Thursday, June 30, 2011

this is me, not complaining

See this?

I am not complaining about it. Nor am I complaining about this part of it:

So mark it down. I might be 233 days pregnant but I am most definitely NOT complaining.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

33 weeks


You're about the weight of a pineapple- pushing four pounds. Your skeleton is hardening except for the bones in your skull which will stay soft so you can enter the world. You could grow a full inch this week, and your bubble of fluid has maxed out which explains the sharper feeling of movement.

Your mother has perfected the waddle as you continue to put more pressure lower in her abdomen. We seem to be entering that point in pregnancy when the symptoms are less popular to talk about. Most of them involve some type of blood or fluid. I am very hungry but unfortunately have lost the love of eating. I swear I've been re-piped and all my food goes down to some imaginary box that sits on my lungs. Though according to the scale at home I've put on at least three pounds in two weeks. Apparently my eating habits are unrelated to weight gain. We've started to have to pee a lot more now, especially when standing up after a couple hours of sitting.

I've been having nightly dreams about you - mostly regarding your entrance into the world. None scary but often weird like giving birth in an apartment above the airport. My belly is like a huge basketball and sometimes I have to put my hands on top of it during meetings so people aren't distracted by the rolling waves or bulges.

Now that we've made our final trip to Minnesota, we're entering our nesting phase. This week we have a doctor's appointment to ask a bunch of questions post-childbirth class (where's my valet parking, dangit?), preparing to pack the hospital bag (I finally bought my tiny shampoo, success!) and filling out a ton of paperwork.

You'll be considered full-term in four weeks. FOUR.

Must go make more lists.

Love you,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

more about natural

Caveat to this post:  I don't care what other people choose to do for their birth plan. People handle pain differently. People believe differently. People have different levels of risk tolerance. Making a person and bringing it into the world is something to be applauded and revered no matter the method or approach.

That being said, yikes, people are sensitive. From the comments on my blog (I don't publish name calling comments, so play nice or go play somewhere else) to the natural birth forums and blogs I read it's clearly a topic people love to argue about. And get all judgey about. I do think it's something to be informed about and not decide without research. To know the risks to the baby and the mother. To know the advances in medical technology. But to be open about because as my friend Elizabeth says, expect the unexpected with kids, even the being born ones.

I want to go natural because I believe I can. Because I believe God made me for a purpose such as this. I'm anxious but not scared. The more I can stay calm and confident, the better I'll do.

Because the risks associated with epidurals - spinal migraines, paralysis (however rare), needing more drugs since you can't feel the pushing or contractions, more risk of c-section - scare me more than pain.

Because I want to have the freedom to walk around during labor and let nature do its work rather than be confined to a bed.

Because I want to be alert and have an alert baby who can breastfeed immediately. 

Because I want an empowering experience that I can only imagine is a thousand times better than the feeling of crossing a finish line after a long race.

Our midwife asks us to fill out a birth plan and even though she didn't have a natural birth, she is supportive of her patients that want one. I love my midwife and the nurses I met in the hospital seemed fantastic as well. But, I also believe in a strong birth plan and an advocate-minded husband. Medical professionals have many different motivations and just like mothers, have different beliefs on what's best. But as long as there are no medically necessary interventions, it's my body and my experience - something I feel comfortable and appropriate dictating. Besides I am making little hand and feet cookies for the nurses - because who doesn't love cookies?

However, if I walk in with a wishy-washy plan, I'll waver for sure. Hence the plan and the husband. If I am in labor for 30 hours and no progress will I take drugs? Um, yes. If the baby is in danger, and I need a c-section or continuous fetal monitoring in order to ensure his safety will I do it? Of course!

But I firmly believe birth is a natural process that my body has prepared for nine months to go through. And for me, trying my hardest to experience that process without drugs is important for my health and little baby's health. If it doesn't go the way I planned, I'm OK with that as long as I get a cute, breathing little baby on the other side.

I can live with myself it it doesn't go as planned. I can't live with myself if I don't trust myself enough to try.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

32 weeks

Baby boy,

Now we're less than two months to go. You're just shy of four pounds and 16-19 inches long, depending which book you read - let's just say you're big and running out of room. You're rolling around in there and your feet are in my ribs. My stomach bulges out on one side as you change positions. Your head is in just the right spot so that when I stand up after sitting for awhile I feel electric shock like pain, my right leg goes numb and I have to pee like I haven't peed in days. Braxton Hicks are getting a lot more frequent. Guess we're both practicing for the big day.

The family started a betting pool on your name. We have had that one nailed down from the day we found out you were a boy. We have two middle names that we are trying to decide between but either way, I think you'll have a strong name.

At our appointment last week you had the hiccups during the heartbeat check. This was on of my top five moments of pregnancy. My heart just melted, and I cannot wait to meet you!

This week you'll travel to Minnesota to see family. You were there before, when you were the size of a little pea. All your mother asks is that you do not do anything silly while on the airplane. Just keep your sweet self right where you are for at least five more weeks.

Love you much.

Monday, June 20, 2011

learning to birth

I wanted to include pictures with this post but somehow bringing my big camera to the hospital classroom and taking pictures of silly powerpoint slides seemed inappropriate. After seeing the videos, I am confident I made the right decision especially for the sake of everyone reading this post.

Shea and I felt largely over-prepared for the class especially when the July due date couples answered "Hmm, I dunno" to a lot of the questions about labor, baby and life. Granted we're the couple who have trips planned for next May and August already, but still.

Valuable things we learned
1. We don't want an epidural. I was worried the class would scare me enough into wanting one but quite the opposite. The most uncomfortable I was during the whole class was when they showed a patient getting the epidural followed by an explanation of all the catheters, IV tubes and monitor belts strapped to her body. I realize there are game changers that might require more pain medication than originally thought, but I'd rather be walking around, deep breathing through the pain in the hallway than confined to a bed with bars. Sidenote: Of the 12 couples, we were one of two not wanting drugs.

I also found myself every 20 minutes leaning over to Shea and saying "I'm not doing that." This included: continuous fetal monitoring, automatic IV fluids, any sort of conversation involving pitocin and getting my haircut like any of the women in the videos. That being said, I will do whatever is medically necessary to have a healthy baby regardless of my ideal plan. But I'd rather start with a plan, and adjust if needed then let others make all the decisions for me.

2. They will place baby boy on my chest immediately and leave him there for an hour. Yay.

3. I'm not that big. Halfway through the class, Shea leaned over and said "OK, you are really not big at all." Not that it matters or that it's a competition but.. WINNER.

4. When going to the bathroom during the final trimester, pee. Then push baby up toward ribs, pee again. It's proven to be super helpful already.

5. For massaging the back during labor, the plastic one shaped like a turtle was best. Tennis balls and bare hands are super irritating.

Really annoying things we learned
1. Shea has to drop me off at the labor wing's circle drive, get me settled and then leave me to move his car. Considering we don't want to actually get to the hospital until I am in super active labor (avoid drug temptations) I find it hard to imagine me allowing him to leave for even 15 minutes. My new goal is to find a way to subvert this policy.

2. Providing apple juice and frequent breaks are nice but do not eliminate the pregnant woman's need for comfortable chairs if sitting from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

3. The educator provided very little information regarding risk of pain management drugs. Everyone has a different plan but making sure you are informed seemed difficult with this class. Thank goodness we're book-reading, over-achievers.

4. Teacher told us we should all have our bags packed already because her friend went into labor at 31 weeks. Puh-lease. I also learned to bring my own shampoo because it apparently costs money in the hospital. I can't pack my bag til I buy little shampoo. And I do not have time or motivation to buy little shampoo. This is apparently where the over-achieving mindset ends - in the shampoo aisle of Target.

5. "If you have to be induced, it's going to really hurt." "Your lips are going to dry out and crack with all that breathing." "If you eat, you will vomit on your husband and he will have to wear it." "Don't go through the drive thru on the way to the hospital, your wife will want to eat all of your Big Mac." "Husbands if you don't like poop or blood, stay near her head." I hear there's going to be a terrorist attack, too. Red alert! Geez..

Friday, June 17, 2011

to my favorite fathers

To my father, 
You helped me become the woman I am today. You've taught me many things - things I am still discovering today. As I face the job of parent in the next two months, I realize more and more the thought and immense love that went into shaping my life. The sacrifices, the anxiety and the joy. 

I'm excited to see you with your grandson. To help shape his life - teach him how to identify crops in the field, how to paint the house and properly mow a lawn. I hope he looks to you for advice when Shea and I don't have the answers. I hope he experiences the passion of a K-State/KU basketball game with his fanatical grandpa. I hope he learns the stories from your travels, understands the importance of climate change and gets it when he sees the awards hanging in your office.

Thank you for loving my mom, and loving her more as her belly grew. Thank you for rubbing her back and bringing home special treats when she was hot, tired or grouchy. Thank you for the moments before and after my birth when you spent time thinking about what makes the best kind of father. You did good, if I do say so my self.

Your daughter

To Shea, the father-to-be,
I hope that the love you feel the first time you see your son's face is so great it feels as if your heart will explode. That everything they say is true - you never realized you could love this much.

I hope the sleepless nights, the hormonal wife, the poopy diapers and the exasperating cries feel more like a privilege than a chore.

I hope our little boy grows up to be a man like you. One that loves God. Respects, cherishes and honors his wife. Works hard. Has joy for baseball or chemistry or whatever he loves most.

I hope you stick to your convictions in the hard moments when being a dad is just plain hard. Even when he screams that he hates us or we realize the other parents are letting their kids do that.

I hope we're always a team. That the love between us makes us even better parents. And that when we're done being full-time parents, we realize our marriage is even stronger than before.

I hope that being a father is one of the biggest blessings in your life. I hope you develop a father-son bond you're proud of.

Our little guy is the luckiest. You'll do great.
Your partner-in-crime

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

31 weeks

Baby boy,

You're getting bigger - seems to be a pattern every week eh? You're getting pretty close to your birth length but you have another 3-5 pounds to pack on before you make your exit.

Mama was feeling pretty good until the last 48 hours. After sleeping 11 hours on Saturday night, I slept four hours on Sunday night - making for a not so happy Monday. You see, my hips hurt. And my back. And my ankles and wrists. My hands are swollen. My legs are super sore and cramp several times in the night, usually when I am getting up to pee, which is now quite frequently. I hoping it was just overdoing it Saturday with six hours of errands, planting flowers, walking and a bit of theater and that normalcy will return. Monday night was much better so here's hoping. I'm trying to consider it training for life when you're on the outside wanting my attention when I used to sleep.

I've been having way more vivid dreams. Sunday night I dreamt over and over about a conversation I had at church about how I didn't need to get swaddling blankets (except for the very thin ones) because you'll be a heat of the summer baby. After waking up sweating at least five times thinking about it, I got up at 4:15 a.m. to delete them from our registry. Seriously, your mother might be going crazy.

We bought some things for your nursery followed by an hour of random crafting. Daddy painted your new shelf and I painted little blocks in our nursery colors. This weekend we hit another big milestone when we attend childbirth class. Considering how we both have non-feelings about the whole process of your entry into the world, I hope this doesn't rattle our nerves.

We're in the single-digit week countdown now! Can't wait to meet you face to face.


Monday, June 13, 2011

making the best of it

We realized going into last weekend that the number of weekends we have left as just the two of us that are free for fun things is countable on one hand. So we promised to take advantage of it.

Friday we used our last, soon-to-expire Muncharoo at a local Italian deli, Cupini's. Total cost of meal: 76 cents. Then we were off to Best Buy to use our $30 in rewards certificates. Being the super exciting couple that we are, we bought an extension cord for our new washer (front-loaders, hurray!), laundry detergent, washer cleaner, Skittles and Junior Mints. Total cost: 35 cents.

Saturday we went on our favorite morning date of Einstein Bagels, took our elderly neighbor shopping and then did four hours of our own errands. We are now those people who have to go to three grocery stores/farmers markets to get everything we want. Snobs! Highlight; Sample woman at Target saw my pregnant belly and said "oh honey, have as many samples as you want." Luckily for me she was sampling carrots.

The weather was perfect, and we have taken to grilling as much as possible.

I planted flowers and discovered landscaping stones hidden underneath soil and mulch. Being the daughter of a soil scientist, I know this does not make for fertile soil.

That night, we went to King and I at Starlight Theater. The musical was good, kettle corn was even better and the seats were way hard. All that proved to be exhausting, and we slept til 11 a.m. Sunday. And then we were super lazy.

{Mac loves his brother already.}

 We ended the evening with a goodbye to our current church building, which included an ice cream truck. A good ending to a great, family-of-two weekend.

tell me where it hurts

I had a GREAT weekend, which I promise to blog about when the third-trimester fairy stops being such a pest, and I've had more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Until then, enjoy this visual representation of what it's like to be 31 weeks pregnant and so tired you think drawing your own stick figure in Photoshop is the best way to communicate.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

our cloth diapering choice

Most people's reaction to my choice to do cloth diapering is - "people still do that?" or "You say that now.."

But really, we're doing it. And here's why.

Disposable diapers contain dioxins, which are potentially carcinogenic and listed as one of the most toxic chemicals according to the EPA. Plus, there are dozens of other chemicals linked to allergies and irritations that I'm not sure I want baby boy being exposed to so early in life. We've already switched to green cleaners - mostly Green Works and Meyer's for chemical reasons.

It doesn't make sense to me that we would go about our recycling ways and then throw 60-70 diapers a week into a landfill. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, disposable diapers make up 3.4 million tons of waste or 2.1 percent of landfills (1998). Critics will say that , my cloth diapering ways will use more water in my washing machine and diaper sprayer. True. But, we have Energy Star appliances, which bring the cost and impact of laundering way down. Cloth diapering also means human waste ends up in the sewer system - where it belongs.

While I'd love to tell you that my dedication to health and environment was so loyal that I'd do what I could no matter the cost, it's just not true. But the shocking amount of money saved per year using cloth sealed the deal. I plan to calculate this all out once baby boy has arrived and offer a more accurate count. Right now, we don't know exactly what works and how many days per week we're willing to launder. But, assuming we only got the bare minimum, here's the cost of our initial diapering:

5 FuzziBunz One Size Pocket Diaper - $100 ($19.95 each)
5 BumGenius 4.0 One Size - $90 ($17.95 each)
2 Sugar Peas Fleece Covers  for nighttime - $40
5 Thirsties Duo-Wrap Covers - $60
12 pre-fold diapers - $24
1 diaper sprayer - $44
2 wet/dry bags - $32

Total: $390

We're starting off with pre-folds and covers along with the four newborn diapers we received from our shower. Then we'll switch over to one-size diapers that will last the rest of his diapering days. We're planning on the fleece covers and wool soakers for nighttime use but I'm trying not to have concrete plans until we see how the little guy does. We'll buy special soap in bulk from Amazon's Subscribe and Save program. Right now I'm undecided on cloth versus disposable wipes. We'll probably use a combination depending on degree of nastiness.

For comparison's sake, disposable diapers cost around $16.80 per week (national average of 24 cents per diaper at 70 diapers per week for a newborn). To see a detailed cost comparison, click here. At that rate, we'll make up the cost in just five months. If you include the fact that the majority of our diaper stash and supplies will come as gifts, we could make up our costs in mere weeks.

These diapers will last us for boy's entire diapering career and snaps/elastic are easily replaced so we expect them to last for kid #2 as well. The savings will be in the thousands per kid. It's hard to doubt the choice we've made.

Stay tuned for what I am sure will be many more posts as we figure out our own system. For more on cloth diapering and natural parenting techniques, these blogs are great!

Cloth Diapering Whisperer
The Diaper Jungle: Cloth Diapering 101
Kelly's Closet
Cotton Babies

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

30 weeks

Dear baby boy,

Gulp! How did we get here? 30? Babies are born in the 30s. You could be BORN in the 30s, however statistically unlikely. You're pushing 16 inches and three pounds, about the size of a cabbage. Now you'll be gaining half a pound a week. You're learning to regulate your own body temperature, if only your mother could learn to do the same. Your brain is growing and starting to look fully formed - and obviously super brilliant. Did you know your intelligence genes come from your mother? You lucky boy...

My maternity book says, "these days you may feel as if you've got a flamethrower in your chest." Fact. Also accurate - lack of sleep, more middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks, bleeding gums and return of fatigue and moodiness. I'm also nesting and find it extremely satisfying to scrub the interior of my car, wash the mini-blinds and clean out the filing cabinets at work. How that last one benefits you, I'm not sure. But the euphoria that it's all happening so soon and those little feet bulging near my belly button will soon be on the outside is making everything lots of fun.

We had our first baby shower this weekend. It was perfect and seeing those teeny tiny cloth diapers sent a shock of excitement into me! Or maybe you moved your head on my nerve again - either one. I promise that despite the fact you don't have a crib put together, no bottles and only a few clothes we will figure it all out before you arrive.

Love, love, LOVE you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

showered with love and diapers

I had my first baby shower this weekend hosted by a wonderful friend from church. The gift part of the shower was nice considering how much stuff babies apparently need. I definitely left feeling a tiny bit more prepared but more importantly feeling special, revived and supported in this next chapter of our lives.

Laura made these adorable invitations - diapers with real Velcro - to go with the cloth diapering theme and teal colors of our nursery.

And the decor and food matched perfectly including a cloth diaper cake!

The guests were encouraged to fill out blank diapers with advice or support that we can read in weak moments of screaming, dirty diapers, no sleep and mountains of laundry.

We went home with a great start on our cloth diapering collection including these teeeeny tiny newborn diapers, which made me super excited to meet the little guy and his tiny little tush. We went home with a stash of one-size diapers, diaper sprayer, baby powder, cute books (including one in Russian), booster seat, hooded towels, nursing pillow and toys. My friend and master knitter Johanna made a special K-State purple sweater, which will fit perfectly for fall football games.

My mom and grandma were both able to attend and went home feeling extra special, too.

I'm lucky to have all these lovely ladies a part of my life knowing that embarking on motherhood won't be a lonely process.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, June 3, 2011

things I love this week

No more pyramid hoping to show nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. However, is this plate too simple?

Evolution thinks men are stupid and need visual evidence in order to be good fathers. Or perhaps it's just the mother convincing the man his baby is a spitting image.

Great Joplin photos and how the story was told on Twitter
Disasters bad, journalism good.

Best pediatrics photo ever
Here's our new pediatrician. Yes, we chose her because of this photo. This is the kind of logical, well-thought-out decision making that good parents are made of.

Make your own crayon box
I'm totally doing this.

Follow me
It's the first Friday of the month, which means you should most definitely click the "follow me" button right up there. Again with the logical connections...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the one with to-do lists

I started writing this post with to-do list for the next 11 weeks. Then I got a knot in my stomach and almost threw up my peanut butter crackers, especially when I got to the part about packing a hospital bag. What? Didn't I just pee on a stick last week? It's JUNE? Are you kidding me?!

So in the spirit of making life manageable, my (pay attention, Shea) to-do list for June.