Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vincenza's Birth Story


Our sweet baby girl is currently bathing in the sunlight flooding into our living room so that the last traces of her jaundice disappear sleeping in her swing. Since I cannot climb the stairs too often (doctor's orders), I find myself trapped on the upper level of our house. I might as well try to write her birth story until she needs to eat again. (I am on day three of working on this post, so who knows where we'll be when I finally finish it.)

Vincenza was due on August 27, 2015. So many people kept telling me, "Oh, I went two weeks late. Oh, women usually go late with their first child." I had a hard time believing all of these people. I just knew she would not wait until her due date to meet us, and I guess my mother's intuition started early because my water broke at 9:30pm on August 13th.

As Jeff dozed off on the couch, I heard and felt this popping sound that I confused with a gas bubble. After all, I had eaten a bit too much salsa earlier that day. Then I thought I peed myself (dignity be gone), so I hurried to the bathroom where I just started repeating, "uh oh. UH OH." Jeff rushed over to the bathroom, and I said, "It's like I'm peeing, but I'm not peeing. I think my water is breaking!" You see, we both hoped my water would break because it would be a surefire sign to both of us that it was go time. However, we learned in the birthing class that only 10% of women's water breaks, so we figured our chances were slim. Leave it to me to be a part of the 10%. We both maintain that my water broke because we made fun of the terminology from the birthing class. They continued to refer to it as a "bag of waters," which we found hysterical. I think I understand why they call it waters. It's not just a little water that makes its way out. It just keeps going and going and going until you actually have the baby. Water water everywhere.

Anyway, we called the midwives. The midwife on call said she wanted us in the hospital no later than midnight because water breaking requires almost immediate action to avoid any bacteria from harming the baby. By 11:30, we arrived at the hospital. First, we had to part the sea of sickies in the emergency waiting room. One man who may have escaped the mental ward kept inching closer and closer to me as he waved enthusiastically at the pregnant lady in labor. We scurried as quickly through the door as possible, took the elevator to the second floor, and checked into Labor & Delivery. When the midwife first checked me, I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. Definitely labor. Definitely not fake this time around.

I tried to labor for as long as possible without an epidural, but my body just wasn't having it. I swayed, I rocked on a ball, I breathed through it. Jeff was a champion, my champion. He helped me go to the bathroom, he helped me breathe through contractions, he continued to get me water as I needed it, and he rubbed my back to ease the pressure. The contractions were on top of each other at one-two minutes apart, so I didn't really have a reprieve like the movies and even the birthing class suggested. Of course, I had to be hooked up to an IV and receive an entire bag of fluids before they could administer the epidural. Every time a contraction slammed me, I scowled at the IV bag and cursed it for not moving quicker.  Finally, the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural; it felt like a kick to the back, but pain was relative at this point in the game. The epidural quelled my pain, but it brought with it an almost-as-annoying symptom: the shakes. I shivered and shook for hours on end. (This symptom really worried my mom because it gave her flashbacks to an illness I suffered in high school. I shook so violently that three football players couldn't hold me down.) When Jeff wasn't tending to me, my mom was scratching my head or trying to soothe me. I am glad they stayed with me for the duration.

The midwife checked me again. 5cm and 100% effaced. Good, progress.

Almost three hours later, I was still only 5cm dilated. Not good. Not progress. I continued to focus on Vincenza's heartbeat, which wasn't sounding as promising as it had before. Worry and anxiety washed over my already-shivering body. The midwife had me get on my hands and knees, a very difficult feat when an epidural has almost completely numbed your lower half, so that I could wiggle Vincenza into the proper position and help her drop. Still no progress after thirty minutes of this effort.

When the midwife delivered the "I suggest a c-section" news, she felt so awful about it. Honestly, like I said in the very beginning of this journey, keep the kid healthy and I can deal with the rest. When Vincenza's heartrate dropped to 90bpm at one point, all I wanted was for someone to get her out safely. The midwife said that Vincenza wasn't a big baby, but my pelvis was not accommodating her, especially since the circumference of her head was larger because she had it turned to the side. She said I could keep laboring, but she felt that I was not "anatomically designed" to birth Vincenza naturally. I felt no sadness, only relief. Relief that someone was getting my baby out and into my arms. I wanted her out healthy far more than I wanted to avoid another surgery.

Somewhere around 8 in the morning on August 14th, they had me in the OR, prepping me for surgery. One of our neighbors from our previous neighborhood actually works in Labor and Delivery at our hospital, and she was in the OR with us for Vincenza's birth. It was so comforting to see a familiar face; she even took a lot of pictures with my mom's camera since my mom couldn't come into the OR with us. My favorite picture is this one:


C-sections are weird. I was awake. Both of my arms were extended at my sides (as if I were trying to fly). I could not feel the pain of surgery, but I could feel the doctors pulling and pushing all of my organs around. Jeff felt a little freaked out by seeing me flop around on the table as the doctors all but put their feet up on the table to rearrange my insides. I, on the other hand, will never forget the initial smell. Aloud, I said, "Ummm...that smells terrible." Within thirty seconds, I internally realized that I smelled terrible. That smell was the smell of burning flesh. My burning flesh. They were cauterizing my wound, and I smelled awful. Jeff maintains that I smelled like steak. I worry about his diving into cannibalism during an apocalypse now that he knows my burning flesh smells like steak. I still think it smells like stink.

After they pulled out Vincenza, I worriedly asked, "Is it normal to feel like someone smashed me in the shoulder with a baseball bat? It really hurts." Apparently, this pain is called referred pain. Since my uterus could not feel the pain it was obviously experiencing, the pain shot into my shoulder. At first, I refused pain meds. Five minutes later? I had to accept them. I wanted to enjoy my daughter, not focus on the searing shoulder pain. (Unfortunately, those pain meds made me dizzy and queasy for the rest of the day.)

Now, aside from Vincenza's health, I wanted one more thing. I wanted to be the first to hold her. My dad was the first to hold me (I was also born via c-section), but I wanted to hold Vincenza before Jeff did. Originally, they planned to place her on my chest for five minutes. She ended up doing so well that they left her on my chest for about thirty minutes, thirty glorious minutes. Before Vincenza was born, people continued to tell me how much love I would feel, but no one could have truly prepared me for the moment I first saw her and heard her lungs burst with healthy, loud cries. At that moment, Jeff was holding my hand and sitting next to me. We both saw her and sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. She was finally here. Our tiny, sweet human was finally on the outside, and she was all ours. I wish I could bottle those intense emotions for all eternity because they would surely heal all wounds.


We are eleven days out, and I am on the mend thanks to my little healer. She is eating and farting like a grown man. I am showering at least every two or three days. My mom is spending the next week with me since Jeff cannot take off at his new job. We have entertained several visitors who do not mind my unsightly appearance because who can focus on anything other than this adorable baby?


I still can't drive for another week, and I have a lot of other restrictions for a month after that. However, I have a tiny, adorable, lovable daughter. I feel nothing more than gratitude. Even better? I now share my birthday with Vincenza. We were born within an hour of each other on the same day (not of the same year, of course).  





I probably forgot a lot. Blame mom brain. 



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mother Daughter Style at 38 Weeks

Soon, we will have another girl to join our pictures. Since we have no idea when Vincenza will actually make her appearance, I decided I wanted some pictures with Mom before she went home yesterday. Plus, I love this first picture so much that it might have to be framed and placed in Vincenza's room. Jeff took it with the new camera he got for me. Fancy in our pants over here.

Mom's Outfit:
 Dress: Boscov's
Necklace/earrings: A La Mode Boutique
Cardigan: Kohl's (she thinks)

My Outfit:  
Cardigan: NY & Co.
Dress (not maternity): Old Navy
Elephant Necklace (from mom!): Bass & Co.



How far along? 38 weeks as of yesterday, and I will turn 31 years young tomorrow. Wow.

Size? I've gained about 25 pounds, and she is somewhere around 6 pounds (they guess.)

Nursery? Finished (except for whatever else we end up hanging on the walls after she arrives). Feel free to check out a tour of her nursery here. So far, both my mom and I have fallen asleep in that nursery chair, so it was a good choice.

Maternity Clothes? The only thing I can wear with any sort of comfort is a dress, especially a maxi dress. See my tips for shopping and styling in the third trimester here.

Stretch Marks? Not yet, but I am really waiting for my body to surprise me with this one.

Sleep? I try to keep myself from napping so that I sleep more soundly at night, and this strategy has worked relatively well for two weeks. I still use my pregnancy wedge and pillow to make it through the night despite the fact that I have to fight with these things when I rouse sleepily three times minimum to use the bathroom. See what's helped me survive here.

Contractions? I have pretty strong Braxton Hicks contractions, and Vincenza does not appear to like them. She wiggles around when they happen. Contractions + Wiggling Baby = Lots of discomfort for Momma.
 
Celebrations? We have reached "term" as of 37 weeks, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I just need to see her sweet face and hear her healthy screams so that I can breathe the last, biggest sigh of relief. All we need to celebrate is her health. I have remained so hyper-focused on her well being that everything else pales in comparison to my prayers for her health.

Cravings? For four days, I have wanted a cupcake. I don't know why. I have yet to eat one. However, tomorrow is my birthday, and I intend to eat a cupcake for my birthday. Cupcake and crabs.

Symptoms? Mainly growing pains. My body is struggling to support the both of us, but I'm powering through pretty well. I even forced myself to go on a walk with Jeff yesterday.

Movement? Despite her lack of space, this kid loves to move. She moves frequently throughout the day, but her movements are relatively relaxed. As soon as Daddy comes home around 2-3, her witching hour starts. I say witching "hour," but she gears up until at least 8 at night. However, once I settle into bed, not to be confused with the couch, she's good about calming down again. I tell her to move even if it hurts me because her movements let me know she is thriving in there.

Anticipating? Obviously, we are all anticipating her arrival. I am also really looking forward to my mom staying with us for like two weeks because Jeff cannot take off after having recently started a new job. The consistent support from someone who makes me feel relaxed and better eases a lot of my pre-motherhood anxiety. 

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Maternity Style: Third Trimester Shopping & Styling Tips

Every pregnant woman is different--if you learn anything here, may it be that one tidbit of information--so what works for this pregnant woman might not work for you. However, this little lady of mine has turned into a lowrider, and I have become a hotbox breathing fire onto my shivering husband in the dead of night. What do these things signify? They signify that I neither want to wear anything that touches/constricts my lower abdomen nor do I want to wear thicker fabric. Thus, I do not wish to wear pants nor do I wish to wear shorts, not even the maternity variety. If you find yourself in this boat by the end of your pregnancy, I have some suggestions for you. By the way, not one of the dresses/skirts I am donning in this collage is from the maternity section. Only the navy shirt in the last picture is.

Third Trimester Shopping Tips:
Tip 1 --> Shop secondhand or sales:
  • Even though we plan to have more than one kid, it seemed unreasonable to spend more on maternity clothes than I would on non-maternity clothes. If you have the piggy bank for it, then have at it. 
  • I found most of my maternity stuff from either the sale sections (or promotional deals) of Motherhood Maternity, promotional deals at GAP/Old Navy, or browsing through thredUP's maternity section. I did keep one maternity shirt from one of my Stitch Fix boxes, and that was because I knew it would fit me postpartum and be nursing friendly.
Tip 2 --> Shop non-maternity (reasonably)
  • I read all of these blogs in the beginning of pregnancy that said never buy maternity jeans and provided all of these tips for doing so. Well, that was not in the cards for me. The first things I grew out of were pants, and I had to buy maternity jeans. I tried the rubberband trick; I failed at it. I tried the belly bands and those just felt like rubberbands that never stayed in place; I hated fighting with them to go pee. I tried demi-panel jeans, and they ended up feeling too restricting. I tried inset panel jeans (sold at Gap and Old Navy), and those were great in the beginning. I also bought full-panel jeans, and I liked them best. Those fit, but now in the third trimester I want nothing touching my abdomen. I fold down the panel of my full panel shorts/leggings, and it works just fine for the moment.
  • Dresses, unlike pants, are easier to find in the non-maternity section. Make sure you buy stretchy cotton fabrics that have a lot of give! Old Navy is the best place to find these kinds of dresses. 
  • You might have to size up for some dresses/skirts and not others. I had to size up for shorter dresses (like the orange one in the collage) so that it fit in the third trimester when my belly shortened the dress' length. 
  • As for maxi dresses, I stayed my pre-pregnancy size because I didn't worry about length, and I chose stretchy fabrics that would still fit over my growing chest and belly. 
Tip 3 --> Do periodic pare downs of your wardrobe
  • It might fit you one week and not the next. When that happens, do a little inventory: do you even want this item post-pregnancy (don't be fooled by pregnancy hormones here)? If you never even really wore this item to start with, put it in a "maybe" pile that you reevaluate after pregnancy.  
  • If you definitely want to keep it postpartum, then just hang it in a different section/the back of your closet. Keep everything that fits you right now located together to make getting dressed easier. Goodness knows just trying to put your foot into underwear at this point is a struggle. Let's not complicate matters by struggling to find something to struggle into. 
  • Currently, I have a thredUP bag sitting on the floor of my closet that is collecting items I don't think I will want postpartum. I decided I would reevaluate after she's here to decide if I think these items still fit my lifestyle/body.
Tip 4 --> Realize that you might have to change your style...a bit
  • I was staunch anti-leggings before pregnancy. Before I felt like Regina George in Mean Girls who can wear only sweatpants. I still maintain that one's butt must remain covered while wearing leggings, but I will actually wear them in public now. This belly gave me little choice in the matter.
Tip 5 --> Consider postpartum wear now:
  • I have already started searching for nursing bras (if that's what you choose to do!), so I took advantage of a promotion at Motherhood Maternity and bought four nursing nightgowns that I can even wear now. They actually fooled my mom into thinking they were real dresses, so I can wear them if unannounced (or announced) company comes to visit without feeling like a slob. Not that anyone would really judge me...harshly. 
  • I am starting to section things off in my closet that I think will work for nursing/early motherhood because goodness knows I need to make my life as easy as possible in those beginning months. 
  • I started a new Pinterest board called "Easy Mom Style" for things I think I would wear postpartum that still suit my style without letting me get into a yoga pants rut. (Some women rock the yoga pants trend beautifully; I do not belong to that talented group of women. Plus, I'd rather find a reeeeally comfortable pair of jeans instead.)
  • I won't buy anything for postpartum that is not easy to clean. Babies poop, puke, and ooze all sorts of bodily fluids. Donning dry-clean-only clothes sounds like a terrible combination to me. 
  • I am looking for looser, forgiving tops because I know nothing goes back to exactly the way it was.  
Third Trimester Styling Tips:
Tip 1 --> Belt, necklace, or sleeveless completer piece
  • Belt it -- it was not until my belly turned into a shelf in the third trimester that I could actually wear a belt below my bust and have it stay there all day. Oh, it has no problem staying there now. 
  • Necklace -- Sometimes a belt looks weird (tried one with the blue/white maxi skirt in the collage...EW), so I opt for a fun necklace. 
  • Sleeveless completer piece -- It is far too hot for a utility vest, but that gauzy, black, sleeveless number I have on in the middle picture? Perfection. I have some short sleeved cardigans that also work well. Also, the floral button up in the far left picture of the collage worked that way for awhile. However, I will have to tie it above my belly now if I want it to work, or I can just wear it open and unbuttoned. I have turned several button ups into "cardigans" for now.
Tip 2 --> Practice not washing your hair every day
  • After Vincenza arrives, I doubt I will want to nor have much time to do a lot with my hair. Since third-trimester fatigue has struck, I figured I would try out low-maintenance hairstyles. Here are a few that work for my finer, curly hair:
  • Curly--I just use a curling iron for a few pieces that act unruly. This style takes less than 5 minutes. 
  • Bangs up and curly--If my bangs are not cooperating that morning, then I clip them back.
  • Updo--I cannot frenchbraid (need to learn), but I can twist like a pro. My go-to style is similar to this one.
  • Straight hair...for days on end--If I straighten my hair, I can go like four or five days without washing it. Of course, I have to put in the initial 20 minutes to dry it on day one, but I guess it works out in the end. 
  • Rock a headband--Most headbands fall off of my head because it's shaped weirdly. This headband does not. My sewing machine is in a corner of the storage room I cannot reach with my belly in the way, so I have not had a chance to try making some of my own headbands. I'll let you know how that goes...or doesn't.
  • Shower at night--I hear this works well after the baby comes, and it worked really well when I was teaching because it meant less maintenance in the morning. 
  • I pinned these hairstyles to try. (I should try them now....)


Look 1: Button up + maxi + headband
  • Button up: The Limited (size XS, would wear open when the belly grew too large for buttoning)
  • Maxi dress: Old Navy (size XS, not maternity, bought in a stretchy cotton fabric)
  • Headband: Target
Look 2: Patterned maxi + curly hair
  • Patterned maxi dress: Apt 9 via Kohl's (size XS, not maternity, very stretchy fabric)
Look 3: Sleeveless cardigan + striped maxi + updo
  • Sleeveless cardigan: Apt 9 via Kohl's (size S, not maternity)
  • Striped maxi dress: Merona via Target (size XS, not maternity, stretchy fabric)
Look 4: Sized-up dress + belt + shorter necklace + pinned back hair
  • Orange dress: Old Navy swing dress (size M, not maternity, bought even larger for length) 
  • Belt: Francesca's (old)
  • Necklace: J.Crew Factory (old)
  • Gold sandals: Aerosoles
Look 5: Maternity shirt + long necklace + maxi skirt + straight hair
  • Shirt: Old Navy maternity (size XS)
  • Necklace: Sonoma (I think) via Kohl's
  • Maxi skirt: Paper Moon for Stitch Fix (size S, not maternity, very stretchy and so soft)

There you have it. Some tips and some inspiration (I hope). Let me know if you want any other tips/suggestions/inspiration. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Baby Girl Nursery Tour

I could wait until this room is "fully" finished with everything on the walls, but I decided against it. I did not fill up Vincenza's walls because we want to wait until she arrives before deciding what she has to like.
 
For now, her room is cozy and brightens my world until I can see her on the outside. Of course, she has already become the light of our lives. Last night, she and I spent several hours sitting in that new nursery chair. I tried ceaselessly to rock her to sleep. She decided 2:30-10:30 sounded like a great stretch of time to play...continuously. She already has her daddy's energy. Also, this kid amuses me on a daily basis. The midwife pokes my belly? She pokes back. The midwife straps monitors around me? She tries to kick them off. She needs attention? She sticks her behind up in the air. She has my need for her own space and her daddy's energy. Whew, what a combination.

Anyway, here is a tour of her room and what we did. We accomplished a lot. After all of the pictures, I will tell you what we did to create this little haven for her and where to find almost everything in the room.

 


 




It's not really a changing table; it's sold as a bookshelf. I wanted something that could grow with her, could work in another room of the house later on, and was a color that complemented (instead of clashed with) our gray crib. 


 




Before I tell you what we changed, let's take a look at the "before" picture of this room. Here is how the previous owners "decorated" it.  


What we did:
  • Painted: The walls are "Pink Sea Salt" by Behr (found at Home Depot). We use the Marquee paint, my favorite. I chose this color because it's more subdued and has a peach undertone. I did not want to feel as if we had splattered the walls in bubblegum pink. I did not choose gray for the walls because I knew the crib would be gray; that seemed like way too much gray. Plus, nearly the rest of our walls in the house are gray. She needed a little bit of color on her walls :)
  • Wood Accent Wall:  This wall exists for three reasons. One, we wanted to tie in our reclaimed wood headboard in the master bedroom with this room so that we could create some cohesion. Two, there used to be MDF faux wood paneling covering this wall, but it was in rough shape. When Jeff removed it, he found frightening walllpaper behind it. Rather than spend time removing wall paper and then painting the wall, we went with the wood wall. An accent wall breaks up the pink, which we didn't want to overwhelm the room. 
How's that for creepy wallpaper? Also, please note that Jeff found pages and pages of nudey magazines stuck between the faux wood paneling and the wallpaper. How appropriate for a nursery. HAHA.
  • Fan: Jeff installed a fan in her room because she will eventually need it. He found this one for about $50 at Home Depot.
  • Pot Lights: Jeff hooked up six pot lights in her room, so if she looooves light as much as her Mom and Mom Mom, then she will have plenty to spare in her room. 
  • New Wiring: To install the fan and pot lights, Jeff had to get rid of the aluminum wiring and replace it with copper. God bless that man. 
  • New Closet Light: I didn't want a boob light, but I did not want a chandelier nor did I want to spend an arm and a leg. This closet light was less than $50. It's Hampton Bay brand from Home Depot. 
  • New Windows: Our house was built in 1971, and the windows in her room were original to the house, which means they were single-pane and useless. In fact, we decided this winter that the windows needed to be replaced when we found frost on the inside of the windows. These windows are Andersen windows found at Home Depot. Really awesome windows.
  • Removed closet door: It kept banging into things and really serves no purpose, so we removed it. Maybe we'll put a curtain up later, but there really seems to be no need. 
Furniture/Nursery Details:
  • Curtains: Target (Circo brand--I wish I had gotten a plain color and longer curtains, but I threw away the packaging. It will just have to stay even though it might be too much chevron. WHATEVER.) 
  • Rug: Target
  • Glider: Babies R Us (Little Castle is the brand--find it here)
  • Blanket on glider: Handmade by my friend Carol
  • Ottoman next to glider: Amazon (great deal on it!)
  • Changing Table: Target (Threshold brand)
  • Changing Pad Cover: Babies R Us
  • Gray patterned totes in changing table: Walmart
  • White totes in changing table: Target
  • Sign above changing table: Hobby Lobby
  • Frames above changing table: Kohl's
  • Little Bookshelf: Target (Threshold brand)
  • White Shelf (on wood wall): Ikea (had it lying around not being put to use)
  • Crib: DaVinci via Kohl's (Courtesy of my momma)
  • Crib Bedding: Pottery Barn (Jeff's momma got this stuff.)
  • Personalized Blanket on crib: Pottery Barn (blanket behind that one was crocheted by my momma!)
  • Sign Above Crib: Handmade by my friend Kasey (follow her on Instagram: @sothereisthat)
  • Chair next to crib: Made by one of our sweet neighbors! 
  • Personalized Elephant Rocker: Pottery Barn (bought by my sweet friend Amy!)
  • Elephant Toy Chest: Target
  • Chalkboard: Kohl's
  • Elephant lamps: Gift
  • Nightstand: Refurbished a long time ago
  • Metal crate on nightstand: Target
  • Closet organizers (all of them): Target

Here are some things we plan to add along the way:
  • Growth chart, which we will stain the same color as her wood accent wall and place to the right of her crib
  • Under the white shelf on the wood accent wall, we will hang a "clothes line" of sorts to display pictures that she makes/colors or things that people make for her. 
  • To the right of the closet, we will hang a picture of a heffalump that my mom painted :) 
 Here he is. Isn't he cute?
  • Above the changing table, we will probably hang bows for her or maybe an organizer to accompany the changing table. We haven't decided yet, and I think it'll have to wait until she arrives before we can really decide what works best in that space. Maybe a mirror and a bow organizer?
  • In between the windows, I want the Dr. Seuss quote about reading because that little bookshelf will have all of her books on it. I just didn't want to climb my pregnant self up onto a ladder to get down the other books on the tall white shelf.
  • Above her crib, we will turn it into a gallery wall with pictures of her and pictures of us/family with her. The painting above the crib right now was painted by my talented friend Kasey! 
  • Since she has a walk-in closet, I eventually want to turn part of it into a little nook for her with a tent or drapes or something that makes it feel like a hideaway because what little kid doesn't want a fort in her room!?
I love this little reading nook I saw somewhere (can't remember where or I'd source it). This would be cool against her wood wall or even in another room of the house where she can have a little nook :) 

In the future, I will provide some tips and tricks I learned about creating a registry and saving money on certain items like the nursery chair, diapers, and etc.
























Thursday, August 6, 2015

Big Changes Ahead

I know many previous students follow my blog, so I dedicate a large portion of this post to them. First, however, let's begin with this outfit. Have you ever watched Mean Girls? If so, you understand me when I tell you that I feel like Regina George: "all that fits me right now are sweatpants." Thankfully, I received my August Stitch Fix box this week, and my stylist included this maxi skirt, which is not maternity, yet it fits my 37-week belly. Yes, we have reached 37 weeks, which means the little lady is considered "term" and can come any time she so chooses now. All of her organs are developed; she is just packing on the pounds at this point. If you have never tried Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link (for which I get a little kickback if you choose to sign up for a fix).

Second, take a moment to appreciate that my dogs actually sat and posed for pictures with me. This first picture with Squirt amuses me every single time I look at it. Roxy, on the other hand, has taken to listening much better. She also will not leave me alone, and she's taken up this strange habit of sniffing and licking my belly. I hope she doesn't think I'm giving birth to a marshmallow. Sorry, dog, you cannot eat this child.

Third, my husband bought me a new camera to celebrate my upcoming birthday and that whole becoming a mom thing, so yay for better pictures!

Finally, impending motherhood has taught me that life brims and overflows with bittersweet transitions. Of course, we must all remember, most importantly, to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. What works for one person and family does not work for just everyone. Thus, we decided as a family (after I hemmed and hawed for months on end) that the best road for our family to travel is my taking a leave of absence from the classroom. I did not make this decision lightly and, quite honestly, it is a decision with which I am still making peace because teaching has remained the crux of my life since I was four years old.

This career path, however, has not come without great sacrifice on my part as all great adventures do, of course. My long work days, my preoccupation with the welfare of other people's children, and my all-consuming love for this profession cost me friendships, quality time with my family, and even my health. Until I navigate this new role of motherhood, I need to take several steps back from teaching so that I can learn how to play mommy and how exactly teaching fits into this next stage in my life, in our lives. So, I am making my first sacrifice of many in parenthood. Since I still need and want to contribute an income to our family, I will be accepting tutoring jobs and exploring other options in education that allow me to pursue my passion while raising Vincenza.

Thank you to the thousands of students who have undoubtedly prepared me for motherhood; in fact, if you are reading this post and you have sat in my classroom, please know that you are one of the many reasons I wanted to become a mother in the first place. All of my students, even the wildly obnoxious ones, have brightened my tiny corner of the world, and even if I do not ultimately return to the classroom, my gratitude for all of you will extend far beyond the day I turn to dust.

The Outfit
The Skirt: Paper Moon via Stitch Fix
The Shirt: Old Navy maternity
The Necklace (old): Sonoma via Kohl's




Monday, August 3, 2015

Progress

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.
Note
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! :)