I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. The day I first found there was a problem with my pregnancy my doctor was delivering babies. The day I didn’t see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, my doctor was on vacation and my husband was en route to San Francisco for a business event. The day I actually had the miscarriage, my hubby was in Washington, DC. When the nurse called to schedule my two-week follow up appointment, it made sense that she said, ‘Ohhh. Gosh. The week we need to get you in is the week the doctor is scheduled for jury duty.” Come on universe! Really?
I digress, however. Today, I want to share my follow-up appointment saga.
Because my doctor was out fulfilling her civic responsibilities (and for the record, “I have to deliver babies” is not a valid reason to be excused from jury duty in the great State of Ohio), I had to select, from among more than a dozen, another doctor in the practice. “Do you have a preference?” the scheduling nurse asked.
I requested the doctor a friend recommended and didn’t hold my breath for anything special. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the women who walked in the room and said, “It’s hard coming to our offices and seeing so many pregnant women and babies, isn’t it?”
Let me be really honest here. Her compassion wasn’t unprovoked. The nurse who called me in from the waiting room had the gall to ask “How are you?”
Well, after sitting in a waiting room full of glowing women in various stages of pregnancy, I was undeniably not OK. Through gritted teeth, I basically told the nurse about how sucky my life is right now. She was lucky to walk away without bruised shins.
I guess my reaction was a bit startling because she led me to a room right away and the doctor was knocking on my door within a matter of seconds. I can only imagine what the nurse must have said. Probably something along the lines of “We’ve got a situation in Room 2. Take your tranq gun.”
Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand and uncurling my lower lip, I nodded in acknowledgement of the doctor’s question and thought about apologizing for my emotional behavior. I decided against it and let her make the next move.
The doctor was blessedly calm. She’s what my friend would call ‘granola.’ You know. The type of person to wear Birkenstocks with socks and play an acoustic guitar after dinner and before reading Organic Gardening on her soy sheet set. In other words, exactly what I needed. (By the way, I have no idea if this doctor wears Birkenstocks or gardens organically but I would be willing to bet yes.)
We chatted for a bit and she jotted down notes as I recounted the events that landed me in that room on that day. She answered all of my questions, did an internal exam, ordered blood work and said, “There’s no reason to wait if you want to try again. You can start with your next cycle.”
“Let me clarify,” I said. “You mean, as soon as I get my period, I can stop using protection?”
Nodding, she said, “Yes. Your next cycle.”
For the first time in weeks I smiled. I was overjoyed. “Thank you. Thank you for your time and your patience.” I hurried out of the room nearly knocking over the nurse I initially almost knocked out. I went to the lab to have my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) draw and then made the good news call to my husband.
The excitement of that visit lasted just over 24 hours. I got a call the next day from my doctor’s nurse. “Your HCG is still at 13. We need to make sure it gets to zero. Can you come back for more blood work in two weeks?”
I was devastated. I am devastated. How can this be? I’m not pregnant but the pregnancy hormone is still in my blood?
“It can take some women a long time to drop to zero,” the nurse explained over the phone.
“Well, what if it doesn’t drop?” I asked.
“We have no reason to believe it won’t,” she said. “We just like to make sure it gets to zero.”
Through more probing I was able to find out that some women require an “intervention” if the numbers don’t continue to fall. The nurse didn’t care to elaborate on what exactly an intervention entails. Left to my own imagination, I pictured a cold hospital room and machines that beep. I hope I don’t have to find out.
No matter how much you wanted to get pregnant, no matter how much you felt like your life would never be complete if you never had a baby, you could very well be sitting there, pregnant, wondering if there’s anyway to just take it back.
There is nothing like listening to every parent (and their mother) tell you how you should get sleep now while you can, or how difficult labor will be for you, or how your life will never be the same, to make you question your initial intention. This is not to say that you’ve never thought of these things before. You’re no idiot. You’ve always known that a baby would mean a decreased social life, sex life, mental capabilities, etc. But now you’re in it. You’re pregnant. There’s no turning back. And suddenly you feel… scared.
If you express to someone that you’re afraid of the delivery the most calming thing they might be able to say to you is, “it’s coming out one way or another”. And that’s sort of a good motto for this whole shebang: you’re going to be a mother one way or another. It’s a done deal. And you know what? Most people would bet money that you’re gonna love it. You may even be lying there in the delivery room and when the doctor tells you to give one… last… push you might turn to her and say, “I’m scared to be a mother”, and she’ll probably just smile at you (knowing you have no choice in the matter now) and say, “You’ll be fine”. Because you will.
Many women have these feelings of “Wow, I wanted it so badly, but now that it’s actually coming, I don’t know if this is for me anymore” but they don’t really talk about it. It’s taboo, or irrational, or ungrateful, or immature, or… It’s normal. It probably just means you are one of the few women who truly understands what a big deal this is you’re getting yourself into. You’re no dreamer… you’re a realist. You’re one big, beautiful, hormonal realist.
No matter who you are, or how great your six-figure income personal trainer is, your body is going to change when you get pregnant. Being in the society we’re in, and being ladies who like to look our best, getting a thicker tush or squishier thighs is certainly something we like to avoid. But that’s one of the sacrifices, right? You wanted a baby, you gotta live with the consequences. (This attitude, of course, doesn’t make us feel the slightest bit better). Here are ten tips to help you be happy with that changing body of yours.
You may feel like Stuart Smalley doing it, but stand in front of the mirror (naked) and tell yourself you look great (even if you don’t believe it).
If you’re short on cash, go to the local Wal-K-Tar-Mart and find the cheapie stuff. Just buy yourself something you like, so even if you don’t like what’s inside, you’ll like what’s outside.
Again, even Ms. Angelina Jolie had to leave a button or two undone when she was pregnant. You’re supposed to gain weight – so bump that size up a notch!
Sappy, sappy, but feels good anyway. You may not look like you did before, but hold that baby or rub your tummy and know what a sweet deal you’re getting.
Chances are, you just might. Most people are bad liars, and some even tell it like it is. So don’t ask the question if you can’t handle the truth.
“I just had a baby! Of course I look this way!” Anyone who looks at you and wonders how you could be pregnant or just had a baby and be a bit heavier is a big… dumb… idiot… completely.
You know those magazines that show off how preggie celebs look better now than they did before? Just ignore them. Stop comparing yourself. Speaking of Ms. Jolie, she has her own personal chef, trainer, masseuse, acupuncturist, Photoshop editor, liposuction doctor (not known as fact, just speculation, please don’t sue), and nutritionist –don’t compare your ability to keep your body in great shape with someone in her workout shoes.
While you’re looking in the mirror complimenting yourself, do not (again, do not) start tugging at the rolls to see if they’ve gotten bigger. Cut it out. Seriously.
Fake it till you make it. Dress like the woman who’s got it all, and you just might start to feel like her.
You can always be fatter. Congratulate yourself for doing as well as you have.
A very pregnant and wise woman said, “You know you’re really pregnant when you have to consider the importance of the dropped object on the floor before opting to pick it up.”
Getting big and lopsided is a given in your pregnancy. But what else can you really expect? Your mother will tell you that heartburn will hit around month six, while your co-worker will warn you against the round ligament pain that will haunt you at month four. Perhaps you’ll be standing in the post office one day, innocently trying to mail a Christmas package to your ailing Great Aunt Enid when the woman behind you on line threatens you with the dreaded spider veins of the third trimester and how they still cover her legs to this day, twenty-something years later. She also doesn’t refrain from asking you in her “inside voice” amidst a line of strangers if you intend on having an episiotomy. (There is no more decorum of privacy when you’re as big as a small woodland cottage).
Will you get heartburn at the same time as your mother? Will Braxton-Hicks contractions bring you to your knees? Not necessarily. Most women enjoy regaling pregnant women with their experience as expectant mothers. It’s not far from the Al Bundy’s of the world who just can’t let go of the play he made in the last big football game in high school. But we like it – for the most part, we enjoyed being pregnant, we’re excited for you, and a part of us wishes we could do it all over again (well, maybe not all of it). The fact is, however, that just because friendly post office lady had spider veins, doesn’t mean you’ll get them. And just because your mother is a blood relative, doesn’t
mean you’ll inherit her heartburn. Pregnancy is the one medical phenomenon where everyone (and their mother) is an expert. Perfect strangers will see you buying smoked salmon and interrupt your shopping to say you can’t eat fish, when the reality is that you can eat it in moderation. Someone at the gym will tell you not to hurt your baby when
they see you working out your leg muscles.
The rule of thumb – don’t believe anything anyone tells you about your pregnancy. It’s your pregnancy. It’s your body. So unless they’re wearing a white lab coat and walk around with people calling them “doctor”, take it all with a grain of salt.
So what should you expect? You should expect the most common and bizarre things to start happening to your body; maybe nausea in the first trimester, maybe some back pain in the third. Your gums may start bleeding profusely when poked too much – enlarging reproductive organs require more blood flow in order to feed the baby, so the amount of blood must also increase (usually between 25 to 40 percent). You may get a yeast infection in the second trimester – increased sugar in the vaginal secretions on which yeast can feed may cause an imbalance, leading to too much fungus. (On that note, there is no such thing as TMI when talking about pregnancy).
If it’s happening when you’re pregnant, it’s probably normal. But if it’s debilitating, bright red, or has a funny odor, call your doctor. And most of all – fear nothing, but expect anything.
My first pregnancy didn’t go quite the way I planned. I came from a line of women who couldn’t say enough good things about their pregnancies. My mother and grandmother always told me that they felt their best when they were pregnant. Naturally, I thought my pregnancy would be the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
For the first six months I experienced what has erroneously been called “morning sickness”. The error in this label lies in the word “morning” as this sickness can last all day or hit you unexpectedly at any time of the day. It was not at all attractive.
Towards the end of my third trimester, I was finally able to keep food down. I felt stronger and happier. It was nice to be able to indulge in some of the yummy treats many women crave during pregnancy. I still lacked energy, but I reasoned this was just a result of my getting bigger. I figured my last trimester would be a breeze.
Then the results of my routine glucose screening tests came back. My numbers were higher than normal. I returned to the lab for a glucose tolerance test which confirmed glucose intolerance. My numbers were just shy of the diabetes mark. At first I felt relieved, but my OB/GYN said since I was borderline, I had to treat it as gestational diabetes. The only difference was I didn’t have to prick my finger four times a day as long as I was able to manage my weight gain through proper diet and exercise. Great.
According to the American Diabetes Association, (ADA) gestational diabetes affects 4% of all pregnant women. It is one of the most common health problems in pregnancy. It begins when our bodies are not able to produce and use all the insulin we need during pregnancy. When gestational diabetes is left untreated, our pancreas works overtime to produce the insulin needed to support us and the development of our growing babies. While insulin does not pass into the placenta, glucose does. The increased amount of glucose puts stress on the baby’s pancreas to create more insulin to get rid of the extra blood glucose. As a result the baby gets more energy than it needs and this extra energy is stored as fat. Babies with excess insulin at birth face a number of health risks including breathing problems, and macrosomia.
I had my nutritionist explain this to me about three or four times. If only I had Dr. Swaim’s explanation in the podcast referenced below, I may have grasped it quicker. The bottom line was I needed to stick to a specific diet or my health and the health of my baby would be at risk.
The diet itself wasn’t bad. It was basically portion control and balancing the right amount of carbohydrates throughout the day. But the last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is the word “diet”. At first I focused on all the things I couldn’t eat. What was I going to do with that wonderful bag of peanut butter cups in the pantry? How would I get by without potato chips? Is life worth living without cookies n cream? I realized quickly that if I was going to succeed, I had to turn all my negatives into positives.
At first glance this may not look like much of a positive. Who wants broccoli when you’re salivating for Doritos? I’m very competitive though. So I made my mind over and convinced myself that this was a game – and I had to win it. Every day I made it my aim to eat all five of my servings of fruits and vegetables. To my surprise this made it easier for me to make better food choices.
This was my opportunity to feel like I was eating more rather than eating less. Eating more often during the day kept me feeling full and I didn’t overindulge at dinnertime – nighttime eating has always been my downfall. In that last month, these regular snacks really helped to chase away the crankies.
I had to let go of my grudge against healthy foods. A handful of almonds paired with a cup of fruit or applesauce was my snack of choice. And it really was yummy – no, not yummy as chocolate or ice cream is yummy, but it did the job most of the time. I also found that indulging in a sugar-free Jell-o pudding snack cup or a “Baby Needs Chocolate” Belly Bar helped out when the chocolate cravings were just too much.
My late pregnancy was in the winter, so we took advantage of our local mall and just walked circles around it. It sounds monotonous, but it was a great opportunity to talk about the baby, what we looked forward to, what we weren’t looking forward to, our hopes, and our fears. It really helped us to stay connected as a couple and fortified us for the change we had ahead.
Sounds cheesy, yes, but it really did help. I felt I had gotten a head start on Mommyhood which is full of sacrifices and making changes in my lifestyle for the sake of baby. Of course, pregnancy alone does this for any Mommy to be, but this mindset kept me motivated on the rougher days.
By following the diet and including regular exercise in my weekly activities, I found myself having more energy – in a relative sense of course, it is true that pregnancy takes a lot out of us. At 41 weeks I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. In the end, whatever I endured during my pregnancy was well worth it. My gestational diabetes went away immediately, but I found the strategies of the diet to be a sensible way of eating that I try to continue to this day.
For more information about gestational diabetes, its causes, symptoms and treatment visit:
It was at “my” baby shower when I first realized that dads are often pushed to the side during pregnancy. I was surrounded by family and friends who wanted to know how my pregnancy had been. Had I experienced morning sickness? Did I feel the baby kicking yet? Did I have any strange cravings?– I watched my typically extroverted husband withdraw from the conversation, grabbing a handful of peanuts and a cigar before heading for the porch swing – alone.
I felt sad for him, though I wasn’t quite sure how to draw him into the conversation, especially as he was the only man at the shower. I let him smoke his cigar in peace as I talked about what it was like to suddenly detest coffee during the first trimester and described how much I was enjoying the second trimester. I told my captive audience about the sonogram- how the technician couldn’t determine whether our baby was a boy or a girl because it moved around so much its sex wasn’t immediately evident.
Francisco had shared every single one of those events with me. He’d rubbed my back as I stood over the toilet, dry heaving the breakfast I couldn’t keep down. He’d tried different teas as coffee substitutes. And he’d been with me at the sonogram, tearing up as he watched our baby moving around and as he heard the technician say, “Your baby looks perfect.”
As the pregnancy went on, I noticed that this tendency to push men aside occurs a lot and it troubled me. If we expect men to be full partners and parents in our families, why don’t we treat them as equals during pregnancy, labor, and delivery?
I asked that question on my blog and elicited some howling protests in response. “Because women are the ones who carry the baby and it’s hard work!” said one commenter. True. But that doesn’t mean that your male partner isn’t having his own experiences of pregnancy, labor, and delivery: he is. And he’s usually experiencing them alone.
Involving your partner in all stages of getting ready to welcome your baby to the world not only makes him feel involved, it makes your experiences of pregnancy, labor, and delivery more fulfilling, too. Here are a six ways to make sure your partner gets included:
By accompanying you to your prenatal appointments, your partner has the opportunity to ask your midwife or obstetrician questions that may be on his mind that you haven’t considered. And most midwives and obstetricians welcome the partner’s presence- they realize that he is a vital support and that he’s likely to remember information and perform tasks that you can’t.
Whoever perpetuated the notion that men don’t like to talk should be sentenced to talk with a man whose partner is expecting. When their partners are pregnant, men are confronting all sorts of anxieties and excitements, but they rarely have anyone to share them with. Make time to talk with your partner and ask how he’s experiencing the pregnancy. Ask how he wants to be involved in the labor and delivery.
Some men want to be present for the birth of their children; other’s don’t. Long before your due date, you and your partner should have a conversation about what you both want, and should make a birth plan that clearly defines the roles of both partners. The plan doesn’t have to be formalthough it could benor does it have to be shared with anyone else.
My husband wasn’t thrilled that we had to spend two beautiful weekend days in a birth preparation class, but afterward we both agreed that what we’d learned was valuable and that the time was well spent.
Once you’re aware of the extent to which he wants to be included, defend his right to be present. At the shower, I could have brought Francisco into the conversation by inviting him to talk about the experience of the sonogram.
Whether it’s a dinner for just the two of you, or projects you work on together in anticipation of your child’s birth (keeping a baby book or decorating a nursery, for instance), don’t let the excitement of a new baby keep you from nurturing the relationship you share.
As you draw closer to your due date, your caregivers might have asked if you have written or created a birth plan. A birth plan is a communication tool that is used by everyone involved with your labor and the birth of your baby. Your birth plan effectively puts everyone on the “same page” when it comes to you and your partner’s preferences regarding the different options available to you during the course of your labor, birth and even after-care of your baby.
Why write a birth plan? First, it allows you and your partner to get in sync with one another before your baby’s birth. Creating a plan will give you a chance to bring up any fears, strong desires, etc. that you may have not talked about up to this point. It also allows you to create a “team approach” with your caregivers. More than likely, different people involved with your labor, delivery and aftercare. As new caregivers join in to assist you, they will be able to know your preferences no matter what stage you are in.
Of course, a birth plan is not a set of orders to be followed, but it does give you reminders as to what is important in an ideal birth situation. To get started, make sure you and your partner have some time to talk about your ideal birth story. Read up on the subject and/or take a childbirth class with your partner so that you are aware of all options available to you. Once you have a rough-draft, schedule time to review your birth plan with your care provider. They can suggest any changes based on hospital guidelines, etc. When your final birth plan is complete, make sure that you have copies for yourself, additional support persons/doula and your caregiver. It is also helpful to pack an additional one in your hospital bag for the caregivers that will be attending to you.
A birth plan should include the following:
Your birth plan will be best received when it is kept short and sweet. Too much wording is hard for caregivers to read and discern what is truly important to you. Short and direct sentences or “bullet points” allow all of those involved to quickly reference your preferences at each step. Keep in mind that a birth plan are your wishes under normal birthing circumstances. Labor is unpredictable and the birth plan should not be a list of orders that restrict the caregiver’s ability to keep you and baby healthy.
Not sure where to get started? There are some great birth plan templates available on the web to choose from. Because they can get lengthy covering so much material, it is a good idea to print one out, make the selections you desire and then type those preferences to create your own birth plan.
Just when you were getting used to wearing compression stockings for varicose veins on your legs, the pregnancy police blindsides you with yet another secret; hemorrhoids. Yes ladies, the hemorrhoid is actually a varicose vein that makes its lovely appearance on your rectum. And, you thought your belly would be the only place to grow a bump. You may be asking what causes these painful little guys to appear and why are they so darn itchy?
By now you are wondering how you can treat and prevent these horrible buggers from ever occurring again. Below is a list of ways to comfort your symptoms as well as tips for changing your lifestyle so that they never come back.
Hemorrhoids usually get better with the methods above, but if not you may need to seek out a specialist for treatment. Although rare, minor surgery may be required to correct the problem.
The recent passing of the health care bill has been big news this week. While there are those who are thrilled with the news and those who are less than excited, one thing remains true – in form or another, this bill will have an affect on every person in some form or another. However, it can be hard to cut through all of the excess and figure out the hard facts.
A question many pregnant women are facing today is:
How will the health care bill affect my pregnancy?
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has been quoted saying that the bill features help for women’s health care issues: “It’s personal for women. After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition.”
Immediate Effects For Women:
Read more about how the health care bill affects women at Forbes.com.
Check out The Washington Post for a calculator to find out how the health bill will affect your health care costs.
According to March of Dimes, over twenty percent of women experience some form of depression symptoms during their pregnancy. Treatment for these symptoms is very important to ensure the safety of the mother and baby. However, some anti-depressants are known to have negative side-effects for pregnant women. No wonder the blogosphere has been abuzz lately with news that depression during pregnancy may be offset by acupuncture treatments. A recent study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that women treated with depression-specific acupuncture had a 63 percent response rate compared to a 44 percent response rate in women treated with control acupuncture or massage. Dr. Shari Lusskin, director of reproductive psychiatry at the New York University Langone Medical Center, while excited about the new findings mentions that this is not an end-all cure. “This is one treatment, and perhaps it will become another possible treatment tool in our therapeutic toolbox,” said Lusskin. “Acupuncture is not a substitute for the appropriate use of antidepressant therapy especially in women with a prior history of response to antidepressants.”