Pre-pregnancy

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We’ve got a crib! And a dresser with LOTS of clothes in it. (Seriously, this girl is going to be so well dressed.) And we have paint on the wall, too.

Tim set the crib up in the living room a few weeks ago, and it doesn’t fit up the stairs. If it will fit, it needs to be lifted above the banister, and I won’t be much help with that. It’s still sitting in the living room, but it can’t stay there. Uncle Ben, are you reading this? Looks like we need you to make a visit to Center City.

Tim told me he’s getting even more excited. Having the crib set up makes it seem more real. Our little girl is going to sleep in that. The classes we’ve taken have been a wealth of knowledge, too.  Even though they’ve been on Tuesday nights and I’ve had to miss the last four weeks of knitting with my girlfriends, I’m really glad we decided to shell out the money and take them.

For the first three weeks we took a Mindful Birthing class at our hospital. It’s specifically designed for couples who are considering natural childbirth with a midwife and prefer a low-intervention labor and delivery. Tim and I both learned a lot about the woman’s body and what happens during labor. Our bodies are made to do this!

We also learned to stay home and labor as long as possible.  When people get to the hospital too early, they are often sent home or if they are admitted but not far enough along, it’s the start of inductions and other interventions that have a domino effect.  Being induced brings on stronger contractions. The stronger contractions lead to more pain and the request for an epidural.  The epidural slows down labor which then requires more pitocin for induction.  Then, a stronger epidural line. At this point, many women still aren’t progressing fast enough and that puts strain on the baby’s breathing and the heart rate lowers causing them to require an emergency c-section.

If I can help it, this is not the route I want to go. Our Mindful Birthing instructor told us about the 4-1-1 rule.  Don’t go to the hospital until your contractions are 4 minutes apart, they last for 1 full minute and this has been happening for 1 hour.

Last night, we took a Breastfeeding class.  Tim wasn’t sure why he would need to be there, but partners were encouraged to attend and he was a good sport.  My friend Leslie who is due 6 weeks after me also signed up for the course.  Her husband wasn’t too keen on going either, but he said he would go if Tim went.  So, they were both there for support.  The instructor said that one of the main reasons she likes partners to attend is so we’re more likely to remember the information.  If I’m too exhausted or in panic mode, perhaps Tim will remember some tip from the class that will be helpful to me.

The Breastfeeding class was just a one-time class from 6:30 – 9:00 pm taught by a lactation consultant at my hospital. I’m so happy we decided to go (and I’m grateful Tim came with me). Tomorrow night we’re taking one more class.  It’s Baby Care Basics where they’ll cover diapering, burping, bathing, swaddling etc… Then, we’ll be totally prepared, right?  Ha!

Today I’m 36 weeks and 4 days. Only 3 days until I’m full term and just 3 and half weeks until my August 13 due date.

While birthing still seems overwhelming — it will likely be the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life — I’m feeling prepared and really good about breastfeeding. Bring it!

 

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I had my first appointment at the midwifery practice on Monday – finally!  I’m 28 weeks so it was also the day for my glucose test and RhoGAM shot.  (At this week’s Tuesday night knitting I realized that everyone is as confused about the RhoGAM shot as I was, so I’ll explain that in a following post.)  When I made the appointment, they told me to make a half day of it and I’m glad I did.  I arrived 20 minutes early for my 9 am appointment and didn’t get to work until almost 1 pm.

When I met the midwife she asked how I’d heard about the practice.  I told her a friend had recommended them, and also mentioned how hard it was for me to get my paperwork transferred there.  (If you missed that  frustrating tale, you can catch up here.)

To my surprise, the midwife explained that since my previous practice was also part of the University of Pennsylvania Health Care System, all I really need to do was sign a release form (which I did back on March 24!) and they could pull up all my records on the computer.  They didn’t really need hard copies of my records at all.  I knew it!  The midwife said she would talk to the receptionists and make sure they all knew this.  I kind of doubt she’ll remember to mention it.  Some other innocent soul will have to go through the same rigamarole as me.  So annoying!  I almost wish she hadn’t told me.

After all I had been through to get the appointment, it was pretty anti-climactic.  The baby’s heart beat was good.  My blood pressure was also excellent.  My appointments will now be scheduled every two weeks instead of once a month.  I’m in the third trimester!

After my quick consultation/examination, I had to walk a few blocks to the hospital to get some lab work done.  First, they took four vials of blood.  Then, as part of the glucose test for gestational diabetes, I was given a bright orange drink.  It looked like Tang or orange Gatorade.  It didn’t taste much different, kind of like a VERY sweet Kool-aid.  It was actually better than I thought it would be.  I finished the drink at 10:53 and had to wait an hour with no food before coming back for them to take more blood.  I started to feel kind of dizzy/headachy as my body tried to process the sugars. It was almost my lunch time, and I was getting hungry. I also felt guilty for being away from work for so long.

After the hour was up and I gave the vial of blood, they sent me up to the 7th floor and gave me the RhoGAM shot.  They didn’t administer the shot, they handed the shot to me in a little baggie. I had to then walk it back to the midwifery practice where a nurse administered it into my upper arm.

It was a long day, and I felt a bit “off” the rest of the afternoon. The day was made even longer because we had tickets to see the Phillies play the Cincinnati Reds that evening. It was still a fun night.  The Phillies had an exciting 3rd inning and led 9-0.  The rain held off (with just a few sprinkles), and we won 10-3.  Plus, it was dollar dog night!  Who would pass up the chance to get $1 hotdogs at a major league baseball game? Not this girl.

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Watch this video. It is HI-larious.

I should probably be offended, but it’s funny and some parts are definitely true.  People have asked us whether we want a girl or boy.  It’s really not a fair question.  Do they actually expect me to answer one way or the other.  “A girl.  I definitely want a girl.”  Then what?  If I have a boy they’ll feel sorry for me?

Truth is, I was leaning toward wanting a girl.  I think Tim was too.  Part of the reason is that we have awesome girls names picked out, and we still haven’t found that one boy’s name that sets itself apart from the rest.  For me, I feel as if I know more about girls.  I have a sister and never had brothers.  Although I don’t know a lot about raising children, I know what I went through growing up as a girl and how I was raised.

My friend Chris said it well when I talked to him on the phone a few weeks before his baby was born.  “I feel like I know more about how to raise a bad-ass girl than I do about raising a sensitive, emotionally available guy.”  Chris explained that he basically wanted his kid to be the opposite of the gender stereotypes, and raising a girl who played the bass and was totally into trucks seemed easier than raising a boy who wasn’t afraid to play with dolls.  Chris and his wife Jennifer also had better girls names picked and were still indecisive about boy names.  Of course, this meant Chris and Jennifer were meant to have a boy, and after he was born he went unnamed for two days.  Baby Felix is now three weeks old, and they couldn’t have imagined their lives any different.  They have fallen completely head over heals for their son, and I’m sure they’ll do a fantastic job of raising him to defy stereotypes.

In fact, seeing photos of baby Felix and the photos of Chris and Jennifer with him the last few weeks, have made me even more excited to meet our little blueberry.  It’s also made me less frightened of having a boy.  I think that’s it.  It’s not that I don’t want a boy, it’s just that having a boy seems even more scary than having a girl.  Whichever way the gender revealing news goes, we have our anatomy ultrasound on Thursday and I’m sure I’ll be ecstatic.

And the girls names we like?  Well, we know, but we’re not telling…

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Back in May and June I daydreamed about getting pregnant right away and being able to announce the good news to my parents when we saw them in person over the summer.  Then, when that didn’t happen, I began to think, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell them when they were here visiting for Thanksgiving?”  We could tell my parents at Thanksgiving and tell Tim’s parents at Christmas.  I started to get excited about the possibility of telling them in person when we could see their eyes light up, see their smiles.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are in that waiting period wondering if we might have gotten the timing just right this month, I can’t help but daydream about a Christmas telling.  I try not to.  I try not to think about it, as this definitely falls within the realm of “getting your hopes up.”  But still, when I walk the dog, when I walk home from work, when my mind starts to wonder, I imagine scenes where we reveal our happy news on one of the most magical days of gift giving.  We could write a little note that says “you’re going to be grandparents,” wrap it up, and put it under the tree.  We wouldn’t say anything or drop any hints until Christmas morning.  We would make sure it was the last present. “What’s this? We almost forgot this one.”

For my parents, celebrating Christmas home alone this year, we could wrap a little box for them too.  We could say, “do not open  until on the phone with us on Christmas Day.”  Then, we could at least experience the audio surprise of them opening the present and discovering the happy news.  Ahh, my heart skips faster just writing this.  What a Christmas blessing that would be!

My “official” day to test isn’t until this weekend.  Part of me wants to run to the bathroom and pee on a stick this very second.  If it’s negative, at least I’d know.  At least I wouldn’t be creating any more sugar-coated Christmas morning scenarios.  No matter how disappointed, my mind would be put to rest, at least for a few more weeks.  Another part of me wants to wait to test as long as possible.  The longer I wait, the longer this hopefulness remains alive.  Well, at least until I get my period.  I like feeling hopeful.  I like knowing that our timing is getting better, that our chances for actually conceiving are higher, and that this just might be the month after all.

Sigh…  That’s another reason I wish we didn’t live  so far away from our parents.  More than likely, this news will have to be expressed over the phone.  For both sets of parents.  If we say, “Hey, go get Dad on the line, too.  We have some news,” they’ll know something is up.   It will still be an extremely joyous day, and like almost every aspect of this whole process, it’s out of my control.

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When I started writing this post, I meant for it just to be a celebratory announcement of a girlfriend’s new baby.  However, as I wrote, it digressed into a post about baby names.  Ah…baby names yet again.

Back in May, in this post, I wrote about my friend H announcing her pregnancy.  Well, it’s six months later and baby Nora was born last week.  I had been checking in on H’s Facebook every couple of days to see if there was any baby news.  On Wednesday, I saw a congratulations posted on her wall.  No status updates from the new mom yet, no word of a name, but a confirmation that the little girl had indeed arrived. Just a few hours later, a mutual friend from our knitting group forwarded a mass email that H’s husband had sent out early that morning.

At that point, she was still “as yet to be named baby girl,” so the suspense of the baby name was still there.  H had said that they were trying to limit her first name to six letters since their last name is so long, so I thought Tim and my favorite girls names were pretty safe, but there was always the chance that H would use one of them.

I wrote about the baby name race in an earlier post, and I still believe that two people in the same friend circle can name their child the same thing, but I know I would have been disappointed if she had used one of the names we loved.  If we choose to use the same name, we would look like we were copying.

The following day, H sent an email announcing the name Nora Marie. I know another friend who loves that name and would like to use it for her own daughter one day, but it was not on our short list.  I had a small sense of relief.

This desire to have a unique name, a name that no one else you know has used, is a fairly recent one.  Last summer I read an article by Laura Wattenberg titled “Your Baby is Unique, But Her Name Isn’t” and when I located it and reread it today, I wanted to just cut and paste the whole thing here.  It’s so good!  It’s about how the top 25 most popular names in the country represent fewer and fewer of the total names given.  Although there are many names that I think of as “trendy” or “popular,” the actual number of babies given those names each year is much less than the number of babies with the most popular names in the 1950s.

According to the article, the Internet was one of the major factors in causing this alteration in the concept of name individuality. When people started to think about names in the context of unique usernames and email addresses, when they started to type their names into Google or Facebook, they found dozens of other people around the world with the same name.  Their name was “taken” by someone else.

Another factor cited by Wattenberg, was the publishing of the most popular baby names by the Social Security Administration.  They didn’t start tallying the names, ranking them and publishing the list online until 1997.

Another point in the article I thought was particularly interesting was that today we “approach naming more like an exercise in branding.” We want to best position our children in life’s marketplace.

Wattenberg said that on our way to uniqueness, our tastes have become even more alike.  It reminds me of how when some kids want to be unique and set themselves apart from the conventional norm, they end up all looking alike with colored hair and piercings and “alternative” clothes.  The same is true for hipsters.  To be different, they all end up looking alike with horn-rimmed glasses, beards, skinny jeans and tattoos.  While we may like the idea of distinctive and unique names, today’s popular names actually end up sounding quite similar to each other.  They commonly start with vowels and end with “n.”

That’s why we have all the Ardens and Ashlyns and Owens and Aidens.  As Wattenberg put it, “contemporary names…travel in phonetic packs.” A third of today’s boy’s names end in the letter “n” opposed to a more even split of endings in decades past.

I can’t claim that I am above these trends.  I like many a name that begins with a vowel and/or ends with an “n.”  I want my child to have a unique name, or at least one that isn’t super trendy or in the top 25  (or 100) most popular names.  I have thought about how the name will “brand” the child, how if my child wants to be an artist, writer or musician, I want his or her name to be interesting and memorable.  This article really nails it on the head.

Welcome to the world, Nora.  What brand of baby are you?

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Game on!

It’s been over a month since I last posted, but it’s now November.  Do you know what that means?  Well, as I mentioned in this post, we were putting our trying to conceive on hold for a couple of months.  Those two months went by surprisingly fast, and it’s November already.  Game on!

I just started a new cycle yesterday, and although I still don’t have this whole tracking and timing thing down to a science, I’m hopeful about a new beginning. I’m hopeful for us.

Tim and I went to Boston to visit friends for a long weekend over Halloween. We returned Tuesday afternoon just in time to vote in a disappointing election. We had a just completely fabulous time while we were there.  Good food, good company, lots of walking around.  Boston is the city where Tim and I met.  It’s the city where we got engaged.  Memories accompanied everywhere we went, and it was just a beautiful, fall vacation.

We returned home renewed. We were inspired by our friends’ cute apartments, the idea of hosting small dinner parties, and conversations about  business plans.  While writing a business plan is a daunting endeavor that will take some time and research, we decided to dive right-in on the cute apartment front.  We decided to paint one feature wall in our living room, get some new furniture, and move some of our other furniture around.  So, not to waste any time, we made a trip to Lowe’s yesterday and picked out paint.  We got a piece of furniture to go in the front window so that we could go back to using our kitchen table as an eating place.  We also invested in a new bookshelf, and opted for the more expensive real-wood version that will hopefully last us a lifetime.

The living room is now a mess.  It looks as if we just moved in.  The wall is painted, and Tim is putting the shelf together while I write.  My parents will be flying out from Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with us this year, so I’m excited to make our home look lovelier and live more like grown-ups.  There’s still lots of work to be done and de-cluttering to be had.  But, we’re nesting and we’re hopeful.

Last spring, around the time of our health insurance’s open enrollment period at work, I took a health survey and received a $25 gift card.  Since taking the survey, I’ve been receiving periodic updates from WebMD in my inbox at work.  I guess something about my answers revealed that I felt stress in the workplace.  The subject heading from one of the recent emails was, “Stress May Affect Chances of Getting Pregnant.”

I already knew this to be true, but reading the article makes me want to find some remedy for my current situation.  However, my job doesn’t seem to be getting any less stressful.  In fact, just a few weeks ago, my direct supervisor announced that she had resigned and would be leaving at the end of October.  Agh!  A new boss!  Change!  Transition!  More stress!

To give you a sense of how overworked people in my office are, they couldn’t replace her with just one person; they split her job into two separate job descriptions.  (Maybe if they would have done this earlier and taken some of the work off her plate in the first place, she wouldn’t have burnt out so quickly.)

Fortunately, they have already hired one of the positions, so my new boss will start tomorrow.  She will overlap three weeks with my old boss, so hopefully this will help make the transition more smooth and require less assistance from me.  I know, this sounds awfully selfish, but I’m struggling to keep my head above water with my day-to-day responsibilities, I can’t fit in training my boss as well.

The article says, “The findings support the idea that taking steps to reduce stress at work or at home may help fertile women achieve a desired pregnancy.”  So, I’m trying to think of ways to de-stress, to bring relaxation and calm into my regular routine.  It’s funny how going to the gym, which tops most expert’s lists of ways to de-stress, is one of the first things  cut when my schedule gets busy.  Some days I’d rather just skip the gym and stay at the office until 7:30 pm or so to make the next day a little more bearable.

Other ideas:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Bubblebaths
  • Relaxing reading/writing time before bed
  • Get plenty of sleep every night
  • Staying organized/ planning ahead

Fortunately, we have some vacation time planned in the upcoming months.  It’s nice to have something to look forward to each month.  Plus, vacations–even when centered around family–are usually pretty relaxing.

I need to find a better balance now.  If I’m busy and stressed pre-conception, how will I handle my work load with the exhaustion of pregnancy?  How stressed will I be when I add sleep deprivation and caring for an infant to the mix?  I can only imagine.

Envy

Envy
–noun
1. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Jealousy
-noun
1.  jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.

I remember having a discussion with Tim a few years ago about the difference between jealousy and envy.  He seemed to think jealousy was more malicious than envy.  Although I didn’t agree and used the words almost interchangeably, their definitions would support Tim’s understanding as true.  Since then, I’ve been more sensitive to the words, and tried to use the word envy in place of jealousy.  Feeling envious of someone isn’t usually accompanied by resentment for me.  I think of it as something more harmless.

A few weekends ago I was reading message boards on FertilityFriend.com. There are women on there who  have been trying to get pregnant a lot longer than I have.  It helped to put things in perspective and realize the envious feelings I’ve been having are not unusual.

One woman relayed the story of how she was out to happy hour with a co-worker when the co-worker ordered juice and revealed that she was pregnant.  This poster had been trying to conceive for a while and upon hearing this news wanted to run out of the restaurant and cry.  When she thought about it later though, she said she wouldn’t have traded places with this co-worker for anything.   She couldn’t imagine being married to her husband or having her life.  And she didn’t want to.

Another person on the message board commented that there are probably many women who are just as envious of the original poster.  She has a husband and a loving relationship.  There are many women who want, who yearn, to be mothers as much as she does yet they don’t have husbands or boyfriends or potential prospects for either one.

When I read this comment, I knew it was also the case for me.  I’m sure I have girlfriends who envy me and my relationship as much I envy those friends who are already pregnant.  It will happen in time, as it should, when my body is ready.

On hold

Over the past month or so, I began to realize that this baby making process could take a while.  It’s such a bummer because once we decided to start trying, I just really wanted it to happen right away.  As I mentioned in this post, it’s a challenge to be patient, to live in the now–not dwelling on the past or always looking to the future.

After a few months of trying with negative results, I’ve been able to tell myself, “there’s always next month.”  But now, that’s not true for two reasons.  One, I’ve been having extremely long cycles.  None of this 28-day stuff for me.  It’s more like 42 days, or last month’s 47-day cycle.  For someone not trying to have a baby, this would be awesome.  I only get my period every six weeks or so?  Cool!  But for me, I find this very frustrating.  Instead of getting to try again every month, it gets to be almost every other month.  I’m sorry if this is a little too much information–I’ve been trying to make this blog as open and honest as possible without going into too many of the gritty details–but this little bit of insight is important.  Since going off birth control in the middle of April, I’ve actually only been through three fertile cycles.

Secondly, I think Tim and I are going to put trying to conceive on hold for this next cycle.  Some may say this is crazy, that something will always come up and no time will be the “right time.”  But, my brother-in-law and his fiance are planning a wedding for mid-June of next year.  If we were to get pregnant this next cycle, I would be due in mid-June.  To make matters more complicated, the wedding is in Florida.  Even if I weren’t in the delivery room at the time of the wedding, I wouldn’t be able to fly there, and likely wouldn’t be able to go.  Tim is supposed to be a groomsman in the wedding, and I would hate for him to miss his brother’s wedding because he needed to stay home with me.  (I would be even more upset if he were to go to the wedding and miss the birth of his first child.)  So, in order to complicate matters a little less, it looks like Tim and I are going to hold off trying this cycle.

When this point is combined with point number one, it looks like we won’t be trying again for another couple of months.  We’ve discussed this at length and although emotionally, we want to keep trying, our brains are telling us to wait.  If I knew that we’d get pregnant in November for sure, I wouldn’t mind skipping this next cycle so much.  But I’m learning quickly that these things can’t be so easily planned–at least not by most people.  Even if we do everything “right,” a big part of it is chance and God’s will.  It is out of my control.  I don’t do well with things out of my control.

A few posts back I declared “this is not a race.” Well, call me crazy–and I’m learning that most women in the midst of trying to conceive are a little bit of the crazy–but one of the reasons I feel a sense of the race mentality is the race for names. I know it’s silly. There are so many names out there that I like, I can surely find another name to suit my unborn. And who’s to say two women in the same circle of friends can’t name their child the same thing? Or two cousins who see each other only once every few years can’t have children with the same name?  I know this anxiety is irrational. And to top off the insanity, it’s not as if Tim and I are even 100% set on names.

Really, the only people I wouldn’t want to have the same name as my child would be his or her first cousins. I wouldn’t want to take a name my sister loves and is planning to use, and I would hope she would be respectful and not take my top names. At the same time, if I have five top names, it’s not as if I’m going to have five children. Since we’re only planning on two kids, at least one of our top three girls names will not be used. And the same for boys. So when I just found out (via Facebook mind you…see previous post) that my cousin is planning to name her son Nolan, why did I get a twinge in my gut? I don’t even think Tim particularly likes the name Nolan.  Sigh…

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