Friday, April 5, 2013

6 weeks: Firsts

As first time parents, everything is new. We've had some of our important firsts in the past week.

This week was full of activities. We had our baby's one month Dr's appt as well as my 6 weeks checkup. Both Dr's offices are quite a drive from where we live, so it was a mini family road trip. Dave and I are getting better at packing our diaper bag and predicting her schedule - every trip feels less daunting. We also had our first family walk in the neighborhood today, which was just a short walk to pick up some coffee (decaf for me) from a few blocks away, but it felt like SUCH a big deal. I wore my baby in the K'tan carrier and topped it off with my maternity parka to protect her from the wind. She's gained more than 4lbs since birth, so she felt pretty hefty, but it felt so good to walk outside. In a weird way, I felt like my old self again.

I was super cautious about bathing her. Of course, the first concern was the umbilical cord. But even when the cord stub came off, I didn't feel ready. Her skin seemed too delicate, and I was afraid she'd get cold. I watched videos on bathing babies over and over, trying to get comfortable with the idea. And in the meantime, I just wiped her off with warm, wet wash cloths. In preparation,  I ordered a thermometer rubber ducky (a must have!), which put me at ease about water temperature. We ended up washing her over the kitchen sink in a small plastic basin, using way too many towels because I kept drying her off just in case she's cold being wet. Our little girl looked confused, but she didn't fuss or cry through the whole process, which makes me think she might be one of those bath-loving babies like my niece, who refuses to get out of the tub sometimes. I feel like we crossed a big hurdle. 

I think I noticed for the first time this week that she seems more tired at nights. She still gets up very frequently, but it went from every hour to sleeping almost 2-2.5 hours straight (tho only once a night)! I really should take advantage of the opportunity to sleep, but I can't get myself to do it. Everything feels too delicate, like I have to watch her every second. If my husband is not up with her, I don't feel comfortable sleeping. Even if I lie down and close my eyes, even if I doze off for a minute or two, I'm right back up as soon as I hear her move or make a sound. I know I am being the waaaaay-paranoid-new-mom, but I can't seem to snap out of it. Perhaps it'll get better once she hits that 2-month or 3-month mark, where doctors say things are "safer." 

Being a first time mom, I feel paranoid about everything. My husband seems more lax about the whole situation, which is sometimes annoying but mostly helpful. I'm hoping my paranoia and fears will subside as my baby gets older and stronger. I'll get used to things, I'm sure.

I really need to chill out. Maybe it's time for me to get a gym membership again...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5 Weeks: late night thoughts of a newbie mama

It's around 2AM. Another long night has begun. I've just fed my baby, changed her diaper, and successfully put her to sleep in my K'tan baby carrier. My husband took the night shift last night because I wasn't feeling so well. And now, he's completely knocked out - looks like I'm on my own for a while! I'm rocking side to side in my chair to keep my baby sleeping for the time being. She'll be up again soon. She's going through yet another growth spurt/cluster feeding, which consists of short and frequent nursing and fussiness - very labor intensive!

I see why this stage of parenthood is often described as dreadful. I've heard so many horror stories about this period - about the sleeplessness, the crying, the never-ending feedings, the diapers... It's a completely new territory for first timers like myself. There's a learning curve. But you get better with practice, and things get easier - hopefully anyway.

Some parents say it only gets harder as you go because babies get bigger and more complex. And oh the dreadful teenage years! Everybody who's been there loves to warn you about the teenage years.

I believe it. It will only get more complicated. And right now - with this newborn who's so tiny and completely dependent on me - will be the easiest thing in hindsight, so I should enjoy it while it lasts. I agree, and I am. That's how life seems to go. Whatever I have right now will not ever be back, or be the same. I have to absorb it now, or it's gone forever.

I knew early on a baby changes everything. Duh. But I mean, it really changes EVERYthing. And I used to be one of those young people who's scared of the changes. I was never eager to start a family. I only vaguely knew I eventually wanted children. But for a long time, I feared the commitment. Wouldn't it take away my independence? My freedom? My precious solitude? What about my youthful body? Wouldn't a baby ruin everything?

Having just had my first baby after being married for almost nine years, I've gotten a lot of questions and comments from various places about this topic of babies and parenthood. It was annoying as heck, and I still think it's really none of anyone's business. And I personally think all these fears are valid and should not be ignored. I took my time, and I'm glad I did.

I marvel at this tiny, beautiful creature on a daily, or more like.. hourly basis. There's a constant, overwhelming sense of love. Yes, I'm exhausted. And I realize my days of being spontaneous are pretty much over. But surprisingly, I am not bothered by it. I am quite at peace with all of it. Life flows, and I'm moving along with it. It feels right. Things are changing as usual, and I am still me - fortunately, a version with enough perspective to not dwell on the past or the future, able to take in the good stuff. And this, right now, is good stuff.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

39 Weeks: 4 hours before my water broke

It's interesting to look back at what I did right before I went into labor, not having any idea it'll be so soon. My husband and I went out on a little dinner date two nights before to our favorite neighborhood restaurant. People seemed to be especially nice to me that night. Not having been out a lot during my pregnancy, I was enjoying all the attention from strangers, including the free ice cream sundae for two. :) Also knowing we'll be stuck at home for a while once the baby comes, I wanted to go out again the next day, aka the day before baby came. But we opted out because I was feeling exhausted. I said to my husband, "We have another week. Let's go out tomorrow." So wrong. But I'm glad we stayed in because I needed all the rest I could get before that long stretch of work head of me.

I was writing a blog entry that night.  I remember not finishing it because I didn't feel so great. In hindsight, I was in early labor. This is what I wrote:

February 21st, 2013 12:49am
"Most people apparently go into labor between 39 and 41 weeks, and a surprising number of my friends had their babies before their due date. Earlier this week, I had a day of feeling like I was going into labor. Something felt different. Also, I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I was sure was going to transition into a real labor. Of course, it hasn't happened just yet.

My sister and her family are coming from California this Saturday to be here for the birth. They'll be here for a couple of weeks to help out with the birth and the aftermath. We're hoping my baby girl will arrive while they're here. My husband and I were there for my niece's birth two years ago, and my niece arrived a few days after we did - perfect timing.

Our parents won't be at the birth, unfortunately or fortunately. I know having a lot of family around during birth is usually great but also could be stressful. Our circumstances aren't so much voluntary, but I'm at peace with how things are going to go. My husband has been really available throughout this whole process, and I trust him completely to be as supportive during labor and delivery. And my sister, already a mother who's been there/done that, will be around to help out with the transition. And her supportive husband will be here with my adorable niece to take care of her. It's going to be two weeks of craziness, but I am really looking forward to it.

In preparation for this baby's birth, I've been doing a lot of research on natural products for my baby, and I tried making my own lip balm, which I could tweak to use as baby diaper balm. I cooked it up tonight, and it was so quick and easy. And working with little pippettes and tubes totally reminded me of my days in the lab. I think I'm going to continue to do this. It's great knowing exactly what goes into what I'll be putting on my baby's skin.

I keep having dreams about breastfeeding. I wake up thinking baby's already out and on my boob. My mind is moving ahead of my body. I gotta get this baby out first. But I'm thinking more about what comes after. I still do read birth stories, which relaxes me. It helps me visualize what I might experience. This might sound weird, and I might totally take this back later, but I'm looking forward to experiencing labor and delivery. I visualize the moment my baby comes out into this world, and I already get choked up thinking about it. This baby is coming at the perfect time. She's going to be so loved. What a blessed child."

Well, I guess I was ready to move on, and I was right. I don't take back what I said about looking forward to experiencing labor and delivery. As intense as it was, I'm so glad and grateful I got to experience it the way I did. And the moment I saw my baby girl for the first time was one of the most emotional moments of my life.

PHOTO at 39 weeks: 
This is the last picture of myself pregnant and in my apartment. It was taken on my way out to go to the hospital!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 4: Sleep No More

I've wanted to write about my experience on a daily basis, but it's been virtually impossible to sit in front of my computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Someone said newborns sleep a lot, so you should go out often in the first few months.... Well, apparently not my baby... She sleeps frequently, but not in any kind of long stretches. She's always eating tho, meaning she's always ON me, which makes it hard to type. This girl's very vocal about her wants/needs - she screams and/or starts crying (such a loud voice from such a little person!) if we don't respond promptly. My girl knows what she wants! I've been nonstop nursing, taking very short naps in between - no "real sleep" whatsoever. And I'm typing with one hand right now in a very awkward position with my hungry baby girl glued to my chest.

I was told newborns need time to establish a pattern and should be fed "on demand," which I have been doing. I was also told newborns usually feed every 2-4 hours (start of feeding to the next start is how you time this gap). For us, it's been mostly every hour, two if lucky. This in reality means I have about 10-30 minutes in between feedings, during which she always needs a diaper change. Fortunately, Dave is on fulltime diaper duty, so I actually get that 10-30 minute break. But still... That's not a very long time. After a few weeks of doing this, I thought maybe something is wrong. Fortunately (unfortunately in some ways...), when I asked our pediatrician the other day, she said some babies just do that. It could be gas discomfort, preventing her from eating more at a time, but nothing serious if she's pooping and peeing fine, which she is. I also asked about our baby's grunting, which she does whenever she tries to poo or pass gas. Apparently, she's just in the process of learning to do these things efficiently. Newborns are so underdeveloped and helpless. Pooping is such hard work for her!

Some mornings, I feel demoralized in my sleepless delirium. But I've been able to snap out of it after a nap, during which my husband feeds our girl with my pumped milk in a bottle. And every time I wake up - however short, I'm so happy to see my husband and my baby. She is just so damn cute. BTW, I'm now typing with two hands. I tried on my new K'tan wrap for the first time, and I think my baby likes it! And my hands are free!

Time is already going by really fast. My baby is more than 3 weeks old and 2+lbs heavier than when she was born. Her cheeks are getting chubbier every day. However cranky I get at times these days from not sleeping much - sorry husband - I am enjoying this sometimes dreadful initiation into parenthood. I say we're doing pretty well as newbie parents so far, even if every grunt, every small noise from my baby freaks me out, which I'm told is unnecessary. I will learn tho. Newborns make weird noises. I get it. But I can't help it yet that I respond to every little thing to make sure she's okay. Motherhood is definitely not easy, but it's more than worth all my time and effort, as every parent before me has told me. So I happily say (while I'm feeling relatively sane after a nap) goodbye to sleep - for a while anyway. See you later. It was nice knowing you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

41 Weeks (and a day): The Aftermath

I'm in a new mom time warp. Two weeks and a day have passed already since my baby girl came out, and I have no clue how. I'm constantly asking what time and what day it is. It's apparently impossible for me to keep track while in the never-ending short cycles of breastfeeding, pumping, burping, and changing diapers. Newborns don't sleep in long stretches, which means I don't either. The first few days back home were really challenging because I was pretty beat up from labor & delivery, and recovering from something like that usually requires a lot of sleep, and I wasn't getting any. But thanks to my husband, who at some point took over the few critical night hours, and my baby who has no trouble going between bottles and breasts, I've had a chance to recuperate. No more sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time, which now is considered a luxury, but I was never expecting anything more. And I'm happy to oblige as a new mom to a beautiful, healthy baby.


I've always wanted to exclusively breastfeed. In preparation, I did my readings and went to classes while still pregnant. But I didn't have any expectations in terms of what will happen because I've seen numerous moms struggle through it; I knew it didn't happen easily for everyone. I was mentally prepared to supplement with formula if my body didn't cooperate. Even when the lactation consultant at the hospital checked out my breasts and enthusiastically said the words, "You're made for breastfeeding," I was skeptical because I was still only producing colostrum, and my milk was yet to come in.

Then the day I arrived home, I started experiencing the MIRACLE of a new mom's body. It's so fascinating to me how this transition happens. The engorgement, the pain, the latching, and the bonding - they're all happening. I didn't expect the initial engorgement to hurt so much, but I was happy to feel the pain that screamed 'MILK!' My girl is also latching on really well, and her cheeks have gotten fuller. My baby is growing!

I was introduced to pumping at the hospital when the lactation consultant came by. It helps to regulate milk supply and also helps to have backup for times mommy's away. I hadn't bought a pump for myself yet, and it felt overwhelming to pick one from so many choices. Thank goodness my sister and her husband were here to help with the breastfeeding/pumping transition, getting us the pump they recommend, sterilizing all the bottles, and setting us up and guiding us through the feeding/pumping routine. 


Having to feed the baby every 1-3 hours is exhausting as I've been told. There is no real time for rest, and sleep is elusive. But I have been absolutely loving this unavoidable, frequent skin to skin time with my baby. She looks up at me with her amazing newborn eyes, and I can't help but to marvel at her every single time. This is nothing new. Everyone knows about childbirth and breastfeeding, yet experiencing it firsthand feels like it's something I've never known. Watching my own little baby feeding on my breasts just seems crazy. Right after delivery, when my hormones were 'out of control,' I held her and sobbed in pure bliss - I couldn't believe how happy I felt. Going through this initial phase of motherhood has been such an incredible high for me so far. 


Once I gave birth, my body stopped producing as much heat as when I was pregnant, making me really cold at all times. Our heater is on at about 5 degrees higher in temperature than usual, and I'm always wearing extra layers of clothing, sipping on hot drinks. I actually started crying in my half-asleep state at one point because my husband turned down our bedroom heater, and I felt so cold but had no strength to do anything about it. I was also in pain, and the shivering didn't help. It took us a few days to register that my needs have drastically changed from pregnant and sick to postpartum and recovering. 

At two weeks, my body doesn't hurt as much. Much of the swelling has subsided, and the muscle pain from laboring is gone - no more ibuprofen needed. And I've managed to sneak in a 4 hour nap somewhere - thanks husband! - which I think was vital in feeling revitalized. Fortunately, I haven't felt any signs of postpartum depression. All I feel is enormous gratitude. 


I'm about 20 lbs lighter than when I went into labor two weeks ago. My belly is shrinking on a daily basis, which is really fascinating to watch. Losing all the pregnancy weight will probably take some time, but that's just fine with me. I'm too busy being amazed at all the crazy changes this body of mine has gone through to produce another human being and is still going through to nurture my baby girl - all with so little sleep. I feel like a rockstar. :)

PHOTO of my sweet family:

Friday, March 1, 2013

40 Weeks: So In LOVE

I have skipped my Week 39 entry because THAT was a CRAZY day: MY BABY ARRIVED!! They say most people go into labor between 39 & 41 weeks. I had an inkling I'd be going into labor before my due date, which was today, but I was in denial even when I started noticing what felt like menstrual cramps - my labor had begun. My sister was coming in two days to be here with me for the delivery, and I wanted this baby to wait!

They also say water doesn't break the way they do in the movies when a woman goes into labor; only 10-15% women experience it this way. And even when the water breaks, it may take a little while for labor to begin. But what happened to me was just like in the movies. My water broke at 5am, and my contractions began to progress quickly.

I was surprisingly calm through the whole process, mostly excited, but also disappointed that my family wasn't here yet. It was just the two of us. But that was okay. I was ready, and so was my husband. We felt prepared.

My labor and delivery mostly went smoothly and as I had hoped, with the exception of the last two hours, when things got potentially dangerous. I'm sure I'll write about it soon, but it got pretty intense. I was in what I could only call some kind of trance with pain and exhaustion. My husband was a mess, and my midwife and her assistants were calling our backup doctor. I was in and out of consciousness as I heard bits and pieces of their discussion. I couldn't help but to feel defeated. But perhaps it was this specific little push-comes-to-shove moment that gave me enough strength to finally finish the job. My beautiful and perfectly healthy baby girl came out as the doctor arrived at the hospital parking lot. Even the NICU staff that came in for newborn emergency care left as soon as they saw the baby because she was perfectly fine. Her Apgar Score was 9.9/10!

It was definitely one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. And my body is definitely feeling it. But oh the love... All the love! And the joy of seeing this beautiful and perfect creature that looks like my husband and myself... This little miracle makes everything worthwhile. I'm puffy like I've never seen, and I'm sore everywhere from all the laboring and pushing. But I might seriously be the happiest I've ever been in my life. I haven't slept in a week, but it's been getting easier every day, and I'm getting the hang of it, especially as my body recovers. And I'm lucky to have my sister's family here to help for a couple of weeks, along with a husband whose nurturing side has been nothing short of amazing.

PHOTO at 40 weeks of my newborn baby girl's feet:
Newborns go through some traumatic pricking at the hospital. For my little girl, she had to get pricked extra few times to monitor her glucose level because of my Gestational Diabetes. And she also had some jaundice, which required several blood tests. My poor baby... But everything is fine now, and she's one beautiful, healthy newborn!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

38 Weeks: Weight Gain

Happy Valentine's Day! I usually take this day as an excuse to indulge in some chocolates, but I'm a bit limited in my sugar consumption this year... But that's okay because my life is definitely full of, if not overflowing with, love these days. This joyful anticipation of a baby girl is sweeter than any amount of chocolates!

Despite my no-sugar-eating, healthy diet, I've been gaining weight steadily - especially recently. The slowing down of the "last growth spurt" that's supposed to occur after 36 weeks hasn't happened for me. A pregnant woman's blood volume increases by ~50%, so I know a lot of it is water weight, but I've been gaining what seems like a steady ~1+lb/week. I swear I feel heavier every morning, and my belly feels tighter. I've been diligently doing my cat stretches, and I officially have a hard time bending over now - so much so that my husband helps me put my shoes on. And I'm such a first time pregnant woman - I'm constantly amazed at how big I'm getting.

Ever since being diagnosed with GD, I've been paying close attention to my weight, getting on the scale every morning as soon as I wake up and jotting down for my record. Though I'm not too sure about my accurate "starting weight," I'm pretty sure I've gained about 30 pounds so far. My weight sometimes fluctuates a bit, depending on how bloated I am, so I'm not sure if I'll gain more in total during the leftover duration of this pregnancy. A woman who starts at a 'normal' weight is expected/advised to gain 25-35 pounds, and underweight women more, and overweight, less. My first doctor suggested 35, and I remember thinking, wow, that's a lot of weight. But now I'm almost there...!! In terms of my measurements, my belly is right on target this week.

I've added a step to my belly moisturizing regimen. I use my regular Earth Mama Stretch Oil after showers, but I also use coconut oil before bedtime. I've heard that some women get stretch marks in the last couple weeks of pregnancy...! That would be a bummer, so I'm trying to  be careful - tho they say it's mostly your genetics and not so much the moisturizing. Still.. Better safe than sorry, right?

A bit earlier in my pregnancy, I used to have a lot of anxiety dreams, where someone is trying to harm my baby, and I'd turn into a beast and destroy all the perpetrators. Nowadays, I'm noticing my dreams have evolved into something more pleasant - well, I'm assuming because I don't really remember them. What does stay with me is that I'm always buoyant, and the baby is already out. I guess I'm looking forward to being lighter. As much as I think I might miss being this pregnant, I am definitely looking forward to being more mobile/agile/independent.

I started taking some GTF Chromium supplements at my midwife's suggestion. It's supposed to help with my insulin resistance, aka Gestational Diabetes. There aren't too many studies done to know the exact mechanism in which Chromium assists sugar metabolism, but it helps some people. She suggested I take 100mcg, twice a day. Being cautious about supplements in general, I decided to start with 100mcg/day after three days of reading about it. And to my pleasant surprise, it's helping. Not that my blood glucose was so out of whack before, but it's more stable now, even if I eat fruits in the mornings for example. I've been enjoying my apples, bananas, berries, and papayas more without worrying about my blood sugar. I even had some cookie the other night after a spicy dinner. Oh, and I might even have some chocolate tonight after dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day. :)

PHOTO at 38 weeks:
This baby could come any day now, and I definitely look it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

37 Weeks: FULL TERM & impending changes

I'm officially full term today! It's pretty exciting, thinking this baby could come any day now. But of course, I'd like her to stick around in my belly for a few more weeks until our due date. I want her taking full advantage of the womb while she can.

I'm exhausted as I write. This past week has been full of classes and activities - perhaps why I had a rough time with eating and nausea. I am looking forward to not having gagging and vomiting as part of my regular existence. 

Another thing I've struggled with is my super sensitivity to smell. In the beginning, anything would set me off - the air that changes because of a swinging door for example. When I was completely bedridden, my husband always knocked before coming in, so I have time to prepare myself and hold my breath. 

Though those days have passed - thank goodness, I still have a hard time with personal products, like shampoo and lotion. I have a variety of pregnancy friendly products in my bathroom, accumulated throughout the past 9 months. But I still have to take it day by day and assess my condition before I choose which one to use. Good thing it was summer and humid when things were worse because I couldn't put anything on myself without getting sick. Now that it's winter and dry, I'm struggling with dry skin. 

My lips and hands have been chapped for the past 9 months, and this hasn't happened since I was in high school. Partly, it's because I have to prick my finger 4 times a day - for my hands anyway, but it's mostly because I get headaches and/or nauseated from the smell of lotions or scent/taste of lip balms - even if they're "mild," "natural," and/or "unscented." Some of my friends have suggested using pure oils. I've always been interested in going more natural with my products, but I've never been proactive about trying things out because I had a solid regimen that worked well for me - as in, I have sensitive skin, and I get these weird dry rashes if I try the wrong thing (which I'm kind of suffering with right now, and I'm not sure from what), so I've been using the same products for years.

Now that I'm having a baby, it's a great opportunity to switch over. All the products I've been using for years rank rather high in toxicity on, which didn't bother me too much before. But now, I can't help but to think about all the possible future repercussions. I started reading about coconut oil, shea butter, and almond oil, as some friends have suggested, and I tried them for the first time today. So far, so good. 

This baby's not even here yet, and I already feel different in the way I think. My focus is on this child and what I need to know and do to keep her healthy and happy. Sometimes, all the information out there is conflicting and overwhelming. I need to find that line of balance, where I can keep cool but also be mindful and decisive. 

My husband and I attended another childbirth class this week, along with a breastfeeding class. These classes are oh so informative. And everything seems to be falling into place. The thought of having to feed a helpless baby every 2-3 hours is tiring in itself, but then I remind myself how sleepless and difficult this pregnancy has been in general. I won't know until I'm there, but I feel educated enough to tackle it with confidence. Otherwise, I have a great support system set up to get me through it. 

The more I learn and take in this process of becoming a mother, I can't help but to think about my own mother. She had three children by the time she was my age, and she has always talked about this transition as the most wonderful thing she's ever experienced. What mothers go through is amazing to me, and I'm grateful to have a mom who was able to embrace motherhood as the best gift of her life. 

PHOTO at 37 Weeks: Snug in my belly, my little girl stretches a lot. I feel her feet by my right ribs. I push back with my hand, mostly because it hurts. But sometimes, I think I'll miss this interaction, so unique to this period in both of our lives. I will cherish it while it lasts, but I'm also ecstatic at the idea of meeting her. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

36 Weeks: Last Growth Spurt, Braxton Hicks, and Classes

With only one week left till full term, I feel like we've been running around all over the place, trying to tie loose ends. But the good news is that we feel comfortable with how things are going. The baby car seat's installed and ready for the hospital trip, all the baby clothes are washed and tucked away in the baby room dresser, and lots of last minute baby products are on their way in the mail. I've begun organizing things to take to the hospital, tho I have yet to pack them in a bag. We've also been busy attending various classes and talks, recommended by the midwives. And of course, now that I'm over 35 weeks, my prenatal visits happen every week. The one hour drive to the midwives office serves as a great time for the two of us to talk about everything, which has been not only invaluable but quite enjoyable. Oh, and I snuck in a prenatal massage yesterday, and it was heavenly... :) (thanks, husband!)

As soon as I wrote my last entry about feeling great, I began to feel really sick for a few days. I was hot, nauseated, and having a hard time breathing. Apparently, right around now, up to 36 weeks is when most babies go through their last bout of fattening up. There were a few weeks prior to this growth spurt when I didn't gain any weight. Then in the past two weeks or so, I've put on about three pounds. I was concerned because I have Gestational Diabetes, and the biggest concern with GD is having a big baby. But my belly was measured this week, and I'm right where I should be. My blood pressure is fine, my glucose level has been under control, and my baby's heartbeat sounds great. They say the growth tends to slow down after week 36. I guess I'll find out.

We talked about Braxton Hicks a bit at my last appointment. One of the ways to tell is if the belly feels rock hard one minute and then goes back to being normal soon. Looking back, it seems like I've been having these contractions - I've noticed the intermittent, rock hard belly for a little more than a week now. I just thought it was the way my baby was positioned. Some say it's painful, and some describe it as being uncomfortable. It has been neither for me, but I guess it might become stronger as I get closer to the real deal. Either way, I'm glad my body's getting ready!

We're doing another set of childbirth classes at the midwives office to cover things we didn't at the hospital course. It's an expedited, concentrated, two-day version of what they usually do in several weeks. There's another couple who moved to the midwifery later in the pregnancy, so they scheduled an additional set for us. The first class was already tremendously helpful. After reviewing all the stages of labor, we learned a few soothing techniques, having the husbands practice on the wives in class. The midwifery is also offering breastfeeding classes, which I will attend next week. I'm excited. :)

I got a late start in terms of reading and learning about everything because I was stuck being sick for most of my pregnancy. But I'm grateful I get a start at all.

What I've been doing throughout the pregnancy, however, is talking to a lot of new moms. Naturally, everyone has different opinions on various issues. I didn't really feel too strongly about anything until pretty recently, but it was helpful to hear a bunch of different perspectives before developing my own thoughts.

Knowledge is power, and we're arming ourselves for what's to come. Learning has taken most of the anxiety out of the equation for the both of us, and we feel ready to tackle this impending "storm," as many call it.

Another important reminder I'm getting through this process is to surround myself with supportive and like-minded people. Changing to these midwives is the best decision I made in my pregnancy. As much as I believe in being open to other people's opinions, there's a time and a place for that. When going through something as crucial and specific as giving birth to your first child, I say it's important to eliminate as much negativity/opposition as possible.

PHOTO at 36 weeks:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

35 Weeks: Discomforts & Joys of 3rd Trimester

The better I feel physically, the busier I get - naturally. In the past week, my husband and I have taken care of most of the big things we wanted to get done before the baby comes. It's been a while since I felt this productive.

I've also been feeling some new physical discomforts, specific to this very weighty 3rd trimester.


1) Back Pains:
I first felt it late last week during a walk outside. I let out a small 'ahk!' and had to stop moving. My first thought for a split second was "Baby, we got 6 more weeks to go!" I quickly realized it wasn't a contraction. Then I thought maybe it's a Braxton Hicks - that wasn't it either. I limped back home and had to lie down for the rest of the evening. For a couple of days, I needed back massages in order to fall asleep.

2) Leg Cramps: 
I find myself stretching my legs/ankles a lot when I sleep because I feel sore all the time, and that's when it attacks me. I woke up screaming a couple mornings, tho the cramp subsided pretty quickly. I guess dealing with 20+lbs of extra weight on a daily basis is putting a lot of pressure on my legs.


1) Congestion: 
I've been congested since what must be Day 1 of pregnancy. Every morning and every night, I spend a lot of time in the bathroom, trying to clear my sinuses and my throat. And heater makes it impossible for me to breathe at nights, so we've been sleeping with our sweaters on instead, with the humidifier on.

2) Nausea & Vomiting:
This one is so much better than what it used to be, but it's still happening. It's alright though. It'll be over soon..... I'm still super sensitive to certain foods/smells, but at least my triggers have narrowed down. One of the main things is cooking oil. So far, I've identified olive oil, butter, and almond oil to be safe. Anything else causes nausea and/or vomiting. So it gets a bit tricky if I'm trying to eat out because I don't know what kind of cooking oils restaurants use.

3) All the other Usuals:
Then there are the common 3rd trimester symptoms many women experience, like frequent trips to the bathroom, indigestion/gas/bloating/heartburn, fatigue, interrupted sleep, weight gain, pregnancy brain, shortness of breath, swelling, and etc........... Almost.... Almost there! 


1) Feeling the Movements:
In all honesty tho, I don't mind these 3rd trimester symptoms too much. I find that I'm rather savoring every moment of this uncomfortable miracle, especially now that we're close to the finish line. I particularly enjoy feeling this baby move. Now that she's bigger and snug in my womb, the movements are different. She's not doing somersaults anymore because there is no more room. I could feel where her back is and where her limbs are. She stretches her legs and sometimes her whole body, and my belly stretches out diagonally. It's fascinating to watch, and it's almost strange how much joy I find in feeling those pokes. It hurts sometimes when she kicks me in the rib, but even then, I love it. It's so cute. And every time she moves, I feel like I'm getting to know her better.

2) Cravings: 
I know 2nd trimester is when things are supposed to be great, but for me, 2nd trimester came and left before I felt any kind of bliss. Until recently, eating has been either a terrible, disgusting chore or something always ending badly even if it starts out well. And with Gestational Diabetes, I thought I was never going to experience any kind of eating pleasure until I was done with this pregnancy. But in the past week, I've been having these nuts and cheese cravings, specifically almond butter and Manchego cheese (not together). My body doesn't seem to want anything it can't handle, and I'm enjoying my almond butter and/or Manchego cheese sandwiches like never before. Eating may not be awesome, but it's the best it's ever been during this pregnancy.

3) Love:
I'm in love with this baby. I can't wait to meet her, and I'm in love with my family. Despite the lingering list of difficulties I face on a daily basis, I'm going through a I-love-my-life phase. I hope it lasts for a while, enough to get me through the challenges of labor & delivery, plus the transition into parenthood. 

PHOTO at 35 weeks:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

34 Weeks: My Baby's Getting Ready!

It's been a wonderful week, minus the occasional vomiting and constant sleepiness. Despite the dark times, I feel privileged to be carrying this child, and I couldn't be more ecstatic about starting a family when we are. As much as I have envied women who breeze through their pregnancies, I feel a special bond with my baby and my husband for having survived our experience. There are only a few weeks left, and the labor & delivery will be our final hurdle before a whole different set of challenges come our way. But I have a feeling we'll be just fine.

This past weekend, we had a little before-the-baby-comes party, where many friends we haven't seen in a while showed up. 2012 was a crazy year, and we were away a lot. Then I was sick throughout the pregnancy, which made it virtually impossible to see anyone - until now. This baby is already much loved, and I'm grateful to have such amazing friends and family. We received a bunch of gifts as well as a huge bag/boxes of hand-me-downs. I've started inventorying baby clothes, separating them by sizes. These little outfits are so tiny and adorable. I can't wait to put them on my baby girl.

Our baby/guest room is also almost done. Our niece is visiting soon with my sis & her hubby, who will be here for my birth. Woohoo! At this point, I'm more excited to get the room ready for their stay than for our baby, who won't be needing it for a while.

We also went to our first official prenatal appointment at the midwifery. It was like any other prenatal visits at the doctor's office in terms of getting the usual things like blood pressure, weight, and baby's heartbeat checked, but they took a lot more time to talk to us and answer our questions. After another conversation about breech babies and my concerns, I was lying on NOT a medical exam table but a comfy day bed, where the midwife touched my belly with her hands, following up with a device that only detects heartbeat by the neck of the baby - to determine where the head is. And it seems my baby girl has finally turned! Her head is down!

It's interesting to look back at what I was feeling the few days prior to the appointment. The baby was moving A LOT more than usual. It felt like the space was getting too small for her, and she was struggling to find a more comfortable position. She was pretty forceful in her movements, and I couldn't figure out what she was doing. In hindsight, she must have been turning, head down. I was worried for nothing - she was going to do this all on her own. She seems to be getting ready for what's to come. That's my girl! :)

I'm so relieved. I'd been reading about and was planning to try all types of homeopathic interventions for breech babies. Now, all I have to do is focus on eating right and doing normal exercises like walking - no more inversion exercises necessary. The closer I get to my due date, the more confident I feel about my own body's ability to do this. The occasional vomiting has slowed down, and I've been feeling relatively more energetic.

PHOTO at 34 weeks:
When my midwife was touching my belly, she said, "You are full of baby, aren't ya? It's rock hard!" My belly is getting tighter everyday. I've been using a really generous amount of oil after showers, hoping it'll keep my skin moist and elastic enough for the next few weeks of more stretching. I try not to waddle, but I do find myself walking funny sometimes, especially when no one's looking.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

33 Weeks: Midwife vs. Doctor

After realizing my doctor might not be on the same page about my wanting an unmedicated, natural birth - especially after being diagnosed with GD, my husband and I immediately began searching for other options. I know it's harder said than done to plan a birth; many things can go wrong, and circumstances change. But I know what I want is possible, and I want to surround myself with a supportive group of people who can cheer me on through the challenging process, rather than arguing my case with an opposing team while I'm in pain.

To be clear tho, I think my (now previous) doctor is lovely and competent. She just seems to have a different philosophy about this whole process compared to what I want. As they say, we're not a good fit. So I've made the decision to move on, even if I only have 4 weeks until full term - better late than never.

Finding a new care provider is always a bit of an uncomfortable transition, starting from having to ask the old doctor to release your medical records to the new caregiver. The patient doesn't owe an explanation, but it could still feel awkward. There was also a part of me that couldn't quite decide if I was overreacting and blowing things out of proportion. But after many discussions with my husband, who agrees with me a hundred percent (I was pleasantly surprised), and friends and family members with similar philosophies and experiences, I decided to bite the bullet. The end result was much better than expected. I'm happy with my new direction, and everything ended on a positive note with my previous doctor, who called me in person to help me tie up the logistical loose ends and wished me good luck.

We had 4 consultations/meet-and-greet scheduled throughout this week and next for two OBs and two midwiferies, but we were sold at our first meeting. As of yesterday, we have made our decision.

Initially, this one specific holistic doctor was my first choice because of the MD title - also she's in-network with our insurance. I liked that she could do everything herself if anything went wrong, yet she advocates the natural birthing process. However, the more I think about what I want, I realize the important aspect of what I'm looking for is in the process of labor, for which a doctor cannot be present at all times.

A midwife, on the other hand, is more hands-on during the often long hours of labor. Midwives are trained professionals who are knowledgeable about the natural birthing process, capable of handling any normal childbirth situations. Assuming the pregnant woman is healthy and has no complications, a midwife is more than capable of delivering a baby.

When we went to our meet-and-greet, I was a bit grumpy while in the waiting room because we had just spent an hour driving (there are no midwiferies in our neighborhood) and almost another hour waiting. But once we were in the room with one of the midwives and her student, I was immediately smitten. I have heard so many great things about having a midwife instead of a doctor, but I was never quite convinced I wanted one for myself. But after talking to this woman for what was about an hour, I was ready to commit. My husband apparently felt the same way. The time we spent in the waiting room no longer was an issue, and we kept saying to each other on our way back home, "I think this is it."

After lengthy discussions with my husband - he and I both trying to play the devil's advocate for many hours, we have decided to go with the Midwifery. We went through pros and cons of all our options, eventually canceling the rest of the appointments. Considering I'm already at 33 weeks, we thought there is no time to waste, especially if we love this midwifery as much as we do. We have our first official appointment early next week, and I'm actually excited about it.

We'll be delivering at a hospital. This midwifery is affiliated with a hospital, where two OBs work as their backups in cases of emergency. They also provide doulas if I want an extra pair of hands in the room. I love the idea of having a group of experienced women by my side throughout my labor until the baby comes. They will take care of me in ways a doctor cannot. But of course, if a doctor is needed, she or he will be there too. In the next few weeks, I will spend a lot of time with the three midwives, one of whom will be at my birth. They're full of information they want to share, which will help me prepare for the birth both physically and mentally. It doesn't hurt that they are also all trained RNs; one of them is also a lactation consultant. With this group of compassionate and competent women whose lives are dedicated to women's birthing process, I am confident my experience can be a positive one, albeit not painless.

PHOTO at 33 weeks:
I'm going through that phase where the baby is pushing on my stomach and intestines; I can't enjoy eating. It's like I've lost my ability to digest. They say it gets better once the baby "drops." And my sister says, "eating feel awesome once the baby comes out." :)

In terms of her positioning, she seems to be moving around a lot more than before and hasn't really settled into one spot, which is good. The shape of my belly changes a lot, depending on what she's doing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

32 Weeks 2 Days: Birth Plan Dilemma

My husband and I are going through a dilemma. My doctor doesn't accept a written birth plan, which we didn't think was a big deal until recently. After reading a lot and talking to numerous new parents with recent experiences, we think it's important that a doctor takes on our wishes as to how our birthing process should go. Of course, things could change in emergency situations, and I could certainly see why a birth plan could be a nuisance to a trained, medical doctor. However, pregnancy/labor and delivery in itself is not a sickness. It's a natural process. As long as there are no complications, there is no need for intervention. And the issue lies in the trust I have in my doctor. Do I trust that she will respect my wishes as much as she can before she makes a judgment call that goes against what I want? For a trained surgeon, who is able to quickly take the baby out in minutes, would she wait around for 72 hours if she had to, until I was ready to push on my own? My answer right now about my doctor is... I don't think she would. When I asked her again about my birth plan, she said to me, 'You're gonna be scared, and it's an emotional time. I don't want to be looking at a piece of paper.' She said we could talk about it, but she also made me feel I have no say in the matter, that I don't know what I want because I don't know what I'm talking about. Perhaps to a certain extent, that's true. But I am a bit more aware than she seems to give me credit.

Not every woman shares my point of view in terms of wanting a natural birthing process. Some want as much intervention as possible. Some women choose to have an elective C-section for scheduling reasons. And even when a woman wants a natural birth, she could become too exhausted after days of laboring that she ends up changing her mind - I could end up doing that myself. I'm not criticizing what a woman decides to do. But rather, I'd just like to have a choice in the matter and have real support. I don't want to have to fight the system while I'm in pain, vulnerable at the hospital.

There are other minor incidences at the doctor's office, during which I felt a bit uneasy. She is actually quite lovely in a lot of ways. But it's just the medical philosophy most doctors seem to have when it comes to any kind of holistic approach to things. I can see that she tries to be receptive to what I have to say or the questions I ask, but I also see she isn't quite on the same page.

Of course, I could change doctors again (this is our second doctor), but that's not an easy feat. We have to consider insurance, location, reviews, etc. We're also looking into midwifery, but there aren't many in our area. The nearest ones have mixed reviews, and the one holistic doctor who seems promising is booked until the end of the month.

At 32+ weeks, we need to be quick and make some decisions. It's going to be a long weekend...

Friday, January 4, 2013

32 Weeks: Baby Positioning

In the past week, I've met two adorable newborns and talked to several new moms about their birthing experiences. I've begun reading a lot about labor and delivery, and my husband and I have our first childbirth class this coming weekend. We're focusing on getting ready for the baby, and things are progressing slowly but surely.

At 30 weeks, I was told my baby is breech, which isn't a problem until later in pregnancy, close to labor. The baby is supposed to face my back with her head down by the time she comes out. When the baby is positioned incorrectly, whether it's by being sideways (transverse), upside down (breech), facing forward (posterior), or many other 'incorrect' positions, complications can occur. A surprisingly high number of my friends have experienced complications due to this specific problem, all leading to induction with Pitocin and some ending up with C-sections. From what I've seen, most doctors don't really talk about this and just schedule an elective C-section if the baby is breech by say... week 35 and on. And it's the last thing I want to do. So I've been spending a lot of time on, learning about what I can do naturally to help with the process.

It's really hard for me to tell how my baby's positioned. I can't distinguish between kicks and punches. I feel her limbs on my lower abdomen as well as right under my ribs. I also feel really big movements sometimes, where I think she's flipping over. Some women say to pay attention to the hiccups - that's where her head is.

I've been too 'busy' being sick during this pregnancy that I haven't really thought about the kind of birth I wanted. Now that I'm actively learning about it, I really want to experience a natural birth without any intervention if possible. In order to do so, I must prepare myself physically and mentally, also staying open to the possibility that things won't go the way I want. I didn't realize I would care this much about the birthing experience. But that's all I think about these days.

PHOTO at 32 weeks: 
Moving around is becoming more difficult by the day in this growing body. I am so much heavier now, and I can feel the weight every time I have to get out of my bed or off a chair. Once I'm up, it's easier. But it's a challenge to change positions, even when I'm lying down and trying to turn to the other side in bed.