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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

9 Tips for 9 Months

     I was recently inspired bythe American Recall Center's new project called "9 Tips for 9 Months" and decided to join in. The goal is to provide future expecting mothers with tried and true suggestions for managing common pregnancy ailments, hopefully resulting in happier, healthier mamas and babies. :)  
     Unfortunately, I've been struggling to come up with 9 things that I have tried and have worked, mostly because I have a tendency to just put up with things rather than put effort into doing things about them. Or I don't think to try things until it is too late, and there isn't anything that can be done about them until next time. Which actually works out well, because there are a few things that will be on my list that I am definitely doing next time!
*Disclaimer:  I am not a licensed medical professional; these suggestions are not meant to take the place of medical advice.*

1. Morning Sickness:  While I have experienced it with all three of my pregnancies, I do need to admit that it hasn't been bad enough to require medication. Which I am thankful for, after reading that Zofran, a popular medication for morning sickness, hasn't been approved by the FDA for pregnant women and even has been known to cause birth defects! My pregnancy nausea is usually the result of an empty stomach, or waiting too long to eat, which snowballs into not knowing what to eat because nothing is appealing at all, and then I end up moping and wallowing on the couch in a pity party. What I have found, though, with each successive pregnancy, the nausea is more manageable when I A. Just pick a thing and eat it (much easier to do when caring for a child who also needs to eat) and B. Keep moving (also pretty easy to do when chasing after a toddler). 

2. Exercise:  This definitely would have helped a lot with the nausea I had with #1, had I actually done it. #2 was my most active pregnancy, in so far as I walked a lot of places to get out of the apartment and to keep Jose entertained. I should have been better at exercising this time around, and am really kicking myself for not. My suggestion here, and one I am definitely going to do ASAP post-partum, is Focus on strengthening your core and pelvic floor. Find a program or gym or trainer that you trust and work with them. I recommend checking out Jessie Mundell and her Core and Floor Restore program. I personally haven't tried it yet, but if I'm super lucky I might get it as a "push present" (though I already have 2 workout programs I've begged for and then not used... kinda guilty about that). I think the most important thing when looking for a prenatal or post-partum workout is to find something that works to help heal your body, instead of inadvertently making it worse (did you know that crunches and sit ups could be making your tummy pouch worse?). I also love the Girls Gone Strong community for workout advice in general. 

3. Food:  Food is your friend, even when it seems the thought of it will make you sick. That being said, Don't stress about it. With  my first two, I was on the measuring small, not eating enough side, and the pressure to eat more caused unnecessary stress. Listen to your body, don't ignore it when it is hungry, but if eating that thing will just cause you to get sick, don't worry about it. Focus on nutrition, but don't freak out about the occasional junk food cravings or binges. Another thing I love about Jessie's posts (I follow on Instagram, and get her email updates) is how much she emphasizes that It's just food, and moderation is key. Focus on good protein, healthy fats, and veggies, and everything else will fall into place. 

4. Water:  Drink lots of it, from the very beginning! I shoot for at least a gallon a day, though often times I can tell I need more. Start early on, so as to develop the habit by the time the third trimester comes around, and your insides feel like they are too squished to hold both food and drink. Now that I'm in that stage, I find it helpful to have at least one protein shake a day to help with the "Should I eat or drink right now? I only have room for one" dilemma. Nutrition and energy while hydrating is a win-win situation in my book. Staying hydrated is also supposed to help lessen swelling and varicose veins, though I haven't noticed much difference in either of them; but I'm also not going to stop drinking to see how bad they would be otherwise, either. 

5. Swelling and Varicosities:  As mentioned above, water is supposed to help with both of these conditions, but I'm not going elaborate on my experience in regards to water a second time. Many people know that varicose veins in the legs occur often in pregnancy, but in 10% of women they can occur in a more sensitive area. Pregnancy support belts are your friends. I have a V2 Support Belt for those 10% veins I have, and a Baby Belly Band with support for that area as well that I use. The belly band is also supposed to help with leg varicosities by helping to relieve the pressure the uterus is putting on the veins. Putting your legs up above your heart also helps with both the veins and the swelling, but make sure your head is also higher than your heart lest too much blood flows to it. 

6. See a Chiropractor:  I'm pretty sure I have symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD), and seeing the chiropractor has definitely helped with that. I wasn't too sure until my most recent appointment, because my pelvis bothers me, especially at night even with seeing the chiro, though it pops more on it's own than it did with #2. I had been going every other week for a bit, and last week my pain was really bad. Rolling over in bed and getting up in the morning were really bordering on excruciating. There were even a couple of days that I couldn't even hobble the 10 or so feet to the bathroom without assistance, it hurt so much. After my appointment yesterday, though, I was able to roll mostly pain free, and getting up this morning I hardly felt a thing! There are exercises I probably should be doing, but my 10% veins have left me a little wary of anything that stretches like a squat does. 

7. Prenatal Depression is a Real Thing:  Don't be afraid to ask for help if you think something is wrong. There is a certain amount of ebb and flow emotionally that seems to come with being pregnant, but if you or someone close to you feels that what you are feeling is not normal, don't be afraid to ask your care provider about it. You are not alone, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Hormone imbalances can do awful things to people, and it is not your fault that you are feeling and acting this way. My midwife recommended an amino regimen from the book The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross, some of which helped, though I'm still narrowing it down to exactly what. I have also found that working to center myself spiritually is also helping. The human psyche is so complex that it may be a multitude of things causing the imbalance. But you can't get better if you don't acknowledge something is wrong.
On a related note, this article says acupuncture may be more effective than antidepressants for prenatal depression.

8. Constipation:  I have found Magnesium to be extremely helpful in this area. Plus, it is helpful for muscle cramps and general relaxation as well. I've read that it is best absorbed through the skin in some sort of lotion, but haven't gotten around to making my own magnesium lotion, or buying one someone else made. However, I have been taking Natural Vitality's Natural Calm as often as I can remember, and it seems to work well. I use the original flavor, and put it in my pregnancy tea. I usually make a quart of tea and drink it throughout the day. 

9. Have an Open Mind and Trust yourself. You really are the best judge for what is best for you, your baby, and your family. Growing up, I always thought babies were born in hospitals, and that was it. My husband's family, however, used midwives, and he suggested we check some out when we were expecting #1. I said ok, why not, and decided to go with an out of hospital birth. While we did end up in the hospital (story for a different day), I was pleased enough with our midwifery experience to continue choosing them for subsequent pregnancies. As for breastfeeding, that was my husband's suggestion as well. While it took a bit for #1 and I to get the hang of it, I'm really glad I kept it up, as it was the best fit for us. There is a lot of information out there, and sorting through it all can be extremely difficult and stressful. Don't let fear paralyze you. Try to keep things in perspective. There are a lot of scary stories out there, like how it is possible to get listeria from cold cuts, or that GBS contracted by a baby is more often than not fatal, it is also true that most accidents occur within 5 miles of home but we don't let that stop us from going about our business. Use your judgment, and try to find the middle ground. You are strong, you can do this. 





Saturday, July 4, 2015

Damage

     Well, I guess it is about time for a little update on how I am doing, and since there are actually things to report. But first, I want to link to a link up that my friend Katherine hosted about a month ago, about maternal depression. I confess that I haven't read all of the contributions yet, but the ones I have read have helped me to accept my own struggle, and hopefully they will help you as well. 
Hope For The Future:  A Blog Hop on Post-Partum Depression and Anxiet
     Ok, so I decided to sit and read them. A Knotted Life pretty much describes my struggles, though it's only been a year instead of 5. And reading the others nearly made me cry, too, because I know what it's like, and as much as I wish I could say I am better, it isn't true. 
     Roughly three weeks ago I had an absolutely fantastic week. It was the best week I have had in a really, really long time. And the next week, it was back. That Wednesday, I found myself mired in the darkness, the feeling of failure, the desire to leave, because everyone would be better off with an absent wife and mother, instead of an angry depressed one. The return of the depression coincided with the return of a few first trimester issues, like an over sensitivity to sugar, and feeling like being sick if I waited to long to eat but not knowing what to eat to get rid of the nausea. I am pretty much convinced much of my depression is related to hormones. 
     Aside from the depression issues, this pregnancy has been my best so far. The idea of being pregnant didn't bother me much when we found out, and I've been really ok with it mentally, which is more than I can say for Juanito's, and even some of Jose's. I haven't been stressing about eating or not eating, because both boys were absolutely fine when they were born, and stressing about counting calories and making sure I was eating enough only added unnecessary stress. 7 lbs 10 oz and 8 lbs 10 oz are decent weights for babies, and considering we are measuring the way we ought, I'm expecting no less from Mary.
     Physically, this pregnancy has in many ways been better than the others as well. I haven't gained much weight yet, and the boys keep me moving enough that I at least look like I'm pretty fit, even if I might not be all that fit in actuality. Oftentimes I almost forget that I am pregnant, because I haven't been feeling her as much as I felt the boys, due to the placenta being located in front instead of the back. I'm not complaining about that, considering how uncomfortable it often feels to have little sharp knees and elbows poking around inside you. 
     Unfortunately, though, my pelvis feels like it is going to split in two whenever I try to roll over in bed. Extremely painful. And...there are these. Varicose veins. The faint of heart might choose this time to look away. 

  
No, they aren't as painful as they look, thankfully; at least not when I'm up and about. The most painful time is when I get out of bed in the morning and I can feel the blood pooling in them. Very unpleasant. They also occur in other more, um, sensitive areas in 10% of women, which I happen to be a part of. Yay me. 
     The fact that my legs look like they have taken a beating from a baseball bat doesn't really bother me much. The one in the top middle even looked kinda pretty, when it first showed up. No, what upsets me is the damage to my body they represent. Permanent vascular damage. Damage that will only become worse and more pronounced with each subsequent pregnancy. Damage which could lead to blood clots and ulcers. Damage. Irreparable brokenness is a new thing for my body. And I nearly cry every night as I get ready for bed because of it. Only 49 more days, then postpartum recovery. I am so ready to not be pregnant right now. 



Friday, June 12, 2015

Ashamed & Afraid, Part 1

(Disclaimer:  I've been putting this off for a while now; I know it needs to be written, but I'm still not sure how to go about it. There is just so much; so many little things that all mashed together to create a really big thing. There will more likely than not be follow-ups, and this one will most definitely need to be re-written.)

     When I turned six, I was going to be a boy. At least, that is what Mom tells me. I don't remember; there's actually very little that I do remember in detail from when I was younger. Anyway, my birthday came and went, and I was still a girl; but I wasn't too upset about it since I had forgotten about it by the time my birthday had come.

     As long as I can remember, I've always preferred the company of boys. I preferred they types of games that boys usually play, the rough and tumble ones, the sports-like ones, to those of baby dolls and house that most girls are inclined towards. I was outdoorsy and didn't mind getting muddy and playing in cold puddles. While perhaps a little on the smaller side, I was never particularly dainty. 

     There was more to it than that, though - you see, the girls I knew were mean. And I don't mean just a little bit mean, I mean really mean. Mom tells me of a time when I came home from first grade in tears, because the girls were teasing me for "flirting" with one of the boys. I was six; I didn't even know what flirting was. Somewhere between 6 and 8, though I'm inclined to think closer to 6, I was at a birthday party for a girl, and the other girls teased her so much she left her own party in tears. My parents stopped allowing me to sleep over my "best" friend's house because they were tired of the midnight call saying that I wanted to go home, because she teased me so badly. Perhaps I was an overly sensitive child, but it does not change the fact that I was affected deeply by my experiences. 
     
     I was (and still am) afraid of girls. Oh, there were some that I got along alright with, but we were always the odd ones out, the rejects of the girl cliques. The meanness was still there, even as I got older, even among the more rough and tumble sports minded girls. There was one time, at a soft ball game, where on of my team mates asked me what it was like to be home schooled, and not even a second into my answer she turned her back and started talking to someone else on the bench. I was excited that someone was actually taking the time to get to know me, but a person learns quickly to to keep to stick to herself after such encounters. 

     Boys, on the other hand, were cool. And much nicer, in comparison. I don't remember ever being teased by the boys I knew and hung out with. Oh, there was the typical pick the girl last for the team stuff (which I will address in another post), but it was sort of expected and only made me try harder at whatever game it was, so maybe next time I wouldn't be dead last. Boys were so much easier to get along with, to talk to; and they still are. Even now, in mixed gatherings it takes pretty much all of my willpower not to join the menfolk and listen in on whatever it is they are discussing. Granted, having the boys to watch makes not doing so a little easier, but the temptations is still very much there. 

     Ugh. It's getting late, and my brain is foggy. The basic gist of this post, if you've made it this far, is that females of the human race terrify me, and have done so for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately for me, I am one, which makes things rather complicated, because most everything (sports, the bathroom, etc.) requires that I be in close proximity to others. Plus the fact that I don't like girls but am one kinda messes with one's head. Anyway, as much as I could, I chose the company of males, which proved to pose it's own problems, which will be the subject of my next post one of my next posts.  (I really need to stop promising things like that....) 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Club: Beyond The Birds And The Bees

  (Disclaimer:  This is not a very well put together post, and I missed a lot of the points I originally wanted to make, so at some point I will be re-writing it. Apologies.)
   
     So, for our second Book Club review, I have Beyond The Birds And The Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Greg and Lisa Popcak. I found it to be eye opening and a bit healing for me, due to my issues in regards to my own femininity, which will be the subject of my next post, if not more. The most striking thing for me is the idea that sexuality is more than one's sexual orientation, who one is sexually attracted to; that it involves the whole being of a person as a representation of who they are at the core and informs their interactions with the world around them. The idea that sexuality has more to do with femininity and masculinity than what one does with one's genitals is revolutionary to me. The idea that a person who follows all of the prescribed rules regarding chastity and modesty yet is ashamed of, say, their femininity actually has an unhealthy sexuality is mind boggling to me. Turns out I've been doing it very wrong. 
     Anyway, for someone who doesn't remember any sort of sex talk, and has been ashamed of herself and her body for so long, the advice was much welcome and needed. Giving examples of how parents can speak of the body and sex in respectful, matter of fact ways is extremely helpful. Showing how chastity and modesty are positives and not negative mandates is brilliant. But it really all boils down to teaching parents how to help their children grow up as well integrated people, people who know their worth and the worth of others, and are willing and able to do what it takes to preserve their dignity and that of other. 
     I dunno. I guess that wasn't really much of a book review. But I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether they have children or not. At the very least, it gives a different perspective than what is commonly held and heard today, even by those in the Church.