Monday, July 27, 2009

Advice.. or not

(Note: I ended up going into labor the day after I started this blog :) I am updating it now, September 14, almost 7 weeks after Jackie was born.)

July 27, 2009

I am writing this blog 5 days before my due date. I'm not sure when I will actually post this as I have thoughts now, but I'm sure I will have other thoughts to share after the baby is born. Although this blog is not necessarily for "advice," I have had a few friends ask me about my experiences now that the baby's almost here. I feel that I have had a "non-traditional" pregnancy, meaning that at least with all the books, newsletters, blogs I have read, I seem to have had it easier, or at least different than what I have read.

My goal here is not to inflict my own advice as gospel, but to offer insights on my own journey. I can't say my pregnancy was easy, but it definitely wasn't hard (if I had to compare myself to others I know and I have read about). All I know is that I found myself concerned about many things I shouldn't have been concerned about over time and worried too much at certain times. Although I wouldn't change anything as it was my own road to travel, I also feel I could have enjoyed a few more weeks without the anxiety and concern if I knew what I know now.

If you're interested in learning about my journey, please read on, if not, I won't take offense :)

Overall thoughts
*Have an OB-GYN you trust, admire and love.
-I was very lucky to have had a referral regarding my current OB. The first one I had when we moved into the Boston area I literally hated. She was very cold and I found her way to busy and overbooked most of the time. When I first went to my current OB, I felt like his only patient. He is kind, smart and understood what I was dealing with. When it ended up that I needed to see a specialist due to my irregular periods and possible fertility issues, he had 2 highly esteemed doctors in the area that he personally worked with. To this day, I don't know how to thank him for his referral to our specialist, Dr. Penzias, at Boston IVF and his constant care. Even though I was with IVF for over a year, he always wanted to know what was going on with me and I felt the urge to update him when necessary.

One aspect I will never forget is his love and professionalism when we lost our first baby after the first IUI attempt. He called several times just to check in and make sure I was OK. I'm still floored by his professionalism and humanness. It was something he didn't have to do, but something I so appreciate and it made that difficult process a bit more bearable.

I have found from my reading and talking to people that many women don't have a GYN before they get pregnant (they use their general practitioner) and then have to run around trying to find a decent OB. I say, if your insurance covers it, just find a great OB/GYN and stick with them. Don't be afraid to ask friends or even call hospitals and ask the GYN Department nurses who they use. It's the best way to find someone if you are new to an area or don't feel comfortable talking to friends.

*Be sure you are truly ready to start a family.

-I know this sounds fairly basic, but the idea of being pregnant and actually starting a family are very different. Some people have the expectation that pregnancy will be amazing, easy and you'll be in love with what's ahead. If that doesn't happen, fear and anxiety set in, maybe even being resentful of the situation. Bottom line is that you have no idea how your pregnancy will be and you have to be ready for anything. You could have the easiest pregnancy in the world, or be on bedrest for 10 weeks. You never know until you go thru the process.

So, although you don't have to have everything figured out, one thing to know is if you are ready.

My situation was extremely confusing at times as I have always known I wanted a family, but that "ticking of the biological clock" I never heard. I had several people tell me "you'll know" but even now, 5 days before I am scheduled to give birth, that clock alarm never went off. This is not to say that it's a myth. I have several friends that have shared the yearning to have a child and that the alarm finally rang for them, but for me, all I can do is nod and try to get what they are feeling.

This is not to say that I don't want a family, but yet again, this is another piece of being a woman and pregnancy that people really don't share. You can want a family and not have an alarm go off. I was looking so hard for it and when it wasn't ringing for me I kept saying I must not be ready. Maybe that was the case, but I feel I may have waited a few years longer than I would have if the proverbial "clock" wasn't even on my radar.

So I say have a kid if you want one. Don't wait for the alarm to go off, but definitely know when you are ready. For me, I had to do my partying, going out to shows 3-4 times a week, and enjoy my marriage for a few years before I was ready. I knew I was ready, not due to my alarm going off, but due to my lifestyle changing. I was enjoying being around the house more, not yearning to drink every weekend and enjoyed my solitude. Once that hit me I knew that I would be fully ready to be a mother, even though the fear of "not doing it right" was still there. Some things you just have to do, even if your mind tells you not to.

*Take any advice with a grain of salt.
-I was lucky that I didn't get much of the unsolicited advice from family and friends. I asked when I needed to, but asked most of my questions to my doc. My doc even told me: "Don't research on the internet, don't read the 'What to Expect' type books and don't get scared if someone tells you something about their own pregnancy." I do have to say he was right.

I got the "What to Expect" book before I had my first appointment with him and the first few chapters really scared me. In my opinion, that particular book is not written well. There's a lot of information, but it's written by several people so the "feel" of the book is not consistent. Sometimes information is given in a soft, understanding way, and others it's thrown in your face. Sometimes less is more and that is not the context of that book. Don't get me wrong, I did have the book and used it as a reference tool, but not as gospel. If I had any questions, I'd check there and then check in with my doc. The first trimester can be one of the most stressful and adding additional information that may or may not happen to you can freak some people out. My advice? Just check in with your doctor. Even friends and family can give you wrong or misleading information.

First Trimester Thoughts

-Know that every pregnancy is different, yours included. Sometimes I felt like an anomaly.
-Some people are sick for 12 weeks, others not. Some don't even know they are pregnant.. I'm not sure how that's possible, but there's now a TV show on the subject.
-Just listen to your body and don't get freaked out by one thing. I had a scare as I started feeling dizzy one day during week 7 and thought I'd be dealing with dizziness for another 5 weeks. Came to find out, it was only that day and I stressed for nothing.
-Create a context that you are building a human being. That takes work and this first part of the pregnancy is what counts the most. There will be stress on your body and it's just what needs to happen.
-Create a good support system.
-You WILL have mood swings. Expect it and let people know.
-Ask for what you need no matter how small.
-Don't try to do it all yourself. You don't get a medal for being a super pregnant woman.
-Eat well, drink a lot of water.
-Share your news only with close friends, family and people you trust. There's a reason they say to wait til week 12.. I learned the hard way with my first pregnancy.
-"Eating for two" is a myth. This is not the time to tell yourself you can have a banana split every day or three hamburgers for dinner. Eat how you would normally, and if your body wants more, she will tell you.
-Remember: This too shall pass.

Second Trimester Thoughts

-As just about everything you read will tell you, ENJOY THE NEXT 12 WEEKS!
-You'll never be so happy to have your energy back.
-Relax a bit and start sharing more with family, work colleagues and friends.
-Continue to eat well, drink a lot of water.. and don't be afraid to eat what you want!
-Keep an eye on your weight, but don't stress over it.
-If you are a very independent woman, the fear of being vulnerable WILL come up. Talk to people about it, don't be afraid of it and know that it's part of the gig. Also know that your power is not all physical. Mental power can get you farther than any physical power you think you have.
-If you have a history of anxiety, depression and the like, keep an eye on it in the second trimester. If you have any concerns, let your doc know.
-Start to create a plan for the baby, nursery, etc. Time will fly and it takes more time, energy and money than you think--even if you don't have a lot to do.
-Schedule child prep classes early.
-If you haven't felt any bonding with your baby, generally now would be the time. I had no idea that our baby would have a daily rhythm and I would get to know it. This also gave me confidence that I'd be able to take care of her when she was physically here.

Third Trimester Thoughts

-Expect to be tired.. again.
-Continue to watch your weight, but don't stress over it.
-Continue to build your support system and spend time with people you love.
-Keep your stress level down and don't be afraid to let people know you need space.
-DO take as many child prep classes you think you need and take them all before week 36 (we took: Infant CPR, Childprep class, Newborn Basics, Breastfeeding class). We found these invaluable and it increases your confidence--even if the information you are given you already know.
-Give yourself 1-2 months to find a good pediatrician. Ask friends and family in the area for referrals (this was one of the hardest tasks for me that I thought would be easy).
-Plan to have the nursery completed, projects around the house completed, etc. at LEAST 1-2 months before you are due. You will NOT want to do much in the last month and this also puts a buffer in for breakdowns and unexpected things (i.e., being sick, not being in the mood, last minute work requests, etc.).
-If you are married/dating, LOVE them as much as possible, continue to create your relationship and don't forget that the two of you are the most important. If you are single, find friends and family that will support you and continue to create those relationships.
-Create a birth plan but know that your labor and delivery may not go as planned.
-Bonding will continue at a faster rate than you may expect. No one told me that I'd be able to calm my baby in the womb. But from singing, humming or just saying her name, I learned what worked to calm her down if needed.
-Rest, rest, rest!
-If you are breastfeeding, GET ALL YOUR INFORMATION NOW! This was the one place I lacked in research and I paid for it. I will be writing another blog on the subject, but the best bet is to ask other mom's what their experience was/is. You will find that 95% of the people you speak to had some sort of problem. It's better to be ready NOW in case you need to be prepared.. with that being said: BUY A BREASTPUMP!! I was lucky to have one at home ready to go.. not assuming I would even use it for a few weeks, but had to as soon as we got home from the hospital. There's nothing worse than coming home late or not being able to run out and get one when you come home. It's worth the money and time NOW.

Other thoughts or questions I've been asked

-No, I never had weird cravings.
Although I have read that many women have the "pickles and ice cream" cravings, I never did (nor do I know anyone that has). I did have cravings for individual foods, but I didn't have cravings for foods I already hated and basically wanted more of foods that I had deprived myself prior or ate already. Oddly, I never thought I would crave fruit in my third trimester. My body obviously wanted the vitamins and I gave it what is asked for.

-I didn't love being pregnant, but I didn't hate it either.
I was comfortable most of my pregnancy, didn't have many sleep issues, didn't go pee every hour, my ankles only swelled now and again, etc.
I did, however, have to deal with my anxiety issues, some bouts of depression, carpel tunnel, and concerns about being a mom. These were tough things to deal with, but it all worked out in the end. Once I had a support system and a plan, all I could do was try to enjoy the ride.

-Yes, we did want to know the sex of the baby.
I had too many other things to worry about. It was still a surprise either way as there's never 100% assurance. My first question once Jackie "arrived" was "Is it a girl?!"

For any of you that got this far, feel free to ask ANY other questions you may have and I can add them here!

Next blogs: The First Four Weeks, Breastfeeding Basics: The Real Basics.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

3 Weeks and Counting

I can't believe I haven't written since the end of August. Pretty amazing. I had thought about writing, but so much had been going on in May, I guess it just flew by. It also didn't help that June had literally 3 days of sun. This sounds like a joke, but the news said that it had been 109 years since we had a June that rainy. I had thought I would be outside most of June due to my last day at work being May 29, but most of it was spent inside getting ready for the baby or running errands. I guess there was an upside of some sort.

Fast forward to now, July 14.. it's hard to believe I have less than 3 weeks before the baby is due. I have been very, very lucky, as physically this pregnancy hasn't been that bad. I did have some bouts of depression and anxiety over the past few months, but that seems to have subsided. This decrease was unexpected as most docs say this is to increase, but I must have transformed something or God has been looking out for me and allowed me some peace. This is not to say that I don't get anxious, but it seems to be mostly "normal" anxiety of not knowing what to expect and getting overwhelmed at all the information that is out there. I have realized that I really do have everything I need to "know" in all this.. the theory based stuff, and now, it's all about the "doing." I know I will make mistakes and that used to be my biggest concern, but now that reality is here, my biggest concern is figuring out how I'm going to deal with the lack of sleep and getting up every 2-3 hours to feed! I know from my past that when I am put to the test, the mind and body just follow and do what is needed.. I assume it will be the same here.

Just to update on a few things, a lot has happened since I last wrote. A few friends threw a baby shower for me on May 31. Mom came in and it was a good time. Some breakdowns, but overall, it was great to be around about 15 or so women knowing that they all cared so much about me. It was humbling.


There was also a work shower at Berklee that was a lot of fun. Two others in the office are due this month and then me August 1, so there was a combined shower. Once again, it was nice to be pampered and shown so much love. It's hard to take in sometimes.


J and I have also been working hard to get the place ready for Jackie and for ourselves (mostly me), to feel at peace and not have a bunch of clutter around. J has been amazing and working so hard. Not only at his day job, but also around here. I get worried about him, concerned that he is getting overloaded, but he seems to enjoy it and is excited about what all his work will bring in the end.

Jackie's room is done and I'm very happy about the result. The theme is around the Dr. Seuss book "Oh, the Places You'll Go." I love the colors, but mostly the story. It reminds me of my life a lot.. that you will have so many dreams, will fail at times, but the main thing to remember is not to give up. I have given up at times, but still continue to have dreams that I strive for. I want Jackie to know that her dreams are hers and she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.. and I want her to know that early :)

In any case, I think we have put a number of things together that were not a "set" per se, but it all worked out. I'm very lucky that I can "see" color in my mind and it always turns out the way I have it designed in my head. I will post more pics later, but it's a very airy, sunny and calming space. I think she will enjoy it. Here's her crib area:


We also recently sold my car and got a new Nissan Rogue. It was tough to get rid of my car on one level, but I had some closure on it by the time we traded it in. We tried for about a month to sell it on our own, but we just weren't getting the price we wanted for it. J ended up working out a deal at the dealership that I thought would never happen and we were able to trade the car in without all the hassle of a private sale. Trying to sell the car was a good learning lesson, but in the end, I'm glad that we just traded it in.

I'm happy with the Rogue. It drives well, has a great sound system and feels very "me." I wanted to get a decent looking CUV/SUV (CUV = crossover utility vehicle) and refused to get a mini-van :) After driving about 6-7 cars over the past few months, we decided on the Nissan. I think it will do the job for now and we both love driving it.

We also completed all our Child Prep classes (Infant CPR, Newborn Basics, Child Prep, Breastfeeding basics) and I'm happy that we did all of them. Although we really didn't meet anyone that we were able to keep in touch with (I thought we might), it was still great to be in the classes with other couples and getting all our questions answered. For anyone who is having a baby, I definitely suggest the Childhood Prep class at least. For me, I haven't been around babies a lot and had many doubts about myself as a mom. This class really helped as I had already done a lot of research on my own and it solidified things I already knew and added to my toolchest of information.

Aside from all the "doings" of getting ready, overall, I have been healthy, as well as Jackie. There have been no problems, all tests been normal or better and I haven't gotten so huge that I haven't been able to move around. We were still going to shows and going out as much as possible and we just saw one of our last shows, Gary Gulman, at the Comedy Connection. At this point, it's tough to sit for long periods of time so many shows are out, as well as anything that has a lot of standing, but I've been happy at what I've been able to do and still feel that I can do.

Me and Gary at the Comedy Connection, Boston, 7.11.09

Each day at this point (I'm a bit under 3 weeks til I'm due), I get a bit slower and there's more Braxton Hicks contractions, but no pain. I just have to watch my energy, make sure I drink a lot of water, and what I learned yesterday, make sure I laugh a lot :) I noticed yesterday that I read one of my Child Prep books for 5 hours, trying to get as much info as I could, and then I get overwhelmed.

I have to keep reminding myself that I know what I know and if there's any problems, we can always refer to the books later or call her pediatrician. There's so much out there, I don't think I could really tell myself I'm completely prepared. All I've been told (and from my own observation), I'm more prepared than most and have everything at my fingertips. Not only that but I have a loving and prepared husband and other family and friends that are there if I need them.

For now, I think my job is to relax as much as possible, enjoy the sun (finally) now that it's here and laugh as much as I can :) I just can't believe that the time is almost here and our lives are about to change big time. Although I don't know exactly how yet, this also gives me the space to "start over" and get creative. I can't wait for that to kick in for me.. I know once I get into the role of "mom" it will all start to flow. But until then, I will continue to look for the small things to keep me laughing and calm.. it's tough at times, but I know I can do it.