Random Thoughts: Pregnancy Ramblings

Yesterday, I came to the realization that I was heading out this Saturday for a few days of summer “vacation” — with exactly one pair of maternity shorts.

This necessitated a last-minute shopping trip to the mall. Fortunately, my MIL and SIL were both on the compound last night, and they were more than willing to take the girls for dinner and kick me out the door.

The prices are better at JC Penny maternity — way better. I got a cute pair of khaki capris for $11.50. A comparable pair at Motherhood Maternity cost $19.99 on sale. But Motherhood Maternity has cuter stuff, so I spent a little there, too. All-in-all, the trip cost me under $100 (I got shoes, too), and I’ll be able to get through the rest of the summer (and then-some) comfortably.

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I say “vacation” like that because when you vacate with your children, it’s not really 100% relaxing. I’m pretty lucky; we go with my (rather extended) family, and share a place with my parents and sister, so there are plenty of bodies around to help out. But it’s still the day-to-day parenting stuff, only in a different location. It can get tricky, especially bedtime. An especial downer this year: no drinking for me. Pros: pools, my sister’s puppies, and Idlewild. Plus: did I mention my extended family? We’re talking, oh, roughly 100 members of the clan on the weekend. It thins out during the week. To about 50 of us. It my one chance a year to catch up with everyone, and it’s totally worth it.

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(TMI ahead)

What’s one thing that no one adequately warned you about when it came to pregnancy? For me: it’s the poop thing. Things seemed to be going okay this pregnancy — moving a little more slowly than usual, but okay. But last week… well, let’s just say, I don’t really like prunes, but I have rediscovered their necessity for me during pregnancy. Since Le Bud is sitting lower than I have experienced, there are some tricky yoga-like moves I have to do to, uh, unblock certain things, too. Not while I’m actually on the potty, just to clarify.

I know God is great in all things, but the whole juxtaposition of certain parts in the womanly lower anatomy could have been designed a little better, IMO.

Snippets from an Ultrasound

“That’s a penis!”
Dan!”
Sonogram tech: “Nope, he’s right. That’s a penis.”

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“He’s hung like a horse!”… “I always wanted to say that.”
*eyeroll*

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“Can you put a couple of exclamation marks after that?” [“That” being “BOY” on the ultrasound image.]
“You are so 12 years old.”

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“That’s the hand that is going to throw the game-winning touchdown in a Super Bowl.”
“Yeah, because you’re so athletic.”

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“You have to understand, I wasn’t surprised.”
“You weren’t?”
“You didn’t read my blog yesterday, did you?”

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“It doesn’t really matter. It’s just… raising a boy!”
“I know. I feel the same.”

It’s A…

…boy. (That is not actually Le Bud’s peep. Due to lack of smart phones at this point, I have to resort to old-fashion technology like scanning. Haven’t gotten around to that yet. Source.)

I confess to being a little giddy.

Number 1: I was right.

Number 2: As Dan put it, the prospect of raising a boy is exciting. Not that raising two girls has been a cookie-cutter experience in the least. But, I don’t know, something about having a son is exciting for us. (And around the blog-o-sphere, parents of boys roll their eyes and think, “You don’t know what you’re in for, RPM.”)*

Number 3: Le Bud is looking good. I swear the doctor nearly skipped into the room to declare, “Your baby looks fantastic.” He is measuring well, and all the requisite parts are healthy. After some of the fun we’ve had with ultrasounds in the past, this was all very good news. Plus it took under an hour, which is pretty impressive.

Big sigh of relief. And continued deep breathing and prayers all around!

*Yes, I know, another boy, another son. Only let’s focus on us getting to raise him this time around. This may be part of my giddiness: Hope.

Week 20: 50/50

Technically speaking, I am halfway through this pregnancy. In reality, I probably have about 18 weeks left (before inducing).

When I say it like that, “18 weeks”, it sounds like a terribly short time. At the same time, though, this pregnancy, for various and sundry reasons, seems to be taking forever. I’m so glad to finally be at 20 weeks. Now that I can feel Le Bud move more, it’s a little less anxiety producing. Also: dreams help. And emails from my mom.

Tomorrow we are going to get the Level II ultrasound. I’m actually pretty excited, primarily because we will be finding out how outnumbered Dan is going to be (as long as Le Bud cooperates).

Now before I tell you my guess, I want to make something abundantly clear: I don’t care if this baby is a boy or girl. As long as Bud comes into this world safe and sound, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, and is strong and healthy (does that sound like I’m asking a lot?), I could care less what is between his/her legs.

As my MIL put it succinctly last night: “Girls scream and boys break things.” In other words, both sexes have their, oh, let’s call them downsides.

Okay? Okay.

I think I’m having a boy.

I knew Gabriel was a boy. I knew Flora was a girl. With Kate, I did not know, and I attribute that to not being 100% sure when she was conceived, plus her being a bit of a surprise/unplanned, plus not being sure what my heart wanted her to be (does that make sense? In other words: Gabriel was a boy, but he didn’t make it; Flora was a girl and she did.)

But since the + pregnancy test, I have felt sure that Le Bud is a boy. I don’t have a thing on which to base that feeling. Unless you count timing (I can tell you when Bud was conceived, and I was, um, having a lot of fertile fluid at the time) and little indications like: When I was pregnant with Gabriel, I had horrible breakouts, especially in the first trimester. The only thing that worked was Noxema. Same thing this time around.

I could, of course, be completely off base. I have a 50/50 chance of being wrong. Dan has done nothing but pick girls’ names this time around, and I don’t like a one of them. I can’t seem to find a girl name I like right now. Which would be a clear indicator that I am having a girl. (Crazy pregnancy reasoning: I haz it!)

Flora thinks Bud is a boy; Kate thinks Bud is a girl. Someone’s going to be disappointed.

But, given all the conditions I’ve listed above, it’s not going to be me.

Meatless Monday: Pizza, plus Protein Problems

I didn’t realize how much I missed making my own pizza dough until I stumbled onto a new food site: The Smitten Kitchen.

It all started (again) on Twitter, with a call for zucchini recipes. @ClumberKim sent me a link to this one, and I was hooked. It’s so pretty!

Smitten Kitchen’s really simple recipe is, just as Deb promises, really simple. I used the updated version because it appealed to me a bit more. I just doubled the ingredients, and used some whole-wheat flour because I like the texture of whole wheat dough.

3/4 cup warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)

1/4 cup white wine

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (about one package)

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Assembly

Cornmeal for sprinkling

Flour for dusting counter


Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

Straight from the Smitten Kitchen: “If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.

“[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it’s good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn’t.]

“Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl.”

I divided the dough into two balls, both of which I wrapped well in plastic wrap and put in a baggie. One of these I put in the refrigerator, and the other I froze. They were in their respective cold places for a week before I actually made the pizzas.

When making the pizza, roll out the dough on a floured surface. This recipe made two 10- to 12-inch thin crust pizzas. Use cornmeal on your pizza paddle or baking pan. I could have sprinkled some on the pizza stone in the oven, too.

Move the dough onto the paddle or baking pan. Top with your desired toppings.

Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.

Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool a couple of minutes, slice and serve.

Saturday for dinner, I made the kids a plain ole cheese pizza (which Dan also liked), and then made the goat cheese and zucchini pizza with my surplus of summer veggies and fresh farmers goat cheese. My CSA is partnering with a couple of local creameries this summer to deliver cheese, and holy cats — fresh cheese is so, so tasty.

I had made a recipe similar to the latter pizza using ricotta cheese instead of goat cheese (and a store bought pizza dough that was too dough-y for me). I liked the ricotta better; the flavor was much milder. The goat cheese overwhelmed the pizza (in my opinion). You have to use a bit more of the ricotta (say 6 ounces instead of 4).

Otherwise, as with all my favorite recipes, you’ve got a palette for your favorite toppings. I’m curious to see if it will hold up to meat toppings (for my husband and BIL-IL). I don’t see why not!

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The nut aversion continues, and it has expanded. Now I don’t like eating any nuts (cashews, almonds, etc.) or nut butters. Soy products turn me off, but don’t upset my stomach the way nuts do. The only protein sources this baby craves are cheese and eggs. Greek yogurt has been another acceptable discovery. The way I crave eggs scares me a little bit. I made egg salad recently (using about five eggs), and I ate nearly all of it in one sitting. On top of whole grain crackers.

Fortunately, I seem to be craving plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as all the cheese and eggs. High on the list, too, are avocados. On Sunday, I had a lunch of cheese (more farm fresh cheese!) and crackers, plus half an avocado and a tomato. It was heavenly. Between the four of us (well, and Le Bud), we polished off 1/2 a pound of cheddar from the Keswick Creamery.

I’ve also turned to Quorn products to take the place of soy products in my diet. I still eat some soy-based meat substitutes, but they just don’t appeal the way they used to.

These soy and nut aversions feel weird to me, but I am “listening to my body” and avoiding them. I hope it doesn’t mean anything like a baby with nut or soy allergies down the line. I really don’t need life with another baby to be quite that interesting!

Also, Le Bud seems to like ice cream and chocolate just fine. Ultimately, I’m sure we will get along!

Week 16

Maybe I’m the only one who does this, and I don’t know if it’s a control thing or a mom thing (or some terrifying blend of the two), but when I don’t feel good, I try very hard to ignore it.

I mean, I’ll bitch about not feeling good, but in general I try to soldier on, and work (unless I’m contagious), and take care of my kids, and do my laundry. I will try, especially with something like unrelenting nausea (what other people may mistakenly refer to as “morning sickness”) to convince myself that I don’t feel that bad, and it’s 80% mental, or whatever.

And then, I get better, or start feeling better, and with clear 20-20 hindsight, I can say, “Wow. I really did feel like shite.”

Which is all to say: The unrelenting nausea has subsided. And it was bad. Bad, bad, bad, and for a damn long time. Six weeks of unrelenting nausea.

Truly, after these past two weeks of feeling good I suddenly realize how awful I felt for how long.

Thank God that’s over.

Now, I am still pretty wiped out at the end of the day, but as my father sagely pointed out on the phone recently, “Your days are still pretty full. Anyone would be wiped out.” And I’m no longer falling asleep (read: passing out) while my children are watching their night time show, so that’s progress.

I’ve given into maternity pants, because, really, I had to. I realize that I have to get my hands on some decent summer and work maternity wear, but I haven’t gone shopping or trolled the Internet yet. I’m in denial that I may have to spend some money. And I’m kinda lazy.

But I’m feeling good. I feel little flutters from Le Bud, but nothing like the constant motion that is to come. I’m looking forward to those kicks, even when they are up into my diaphram or directly on my bladder. I like that part of pregnancy. It’s very comforting to me.

I think a lot about the end of November. I think a lot about having a baby to bring home. I’m trying to think positive. Eyes on the prize, and all.

I think it’s going to be great.

PSA: Follow-Up

I was asked via Twitter (and very nicely): If these are the things you can’t ask of or say to a pregnant woman, what can you ask or say?

I think it’s acceptable to say the following.

1. “Congratulations!” After all, if she’s telling you, it’s probably good news. (Unless she’s the prom queen in the high school bathroom. That might be awkward.)

2. “When are you due?”

3. “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” (Some moms-to-be will be smart asses and answer this question, “Yes.” Also be advised that the mom-to-be will not know this until week 20/month 5, or later.)

4. Variation on #3: “Will you find out if it’s a boy or a girl?” Hey, some people still like to be surprised.

5. If you hear the term midwife or doula, you may, politely and with no skepticism whatsoever in your voice, inquire about those terms if you have questions. In short, a midwife is a certified nurse-midwife to be exact; they are fully licensed for well-woman and gynecological care, and can deliver babies. They cannot administer medicine (such as pitocin and/or epidurals; a registered nurse, doctor or anesthesiologist has to do that kind of thing). Doulas, on the other hand, are support for the mother, there to encourage and assist her. They are not medical personnel. As I mentioned, labor is not exactly a walk in the park, and sometimes a woman needs all the help she can get.

But don’t, whatever you do for the love of Pete, question a mother-to-be’s judgement to use midwives, doulas, birthing centers, or even have a home birth. How to bring a baby into the world is as intensely personal as the decision to have a baby in the first place.

6. “Do you need anything?” I don’t mean for you to ask this question so you can find out where the couple is registered. Just a more general, “Hey, can I help you out?” This is probably reserved for close friends, rather than co-workers and acquaintances, as the answer may vary from, “Yeah, can you pick me up a caramel latte while you’re out?” to “I need help folding my laundry and bathing my children.”

After the birth: Food is always welcome. Just so ya know.

Moms? Dads? Anything to add?

PSA: Pregnancy Etiquette 101

I guess maybe it’s because it’s been more than three years since I’ve been pregnant, or the number of pregnant women I suddenly know (because of Twitter), but in “conversation” yesterday, I was reminded of the shocking behavior of other people toward pregnant women.

And I thought, “Something needs to be done.”

So here are a few things that if you should try very, very hard not to do to or say to a pregnant woman.

I know it can be hard. As one of my tweeps put it yesterday, “People see a baby belly and lose all mouth and hand control.”

1. I, myself, cannot stop the question “How do you feel?” from popping out of my mouth. Now, I don’t ask strangers that (I don’t ask pregnant strangers anything; I am an anomaly. I am a very private, quiet, introverted person who feels uncomfortable talking with strangers about my own pregnancies and/or labors, so I just don’t go there with people I don’t know.) I’ve asked my SILs this question; and my pregnant coworkers; and pregnant friends. I ask because I genuinely care, and they can tell me as much or as little as they want. But don’t ask if you don’t want to know, and don’t ask just so you can talk about your own pregnancies.

2. Never, ever, unless you are 100% certain that a woman is pregnant, ask someone how far along she is. This can go very badly for you. She may have just delivered two weeks ago. She may have delivered two years ago. She may simply have an unfortunate shape and have never delivered babies, or a cyst the size of a watermelon in there. Don’t ask!

3. Even when you are 100% sure that a woman is pregnant, you still should not comment on her size and/or shape. Believe it or not, “You hardly look pregnant!” is just as rude as “Wow! You’re huge! Only six months along?” This pregnancy being the exception, I didn’t show conclusively until I was seven-eight months along. And hearing, “You’re so tiny” made me worry about my babies. You don’t comment on non-pregnant people’s shape and size to their face, do ya?

Also, unless it’s hugely complimentary, don’t tell a pregnant woman how she appears. An acceptable comment would be, “Your skin looks fabulous.” Unacceptable: “Your skin looks so much better when you’re pregnant.” Don’t tell me how horrible I look —  and this pregnancy, I do look horrible. I look tired because I’m facking exhausted; my skin is breaking out like a teenager’s the week before prom; and, yes, I already have a belly. (Actually, I’m kind of proud of this last feature. I’m sure I will feel differently by month seven when I feel like I’m carrying a bowling ball between my legs.) I know you mean to be sympathetic, but it just makes me feel worse.

4. Never, ever, and I mean EVER, touch a pregnant woman’s belly without asking and receiving her express permission. This one completely boggles me. I don’t know why I was never assaulted this way (and make no mistake, it’s an assault, no matter how innocent or well-meaning you may be) — maybe because I am no earth-mother-looking pregnant chick; I look like a telephone pole with a basketball duct-taped to it. And I’m 5-foot-10-inches tall in bare feet. In any case, hands off. You do not touch other people’s bodies without permission. Period.

5. Don’t share your horror stories. First of all, if you share an unsolicited labor story with me, you are going to hear the horror story to end all pregnancy/labor horror stories. Second, you’re scaring people. Pregnancy can be a wonderful, magical time in a young woman’s life. She doesn’t need to hear about your emergency C-section after 72 hours of hard labor, and how your epidural wore off in hour 48. Now that being said, we all sit around and swap these stories with others we know, others who have been in the trenches with us. But if you don’t know a woman, and you don’t know if this is her first or her sixth pregnancy, don’t regale her with your tale of woe. As I often say, “It ain’t called picnic; it’s called labor.” Most of us knocked-up ladies understand what we’ve gotten ourselves into, and we all have different ways and means of dealing with what we gotta go through to get that baby in our arms.

6. This may be a personal one: Don’t ask me what I’m naming my baby. Dan and I decided when we started having babies that the first person to know the baby’s name would be the baby. We would whisper it in his/her ear. I don’t feel comfortable telling you what I am naming him/her before he/she gets here. Yes, I am superstitious about this, and yes, I have damn good reason to be.

7. Holy cats, don’t ask about things that only the woman’s midwife and/or doctor need to know. One of the women yesterday said a guy asked her (at the end of her last pregnancy) how far she was dilated! That’s just wrong.

8. Don’t say, “Trying for a boy/girl this time?” Especially in that jocular insider’s understanding tone. This may be another one that rubs me especially wrong. I had a boy. And I have two girls. I just want a healthy baby. We speculated a little bit when my brother’s wife got pregnant for a fourth time if she was “trying” for a girl (she had three boys), but I knew, like me, she just wanted a healthy baby. (She had another boy, by the way.) It doesn’t matter, and, frankly, it’s none of your business.

9. This is an after-pregnancy peeve: Don’t comment upon and/or ask about the number of children a couple has. It’s none of your business if the parents of an only child are going to have another one, and it’s none of your business if a couple decides to have eight kids — hey, maybe they own a farm or want to start their own sports team. Commenting that little Bobby would probably love a little brother or sister — especially repeatedly — is rude; you don’t know if that decision was a heartbreaking one, or not, but it sure is a personal one.

10. If, in the course of your inquiries or conversations, you do discover that a mother has suffered a loss (miscarriage, infant death, still baby), say: “I’m so sorry” and move on. Do not elaborate. A statement like, “That must have been devastating” is painfully obvious; a statement like, “Everything happens for a reason” borders on outright offensive. Say, “I’m so sorry.” That’s all. Oh, and say it for goodness sake; don’t ignore the fact that you are talking to someone who has lost a child. In the course of a conversation with a coworker who just had a little girl, she mentioned that she had had three miscarriages between her sons. And I just said, “Oh, I’m so sorry” and we continued our conversation. That was that.

What do we think, moms and moms-to-be? Did I miss anything?

Edited to add: YES: 11. Don’t ask about the conception. “Was it an accident?” “Were you trying?” In the case of multiples: “Were you using fertility drugs?” Woah, people. This is the same as asking, “Were you and your spouse/partner copulating? Were you using birth control?” None o’ yer business. people. (I tend to look at people with an eyebrow raised and say, “Well, we weren’t exactly NOT trying.”)

12. Don’t comment if/when a woman goes past her due date. SHE KNOWS.

Next week: Infant/baby Etiquette 101. Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Third Degree

I have been seeing a lot of my MIL lately, and that’s saying something because they do live right next door. I have no issues with such an arrangement, especially as Bella and Tadone are very helpful when it comes to kid-related wrangling.

I was talking to Bella one evening at dinner (hosted by her) regarding arrangements for my ultrasound. As the appointment was at 7:45 in the morning, she offered to take the girls overnight and drive them to daycare the next day.

And she had quite a few questions for me.

Since I have announced this latest pregnancy, I have faced a lot of concern from my parents and from my in-laws.

And it’s okay, and not completely unexpected. It certainly didn’t help that I haven’t been feeling that hot, and I totally look like it.

Bella’s line of questioning was a little unexpected although not altogether unwarranted.

She wanted to know why, when I was pregnant with Gabriel, doctors didn’t find the problems that led to us losing him.

After all, her reasoning went, in my latter pregnancies, ultrasound did detect issues of low amniotic fluid and other possible placental issues that led to steps to protect the baby. (Not to mention Kate’s CCAM. Ah, good times.)

What I explained to her was that there was no reason for further ultrasounds with Gabriel (after our 20-week Level II u/s, which is standard in most pregnancies) because to anyone’s knowledge, Gabriel was just fine.

There were no growth issues, his heartbeat was fine, movement was fine. I was fine. There was no reason to suspect for any reason that he would die.

However, it is precisely because he did die that I did get more monitoring in my subsequent pregnancies. Kinda a catch-22 if you see it, only backwards. Kate started getting ultrasounds every 2-3 weeks once they found the CCAM; with Flora, I started weekly non-stress tests and bi-weekly ultrasounds at 31 weeks.

I know Bella’s intentions were good, and that her curiosity came from a place of genuine concern. At the time, the questions were pretty intense, though, as they are (obviously) still on my mind a couple of weeks later.

Since getting pregnant this time around… to say I have tried NOT to think about Gabriel would be misleading. If I’m pregnant, I’m thinking of Gabriel; it was true with Flora and Kate, and it’s true this time around. I guess it’s most accurate to say I’ve tried not to dwell on Gabriel. I don’t exactly have the luxury of assuming that all is going to be just fabulous and go smoothly with my pregnancy. Even Flora and Kate proved that, just not to the devastating affect that Gabriel did.

But there’s also no sense in dwelling on what can go wrong. I knew that we would have to get in-depth with my midwives and doctors regarding a plan for this pregnancy, and I should probably think about what I’m going to do if I’m placed on modified bed rest this time around.

But all this stuff, right now at least, is not exactly top-of-mind. It’s floating around out there, and I know I will have to address it.

I guess I was a little shaken by Bella’s questions because I hadn’t taken those steps yet, made the plans, had the conversations. And because I don’t want to dwell. (Yeah, this is me, not dwelling.)

As well, it’s that time of year, again, that span of time that Gabriel is most on our minds.

I just try to be quiet and be faithful. There’s not much else to do. I’m in good hands, and I don’t just mean with medical personnel.

Week 12

Today I had an ultrasound and some early testing done.

In short, everything looks good — looks very good. We got to hear the heartbeat (136 beats per minute) and see Le Bud in all his/her teeny glory.

In long (why isn’t that a thing?), the appointment took a long time. We were about 20 minutes late, which didn’t help — construction is rerouting traffic so that a stretch of road that usually takes 10 minutes at rush hour now takes 30. Not cool.

Anyhoo, they were not stressed about it at all. We saw a genetic counselor, had an ultrasound (that took a really, really long time), saw a perinatologist (Dr. D), and I had some blood drawn.

Most of this stuff has to due with my, ahem, “advanced maternal age” and if any of you choose to use such a phrase on me, in person, you better be out of arms’ reach because I will slug you. Just so you know.

The ultrasound test (an NT scan) took so bloody long because Le Bud declined to be a convenient position, and it took five or six go-rounds to get the measurement needed. I mean, I had to empty my bladder “a little” (which was almost painful), then empty it all the way, then get up and walk around, and cough, and get up and walk around some more.

But Le Bud finally cooperated (I guess), and the tech got what she needed.

Then we had a long chat with Dr. D, who’s a very nice guy, and made a plan for monitoring this pregnancy. We talked about low-dose aspirin (aka baby aspirin) to help with blood flow between me and the baby; it’s something I’ll talk more about with my midwives as well. There also seem to be some concerns about my weight, which is on the skinny side, but when I told him I gained 40 pounds with each of my pregnancies (no lie), he seemed relieved.

On that note, about two weeks ago, I developed a sudden aversion to peanuts and peanut butter, and any product containing either of those things. This is of concern to me because, as a vegetarian, I have depended on such things to up my calorie count during pregnancy. Maybe the aversion will lift as I move into the second trimester. But it’s definitely weird.

What other high-calorie (vegetarian) foods should I stock up on in case peanuts and/or peanut butter continue to gross me out? And, no, my aversion has not been replaced with cravings for cheeseburgers or bacon.

Let the second trimester begin! (And let the nausea subside!)