Category Archives: Pregnancy – the good, the bad and the ugly

Pregnancy Without Your Mama

For the past 22 weeks, I have thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy. Though this pregnancy has not been the easiest on my body and health, it has been the most beautiful season of my life. I still cannot believe I have been chosen to be these two little miracles’ mama, and I welcome and relish every change within my own body. I am blown away at each of their milestones; each ultrasound, and I cannot believe the amount of love I can hold in my heart for these two little beings.

I won’t lie, though, there is something missing. My mama.

She’s not here to guide me when I am deciding whether or not to go to the ER. She isn’t here to help me pick out colors for the nursery. She isn’t here to plan my baby shower (though this is WELL taken care of by my loving friends and family!). She isn’t here to feel my babies kick and move. She isn’t here to see my belly swell with life. She isn’t here to offer Jimmy advice. She isn’t here to talk to my brothers about the excitement of becoming uncles. And, she won’t be here to teach my babies how to make her famous chocolate chip cookies…like she always wanted and talked about.

These are devastating facts when you lose your mother, your guiding light, so young. But I know she is here with me in spirit each day, and I do believe she was fostering and loving my babies in Heaven before they were sent to me. And for that, I am so grateful.

The other day I confided in Jimmy how much I am missing my mama. It’s not a topic that is easy for me to talk about, because this is such a joyous season, and the thought of not sharing it with her physically is so debilitating. Per usual, his response was perfect. One of his favorite moments of this pregnancy was when I shared the news with him, and he said that another thing that makes it so perfect was that my mom knew first. She shared that moment with us, and knew it was going to happen before we did. The way Jimmy describes this feeling is so comforting.

sneaksHer legacy also lives on through the thoughtfulness of other people. Recently, my cousin and his wife sent me a pair of little girl sneakers. The shoes have certainly been lived in; there are many stories and miles that come with them. But, they are so special because my mom had sent them along as a gift when they were expecting their daughter. Matt and Kylee don’t know this part, but I actually remember my mom buying them. She got them this particular pair of shoes because they reminded her of the Airwalk style sneakers Matt used to wear. My mom never just bought a gift; never just crossed something off her shopping list in desperation. There was always thought and love behind each gift, and these cute little pink sneakers are no exception to that. I haven’t been able to find the words to say thank you to Matt and Kylee yet, but I hope they understand how appreciated their gesture is. Any story or thought shared of my mom is important and special to me.

To sum up this incomplete thought…it’s really hard to go through life’s most beautiful moments without your mama. Especially when the one you were blessed with was just so wonderful. If you have a story to share of my beautiful mama, please feel free to leave it here. She lives on in each memory <3

Gender Reveal!

Some days, we wear the same outfit!

Some days, we wear the same outfit!

To start, you know how I always talking about building up your support system when you’re going through infertility? Surrounding yourself with people who care about you, have your best interest at heart, and genuinely want to help you navigate your course is essential. I’m blessed to have my boss at my day job as one of those people. She has been there for me through every step of this bumpy road. Now that we are on a much more exciting path, her support has still not wavered for a second. So, when I told her that we were not having a gender reveal party (you can read about that here), she was SO not satisfied with that answer. She is BEYOND crafty (you can check out her business, Pink Tulip, here), fun, and is always looking for a reason to celebrate someone else. #selfless. So, she threw me a little reveal party at work today. Isn’t she lovely? :)

So….are you ready to find out?!

reveal-1

Baby A is a….

GIRL!!!!

And Baby B is a…

BOY!!!!

reveal-3

reveal-2Saying that Jimmy and I feel beyond blessed is an understatement. Watching our babies move and shake; watching their little hearts flickering away; seeing their developing bones and structures; it’s truly just amazing. And now to know who I am growing? Just incredible.

As always, thank you for your continued support throughout this journey. We are so grateful to share this time with you <3

Oh, and I love being right :)

 

Did you guess correctly?

Old Wives Tales

babesAs long as our little ones aren’t shy, we get to find out this week who I have been carrying around for the last 18+ weeks. While I think it is an AMAZING moment in the delivery room when a couple does not know the gender, and I hope to have that moment someday during another (singleton) pregnancy, Jimmy and I could not be happier to find out who these little ones are.

The guessing game throughout this pregnancy has been exciting, but I think it will be so comforting to know for (almost) sure. I started looking into old wives tales, and here’s how they play out for us:

Morning sickness: oh boy, I definitely enjoyed morning sickness for 17 weeks, which, according to legend, means at least one of these babes is a GIRL.

Moodiness: poor Jimmy. I have gone through some pretty irrational mood swings, including crying over the wrong type of mac and cheese, throwing tantrums reminiscent of a three year old, and crying at the drop of a hat. This indicates GIRL, however, generally speaking I am also the happiest I have ever been in my life, and have really tried to embrace the more difficult aspects of this pregnancy. So, for this one I think it’s also safe to say there’s a BOY hanging around in there.

Heart Rate: these two have always had a heart rate over 140bpm which would indicate two GIRLS.

Cravings: for the first time in my life I am craving sweets, which would indicate GIRL, but I still love my salty goodies and notes of sour, too, so I think this one also indicates a BOY.

Dad’s Weight: Jimmy has put on the same amount of weight as me during this pregnancy (so far, he says he’s going back on his diet, though) which screams GIRL.

Clumsiness: I’ve never been clumsier in my life! I can’t keep my balance at all which points to a BOY.

Acne: Knock on wood, I’ve been pretty lucky with this one. Thanks homeBOY.

Dry Skin: To the max! BOY it is!

Dark Nipples: Nope! Size change maybe, but no change in color here: GIRL.

Side Preference: I don’t really have a preference, I just miss sleeping on my belly. Inconclusive.

Protein: This former meat eater is BEYONDDDD grossed out by meat of any kind, especially chicken. This means GIRL.

Cold Feet: Mine are always freezing! Hello BOY.

Headaches: I’m thankful I haven’t had a headache everyday like some women get, but I have had my fair share-BOY.

Mother’s Intuition: From the very beginning I have thought these two little miracles were a boy and a girl. I think Baby A is a GIRL and Baby B is a BOY.

Dad’s Prediction: I think dad has been swayed this way and that way, but he thinks we have two BOYS on the way.

Chinese Gender Chart: Hmmm. This one is really really tricky. Our beautiful little embryos were conceived in March, frozen through April, and thawed and implanted in May. I think if you go by harvest/conception, they should be BOYS, but if you go by implantation, these two are GIRLS. Or, we could cut the complication and say one of each.

Many people have asked if we are having a gender reveal party. We are not. After all the years of disappointing ultrasounds, Jimmy and I look forward to happy moments at each of our ultrasounds now. We could not be more excited to share the moment together when the ultrasonographer announces to just the two of us who are little miracles are. Then, we look forward to sharing it with you! If you’d like to know, please pay close attention to the MCMaternity Facebook page on Friday!

Were any of these old wives tales true for you during your pregnancy? Please feel free to share your experience below.

 

 

Infertility-Our Struggle: IVF #4…The Secret Cycle

Infertility(2)

As mentioned in Hoping for Twins, Jimmy and I decided to keep this cycle to ourselves. The thought of disappointing our family and friends, and having to answer cycle questions was too overwhelming.

 

 

Before we could begin IVF #4, I had to have another surgery. HSG, polypectomy, surgeryendometrial scratch, and D&C. It was not a fun day. I had planned on having the surgery and then attending a dear friend’s wedding that night, but unfortunately I was kidding myself. Between the blood, the pain, the nausea, and the overall level of crappiness, another wedding was missed due to infertility. We were just hoping this would be the cycle it would all be worth it.

After my recovery from my surgery, I wanted to get started on our cycle right away. Luckily, my doctor agreed; she wanted to proceed before my polyps had time to grow back, and while my endometrium was nice and clear. As soon as I got my period, the scheduling began, and luckily my transfer day was set (without manipulation) when my doctor was in the OR. We also decided that this round we were going to use “embryo glue”. (It’s not really glue; to learn more, click here.) I was feeling more confident than ever that this was it. I was still channeling my power of positivity, and methods from A Nonwestern Approach, to stay calm, cool, and collected. I think the anti-anxiety meds were a big help, too.

On our way to the transfer, I turned off the radio, and spoke to Jimmy about a study I had read about women undergoing IVF in Israel. In the study, after embryos were transferred, a medical clown was sent in to make the couples laugh. In a nutshell, the theory is that the more relaxed and calm a woman is after her transfer, the more the embryo will want to nuzzle in. I told Jimmy I wanted to try our own version of this study, and have YouTube videos prepared that were sure to make us laugh. While I was filling my bladder we chose our videos, and got ready to laugh and relax.

camera micOnce I was uncomfortably full, we went into the same room we had been in three other times in hopes of starting our family. I could hear the same drip drop of the leaky faucet; I played with the same light that I pretended was my microphone, every time without fail; I felt the same tattered edges of my mom’s Red Sox sweatshirt I wear to my transfers; I listened to the same spiel from the nurses and ultrasound tech; I waited for the same “READY!” announcement from the embryologist; Jimmy and I watched the same procedure of our little embryos being placed inside their new home; we heard the same “CLEAR!” announcement from the embryologist. While the procedure was the same, and we felt like old pros, our excitement level was at an all time high. We were just SO READY to be parents! As the stream of people were leaving the room, I told my doctor we would like the room for a little while, and sorry for any inconvenience in scheduling that might cause. Jimmy and I watched our YouTube videos, laughed, held each other’s hand, prayed together, snuggled, and laughed some more. It was the most calm we felt leaving that room. This. Was. It.

I stayed calm, collected and at peace throughout the next couple of days. On May 21st, 2016, a mere 3 days after our transfer, Jimmy and I celebrated 10 years together. It was fun reigniting our dating anniversary, and marveling that this may be the last one childless…

That night, after my trusty intramuscular injection of progesterone, I went to sleep and had a VERY VIVID dream. You may remember from previous cycles (such as IVF #2) that usually after transfers I would have nightmares. This dream, however, was beautiful. The whole dream was just thousands of positive pregnancy tests. I’m talking thousands. One after the other, after the other. I’m getting teary and goosebumps just recalling the dream. It was wonderful. I drifted out of sleep with a smile on my face at 5:30am. I felt so peaceful, and so happy. At 9:30 I started nudging Jimmy awake…I knew it was probably too early to pee on a stick, but after a dream like that, how could I possibly hold off? I had one pregnancy test stashed away, in the deep dark corner of a bathroom drawer. As soon as Jimmy left the room, I got to work.

I quietly, but oh so excitedly, tore off the pink wrapper and uncapped the test. There was no1st stick doubt in my mind that it would be positive (mind you, I did not trigger this cycle so I knew if it was positive, it was real). I watched as the dye spread. Usually, the dye just goes straight to the control line, and if it is positive, a second line will appear after a few minutes. Not this time. As soon as the dye spread, TWO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL, INCREDIBLE, AMAZING LINES were visible. It was not a squinter; it was a REAL fucking positive test!!! FOUR DAYS after our transfer!! A million thoughts started racing through my mind…but first things first I had to tell Jimmy. I could NOT wait. And, I couldn’t believe that ball was in my court. We weren’t waiting by the phone for a nurse to deliver the news; I could do something special. I could tell him in a way “normal” couples got to share their news. I had a plan.

I got out of the house in record time. When Jimmy asked where I was going I said “you’ll see”. My first stop was to a local golf academy. I got him a gift certificate for a golf lesson he had been asking for. Remember when I said our dating anniversary was the night before? It was the perfect ruse to give him a little gift. Next stop: CVS. I got him a card, and all of the usual gift accoutrement. Oh, and about a hundred something dollars worth of pregnancy tests. All different kinds, as they all measure different levels of the hormone HCG.

On my drive back home, I reflected on the fact that I was the only person who knew I was pregnant. The revelation brought a huge smile to my face. Just you two and me, babes; let’s go tell your daddy I thought happily to myself. I was continually praying to let this be real, and let me carry them to term. As there was no doubt in my mind this morning that my test would be positive, there was also no doubt in my mind that I was carrying twins. I just knew it.

Once I got home, I gathered a few poppy seeds from the kitchen and disappeared to get his gift together. I taped two of the poppy seeds inside a wad of tissue paper, and placed that at the bottom of the bag. Then I lined a wasteful amount of tissue paper inside the bag (sorry mom), and put the card and lesson towards the top. Then, it was time for the presentation. I was excitedly anxious. I couldn’t wait to tell him.

He opened the gift, and thanked me for the lesson. He went to put the bag away, with the real gift still inside, but he could tell by my shit-eating-grin there was more. What? he asked. There’s more! I said excitedly. No there isn’t, he argued. I rolled my eyes and motioned to keep looking. FINALLY (after what seemed like an hour) he got to the seeds. What’s this? You cooking something weird? he asked.

No, I said. That’s the size of our babies.

I waited for an excited reaction, but all I got was “cool” as he put everything back in the bag. He CLEARLY didn’t get it.

Jimmy! I’M PREGNANT!!!!!!

“Let’s hope so” he said. He clearly wasn’t understanding.

No, Jimmy, I am actually pregnant RIGHT NOW!!

He stared at me, dumbfounded. He couldn’t understand how I could know that at that moment. Our blood test wasn’t for nine more days, and he couldn’t comprehend how I could know that right now. I showed him the test. He agreed that he could clearly see the line, but remained cautious. He just couldn’t grasp it. He told me to send it to our doctor and see what she said. When she sent her congratulations, it sunk in a little. Jimmy then started asking rapid fire questions. It had still not sunk in, and he was still not sold. I took another test, darker line, still not sold. I told my doctor I would be coming in the next day for blood work; I needed to know where we stood!

The next morning, boom, darker line! Jimmy was starting to come around to the idea that this might be real. We got our number that afternoon, 54, and then it really started to sink in. WE WERE PREGNANT!

It really REALLY started to sink in as the tests got darker and our numbers continued to rise. They were:

5/23/16        54

5/25/16       197

5/27/16       418

6/2/16        4,893

Every day was like living a dream. We went through the motions of life, all the while only really able to focus on the fact that I was growing life inside me.

049

Then, it started. The blood. If I didn’t know I was pregnant, I would have been pumped. I would have thought it was implantation bleeding for sure. But, since I was already confirmed pregnant, it was absolutely terrifying. I called my doctor and went in for an emergency ultrasound. Fearing the worst, but trying desperately to remain optimistic, I just said a constant string of prayers as the wand went in.

You transferred two? The ultrasound tech asked.

You can SEE THEM?!? I squealed and immediately started hysterically sobbing. Eventually she asked me if these were happy or sad tears, because I couldn’t get it together. She had to wait for me to calm down before she could finish her exam. Everything looked perfect. My babies were measuring wonderfully, and she guessed that the blood was old blood being shed, from either my surgery or implantation. I left with pictures, which just looked like two little empty bubbles, and couldn’t wait to tell Jimmy that I was right: we were pregnant with twins.

After a few more similar scares, we finally saw their heartbeats together. It was the most beautiful sight. Watching their little hearts beat, with tears in our eyes, and the most joy in our hearts. This really was it; this was the real deal. We were pregnant with TWINS.

~

wedding2And that brings us to today. Because as of now, as I write this, I am 13 weeks pregnant with these beautiful miracle babies. Jimmy and I could not express the joy in our hearts if we tried. We know we have a long way to go, but seeing them on ultrasound yesterday squirming and moving around nonstop, and hearing their beautiful little bump bumping heartbeats is just incredible.

Thank you for being on this journey with us. I have a hard time sharing this news not only because I am still scared of the unknown, but also because I know these announcements can be difficult to hear for those who are struggling. I hope that our story brings hope to everyone trying to start their own family.

Below is a little collage of all the fun we’ve had telling people; bumpdates; ultrasounds; and all of the wonderful moments we have waited so long to enjoy. We even had a professional photo shoot with my friend at Sherry Hopper Photography. Love to you all <3

Sherry Hopper Photography

Sherry Hopper Photography

Sherry Hopper Photography

Sherry Hopper Photography

sharethenews

ultrasounds

1through6 7thru11 12thru13

Interview Questions to Ask a Potential Doula

Interview Questions to Ask a Potential DoulaYou’re pregnant; congratulations!! Whether planned or not, pregnancy can be an extremely overwhelming time. Below are some questions to ask a potential doula to take the stress out of the planning process. Less stress makes this journey so much more enjoyable!

*With what agency did you receive your training to become a doula?*

-There are many acceptable answers for this question: ProDoula, DONA International, CAPPA, Childbirth International, and the list goes on. The only thing I would want to know when selecting a doula, is that she (or he! There are man doulas on the rise!) is trained through a professional doula organization. I am sure that there are many wonderful doulas who are not professionally trained, but I would want to know that mine was.

*Do you only help women who want an unmedicated birth?*

-The answer here should most certainly be NO! (Even if you want an unmedicated delivery!) A doula’s role is to support the client with her birthing decisions. Doulas are trained in all types of birthing scenarios to be able to provide an individualized support to each family she assists. If a doula answers YES to this question, she is pushing her own birthing agenda, rather than listening to and understanding her clients’ wishes.

*Why did you become a doula?*

-I suggest this questions because you are not just looking for a support person, you are looking for YOUR support person. This answer is very telling of the doula, and can say a lot about her personality. Your doula is going to be with you through a very personal, intimate life experience; you want a personality match.

*What happens if you can’t make it to my birth?*

-Answers here differ, as there are a lot of variables. The key is that your potential doula thinks about different scenarios, and has a plan. Maybe she works in an agency. Maybe she works closely with a back-up doula. Maybe she offers some sort of refund if you progress too quickly and there just isn’t enough time to make it. Whatever her answer may be, it should leave you feeling comfortable.

*Do you offer any other services?*

-If you are looking for a postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, lactation counselor, photographer, or any other type of professional service, it may be more convenient for you to hire one person. The doula may even offer packages or discounts on multiple services.

*What tools do you find most effective during labor and delivery?*

-Again, answers to this question may vary, but should leave you feeling confident in your support. The tools I myself find most effective are: my hands, my heart, my ears, my compassion, my knowledge, and getting to know the needs of the mother before we hit the delivery room. I have a “bag full of tricks” but for some births it doesn’t need to be opened, and for others, every object is tested.

The key to interviewing your potential doula is to learn about her experience, and see if her personality is a fit for you. The interview should feel more like a friendly conversation than a sterile interview.

There are also a few questions that many potential clients ask…that the doula may not have an answer to:

-How many births have you attended?

I could answer this question…if I looked back in my files and counted, but off the top of my head, I have no idea. I stopped tallying after around 10 or 15 births when I became busier and had more clients at one time.

-What was your favorite birth?

I have many favorites, for many different reasons, but I could not answer this question. There are so many memorable birth moments, and I could pick out those moments from each birth I have attended.

-What was the scariest thing you’ve seen in labor and delivery?

This one I just plain don’t want to answer. The last thing a pregnant woman needs to hear are horror stories. When this question comes up I usually answer with something like: “I have been through many different birthing scenarios, but I like to focus on the positives of birth”. When scary things happen in the delivery room, it effects me deeply, and hurts to think about.

 What other questions were you happy you asked your doula during your initial interview?

Infertility-Our Struggle: IVF #1 the Result

The result

If you’re just joining, may I suggest you read the first part of this entry

…I couldn’t believe my eyes!! The second line wasn’t even a squinter, or a break the test apart to see it better, or a hold it up at the exactly perfect angle to see the positive line. IT WAS POSITIVE! A noise exited my body…something between a moan, a scream, a squeal, and a cry, and I just immediately starting praying and giving thanks. I couldn’t believe it! I WAS PREGNANT!!

The news was so exciting, I just had to take another. BOOM. POSITIVE! And DARKER. All of the excitement made me feel faint, and I lay in bed just staring at the two sets of two lines. The joy I felt is really indescribable, and I couldn’t wait to share the news with Jimmy.

But, I decided to wait until the morning, test again, and see if it was really true. Just in case I was a freak who stored the trigger shot longer than a normal person. We stayed at my in-laws that night, and I don’t think I slept a wink. I kept randomly crying, praying, and the smile on my face was permanent.

New day, new test. POSITIVE again! And darker! And showed up almost instantly. I felt so so lucky. I could not believe IVF worked for us on our first try! All of the needles, ultrasounds, even the friggin Crinone suppositories, all so worth it. I could not have been more thankful.

I was rushed to get ready to go pick pumpkins with my family, and didn’t have a good opportunity to tell Jimmy yet. I decided to wait until we got home to MA, and tell him how I had always planned. It would be worth the wait. I felt giddy every time I thought about telling him. And, I felt so wonderful knowing that just my embryo and I knew the little secret. The whole time picking pumpkins and chasing my nephews around, I was filled with so much joy knowing that I had their little cousin growing inside me. That next year I would be carrying our baby in a little sling at the pumpkin patch. I watched pregnant women, and little families of all kinds go by. I felt a part of something brand new and exciting; I was going to know their joy soon. Again, I spent the day randomly crying, laughing, and really just floating around.

We got back to my in-laws house, and I started playing like crazy (like I always do) with my nephews. This time, though, I started to feel a little dizzy. Is this my first pregnancy symptom? How exciting! I listened to my body and took a rest, smiling away at my secret I couldn’t wait to share.

That night I tested again. A moment of panic washed over me as the line was not as dark as it was in the morning. Not to worry, I thought, it’s going to be darkest at FMU (first morning urine). Another sleepless night as I waited for morning to come to test again.

I tested again in the morning, and the panic stuck around. The line was darker than the night before, but not as dark as the previous morning. The whole day I talked myself into not testing that night. That the sticks were driving me insane, and I had no control of the outcome. I held strong, and decided to hold off on telling Jimmy.

The next morning I tested again. The line was still there, but fainter still. The joy I had felt was slowly turning to anger and a deep, deep sadness. I tried to talk myself into staying positive, that the embryo needed me to be positive and not stressed. Try as I may, I could feel myself slowly drifting into a dark place. I fumbled through the day, randomly crying, but this time at the loss I was already feeling.

The next morning I tested again. I got a squinter. A fucking squinter. Barely visible. If another person looked at it I am not sure if they would be able to see it, or think I was crazy. I could not believe it. Deeper into the darkness I fell.

I decided to come clean with Jimmy. I showed him every stick, and took him through my journey. He was angry I had tested, and didn’t really know how to react. He told me they weren’t real positives; it was just the trigger that stayed in my system. Now I understand his point of view, but at that time, it was not what I needed to hear, and deeper I fell.

I had my beta test, and for some reason, hope returned as I waited for the phone call. I prayed the whole day as I waited and waited. Just like how the two week wait feels like an eternity, the 8 hour wait for your beta results feels even longer. When I finally got the call I ran out of work to hear the news. As soon as I heard the nurse’s voice, though, I knew. I knew it was not good. She told me I still had HCG in my blood, but not enough to qualify as a positive result. She instructed me to stop all meds, and she would see me again next week.

I just sat the in my car, numb, for I don’t know how long. At some point anger kicked in, and hot furious tears streamed down my face as I screamed and hit the steering wheel. I had a friend from work drop my things at the end of the end of the stairs, and I sped home. The radio can be so cruel during times of need. “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” mocked me through the sound waves, and I fell apart deeper. When I got home, I vomited, then lay in bed. I sent Jimmy a text asking him to come home. Jimmy likes to talk through situations, while I DO NOT; I need time to think things through before I am ready to talk. He tried to call a few times, and every time I just text him to come home. I sent my boss an email explain my absence, and really struggled with how to put it into words. The whole situation didn’t feel real yet.

When Jimmy got home he held me, and tried to comfort me. Sounds were escaping from me that I hadn’t heard since I found my mom. They seemed so foreign. Jimmy tried to say all the right things, and be the strong one. I could hear him, but I couldn’t process the words. I felt like there was nothing behind my eyes, and my mind and body had shut off. All I wanted to do was sleep.

A couple of days later, it started. I remember putting on a front, and going to a neighbor’s Halloween party with Jimmy (he was great about trying to get me to do “normal” things). So many times I just sat there wondering which glob of tissue (periods after cycling are the WORST) was my baby. Why my body couldn’t hold the pregnancy. Why the cycle hadn’t worked. Why I tested positive. Why I even tested in the first place. Why I couldn’t feel anything except for grief. Why I was so angry. Why I felt betrayed by everyone, everything, and especially by my own body.

I wondered who he or she was. I wondered what he or she would have looked like. I wondered who he or she would have been friends with. I wondered if he or she was athletic. I wondered if he or she had Jimmy’s smile. I wondered if he or she would have the softest skin like my mama did.

Most of all, I thought about how much happiness he or she was bringing my mama in Heaven. How my mama was happily parading him or her around.

Looking back now, I am so thankful that if it was going to end the way it did, that it did so early. Before being able to be seen on ultrasound. Before hearing a heartbeat. Despite being grateful for these things, and despite scientific jargon about what I actually lost, to me, I lost a child. You may call it a clump of cells, but to me, it was the closest I have ever been to being a mother. The blow was all-consuming. You can’t really understand what it is like unless you have gone through it…and it is not a feeling that I want any single reader of this blog to feel.

Amidst the darkness, there was a little glimmer of hope. We still had our one frozen embryo. We wasted no time getting started on the next chapter: Infertility-Our Struggle: IVF #2 FET.

 

 

Combatting Common Pregnancy Symptoms with Nutrition

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White...recipe below!

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White…recipe below!

**We have a SPECIAL TREAT on the blog today! My nutrition-minded, talented, knowledgeable friend, Danielle Bolea, took some time to write an entry about nutrition and pregnancy. Double bonus: her mom, Tricia White (who is like a second mom to me), is a food blogger for Friends Food Family, so she has linked up her suggestions with some recipes. What a dynamic duo; enjoy!**

 

 

Food plays a significant role in one’s pregnancy. During this time it is important to maintain a healthy diet; however, many women run into symptoms that make it difficult to uphold proper nutrition. Yes, I’m talking about morning sickness, heartburn, and constipation. Here are some helpful tips and recipes that may help alleviate symptoms with home remedies.

Due to an increase in hormones, many pregnant women face morning sickness within their first trimester; although, sometimes the symptoms can prolong throughout an entire pregnancy. If you are experiencing signs of morning sickness (nausea/vomiting), try these tips to ease back into a normal eating pattern:

  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea.
  • Eat dry/bland foods that are low in fat such as rice, toast, crackers or a baked potato. Gradually introduce foods as you feel better.
  • Keep water, ginger ale, or crackers by your bedside. Try eating/drinking a little bit before getting up. Allow some time for digestion and rise slowly.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day (5-6) rather than three large meals.
  • Drink less water with your meals and obtain the rest of your needs throughout the day.

Another common symptom amongst pregnant women is heartburn. Hormones released during pregnancy relax the stomach muscles that keep acid from moving into the esophagus; thus, creating acid reflux/heartburn. Eliminating some of the foods below may help manage/avoid your discomfort.

  • High-fat, fried, rich foods
  • Spicy foods (foods made with paprika, chili, vinegar, jalapeno, hot sauce)
  • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Citrus fruit and juice (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint/spearmint

For relief, try eating low-fat yogurt or drink a glass of low-fat milk; you want to make sure these dairy items are low in fat since high-fat products tend to cause heartburn. Be sure not to lie down for 30 minutes after consuming your meals; this will only contribute to your symptoms. These remedies work for different individuals, and may not provide you instant relief. It’s important to recognize the foods that trigger your heartburn, and eliminate them from your diet.

The growing of your uterus during pregnancy places pressure on other organs within the body, including the intestines. This compression can often cause constipation making it a common symptom amongst most pregnant women. It is important to exercise routinely, drink plenty of fluids, and incorporate high fiber foods into your diet. Need help distinguishing which foods are rich in fiber? Here is a helpful list:

  • Whole Grains (mix it up!): bran cereal (Raisin Bran), oatmeal, granola (Kashi bars), brown rice, quinoa, barley, faro, whole wheat pasta. Recipe idea: Quinoa, mango and black bean salad (pictured above).
  • Fruits and vegetables: avocados, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichokes, leafy greens (spinach, kale – although, they don’t have as much fiber as some of the foods listed prior). Recipe idea (substitute a pregnancy-friendly cheese, if you so desire): Green apple, avocado, and chicken salad.
  • Beans: lentils, black beans, lima beans, split peas, kidney beans. Recipe idea: Chunky beef and bean chili (the beer in it is just a tease!).
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseed. Recipe idea: Epicurious’ Shaved Summer Squash Salad.
corn black bean

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Here are some recommendations for incorporating fiber into your everyday meals:

  • Add fruit OR flaxseed to your oatmeal/cereal – (ex: oatmeal with raspberries or blueberries and sliced almonds). Or, substitute whole wheat flour and try this recipe for blackberry oatmeal breakfast bars.
    blackberry

    Photo courtesy of Tricia White

    (pictured right)

  • Add flaxseed, spinach/kale, or almond milk to a smoothie.
  • Spread avocado on sandwiches or whole wheat toast for breakfast.
  • Add beans to your salads and soups.
  • Make whole grain salads with quinoa, barley, or faro. Mexican style: corn, beans, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, avocado, shredded chicken (your choice of meat) – add refried beans, salsa, or your choice of dressing (ranch). Recipe idea: Roasted corn and black bean salad (pictured above, just add your favorite whole grain!).
greek

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Mediterranean style: red/green peppers, scallions, (black or Kalamata) olives, tomato, lemon juice, parsley, shredded chicken (choice of meat) Recipe idea: Greek Pasta Salad (substitute quinoa or whole wheat pasta and a pregnancy-friendly cheese for best results-pictured left).

*  Enjoy a simple salad of spinach, red onion, almonds, dried cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette

* Try kale, roasted sweet potatoes, beets (marinated), balsamic dressing

A little about Danielle:

Darni

Photo courtesy of Danielle Bolea

Danielle is a graduate from Keene State College with a degree in Nutrition. She currently works as an Executive Assistant to the Chief of Radiation Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Nutrition is still her passion, and she thoroughly enjoys cooking and modifying recipes so they’re easier to make and healthier for you. Breakfast is her favorite meal to cook and is a hobby she looks forward to on the weekends (and I can tell you from experience IT’S DELICIOUS). Danielle enjoys educating others about nutritional lifestyles and guiding them in a healthy direction.

Thank you Danielle! Thank you Tricia! Please let us know how these recipes turn out :)

Affirmations for Dilation, Labor & Delivery

Failure to progress.

This is one of the most common reasons for a cesarean section and augmentation of labor in the United States. What does it mean? It means your apocryphal delivery hourglass is running out of sand. It’s when the scary words that you may have left off of your birth wishes begin to get thrown around. Cytotec. Foley balloon. Pitocin. Cesarean. The word that is often omitted from this list is time. Sometimes a laboring woman just needs more time to get her important work done. Sometimes she just needs to clear her head, and really think about dilating. If neither you nor your baby are in any danger, do not be afraid to ask for more time. If they do not want to grant your more time, ask why. Be in control of your labor and delivery.

I often reassure women about the strength of their bodies. Strength they don’t know they have until they need to use it. What’s stronger, though, is a person’s mind. Some people just need to tell their mind (and really believe and picture what they are telling their mind) what their body needs to do.

So, if you are at the very tail end of your pregnancy, or in a “failure to progress” situation, clear the room, enter a state of relaxation, and make the affirmations (below) your mantra. Your mind is a powerful thing-don’t be afraid to use it:

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My body is strong and capable.

I have plenty of time to get this job done.

I am able and willing to do this work for my baby.

With each contraction, I visualize my body opening for my baby.

With each deep breath in, I exhale all the way through my body.

Each centimeter brings me closer to holding my baby.

My body was made to do this work.

I have plenty of space for my baby to come through.

Each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby.

This process is natural, and I am ready for it.

My labor is progressing exactly as it is supposed to.

My cervix is opening and softening as it should.

I am in control.

My only focus is delivering my baby, everything else can wait.

My cervix is like a flower, blooming and opening beautifully.

The bond between my baby and me is strong and unbreakable, He/she knows how he/she needs to be born.

I am working hard for my baby.

My baby is slowly easing through the birth canal.

I am safe, calm, and ready to hold my baby in my arms.

My body knows how to deliver this baby, just as it knew how to grow this baby.

The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, as they are me.

Inhale peace, exhale tension.

My body will give birth in its own time.

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Did you use affirmations throughout your labor and delivery? Please share any that you found helpful.

The Top 25 Things NOT to Say to a Pregnant Woman

The Top 25 Things

 

Pregnancy is a time of many things. Joy, peace, wonderment, angst, and so many other emotions rolled into one. What it is also, is a time of realization that people have no filter. And say stupid shit. Why people feel the need to be unabashedly candid while speaking to a pregnant woman is beyond me. Below is a top 25 list of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman:

1. You’re SOOOOO big!

2. Are you having twins?

3. Why would you find out what you’re having? Life’s greatest surprise; ruined.

4. How do you not want to know what you’re having?! (Followed by: I could NEVER do that. I would NEED to know.)

5. Heard those hemorrhoids are a bitch.

6. So it’s true: daughters do steal their mother’s beauty.

7. Two under two. That’s going to be torture. You’re never going to have time for both.

8. Say goodbye to your body! Say goodbye to sex! Say goodbye to time for yourself! Say goodbye to your life! <Etc.>

9. I tore from my vagina to my asshole. I still can’t sit right.

10. What if your epidural doesn’t work? You’ll be able to feel everything.

11. How are you going to lose all this weight once the baby is born?

12. You’re barely showing. Are the doctor’s concerned? You need to eat more.

13. You’re having a natural delivery? You’re insane.

14. You’re getting pain meds during delivery? I heard they damage your baby.

15. You’re going to breastfeed your baby boy? Gross. Aren’t you worried he will be obsessed with breasts?

16. You’re going to poison your baby with formula? Don’t you know breast is best?

17. Breastfeeding is torture. Just use formula, save yourself the trouble.

18. Where is he/she? I’m so sick of waiting! Come on out (spoken to stomach or, for the really self-UNaware, vagina)!!

19. You’re naming him/her ____ (insert literally ANY name)?!?! Oh, I knew a ____. Total meth head. I’m sure your baby won’t turn into a meth head, though.

20. OMG you look bigger and bigger every time I see you! That baby must be running out of room in there!

21. Sorry, I forgot you can’t drink. I feel so bad for you.

22. You just look so exhausted. I’ve never seen you look so tired.

23. When I was pregnant… (insert unwanted story about how that person did something better than you).

24. You’re going to eat your PLACENTA?! That’s so gross. You’re like a cannibal.

25. You’ve really filled out everywhere this pregnancy.

In conclusion, unless you have something positive to say, PLEASE keep it to yourself. Chances are she has answered the same questions 29,845,729,845 times, and, if you’re a stranger, she doesn’t want to talk to you.

Please feel free to comment below with your “favorite” unwanted comment you received during your pregnancy.

Publisher’s note: the idea to write this blog post came to me after seeing a series of snapchats from laurmcbrideblog (that’s her snap personality if you want to follow her, and her blog is here) of stupid shit people had said to her just that day. Originally, the post had started with the top 10, but after reaching out to a few previous and current clients, the list grew rapidly.

When Dads Hit the Deck

I specify dads in this situation because, as to date, my only experience with people fainting, or nearly fainting, in Labor & Delivery has been with expectant fathers. So far, there haven’t been any instances of grandmothers, same-sex partners, sisters, etc. who have gone down for the count. I will post any differences should the situation arise!

Throughout our prenatal consultations, I try to gauge dad’s comfort level with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids he may be faced with in L&D. If dad’s are particularly squeamish, and I know that ahead of time, I take extra precautionary measures. I also encourage these dads in particular to stay by his partner’s head during pushing time. Sometimes, though, these dads get curious, and are not prepared for what they see…

LM2

(The dad pictured above did not pass out, but Tiffany Farley captured the “I’ve seen too much” faces perfectly.)

So far, in every circumstance when dad has been feeling too woozy to stand, it has been during the same point in delivery. The seem to make it past “peek-a-boo”, past early crowning, but then right at the end of the “ring of fire” is when, all of a sudden, they go weak in the knees. I can’t say I blame them; if you aren’t expecting it, it is quite a phenomena to see the human body go through so much. Mix that in with not sleeping, barely eating, and being on such an emotional high for so long, it’s no wonder this happens so often.

What do I do when dads hit the deck? My main focus is still mom, so while I guide her through contractions, and help her through those last few pushes, I am also having dad sip on orange juice, nibble on saltines, and am continuously flipping over the cold cloth I am holding on his neck. As long as he is able, I try to snap him back into action for the last push. I let him rest until that point, but the excitement of meeting his child usually provides enough adrenaline that he doesn’t pass out again.

Once the baby is born, I then have dad focus completely on his new bundle of joy, and his partner’s upper half. I focus on mom for the after birth procedures. In my experience, dad is too overjoyed to notice the birthing of the placenta, fundal massage, stitching, etc.

One of my favorite things about being a doula is helping bring couples together during such a joyous time. There are still plenty of ways to get partners and other key labor support people involved if you think they fall into this category. I work tirelessly to make sure everyone has a place and a job in L&D.

Did your partner go down for the count? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!