Monday, March 28, 2011

As Promised...

My friend finally got me the pictures from my baby shower this weekend, so I thought I'd post a few, as I promised, even though it was two weeks ago at this point.

The lovely food spread.
This is one of my friends who helped to throw the shower. It's actually my friend J that I wrote about a while back, who had been trying to get pregnant since April 2010. I'm pleased to announce that she's about 11 weeks pregnant in this picture!
My mother sent this Pack n Play from Georgia, so I had to take a picture for her to prove it made it.
One of the sweetest gifts--my friend designed this herself!
In other news, the pelvic pain I wrote about before has thankfully been on and off and only really bad a few days over the past week. Strangely enough, it became excruciating for a little while yesterday afternoon, radiating all across the bottom of my uterus, hips, lower back, and groin. I was very confused because even though it hurt in all the right places, it didn't seem like contractions because my uterus was contracting independently of the pain. And changing positions made it worse rather than better. After I laid on the couch for a while trying not to move and not to cry, it went away and hasn't come back nearly as bad since then (after two days where it was coming and going). Very strange, but I guess I'll take it as a good sign that something is happening! I have my goodbye party at work tomorrow and my 38-week OB appointment, and any time after that is fair game for labor as far as I'm concerned!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

20 Questions

As I mentioned in my last post, Nico has tagged me in one of these fun Q&A thingies. Nico is kind of like the Stirrup Queens in our small Hypothalamic Amenorrhea corner of the infertility world, and has helped countless women recover from HA to get pregnant over the past few years. Many, many women out there are so thankful for the sage advice and comfort she consistently offers on our HA board at Fertile Thoughts!

So, for the questions and my answers.

Rule #1: the tagged person must write their answers on their blog and replace any question they dislike with a new question formulated by themselves.

Rule #2: tag 4 people to do this quiz; they cannot refuse (um, I don't agree with this--this is totally unmandatory). The tag-ee must state who tagged them.
1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals or are they members of your family? The only pets my husband and I have had since being married have been tarantulas--a total of three through the years. Pete has always been really fascinated with them and told me when we got married that I needed to be okay with having some. And they have to be some of the most low-maintenance and cheapest pets around, so I really couldn't complain. We no longer have any now, though--two died, and we sold the third when Pete finally had the tarantula thing out of his system. Considering that they were super boring and I forgot we even had them half the time, they were definitely in the "merely animals" category.

Growing up, our family went through two dogs and about 11 cats (most of whom died really random and tragic deaths--that's a whole 'nother story). While I loved our pets, they were definitely animals and not family members. The dogs were always outside dogs, and the cats...well, they kept dying, so how could we get too attached? Pete and I always talk about getting pets again when our kids are old enough to appreciate them and we're a little more settled in one place, but they will not be showing up in our family portraits.

2. If you could have a dream come true, what would it be? I guess two things come to mind. One, I would love to get another Master's in Counseling at some point in my life. (I know, dream big, right?) Two, I would love to have a family consisting of 4-5 kids about 10 years from now: 2-3 biological and 1-2 adopted. While further pregnancies sound daunting to me right now, I think the adoption process will probably be even more daunting and complicated. And the idea of bringing slightly older kids into our home and not being around through their infancy (which is probably what we would do, since that's where the bigger need is) is a bit scary. But I think worth it.

3. What would you do with a billion dollars? My husband and I have often talked about how we wouldn't want to change much about our lifestyle no matter how much money we made. Simple living is the way to go--we just happen to be forced into it by finances right now! And since we plan to live overseas, we don't have aspirations to buying a house anytime soon. That said, we would definitely benefit from having a bit more tucked away into savings, and perhaps starting a college fund for the kids. Then we would be faced with the major responsibility of trying to give the rest of that huge sum of money away in a responsible manner, which I hear is more difficult than you would think when you have that much to give away! Fortunately, we have lots of relationships in the non-profit world, so we could probably find people we know and trust to give to. (For example, Pete's sister and brother-in-law, who live in Bolivia and would love to open an orphanage there.)

4. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood? Usually, reminding myself of how self-centered I'm being and realizing that whatever it is isn't worth making others (ie, my husband) miserable. And praying for God to help me get his perspective on the situation.That's for the minor crabby mood. When I've really been depressed, it's taken a lot more prayer, time, conversations with my husband or others, etc.

5. What is your bedtime routine? Around 10pm--start thinking about going to bed. Usually turn on Scrubs reruns and watch for the next 1/2 hour. At 10:30, drag myself off the couch to go refill my waterbottle, then head announce to Pete that I'm going to brush my teeth (his hint to follow me soon). Go upstairs and brush my teeth, use the bathroom once or twice, put on lotion, change into pjs if necessary, turn on the fan in our bedroom, turn on a heating pad to put on my feet if it's cold (it shuts off automatically after an hour, don't worry), then lay in bed a few minutes chatting with Pete. Finally, we kiss goodnight, I laboriously roll myself over to turn the light out and gather the various pillows I need to sleep these days, and then drift off.

6. If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your significant other? We both went to the same small, private, Christian college in East Texas. The year I started (I transferred in as a Sophomore), he was a senior and the RA of my floor's brother floor. Apparently, he noticed me pretty early on, but the first time I really remember noticing him was on a one-night camping trip we went on with a group of friends sometime in late September or early October. We were camping on this tiny island and played sardines over the whole island. He decided at some point that it would be fun to play the game while carrying a small tree on his back. I found this particularly amusing, and we hit it off that night. The next few months were very complicated, but we officially started dating by early December and have been together ever since.

7. What kind of books do you read? I try to alternate between reading "classics" and more modern lit. Having a Kindle definitely helps keep me motivated on the classics, since they're mostly free. As far as the modern lit goes, I try to stick with books that have won various prizes or that make a big splash in some way, just so I'll be sure they're really good before getting into them (I have a very low tolerance for poorly written and/or cheesy books).

8. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Living in a major city in China with my professor husband and 3-4 kids (the oldest of whom will be almost 10--scary!). Possibly homeschooling and/or teaching English literature or language (ie, TEFL) classes here and there. And speaking, reading, and writing fluent Chinese, of course!

9. What’s your fear? Of course I have occasional fears about tragedy striking me or my family, but I really don't dwell on these too much as those kinds of things are so completely out of my control. I'd say that if you really probe my psyche, the things I fear are chaos (being out of control of my life) and being disliked by other people.

10. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to see outer space? Probably not. I'd love to see outer space, but I would hate to be so completely restricted in what I can eat.

11. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Put on my glasses, turn off the fan (it's remote controlled), and slowly swing myself out of bed.

12. If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be? Right now, I wish he were a little more willing and capable of cooking so I could still get a healthy, home-cooked meal without making it myself. He is definitely willing to provide a meal, but it would most certainly involve buying something frozen from Trader Joe's.

13. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be? I definitely like my name (and no, it's not really Ceejay, but my real name is pretty uncommon and fairly google-able if you know anything else at all about me). When I was a kid, though, I was obsessed with the name Christina for a while and wished I could change mine. I think that was before I realized how common Christina is, or at least before I valued originality in names as much as I do now.

14. If you had to choose between six months of sun or six months of rain, what would you choose? As much as I enjoy the occasional cozy, rainy day (especially after the actual six months straight of sun we get out here from May to November), I would never survive with six months straight of rain. And I would definitely have to figure out another solution for my hair!

15. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be? Even that thought makes me shudder...but I'd probably have to say some kind of sandwich on homemade, whole-wheat bread so I'm at least getting some nutrition (can I be that picky about it?).

16. What is the thing you enjoy about blogging the most? Getting to read everyone else's blogs and having online friends!

17. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods? Definitely sweet. I could go a long time without eating savory junk foods, but don't you dare try to take my chocolate or desserts away for more than a day!

18. What items are in your purse right now? All the a homemade granola bar (for those sudden hunger attacks), a small plastic container of wheat bran, a small bottle of stool softeners, and some gas-x. Can you tell digestive issues have been my biggest pregnancy complaint?

19. If you had to choose between vacationing at the beach or in the mountains where would you go? I never thought I'd say this after spending the first 11 years of my life so close to beautiful beaches and so far from beautiful mountains, but I'd have to go with beach right about now. To be honest, mountain vacations have never quite felt like real vacations to me, even though I do enjoy the mountains!

20. What do you watch on television that you know you shouldn’t? I really don't watch much TV, so when I do watch, it's usually a show that I actually think is worth watching (like Scrubs, Modern Family, or House). I have spent the last year catching up on Mad Men episodes rented from the library, and while I totally think that's a show worth watching, my husband disagrees. All the adultery and male chauvinism makes him really depressed and angry. And I can't really blame him.

And now I'm supposed to tag 4 people. However, I have a feeling that most of you already filled this out because I know it went around the blogosphere a month or two ago. So, I'm going to cheat and say that you may consider yourself tagged if you are reading this and have not filled it out yet, because I simply can't remember whose blogs I saw it on and am too lazy to go back and look.

Monday, March 21, 2011

37 Weeks

I'm officially full-term, as of Sunday! I'm so thankful to be here. And it's nice to feel like I have most things ready to go for whenever this baby comes (bags are packed, baby clothes washed, etc), even though that probably won't be for another few weeks. On the other hand, my life has become significantly less comfortable over the past week. I think part of it is that my belly has grown a lot (as you will see in the pictures), and I finally really feel big. Along with that has come all kinds of pelvic pain and pressure that I've never experienced before. I know it's my body getting ready for labor, but it hurts! Sitting at my desk all day has definitely become a grueling test of endurance. Only two more weeks of work...

Here's both my 35-week and 37-week pictures, so you can see the change. The face I'm making in the 37-week picture was not intentional--I think I was about to say something to Pete when he snapped it. But it pretty much captures how I'm feeling, so I decided to use it.

I went to acupuncture yesterday and plan to go once a week through delivery. My acupuncturist asked if I'd like to go into labor, yeah! The last thing I have on my schedule that I would prefer not to miss is a week from tomorrow, when work is throwing me a goodbye party. After that, any time is fair game, as far as I'm concerned. And I wouldn't be overly upset about missing the party, either. Of course, I also know it's better for my baby to keep cooking a little longer. I hear that babies born closer to the 8-pound mark are often better eaters and sleepers at the beginning, too. So she said she'll work on getting things on their way a little bit next weekend, and then the following weekend can go ahead and make it happen if it hasn't already. Yippee!

On a more negative note, I tested positive as a Group B Strep carrier :(. I know it's not a big deal at all, but I'm a bit bummed about having to be on an IV during labor, and about having to take antibiotics in general. I'm hoping that they'll still let me labor at home for a while and won't make me come in to the hospital right away to get the antibiotics. I'm also hoping I'll still be able to move around once I do get the IV--I feel like if I am confined to the bed, I will have little hope of being able to put off getting an epidural. I will definitely be talking to my doctor about it at the 38-week appointment next week. I've also started to take a really high-quality probiotic to do as much as I can against possible side-effects of antibiotics--like yeast infections/thrush, which I hear can be a real challenge to get rid of while breastfeeding.

Nico has tagged me in a fun-looking meme, which will provide me with a good reason to post twice this week :). So look for that next!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Moving Into Bi-weekly Appointment Territory

First of all, I promise pictures of my baby shower, which was Saturday, soon. It was super fun, and I felt very spoiled--as was my baby. One of my friends took all the pictures, though, and I haven't gotten them from her yet. So they are on their way. And with them hopefully a good glimpse of my 36-week belly, since the last shot I have is from 35 weeks, and I think it's grown a ton since then.

I had my 36-week appointment today, which means I finally get to move into the bi-weekly appointment range. My OB practice doesn't let you get there until this point in the pregnancy! Anyway, the report is that I am 1cm dilated and about 25% effaced. The baby is head-down, and has started to drop a little, but not all the way. Fundal height is 34cm--4cm growth since 32 weeks! My OB's guess is that I'll go into labor a few days early, but we all know how valid these guesses are.

And now I'm writing this while standing at my desk because sitting hurts too much! I had been warned by a friend that the cervical check can be painful, but I thought I'd be fine because the check itself didn't hurt too badly. But now I'm definitely feeling some cramping down there. My poor pelvic floor! So I need to go lay down for a few minutes and see if I can get things to move around.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Baby Book Reviews

After my mention of all the baby books in my last post, both Oak and Lesley asked for any recommendations I might have. So, I thought I might do a baby book review post--for them, and for anyone else looking for baby books. I felt a bit overwhelmed at the beginning when I was trying to figure out what books to read, so maybe this will help someone. I also think it will be interesting to come back to this a few months into motherhood and see if I still agree with my own praise and criticism!

So, here are the baby books I have read so far, in order of when I read them.

Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler by Ann Douglas
Knowing how many different schools of thought there are out there on how your baby should sleep (and knowing that one's philosophy on sleep affects everything else), I wanted to start with the least biased overview I could find of all the opinions. This was the best I could do. Would we be cosleeping? Crying it out (ie, "Ferberizing")? Feeding or rocking the baby to sleep? Following a strict routine?

And Douglas's book definitely did give a good overview of the different methods, as well as the science of sleep as it relates to babies and various sleep disorders. I wouldn't say she was entirely unbiased--she definitely came down pretty hard against both co-sleeping and controlled crying, though in subtle ways. And the book was actually a bit depressing because she spent so much time talking about how sleep deprived new parents are, and how the sleep deprivation can go on for months and months, and how there really isn't much you can do to control your baby's sleeping habits. After reading other books, I completely agree that you can't control your baby's sleep, but I don't think it's too much to hope that your baby would be sleeping through the night pretty well at some point, and that the sleep deprivation won't last forever.

The Mother of All Baby Books: The Ultimate Guide to Your Baby's First Year by Ann Douglas
We thought Ann Douglas did a decent enough job on the sleep book to buy her baby book, as well. And it was a good, fairly comprehensive overview of everything from labor and delivery through the baby's first year. Good, solid advice and instructions on general care, baby's development, breastfeeding/bottlefeeding, introducing solids, etc. She doesn't really delve much into discipline or behavior issues, though she can't avoid a few pointers here and there.

Your Baby and Child From Birth to Age Five by Penelope Leach
I went into this one with fairly low expectations, mostly because it was given to us by an older couple and I thought it might be dreadfully old-school. But I actually really liked it and might even recommend it over Douglas's book. It's extremely comprehensive, and I only read through the first couple of chapters, covering the newborn phase and the "Settled Baby" (ie, around 1 month to 6 months) phase. She covers all the basics you would expect from this kind of book and is willing to assert a little more opinion and motherly advice than Douglas. She had some great pointers about baby digestive issues, colic, and discerning the difference between the baby's different cries. What I really thought was great about this book, though, was the information she has about a baby's (and child's) mental and emotional development, and ways for parents to encourage that development. So she had some really interesting thoughts about what kinds of toys to buy when, how to play with a baby, etc.

The main thing I disagreed with in Leach's book was her overall premise that a parent's purpose in having children is to maximize pleasure. Since she believes everyone is happier if the baby is happier, she tends to err on the side of doing whatever it takes to make the baby happy. This goes a bit against my core beliefs on childrearing, but I won't go into all that too much here. You can garner what you will based on my reviews of the next two books.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
I'm fairly certain this is the most controversial inclusion on my list! Before I give my opinions on this book, I'll just say that I was a little conflicted on whether to read it or not. I have known several people who've used it with their babies, and they all had fairly positive reviews. But when I looked for it online, I came across all kinds of vitriolic criticism against it and research that supposedly links the Babywise method with malnutrition in babies! So I did a little more research and read through some of the criticism, and I came to a couple of conclusions about the anti-Babywise camp:

  1. Many of them never tried Babywise but were against it for philosophical reasons. These were the La Leche League and Attachment Parenting types, for whom the idea of anything in baby-raising being parent-directed is a bit anathema. The word "routine" sends these people running from the room yelling about how the baby is born knowing what's best, and we need to give it what it needs when it needs it, etc. And how the birth process is a major trauma, and our job as parents for the first many months is to do everything possible to recreate the environment of the womb as much as possible. (I'm not necessarily 100% against these perspectives, I'm just caricaturing them a bit for fun.)
  2. Those who had tried Babywise had either used it incorrectly, usually either by giving up too quickly on it or by becoming too rigid in their routine and using the clock as an excuse not to pay attention to their baby's hunger or sleep cues. Ezzo is quite vehement that hunger and sleep cues always trump the clock, but I think his method can tempt people to become overly formulaic.
So now for my take-aways and opinions on the book, since I obviously decided to go for it and read it. First of all, I found myself very much agreeing with the premises of the book--that parents can't allow their lives, marriages, friendships, etc to be completely taken over by their children. I honestly believe children feel more secure if they see their parents existing as full human beings outside of themselves. I could write a whole blog post about the difference between the way my husband was raised (by parents who sacrificed everything for their kids but whose marriage was often on the brink of falling apart) and the way I was raised (by parents who were always very clear that they loved each other the most and who didn't believe that loving us meant sacrificing everything) and the clear results of each method. Suffice it to say that while I definitely believe that parenthood is all about selfless sacrifice, I think sacrifice rarely means letting your kids dictate your life.

On a more practical level, I found Ezzo's method very intriguing. He essentially advocates for a 2.5-3hr routine with young babies which rotates through feeding, awake time, and sleeping. He believes it's very important to follow feeding with awake time rather than falling into the trap of feeding to sleep. The book offers specific recommendations about how to go about this routine, how to make sure your baby's getting enough nutrition, growth spurts, milk supply, napping, and nighttime sleeping. According to Babywise, if you follow their method, your baby should be sleeping at least 5 hours straight most nights by 6-8 weeks. I'll let you know if this happens for us :). The book also offers some advice on encouraging emotional, mental, and physical development (such as introducing independent playtime), but since it's mostly focused on the first 6 months, it doesn't delve into those issues too much. I guess you have to get Babywise II to get the 6-12 month advice.

Ezzo is an advocate of controlled crying-to-sleep when necessary. He says you shouldn't even have to do that if you follow his methods from the beginning (your baby should be a good sleeper), but often, the routine gets disrupted, needs to be introduced, etc, and you find your baby's ability to put himself to sleep needs some help. He doesn't believe babies are emotionally scarred by being left to cry in their cribs for a short period of time, and he says that after a few times, they should be putting themselves to sleep without much crying.

Conclusion: yes, I recommend the book, especially if you are someone who tends to thrive on routine. A happier mama makes a happier baby, for sure! Also, it's a fairly short book, so not too much of a commitment to read. More of a commitment to utilize, though!

Since I generally liked Babywise, I decided to give this book a try, since it was supposedly a similar method and I felt like I still needed more details. And in most ways, Hogg is in agreement with Babywise (not that they ever reference each other). She calls her routine E.A.S.Y.--Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time (you get You Time while the baby's sleeping). She also believes this should follow a 2.5-3hr pattern through the day, and that babies should be sleeping at least 5 hours straight at night by 6-8 weeks. What I really liked about the book was that it gave way more details and answered way more questions--like how to "tank up" when your baby's going through a growth spurt, how to tell if your baby is really hungry or just needs comfort, how to increase your milk supply if you find it needs it, etc. She's also much more comprehensive in her scope, going all the way through the first couple of years, and giving advice on different baby temperaments and behavioral issues.

The one big issue on which she disagrees with Ezzo is on crying it out. Hogg believes that babies should never be left to cry on their own--that doing so breaks the very important bond of trust between the baby and her parents. She instead advocates for the "4 S's"--Setting the stage, Swaddling, Sitting, and Shush-patting. For babies over 3 months old, she has a method called "Pick Up/Put Down" that you use if you find yourself needing to retrain your baby to put herself to sleep. Her biggest concern is that you don't fall for quick fixes that quickly become sleep props, so she gives tons of advice on how to train your baby to put himself to sleep without becoming dependent on anything (even, eventually, your presence until he falls asleep). 

I might actually recommend this book over Babywise because it has so much more detail and practical advice. She is a bit less flexible on her routine, while Babywise is always clear that the routine should serve you and others around you, rather than vice versa. 


I hope all that is actually helpful for someone! If not, I guess it helped me clarify my thoughts on these books. I can't wait to actually have a baby to try all this knowledge out on!

Anyone else have any baby book recommendations? I've heard good things about The Happiest Baby on the Block, but I've chosen not to read it thus far because it sounds like its best contribution is the 5 S's, and we had those covered in our Newborn Care class. Anyone out there think I should read it--or another one?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

34 + 3

And yes, I realize my last post was at 31 weeks--3 weeks ago. Sorry, folks. The truth is, my motivation to blog has simply been MIA. Too much else to think about, I guess!

My latest very fun pregnancy symptom has been a constant need to pee. As in, I feel the desperate urge to run to the bathroom as soon as I sit back down in my office chair from my last trip! The thought of a UTI has crossed my mind, but since the urge goes away when I lay down or stand up and walk around, I'm pretty sure it's just a bad case of baby's-head-on-bladder. At least his head is down (I'm pretty sure, based on where I feel the kicks and bulges).

Otherwise, we're just getting ready and counting down the days and weeks! We have our Newborn Care and Childbirth classes this week, and then we'll be totally done with classes. I have a baby shower in a week and a half, and then I can finally go purchase everything else I need--and hopefully find a place to put it all in our very small baby room.

I've also read a total of 5 baby books at this point. Definitely a bit of overkill! But I wanted to get a wide variety of perspectives. And, to be honest, they've really helped me feel much more excited and less nervous about having a newborn. I feel like I'll actually have an idea of what to do with him now and can picture what it will be like to have a little cutie-pie to take care of 24/7. Pete has read most of the same books, so we've been able to talk through our reactions and opinions on various topics. I know many parents who didn't read a single book or take a single class before they had their babies, and frankly, I'm pretty impressed that they survived! I don't think I could handle that very well with my type-A personality.

This morning, my boss finally made me set an end date for work--April 8, assuming I haven't gone into labor before that. I'll remind you that my due date is April 10. This means I won't be able to work past my due date if I go overdue, but I think I'll survive. He's working on hiring a replacement for me, so he needed to figure out a start date for that person and overlap time for the two of us. I don't expect those last couple of weeks of work to be very fun. Sure, I can train the new person. But my experience with training is that they won't really learn things until I'm gone and they're forced to. And honestly, my job is not so complicated that it will take two solid weeks to train a new person to take over. So there might be a lot of awkward sitting around in the same office with this new person, trying to figure out what else to work on. And hoping to go into labor, of course.

Ms. Bladder is telling me to take another break...and yes, my perineum has definitely been getting its share of exercise in holding it in while writing this post!