Monday, April 30, 2012

Pregnancy: Week 12

Phew! The secret is out! I can't begin to explain how relieving it is to be able to talk openly about our pregnancy. And how exciting it is to finally start posting to the blog! What a joy it was to read all our friends and family's well wishes on our announcement post. I am so glad we announced on my birthday, it definitely made for the most exciting one I think I've ever had (sorry, Mom, my birthday parties were awesome too!). And to top it off the weather was amazing!

Even more, LB is getting big and strong—just over 2" and about the size of a lime. We have reached the exciting 12-week milestone where much of the baby's development is in place and now he/she just needs to grow, grow, grow! Allegedly the risk of miscarriage drops even further—down to maybe 1%—at this point. Still, this baby belongs to God and I need to continually remind myself of that. Baby Center tells me that if I prod my abdomen, the baby will squirm in response. You better bet there's a lot of prodding happening! Did you know that baby's pee inside of you?! So weird!

Most of the week was spent feeling awful. I'm talking the kind of awful where nothing in the entire universe sounds appetizing and all you can think of doing is laying on the couch depressed because you have no energy. Totally sad. However, the end of this week marked a major development in my nausea! Right around 12 weeks I started to feel more interested in food and gain a tiny bit more energy. We celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner with my parents at one of our favorite local vegetarian spots, Cafe Flora. I ordered the French Dip with Yam Fries and Spicy Aioli on the side. This french dip came with sauteed mushrooms and onions instead of the traditional roast beef. It sounded good when we were ordering, but once it arrived I lost my appetite and only ended up taking a couple small bites. Even so, the fact that I could sit with the food throughout dinner without gagging was a huge accomplishment! I definitely enjoyed the leftovers the next day for lunch though.

My belly has for sure started to change this week. No bump yet, but at the end of the week I am sporting a nicely plump gut. I decided to embrace it and even wore a tight fitting knit dress (i.e. stretchy) on my birthday. I don't think I have gained any weight yet though. Maybe .5–1lb, but no more than that. I know it's okay to only take on an extra pound or two in the first tri, so I'm not too worried, and I still have a couple weeks to go. Overall, my belly just generally feels stuck out. I guess it's just water bloat because I can still suck it in pretty far. I have heard that true pregnant belly cannot be sucked in.

Easter up in Bellingham

Speaking of, I bought two pair of maternity jeans early this week (one pair seen above). I mentioned earlier that I had started looking, but found it challenging to track down affordable maternity jeans that come in long lengths. I almost got a pair from Motherhood Maternity, but decided they didn't look very flattering and assumed they would be cheap feeling. So I kept looking and ended up at the Gap. I've been browsing their site for awhile, but mostly just the sale section. I bought a pair there (with an extra 15% off just for signing up for their emails!) and also another pair at Old Navy. I don't think I should need more than two pair since most of my pregnancy will be during summer. I promise to post a review of both jeans once I give them a fair try!

Lastly, I issue a formal apology to those of you who follow my Pinterest boards. I completely realize I blew up your feeds with baby-overload for a couple days—oopsie! I had all those pins "liked" for months and was dying to get them organized! I'm sure round two will ensue once we find out the gender. Watch out ;)

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pregnancy: Week 11

We forgot to do a belly shot this week since I still wasn't really showing. Belly shots (for real) from here on out :)

It's starting to feel strange knowing that I'm getting more pregnant with each day, but I've not got much to show for it. I think I had some unspoken misconception before pregnancy that I would look 30 weeks pregnant instantly—so not true. In fact, I'm realizing that many women spend half their (first) pregnancy not even looking pregnant. For now I'm trying to revel in shaving my legs, tying my shoes and snuggling Mia on my belly. I know these will be distant memories before too long.

Proud mama moment: Can you believe LB is the size of a fig or small lime (1.5 inches) and almost fully formed?! I can't! Apparently there's a lot of stretching, kicking, and even hiccupping happening, but I don't think I will be able to feel this for a few more weeks at least. I also can't believe it's almost time to announce to the rest of the world, including work. Although most of our family and close friends already know, it will be so awesome to not have to keep any bit of this in any longer. I'm ready to spill the beans. There is debate over whether the 2nd tri starts at 12 or 14 weeks, so I’m going with the safer bet and saving my excitement for week 14, even though we will announce at 12. I guess it’s because you aren’t technically pregnant for the first two weeks?

Despite not looking very round, I am definitely feeling plump. In fact, I just feel “fat” (relative to my pre-pregnant self). My pants are getting tighter by the second and I almost always have a gut hanging out—not very cute. I can for sure feel the top of my uterus now when I inspect my belly. I’m really looking forward to the firmer round bump. It is such a phenomenon to me how some women grow really fast and have a full bump by 20 weeks, while some hardly even look pregnant at 20 weeks.

Accordingly, I am on the lookout for maternity pants and plan to get some soon. I have heard most women recommend the full panel or the under the belly styles, but definitely not the demi-panel (not flattering). My sister-in-law, who is about 8 weeks ahead of me, said the under the belly types can get a bit uncomfortable. I have also heard it recommended to invest in a good pair of maternity jeans instead of a bunch of crappy pairs. My biggest concern is finding maternity pants that come in “longs”. My favorite brand, Boden, doesn't carry their maternity jeans in longs and neither do many other brands. Any advice from my long legged friends?

We bought a Baby Ergo Carrier this week! Arthur and I both fell in love with the Ergo after using it with our friends little guy a few months back. It’s a bit bulky—moreso than the Moby or K’tan—but great for when baby gets bigger. We found a great deal on Craigslist for a Petunia Pickle Bottom print Ergo from a couple who used it less than a handful of times on a trip to Spain. I triple made sure Arthur was okay with the print, and he assures me he has no qualms. I love it way more than the traditional drab color schemes of the regular Ergos. My mom is urging us to stop buying baby items “so people will have stuff to give us”, but I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of baby things we will need. I don’t foresee us getting too much more until after the baby showers.

Overall I’ve been up and down all week, but mostly down. Some days I really don’t feel well, am tired, and/or just feel helpless, while some days I have a reasonable appetite and enough energy to get something accomplished. Doing much of anything is intimidating to my tired body right now. My palate has also been much more limited than last week. Some current turnoffs: bread, veggie burgers, many cheeses, strawberries! could this happen?!...hummus, avocados, and of course pizza and string cheese. I’ve instead been munching on: Fruit, Annie's cheddar bunnies, pasteurized brie, buttered toast when I really don’t feel well, Trader Joes mandarin orange chickenless chicken (once when I felt good), homemade pear scones, and even Spuds fish and chips one night. I haven’t eaten fish in months, but it sounded so good one day. It went over pretty well, and I have definitely been noticing cravings toward recipes with seafood in them. I am thinking of incorporating more into my pregnancy diet...rumor has it that salmon is on the menu for Easter dinner.

We were so excited to tell Arthur's sister and our brother-in-law over the weekend since they are expecting their first baby just ahead of us. They were really happy with the news, and we're all looking forward to having cousins just weeks apart. In just this week alone she has been so helpful with tips and product reviews from things she's already tried. She even waddled over to our house the other night with a huge box labeled "Survival Kit".

I was blown away at how thoughtful and cute it was! In the box she included: A body pillow (one of her highest recommendations), a cover for it, almonds, herbal tea, a button extender for my pants that doesn't work for her anymore, string cheese (I'm planning to give it another shot!), and a note with lots of great advice. She planned to include her favorite nausea trick, Preggie Pops, but forgot, so we walked over to her house after dinner and picked those up along with a Fit Pregnancy magazine and a book of 100,001 baby names. So far I'm loving the Preggie Pops. They come in really delicious flavors like sour raspberry and lavender. It looks like Walmart is the cheapest option for buying more—they are almost $7/box on Amazon, which is about $1/pop, ouch!

Can't wait for next week (we're announcing AND 12 weeks on my birthday)! Phew, long post!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Fertility Tracking 101: Part 1

I've put off writing this two-part post for weeks now, but it's definitely time. It's just such a juicy topic with so much to say, I'm not even sure where to start. I will begin with saying that the information in this post is a compilation of my own research and discernments, and should not be taken as professional medical advice, nor me telling you what you should do. This is meant to be a guide to help you make your own informed decisions.

Perhaps birth control is the best place to begin. I am certain that some of you haven't even thought twice about birth control options, right? It's so culturally normal for women to be on the pill or an equivalent for most of their childbearing years that the thought of anything else is seen as weird, hippy, religious, or just plain inconvenient. In fact, I would most likely have been on the pill had no one ever told me I had options. Who knew?!

I am so grateful for that day almost five years ago when my dear friend and old roommate, Rachel, was preparing for her own upcoming marriage and came home with a pamphlet that talked about Natural Family Planning. I hadn't heard of it before and decidedly tucked the thought into the back of my mind. Fast forward a few years to another conversation with my dear friend, Carrie, who was still newly married at the time and telling me all about this book she picked up at the used book store that outlined how to "use" natural birth control. I was considering marrying a pretty cute guy (Papa K) around this time and we chatted the night away over fancy tacos about natural birth control and her friend (or friend of a friend?) who had used the method successfully for birth control and pregnancy achievement. I was hooked and couldn't stop talking about it to my other friends. I would often hear feedback like, "That is such a Christian thing to do", or "Yeah, I had a friend who tried that and it didn't work—she's got 11 children" (I'm kidding). I didn't know what to think or even where to start. I really questioned whether this was an honest form of birth control.

I must have mentioned the topic to Rachel again that year because she offered to loan me her book, Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler. She bookmarked the section she thought I should read (chapter 6, I think—the one about birth control), and said I didn't need to read the rest if I didn't want to. I had no idea what I was in for. This book is life changing. It literally sat under my bible on my nightstand for the year leading up to marriage (I eventually bought my own copy after I had worn out my welcome with hers) right up until our recent move. It now sits on the bookshelf, proudly. I cannot recommend this book enough. I even brought it one day to our pre-marriage class to make sure everyone knew about it. It's that good!

I assure you that this isn't a religious hokey-pokey book. It is a secular, incredibly easy to understand, book about how the female body works—from puberty to menopause. Don't be swayed by it's thickness either. You don't need to read the entire book. You can read sections as they become relevant to you. I just focused on the birth control chapters until we began discussing starting a family. I haven't even touched on the menopause chapters just yet. It's really a bible for the female body.

Basically, TCOYF walks you through the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). This is different from the well-known method, Natural Family Planning (NFP). In a nutshell, NFP assumes that you have a 28 day cycle and ovulate on day 14. So following this method, you would watch the calendar and count the days to find your alleged fertile period. However, not every woman has a 28 day cycle or ovulates on day 14, so this method is often the perpetrator behind those stories of women you hear about who get pregnant using natural birth control. The FAM method tracks the cues your body gives you to know what point in your cycle you're at. The basics of practicing the FAM method include: taking your temperature before getting out of bed every morning, charting your cervical fluid/mucus (that white/yellow sticky stuff that comes out of all women), and optionally, charting your cervical position. It's really not as daunting as it seems.

A sample chart from the book

From what I've experienced, it's the "work" that goes into it that holds back most women from choosing this birth control method. But I can promise you that it takes no more time to plop the thermometer under your tongue in the morning than it would to remember to take your pill everyday. And observing your cervical fluid is generally as easy as paying attention when you go to the bathroom and wipe. I will refrain from going into further detail, but the book explains all of this and more in full.

In closing for part one of this post, I have to say that this book has honestly taught me more about my body than anyone or anything ever has. I have heard countless friends and women say the same about TCOYF. There doesn't seem to be any in-between opinions about this book—you read it, you learn, and you love it, end of story. It's amazing how much we aren't taught about our physiology by our leaders, teachers, parents, etc. I think much of this is because they aren't educated about the female body themselves. Thankfully, my body is no longer a mystery. I almost always know what is happening inside me and have a much greater understanding of the way God has so intricately designed a woman's cycle and body to be a beautiful and perfectly orchestrated symphony.

Stay tuned for Part Two where I talk about my experience with natural birth control, fertility tracking, and pregnancy achievement.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pregnancy: Week 10

What a week! This really has been a special one. We announced to our families and community group, oogled the ultrasound pictures about 1,000,000 times, and LB graduated from embryo to fetus. Not to mention my uterus is the size of a grapefruit. Giant compared to the small pear it once was! I can certainly feel it, from the pressure and mild cramping, to the constant peeing.

I was also told by two separate people that I was "showing" on one particular day this week. No one has brought it up since, so I'm pretty sure it was just an unflattering dress I had on. It also makes me a bit weird having people analyzing my stomach all the time—something to get used to for sure. I don't think I look any different, maybe just a little bloated in my belly.

I've been getting up between 1–3 times at night and countless times during the day and evening. I also learned at our checkup that my uterus is tipped. Funny enough, I got an email a couple days later on that topic. One in five women have a tipped uterus and more often than not it corrects itself on its own. The symptom of a tilted uterus is feeling pressure, just as I've been explaining! I'm glad to have this insight and am resisting the urge, for now, to research any further. Online pregnancy research never ends well.

Our families are all over-the-moon excited about our big news. We haven't yet told Arthur's dad, but will at Easter. We surprised them all by giving them an envelope with the ultrasound picture inside. I wrote "Suprise! Baby King coming October 25, 2012" on each one, but realized later that I spelled surprise wrong each time. I chalk it up to pregnancy brain... Anyways, it's such a relief to let the secret out and be able to talk freely about it all. I can't wait until it's all the way out and I can finally start pinning all of those baby inspirations I have just "liked" on Pinterest for now. My secret is revealed! ;)

We also announced to our community group (bible study) this week. Apparently most of them had guessed and were just waiting for us to announce! I mentioned in week six's post that we went away for the weekend with these friends, and apparently me not drinking was the giveaway. I thought the constant intake of string cheese (ew!) and strawberry juice, not sledding, and going to bed at 9pm would have been a bigger red flag, but maybe they noticed that too. I also have missed two or three community group nights in the past six weeks from being too sick/tired. They were all incredibly supportive and excited for the new season we are heading into.

I HAD overall been feeling fantastic this week, with almost normal eating habits. I cooked more earlier this week than I have through the entire pregnancy so far. I even ate it—tabouleh, matzo ball soup, french toast and eggs, loaded baked potatoes, and even Vitamix soup (raw veggies blended in the Vitamix with broth until steamy hot...yummm).

Check out my $9.16 savings on these luscious organic red peppers—4 peppers for $6!

But right at 10 weeks it all took a 180. I started to lose my appetite throughout the day at work and by night I couldn't eat anything and was feeling uncomfortably close to tossing my cookies. I got some buttered toast down before bed, but had to get up in the middle of the night and make another piece since my stomach started turning from being "hungry". I left work early the next day since I was still feeling really nauseous. It's crazy how things can change so drastically overnight, and it really is like an "on" and "off" switch.

I've been sleeping great—usually about 9 hours each night—and able to make it through most of my days without wanting to fall asleep with my forehead on my keyboard. My sleep was best when my appetite was normal. I'm always very thirsty in the mornings though.

Also, we might have bought a black BOB Revolution CE at REI with our annual 20% off coupon...more info to come! ;)

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We're moved! Despite the fact that is was SNOWING monster flakes (hello, Spring!), I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

The night before was a bit of a fail. Arthur and I were both incredibly tired and grouchy for some reason—being pregnant is reason enough, right?—which resulted in a few emotional and frustrating trips with the last boxes of odds and ends. We were hoping to get most "little things" moved before our friends arrived early Saturday morning, and I'm really glad we did. It made the next day so much smoother since the guys [almost] only had to focus on moving the big furniture. They were champs and did the job in less than 4 hours—start to finish!

Aside from our awful night, we woke up and decided to accept God's new mercies and vowed to have a much better day. My stomach was even feeling okay and I seemed to be full of energy. Praise God! Our first helpers showed up extra early to get the U-Haul and bring warm drinks. I was able to spend time catching up with my sweet friend and nibbling on some vegan goodies from our favorite cafe downstairs while the guys got the truck. This helped a lot with having enough physical and mental fuel to get through the morning.

Once everyone arrived, it was down to business. I was feeling some mild-moderate cramping early on, but once this subsided I was ready to roll—feeling about an 8/10! The ladies were so gracious in helping me wrap and pack up the last few wine glasses and delicate things, vacuum, and load clothing into the car. We were able to make a couple trips to the new place while the guys did their thing. It was actually pretty fun and I am certain that no one would have even guessed anything was slowing me down. It's amazing how fast this went with extra hands!! During bedtime prayer that night, Arthur thanked God for allowing us to be in community—something we didn't know just a couple years ago. It was so amazing to experience friends being so happy and so willing to spend their Saturday helping us move our dusty furniture.

It seemed like just a blink of an eye and everything was all moved into our new place. We treated everyone to pizza for lunch and had fun sitting around enjoying our first unofficial community group in our new living room. I even ate some pizza, which has been on my "gross" list for the past couple weeks. It tasted good then, but I can't say I would eat it again. It still remains on the list.

I am so grateful for the Lord's blessing on our move. My concerns of sickness slowing me down were blown out of the water. Now to unpack...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our First Prenatal Checkup

One baby. One heartbeat. Two happy parents!

I was so nervous going to this appointment. The whole day was a dance between sheer panic and invigorating excitement. Anything was fair game at this point.

The drive to our appointment was peaceful and sunny, even with weaving through downtown rush hour traffic and a noticeably queasy stomach. I knew we would have answers soon and that was what I wanted, good or bad. I generally don't enjoy hospitals in the slightest, but I always eagerly await these special appointments. The midwifery is bright and clean with modern curves to the walls and big airy windows. I can't get enough.

We checked in after taking a few photos out front and were quickly swept into one of the back rooms. It was small with a table full of brochures and a few comfortable chairs. We met with the nurse for the midwifes first and then our midwife for this appointment, Audrey. I had watched each midwife bio on their website long ago and she was the one that stood out to me, so I was excited to finally meet her. She was thin, had a funky style, and was very personable. We will eventually meet all five of the midwives.

After discussing my medical history in full and briefing her on how I had been feeling, we finally were prompted to move to the next room over for the ultrasound. She could tell we were more than eager for this part, and even joked that this was the only reason we were there. We tried an abdominal ultrasound first—goop and all—and got a fairly good glimpse of our little bean. The machine they have is small and low tech, so LB was tiny! She could make sense of the fuzz, and I think even announced a heartbeat at this point, but still wanted to get a better look. She suggested we try a transvaginal ultrasound. So I changed into a gown and we proceeded. We were able to get a much clearer view of our tiny little baby and see the flickering heartbeat. Arthur and I both breathed a sigh of relief and were grinning ear to ear.

It was then that I began to realize that we would most likely be having this baby. LB was moving around and active. What a strange sense knowing that something is wiggling so much inside me and I can't feel a thing. She measured, prodded, and even printed a few pictures for us to take. It was mesmerizing and surreal. We couldn't wait to reveal the big news to our families.

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