A Baby Lion is Born

Nants ingonyama bagithi, Baba, sithi uhm ingonyama

(“Here comes a lion, Father, Oh yes, it’s a lion”)

In three words?

It was fast.

leading up to the birth

My idea was to live tweet the birth on Twitter. Nearly all of the tweets, however, were leading up to his birth day, because once we got to the birth center, I didn’t have time do do anything but labor this kid into the world! So block quotes below are from my Twitter account, @bewilderedmom.

Little Champ was born at 37 weeks on the dot, right as I had somehow predicted (Read his birth story here). I had the bags packed for him at around 35  weeks. With Lion, I figured I’d have some time after my water broke (if it did) to pack my bags, so I dawdled getting everything together.

I started having contractions before the 37 week mark, like I did with Champ.

April 18:

The Captain and I were married during a blizzard. Champ was born during a hurricane. Today, even though it’s April, we are experiencing a snowstorm. Baby Lion, you don’t have to keep up the tradition. At least wait until tomorrow, please. Today you’d still be considered a preemie!

On the morning of April 20th (37 weeks + 1 day), a day on which I really didn’t want my child to be born,  I had a ton of contractions in one hour, so I attempted to chug a gallon of water to see if they were real labor pangs or false labor. I do not recommend this. Just so you know, that’s a crapload of water. I got about 2/3 through before vomiting. Fun fact: throwing up pure water through the mouth and nose is really uncomfortable, yet leaves one feeling surprisingly clean afterward. Anyway, after that morning, Captain and I had our bags packed and ready.

April 21st through the 24th, I had more and more early labor signs, like bloody show and lightening (when the baby drops). I didn’t experience these signs with Champ, so I felt like a ticking bomb over those few days. I knew I could go into labor at any time. April 23rd I did a complete overhaul in our bedroom, hoping that deep cleaning would speed up the process. I spent the 24th recovering.

April 22:

Dear #babylion, there’s still snow on the ground today, but this weekend will be sunny & in the 60s! You won’t want to miss it, kid. #hint

ANOTHER winter storm tonight? Fine. #babylion, you can stay put until Wednesday.

Barometric pressure drop broke my friend’s water today in CO. Broke mine in NC in 2010. It’s starting to fall fast here in MN… #babylion

Thought Winter Storm Zeus might pack a bigger punch and break my water, but instead it seems to be just poking Minnesota in the ribs, repetitively, while laughing.

April 23:

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 5.29.07 PM

Captain has confirmed what my bladder had me suspecting– #babylion has dropped. Any time now, kid!

“In subsequent pregnancies, lightening does not generally occur until just before labor begins.” #YoureKillinMeSmalls #babylion

April 24th:

Ow! You know #babylion, I don’t really want you to come right now. I want a nap and ice cream and pie. Let’s wait until tomorrow, okay?

April 25th. Forecast: 53 and sunny. Anniversary of Robinson Crusoe, Ella Fitzgerald’s b-day. A good day on which to be born, son. #babylion #hint

the big day

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 5.32.41 PM

I had been up from 2 am to 3:30ish with carpal tunnel pains, so I wasn’t in a deep sleep at 4:30 when I rolled over in bed and found myself in a puddle. Got up as quickly as my hippopotamus body would allow, and by the time I’d waddled into the bathroom, I had left a stream of water trailing behind me, and my contractions were already on top of each other, not terribly strong, but coming every five minutes. I called my doula, Laura, and then paged the midwife on call. The midwife got back to me just before 5 am and asked if I could meet her at the birth center at 6 am. I called my grandmother to come watch Champ.

I toweled up the river in my bedroom and woke up Captain. He took a shower and I scrubbed some dishes while waiting for my grandmother to come, then I downed some oatmeal and a banana (recommended to me by my doula as a good breakfast, easy to digest in case I got nauseous).

By the time my grandmother came over, I was already bouncing through the contractions on the balls of my feet, unable to talk (or think straight) through them. Captain installed Champ’s car seat in her van, and we headed off to the birth center. I had the Captain call Laura and ask if she could pick up an egg McMuffin for him, since he hadn’t eaten. She said she’d grab one on the way. Doulas are the best!

When we turned onto the road leading to the birth center, I pointed out how foggy it was. Then we smelled the smoke. And as we got closer, and the smoke cleared, we saw the lights of fire engines. It appeared that the hospital was on fire. Thankfully the birth center was on the other side of the street. Later we found out it was a grease fire at a chicken restaurant next door to the hospital.

We got to the birth center at 6:07 am. My midwife, Mary-Signe, was wearing a red t-shirt that said “START SEEING MIDWIVESon it (a parody of this)Midwives are the coolest.

And just so you can picture where I gave birth, it was here:

Pretty, right? To the right is the shower / bathroom.

Pretty, right? To the right is the shower / bathroom.

I mentioned nausea to Mary-Signe and she handed me a barf bag. Respectful women, don’t read this: [It looked like an elephant condom.] I was determined NOT to throw up in that thing.

A moment later Laura had arrived, with Captain’s breakfast. I told her I was feeling pretty nauseated, and that I had eaten a banana and oatmeal for breakfast.

“Oh, yeah, I totally threw that up when I was in labor,” she said. “I couldn’t eat bananas or oatmeal for months. I just recommended it because it’s easy to throw up.”

Gee, thanks.

I asked if I could take a shower, knowing that would help me to feel less nauseous and also help a bit with the contractions. Laura already had to apply counter-pressure a couple times to my lower back before I could even get the request out.

Sure! Of course! Do whatever you want! It’s your labor! These were the kind of answers I got. This is why an out-of-hospital birth is so glorious. I abandoned my modesty more quickly than I figured I would—that old lady nightgown I brought never left the bag—and stripped down to get under the hot water. Several times I called Laura in to apply more counter-pressure, as I clung to the bar in the shower. I’m so thankful I had a doula at my birth. When I couldn’t communicate more than a word at a time, all I had to do was call out her name, and she’d be there, pressing on my back until I got through the contraction. Don’t get me wrong, Captain was a WONDERFUL birth coach during Champ’s labor, and his counter-pressure was the only pain relief I needed during that hospital birth, but it was nice having a female doula, one who had given birth herself and intuitively knew what I needed. It also freed the Captain up to eat his breakfast. When I came out of the shower, he was sitting on the couch reading a fat historical novel. Apparently he thought we’d be staying longer than I did.

The shower relieved my nausea, but it didn’t relieve the contractions, which were nonstop at this point. I flopped onto the bed and had contraction after contraction—I couldn’t even change position they came so fast, I just lay there like some giant pregnant leviathan.

“Did you want to do a water birth?” asked the midwife in training after checking my progress (“Five to six and, oh! Stretchy! Good!”).

After another contraction I responded, hair in my face, “Kinda, yeah! Now I do!”

She started the water and I rolled over onto my stomach, then got onto my hands and knees, rocking and wailing through the contractions. Apparently I was making quite a bit of noise, because I heard Mary-Signe’s voice, far off, saying,

“It sounds like you’re pushing. Caitlin, are you pushing?”

“Er…Can I push?” At the hospital with Champ, I had to wait and wait until the OB said I could push.

“Do you feel like pushing?”

“I feel like I need to poop.” Translation: Why yes, I do feel the sensation that I should begin pushing. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just say yes. Labor is glamorous, people.

Laura tells me that she and the midwives looked at each other and nodded knowingly.

rafiki-it-is-time

I got into the tub. Oh, who knows what time it was at that point. Captain got in with me. First I tried hanging over the edge of the tub, but I had nothing to hold on to. So Captain put out his arms. He’s a very strong, very attractive man, and his arms are big and steady. Still, though he could hold me stable, I didn’t like holding to him off on one side, and I just wasn’t feeling that position. So I turned over to the other side, where there was a bar, grabbed on to the bar, and squatted so I could more easily bear down.

I pushed once or twice, long and hard, roaring through each one. I pushed each time until I physically couldn’t push any more, then stopped to rest for a second, and breathe.

“Can you feel the head?”

I really didn’t want to reach down there to feel around, but I did, and could touch just the top. After the third long push, I could tell he had crowned by what some refer to as “the ring of fire.” If you’ve ever torn a muscle, it’s kind of like that. It’s when all the stretching occurs. After that push, I definitely whimpered a bit. Captain says that sound was much more difficult to listen to than all the war cries I had been making before. And now that I consider that during that push is likely when I tore, I feel a little bit better about whimpering and not going full-on Amazonian War Princess.

The midwives were chattering and I could tell we were almost there. Especially when Mary-Signe repeated to me to stay low and keep the baby under water until his whole body was out. I also knew that the most painful part was over. One more push and the head was out. Stay down, stay low. I was determined to get the baby out in one last push. Then I’d be done. One more.

Somebody caught him and I sat down in the water so they could hand him to me. The water was disgusting now, but he was there, and he was out of the water on my chest, and he was breathing.

It was 7:21 am. He was still attached to the umbilical cord, and I could feel it stretching out of me, attached to him. So weird. Then they clamped the cord, Captain cut it while I looked away (didn’t want to see the squirting, thanks so much), and I just sat holding my newborn baby until I delivered the placenta. I never saw the placenta during Champ’s hospital birth, so I took a look this time. Placenta is Latin for “flat cake,” I believe, and yeah, it looks like a cross between a lung, a steak, and a pancake.

So, Lion was born. He weighed 8 lbs, 2 oz, which none of us could believe because he is so tiny, he doesn’t look like he could weigh more than 7 pounds, and Champ was only 6 lb 11 oz. Nineteen inches long, half an inch longer than his big brother.

Capt-Lion

The rest is a bit of a blur. Mary-Signe took the baby so I could get out of the tub, I got tucked into the bed and handed Lion to cuddle with. Captain took a couple pictures before I realized, I could really use some eye liner and a comb. Then Lion and I took an herbal bath, both to clean off and to soothe our bodies.

me-lion

Four hours later, and we were allowed to go home!

going home

It was a beautiful spring day—the first day of spring we’d had yet in Minnesota, land of eternal winters.

Champ was at Nonna’s house so we could take a nap after getting home (that’s why the birth center lets you go home—so you can take a long nap after birth, uninterrupted by nurses constantly checking your vitals. You take your vitals yourself when you wake up).

So Neville got to meet him first. When he saw that there was a baby in the car seat, he FREAKED OUT, and jumped into Captain’s lap and just shook for a while. Then he got really excited, and he hasn’t stopped being excited and wanting to give the baby kisses. He does not leave Lion’s side, and gives me a look whenever I leave Lion in his bassinet to go pee. Captain says he feels like Mr. Darling from Peter Pan, and that Neville is like a miniature Nurse.

nev-1

nev-2

After our nap, Champ came home and got to meet his baby brother.

c-l 1

c-l 2

c-l 3

family

 

And that’s our family of four!

Champ is very curious and eager to help with Lion. (Sometimes a bit too eager.) It’s very sweet and melts my momma heart.

champ-lion

 

It has taken me longer to write this blog post than it took me to give birth to my baby.

baby lion

I’m off to cuddle. Hasta la vista!

 

 

Making Balanced Decision about Circumcision

It’s the “hot topic”—one that mom bloggers are vehement and nasty about. And yet we are still so divided, like we are when it comes to breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, vaccinations, co-sleeping, and baby sleep training.

Here’s the thing with controversial topics: You need to do the research, you need to hear from both sides, you need to make an educated decision. And then you really need to forget about it. Give other moms the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing what they believe is best for their kids. Judging them doesn’t make them change—it just makes you a bitter, resentful person.

That said, I’d like to come to the topic of circumcision.

I’m going to try to cover as many approaches to the topic as possible, and list the pros and cons. But here’s the thing—I’m going to let YOU make the decision for yourself.

When reading the links I have provided below, be sure to think on them critically. Are their arguments sound? Do they make comparisons that are not logical? Do they cite historical or medical sources? Are their sources up to date? Do they have ulterior motives that cause them to think the way they do? Remember that no source is completely unbiased.

Types of Circumcision

First off, you need to know that there are different types of circumcision. (Uncircumcision is considered “intact.”) One form of circumcision is snipping off the edge of the foreskin, leaving most of it intact. This form of circumcision has long been practiced by many different cultures contemporary to the ancient Israelites (Archaeological Bible, ESV, page 1080).

Israelite Jews practiced the full removal of the foreskin. Quite a few sites (all against circumcision) claim that Israelites did not practice the full removal of the foreskin until more recent years, like Circumcision: Then and Now. Unfortunately, I can’t find any sources used in these articles or any other historical evidence to back this up. What I do have is the Archaeological Bible, which states that Israelite Jews did remove the entire foreskin, and 1 Samuel 18, which suggests that David removed a significant amount of foreskin in order to present a hundred of them to King Saul. If you know of sources that are pro-circumcision that can back this up, or if you know of any non-biased historical sources, please link to them in the comments!

Anti-circumcision timelines claim that the full removal of the foreskin is as contemporary as the 19th century. They claim that the move to full circumcision was an act to discourage masturbation. You can read a timeline (which unfortunately also does not include sources) linking circumcision and masturbation here. I don’t doubt a correlation between circumcision and attempts to curb masturbation, but I do question the claim that full removal of the foreskin did not occur before the 19th century.

Jewish Circumcision

For information on traditional Jewish circumcision, read Advantages and Possible Complications of a Brit Milah (a Jewish source). For information on the controversial practice of metzitzah, read Jewish newborn infected with herpes after metzitzah b’peh (Jerusalem news source).

Modern Medical Circumcision

Read about the procedure, risks, and complications of modern circumcision here.

Considerations

Appearance

Circumcision is basically a cosmetic surgery, but it won’t guarantee boys from being teased or comparing themselves with others. Some boys are teased for being intact, some for being circumcised. Today in the US, about half of young boys are circumcised and half are intact (According to statistics from a study conducted in 2009).

Reading online forums, I’ve heard of more intact men getting teased in the locker room (about 80% of men in the US are circumcised). But now that more boys have been left intact, teasing should not really be a deciding factor. Do boys really need to look like their fathers, brothers, or friends? That’s something to think about.

Health considerations

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a statement in favor of circumcision, saying the benefits outweigh the risks (reversing the recommendations they’d been making since the 1970s).

“Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.”

Many articles have been written in response to the AAP’s statement, claiming for example:

  1. Pediatricians profit from circumcision and therefore the AAP cannot be considered an unbiased source (Doctors Opposing Circumcision)
  2. Urinary Tract Infections can be treated with antibiotics (“Cultural Bias in the AAP“)
  3. The studies used to inform the AAP’s statement, namely the ones regarding HIV contraction being 60% lower among uncircumcised men in Africa, do not apply to the US, where men have access to clean water (DOC)

While #1 is certainly an important consideration, the AAP had ruled against circumcision from 1971—2012. Studies and statistical results are never 100% accurate for all people. Be sure to look at the numbers, who is performing the study, who is participating in the study, and whether the conclusion is accurate based on the study’s findings.

Other things to consider:

  • “Boys who are not circumcised as newborns may later have circumcision for the treatment of phimosis, paraphimosis, or balanoposthitis. When done after the newborn period, circumcision is considerably more complicated.” (MedicineNet)
  • “Meatitis is more common in boys who have been circumcised.” (MedicineNet)
  • “Circumcision prevents the growth of bacteria under the foreskin and this, in turn, protects male infants against urinary tract infection. The high incidence of urinary tract infections in uncircumcised boys has also been found to be accompanied by an increased incidence of other significant infections such as bacteremia (bacterial infection of the bloodstream) and meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain). The protective effect of circumcision may thus extend to a number of infectious diseases.”  (MedicineNet)

STDs and Circumcision—different sources will give different results.

  • “Male circumcision reduces the risk that a man will acquire HIV from an infected female partner, and also lowers the risk of other STDs , penile cancer, and infant urinary tract infection” (Center for Disease Control, African study).
  • “For female partners, male circumcision reduces the risk of cervical cancer, genital ulceration, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and HPV. Although male circumcision has risks including pain, bleeding, and infection, more serious complications are rare” (CDC, African study).
  • In a study surveying a male population of the US Navy, both US- and foreign-born, circumcision did not statistically or significantly effect the prevalence of HIV or other STDs (Naval Health Research).
  • “After correction for age, circumcision was unrelated to reporting STI, but appeared to protect against penile candidiasis [thrush]” (Widespread Australian Study).

Pain

Circumcision will hurt—anyone that tells you differently is missing serious brain cells. Here’s what the AAP has to say:

“Analgesia is safe and effective in reducing the procedural pain associated with newborn circumcision; thus, adequate analgesia should be provided whenever newborn circumcision is performed. Nonpharmacologic techniques (eg, positioning, sucrose pacifiers) alone are insufficient to prevent procedural and post procedural pain and are not recommended as the sole method of analgesia. They should be used only as analgesic adjuncts to improve infant comfort during circumcision. If used, topical creams may cause a higher incidence of skin irritation in low birth weight infants, compared with infants of normal weight; penile nerve block techniques should therefore be chosen for this group of newborns” (Pediatrics, Sept 2012).

It can take 7-10 days for recovery time.

Some mothers have reported that their sons go on a nursing strike after circumcision.

Proponents of circumcision say the baby usually starts crying before the procedure, usually stops crying soon afterward, and sometimes falls asleep after.

Opponents of circumcision claim that some babies actually go into shock from the pain, and just appear to be sleeping.

Using topical analgesic and other pain relief (like infant Tylenol or suppositories) seem to be effective pain relief, though some soreness will be felt and care must be given while changing the diaper or any dressings.

Sex life

Some men that have been circumcised later in life say their sexual pleasure has diminished from being circumcised, others say it has increased.

  • “Does circumcision improve couple’s sexual life?” is a study reporting on men’s perception on their sex life before and after adult circumcision. However, note that the sample size is so small, the findings cannot be considered statistically significant. Therefore the conclusion of the study cannot be taken as fact. 
  • “Circumcision was unrelated to most sexual difficulties, but circumcised men were less likely to report physical pain during intercourse or trouble keeping an erection.” (Large Australian Study, also cited above

Intact men have more natural lubrication, but that moist atmosphere might put them at a higher risk of contracting certain STDs and/or passing them along to their partner (see health considerations, above).

Because circumcised men do not have the foreskin, they  might require more supplemental lubrication during sex (see Anatomy of the Penis, in the further reading, below).

Women have different preferences. However, if your son marries a virgin, she won’t have anybody else to compare him to. Even if your son’s future partner does have a preference, a superficial reason should not be a factor if she truly loves him.

Further Reading:

Potty training

Circumcised boys may need to be taught to point down, since the foreskin won’t direct their urine downward.

The foreskin of intact boys may get stuck to their skin, causing them to spray on themselves.

Consent

The ethics of circumcision. This is where the debate gets ugly. The problem is, like the debate between pro-choice and pro-life, there will be people that disagree with you, and you aren’t going to convince them otherwise, because it comes down to personal ethics.

One of the major reasons many choose not to circumcise is that they feel the child needs to consent to such a surgery. They equate circumcision with mutilation. If the mutilation of female genitalia is so horrendous, shouldn’t the mutilation of male genitalia be as well? If the surgery is unnecessary, why do it? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Isn’t the foreskin there for a purpose—otherwise why is it there in the first place?

These are all valid questions that need to be thought about.

Both intact males and circumcised men have come out saying they regretted their parents’ decision. Circumcised men may feel like they were taken advantage of and that part of them is missing. Intact men might resent their parents for not giving them the procedure as newborns, because adult circumcision has a much longer recovery time, during which the man may not be able to walk or have sex for weeks or months (neither of these complications are issues with newborns).

Religious reasons

As a Christian, I can only speak on the behalf of those beliefs. Circumcision is considered important or mandatory in Jewish and Muslim practices.

Christians are under the “New Covenant,” which means circumcision is unnecessary for them. Paul, in Galatians 5, uses no uncertain terms to condone forcing circumcision upon Gentiles. However, the Bible in no way suggests that circumcision is a sin, like this writer would have you believe, correlating the practice with Satanism. The sin is believing that you must be circumcised to be saved—it’s putting a higher emphasis on religious practices than on the grace of God. If circumcision were a sin according to the New Testament, Paul would not have allowed Timothy to be circumcised. The bottom line is that there is now freedom to choose to not be circumcised.

Conclusion

Whether you choose to circumcise or not is entirely up to you and the father of your child. Weigh the benefits and the risks and make the decision that you feel is best for your son and your family. The biggest factors are ethical and religious—so note that other parents are going to make different decisions based on their own ethical and religious backgrounds.

If you choose to circumcise

Wait eight days after birth—that’s when a baby’s Vitamin K levels increase and there’s a lower risk of bleeding.

The Mogen Clamp or Jewish Shield seem to have fewer disadvantages and complications than the Plastibell or Gomco clamp.

Ask what types of pain relief will be given to your son during the procedure. (The AAP

Take care of the circumcised penis as it heals and have it checked regularly at newborn check-ups.

If getting a traditional Jewish brit milah, determine whether the mohel will practice oral metzitzah.

Teach your child to respect other boys, whether intact or circumcised.

If you choose not to circumcise

Do not retract the foreskin forcibly. An intact penis will begin to retract between the ages of 3 and puberty (Psychology Today).

Once the foreskin retracts, teach your child how to clean the foreskin with water to avoid infection. Some soaps may irritate or dry out the foreskin (Psychology Today).

Teach your child to respect other boys, whether intact or circumcised.

—————————————-

That was easily the longest post ever to appear here on Bewildered Mother. Feel free to comment below, but realize that this isn’t a public forum, this is my blog. Offensive or judgmental posts MAY be removed at my discretion. This is a place to learn and encourage, not judge or convert. If you have a passionate response, I suggest you write your own blog post in protest, and post the link below—then people that agree with you can read your article, and people that disagree just as vehemently as you do can angrily disagree with you over there.

Confessions of a Superficial Momma

I hope my baby is cute.

About a month before Champ was born, my friend posted a picture of her brand new baby nephew. He was the cutest newborn I’ve ever seen in my life, with a head full of dark hair. I remember being on the verge of tears because I was certain that our baby wouldn’t be as cute. Sure, he’d be cute, but I figured he would follow the family norms and be born completely bald with a round head, looking very much like a baby Winston Churchill.

churchill

Take away the wrinkles, and you get a baby picture of my littlest brother.

But then Champ was born, and the only thing I remember from seeing him the first time was not a rush of philosophical thoughts on motherhood, but rather, “Where on earth did all that hair come from?”

IMG_0684

Now, I might be biased, but my firstborn was (and is) pretty darned adorable. And while I do like babies, and there is something very, very special about seeing a newborn, I’m not in that camp that thinks all babies are adorable.

I’m more like Bill Cosby.

I met a baby a while ago that I liked very much, whom I liked holding and I thought was a very sweet life. But the whole time, I couldn’t help noticing a resemblance to Anakin Skywalker in episode 6…

skywalker

I admit it’s superficial for me to want a baby that looks less like a burn victim and more like a miniature Frank Sinatra.

sinatra

Maybe Baby Lion won’t be as cute as Champ was. If he isn’t, I’m sure I’ll keep it to myself. (And everybody else had better keep it to themselves, if they don’t want their faces rearranged.) It certainly won’t keep me from loving him just as much as as I love our first!

Besides, if the kids get any genes from me, I know they are going to be in for it when they become about 8 or 9 years old, and won’t grow out of the awkward phase for about twelve years.

At least it will make dating easier for us parents. Because if my boys continue getting cuter, we won’t have to worry about a Zombie apocalypse. We’ll be living in a bunker trying to keep all the girls at bay.

Maternity Photos

The problem with springtime in Minnesota is that it is completely unpredictable (if it even exists at all). So either we were going to take the photos in the snow, in the mud, or in the dead grass.

Oh, it’s still March, I said. Let’s wait until April, I said. Then we can take maternity pictures outside in bright short sleeve T-shirts and rain boots, I said.

I had this grandiose idea of taking our Maternity photos with rain boots and umbrellas against the skyline of the city.

Then the day came.

And it looked like this:

13909_10101459264884380_1508882368_n

I had a few ideas, which continually got shot down by weather or fear of overcrowding or traffic. Finally I got the idea of a library.

mat1

Half the time was spent chasing Champ up and down the aisles of books, but we did get some good photos. Thanks to LindseyMarie Photography for capturing the day and being so flexible!

mat2

That blur of Champ’s hand was pointing to where the baby is.

mat5

FYI, Kids can’t run away madly when perched atop daddy’s shoulders.

mat3

Most photos were achieved only with leftover Easter candy, which Champ shoved into his cheeks like a chipmunk.mat4

mat6

Elevator!

mat7

mat9

mat8

mat10

mat11

mat12

The computers were also a big help in distracting the little wild man.

mat13

mat14

mat15

mat16

mat17

mat18

mat19

Surviving the Third Trimester

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

In just a matter of days, I’ll be full term with Baby Lion (full term is 37 weeks to 42 weeks). I was “lucky” enough to have Champ right at 37 weeks, so I haven’t shared the misery of some ladies that go to 41+ weeks, but I’ve still had my share of late-pregnancy woes.

And I’ve been in my third trimester in the South during the summer, and in the North during the winter, so I’ve experienced a range of annoyances. Thankfully for you, I’ve also found some relief for these annoyances. (“Some” being the key word.) Here are the four unfortunate symptoms I’m most familiar with, along with a list of home remedies to relieve them.

Note: I’m not a doctor or midwife, and my only license is a driver’s one. So be sure to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes. These remedies worked for me, but I can’t be held responsible if they don’t work for you . . . sorry.

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Swelling / Carpal Tunnel

Both swelling and Carpal Tunnel are caused by water retention. Carpal Tunnel, for those of you who don’t know, is when the swelling pinches a nerve in your wrist, numbing your thumb and first couple of fingers. It may or may not be painful, but it will likely keep you up at night.

I’m listing these roughly in order from what works the most to what sometimes / maybe works.

  • Drink a TON of water—at least a gallon each day. More if you are in a hot or humid climate. The less you drink, the more your body decides it needs to hoard water in case of emergencies. Like a camel. Camels have skinny calves, sure, but they’ve also got those gigantic humps on their back.
  • Stay cool—keep indoors in the A/C if it’s warm outside.
  • Elevate above the heart—for carpal tunnel, this is your wrists. For foot swelling, that’s probably your feet. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous feeling to raise your feet above your heart, but that’s how to decrease swelling. If I’m trying to sleep, it only takes about 90 seconds for my fingers to go numb if my arm isn’t elevated. Use pillows. Sometimes I awkwardly drape my arms over by body, above my head, or on the Captain to keep my wrist elevated. He’s a good man.
  • Wear a wrist brace for Carpal Tunnel—I can’t sleep in these. The idea is to keep your wrist straight when you sleep. A straight wrist means your thumb aligns with your arm, not your palm. Your palm should angle up. If you don’t know what I mean, then put on a brace to see what position your wrist should be in. Also, don’t sleep with your hands under your head.
  • Limit sodium—Salt contributes to water retention. But sodium and salt (including table salt, which has iodide in it) are important, so talk about your diet with a health professional before making any changes.
  • ExerciseApparently this is supposed to help, especially if you sweat. The only exercise I get is chasing a toddler around the house, trying to get him into his underpants, and hauling him onto and off the potty and into his crib. That’s enough cardio right there.
  • Take a bath—I think this is psychological, but I feel like when I take a shower or bath, my body realizes it doesn’t have to hoard all the water itself, because there is plenty water accessible to me at any given time. So be grateful, body, because many parts of the world don’t have running or clean water.
  • Cold / hot compresses—these may give relief to your wrists or feet.
  • Vitamin B6, Calcium/Magnesium supplements—these could help, too. I already take these supplements (as you will see), so I can’t tell if they are making my carpal tunnel better. It could be much worse without them, I don’t know.
  • Hazelwood and/or Baltic Amber jewelry—I wear these primarily for heartburn (see below), but have been wearing my Baltic Amber necklace tripled up around my wrist lately.
  • Nutritional Yeast / Brewer’s Yeast—My midwives are awesome. Saw one today and she said I should get Brewer’s Yeast for my carpal tunnel, that it’s an anti-inflammatory, and that I can sprinkle it on cereal or yogurt, and that some people put it on popcorn (apparently it tastes like cheese!). Picked some up, but haven’t tried it yet.

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Dry Skin / Itchy feet

I’ve been so itchy with this pregnancy, and I blame the cold weather that just sucks the moisture out of me. Now that I’m retaining water, I’m not as itchy all over (hooray?), but it could become unbearable/ here’s what worked for me:

  • Warm, not hot, showers—hot showers will actually dry out your skin more, I’ve been told.
  • Lotion or baby oil—some people don’t want to put baby oil (mineral oil) on their bodies, or Vaseline, because they contain petroleum. You can decide what you want to avoid in your lotions or oils and find products on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. I’m fine with Vaseline and baby oil, but I’m not okay with parabens. I use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for Stretch Marks (note, its current, paraben-free formula is not on the database). Whatever you choose, put it on your body while it’s still damp from the shower to seal in the moisture.
  • Ice water—when my feet WOULD NOT STOP ITCHING, I got a bit desperate. I ran ice-cold water from the tap over my feet until they were thoroughly chilled and I couldn’t feel the itching sensation anymore. Then slathered baby oil over them, and put on socks over that. It seemed to work, because after two nights of doing this, I haven’t had to do it again, and that was about a month ago. Desperate times call for frozen feet. (Er…don’t give yourself frostbite or anything)

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Restless Legs

If you’ve ever been in bed and had your legs FREAK OUT like all of a sudden you were James Brown singing “Sex Machine,” then you know what restless legs are. Sometimes restless legs cramp up, and you get Charlie Horses, too! Fun fun, especially for anyone who gets to share a bed with you, and finds himself being forcibly kicked at random in the night. Here’s some remedies—start at the top and work your way down.

  • Eat a banana every day—this could be the only change you have to make to find relief. I know other moms that swear by it. Worked for me in my first pregnancy.
  • Take magnesium supplements—I’m going to reference magnesium supplements over and over again. See how much I take at the bottom of this post. And talk to your provider about how much you should / can take.
  • Keep feet raised—if your feet are swollen, you should already be doing this. Keep them elevated above the heart while sleeping.
  • Stretch your calves—One of my midwives showed me a stretch that can give relief. One foot at a time, press the pad of your foot against a wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and pull yourself closer to the wall, pushing your foot into the wall and stretching your calves out. I just walked on the pads of my feet, doing lunges, on the way to and from the bathroom during my mid-night pee runs. Yes, it felt like I was part of the Ministry of Silly Walks.
  • Grab some Vicks VapoRub—This was another one of those dire moments, drastic measure things. Pretty sure Vicks VapoRub is perfectly safe during pregnancy, but since I couldn’t find a definitive answer, you should probably ask your provider if it’s okay. Anyway, my solution? I dabbed a bit on the backs of my knees, right in the crease of the skin. Tingly? Yes. But it somehow draws the tingles out of the rest of your legs, like sucking out snake poison. Pretty awesome and worth a try if you (or your spouse) are miserable. I’m no scientist, I have no idea why it worked or how I thought it might. But believing it will work is half the battle, right?

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Heartburn / Reflux

I got heartburn the first time when I was 8 years old, and have had it ever since. When you’re pregnant, the relaxin hormone that allows your hips to stretch out—you know, so you can actually push a human being the size of a melon out of your body—also wreaks havoc on your esophageal sphincter, that one-way door that is supposed to keep food in your stomach. That door “relaxes” so that the acid party in your stomach spills out, into your throat. Fun, fun. Oh, and then your baby gets bigger and bigger and pushes up on your stomach, squeezing everything out of it like a squirty bath toy.

I have a very large list for this one, so don’t expect too much organization here.

  • Eat small mealsthe less and more frequently you eat, the less of a chance your tummy will be filled to overcapacity. You can still eat a ton of whatever you’re craving, just split those meals in half and break between them.
  • Don’t drink during meals or after meals—drinking before or between meals is better, so you don’t fill up your stomach as quickly. You could try drinking a glass of water 15 minutes to half an hour before a meal to try and wash away any acid, but that could backfire, making your stomach overcompensate.
  • Watch how you sleep—sleep upright, at an incline, or on your left side. You’re more likely to wake up with vomit in your throat if you sleep on your right side. Isn’t pregnancy super glamorous?
  • Fight the acid—take TUMS (but don’t take too many!), drink water with lemon, or sip apple cider vinegar. Lemons and apple cider vinegar seem very acidic, but when they hit your stomach, they balance out your Ph. Lemon water is the tastier option; apple cider vinegar can be more effective.
  • Take a calcium/magnesium supplement—Are you seeing a pattern here? This stuff works for swelling, restless legs, and heartburn. Talk to your provider about how much you can take, and be sure to include how many TUMs you are taking so you don’t overdose on calcium.
  • Increase fiber—constipation is common in pregnancy because your digestion slows WAY DOWN to ensure your baby can take as many nutrients from your food as possible. If your plumbing is plugged up down south, expect that traffic jam to back up into your stomach, giving you heartburn. Lots of fruit and veggies, and complex carbs. Note: read the comments at the end of this blog to see a discussion about how Papaya and other P fruits can aid digestion!
  • Wear hazelwood and/or Baltic amber jewelry—Hazelwood neutralizes acid and Baltic amber works as a natural, safe anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. I order my jewelry from Hazelaid.com (some styles are also available on Amazon.)

If you get heartburn on an empty stomach:

  • Eat absorbent foods—Again, I think this is a psychological thing, but if you get heartburn on an empty stomach, eat something that will absorb that acid, like rice or bread. I’ve even tried marshmallows. They’re spongy, right?

Sometimes, in an effort for your body to close that esophageal sphincter, it tries a bit too hard, and your whole abdomen might cramp up to stop the acid. Definitely talk to your provider if you have abdominal pain! If it’s caused by heartburn, though, here’s what you can try:

  • Drink peppermint tea—Warm drinks soothe and relax, and peppermint does the same. Drink warm peppermint tea to soothe your tummy. DON’T suck on peppermint candies or chew peppermint gum, because those will just relax your esophageal sphincter further.
  • Try tummy massage and warm compresses—Warm compresses can offer relief from muscles cramping. Pair this with the peppermint tea, and you’ll warm and soothe inside and out. For tummy massage, I use the “I love you” massage I used on Champ when he had baby reflux, but do it on myself. Start on your left side, where your stomach is, and smooth down towards the pubic bone. The “L” starts under your right breast. The “U” starts at your pubic bone on the right side and ends on the left side.

massage

If you still have heartburn, don’t give up hope yet.

  • Reduce or eliminate acidic foods from your diet—I had a cheeseburger each day with Champ. No wonder my heartburn was so awful! I’ve blogged about acidity before, so you can check that out.
  • Keep a food journal—You’ll be able to reintroduce some of those acidic foods if you 1) eat mostly alkaline and 2) figure out what your triggers are. For example, I can eat sausage pizza but not pepperoni. I can’t eat nuts on an empty stomach.
  • Eat ice cream—I saved this one for last because it’s my favorite. If I know I’m going to eat red meat, I eat a small portion and eat it early, pairing it with some greens. Then an hour or so later, I reward myself with ice cream. Maybe it’s just because I love it so much, but ice cream seems to be the only dairy product that reduces, rather than increases, acid in my stomach (milk and cheese are acidic!).

Be Patient

Just remember as you are dealing with pregnancy woes what joy awaits you! Soon you’ll have that precious child in your arms, and your mommy brain will make you forget most of what you had to put up with in pregnancy. You might even be so crazy to want to endure it all over again, to add to your family. I’m one of the crazy ones.

Note: this post may include Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase from these Amazon links, a very small portion of the profit will be returned to me. If I ever make money off these links, I’ll buy more cloth diapers with them.

10 on 10: April (with Easter photos)

I’m quite large and quite tired. You’ll have to forgive me for not having enough enthusiasm to actually put decent effort into editing these photos. The point is that I’m posting them, though, right?

First thing’s first—Easter morning. Champ’s “Easter Basket” consisted of sidewalk chalk, a ball for outside, and a lap desk I painted with DIY chalkboard paint. There’s a sponge eraser, too.

aprila

He enjoyed the Easter Egg hunt. So casual and dapper, no?

aprilb

I got a picture of the dog wearing bunny ears. This took many attempts, people.aprilc

He got 2 baskets worth of eggs. You’d better believe we are rationing it like it’s the dust bowl over here.
aprild

Then we tested out the chalkboard.aprile

Did you know that sidewalk chalk comes pre-moistened? Super weird. It makes the colors go on smoothly and brightly, but also makes them nearly impossible to erase. So I suggest sticking to the plain chalkboard chalk for your chalkboards, unless you regularly want to wash the board with water.aprilf

 

We’ve been spending most of the rest of our time at home. I take a lot of photos during the month, but usually they’re off my phone, and I post them to my Facebook page.aprilg

We went to the wedding of one of my design clients. I’m really happy with how everything turned out! I’m even happier that I am taking a sabbatical from custom designs for the next few months. I’ll continue doing premade designs when I’ve got time for them this summer, after I’m done nesting and out of the zombie-phase of mothering a newborn.aprilh

After the wedding, the Captain and I went on our penultimate date, knowing that next week will be our last couple outing for a very, very long time. When I was in the bathroom, he snuck a photo of my salad. Strange and wonderful man.aprili

 

This weekend we are finally taking Maternity photos! Rainboots and superheroes are involved. I’m excited. Stay tuned for those photos next week or so.

Abortion is Never the Right Choice

Note: As an abortion survivor and mother of my own unplanned pregnancy, this topic really strikes a chord in me. The wifosaurus is about to show her teeth but also reveal a gap in her scales. No, this post isn’t going to include photos of abortions or babies. I’d prefer to appeal to reason, not use emotional manipulation. But I can’t guarantee to be 100% reasonable, since this is an emotionally charged topic, and the discussion that prompted this post made me very, very angry.

I’m about to tell you that abortion is never the right choice. Don’t agree? Then you don’t have to. I’m not going to debate about when life begins. That’s not the point. The point is, having an abortion is a choice. Sometimes it’s choosing fear over faith. Sometimes it’s choosing selfishness over selflessness. But most times, it’s choosing to believe the lie that you aren’t loved, that you can’t do it, that you aren’t strong enough, and that you are all alone.

I’m here to tell you that you can do it. You are loved. You can do it. You are strong enough. You are not alone.

I know situations are complex. I don’t know everybody’s situation. I don’t claim to know. But I’m going to list a bunch of situations, and I’m going to give you my honest opinion—the opinion of a friend. Sometimes we need tough love, and I’m not afraid to tell it like it is.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Whether you made a mistake or were the victim of a mistake, realize that an abortion will not solve your problems. If anything, it will add to your pain and grief and regret. Abortion clinics don’t care about what happens to you after they are finished with you. And yet so many women need counseling after an abortion, so many feel regret afterward. Their lives are plagued by “What if”s. On the other hand, becoming a parent (or giving someone else the chance to parent through adoption) can offer healing and redeem the situation. If good can come out of a bad situation, why choose something that could cause more grief and regret? I have heard countless stories of women who wished they had never aborted their child. I’ve never heard of a woman who honestly regretted having a child.

If you don’t want to be pregnant

Pregnancy can be a bugger. Still, would it kill you to do something for someone else in your life? No. If nothing else, pregnancy will make you reevaluate your priorities and make you more of a compassionate human being.

Also, obviously you have no idea that there are millions of women who would give their lives for the chance to be pregnant, but they are infertile. On their behalf, I have a string of choice words for you. But on your behalf, I’ll refrain from using them.

When the family situation is unstable

One of the most frustrating arguments I hear for abortion is that getting an abortion is better than having a child live in poverty. First, that completely ignores adoption, which would remove the child from an unstable situation and place him or her into a loving environment. Secondly, that logic decides that it’s not worth it to give someone a chance at something so fundamental as life itself. What if you met the love of your life, and he or she told you, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be in a relationship with you. There’s a chance that someday one of us might make the other unhappy.” Have you ever been upset because someone didn’t give you a chance? Have you ever felt like someone wrote you off or judged you without knowing you? Why is it okay for someone else to decide that a child has no right to live? This argument especially frustrates me because

I was that baby.

My mom was a teenager when she got pregnant with me. She was told she should get an abortion by those closest to her. But my mom gave me a chance, and she gave herself a chance. Yes, we lived in a rough neighborhood for a time and relied on food stamps for groceries. But my family, by the grace of God, worked their way out. My parents married, I grew up, got scholarships to go to college, fell in love, got married, and now I have my own child. I’m a regular person. I’ll probably never change the world by any significant means. But my existence has made an effect on my parents’ and on my husband’s and on my son’s life. How many future Albert Einsteins and Steve Jobs have we not given the chance to effect our world for the better?

It’s no coincidence that abortion clinics are located in the poorest neighborhoods. The abortion industry is a business that profits off vulnerable women. Abortions are expensive. But did you know that adoptive parents pay the medical bills for their birth mother? There is no such thing as an unwanted baby.

When it will change your life

Pregnancy and parenthood definitely change one’s life, of that I am certain. Unexpected pregnancies are terrifying! They threaten to change your world upside down. But sometimes life throws us curve balls. Parenthood is a chance at creating a legacy. Are babies inconvenient? Yes, yes they are. Will children drive you insane? Yes they will. But you will never know unconditional love like the love a parent has for a child until you are a parent yourself, whether birth or adoptive. I wouldn’t exchange anything in this life for my son. Success, riches, fame, comfort, entertainment…all these things are temporary. But a child is a gift that lasts two lifetimes—yours and theirs—plus the lifetimes of any future generations that come from that child. I know a handful of single mothers who made the choice to keep their children, and even though their lives changed, they would all agree that their lives changed for the better, and none of them have a single regret that they took a chance on their child.

If the baby might have a disability

First, most prenatal screenings are not accurate. They don’t tell you that a child has a disability, they tell you that a child might have the possibility of having a disability.

Secondly, if you don’t have a natural miscarriage, then it would playing God to destroy a child based on gender, disability or handicap of any kind. Except God doesn’t discriminate. So it’s really like playing Hitler.

When no one will support you

If your friends or family won’t support you in one of the biggest decisions of your life, what makes you think they will support you in easier situations? You may feel completely alone in this. Planned Parenthood will tell you as much. But you aren’t alone. There are support groups in churches, at pregnancy resource centers, and places you might not expect. When you open yourself to others, you’d be surprised who will end up being your closest friend. Find an advocate that believes in you and will support you through the pregnancy whether you decide to parent the baby or choose adoption. If no one close to you will, we have a spare bedroom, and we will be your new family.

If nothing else, realize that a child will love you completely, simply for being his or her mother, even if you choose adoption. You don’t have to be a perfect parent. No one is perfect at anything.

Maybe you had an abortion in your past. Maybe you’ve been grieving openly. Maybe you’ve been stifling that grief. Either way, find someone you trust that you can talk to. Most pregnancy centers can point you in the direction of post-abortive counseling, even if you think you’re over it, or if it’s been 20 or 30 years. Take the chance to release that guilt or grief and find freedom.

You aren’t perfect, but you are loved.