Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Registering: What Don't I Need?

Everyone has their own suggestions as to what is an absolute necessity and what you can do without when it comes to preparing your home for a new baby.  So when it came time to registering I listened to every possible suggestion.  Jonathan and I got recommendations on the best receiving blankets, diaper brands, and strollers.  However, none of that really means much when you are going around a store, trying to navigate through the endless aisles of incredibly foreign products.

When we registered at Babies ‘R Us I was about twenty weeks pregnant.  (I wanted to register before Christmas so that people could get us things from our registry.  I knew neither of us really needed anything, so it was best to start getting ready for our little one.)  This ended up being a great time in the pregnancy to register.  My morning sickness was under control with my Zofran and I had plenty of energy.  Or so I thought.  Your energy seems to drain right out of you once you hit the aisle of 6,000 pacifiers.  How does anyone ever make any decisions?!

Somehow, we were able to make some selections.  After my baby shower and even after Kendall was actually born though I realized what was actually necessary and what I truly did not need at all.  Assuming that you will be having a baby shower for your loved ones to celebrate your new arrival, here are a few helpful hints when trying to figure out what NOT to register for.

1. Receiving blankets: You will get hundreds of receiving blankets at your shower.  Some of them you will have selected yourself, others you will not have.  Once that baby arrives, it won’t make a difference what you use (either for swaddling or cleaning up spit-up).  Save yourself some time and forego this one.

2. Baby towels and rags: Again, you will get hundreds of these at your shower.  Chances are you will get so many that you will even have some to take back.  So no worries, you don’t have to add this to your list.

3. Soaps and shampoos: Unless you are opting for organic soaps, you do not need to register for these.  Many stores carry little baby bath-kits that are full of shampoo, baby wash, and lotion.  You may receive a lot of these, even if you haven’t registered for them.  Again, save yourself the time.  Someone will buy it.

4. Snap ‘n Go Stroller:  Hear me out on this one.  I think this is a great product.  It is the perfect little vehicle for your infant’s car seat, without having to lug around a giant stroller that you got in the “Travel System.”  However, they are usually around $100!  It seems like a steep price for something that may not get a ton of use.  Find a friend with one and borrow hers.  I got mine on Craigslist for $30 from a very nice woman who lived nearby that had used it only a handful of times.  If you don’t have a friend with one, feel free to borrow mine J

5. Clothes: Tiny clothes are hard to resist.  Anything so small is going to be adorable and you are going to convince yourself that you need it.  But you don’t!  People are going to buy you clothes, especially once that baby is born.  And it seems like when people find out the gender of their baby, clothes are the most popular gift at the baby shower. 

6. Baby bath tub: They might seem like a great idea, but for how long?  And then after you no longer need it, where do you store it?  I have a better solution, so stay tuned!

7. Diaper genie: By the suggestion of our neighbor, we did not add this to our registry.  He said that he and his wife had had one and it was awful!  Although they are to hold in the smell, he said that they do not.  And worst of all, he said that changing the bag was a mess!  Opt for a small trash can with a lid, use old plastic grocery bags, and save yourself forty bucks.

8. Baby shoes and socks: Before Kendall was born, I was obsessed with finding her socks.  I had convinced myself that she absolutely needed them.  Well, I was right…she did need them.  However, a pair of socks that fit newborn feet just don’t exist.  I wasted a ton of energy looking for teeny tiny socks when all I really needed to do was put her in a pair of pants with footies or footie pajamas.  So much easier.

9. Brest Friend Pillow:  Cumbersome, awkward, gigantic.  Get a Boppy instead.  Kendall is one year old and still nursing and we still love our boppy. 

10.  Toys and stuffed animals: There really is not much of a need.  Other than perhaps a play mat and a few little rattles, I would skip registering for toys and focus on some things that you are going to really NEED when that little one arrives.

Of course, these are all things I discovered that were not necessarily the best items for US.  Everyone is different and you may find that there are some items here that you just loved.  For me, none of these are it.  Follow up with me as I give my must have list and my absolute favorite items.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Kendall Paige!

Today marks an incredible milestone in Kendall’s life, as well as my own: her first birthday!  I cannot believe how quickly this past year has gone by.  It feels like only yesterday that I was heading over to the hospital to have my non-stress test, only to be told that it would be the day that I would be meeting my baby.  At that moment I had no idea how much love and joy would be brought in to my life.

Throughout my pregnancy countless people told me that a mother’s love for her child is the most powerful love in the world.  I would hear this and think to myself, “Yes, yes, I know.”  But I didn’t know.  I didn’t know just what that love meant.  I didn’t know that that love would be all-consuming.  I didn’t know that that love meant that I would give anything to ensure that my baby would be happy, safe, and healthy.  I didn’t know that that love meant that I would worry about every little thing under the sun.  I didn’t know that that love meant that I would cry (often!) because I felt so immensely blessed.  I didn’t know that I would question what I had done in my life to ever deserve to have such an amazing gift

Becoming a mother to Kendall has been the greatest joy of my life.  It is my privilege to watch her learn and grow.  Every day since she has been born I wonder how I got so lucky.  I don’t think I will ever know.  What I do know is that I could have never imagined loving someone more than I love my precious girl.  And that love continues to grow every day. 

Happy birthday, baby girl!  Your mommy loves you more than you could ever hope for or imagine.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oh, the Morning Sickness

I can’t stress enough how much I loved being pregnant.  Growing a life inside of you, feeling your baby move and squirm, and creating a bond even before that baby is born is truly the most amazing thing.  It was such a blessing and I cherished it.

That being said, my pregnancy was not a walk in the park.  Morning sickness took hold right around five weeks and persisted until sixteen weeks.  Not that I minded it.  I recall driving to work one morning and talking to the baby, as I did every single day from the time I found out I was pregnant.  I told the baby to grow big and strong and healthy and that if those things meant that I needed to be horribly sick, then I would be horribly sick.  Wouldn’t you know that the very next morning my sickness started?!

Now, when I say I had morning sickness, I don’t just mean that I was nauseated.  Certainly, that was part of it.  Yet my morning sickness involved puking…a lot!  I would wake up feeling like death.  I would shower, start to get ready for work, and then begin vomiting.  I would get in my car and continue vomiting in to a paper bag.  I would drive down the road while vomiting.  Sometimes, if it was a really bad day (which usually happened the next day after I had gotten my progesterone shot) I would need to pull over.  Then I would continue on my way to work.  I would be teaching in class and need to run out to throw up in a trash can.  It was constant and brutal, yet in an odd way it was incredibly comforting.

Until about your fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, you do not feel your baby moving.  Thus, you live in constant wonder of how your baby is doing.  For me, my sickness served as proof that things were progressing.  My HCG levels were rising, my baby was growing, and I was sick as a dog.  It was wonderful!  I was ever so grateful for that morning sickness.  However, I was equally as grateful once I hit sixteen weeks and my doctor prescribed Zofran to end the vomiting. 

I did many things trying to ease my discomfort those first few months.  Crackers sat on my nightstand so that I could eat a few before I got out of bed.  I drank gallons upon gallons of Take a Boost.  Ginger ale filled my refrigerator, mint tea was ready for steeping, and pretzels traveled with me throughout the day.  None of it helped.  Being so sick was obviously impossible to hide from my students so I had to make up lots of excuses. 

“I eat lunch at sixth period, so I need to eat pretzels through the day so I don’t get too hungry.”
“I have low blood sugar, so I need to drink soda so I don’t get dizzy.”
“I am throwing up because I took my vitamins this morning on an empty stomach.”

Luckily, many of my guys believed me.  However, those who didn’t simply thought I was a horrible drinker and perpetually hung-over.  I lost a lot of street cred once they all found out I was sick from pregnancy, not being up all night boozing.  Teenagers.

Soon, my evidence of pregnancy was not my constant sickness, but the tiny movements of my baby.  The early flips and kicks, feeling more like small waves or popping popcorn.  They were miraculous and once they started they didn’t stop.  Eventually, those movements were felt in my expanding belly, as I started to grow right around nineteen weeks.  I loved that people around me were going to know I was expecting just by looking at me.
(19 week belly)

I was moving out of the “danger zone” and in to a time when it was safe to tell everyone.  More planning for this baby could begin and I began to really envision my life as a mother.  Time for registering was coming up and I had no idea how daunting that could be. 

Stay tuned for my best advice while registering, my favorite products, and the things to leave off of your list.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learning About Pregnancy

I will happily write more about my pregnancy amazing benefits of using NaProTechnology through my journey, but for now I would like to focus on the much more fun aspects of getting pregnant.  Those who have waited to get a positive pregnancy test or those who are still waiting have probably visited the internet a time or two to check symptoms.  Well, the obsessing over symptoms does not stop with two pink lines.  Rather, I think it only increases the obsession.  So what should we do?!

My dear friend, Jenn, prepped me on all of the websites that are vital to exploring and visiting upon learning you are pregnant.  If you are anything like me, you will sign up for all of these great websites, yet visit only your favorites.  You may find that some sites have more beneficial information than others, especially considering what kind of plan you have for feeding your new baby.  Nevertheless, all can offer some great insight.

Some of my favorites:

1. – I loved this website for so many reasons.  It not only sent me weekly updates as to how my baby was growing, but it also provided endless articles and tools for answering questions related to pregnancy and beyond.  They also have an app for your phone, which I had and used daily.  Particularly, I enjoyed visiting the monthly Birth Club to see the experiences of other moms-to-be.

2. – For the inquisitive mom that just has to know what is happening at all times, this site is for you.  They offer a customized pregnancy calendar that details each and every day of your pregnancy.  I found this to be phenomenal and really allow me to bond with my baby, as I knew how she was progressing each and every day.  Definitely my favorite one of all!!

3. – Although I had the book, I also signed up for weekly updates from What to Expect When You Are Expecting.  Much of the same information that I had received from Baby Center was covered in their emails.  However, I found that I enjoyed their articles a bit more.

4. – Sign up!  It had always been my plan to breastfeed my baby.  However, I know that sometimes things are beyond our control and we don’t always get to parent the way we envision.  Therefore, I signed up here.  Along with emails and coupons, Similac mailed me tons of formula to try.  I stockpiled all of it, in case I would need it once the baby was born.  Totally worth it!

5. – Sign up!  The same wonderful deal that is offered through Similac is offered through Enfamil.  They send you coupons by email and standard mail, as well as formula samples.  Even if formula is not in your plan, sign up anyway!  I ended up being able to give my friend my unused formula, which can be very costly.

There are dozens of other sites that you can visit that offer great information and insight in to your pregnancy.  However, be warned that it can become significantly overwhelming at a time in your life when you are probably already feeling pretty overwhelmed.  If that’s the case, stick with a few sites that give you basic information on the development of your little one.  There are too many sites and message boards that can create unnecessary stress and fear, so stay away from them! 

Stay tuned for my favorite products recommended for every pregnant lady J  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pregnant: Now What?

I would like to think I am not the only woman who feels this way after getting their positive pregnancy test.  Moments after seeing that beautiful word on my Clear Blue Pregnancy Test, I then thought to myself, “Okay, now what?” 

First, I need to tell Jonathan.  I waited in the living room for him to wake up, contemplating exactly what I would say.  Telling him in a cute or creative way didn’t even cross my mind.  I just wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to say.  My time to agonize over my phrasing didn’t last long as I soon heard him stirring and he sleepily came out to greet me.  My face must have said everything my mouth couldn’t because he quickly asked what was up.  I told him, “I took a test.”  “And?” he replied.  “It’s positive.”  “You’re lying.”  “It’s on the bathroom counter.  Go see.” 

He jumped out of his seat and ran to the bathroom while I eagerly followed.  I waited in the hall until he came out, smiling.  He wrapped me in his arms and I cried happy tears.  I was pregnant.  First month of trying, after being told that it may not happen for us, and I was pregnant. 

Now Jonathan knew, but I was back to my uncertainty of how to proceed.  I emailed Liz and Dr. Jean, both of whom were thrilled!  My next appointment with Dr. Jean was that Tuesday, so she wanted me to get blood work done on Monday.  And it didn’t take long for me to tell my family.  (Within a few days they all knew, yet they knew to keep it a secret until I got past that first trimester.)

Once I saw Dr. Jean, she confirmed the pregnancy with the results of my blood test.  Looking at my chart we knew exactly when I conceived: August 8, 2012.  That meant we knew my exact due date: May 1, 2013.  I was not quite four weeks pregnant yet.  I needed to wait a few more weeks to have an ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy was viable.  If all looked good, then I would begin my bi-weekly shots of progesterone. 

Thankfully, that first ultrasound looked wonderful!  Jonathan and I sat nervously and anxiously in the exam room.  I had been getting my blood drawn twice a week to continue to monitor my HCG levels and my progesterone.  We watched as my HCG levels soared.  Being a twin myself, I knew what that meant…the possibility of multiples.  My heart danced at the thought!  I always tell people, “My twin sister is the greatest thing about me.”  She has been my best friend from the beginning of time, before we were even born.  How incredible it would be to have twins of my own!

However, Jonathan did not feel the same way that I did.  The thought of twins terrified him.  How do you care for two babies at once?  How do you pay for two babies at once?  More than that, how can you love two babies at once?  I told him if I were to be pregnant with twins we would just have to figure it out.  So until the time came for my ultrasound, I think he just held his breath. 

He finally exhaled when across my stomach the ultrasound wand revealed ONE beautiful sac.  As it flickered my eyes welled with tears.  That was my baby.  Only the size of a blueberry, yet looking more like a kidney bean, this baby was forming arm and leg buds.  The hemispheres of the brain were growing, red blood cells were being churned out, and the appendix and pancreas were already formed.  My baby was healthy and growing. 

Image of baby at 7 weeks

Thus, our plan began for me to take progesterone shots to maintain the pregnancy.  With my history of endometriosis there was the possibility that my body would not produce enough to sustain the pregnancy.  I would get a shot twice per week which would be administered by my mother, who is a nurse.  To make sure that I was taking the appropriate dosage of progesterone, I would also get a weekly blood test.  I would do this for the first twenty-two weeks of my pregnancy and then revisit whether or not I needed to continue with my shots. 

It all seemed so scary and daunting at first.  I remember panicking each and every time I went to the bathroom, praying that I wouldn’t see blood.  I remember feeling so nervous with every new pain I felt as my abdomen stretched to accommodate my new little companion.  Soon, I would learn to trust my body, as it gave my each and every indication that things were progressing and moving forward.

Continue following along to see how I handled my symptoms of pregnancy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trying to Conceive

Not surprisingly, my cycle was very screwy after my surgery.  My hormones were still regulating and my body was still recovering.  Therefore, I needed to wait until I had a real menstrual cycle to begin trying to conceive.  The length between my surgery and that first menstrual cycle after was a very long thirty-nine days.  39!  Of course, it wasn’t as though I had never experienced a long cycle before.  I had gone weeks on end without getting a period.  However, I wasn’t waiting to try to conceive on those cycles.  So this time, thirty-nine days seemed like forever.

Happily, I started noticing something that had been absent from my previous cycles I had been charting: mucus!  Obviously, this is a strange thing to feel excitement over, but it was my little sign that things in my reproductive system were working and that my surgery was successful.  I made my mental notes throughout the day and eagerly awaited to put my “white baby” stickers in my chart before bed at night.  My cycle was finally looking like something.  I had days of bleeding, followed by a few dry days, followed by days of mucus.  Soon, once I was feeling a bit better, it would be time to try!

My long thirty-nine day cycle was followed by a much shorter eighteen day cycle.  Although it was certainly not long enough to allow for conception, it offered an opportunity for me to chart very fertile mucus and visit with Dr. Jean to get my final instructions for conception.  It was all so exciting, yet so scary!  This was my chance.  This was my perfect opportunity.  Together, we planned all of the medications and supplements I would take and at which point in my cycle.  Certain days were optimal for certain medications, so I diligently wrote in my chart the medications I would be taking. 

I would immediately start taking vitamin B6.  This would be a daily supplement, along with the prenatal vitamins I had started taking prior to my surgery.  Fertile CM was also part of my daily regimen and had been after I had my HSG.  On cycle day three I would take a dose of Femara.  This was the medication I was hoping was going to help my body do what it hadn’t been doing before: ovulate!

For those who have tried to conceive before, they have probably heard of the drug Clomid.  It is one of the most commonly prescribed medications to stimulate ovulation.  However, Clomid does pose some side effects that are often quite uncomfortable. It has also been known to cause the ovaries to become enlarged with multiple follicles, increasing the chances for multiple gestation.  Femara, or Letrozole, Is a medication that also stimulates ovulation, just without the adverse side effects and increased number of follicles.

Starting on cycle day ten I was to begin taking a mucus enhancer, which was simply Mucinex.  Once I started noticing mucus during my cycle, I would take an antibiotic through my peak, plus one day.  Post peak began my ten day dose of Prometrium.  There were a lot of pills, all on different days, which seemed terribly confusing.  However, I wrote down every pill that was to be taken each day, in order to make sure that I was doing everything correctly to allow for conception. 

Dr. Jean also wanted to be sure we were doing all that we could to conceive.  Therefore, she had me come in to the office to have ultrasounds of my ovaries.  This began on Thursday August 2, 2012, cycle day sixteen.  Along with her wonderful ultrasound technician Amy, Dr. Jean monitored and measured the growth of my follicles in each ovary.  At the time, I didn’t realize just how important this step was in conceiving.  I thought I was there for one visit to gauge how my body was responding to all of the medication.  Yet this was just the beginning.

I was supposed to come back the next day, Friday.  And then that next Monday.  We measured the growth of each follicle, trying to determine if ovulation was going to occur.  Amy and Dr. Jean were confident, as one of my follicles in the right ovary seemed to be growing beautifully.  So I went back on Tuesday.  Still growing.  And then Wednesday.  But it was gone. 

Gone?!  As Amy moved her wand around, exploring my ovary, she told me the follicle was no longer there.  I didn’t understand.  What did that mean?  She probably wanted to laugh at my stupidity, but she just smiled and said, “You ovulated!”  YAY!!!!!  Much like my excitement for mucus, I am sure my excitement for ovulation seemed unusual, but this was huge!  Ovulation meant the ability for conception.  And according to Dr. Jean, I couldn’t waste any time.  “You have a very small window.  We don’t know if you ovulated right after you left the office yesterday, or just twenty minutes ago.  So get to it!”

It was Wednesday August 8, 2012.  My first ovulation in possibly years.  Jonathan and I knew how momentous this was and how important it was on our journey.  I took out my prayer card to St. Gianna and prayed that this was our day, our chance for a family.  It was now or never.

The following Thursday I had an appointment to see Liz and review my chart.  I should have been excited about all that had happened with my chart and ovulation, but I was feeling doubtful.  I realized that I had not taken my medication correctly.  My dose of Femara, six pills, were all supposed to have been taken on cycle day three.  I took one each day for six days, starting at cycle day three.  Now, I knew I had ovulated, but I didn’t know if my mistake could have altered my chances.  Only time would tell.  Leaving Liz that evening, she encouraged me to visit the chapel next to her office.  I did.  I entered the dark, empty chapel nervously, anxiously.  I prayed with such passion.  Lord, please give me a baby.  Please let me be pregnant.  Please let the surgery have worked, let my body be free from endometriosis and let it be capable of carrying a child.  Amen.

Two my days later, Saturday morning, I woke up early.  I never wake up early.  Jonathan was still sleeping, so I quietly got out of bed and went in to our bathroom.  I had a stash of pregnancy tests in the drawer under the sink, leftover from my friend Andi who had recently found out she was expecting.  Even though it was only ten days after ovulating, I decided to take a test anyway, since I certainly had plenty of them on hand.  I gently placed the test on the counter, washed my hands, and went to let the dog out. 

I came back just a moment later, fully expecting a negative test.  Yet, I saw this:

(The first of three pregnancy tests I took)

I screamed, “OH MY GOSH!”  I couldn’t believe it.  I was actually pregnant!  It was Saturday August 18, 2012.  Ten days after ovulation, less than three months after my surgery, and I was pregnant.  Jubilation washed over me and I prayed a quiet prayer of thanksgiving.  This was my miracle.  My body was now free from endometriosis…..and a baby now filled its space.

Stay tuned for what happens after that miraculous moment of seeing a positive test.