Thursday, April 28, 2011

37 Weeks Pregnant: Full Term!

I’m so sorry this is so late! I’ve never been this late with a blog before. This week has flown by.

I’m full term! Can you believe it? This has gone by SO fast for me – especially the second half or so.

Norah is now gaining weight at a rate of approximately a half ounce per day, and she sure is kicking hard sometimes! She probably weighs over six pounds now. My measurement around the belly is about 40 ¼ inches, and I’ve now passed the 140 lb. mark! Eek! I weighed 140.5 at my midwife appointment on Monday. That’s not bad, though, it’s just weird when I’ve never weighed more than 115. If I gain 5 more pounds by the end, I’ll still be well within the “normal” range. Amy also said that my official belly measurement is 36 centimeters (still technically a week behind), and that it might not get any bigger since Norah’s head will probably start to descend into my pelvis soon.

Random tidbit: I hate wearing pants now, especially if they aren’t super stretchy. I was left with only one pair that was still comfortable, so the other day I went to Target and got some yoga pants, leggings, and a few long tops/dresses. I only bought one maternity item, because I won’t need them for too much longer.

I finally figured out where the pharmacy is that had all of my prescriptions, and I went to pick them up on Monday. My insurance covered about half the cost of the Pitocin, and almost nothing on the Methergine and Vitamin K, so I called Amy because she told me if they weren’t covered she might have some at the birth center left over from patients who didn’t need them. She told me to just get the Pitocin for now, and then she started talking about the Vitamin K shot, so I told her that we had decided on the oral Vitamin K and that the doctor had told me it’s the same stuff, but you just administer it orally instead of as a shot. I had been surprised when he told me that, but I didn’t ask questions. She said that, yes, you can do that, but then the baby is still exposed to the preservatives, etc., that are in it, so you almost might as well give the shot if you use the same stuff. She pointed me toward a natural form of drops, which I just ordered today.

Speaking of supplements, it was pointed out to me that some of the herbs in the 5-W I planned to take might not be safe for pregnant women. I don’t think they’ve been proven to be harmful, but they haven’t been proven to be not harmful either. Wow, double negative. You know what I mean. Anyway, since it’s probably not really necessary, we’ve decided that I might as well not take it. Unfortunately, I had already opened the bottle just because I wanted to see what they looked like. Dumb me. So now we can’t return them. Amy said if she has any patients who want to use it, she’ll give them the option of buying ours for a few dollars cheaper.

I am especially confident that I probably won’t go too far past 40 or 41 weeks now, because the other day I woke up at 5:00 in the morning with pretty strong contractions. Braxton-Hicks don’t bother me much, but these were painful, especially in my lower back, and I had to stop what I was doing to cope with them. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I called Amy because though they were strong, they didn’t seem like real labor contractions because they weren’t coming at regular intervals. They were anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes apart and between 30 seconds and just over a minute long. She said I just have an “irritable uterus,” and to take a bath (which I had already done) and have a half a glass of wine. It worked. They stopped soon after. Now, don’t freak out over the wine! At this point in pregnancy it’s considered safe to have a small amount of alcohol. I certainly wouldn’t condone drinking for no reason if you are pregnant, though. I didn’t even drink a half glass. Alcohol is like medicine to me. Blech. Anyway, my guess is that if I’m having tons of Braxton-Hicks, plus that episode of strong contractions, I’m probably getting ready to go into labor in the next few weeks. Actually, I’m hoping Norah can wait at least that long, because I have piano recitals for my students on May 3rd and 10th, plus a baby shower in North Carolina this Saturday and one at Travis’s school on May 5th! Not to mention I’d like to finish my sewing projects. I also just don’t feel quite ready to be done yet! I feel like I just got to the point where I’m obviously pregnant, and for the most part I’m still enjoying the attention that comes with that. J And it’s just going to be such a huge shift when Norah goes from being part of me to being her own little person. It’s kind of scary.

Other than the contractions, my main symptom right now is leg cramps at night and when I wake up in the morning. I’ve tried drinking more water and eating more bananas, and neither seemed to help. Oh, well.

Getting Ready For Norah

Even though the blog is pretty much all about getting ready for Norah at this point, there are a few specific things we’ve been doing to prepare.

First, my sister Toni brought her kids over on Tuesday to do yard work! She and the boys mowed the lawn, trimmed the bushes, and even washed my car, while the girls and I cleaned the porches (between cuddle sessions with one of our cats). All of this was long overdue, so it’s so great to have it done. Travis and I don’t much like yard work.

Travis installed the car seat in his car, and there’s a free car seat check at his school on May 4th.

We've got all of the placenta encapsulation stuff pretty much ready to go. I also found a list of the “known ingredients that give the placenta its healing properties”:

Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

Prolactin: promotes lactation

Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during birth and breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant

Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events

Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores

Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections

Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory

Hemoglobin: replenishes iron to prevent anemia, a common postpartum condition

Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing

Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections

I found detailed instructions for encapsulation at, and we ordered some empty capsules and got permission from Travis's very generous (and apparently not easily grossed out) mother to use her food dehydrator. The only other thing we need is a jar to keep them in. I'll probably just use the one my prenatal vitamins are in. I'm really excited that we went the super cheap route with have someone come and do it for us would cost $200. To buy a kit with the instructions costs $75, and a kit without the instructions costs $25 (I'm curious as to why there's such a big price difference for with versus without instructions). On the site I was looking at, even just the capsules in a cute jar with a flower on it would have totaled $13. The capsules we bought were around $6 from Amazon, including the shipping. So, instead of ending up with a $200 jar of vitamins, I'll get the same thing for $6! I just love saving money. :-)

Speaking of saving money, someone told me about a consignment sale going on throughout the month of April, so I went to check it out a week or two ago and bought a Moby Wrap and the exact type of chair I wanted (a dish/saucer chair) for Norah's room. Both items are normally $40, and I got them for $14 each. They weren't priced quite as low as most of the stuff we found at the consignment event we went to a month or two ago, but still good deals.

I have also made my own laundry detergent. This is in the "Getting Ready For Norah" section because you can't use just any detergent on cloth diapers, or they will start to lose absorbency. I THINK you can use All Free and Clear or Tide, but even these are sort of iffy. There are better ones, but you have to order them. I just thought I'd rather make it myself since I found a recipe online that people swear by (, and I sort of thought it would be fun. It was! The stuff gels up to a really strange consistency, and Travis and I honestly had fun squishing it in our hands for like 15 minutes. We're easily entertained, I guess. Also, the recipe makes 10 GALLONS (!) of detergent with just one cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, a half cup of Borax, and one bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap, plus some water. Super cheap. Smells good, too!

We have also started getting our bags ready for when it's time to meet baby Norah. We've mostly got her stuff together in the diaper bag, and we've made a list of all the stuff we want to pack for us. We haven't picked out Norah's "going home" outfit yet, because we still have those two showers, so we'll probably have more to choose from. Other than that, I think we should have all we need. We will probably only be staying at the birth center for 6 hours or so after she is born, so it's a little easier than if we were packing for a two- or three-day hospital stay. (Just so no one is concerned, a short stay is pretty standard for birth centers, but they will send a postpartum doula to our house the following day to check on all of us, and the pediatrician will see Norah the day after that. The doula will continue to make home visits for six weeks, or until we leave for Pennsylvania.)

The Bradley class this week was mostly a review of what to expect during labor and how to handle it (for me and for Travis), especially some energy-saving techniques to ensure that I can get through the whole labor without getting exhausted. Next week is our last class! I think we'll be going over newborn care.

Lastly, we had a great Easter! After church, Travis's brother Nathan took some photos of us so that we could get some better ones of both of us and some of my henna. Then my dad, step-mom, and brother all came over and brought Easter dinner! We showed them the nursery, even though it's still not completely finished. I'll show it to you soon, I promise! Here are some of the photos Nathan took. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

36 Weeks Pregnant

See my henna tattoo?! J Travis has a couple of Indian students whose mother does them, and ever since he expressed interest months ago, they’ve been pestering him to bring me to have one done. I love it! And she was SOO nice! She also did a sun on Travis’s hand and a bird on his inner forearm, and then gave us four tubes of henna paste so we could do our own later since she didn’t think she would be able to use them up before they expired. And THEN, she wouldn’t let us pay her anything! She just gave us some business cards and told us to send people her way. So if you like what you see and you live nearby, let me know and I’ll give you her info!

Also, you may have noticed our new picture at the top of the blog. Last Thursday we decided that we would go get the henna done the next day, and I wanted to take some cute belly pictures before then. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to take a walk anyway, so we went to a nearby garden (the same place we went for our engagement photo shoot!) and Travis brought his nice new camera and a tripod. We ended up with several great photos, including some of both of us, which I was most excited about since we take pictures of just me every week! We’re hoping to go again while I have the henna, which should last for 1-2 weeks. Here are a few more from last week’s trip:

With only a few weeks to go, the onslaught of mixed emotions is starting to hit. I’m anxious, worried, stressed, excited, happy, sad, needy, sentimental, selfish, loving…the list goes on. I hope we’re ready for this. I think I just need to remember to take it one day at a time. I feel a little bit better since I made a list of things I’d like for us to get done before Norah arrives. It has almost 30 items on it, though!

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is apologize to our friends and family for not being a better friend, sister, etc. I want you all to know that I’m so sorry I/we don’t spend more time with you. There are a lot of reasons why we don’t, and while I don’t want to flood you with excuses, I’m hoping you can sympathize with some of them.

The main reason is simply that Travis and I have opposite schedules most days. When he gets off work, I’m just starting. By the time we’re both home, we just want to spend some time together at home.

In that same vein, my schedule is different every day, and I teach every day (including weekends), so it’s hard to plan things.

I don’t really like driving. I don’t mind riding, but that means Travis always has to drive.

I always seem to get tired before everyone else does (especially now), and when I’m tired I truly CANNOT function, and then I end up coming across as rude or angry or unhappy.

I’m terrible at socializing. I just am. It takes a lot of effort for me to carry on a conversation. I enjoy spending time with people, but after a couple of hours I’m drained.

I’ll stop there. I just wanted everyone to know that we neglect all of you equally, and it’s not you, it’s us. :-P

Also, I can’t guarantee that it won’t get worse once Norah arrives. In fact, it probably will.

I’m worried that our friends who don’t have children won’t understand. I don’t think they can. For example, I don’t think I’ll be okay with leaving Norah with anyone overnight for quite a while, and then very seldom. I guess I’m just sensitive to other people’s opinions, and I will take it personally if people don’t like some of our parenting choices, or if they think we’re lame for staying home with the baby all the time, or whatever. I hope everyone has enough confidence in us to know that we've put a lot of thought into our decisions, and we’ll do whatever we think is best for our daughter.

Norah has been even more active than usual lately! It seems like she spends more of her time awake now. She has been waking me up most mornings this week. This morning as I was watching my belly, I saw her two feet go – step, step! I could almost see the exact shape of each foot! So tiny!

Yesterday I had my 36 week doctor appointment. As far as I know, everything was fine. He didn’t tell me my belly measurement (I should have asked, but I’ll see the midwife next week anyway). My measurement all the way around is 39.5”. The heartbeat was good, and my weight was 137.4. I did the strep B test, and I’m not sure when I’ll hear back about that. I really like that doctor, though. He’s a family doctor/obstetrician/pediatrician. He seems very laid back and open-minded, etc. We will probably keep him as our family doctor.

He also wrote my prescriptions for the Vitamin K, Pitocin, and Methergine tablets. Unfortunately, I spent over an hour driving around looking for this specific pharmacy that carries all of those, and which is supposedly less than two miles from the doctor’s office. Never found it. Drove home feeling like my whole day was wasted. I’ll go back later this week, after I call his office to ask once again where the place is and what it’s called.

Yesterday’s Bradley class was really helpful. It was sort of a labor rehearsal. After we watched a video reminding us of some of the positions we could try during contractions and some things our husbands can do to encourage and make us more comfortable, we went into the birth center and did several practice contractions. Travis took notes on what I liked the most.

Well, I think that's all the news I've got for today. See you next week, when I will be FULL TERM!!! :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

35 Weeks Pregnant

35 weeks down, less than 35 DAYS to go. Insane.

This week I made a disappointing discovery: stretch marks. Noooooo! I was having such good luck so far. Vitamin E oil was recommended to me, so I might try it even though my midwife and Bradley instructor both say nothing can prevent or get rid of them. At least they’re not very big or very dark…for now.

Norah is still getting the hiccups often and is very active at certain times of day. Last night she kept waking me up getting her feet up under my ribs. So uncomfortable. That was the first time she has actually woke me up. She usually seems to sleep when I’m sleeping. I also had a lot of vivid dreams last night and actually woke up crying because I dreamed that Travis died. This is my worst fear, and I’ve had dreams about him as well as other family members dying and never getting to meet Norah. I’ve heard that pregnancy can bring strange and vivid dreams, so hopefully they’ll go away after she’s born!

I had been getting concerned that Norah never seems to react to sound. We’ve tried to startle her a few times (kind of mean, I know) to see if she would move, and she never does. Yesterday Travis fell asleep after he got home from work, and when I couldn’t even get him to wake up for dinner (brought to him in bed!), I blasted some Led Zeppelin from the computer room. He still didn’t wake up, but Norah started dancing around like crazy! So, I’d say she can hear just fine. J

Next Monday is my appointment with the doctor, and he needs to know our decision regarding Vitamin K. I think we have come to a decision now, but I’ll give you a little background. Vitamin K is mainly needed to help blood clot. It’s named after the German word for coagulation, which is the same word, but spelled with a “k.” In US hospitals, the vitamin is routinely injected into every newborn in order to prevent the rare occurrence of a bleeding problem which could be fatal. All newborns have very low levels of Vitamin K because it does not cross the placenta very well, and because they lack the good bacteria which allow them to synthesize their own supply of it. Babies are at higher risk of hemorrhaging because of Vitamin K deficiency if they are premature, their mother is on medication for seizures, they are breastfed, or they sustain an injury during birth, such as bruising, which uses up the clotting factors they do have. Our midwife, Amy, also told us that because of hospital routines in the US such as early circumcision (which obviously doesn’t apply to Norah) and an antibacterial/antimicrobial bath shortly after birth which kills the good bacteria that would help the baby synthesize Vitamin K, babies born in our hospitals have an increased risk of clotting problems.

My initial feeling was that since Norah will have a very low risk of suffering from a bleed due to Vitamin K deficiency, she probably doesn’t need the supplement. However, since I did read that breastfed babies are more at risk, and since there is an oral version of the vitamin that carries no risks and is painless, I think we’ve decided to opt for that. The injected version is painful and can cause allergic reactions because of the preservatives, etc. The drops are completely safe since they only contain pure, natural vitamin K, which doesn’t even have a known toxicity level. I can’t remember the exact regimen, but it involves me taking the drops at the end of pregnancy and for some amount of time after Norah is born, and giving a drop or two to her within 24 hours of birth, a week later, and when she is 4 weeks old, or something like that. This way we’ll be sure she’s protected, and she won’t have to be welcomed into the world with a nasty shot. Unfortunately, she’ll still have to have the PKU heel prick test, because PKU is a very serious disease that causes brain damage early on if left untreated. All babies have to be tested. I won’t go into that – you can look it up if you’re curious. J

Yesterday’s Bradley class was fun! We played Jeopardy, and Travis and I KICKED BUTT! We only missed ONE question. Before the final question where you wager points, we had 7,000, and I think the next highest score was 3,500! Then we were the only ones to get the final question correct, so we ended up with a total of 9,700 points. I felt kind of bad because everyone was asking us if we had studied, and we hadn’t. We just make a good team because I’ve been reading pregnancy and birth books for at least a year now, and Travis just has a mind for facts. Mary has a little “store” (a wall of shelves in the birth center) where she sells products for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, etc., so our prize was $10 off something in her store, which was perfect because we bought the 5-W yesterday. That’s the herbal supplement I mentioned a few weeks ago that’s supposed to help balance my hormones so I hopefully won’t go past 40 weeks. It’s already time to start taking it! I’m still a little wary, though, because I need to get through the May 10th recital for my students. I might wait a few more days to start it.

Making Room For Norah

I haven’t had time to sew anything for Norah’s room yet, but we are actively trying to make room for her by selling stuff. Last Saturday we took a whole bunch of stuff to the flea market with Eric and Valerie. Between us, we had three car loads full, and then Eric still had to go back to our house and get the rest!! However, the whole experience was a little disappointing because we only sold a few things. Two of them were 40-dollar items, so that was good, but it was frustrating to have to haul almost everything back home again.

There are some things we’re going to sell on Ebay, but I don’t want to deal with shipping every single thing, so we’ll probably put some on Craigslist and donate some. At least we’ll get the money back with next year’s tax refund. Too bad we have to wait that long for it.

I’ve also been working on my housekeeping habits. It’s easy to keep up with when it’s already clean, so I’m trying not to let things get messy again! Doing great so far!

Travis’s 30th Birthday!!!

It’s tomorrow! Happy Birthday, Travis!!!!!! :-D XOXO!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

34 Weeks Pregnant

This week, Norah is developing her own immune system. The lanugo (the fuzz that has covered Norah’s whole body for most of her time in utero) is mostly gone, but she is still covered with a white creamy substance called vernix, which protects her skin from the salty amniotic fluid. My pregnancy sources all say that she should be nearly 5 pounds and around 17 ½ inches long now, but since babies vary SO much in size by the time they are born, I hesitate to take any estimates too seriously.

I’m starting to feel slightly handicapped. It’s hard to put my socks and shoes on, it’s hard to shave the lower half of my legs, and last night after we got in bed I actually said to Travis, “I want to give you a goodnight kiss, but it’s too hard to roll over.” I also dread dropping anything on the floor, especially if my pants aren’t really stretchy (I can squat easily, but certain pants dig into my belly when I do).

My back is feeling SO much better since I went to the chiropractor last week! He was amazing. He had me lying face down on his very adjustable table (didn’t want to squish Norah!), and by just looking down my spine he was able to tell me exactly what bones were out of alignment. There were at least a half dozen different problems that he fixed (I sounded like a very loud bowl of Rice Krispies!), including something in my lower back which he said can cause a lot of contractions when it is out of place. I still feel like I get them a lot, though. He also checked my tailbone, which he said is fine. It only hurts occasionally now, and it wouldn’t hurt at all if it weren’t for the pregnancy exercises I have to do. The last thing he did was check my pelvic ligaments to assess the baby’s ability to get through my pelvis. I was very reassured to know that he thinks I’ll be fine. It’s rare for a woman to have a pelvis that is truly too small. Back when they used to do x-rays on pregnant women to determine the size of the pelvis, a lot of women were thought to have a problem when they really didn’t. Doctors didn’t know or didn’t take into account that the pelvis is made up of several bones which are connected by ligaments that become stretchy during labor. Even so, my biggest fear is not the pain, which has been the most common one expressed by the mothers in our Bradley class, but that I am somehow malformed and incapable of having a baby. I’m trying to get past that, because I know it’s irrational and will only cause unnecessary fear.

This week at the Bradley class we talked about unforeseen circumstances, such as transferring to the hospital, c-sections, etc. She just said that if anything unexpected comes up, we should take a few minutes to talk it over on our own so that we can at least get used to the idea of having to make a new plan. We also talked about postpartum care, which includes planning ahead to have meals premade (or people to make meals for us) and the house already clean, etc. We are lucky because Travis will be home to take care of me.

We had a midwife appointment yesterday, and everything is still going great! My weight is now 136 ½ lbs, and my belly (fundal height) is still measuring a week behind, so 33 centimeters. Norah is also in the best position possible right now, with her head down and her back along my left side. She was that way two weeks ago as well, so hopefully she’ll stay there. Amy explained that all babies rotate in the same direction during the labor/birth process (clockwise, if you’re looking down from my view), and since it’s better for them to come out face down, Norah will only have to do a quarter turn if she stays where she is. This could make for a shorter, easier labor. Yay, Norah! She’s so smart. J Her heart rate is perfect. It gets faster when she moves, which is a sign of good neurological development as well as overall good health.

In two weeks, my appointment will be with the doctor the midwives use. The purpose of this is to do the Strep B test and to get whatever prescriptions I will need to bring with me to the birth center when I’m in labor. These will include Pitocin, which the midwives will inject if I start to hemorrhage, the vitamin K shot for the baby (if we choose to have that done), and one or two other things I can’t remember. At my next midwife appointment (the week after that) I will be considered full term!!!!!!! Holy moly.

Making Room For Norah

We got a ton of stuff done last week! It was amazing how quickly everything came together after we got started. First, we successfully consolidated my piano room with Travis’s art/computer room.

Before (sorry, this is courtesy of our realtor, who is a terrible photographer. It’s the only picture she took of the room.):


There's actually a lot of floor space now. The sewing machine is on a table along the left wall, and the closet (also on the left) is very well organized.

Then, we cleaned up Norah’s room enough that Travis could paint the walls, and while he did that I worked on painting the crib and finishing up the changing table, stopping every once in a while to get some practicing in for the wedding I played for on Saturday (which went quite well, by the way). When Travis finished the walls, he helped me finish painting the crib, and he also somehow lugged the changing table and a bookshelf up the stairs all by himself without me even knowing what he was doing! Now HE needs an appointment with the chiropractor. Then Travis assembled the crib while I organized Norah’s clothes, books, etc. So, all of the major stuff is done. I just have to sew the bed skirt, changing pad cover, etc., and Travis is working on a set of little paintings. I’m also going to order a chair small enough to fit in there, but comfortable enough for Norah and I to hang out in. I don’t want to show the whole room until it’s completely done, but here are a few teasers for you.

First, the before (sorry, these pictures are pretty bad too):

And now, the teasers:

Now, here’s an interesting twist: as soon as we got all of that done, someone wanted to set up an appointment to look at our house. So then we had to clean up the rest of the house too, which was especially difficult because we are in the middle of getting things together to sell at the flea market this Saturday. We managed to stash all of that stuff in the storage area under our house, and we worked like crazy trying to make the closets and everything else look presentable. The showing was this evening, and we have no idea what they thought since we aren’t allowed to be present when they show the house. Anyway, we have very mixed feelings about the whole thing at this point. We were just about to take it off the market for a year or so and do a little more work on it in the mean time. Right now, I don’t know what we would do if they said they wanted to buy it. We’d be moving either right around my due date or a month later when we’re supposed to be in Pennsylvania, which would mean we wouldn’t be able to go. It would just be ridiculous either way. So I kind of hope they don’t want it so we can take it off the market knowing we did everything we could for a full year to try to get it sold. We’re going to see about getting our mortgage payment lowered. We tried twice before, but it’s been a year or more, so maybe they’ll be able to help us this time. Who knows. I’m so conflicted – I really want to get out of this house, but right now is terrible timing! A month or two ago would have been nice. Sometimes I wonder if it was a dumb idea to have a baby before we had all of this figured out. Of course, I wouldn’t ever take it back.

Well, I guess now that I’ve made myself sad I better sign off. One last photo – I wanted to show you our master bathroom since it hasn’t looked this good in quite a while and we don’t have any work left to do in there. All the other areas I haven’t shown you yet still need to be painted or rearranged in some way. Here it is:

See you next week!