Monday, August 3, 2015


Sometimes, women who have already experienced pregnancy lie to first timers. These often well-meaning women do not always lie purposefully, but they lie all the same. Maybe "lie" is too strong a verb? Instead, we shall say they mistake their pregnancy for yours, but they forget that pregnancies, much like fingerprints, are all different from one another.

For instance, several women exclaimed, "Oh, Braxton Hicks contractions don't hurt!" Ahem. My body decided that it would experience these "fake" contractions for eight hours straight on Saturday. Allow me to dispel those falsehoods by saying that they hurt for this pregnant lady. They hurt like a son of a gun. They hurt so fiercely and so frequently that this first timer and her husband ended up in the Labor and Delivery unit for four hours under the impression that the real deal had arrived. They even duped the midwife momentarily. Much to my relief (I want little lady to continue cooking in there) and chagrin, those eight hours were simply a "warm up" for the main event, which will result in even more pain. Way to be an overachiever, uterus. I am not a long distance runner (or even short distance runner), but my lady bits are headed for a marathon, presumably.

For the record, when you end up in Labor and Delivery, they wrap these straps around your belly in order to monitor your contractions and the baby's heart rate. (Note: the straps cannot measure the intensity of your contractions, just the frequency.) Well, Vincenza hates those straps and constantly kept kicking in the places the straps held onto me.  I assumed these kicks to be her futile attempts at removing the contraptions encroaching on her territory. Of course, I couldn't blame her because those straps itched me something fierce.

I do not tell you these things in order to evoke fear or anxiety. I tell you these things so that you remind yourself that your story is your story. Just because it became part of another person's plot line does not mean it will be part of yours.

 Anyway, since last week marked 9 months pregnant, I thought I'd throw a little comparison picture your way.

I feel like I look emaciated in this picture when you compare it to my current state, hahaha. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

What Worked For Me: Pregnancy Symptom Helpers

Okay, what is good for one Mother Goose might not always work for the gander, but I thought I would share my mainstays during pregnancy, two of which I relied on before pregnancy. Now, I did not squeeze everything into one graphic, so I will talk about some other things that have alleviated certain symptoms associated with (my) pregnancy. Remember that just because it happened to me or helped me does not mean the same is true for you. There is one truth I have learned throughout this process: every body is different.

Symptom 1: Back, Sciatica, and Round Ligament Pains
The Background
Back pain started in the first trimester for me, and it has not left me alone permanently, but I have managed the symptoms relatively well. The weight of my belly (where I gained pretty much every pound) hangs as I sleep on my left side (the "preferred" sleeping position during pregnancy), so the weight causes back pain and discomfort as I try to sleep. As for the round ligament, which accompanies the sciatica, it hurts in the front of my pelvis, mainly just the right side (the side she likes to hang out on, haha). It hurt so badly in the second trimester that I had a few days during which I couldn't walk.
What Has Helped:
  • The chiropractor stretches out the round ligament, and it feels glorious. It's like he makes more space in there for the two of us to breathe better. He also gave me several exercises for combating sciatica pain. I do the stretches before sleeping and before getting out of bed in the morning. These three in this video should help you. 
  • The acupuncturist, in conjunction with the chiropractor, has provided me with some relief. (He's done a much better job with the sinus situation, which I'll talk about in a moment.) 
  • The massage therapist who works through my OBGYN office is wonderful. Massage therapists who are trained to treat pregnant women deserve a special seat in Heaven. 
  • The pregnancy wedge ($12.99 at Babies R US) that my husband bought has really helped with the belly weight as I try to sleep on my left.
  • The Snoogle ($59.99 at Babies R Us--a pretty standard price wherever you go) has helped, too, but I think a regular old body pillow like my massage therapist uses would probably be comparable or even better.
Before any future pregnancies, I plan to make sure I have spent months in yoga, pilates, and strength training so that hopefully my core/muscles are strong enough to fight the pain more effectively.

Symptom 2: Sinus Congestion & Bloody Noses
The Background: 
 I had sinus surgery last April, and thank goodness I did because not having a six-month-long sinus infection continue into pregnancy probably did me a whole lot of favors. However, from almost day one of pregnancy, I have had what they deem pregnancy rhinitis, and it is my least favorite symptom. I have to blow my nose after everything I eat (weird, I know) because I have become a snot factory. Apparently, your blood vessels in your nose can swell during pregnancy and create a whole lot of fun congestion.  

What Has Helped:
  • The acupuncturist actually helps with the headaches associated with this one. He also kept my spring allergies at bay.
  • The Neti Pot ($10.49 at Target, comes with the saline packets). I have to use it at least once a day. In the third trimester, I might have to use it twice. I switched from using the Neti Pot to the squirt bottle because I think it's more effective and probably better for people who are completely weirded out by the Neti Pot process. If you have never used a Neti Pot, please keep two things in mind (aside from the fact that it's really not as bad as you think it is): do NOT forget to use the saline solution or your nose will BUUUUURN like the dickens and use distilled water (I just buy the jugs at Target).  
  • Humidifier ($45.99 at Target). I keep this thing on my nightstand and use it every night. If I go two nights without using it, the bloody noses come back with ferocity. Using it at night also helps me to blow my nose productively in the morning. 
  • Drinking hot tea (decaffeinated)

Symptom 3: Nausea
The Background:
I thought this symptom was only for the first trimester. HAHA. It came back in the third but not as bad. Really, my nausea in the third trimester is mainly because of acid reflux, which I already had, so I'm relatively used to dealing with that symptom. Tums, tums, tums. Water, water, water.

What Has/Has Not Helped:
  • Sea bands did NOT help me, but a lot of women swear by them.
  • Ginger did NOT help me; in fact, they made me feel queasier. Most women swear by them.
  • Hot water with lemon did NOT help, but it did help with my sinuses, haha.
  • The only thing that helped? Preggie drops (get them on Amazon for the best deal). I think it must have been the B6 that did the trick. 
  • Now I get nauseated and pound a lot of water and take a few Tums. Usually, that combination helps.  
  • I switched to taking my mulivitamins (Raw Code Prenatals--took them for two years before pregnancy because the ginger in them settles my stomach) at night because my nausea was actually worse in the afternoon/night. In fact, I felt the best in the morning. (It is now the opposite, haha.)

I will be straight with you. Pregnancy has been pretty tough for my body, and the third trimester has been more difficult than the first. However, our little lady has been healthy at every check up, and that is all I need to hear for every single symptom to be worth it. Plus, I had a lot of surgeries and health problems before pregnancy, and none of those ended with a sweet baby girl in my arms. If you are feeling kind of crummy, I hope you find relief soon! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

35 Weeks

The Outfit:
Dress: Old Navy, non-maternity (I was an XS before pregnancy; I went with a medium in this dress so that it would be long enough to cover my belly. I'm sure it'll still fit without a big belly in there.  Even with this belly, I still wear an XS in their maxi dresses.)
Belt (old): Francesca's
Sandals: Aerosoles (they are really comfortable and have padding!)
Giraffe necklace (old): J. Crew Factory  

How far along? 35 weeks...we're really coming into the home stretch

Size: We went for a growth sonogram (worrywart mom alert) on July 10th when I was a little over 33 weeks. She measured at about 4lbs. 14oz. which surprises just about everyone because they want to know where I "put the baby." It calmed my fears induced (pun intended) by everyone trying to tell me I was too small. The midwife assured me that I am just one of those women who "tucks a baby in well." Overall, I have gained a little over 20 pounds. I texted this picture to my mom, and she said, "How is it possible that you already look bigger than you did on Sunday?" Thanks, Mom. Your granddaughter is packing on the pounds in there.

Nursery: Almost finished. We just need a chair, and I'd like to have more art and pictures hanging on the wall. Granted, she won't sleep in there right away because we have this awesome bassinet for her beginning weeks/months, but what are we really going to accomplish once she arrives?

Maternity Clothes: In terms of shorts or pants, absolutely! I even bought four nursing nightgowns from Motherhood Maternity (on sale, of course) to test drive them before she's born. They are SO comfortable, have built in bras, and will be perfect for when company comes because I can look put together without actually putting on real clothes or an actual bra. If ninjas were clothes, they'd be these nightgowns. My mom even thought they were actual dresses. However, I have gotten away with a lot of non-maternity dresses. I stick with very stretchy cotton and have had a lot of luck at Kohl's and Old Navy.

Stretch Marks: Not yet, but my body cannot be trusted not to sneak up on me with this one.

Sleep: HAHAHA. Sleep laughs at me. If needing to use the bathroom for the fifth time does not wake me, back pain wakes me. If back pain doesn't wake me, hot flashes from Hell wake me. If hot flashes do not wake me, this sweet child of mine decides it is time for us to rise and face the day at 4:00 in the morning. I love her so much already that I just roll with it. If a spontaneous nap comes later to relieve me, then so be it. If not, then let the delirium ensue.

Celebrations: This week is my dad's birthday, my sister-in-law's birthday, and the last week of my summer graduate course. This weekend, I'm also attending a grad party and a 1-year-old's birthday party. I think there's a lot of cause for celebration around these parts.

Cravings: Crabs (good thing I live in Maryland), ALL THINGS cheese (Pirate's Booty, cheese sticks, grilled cheese, pizza), and watermelon yogurt. So, it looks like my body is telling me to pack in the calcium and protein. 

Symptoms: I am keeping them somewhat at bay with my weekly visits to the chiropractor and acupuncturist, but my sinuses are really giving me trouble. Holy bloody noses, Batman. The humidifier and neti pot make a huge difference. 

Movement: She is active just like her daddy. She especially loves mealtime. She almost never stops moving, but as uncomfortable as heels trying to make an escape through my gall bladder incisions, toes curling under my rib cage, a mysterious body part sinking into my round ligament, and a head headbutting my lady parts, it reassures me that she is doing okay in there. I might cry out in pain, but I can handle that pain as long as she just stays healthy. I keep telling her that's her only job right now. Happy and healthy.

Belly Button: It came out to play. It's not cute. It's like that neighborhood kid who licks chalk off the sidewalk, so you don't answer the door when he knocks. It doesn't matter though because he finds you anyway. It really emerges when I laugh hysterically, which my husband strives to make happen on a daily basis. In the beginning, I put a band aid over it, but that caused a rash that lasted for about a week. I'd rather have an outie than a rash.

Feeling: Excited and worried--The thought of meeting her on the outside excites me more than anything ever has, but worry always nags at the back (okay, probably the front) of my mind that something will go wrong. I am good about preventing the worry from becoming stress, however. Honestly, I can handle all of the discomfort and pain if she just comes out healthy and happy. I don't care about agonizing labor, horrible postpartum symptoms, or any of my medical stuff as long as this kid comes out with a clean bill of health. I know labor and delivery is NO picnic in the park, and I just don't care. I am feeling such overwhelming love and concern for this kid that those things have yet to nag at me, which is probably because I have already had two car accidents, 8 root canals, gall bladder removal, appendix removal, tonsils and adenoids removal, sinus surgery, and impacted wisdom teeth removal. Clearly, I am no stranger to pain and none of that pain led to the survival of another human being, which makes this pain the most worthwhile. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Maternity Pictures

I have been buried under mounds of graduate work  and preparing for Vincenza's arrival at the end of next month (or whenever she decides to grace us with her presence on the outside), so only the crickets have kept you company here. Is anyone still coming back? I don't know. Maybe I publish this post just for Vincenza to read when she's older because the internet never dies. Anyway, my lovely and talented sister-in-law took maternity pictures for us this past weekend so that we can celebrate this exciting and nerve-wracking time in our lives.

Session Details:
      Photographer: My sister-in-law, if she ever starts up a company, I'll come back here and link   it up for her.

     Setting: It was HOT, even after 5:00, so we opted for an outdoor option with a quick escape to air conditioning, our backyard. Plus, our backyard is quite serene and makes for a lovely backdrop even if we have to dodge a lot of poop bombs. Also, we took a lot of pictures in front of the wood wall my husband built in the nursery. That wall and the lighting in that room make it an awesome location for pictures! We wanted some magical lighting, and our backyard did a great job providing it :)

       Outfits: Jeff is wearing a pink polo I bought for him on sale at Kohl's recently and a pair of navy shorts from J.Crew Factory I bought for him a year or two ago. Dude seriously needs some new footwear though. As for my outfit, the dress isn't a maternity dress. It's a Lauren Conrad dress I recently bought at Kohl's; it was on sale for $24, and my mom had an additional 30% off. The straps were a bit long for me, so my mom altered them because her talents know no end. Find the dress here, and it's on sale for $24.99 on the site as well. It comes in white, coral, and laurel green.

Get ready for a lot of pictures, folks. Feel free to pin them. Just send people back here, please ;)

In case you needed a good laugh...

This picture is actually a recreation of our favorite engagement picture.
(The last picture in front of the brick wall is what inspired this picture in front of her wood wall.) 

My adorable niece was giving "baby cousin" kisses.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I figured it out.

Hey, look, I still exist. This whole end-of-school-year, bun-in-the-oven, and most-intense-grad-class-ever thing swallowed me up whole the past month and a half. Luckily, the last day of the school year greeted me yesterday, and boy, Vincenza and I rejoiced at its arrival. It could not have stepped off the jet plane a moment sooner either because this kid's and my struggle to make use of this tiny space I call a body has left the two of us feeling rather cramped at seven and a half months pregnant. I really cannot blame her for standing on my bladder; the poor kid is growing like a Chia pet, and my body is doing a shoddy job of keeping up with her. Almost like clockwork every week, my body experiences painful growth spurts during which time my belly feels as if it might pop, and I think Meany Dwarf is attacking my lower back with a pick axe. My belly finally grows enough to give the little lady some much-needed space, and then we continue the cycle the following week. I feel sorry for this poor kid. At least I don't have a gall bladder or appendix, so she has a bit of a playpen in which to practice her dance moves?

As for what I "figured out," a list that appears to shrink quicker than it grows, I think I understand this dressing the bump thing. Make no mistake that "bun in the oven" is an appropriate term because the amount of heat emanating from my body surprises even me, which means I need to sport fewer layers while still remaining socially acceptable. I would like to maintain some dignity here because urinating while sneezing or committing any other spontaneous physical action seriously diminishes the dignity I once had. Anyway, I decided that all light, sleeveless layers (like this top, sleeveless cardigans, and vests) and dresses make the perfect summer pregnancy combination. Granted, they make the perfect summer combination for anyone, but I finally figured out what I can comfortably wear. 

In case you are just need a pregnancy update (though the previous paragraphs offered some real gems in that department), allow me to indulge you.

Trimester: Third. This coming Wednesday, we will be at 31 weeks. Keep cooking, kid!

Wearing: Pretty much everything maternity that I buy comes from thredUP because you can receive 15% on Wednesdays with code HHWed15, and I refuse to spend a lot of money on accidental napkins that harbor stains of every food I consume throughout the day. I try to find non-maternity items that will fit me now and later (like this maxi dress). I have also kept a few things from Stitch Fix in the past three months. 

Reading: Oh, I am so excited to read! I want to read Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns by John Green because so many of my students suggested them. 

Eating: I have turned into my mother during her pregnancy with me. She continually craved seafood (shrimp and crabs), and here I am craving the very same things. Yes, I am mindful of my intake. This kid is eating a very balanced diet! I passed the gestational diabetes test, so I guess my sugar intake is good. Based on the midwives' suggestions, I try to reduce my carb intake and increase my proteins and greens, which hasn't been a problem for me.

Weight: Everyone asks. I don't mind sharing. I started at 122 pounds. I now weigh in at 137, which just so happens to be 10 pounds less than my 6'3" husband. His favorite part of every visit (aside from listening to her heartbeat) is seeing how much I weigh. What a weirdo. I'm not exactly sure how big she is, but maybe we will find out next week?

Baby's Movements: Our little lady is a mover and a shaker; she constantly amuses me because I feel like she already has a feisty little personality. She hates it if I lean over for too long. She hates it when I cross my legs. She loves it when I stretch out on the couch (gives her more room). She loves hanging out on the right side (I'd hang out there too since the space is missing two internal organs). She will probably love the beach because she loves pretending to be a starfish in there. She spreads out her arms and legs and just wiggles them around. She must be tall like her daddy because she seems to simultaneously kick me in the lady parts while hanging onto my ribs.

Baby's Room: Well, my husband has been rewiring her room and the room next to hers, so that project has to be completed before we can paint her room, assemble the crib, and all of that jazz. We are finishing her room and the room next to it, so the process is a bit more laborious (pun intended). Jeff has one socket left in her room, the light in her closet, and ripping down the wood paneling on one wall of her room before we can paint it. Also, when the weather permits, he and my dad will be replacing the windows in her room since hers currently whistle with the wind. (Hey, they are original to the 1971 house!) Unfortunately, the nesting phase is really taking its hold on me, so I organize what little I can for now. 

 The Outfit:
Top: The Limited (not maternity)
Dress: Old Navy (not maternity)
Headband: Target
Earrings: Francesca's

Also, please take note of the adorable handmade gifts two students gave to me for Vincenza. She is already cooler than I am! We will both cherish these keepsakes for years to come. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Circle of Life

Today, my family and I are driving to attend my Pop Pop Ted's memorial service. What my mind struggles the most to wrap itself around is the fact that all of my grandparents have now passed away. Granted, he lived to be 93 and full of his wits, so I take comfort in the longevity that projects for my daddy. (I still maintain that he and Mom will live forever because if it can happen in movies, then why not in real life?)

Presumably, this little lady of ours will inherit some of her great-grandparents' wonderful traits, so their memories live on in us. Her kicks, tumbles, and frequent dances remind me that the circle of life continues to rotate. I can only hope she gains the strength of the remarkable people who came before her. Most of my close friends tell me she will be strong like her momma (despite my inability to bench press the bar in high school), and I pray for her sake that she develops a strength of her own. My bladder, sciatica, and round ligament will tell you one thing: her kicks sure are strong. Keep growing strong and healthy, Vincenza. You have a world just waiting to see all of the wonderful qualities you have to share with it.

Oh, by the way, here we are enjoying 6 months pregnant on Wednesday.

Cardigan (old): New York & Co. 
Flats: Aerosoles
Top: Gap Maternity
Jeans: Old Navy Maternity

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pregnancy is...

Pregnancy is...

* Mapping out the locations of the nearest bathrooms and realizing that you will eventually stop caring whether or not they're clean.

*Assuring every male who works with you that the grunt that just emanated from your entire being was a reaction to a head in your ribcage, not an S.O.S. requiring immediate medical attention.

* Accepting the fact that you might end up needing someone to wheel you to your destination in a desk chair because a tiny dancer is holding a recital on your sciatica.

* Learning how not to pee when you sneeze...or at least learning how to pack another pair of pants...or how to own the wet spot. (Billy Madison tells us only cool kids pee their pants.)

* Consulting webMD to verify that your strange symptoms are frighteningly common and normal.

*  Engaging in pep talks with your closet full of clothes that now pose creative obstacles.

*  Embracing the ugly cry. On an hourly basis.

* Pregnancy is realizing that those familiar spaces you once navigated with ease are now riddled with obstacles in the form of your increasing klutziness and growing belly. Seatbelt? Torture device. Student bookbags and computer cords? Land mines. Shoe buckles? Pointless inventions. Couch? Quicksand. Bed? HAHAHA, SUCKER.

Dress (recent): Old Navy
Shirt: The Limited
Cardigan (recent): Old Navy
Sandals: Franco Sarto via DSW