Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Special Package

Since we started preparing for a baby, we've been saying that all we really need when I go into labor are diapers and a car seat.  
We can check one of those off the list now, and that makes bringing home the baby seem so much closer!
Thanks, Annette and Tony and Tiana :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Celebrations

Yesterday was my Chicago baby shower, hosted by Kate.  It was such a wonderful time- delicious food and great friends are a good combination.  It felt like a rite of passage in many ways to have so many of my close female friends and family members acknowledge me as a mother.  There were many tears shed, starting within about 60 seconds of us walking into Kate's place!  I'll add photos here when I get them from Kate.
Today marks 33 weeks!  According to whattoexpect.com, I now have more baby in my uterus than amniotic fluid, quite a milestone developmentally.  Baby Girl has developed her own immune system by now.  She's putting on about a half pound a week at this point, and she could grow over an inch in the next week alone!  
Tyler is actually watching an episode of TLC's A Baby Story with me right now!  And earlier today, we watched an episode of Birth Day (which had me crying).  I'm enjoying watching Tyler's reactions to some of it, and it's a great opportunity for us to talk about different aspects of the birth.  That, and we're both just really excited to have a baby of our own.  So excited.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Goodies!

I went shopping today for gifts for other people and ended up buying something for myself...  I love this gold sweater!  It's cute now and it will still be cute post-bump.
I also found a mobile that I absolutely love for our nursery!  I've been discouraged by all the mobiles I've seen online- most play several different songs and have super brightly colored animals or whatever that rotate- it just seems like way too much.  I just didn't care for any of them that I saw that were intended for babies.  I was actually planning on collecting things I thought were eye-catching, like some beads and leaves and maybe dried flowers, and making my own.  Today, though, I found one that I just fell in love with!  I bought it at Green Heart, a local fair trade boutique that reminds me of Ten Thousand Villages (and even carries many of the same or similar items).  The whole thing is hand-knit and it has the cutest sea turtle, octopus, sea horse, crab, and fish hanging down.  It's sweet, simple, and colorful.  I can't wait to hang it in her room.
Just look at how cute these animals are!
Look what else I found on the Green Heart website- these adorable Florecita Baby Booties.  How cute would little feet look in these?  
Click here to view larger image
It's so hard for me to resist baby shoes and baby hats.  Just like shopping for myself- the accessories are the best part!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Off the Charts

Giant Baby Born in Indonesia

(ANDI ANSHARI, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Akbar Risuddin, center, a four-day-old baby boy, weighing 19.2-pounds, lays in the middle of two standard size newborn babies at a hospital in Kisaran, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 25, 2009. Indonesia's heaviest-ever newborn drew curious crowds Friday to the Indonesian hospital where the boy named Akbar _ or the Great in Arabic _ came into the world at a record 19.2 pounds. Akbar Risuddin was born to a diabetic mother in a 40-minute cesarean delivery that was complicated because of his unusual weight and size, Dr. Binsar Sitanggang said.
Akbar Risuddin, center, a four-day-old baby boy, weighing 19.2-pounds, lays in the middle of two standard size newborn babies at a hospital in Kisaran, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 25, 2009. Indonesia's heaviest-ever newborn drew curious crowds Friday to the Indonesian hospital where the boy named Akbar _ or the Great in Arabic _ came into the world at a record 19.2 pounds. Akbar Risuddin was born to a diabetic mother in a 40-minute cesarean delivery that was complicated because of his unusual weight and size, Dr. Binsar Sitanggang said.
SCARY thoughts....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On the way to 34 weeks!

I got a call back from my midwife today and my fetal fibronectin test came back negative, which is good!  That means that I have an excellent chance of making it to 34 weeks.  Once we get there, we may not even do another fetal fibronection test- 34 weeks may be close enough to full term.  If the choice is up to me, I'll have another one done.  Knowing that the daily contractions I'm having aren't going to lead to labor would really help me relax, something that may be hard to do that far along.  
Mark and Todd came over tonight and we made Swedish Pancakes for dinner.  It was de-lic-ious.   Of course, there was plenty of time to play with Mico, too.
 Lucky Tyler is in Ithaca tonight for a recruiting event for work.  I told him to pick up an "Ithaca is Gorges" onesie.  I would really be envious if  Tyler got to go to the farmer's market there...  This is such a beautiful time of year in Ithaca.  One could say it is absolutely gorges.

gorge3.gif

  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No news is _________.

Good news?  I hope...  I have yet to hear back from my midwife with the results of my fetal fibronectin test from yesterday.  I wasn't nervous- until I realized I wasn't going to hear from her today.  Somehow, waiting longer for the results is making this a much more nerve-wracking experience.  I guess we'll just wait to hear until tomorrow.
Over the weekend, Tyler and I were sitting on the couch in our PJs and he said to me, "It looks like you're wearing a Christmas top."  Hmmm.  Indeed, I was.  But it was a comfortable, super stretchy tank!  Yes, it happened to be red and white, but it fits- an especially important detail right about now.  I didn't really think Tyler would notice the colors.  Sorry, Tyler.  Looking at my belly, Tyler then commented, "It looks like a Christmas ornament.  It's round with red and white stripes."  I thought I'd share:
54 days until my due date.  And in case you're wondering, 93 days until Christmas.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

32 Week Appointment

Today was my 32 week appointment with my midwife group.  I finally met the third midwife in the group, Julie, and loved her!  She is really friendly and funny.  I feel like I'll be in great hands no matter who delivers me.  I was catching her up a little bit on what has been going on in my pregnancy and why we decided to do the fetal fibronectin tests.  I explained that I have no idea what is normal for a pregnancy, but I've been having over 15 and often between 20 and 30 contractions a day, some of which are strong enough that they are painful, and often several happen 10 minutes apart from each other for 30-50 minutes.  Julie said that most first time moms don't feel any Braxton Hicks contractions and what I'm experiencing is definitely not normal, but it also doesn't mean that I'll go into early labor.  She shared several stories of women who had been partially dilated and completely effaced but still hadn't gone into labor until 41 weeks. 
At my last appointment, midwife Amy thought that Baby Girl was head down already.  Today, Julie tried to check to compare.  She could feel something round down below and something round up above, but Baby Girl was moving so much that she couldn't feel which was the head and which was the bottom!  She tried several times and each time said Baby Girl was doing too much dancing.  It's something we've noticed at home, too- when we press on my belly a little bit, Baby Girl definitely responds.  It's a fun game to play with her.  
I was impressed with the midwife group today.  All pregnant women are tested for Group B Strep infections in the birth canal because 10 to 30 percent of women have Group B Strep but aren't aware of it, and 1 to 2 of every 1,000 infants contracts Group B Strep which is potentially fatal.  A round of antibiotics prior to labor will keep the baby safe if Group B Strep is present.  My midwife group suggests natural remedies to reduce Group B Strep colonization and asks each patient to take 3 to 4 billion live cultures per day (equivalent of 2 yogurts), 450 mg of echinacea 4 times per day, and 500 mg of vitamin C 4 times per day for the two weeks prior to the 35 week strep test.  I think it's fantastic that the midwife group is supporting working proactively to prevent the issue in their patients in the first place (rather than reactively giving antibiotics).  Between the proactive approach to the strep issue and meeting and loving the third midwife, I left my appointment today feeling really good about deciding to go with this midwife group.  Now we just have to make it far enough along to deliver with one of them- hopefully, 37 weeks so we can use the Alternative Birthing Center!

Monday, September 21, 2009

32 Weeks!

Today marks 32 weeks!  Only 56 days until our due date.  Baby Girl is likely 4-5 pounds and 17-19 or so inches head to foot.  According to the lady who works in the front office at work, I'm carrying lower than last week- and I agree with her!  My belly now sticks out furthest an inch or two below my belly button.
Tyler is traveling Tuesday-Friday this week, so since he was home tonight, we celebrated 32 weeks with a great homemade dinner of poblano peppers stuffed with brown rice, black beans, mixed vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, and a little seitan chorizo with refried pinto beans on the side.  It was fantastic!  I combined all the ingredients with a Frontera Grill cooking sauce, so it was really easy and really delicious.  When the peppers were in the oven, the poblanos gave off a really great fresh, spicy aroma that complemented the smoky chipotle scent of the rice...  Our place smelled heavenly for a little while!  It was enough to bring out my appetite, a rare occurrence recently.
Today at work, I received some excellent news... The new teacher is starting tomorrow and will be overlapping with me until I leave.  That means we'll have an extra set of hands to make up for all my limitations.  My work days just got a LOT easier!  I can really use it, too- work has been exhausting recently.  On the upside- squatting is supposed to be really good preparation for childbirth, and with all the squats I do in and out of child-sized chairs, I will be golden.  When I leave work in October, I'll have to actually add work-outs to my daily routine to make up for the exercise I'm used to getting throughout the day!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The makings of a great Saturday

Great day so far...  A visit from Tony and Annette including lunch at Feast and a trip to the dog park; a fabulous prenatal massage; and next up, dinner with Tyler at Tocco.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How time flies...

Two months until my due date!!!  
Today's milestone coincides with what felt, for me, much like the first day of fall.  The weather was cooler despite the sun, I saw two trees already turning red on my way to work this morning, and I'm having spaghetti squash for dinner tonight.  It's my first of what I'm sure will be many squash-based dinners, as I look forward to fall mostly for the food associated with it- apples baked into pies, squash soups, pumpkin bread, spicy chili...  Mmmm.  It almost makes leaving summer behind feel okay.  That, and I've been looking forward to this fall for a very special little reason- that is now two months away!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preparations

This weekend, I realized suddenly that we're only a little over two months from my due date.  Although we decided to keep our second bedroom a functioning guest room for the first few months after Baby girl arrives, it still made me slightly uncomfortable to know that we have nothing for her but clothes.  And of the clothes, I don't even have any that are washed and ready for her to wear home from the hospital.  I suddenly felt underprepared.
My response?  What any woman would do- I went shopping for nesting materials.  Even if we can't have a crib and changing table in the bedroom yet, we can have decorations prepared for the transition, and there just happened to be an art festival going on a couple blocks away with great handmade art.  There, I purchased a hand-screened poster with a beautiful owl:
And a tea towel to hang on the wall or drape over a chair.  
Dad always called me Sweet Pea growing up, and it made me think of how happy I am for Tyler to have a daughter.  I'm so looking forward to hearing what terms of endearment Tyler bestows on our little girl.  
As you may have noticed, there's a green, nature-inspired trend going on that I think will work nicely with the swing and bouncer seat on our registry.  
I can hear the criticism right now and know that some of you are thinking (possibly out loud to the computer monitor), "Don't you want PINK for your daughter?  Green and brown is a bit masculine for a little girl!"  Just to calm any concerns, here's a picture I found at Babies'R'Us showing the rocker in use- with a tiny, tiny baby.  
Isn't she cute?  I can't wait to post my own picture of my own daughter in her rocker. 
Now, what were you saying about the green?

Monday, September 14, 2009

31 Weeks!

Today we're 31 weeks!  While there's a lot of growth happening right now in my belly, it's mostly adding on to things that are already there- creating brain connections, putting on fat, and continuing lung development.  I thought this excerpt from whattoexpect.com's summary of 31 weeks was interesting, though:
Movin' on up at 31 weeks pregnant, your uterus can now be felt four inches above your belly button. This means that your uterus is pushing all the internal organs that used to be there somewhere else. So your stomach feels like it's in your chest and your lungs feel like… hmmm… they don't even feel like they're there anymore — do they? That could explain why you're feeling a little spare on air lately, don't you think?     Indeed, in an effort to provide spacious-enough accommodations for your soon-to-be bouncing baby boy or girl, your growing uterus has compressed your lungs, limiting their ability to fully expand when you take a breath and causing you to feel like you've just run a marathon when you've only climbed a flight of stairs.
Just so you know, four inches above my belly button is pretty high!  We're up into my ribcage at this point.  It's been really interesting lately to feel Baby Girl's kicks on opposite sides of my stomach simultaneously.  Feeling her moving up here and down there all at once really shows how big she's getting.  That reminds me of a conversation that Tiana and I had this weekend while we were looking at infant hats at the local art festival.  She said, "Don't you think the baby's head is going to be too big to fit into this hat?"  to which I responded, "Let's not talk about how big the baby's head is going to be."  All I could think of was her head crowning.  Yup, let's not talk about that any more for now.  

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Water Bottles, Part II

You might remember all the research that went into my drinking water.  After reading an article in the Chicago Tribune Saturday about  Sigg revealing that their "safe" aluminum water bottles actually contained BPA in the liners until August 2008, I decided more research needed to be done.  I went right to the source- the Sigg website and the CEO's letter to the public published in the Huffington post.  As it turns out, the lavender Sigg bottle that I replaced a few months ago had an old liner containing BPA.  I still have it, and I can send it in to Sigg for a replacement water bottle with the new Eco-Liner, which I will do.  
In reading the FAQs on Sigg aluminum water bottles, I ran across this:
10) Are unlined Stainless Steel bottles safer?  Not necessarily, in our opinion. Independent testing has shown that some stainless steel bottles, since they have no protective liner, can impart a metallic taste because they leach heavy metals such as Chromium, Iron, Nickel and Manganese. These bottles also can be more prone to corrosion. Click here to see test results.
Every day, I fill my two Sigg brand stainless steel water bottles with filtered water and take them to work.  Obviously, the above answer led my research in a whole other direction.  What is the health significance of these additional heavy metals in the water? (Iron I could use more of, but what in the world does Manganese do to a person?)  In what concentrations were these elements leached into the water?  How did aluminum bottles compare in leaching these metals and aluminum?  I looked at the test results mentioned, and found that unlined stainless steel bottles definitely leach higher concentrations of several metals than lined aluminum bottles, but the numbers presented were meaningless without knowing how much is acceptable in the human body.  I kept reading and found this
It is important to note, however, that all trace metal concentrations determined in both the aluminum and stainless steel bottles are far below any threshold levels and therefore are of no health concerns with respect to trace metals leaching into drinking water.... Although there is clearly some leaching of potentially toxic trace elements from each brand of stainless steel bottle, the data should be put into perspective.  First, it is important to emphasize that the concentrations of the most toxic of these elements (e.g. Cd, Pb, Tl), even after 13 days of leaching deionized water, are then still comparable to the median concentrations found in the bottled waters.  Second, most users of these bottles will probably rinse the bottle and change the water daily, thus the leaching time during normal use will be considerably less.  Third, users of these bottles will generally be filling them with tap water which... is less corrosive than deionized water.
This made me feel better- even if I filled my stainless steel bottles with water for 13 days (mine are never full for longer than 8 hours), the levels are still comparable to bottled water from the store.  I'll be sure never to leave my water in the bottle for extended periods of time- but that's something that is gross no matter what bottle is being used.  I'm still less thrilled with my stainless steel water bottles, but I'm also not ready to put 100% trust in the brand-new Eco-Liner that Sigg is now using.  Other than start carrying glass water bottles, I'm not sure what I can do better (and judging by how dented my stainless steel bottles are already, glass is NOT the way to go for me!).  I keep telling myself that all I can do is my best, and I've definitely done everything I can to provide Baby Girl with the best water I can find.
Speaking of Baby Girl, I can feel that she has the hiccups right now!  Should I get her a glass of filtered water?

Belly Shots!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

32 weeks, here we come!

Yesterday afternoon I had another midwife appointment for my regular checkup and another fetal fibronectin test.  Everything looked good- Baby Girl has a strong heartbeat of about 130 beats per minute, I'm measuring perfectly on track (my uterus is 30 cm at 30 weeks), and I'm gaining weight nicely at the desired pound per week since my last appointment.  If my uterus would just calm down and lay off of the contractions, I'd be perfect!  I also had more blood drawn for a hepatitis C test, which I need in order to labor and possibly deliver in the birthing tub in the birth center (we're assuming that I make it to 37 weeks- power in positive thinking!).
This morning, my midwife called with my fFn results, which were negative, meaning I won't go into labor in the next two weeks.  That will put us at 32 1/2 weeks!  We'll keep doing the fFn tests at 32 and probably 34 weeks, and after that, we'll be far enough along that we won't need any more testing done.  Even though it's been terrifying at times to know that I'm at a higher risk of going into preterm labor, it's had the benefit of teaching me to be truly grateful for every day of my pregnancy.  I'm thankful for every day that Baby Girl has to continue growing inside of me, and the weekly milestones are true celebrations.  
I woke up early this morning and Mico and I walked over to the dog park.  After he'd worn himself out there, we started to walk the long way home.  Some days, my back hurts too much to walk very far, but today the walking felt great so Mico and I went for a nice, long walk through the Wicker Park neighborhood.  It was a beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The drive home from O'Hare

I think Mico feels the same way I do about Tyler leaving tonight for a
week long trip.

Avec

Last night, we went out to dinner with Tyler's team of coworkers. I had to get dressed up- quite a feat since I haven't bought myself any maternity dresses yet! I went with this wrap dress and just wore the belt above my belly. It actually looked great- a much more flattering fit than any maternity dresses I've tried on. Although you can't see from this photo, the dress is dark blue with a large black diamond print. You also can't see that I wore heels, breaking my own rule for myself- to never let myself be seen as the pregnant woman waddling around in heels. I knew we'd have to use a valet service at the restaurant, and how far can the walk be from the curb to the table? I think it was worth it, especially considering that my black ballet flats just didn't create the look I was aiming for- my sleek dress looked more like a bathrobe with slippers with the flats, and the heels looked much better!We ate at Avec, a well-known Chicago contemporary American restaurant. The food was great. I had a mustard greens salad with carmelized fennel and vadalias, dried cherries, croutons, and a vinagrette. My entree was prepared special for me (Tyler was sweet enough to call ahead, and we had a wonderful server who was really helpful). It was fresh market vegetables- patty pan squash, fingerling potatoes, cauliflower, lima beans, corn, grape tomatoes, green and wax beans- sauteed in a delicious sauce that was so complex, I couldn't put my finger on any single spice. It was delicious! I could eat it every day. Being able to afford Avec for dinner every day is a whole other topic... But fine dining is one of the perks of Tyler's job!
A view inside of Avec.

Monday, September 7, 2009

30 weeks!

Just 70 days until my due date!
A few days ago, while walking Mico to the dog park,  we passed a man I recognized from the neighborhood.  He looked at Mico and said, "Wow, he's getting so big!"  Then he looked at me and said, "And so are you!"  He quickly explained that he meant that as a wonderful thing and congratulated me, wishing our family all the best.  I had to laugh.  I know people have been thinking that about Mico and myself for months, now.  This man was just the first person to say it! 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Imagine...

The Duggars family, of TLC's 18 Kids and Counting, is expecting number 19.  It's the mother's 18th pregnancy- her 18th round of morning sickness, her 18th labor.  It's more than I can wrap my head around, especially being in the middle of a pregnancy right now.  I cannot comprehend spending roughly 720 weeks of my life- that's 13.8 years- pregnant.  That's half my life so far!
I've been feeling much bigger this week.  I keep thinking of the idea that the third trimester is intended to make me so miserable that I will do anything to get the baby out, even push the baby out of a previously miniscule body part.  Every time I think of that, I think, No, I'm fine with things just the way they are right now.  Not big enough to complain yet.  
I managed to catch a nasty head cold this week that kept me home from work on Friday and has had me in bed all weekend.  I think I slept over 20 hours Friday, only waking up when I was hungry or needed to use the bathroom yet again.  It will be nice to have Monday to recover, too.  Tyler's taking care of me- and enjoying all the time he can spend playing video games uninterrupted.  He gets to work from home this week rather than travel for a short week, so I'm looking forward to a week with him home!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

From Sugar to Parking Meters...

My midwife, Amy, called today with the results of my blood tests.  My glucose levels at 1 hour after drinking 50 grams of sugar were 99, which she said is fantastic but means nothing to me.  Knowing how big my baby is for her age, though, I've been a bit concerned, so I decided to look up some information on it online.  I've learned (from Wikipedia) that 40-60% of women with gestational diabetes have no known risk factor and most show no signs of having gestational diabetes (which include thirst, excessive urination, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue- isn't that the same as being pregnant???), which is why all women are screened.  A result of 140 would lead to a second, longer blood test, and 130 is considered borderline.  So I'm not really close to that- but I still have no clue what a result of 99 means.  I kept looking and learned that normal people have fasting sugar levels between 70 and 110.  That gave me something else to compare my results with.  
By the way, according to the American Diabetes Association, women should limit sugar intake to 7 grams per day, men to 9; however, the average American consumes 26 grams of sugar per day.  The number one source of sugar in American diets is soda.  No wonder we have health issues.  This week, Chicago increased the tax rate on candy to 6.25% (but "foods," containing flour or that need refrigeration, are not considered "candy") along with several other tax hikes (including spirits and wine, but not beer, which Chicagoans apparently need- and perhaps we do, seeing as we were just named Forbes' #1 Most Stressful City.  And good luck if you have a heart attack in Chicago!).  Chicago already had an extra tax on bottled water , a so-called eco-sin tax, much like the sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.  What about an extra sin tax on soda? It's already taxed at 6.25%, the general merchandise rate shared now with candy.  With all the health problems it is linked to, it makes sense.  If we tax soda sales, can we please get our old parking meter system back? 
I really don't think anyone would mind that proposal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best. Snack. Ever.

Seriously, this combination of locally made Milk and Honey chocolate
banana granola, with a great dark chocolate flavor and sweet banana
chips, and coconut milk plain yogurt, with a real yogurt zing to it,
is perfect. Chocolatey yet not overly sweet, and creamy yet
satisfyingly crunchy. I might just have a new addiction.

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