Dan, Parenting, pregnancy

An Ode to the Other Half, Part One: Pregnancy Partner

So while this is largely a blog about my experience going through pregnancy, so far, parenting is going to be a partnership for us. And I’ve mentioned my husband, Dan, both in the “About” section of this website, and in posts when he comes up. But I thought I’d feature him a little more since he really has been a true partner throughout my pregnancy, and I expect will continue to be a true partner as I go through childbirth and parenting.

I’ve found an enormous amount of support and help as I’ve gone through trying to conceive, pregnancy loss, and pregnancy through the various subreddits of which I am a member on Reddit. And as I’ve gone through the last almost two years since we first started making plans for children, I’ve noticed that a lot of women complain about their partners. First, their partners don’t want children as much as they do. Then their partners don’t appreciate what they go through to determine when they’re fertile. Then, they don’t understand pregnancy symptoms or loss. Some partners seem to think that pregnancy symptoms are an exaggeration or that all pregnancies are the same, so if they’ve known one person who was pregnant, they know how their partner is going to react.

And this is where Dan seems to rise above much of the crowd: Through everything, he listens to me and believes me. It helps that he actually wanted kids more than I did at first, but he was supportive while I figured out what I wanted, rather than pressuring me. And then from there, he’s taken in all the information I’ve given to him, or sought it out for himself. He trusts my research and believes me when I tell him something about my body. And he’s not squeamish about bodies. I mean, he’s the one who had to go buy extra-absorbent pads during my miscarriage and incontinence pads when pregnancy made me start peeing myself.

This really showed itself in the first trimester of this pregnancy, though. I got hit hard with nausea, and he never complained about the fact that I could barely do anything outside of meet my professional obligations. He would let me come home and flop on the sofa rather than make dinner. He made one of the three dinners I could actually eat, and made sure not to eat anything that smelled bad to me. Heck, when one of his video games made me throw up, he never played it again. He took care of me, in all senses of the word. And he never expected any particularly praise or adulation for it. It was just what you do.

Luckily for both of us, my nausea faded as I moved into the second trimester and I’ve mostly been able to pick up my standard duties around the house. I’ve even started joining him in nesting (he got bit by the nesting bug basically as soon as I had a positive test and has been cleaning, organizing, and putting things together for months). And I cook most nights now. But he still supports me, mostly by picking up things that fall on the floor, or taking things up and down the stairs when I forget them. He does all our laundry, since our basement stairs are a bit nerve-wracking, even without the balance challenges of a growing belly (plus, I can’t actually bend over to pull clothes out of our top-loading washer!).

And he’s continued to take in all the information. He’s read The Birth Partner and uses what he’s learned to connect with me about preparation for childbirth. When we packed our hospital bags, he pulled out the book to double-check things we might not have thought of, like a pair of swim trunks for him in case he wants to get in the shower with me to help me labor. And he’s continued, reading the childcare books that I’ve read, so that we’re on the same page. He reminds me to do my Hypnobabies exercises.

So I guess I wanted to take some space here to, yes, brag about my husband. He deserves it, and I think the rest of the world deserves a bit of praise for a husband of a pregnant lady because partners and coparents can be the butt of so many jokes about men falling short. But despite the fact that we both annoy each other on a regular basis, he’s one of the good ones.

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pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-nine Weeks Pregnant

I’m closing in on my due date now! This week, I decided to start trying to keep a daily journal, since I’ll want to try to document as much as I can when the baby comes. I’ve struggled at keeping a journal in the past, so we’ll see how this goes. So far, I’ve managed to journal each night before going to bed, so that’s a good start.

One thing I realized this week was just how variable my physical ability level is from day to day. On Sunday, I found myself absolutely physically wiped out after our normal weekly walk to and from the local coffee shop and ended up spending a large portion of the day in bed. Later that night, I woke up to turn over in bed, and had a thought about how, for most of my adult life, I’ve kind of treated my physical status as a kind of n=1 experiment, where I can largely figure out what is or isn’t making me feel a certain way. But in pregnancy, sometimes I just feel crappy and it’s not anything I’ve done or didn’t do. I can eat healthfully and exercise moderately and stretch myself out, but ultimately sometimes I just feel awful and the only reason is, well, I’m pregnant.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the transition to being “a mother.” After re-reading Like a Mother, which I reviewed on Tuesday, I realized that birth is an ordeal that acts like a rite of passage and, while I will bring my past self with me, I will be forever changed by it. So I’ve started to think about becoming A Mother. To that end, I’ve decided to branch off from my main blogging and social media accounts and actually created an Instagram and a Facebook page specific to this blog. I’ll update my “About” page to reflect that contact information. But definitely check out my Instagram. The Facebook page currently just contains reposts of my Instagram posts, so if you’re not on Instagram, you can follow the Facebook page to see more updates on Facebook.

At my Thursday morning prenatal appointment, I found out that I’ve officially gained 40 lbs. this pregnancy, so I’m definitely over the recommended weight gain. It’s interesting because I don’t look like I’m gaining weight excessively, and I’m not swelling or retaining fluid much, so I don’t really know where the weight is going. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m mostly as unconcerned as I am, but the doctor hasn’t commented on it, my blood pressure looks good, and I feel generally healthy. So I’ll definitely be talking about my weight gain and how that carries on into the postpartum period later on.

Speaking of the postpartum period, I picked up a new book called The First Forty Days about self-care (and care from other people) during the postpartum period. It’s really interesting because it stresses the importance of proper nutrition and rest in the postpartum period, which includes resting from feeling obligated to host visitors in your house. Basically, it instructs new mothers not to feel pressured to have visitors that are only there to have baby time and not to support the new parents. That said, even a book on postpartum self-care assumes the partner will be going back to work within two weeks after the birth, so I’m hoping I have an easier time with Dan off for a bit longer.

How I’m Feeling:

As always, I’m just noticing the gradual ramping up of the nagging complaints of pregnancy. My hips are still sore, my back occasionally hurts, my belly tightened with Braxton Hicks contractions sometimes. I’m tired a lot. But since it’s been ramping up gradually, I don’t usually have days that are bad enough to just have to stay home. Sunday was a surprise because usually once I get going, I’m okay for the day. I’m still working, and even though I increasingly don’t want to get out of bed or face my walk from the metro to work, once I’m on my walk, it’s not so bad. Like I said earlier, sometimes I feel crappier than others, but that’s just pregnancy. I’m kind of at the point where there’s not a whole lot I can do besides generally take care of myself.

On Wednesday in the early morning, I had a bout of really uncomfortable Braxton Hicks that kept me up for a couple hours. Honestly, even after I got some more sleep, I woke up still feeling crampy. I was still pretty sure it wasn’t the real thing, but I ended up working from home, just in case. But they eventually settled down (showering helped). Also, I had another prenatal checkup on Thursday that confirmed that they weren’t doing anything; I’m still not showing any signs that the baby is coming soon.

Of course, then on Thursday night/Friday morning, I was up for hours with even more contractions. These were more intense and rhythmic than I’d had before, and were accompanied by some additional symptoms that made me wonder if I was going to be one of those “I wasn’t dilated at all at my checkup and went into labor the next day” people. But they eventually tapered off and just left me feeling crappy for the rest of the day. I’m starting to worry that I’m going to have to deal with every-other-night contractions for the next two weeks.

Current Cravings: beet kraut from Sweet Farm, cereal with milk

Exercise: 2.1 average miles/day walking

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Pumpkin

Other Posts This Week:

Book Review: Like a Mother

Exercise and Pregnancy: The Final Months

Exercise, pregnancy, Third Trimester

Exercise and Pregnancy: The Final Months

I’ve spoken earlier in my pregnancy about my exercise routine and how I’m incorporating that into my pregnancy. I managed to continue going to barre class about twice a week until the end of October, when I was about 34 weeks pregnant. Since then, I’ve continued to walk most days, and have tried to make time to do some yoga every week. I will admit, I did find it a bit more difficult to motivate myself to exercise since I stopped having the accountability and scheduling of the barre class. I mentioned in my weekly update that my doula has lent us a copy of the Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD to use for the last few weeks of my pregnancy and it’s definitely helped re-invigorate my workout routine.

So the first few weeks of November, when I officially cancelled my gym membership, I gave myself permission to be a little lazy. I mean, I still had to walk a fair amount, since I walk about 50 minutes, round trip, to get to and from work four days a week. And I tried to make sure I got in at least one more day per week of walking, usually our weekly trip to Vigilante Coffee. So I was still averaging over two miles per day of walking, though it was more like 3.5 miles five days a week, rather than a couple miles every day.

But after I got the Spinning Babies DVD, I made more of an effort to work on stretching and strengthening exercises from that DVD. The difference between that and my workouts before is that now I definitely see my goals as explicitly preparing for childbirth, rather than for general fitness. My doctor has even reminded me to walk for a half an hour every day, so I’m trying to make sure to fit in some walking time every day, even when I don’t walk to work. It helps that we have some lovely walking trails nearby.

And then, I do yoga and Spinning Babies exercises. I can do the full 35-minute Daily Exercises routine or the 28-minute yoga flow from the DVD when I have the time and energy, but I try to do a little every day, even if it’s just my favorite 3-4 exercises. And my Hypnobabies course actually recommends doing a small set of exercises everyday. So I do my pelvic tilts, squats, and butterfly stretch every day to keep my body supple and ready for childbirth, while windmills help release the lower back pain that has crept up as I’ve gotten bigger. Unfortunately, I had to stop doing forward-leaning inversions when my acid reflux got bad. But I notice that my body feels better when I do these exercises more consistently. Plus, I can still do my weekly lunchtime yoga class at work, since the instructor is a coworkers of mine and the class is small enough that she can tailor it to our needs.

In this way, I’m helping keep my body flexible and supple, and my mind quiet and prepared for the rigors of childbirth. I’m not going to be running any marathons soon, but I am preparing for the next endurance event on my schedule.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-eight Weeks Pregnant

Yup, still pregnant. Due date is in two weeks, so I imagine I’ll have more people asking if I’ve had the baby yet around then, but at this point, I’m kind of at the point where I could have the baby today or I could have to wait nearly another month. This week we spent a fair amount of time just refining our prepping. We had the quick and dirty bare minimum done (we have a car seat, bassinet, some clothes, some diapers, and feeding supplies ready), but this week we kept working on making things a little more ready. We washed everything we’d gotten from our shower (within reason; we didn’t wash the books, obviously), and we made sure the car seat carrier was clicked into the base in Dan’s car. We also worked more on packing out hospital bags. I still need to clean out the back of my car so we can install our second car seat base. Oh, and I’m also playing with setting up a separate Instagram account for this blog (with the handle @cecinestpasunmommyblog), so feel free to follow me over there if you’re on Instagram.

Dan packed his hospital bag, but after our meeting with the doula, we realized that we should organize things into a bag for before I give birth and for after I move into recovery, rather than a his and hers bag. So we repacked all the stuff we need for the actual birth in my bag and put the things I was going to bring for after giving birth into Dan’s bag. We also got snacks for Dan and packed everything edible up into a separate bag so we don’t need to worry about food leaking onto important things. At this point, I feel like we’re about as ready as we’ll ever be for the actual birth, plus we live close enough to the hospital, that we can probably run home for things if we need them.

Thursday I had my first weekly appointment with my OB. I go every week now, which is actually kind of nice, since I like my OB’s office and they’re pretty good about fitting me in for the earliest appointment possible so I can go and still be back at a reasonable hour to start teleworking without taking time off. I got to the office before 8 a.m. this week and it was kind of neat being the only patient there. I definitely feel like I’m starting to recognize the nurses and get to know people. It’s kind of funny, though, because other than measuring my vitals and fundal height, checking heartbeat, and asking if I have any questions (and checking my cervix, starting this week), there’s not really a lot to do during an appointment. I’m usually out in less than half an hour. I’m having a very boring pregnancy. I think I’ve been asked if I’ve chosen a pediatrician three times, simply because they’re looking for something to ask, kind of like when you go to an interview and you feel like you need to have something to ask when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. But hey, boring pregnancies are good, right?

I’ve also been working on freezer meals. The doula also had the brilliant suggestion (I really need to do a post of “brilliant suggestions my doula has made that seem so simple but I didn’t think of them”) that instead of carving out some time to make a bunch of “freezer meals” and free them, we should just make extra dinner when we’re already cooking for the night and freeze half of it. So I’ve made a point to make double-batches of some of our go-to dinners and we now have four dinners in our freezer, ready to go once the baby is here and things are crazy. We’ve also stocked up on some Trader Joe’s staples (their char siu bao are my favorite), and we’ll get some bags of frozen veggies to augment some of the Instant Pot curries I’ve frozen sans veggies.

How I’m Feeling:

I had the distinct feeling that the baby might have dropped this week. Starting about Monday evening, I definitely noticed more pressure in my pelvis. It’s odd because I don’t actually feel like I’m having pressure on my bladder. It’s like my bladder has found some sort of pocket dimension to hang out in so that I’m not the stereotypical always-peeing pregnant lady. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that I don’t have to get up more than once at night to pee, but it’s just weird because it’s the one consistent complaint I’ve heard from people. I also think my acid reflux might be getting slightly better because I missed my morning Zantac the other day and didn’t even notice for an hour and a half, when usually I’m starting to feel it an hour or so before I’m due for another dose. When I had my first cervical check at the doctor, she mentioned the baby was at -1 station, which isn’t super low, but said it probably explained the increased pressure I’m feeling. Oh, for anyone following along at home, my cervix is still closed and posterior. Cervical status isn’t a crystal ball, but that suggests baby will be hanging out where they are for a bit.

Other than that, the nagging pregnancy complaints just kind of keep ramping up. My hips are getting sore more easily, particularly in the inner hip creases where I bet my ligaments are loosening. I find that making time to do some labor-prep stretching every day really helps. On days when I don’t do the full Spinning Babies routine or some yoga, I’ll do my top four favorite exercises from the Spinning Babies routine (three of which are also recommended in my Hypnobabies course). I think I’ll post a bit more about exercise in some detail later this week because I haven’t really posted about it since the second trimester when I was still going to barre 2-3 times a week.

Current Cravings: pecan pie (no one in my family but me likes it so I didn’t make one this year)

Exercise: 2.8 average miles/day walking, yoga twice, Spinning Babies Daily exercises once

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Winter melon

Other Posts This Week:

Pregnancy Cravings: Date Nut Bread

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Maintenance Check-In #1

Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Maintenance Check-In #1

Alright, so I’ve finished my Hypnobabies self-study course and I’ve been in “maintenance mode” for a few weeks now, so I thought I’d check in and let you know how it’s going. Currently, my schedule is that I’m supposed to listen to affirmations every day, one long hypnosis track (which rotates each day), and the shorter “Maintenance Techniques Practice.” Once again, I want to stress that this program is not “get fit in 20 minutes a day;” it’s really more like mental P90X, even in maintenance. It does require a bit of a time commitment, and I’m still finding that I need to make a conscious effort to fit in my practice. Oddly enough, I sometimes find that days when I don’t go to work are the days when I’ll struggle to fit in all my hypnosis practice because when I have all day, I’ll often put it off. When I’m going to work, I know that I need to work within a schedule, so I’ll make some time either early in the morning or at lunch to fit in one of my practice sessions so that I have less to fit in in the evenings. I still like to listen to affirmations on the metro.

But since I’ve started noticing the change in my mindset about childbirth, and I’m starting to feel these techniques integrating into my mental and physical body, I’ve also started forgiving myself for not practicing perfectly. I’ve also found that I’m more likely to fall asleep while listening to longer tracks, but that’s okay. And sometimes I’ll just put on a track and let it run while I drift off to sleep, if I haven’t made time earlier in the day. I’ve also found that I can tune into my body and my breath and put myself into hypnosis at times when I need the extra relaxation and support.

Another benefit is that, despite the fact that we’ve been slightly remiss at doing scripts, Dan and I are connecting more consciously over how we’re feeling about the pregnancy, upcoming birth, and childcare. Dan will initiate our version of the weekly partner communication exercise by checking in with me how I’m feeling, and then once in a while we’ll formally go through the questions in the exercise and see if there’s something we hadn’t discussed in a while. I feel like we’re really working together on everything, instead of me preparing for the thing that is going to affect my body, independent of him. I’m feeling better about childbirth largely because I trust that I can rely on him to help me through it.

So all in all, I’ve been mostly keeping up. I’ve had a few days where I didn’t get in all my practice, but I forgave myself and moved on. And in general, I feel like the course has helped my mindset, as well as my connection with my husband surrounding the actual birth of our child.

Previous Hypnobabies Self-Study Posts:

Week Six Recap

Week Five Recap

Week Four Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program

Food and Drink, pregnancy, Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Date Nut Bread

Last week, I talked about how I’m trying to eat dates every day to help potentially help with childbirth. Well, as soon as I heard that dates were good for pregnancy women, I immediately thought about one of my favorite childhood snacks: date nut bread with cream cheese and strawberries. When I was a kid, my mother used to have tea parties with me for my afternoon snack. It not only instilled in me a deep love of tea, but also helped me learn how to behave at the table in polite society. One of our favorite tea-time treats were little sandwiches of thinly sliced date nut bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of strawberry.

We got our date nut bread from the grocery store, where it was sold in dense, dark brown, round loaves in the bakery section. I haven’t seen it in years, though, and I knew I would want to make it from scratch anyway, so I could know how many dates were in each slice. So I went looking for a recipe and tinkered around until I came up with the recipe below. Now, the recipe I based this on calls for coffee and explains that the acidity of the coffee is important for the leavening, so I used decaf coffee. Personally, I feel like I do in fact taste the coffee, though I don’t dislike it. This recipe yields the same firm, dense, dark loaf that I remember as a child. If you let it cool completely, it will easily slice into very thin slices and hold up under the application of cream cheese. Strawberries are massively out of season right now, but I will definitely have to make this again in the summer. I divide this loaf into 8 portions, which can be further divided into two thin slices and each of which has about 1 oz. or 28g of dates in it.

Old-Fashioned Date Nut Bread

(based on this recipe)

Ingredients:

8 oz. pitted dates, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sucanat
1/2 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of hot brewed coffee
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup of einkorn all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pan and line it with parchment.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients and stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes (this will also soften your dates).
  3. Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixture and mix well. Add in the flours and baking powder and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Tent with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning. Test for doneness by taking the internal temperature, which should be about 200F. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove and cool completely on a rack before slicing. Keeps for about a week at room temperature in an air-tight container, or freeze for longer storage. I get about 8 servings out of this.

Recipe Notes:

Dates are sticky and do not chop in the food processor. I tried for too long, but ultimately had to chop them by hand. This will take longer than it takes for the oven to preheat (longer still if you don’t get pitted dates).

The original recipe calls for 2/3-3/4 cup of brown sugar. I used sucanat, which is an unrefined sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor, and I cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup. I still find the finished bread quite sweet, so I think this should be plenty of sugar for most people, but if you really like sweets, maybe try it with 2/3 cup brown sugar.

I used einkorn and sprouted spelt flours to keep it healthier, but feel free to use all-purpose flour for the whole thing, or mix all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.

I chopped my walnuts a bit more finely (I used the food processor for this since I’d already gotten it out to fruitlessly chop dates, pun intended) because I don’t like large chunks of walnut in my breads, and it makes it easier to slice a bit more thinly.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-seven Weeks Pregnant

You guys, I’m officially considered at term. Technically, if I had this baby now, it wouldn’t be considered premature. That means I could have the baby today… or a month from now. So that’s fun. This last few-weeks-to-a-month is very “hurry up and wait.” I mean, I felt like we should probably have most things ready, just in case, but statistically, I probably have at least another few weeks to wait (probably closer to four). And my OB is in no hurry to induce me before Christmas since my pregnancy has been normal and boring so far.

This week, I had my final ultrasound, where we found out the baby has grown to be just under 7 lbs. (about 75% of the cat, for those who like that tracking measure), according to the ultrasound estimate. Baby still has a huge head, and was being too shy to get a picture of the face with the 3D ultrasound. It was a little disappointing that Dan wasn’t able to see the face live on the monitor, since he missed my 30-week ultrasound, but we got such great pictures from the 30-week scan that I didn’t feel the need to poke and prod to get more this week. Plus, I mostly just cared about the growth. I also got swabbed for Group B Strep, and had a conversation about my birth preferences with the doctor. She was completely on board with all of my preferences and said that most of them were standard practice at our hospital anyway, which was nice. It was my first time meeting that particular OB in person, though we’d talked on the phone.

This week was also Thanksgiving in the US, but we couldn’t really travel. We decided to get some Chinese takeout with my mother, who lives closer to our hospital than we do, but I had my “Thanksgiving dinner” last month when Dan’s college friends hosted a friendsgiving party around Canadian Thanksgiving. Honestly, Chinese food for Thanksgiving really hit the spot, and my mom made a dairy-free apple pie because Dan has been eliminating dairy this month.

I’ve also started building a stash of freezer meals. Our doula had a fantastic suggestion: rather than specifically setting aside time to make a bunch of freezer meals, just make a double-portion when you’re making dinner and freeze half. That way you’re taking advantage of time you would already be spending cooking, and you can slowly build up a stash, rather than stressing over doing it all at once. So I made some beef curry in the Instant Pot this week and froze half of it, and I’ll probably try to make an effort to do that at least once a week from now on. I’m also going to freeze some chocolate chip cookie dough balls.

Since I had a day off on Friday to rest, Dan suggested that we try going out on a date night on Friday, so we got a reservation at a new-ish restaurant near us that we hadn’t made it to yet: Momo Yakitori. It was fantastic. I actually can’t wait to go back when I’m not pregnant because they have some interesting alcohol offerings, too. We got a nice assortment of skewers and appetizers and just generally had a blast chatting with our server (who might have also been the owner?). Since it’s likely that I won’t feel much like going out in the next few weeks, and then our lives will get decidedly busier, it was a bit of a last hurrah.

How I’m Feeling:

As I mentioned last week, my indigestion has turned into acid reflux. Since I started taking Zantac twice a day, that has been much better, although I’ll still get a little bit of a flare, particularly right before I’m due to take another dose. Thankfully, I’ve started with the lower dose of Zantac, so if I feel like it stops working, I can try the stronger version. I will say that I’ve been sleeping much better since starting the Zantac.

Other than that, I alternate between feeling pretty good one day and pretty blah the next day. My Braxton-Hicks have started coming more often, and I just generally feel heavier every day. It’s difficult to stand up from sitting, and I’m noticing my hips getting achy more easily. Our doula lent us a Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD that has some good prenatal exercises on it, so I’ve been doing those once in a while and it really helps (especially since my motivation to do yoga has tanked, and the colder weather has sapped my motivation to walk when I don’t need to to get to work).

Current Cravings: date-nut bread (recipe coming later this week!) with cream cheese

Exercise: 2.1 average miles per day walking, Spinning Babies Daily Routine twice

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Romaine (which is hilarious)

Other Posts This Week:

Pregnancy Cravings: Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

Review: Two Kinds of Incontinence Undies (because pregnancy is beautiful)