Friday, June 29, 2012

We're Doing What?

This is going to sound crazy and you will know that we are on the crunchy bandwagon for sure, but I think it makes a lot of sense - we are going to have the placenta encapsulated.  No, not encapsulated as a keepsake for Chubby to dig up on his 18th birthday, encapsulated as pills that I will take after the birth.

I first read about placenta encapsulation before I was pregnant and thought it sounded a little gross.  The placenta is the tissue that develops inside the uterus to connect the umbilical cord to the baby.  It is rich in hormones, nutrients, and other minerals like iron.  Most mammals, even those very high on the food chain, eat their placenta and in some areas of the world women eat theirs after giving birth.  The idea of that is more than I can handle.  However, there is a process of cooking, drying, grinding, and placing the ground placenta in capsules that I could wrap my head around.  I take so many other supplements right now that one more couldn't be that much more difficult.

Now you're probably wondering why anyone would do something so weird and seemingly gross.  As I mentioned, the placenta is really rich in hormones and anecdotally women are reporting a real reduction in the occurrence of postpartum depression, quicker recovery time after birth, and an increase in milk production when they take the placenta pills.  The placenta produces large amounts of the chemical corticotropin releasing hormone or CRH during the third trimester of pregnancy.  The quantities are so large that some research suggests it temporarily interferes with the brain's production of the chemical causing women to be extremely low in this chemical in the weeks following birth.  Because the placenta is so rich in this chemical at the time of birth, it is believed that taking the pills will help to increase the levels of this chemical after birth and reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression.  Given my difficult recovery after Sarah Graves' birth that I posted about here, I was motivated to have a plan to head that off this time.  As it turns out, one of the doulas who works with our doula service does placenta encapsulation and after reading about her experience after the birth of her third child, I was convinced I wanted to give it a try.

I have heard that a lot of spouses are completely grossed out by the idea, but to Aaron's credit, he took it in stride.  He hasn't balked at it and I think has taken the attitude that if it will help alleviate some of the stress and discomfort after the birth, he is up for anything.  I'm lucky like that.

Here's how it will work for us: when we go to the hospital to give birth, we will bring some large ziploc bags and a cooler full of ice.  Our doula and midwives know that we plan to keep the placenta, so as soon as it is delivered (I am envisioning that part of birth going smoothly this time) and the cord has a chance to quit pulsating, they will put the placenta in a bag in the ice chest.  Then, we will call Melanie who will be doing the encapsulation and she will come pick it up.  She will do the encapsulation at her house and deliver the pills to us a day or two later.  Depending on the size of the placenta, that will dictate how many pills there are.

In reading more about placenta encapsulation, I came upon this humorous article written from the dad's point of view.

I also came across this blog post written by another client of Melanie's chronicling the process of making the placenta pills.

Here is a site that describes the benefits of placenta encapsulation.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Belly Shot!

This week your baby weighs a little over 4 pounds (heft a pineapple) and has passed the 17-inch mark. He's rapidly losing that wrinkled, alien look and his skeleton is hardening. The bones in his skull aren't fused together, which allows them to move and slightly overlap, thus making it easier for him to fit through the birth canal. These bones don't entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as his brain and other tissue expands during infancy and childhood.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wanted:

For months now Aaron and I have been talking about all the preparations for Chubby's arrival.  We decided on a first name, picked out a nursery theme, and made plans for the birth.  One of the big things though that we are stuck on is a godparent.  We believe strongly in infant baptism and want for Chubby to have a godparent who believes in this too.  We also want for Chubby to have a godparent who is connected to us in a long term way, rather than simply asking someone at our church who we may lose ties with down the road.
We have family and friends, but it seems like everyone already has a godchild and we don't want to over burden anyone.  So, I am putting it out here in case anyone wants to be a godparent to what we know will be a sweet boy.
UPDATE
Aunt Linda and her partner, Pat, will be Chubby's godparents.  We are thrilled!  We can't wait to introduce this little guy to his family!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yay for Saturday!

We had a fun filled Saturday!  Sarah Graves and I got our day started by baking some zucchini bread.  We made it with zucchinis that we grew and what a tasty treat!  
Then, we headed over to Lovie and Pops to go swimming.  SG tried out her new floaties and loved the independence.  She watched some older girls jumping off the side of the pool in the deep end and got the idea to try it herself.  Next thing you know, she is on the side of the pool counting to herself like the girls were and then she would get up the courage to jump!  She didn't love going under, but she didn't mind it too much.  


She had a great time playing in the pool with Lovie and Pops.  She would get out to get a bite of her snack and tell Pops to save her seat.  It was quite cute!


After swimming she had a special treat, a big bowl of ice cream!  This kid is crazy about ice cream and asks for it from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed.

I could just eat the cuteness up!



 After her long nap, Lovie broke out the finger paints.  She made many pictures that included the sun, bird houses, blue swirls for water, and green swirls for trees.
After painting she asked for play-doh.  Lovie couldn't remember where they put it, so Pops went by the store to get some more!  Yes, she is a doted on grandchild.  She had a great time being outside and playing with her favorite people!
Aaron spent the day making us a delectable meal of baby back ribs, grilled corn on the cob, sautéed asparagus, baked beans, and garlic toast. His rib recipe is a labor of love and takes about 8 hours from start to finish, but they are the best you've ever had and so, so tender.  We deemed him the king!  They say couples should have a task to do during early labor to keep from focusing on the length of time labor is taking; maybe his should be making ribs to eat after Chubby arrives!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Silly Girl!


Sometimes she is so silly!  This week's favorite activity has been coloring with markers (and picking it up with her teeth)!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Belly Shot!


By now, your baby weighs 3.75 pounds (pick up a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, she'll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb. She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.

Check-Up

Chubby and I had a check-up and we both seem to be doing well.  My blood pressure remains low and my measurements are on track.  Chubby's heart rate was between 145 and 150.  While trying to determine his position, the midwife got him all stirred up and he gave her a few swift moves!  His head is turned downward, but his body is going more diagonal than it is vertical.  His head is not engaged yet, which is okay for 32 weeks.
My midwife wants me to make an effort to eat fewer carbs and sweets since my first glucose test was high.  I guess even though the long test came back normal, because the short test was high it indicates that I should be monitoring the sugar in my diet.
We also discussed having me drink a combination of teas that are known to help strengthen the body going into labor, help the uterus contract during labor, and help with bleeding after birth.  Because I lost so much blood after Sarah Graves' birth we want to make efforts to reduce that this time.  It would make the birth a much more joyous event and help with a quicker recovery.  There are four teas: nettles, oatstraw, raspberry leaf, and alfalfa.   There are recipes for mixing the loose tea and making a drink with it that doesn't sound bad.  I had to order the tea in its loose form, but I bought some bags of the individual ones at Whole Foods and they taste fine.  Not medicine like some of the teas I tried for increasing milk supply.
I asked her opinion on the vitamin K injection and she had some thoughts about it.  First, that the oral dosage has not been proven ineffective, just they don't know a lot about the dosing of it for it to be effective.  Second, the oral is very hard to get as most pediatricians feel strongly about the need to inject it, even those that support alternative vaccine schedules.  She did agree with me that the chance of a brain bleed goes up after the first few weeks, so there is time to let the vitamin K build up on its own and that vitamin K does not pass easily into the breast milk, so breastfed babies do not get the high levels of it that formula fed babies get due to the formula being fortified with very high levels.  She sees about half the parents decline the injection and hasn't seen any issues from that choice.  Useful information, but we still have to make a choice.
The other thing I inquired about is hospital policy on children visiting and I was so happy to hear that there is no policy against SG being there.  She can come in whenever we are ready for her.  I don't think I want her in there for the actual birth, but I want her to be one of the first ones to see her brother. She has been so anxious to meet him and I just can't imagine her not seeing her quickly after he arrives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Our Father's Day was pretty relaxed.  We weren't sure if we were going to make it to church and just as Aaron and I debated whether to wake SG up, we heard her talking.  I love it when everything works for us to be able to get there!


 We took Daddy for a big breakfast at J. Christopher's.  SG enjoyed some of everything, including bacon!  Aaron said bacon is the gateway meat.  We'll see!
 After church, we gave Daddy his special things.  She made him a picture using her handprints and we gave him a candy jar made from an idea I found on Pinterest.  She was very proud to give him things that she made.
 We headed to Little Gym and after a nap we went out for lunch.  Our funny girl insisted on wearing a jacket with a hat (hood) and bringing Kate in her doll carrier.
 After lunch there was an upset over Kate that resulted in a bigger upset over not getting to go to ice cream, so she needed some time to relax with her paci, love, and binkie (blanket) and Daddy was happy to have the cuddle time with her.

Lovie and Pops were on a trip all weekend, but headed from the airport to give this girl a celebrity lullaby like Elmo gets.  She loves having someone new to read to her and help put her to bed.  

That was our low key Father's Day.  We did some things to make our Daddy feel special and let him know how much we love all that he does for us, but in a relaxed (as relaxed as a two-year-old allows, at least) way.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Little Gym

Last weekend we started classes at the Little Gym.  Sarah Graves is in the Beast class and she seems to really like it.  The classes are focused on teaching them some basic motor coordination, listening, and social skills through the use of music, games, and of course, the gym equipment.  Sarah Graves is interested in exploring the gym equipment most, but with redirection she joins the group for the activities.  They do some letting the kids explore the gym equipment, but that would be her preference all the time!  It's one way to teach her about paying attention to the teacher and staying on focus.
The beam was her pick to play on most of the time and she started to get the hang of it.  

 After class we were hungry, so we went with Sarah Graves' choice and had lunch at "Steaky Shake".
I am looking forward to seeing her physically develop and be able to do more in gym class.  She is definitely interested in it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

She's Just So Cute!

I posted yesterday about our struggle to get adjusted to a new school, but I also have to write about just how cute my girl is! 
She is really talking a lot now and it is just getting so fun!  She expresses all sorts of ideas and thoughts to us.  I never realized all that was going on inside her mind and still probably only know a little of it. 
The other morning she was putting on her clean panties and kept pulling at her nightgown.  When I asked her what was going on she replied, "my pgs stuck in my butt, BaBa."  She said it with complete sincerity and it was so hard not to laugh.
Sunday she was painting and I asked who she was making a painting for.  Her typical response is Lovie, but that day she looked at me and said, "BaBa, I make this for you bring your work."  I now have a lovely green painting hanging above my desk that I couldn't be more proud of. 
Monday I started with a cold and didn't feel good and she was whining about getting dressed when I told her that I didn't feel well and could she please help me out by getting dressed.  A little later once she had her clothes on, she came over and patted me and said, "I help you out, BaBa."  It was probably the sweetest thing because she understood that I didn't feel good and needed a little extra from her. 
She is usually entertaining to whoever is at the chiropractor and the other day she told them all about eating at Popeye's and how she likes the "mashed toes" and biscuit, but does not like the chicken.  She saw the Popeye's on the way to their office and was anxiously awaiting dinner there.  We had Lovie and Pops with us making it a real treat.  While in there the Rockin' Doopsie song "Don't Mess With My Toot Toot" was playing and she caught on to that one real quick.  While riding in the car she started singing it out of the blue! 
Sometimes I feel like she isn't interested in music class because she prefers to run around and twirl herself silly, but the other day she looked at her plate that has two birds on it and she started singing one of our songs, "Two Little Blackbirds" complete with the hand motions.  I guess she is getting something out of it.
Her improved verbal skills are allowing her to show us how good her memory is.  I have started offering her piggy back rides because she is getting heavy for me to carry around and she remembered that on her Elmo DVD his daddy gives him a piggy back ride. 
I could go on about her forever, but those are some of the cute things she has done.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Momma Worries

For three weeks SG has been attending her new school and the adjustment has been tough.  I think my traveling after she first started made it a lot tougher.  I have been so worried about her and whether or not we are doing the right thing.  The school seems nice, her teachers appear to care a lot, and I am happy with a lot of the things they are doing.  The problem has been the changes I am seeing in my child.
When I say that last week was bought, I mean it was excruciating and exhausting.  She has started to have some nightmare where she yells out No! in her sleep over and over.  We haven't experienced that before and fortunately, it's not every night.  We also had a lot more two-year-old tantrums.  Some evenings it seemed the crying went on from the time I picked he up until the time we put her into bed.  She doesn't want to sit in her car seat, she doesn't want to get out of the car, she doesn't want to eat any dinner, she won't sit on the potty, she doesn't want to brush her teeth, she doesn't want to wear pajamas, she doesn't want to take her shoes off bed, the list goes on.  There are also the times where she says one thing and then when she gets it, she cries because she wanted something else.  My favorite is when she says she wants to do it herself and then given the opportunity to do so, she sits and cries saying, "I do it myself."  That's just the evenings.  The mornings were a repeat of these similar things only throw in the time pressure of trying to get out the door.  Yes, I have been spoiled by sending her off to Lovie's in her pajamas knowing she will get dressed and breakfast there.
In addition to the change in attitude, she started with eczma on the insides of her arms.  She has never had eczema before and it looked really red and itchy.  I have since been doing research on triggers for it and found that stress is a big one.  Great.  My two-year-old is showing me through behavior that she is stressed and her body is showing signs of it too.  
To make matters worse, she now cries when I drop her off at school.  Last Thursday was so bad that an hour after I dropped her off they called to tell me she was still crying.  I couldn't ignore it so I walked back over to try to soothe her.  I could see why she was struggling as multiple others were crying too and it felt overwhelming in her classroom.  I took her out for a bit and when I asked her why she was so upset she said, "my head hurts."  I could see why with all the crying.  I got her a big snack so I knew she wouldn't be starving and I gave her a dose of ibuprofen to help with the headache.  She went back and was a little hesitant to let go, but she started playing and did okay.
Our weekend was great, except for when I left her in the church nursery and she started screaming.  I hated to see her cry, but I felt a little better to know that it is a separation issue and not an I hate this school issue.  Doesn't make it easier.
Monday when I picked her up her teacher let me know that she hit another child and had been throwing toys.  Her teacher noted that this seemed out of character for her and that she felt she was acting out to get attention.  Isn't that what I hoped she would learn!  I was pleased that they handled it by taking her aside and talking about why they don't hit their friends.  When I asked her about her day, she told me it wasn't good.  When asked what happened she told me that she has no friends.  I asked about specific ones and she would say no.  It just broke my heart to think of why she would feel she doesn't have any friends at this age.
Fortunately, yesterday we were told that she had a good day.  Her teacher felt she was happier, she ate some of the food, she napped well, and played with enthusiasm.  I am praying that she is turning a corner and starting to adjust.  If she doesn't soon, I don't know if I will be able to take it.
If anyone told me up front that being a mom would come with so many moments of agony, I never would have believed them.  It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever taken on, but the one that makes me more happy than anything.

Belly Shot!

This week, your baby measures over 16 inches long. He weighs about 3.3 pounds (try carrying four navel oranges) and is heading into a growth spurt. He can turn his head from side to side, and his arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath his skin. He's probably moving a lot, too, so you may have trouble sleeping because your baby's kicks and somersaults keep you up. Take comfort: All this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy.


AS a side note, I have a cold.  Probably the same one that SG and Aaron have had.  Here is my cocktail of pregnancy safe coping tools: Emergen C, honey and vinegar, and saline nasal spray.  I have also taken some Tylenol wen I felt really awful.  

A Zoo Trip

While I was out of town working, Aaron took Sarah Graves to the zoo. I was excited when i realized that Aaron captured some of the fun for me with the camera!






I should probably title trips to the zoo as trips to the playground because that is her favorite part!

Saturday Evening

For quite a while Sarah Graves has been talking about Kate's birthday being "tomato".  Well, we celebrated her birthday on Saturday!  Lovie brought a cake, we added a candle, we sang to Kate, and then Sarah Graves helped Kate out by blowing out the candle and eating the cake!  According to Sarah Graves, Kate turned two.  



As you can see, SG loved the cake and was very happy to enjoy it for Kate!  Kate, you bring a lot of joy and humor to our family and we are glad to celebrate you!

My cutie loves to help out in the kitchen and I love the idea of teaching her early how fun it is to cook and share yummy food with people that we love.  So, we made a blueberry pie on Saturday evening.  She was quite proud as she carried the flour into the kitchen for me.  

She helped to measure out the flour and sugar and helped me count the number of teaspoons of cinnamon going in the bowl.  

She most enjoyed stirring it all together with the blueberries.  It helps to have an extra set of hands from Daddy when cooking with a two-year-old.  

Once we had it in the pie shell, she helped at the dots of butter on top.  

The oven is hot, so she runs to the opposite side of the room to stay clear of being burned!  This recipe from Talk About Good is so simple and the pie comes out very yummy.  It is definitely best with fresh blueberries, but I have made it with frozen ones, too.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Look Alikes?

For those who are curious whether SG and Chubby may look alike, here is Chubby's ultrasound picture and SG's together.  I don't think they look that much alike, but we will see sometime in the next 10 weeks!


A Lovely Saturday

After a very long week and a stressful one at that, I was grateful to have a lovely Saturday.  
The day was off to a good start when Lovie came to join us for breakfast and Music Together.  The bobcat from the previous evening had been replaced by my usual, bubbly, little girl, making the day wonderful!

After music, we met up with Aunt Nay and had lunch.  Sarah Graves was delighted that she could have a strawberry milkshake (she called it ice cream) and french fries for lunch!  

 After lunch we all headed to get a glimpse of Chubby.  Chubby was not in the mood to show off for us.  He was more than willing to show us his bum and his boy parts, but his face was a different story!  For everyone who looks at me and proclaims that I am having a girl, we have not had 4 ultrasounds all claiming this is a boy.  I will be floored if they announce at the birth that it's a girl!

Here is a shot of his foot; showing off all of his toes.

This is the only full face shot that we could get.  He kept his hands and the umbilical cord in front of his face most of the time!  It looks like a sweet boy face to me!  

 Here is a profile shot of him.

 This one also shows his profile and his little arm coming up in front of his face.

 Here he is again all curled up with that arm coming up.  

This one shows his hand and all those sweet fingers.  I think he was trying to say, "no pictures, please" in this one!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Preparations for Birth

I haven't written as much about the preparations for this birth, probably because I know a lot more and I feel a little more at ease.  We have been doing some thinking about the care that we want for Chubby immediately following his birth.  There are several baby care activities that are standard procedure, but at the suggestion of Pam, our doula, we have been researching them and giving them some thought. 

First, the erythromiocin eye drops - these are customary for all babies born in the U.S. because they protect against blindness due to bacterial STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea that the mother may be carrying.  The eye drops make their eyes goopy, blur their vision for a while interfering with their bonding process, and sting a bit.  Because I tested negative (routine procedure at your first prenatal visit) for these STDs, I see no reason to put Chubby through that. 

Second, baby's first bath - typically, a nurse bathes the baby soon after birth because most people view them as "dirty".  We have learned that the vernix on a baby's skin is actually full of properties similar to breastmilk that actually help protect the baby's skin.  There isn't a good reason to immediately wash it off.  In fact, it would be helpful to massage it in and allow it to protect his skin.  Our plan is to give him a bath ourselves when we feel it's time.  We have heard that it may be a nice way to involve Sarah Graves with him in those early days.

Third, Hepatitis B shot - This is important if the parents or anyone living in the baby's home have hepatitis B.  We do not and none of the immediate family do either, so it is something that we will delay.  Immunity is not developed until all three vaccines have been given and our vaccine schedule recommends delaying this one until later in childhood, unless there is reason to believe the child may be exposed. 

Fourth, Vitamin K shot - Vitamin K promotes blood clotting and newborns have low levels of vitamin K making them susceptible to bleeding issues, primarily brain bleeds that occur in about 2 of every 100,000 live births between 3 and 7 weeks old.  The downside is that some studies have shown vitamin K injection leading to an increased risk of childhood leukemia (an additional 2 of every 100,000 kids) and more rarely causing scleroderma, a skin irritation.  We have heard about giving the vitamin K orally in several doses over several weeks and gradually raising a newborn's levels so that it is not a massive influx of vitamin K all at once impacting cell division and potentially resulting in the increased cancer risk.  Our hospital does not offer the oral dose, so we would have to work with our pediatrician to get a prescription for it and administer it ourselves.  Another option would be for a breastfeeding mother to supplement 1 mg of vitamin K a day over the course of 10 weeks and pass along additional vitamin K to her baby through her milk.  I am torn about which option seems right for us.  We don't have any family history of bleeding disorders, so we don't expect him to be at a higher risk for a bleeding problem, yet the injection carries risk of its own. 

Fifth, the big decision, circumcision - Over 100 years ago circumcision became routine in this country because it was believed to reduce the incidence of masturbation and later it was believed to be more sanitary reducing the potential for urinary tract infections and infections under the foreskin.  Research has since rebutted these beliefs and even the American Academy of Pediatrics says there is no medical reason to circumcise.  Those who are against circumcision have strong beliefs that a circumcised penis is less sensitive (probably supporting that stop masturbation motive way back) and that the infant boy does feel pain during the circumcision.  Those who believe in circumcision talk about the reduced risk of penile cancer, but the occurrence of that is very, very low to begin with, so I don't see that as a valid reason.  The lack of medical reason topped of by hearing the baby boys being circumcised scream while waiting in the doctor's office made my mind up pretty easy - we aren't circumcising.  Don't worry about Chubby being picked on in the locker room because now more than half of baby boys are not being circumcised! 
As we have researched this topic more, we have learned that we also do not want to retract or pull back the foreskin.  It will gradually retract on its own and until it does, there's no need to do any more washing of that area than put him in the bath.   It is painful for them to have it manually retracted and it causes bleeding and some nerve damage.  By the time a boy is a teenager, and often well before that, it has retracted fully on its own. 

There you have it, our baby care decisions (well, mostly) for Chubby.  Yep, we get a little more crunchy all the time!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little More...

Here are a few more fun pictures from our laid back Memorial Day weekend.
I asked her what she wanted to do and in her usual way she cocked her head to the side, said ooommm for a moment, and announced she wanted to paint with a paintbrush. I like a girl who knows what she wants! She enjoyed mixing all the paints together, so her art came out a bit brown. She had a great time doing it and freezer paper and tempera paints were certainly easy.
I also let her help me make some homemade granola bars. Aaron thinks we are really getting crunchy if we make our own at home! We had fun doing it and they taste good, but they don't cut into bars, more like you need a spoon and I think some ice cream would be quite yummy with it!