Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scary statistic

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women who get swine flu are at least four times as likely to be hospitalized as other people with the virus, a new study says. Here's the Chicago Tribune article: Study: Pregnant women with swine flu more than 4 times as likely to be hospitalized. I still think that the vaccine is scarier than the flu, but this is the closest I've ever been to getting a flu shot.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's in YOUR water?

Amounts vary depending on who is dishing out the advice, but pregnant women are told to drink 2-4 liters of water per day.  Since contractions can be brought on by dehydration, it’s especially important to drink enough water.  Now that I’m putting this much water in my body, I’m suddenly concerned with the source of my water.    I have a safe (BPA- and aluminum-free) water bottle made out of stainless steel in which I store my water (I ditched my aluminum Sigg water bottle recently in favor of the Steel Works Sigg here).  But what about the water that goes in my safe water bottle- is it as safe as it can get?

At home, I filter water with a Pur water filter that I fill with City of Chicago tap water.   Although Chicago water meets or exceeds all safety standards, a July 14 Chicago Tribune article about safety tests conducted on Chicago water claims that  according to results posted on the city's Web site, the tests found small amounts of the sex hormones testosterone and progesterone; gemfibrozil, a prescription cholesterol-fighting drug; ibuprofen, an over-the-counter painkiller, and DEET, the active ingredient in bug spray.

The tests also found caffeine, nicotine and cotinine, a nicotine byproduct, all of which researchers consider to be indicators of pharmaceuticals from human waste.”  That’s scary! 

So what about tap water at work?  I could just fill up my water bottle there, right?  But the water smells and tastes more like chlorine than the Chicago tap water does, and it’s sourced from Lake Michigan, too, so it can’t be much better- and it obviously had plenty of chlorine in it, which some studies link to formation of carcinogenic compounds.  Not to mention that the chlorine makes it taste horrible.

At work, we also have a Hinkley water cooler- a solution? Not quite.  Besides the environmental costs of bottling and transporting water, there's a health catch, too.  The 5 gallon water bottles going into the cooler are made with #7 plastic, the same number as water bottles containing dangerous BPA.  While their website doesn't say that the bottles contain BPA, it does present an argument that BPA is safe according to the FDA.  Pretty ridiculous.  

Once I realized that the Hinkley bottled water at work is bottled in plastic containing BPA, I started to wonder about that plastic Pur water filter sitting in my fridge.  Is it safe?  According to the Consumer Research website, both Pur and Brita filters do not contain BPA.  Phew!  When I went to check the Pur website for myself, I actually found a great surprise- according to Pur, a Pur water pitcher is able to remove 96% of pharmaceuticals from tap water.  That's fantastic!

I'm now counting on my filtered tap water to be the safest option since it is supposedly BPA-free and lower in pharmaceuticals.  But what a research project getting to that conclusion!  Who knew pregnancy would turn me into an investigative journalist?  

Bottoms up!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chicago Weekend

We've had a great summer in Chicago kind of weekend!  Friday night, Tyler and I stayed in with Thai take out and a movie.  Tyler and I woke up early Saturday.
I did some prenatal yoga, and then allowed myself some TLC with a prenatal massage at a nearby day spa.  Oh, my goodness!  My lower back feels like new again!  It is amazing how much of a lasting difference it makes by loosening my muscles and getting rid of the knots that accumulate with all the bending over at work.  I feel amazing now!
When I got back, Tyler, Tiana, Mico and I went to the Wicker Park Fest that is going on on Milwaukee Avenue right outside our door.  Here are pics of me heading out the door:
And here's the view of my belly from above- it looks huge to me!
The Wicker Park Fest has some really cool vendors- I almost bought a purple tye dye onesie with a felt flower on it-  as well as live music on 3 stages and booths from great local restaurants.  Tyler and Tiana split tamales and beef tacos and chips a guac, and I had BBQ seitan tacos with mixed greens and a frozen chocolate covered banana.  Yum!
Later in the afternoon, we went over to Lincoln Park Fest on Lincoln Avenue to meet up with Matt (the best man in our wedding) and some other friends.  We went up to the roof deck of a friend's place that had a great view of the skyline.
We really liked the Wicker Park Fest better, though- cooler crowd, better food, better music- so we ended up heading back to our 'hood, where we met up with Mark and Todd and hung out.  This morning, Tyler and I walked Mico to our favorite local coffee shop and then went to the dog park and the Wicker Park Farmer's Market.  I picked up some zucchini bread, 9 grain bread, beautiful white double lilies (Tyler's favorite flower because they're so fragrant), and heirloom tomatoes.  When we got home, I made the most delicious tomato sandwiches- the kind you only get in the heart of summer when the tomatoes are still warm from the sun and the fresh bread toasts just right.  Add some fresh cracked pepper and sea salt and it's beautiful.  Mmmm...
I'm off to read a new book I got at the library about the history of birthing in the US while Tyler gets some work done, and then we're going out to Wheaton for dinner.  Great weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Catching up...

This week has been a scary one for us.  That funny movement I felt Sunday night?  Looking back, I think it was a contraction- the first of many I've had this week.  Monday, Baby Girl was much quieter than she normally is, but I didn't think much of it and fully expected her to bounce back to full kicking mode the next day.  But then Tuesday, I didn't feel a single kick.  I was very aware when she didn't kick after my morning protein smoothie.  Then after lunch of hot and sour soup, she didn't kick either.  After the kids leave school, I usually grab a snack and relax a bit at my desk, a time when baby girl kicks every day and has since I first started feeling her kick.  Tuesday, though, I felt nothing.  I even ate some extra sugar to see if I could get her going, but nothing.  
I called Jennifer and expressed my concern.  She said that at 23 weeks, the baby is likely making movements that I just can't feel, but if I was worried, I could come in for a non-stress test at 5:45.  I stopped at home first to let Mico outside and ate a chocolate-covered greens bar (as in green leafy vegetables- but all covered in chocolate!), the most sugary thing I had in the house.  When I got to my appointment, Jennifer hooked me up to a monitor (I had straps holding cords to my belly) to record the baby's movements and heart rate and any patterns between the two.  The greens bar kicked in (who am I kidding, it was the chocolate) and baby started moving a little bit, the first movements I had felt all day.  It was such a relief!  That is, until Jennifer looked at the recording and told me I was having contractions (a lightbulb went off in my head- THAT's what some of those feelings  were!  I wasn't feeling all of them, but I knew exactly when I had had at least a few that day).  Jennifer called Rush Hospital's Labor & Delivery to tell them I'd be coming in and sent me to the ER.
I debated but decided I should really call Tyler, who was out of town, and tell him what was happening, so I did- and of course, he was extremely upset.  He called Tiana and then called me and said, "If I can't be there with you, the least you can do for me is let Tiana go in my place so I know that you are being taken care of and that you're okay."  (Is he not the best ever?  If that line was in a movie, it would make me cry.  I love him!!!)  So I picked up Tiana and she drove me the rest of the way to the hospital.  Having her there was great- she helped me keep laughing through the whole process of signing in and being taken up to OB in a wheelchair and laying in bed while they monitored me.  Without her, it would have been much scarier.  Thank you so much, Tina!
At the hospital, my contractions stopped on their own.  They ran a few tests, did an exam to be sure I wasn't dilated (I wasn't), did and ultrasound that showed that the baby was big and healthy, and then monitored me for several hours (Baby Girl was 1 pound 6 ounces!!!  That's really big for her gestational age!  At least we know she's well nourished!).  Very late that night, I was released and Tiana and I went home.  There wasn't really a final diagnosis, even though that is what everyone in the family really wants- an answer to "So what was wrong?"  They were real contractions, but they stopped, and as long as I'm not dilated and they don't continue,  I'm okay.  In the future, if I feel 4 contractions in an hour, I'm supposed lay down and drink a quart of water over the next hour.  If that doesn't end the contractions, then I go to the hospital.  If I have another day in which Baby Girl isn't moving, I should contact Jennifer, have her check me out again, and go to the hospital if necessary.
I called Mom and Dad while I was being monitored, and they decided to come stay with me that night since Tyler wasn't home.  It was really good to see them and it felt great to have them taking care of me.  I stayed home Wednesday to rest and catch up on sleep after being in the hospital half the night, and I'm so glad I did.  Since then, I've been really trying hard to take it easy.  I've had a few contractions here and there, but never four in an hour, much less 8 in two hours.  It's not unusual to have Braxton-Hicks contractions even this early on, so that may be what I'm experiencing.  
Baby Girl has been kicking since then, though, which is more reassuring than words can explain.  I always liked feeling her kick, but now every single little movement feels great and I appreciate every one.  Last night when Tyler got home, we ate dinner and sat in front of the tv watching this week's Top Chef: Masters with his hand on my belly, feeling the kicks.  Today, she's been back to her super active self, kicking away to the point that my shirt is moving.  I've been giving her pep talks all week: You are staying in there until November, Baby Girl!  You are not ready to come out yet!  Once we get to November, then you can come out!  The first born is supposed to be naturally obedient, right?
Hopefully this will be the last post mentioning the hospital until November.  Did you hear that, Baby Girl?

Monday, July 20, 2009

23 weeks!

Today marks 23 weeks!  4 more weeks remaining in the second trimester.  If you're comfortable imagining my uterus,  it is now the size of a soccer ball.  It's come a long way considering that it started out the size of a tightly closed fist!  Last night when I laid down in bed, Tyler and I got a pretty good feel for how big our baby girl is.  She must have turned a somersault front to back because suddenly, I felt a tightness as I felt  her move and when I reached down to touch my stomach, it felt like I had a 16 inch softball one one side.  It was so weird!  Within a couple seconds, she moved out of whatever crazy position she was in and went back to her normal movements.   It was certainly a strange feeling!
One major milestone in baby's development is that she now has a good sense of movement and orientation.  Tyler and I are going to do some dancing next weekend!  Someone has actually done a study that found that if a mother listens to music in 3/4 time, like a polka or waltz, while pregnant, the newborn baby will respond more favorably to music with the same beat.  Same goes for a woman who listens to music with 4 beats per measure.  Maybe we'll aim for variety.  So far, baby girl must be wondering what is going on when I am at work, dancing to the music with the kids each day.  Every time we play a jumping song, I think of her wondering what Mama is doing.  Even with my adapted "teacher jump," in which I bounce on my toes rather than jumping, it must be quite a sensation.  Baby girl had a nice treat tonight, though- a nice long prenatal yoga session.  The baby is supposed to benefit from increased abdominal space during stretches and increased oxygen in the blood stream.  My little one also seems to be most active when I am least active and relaxing.  Needless to say, she kicked throughout.  Maybe she'll be a soccer player.

Sweet Dreams

I had a dream last night about my daughter! In my dream, I went from being pregnant and going into labor pretty much straight to the baby popping out- I got to skip the labor part. I held my little girl, breastfed her, and she fell asleep in my arms. Then all the sudden, she was about 8 months old, and then suddenly 2 years old, and then 3 years old- growing up way too fast. But talking to other parents, that's how it feels, right? Like they grow up too fast and it goes by, dream-like, in the blink of an eye? When my alarm went off, I woke up and smiled anyway.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More pictures!

Pictures of me at 23 1/2 weeks:
My bump is getting bigger!  I've gained 10 pounds so far, which is right where I should be for being 5 1/2 months pregnant.  From here on out, I should be gaining about 1 pound per week.  At my midwife appointment on Thursday, Jennifer went over details about my 20 week ultrasound (that seems like so long ago!).  Apparently, baby girl is in the 91st percentile for size.  I immediately asked if that was a bad thing, and Jennifer's exact reaction was "Well, the way I look at it, somebody has to be in the 91st percentile."  As long as I'm watching my sugar intake, I should be able to avoid gestational diabetes and not have any issues.  I guess I'm just having a big ol' baby!  At least I know she's healthy, growing, and receiving all the nourishment she needs- and maybe a little more.
I have 120 days to go until my due date.  This week at Whole Foods, while buying more prenatal vitamins, I realized suddenly that the bottle of 150 vitamins would definitely last me longer than the rest of my pregnancy.  It was a strange feeling to know that some of those vitamins I was holding in my hand would be nursing vitamins rather than prenatal vitamins.
Tyler laughed when he saw the picture above with my belly out and said it just looks like I'm puffing out my stomach.  Today we walked to the coffee shop, the dog park, and the farmer's market, where we picked up some squash blossoms for dinner (yum!).  Tyler's doing an amazing job taking care of me, helping out when he's at home, always making certain I'm eating enough, and keeping me laughing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big topics

What is one of the scariest topics you can bring up in conversation with a pregnant lady?  Large babies.  My friend Susannah just had one at 9 pounds 13 ounces.  That is scary.  Throw in 22 hours of labor and c-section- terrifying.  She is my newest hero!!!

Worth a Thousand Words

I try to take a picture of my belly each week.  Watching my belly expand is like watching a puppy grow- when you see it more often, you aren't shocked by how much it's grown.  This week, though, I messed up.  I didn't take a picture Monday and when I woke up Tuesday, I swear, I had grown significantly overnight!  I wish I had taken a picture Monday just so that I could compare it to Tuesday.  The change was unreal.  I have felt recently like I'm getting bigger quickly, which makes sense as the baby is reaching a stage in which she'll be putting on weight rapidly, more than doubling her weight in the next couple weeks.  Having a tummy is such a strange feeling.  It feels in some ways like an extra appendage that just showed up one day but keeps growing, now keeping me further away from the kitchen sink and preventing me from leaning over the bathroom counter to apply mascara each morning.  Sometimes, it barely feels like it's my body, as if it's a prosthetic, even when I touch it- but then baby girl will kick and it's clear that the bump is connected to me.  I think those pictures are as much for my own benefit as for everyone else.  If I see pictures of myself, perhaps I won't be as startled when I see my reflection in the mirror a few days later and a little bit bigger.
On a separate note,  I learned tonight how to send blog updates from my phone using text messages and email!  That means I can send pictures from my phone right away and update more frequently with shorter updates.  We'll see how it works.  There might be an adjustment period while I get used to the blog access.  I guess this really means there's no excuse for a lack of pictures, huh?

Monday, July 13, 2009

22 Weeks!

126 days until my due date!  I'm still feeling generally great and enjoying this break between morning sickness and the discomfort of being huge.  I have, though, had calf cramps for the first time in my life, despite the banana in my daily protein smoothie.  I was planning on researching leg cramps in pregnancy to see what I might be able to do to prevent them, but then in my inbox this morning was my weekly pregnancy update from babycenter.com that included this: 
Surprisingly, those excruciating leg cramps that have you waking up in the middle of the night clutching your calves may be caused by your back and aggravated by changes in the circulation in your legs as your uterus enlarges. To compensate for supporting the increasing load in the front, the curvature of the spine changes during pregnancy so that the lower portion of the back is pushed forward. This posture frequently pinches the motor nerve which runs from the spine down the leg — and that pinching is what causes leg cramps, according to Mark Taslimi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Prenatal yoga or any gentle stretching of the back and hips may help ease the pain.
This would explain why the bananas aren't working- it's not a lack of potassium!  Even if I don't have a pinched motor nerve, simply the change in posture explains why I might have tighter calves than normal.  I think it's really interesting to learn about how and why my body is changing.  When the changes have meaning, it's easier to appreciate them instead of just dealing with them.  The leg cramps are a perfect example- they aren't anything horrible and I was dealing with them (and considering myself blessed to not be dealing with worse!), but now that I understand why they're happening, I can really appreciate that they a part of a much bigger picture.  
Hmmm...  I just got back from a walk down the block to the vegan fast food restaurant to get a non-dairy milkshake- mint oreo cookie.  Yum!  (I added some brown rice protein powder when I got home to up the nutritional ante.)  I also stopped by Walgreens to pick up classroom supplies and 7-11 to use the ATM.  And now that I'm home again, I realized that apparently my belly caught a bite of my dinner that didn't make it to my mouth.  It's all down the front of my shirt.  Note to self: do a quick self-check before leaving the house from now on...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For Mico, life as he knows it will never be the same.  The poor guy was neutered today.  Just look at how sad he looks!  
The veterinarian's assistant stood on her tip toes to look over the counter at my belly and smiled, and then asked me when I'm due.  I think I'm finally on my way out of the "fat or pregnant?" stage!  Of course, now that I said that, I'll have something happen tomorrow that will make me question that thought.  That's alright... soon enough, there will be no question whatsoever.  When I'm walking Mico, there will be even more people saying, "My, you're both getting to be so big!" 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A different type of marathon training

I just finished my first time through The Perfect Pregnancy Workout DVD.  I like it!  If I can look half as good as the chick on the cover when I'm that far along, I'll be happy. I also recently purchased a prenatal yoga DVD and a prenatal Pilates DVD, so I'll have some variety to keep me motivated.  I've also been spending time at the gym on the eliptical machine whenever I can- I got in a great session last night that was even more fun because Tyler left his iPod at home this week and I got to listen to his mixes for a change.  My goal is to prepare for childbirth in much the same way I did for the marathon- lots of physical and mental preparation for an event that I know won't be easy, but will be worth all the effort.  
I'm even planning a little bit of a taper off towards the end of my pregnancy- I officially notified my supervisor at work that my last day will be Friday, October 23, giving me 3 weeks before my due date.  I'm resigning from my teaching position now so that the search for a new teacher can begin over the summer.  I decided to resign because I know that I won't be able to handle commuting every day knowing that I could be spending that time with my daughter, especially since daycare would cost almost as much as I make teaching.  After the holidays, I'll look for something I can do part time from home, though I haven't a clue yet what that will be...  I am just hoping now that my body will be physically capable of working that long into the pregnancy.  My job is a physically demanding one, even without the physically aggressive students.  
While there are benefits to working up until labor (one of my friends, Susannah, just told me that if she had taken off early, she'd only be sitting around thinking about how miserable she was the whole time), some studies show that women have an easier labor after taking time off before the birth.  That made me think instantly of the marathon training method of tapering before the race- running less the month prior so that the body can rest and recover before the big event.  Not surprisingly, a well-rested body performs better in labor, too.  Since I have the option of leaving a bit early, I'm taking it.  For now, I'll keep preparing physically for my big event.  If I could just figure out how to keep Mico off of my yoga mat...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rock on, baby girl!

Don't worry... our little girl will have plenty of pretty clothes with ruffles and bows and lace.  That collection has already started (thanks, Annette and Tiana!).  But I couldn't resist these pink rock'n'roll outfits for our little girl, especially the "Dad" heart onesie, which Tyler loves, too.  There's something so perfectly ironic about a tough newborn girl that the clothes come off as being that much sweeter.
Adorable! 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Week 21 Begins! (Pop!)

Sorry I've been MIA...  Last week was a busy one!  Wednesday evening, Tyler flew home early and we drove down to Bloomington for the 4th of July weekend, including the annual Nevius 4th of July party.  Pictures from the weekend:
Today I'm 21 weeks!  133 days to go.  I have to say, when I saw 133 days, my heart nervously skipped a beat.  That seems like a much smaller number than the numbers I was looking at last week!  The baby is growing now and starting to put on weight... and that makes two of us!  Here are pictures of me today at 21 weeks.  You get a belly shot and the same view everyone else gets- me in a maternity top that really makes me look huge!
I walked into the classroom today after the teaching assistants arrived and one of the TAs looked at me, then did a double take and said, "Whoa!  You got so much bigger over the weekend!"  One of the speech therapists who was in the room at the time, who is also a mom, laughed and said, "They call it 'popping' when you grow that fast... And you popped!"  I am over 5 months pregnant... I guess it's time to start showing!

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