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Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE Getting Pregnant

by Christy on August 26, 2009
category: Pregnancy

love-the-bump It’s been a while since I’ve been pregnant, 20 months in fact, but the uncertainties of pregnancy still run through my mind often.  While some women seem to breeze through pregnancy without so much as a single Braxton Hicks contraction, others, like me, are not so lucky.  I’ve been trying to think of some pithy way to express my confusion about the wonders of pregnancy but decided that the best way to do it is just to make two lists… one with the things that just plain stink about pregnancy and one with all the wonderment and joys of it.  As a preface, let me just say that I am one of those people who absolutely loves being pregnant and wishes it could be a perpetual state, but even I have my limits!

The Woes I Did Not Know:

- Morning Sickness can be such a misnomer!  Our first successful pregnancy proved to be very challenging as I dealt with “morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night sickness”.  I had developed a condition many women do not know about called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  It is a very severe form of morning sickness in which those affected vomit constantly, find no relief and lose 5% or more of their body weight.  I lost 20 pounds in  my first trimester and had to be hospitalized.  I suffered with this condition my entire pregnancy.  Talk about rough!

- Joint pain is real in pregnancy!  With Andrew, I didn’t experience this at all, but early in my second trimester with Catherine, my hips burned with arthritis type pain.  It would be so severe some nights that I would toss and turn and never be able to find a comfortable position.  I also did not know that this condition can hang around for many months after pregnancy as well. 

- Constipation is 10 times worse when you are pregnant!  Because your body produces extra progesterone during pregnancy, it also increases the effects of the hormone in your system.  Progesterone slows down digestion, thus making constipation more likely.  Constipation is also more difficult to treat during pregnancy.  The only things I could do to relieve mine was drink decaf coffee, eat a ton of grapes and drink plenty of water.  And when it got really bad, I had to use glycerin suppositories.  Not exactly a glamorous moment!

- Induction is not all it’s cracked up to be!  I was induced with Andrew because I was making absolutely no progress on my own.  Even my doctor thought Andrew would be happy just to stay in my belly permanently.  The first few hours of my induction weren’t too bad, but after the fifth hour, the pain was completely intolerable and by the ninth hour, Andrew could not handle the stress from the drugs and I was rushed into emergency surgery for a c-section.  What I thought was to be a great experience turned into a scary day when my baby’s heartbeat could not be found and a vaginal delivery was no longer an option.

The Little Things I Enjoyed:

- The feeling of my children moving in my belly was the coolest thing ever!  I would lay on my couch, watching American Idol, just feeling Andrew groove to the music in my belly.  I loved that feeling and missed it once I gave birth.

- Being pregnant made me feel more beautiful than I ever felt in my life!  To this day, I miss my baby bump.  I always felt that pregnancy was one of God’s most beautiful creations and seeing pregnant bellies, especially mine, confirms that in my heart!  I never felt fat, just that I looked more feminine and beautiful than ever before.

- Shopping for baby stuff was more fun than shopping for anything I ever wanted for myself!  I didn’t feel like paying $180 for a crib bedding set was ridiculous, when if it was something I wanted, I never would have even considered it. 

- Getting to hold my children in my arms after they were born was one of the most fulfilling and awesome moments of my life!  Seeing their cute little noses, long eyelashes and full heads of hair was such an amazing experience. 

Of course, there were many other things that I loved about being pregnant… well, I actually even loved throwing up because it meant I was still pregnant, but all that said, pregnancy can be easy or difficult, but it’s ALWAYS worth it!!! 

What were some of the things you wish you had known about pregnancy?  Were there more unexpected “woes” or “joys” for you?

Photo Courtesy of otzberg

How To Care For a Friend Pursuing In Vitro Fertilization

by Dawn on August 14, 2009
category: Inspiration,Pregnancy,Special needs

friends On Wednesday, Christy posted about secondary infertility.  It was a deeply personal topic for her and one that greatly encouraged others.  I was encouraged by Christy’s gentle reminders of what to say (and what not to say) if I ever find myself conversing with a friend in that position.  Thank you, Christy (and dear readers)!

Ironically, Wednesday was also the day that one of my friends began the in vitro fertilization process for the first time.  I will call this friend Allison.  Naturally, my heart thought of Allison and her husband as I read Christy’s words.  Infertility has long been their battle, and IVF is a huge step for them. 

One thing I love about my friendship with Allison is that we are completely different from one another.  She’s an introvert; I am not.  She is an engineer; I most definitely am not.  She is hard to get to know; I am not.  She doesn’t like “The Office” (and oh, how I do).  You get the idea.  I think it is from sheer perseverance on both our parts that we have become close at all.  :)

It was nearly a year into our friendship when she revealed to me the depth of her sadness about wanting to become a mother.  I had always wondered why this fantastic couple didn’t have children, but I didn’t want to pry.  The day Allison started to open up to me, I felt that she was handing me a fragile part of her heart, and I needed to care for it responsibly.  I can recall few times when I have been so cautious with my words. 

Allison and her husband talk with others about their infertility issues as little as possible.  They don’t like being asked, on a regular basis, about “how things are going” or “pregnant yet?”  They know their friends and family have the best of intentions, but the constant questioning irritates and saddens them.  They have even refrained from telling certain family members about the IVF process, as a measure of emotional protection for themselves.  Not only do they dislike having to give detailed updates on a regular basis, they feel they are disappointing others when nothing changes.  They are so consumed with their own worry, the idea of letting too many others in on it would put even more on their shoulders.

Over the past several months, I have learned from Allison that she desires prayer and concern from others, but she doesn’t want conversations to revolve solely around her infertility.  She desires her friends to check in occasionally.  To ask first if it’s something she is up to talking about.  To give hugs generously and to use words sparingly

These are lessons I think a lot of us well-meaning mothers could use.  I hope Allison’s story will give you strength to support someone you love in a similar situation.

Have you ever been on either side of this process, either as the friend or the woman pursuing IVF?  What were the challenges you faced in relating to the other?  Is there a right thing to say?

photo courtesy greekadman

Secondary Infertility – The “Unknown” Infertility Issue

by Christy on August 12, 2009
category: Pregnancy,Uncategorized


sad-couple1 The journey down the road of infertility goes down many paths. Our society mostly understands and acknowledges the infertility of those who have never had children. Few people even realize that many couples, as many as 20%, who have had one or more children, may struggle with what is called secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is basically the inability to get pregnant or carry to term a subsequent pregnancy after having a child.

My personal story started long before I ever met my husband. At the age of 16, I lost an ovary to an aggressive cyst. I was told then that my chances of getting pregnant were slim, especially once I hit my mid-twenties. I married my husband when I was 25 and we were blessed to get pregnant our first month trying. We were devastated when we learned at about 9 weeks that our precious baby had passed. We waited a month, tried again and were again blessed with a pregnancy. This baby is now 4 years old and is one of the biggest joys of my life. Right after his first birthday, we were surprised to find out that we were pregnant again. Sadly, only days after getting the news, we lost that baby as well. From that point, we decided that we wanted another baby and thought that having three pregnancies happen so “easily” must be a good sign and that the miscarriages were terrible and unfortunate flukes. We tried for many months before seeking fertility treatments and testing. Our doctor suggested the Clomid route as the first fertility treatment. After 5 months on Clomid and no success, we basically decided to step back and see what happened. Luckily, the next month, we conceived our beautiful daughter who is now 20 months old. But many couples are not so lucky.

Now we are back on a similar path. The problem with our fertility is mine. I have crazy cycles and a shortened luteal phase (the time from ovulation to period; it must be at least 10 days to sustain pregnancy). Most recently, I suffered from another large hemorrhagic cyst that had to be surgically removed and am now dealing with potentially major complications from that surgery. The emotional toll of our infertility runs deep.

As said previously, most people don’t realize that just because you have one or more children doesn’t mean you can continue to have them without difficulty. Families dealing with secondary infertility often get little to no support from others in their lives. They are instead told “relax and it will happen” or “just be happy that you have the child/children you already have”. While this is VERY common for families to hear, it is not the least bit comforting or encouraging. Secondary infertility is a condition that causes the families struggling with it to deal with loss; the loss of a child, the loss of the dream of having a large family, the loss of the desires to give their child a sibling.

It’s difficult to express true and total joy for our friends who seem to get pregnant (and stay pregnant) at the drop of a hat. Baby showers are painful experiences. Visiting friends after their births are tough. Just seeing one of my closest friend’s pregnant belly brings pain to my heart and tears to my eyes. It’s not a jealousy thing, but rather sadness for the loss in our lives. I wish her all the blessings God can bring to her and her baby, but I so very much long to be pregnant again right with her.

If you are struggling with secondary infertility, there are a few things you can do to help find comfort and support during this difficult time. Visit The National Infertility Association’s website for more information, find support groups, and talk about your struggles with those in your life. The more they know, the more they can understand and be there for you.

Are you struggling or have you struggled with secondary infertility? What has been the most difficult aspect of this struggle for you? What do you wish everyone else understood about your situation?

Photo Courtesy of subnet24

Breastfeeding: Making More Milk

by Amelia on August 6, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Feeding,Health and Fitness,Pregnancy

The International Breastfeeding Symbol In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to highlight a book that offers hope, encouragement, and information that will help women overcome some of the devastating issues of low milk supply.

The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West and Lisa Marasco has been an eye opening book for me.  As someone who struggled with a low milk supply while breastfeeding, not once but twice, I found this book amazingly helpful as I read it. I heard about it from another birth teacher.  Oh, how I WISH I had known about this book after our third baby was born almost two years ago!  (It wasn’t written 6 years ago when my first was born) I don’t know that all my breastfeeding problems would have been solved but it would have offered me some peace and answered several of my questions.  I love nursing and it is a real struggle for me that I have had so much trouble feeding and sustaining my babies on breastmilk alone.

Making More Milk explains the biological process of how breastmilk is produced.  It  explains how hormones, the mother’s physical development, the baby, and the mother all work together to make a plentiful supply of milk.  This book covers  more detail than any other breastfeeding book I’ve read about problems that can effect milk supply.

This book is FAR more than a “just pump and you’ll increase your milk supply” solution to milk supply problems.  It covers in detail ideas about how to make a plan for managing milk supply, preventing low milk supply, altervative treatments and possibilities for treating low milk supply. It is the only book I am aware of that was written specifically for women who have difficulties with milk supply.  Each chapter has helpful information and things to consider when dealing with milk supply problems.

If you had trouble breastfeeding with a previous child and want to try again but are nervous about trying because you are scared you’ll run into the same problems, I highly recommend this book.  If anything, you will probably gain a better understanding of WHY you have milk supply issues.

Have you ever heard of this book?  Struggled with low milk supply? Scared to try again?  Tell us your story!

Confessions About Being 9 Months Pregnant and Waxing

by Amelia on July 30, 2009
category: Health and Fitness,Humor/Random,Pregnancy

Being a mommy is great, but feeling pretty all the time for our men isn’t always easy. I have a wonderful friend, named Beth, who is pregnant with her third baby.  She is due any day now and sent me a comical story that actually happened to her just a few days ago.  I thought it was a humorous look at some of the things we do to make ourselves feel pretty.  I asked her to be a guest writer for this week and share her story with us.

I’ve known Beth for over 10 years now.  We lived together for two years in the late 90′s before my husband and I got married. Beth is an amazing woman.  She is honest, loving, authentic, and the kind of person who makes you feel safe to open up to.    Her children are fortunate to have such a great woman as a mother.

Here is a little about Beth:

mom-and-alina My name is Beth Hernandez. I live in San Antonio, TX with my husband and three children, ages 5 (son), 2 (daughter), and soon to be born son! In general, I am what many would consider an extreme extravert, though God seems to be balancing that more lately. Though my husband and I feel most at home when our house is filled with people and our schedule is busy, we have learned to set a few emotional boundaries to keep our health and relationships stable! By trade I am a secondary Math, Science, and English teacher. Currently I am a homemaker who tries to keep her toe in the broader Education field through tutoring and short term, very part time contracted teaching positions (like a summer program called Jumpstart through the University of Texas system or some private school affairs). I home school my oldest kids, which is great fun! I love to read and share what I’ve read with others. I enjoy writing, and I am learning to share that with others. My husband and I are an active part of our church community.

Confessions about being 9 months pregnant and waxing…

Some ideas are better left un-tried when one is 9 months pregnant. Case in point: waxing one’s belly. Background on this adventure may or may not be necessary, but just in case, when I was in my early and mid twenties, I thought it extremely important to have as little body hair as possible. The reason for this is that one never knew when one would meet the man of her dreams, and potentially run away to get married very spontaneously, or if one would find herself in the hospital stripped to her undies for some terrible surgery situation wishing all that hair wasn’t so thick and exposed. (By the way this is the same logic for wearing matching bra and underwear sets!) An added bonus for hair removal was that I was always prepared for spontaneous swimming situations (though I can’t recall if those ever really happened spontaneously). So I engaged in the painful ritual of waxing certain “bikini” areas when necessary. I’m sure I had a formal process for this feat, though it eludes me at present.

The truth about getting married—even if one does run away to Lake Tahoe very spontaneously to do so—is that eventually one falls into a comfortable routine with her dear husband. This is especially true after having children. Now please don’t interpret this as not looking my best for my husband; I continue to make the effort to be as beautiful as possible for him. Realistically though, as the budget got tighter, things like waxing gave way to razors for cost purposes, and some days making the extra effort to remove all the hair was not as important as taking time to deal with the emotional and spiritual needs of my young children and actively loving my husband in many good ways. I also began to realize, in the particular case of my own husband, that my hair removal process on the whole was more for my security and self image than his pleasure.

Having exposed all that, I come to today. Today, I am 39 and ½ weeks pregnant with our third child. My belly is extended farther than I care to describe. I have been bemoaning the hair on the lower section of my belly since it fell exposed under my maternity blouse to my 2 and ½ year old daughter when she ran to hug me last week. She said it was “pokey” when her cheek rubbed against said belly. I’m not sure that this “pokey” hair is terribly noticeable to the average adult, but small children “tell it like it is,” and I felt that shaving was just too dangerous a venture at this point (due to limited visibility and coordination—which may have been a good reason to forgo the waxing, as well). So when I went to Target today, to buy a few household items, I stopped in the beauty section to find some wax. I decided I owed this “indulgent luxury” to myself. It had been about 5 years since I subjected myself to the torture, and had clearly forgotten the painful process.

Tonight, after everyone in the house was asleep, I removed the wax and sticks and directions from the package. I read them carefully, noticing it was not exactly as I remembered, but things change some in 5 years. I microwaved the wax container for 30 seconds, which should have deterred me then and there. Our microwave does not like certain items (like butter, and apparently wax). I had to flee the kitchen for fear of my life as what seemed like lightning bolts erupted inside the 15 year old monster microwave. When the timer beeped, I tiptoed back into the kitchen, carefully opened the door, and pulled out my wax. It seemed the right consistency, so I continued with the process.

Back in the bathroom, I set up a mirror on the toilet seat, so I could see the underside of my belly, and began applying the sticky goop in the direction of hair growth. My first mistake was probably spreading the wax on too thickly. My second mistake was leaving the box of fabric strips on the floor. When I leaned over to grab one, my belly stuck to my leg, the wax container fell to the floor, and the spreading stick began to drip all over the toilet seat. As I pulled my leg painfully off my belly, I began to laugh, realizing this is the stuff sitcoms are made of: images of “I love Lucy” and “Anne of Green Gables” dancing in my head. My dear husband sat up in bed at this point to see what on earth was causing me to make such a racket! He rolled his eyes when he saw me and lay back down probably wondering about his choice in women.

Determined, I continued in this venture. I stuck the fabric strips on my belly and pulled. OUCH…OUCH…OUCH! The great unfortunate point here was, again, mistake number one: I spread the wax on thickly. I succeeded in removing no hair but still subjecting my belly to deep pain. (Which by the way should have put me into labor, but I am under the firm suspicion that this baby is too wise to the outside world and has decided he’d rather spend his days warm, well fed, and safe in his current cramped quarters!) I tried again with new strips, only to realize that though I was raw, I still had hair because I had pulled the strips in the wrong direction! Here, wisdom entered my heart and I decided to give up this disastrous adventure. Sadly, mistake number two came back to bite me. Along with the fabric strips, the “soothing oil” was on the floor in the box. I can’t tell you how many places I had wax after finally getting the little bottle from the floor. I might have saved myself the trouble. The oil did not do a great job of removing all the sticky wax from my body (see mistake number one). Between the failed waxing job and scrubbing frantically all over with soap and a scrubby after applying the oil, I am now raw and hairy and unsure of why we subject ourselves to such torture as women…I don’t think I’ll attempt waxing again, unless I can afford a professional and some REALLY GREAT WINE!

Thanks for reading my confession…I felt keeping it to myself would only be self indulgent.

–Beth Hernandez

Okay Mom Crowd, Welcome Beth this week and share some of your stories that happened to you!

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