Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Pregnancy Update from a Full Term Mama

Here I sit at 37 weeks and 3 days- big bellied and tight-skinned, hula-ing on my birth ball, having to pee, and grateful for a sleeping toddler.

Today, I am grateful to be full term with a baby safely growing in my belly. I am also grateful that my discomforts are relatively few. They are mostly limited to heartburn, hemorrhoids, and the natural challenges of carrying an extra load around. ūüôā The reminder that both I and the baby are healthy is often enough to dismiss the various complaints that come creeping into my mind.

The baby is beginning to slow down as he/she is running out of room in its home. (Don’t worry, still plenty of movement- just not as boisterous as before.) I pass the evening hour in bed belly-watching, observing the rolls and juts that disturb my taut baby bump. I remember doing this with my son, but now I know him. It seems so different somehow, to see a baby on the inside instead of the outside. I wonder who this second little one will be?

The baby is completely posterior now, so I’m trying to coax him/her to turn around to ease the labor process. So far, this little free spirit has not obliged. Hopefully this will change by the time Labor Day arrives.

I’m happy to be experiencing lots of strong Braxton-Hicks, with the occasional crampy bouts of pre-labor warm up. They are reminding me to breathe, to release and relax, to soften my brow and jaw- you know, all those good things I repeat to my clients during a birth. They really are good practice, even if they’re not as intense as the real thing.

I’m feeling much more at peace with both the approaching birth and the prospect of mothering another child. I came to the realization that I was allowing my fears to rule me, instead of trusting that God would provide the grace to deal with each situation as it comes.

As for now, I am trying to be regular in Scripture reading & prayer, and to begin seriously immersing myself in birth preparation while remembering that only God knows how all of this will play out. And I must trust Him in it- not my own strength or knowledge.

This passage popped into my mind the other day as I was thinking about surrendering my worries. I don’t think it is out of context to assume that it could apply to physical needs in birth and mothering just as much as the given examples of food and clothing. I hope it is just as helpful to some of you expectant mamas as it was to me.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28¬†‚ÄúAnd why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29¬†Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30¬†If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you‚ÄĒyou of little faith? 31¬†So do not worry, saying, ‚ÄėWhat shall we eat?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we drink?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we wear?‚Äô 32¬†For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33¬†But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34¬†Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34, copied from Bible Gateway.

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Expectations…

 

belly30.5weeks2

You may have noticed that my blogging has become much less regular since I’ve been pregnant with my second… You would think that a new pregnancy would bring a new wave of birth enthusiasm, eagerness to write about it all, a more public exploration of my plans and anticipation for this baby…

But instead, I feel that I have become a little more quiet about it all. This has been a hard pregnancy for me- compared to my son, anyway. Way pukier at first, raging hormones, far more emotional, more frustrations with physical limitations, and a much more difficult time with exercising self-control.

I find that I’m much more nervous this time. Will I be able to birth naturally again? Will I lose it in labor? Will the baby be born safely? Will I keep calm? Have I prepared enough? Will I remember how to push? And if I need surgery for some reason, what will that be like? Will I cry with joy when I meet the child, or just feel relief that it’s over?

And then… once the birth is done… Will I ever sleep again? Can I deal with the exhaustion this time? How do I get into real life¬† once my husband returns to work? How will I go grocery shopping? How will I get them both safely from the parking lot to the store? Clean the house? Get exercise? Bathe? Can I possibly do the stay-at home-mom thing successfully?

Will I be able to mother two children? Will I give them both enough time? How will my son’s life change? Will J like helping Mama with baby-care, or will he resent the creature that took away much of his mother’s attention? Will I have the chance to give my baby the same love and attention I gave my first? Can I teach them & love them well, bear with them and show them patience and grace daily?

The list goes on and on… More “what ifs” loom over me than last time, more fear.

James 2nd Birthday, Baltimore 211

But there’s also anticipation. Who will this baby be? Will it be a brother or sister? What will we name the baby? Will he or she look like Dada or Mama or Big Brother? What will J think of the baby? How will the children interact? What kind of adventures will we have together?

And, by the grace of God, there’s hope… Hopes that I will make it through, that I won’t feel discouraged 100% of the time, that I will maintain sanity. That millions of mothers before me have managed with far more than two children, and I will learn to manage as well. That everyone says that you are indeed able to love all of your children with just as much fervor as you loved your first. That other women have had the same fears as I.

And finally, I have certain knowledge that this baby has been made perfectly by his or her Creator. He or she will come in the right timing, and we will adjust to being a family of four.

I know that God will give me the grace I need to love and serve my family well- and there will be joy. Joy inexpressible at meeting this new little life and welcoming him or her into our family with open arms.

baby#2week18

It’s Been a While!

Hi folks,

For those of you who are regular readers, I’m sorry I dropped off the face of the earth for a while- we’ve had a lot going on though!

Here are a few updates of what’s been going on in our lives recently:

We bought a house! And though it’s got great bones, it needs some love as it’s a little rough around the edges. We’ve been sanding, spackling, priming, painting, putting up light fixtures, and trying to figure out where to put everything. It’s still a wreck, but we are accomplishing projects one by one.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. and that means lots of traveling, singing, going to concerts, supporting friends at different events, figuring out how to gift everyone without breaking the bank or focusing too much on the materialistic version of Christmas.

And lastly…

I’m pregnant with baby #2! Some of you may know this already, but I’m making the news blog official. I am 14.5 weeks along now and almost entirely out of the sick stage of pregnancy. I’m also popping way sooner with this baby that my first:

belly comparison2

Baby is obviously not as high up yet this time, but that makes sense because my uterus isn’t that high up yet. But wow, I am certainly pre-stretched and ready to go! I may be quite the sight to see by the end of this pregnancy.

This is just a short post to give an update… I will get back to blogging as soon as time allows again! If I’m not on beforehand, Happy Christmas to you all, and have a very wonderful New Year! ūüôā

Preconception Preparation

Are you in the “Waiting to Try to¬† Conceive” time period of your life? Many women who are thinking about trying to get pregnant will make significant lifestyle changes towards this goal. Some common first steps include:

  • Quitting smoking, drinking, and any drug or substance use.
  • Beginning an exercise program.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins daily.
  • Eating a nutritious diet.
  • Scheduling a preconception visit with your midwife or OB/GYN.

These are wonderful first steps to take. However, I would go a few steps further to address two issues that aren’t as commonly recommended toward your TTC/preconception time period.

1) Familiarize yourself with the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

FAM is a great way to get to know your body, whether you are trying to conceive a child, trying to avoid pregnancy, or just wanting to get a better understanding of your gynecological health. It teaches you to recognize and interpret your body’s natural fertility signs. If you are in the preconception time period, FAM will help you to know 1) if you are ovulating regularly, 2) how to predict when you will ovulate so you can¬† properly time intercourse, and 3) if you are having any potential fertility problems. The last reason is a big one, because it can give you information to take to your fertility doctor, and it can potentially save you lots of time, money, and extensive testing by helping you to identify or rule out certain issues more easily. While FAM can’t guarantee a quick conception, it does give a lot of information that can make your odds of conception more likely.

Want to find some great places to start learning about FAM? Try Fertility Flower (FF), which I recommend for its holistic focus and its personal feel. It offers a blog, forums, and the ability to chart your cycle online to observe your patterns of fertility. However, I have found that Taking Charge of Your Fertility(TCOYF), which is not as holistically minded, is stronger in its extremely active community and streamlined online charting. I use both sites for different reasons- FF for keeping me on track with eating real, nourishing food and paying attention to how I am feeling in all aspects throughout my cycle, and TCOYF for the visual layout of charting and interacting with other users. Both sites offer free and paid “premium” member accounts.

2) Consider what you’re putting in your body.

I never really knew what “nutrient dense nutrition” meant until about the past year, when I began to explore our nation’s food systems and eating habits. I was alarmed to realize the lack of variety, nutrients, and real food that we actually consume. Much of America’s “food” is more a product of nutritional science than of nature- and we are more deeply entrenched in this problem than you might think. Also, we consume a large amount of toxins through our food, skincare products, and various household items. How does this relate to preconception, you ask?

Well, we need good nutrition for our bodies to function well, correct? And one of our bodies’ natural functions is to ovulate each month. Also, it stands to reason that putting harmful chemicals into our body on a daily basis can adversely affect our body’s performance in the long run. What we put into our bodies can, and often does, affect both our abilities to function as well the quality of the eggs we release. It may not be necessary for every woman to significantly change what she consumes in order to conceive, and conversely, an intense dedication to eating real, nourishing food and throwing out every chemical source may not solve fertility issues for every woman. However, it is most definitely an aspect to consider in the preconception period- and it certainly can’t hurt!

Some of my favorite blogs and websites that address good health to prepare for pregnancy (and just in general!) are Naturally Knocked Up, Modern Alternative Mama’s page on natural pregnancy, and Environmental Working Group. I am still learning about this area, and if you ever come to my home you will see that we are definitely not “crunchy snobs” in these areas. We still have some chemical cleaners, we don’t buy organic all the time, and I’m not above Domino’s pizza. However, we are, as a rule, trying to make small changes bit by bit (that are in line with our budget) that will help our overall health- and hopefully will help us when we’re ready to try to conceive #2!

What about you? Are any of you in the “waiting to try” period? What changes are you making in your lifestyle to prepare for pregnancy? Share your stories!

Photo Credit

 

Commemorate Your Belly with Photographs

Pictures are the most obvious, but most traditional way to remember your growing pregnant belly. Some women hire a professional photographer, and some just do a home photo shoot. I really recommend you take at least a few pictures of your growing belly so you can remember it better after you have your baby. You’ll forget that it was ever that big!

For this blog post, I will share some photographs taken by Sarah Joy Photography. (If you are in NEPA, and interested in pictures, message me for more information.) These were taken when I was 38 weeks pregnant. I look back on and treasure these photos. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commemorate Your Belly: Introduction

“Uggh, I’m so uncomfortable…” “My belly’s so itchy!” “If I¬†gain one more pound, I’m going to tip over forwards…” True, true. I remember it well, and I think I said all of the same things. ¬†As much as it can be uncomfortable, however, I recall a certain fondness for my massively pregnant belly.

There’s something about that tautness and itchiness… the constant shelf to rest your arms upon, the consistent rubbing, patting and stroking we give our children before¬†they are¬†even born… The stretchmarks- a sign that we are not left unchanged by our child, physically, nor emotionally. The weight? We¬†merely¬†become accustomed to carrying our children before we meet them. Each poke and prod, each time a heel pushed against my ribcage,¬†each time my belly¬†literally shifted from one side to the other… all of these¬†stirred up warm affection for my unborn son.

There is nothing quite so amazing as the growing realization of the child forming¬†in your womb, no matter how far along you are. From the first positive pregnancy test to the first kick to the “I’m going to burst” stage of pregnancy, each new mile marker is an exciting time of getting to know your baby just a little better and increasing anticipation of when you will finally meet.

Many women choose, in one way or another, to commemorate their belly as a time of remembering the special closeness they shared with their child in pregnancy. Next week, I will begin sharing different creative ways that you can celebrate your growing belly. Check back in soon!

Wait! Before You Have that Baby…

While you’re still pregnant, please take a little time to:

  • Read books about birth. The Birth Book by Dr. & Mrs. Sears and Pregnancy, Childbirth, and The Newborn by Penny Simkin & others were a couple of my favorites. The more you know about the process, the less scary it is, and the better prepared you will be to handle each stage. Reading balanced birth books will help you to determine what type of birth you would like.
  • Take a reputable childbirth course. Being educated and prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself! If you can get into a small class, the instructor might be able to spend more individual time with you and your partner helping to show you laboring positions, comfort measures, and other techniques for coping.
  • Read some encouraging birth stories. Positive birth stories help to mentally¬†prepare you¬†for labor, helping you to be less apprehensive and feeling readier to face the challenge ahead.
  • Watch birth videos. Again, if you can actually see what an amazing thing you are going to do, it will help you to be less afraid. It is a beautiful thing to watch a new life come into the world.
  • Exercise! It helps you to feel better and stay¬†strong through your pregnancy (especially in the final cumbersome stage), but I also suspect that it might help you¬†through labor a little bit better. (That might not be a hard and fast rule, but it can’t hurt!)
  • Just like you stopped listening to unhelpful pregnancy advice and comments, try to stop listening to¬†all those¬†labor horror stories. If the person isn’t trying to encourage you, gently say thank you for the advice, put it out of your mind,¬†and merely continue on your own way preparing for labor. If you are frightened of labor beforehand, you may get even more scared once it starts. Don’t let this happen. Advance preparation for risks and complications is a good thing, but being blindly afraid is not.
  • Write a birth plan. Check out Why You Should Plan Your Birth for some good reasons to do this.

The more we are prepared for birth, we’ll be less frightened, more level-headed about decisions to be made, and less tense about the process itself. All of this makes for a more pleasant birth experience.