Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Check-in (34w1d)

Hi, everyone! Another quick check-in between seeing our houseguests (my parents) off this morning and heading out to see DH's parents this weekend.

I am doing really well - still off of Zofran, and on just 1/2 tab of Unisom per day. Nausea is ever-present but is rarely problematic.

I made it through Christmas, hurray! And.... drum roll please.... our tree is down and put away! Any local friends are now faint from shock, as our tree usually stays up till sometime between St. Patrick's Day and April Fool's. But my ruthless decluttering habits have taken over holiday trappings as well as everyday things, and I have been champing at the bit to get decorations put away so that I can move on.

Speaking of decluttering.... wow! I have been impressing even myself! It's really quite laughable. I am pretty much trying to throw out anything that isn't tied down. And frankly, a lot of what is being kept is being kept only because there are various parties to answer to (i.e. the family that gave us the gifts) rather than any real need/want. But I've been doing really well anyhow - biweekly trips to Goodwill and continual give-aways on Freecycle, and I think it's making a bit of difference, though I'd still like to get rid of an easy 50% of the stuff we have left.

Decluttering has always been my instinctual method of stress-relief, and nesting has just thrown it into ultra-high gear, with an added dash of utter ruthlessness. I love it! It's given me the ability to get rid of a bunch of stuff that I've never wanted to keep but have been guilted into. Hopefully this can continue! I am really a minimalist at heart, and having stuff bothers me. My parents are continually urging me to just store stuff in the attic, but they just don't get it - having too much stuff bothers me horribly. I don't feel peaceful until it is gone and OUT of the house for good. My dream is to live in a one-room cabin in the mountain with just the basic necessities (bed, table, chair, etc.).

Have I wandered far enough for you? It's hard to write coherently with Thomas the Tank Engine in the background. In reading back over what I just wrote, I found at least five major spelling errors, so don't expect linguistic perfection today.

But Christmas was nice! We had a fun time, though I did get stressed the last couple of days. I usually am a Christmas minimalist as well, but I think I just left too many things till the last minute. Next year, must do better.

My favorite part of Christmas was having church on Christmas. Our church has church on Sunday Christmases, and I love it! Christmas church is just extra-special. I really wish that our church could do the old-fashioned practice of having church on Christmas regardless of the day it falls!!!

An update on my efforts to NWP (nurse while pregnant!) - We continue to plow ahead, but it is hard going. We are only a hair's breadth away from weaning, though I am fighting valiantly to keep on. Only six more weeks, only six more weeks! I'm hoping I can hang on. If I make it, this will go on my life list of great accomplishments. Why? Because it HURTS. Horribly! Sometimes worse than others - anywhere from "Ouch!!" to "YEOUUCCCHHHH!!!!" In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I actually - no joke! - took a wooden spoon into the bedroom so that I could bite on the handle (a la "Ben Hur") while nursing. (It was better than my fingers.) Conclusion? Wooden spoon handles are way too big - they need to come out with a thinner edition. But it helps. Local friends, you will now know why my wooden spoons are covered in bite marks when you come over and are puzzling over that fact.

For anyone who is clicking "Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe!".... yes, I think I am crazy. This is not an experience I want to repeat.

We have now passed over the 34 week mark - nerve-wracking! Very nerve-wracking. I know most people are anxious for their babies arrive, but I've never been anxious for a pregnancy to end (though I am looking forward to meeting baby). Why? Well, (1) labor hurts, and I'm a wimp, (2) babies are a lot easier to take care of in-utero than in-arms, and (3) having a new baby turns one's life - and sanity along with it - completely upside down for at least six months. Not fun! But it will be fun to meet our newest family member - and to have the nausea leave!!

Having a third baby is going to move me completely out of my comfort zone. As a matter of fact, baby #2 did that, but #3 will do it even more thoroughly. It's not even something in my recent family history! On my side of the family, we have only only-children and two-children families for at least three generations back, and DH himself has only one sister. Both my mother and my MIL had only one pregnancy (one singleton and one twin), so neither of them has dealt with children of different ages, and neither of them has dealt with three children. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime!

Well, I could meander longer, but I have bored my poor readers long enough! I'll check in after New Year's, when we're back and unpacked. I hope that you all have had a lovely Christmas - enjoy the one remaining holiday this weekend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still Alive! (33w1d)

Hi, everyone! Sorry it's been so long! And actually, it might have been even longer, but my family is coming in town today and I'll be MIA for another week, so I thought I would check in.

However, I am ridiculously short on time, so here are just a few quick tidbits of life from the valley of the Sun:

- I have been off of Zofran for about.... three weeks. It feels so nice! I am still taking 1/2 of a Unisom (or 1 Diclectin) per day. I went off of it one day this week, but it didn't last. I'll try again soon! I am feeling fairly well most of the time (except for when I feel rotten). The nausea is always here, but it's not usually too much of a problem. Night before last I actually had to get up in the middle of the night to take some Unisom because the nausea wouldn't let me sleep, but that's unusual.

- Other pregnancy symptoms - breathlessness, exhaustion, muscle fatigue, pelvic pain, difficulty walking, the usual. :)

- I forgot to say that I did my hospital tour a few weeks ago - had a great time! It was so much fun. Hopefully I'll never actually end up there, but it's a nice feeling to know that if we do need to go in, I like the place where we'd be going and feel at least mildly comfortable there. You can read my review of that here.

- Our actual Lepkuchen Day went really well, and we enjoyed it tremendously. Thanks to all who joined us! (And to those who would've but couldn't!) You can read about Lepkuchen Day here. This year our dates were screwy - it's supposed to be the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but our fearless Lepkuchen-Day-founders had to mess with the dates so that they could fly back east for their daughter's new baby (birth story here! as well as more about Lepkuchen Day). 

- Remember the cat that was lost-and-then-found? Well, she got out and was gone for several weeks.... and then we found her again. And then last night, she slipped out again and is currently - again - missing. What a cat. Definitely not one to trust!

- For those of you who are curious about what goes on at a homebirth, and specifically, the supplies used at a homebirth, I wrote up the details in a post on my other blog - enjoy!

- Other pregnancy details: I am currently taking a calcium/magnesium supplement, Floradix (iron), alfalfa tablets (for vitamin K, as we plan to nix the vitamin K shot/drops), and all the usual other stuff (fish oil, multi, zinc, B complex, etc.). As my blood pressure was a wee bit high at our next-to-last visit, I am also working on that (fluids, protein, salt, exercise... and lots and lots of cucumbers!!). Thankfully at our visit last night, my BP was again behaving itself - hurray!

- Childbirth prep - I got out my Hypnobabies CDs!! And listened to a track.... once. Yup, it's bad. Or rather, I'm bad. I simply cannot summon the energy at the end of an exhausting day to stick on half an hour of CD listening. I ought to improve myself, really, but..... sleep calls. Maybe some other year.

- I am really enjoying getting to know our midwife - she is a really neat woman. Last night I had the privilege of chatting with her for an hour (I love midwife visits!!), and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I have also been attending her biweekly meetings for pregnant mamas, and those are great as well (and open to the public for anyone who's interested!).

- We are also enjoying the Christmas season! I am a minimalist about Christmas (as in most things), so I don't do half of the things that most people do, but I really prefer it that way and have a great time enjoying this month. We've been going out to look at lights and playing lots of Christmas music, and this week I'm going to do some minor baking (sugar cookies) and wrap a few minor presents - and that'll be about it! We don't exchange presents with half of our family (haven't convinced the other side to hop on that wagon), and we also don't give our own kids presents - sounds Grinchy, but being the only grandchildren on both sides of the family, they are so thoroughly spoiled that we soon found it to be pointless. (In fact, all of my decluttering efforts will probably be eaten up by an influx of Christmas presents....) We'll also attend church on Saturday and Sunday, which will be great - one of my favorite parts of Christmas! I hope that each of you out there is enjoying the holidays and having an enjoyable Christmas week.

- Lastly, I would ask for your prayers for a local HG mama here who is beginning her seventh - yes, seventh! - journey into the world of NVP/HG. She was holding her own until this week but is now beginning to experience the HG slide (we all know about that one) so she could really use your prayers.

I will try to check in more often as the last weeks of this pregnancy count down! Love to all! And a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vacation in Flagstaff

And so, our vacation to Flagstaff! Here it is, in all its glory.

This is truly the vacation that almost didn't happen. Originally it was supposed to be in July, which was when I was good and sick, and it was rescheduled for September (still too sick).... then October (I got sick again, this time with a cold) and finally November. This truly was an event that required some muscle to have happen.

Despite living in the valley for over eight years, I have never been to Flagstaff (heresy!). So it was fun finally to see the town that everyone around here uses as a vacation spot, and in which half of our church's kids attend college.

This was a very short vacation, based on (1) cost, (2) time, and (3), the fact that we were using half of the time not for vacation, but for a trip back to Sedona for Thanksgiving with family. So our vacation was just three days - most of which was spent either holing up in our hotel room watching the food channel, because it was so cold, or trying to get kids ready to go out. Moms of many, you amaze me! Some days we weren't even leaving our room till 11 a.m., after dealing with all the getting up routines. Those of you who are up and out the door by seven really astound me.

Here are some of the things we did!

Snow and visiting the lumberjack at NAU:



Driving by a beautiful Catholic church in downtown Flagstaff. The monument outside (see below) reads, "Joseph's Carpenter Shop: In Memory to All Children Who Have Died Unborn, Known Only to God." How precious! I'm not sure if that is referring to all miscarriages and abortions, or to early miscarriages only, but it was still wonderful. I loved it.




Our hotel room:



Driving out of town to see Lake Mary. Never found Lake Mary (the GPS led us to some obscure ranger station that had nothing to do with a lake), but found the next best thing - more snow! DS played while the Chublet spent time being cute:




Our traditional trip stop at Dairy Queen, where DS talked non-stop to the girls at the front counter (mostly telling them about the Apollo 11 launch) and DH and I enjoyed pumpkin pie blizzards (they seriously need to up the pumpkin and spices in their recipe):



Inventing new uses for hotel ironing boards - improvisatory bed rails!


A quick stop at the Flagstaff mall:



We also stopped at the Little America hotel - it has lots of childhood memories for DH, and it's also where our church held its women's retreat a few weeks ago. I didn't make it to the retreat, but at least I drove by the hotel where it was held! That's got to count for something, right???

Then, in Sedona.....

Fun at our favorite place, Tlaquepaque:






At the labyrinth, which DS chose to do by running madly up and down the path:

(Note: On this trip, I had only two things to wear that were warm enough - a pair of maternity jeans which were, alas, too big - and thus were determined to obey the call of gravity rather than my attempts to make them obey societal rules of modesty, and a pair of overalls which I have dubbed the ugliest maternity pants in the universe. Below you will see the second of those modeled, as I work on my beached whale impression (these are so going to Goodwill!):


By Oak Creek:


Feeding the ducks at our favorite resort:



Other things we did:

- The Lowell Observatory  - big hit, too bad we got there when it was closing - next time!

- Babies to Kids toy store - big hit!

- Local park to play

- Beaver Street Brewery for lunch - delicious gluten-free pizza!!

- Downtown Flagstaff

For Thanksgiving with the family, I tried my hand at a few gluten-free items - pumpkin pie (big success!), sweet potato casserole (also a success), and stuffing (err.... ask me next year after I've had a chance to try again).

So, all in all, a good trip. Not as fun as last year, and it didn't help that I was feeling tired, nauseated, out of sorts, and battling an overwhelming desire to go home and scrub the baseboards with bleach (nesting urge continues unabated). But we got through it and had fun. Hopefully next year's trip will be a little less hectic!

This morning blog post was brought to you courtesy of a small boy - who shall remain unnamed - who slept in until ten o'clock. By which means I know that we have serious work to do on our bedtimes around here!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laborious Thoughts, or What Have I Gotten Myself Into Now?

The clock is ticking! The countdown is on.... we are roughly two months out from baby's arrival, give or take a few weeks. And as that unknown date approaches, I find myself - once again! - intimidated by the thought of going through childbirth again.

Really, I thought I'd gotten past all of that. After all, I've had two unmedicated homebirths. While they were tough and extremely challenging, they were also empowering, transformational, and life-changing. I'm very happy with them.

But.... they were also hard. And the thought of doing it again is quite intimidating.

Of course, it doesn't help that - aside from the usual Bradley exercises - I haven't really done any preparation for this birth. We briefly considered taking childbirth classes, but the astronomical cost (class + babysitting = big bucks) was a bit off-putting. And my free time seems to have dwindled to near-zero, so the thought of listening to a 30-40 minute Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies tape every night - when I am dead tired and just wanting SLEEP - is less than motivating.

So there it is! I find myself fearing this upcoming birth. Which I shouldn't, of course. My body was made to do this, I can trust God to get me through it, and I have an amazing birth team to support me - DH, one of our doulas from last time, and a great valley midwife.

And I know I'll get through it. It's just the challenge of doing so!

One thing that I know will help is the fact that we have a great doula. The difference between my first and second births, doula-wise, was amazing. With our first birth, we had a lovely woman as doula, but she was just too hands-off for what I needed. I'm the wimpy kind who needs coaching and hand-holding through each and every contraction (though I didn't know that at the time). With my second birth, my two doulas were absolutely awesome (they're the hand-holding type!), and it was so much better. I had no idea what a difference a doula could make!! Absolutely phenomenal.

And of course, it always helps to have done it before. At least there's no fear of the unknown.

So... Does anyone out there have any suggestions for labor prep? Advice, suggestions, stern lectures, etc.? If so, bring it on!

In the meantime, I'll just get back to my chanting - "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!" (Or maybe not, since I can't stand that children's book. Must find new mantra.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving, The Realistic Version

*FOODMENT* If you are actively dealing with NVP, just skip this entry entirely!

This past week, while we were vacationing in Flagstaff (and when it was mostly too cold to be outside), we got the chance to watch one of our favorite TV chefs whip up a Thanksgiving meal. With proper advance preparation, he promised that his plan would result in only four hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving to produce the feast.

With all respect (and really, I love this guy), that "quick and easy" meal would have had me in the kitchen at least twice that time, and most of it in either near-tears or extreme irritability.

And really - four hours? While trying to entertain family and guests, watch two children (one of whom will doubtless be in a state of uber-hyperactivity) and gestate another, and deal with fatigue from having been up several times the previous night due to one cause or another??

Definitely asking for a meltdown. And lost tempers. And at least one fight with the hubs, which always makes an event so happy and meaningful.

And so, without further ado, I present my set of tips for a quick-and-easy non-meltdown-producing Thanksgiving, fitted especially for the family with young children.

Tip #1:

Make it a potluck. One person cooking for the whole gathering is an enormous burden. Spread the love. And hopefully get some other poor sucker to make the turkey and dressing. (I'm on my ninth married Thanksgiving and have yet to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.)

Tip #2:

Use disposable serving/baking dishes.

This one will have people up in arms, due to either the environment or degradation of cultural ideals. But there are several times in life when disposable is just plain good. (Other times are while moving, while dealing with NVP, or in the immediate postpartum.)

If you want to take the heresy to the next level, use disposable plates and cutlery. I won't say whether or not I've done this, but if I had done this, it might have been absolutely wonderful.

Don't get me wrong - I love proper serving dishes. But there are some times in life when ideals go out the window. I'm discovering that living with small children is one of those times. 

Tip #3:

The biggest one of all:

Don't cook.

On Thanksgiving, at least! Advance cooking rules. This really saves my sanity, especially as there is no better way to provoke bad behavior in hyper five-year-olds than to spend four hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning rushing about and saying "Don't bother mommy right now! I need to cook!"

All mothers in the audience are already wincing and nodding in agreement. 

Here are a few links. Make in advance, then freeze!:

For dessert:

Libby's Pumpkin Pie - The recipe says not to freeze; I have no idea why, because it worked just fine - just thaw for 8 hours in the fridge.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Other:

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes - Make up to three days in advance and refrigerate, or freeze.

Cranberry Sauce - Make several days in advance. Just a note, I have never had any luck with this recipe as written - it comes out very runny. If you like a good stiff cranberry sauce, add the berries at the beginning (instead of after boiling the syrup) and boil considerably longer than the recipe calls for.

Sweet Potato Casserole - Freeze, thaw overnight in fridge, then cook covered to heat (will take longer than called for) and uncovered to brown.  

There are tons of other make-ahead recipes; just Google it! You get the picture. When my sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving, she even made the turkey and dressing the day before - and it was great.

Tip #4:

Just a side note: When life gets really stressful, don't feel badly about cheating (storebought) or bowing out. When I had my round of true hyperemesis, we ended up bowing completely out of both Thanksgiving and Christmas because I couldn't even handle food (let alone eat it). That's okay. Last year when some friends of ours were recovering from the swine flu over Thanksgiving, they bought their dinner from the grocery store. That's okay. And when there are pregnancies, illnesses, new babies, and young children in the house, sometimes the easiest way out is the best. Period! Don't feel badly when shortcuts are necessary.

Several years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving for DH's side of the family. We split the cooking among three families, so each family only had to make a few things. We all used disposable baking/serving dishes. I made all of my dishes in advance. I won't say whether or not we used disposable plates/cups/cutlery.

It was the nicest Thanksgiving I've ever had, and the one in which there was the least irritability ("Ack! I've got three pots boiling over on the stove! Don't bother me!!!"), the least despair ("We've eaten and now we have a good solid two hours of dishes to do. Kill me now.") and the most family time spent together celebrating the holiday. It was wonderful.

Enough heresy for the day. I'll check in soon - maybe even report in on our vacation, which actually did finally happen!! Love to all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick Update (28w4d)

Hello, everyone! Goodness, it's been a long time - an entire month! My apologies!! And, having been so long, it's doubtless that I shall forget most things of import. But an update nevertheless.

NVP-wise, doing okay. Some days are better than others, but I'm mostly off of Zofran. For the most part, except for particularly bad days, I just feel mildly nauseated about half the time. Not too bad.

This month has been incredibly busy, but for the life of me I can't remember what on earth we have been doing. Let's see if I can pull out a few snippets:

- We went on our first field trip with our homeschooling support group, to Schnepf Farms. Despite having heard about this place for years, this was our first time out there. DS's favorite part? The playground, of course. Forget the animals, vegetables, etc. - let's go for the swing set! And then, of course, after spending the entire morning saying "When can we leave?", our actual departure was met with "But I don't waannnnaaaa go!!!" What else?

- Our little Chublet is doing amazingly well! We have not picked up with a new Physical Therapist after our last one left her post, but he is still moving slowly ahead meeting milestones - confirming my thoughts that PT wasn't really doing him much good. And life is much nicer with fewer therapists! So we're just sticking with our other two therapists and throwing PT to the wind for a while.

The Chublet has progressed into his first-ever solid foods - he is now eating small slices of ripe banana, cooked sweet potato, and macaroni - hurray!

In physical milestones, he is doing a lot of knees/elbows (new!), bouncing in his door bouncer (also new!), swinging in the baby swing at the playground (also new, his new favorite activity), and lots of other stuff. His main loves still include mealtime (he can out-eat any of us), bath time, and sitting on my lap while I play the piano. If one walks by the piano while holding him and pauses for just a moment, he will have a tantrum while being taken away, because he zeroes in on that piano like a laser beam - it's hilarious.

- In homeschooling, we have just completed our seventh week of curriculum. Hurray! It has definitely been filled with challenges, and I know that I am going to face major hurdles with our son when I actually add in hard-core academics (math, handwriting, etc.) because he does not have one academic bone in his body. Natural curiosity, ingenuity, and mechanical brilliance - yes. Academics - not a bit. Oh well, that challenge is for next year!

- Our visits with our midwife continue to go well. She is a ton of fun, and I love talking with her. She has an absolutely brilliant mind, and probably one of the best minds for facts/figures-retention that I've ever met. If you ever want some birth stats reeled off to you (say, the cesarean rates by state for the past twenty years), just ask and she'll tell you! She's amazing. Baby is continuing to do well, and we're continuing to plan for a guess-arrival-date of early February.

Though it's getting a little late to be thinking about this, I've been thinking lately that I really do need to do some sort of childbirth prep. Lately I've had some good and painful Braxton-Hicks contractions, the kind that approach easy first-stage labor (no, I'm not going into preterm; this happens every time), and I get panicky with them - "No, I can't do this! Must have pain meds!" Apparently I haven't learned much from my first labors. Suggestions, anyone? 

In my personal life, I can tell that I am stressed the fact that I am constantly prowling the house looking for things to scrub or throw out. That seems to be my chosen method of stress-relief! (I talked to a girl last week who said that when she gets stressed, she finds herself hoarding things - I am glad I got the opposite tendency!) Decluttering the house is going well, and I'm slowly moving through my before-baby list of things to do.

If we can all avoid getting sick in the next 24 hours, we will be leaving to go on vacation - hurray! It'll be super-short (less than 3 days), but at least it's finally happening after the hundred-and-one delays. I'll post pics when we get back!

I know I've forgotten a lot, but that's all for now!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Endless Impossibilities

Hi, everyone! I really do need to do an official check-in - look for that over the next three days and bug me if I forget, eh?

In the meantime, I am doing well. That resurgence of NVP lasted in earnest only for one week, and then receded again - thank goodness! Now I just spend about half the time mildly nauseated, sometimes a bit worse, but that's about it - nothing to complain about. And I'm once again almost off of Zofran - not quite, but almost.

Anyhow, the other day I finally got all of my thoughts down on paper as far as "things I want to get done before the baby arrives." I think it's doable!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

No, in reality, I might get a third of it done pre-baby. Might. As in "probably not, but whatever." But I thought I'd share it with you all!

In the meantime, despite my ardent desire to skip to the holidays and put in the time scrubbing the house down with bleach, I am working through Thanksgiving cooking and getting ready for our trip next week (provided no one gets sick AGAIN).

Here's my list!

("SAT." refers to a project with which I need hubbie's help, and so is a "Saturday" project.)

To-Do List Before Baby

Done:
- Clean out and file 2010 papers
- Get back into life – routine, child-training, schedules, AWANA/preschool, cleaning, cooking, MOMS Club and outings, etc.
- Start homeschooling, buy curriculum
- Make appointment with Dr. P
- Make haircut appointment

Ongoing:
- Clean, organize, and declutter house

November:
- SAT. - Get started on stocking cars with emergency supplies, per the inventory list we have developed
- SAT. - Vacuum & wash under appliances
- SAT. - Clean high places in house – fans and ledges. Make note to seek out and murder whoever decided to put huge decorative (read: dust-collecting) ledges in each room in this house.
- Switch kids to winter clothes
- Clean & store fans
- Make my Christmas control journal!
- Write Christmas letter
- Address and mail Christmas letter
- Buy & wrap Christmas gifts
- Deal with Thanksgiving
- Go on vacation!
- Cook for Thanksgiving – cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie
- Re-do BOB (bug out bag) emergency kit



December:
- SAT. - Clean out garage
- Get G. sleeping through the night
- Move G. out of cradle into crib in his brother’s room
- Move G’s things to his new room
- Have DH fix our doula's computer for partial doula bartering
- Return computer to our doula, do any additional work
- Pay our doula by 36 weeks
- Pay our midwife at 34 week visit
- Buy or exchange car!
- Get carpets cleaned (need to find a good Groupon!)
- Go to Goodwill to get birth supplies (towels, plastic bowls)
- Finish making up birth supplies
- Replace pillows, buy covers for them
- Wash bedspreads & mattress covers
- Plan my lying-in: (1) Make list of places for DH and kids to go, and things to do
- Arrange for postpartum housekeeping (weekly for 4 weeks?)
- Arrange for regular housekeeping help for after that (bimonthly? Quarterly?)
- Deal with Christmas – cooking, gifts, stockings, houseguests, decorations
- Christmas cookies – baking day and giving out
- Prep meals in advance
- Pack hospital bag, add separate bag for C. and G. (clothes, toys, basic toiletries)
- Stock diaper bag and stroller
- Buy postpartum snacks (need ideas!)

January:
- Get or make mix for baby’s birthday cake!
- Make frosting for cake
- Buy non-perishable food/drink for birth team (granola bars, juice, etc.)
- Buy ingredients for placenta smoothies (yogurt, OJ, frozen berries)
- Print birth signs, put with birth supplies
- Order birth kit @ 34-35 weeks
- Stock up on paper plates, bowls, knives/forks/spoons

Right before baby (late January):
- Have smoothie ingredients
- Have cake mix ready

To-Do List When Labor Starts
- Notify midwife & doula
- Go to Sam’s Club: Sandwiches/lunchmeat tray, Fruit, Juice, Granola Bars, Frozen mixed berries, Orange Juice
- Double-make bed
- Set out birth supplies
- Scrub out tub
- Put up birth signs
- Straighten up, check laundry, etc.
- Make a cake!

****

I'll check in later in the week, everyone! Love to all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Which an Unwanted Guest Returns (25w5d)

I'll check in for real (as in, a life update) sometime soon, but in the meantime....

Remember that whole "I'm off Zofran!" thing? Well, it was extremely short-lasting - 24 hours, to be precise. I've been back on the stuff ever since, and have actually had to increase the dosage - back to 8 mg Zofran and two Diclectin per day. And unfortunately, I've gone from "I'm feeling okay most of the time!" to "I'm feeling blech!" for about half of the day.

Not that that's anything to complain about. Because it's not! I have much to be grateful for. After all, HG has been avoided this pregnancy, and I'm pretty much completely functional - I'm eating, cooking, teaching, going places, doing a wee bit of housework - nothing to complain about.

So I'll keep my whining to a strict minimum, I promise!

But it is odd. I have never experienced the third-trimester NVP-return before, so it is odd that it seems to be occurring during my by-FAR easiest pregnancy ever. I don't really know what to expect (is it going to get worse? will it last till the end?) or what to do about it (besides the meds). Hopefully it will go away, because I was starting to finally enjoy this pregnancy!!

More later, right now it is NAP TIME, hurray!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birth Plan Rough Drafts: Home and Hospital and Transport, Oh My!

I've been working on these for ages - here they are, for your consideration and amusement!! Rough drafts only, hopefully to be finished up in the next 10 weeks or so so that they can be printed and ready to go.

A few notes (and I'll add more notes throughout the document):

- I have tried to utilize Rixa's "Just Do It!" principle, which I absolutely love. A quote from that:
"What if we simply stopped asking permission? What if we simply did what we wanted to? What if the mantra of laboring women became "don't ask, just do"?

"Don't ask if you can eat or drink. Just do it. Don't ask if you can get out of bed or walk around or go to the bathroom. Don't ask if you can change positions or give birth kneeling or squatting. Just do it.

"Do it with confidence. Do it with an "I know what I'm doing, and please don't mess with me!" attitude.

"Just do it."
 With that in mind, I have tried to eliminate everything from my birth plans that does not need the cooperation of hospital staff (this isn't an issue with homebirth). For example, I haven't written "I'll be eating and drinking" or "I'll be laboring in different positions" - in those cases, I would just do it. Good thing to remember! (Also cuts down on verbage.)

You will notice that I have a hospital birth plan in here as well as a transport plan - this is just for my own amusement (I love writing birth plans!), as we are not planning a hospital birth. A hospital birth plan is considerably different from a transport plan - for example, a hospital birth plan might say "no pain meds, no IV, etc. etc. etc.," but in case of a transport, we probably need whatever is being offered!

You will also notice that the homebirth plan is considerably different from a hospital or transport plan, and this is because (thank goodness!) I don't have to fight my homebirth midwives on the subject of unwanted interventions like restricted mobility, restricted food/liquid intake, routine IV insertion, continuous fetal monitoring, etc. etc. etc. Good stuff.

I have also tried not to mention anything that isn't vitally important to me. For example, you will see repeated mentions of delayed cord clamping - because that is extremely, extremely important to me. An absolute must. But birthing positions, on the other hand, are not important to me - and thus I have not mentioned them. It's not that I don't know that certain positions are better than others, but for me, by the time I get to pushing, I don't care what position I'm in simply because I loathe pushing so much (please remember that most women love the pushing phase!). So for me, I don't care if I'm squatting, lying down, whatever - so I didn't write about that.

I have also tried to (1) keep each plan brief (each is under one typed page), and (2) keep each plan friendly rather than combative/confrontational - both good things to do when interfacing with hospital staff.

I'd love some input here! Have I missed anything? Comments welcome!!

******





Homebirth Birth Plan

- Please take lots and lots of pictures and videos! Of anything and everything, both graphic and modest.

- I prefer to avoid cervical checks. In case it’s really necessary, please do not tell me my dilation unless it’s really necessary or it’s super-encouraging (i.e. complete!).
 - I really don't know how women can stand knowing their dilation - to me, anything other than "ten!" is incredibly discouraging. I learned that with my first birth, and now it's a must.
- I need lots of verbal support, coaching, and encouragement – please! And don’t be surprised that I’m really wimpy and extremely loud.

- For afterpains: Placenta smoothie as soon as the placenta is available – yogurt and OJ in fridge, mixed berries and bananas in freezer, blender on counter. Thank you!!! Also, I’d like to take four Advil and some Arnica as soon as baby is out.
- With both my babes, extreme afterpains have prevented both immediate bonding and immediate breastfeeding. After I learned how much placenta medicine helped, I determined to make that an immediate priority. I'd like someday to be able to enjoy the immediate postpartum!

- Birth team – Snacks in fridge! Remember not to park on the street if it is Wednesday or Friday (use driveway or center section).

- J. would love to catch and also cut the cord (delayed!).

- C. (our son) may or may not want to be present for the birth (undecided).

- In case of hospital transport:
          o Someone grab the hospital bag, camera, and video camera
          o Nab the placenta pronto! Don’t let it get away! Very important!
          o Please do everything possible to advocate for delayed cord clamping, regardless of how the birth ends up (even with c/s).
          o I would love still to practice placenta medicine as soon as is humanly possible.

******



Hospital Transport Birth Preferences

- Parents: Diana J. & Joe J.

- To our hospital caregivers: Thank you for taking care of us!

- Our midwife is Stephanie ------ of --------- Birth Services (XXX-XXX-XXXX). Our doula is ------- (XXX-XXX-XXXX). We ask that one or both of them be able to stay with us at all times.

- I love verbal encouragement, the more the better.

- I tend to be rather loud during labor. Please just ignore me, I’ll be fine.

- I prefer to avoid cervical checks. In case it’s really necessary, please do not tell me my dilation unless it’s really necessary or it’s super-encouraging (i.e. complete!)

- Please do not clamp/cut the umbilical cord until it is completely finished pulsing, preferably until the placenta is out. We would love it if any neonatal resuscitation could be done near Diana so that the cord can remain intact. In case of cesarean, please still leave the cord to pulse as long as is possible. Joe would love to cut the cord.

- I would like an unmanaged 3rd stage and to deliver the placenta without assistance. Please, no Pitocin outside of emergency circumstances.
 - A lot of hospitals practice routine pitocin administration during 3rd stage, even during uncomplicated births. I would like to avoid that.

- We will take our placenta home with us.

- In case of cesarean birth: We would love still to have delayed cord clamping (as much as possible) during a cesarean birth.

- For Baby: Please, no Hep B shot, eye ointment, newborn screen (we will do this in a few days), or vitamin K (except in case of a physically traumatic birth). We will be breastfeeding. We would love uninterrupted mother-baby time immediately following the birth, baby’s health allowing. Please make sure in case of mother-baby separation that Joe stays with the baby.

- Thank you for your kindness, support, and care!

********


Hospital Birth Preferences

- Parents: Diana J. & Joe J.

- To our hospital caregivers: Thank you for taking care of us!

- No IV or heplock.
- This is an absolute must, no discussion allowed. And if someone did stick me with an IV, I would immediately rip it out. It is that important. Period.

- I love verbal encouragement, the more the better.

- Please don’t offer me drugs. I would love a third unmedicated birth, but I am a wimp around pain and don’t need the temptation.

- I tend to be rather loud during labor. Please just ignore me, I’ll be fine.

- I choose to decline routine cervical checks. If a check is medically necessary, please do not tell me my dilation unless it’s really necessary or it’s super-encouraging (i.e. complete!).

- Please do not clamp/cut the umbilical cord until it is completely finished pulsing, preferably until the placenta is out. We would love it if any neonatal resuscitation could be done near Diana so that the cord can remain intact. In case of cesarean, please still leave the cord to pulse as long as is possible. Joe would like to cut the cord.

- I would like an unmanaged 3rd stage and to deliver the placenta without assistance. Please, no Pitocin outside of emergency circumstances.

- We will take our placenta home with us.

- In case of cesarean birth: We would love still to have delayed cord clamping (as much as possible) during a cesarean birth.

- For Baby: Please, no Hep B shot, eye ointment, newborn screen (we will do this in a few days), or vitamin K (except in case of a physically traumatic birth). We will be breastfeeding. We would love uninterrupted mother-baby time immediately following the birth, baby’s health allowing. Please make sure in case of mother-baby separation that Joe stays with the baby.

- Thank you for your kindness, support, and care!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday (24w3d)

Hi, everyone! Sorry it has been so incredibly long since I checked in! Last week we had an impromptu visit from my parents, and life has just been incredibly busy around here with homeschooling and trying to reconstruct my life post-NVP (the usual!).

Speaking of NVP, today is (can you guess????)...... drum roll, please..... my first day without Zofran!!!! Yes!!! Really!!! (*Insert wild party dance here*) My nausea levels have been dropping even more drastically these past few weeks, allowing me to drop a medication dose every couple of days. So far today I have had only one Diclectin (Unisom), and if all goes well I'll be cutting that out soon too. Can you believe it?? Last time I was on Zofran till the early-thirty-something weeks; this time it has been so much sooner. I am so grateful!

Homeschooling is going pretty well.... considering the moderate dose of schooling that we're starting with, there aren't any huge difficulties to overcome (we're done each day in under an hour) - the true challenges will probably start next year - or rather, when our new babe arrives and I'm trying to homeschool a kindergartener with two babies underfoot. I think life is going to get pretty hairy after this new little one arrives!

Speaking of arrivals, the birth of this babe is looking a lot closer from this side of twenty weeks! Yikes!! Not only is the thought of birth intimidating (it always is!), but I have so much to do before then! Getting through the holidays, organizing my birth supplies, decluttering the house... more than I can ever possibly accomplish. But I'll do my best.

Speaking of decluttering, I have arisen out of the mists of NVP to find - as usual - that our house was trashed in the process. It gets worse with each child, I'm afraid! But unfortunately, my decluttering time also decreases with each child. So right now I'm using a method that works well for me - printing off a blank calendar and just trying to write in one small decluttering project that I've done each day, regardless of how small (usually it's just cleaning out one drawer, or some such thing). I'm also using the "Throw Out 100 Things" challenge - writing down things as I toss them in order to find further motivation.

Other family news:

Last week we had our first majorly-bleeding-child episode as parents. No one saw what happened, but it was something along the lines of run-slip-fall-crack in the kitchen, with the end result that our eldest ended up with a nice gash on his head that bled copiously - everywhere! When the blood was cleared up and staunched, it turned out to be only about an inch long, but my goodness - how it bled! Add into that mix a thoroughly hysterical child, and you'll get an idea of the fun we had. Thankfully my dad was around - he has absolutely no nerves (the end result of having grown up as a mortician's son and being trained in the business) and was able to take command of the situation beautifully. We didn't end up having to go into the hospital, and all is well.

Also last week, in the next episode of "the lost and found cat" - said cat is now, once again, lost. She managed to slip out of a cracked door, and despite an hour long hunt by DH, has once again vanished into the mist. We have no idea when or if we'll see her again.

I have mixed feelings on the subject. On the one hand, she is a great cat and I don't want her going hungry out there. On the other hand, I definitely was not thrilled to have another cat, especially as it is so difficult navigating between warring cats (our other cat is a bully) - should she come back, I will be actively searching for a new home for her. For now, we wait.

Big news of today - I finally got our little dude to voluntarily take some solid food, and without (too much) gagging!! It was thinly sliced quartered banana, and I got him to take it with each meal - by dinner time, he was eager for it! This is major, major, major improvement and progress, and super-exciting. I'm thinking of other things I can try - pear? watermelon? Anything to finally move forward!

We saw our midwife two weeks ago, and all is well with baby - perfect measurements, all looking well. I really enjoy talking with her and getting to know her better, and we're having a lot of fun.

Well, I'd probably be getting on with chores for the evening! I hope everyone is well, and I'll try to check in again soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

HG Article

Knocked Up, Knocked Over posted a link to this article a few weeks ago, and I wanted to cross-post to make sure you all had the opportunity to see it. Enjoy! (Hat tip to Molly for posting, and to Ellen for reminding me of it! Thanks, ladies!)

Checking In (21w6d)

It seems to be the unfortunate truth that the crummy part of pregnancy passes more slowly than a small eternity, while the better part is over in a flash - I cannot believe how quickly time is passing!!

Feeling good, just nauseated most of the time - nothing to complain about. Life is good.

As of today.... we are an official homeschooling family! Hurray!!

I know I started "homeschooling" a month ago with homemade curricula, but let me say, friends.... never again. I am not a homemade-curriculum kind o' gal. It was time-consuming, confusing, and didn't go down very well with our son. You ladies out there who delight in researching and constructing your homeschool materials from scratch - I really take my hat off to you! You are amazing! It's just something that's not for me.

How did today go?

Not too badly, considering. The reading lesson went fairly smoothly, except for the last task which involved.... horror of horrors..... writing. That is, our son's most hated and loathed activity, to be avoided at all costs (which he systematically has done for his entire childhood). I thought "100 Easy Lessons" was non-writing, but there is a wee bit of writing in it. Oh well, we'll see.

The Sonlight curriculum went really quickly - much more so than I expected! Their real books selection is truly excellent and includes a wide variety of the best literature.

Two quick criticisms:

One, there is a lot of page-flipping in the lesson plan notebook - a bit cumbersome.

Two, we had major trauma when we reached the end of the first chapter of "The Boxcar Children" and then told our son "No more till tomorrow!" I guess it's a good thing that he was upset about that! At first I held to that, but later I threw caution to the wind and we read three more chapters. I figured that since I actually have the first 20 or so book in the series, we could just keep reading through the series when we run out of chapters in the first book.

I also skipped the discussion questions (the typical kind, "What kinds of food did the children have with them?" etc. etc. etc.) Right now, those are still in the "pulling teeth" category with our guy. May add them in at a later date, but for now he has made his comprehension completely clear by the fact that he is now basically living out the book series in his own fantasy world. Good stuff.

All in all, everything took only about 45 minutes. Perfect for now!

In other news...

We are now almost through our third week of being gluten-free (as a couple; we haven't tried to impose it on the kidlets). It has been fairly easy, especially after the uber-difficult VLC diet! Not bad at all.

Within days of starting, DH had started losing weight and noticed the disappearance of an arthritic complaint in his shoulder. And, most importantly - and amazingly! - by the end of the first five days, he was almost completely rid of the chronic stomach troubles which have plagued him for his entire adult life (far longer than the 10 years I've known him). WOW! We were completely amazed!!

But then I realized..... Oh, crumbs! We started out on this as a bit of a lark..... but having now noticed such amazing effects with DH, we are now going to have to stay GF (gluten-free) by necessity. Hobbies are a dangerous thing!!! Be forewarned!

So now we are starting off on the adventure of becoming a gluten-free family! Nothing strenuous, nothing at the celiac-level (i.e. cleansing one's entire house of every speck of gluten), but wheat is definitely out for DH, and I'm doing it too (though I'll probably cheat every now and then). It's fun, though! And I made some grain-free muffins on Sunday (almond flour!) that were honestly some of the best muffins I've ever eaten. So it's an adventure!

I am also thinking of taking the plunge and going dairy-free too.... not because I want to.... I have an even bigger love affair with dairy than I do with wheat.... but because the only time I saw my problem with fatigue vanish was when I was doing the Paleo diet (which is grain-free, sugar-free, and.... *sigh*.... dairy-free). Bummer! But worth an experiment. I'm so tired of dealing with fatigue!! So I'm going to give it a go as of Wednesday. I'll report back in.

DH is losing weight, but as for me - I am still gaining at an alarming pace! My body really seems to cling to every last calorie when I'm pregnant. Not thrilled about it, but it is sooooo much better than losing weight rapidly due to active HG! So I'm not complaining!

However, I'm tired of stressing about it, so I finally emailed our midwife and asked if I could stop keeping track of my weight. She said sure! Actually, I think her actual words were more along the lines of, "This is YOUR baby, YOUR body, and YOUR birth, so make your decisions and stop asking for permission to do things!" LOL We have the most awesome midwives around here! I love it.

We've rescheduled our vacation for November - I am already guessing that we'll get sick AGAIN just in time to have to cancel (as I said, we really have an uncanny ability to get sick just in time for holidays and planned events), but I'm going to do my best! AND by cutting one night off of our stay and going during the week, we are going to be able to shave $110 off of our hotel bill! Awesome!

Okay, I would write more, but I'm just feeling too nauseated at the moment! Love to all! Have a great week!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Amazing HG Story

This story comes from a client of my midwife, here in town, who had her babe two weeks ago. (She is a client of both my midwife and one of my doulas, also mentioned.) She has an amazing story, and I wanted to share it!

The more I delve into the HG world, the more I realize how blessed I was in regard to the "mildness" of my HG. When I came out of my HG pregnancy, I was under the impression that I had been to Hell and back and had personally grappled with Satan himself. That's what that pregnancy felt like. But when I read stories like this (and like the stories of lots of you mamas out there), I realize how easy I had it. You ladies out there are such amazing warriors for your little ones.

Here goes!

(I have put all names as initials to protect privacy.)

*****

For those who don't know, I had a very challenging pregnancy. I struggled with hypermesis gravidarum (HG) for nearly the entire time. HG is basically a severe form of morning sickness. It is kind of like having food poisoning that lasts for weeks on end, but it's not. It is so much worse.


Please know that I haven't covered everything that I experienced or felt during my pregnancy. Some things are just too painful to rehash. However, I am trying really hard to heal from all the damage HG caused. I'm hoping by letting some of this out, I can help myself let it all go. I don't want to hold on to these feelings anymore, especially now that A. is here. It is her time now, and I don't want anything to come between us anymore.


I do also share what I believe is the proudest moment of my life. I am so thankful that I was able to give A a beautiful, quiet, peaceful, and loving birth. With everything that she had to experience while growing in my belly, it just fills me with joy to know she had the most perfect arrival.


Lastly, I talk a little about what is going on postpartum. To tell you the truth, I never expected to be dealing with my HG issues AFTER birth. Yes, I am not nauseous. Yes, I can eat anything I want. Yes, I'm not puking. Don't get me wrong, all these things are wonderful, but I still haven't healed emotionally. I knew HG had taken its toll on me, but I guess I didn't realize just how hurt I am by it all. I honestly thought once Aria was here, it would all fade away like a bad nightmare. Unfortunately that just hasn't been the case.


My Pregnancy

At 5 weeks, I am exhausted. Not just sleepy tired, but down right run down. All I could do was sleep. At 6 weeks the nausea and vomiting have started. By 9 weeks I can barely keep any food or drink down. At this point I see a doctor for a prescription of Zolfran to help calm my issues. The meds don’t seem to be helping and I go a couple days without being able to keep food or drink down. Exhausted and dehydrated I go to the ER. Weeks 10 through 12 are a huge struggle. I’m vomiting about 15 to 20 times a day. Nothing is staying down, not even water. I get a different prescription for Phenergan. This medication completely knocks me out. It was so hard to believe that a medication which had that strong of an effect on my body could truly be safe for my baby, but my hands were tied. Not eating and drinking wouldn’t be safe for the baby either. Week 13 and home health care has finally been setup and approved. A nurse comes out and hooks me up to an IV and Zolfran pump. I have the IV on and off for the next five weeks. The Zolfran pump stays for the next three months. Weeks 14 through 25 are horrible. Even with the medication and IV I am puking everything that passes my lips. At one point the only way I could keep small amounts of water down was to blend ice and eat the snow. I was a freaking mess. By 26 weeks I manage to be off the pump. I am still puking at least 4 times a day, but when you drop down from 20, 4 seems like a piece of cake. At least at this point I can keep food and water down. I am still taking oral meds once in a while, however I am trying really hard not to. Weeks 27 through 37 are better. By no means was I back to normal. I would still have some good days, and then have some crappy days (crappy really isn’t a strong enough word…). But again I was actually able to keep food and drink down, even though I was still vomiting. Weeks 38 through 41 and I feel much better. I only vomit a couple times during these weeks, but the nausea is still there.

Needless to say, being pregnant has been one of the worst things to happen to me. Thank you HG. HG robbed me of a time in my life that was supposed to be exciting, beautiful, fun, joyful, etc. HG took away my ability to connect with our unborn baby. How could I love something that was causing me such pain and sickness? At times I was actually resentful towards our baby. I would sit and cry for hours thinking about how horrible of a mom I was that I couldn't nurture and love this baby yet.

HG isolated me. Not just physically from the world around me, but also emotionally. Physically, I couldn't go anywhere. When you are puking all the time, it’s hard to leave the house. Then there was also the motion sickness. It was bad. I couldn't watch TV, look at a computer screen, read a book. It all made me horribly nauseous. Try passing time when all you can do it lay there. Well you can't. There was nothing to take my mind away from the HG, so I would sit there and just think about it all. Not good. Emotionally, I felt separated from everyone, especially any woman who was pregnant or had been pregnant. I HATED speaking to them about my pregnancy, especially when they started talking about theirs. They would talk about cute little cures like crackers and coke, or say they “know” how I felt because they puked too (although they still went to work, could drive, could eat and drink, you know pretty much function like a normal human being). It didn't help that I hated them and was jealous of them. It was really hard. It didn't feel like anyone could understand. But how could they?

HG almost took away A's homebirth. I'll never forget the appointment with my midwife where she looked at me and said something about 28 weeks. Honestly I don't remember her exact words, I just remember thinking I've got 10 weeks to pull myself together or I'm going to lose the homebirth too. That thought was almost unbearable. I was already super freaked about the amount of drugs being pumped into my body and the effects they were having on my baby. Then I had to start considering what would mostly likely happen at a hospital. Pitocin, epidural, IV's, antibiotics, high likely hood of c-section, oh and all the damn germs. I just didn't want that for my baby, but really it wasn't up to me. HG isn't something you can just "pony up" to and get over. You have no control, as much as you wish you did. Yet, by 26 weeks, I was off the pump and the home health care. I was still puking like 4 times a day, but that was manageable. Plus I could actually keep food and water down. The homebirth was saved. Thank God.

HG also forced me to compromise my morals. I am a vegetarian, but wasn't during my pregnancy. HG took that from me too. Beans, grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts would all come up. And I mean all of it. Still at 38 weeks I could barely choke down a banana or raw carrot without my nauseous levels skyrocketing and puking. With this forced diet change also came a HUGE load of guilt. I couldn't stand the fact that my diet, well when I could eat, consisted of processed foods and meat. That's it. I freaked every time I thought about the lack of nutrition that I was giving my body. I mean if I wasn't giving myself the proper nutrients, how on earth was my baby getting what she needs?

My HG also took its toll on C. (husband). He was forced to take care of everything, and I mean everything. Working a full time job, feeding us, keeping the house clean, taking care of the animals, and the hardest part—taking care of me. Cleaning out bowls and bowls of puke. Helping me in and out of bed because the Zolfran pump made me so sore I couldn't do it alone. Plus, at times, I was even attached to an IV. Sore, strapped to a pump and connected to an IV… it's almost impossible to get around. He had to stab me every day with a needle, because the Zolfran injection sites cause so much trauma to your body that they have to be moved just about every day. Two months off the pump, and you could still feel the bumps in my legs. He would help me shower (when I actually could stand it, and even then I would often vomit afterwards), help me dress, brush my hair, help me to the toilet, you name it, C. had to do it for me. On top of all that, he had to deal with how mentally unstable I was. I was a wreck. I was sick, I was scared, I was sad, depressed, and worried. I was angry, helpless, fearful. I hated the guilt, the resentfulness towards baby and others. Really I was a MESS. Try and console that. You can't. You have to sit there and watch me cry, sit there and take it when I scream. Sit there and just watch me fall into a depression. Oh and of course I knew all this. I knew just how much stress I was putting on C., and it killed me.

I feel like I could go on and on about all the layers and layers of unhappiness, guilt, fear, sadness, and resentfulness that I feel about my pregnancy. I'm working really hard to let it all go, especially now that I have my beautiful daughter in my arms, but it is hard. I mean just the other day (yes I am taking about AFTER A's birth), I woke three times in the middle of the night to the sound of my Zofran pump going off. Each time it took me a while to shake all the bad feelings. Healing is a process I guess.


A's Birth


Sunday September 18th

I awake to what I thought were cramps. I soon realize these pressure waves are different. They are requiring a little more of my concentration, but I can still function quite normally. My midwife had promised me I would "know" when I was in labor, and since I was still questioning it I thought for sure it wasn't time yet. So I go about my day. My mom comes over for a visit. We order Mexican food, watch football (C's idea), chat and relax. It was a nice and relaxing day. That evening the pressure waves continue to get stronger, but again, I was still questioning it. I decide to make cupcakes and cookies for our doula and midwives. I was secretly hoping that if I made these treats my birthing time would start right away.


Monday September 19th

I text Rose (our doula) at 11 AM telling her the pressure waves are averaging 9 minutes apart. I've got ants in my pants just sitting at home, so C. and I head out for our two favorite things. Cassanova Pizza and Bergies Coffee. Pizza and coffee in hand we head back home. At 1 PM I text Rose that I can't exactly talk during the pressure waves anymore, but that they are still about 10 minutes apart. At 7 PM I text again saying they are 7 minutes apart and strong. I still remember during all this time not having that "ah ha" moment, and thinking well this can't be it then. But Rose suggested I give Stephanie (our midwife) a heads up, so I text her as well. 9pm and pressure waves are super strong and 4 minutes apart. 10 PM I call Rose and ask her to come over. At 11 PM Rose is over and she and C. work on setting up the pool.



Tuesday September 20th

My times are going to get murky now, but I have a rough idea of what went on. We have a very small water heater which meant it was going to take forever to heat the pool up, so C. went to put some water on the stove. Of course I just assumed that he was going to use our giant canning pot to heat up the water, but as I look over to the kitchen I see him filling up this tiny little pot of water. I start cracking up. I'm laughing so hard, I can barely speak. Here is my husband trying to fill this giant pool with a pot that holds about 12 cups of water. Good luck with that hunnie! It just seemed so silly to me, but it was really nice to have a good laugh. We eventually get the pool filled up and I get in. It feels good to be in the water, and the pressure waves seem to be slowing down and becoming less intense. I start chatting with Rose about if she should stay or go since things seemed to be slowing down. I just didn't know what to do.

As a side note, during this all this time our cat had been put away so he wouldn't be bothersome while setting everything up. Then the cat got let in. Less than two minutes in the room and our stinking cat jumps on the pool and puts three very nice puncture holes in the pool. So C. and Rose get to work breaking down the pool and setting up her other one. I have no idea how much time passes here. I just remember the pressure waves getting stronger again. Rose suggests I get back in the pool. The pressure waves are really taking my concentration now. Again, I have no idea how much time passes here, but around 3:15 AM I feel a pop. My water has broken. The pressure waves come and they come strong. Finally I have my "ah ha" moment. I know it is my birthing time now! Rose asks me to tell her when I start to feel pressure. I think I remember feeling that pressure right away, which I didn't like. It felt like I needed to use the bathroom. I was terrified of accidentally going to the bathroom in the pool. I know this can be a normal process for any woman in labor, pool or not, but I just couldn't do it. So C. helps me to the bathroom and I labor on the toilet. I was horrified that my husband had to see me in this position, but I was also horrified of going to the bathroom in the pool. Then eventually the pressure waves made me not care anymore.

Back in the pool and I try a new position leaning back against the pool. I sit through one pressure wave and it is horrible, so I tell myself I am going to "finger drop" for the next one. I don't know how I did it, since I hadn't been practicing my hypnobabies (Thank you HG) but I manage to "finger drop" getting through the pressure wave much easier. The next pressure wave comes and I am back on my knees leaning over the pool hanging on to C's hands. No more hypnobabies (sorry Noelia, but I did try!) I remember crying and cussing. The pressure waves sucked. Then C. asked Jen (our other midwife) a question. I don't know what he said, but I remember her saying that I would feel burning. Next pressure wave in and I feel the burning. Pressure wave after pressure wave and I feel more burning and more pressure. It was time to push. Jen tells me that I can take control. It felt so good to hear that. My entire pregnancy had been out of my control, and I just got permission to take the reins and do what I wanted/needed. 18 minutes of pushing and at 5:01 am our baby was born right into her daddy's arms and passed to me. C. says "it’s a boy,” and for the next 15 minutes we think we have a sweet little boy. It is time to cut the cord and I move our little boy… SURPRISE! It's a girl! C. cuts her cord and then I snuggle back up to her.

At this point I still have not birthed the placenta and I am getting quite frustrated and annoyed. I would like to focus on my beautiful daughter, but I couldn't because of my placenta. So C. takes our daughter tight in his arms. I remember feeling horrible that I couldn't spend these precious moments with my daughter, but I also knew she was safe in her daddy's arms. I'm not sure how much time passes but finally, with a little help, I am able to birth the placenta. My daughter is back in my arms. I was in a state of shock. It was hard to believe HG was over, and that here in my arms was our beautiful daughter.


Postpartum


The one thing that I held on to throughout my pregnancy was this idea that once the baby is here it is all over. This idea that I'll finally get to bond and connect with my baby. That I will finally get to love on her and enjoy what I have been trying to for the past 10 months. I never prepared myself for the reality of what it is like after a baby. I had no idea just how painful and miserable breastfeeding could be. For 10 months I had been telling myself when she's here I finally get to love her and enjoy her. Yet I found that at least every two hours my baby was still causing me pain. During these moments that I wanted to be bonding with my daughter, all I could think about is how much I wanted her off me. I hated it. Then all those HG feelings just rushed back to the surface and I was drowning in them. I would see my husband all cuddled up to his daughter telling her how much he loves her and I would just ball. I wanted to do that, but my breasts were so sore I couldn't hold her close. I wanted to tell her I love her, but I couldn't. It took me a week to say "I love you" to her. Of course it is not because I don't love my daughter. I do. More than anything. It is just really hard for me to put all my emotions aside. I'm scarred pretty deep. My wounds are still fresh and trying to heal, and they are easily torn open.

Lots of moms keep telling me you will soon forgot all the troubles you went through. That everything will be worth it. I'll agree with that second part. A. has been worth it all, but I won't forget. Perhaps the details of my pregnancy and postpartum issues will get murky, but I sure won't forget. I guess only time will tell. Until then, I'm going to take it day by day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meanderings (21w1d)

Just a few notes to check in!

***

First of all, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to congratulate HG-mama Molly at Knocked Up, Knocked Over on her the birth of her daughter yesterday! CONGRATULATIONS, MOLLY!! And not only did she birth a baby, but she birthed a very, very, very BIG baby! I can't wait to hear her birth story and see pictures of the babe for whom she has worked so very, very hard.

***

Secondly, I am also thrilled to announce that.... (drum roll, please!)..... we have at long last chosen a homeschool curriculum!! Hurray!

Not that we'll stick with it, despite the fact that we have put ourselves in the poorhouse purchasing it. From what I've heard of it, almost everyone changes curricula after beginning and learning what works for each family. But we had to start somewhere, and so here is what we are going to begin with. Until we change it. Probably next week.

Literature/History/Etc. - We will be using Sonlight's Core A. This is a real books curriculum that uses all real books (no textbooks) to teach literature, history, culture, etc. This is where the bulk of our $$$ went. So it had better be good.

Reading/Phonics - Going to use a book called something like "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." It's got a good reputation and is extremely structured and well-laid out. Right now I'm wading through the introduction and directions, and we'll probably start next week.

Handwriting - There's some basic writing included in the above reading program, but otherwise, we are nixing handwriting for this year. This is common among homeschoolers. When we do start it, we will probably use Handwriting Without Tears.

Math - Taking an unschooling approach to that this year. That is, if he asks, I'll go into it. And I'll provide lots of real-life learning examples (cooking, etc.). But nothing formal. Next year we will choose a math curriculum, probably Math-U-See.

Science - Also taking an interest-led, unschooling approach. It would be an understatement to say that a science curriculum is completely unneeded for this child, and in fact would be rather absurd. He has a natural and intense interest in science, and when he expresses an interest I simply order every book that I can from the library on that subject, and we read them obsessively. He now knows more about the solar system than I ever have! That and volcanoes (and snakes) are consuming his interest right now. I intend to follow his interests and use that approach until it either doesn't work or until he reaches an age when more structured work is necessary.

And there you have it!

***

Thirdly, and not so thrilling, I am getting sick. I thought I'd escaped it, but I am apparently slated to be victim #3 of the first cold of the year - just in time to make us miss our vacation, which was planned for this weekend. Bummer!

I should have known it would happen, though. We almost always get sick in time to wreak havoc with any important planned date. Special parties, trips, holidays, choir concerts, you name it - if it's important and it's on our calendar, we'll get sick for it. Sickening, really!

So now we're trying to scramble to reschedule our vacation before the holidays hit, and trying to rework our schedule for the next month.

***

Medical note: Have reduced Diclectin by another dose (as of 3 days ago), so am now down to 16 mg Zofran and 3 Diclectin per day. Next week will try to knock off another Zofran. I don't know if I'll make my goal of being med-free by 25 weeks (seems unlikely), but I'm pegging away at it.

Lots of stuff going on around here! MOMS Club, AWANA, church, housework, kids - the usual insanity! Plus starting to work myself incrementally through the beginning of a house turn-out - trying to spend 15 minutes per day in cleaning out/organizing/decluttering. It's amazing how quickly a house is buried under dust and clutter!

But it is so, so, SO nice to be feeling better and up to more than survival! Life outside of HG is just wonderful (or, in the case of this pregnancy, life outside of yucky NVP). 

Love to all! Have a great week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Zofran Link

Thanks to my friend Kathy, who shared this link with me regarding Zofran. Sorry it's taken me so long to share!

Just an FYI, I am not at all trying to discourage Zofran use - I'm on the stuff myself at the moment. But I post anything and everything HG-related to this blog, so that readers will have as much information as they possibly can regarding HG and its treatments.

Have a great day, all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Time to Play HG Detective: Unraveling the Mystery of Weeks 4-6

Okay ladies, here goes!

First of all, you HG mamas out there will understand that writing about this is a distinctly unpleasant (i.e. panic-inducing) activity. So I am going to get through it as quickly as possible! (Though it will be long anyway, and I will be writing in parts.)

Secondly, I am hoping that ALL of my readers, HG-mamas and others, will chime in with their opinions. Though I don't think it's possible to truly solve this mystery, I'd love to see everyone chip in her two cents.

So here goes.

One technical note. I have not been doing official NFP (Natural Family Planning), that is, charting basal body temperature, cervical fluid, and cervical position, since the conception of our second child. Thus, while our dates with our second child (occasionally mentioned) are accurate to the second, our dates with this pregnancy aren't quite as exact. However, as using NFP does give one a good feel for one's cycle, I am fairly positive that my dates are accurate to within 24-48 hours.

And now on to "The Mysterious Affair of What on EARTH Happened During This Pregnancy???".....

Saturday, 3w4d

This week, DH and I were heavily involved in helping with a friend's wedding - I was doing the music, he was doing the MC work for the reception, and a good friend of ours was doing the coordinating. So we were doing round-the-clock wedding prep. I was not paying too much attention to my cycle. However, I knew from my mental charting that if my cycle was going to start, it should start sometime between this day (Saturday) and Monday at the latest. My friend tells me later that she knew I was pregnant that Friday (3w3d). What can I say? She's amazing. :)

Monday, 3w6d

By this time, the wedding is over and I am seriously contemplating the fact that I might be pregnant. However, I'm not too nervous because I'm feeling okay. Last time the nausea started at 3w5d, so this is good news.

HOWEVER. That night, I go into our son's room to read him a book. When I sit down to read, I am feeling fine. When I get up, I am not. At some point in between, I felt the first definite onset of nausea. I am beyond freaked out. The nausea does not leave. When I go to bed, I am praying that I will wake up puking in the wee hours - i.e. that it is JUST food poisoning. No such luck. I wake up in the morning still nauseated.

Tuesday, 4w0d

By mid-day, I break down and take a Unisom. By early evening, I need to take a Zofran. "Freaking out" is a mild description - I am being pulled into the nightmare, faster than I ever have been before. All you HG mamas out there know what I'm talking about. This is sliding into the pit faster than I ever have been before. I am panicking.

That evening, we go out and buy a pregnancy test. Positive. However, it's a weak positive. Not as weak as our blighted ovum pregnancy, which was of the "is it really positive?" ilk, but definitely much weaker than our other two, which were of the "HERE I AM!" type of positives.

We immediately go out and spend the rest of our evening at Sprouts and Whole Foods picking up supplements. B-complex, zinc, magnesium, ginger, you name it.

By bedtime, I am panicking. I am feeling awful, and it's only getting worse. And I've already started taking meds at 4w0d.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that (1) I am really in trouble, and (2) if this continues, I am going to be in the hospital by the end of the week. No question about it.

Two hours after I go to sleep, I wake up at midnight and have to run to the bathroom, dry heaving. No actual vomiting, but this is scary enough.

I think that that moment was one of the most frightening times of my life. #1 - I am only at 4w0d. #2 - I'm already taking the strongest meds in the world, and I'm STILL throwing up? #3 - Even when I had true HG, I was usually able to sleep through the night. Though I know it's common for most of you, I had never woken up out of a dead sleep to have to run for the bathroom.

At that point, I come out here and write an extremely panicky blog post announcing the pregnancy and asking for prayer. After wandering about a bit, I am finally able to fall asleep again.

4w1d

The nausea starts again as soon as I get up. I start up on the meds again, and make a shaky call to my OB to get an appointment for a Zofran prescription for that afternoon. I also place a call to MotheRisk, who returns my call an hour later. They review the Unisom protocol with me, and also tell me to make sure I'm eating protein. I let the kids sleep in as long as I can, as I don't know what I'll do with them when they get up.

I begin to set a timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, I eat something. When it goes off again, I drink something. Repeat. Determined to get on top of this. However, and many HG mamas know this feeling, I am quickly losing the ability to get food down. Chewing and swallowing are going out the window. It was frightening. I have never, never, NEVER gotten so sick so quickly.

However, late that morning - sometime just before lunch time - I notice that I am feeling ever-so-slightly better. Just a wee bit. Very encouraging. The trend continues. I am able to get both kids over to my OB appointment and back without too much grief, and in the evening I continue to feel ever so slightly better. Very puzzling.

4w2d

On Thursday, I still feel yucky but am ever-so-slowly feeling better, inch by inch. I don't know what on earth is going on, but I'm very thankful for it. I do contemplate the possibility of impending miscarriage, due to feeling better and the light pregnancy test. (By the by, I had asked my OB about the light test, and she told my that while many such pregnancies are headed for miscarriage, she's also seen healthy full-term babes result from such pregnancies. Only time would tell.)

Thursday evening, I go to use the bathroom and see - pink-tinged cervical fluid. I am spotting. This can be okay, but it's often another sign of an impending miscarriage. Within ten minutes of that, I feel the onset of menstrual-type cramps. At that point, I realize that a miscarriage is on its way. I have been down this road before, so I know what to expect.

Except that nothing more happens. No more spotting, though the cramps do continue at a low level. I continue to feel better and better.

4w3d

I continue to feel better and better. By this day or the next, I begin to discontinue all meds. By the weekend, I'm back to normal activity levels.

Menstrual cramps continue. At least 3-4 times they escalate to a level of intensity which makes me sure that a miscarriage is beginning, but that never happens.

Life continues on. I am not completely nausea-free; I have occasional twinges, especially at night. I also have a lot of night-time fear to deal with - getting up in the middle of the night and wandering about the house while dealing with overwhelming waves of HG-fear. I think you all know what I'm talking about!

During this time, I am pretty much a stress-case. And that's an understatement. I am walking around waiting either for a miscarriage or the return of HG. I am a mess. At some point, DH says "Why are you so stressed out?" He, being the happy-go-lucky type, has just concluded that I'm going to have an easier pregnancy and that everything is just great - he doesn't think another thing about it. I immediately give him a half-hour lecture on the subject. 

5w2d

Up till now, I have been conscientiously doing the very-low-carb/high-protein diet as an HG-avoidance strategy. At this point, I start cheating. A lot. I figure that it didn't help anyhow, and since I'm just waiting for a miscarriage, there's no point in continuing to observe it.

5w5d

In the late afternoon, I begin - quite suddenly - to feel simply awful. After a gap of about 10 days, the NVP is back.

I immediately go back on the diet, and things improve a lot by the end of the week. Also right back on the meds.

HG never develops, nor does the nausea go as deep and as fast as it did at that initial point. I deal with some really yucky pregnancy nausea, but it stays away from true HG - due to the diet, the meds, or divine mercy - or some combination of the three.

And now the question:

What on EARTH happened back there? What was that all about? Here are a few theories that we have worked up:

(1) DH's favorite theory - the Initial Reaction Theory - that the diet (to prevent HG) really was working, and those couple of scary days were just my body's initial reaction to the initial surge of pregnancy hormones, after which it adjusted and went on just fine till I started cheating.

(2) My favorite theory - the Disappearing Twin Theory - Does everyone know what disappearing twins are? It is a phenomenon in which a pregnancy begins as a twin pregnancy, but one twin dies early in the pregnancy and is reabsorbed, so that the pregnancy ends naturally as a singleton birth. It's much more common than was previously realized - we are now seeing this more often due to the use of early ultrasound. This would account for the fact that I had miscarriage symptoms but no actual miscarriage. Theoretically, the lessening of the hormones with the passing of one babe would have lowered my nausea levels.

(3) One I think is dead wrong - the Stomach Flu/Food Poisoning Theory - That those two awful days were not NVP, but food poisoning or stomach flu. Lots of reasons why this is NOT a good theory: (1) It felt like NVP, not stomach flu. (2) It appeared at precisely the right time for NVP. (3) The nausea developed for something like 28 hours before I started dry heaving - gastroenteritis usually leads to vomiting much faster than that. (4) There were no lower-intestinal symptoms, as there inevitably are with gastroenteritis. (5) The nausea went away in the early hours of the morning and returned upon rising, which is classic NVP and not at all symptomatic of gastroenteritis.

(4) A possibility - the My Body Is Weird Theory - During my last pregnancy, I experienced a brief drop in pregnancy symptoms. I looked it up, and the dates were as follows: NVP commenced at 3w5d; at approximately 5 1/2 weeks I experienced a deep decrease in symptoms that lasted for about 2 1/2 days, during which time I was able to stop taking meds. Apparently this happens to more than just me, as "Knocked Up Knocked Over" experienced the same thing with her pregnancy (anyone else?). However, this was at a different time in the pregnancy, and for a considerably different length of time (2 days as opposed to 10).

(5) The most likely - the It's Forever a Mystery Theory - That we'll never know, and it's going to remain a frustrating mystery. 

And now, dear readers - I'd love you to chime in. Do you favor any of these theories? Do you have any of your own? Please write in and let me know what you think.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Check-in (20w0d)

Here we are, at the halfway point!! We'll be there in no time!

Life is busy, nothing much extraordinary going on. Muddling through the opening days of our homeschool year (using homemade curriculum while I read madly on curriculum choices), doing AWANA and church and lots of reading, feeling great on the whole and recovering more and more of pre-NVP life. It always takes a while! The house is still trashed, but unfortunately the time to deal with that decreases drastically with each child. Hopefully I'll have time for a step-by-step turnout before baby arrives!

Now that we're 20 weeks, I need to start dealing with the fact that - gulp! - I need to start preparing for a birth! Exercising, birth exercises, reading, listening to tapes if I go that route, etc. The clock is ticking!

A long time ago, I made a commitment that at 20 weeks I would take the plunge and write out the story of what actually happened during weeks 4-6 of this pregnancy. But now that 20 weeks is here, I find myself still.... utterly terrified at the thought of reliving that. I think I'd rather wait a while. Like till menopause. Or ten years after menopause. Heck, make it my deathbed. That's the only time I'll be truly safe from repeat HG, in all truth! (Talking about HG is always so frightening because of the thought of what could happen in the future.)

But anyhow, I really do need to write out that story while it is still somewhat fresh in my mind - before we get into end-of-pregnancy craziness and then have a new baby to deal with. So... I guess I'll try to get on that in the next few days.

We also had our second midwife visit - several weeks ago, actually - and it was a lot of fun! I ended up making her talk midwifery politics for a solid hour, and it was sheer heaven. You can read her blog here if you want to get to know her; she is an awesome blogger and always has great things to say. She's also a very skilled debater!

Well, back to dishes! Oh, and speaking of dishes, we're on day 4 of going gluten-free, and it's going well! It's not that hard, really, considering that I had to give up so much more than gluten on the VLC diet (gluten, all grains, fruit, beans, starchy vegetables, sugar, etc.). So this is actually much easier - though we do really plow through the produce when we're not eating wheat! So back to Sprouts we go tonight.

Have a great week, all!