Monday, July 27, 2009

Best pregnancy symptoms

A lot of us spend the whole pregnancy complaining about how miserable it's made us. Some of us enjoy every minute and get all glowy and stuff. I think I'm in between - I've enjoyed a lot of it, and tried not to complain too much about the rest.

I thought it might be fun to list some of the enjoyed/enjoyable symptom/side effects of pregnancy, to give our not yet pregnant friends something to which to look forward, and to celebrate how great some of it is. I'll start with:

  • Baby movements. I want to write a whole post to try to explain/document how it feels to have this little person inside me. It's amazing in a miraculous sort of way, but also happy because it's a sign that the baby is in good health.
  • Great skin. Before starting to try to get pregnant, I used retinol to manage adult acne. I was dreading going off it and the pill at the same time. It was a sketchy couple of months - until I got pregnant. I bet I haven't had such nice clear skin since I was ten years old.
  • Great mood hormones. Yes, I have been sometimes a bit more irritable and sometimes quick to say something biting that I'd normally keep to myself, but for the most part, I've been in a pretty bright and sunny place while pregnant. Love that!
  • Courtesy of others. Both here in the US and in Barbados, people have been so nice to me since I've started to really show. Servers in restaurants seem to think it's cute when I order juice. I can ask people to carry stuff for me, and they do. They give me free pastries/cookies at Starbucks all the time. I'm totally spoiled.
What is/was your favourite pregnancy side effect/manifestation?

Day one overdue...

I am not going to promise to blog every day that I'm overdue, but today things feel different so I thought I'd jot down some notes.

The baby is definitely dropping into my pelvis, which is just what she is supposed to be doing. I can tell the angle of the top of my belly from my torso is less than it was a couple days ago. I haven't felt the pressure on my bladder that I've been told to expect, but I feel pressure and sometimes almost pain where I expect my cervix is. Somehow I'm going to the loo even more frequently than normal. I probably don't want to know what percentage of my day I'm spending in there...

She's still moving around loads, and especially active in the evening - I think she's trying to do her soccer practice right now. I've been so lucky so far in that she hasn't been the sort of baby to jam her toes in my ribs, which I've heard is very common and desperately uncomfortable. I think she's still in a posterior (back to my back) position, rather than the desirable anterior (back facing out) position, based on flat and bumpy bits, and where she's kicking at me. I'm pretty sure she's still head down which is most important.

Today and over the past couple of days, every time I get up from sitting or lying down, I've been feeling achy in my lower back and hips. This hasn't been normal for me throughout pregnancy, I think partly because of the chiropractic care I have received, plus keeping active with yoga and walking. I expect the increased achy-ness is partly pre-labour discomfort, and partly because my energy and activity levels have really lowered: I'm only walking maybe ten blocks a day these days, and doing a minimalist getting ready for labour yoga practice.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm also feeling very introspective, and not precisely antisocial, but just very happy to hang out at home and chill. I'm still not nesting: I told DH about nesting and how I should soon be rushing around cleaning the house and I think he's looking forward to seeing that! I'm not a big cleaner.

Still no contractions that I'd call anything but Braxton Hicks practice contractions, no water breaking, etc...

Anyone want to bet that this is it for my early labour signs and the baby will be born before August 1st? (I'm thinking it might be later, but not sure...)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quick 'n' Dirty Book Reviews: Three Books on Breastfeeding

I don't seem to be motivated to sit and write proper reviews of these books right now, so I'm going to knock out a few thoughts and possibly return to them later. The irony of me reviewing books on breastfeeding before having done any breastfeeding does not escape me. All of these books were loaned to me by my doula.

First, the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes the New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding. This isn't a bad book, but it's kind of basic and yet at the same time, makes things sound so complicated and scientific that it's rather daunting. I wish I hadn't read this book first out of the books I've read on breastfeeding.

Second, Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett wrote Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers. This is an excellent book. It's very straightforward and brief (well, 250 pages isn't quite brief, but it seems brief compared to the next tome), but at the same time, it allows for a wide range of "normal" which I think is important. They've provided loads of troubleshooting strategies and some basic philosophies which sound accurate to me. I love this book and I'm so glad I read it. The approach of natural laws, with a chapter for each one, resonates with me. I strongly recommend this book.

La Leche League publishes the classic book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and it's a huge book - 463 pages! I wasn't sure how you could possibly have so much to say about breastfeeding, until I started reading it, and realized that it's more of a parenting book. There are chapters on nutrition, returning to work, the father's role, etc. I think for the most part, the breastfeeding information is good.

Unfortunately, I have several huge beefs with this book, the biggest one is that it's blisteringly heterosexist. In the AAP book, it's largely written to mom and baby. Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett take more or less the same approach. Unfortunately, LLL have written a book (revised in 2004) that's more than just about the act of feeding the baby, and state at the beginning of the book that they feel that "breastfeeding and mothering progress more easily in (a heterosexual nuclear family) environment." They acknowledge how old school this is by saying they know there are single mothers out there. I guess no one has mentioned to them that parents come in more form factors than the man/woman dyad. Crikey.

I wish I'd skipped the chapter on returning to work. I read it hoping for useful information on pumping, migrating to pumping and bottle feeding, negotiating for time to pump at work, etc. However, the chapter was largely example after example of women who originally planned to return to work, and then fell in love with their babies so much they decided not to. Just between you, me and LLL: We'd go tits up pretty quick (pun intended) if I don't go back to work when my paid leave ends. I don't expect to be happy to be gone from the baby for 8 - 10 hours a day, but fortunately, I do love my job and I'll be leaving her with my DH, her dad, rather than strangers, so it shouldn't be too bad.

I haven't finished this book yet, and I'm not sure I'm going to. There's a chapter on discipline, and one on kids with special needs... I may just return this to my doula and ask for it back if I feel like I need it. The LLL book has loads of good info on breastfeeding but it's so wrapped up in this other opinionated junk that it makes me cranky reading it. Of course, I am kinda cranky right now anyway...

The due date comes... and goes?

So, yes, today is July 26th and it is the baby's due date. Except she's barely dropped (see top photo) and I'm barely having contractions. So I guess 40 weeks has come and may go with no baby. I've always felt that this due date was early, and I guess I'm right.

I've got loads of things to say but little motivation right now to write them down. I've been feeling very insular and withdrawn - not in a depressed sort of way but just in a can't be bothered with people if they're not family sort of way. I'm actually in a pretty bright and positive mood.

A couple of great gifts have come my way recently: a coworker gave me a really cute bib that says Eagle In Training on it - our employer's mascot is an eagle. My staff got together and bought me a glider chair for which I had registered. I am modeling both in the below picture.

Thank you everyone!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Nothing But Newborn

This book is another short read - these parenting books are making me wonder about my future attention span. Am I going to be read anything smaller than 18 point font and one hundred pages next month? I'm deluded enough to be planning - well, considering - a 10 hour (each way) road trip while on my six week mat leave, so call me an optimist.

Written by Janet A. Stockheim MD, the subtitle is "A First Month Primer for Parents." Stockheim is a pediatrician with loads of experience caring for newborns and, I infer, managing their parents. In brief, I'm glad I bought this book though it has some major flaws. I expect it will save me and my pediatrician a few anxious midnight phone calls.

She includes some very helpful info about things that are normal and not to worry about, such as rashes, the normal range/quantity/appearance of stools, and cord stump care. She addresses in a simple, step by step manner how to sponge bathe a newborn, and a few questions about caring for newborn genitalia that some parents might be shy to ask their doctor. Throughout there are also alerts to issues to which you do want to draw your doctor's attention

There are a couple of excellent sections for the stressed out parent, reminding us that babies largely communicate their needs by crying, how to manage your expectations of their abilities, and resources to draw upon when you're at your last straw. Most of what she says echoes what my midwives have taught me and what I've read other places, so I feel good about the reliability of the info.

Unfortunately, the book glosses over bedsharing, by simply saying don't do it, it's dangerous. Stockheim goes so far to suggest that bedsharing causes SIDS, by including it in the list of causes of SIDS. The Sleeping With Your Baby book I previously reviewed by James McKenna is also a quick, inexpensive read where you'll get much more useful, and I feel more accurate information in this regard.

Finally, though Stockheim devotes a good size section to breastfeeding, throughout the rest of the book, it seems that formula feeding is the default. For example, thickening formula with cereal is frequently suggested as a troubleshooting strategy for various problems. Some information is out of date, such as warning HIV positive mothers that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, even though the latest research shows that exclusive breastfeeding reduces transmission substantially.

The misinformation continues with statements like "if your breast milk is slow to come in, it is fine to offer infant formula to... maintain her hydration". Huh? Everything I've read says that newborns are waterlogged, have very low nutritional requirements in the first few days and besides, have stomachs the size of chickpeas. Additionally, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you make - if you start supplementing, you reduce your chances of ramping up your production.

A great book on breastfeeding that I'd recommend with much better breastfeeding info is Breastfeeding Made Simple, Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett. I'll be doing a full review of this book soon - but in brief, I really like it!

In sum, there is a lot to like about Nothing But Newborn, but substantial bits of it bugged me too. I recommend it in a qualified way, so long as the reader promises to look elsewhere for info on bedsharing and breastfeeding!

Any favourite newborn books or websites out there that you like? Anyone else read this book?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

37 weeks pregnant belly photo

Though I expect the baby to be overdue, I thought I'd do a belly photo a week earlier than normal... Just in case I'm totally wrong about when she's showing up (just did one three weeks ago, and usually I've been posting them every four weeks). My belly button hasn't really popped out but it's getting very flat. Sleeping on my side with a belly this big requires that I find some support for the belly - either leaning over so that the belly is resting on the bed, or stuffing a bit of the body pillow underneath it.

I'm so glad that Frac suggested that I take, or rather have DH take, these belly photos. For starters, they're fun and a nice way to document what's happened, especially for the many friends and family far away. But also, I can look back at me at 14 weeks and think to myself wow I was svelte! Unfortunately, I've also noticed that my butt isn't what it used to be. I blame not walking up the Metro escalators - I've been taking it easy, but I'll get back to that asap.

Overall, I'm feeling good so far. The baby is still moving a lot - I think she's still head down, which is the position we want. The other night, her movements seemed weird, like she'd moved into a transverse (head to one side, bum on the other, horizontal rather than vertical orientation), as all of a sudden when she was pushing her feet against my side, they were really coming out from my side rather than below my ribs. I've been spending a lot of time on all fours, doing cat/cow (arching my back) which is supposed to help in positioning the baby, and I think she's back to head down. I'm crap at telling though - my midwives poke my belly for a second or two and say with all the confidence in the world yep, she's still head down. I'll be heading back to see them for a checkup Wednesday and I'll ask where they think she is.

She hasn't dropped into my pelvis yet, which usually happens between two to four weeks before birth (according to our friends at WTEWYE at any rate). I haven't had any other real signs of early labour yet either - though I noticed yesterday that I'm having round ligament pain again for the first time in a few months, which I suspect has something to do with either her funny movements or starting to drop.

I'm still enjoying being pregnant, but I'm getting close to understanding what other women say about really being ready to give birth near the end. The belly is so big, it kind of gets in the way of things (like bending over to pick something up from the ground!). I'm walking really slowly these days too. I'm beginning to look forward to being a bit more agile and fast again, not to mention meeting this new person - that's getting to be a more real idea these days.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swimming in Racism

I've been reading the coverage and commentary about the Philadelphia Valley Swim Club's absurd, racist ejection of a bunch of children, largely African-American and Latino, from their facility. I think MyBrownBaby presents a good summary of what happened.

This is horrendous and I'm appalled and embarrassed that this is still going on. However, a part of me, the part of me that tries to calm down the neurotic mom-to-be every time I hear about another (cute white) girl kidnapped on CNN, is glad this makes the news. Careful now: not glad this happened, but glad it makes the news.

Because it wouldn't have been news prior to the civil rights movement. That was business as usual in those days.

Because what makes the news is the unusual: the kidnappings, the egregious blatant racism, the plane or train crash.

What doesn't make the news is sad and easy for privileged white people to forget about about: the grinding, ongoing, everyday, garden variety racism, the disappearances of non-white children, the deaths of our service members (many if not most non-white) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the hundreds dead every day in car accidents in this country.

We forget what's not in front of us, and the world appears a lot scarier when viewed through the lens of CNN (and the rest of the mass media of course, it's not just CNN).

We're not good at estimating risk, and I think it's partly because what we see on the news is so persuasive and alarming. What I expect people of colour understand very clearly though is that racism is still alive and well in North America - though I wasn't expecting it to manifest so blatantly in this day and age.

I'm glad Lenore Skenazy is doing her Free Range Kids thing, to remind us about what's really scary out there, and what's totally blown out of proportion. I'm always interested in the reality check. Any recommendations on places to get reality checks on life as a non-white person in North America? I'm reading...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Photo Credit: Dirty Bunny

I used to detest having blood drawn. By detest, I mean I had gotten to the point where I would insist on having not just a chair but an exam table or bed to lie down on before they'd get to jab my arm. I needed to look away and think about something else to get through it. Vaccines I didn't enjoy but they weren't a big deal like taking blood out was.

Let me tell you that the blood test I had for dengue fever a few years ago was horrible: they needed three or four vials of blood and I was pale and sweating and miserable. Though I suspect the nurse taking the blood felt pretty bad about it too. Or she was a good actor. At any rate, having blood drawn makes me very queasy.

My DH, on the other hand, enjoys watching blood being taken from his own or another person's arm. He also likes violent movies and foods I wouldn't normally eat (fried lung anyone?). When he was in the recovery room after some minor surgery last year, they invited me in to see him, and I think he sneezed a bit of blood. I helpfully almost fainted. They asked me to wait outside where I felt totally useless.

I noticed a change with the first blood test after getting pregnant: I was only... six or eight weeks along at that point, and pretty darn sure I was pregnant, so I was chatting away (reclining on the exam table, expecting to feel faint) with the nurse about how I was to be cat sitting over the holidays and would like to be tested for immunity to toxoplasmosis while they were doing the pregnancy test. I felt a bit off, but generally fine. I couldn't believe it when she said she was done and I insisted on waiting there for a few minutes so I wouldn't be on my feet when I started to feel like passing out.

It never happened.

Since then, I've had a multitude of blood tests, to test all kinds of things (hemoglobin, HIV antibodies, drugs - that might have been a urine test actually, blood sugar, etc). On the last one, I still looked away while he poked my arm, but then watched as he drew the blood out. No faint feeling at all.

I can't explain why the change has occured. I haven't had so many blood tests as to desensitize me, I don't think. I feel older or more mature or something, but I don't think that's it either.

Other than ending up with a baby - a baby! - I think this might be the coolest side effect of pregnancy ever. I'm not sure I'm going to start watching the violent movies with DH however.

Anyone else get over their fear of needles? Any good pregnancy side effects to share?