Monday, December 9, 2013

Your doctor does not hate you

Being a cloth diapering mother has given me a desire to reach out and connect with other fluff-obsessed mothers, and that has largely been a good experience for me.  Unfortunately, it seems some people who cloth diaper do so because they are head over heels for the earth and just must have everything in their lives be "natural" or "chemical-free."  (Point of clarification: I am not talking about the people who just like natural.  I'm talking the crazies who want to put a lead-free pencil point in your eye if you skip over the Seventh Generation and grab a bottle of Tide.)

Me?  I love chemicals.  You give me a toy that has just been slathered in some random kid's saliva at the local playground and then joyfully passed back to my child, I am not going to be looking for some natural cleanser.  I am reaching for the Lysol in all of its glorious chemical goodness.

And I just do not get the obsession with everything being natural.  People seem to think that if something fits into that ill-defined category, it is automatically good and superior to other things, but that is NOT the case.  Take, for example, childbirth.  I went through about 5 hours of back labor in the hospital before I got my epidural, and I can tell you that the natural part of labor was awful, and the part where I had numbing agents coursing through my body was awesome.

As part of the "let's be natural" movement, I find a lot of people who seem to have the idea that American doctors - specifically, OBGYNs - uniformly possess the following characteristics:

  1. An intense desire to identify their patients' birth plans, goals, and wishes and then pursue any means necessary to ensure they are not fulfilled.
  2. Extreme laziness to the point of ordering random C-sections in order to make their lives easier.
  3. An unholy and disgusting lust for C-sections.
There are so many posts on the various groups and websites out there about doctors who are pushing patients towards unnecessary C-sections.  I think much of this stems from the popular documentary "The Business of Being Born," which paints an obscene picture of doctors as C-section-happy little monsters who run up and down the halls of the hospital, terrorizing young unsuspecting women into foregoing vaginal birth for no apparent reason.

As someone who had a C-section, I will attest that this is simply not the case.  Sure, there may be a few doctors out there who just LOVE cutting open their patients instead of letting them deliver their babies, but they are certainly in the minority.

After about 25 hours of labor, including 2 hours of pushing, my doctor asked me about doing a C-section.  We knew going in that my son was on the larger side, so a C-section was always contemplated as a possibility, but I really wanted to try to deliver him vaginally first.  My doctor, who I later discovered thought I was a bit crazy for even trying, was very supportive of my decision.  When my son stopped progressing, she gave me her opinion, which was that if I continued pushing, my son could get stuck, which could put him in distress.  I immediately said, "Let's do the C-section."

To me, any risk to my child was way too much.  I did not want a C-section, but I was much more willing to have one than to put the health of my little boy on the line.  When I told the doctor to go for it, she took the time to talk with me some more and asked me if I was sure that was really what I wanted to do.  There was no pressuring whatsoever, unless you count me saying, "Yes, let's do this.  Come on!"

Doing a C-section did not seem like laziness on the part of my doctor.  Cutting me open, extracting a human being, and then putting my insides back together properly was a pretty big deal, I think.

People often cite the fact that the United States has a high rate of cesarean births compared to other western countries.  Perhaps so, but let's stop for just a minute and think about why this might be.  In the United States, doctors tend to be very risk averse.  Why?  Because (a) they do not want to maim or kill patients, as a general rule and (b) they do not want to get sued.  And why would they get sued?  Because they took unreasonable risks with the health of their patients and their babies.

If you look at it that way, it is obvious that most doctors are simply trying to avoid any risk to babies.  I would rather have 10 unnecessary surgeries than put the life of my child at risk.  Could I have delivered my son vaginally if I had kept on pushing for another hour or two?  Perhaps yes.  Perhaps no.  But the most important thing is that my son was born healthy and continues to be healthy.

If your doctor really is putting all this pressure on you, go find another doctor.  Otherwise, stop and consider that maybe, just maybe, your doctor is looking out for you and your child instead of trying to ruin your life.

Monday, November 25, 2013

365 Days of Thanksgiving

I recently shared about working on my 2014 New Year's resolutions, and one of the things I was planning to do was to take time every day to stop and be thankful for something in my life.  The more I thought about this, the more I thought that I should find some way to plan and document it.  Thus was born the "365 Days of Thanksgiving" project.

I am hoping to get others to join me in this journey throughout 2014.  It is so easy to forget all of our conveniences and focus instead on what we do not have, but I have found that the more I stop and thank God for all the good in my life, the more I recognize and remember how wonderfully blessed I really am.  In 2014, I plan to do this every single day, and I hope that my readers will join me.

Each day next year, I will share what I am grateful for on the blog and invite readers to comment with what they are grateful for or with a link to a blog post of their own.  The more we see what others are grateful for, the more we will all realize how much good there is in our lives if we simply take time to acknowledge it.  (If you do a blog post, please label it with "365 Days of Thanksgiving" and include a link to my blog, as well.)  Let's see how far we can make the chain of thanksgiving go.

I encourage everyone to participate even if you only do so in private.  Take a moment to thank God out loud for something every day, and you will recognize your blessings and realize new blessings throughout the year.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Getting started on those New Year's resolutions

Okay, so everyone is worked up over how all the stores have "skipped" Thanksgiving and gone right to Christmas, but I am going to take it one step further and start talking about the new year.  (On a side note, people need to just settle down about skipping Thanksgiving.  The reason the stores go right into Christmas stuff is because at Christmas, most of us buy stuff for other people, and it turns out those stores have to make money in order to continue operating and paying their employees.  No one complains when the grocery stores "take advantage" of us by selling turkeys.)

I have been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions, and changes I would like to make in the coming year.  One major one is cleaning the house.  I have never been a neat person, but I love the feel of being in a house that is neat and clean.  Even before I had my son, I had a heck of a time keeping things clean, but other people do it, so there is no reason that I shouldn't be able to do it, too.  So, in 2014, getting the house clean and maintaining it in that state is one of my big goals.  I want to be able to invite someone to come into my house without 3 or 4 days notice.

Since I am terrible at keeping the house clean, I am working on developing a good cleaning plan, which I will share when it is complete.  I get overwhelmed if I try to tackle everything at once, so I want to find a way to just do a little at a time without letting the sheer volume of it make me give up.  Once things are clean, I also want to use this plan to maintain the house with daily, weekly, and monthly chores.

Another thing I want to do in 2014 is finally learn to sew.  I have had a sewing machine for several years, but I have only used it a few times.  I would love to take a class, but I just do not have the time (especially if I also plan to have a clean house).  I have found several instructional videos on YouTube to help me get the basics down, so that will be a good start.  I have to get the house clean first and then set up a good work space.

I also want to take time every single day to be thankful for what I have.  I am so often reminded of how good I have it and how blessed my life is.  I want to make a point to do that every day.

Those are a good start, but I'm sure as the end of the year sneaks closer, I will have more.  What are your resolutions for the New Year?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

30 Before 30 Challenge: #7: Get back to my wedding day weight.

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On my wedding day, July 2, 2011, I wore a size 0 dress, and I weighed 110 pounds.  Then I got married.  Within the first year of marriage, I rapidly gained 15 pounds and then crawled all the way up to 130 before deciding it was time to GET SERIOUS about losing weight.

I lost about 5 pounds, but I could not seem to drop the rest, due in large part to the fact that I often just fell off the wagon.  I LOVE food so much, and it is so hard not to eat yummy things, especially because healthy stuff never seems to really fill me up.  I end up hungry all day long, and being hungry makes me weak, physically and mentally.

I did experience some success when I started eating a lot of hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and lunch.  They would fill me up so that I could go a few hours without eating, and then I could still have a big meal in the evenings.

And then I got pregnant, and the whole thing went out the window.  I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, within reason (or sometimes not within reason, like the epic fried pickle craving day, of which I cannot speak without experiencing both pride and shame).  I gained about 38 pounds during the pregnancy, and my weight topped out around 164.  

Once my son was born, I lost most of that weight in just a few weeks.  He was more than 10 pounds of it, and I was breastfeeding, so it was easy to drop.  But then I hit 133 pounds and just stopped.  For more than a month, I sat at 133 pounds, not gaining or losing anything.

Yesterday, my mom called me and said she was going to be trying to lose some weight and asked me to help hold her accountable and encourage her.  I was inspired and decided that it is time to get myself motivated and start losing the rest of this weight.  Coincidentally, yesterday was my half-birthday, which means I have exactly 6 months from yesterday to reach my wedding weight in order to accomplish #7 on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30.

My first day was a rough one because I ended up eating way too much and then having to stay up late exercising in order to even things out.  I chose a calorie goal of 1,350, which I think is probably reasonable, but I ended up so hungry last night.  I was already discouraged by this morning, but when I did my weigh-in at 10:45 - according to my Wii Fit, I should weigh myself at the same time every day - I discovered I had lost 1.8 pounds since yesterday.  I realize some of that is probably water weight, but it is most likely excessive water weight since I did manage to get in my recommended 8 glasses of water yesterday.


Today, I am doing better, and I even ate some carrots this morning, even though I really do not like them.  I do miss being able to fit into my clothes, and I know that if I cannot lose the weight soon, I will have to start donating all of my itty-bitty clothes and buying bigger ones, and I just do not want to have to do that.

If you are interested in losing weight, join me on MyFitnessPal.com, and we can cheer each other on as we log our food and exercise!  Gooooooo team!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mission accomplished: Traveling with cloth diapers

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Well, I did it.  I got through my first weekend of traveling with cloth diapers only.  Last week, I posted about the planning process, and I felt I was quite well prepared for the trip.  Unfortunately, I forgot my diaper pail, which was not a game-ender but was definitely a game-changer.

Part of the reason I forgot it was because I did not fully consider the fact that there is never a time when ALL of my son's diapers are clean.  I realize this seems pretty obvious, but I thought I could just leave one or two in the pail as we traveled, and I just did not plan laundry time right.  I did plan to just take out what was in there and leave them, but then I just forgot the whole thing.

To make matters worse, my son decided to have one of his "poop days," so I had poopy diapers with no pail in which to store them.  I ended up just using some plastic grocery bags to store the poo diapers and tossing them, along with the wet diapers, into a garbage bag.  It was pretty stinky when I opened it up at home, but all in all, it really was not too bad.

I really enjoyed showing off my son's diapers to family.  I made sure my sister got to see the adorable Charlie Banana robot diaper she got him.  (By the way, I highly recommend Charlie Banana.  I do not particularly like the front-loading pocket since that part of the diaper is always soaked when I take it off, but it works so well that it is still one of my favorites, especially when we are out and about.  I love any diaper that I can put on without having to worry about leaks.  It's the little things.)  I also loved being able to put him in his BumGenius 4.0 and send him off to bed for the night without worrying that his clothes would be soaked in the morning.

All in all, it was a successful weekend, and I look forward to doing it next time, hopefully with my diaper pail along for the ride.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Getting ready to travel with cloth diapers

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The weekend is almost here, and I am excited because tomorrow I am taking my son up to Pennsylvania to see my family.  My husband is not able to go with us, so it will be just the two of us, plus our two dogs.  Fortunately, it is only a 2 and a half hour drive, and if I time it just right with his usual morning nap, we might even make it without having to stop.  Maybe.

I am also excited - and a little nervous - because this is going to be our first time traveling with cloth diapers.  The first few times we went away overnight, we used disposables for the sake of convenience and because we did not have anywhere to launder the diapers or enough diapers to go without washing for the length of the trip.  This time, we have my mother's washing machine available to us should we want to use it, but we also probably have enough to make it through without washing.

Traveling overnight with cloth diapers does require a bit more planning than using disposable diapers, but I think it is manageable.  I am definitely taking all of my BumGenius diapers from Kelly's Closet and my SmartSnugs because those are, by far, the best in my stash.

I have several BumGenius Freetime diapers, but I have even more BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers.  The 4.0s are my absolute favorite diapers.  I use them as my son's overnight diapers and any time we are going out or doing something where I know I cannot change him as often as I do at home.  I can leave them on him for as long as I would leave a disposable because the material wicks away moisture.  Even when his diaper is soaked, his skin is not.

I also have several SmartSnugs pocket diapers, including 1 NatureSnug and 3 SimpleSnugs.  I love them all, but I do think the Nature Snug does just slightly better at keeping my little man's tush dry over time.  I use them with the 6-layer Bamboo Charcoal insert, which is one of the best inserts I have found.  It defies logic because it is thin, absorbs a ton, and somehow dries super fast after washing.  I don't know how it works, but it does, and that's good enough for me.

For storage, I am taking my Bambino Mio diaper pail, which I absolutely adore because the lid locks, which makes it great at trapping odor and travel-friendly.  It is just the right size to hold about 2 days of diapers, which is perfect for me since I do diaper laundry every other day.  I am also taking my SmartSnugs wet bag.  I wish I had more wet bags, but hopefully in the future I can snag a few more.  So far, one has been enough, but I think traveling may change that.

Finally, I am taking along my Bummis Super Whisper Wrap and some prefold cloth diapers, just in case my son has one of his poopy days.  (Being breastfed, he only poops every 5-7 days, but when he does, it tends to happen in three's, and it tends to be ferocious.  I'm still not sure which is the better way to go - regular small poops or rare but deadly poops.)

The Bummis Super Whisper Wrap is something I never would have purchased on my own, but it came with a big stack of prefolds that I purchased from another mommy.  This is my absolute favorite diaper cover.  I have 3 of them in medium, but they fit my son well before he reached the minimum weight.  They are so easy to use, and I love being able to just lay a prefold into the cover and put it on.  They are also super trim, and they fit so well under my little guy's clothes.  I use them with his one fitted diaper, too.

And that's it.  I am doing up all my laundry today and using as few of his "good" diapers as possible, so he will have plenty that are clean and ready to go in the morning.  If nothing else, it should be interesting, and I am hoping to influence my sister a bit, just in case she decides to go for baby #3.

Have any tips for traveling with cloth diapers?  Please share them in the comments below.  Thanks, and wish me luck!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hooray for small victories: Recovering after pregnancy

Today, I wear a pair of jeans - not sweat pants, people! Jeans! - that are NOT maternity jeans.  Now, granted, they are a couple sizes larger than what I wore pre-pregnancy, but only a couple.  And last week, when I tried to put them on, I was able to button them but not able to breathe comfortably after doing so.  Although I cannot see a difference in the size of my belly since last week, the fact that I can wear these jeans is an indication that it is still getting smaller, even though it does not appear to be.

I am absolutely floored by how long it is taking to get rid of the belly, but I am so glad to know it is shrinking, albeit much too slowly for my taste.  I have tried doing abdominal exercises to move the process along, but that still causes me a little pain around the incision from my C-section, so I am going to wait a bit longer before getting too crazy with ab work.

I still cannot fit my wedding and engagement rings on my fingers, at least not without feeling as though I might be dangerously close to cutting off all circulation, but I think I will be able to soon.  I was so not prepared for this to take so darn long, but everyone keeps telling me that it took 9 months to grow the baby, so I should give myself 9 months to recover.

2 and a half down.  Only 6 and a half to go until I am "normal" again?  And really, I doubt I ever will be like I once was...5'2", 100 pounds soaking wet, flat tummy...but you know what?  Even though I still look pregnant, I would not change it for the world.  Carrying my little boy in my belly was the most amazing thing I have ever done.

And, on the bright side, at the rate we're going, we'll be ready to try for the next one before this belly is gone, so my son will be used to seeing Mommy with a big tummy.  Ha!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Taking time for Mommy

A few days before my son was born, my husband surprised me by presenting me with a "push gift," which is essentially a "thanks-for-having-my-kid-gift."  My hubby had filled mine with my favorite wine, my favorite vodka, my favorite coffee, my favorite snacks, and a gift certificate to Brush Strokes, a very nice salon in our area, so I could go get my hair done after the baby arrived.

After 2 and a half months, I finally managed to get to the salon this past weekend, and it was glorious.  I got my hair cut short and had highlights put in, so it took almost 3 hours.  It was the longest I have been away from my baby thus far, and I definitely missed him, but it was nice to just sit still for awhile and relax.  (It was also REALLY nice to get back home to my little boy.  Turns out I just cannot get enough of him.)


The salon was a lot more expensive than where I usually go (Hair Cuttery, I'm not ashamed to admit), but the service was noticeably better.  It was so nice not to have someone tell me six times that I have an awful lot of split ends and should have come sooner for a trim or that my attempt at coloring my hair on my own was a bad idea (even though I obviously know that because I said so when I came in).  They were so nice and even did my makeup for free.

Since I am still carting around a decent potbelly and starting to wonder if round is just going to be my permanent look from now on, going to the salon made such a difference in how I feel about myself.  I got myself dressed instead of just rolling around the house in sweat pants and a nursing tank like I often do, and I daresay I may even consider shaving my legs tonight...well, okay...maybe tomorrow.

The point is that it is so important to take time to do something nice for yourself from time to time.  Whether it is a trip to the salon, a new outfit, a massage, a mani-pedi, or whatever does it for you, make it happen.  If money is too tight for luxury items, treat yourself at home.  Have your spouse or a friend watch the kids for a few hours and take a long bath, do your hair, and give yourself a manicure.  It will make such a difference and make you feel so refreshed. Do it for you.  Do it for your spouse.  Do it for your kids.  Do it!

Friday, October 4, 2013

FREE Blogger Opportunity: $200 Toys R Us Gift Card Giveaway!



Christmas is almost here!!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Week Two of the 100 Pushups Challenge

Well, I made it through week 2 of the 100 pushups challenge.  The program continues to be a major challenge, but so far, I have been able to complete all of the workouts as scheduled.  When I performed the initial test, I could only do 7, but after finishing this week's workout, I did 17 pushups in a row.  I am pretty excited about my progress, and it is so encouraging to see the results of my hard work.

I do have a few tips for anyone starting the program, all based on my experience thus far:

  1. Stretch, stretch, stretch.  Do a lot of stretching before and after every workout.  Doing pushups is really hard work, and if you do not stretch a lot, you will be really sore.  It's hard enough to complete the workout when you aren't in pain, but if your arms are hurting going into it, look out.
  2. Maintain a regular schedule with at least a day between each workout.  Don't try to do your workouts too close together.  You really need that day of rest in between workouts, and it will give your muscles time to repair.
  3. Take it one set at a time.  When you start each workout, just concentrate on completing each set.  Don't be intimidated by how many you have left to complete, and if you need to take a little extra time between sets, go for it.
  4. Find someone to do the challenge with you.  I tried to get my husband to join me, but he hasn't started it yet.  Although I don't have anyone doing it with me at the moment, he might join me, and I think it would be a great motivator to have someone with whom to compete.
Good luck with your own workouts, and have fun!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Current cloth diaper and baby gear giveaways

After much internal debate, I have decided to let go of my giveaways list for now.  I have way too much other stuff going on, and it is just too much trying to maintain it.  BUT I will not leave you without some really great links that I have found and use often, so you know where to go from here. Happy entering and winning!

Cloth Diaper and Baby Gear Giveaways:

Change-Diapers.com's Friday Giveaway Roundup - Cloth diapers, strollers, car seats, diaper bags, baby carriers, and more! 

Low Entry Giveaways:

Airplanes and Dragonflies - Subscribe to make sure you get the daily list.  I have won a bunch of giveaways listed by this site.  It is definitely worth it to check it out regularly.

Twitter Parties:

Mommy Blog Expert - Awesome Twitter party calendar

 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Breastfeeding for beginners: What they don't tell you

I originally planned to formula feed my son, and I had several reasons why I thought that would be best. I wanted my baby to be able to bond with other people through feeding, especially his father.  I wanted him to sleep well, which is a much easier feat to achieve using formula than breast milk since formula keeps them full longer.

At the end of my pregnancy - and we are talking 37 weeks plus, I changed my mind and decided to breast feed.  I had been leaning that way, but honestly, it kind of freaked me out.  I know, I know - "It's natural," and "It's the way God intended us to feed our babies," but still, I was kind of feeling a bit "ew" on the whole thing.

But reading about all the health benefits for my little guy (and me) made me decide that I would just bite the bullet and make it happen.  I got a book from the library and read up on breastfeeding as I waited out the last few weeks.  I went into the hospital ready to rock and roll.  Things went pretty well from the start, apart from a few initial latching issues.  Once we found a position that worked for both of us - my 10 pound, 2 ounce baby necessitated a c-section, which left me in quite a bit of pain - we were off to a good start.

Our first night home, however, my son would not sleep, and all he did was cry when I put him to bed.  I could tell he was hungry, so I kept nursing him for hours.  I was still in excruciating pain from the surgery, not to mention absolutely wiped out from the surgery and the Percocet.  The pediatrician had told us to consider supplementing with formula because Clayton lost a good bit of weight in the hospital.  That first night home, I finally gave him 2 ounces of formula, which was enough to fill him up and allow him - and me - to sleep.

When it comes to breastfeeding, it seems there are so many rules out there that are touted as being absolute, as well as so many things that are said in such a way that they do not really prepare you for life as a nursing mom.  So, first a disclaimer, then on to breastfeeding as I see it.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional, nor have I been educated in breastfeeding, lactation, childbirth, child rearing, or anything to do with any of these things.  The following comments are based solely on my experience and should be taken as such.  Consult a medical professional or lactation consultant for expert advice because this is not it.

Breastfeeding, as I see it:

  1. Virtually every breastfeeding resource out there will tell you that it is normal to experience sore nipples in the first couple days or weeks of breastfeeding.  This is absolutely true.  However, having just gone through pregnancy, that translated to me as, "Sore, but not a huge deal."  In the first two weeks of my son's life, I experienced excruciating pain to the point where I had to stop using one side or the other for days at a time, just to allow some healing.  (I still used a breast pump, which was much less painful than nursing and kept the sorest boob from getting engorged and even more sore.)  Seriously, I used to have to do lamaze breathing to get through the first few minutes after my son latched.  After about two weeks, things improved rapidly, and even during his growth spurts when he is eating ALL DAY, it has never been nearly that bad.  To get through it, I imagined that by dealing with the pain of nursing, I was sparing my son the pain of an illness he might otherwise get if I was not breastfeeding.  Stay strong, ladies.  This, too, shall pass.  (And if it doesn't, talk to a lactation consultant because it really isn't supposed to be like that all the time.)
  2. There is a lot of talk about nipple confusion and how you should not give a baby a bottle or a pacifier until he is about a month old because he will forget how to nurse.  My son had his first bottle (Tommy Tippee) at 5 days old.  We never had a problem with nipple confusion.  I was afraid to give him a bottle at all, but when the pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula, I asked if I should give it to him in a dropper.  Her response was, "Yeah, sure.  Or a bottle.  As long as you are putting him on the breast regularly, he's not going to get confused."  And he didn't.  (See disclaimer above before freaking out.)
  3. When it comes to waiting for your milk to come in or growth spurts, there is a lot of talk about how you should never supplement with formula.  When my son hit his first growth spurt at 3 weeks, I was floored by how much he was eating.  He has always been a big eater, probably because of his size, but he was eating almost constantly during his growth spurt.  The first two days, I tried so hard to keep up with him, but in the evenings, I could not keep up anymore.  There was no milk coming out of me, and he was hungry.  So, guess what.  I did supplement with formula.  I gave him a couple ounces to help him fill up, and then I popped my breast pump on and let it do its thing.  That way, my body would still get the signal to produce more, but my son did not have to starve.  People like to say, "Oh, your breasts are never empty," but mine might as well have been because there was nothing coming out of them.  Today, we no longer have to supplement, and even at his last growth spurt, we made it through without formula.  But if you are a little low on milk, don't let other people make you feel bad about using a little formula so that your child doesn't have to be hungry.  This is not the stone ages.  Thanks to formula and breast pumps, we can feed our kids from bottles and trick our bodies into thinking we are nursing so we can produce more.  I am not about to let my poor son cry from hunger out of some misguided devotion to breast milk.
  4. There will be growth spurts around 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age.  These are no joke.  When your child is having a growth spurt, try to avoid having company or going out because he is going to need to eat A LOT.  (On a side note, by the time your child is 3 weeks old, you will probably know his hunger cues like the back of your hand.  No matter how little experience you had with babies before having one of your own, do not let anyone try to tell you he does not need to eat when you know he is hungry.  You know your child.  In my house, the rule is, "If he's hungry, he's allowed to eat.")

BuildaSign.com Review

Press+Sample 

As I have mentioned, I am in the process of saving money towards starting my own business, with the ultimate goal of being able to work from home exclusively so that I can be with my son.  Although I am not quite ready to launch, I do have enough of the basics figured out that I am ready to start working on advertising materials.  So, when a representative from Build A Sign contacted me, I was super excited to be able to try and review their products.

I chose bumper magnets, which I love because they are an inexpensive way to spread the word about my business, and they are easy to attach and remove from vehicles.  When my business is ready to launch, I will be able to slap a magnet on the back of my car (and hopefully talk a few friends into doing the same) and feel like even sitting in traffic is a worthwhile endeavor.

The kind people at Build A Sign gave me free rein to design my car magnet bumper stickers, and with their fabulous web tool, I was able to do it all on my own in just a few minutes.  I am one of those people who usually has trouble with this kind of stuff, even when it should be really easy, so when I say the design tool is easy to use, I mean it.





I received my magnets about a week later, and they appeared just as they had on the website.  I love that I was able to design them so easily, and they are so affordable that I may just have to order some more once I get launched!

On top of everything, the representative from Build A Sign was ridiculously patient with me, as being pregnant and then having a C-section really delayed me ordering and then posting this review.  He was so nice and understanding, which makes me want to order from them even more.

In addition to car magnets, Build A Sign offers a ton of other custom-made products to help promote your business, including bumper stickers, yard signs, banners, license plates, business cards, and more!  You name it, they probably have it.  If you are a small business owner - or a big business owner - looking for a great sign maker, take a few minutes and check them out.

Even if you do not have a business to promote, try their banner maker for your next big event, such as a child's birthday party.  Their banners are very reasonably priced, especially compared to others on the market, and the quality is fantastic.

Give them a try.  I think you will be very pleased with the results.  Please be sure to mention my review in the "Comments" section when you place your order.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week One of the 100 Pushups Challenge

Last week, I reported that I was starting the 100 Pushups challenge, which is a workout program designed to help users achieve the ability to do 100 pushups in a row in just 6 weeks.  When I took the initial test last week, I was only able to complete 7 pushups in a row, which was both depressing and motivating.  Since then, I have improved considerably, and I am really excited to see my progress thus far.  I can't wait to see where I am at the end of next week.

The program has 3 workouts per week, each with 5 sets of pushups.  The first 4 sets are a specific number, and the last set is a max out set where you do as many as you can.  Below are the results from the final set of the first week's workout, as well as my thoughts along the way.

Day 1:

Max: 8

Comments: Feeling pretty weak! Getting through the first 2 sets of 6 was incredibly hard, but it was nice to only have to do sets of 4 after that.  I do feel kind of pathetic because I can do so few pushups, but at least I am doing something about it. Gotta stay focused!

Day 2:

Max: 11

Comments: Woo! That was really hard, but I managed to complete it.  Then I surprised myself by cranking out 11 pushups!  I am already getting stronger!

Day 3:

Max: 12

Comments:  After just one week in the program, I can do 5 more pushups than when I started.  I am feeling stronger each time!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Starting the 100 Pushups Challenge

When I turned 29 in April, I published a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30.  Number nine on the list is completing the 100 pushups challenge.  Now that I am a day shy of 8 weeks out from my C-section, I am eager to get started strengthening my arms.

The 100 pushups challenge is a workout program that is designed to help you achieve the ability to complete 100 consecutive pushups.  As someone who has never been able to eke out more than 20 at my best, the idea that I could one day be able to do 100 pushpus in a row is pretty wild.

I have been encouraging my hubby to do the challenge with me, but it keeps getting put off for a later time.  Finally, I decided that if I am going to do this, I have to get started on my own, and hopefully, when he realizes that I can do more pushups than him, he will join me.  Ha!

First, I had to take the initial test to determine which level of the training program to use.  The initial test simply asks users to perform as many consecutive pushups as they can.  When I performed the initial test, I only managed 7 pushups, which was depressing, but not surprising.



Ever since my C-section, I feel like my whole body is so weak.  I don't know if it is from the surgery or if it just because I am weakened from the pregnancy, but whatever the cause, I am just happy to be back in the saddle and able to start working towards a better body and better fitness level.

Because I could only do 7 pushups, I will be following the 2nd column of the training program.  Every week, I will be doing 3 days of training.  It takes only a few minutes to complete each day's workout, so I intend to stick with it and in six weeks, I should be able to do 100 pushups in a row, which will be incredibly empowering.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rump Arounds Pocket Diaper Giveaway

On the Facebook page, I asked whether y'all would be interested in a USED diaper giveaway, and a lot of you said you would, so here is the first one!

The diaper up for grabs is a Rump Arounds pocket diaper in the "Dog called Spot" print. 


It is a one-size diaper with 3 rows of snaps  so it is very adjustable. It fity newborn son from the start, but he was born weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces, so he was on the big side.

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE ENTERING THIS GIVEAWAY:

This is a giveaway for the United States only.  The diaper is used but has no stains and is in like new condition. No guarantees of any kind are made as to this diaper, and the winner agrees to accept the diaper as is.  By entering, you acknowledge that it is a used diaper.  This giveaway is not associated with Rump Arounds Cloth Diapers in any way and is brought to you by Spare Time Super Mom.

Insert


Enter to win this very cute, trim diaper and insert using the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is not sponsored by Rump Arounds.


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Giveaway: Treat yourself with Escape Monthly!

Escape Monthly knows that you need to feel pampered sometimes, but as mommies, that does not often happen.  That is why Escape Monthly delivers a box of destination-inspired luxury products to your door each month.  Even if you can't get away physically, the items in each box will help you escape, even if it's just for an hour or so.

The boxes contain various items inspired by a specific destination, including full-size bath products, teas, gift certificates, and more.  Plus, you automatically get entered into a drawing to win a trip for two to each monthly destination, just for being a member.

Escape Monthly is $49.95 a month, but if you sign up now using the code "YOURESCAPE," you will save 20% off your monthly box, and this code is good for 20% off every box you order FOR LIFE!

Want to try before you buy?  Escape Monthly has generously offered a free box to one lucky reader.  Enter to win a free Escape Monthly box to try using the Rafflecopter form below.

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My rant on cloth diaper naysayers

I am excited for my little man to arrive (sometime in the next two weeks!!!), and I really cannot wait to get started using my extensive cloth diaper stash that I have built up in anticipation of his arrival.  Although I have not yet started using them yet, I have become quite an advocate for cloth diaper use over the past few months.  I have spent a lot of time researching cloth diapers and how to properly use and wash them, so I feel I am as ready as I can be to use them on my son.

One of the things that drives me absolutely batty right now is the way that people who have never contemplated using cloth diapers seem to think they know everything about it.  I was at a party a few weeks ago, and one of my friends mentioned that I was planning to use cloth diapers.  Another woman at the party, who I have met a few times, started telling everyone what "the problem with cloth diapers" is.  She went on and on about how difficult they are to clean and said, "You have to rinse them and then wash them, like, four times, and spray them and bleach them and wash them again."

I, of course, attempted to jump in and clarify that it really is not that difficult, not to mention that bleaching your diapers will destroy them, but she happens to be one of those people who thinks she knows everything about everything and is generous enough to share it with all the other humans who are just stumbling through life awaiting her guidance.

The whole situation really irritated me.  I mean, I certainly have a lot of folks in my life who think I am a little crazy for cloth diapering.  Maybe I will end up being one of them after I give it a try.  However, nearly everyone is at least supportive of me doing it.  They may not be ready to convert themselves, but they are at least watching to see how it goes for me.  I don't even mind some good-natured ribbing about it.  After all, 8 months ago, I was right there with them, and I never thought I would consider using cloth diapers.

But when people who don't know anything insist upon getting noisy with their misguided instructions on how to live life, I get irritated.  I suppose it did not help that the gal who decided to give a "how-to-wash-your-cloth-diapers" lecture - or, in her case, a "how-to-destroy-your-cloth-diapers" lecture - is not one of my favorite people to begin with.

To make matters worse, last week, my husband and I attended two days of childbirth classes to prepare for our son's birth.  On the second day, a local pediatrician came in to speak with us.  He asked if anyone was planning to use cloth diapers, and I raised my hand.  He then made some joke about me trying to save the earth and delivered it in this condescending tone that indicated that he thinks I am some naive little woman with big dreams that I will never accomplish but aren't I just adorable for trying?

First of all, my motivation for using cloth diapers is primarily financial.  Second, even if all I wanted to do was save the earth, what the heck is wrong with that?  Third, why in the world does he feel the need to make fun of a new mother who is trying to do something a little differently?  Talk about insecure.  Needless to say, we will not be employing him or his practice as our pediatrician.

Working overtime to induce labor naturally



I am currently 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and the doctors (and my reflection in the mirror) tell me I have a great big baby boy cooking in there, so I am quite eager to get him out before we hit a point of no return, and I have to have a c-section.  So for the last week or so, I have been trying everything under the sun to get my body in gear and get this little man out.

I am doing a lot of physical activity, with an emphasis on squats, stairs, and walking.  Yesterday, I did 250 squats, and today, I am aiming to hit that again and maybe even surpass it.  I also have stopped asking my hubby to do everything that requires a trip up or down the stairs.  Fortunately, the knee trouble I had earlier in my pregnancy is much better now, so going up and down the stairs is not too painful.

I am also drinking raspberry leaf tea and taking evening primrose oil.  I really do not know yet if either of these are working since I only just started them a few days ago, but at least they help me feel like I am doing something.

At my last doctor's appointment, 6 days ago, I was 50% effaced and dilated 1 centimeter.  I have another appointment tomorrow, so I am hoping that I will show some progress then.  Actually, I am hoping that I do not make it to that appointment and that I just go into labor today, but some progression in effacement and dilation tomorrow is the next best thing.  

I also found this great labor dance video, which if nothing else, really makes me laugh, both when watching it and when attempting to do it.  The best part about me trying to do it is seeing my dog Oliver come strolling into the room and just stare at me as though I've lost my mind.  It's hard to feel good about yourself when your dog is judging you.

Arthropet Review and Giveaway

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I am so excited to be a part of this giveaway.  I happened to see that Neocell was looking for someone to do a review and giveaway for their product Arthropet, and I jumped on it right away.  The company's representative was really nice and great to work with.  She generously sent me 2 bottles of Arthropet for my dog Oliver to try.

Oliver is a 7-year-old German Shepherd and Chow Chow mix.  He has suffered from arthritis since he was only 3 years old.  He has always been and continues to be a very playful, loving, and enthusiastic dog, so it is easy to identify when he is in pain.

Until recently, I had him taking a joint supplement in the form of a treat.  He loved the taste and had no idea it was good for him, which is always nice.  However, when the 2013 pet food recall happened, a friend of mine told me that his treats were among those recalled, and I discontinued using them.

Oliver did all right for awhile since he also eats Purina One Vibrant Maturity dog food, which contains glucosamine to help with his joints.  However, I started to notice him slowing down a little bit.  When he would stand up after being asleep, he seemed stiffer than usual.  Although we have dealt with these joint issues for awhile, we have usually been able to stay ahead of them, so I was eager to find something to replace his old supplements.

About the company

Arthropet is manufactured by NeoCell, a company that provides a wide variety of health products with an emphasis on collagen protein.  The company was started by a scientist who started using collagen protein after his own heart surgery.  After seeing the amazing effects it had on his recovery, he started NeoCell to help bring collagen protein to others.  The company has grown significantly since then, but I love the fact that it was born out of one man's personal experience.

About the product

Arthropet contains chicken cartilage, which is a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen.  It provides your pet with these essential ingredients to help slow joint deterioration and promote strong, healthy, and happy dogs.  Arthropet also helps to promote eye health in dogs, which is a great additional benefit for the senior pooch.

Oliver's experience

The supplements are designed to taste good to dogs.  I tried giving them to Oliver straight, and he did not go for it, but I think that is an Oliver issue, not an issue with the product.  He has very strange and picky tastes for a dog and turns his nose up at things that every other dog in the world will eat.  So, to test my theory, I tried giving a couple to our other dog, Stella.  She was all over them and ate them like they were treats.  I imagine most dogs would like them well enough to eat them plain.

Oliver took one tablet a day for several weeks.  The recommended dosage for his size is 2 tablets, but I wanted to see how he would respond to just one, especially since he gets some benefits from his dog food already.  After about 10 days, I started to notice an improvement in how he was getting around.  When he would get up after napping, he was moving better.  He also seemed to be in better spirits over all, and when we returned from walks and he performed his usual celebratory "I-just-went-for-the-best-walk-of-my-life" dance, he exhibited no signs of pain or stiffness.

The giveaway

Neocell is generously offering a free bottle of Arthropet to one of my lucky readers.  If you have a dog with arthritis or other joint pain, I highly recommend trying this product.  There is nothing worse than seeing your beloved pet in pain, but veterinarian treatments can be very expensive.  Enter using the form below for a chance to try Arthropet for free.

If your pet is really suffering now, you do not have to wait for the giveaway to end to try Arthropet.  It is available at a variety of online stores, including Swanson Vitamins.  Give it a try, and be sure to come back and let me know how it worked for your pup.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Product Review: Ivarest Cleansing Foam for Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Other Skin Rashes

Ivarest Poison Ivy Cleansing Foam
If you follow the blog, you know that my life has been pretty much consumed the last week and a half by a pregnancy rash that has made it nearly impossible to sleep and has made me absolutely miserable.  The rash, which my doctor originally thought was PUPPP but may actually be pemphigoid gestationis or some other kind of pregnancy-related rash, started on my stomach and quickly spread to the rest of my body, with the most vicious irritation occurring on my hands and feet.

In my quest to find some kind of relief for this pregnancy rash, I have tried all kinds of different products.  Although I knew it was not poison ivy, I picked up a product designed for poison ivy because the rash has similar characteristics.  

The product is called Ivarest Poison Ivy Cleansing Foam, and it is manufactured by Blistex.  It boasts the ability to stop poison ivy from forming if used soon after exposure and to keep it from spreading.  It also contains menthol to soothe the itching and burning.  

Desperate for anything that would provide even temporary relief, I bought the Ivarest and jumped in the shower as soon as I got home.  I used it on my hands, feet, arms, and legs.  I really was not expecting much because my rash is clearly not poison ivy, but to my surprise, the Ivarest worked wonders in just a matter of minutes.  It soothed the itching from my rash and allowed me to regain some semblance of sanity after days (and nights) of nonstop itching.

Although I was given a steroid pack to treat the rash, which helped take away the worst of it, I continue to have symptoms and flare ups, especially on my hands and feet.  They are still bad enough to keep me from sleeping, but I have found that if I wash my hands and feet with Ivarest, I can get enough temporary relief to allow me to fall asleep or to be able to focus on other tasks (like doing squats and running up and down the stairs to try to get this baby out).  

Whether you have poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, or some other kind of skin rash that is making you crazy, I recommend giving this product a try.

Disclaimer:  This is a completely UNSOLICITED review of Ivarest based on my experience.  No compensation or other incentive whatsoever was provided to me by the company.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Treatment for relief of PUPPP pregnancy rash

Last week, I shared about my pregnancy rash, which I first noticed on my stomach on Wednesday.  Over the course of the next few days, the rash spread and intensified to a nearly unbearable level.  (See nasty pictures below.)  It was so bad that my hands would sometimes swell to a point where I could not bend my fingers.  I could not sleep more than an hour or two total each night, sometimes less, and I had very little relief from the many remedies I tried, including 1% hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, and aloe.  The only thing that really gave me any relief was icing my hands and soaking my feet in cool water.

I spent a miserable weekend and returned to my doctor on Tuesday of this week.  When she got a look at my hands and arms, she decided immediately that we had to take action.  She prescribed me a steroid pack and also arranged for me to see a dermatologist that afternoon.  Then she had the nurse draw my blood to test for a buildup of toxins in my system.

I went to the dermatologist, who said she thought that it could actually be a different kind of pregnancy rash called pemphigoid gestationis.  (It is also known as herpes gestationis, but it has nothing to do with the herpes virus.)  She did a biopsy on two different spots on my back to see if that is indeed what it is.

If it does turn out to be pemphigoid gestationis, that will leave me with a whole host of other issues with which I will have to deal.  Among the most terrifying is the fact that it would mean that every subsequent pregnancy is likely to involve another rash outbreak.  As someone who wants to have a large (by modern standards) family, this really concerns me.  I am not sure how many times I could do this again.

Pemphigoid gestationis is known to cause low birth weight, which is certainly not the case for my son, as well as blistering of the skin.  So far, I have not really had blisters form, so I am hopeful that the biopsy results will be favorable.

After I left the dermatologist, I got my prescription for Methylprednisolone tablets filled and hurried home to start them as soon as possible.  It was several hours before I noticed any improvement, but just knowing that something was being done about this horrible rash was enough to cheer me up significantly.

Since then, the rash has continued to improve a little each day.  The itching is now confined mostly to my hands and feet, and it is mild enough to be controlled by regular washing with Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap (available at Whole Foods), lotion, and soaking.  I am hopeful that it will continue to improve over the next few days, and hopefully I will deliver my son soon, and I can move on from this nightmare.

The point of this story is that you do NOT always have to suffer through PUPPP or other pregnancy rashes.  When I was researching the rash and trying to find ways to deal with it, it seemed like everyone who had experienced it was told that it is just something they have to deal with until delivery.  Their doctors did not seem to take it very seriously at all, and so they just continued to suffer through sleepless nights and excruciating days until they delivered their babies and the rash finally went away.

But having talked to my doctor, I realized that is not necessary.  There is treatment for pregnancy rashes that is safe for the baby and can provide significant relief.  Some doctors just take the whole thing more seriously than others, so if your doctor thinks that your PUPPP rash is no big deal, do not be afraid to get aggressive and push for a steroid pack or other treatment.  It is ridiculous for women to have to suffer through this, especially when they are supposed to be resting up for D-day.

If you have a rash during pregnancy, make sure to talk to your doctor about it right away, just in case it is not just PUPPP but is instead something more serious.

My hand during the first few days of the rash


My leg 

My hand with lots of bubbles of swelling



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dealing with PUPPP and finding joy in a difficult time

Two days ago, I shared about my newest pregnancy symptom, pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP.  Since then, my rash has become consistently worse to the point where it kept me up all night last night and has only allowed me a few stolen hours of sleep here and there since.  I have it on my stomach, arms, legs, and hands.  My hands are by far the worst in terms of itchiness.

The itching is so bad that I can barely type this, and I have to keep stopping to attempt some form of relief.  It is at a level where it is both itchy and painful, and the itch is so bad that I would prefer it just to be pure pain instead.  I have absolutely no clue what to do at this point, except to continue to pray and keep my hands cool with compresses.

Having experienced such a good and easy pregnancy up until now, I am feeling a bit under attack the last few weeks.  First, there was the news that my little boy is rather large, which throws a bit of a wrench into my plans for a relatively smooth and easy delivery, plans that I have been proclaiming for myself since I learned I was pregnant.  Now, as I near the final days, I am experiencing something so uncomfortable and painful that for the first time all pregnancy, when my husband expressed sympathy, I did not respond by telling him the usual, "It's not that bad" or "Oh, it could be worse."  Instead, I just looked at him and said, "This is really bad."

The truth is, however, that it could be worse.  As much as I am suffering right now, I am so grateful to be looking at my own hands and dealing with the pain in them instead of watching my child suffer with some physical ailment.  All indications are that our little guy is healthy, and I would suffer this agony the rest of my life rather than have to watch him go through a terrible illness the way that so many parents much watch their children.

So tonight, as I spend another night trying desperately to sleep and instead sitting awake hour after hour with what may be the worst physical ailment with which I have ever contended (and I do not say that lightly), I will not take these challenges lying down, and I will not allow them to make me forget all the things for which I am so grateful.

I believe I am under a spiritual attack because I have stuck fast to my belief that everything would go smoothly for me when it came time to deliver.  I have consistently prayed for my delivery process and especially for the physical health and mental well-being of my son, and I have been very confident that things will go as I have planned and proclaimed.  I have maintained a positive attitude through most of my pregnancy trials, albeit with an occasional emotional meltdown here and there, mostly during my second trimester where I averaged about 2 hours of sleep a night.  But the PUPPP has been so unbearable the last few days that it really did manage to get me down.

But I am done with being down about it.  I am not going to let some physical ailment rule over my life because I am a Christian, and I do not have to submit to such things.  I have authority over them, and I have authority over the way I respond to them.  Instead of sitting here wallowing in the agony of my situation, I am going to focus on all the things for which I am grateful.  

Here are just a few to get me started:

  1. The PUPPP itching and pain is so bad that it gives me a real opportunity to practice distraction techniques for when I go into labor.
  2. I have a husband who went to the store to pick up various treatment options for me, then came home and made me an oatmeal bath to try to help relieve the itching.
  3. I live in a home where I can run my hands under cold water - one of the few things that actually seems to help, at least for a few minutes - any time I wish and continuously apply new cold compresses to my hands.  Some women deal with the symptoms of PUPPP while living in places where they have no access to any form of relief.
  4. I have new perspective on what constitutes true itchiness, and no mosquito bite will ever phase me again.
  5. I am dealing with a physical ailment, rather than having to endure the emotional torment of watching my husband or son try to battle an illness or other physical problem.
I have so many more things to be grateful for, and I am going to spend the rest of the night focusing on them, practicing my distraction and pain management techniques for labor, and praying for relief.  I am also going to do some squats and walk around as much as possible in order to try to help get the baby moving along before he starts aiming at any Guinness World Records for size.

If anyone has dealt with PUPPP and found a way to cut down on the severity of the symptoms, please share!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pregnant and itchy: skin rash during pregnancy

I have been really fortunate throughout my pregnancy as far as most symptoms go.  My morning sickness was limited to nausea with no vomiting.  My feet have not really been very swollen until just in the last few weeks, but they are not bad enough to necessitate buying bigger shoes or anything like that.  My back pain has been almost nonexistent, which is wild because I have had back problems for years.  For these things and others, however, I have consistently prayed and been prayed for, and even when I started to experience symptoms, they usually cleared up pretty quickly.

A few days ago, I noticed a new one.  I was putting some lotion on my constantly itchy tummy and felt some bumps on the lower part of my belly.  I had to get a mirror since I can no longer see that portion of my stomach, but when I did, I found a patch of red bumps about three inches long and two inches wide.  I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the next day, and the itchiness wasn't TOO bad, so I decided to wait and ask the doctor.

When I did, she responded by saying, "You have pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy."  

Um, okay.  Glad to have that cleared up.

She must have noticed my glazed-over look because she then explained that pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP, as it is more commonly and efficiently called, is a common skin rash that occurs during pregnancy.  It is not really a big deal or anything to be concerned about, and she told me that there is not a whole lot to do except put 1% hydrocortisone cream on it and keep it moisturized.

I was not too worried about the situation at the time because it had not been unreasonably itchy, but by the evening, it was out of control.  I was so itchy I wanted to scream and nearly did a few times.  (We have a nervous beagle, so I kept my urge to start screaming lest the beagle get startled and start peeing.)  I did go back out later and pick up some 1% hydrocortisone, but even with that, lotion, petroleum jelly, and Aquafor, I was awake until some time after 4 a.m.

I'll be honest.  I think I would take the swollen feet over this one, but as with all things, I will turn it over to the Lord in prayer and expect it to clear up in a day or two like most of my other symptoms have.  What was the most unexpected pregnancy symptom you had? 

My baby can beat up your baby...and your dad!

I can hardly believe that I am finally full term as I celebrate 37 weeks pregnant today!  I remember feeling so jealous of the women who were at this point when I was crawling slowly through weeks 22, 23, 24, etc.

Now I can really start trying in earnest to get things moving, and after yesterday's doctor's appointments, I better hope they do move!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my doctor's visits where I was told first that I was measuring large for 34 weeks and then that I was carrying around a full-term size baby at 34 weeks.  (I would just like to take this opportunity to note that while we were traveling in Spain and Ireland, I encountered some typical swollen feet issues, which promptly went away after I prayed over them.  All this with a big boy in my belly - God cares about the little things in our lives!)

Yesterday, I returned to the ultrasound doctor's office for a follow-up, where they informed me that the baby is now measuring between 8 and 9 pounds.  The machine estimated 8 pounds 10 ounces, but the tech said the machine tends to measure high, so she would put it closer to 8 and a half.  Then the doctor said he was getting measurements closer to 8 pounds, which, by the way, just goes to show how unreliable this technology can be.  The difference between these estimates is enough to make the doctor say "c-section" when she would otherwise say, "Go for it!"

I had an appointment with my obstetrician an hour and a half after the ultrasound, so I reported what they told me there so we could discuss the options.  She checked me for dilation - none - and said that the baby is still fairly high, so although he has definitely dropped some since I can now breathe, he is not as low as he could be.  She encouraged me to do as much walking as I comfortably can ("comfortably" being taken with a grain - or six - of salt), but she also said that if he continues to grow at the rate he has been, we may need to schedule a c-section.  I have another ultrasound scheduled for July 5 if I am still pregnant, and depending on those results, it may be slice and dice time.

I will admit that there was a time in my pregnancy when the thought of having a c-section was a major deal to me, and I viewed it much as people view tragedies.  They happen frequently, but not to me.  I was absolutely certain that I would not have a c-section, and the idea of having one filled me with dread.  At this point, however, I have come to terms with it, and it is not that big of a deal to me.  I still would rather avoid it if I can, but there are so many people out there with bigger concerns that I feel worrying about a c-section is a little ridiculous.  

At the end of the day, all I want is for my little boy to come out healthy, happy, and unharmed.  If they have to perform a c-section to make that happen, so be it.  In the meantime, however, I plan to mow the grass and do all the walking that I can.  I mean, if he does happen to pop out a little ahead of schedule and before he gets much bigger, that would be fine with me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How NOT to spend your 8th month of pregnancy


Wow, what a week it has been!  Last Monday morning, I had a doctor's appointment first thing, then left to go pick up my dogs and my brother-in-law.  The dogs had been staying with my husband's mother and brother in Pennsylvania while we were at the beach the week before.  Because they live about 3 and a half hours away, my mother-in-law was kind enough to offer to meet me at the approximate halfway point.

Unfortunately, about an hour and a half from my house, the transmission on my 2007 Toyota Corolla blew.  I was left sitting on the side of Interstate 70 in a torrential downpour, 35 weeks pregnant, and in need of a bathroom.  This is the second time in 2 months that this same car has left me on the side of the road.  Both times were when I was on my way out of town.  The first time, I was only about 45 minutes from home, which was bad enough.  This time, I was fortunate enough to have my mother-in-law on her way to meet me.

One of the blessings of having a smartphone is that I was able to locate a towing service and mechanic right from my vehicle.  It seemed to take forever for the truck to arrive.  I wanted to run into the woods by the side of the road to use the bathroom, but I did not want to let my cell phone - my only means of communication - out of my sight.  It was raining so hard that if I had left the car, I would have been soaked in less than a minute.  And so I waited.  When the truck finally arrived, the driver was very efficient and got the car hooked up quickly.  (Part of this may have had to do with the fact that I told him I needed a bathroom desperately right before climbing into the cab of his truck to wait.)

My mother-in-law was able to take me the rest of the way home and ended up staying a few days, which was nice.  We soon received the worst news you can ever receive from a mechanic: it's the transmission.  Repairs are going to cost us about $3,000, and that does not even include what we are paying to rent a car.

When I went to pick up our car rental, they did not have our vehicle ready, so they offered me a minivan.  I almost took it because I was heading up to Pennsylvania (again) the next day to serve as the matron of honor in my best friend's wedding, and I figured that I could use the extra space.  However, I decided to decline since the dogs would inevitably be all over the van, and hence, so would their fur.  I figured it would be easier to sweep fur out of a smaller vehicle, plus the gas mileage would be better in something smaller.

Every other time I have rented a vehicle, I have received a decent-sized compact like a Mercury Milan or even once a Nissan Maxima.  The one time I needed just a little extra space, however, they gave me a VW Beetle.  What a nightmare of a vehicle.  I cannot imagine anyone ever test driving one of these things and then saying, "Yes, this seems like something I want to buy."  It is ridiculously tiny, and there is very little trunk space, not to mention it just has all kinds of weird functions that do not seem to serve any real purpose.  For example, the windows go up and down when you lock or unlock it.  Just a crack, but still.  Why, I ask you.  Why?

Needless to say, when it came time to head to Pennsylvania, I was experiencing something I never dreamed I would experience: I was wishing I was driving a minivan instead.  We were driving my husband's brother to Pennsylvania to attend the wedding, too, so I drove the Beetle with him in the front seat while the hubby piled into the back with Oliver and Stella.  As usual, tiny Stella took up as much room as she possibly could by stretching across the seat, while Oliver tried to figure out how to stand so as not to step on anyone.

When we finally arrived in Pennsylvania and clambered out of our clown car, I had just enough time to run inside and say hello to my parents before I had to run and get ready for the rehearsal and dinner.  After being on the run all day, I was somewhat dehydrated and feeling awful.  I got a leg cramp in the middle of the rehearsal, which I was able to walk off, but which left me terrified of a repeat performance the next day.

By the end of the evening, I was having nearly constant Braxton Hicks contractions, a few of which were actually somewhat painful.  There were even a few times when I thought I might be in labor, and the only thing that reassured me I was not was that the contractions lasted so long.

Fortunately, the following day, I did a much better job of staying hydrated, and I felt a lot better.  Even so, it was a long (but fun!) day, and I was so grateful when I made it through my toast without my water breaking.

On Sunday morning, we went to visit my 95-year-old grandmother, who was recently admitted to the hospital with what was determined to be a case of pneumonia.  She was in rather poor spirits when we arrived and feeling a bit out of things, but the longer we were there, the better she seemed.  I hated to leave her, but we had to head back to Virginia.

On Tuesday, we got the call that our car was finally ready, so after my husband finished work, we jumped in the car and headed for Maryland.  We picked up the car and paid the astronomical bill for repairs and headed on home.

I am so grateful to be back in Virginia with no other travel planned.  I have some more cleaning to do to get the house in better shape for the guests who will come when the baby arrives, but now that we are home and have the car back, I feel like I am ready for this baby to come!  I have another appointment tomorrow to see how big our not-so-little guy is (see Look out! We've got a big one coming!), and he will be officially full term on Friday.  Come on, baby!