Tuesday, January 27, 2015

39 Weeks and A Look Back

Well, here we are! Hopefully the very last pregnancy update I will be posting on the blog. (Hint hint baby E...come this week please. Or next week. But please don't stay in there until 42 weeks or I might die. Thanks). 
Baby||  For the most part, baby girl is still in pretty good position, head down and sitting very low. Her movements are decreased, because I'm certain she's running out of room in there. We are really excited to meet her, and I'm curious to see how much she will weigh!

Mama Eats|| Still eating away! Probably more than I should! :)

Mama Sleeps|| No comment.
Mama Exercises|| Walking, walking, walking. Trying to walk outside a few times a week to get off the treadmill, but in any event I'm covering 2-3 miles a day. Try as I might, I can't get these pregnant legs to waddle faster than a 20 minute mile, but at least I'm moving!

Emotions|| Last week was very very emotional, but this week I'm feeling pretty well. Nostalgic looking over the past 10 months worth of pregnancy photos. This is such a weird spot to be in, knowing labor could start at any moment, or still weeks away. Waiting, waiting, waiting. When I was pregnant with Ben I tried to stay emphatically optimistic, but this time I'm okay being honest with saying 'I'm done.' :)

Let's end with a little walk down memory lane...

post signature

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Taking Care Of You {Post-Partum Love}

Back when I was a brand new mama with a swollen postpartum belly, milk stains on my shirt, and a cranky newborn, I would silently cringe and want to burst into tears when someone would tell me to enjoy the newborn days because 'it goes so fast,' and to 'soak it all up.' The only thing I was soaking in was pumped milk and depression. It made me really feel awful and wonder what was wrong with me. Why wasn't this as easy for me as it was for other new moms? I was tired. I was overwhelmed with being a new parent. I was recovering from a major surgery, struggling to breastfeed, struggling with loneliness. Time didn't feel like it COULD go fast enough. I was sitting around waiting for the time beyond the one I was in.
But maybe now I do recognize that it 'goes so fast,' and that the minutes with our small babies are truly limited, never to be returned to us in the physical sense. Somewhere in the past 2.5 years I've gained perspective. This time I won't be adjusting to the complete shock of having to become a selfless person, taking care of an itty bitty human who relies on me for everything. I know now that the smell of a newborn's soft head turns into blonde wild toddler bedhead, smeared with blueberries and dirt, all too fast. I know that pudgy baby legs squealing to crawl across the floor to a toy soon turn into muscular toddler legs running and jumping down the hallway. I know that babies stop nursing, and sleep through the night, and our minds adjust to new normals and our hearts open up the space that was always there for our children long before we met each other.

I know a lot of new moms talk about how easy the transition to motherhood was for them, or how great their labor/delivery was, or how easy recovering during the post-partum period was. And that is wonderful, a true blessing. But there is some perspective lacking in that viewpoint. I myself have many friends and family members who cannot relate to me on any level, not truly understanding the struggle. I hope this post is helpful for both sides; those needing the support, and those needing the context.

There are so many factors that play into the postpartum recovery we have after giving birth to our babies (spouse involvement, partner's ability to stay home and help, flexibility of partner's schedule, family support nearby, older children, breastfeeding ease, temperament of baby, baby having colic/reflux, help with meals/cleaning, type of labor/birth and any complications from birth, etc). For me, I had very difficult cesarean recovery, exacerbated by the fact that I went through  long and exhausting labor leading up to the surgery. Moving and caring for my new baby was impossible. There was a lot of bleeding, extreme constipation, nerve pain, medication, and so much emotional sadness over the loss of the birth my son deserved. My husband was finishing his engineering degree and couldn't take 'time off' to by 100% present with me, we didn't have many people bring us meals, I didn't ask for help. We fought to breastfeed every single day, every single time he took to the breast (but hey, we made it to 18 months!) There was a trip to children's hospital where we watched our 2 week old son have a spinal tap, a trip to urgent care for me dehydrated and vomiting with the flu. There was a lot that worked against us, and that initial postpartum period sucked. I didn't take care of myself. So it stands to reason that in the early stages of this pregnancy I worried a lot about having postpartum depression again. How could I possibly survive taking care of my son and daughter if I were drowning?

But this time I know I will bring this little girl to my chest with peace and comfort, knowing that she and I will have gone through something extraordinary together, journeying to meet one another in this place. As I come closer to bringing this new and gorgeous soul into the world, I am reminded so deeply of all the women who have gone through this before me. All of this starts within ourselves, when strength finds us and we are reminded to breathe and feel and connect. I have beautiful, supportive women with me on this journey. I know to be vulnerable and ask for help and be strong enough in knowing.
So this postpartum care is hugely about the emotional needs that we have. Knowing ourselves well enough to eliminate anxiety, creating a cocoon of family safety, having a doula who will support you during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, family and friends who will come and help when and in ways that are most beneficial for you (not just what they think you need). But postpartum care is also really about caring for yourself physically, especially with a toddler in the house. It's OKAY to be selfish during this time. It's OKAY to hunker down in bed and rest. It's OKAY to have other people do things for you.

Along with having a renewed emotional perspective, I am also super excited about some of the other ways I am taking care of myself during this postpartum period that I didn't know about or do last time.
  • Herbal Sitz Bath
    • I will be doing 2 herbal sitz bathes per day for 7 days to start. The herbs help with soothing, itchiness, swelling, and abrasions. 
  • Tinctures
    • The kind of tinctures I am referring to are made with herbs which have been steeped in alcohol for up to 6 weeks. The liquid is then strained into dropped bottles and can be taken orally on the tongue or with liquid. I will be using two different tinctures; one that helps the uterus contract back down to size and alleviate any pain associated with afterbirth, and the other helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and emotional fluctuations caused by hormones. 
MamaEarth Doula (Baby and Birth Services) 
  • Placenta Encapsulation 
    • I'm sure most of you have heard about placenta encapsulation, and as strange as it might initially sound to ingest an organ that your body grew, women have been practicing this for thousands of years. There are a variety of methods for preparing the placenta, but it is usually steamed or dehydrated and put into capsules. The main reason I am choosing to include this in my postpartum care is to help with baby blues and depression, but there are so many more benefits. 
      • Balance hormones
      • Replenish iron levels
      • Support the uterus 
      • Reduce post-natal bleeding
      • Increase milk production 
      • Increase energy levels
  • Sleep 
    • Ah, illusive sleep. During my postpartum period with Ben I was so anxious all the time that I had a really difficult time shutting down and just sleeping. This time I plan on making our bedroom a relaxing nest and staying put for many days, guilt-free. Taking care of yourself with rest and sleep is so important for recovery. It's silly to say 'sleep when the baby sleeps,' but in the beginning I plan on doing just that (when I'm not busy staring at her!) After a few weeks we will work on getting Baby E into a more routined nap and sleep schedule, and my husband and I have plans for how that works best for us. For example, I will go to bed after putting Ben to bed while he stays up late with baby if need be, I will then take over around 10/11 for a 'dream feed' and let my husband get a full night's sleep so he can go to work, while I take over night nursing and wake-ups.
  • Exercise
    • Granted I was recovering from a rough birth experience, but I had major difficulty doing anything active for a long time after Ben was born. This time I will listen to my body and start walking and doing light exercise as soon as I feel up to it and able. Exercise is good for the body, mind, and soul! 
  • Food 
    • I'm trying in earnest this time to stock up on meals ahead of time. We no longer have much of a church community, and since becoming a stay at home mom my old work friends and I seem to have parted ways. We are in 'kind of' a new town and I don't have a large group of friends or 'village' per say. This is a real life expectation that we probably won't have many people bring us food during the postpartum period. My mom has already offered to start cooking up meals and has been freezing them away for us, and I've been making extra of things myself. I will also have the kitchen stocked with foods that are easy for my husband to cook. He's basically a wizard at tuna melts, makes a mean breakfast burrito, and can boil up those spinach raviolis like no one's business! :) 
    • During my first pregnancy, I didn't eat very healthy at the end, or immediately after. Maybe I was eating all those big, hard feelings. In any event, it definitely contributed to not feeling well emotionally or physically. This time I plan to streamline my current diet right into a modified nursing one full of fresh, clean, foods. 
  • Witch Hazel 
    • This is wonderful thing to use on swollen body parts (like a sore perineum). It helps shrink swollen veins, reduces bleeding, and offers hemorrhoid relief, too! I soaked a bunch of maxi pads in witch hazel and have them in the freezer to use in my postpartum care routine. 
I'm certain that my husband thinks I'm ready to move into a hippie commune, but thankfully he's always on board for anything that he knows will help support me best. Caring for yourself postpartum is so important and you must decide what is best for you! Some of the things I've talked about here might not be what is best for yourself or your family, but it's mostly important to think ahead about your own needs. 

Okay, mamas! What other ways did you love and help yourself during the postpartum period? 

post signature

Thursday, January 8, 2015

{Almost} 37 Weeks

Since it sounds silly to write a post titled, 'somewhere in the middle of 36 and 37 weeks.' I wasn't even planning on writing another baby post for a couple of weeks, but I it feels like a good time to post an update.
Baby||  This gorgeous little soul is doing fabulous. Hiccups, regular movements, and finishing up growing for us. I can just envision her in there, waiting to meet me. I can't wait! We have the nursery all finished up, stocked with diapers, wipes, and all the unnecessary and silly little things that make it a cozy space.
Mama Eats|| I feel pretty good about my diet, quite actually! I'm drinking a smoothie shake a few times a week still, which really helps me pack in the spinach, kale, chia seeds, and all those other goodies that would be hard to sit around and eat in one sitting. I've also started juicing again (thanks for the inspiration, Dad!) and am quite fond of the orange, carrot, and sweet potato blend. We are eating fish, veggies, eggs, and all sorts of other whole goodness, too. I don't eat perfect by any means (we went on a date to Red Robin the other night and this was me eating fries...except I wasn't alone and I still didn't care. So good. Nom nom nom).
Mama Sleeps|| Well, what can we say about sleep? It's not so great, but it's bearable. I have some homeopathic sleeping tabs my midwife recommended and I've been taking one of those in the middle of the night if I get up to pee and lay there for an hour without being able to fall back asleep. Taking naps and just 'staying on top of' the sleep game makes a difference for me.

Mama Exercises|| I feel SO AMAZING. Like I still can't believe what a huge and significant different there is between my two pregnancies based on the exercise factor alone. My goal is to continue walking around 2 miles a day, at least 6 days a week. It really doesn't sound like much, but it helps me feel so much better. Walking naturally aligns the spine, helps baby drop into position, burns some calories, tones, conditions, etc. And because I'm really focused on proper baby position this time (Ben was posterior), I'm on my yoga ball a lot, doing cat/cow stretches, etc. Anyway...feeling good. We are planning a little hike this weekend and I'm looking forward to it! As a side note, I've still gained less than half the amount of weight that I did with Ben at this stage last time. Boom.
Emotions|| I'm just so very excited for redemption and a positive experience. I'm looking forward to and welcoming labor with so much joy I can hardly stand it. I visualize everything going so well and know I've worked hard and done everything in my power to give this baby (and myself) a wonderful birth. I continue to be so filled with deep gratitude for my midwife and all the other supportive women who have been with me on this journey...I can't imagine having made any other decision than the one we did for a care provider. It almost makes me teary (cue pregnancy hormones).

Ben and I have been spending a lot of fun time together, walking going to the park (teeter-tottering has to be good for me, right? Ha!), baking, and playing outside. I'm really enjoying all this time with him and taking in the moments of just us.
Appointments|| We are nearing the end/beginning and I'm continuing to make the rounds.

Chiropractor: This is HUGE and EXCITING news (for me. and for you if you've ever had a posterior baby or 'get' baby positioning). Baby girl is currently in PERFECT position!!!! (insert balloons, horns, streamers, and fireworks). Seriously overjoyed.

Midwife: We had our home visit last weekend, and it was pretty groovy to just lay on my own couch and have my 'check' of heartbeat and fundal height. Ben got to sit there and listen to the heartbeat on the doppler after she used the stethoscope and he liked that. My blood pressure has remained excellent, my weight gain is good, no swelling, and everything is looking well. I have my next weekly appointment on Tuesday.

I am drinking a lot of Red Raspberry Leaf tea and just started oral and vaginal Evening Primrose Oil supplements as well.
Massage Therapist: Sometimes this feels like such an unnecessary indulgence, but most of the time it doesn't. It's so relaxing, and she stretches and works out my lower back and I leave feeling incredible. I feel it really goes hand-in-hand with good chiropractic care during pregnancy. In my past pregnancy, I had massage paid for through insurance, but it wasn't nearly as effective. I've learned how important it is to find someone who is trained to work with the pregnant body. For example, my therapist has me lay on my side with pillows and switch positions and move around, because lying on the huge pregnancy table with the hole cut out for the belly is actually really undesirable for pressure on the uterus. So while it might have been more comfortable to lay on my 'belly' for massages in the past, it wasn't actually helping me how my body needed it best.

Until next time!

post signature

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's Just Us

I'm sitting here at nearly 36 weeks pregnant after a wonderful home visit with my midwife. I'm crossing things off my list and nesting away like crazy. It's hard to believe that in a few short weeks we will be a family of four. I'm so excited for the chance to be able to labor on my terms and welcome this new baby into the world the way nature designed. I'm thrilled at the thought of Ben becoming a big brother and watching my husband become a daddy for the second time. Through renewed perspective can I fully enter this newborn period with grace and adoration. Oh how I can't wait to trace those little lips and listen to the sweet coos of this new baby girl.
But honestly...I'm also a little sad. This is the last time it will be just us. Just the three of us, together. We have something special, this little family of mine. Through the difficult trials and tribulations of his entrance to the world this little boy Benjamin made us parents. He shocked us, overwhelmed us, and turned us into these people we had no idea even existed. Our Ben has made us understand what love really means and transformed our world. He's our fist real taste of a soulmate; this child who didn't choose us anymore than we got to choose who he would be. My husband and I will always cherish these early memories with him before our family grew into more.
And I've been a little scared. I have no idea how I will do managing two babes. I have no idea how I will ever be able to love another child the way I love Ben. But I know that I will, because other people say so. There have been many moments when I knew I could picture us as a family of three, so it's hard to envision us as a family of four with a daughter we will love with every fiber of our being the way we love Ben.
My pregnancy with baby girl is drawing to a close and my hormones are in over-drive. For the past two and half years I have been the primary caregiver of my son, and have spent a huge amount of my hours, minutes, and seconds with that sweet boy. We've gotten to the point where we can have actual conversations about things (as primitive as they may be). We can do activities together and have fun. I spend more one-on-one time with Ben than any other human in my life. And of course I'm already feeling a little bit guilty and sad because he and I will never ever get to have this kind of time together again. There will be no more lazy afternoons of just us doing sticker books, reading together on the couch, walking in the woods holding hands without a care in the world. This time with Ben has changed me and I look on it fondly as such a memorable time in my life. He will probably never remember a time in his life without his sister, but I always will.
Justin and I will lock away this time in our lives, helping each other bring to life those early days when he would squeal and gallop through the house begging us to chase him. The way he gives kisses in sets of two and the way his sweet little voice says our names. His dimples and coy smile, the way he clings to us around strangers, the way he throws us into fits of laughter with his silly faces and antics. The nights we had dance parties and watched his imagination grow and grow. The way he knew no other family but just us. 

Even big life changes that are good can be hard. I know this transition to two children will be tough, and there will be difficult days, sprinkled with beauty throughout. I know there will be days that feel sticky slow and overwhelming, but perspective is a blessing, and I now know how 'fast' those early days go by. I know someday in the next few months I will find both of my babies napping at the same time, and maybe I will be relaxing on the couch alone, drinking tea, or maybe making dinner in peace. The newborn days will pass and we will settle into a new and comfortable routine together, as a family of four.
We couldn't have asked for a more perfect, weird, silly, smart, and loving first born child. We will forever treasure the time we've had as just us, and at the same time look forward with excitement as we become parents of two beautiful children.

post signature

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

34 Weeks Down

It's kind of like the final countdown! On the 'early side', if baby girl were to arrive sooner than expected, she could be here in as little 3 weeks! If she's as comfy as her brother was, it could be closer to 7 more weeks. In any event, we have about a month and a half left to go! I'm so excited to meet her and have her be more a part of our family than she already is.
Baby||  Baby E has a lot of hiccups...multiple times a day. Her movements have decreased from big and rolling to sharp and jabbing (running out of space in there). Ouch, ouch.

Mama Eats|| For the most part, my appetite came back the past couple of weeks! Hallelujah! Hooray! I'm still trying to eat small portions throughout the day, because 'big meals' overload my stomach and make me feel sick. Still shooting to get in those greens, veggies, fruits, and proteins every day! But I can't lie, it's a horrible season to be pregnant and trying to maintain a healthy weight. I've been eating way too many treats and sweets the past couple of weeks and I gained a few pounds rather rapidly.

Mama Sleeps|| No positive improvements on the sleeping front. Annnnnnd cue the night sweats and random heartburn, on top of trying to roll from side to side with my massive snuggle pillow. I've reached that point where the lack of sleep is definitely make me a tad agitated during the days, so I'm taking naps most afternoons after listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation track. It doesn't help that I'm a very particular sleeper...I dislike any artificial light from plug ins glowing, weird noises, open blinds, etc. The other night my husband was munching on ice when I was trying to sleep and I about bit his head off, and then shortly after I got mad because he was breathing on my shoulder. Hahahaha I can laugh about it now. :)
Mama Exercises|| This is me exercising: waddling, moving slow, labored breathing, pained look on face while trudging along. Ha! Okay it's not that bad...but as the aches and pains of later pregnancy have increased, my exercise has definitely decreased. But I'm keeping it up! That's what counts! I'm mostly focused on walking a couple of miles, doing my squats with weights, pelvic rocks, and some arm stuff for funsies. My round ligament pain is way better than it was two weeks ago. I can actually sit down/stand up and move around now without doubling over! Sadly my new 'ailment' includes leg cramps in the early morning hours (you know the kind that feels like someone is stabbing your calf muscle with a knife and twisting it around). Ouch. My midwife added a cal/mag powder supplement to my daily cast of vitamins, but I haven't been as diligent about taking it daily because it doesn't taste very good.

Emotions|| I'm always thinking about what a beautiful process this entire thing is (okay, when I'm not complaining about how tired I am and how bad my back hurts). Being a woman is magic. Other than being a little emotionally volatile from being tired...my emotions are positive and in check. Fist.Bump. for that.
Appointments|| As I've said before, I'm really of the mind that we just need to be left alone to let our bodies, babies, and minds do as nature intended. There are too many tests, too many unnecessary ultrasounds, too many pokes and prods, too many fear tactics and sometimes just too much information. I'm really reveling in how lovely it is to just experience pregnancy from a more natural point of view. However, that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of appointments. Ha! This week my mom was able to watch Ben so I could cruise around to all of them in solitude (I try and schedule them all on the same day).

Chiropractor: This week my body felt really good and there were only a few adjustments to make.

Midwife: I look forward my appointments with my midwife and her assistant so much. I love how relaxing it is, and I always leave feeling so confident and supported. Everything was great this week! We've moved on up to weekly appointments until baby girl is born!

Massage Therapist: Yup. She's still my favorite person. Most of my body issues are all on the right side, and she does so amazing at loosening up the tension and stretching out the ligaments and muscles that need it. I come home after seeing her feeling good, soak in a toasty warm bath full of epsom salts and essential oils, relax, and cozy into bed to take advantage of the few hours I get before my bladder informs me it is time to be awake. I really appreciate that she understands the pregnant body and focuses on areas that really need it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas holiday together and I'll be seeing you back here in January!
post signature

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...