What to really expect when you’re expecting

Go for it. Buy the cutesy pastel coloured pregnancy books. But read this short little ditty too.  It’s high time you knew what to really expect when you’re expecting- especially past month 5 – as you embark on this journey.

It all starts sweetly enough….

Month One

1. You likely won’t know you’re “in the family way” unless you’ve been peeing on a test since the day you had sex. So you’ll just feel sluggish and lazy and people will say, “damn, you’re lazy this week!”

2. You’ll find that your nose involuntarily scrunches at certain foods and you’ll have no idea why.

Month Two

1. You’ll fall asleep all over yourself.  Anywhere, all the time, no matter what.

2. You’ll likely experience nausea a week or two into this month.

3. You’ll continue to scrunch your nose, but now you’ll know why and you’ll be uber elated or cussing.

Month Three

1. You’re not fitting into your pants but you’re not really showing so you’ll just look fat. That’s right, don’t bother sticking your stomach out to “seem” more pregnant than you really are. That will come soon enough…at which point you’ll be sucking your stomach in so that people can say “wow, really? You don’t look 5 months pregnant!”.

2. You’ll buy your first pair of maternity pants. If you’re knew to this, you’ll also buy just about everything the store happens to sell. You’ll gleefully fill in your name, email, social security number and blood type when asked for it because you could win a $50 gift card if you spend $100 or more the next time you shop at the same store.  And do you know why you will do this and check off “YES!” to receiving special promotions from partners? Because if you fill in that little card, you get to also write in that you’re having a baby on a specific date. You’ll get to write that it’s your first…you’ll practically pee yourself from the sheer excitement.

If you’re a pro, you’ll buy the one pair that will take you from work to dinner and two top’s max and when that overly friendly sap at the store offers you the deal for next time just by filling in the form, you will stare her down with that “do I look new to this?” look you’ll have naturally cultivated after receiving call after call and parcel after parcel of unwanted crap at home because you didn’t know better than to fill in the form that first time.

3. You’ll browse baby things here and there now that your head isn’t framed by the toilet and if you’re a first timer, you will buy a bevy of books on the subject of being pregnant, eating right when pregnant, exercising when pregnant, having sex while pregnant (in month 7 you’ll be seeking out that book on how to tell your husband he’d have more luck convincing a nun to have sex), naming your baby, baby proofing, and what gear you must, must, must, must have.

Month Four

1. You’ll sign up for every permutation of prenatal class there is and then only attend about 40%-60% of the sessions. Unless they were reaaally expensive. The lesson here is of course, spend a lot of money to ensure you go, or alternately, go for the cheapy classes so you don’t feel as bad for blowing them off to eat your way through the evening.

2. You’ll feel pretty darn great and excited and you’ll look good too unless you’ve been indulging in all the chocolate and fries you’ve been craving.

Month Five

This month is the same as month four. Read that one again.

Month Six

1. You’ll be aware that you should have been doing kegels at this point. You’ll also notice that your thighs and ass are rather rounded.

2. You’ll begin to think about the nursery and what you’ll need to bring baby home in. You’ll shop around for strollers, debating with yourself over the delux version – because your baby deserves the prettiest/coolest/most novel stroller, car seat, high chair, crib – or the model that does what it needs to do and has a big basket underneath without the fancy price tag. GO WITH THE BIG BASKET STROLLER. Go with the lightest stroller you can find. Go with the one that folds umbrella style so that you can actually fit it and other things in your trunk. In fact, don’t buy a stroller without discussing this with me first!

Month Seven

1. Your belly will look a little less cute a whole lot more, WTF?  Even the maternity clothes won’t be so cute anymore and if you are among the lucky ladies who have no choice but to ‘let ’em rip‘ the smell won’t embarrass you anymore. You’ll just shrug and tell people to walk away if they don’t like it.

2. You’ll be happy the day of delivery is coming and probably fend of the occasional panic attack if you’re prone to them. Your husband will start to stress as he realizes that a) he’s now officially a family man in the making, b) he’ll have another mouth to feed, c) you’re going to continue to be a bitch for another two months and then lead him through the tango of post-postpartum depression.

Month Eight

1. You’ll pee your pants each time you cough, sneeze and sometimes – just for the fun of it – simply for shifting position.

2. You’ll find that the baby effectively kicks you out of your own body and takes over. You will be able to identify personally with every alien movie wherein an alien bursts from the midsection of a human.  Those little “Awwwww”‘s you used to let out in month 5 and 6 whenever the baby moved or kicked will turn into “cut it out!” as you force a little foot, elbow or knee back “inside”.

3. Your husband or partner will become a good for nothing piece of sh-t (except my husband, who still rocks*) who did this to you and deserves all your rage…so you won’t feel badly for yelling, complaining, or being generally short tempered. Come to think of it, anyone who does anything that is not precisely as you would like it to be will be entirely at fault for said egregious action. Poor, poor you, dealing with these stupid people.

* A word about my husband. I’ve had the flu for over two weeks and before that experienced the torture of a dislocated and rotated pelvis which had me bed ridden for three weeks. This means that for essentially the last 5 weeks my husband, Al, has had to take over a TON of stuff with the girls, the house, work, the dog, feeding us and getting everyone where they need to be when they need to be there. So while I am within my god-given right to be awful given that I am 8 months pregnant with the flu, a sinus infection, and a still painful pelvis…I have to give it to him. He’s been a champ and I love him. But don’t tell him because he may use this against me somehow at sometime in our marriage.

Month Nine

[I probably ought to disclaim that I hate this month, so the tone may be more aggressive here. When you’ve hit this month you’ll know why]

1. By now you may have hemorrhoids (that’s when a piece of your lower intestine or bowl – feel free to correct me) hangs out of your ass.

2. You won’t see your vijayjay which means you can’t groom for the big day so someone will have to do it for you. This is more important than you think.  On the day you deliver, everyone will have stared at your lady parts before the delivery is through – the nurses, residents, students, your doctor or whatever doctor was on call and hell even the janitor if they happened to come in to remove the trash from your room.  Your only saving grace will be to look like you’ve got at least something put together as your face contorts in pain and you cuss everyone around you. So go get groomed. Besides, if you tear you’ll want as clean an area down there as possible AND when you bleed for weeks afterward, the clean up is muuuuuuch nicer if you don’t have curdled blood in your public hair.

On that note, I leave you to find a lovely lady who’ll do a Brazilian and have a great sense of humour while doing it.

A.

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Blow it out

Sucking and blowing and all that jazz.  Sounds fun, right?

More than fun, it’s imperative. Life affirming behaviour that you will be grateful to do when you’re congested.  Of course the sucking and blowing I’m referring to involves saline solution, a squeeze bottle…uh…wait. Perhaps I need to be clearer here.

Blowing your nose and sucking up saline water – again all about the nose –  in order to clear your sinuses is what I’m talking about.

Because as if the sinus infection/flu wasn’t bad enough, if you’ve had a kid or more, you get the added bonus of most likely wetting your pants anytime you cough or sneeze.   If you are 8 months pregnant with a flu/sinus infection and you sneeze, cough or basically shift position you will as a matter of course wet your pants – don’t talk to me about kegels – and know that you’re the reason I am sharing my pearls of wisdom.

There are few things you can take that are safe during pregnancy. Everything here you can do/use, pay particular attention to point #6.

So here is how you can alleviate your painful flu/sinus symptoms and get better sooner:

[Do note that I am not a doctor or health care practitioner of any kind that any advice/suggestions/tips you read here are not intended to replace the care you are given by the doctor of your choosing. I’m just a mom following the advice of a plethora of other moms who’s evidence of success is purely anecdotal].

Okay, with that out of the way, are you ready?

1. When you START to feel like you are coming down with something, whip out your neti pot or nasal bottle irrigation system as I like to call it and start doing multiple “rinses” throughout the day. I don’t care where you are – at the office, in the car, do it! You will hate you for not doing it if you get sicker. Don’t know what a neti pot is?

This is a neti pot. The one above is the model I have. You can find any number of different styles and you can buy them at any pharmacy.  The idea is that the warm water is poured into one nostril and (eventually) drips out the other nostril. Want to see it in action?

Or, how about neti-ing as a group? Because you know, why would you want to drip snot out of your face in private?

2. If you irrigated yourself as per step one and still got sick, bummer.  Double or triple (as per my naturopath whom I adore and am still heart broken over her move to Chicago) your Vitamin C intake. No more than 3000 mg per day until your stool (that’s poop) is soft.

When it softens it indicates that you’ve had enough and cut it back down to 1000 mg daily until you’re better. Other supplements that boost your immune system are: zinc. And, Heel, a naturopathic medicine company makes three cold/flu/sinus remedies that’ll knock your socks off. You can learn more about them here, most health food or natural health centers worth their while carry the line. This was my arsenal for attacking this bout of flu/sinus grossness:

This is for flu/cold symptoms.                 This is for sinus/rhinitis etc.

3. Steam your face over a pot of hot water – do not burn yourself, that would just suck even more – to loosen the mucous stuck in your face. Blow your nose and wash your hands. In fact wash your hands or at least sanitize them every time you touch your face.

4. DO NOT consume Dairy. It aggravates your mucous membrane making it worse. No: milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, cheese of any kind.

5. Take a lemon. Squeeze the juice into a glass and gargle with some of it. The rest of it, swallow (again, only swallow if you have not gargled with it, want to be clear here). If it’s too much for you to tolerate, add some warm water and honey to sweeten.

6. Moan and complain until friends and family bring you soup, pick up your kids and do laundry. If your husband is worth his salt, he’ll fill in the gaps and give you a much needed reprise so that you can recuperate. My husband is not available for sharing. He’s mine, allllll mine.  Ask someone else.

Feel well,

A.

Terror in Titty Town?

My cervix may be far from D day but my brain is not. I can’t seem to turn my thoughts away from the subject of boobs. Nursing. Nipples….more specifically pain and cracked nipples.

This is a very brief tale of woe of my initiation into breastfeeding and then a how to for doing it differently.

Learning to nurse Naya was excruciating.  She showed off for the nurses when they came in to help us start with latching and nursing at the hospital and then decided she wasn’t going to put the same effort into nursing at home.

My biggest mistake? When she latched on and it hurt, I used to rip her off of my breast. Then I’d let her fumble about as if she would know what to do on her own and got frustrated when it didn’t work…ending in yet another bad latch and yes, another ripping off.

You can imagine how long it took and how much pain and suffering we both endured. Another hugely painful mistake? Not using nipple cream after each nursing session while I healed.

God help me, I may have let her nurse through cotton on a couple of occasions because I swore my nipple would actually get torn off if I tried to remove the pad any more than I already had.

My mom, who didn’t nurse either my sister or myself repeatedly urged me to switch to a bottle and seemed both perplexed and annoyed that I insisted on keeping at it.

Like everything else that is part of becoming a parent, there is a huge learning curve involved.  Breastfeeding is something that needs to be learned to do.

It is as natural as having sex, but don’t go trying to tell me you got that perfect your first time out…or in…or out…you get the picture.

I was determined and in the end emerged victorious and proud because instead of surrendering I remained true to my belief that breast is best and found the way to do it. Naya and I suffered through three weeks of toe curling, tears down my face pain and then it was sweet and simple slurping from them on. She nursed until she was 11 months old.

With Sienna, I learned what it meant to experience a blocked duct. And I learned that to open said blocked duct when the warm shower massage doesn’t cut it involves a Dr. repeatedly pricking your nipple with a needle. Sound painful?  Know that it’s not nearly as painful as the blocked duct is. She nursed until she was 13 months old.

A word on pumping milk and using a bottle: if you can do it, power to you. I’m envious and happy for you all at once. I could likely get more milk out of my elbow than I ever managed to pump out of either breast. I knew the girls were nourished because they were thriving and growing, but if the piddly 1 oz of milk mocking me from the bottom of that little bottle where to be used as any kind of gauge, malnutrition would have been assumed. And that’s after over an hour of pumping with a Medela electric pump at the prime time of day to pump.

I’m over that now and relieved that Naya’s first words weren’t cusses. They easily could have been.

So with baby three, I thought it would be useful to remind myself and nursing mom’s everywhere about resources to get you – or keep you – on track with breastfeeding.

1) Be in the know.

There is a plethora of breastfeeding support to be found locally and online. If you’re a surfer girl, Breastfeeding.com, it’s a good place to begin as it has articles, forums and a fairly comprehensive Q&A with real and useful replies. For hands on, person to person information or support, ask your local hospital or health clinic if they know of groups or go online and search for “breast feeding support groups”.

You’ll find that there are probably a few organized groups where you can find other moms and get the information and support you seek.  Conduct a search for “Nursing Consultant” to find specialists who can come to you or answer your questions by phone.

Another phenomenal resource? Local or online mom’s groups or social groups for mom’s with babies and toddlers. Not only are you likely to get allll the best practical information, but a commiserating ear as well.

2) Recognize the signs that you need a pair of trained eyes on your boobs.

Hot and often red areas, tenderness or full on pain that makes you want to walk about topless everywhere, hard areas or masses. Get checked out. Call your GP, a lactation consultant, or walk into a clinic for assistance. This is important, can be serious, and trained help will significantly alleviate the issue and your nerves.

3) Creams/lubes & homeopathic remedies.

Taken orally or applied to the nipple aid in the healing of the skin if it gets sore, raw or down right cracked as you and your baby learn to nurse together. Where to get good stuff? Visit your local health store or nursing center.

Mom-centric cafe’s servicing mom’s with young babies often carry a couple of lines of better known and great quality options of lotions that are safe to use while nursing.

A brand I found useful in keeping the breast pad from sticking as I healed between nursing is Lanolin Breast feeding cream by Lansinoh. Another is Bag Balm. That’s right. Bag Balm…for udders. Shut up, it works look for the little green and red square tin.

Here’s hoping you can avoid a visit through titty town terror. Enjoy breastfeeding!

A.

What not to do when you’re expecting.

I thought I was doing myself a favour today when I called a spa here in town and asked whether they were able to fit me in for a massage and a facial. I had a vision of myself floating about a pretty spa in a robe with a serene and somewhat hazy smile on my face.

Every cell in my body released tension just as soon as my eyes connected with the proper prenatal massage pillows arranged on the table that would allow me to finally lie on my stomach.

The massage was blissful, soothing. So good in fact that I didn’t even care about the patch of hair on the backs of both my legs left there because I simply couldn’t reach that high up my thigh to wax it. That’s right my friend, it was that good. I was relaxed and at ease and when it ended I didn’t feel that it had been too short nor too long, it was just right.

Then it all went to shit.

I put on the robe. Don’t put on the robe.

The robe that promises to in and of it’s self deliver soothing feelings of lux pampering. The robe that feels nice until you see what your body – stuffed with a baby – looks like in the mirror. Suddenly, let’s say it’s less lux and more reflux as you wonder why there is such a disconnect between your lovely fantasy about how you would meander about the spa and how you actually waddle looking a good 20 extra pounds rotund than the 20 you actually are carrying around.

Next, don’t get a facial.  Lying on your back for an hour with a slew of creams slathered on your face is not nearly so refreshing or spa-ish when you’re in your third trimester. It will undo all the good the massage delivered. Your back will ache, the baby will be pressing against your bladder in such an acute way that you kinda want to let yourself just pee on the table and don’t only because you were raised right.

Instead, get a massage at a spa that guarantees they have prenatal pillows so that you can finally lie on your stomach without hurting yourself, the baby, or winding up with an elbow or knee in your ribs.

Get a pedicure and not only enjoy the deflating effect the massage creates but you also get to sit in a comfy chair sipping tea and leave with pretty, smooth toesies.

Get a make-up make-over with a high end line of cosmetics and take either a gloss or cheek stain home because the “glow” you may have now will be gone about two weeks after you deliver and are sleeping 1/2 a night.

Get a hotel room – alone or with hubby – and lie in bed watching movies and ordering room service. Sleep in and return rested and relaxed.

A.