural childbirth and could put me at risk of not being able to have another child- end-of-story.

What do people say when I tell them I have to have a C-Section birth?

“Oh my God WHY???”

“WHY would you want that???”

“Are you SURE you have to???”

“I’m SO sorry.”

“That’s SO not you! Really?”

I’ll wrap this up with my thoughts on all this. It’s pretty simple. If you’re wondering what someone’s birth plan is, make sure you’re asking with out judgment and with care because not everyone get’s to pick their birth plan and even if they do, it doesn’t always mean it’ll go that way. There are many births that start out natural and end up with C-Sections (1 out of 3 babies is born in the US via cesarean section) . There are also many women like myself who don’t have a choice in the matter. Don’t make us feel terrible about it. It’s not really kind. Be gentle with us pregnant ladies….we’re making life, we’re making a million small and large decisions every day about and for that life… it’s delicate and often private.

My take away on my childbirth situation? There’s not much I can control about it and that is very hard for me so I’m taking control of what I can:

– We will have Bob Marley playing during the entire thing so that the soundtrack to our wedding is also the sound track to our baby’s birth. (We had a Bob Marley cover bad at our wedding). (Note: we listen to a lot of reggae and she ALWAYS goes nuts in my tummy when we do and when her daddy dances around the house with me. So, it seems like she’d probably opt for this as well if I could ask her).

-I will be in the room with my husband. He’ll be the one right next to me holding my hand, looking in my eyes while our trusted doctor does what she needs to do. (I am often asked if my husband will watch the surgery since he’s a surgeon himself- no sir, he’ll be up by me, with me and we both trust our doctor enough to handle this beautifully no matter what comes her way).

-I will hold my baby as soon as humanly possible and show her more love than I can put into words.

That’s my plan. 🙂

Now for some much needed HUMOR….
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This is how I feel at least once a week these days. (If I’m really honest it’s probably more like 3-4x a week). My hormones are out of frickin’ control! I want to beat the sh-t out of them (and I’m not a violent person). I want to say “Hey! Hormones! Get outa my way I’m trying to be zen here!” Instead they have a tendency to just run over me like a train and leave me limp on the tracks not knowing what hit me. These pregnancy hormones are killer. They make you cry, they make you have anxiety, they magnify anything good or bad. Nothing really helps them except for time. In time, they pass. I don’t think there’s anything that can be said about this except- it’s hard. It sucks to feel taken over by some crazy force of nature and feel out of control of your emotions. It’s extra tough when it happens right before you have to be somewhere or right before your husband has to leave the house or right before you have to go to bed (because then you just- C-A-N-T go to bed). All I can say is this- try to breathe, this too shall pass and there’s always light at the end of the hormone tunnel of darkness and doom.

***Shout out to my amazing husband- you f-cking rock my world and deserve a metal for your awesomeness in calming me down, knowing just want to say, how to deal with my hormones and most important- for knowing how to turn it into laughter in the end. God you’re the best.

And for my last vent of the blog…the pregnancy bathing suit situation….

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“Can’t you just wear your old bikini bottoms with a bigger top?”- My husband

Mmmm, no. Not exactly. But I kind of love you more for thinking that I could. So, yes…I’m hunting for bathing suits and will be rocking them during the end of my pregnancy. Which means- even bigger boobs and a bigger belly! Maternity swimwear leaves a lot to be desired. I bought one little (okay fine not so little) black bikini and wore it twice at 23 weeks pregnant (below). Everything is even bigger now and I’ve got to buy a new suit just 3 weeks later! 1920170_10152216357264086_3737433014049087833_n

So I decided to do something I have never done…try on one pieces. Now, before you get all weird about this let me explain- I have TRIED to buy one pieces over the years, however I’m so short waisted that they are almost always ill fitting and thus I have never actually bought or worn one. I ordered a bunch of one pieces online (I highly recommend online shopping vs normal shopping while pregnant- it allows you to take bathroom breaks when you need to, take a break from trying things on when you feel you’ve had enough and it’s much easier on your ego in the privacy of your own home, with your own mirrors). As it turns out…my thought that my baby bump would somehow fill out the “extra” length in the one pieces that my torso is lacking was 100% wrong. Nope, same issues when pregnant. So, it looks like I will be that girl by the pool or at the beach in a bikini. Not because I’m trying to gross you out but because I’m too damn short waisted to rock a one piece. I apologize in advance. Feel free to look away.

Finding the right bikini isn’t so easy. I’m wearing a 34G bra but my bottom size isn’t that different than it was before so everything that fits the top is enormous on the bottom (nothing like a saggy bikini bottom, ew gross)! In the end I’m probably going to have to invest in 2 bathing suits and combine them to get one that fits. Also a quick note on why I can’t wear my old bikini bottoms like my hubby thinks I can…(bless his heart)…

#1 Brazilian cuts=not okay with a baby bump

#2 The bump shifts the way everything fits even bikini bottoms so I end up looking like I’m not wearing much on the bottom at all and that Brazilian cut quickly becomes a thong! Yikes!

So for all you mamas to be out there- if I can let my bump run free you can too! Come on join me and let’s wear our bumps out proudly this summer! Okay fine, join me so I’m not the only one!!!!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my hormonally charged blog. If you’re still reading this, you deserve a cupcake!

peanutbuttercupcakesmmmmmmmm……..

 

 

 

Miracle Moments

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If you’re like me, the day/night before you have a big deal OB/doctor appointment or ultrasound you are riddled with worry and terrified something will be wrong. You stay up all night with concern. Essentially, you make yourself crazy. I’ve discussed this with some friends who are also currently pregnant and it seems we all tend to do the same thing. Some of us pray, some of us chant, some of us eat ice cream, some of us watch TV or movies to try to distract our thoughts. Either way you spin it, the night before one of your major OB or ultrasound appointments is nerve racking. Then, all of a sudden, you’re laying there on the table waiting for someone to tell or show you that your baby is okay, that everything is perfect and that you have nothing to worry about at that moment. Most of us are lucky enough to get that news although not all of us. It’s because of that fact that we worry. Every mom to be knows the odds- that some of us are and some of us aren’t going to be the lucky recipients of good news. My guess is that this will continue to happen until the baby is actually born and then it will manifest itself in new ways of worry that pertain to the baby’s health moving forward. I guess this is called being a mom!

That gorgeous, perfect, amazing, adorable, miracle of a photo above here, is from our 20-21 week ultrasound yesterday. We were lucky enough to be told our baby girl is looking perfect, that her brain, her heart, her kidneys, limbs, spine, lips, hands, feet, etc. are all where they should be, as they should be and looking wonderful. There I was on the table holding my husband’s hand with happy tears streaming down the sides of my face. We were squeezing each other’s hands every time we watched the ultrasound move to check another organ. She was moving around through the entire ultrasound! My husband joked that of course, she was dancing because she takes after her mom. He later joked when the tech was checking out her femur bones that she’ll probably have 6′ legs on a 5’10” body like her mom. Once things started going well in that room we relaxed, we could make jokes and we could enjoy each moment. Then, at one point, our little baby seemed to have her arm bent over her head in the same exact way her dad tends to fall asleep! He turned to me and said “Oh my God! Just like me!” It was just awesome. It was awe inspiring. It was a true miracle to watch. It made me believe in a higher power on another level, truly.

When we got home, I collapsed. My body gave out, my brain stopped working and I just couldn’t do one more thing. Finally all the worry, the sleepless night and fret caught up to me and I just fell into the couch. I could hardly even make it to the bed a couple hours later. Granted, we just came off of moving into a new home. I had been pushing myself for days packing our stuff up and then moving and unpacking and setting up our home. (Doing something like this is much harder pregnant and certainly pregnant and dealing with fatigue, migraines, etc. but better at 5 months than 9 right)?! I was exhausted going into this “night before a big ultrasound worry” but then it just zapped me completely. Luckily, I have a husband who understands, who steps up and who takes care of me in these moments. For that, I’m beyond grateful.

For these moments of miracles, for these tests and ultrasounds that make us crazy concerned, that drive us to pray and chant and stay up all night no matter how exhausted we already are…they are so worth it. They are also just one more part of the equation that makes us what we are in the process of becoming….a mother.

Now it’s time to get some rest and enjoy my baby dancing around inside me. Until the next big appointment! Here’s to getting some sleep!

 

Morning Sickness or All Day Sickness: How To Make It Through

Ginger Root

Ginger Root

If you are reading this blog because you are suffering from “morning sickness” or as I like to call it “all day sickness” then first off, my heart goes out to you because this is ROUGH STUFF! Hopefully I can give you some tips and tricks that I found worked for me (with lots of trial and error). First of all, know you are not alone. Many women experience this during the first trimester and you’re in good company. Also this usually gets better as you ease into the second trimester. So you have that to look forward to. Very few women are sick their entire pregnancy although I know it feels like it will never end when it’s happening to you.

What Worked for Me:

Ginger! Ginger! More Ginger! I found that eating or drinking ginger helped to calm my nausea. I bought ginger candy and would always have it in my purse. At home I would buy ginger root, peel it and boil it in water to make a tea (very strong but really works) or I would just use organic ginger tea bags you can buy at the store. I’d add ginger to food I was cooking and we were always stocked up on ginger beer (the good stuff not ginger ale that is full of bad for you chemicals). It’s VERY important to stay hydrated while pregnant but when you are nauseous water can often times make the feeling worse. So, in order to get my water down, I would add some ginger beer to it- even a splash would go a long way. Plus the bubbles do help settle the tummy as well.

Eating! You do not feel like eating but you have to eat! In fact, eating just might make you feel better even though it’s the last thing you want to do. What I suggest trying is to eat very small amounts of food often. Do not sit and eat a huge meal it’ll make you feel horrible, trust me. Even if you’re out with others don’t worry what they will think- you have to take care of you and baby right now, they can deal. Just eat a little bit and let it digest and ease through until you feel you can stomach another little bit of food later and so on. The thing you must know is that the first weeks of pregnancy are extremely important and that a growing fetus needs certain kinds of foods. The reality is, you really need to try to force yourself to get some nutrition down even if you’re sick. I like this link to help you know what’s the most important and in what foods you can easily get it from. The bottom line is, it’s not all about you right now and so despite your tummy you have to take care of this growing fetus which means, you need to try to feed it the right stuff.

The New Saltine: It’s been programmed into our brain that when we’re nauseous we should just eat saltine crackers all day. Well this absolutely might make you feel better BUT you are not getting any nutritional value out of doing this and sort of wasting your ability to get food down completely. That said- crackers help! Carbs help! It’s totally true. (Also this is not a time to be anti-carb ladies. Carbs are your friend right now plus have you noticed you are pregnant and not on a diet)! Try this…go to the local health store and stock up on a few different types of multi-grain or high protein and fiber style crackers. Try noshing on those puppies next time your nausea hits! It should help and at least you are feeding your fetus some good nutrition at the same time. Try it with a side of ginger tea and you may just feel a whole lot better soon!

Most important…hang in there. This is such a hard part but it will pass. Oh and have your partner do what mine did, he reminded me every time I felt so miserable I was on the verge (or past the verge) of tears that…this means the pregnancy is moving forward and the fetus is okay. It’s true. If you feel sick- this is a great sign that things are progressing. So just keep reminding yourself and have your partner do the same. It is the one thing that can make it totally okay to feel totally not okay.

Modern Medicine Rocks

no this isn't my belly but it's a cute one!

no this isn’t my belly but it’s a cute one!

I’d like to preface this blog by saying that although I think modern medicine rocks, it does not mean that I don’t believe in doing things as natural and organic as possible. I personally try to eat and live as natural, organic, safe and pure as possible. That doesn’t mean I can’t ALSO partake and benefit from modern medicine. To me there is room for it all in life and being inclusive not exclusive when it comes to health. So ya, modern medicine rocks!

Why does it rock? So many reasons but let’s focus on why it rocks for pregnancy and what’s going on that’s hot right now. First off this year is even better than last year for expectant mothers because we now have access to even more non-invasive tests than mothers that came before us. I’d like to focus on this because if you are reading this and expecting I urge you to consider looking into this new test called Chromosomal Aberration Screening which is prenatal genetic testing. It was brought to my attention by our dear family friend, Dr. Eric Topol. Check out Eric speaking on it here. This test was also recently featured in the New York Times.

What we did with this information:

Okay so first of all, because my husband and I are both Ashkenazi Jews, we knew that I needed to be tested for being a carrier of Tay-Sachs disease. The way it works is if the mother is a carrier then you check the father, but if the mother is not a carrier then you’re in the clear. Since we knew that we wanted to try to start a family sooner than later after we got married, I decided to get a full genetic panel done before we even got married. Knowledge is power people! This full genetic panel would be useful for anyone considering getting pregnant. It checks for so many things I was in shock when the report came back negative for 3 pages of weird genetic diseases I had never heard of! If you are interested in doing this I suggest you ask your OB-gyn as there are many different options available and different cultural background have different risks associated with them. It’s very good to know what your risks are and then make decisions from there with your partner.

Knowing that we had that panel done and everything checked out fine was a great start but not enough information once we found out we were pregnant. My husband began to do extensive research on the companies doing the genetic prenatal testing. What we found out was that the main options were:

Verifi

MaterniT21

Harmony

Panorama

We narrowed it down to MaterniT21 and Verifi until I found out that MaterniT21 won’t give the test to anyone under 35 years old. 35 seems to be the magic number with all these test mostly when it comes to insurance. It seems as though if you’re 35 and up you will most likely be able to get this test covered but if you’re not then it’s likely your insurance will deny the claim. Each company has different set ups with payment. I suggest you do your own research and evaluation of this financially. Also call your insurance and get as much information as you can from them before making a choice. We opted to go with the company Verinata that does the Verfi test.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for this test’s availability to me. With one tube of blood taken at 11 weeks we were able to find out with in 4 days that our fetus tested negative for the following covered by Verifi: Trisomies 21, 18, and 13; optional expansion detects sex-chromo- some abnormalities (monosomy X, XXX, XXY, and XYY) and may aid in stratifying the risk of X-linked disorders (e.g., hemo- philia, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, and ambiguous genitalia). The big one in this test is Downs Syndrome. It tests 99.9% accurate for Downs Syndrome. When my doctor’s office called with the results of this test my heart felt peaceful, grateful and relieved.  All I could think is “Modern Medicine Rocks!”

I hope that in a while from now the insurance companies will start to let women get covered for these tests who are under 35. I am 34 and when we give birth will be months from 35. To me, the risk I have is the same as it would be if I were a few months older. The process is what it is right now but I really hope it changes and this test becomes much more affordable. We can only make this happen by having more women get these tests and spread the awareness about them to wake up the insurance companies! My fingers and toes are crossed on this one. For now though, I am one grateful mamma to be for that tube of blood and what my results were from it.