Monday, August 31, 2009

29 Weeks!

Today marks 29 weeks!  I know I haven't posted any pictures for a while...  Our camera was MIA.  When we finally found it yesterday (in the pocket of someone's jeans in the dirty laundry pile), I was really excited to take and post a pic of my belly.  It grew noticeably last week- I think it sticks out at least an inch further out to the front!  Unfortunately, something's wrong with our camera and it isn't focusing...  so here are some blurry pics of my growing belly.  You can at least see the size, even if I'm a little out of focus.
There are two women at work who work in the front office of our building.  Both are grandmothers to young children already, and one has her first grandson due just two weeks before I'm due.  I think they just love that I'm pregnant.  Every morning when I walk in, they check out my belly, often commenting on it or on the clothes covering it.  The past week, it's been all about how I'm carrying lower now, which means that I'm getting closer to being full term.  Perhaps it's true- all I can tell is that I'm sticking out further than I did a week ago and it's harder to move than it was a week ago.  
It still feels to me like Baby Girl is doing full somersaults in there, or at least side rolls, so I don't think she's staying head down yet.  Yesterday afternoon, we were watching TV with Todd and Traye and she was putting on a show through my stomach.  One time, Todd pushed lightly on my belly and Baby Girl kicked back at him- I wish you could have seen the look on his face!  At another point, we could feel very clearly the end of a pointy limb, perhaps her foot, through the side of my stomach.  I think being able to feel an actual body part, not just movement, really makes the connection to the baby feel stronger for the guys who were able to feel it.  The movement itself is a crazy phenomenon, but feeling body parts is even cooler.  I've been trying to catch her in an energetic mood so I can record a video of my belly moving.  With my camera out of focus, I might have to wait a little while longer...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Project Runway

There are only two TV shows that I follow, meaning that I record them and watch them before the next one airs and usually can't wait for a chance to watch them!  The shows are Top Chef and Project Runway.  I haven't actually seen any of the Project Runway shows this season yet because it took me some time to figure out that it moved from Bravo to Lifetime, but I did look it up online finally, and now I can't wait to catch up...  This week's episode of Project Runway had the contestants making maternity wear!  It's only the second episode of the season, so there were 15 contestants and not all of them seem to know what they're doing... especially in maternity wear.  I would wear four or five of the outfits total.  It didn't help the contestants that they used their regular, super skinny models equipped with faux baby bumps.  Very few women put on a bump and still want to be showing off all their other body parts!  Here are the designs- interesting to look!  It will be interesting to hear what Heidi Klum, the judge, model, and mother, will say about some of them.  Should be a fun episode for me to watch!

RI Delivery

From the Chicago Tribune:
RI trooper sees man on highway yelling about pregnant woman, delivers baby inside pickup truck
LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island state trooper responding to a call of a medical emergency on a highway has helped deliver a baby in a pickup truck. Police say trooper Matthew Salisbury arrived early Wednesday on Route 146 in Lincoln, a small town ranked among Money magazine's 100 Best Places to Live. Salisbury saw a man standing outside his pickup truck and yelling that a woman in the passenger seat was having a baby. The trooper helped turn the infant while the mother pushed a final time. Then he removed the umbilical cord from the baby's neck and helped the baby to breathe. The mother and baby are healthy and resting comfortably at a hospital.
I'm glad the mother and baby are safe and healthy.  But a couple of questions: First, if Lincoln is one of the 100 Best Places to Live, don't they have to have a hospital?  Also, if the baby wasn't coming out yet, why did the man stop driving to the hospital? If the baby was coming out already, why was the man outside his pickup and not inside helping her? 
I hope to have a midwife deliver my baby.  If I don't make it to 35 weeks, a doctor would be fabulous.  No matter when I deliver, if it isn't a midwife or doctor delivering the baby, it had better not be a state trooper.  Tyler, time to step up and CATCH!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

30 weeks, here we come!

I got the call from my midwife's office today that the fetal fibronectin test results were negative!  That means I have very little chance of going into labor in the next two weeks.  In two weeks, we'll go through the test again, and then again two weeks later, and then probably two weeks after that- and then we're in the clear!  Just knowing that Baby Girl is going to make it to 30 weeks is such sweet relief.  30 weeks seems to be a major milestone in development, much like 35 and 37 weeks will be later.  They may be arbitrary numbers, but doctors really base their decisions upon those numbers.
It's past 10:30 and Mark and Todd just left- they saved me after I locked myself out of our condo tonight.  Todd had some experience breaking down our door... One weekend, when Todd was watching Mico for us, the lock broke with the key inside of it and Mico inside our place, so Todd, Tiana, and our upstairs neighbor broke down the door to get to Mico.  Tonight, I just grabbed the wrong set of keys and drove to Mark's place to watch the Sox game.  I had my car keys, cell phone, wallet, garage door opener, dog (Mico came with), everything I could need- except a way to get into my condo unit.  Tiana has an extra set, but she's in Bloomington.  Our dog walker has a set, but she stopped showing up to take out Mico on Thursday and hasn't returned any of my calls since then (a whole other issue...).  Fortunately, I was at Mark's when I realized my mistake.  He and Todd went to Home Depot with me, where we picked up a new lock set and a crowbar.  
When we got back, Mark strong-armed the lock until it broke (about 15 seconds) and then Todd stepped up with the crowbar and popped the door open like it was nothing.  I was inside in less than 30 seconds total, thanks to them!  (How scary is that, though?  When my deadbolt isn't locked, our place isn't even slightly secured- a lesson that will stay with me!!!)  Mark and Todd were nice enough to stay and help me install the new handle lock and deadbolt, and I paid them in food (leftover sandwich and mashed potatoes from Jerry's and homemade potato salad).  Without them, could you imagine the scene?  I would have been the pregnant woman with the big belly trying to hip-check her door down, her huge, confused dog watching her with his head tilted.  
Sometimes I imagine how I must look to other people and the image is so hilarious that I laugh out loud- like a pregnant me trying to break down a door.  Or this morning, when I was taking Mico out before work.  I was walking in the rain with an umbrella, which amused Mico to no end, and he kept jumping up towards the umbrella.  I can just picture myself waddling down the street in the rain with my belly barely protected by the umbrella, walking a huge gray dog who is alternating between drinking out of puddles and jumping up to try to attack the umbrella I'm holding.  What a sight.  Well, Mark and Todd, thank you for saving me from having two such incidences in one day and for helping me get into my home!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I had my midwife appointment this evening where she took what she needed for the fetal fibronectin test.  They have to send out the test, though, so we won't hear the results until tomorrow.  Amy didn't know what time of day the test results would be available- I asked.  If the results are negative, I can continue doing what I'm doing.  If they're positive, I'll be put on modified bed rest.  According to babycenter.comA positive result means that your risk of delivering sometime before you reach 35 weeks is higher, and your chance of giving birth in the next week is about 16 percent.  While that is potentially really scary, none of those statistics are certain.
When I walked into the building where the West Suburban Midwife Associates office is located, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of deja vous- something more common now that I'm pregnant for some reason.  However, this felt more like a sense of knowing where I was without knowing why.  I knew that the side door to the storefront shop led to a pharmacy and that I should take the worn marble stairs, not the elevator with the clock right above it.  When I walked into the office, I recognized it as a familiar waiting room.  Within moments, I could picture the small shelf on the wall where there were once wooden alphabet blocks spelling out "dr king" atop another doctor's name that was, at that time, too long for me to read.  My new midwife group's office is my old pediatrician's office!  Very little, if anything, has changed.  They keep a candy jar full of Dum Dums where a can of Safe-T-Pops once stood.  I remember those marble stairs because Mark and I used to race up them while Mom took the elevator with the stroller.  When I was young, I didn't understand why we drove to Jewel-Osco for our medicine instead of going to the medicine store downstairs.  Now, at least, it's more the kind of pharmacy that specializes in somewhat shady products, like a weight loss patch that was advertised in the front window, and medical supplies like bedpans and crutches.  I can't wait to take the elevator one of these days and see what other memories it invokes with its buttons (I'm sure I've pressed every single one before, simultaneously) and ceiling (I always look at the ceiling in elevators for some reason).  Doctor's offices- apparently, something else that comes full circle in pregnancy.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today marks 28 weeks and the first day of my third trimester!  From what other moms say, this trimester will fly by- and at the end of it is the best reward in the whole world.  One of my pregnancy books explained that this trimester serves one purpose- to make me so miserable that I just cannot wait to get the baby out of me, no matter what it takes, making me so crazy that I won't be afraid of the birth process any longer.  Well, I'll just say, I'm not there yet!  
I am, however, starting to recognize that theory that pregnancies come full circle, ending with symptoms similar to the first trimester.  I seem to have completely lost my appetite again, and I've started gagging on foods again.  Most nights, I am inspired by ingredients in my fridge, a creative way to sneak in protein, or a sudden craving, and I cook based on what sounds good to me.  Tonight, there was absolutely nothing that sounded good to eat in my house- or even in the takeout options nearby.  I needed to go to Whole Foods to replenish my supply of brown rice protein powder anyway, so I decided to peruse the 6 restaurants and countless food bar options there for something that I would enjoy eating.   
I must have looked like a lost soul wandering the rows and rows of healthy, delicious food options with an empty food container.  I know I'm crazy when I can't find something I'm dying to eat at Whole Foods!  Finally, I decided to fill up on some old favorites (including the macrobiotic tofu and kale salad and seaweed salad I've posted pics of before).  I took it home and ate it, but I didn't enjoy it like I normally do.  I am really, really hoping that this is just a few-day phase and not something that will continue for the rest of my pregnancy!  I love food way to much for this to be happening again...
All in all, I know I'm extremely fortunate and I've had a great pregnancy so far.  I've had a few scary moments, but so far, all have passed without serious consequence, leaving me with a great reminder that I am blessed to pregnant.  I still appreciate every tiny little movement and relish watching my belly move around with a real life of its' own.  (See, Baby Girl?  You have to cause me a LOT more pain before I'm ready to push you out...  You have at LEAST 9 weeks to make me ready, and you've got your work cut out!)

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Thursday afternoon, I had an ultrasound appointment.  The goal was to ensure that the frequent contractions I'm having (some days, 5 or 6; others, over 20) aren't doing an overly good job of preparing my body for labor.  Although the frequent contractions themselves weren't concerning to my midwife,  she suggested I have an ultrasound to measure my cervical length and be sure that the contractions aren't thinning my cervix.  The cervix should ideally measure between 35-40 millimeters in the second trimester, and a shorter cervix can have a direct relationship to risk of preterm labor.  At my 20 week ultrasound, my cervix was a nice, safe 37 mm.  
At my appointment on Thursday, the doctor measured my cervical length to be between 25 and 30 mm.   The doctor who performed the ultrasound said that that is thinner than average and we should "keep an eye on" me going forward.  The good news, though, is that Baby Girl is growing nicely and looks excellent.  She weighs 2 pounds 8 ounces, which I know is at least slightly more than average for her age, and she's still moving around like crazy (she's kicking so hard right now that it's moving my laptop on my lap!).
I've had other changes going on recently in the area of prenatal care.  My first midwife, Jennifer, is excellent and I've been extremely pleased with her.  I took a risk in seeing her, though, because she does not currently have an agreement to deliver her clients at any hospital.  Prior to last year, she was delivering about half of her clients at home and half at Lincoln Park Hospital.  When Lincoln Park Hospital closed, she had a temporary agreement at Swedish Covenant, but since that expired she's been trying to reach an agreement with another hospital.  Jennifer felt confident that she would be approved to deliver at Rush by November, which would have been perfect for us since it's so close to home.  When she wasn't approved at Rush earlier this summer, she suggested I look for a new service provider since I want to give birth in a hospital.  That was really disappointing news, obviously.  I really liked seeing Jennifer and especially the fact that she was the only midwife in her practice- I was the only Emily in her cell phone and knew that she would be with me at my birth.  
West Suburban Midwife Associates is the other midwife group I considered before going with Jennifer.  There are 3 midwives in the group- more than Jennifer, but fewer providers in the delivery rotation than a standard ob/gyn practice.  They deliver at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, which is further from my house but has an Alternative Birthing Center within the hospital with birthing tubs and furniture (even a microwave and refrigerator) much like a home.  I called them earlier this month and had trouble scheduling an appointment, likely because I was trying to schedule my first with them at about 24 weeks- not the ideal client.  As soon as I spoke with the owner and mentioned that I was transferring care from Jennifer, she scheduled me an appointment as a new client.  
My appointment with West Suburban Midwives was on Thursday after my ultrasound appointment, which was convenient because I has so many questions regarding the ultrasound.  The midwife I saw, Amy, was really great.  She took a lot of time to answer my questions about the practice and then answer all my questions about the ultrasound.  Amy suggested I come back Tuesday for a fetal fibronectin test (fFn test).  If the results are negative, there is little chance that I'll go into labor in the next two weeks and we'll continue to do an fFn test every two weeks until I deliver.  The fFn tests have a high false positive rate, though, so there will be more to discuss if the results are positive, and we didn't really cover any of that yet.  We're just hoping for a negative result.  Amy also said that in general, I need to avoid any lifting, avoid using my abdominal muscles as much as possible (not easy given my job), and start thinking about making myself available to go on bedrest.  We talked, too, about where I would deliver depending on when I go into labor.  If it's prior to 35 weeks, I'll go to a bigger hospital for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (either Rush or Northwestern).  If it's 35-37 weeks, I can deliver with one of the midwives at West Suburban but I won't be able to use one of the rooms in the Alternative Birthing Center.  If I go into labor after 37 weeks, I can give birth in the Alternative Birthing Center, which would be ideal.  
For now, I'm grateful that Baby Girl is healthy and growing and that we have technology available to hopefully help us in preventing a premature birth as much as possible.  We tell our little one every day to stay inside until November.  I'm thankful for every day we're given with her still safe and healthy inside, and I'm praying that she'll make it long enough to be strong and healthy and hopefully avoid the NICU.  Plenty of babies are born at this age, but still, every day is important in her development.  We'll see how Tuesday goes and take it from there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is this really what the world has come to???

A woman has sued the Brookfield Zoo in a slip and fall case that she claims started with the dolphins.

Allecyn Edwards contends the zoo "recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands making the floor wet and slippery."

Edwards says she suffered injuries when she fell on the wet floor.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Veg Health

This makes me really glad I've been vegan for three years now...


It is important to note that even in our contaminated world there are ways a woman can minimize the risk to her young. Many studies have shown direct correlations between the amount of animal fat in a woman’s diet, and the level of contamination in her breastmilk. The less meat, butter, eggs, cheese, milk, poultry and fish in a woman’s diet, the fewer toxins will be found in the milk that flows from her breast to her young.

When the EPA analyzed the breast milk of vegetarian women, they discovered the levels of pesticides in their milk to be far lower than the U.S. average. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine made a similar comparison, and found: "The highest levels of contamination in the breast milk of the vegetarians was lower than the lowest level of contamination (in) non-vegetarian women… The mean vegetarian levels were only one or two percent as high as the average levels in the United States."

This is a tremendously important statistic. If the breast milk of the average vegetarian nursing mother in the United States contains only one or two percent of the pesticide and toxic contamination as that found in the national average, there is enormous protection for our young to be gained from moving in a vegetarian direction. 

27 Weeks

Today marks 27 weeks!  Just 91 days to go.  At this point, the baby is just over two pounds and is at least 14-15 inches long, head to toes.  She's done most of her exciting developing already and is now just putting on the pounds and fine-tuning areas such as brain and lung development- really important growth, but not quite as exciting as adding body parts each week.  
Baby Girl is kicking almost constantly and with such power that some jabs are uncomfortable- like her full stretch yesterday when she extended a limb a good inch and a half or two past her normal area of residence and then just stayed there.  It took some gentle external prodding to get her to return to her space.  I'm enjoying people's reactions to watching my belly change shape, especially guys who have never observed a pregnancy this closely, like Tyler and Todd, who both jumped in shock.  It's definitely a strange sight!  As Tyler explained, it's one thing to think about a baby growing inside my belly; it's a whole other experience to see it move so clearly within my stomach.  
This weekend, Tyler, Todd, and I took Mico to the dog beach.  We all had so much fun!  Mico absolutely loved the sand and water (even if he did initially mistake the sand for snow and try to eat a mouthful...).  We brought the camera to document the occasion and Tyler took some videos... in which I was able to see myself walking for the first time in several months.  I have the pregnancy WADDLE going on!  Oh, my goodness, do I ever.  I couldn't believe it!  I don't feel like I waddle that badly, and I didn't think I was huge enough to waddle as much as I appear to from behind.  Oh, pregnancy.  Here are some pictures that catch the more exciting action taking place.  Mico is a cutie, isn't he?

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Todd and I went to the beach today- not just any beach, though.  We opted to stay away from the crowded city beaches and drove a short ways further north in the city to Loyola Park, where we found exactly what we wanted- a beach that felt more like a vacation escape than another day in the city.  How beautiful is this?  We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to make an Em Monster smoothie

This is how I start my morning every day.  This morning's contained a banana, rice milk, almond butter, protein powder, Green Super Food powder, 2 leaves of red chard, and 1/2 cup frozen organic mixed berries (hence the purple color, which was much more vibrant in person).  A smoothie with any greens in it is usually called a Green Monster, so one with my personal touch is the Em Monster!  I usually drink this during my commute (7-7:30 am) and it keeps me satisfied until my 11 am lunch with all the protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  The Green Super Food powder gives it a rich, chocolatey taste and the banana masks the protein powder really well.  My goal is to switch up the ingredients daily to ensure maximum nutritional variety- and to prevent boredom!  And yes, the recipe doubles easily for Friday through Sunday when Tyler is home.
In a blender, combine:
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1 cup organic, fortified milk (hemp, almond, rice, or coconut)
8-10 large ice cubes
2 scoops brown rice protein powder (for a total of 24 grams of protein!)
1 scoop Green Super Food powder
Add one of the following:
2 Tbsp raw almond butter
2 Tbsp raw tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
Add as many of the following as are on hand:
2 leaves fresh kale or chard
handful of fresh or frozen spinach
1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, raspberries, and strawberries are the best)
1/4-1/2 avocado
1/4 cup coconut milk yogurt
Pour into a very large glass and mmmmm.... enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The best part about running errands...

Is eating lunch! Brown rice, avacado, and cucumber sushi, macrobiotic
tofu and kale salad, seaweed salad, and a kombucha. Delicious!!!

Our dog

He heard something in the hallway, barked once, and now he's guarding
the door while I fold laundry. He really takes care of me!

Monday, August 10, 2009

26 Weeks!

Today marks 26 weeks!  The baby's eyes are now open and blinking and she's "breathing" amniotic fluid.  She likely weighs around 2 pounds and is about 14 inches long (but since our girl has been big for her age so far, she may be bigger than that!).  She's kicking up a storm, and her kicks and punches are strong enough to move my clothes already.  We've been watching my belly bounce as she works out.  Here we are today, at 26 weeks:
This weekend was Lollapalooza, the 3-day concert held in Grant Park every summer with 130 bands on 8 stages.  We had an awesome time!!!   Friday was really rainy, though it let up to a drizzle by the time we got there and stopped for the evening shows.  Saturday and Sunday were HOT!  It was mid-90's with high humidity, but a great breeze, thankfully.  I made sure to stay hydrated- I averaged a liter of water an hour during the hottest hours of the day, and of course, one trip to the port-o-potties each hour.  Thank goodness I brought my own TP and (100% natural) hand sanitizer!  Mark and Sara, Tiana, Traye and Liz all went, too, so we spent most of the time hanging out with them.  
Here's my "before" shot on Sunday. Here I am with Tyler at the Damen el stop Saturday. With Mark (I stole Tyler's hat!) Sunday with Tiana and Liz  
We had a fantastic weekend.  Now I have a week off of work for our end-of-the-summer break...  time to recover from the weekend! 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 3

Here we are on day 3 of Lollapalooza! Despite those clouds in the
background, the storm stayed north and it's still sunny here. More
great music coming this afternoon and tonight!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

watch this

I love everything about this video- the artwork, the vocalist (Sufjan Stevens, a favorite), the classic hymn.  It's so beautiful all together.  I just wanted to share!

Unborn baby grabs surgeon

Here is a forwarded email that I received from Annette today- I had seen it before and thought it was amazing, but today the photo made me cry it was so beautiful.  I just had to share.
                 A picture began circulating in November. It should be 'The Picture of the Year,' or perhaps, 'Picture of the Decade.' It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it.                  The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner.                  The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta . She knew of Dr Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.                  During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. Dr Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.                  The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture 'Hand of Hope.' The text explaining the picture begins, 'The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.'                  Little Samuel 's mother said they 'wept for days' when they saw the picture. She said, 'The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person.'  Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

Coming this fall...

It seems I have good company also pregnant and due this fall- two beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium!  I took special interest when I saw the headline.  I immediately wanted to know how long a beluga whale is pregnant.  As it turns out, the female belugas have a gestation period of 14.5 months.  If my whole pregnancy was like my second trimester has been, I would be fine with that.  My patience would be wearing thin, waiting excitedly to meet our little one for such a long time, but I could do it.  If my whole 14.5 months was like my first trimester, I don't think I would physically or emotionally make it through more than one pregnancy.  Thank goodness for feeling better.  Even if my third trimester is rough, I'll be able to find peace in the knowing that I'm due after 9.5 months- much easier than 14.5. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

25 weeks, 1 day

Here's a picture of me today. I can't find the charger for my camera
battery, so forgive the mirror shot, please!

Summer at 25 weeks!

Here I am, 1 day short of 25 weeks.  The belly just keeps growing!
And here's Tyler with Mico- who also just keeps growing!
We spent the weekend relaxing in Bloomington.  Sunday's weather was beautiful and we spent the day outside around the pool.
Right now I'm watching the TV show Birth Day on TLC.  It is an episode on macrosomia (babies weighing over 4000 grams- so BIG babies!).  Two moms are both expecting babies weighing at least 9 pounds, and one is trying to give birth without an epidural.   I just heard, "Some women are simply predisposed to having larger babies."  Scary!....   And so is the application of the internal fetal monitor that I just watched.  I will do whatever I can to avoid that.  I'm going to go do some stretches and watch the rest of this.  Hopefully it will be more encouraging than terrifying!


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