Wednesday, August 6, 2008

40 Weeks

At a certain point it just becomes a waiting game and perhaps you are so uncomfortable AND exhausted that you start talking induction as early as possible. For us, that was the case. We were so anxious to meet our little one and find out the gender PLUS I was so uncomfortable with itching (getting worse), back pain, and total exhaustion. I had a couple non-stress tests and all was fine but we decided to induce on July 25. No matter what, you have to do what is right for you and that is what we decided to do. It wasn't really the total recommendation by my midwife but she supported it and everyone was wonderful about supporting me in the whole process. It can make the laboring a whole lot more difficult but all he options are there. I went in and only needed a jumpstart to labor as it progressed naturally so it could have been a lot worse. I had Isabella after 25 hours, in active labor for about 14-15 of those. It was intense but worth every pain! Just make sure you have all the information, understand what is happening and have a great support group around you! Remember, your baby will come out - there will be an end. But, do what is best for you!

Well, this brings the preggers with mia to a close! It's been great, and I hope this helps all those who read it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

38 Weeks & WAITING!

You have reached the waiting game if this is where you are! You're probably going once a week to see your midwife or doctor. Or maybe, he/she is coming to your house to prepare for a home birth (if so I envy you!). Each week, your care provider does all the routine stuff - measuring, weighing, pee test, etc - plus checking the baby's position and whether or not you are dilated. Hopefully you are, hopefully the baby's head is down, and hopefully the time is coming very soon! I guess, no matter what, it's coming very soon though these last few weeks can feel like an eternity (so I am experiencing).

I'm sure you are so anxious to meet your little one and at the same time so anxious to have your body back! (At least to some degree). Even if you are breastfeeding, you are probably ready to be more comfortable sitting. standing and laying down. You would probably like to lay on your stomach, pee less than 3 times an hour, and get back in shape. Who knows what it is that you are missing most, but you are ALMOST THERE!

Personally, I am most ready to sleep on my stomach, for more than an hour at a time, and to be comfortable just being in my skin. Your baby is probably close to 7 pounds now, maybe more, maybe a little less.... can grasp firmly with his/her hands and has organs that are fully developed and ready to meet and thrive in the world! We don't know the gender yet so we're probably most excited about knowing that (outside of just meeting and holding our first child) but maybe you are excited about what the baby looks like - what color are the eyes, the hair, is there any hair, how long, how much weight, whose nose and mouth, etc.....? It's interesting that hair and eye color can change.... though apparently babies born with true brown eyes KEEP THEM! Otherwise the eye color may change a bit in the first 9 months.

Just do whatever you can to keep preparing, getting things ready, and take it easy! Take great care of yourself right now to prepare for the birthing process. Relax, treat yourself, let your partner do ALL THE WORK! Make sure that bag is packed, that you have everything you need, and that you are ready for the baby to come home! Watch yourself particularly for preeclampsia symptoms. Make sure you have all the paperwork you need filled out and ready to go - or even turned in!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FULL TERM - 37 WEEKS! (Like a Stalk of Swiss Chard)

We've made it to full term (actually we'll be there on Sunday 6/29). That's really exciting as well as challenging because the discomfort level has definitely reached that point where you're ready for it all be to be over both because of the desire to see and SNUGGLE WITH this little one growing inside of you AND because it's hard to sleep, hard to sit, hard to walk, hard to think, and hard to be nice :) at times during the day and night. It's not constant though, don't get me wrong, I'm still exercising, working on papers, reading, and having to go places here and there. I just get really tired really easily and when I get there I get whiny!

SO, the lungs should be fully matured and ready to function outside the womb! Baby is probably somewhere just above 6 pounds and has some hair on his/her head! Of course, as we all know, the hair color may shock you but it most often changes between birth and growing up. Some have a full head of hair while others may just have peach fuzz.

i just had my 36 week appointment (that means in week 36, approaching 37). It's sometimes a little confusing but you just go by whatever method of tracking works for you. Anyways, I had a great appointment. I've gained a perfect amount of weight, belly size is totally normal, and I feel (overall) really great. I've exercised the whole time and I've eaten really healthy (using my own food charts) to make sure I (and baby) get everything we need. Plus, I've taken great prenatal vitamins and supplemental DHA for baby's brain! I also decided to take an iron supplement at week 30 and on not because I needed it but because I want to preemptively avoid needing it. It never hurts to get more iron. My levels were totally in mid-range normal and the supplement did not raise them out of normal range so it wasn't too much. Plus, I think it has a lot to do with just a slight energy edge.

At this point, you should have your bag packed for that great, wondrous, special day of your treck to the birthing center (or hospital). Also have baby's stuff packed and dad's stuff if he is going with you! Make sure to have all the paperwork you need and of course clothes, something to play music, a book or 2, camera, phone, calling lists (for dad to handle), a couple names picked out, and all your questions that you're going to have after birth! Also make sure that you have explicitly made your birth plan wishes known, in writing if possible so that things go the way you want them to that day because you'll be less able to make decisions in those moments. Okay, that's about it for now. Still loving it but can't wait to be holding my little one instead of carrying him/her around in my belly!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WEEK 33-36 (Cantaloupe to Honey Dew to Crenshaw melon)

So, we're really coming into the home stretch here. Baby is quite active still even though he/she's GOTTA be running out of room! The belly is also getting bigger. I can tell when it grows a little! It's quite fun though. I feel him/her CONSTANTLY poking, kicking, adjusting, getting the hiccups, STRETCHING OUT, and whatever else he/she feels like doing in there. Doesn't really feel like sleeping apparently. Even my midwife said something to me at my last visit about how active the baby is. She's been able to see and feel him/her move every time, like on command! People are definitely starting to ask me if I'm about to pop, too so it's pretty darn obvious that I'm almost 36 weeks along.

What's been going on the last few weeks you ask? WELLLLLLL...... the baby was mostly developing fat layers to protect those little bones and muscles and circulatory system and organs, and so one, and to be ready for the outside environment. Different systems were continuing to develop to maturity (like nervous, respiratory, etc...). At this point, the baby may not even be considered premature, depending on other surrounding factors like mama's health, baby's weight, any short-term health issues.... baby's born between 34-37 weeks are evaluated on a case by case basis. Some may need some time in the neo-natal unit while others go home with mama and daddy as scheduled!
As for mama, getting fatigued really easily definitely hit hard again around the early to mid 30's (week wise). LIttle things can really wear me out, even like riding in the car a lot, of course walking around a lot, having a to-do list and getting things done, and just getting up and getting ready in the morning can be tiring. It's the time to rest for sure and relax as much as possible. I am winding down my school semester this week and getting some things done for me and baby that need to be ready for birth day but then I'm just going to rest and relax as much as possible! I've also started to try to elevate my feet when sitting (especially in class) because my feet and legs get so sore! It's tough to get comfortable period much more to sleep but I get what I can when I can!

As we moved into week 35, baby wasn't flipping around as much but the movements were equally profound! This child, like I said before, is constantly doing something! My tummy keeps growing for him/her so he/she keeps growing into it! THe kidneys are fully developed, liver is functioning to a large degree and physically he/she is pretty much complete, just needs to keep putting on weight! THe feet are enmeshed with my ribs on the upper-right side and it can be extremely painful when he/she kicks or stretches out and it can really put a lot of pressure in one spot on my back (right behind the feet) so that's a bit uncomfortable but it's fun! Heartburn still hasn't been horrible as long as I"m careful about quantity of food at one time. Heart palpitations have been virtually nonexistent for the last few weeks and hasn't been a distraction or discomfort probably because there's now more baby than fluid and blood and I've balanced out! I've got to start seeing my midwife every 2 weeks now until week 37 when I start going every week. Each time she measures my belly (not sure exactly what it is), weighs me (21 pounds gained as of week 34 1/2) checks baby's position, listens to the heart beat and talks to me about what's going on, what to expect, etc.... I haven't had to have any more blood tests in a while and should only have one more test coming up before the birth! I have a birth plan which everyone should have no matter where you are giving birth! Make sure they take all your questions, needs, hopes, dreams, and expectations into account and that the day of birth is exactly what you want it to be!

We're not finished with week 36 yet, but in a few short days we will be. I'm in school intensives (about 12-14 hours a day) all this week, keeping my feet up, enjoying my time, and drinking LOTS of water! It's unusually hot in SF these days! Baby is still packing on the pounds - at times I feel like I can noticeably detect growth in my belly! It's always fun to know that the baby is swallowing his/her own fluid and and the waxy substance being shed from his/her body and developing his/her first bowel movement RIGHT NOW! By week 37, the baby is full term so he/she is getting close and would not be considered premature when born. The baby is probably head down already but maybe not. Hopefully that will happen by week 37 so you don't have to choose whether to have the baby turned OR to have a c-section if necessary. It's really going to get more and more difficult to eat a normal size meal. Make sure you are eating a good 200 or more calories at a time several times throughout the day. It's healthier for all of us but especially good for your body's needs right now. IT will help you avoid indigestion and heartburn. The baby may be already dropped down into your pelvis or getting there soon (if it's your first child) - those who already have kids may not experience this lightening. I haven't had too many false contractions but they are possible and they are interesting. Don't panic when you feel contractions. It's a good thing to experience so you know what to expect. Still, be careful to monitor it and know when to call your care provider.

Well, even writing this blog has made me a bit short of breath plus I have to get back to paying attention in one of my intensives. Toodles!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WEEK 28-33 (Chinese cabbage to Butternut Squash to a Head of Cabbage to 4 Naval Oranges to a Large Jicama to a Large Pineapple)

Things have been going well. I know there are a few of you out there who have been enjoying this but I'm losing a little steam as I get busier and busier!!!! (Or maybe that's more exhausted). Around week 29 or so, the fatigue really set back in. The energy level has dropped significantly and each week it drops a little more. I imagine as the due date gets closer, bed rest is less of an order and more of a privilege :). J/K it's not quite that bad, but we've been doing a LOT of traveling and commuting and being outdoors in the sunshine (can't complain about that) and going to the wedding of the century, writing papers, and taking tests, so it's just been nonstop for us since about May 2. And things really don't slow down till about June 22 after 2 parties and a week of school intensives (for me) and my brother in law's graduation from Western. But, the little one seems to be doing well, definitely running out of room in there as the movements, just as frequent, are much more pronounced and visible. We're having a whole lot of fun just watching the belly shake and move like it's a little contortionist attached to my body.

From week 28 to week 33, the baby went from around 2 lbs to somewhere around 4 lbs (maybe a little more). In other words, he/she has really been developing quite a bit of body fat to protect those little bones and muscles and to hide them for that matter. No one wants to give birth to a translucent alien-looking creature :). His/her little body has needed a LOT of extra calcium, iron, protein, vitamin C (of which this little guy has an abundance), and other vitamins and nutrients with rapidly developing body and brain, preparing to meet the world!

I won't lie though, the heartburn has been pretty bad starting around week 29 or so. Around the time that my belly really started protruding, the stomach was being significantly compressed, I have to be very aware of how much I eat at one time, how soon I lay down or even "lounge" after eating, and what I eat. You can always check out the recommendations but for me, the foods and drinks that give me heartburn are not the usual suspects. SO, you'll just have to figure out what works for you. I noticed that it helps to take a short, leisurely walk sometimes after a bigger meal, though I try to avoid the whole meal thing all together. I still find that the best way to keep myself sustained and get everything that I need is to eat about 200-300 calories worth of something or things every 2-3 hours.

Around this time, I also recommend that you take seriously the fact that you should lie on your back. Even if it's not hurting, it will likely cause a drop in blood pressure and heart rate and even the position of your lungs and you could easily get lightheaded or dizzy or even nauseous. Lay on your side or prop yourself up very well. Sleeping has been hard to come by for me. Mostly it's the heart palpitations that I have (that are much worse in this trimester) but it's also a general comfort level. Find something that works for you and just get your rest whenever you can. I have found that it's easier for me to stay up later and do something till I get really tired, I wake up a few times to go to the bathroom or readjust my body or whine about being uncomfortable and then my best sleep is usually from about 4:30-8:30 in the morning, give or take, depending on the day.

Make sure to get plenty of fiber in your diet and do as much exercise as you are capable of because you want to keep the bowels moving. You are already pretty tight and uncomfortable so why allow that to exacerbate the problem! For me, this has also been the time of the biggest mood swings and discomfort overall. Watch out for these feelings. They are normal but can be tough to deal with and 1 out of 10 pregnant women may face some more serious depression. Be aware of how you are caring for yourself and how others are caring for you and don't be afraid to speak up as to your needs.

By this point, you should not be having any problems with weight gain as your midwife or doctor will have you on the right track. Different women adjust to the hormones and the whole pregnancy differently, depending on body type, growth of the baby, level of activity, etc... so don't feel bad either way. This is your time to shine and it matters NOT what is going on specifically as long as you are healthy and happy! Clearly there is a level of weight gain that is too much just as there is a level that is too little, but you work that out on an individual basis. I believe in everything being wholistic and being natural and fresh and healthy and sustainable so pregnancy has been integrated into that for me. It's been really great and really easy to get all the things that I need while the whole process of weight gain, body changes, symptoms, everything has felt really healthy.

Starting around week 31, or maybe earlier for you, the braxton hicks contractions may start. I've only had a few over the last few weeks and never more than one at a time. Your provider will let you know what amount of contractions and what intensity you should call about but mine were mild and isolated so I never had to make any calls. It's never bad to make the call no matter what as you'll be quite surprised when it happens! It's possible that you might need to start thinking about wearing a nursing bra at this point as you may experience some leakage, hasn't happened to me yet (after 33 full weeks), but I've heard it can start this early.

Sometime around week 32 the growth rate of the baby should start to increase more rapidly. You'll probably start gaining about a pound a week and it will mostly go straight to the baby! Fascinating, isn't it! That little creature inside of you is growing and maturing off of you completely!!! He/she has to be prepared to meet the world and survive in it so keep up the good work mama! If it hasn't kicked in already you will have shortness of breath and it will happen when you least expect it, just sitting still or walking to the fridge or whatever. You're used to it when you're exercising at least to some degree, but get ready for it to happen just whenever the baby moves to a certain position or your lungs just feel compressed or you try talking for a long period of time. It's pretty funny. Don't be alarmed, it's normal.

I've had a little more pain in my back of late. I can't seem to get comfortable even sitting down in a great chair. Actually sitting can be far worse than standing or walking or laying on my side. My baby's feet have really settled into my right rib cage and there is frequent movement. I may have bruised ribs when this child finally comes out. Sometimes I can't seem to stretch out my body enough to make it more comfortable and i have to gently push the feet from the outside. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just gets worse :).

By week 33, the bones are hardening, the organs are still maturing, especially the lungs and brain, and the little one is pretty much ready to meet the world. Don't wish him/her out just yet as there is still work to do but making it this far means that your baby is (barring tragedy) going to survive! Something that has come up in the last week and a half is a dull achiness in my hands and wrists and arms. I've had the cramps in my legs and they've sort of gone away with lots of extra calcium and potassium (though still show up in the middle of the night at times) but now this weird feeling in my hands and arms and I hear it's fluid retention but nothing looks swollen. I've just starting icing them a little bit and stretching them a LOT!

By this point, you should start making a list of things to pack for the hospital and make sure you have everything. Pack your bag in the next week or so! Also you should have a birth plan on record with your midwife or doctor and be asking all the great questions that are rolling around in your head. We opted not to go to any classes at this point though we will do the birth center tour and the breastfeeding class eventually, but see what's available. Also ask your provider if you will be able to borrow a breast pump! Okay, that's it for this post, it was a long one to catch up!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

WEEK 25-28 (Rutabaga to Hothouse cucumber to Head of cauliflower to Chinese Cabbage)

Around week 25, I was still feeling really great. What they say about the 2nd trimester has really been true for me. I felt so great (well actually only after February so just the 5th and 6th month) that I tended to forget I was even pregnant. I kept hearing that but it's so hard to believe until you get to that point. And, granted, not everyone gets to that point I am sure! Anyways, I was feeling really great through the end of the 2nd. Baby is starting to put on some baby fat so that he/she is really ready for this world! You're probably looking at about 1 1/2 lbs and 13 inches! Hard to believe I know! It was really right around this time, just after crossing the 6 month mark that I started to show to the point that people would actually ask me when I was due; though it was still only like one person. I had to wait a couple more weeks and rub my tummy to make people comfortable enough to ask :).Anyways, the little one is starting to look more and more like a baby everyday and pretty soon could be born with an excellent chance of survival! Though, you want to keep him/her in there a good bit longer!

Baby will keep growing and adding baby fat. And, of course, it's the lungs at this point that have to keep working to develop so that he/she is ready to breathe at birth! It's important to be monitoring your blood pressure and any warning signs of preclampsia at this point. It only occurs in a small % of pregnancies but it's dangerous nonetheless. Keep yourself aware of what is going on and what you need to be looking for. My normal pre-pregnancy blood pressure is pretty low (around 90s/50s) so it was even a little lower at a certain point in the 2nd trimester which was great. But, even I have noticed a swing. Fortunately, I have access to a machine, but your care provider will keep that monitored when you go and tell you what to look out for!

Around week 27 and 28 your baby probably has reached 2 pounds, maybe a little more. I think that's about where I am. If you haven't already felt it, you are certainly feeling tight and heavy these days. And, of course, it's just going to increase. It's pretty uncomfortable to sit, stand, or even lie down in less than ideal places, ESPECIALLY if it's hot! Keep letting yourself be rested and taken care of! It's fun to think about all that is going on. If the baby was born, he/she would probably survive even though that little body is still immature! Watch out for the backaches and leg/foot cramps! DRINK LOTS OF WATER! I'm not great at that, but I'm being intentional!
Remember that brain is still developing so if you're not getting enough fatty acids (Omega 3s/DHA) take a supplement!! It's easy and it's easy on the body (just tastes/smells bad) but swallow it quick or get the odorless kind! I take mine at night so I don't even notice the taste in my mouth!
You may have to start visiting your doctor/midwife every other week now until week 37 when it becomes weekly for most people. So, you'll have lots of help monitoring everything!

You've probably been feeling pretty good and will continue to but make sure you're taking good care of yourself. Good nutrition and LOTS OF WATER are very important, but even more important is to be aware of what your body is communicating. If you need rest take it. Don't overdo and don't test yourself right now. You deserve to be taken care of a lot and waited on! You're working hard! Or, at least your body is! When you're exercising, drink lots of water and make sure you warm up and cool down. If anything hurts or feels uncomfortable or you feel overly fatigued, just cool it and rest! Around this time, you've probably really started to enjoy the more luscious hair you have and the fast & strong growing fingernails. I keep my finger nails virtually nonexistent BUT it's made me quit biting them because they grow too fast and they're too strong! I love that my hair is thicker and shinier! I haven't had any problems with the other skin/hair changes/additions but by now you've probably figured out how to deal with that if you are having those issues.

At sometime soon, if not already, your care provider will check your glucose levels again and check your blood count and iron levels. I actually enjoy the glucose test, though not if I had to do it every visit :). Everything for me was excellent. I had already decided that I would take one extra iron everyday for the 3rd trimester just to keep it from ever going down. SO, i just recently started that. It's not a bad idea. My iron was totally fine but I just want it to stay that way and it doesn't bother me to take a little extra.

Also, your weight gain has been monitored along the way and it will probably start to increase more quickly now. I'm on the pound a week plan these days and it's easy to think about that way instead of trying to do more. My metabolism increased pretty significantly with pregnancy so that's good but I had to make the change to 100 calories more/day for the 3rd trimester. Some people don't have to but it's also fairly common. First trimester not that important to change intake... 2nd trimester is like 300-400 more than usual a day and then it might increase 100 more for the 3rd depending on your situation. Eat often, that is the best advice I can offer. I eat something every hour so that I'm never hungry but also never totally full because the heartburn can be a bear!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Noticeable limitations.....

Just in case you were wondering about the limitations of pregnancy, really there aren't a tremendous number of them. But, there are a few. For example, don't expect for all things to go normally. It's harder to sleep, first of all, so if you have real needs of getting up and being somewhere on time where they are counting on you then plan to go to bed earlier! I don't know, maybe you'll have just as easy of a time going to sleep and staying asleep as always. Not me. I've always had trouble sleeping, since I was a little girl so I guess it's not surprising. But at least plan on getting up a time or two in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and having a hard time getting comfortable and changing positions as you get bigger.

Then, there's the physical limitations. As I've progressed, everything physical has become a little more difficult. In the first trimester it was mostly because I was so tired and nauseous but nowadays it's because your body really has limitations. I've been spending a lot of time with my 3 1/2 year old nephew and I just can't pick him up certain ways. I can hold him and carry him, but it's the lifting at times that gets to me. Exercising is still a necessity and regular part of my schedule BUT from what I was doing before pregnancy and even the first trimester, I have significantly decreased intensity. I don't know how these runners do it. Granted, I don't think many do but I haven't been able to even think about really running since about the 10th week or so. I know a couple of women that ran all the way up to the 8th month. Of course they are triathletes, like legit triathletes but still that's amazing!

The other thing that I recommend being very careful about is being in situations where you have to sit or stand for long periods of time. For some reason, walking is not the same. Yoga for an hour or so is also great. But just standing too long at the sink or in the shower or watching something, or sitting for more than like an hour, both really can be miserable. It's a good idea to make sure you move around a bit in these situations, take a back pillow, and try to elevate your feet for part of the time. Earlier in pregnancy this wasn't an issue, but it is now. Perhaps the 5 1/2 hours on a plane the other day was the worst because you're just like trapped. It hurts my back and feet anyways, but I was in pain for a couple days! The car isn't any better, but at least you can pull over and stop and get out!

For now, that's all I can really think of. It's really just excuses to get people to help out, especially that spouse! Or your other kiddos! Jeff has been amazing so hopefully you have some help like that!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Week 21-24:(small carrot to spaghetti squash to large mango to ear of corn)

I got a little behind so I'm just going to catch up now.... and take care of a few weeks!
The past few weeks have been really great.... very mild symptoms (mostly just lack of sleep), slow deterioration of my core as the baby takes it over, and LOTS OF MOVEMENT from baby which is really exciting!
At some point early in these weeks, the little one developed eyebrows and eyelids. But the eyes are still fused shut, not that I would want to open mine in all that fluid anyways! He/she is definitely OBLIVIOUS to any sense of schedule because movement happens most frequently when i'm laying down and trying to get all settled down. Though, there's a lot of movement response to loud music, the gymnastics meet we went to, and lots of noise. Mostly, for me, it's the normal aches and pains that have been going on. Sometime around this mark, you'll feel the LEG CRAMPS and some additional BACK PAIN. Just be aware that they can happen at any time, especially when you're trying to lay down and get to sleep. Leg cramps happen for me mostly at night and through the night. USE LOTS OF PILLOWS and make sure to have your feet elevated some during the day. For back pain also, make sure you don't sit for long periods of time. If you have to fly, TAKE A BACK PILLOW, actually take it anywhere you have to sit for a while. Just take it easy when you can. But, keep up the regular exercise because that helps tremendously!

Around week 22, the little one will hit a pound and looks like a mini-newborn. The skin covering is still translucent and hinky looking as you can look through and see all the organs! The teeth are appearing as buds under the gum line and organs are still continually developing. He/she is definitely aware of his/her parts and experimenting as much as possible which is why it might feel like acrobatics going on inside. Mom may be noticing some stretch marks forming. So far, I'm clear but just keep moisturizing. If nothing else, at least it will help with the itching, which is pretty bad at times. Keep your skin covered as much as possible. There are body butters and tummy butters and oils out there that people swear by keeping stretch marks away but then you read that it's impossible to avoid them if you're going to get them. Some people just aren't at risk. Either way, the butters and oils feel good so just pamper yourself. The stretch marks shrink and you can barely see them eventually!

Baby is in there swallowing and probably sucking his/her thumb and skin is all red and wrinkled and well, things are just happenin' in there! He/she is working on his/her first poopy diaper for you that you'll get to see after birth if you are lucky! It's possible that he/she passes this first stool through delivery but not as likely. It's really the time to be talking to your baby a LOT and playing music and having lots of fun!
I've noticed that my headaches are subsiding which is great. I haven't had a migraine in a couple weeks or any type of headache in about a week. I've had a little sinus congestion the last couple weeks though which is really annoying! Apparently it's totally normal and you can take a little Sudafed if you want, totally plain, 30mg or you can take a little benadryl at night if need be. I've been able to steer clear of anything at this point, but I still have the Tylenol around. Heartburn and acid reflux have actually gotten worse in the 2nd trimester and that's no good. It makes my heart beat funny again. But, not nearly like the first time when my blood volume was increasing so rapidly. Keep an eye out for swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, hands because it can happen. MAKE SURE TO DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER.... you're going to be going to the bathroom all the time anyways so you might as well drink more water. Baby needs it and so do you!!!!! Otherwise, rest when you can, elevate your feet. I haven't had any swelling problems, just pain in my feet and calves and leg cramps on occasion at night but no swelling. If the swelling is really bad though and doesn't go away, call your health care provider because it can be dangerous.

If you are having trouble sleeping, and have been from the beginning, so am I and it's been since November. I feel restless at night a lot, and either have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. I've always had strange sleeping problems though so maybe it's just me. However, it seems normal from what I hear. Baby is probably about a foot long now, crazy! And a good bit over a pound! The little body is filling out a little more, though still see through skin. Everything should be developing quite nicely still... especially that brain, the lungs, and the body systems!
Momma bear is probably looking a bit more pregnant. I just started showing about a week ago and it's really growing now. It's hard to move around with any sort of quickness, except when exercising. I love to stretch as much as possible and use lots of lotion on the growing parts! I'm very particular about what I like to smother in and only like to do it if I take a shower and wash off first. I love listening to music! It's really pretty fun at this point, just playing around as much as possible. I exercise everyday, have fun cooking with Jeff, play a LOT and study some too! For weeks 23-26 we're around family and friends over on the East Coast... and next week, taking one big road trip! Carter is enjoying our company for sure, in fact we're going to the park now!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


People kept telling me that any day I would feel the baby moving and there was a plethora of advice as to how to tell whether it was your baby or gas, your baby or stomach gurgles, your baby or whatever else you might be feeling. BUT, LET ME TELL YOU, as soon as I felt it, I knew. There really is no advice and there really is no description. When you can feel it, you know, and you might miss it at first because it is so discreet, but around 20 weeks (if it hasn't made itself obvious yet), start to take the time to sit down or lay down and become very still..... you'll feel it and it's incredible and weird at the same time! Suddenly you are VERY AWARE that something is growing, swimming, and flipping around inside of you. You truly are no longer master of your domain!

For me, it started to become most obvious while I was laying down in the bed.... at first, I felt it in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep and I was just laying there as still as possible to keep from waking up Jeff. I felt it.... like my organs were moving around! THe next morning, it was so pronounced that even Jeff was able to feel it from the outside... just barely. Since then, I've found that I am always able to feel the little one before going to sleep, in the middle of the night, after I wake up and continue to lay in the bed, or most distinctly when WATCHING MOVIES or LISTENING TO MUSIC! Otherwise, I have had one occurrence of feeling little Madrid move while standing and making breakfast.

Take the time to open up space to feel it. I really don't notice it when walking around, busy, doing things... but when I am still and quiet, there it is... so obvious. And like I said before it's incredible and it's weird at the same time. A good weird though :).

The Expected....

With pregnancy, as I have discovered.... a symptom can pop up and it can even be really frustrating and/or uncomfortable and/or interfering with normality, but symptoms are really all they can treat in pregnancy because no one wants to touch you when you're pregnant. Unless of course, it is something very serious which hopefully no one reading this is having to endure. I wish no one had to endure it, but I know that it happens.

Again, like I mentioned before... when things don't feel right or you have concerns or questions, just go straight to your care provider. That's why, whoever that person is, it is crucial to be in a good relationship that you have open access to communication. I, personally, much prefer having a midwife for this very reason. She is easily accessible and in her situation, she has access to any nurse, doctor, or specialist that she needs. Fortunately, I don't need that, but it's nice to know. If she doesn't know an answer, which to this point she always does, then there is someone nearby who does know.

The unexpected can happen... it can happen anytime to any of us. But, expect the support that you need and the understanding that you deserve. Things will work out and you will be taken care of!

Weeks 19-20 (Heirloom tomato to banana)

Growth is still happening pretty fast for the little one. The limbs are now in the right proportions to the rest of the body so he/she is looking more and more like a little human. There is still quite a bit of urine being produced by his/her little kidneys and he/she is probably beginning to grow minute traces of hair!

This marks the most significant time of sensory development for your baby as his/her little brain is designating spots for all the senses. For you, you're probably sensing some fairly intense achiness in your body, around the abdomen, your sides, and even down into the groin area. It tends to be worst when you move suddenly or after a long, active day. And it's really rough when it hits. This is APPARENTLY called Round Ligament Pain... look it up. Doesn't sound so bad when you name it but it definitely feels bad when it happens. Take it easy, don't move suddenly or get up too fast, and try to keep long, active days to a minimum. Regular exercise and hot showers helped me to avoid the brunt of it so far. I think it keeps going though. It is a sign that your uterus is growing and well, that's inevitable.

It's right around this time that you'll have your official ultrasound to discover the baby's gender and clarify due date. IT's really cool. You'll see your baby all jovial inside, bouncing, twisting, flipping, and drinking a LOT of fluid (most likely). Around week 20, he/she is swallowing a whole lot more, giving the little digestive system some practice! And, get this, he/she is already producing AND STORING his/her first bowel movement which you will most likely get to experience in the first diaper, unless he/she passes it through the delivery canal.

For you, skin changes definitely become more prevalent at this point forward. Some may already be experiencing them. Actually skin and hair and other miscellaneous things. Your hair is either falling out less OR it's actually getting thicker and longer (like mine) and may begin to seem uncontrollable. Yep, I'm getting a hair cut soon... not a lot, just an inch or so. You also may notice more hair growing other places unexpectedly OR just quicker in places that you expect. You may have to shave more often. You may be one of the ones that finds a little hair on your face.... and even major skin changes on your face. I haven't had this happen yet, but it's called "the mask of pregnancy" and happens because of increased estrogen I believe. It might require a little bit of cover-up if you don't like it. Otherwise, skin changes happen everywhere... coloration patches, lines, etc.... keep an eye out and use lots of lotion and body butter because it helps with the itching. Your nails are going to be growing pretty fast right now too. It's crazy! I have to keep mine cut because well, I'm used to no nails.

As for your teeth. Your teeth are probably feeling more sensitive... especially the gum line and you may experience a little bleeding when you floss or brush. Keep going at it. Make sure you floss everyday and brush at least once a day. Use Listerine too at least once a day and try investing in Biotene as well. It's really easy on the gums and powerful stuff, but can be expensive. Go to the dentist, if you can, and get your teeth cleaned while your pregnant.

Oh, yea, I almost forgot, WEAR SUNSCREEN EVERYDAY.... well, if you live where it shines everyday like I do. Even if it's cold and the sun is out, wear it because of the increased hormones in your body, your skin is VERY sensitive to the sun.

The last really important thing, I think, is to make sure you're getting enough iron. I actually seem to have abundances of iron in my body from all the vegetarian goodness that I eat.... but it's apparently a common deficiency that shows up around this time if not already. If you don't eat meats, which is a prime source for iron, you can actually get more iron from leafy greens, legumes, and YUMMY IRON-FORTIFIED CEREALS - which is most!!!!! I eat so much cereal it's not even funny! They say, around this point, you should have gained about 6-10 pounds and from this point forward, about a pound a week so check to make sure you're on that schedule. I recommend, especially for vegetarians, that you guys take a DHA supplement along with your prenatal vitamin. You should already have been taking it, but it's never too late, especially as the weight thing becomes more important. My midwife is a monthly weight gain person, we talk goals for the next month, before I see her next, and so far, it's been easy to attain. You really only have to increase your caloric intake by about 300-500 calories a day (depending on your base metabolism and level of activity), but either way that's really not that much. Towards the end, I'm sure it increases a little more, but through the 2nd trimester and into the 6th and 7th months, that's all ya gotta shoot for! Just make sure you are always prioritizing food QUALITY rather than QUANTITY! You're not eating for 2 human beings, you're eat for you and the growing human that your supporting who needs certain vitamins and minerals MUCH more than empty calories!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Unexpected.....

You never know, along the way, when you might have a symptom or a feeling or a problem that seems a little out of the ordinary. In any case, you should always feel comfortable and free to call your health care provider, send a message, and get whatever care you need right away. For different people, these unexpected things may be scary, may be uncomfortable, or may be weird and inconvenient. For me, it's an uncomfortable one, not scary, but certainly weird and inconvenient. So, I got a message into my midwife on her day off last week and she's called in consults with who I need to talk to in order to figure out how to prioritize COMFORTABLE and HAPPY pregnancy.

For the most part, I've felt good during pregnancy... symptoms have been medium along the way. The hardest thing even beyond the nausea or headaches or exhaustion has been getting enough sleep. Pregnancy insomnia has surpassed even the normal sleeping problems that I've dealt with before. Of course, the main reason for the insomnia these days (over the past week) is my inability to lay down and be still and relaxed without the PVCs (pre-ventricular contractions), a perfectly normal occurrence for the average person but uber-frequent and intense for me. Sooooooo, we're working on it. It's probable that it could just be a symptom periodically as my blood volume increases and my heart rate and blood pressure remains low. Anytime you deal with what feels like an irregular heart beat, it can be frightening and certainly uncomfortable, but find out what they are and if you get the diagnose of "PVCs" or "heart palpitations" and they tell you that it's normal and fine, you can believe them. They really are normal. There is a drastically increasing % of women that deal with these in pregnancy these days, as well as increasing blood pressure. Know that the blood pressure thing is much more dangerous and will probably require bed rest. The PVCs and heart palpitations make you feel pretty much helpless and more tired and really uncomfortable but most likely aren't dangerous. Really I feel great when moving around, especially walking around, pacing if I have to. It's just laying, sitting, stillness, or overly active. No matter what, it's important to check everything out that you have questions about.

Another of my friends had severe problems with nausea all throughout her pregnancy and spent way too much of that time just suffering through it unnecessarily. It's not normal to have severe nausea once you're well into the 2nd trimester and beyond. Severe heart burn and indigestion, yes, and it just keeps getting worse, but severe nausea is not a normal element especially if you are losing your food everyday, more than once a day. Moreover, headaches and back aches will be present and normal but not severe ones that debilitate you. Just talk it out, ask lots of questions, make sure you're communicating with the people that can make you comfortable! You should always be able to prioritize your health and COMFORT during pregnancy, it's your special time too!!!!!!!

Hopefully you aren't having any of those random, unexpected symptoms or even worse, problems or complications, but if you are, don't panic, stay close to your care provider and get all the support you need. I've had friends dealing with some pretty serious complications along the way and still choosing to get pregnant again because they stayed connected to their doctors, nurses, and/or midwives. Keep talking to the little one at this point, he/she/they can certainly hear you! And it might actually help you in dealing with any unexpected or uncomfortable issues.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

WEEK 16-18 (avocado to turnip to bell pepper)

Now if you haven't figured it out already, it's good to have a wonderful chapstick/lib balm on hand. I love the Mint Herbal Lib Balm from Earth Mama Angel Baby. It's also good to have a good body (or tummy) butter and lots of lotion. You will find yourself with some unique skin issues that you probably never encountered before and of course there's the wonderful world of stretch marks, a potential for any growing mama. So, keep yourself very lathered, smelling good, and really take care of your lips. When you are taking showers or baths, I recommend not taking them too hot, even though they feel so good. For two reasons. First, it's not good to overheat baby with the hot water immersion, especially in the bath, though the hot shower can have a similar effect if you are in it a long time. And you really don't want to over heat baby considering he/she is in one of the warmest places possible and can't cool off. Second, it will really dry out your skin and you will emerge ITCHING like CRAZY! Use shaving cream when you shave even if you're like me and rarely use it otherwise, it's really helpful to the skin during this time. You'll probably notice that your hair is growing faster these days, all over the body, and your nails too! Stay aware and keep yourself groomed as you would most like yourself to be ;). You are going to be overly sensitive to a lot of things, probably even surprising your spouse, but go with it, don't try to fight it. Recognize that you are probably the more fragile one, the more sensitive and short-fused during this time and let your spouse know that you appreciate any extra support and understanding that can be made available! You're going to need it at times.

At this point, we have really caught up to live time pregnancy for me. I've been transcribing this online journal from my written one, including what I find to be most important and helpful. I've been doing a lot of research along the way trying to understand more about what is going on in this process of development and that's really amazing. I know I mentioned earlier that it's a good idea but if you haven't found a resource yet or your care provider hasn't supplied you with one, find something online or somewhere, because it helps you feel so much more connected to your baby's development. Keep eating high quality foods throughout the day because every little bit counts. Around the 18th week, for us it was today actually, at the 17th week, that you may have an official ultrasound where they can tell you the baby's sex and show you all his/her parts and heart beat and insides, and brain, and face, it's soooooo cool! We chose to keep gender a surprise for us so we looked a way a bit but we saw baby jumping around, waving a bit, doing 360s in there, just having a ball and going to town! It was really fun to watch. If you have a husband or boyfriend or significant other, parent, sister, brother, friend, whoever, that is supporting you and with you during this process, take that person with you. Jeff went with me today and it really connected the unseen to the seen for him and gave him a whole new sense of excitement and joy to see it all happening!

You may already be showing OR you may start showing around this time or in a week or so. It's fun to start being able to see and feel the "pooch"! it's also amazing to be able to feel baby moving inside you for the first time. I've felt some minimal flutters because I'm still a little bit early but by about the 18th-20th week you could be able to feel your baby moving quite a bit in there. It's important to write these things down, the first time you feel it, the frequency with which you feel it, the environmental stimuli that surrounds it, and so on. Also, if you haven't started this already, go ahead and get into the habit of talking to baby and having others talk to baby and playing music and so on. Spend time to start the bonding process now because it's around this time that baby can hear you. Many people have shared with me that feeling of having baby recognize his/her voice from the start because of how much bonding was happening in the womb. It's worth a shot, no way you can harm the baby with an outpouring of love and affection, right!

As for you, it's possible that you are feeling absolutely wonderful, that there are no major symptoms and things are just going beautifully. Then again, it's possible you feel awful still and are having a hard time. More than likely you are probably somewhere in the middle, good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments, just take things a day at a time. Don't stress yourself out and don't try to do too much. Let people help you. Let people care for you. Prioritize your schedule to make sure you are taking the time you need for you own self-care and for baby's development. You have a lifetime to get things done, but only a few months left to fully embrace this miraculous reality!

I keep Tylenol close by, multiple options for eating in the house in case I have a certain craving or aversion, indulgences here and there, a consistent work out routine, my maternity pillow in the bed, a pregnancy box full of comfortable clothes, a bag full of lotions, body butters, chapsticks, and herbal teas. milk in the fridge AT ALL TIMES, lots of gum on hand, and take frequent breaks from my studies to check in with myself and with baby! Also, I keep lots of fluids nearby, water at all times, and other things available as well. I also make lots of lists: What baby needs.... What I need..... What to pack for the hospital.... What to do lists... What I don't need but would love to have.... and so on. Listmaking is fun for me. I journal a lot too during my down time and I blog and I read and I talk to people that I love! And keep taking your vitamins EVERYDAY!

What is going on in there?

The growth spurt is really happening. And it's tremendous! Going from 31/2 to 5 to 7 ounces! And getting longer! Around now you may have an official ultrasound to determine due date more accurately and gender. It looks like a little baby in there only see-through! The cartilage is starting to harden to form bones and the baby is developing a sense of hearing... soon you'll be able to talk to him/her and receive a response!

And wow, those little guys can really be active. Movement is frequent by the baby and If you are really paying attention you can experience quickening: the first baby movements you can feel. It can feel like flutters or movement. It's something to anticipate but it might not happen for a little while longer. In fact, it is said that it's a little harder to recognize it when it's your first. Once you do start to feel the baby move it's important to WRITE IT DOWN and keep track of how often you feel it, what you feel, and what it means to you!

WEEK 12-16 (lime to shrimp to lemon to apple to avocado):

Now you have really accomplished a significant milestone in pregnancy so first and foremost, CELEBRATE!!!! My recommendation, is to recognize the milestone right away, BUT maybe save the "favorite restaurant" excursion till you feel certain that the nausea has significantly subsided. Your favorite things can quickly become the things you despise during the early months of pregnancy. We celebrated with a movie date (while in Bama), going with my sister and Scott to see National Treasure 2 and then we also celebrated with a trip to Pink, one of my favorite stores, to indulge in the 10 for $25 (no folks, that is not a typo) best panties in the world sale! We were a little unsure exactly which date passed the threshold so we just celebrated a few times. Nothing wrong with that, eh? During this time, hopefully, your nausea is significantly subsiding; although, it might not go away entirely.... for the rest of pregnancy (for that matter). Though, for me, it was gone around the 14th week, at least the everyday nausea. After that, it's only been situational. Around this time, it starts to become more important to increase your calorie intake. Still, give yourself a little leeway if you are feeling overly-nauseated. Your health care provider should be monitoring you through if you are overly sick. However, as you start to feel better, you should start to try and increase your calorie intake by about 300-500 a day over the next 3 months, on the higher end if you are very active. But, it doesn't have to happen over night. As you get further and further along in pregnancy, the weight starts to come on and it gets easier.

There are very clear guidelines for the amount of weight gain that a midwife/nurse/doctor/whoever, is going to recommend that you aim for. There is a minimum that they look for and there is also a maximum that is healthy. Average height, athletic build, such as myself is aiming for 25-30 pounds. Remember, this is not all your weight, though it does account for the extra fat needed to protect you and baby it also accounts for blood volume increase, fluid increase, placenta weight, baby's weight, and so on.... everything that is necessary for you to carry a baby full term and give birth to a healthy child! So, keep the figure in mind, but as long as you are continually increasing your intake and still FOCUSING ON FOOD QUALITY then you are doing wonderfully. The weight may go on fast for you, or it may take a while. It is not unusual, or bad, to gain only a few pounds total in the first 4-5 months, but trust me, it will get easier. The whole "eating for 2" thing is really a myth, something that a woman somewhere along the way invented as an excuse or something. It's really not necessary and when you do that, you tend to indulge in low quality, junk foods. These are not good for you or for the baby. Be aware of what you need everyday.

I created a food group chart that designates every food group and how much I needed (around the 13th week because I was feeling much better). As the day goes, I check off what I eat according to its food group. Surprisingly, it's really a lot more food than you ever really think it is. In the evenings, when I'm hungry after dinner or in the middle of the night, I eat whatever food group didn't make it into the mix that day. This strategy works great for me because we are not meal eaters. We eat small portions every couple hours throughout the day and are very good at packing food to go with us throughout the day as well. But it's worked really well. My exercise plan worked really well also because I have the time to adjust daily to how my body feels. My full time job is studying and school work so I can usually cater my schedule to my own needs at all times. If you have a more structured schedule then it's going to be harder but it's really important to keep up some type of consistent exercise routine. There are a number of good books and DVDs out there so if you have to just try one of those. Mostly it's important to be working on your core strength and your flexibility plus mix in a little cardio and strength exercises.

Good sleep is hard to come by also. If you're like me, it's been that way since like the 5th or 6th week and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I toss and I turn, can't get comfortable, have weird dreams sometimes, wake up frequently, have to get up and use the bathroom 2 times each night (already), and get hungry sometimes in the middle of the night. It's really about comfort though. Make sure you don't try to sleep in too many clothes and lots of covers because you start to get to the point around week 15 that you sweat more easily. Temperature control in general is pretty much a thing of the past anyways, but nowadays it gets rough. So, don't start out putting yourself in a place you will get overheated. Have a snack near the bed, some water, and GET A MATERNITY (BACK AND BODY) PILLOW AS EARLY ON AS YOU CAN. It's good to get used to it. Be creative! I still haven't found the most comfortable position or way to sleep. I'm still experimenting. Go to the bathroom before you go to sleep no matter what. And again, keep a snack near the bed, reading light, and a good book. Or have headphones and your IPOD nearby. Sometimes it helps to have a oothing mechanism nearby for those times you wake up. I down at least a bottle of water through the night (hence the pottying) but it's worth it.

Headaches can be frequent during this time and apparently through the rest of pregnancy. If you are not a normal headaches person then maybe you'll avoid this one, but if you are a migraine person, like me, then you probably won't and they will probably be migraines. Be prepared to be creative on this one as well because TYLENOL is the ONLY thing you can take and it's mostly useless, at least for me. So, invest in some well-patches or Migraine-ICE, try the allowed dosage of Sudafed as that often helps... take a warm shower and drink lots and lots of water, maybe a little caffeine if you're not a normal indulger like me! There are some other recommendations I have but just email me directly if your struggling with this issue.

Heart palpitations at the most random times are also pretty normal. Most everyone in America has them at some point or another, but they have triggers usually. In pregnancy, due to the increased blood volume and efforts of the heart, you may experience them more frequently, more intensely, or for the first time. They come at really random times and can be incredibly uncomfortable and scary. Definitely tell your healthcare provider but unless they are accompanied by dizziness, vision disturbances, chest pain, or shortness of breath, you are probably just fine. Don't panic because you could cause yourself to have a panic attack which will just make everything worse. If you are sitting down when they hit, stand up and walk around, if you are doing something, sit or lay down and relax. They'll stop eventually. Again, though, let your health care provider know so they can better assess.

Finally, if you haven't started already, GET TO THE JOURNALING. Go back and journal whatever you forgot to record and keep up with it now. Invest in a pregnancy journal or a baby book, or both! Start storing memories in either or both. Take lots of pictures, each time you go the doctor, each month (of your tummy), as your eating certain foods that you crave, as your throwing away things you suddenly have an aversion to, whatever it is, take pictures, record these memories. Have lots of fun! One of the things that I started at this point was our registry. It's really cool to begin looking online at things that you wish for... for you and for baby! It will change a lot and evolve into the list that you provide for people when they start throwing the PARTIES!

What is going on during this time?
Your baby now has fingerprints now, probably getting them all over your insides! You can see through his/her thin-skin into the body where the organs and veins are all in place. The head doesn't look quite as big anymore since the body is catching up in its growth and the head slowing down. If you look inside, he/she could be making faces at you with those tiny features or grasping at fluid or even sucking a thumb! He/she is also producing urine inside you and basically drinking it and then well, urinating again. You know how it goes.

The lungs are developing more during this time. Limbs are growing in length and the body of course in length and weight. The little one can actually sense light and experience physical pressure from the outside. All the joints move, the limbs, the extremities. There's no tasting, fortunately because he/she is living off fluid containing urine, but the tastebuds are forming!

The growth during this time is phenomenal! But the real growth spurt is just barely starting to occur. Your little one is really moving around in there and busy, busy, busy! The organs are getting more and more sophisticated in their functioning and features are almost in their final places. He/she can wave and move and is much more aware and erect. It's absolutely amazing! Blood is really being pumped by the heart and through the circulatory system, which will continue to increase greatly. The features are still moving into place and nails are starting to form.

WEEK 9-12 (grape to kumquat to fig to lime):

Around week 7, he nausea hit me like a freight train going full speed ahead. Suddenly, everyday, pretty much all day (till evening time) I was sick to my stomach, achy, exhausted, and very fragile in general. Before it had been situational and only in response to certain stimuli. Now, it was constant. You just really have to listen to your body. I was able to maintain a good, consistent exercise routine, everyday, toned down quite a bit, but I had to adjust my work-out schedule on an almost daily basis just depending on when I felt the best. I continued to take my vitamin in the morning with lots of Vitamin C foods and juices, and that mostly worked. But, sometimes it was just hard to prepare for just how bad I was going to feel. All along the way, however, I kept reminding myself that the fact that I felt bad meant that things were on the right track, that the HCG levels in my body were increasing and that I really was carrying a baby. With the rate of miscarriage these days, it is certainly a day to day thought and you want to do whatever you can to support the baby's growth and development. In the end, there's not much control over miscarriage, however, unless you are really living wild and crazy so it's important that you don't blame yourself if something should occur. Once you cross into the 2nd trimester, fortunately, the risks go dramatically down. So, it's a good milestone and you should CELEBRATE!

Overall, the preggers sickness can be rough, for me it was probably the roughest between 6-14 weeks (at this point) as far as serious nausea and achy body and pure exhaustion. I was pretty moody too (still am) and very sensitive to smells, sounds, and images. Take care of yourself during this time. Don't stop exercising, at least a few days a week, because it helps significantly with some of the symptoms, it also makes you feel better in general. It helps with digestion and other normal body processes that are hard to come by during pregnancy (like going #2). Eat whenever you are hungry during this time because those are precious times, but eat things that go down easy, and drink LOTS and LOTS of fluids! Many people will tell you a LOT of different things, some that aren't really accurate or what's best, because things have changed and we continually come to a more full understanding of being pregnant SOOOOOO get in a good relationship with your care provider and talk about things. I chose to go the midwife route because they specialize in this kind of care and have no other thoughts on their mind while with you. It has been a tremendous experience and I feel like she is my friend and my mentor in the process. Basically, remember, during this time, the baby is growing like crazy! Give baby plenty of room (don't hunch over too much, lay on your tummy too much, or such things), don't stress yourself out too much, let others help out, don't be around chemicals (so have your hubby clean), and take it easy when you can. As for consumption, remember, it is not really about the quantity of food that you eat, IT IS THE QUALITY, that is so important during this time. Don't force yourself and don't overindulge because it can be worse for you than it is helpful. Weight gain is not a huge issue during the first trimester as much as getting what you and baby need, and minimizing the discomfort and effects of being sick. No matter what, stay close with your care provider and use all the tricks of the trade. If you want further information on these tricks, holla' at me one and one and we'll talk. I was nauseated everyday BUT only puked on a few occasions. I used all the tricks that my midwife told me about and even found some of my own that I've been able to share with my prenatal cohort at Kaiser.

What's going on in there?

At this point, all essential body parts are present and functioning at this time to some degree with some continued development occurring of course. He/she is still really small, but starting to look a little more human each week. The heart is dividing into chambers, looking more and more like ours does and its valves will be forming. The eyes are actually formed by this point but the eyelids are fused shut, covering the eyes which won't open for several more weeks!

We've got tiny teeth forming in the gums, organs, muscles, and nerves working, external sex organs present and accounted for, eyes fully formed, little earlobes, nostrils, mouth, nose, and the placenta working overtime to provide all that the baby needs. Supposedly during this time the baby becomes a fetus, but from the beginning it's a baby, I mean for sure the moment human organs start to form in the tiny vessel, it is alive! The most critical development has happened at this point, though every moment is significant from here on out.....

Organs are really in place and the baby's body is functioning at a rudimentary level, swallowing fluids, peach fuzz hair, red blood cell production, and so on. He/she really starts to move during this time though you can't feel it yet, but soon enough! You can see all kinds of detail if you were able to look inside there and baby is just livin it up inside you! There's DEFINITE kicking, stretching, turning, bending, grasping, and jumping!

The baby has reflexes now and will soon respond to external stimuli that you provide even if you can't feel it! It'll still be a little while before you can feel any of the movement or response, but soon enough! Supposedly if you push on your abdomen (like in an ultrasound) the baby will squirm in response even at this point. Things are starting to come into place and look more and more like a real human being!

WEEK 5-8 (sesame seed to lentil bean to blueberry to kidney bean) :

It wasn't until week 5 or so, when we got a positive test result from a home pregnancy test and well, it was positive RIGHT AWAY this time. It was an exciting day for us. We were together (which can be weird, but wonderful) and we saved our little stick. We didn't have insurance and were waiting to hear back from a couple applications. So we got our news unofficially, even though we really already knew, and we were so excited! Still, not much changed until around week 7. Up until that point, my metabolism noticeably sped up, the normal period symptoms were lingering and I was just abnormally exhausted from even a morning walk or a day of studying at the library. One could wonder if the 6 months traveling had anything to do with that, but it was just a different type of exhaustion. Take advantage of the excuse to take it easy. If I can say that and really do that, then ANYONE can, trust me! Don't forget to take your prenatal vitamins. If you have a healthcare provider and they recommend certain ones or prescribe certain ones then do that but there are plenty of over the counter, inexpensive, even natural/organic options with all the right amounts of vitamins in them. It's important to know what you need. The vitamin can cause symptoms to be exacerbated, but it's important to just live with that. You can figure out when you need to take them and what you need to eat or drink (or not eat or drink) with them to make the whole thing better for your body. It's one of the most important things you can do at this stage.I found that taking my vitamin in the morning with a high vitamin C breakfast was the best. Taking the vitamin with nothing on my stomach or too much on my stomach was horrible. The vitamin C helped my body absorb the vitamins faster and get in my system before they could make me too sick. For me, it was grapefruit or pineapple plus some juice! It's also good to start taking the time to go to bed a little earlier, wake up little later, or take a midday nap, or all of the above. For me, I started sleeping later because my body can't go to bed any earlier. I also started taking an hour or so to rest during the day, not sleep but just lay and read or watch a movie. Stick with you exercise routine OR START ONE NOW! And, create a food group chart (more explanation later).

For now, you want to just start being aware of your body's needs whether it be rest, certain foods, etc... It's important to know what foods to avoid for your baby's development (soft cheeses, unpasteurized milks/juices, raw or undercooked meats, lunch meats, hot dogs, raw eggs in anything, and shellfish, among a few others), but it's also important to start recognizing what your body can handle right now. For me, I found that eating hot foods was generally a bad idea. I could eat something that was supposed to be hot but only after it cooled down significantly. Everything you eat during this time should be EASY TO DIGEST. Plus, it's more important to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day so several small meals is a much better idea than 3 big meals. You want to be sure to avoid dehydration but getting lots of water and other fluids. Avoid greasy foods, overly spicy foods (except I was fine), and avoid touching certain things in the kitchen (such as raw meats, soft cheeses, raw eggs, and so on). DON"T CHANGE a cat litter box either, and I recommend not picking up any pet poo for that matter.

What is going on in there?

Growth is happening like CRAZY!!!! You've got the ectoderm, the mesoderm and the endoderm. You've got the neural tube present (gives rise to brain, spinal cord, nerves, and backbone). The mesoderm houses the heart and circulatory system, the muscles, the cartilage, the bone, and subcutaneous tissue. The endoderm will house the lungs, intestines, urinary system, thyroid, liver, and pancreas. Also present is the umbilical cord and the placenta of course!

It's impossible to tell from the picture but lots of growth is happening. You've now got emerging facial features, a giant head that you can see inside! You've go emerging arms and legs and several developing organs. This my friend is a living being growing inside you! Congratuatlions!

You've got hands, feet, and it even looks like your baby has a tail! hence, the tadpole references. Your baby is getting pretty big compared to what he/she has been! About the size of a blueberry you might say! Then, in the 8th week come some fingers, toes, eyelids, and more organ development. Your little one is on a growth rampage from here on out! The brain, is a big place of growth and development already!

WEEK 1-4

This is quite a unique time in the pregnancy period because well, it's not really treated as significant.
However, it is really significant. In theory, you aren't pregnant most of this time; yet, your body is preparing for it and conceiving at some point in this time period. Around week 4, you're going to miss your period, or possibly have an abnormal period (what you think is a period) and you are probably going to wonder. For me, it was clear because after using the Natural Family Planning method for "birth control" you truly get to know your body so well that you just know. People who don't know for months, or even weeks, that they are pregnant simply blows my mind. However, after taking two home tests that came out negative, it is not so surprising because as simple as it seems, it is really just not that easy to pee on a stick. I knew because I knew my body, a process that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE, but technology failed me until 10 days later. I had all the normal "time of the month" symptoms so it all can seem so normal. I think, more than anything, no matter what result you get, just start taking prenatal vitamins if there's any chance at all! And, start adjusting your lifestyle to a healthy one (if it's not already) because chances are you need to anyways :). The biggest recommendations I have early on are as follows: (1) Keep a record of your experience, journal as often as you can remember to do so; (2) Take lots of pictures which we haven't been good at and wish we had; (3) Save everything; (4) Get a baby book early and use it; (5) Take all the time you need before spreading the news. I really wanted to wait till at least the end of the first trimester and we didn't end up doing that and for me, I wonder if I just should have not given into the whole Christmas pressure of telling family. It's a significant thing to keep private as long as you want to, and it's a significant thing to share. So, take your time, let it be yours as long as you need to. Also, have fun with the sharing of your news! Be creative.

What's Going on in There?????

Week 4 is the beginning of the embryonic period. Exciting, eh? From this point for the next several weeks, your baby's organs are going to form and start functioning!!! That's why it's so important to start the prenatal vitamins RIGHT AWAY because you don't want any interference with this development. Your baby is about the size of a seed in there and it needs all the support it can get from you! Right now, the placenta and umbilical cord are already present and developing into that place where the baby will gain nutrients, oxygen, and life!
Once you know you're pregnant or think you probably are pregnant, it's time to find out whether your prescriptions and over the counter medications are safe. Generally, just don't take anything that you don't HAVE to take, and for the things you have to take, as your care provider for advice. You need to look for a prenatal vitamin that has at least 600mcg of folic acid. If you have a care provider get in touch right away. If you don't, like I didn't, just do the things you know you're supposed to do until you can see someone! Start thinking about what you want in a health care provider for this time in your life. There are benefits to all the different options, and you just have to decide what is important to you and what is best for you.

Oh, and if you are trying to get pregnant, or at least aware that there's a good possibility, you should be abstaining from alcohol, smoking, and drug use (legal and illegal). You should be anyways, well to the degree that it's unhealthy at least, but now's the time when it's way more important to consider the needs of the life you may be creating are ARE creating than your own selfish desires. But, that's my perspective so clearly you can do whatever you want. But all these things can affect your health, your baby's health and development, and the whole rest of the pregnancy.

HAVE FUN! You're ready to start an exciting journey!