Join a mommy group ASAP!

Soon after I found out I was pregnant I signed up for a few expecting mommy groups online. This has been so incredibly helpful for me! The one group I have stuck with was one that was formed from thebump.com.

One of the ladies created an offshoot group on Facebook for mommies due in November and December. It’s a secret group so we felt free to talk about our pregnancy questions and issues even before we were ready to announce to the rest of the world that we were expecting. It has been such a great place for me to vent and to ask questions, especially since many of the members have had children before.

While no two pregnancies are the same, it is highly likely that someone else within the group will have experienced a similar symptom or been in a similar situation. One of the members suggested that we make a new group for once we have delivered our babies so that we can maintain our relationships and invite other mommies to join us that were due at the same time.

I’m the first in my circle of friends to have a baby, so having another group of people that understand what I’m going through has been extremely helpful and comforting. Obviously, joining a group doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk with your doctor when you have concerns or feel that something is wrong! However, talking with a group of other moms provides me with more emotional support than one doctor ever could.

Tommy is also the first in his group to be expecting a baby. I do wish there were more daddy groups out there. I’m not sure if Tommy would be into such a thing, but I think it would have been particularly helpful for him when I was in the first trimester.

I had massive heartburn, didn’t find any food appetizing (except sourdough toast with butter and jelly), and I was extremely crabby. I’m sure he would have like to have an outlet where he could rant or express whatever concerns or fears he might have had about becoming a dad.

Pregnancy during summer

It sucks. Big time. I live in West L.A. which has fairly mild weather. Even with our unusually high temperatures this year, it’s nothing compared to the valley or even other parts of the world. I don’t know how other pregnant women can survive without constant air conditioning and cool water.

20150928_092603Our air conditioning unit is dated since we rent an old apartment, but it does an excellent job of cooling the two feet in front of itself. On hot days I spend at least half of my time sitting directly in front of it with a wet washcloth on my head or tummy. Another thing that has really helped me is to put my feet in a cold bucket of water. Not only does this make me feel cooler by about 10 degrees, but it’s very soothing for my feet. Carrying an extra 25 lbs is a lot of work!

Although our heat wave seems to be dying down, it’s still in the mid 80’s. I’m roasting while everyone else seems perfectly content with the weather. Whenever I ask Tommy if he’s hot, he says things like “no, what’s wrong with you?” Well if he was wearing a 20+lb hot water bottle on his stomach, he would be hot too!

I no longer cook as much as I used to. Not only do I prefer to eat cold foods to help cool my insides off, but just turning on the stove or oven makes our place so much warmer. Unfortunately, I’ve been eating more prepackaged, microwaveable things for ease. Definitely not the healthiest option, but I try to include a fresh fruit or veggie with every meal.

I think Tommy finally started to feel sorry for me when he would wake up in the middle of the night and 20150928_092446see me flopping around on the couch trying to get comfortable. If I’m too hot I can’t sleep, so I go into the living room and put on the TV to try and relax. It usually doesn’t help me sleep, but at least I’m temporarily distracted from my misery. Anyway, he bought this awesome little Honeywell fan that actually feels like it’s blowing cool air at me! It’s powerful yet relatively quiet and extremely lightweight so it’s easy for me to move around. I’ve been so much more comfortable since we’ve had it and I’ve been sleeping a lot better!

The one upside of being pregnant during summer? You get to meet your little baby in Fall or Winter…perfect weather for cuddling!

I hate exercising

I hate exercising. Unless it’s with other people in a Zumba class (which I can’t afford anyway without a Groupon), I would just prefer not to move. It’s a good idea to exercise during pregnancy to ensure that you don’t gain too much weight and to help you build stamina for labor and delivery. However, it’s depressing when you exercise and still see the number creep up on the scale. I have a talking scale, so I have to hear the scale broadcast my weight to the entire apartment. My belly is so big that it blocks my view of the numbers! Try to remember that most of the weight is actually from the baby and all of the other bits and pieces that go into keeping him or her healthy.

Getting started is always the hardest part. Tommy has actually been more concerned about his weight than me (I personally think he is really skinny, so I get irritated when he calls himself fat…I get stuck in my old clothes due to my belly!). Anyway, he’s been trying to stay more active, and it’s really helped me out as well. Having someone to motivate you to exercise makes it so much easier.

Because of the heat wave we have been experiencing in West L.A., I tend to be a lazy blob during the day and more restless at night. Tommy and I will usually take a walk after dinner when it has cooled off and there is a slight breeze (and no need for oily sunblock!). I also feel safer having someone to walk with at night. Our area is pretty safe, but it’s a lot harder to waddle away from an attacker when you’re pregnant.

I sometimes exercise in our apartment by following along a free YouTube video. I loved doing the videos sponsored by Exercise TV before I got pregnant, and even during my first trimester. The ones lead by Kendell Hogan and Cindy Whitmarsh are my favorite! Unfortunately they are too intense now for my third trimester. There are plenty of free yoga videos out there as well, even ones specifically designed for pregnancy. I really like this particular prenatal yoga video with Lesley Fightmaster. It’s so relaxing and the positions really help to combat your typical pregnancy aches and pains.

With a huge belly and all of your organs misplaced, it is often difficult to sleep, particularly late in pregnancy. But on days when I’ve exercised I sleep like a baby! I’m sometimes so knocked out that I don’t even wake up in the middle of the night to pee! For me, that’s probably the best benefit there is.

Dealing with back pain during pregnancy

While being pregnant, I’ve had on and off pain in both my upper and lower back. I usually get upper back pain while driving or when sitting on our futon (which is in generally pretty uncomfortable for me anyway given the way it slopes and the fact that I have short legs). I feel like having a pole up my back to lengthen it and straighten it out would solve my problem. Since I can’t do that, I just end up shifting in my seat multiple times a minute until I am able to move elsewhere and get comfortable. My lower back pain tends to hit the day after I’ve done some housework. It also seems to occur when I lie on my side and either don’t have any pillows between my legs, or I stuff too many there. Also, getting out of bed when you are surrounded by a ton of pillows and have a gigantic belly is difficult, and sometimes I get a slight pain from doing that as well.

ss_healthysittingfloor
“criss cross applesauce”

What helps my upper back pain: 

  • Lying on my side
  • Sitting on an exercise ball and rocking around
  • Sitting “criss cross apple sauce” or in the “butterfly” yoga pose (Prenatal Yoga Workout, 2015)
ss_catpose
cat pose

What helps my lower back pain:

  • A hot shower (though not so hot that my core body temperature is raised to the point where it would hurt the baby)
  • Doing “cat” and “cow” yoga poses (Prenatal Yoga Workout, 2015)
  • Having Tommy “knee me”

I will often ask Tommy to “knee me.” This may sound weird, but it is the most effective lower back pain relief I have found. Basically, I have him apply pressure to my lower back, particularly in the lumbar region-the area right above your butt and in the middle of the lowest part of your back (Scotch, A. W., 2015). He previously tried using his hands or two tennis balls in a sock, but would get tired before I felt better or wouldn’t be able to apply the kind of pressure I wanted. With his “knee-ing” technique, we are both able to lie on our sides. He gets behind me and literally presses his knee into my lower back and slowly moves it around. Tommy is able to do this for a much longer period than when he used his hands. Also, the pressure intensity and the fact that he can press on a larger area than just a couple of spots with the tennis balls provides me with the relief I need. I was a bit embarrassed at first that we had to resort to this, but after entering my third trimester I just don’t care anymore. Whatever works. Plus, it adds another layer of intimacy to  our relationship.

 

References:

Prenatal Yoga Workout. (2015). American Baby. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/fitness/prenatal-yoga-workout/

Scotch, A. W. (2015). 3 Pregnancy Back Ailments & Treatments. American Baby. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/aches-pains/pregnancy-back-ailments/

Dental appointments during pregnancy

Why you should continue to see your dentist

Because of hormones, an increase in blood volume, and probably a few extra bag of chips or candy, your oral health really takes a beating during pregnancy. Pregnant women are more susceptible to oral health issues such as gingivitis, so it is important to continue to make regular visits to your dentist (WebMD 2005-2015).

What to expect

Double check with your OB about his or her views on x-rays during pregnancy. Some may say no x-rays at all during pregnancy, while others may give the go ahead after the first trimester. Once you find out, let your dentist know that you are pregnant and let them know what your OB has said about x-rays. Most dentists should know how to work with pregnant patients. For example, even though my OB said x-rays after the first trimester were fine, my dentist said that she wouldn’t give me any x-rays until after the baby was born.

At my first dental appointment during pregnancy, (maybe around 6 weeks of pregnancy?) I felt normal and the appointment went smoothly. I just completed my second appointment at 29 weeks, and it was much more challenging. After listening to the whirring of the dental tools and having to lie down in the chair, I suddenly started to get very hot and light headed (thanks vasovagal syncope). My dentist was so sweet about it though. She blasted the air conditioning, got me some water, and let me take a break before continuing. She even let me sit up the rest of the appointment (which was much more comfortable for me) while she stood. The polish she used on my teeth was berry flavored (I’ve had that flavor before pregnancy, and it really is like berries), but this time it smelled like old cheese pizza. I sang a song in my head and watched the TV to distract myself. I can’t wait until the baby is born and my nose goes back to normal!

I used to dread going to the doctor and dentist when I was in elementary school because they never had anything good to say, and the way they said things made me feel bad. I was overweight and didn’t floss regularly. As I entered high school, I began to take better care of myself and tried to find a doctor and dentist that I liked. I’ve been with my current doctor ever since, and I have had the same dentist for the past 3 years. I love her. Find medical professionals that you feel comfortable with and stick with them like glue!

Bottom line: Keep up with your dental visits during pregnancy!

If you live in the West Los Angeles area and need a good dentist, consider seeing Dr. Hala at Al-Shawe Dental Care!

 

Reference:
WebMd. (2005-2015). Dental care and Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-care-pregnancy

Pregnancy makes strangers happy

I’m guessing it’s just human nature to view pregnancy and babies as a positive thing. Babies are completely innocent. As Tommy told me, babies have so much potential. The thought of infinite possibilities is what makes having a baby so exciting. I have had a many interesting encounters with strangers throughout my pregnancy. These people came from a variety of backgrounds, yet they were all genuinely happy for me. It made me feel really good.

  • On my quest to find flour sack towels to use as cloth diapers, I walked to Smart & Final with Tommy. There is often a homeless person hanging around outside. This evening as we left the store (they didn’t have the towels, but I later found some at Target!), the man lingering outside asked if we were expecting and said “congratulations” with a huge, genuine smile on his face. His smile was contagious! I feel like us walking by somehow brightened his day. It definitely brightened mine!
  • I was getting some veggies at Sprouts when one of the workers walked by and said, “You look so beautiful. I hope when I get pregnant I look beautiful like you.” Personally, I thought she looked ten times better than me. But again, that’s besides the point. It amazed me that she bothered to say anything. She honestly didn’t have to. I think people just want to share in the joy of new life.
  • While browsing in H&M I got my first belly rub! It was definitely awkward (I just like a lot of space in general), but the young guy was very polite and asked for my permission. He then started talking to me about how his mom was due with twins. He also said that his mom was experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions so he had trouble feeling the babies because her tummy was always hard. He seemed to have a great deal of knowledge and respect for the pregnancy process.

There have been other situations as well, these are just the most recent ones. Every encounter has been positive. In fact, I was often the one who started out my day in a foul mood until a stranger decided to say something kind. In many of the situations I was the more well-off party and had far fewer struggles. Something so basic can make such a difference in a person’s day. I hope that I can perform random acts of kindness and spread the joy these strangers gave to me.

Using my Bracoo belly support band

20150831_153026I bought a Bracoo stomach and back support belt a few months ago off of Amazon. At the time, the purchase wasn’t necessary. I was having a little bit of back pain, but it was more from bending over incorrectly and having poor posture. It also seemed to be something that many of the other moms in my Facebook mommy group were doing, so I just followed along.

20150831_153327Now with the baby due in two and half months, I am so incredibly thankful that I bought this support belt! I was taking a walk and after going about a half mile I started to get this painful tugging under my tummy. It hurt, though it wasn’t unbearable. I wrapped my arm underneath to help hold my stomach and reduce the pulling. However, it made me waddle even more and I felt very self conscious about it. I walked back home and threw on my support belt before heading back out to finish my walk. It made such a difference!
20150831_153323

I like my Bracoo belt because it attaches via Velcro and is adjustable. It’s all one piece of material, but it essentially has two parts. The first belt wraps around your back and under your belly. I usually like to tighten just enough so that it stays on but doesn’t apply much pressure. The second part of the belt is the wings. These I will pull and fasten more snugly when I am having lower back pain. The Bracoo belt keeps me positioned correctly and because this part doesn’t wrap all the way around, I can apply pressure to my back without squashing my stomach.

 

Bad body odor and other smells

Pregnancy is a miracle, a beautiful stinky miracle filled with all sorts of unladylike bodily functions. You can’t be pregnant without throwing up at least once, or farting in front of a family member or close friend. (I personally lucked out in the morning sickness department. For about 3 weeks every bit of food seemed disgusting, except my sourdough toast with butter and jelly. It was quite depressing actually since I love to eat. Anyway, I only threw up once when my appetite came back, and that’s because I ate half a bag of Doritos and 8 hot peppers.)

What hit me hard was heartburn and gas. I can’t even begin to explain how uncomfortable it was to be bloated, or how glorious it felt to pass some very loud gas. My husband was shocked. His eyes would bug out as I would belch or fart and let out a sigh of relief. He couldn’t believe it. Now honestly, everyone burps, farts, poops, etc…I just usually did it alone in the restroom. I now do these things freely at home, regardless of what room I’m in or whether or not my husband is around, unless we have company over of course. And I still try to control myself in public as much as possible.

At this point I’m 26 weeks into my pregnancy. While the gassiness has eased up a bit, I’m now being plagued with really bad body odor. Again, everyone sweats and smells to a certain degree, unless you’re like my husband who miraculously never stinks when he sweats, even without deodorant. Anyway, I normally have a certain odor when I sweat, and the average deodorant leaves me smelling fresh. However, the crazy pregnancy hormones mixed with some extra hot and humid weather has left me smelling repulsive. Even right after I shower I can smell my stinky self. Not only is the odor stronger than it was pre-pregnancy, but it actually smells completely different (and not in a good way)!

My deodorant doesn’t help and if anything, it makes me feel ickier. I found a variety of recipes online that people have come up with for deodorants you can make at home baking soda as an ingredient. Personally, the baking soda recipes left me with a rash (it wasn’t painful at all, just unsightly), so I had to go deodorant free for about a week until the rash cleared up. I’ve now resorted to putting baby powder under my arms (something I discovered in one of my online mommy groups, though I can’t remember which one it was). This has helped me to control the smell and also leaves me feeling dry. Although the body odor is still there, it’s strength has been greatly reduced!

I expect there will be an interesting follow up post to this one as I near the end of my pregnancy and go through labor and delivery. Apparently heartburn and nausea can come back, diarrhea may be a sign that you are beginning labor, and it’s common to poop (yes poop!) during delivery. All smelly and all 100% natural! Somehow I don’t think cleaning poopy cloth diapers will bother me at all now…

Vasovagal syncope during pregnancy

What is vasovagal syncope?

According to my OB, Amy Stoddard, vasovagal syncope is not very common during pregnancy but is still considered a normal symptom. It is something that is easily managed and the phase should pass unless you have experienced episodes before pregnancy. Episodes can occur when you need to use the restroom, cough, or experience stress. Your vasovagal nerve becomes stimulated, causing your blood pressure to drop and you to feel faint.

The Pregnancy Corner website states:

Vasovagal syncope: A common cause of fainting episodes, vasovagal syncope is caused by a chemical imbalance. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that runs from the brain to the abdomen. Stimulating the vagus nerve releases a chemical that slows the heartbeat and dilates the blood vessels. When this happens the brain does not receive enough blood, and this can cause a pregnant woman to faint. Vasovagal syncope can be brought on by pain, stress, straining during urination or bowel movement, , dehydration or anemia. Symptoms of vasovagal syncope include nausea; feeling warm or lightheaded; sweating; become pale; and hyperventilating. This condition is more common in pregnant women. Sitting down and putting the head between the knees can help prevent fainting when the symptoms of vasovagal syncope begin. (Lee, 2015).

How to take care of yourself during an episode

Soon after I reached the halfway point in my pregnancy, I began to experience vasovagal episodes. Thinking about it, this makes sense because your blood pressure is lowest during mid-pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume in your body. Therefore, episodes are more likely. For me, they usually occurred within an hour or so of eating breakfast (maybe 2-3 hours after waking up). I would suddenly get hot and sweaty, very uncomfortable in my chest and abdomen area, lightheaded, and have tunnel vision. The frequency of my episodes peaked around the 5th month of pregnancy. I had about 3 per week.

The most important thing you can do is listen to your body, especially during pregnancy. As soon as you begin to feel faint, hot, tired, etc. do something that will make you feel better, and do it immediately. Now is not the time to push yourself or to keep up with other people. During my episodes, all I could think about was lying down, so that’s what I did. I had to take care of myself in that moment before I could ask my doctor about it or try to find an explanation elsewhere. Lying down on your left side is the best position to maximize blood flow to your brain and to your baby, the same position you should try to sleep in as pregnancy progresses! You want to try to prevent falling down and potentially injuring yourself or your baby. If you can’t lie down, sit with your head between your knees or ask for help.

Next, there is a good chance that after a few episodes, you will get nervous and want to ask your doctor. Do it. That’s what they are there for. It can be very helpful to think about your episodes and see if you can identify a pattern. Are you always doing the same activity when the episodes begin? Is it a particular time of day? For me, my episodes happened around the same time of day, particularly when I was about to have a bowel movement. (TMI? Maybe. But if you’re pregnant or know a pregnant person, then things such as passing gas, belching, stretch marks, and bad body odor become commonplace. You’re growing another person, so cut yourself some slack!) Anyway, although my OB couldn’t give me medicine or an exact date when my episodes would pass, her reassurance that everything was ok made me feel loads better. I wasn’t crazy, I just needed to identify my trigger and be prepared to lie down at the onset of an episode.

My craziest episodes…

Most of my episodes happened while I was still at home, so they never amounted to much. However, the few episodes that did occur when I was out were definitely more severe. I think in these situations I was more anxious because I wasn’t at home, so the intensity and duration was greater than my usual experiences.

  • Tommy and I were in the car (thankfully he was driving), when I started to get uncomfortable. At first I thought it was the car seat, but then I quickly experienced light sensitivity, tunnel vision, and of course I felt hot and sweaty. This episode made me panic because it came on so quickly. It probably lasted for 5-10 minutes until I was able to get home and lie down. At the time it felt like much longer. The anxiety definitely made things worse, but Tommy was extremely calm and supportive of me. He immediately took me home, helped me up the stairs, and called my sister to “babysit” me just in case when he had to leave for work. After lying down I felt fine, just very tired. I probably stayed in bed for the next few hours. I was physically and emotionally drained.
  • I had just dropped Tommy off at work and was driving home alone when I became uncomfortable again, as I had in the previous episode. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it home unless I addressed the situation first, so I pulled into a Rite Aid parking lot, blasted the AC, reclined my seat, and lied down on my left side. I stayed there for about five minutes when I realized I had to make it to the restroom or go in my pants. As I was hurrying out of the car to the store I had to stop and sit briefly with my head between my legs. At this time I felt embarrassed in case anyone was watching my sweaty, smelly self. This embarrassment actually made me feel better. I realized that if I could feel embarrassed in this moment instead of asking for help, then I was able to take care of myself. It kept me calm. I then went to the restroom and felt much better. I sat in there for another 10 minutes until I felt safe enough to drive home.
The dreaded “glu-cola.” Drinking it cold helps!
  • At 24 weeks I had to go in for my glucose screen, which tests for gestational diabetes. Basically, you fast for 2 hours, drink this really sugary drink, wait and hour, and then have your blood drawn. My drink tasted like flat orange soda mixed with mouthwash. My tummy wasn’t happy, but at least it tasted like familiar stuff that you would normally put in your mouth! Anyway, as I was waiting to have my blood drawn, I of course had to have an episode. Luckily, it was fairly empty in there and I was quiet so no one really paid attention went I put my hair up and my head down. Luckily I had a thin tank top on under my sweater so I didn’t have to be too exposed to cool myself off! Although it lasted for about 10-15 minutes, I again felt that sense of embarrassment so I was able to stay calm. Also, I was surrounded by medical professionals anyway. If I had to faint, this would be the safest place to do it.

I’m now 6 months pregnant and the episodes have waned. I did experience a mild one yesterday, but that was the first one in almost 2 weeks! At this point, my blood pressure should be on the rise again, so hopefully the worst of these episodes is behind me.

Reference:

Lee, D. (2015). Dizziness During Pregnancy. Pregnancy Corner: Your Complete Pregnancy Guide. Retrieved from http://www.pregnancycorner.com/pregnant/pregnancy-symptoms/dizziness.html

Making room for baby

During my psycho nesting phase I completely rearranged and cleaned the bedroom. Well almost, the closet is still a mess, but it’s only on the sides where no one goes anyway. Since we live in a one bedroom apartment and don’t plan on moving to a larger place anytime soon, I wanted to find a way to make space for the baby without Tommy and I feeling cramped.

Basically, I divided the room in half. The far wall is for the baby and the closer side near the hallway and restroom is for the adults.

The baby’s side of the room.

I’ve slowly been saving small plastic bottles and empty Kleenex boxes to make sensory toys for the baby. It’s a bit premature, but I’m hoping that by having things ready I will be less tempted to spend money on overpriced toys from a store. Tommy found the Baby Einstein board book in Goodwill for $2 the other day. It looked brand new. I just wiped it down with a baby wipe when I brought it home and let it air dry. I also found this shoe rack in our alley (4 of them actually)! I cleaned them and will use one to store the baby’s toys.

The baby’s play space.

Our Ikea dresser used to be where the pack ‘n play is now. I was excited to discover that it fit in our closet as long as I rearranged some things and donated a few clothes that I no longer wear. I bought the Summer Infant Four-Sided Changing Pad off of Amazon for $17. I would have liked one of those Keekaroo Peanut changing pads, but those cost about $100 so it wasn’t practical for us. I’m hoping the pad I bought is actually waterproof and easy to clean as promised. I will not be using any changing pad covers because I don’t need the added laundry. I thought about just putting out a towel on our bed for diaper changes, but I’m pretty messy and klutzy so I think that would result in poop getting on our bed and me having to wash the bed sheets more often.

Our diaper changing station.

Anyway, at the head of the changing pad I have a space for diapers and wipes. We may go the cloth diaper route because it’s cheaper, but we aren’t 100% sure yet. Tommy no longer wanted this black and white hat so I tied it to the closet bar. I will use it to store diaper cream and sunblock for the baby. I will probably store more baby essentials (spare onesies, socks, etc.) in the cloth pouches hanging from the bar on the right side in case the baby needs a quick change of clothes due to an explosive diaper. We received two Threshold duvet cover sets from Target as wedding gifts last year, and these pouches contained the pillow cases. On top of the pad but under the top closet shelf I attached a loofah and a small mirror. When I was a toddler teacher my old center had a mirror on top of the changing tables so the children could see themselves. I think it’s a nice way to interact with your child while changing his or her diaper, and hopefully it makes the baby a bit less upset during the process. I plan on putting a small trash can/used diaper bin at the foot of the changing pad.