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TV Recap & Review: “16 and Pregnant”

by Dawn on June 12, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Pop culture,Pregnancy

teens-pushing-prams I wasn’t feeling very well last night, so it was out of sheer curiosity that I tuned into the premiere of “16 and Pregnant” on MTV.  I’m a mom, I like various reality tv shows, and there sure are a lot about moms these days.  (Did anyone catch the premiere of “Raising Sextuplets“, also on last night?  I thought about it, but decided it was already being done by, oh, I don’t know, another family in America.  Plus twins!)

As a mother who had her first child at age 29, “16 and Pregnant” was pretty tough to take.  The first episode focused on Maci and Ryan, high school students who like motorbikes, tattoos, and multiple piercings.  They also like each other, or did, enough to get pregnant and engaged.  The episode took us on their journey from 32 weeks pregnant to their baby being about 4 months old.   Since the birth occurred just 25 minutes into the show, it focused a little more on the reality of parenting a newborn than it did the pregnancy.

Their story is told through the eyes of Maci, who narrates throughout (sounding like a girl reading a school assignment in front of the class).  During the pregnancy, she seems optimistic and excited about the direction her life has taken, bragging to her peers about her apartment and new couch.  She and Ryan are evidently taken care of very well (financially) by their generous and enabling parents.  The baby’s room was filled with rock & roll onesies and personalized pacifiers.  Maci’s parents even bought the baby a little motorbike for him to grow into in the future.  (Not exactly a helpful baby shower gift for any new mother, but whatever.)  It was clear that Maci thought she and Ryan and their baby would be a happy little family.

Meanwhile, Ryan is nearly speechless all the time and flummoxed about his impending responsibilities as a husband and father.  The more Maci presses him for enthusiasm, the more he shuts down.  “Ryan’s attitude sucks,” Maci complained.  Indeed.  But he’s also acting his age.  She seems to think that because she saved her pennies to buy a couch, she’s ready to be an adult.

While transferring to an accelerated high school so she could graduate sooner (she is, after all, a self-described “overachiever”), she becomes a little celebrity for her baby bump.  I cringed at this part; the students crowded around her like she was Ellen Page in the flesh, and Maci loved the attention.  It was in this brief scene that there was any discussion at all about why she decided to have the baby.  Her reason: “May as well make the best of it.”  I half-expected her to say, “It’s what that girl did in ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’, that’s why!”

At 38 weeks, Maci, Ryan, and their parents inexplicably go four-wheeling in the woods.  I just couldn’t believe my eyes.  It could have just been the editing, but right after that, Maci went into labor for 30 hours.

My heart melted for the baby boy.  They named him Bentley.  And he was precious.  Maci & Ryan would squabble about who would change him or feed him or comfort him, and for the rest of the episode, I kept thinking, “Give me that baby, I’ll hold him!!”  Maci stepped up and took her mom responsibilities seriously, even though she’d pepper her conversations with complaints like, “Bentley! You’re ruining [my graduation robe]!”  or “He’s cranky in the mornings, and it gets on my nerves.”  (At least she’s honest.)  For awhile, she deluded herself into thinking she could raise the child, care for an inattentive teenage fiance, take classes in college, and go to dance classes twice a week.  Later, she dropped dance.  As far as I can tell, she is still taking university courses and making the most of her mom’s free babysitting.  Ryan, meanwhile, does nothing other than work, work out, and hang out with his buddies at the bowling alley.

In the end, Ryan admitted he hated coming home to Maci, and didn’t want to be together.  She cried, and I didn’t blame her; she has the weight of the world on her young shoulders.  And as I watched their tale come to a close, Ryan ignoring his worries by getting another tattoo the size of his right ribcage, all I could think was, “THIS is why you don’t have sex when you’re an unmarried teenager.”  They’ll grow up, Maci & Ryan, but I worry for their son, an innocent little life who needs a lot of love.  I am glad this show did not romanticize teenage pregnancy but emphasize the magnitude of its responsibility.

Did you see “16 and Pregnant”?  Would you show this to your pre-teen and teenage children as a cautionary tale? 

Photo courtesy paulbence

Coping with Pregnancy Loss

by Amelia on May 28, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Pregnancy

This is just my story, I’m still coping…We just found out yesterday that we lost our baby.  I had an ultrasound scheduled last week at my midwife visit to check on dating and also because I was having a little spotting.  Monday night I had more spotting and was looking forward to the sonogram because I was hoping that the spotting was normal and that I would be relieved to see the baby was doing fine.  

We went to the sonogram as a whole family so my husband and kids were there. As soon as she put the paddle on my tummy, I saw the baby but no heartbeat. (I’ve been to a few sonograms so I knew what to look for.)  She didn’t have to tell me because I knew.    The sonographer quietly whispered that we may want to take the kids out.  I looked at my husband and asked if he heard what she said.  I told him with a look and he knew.  We didn’t want to take the kids out because we knew we’d have to tell them anyway and I didn’t want my husband to leave and be in the room by myself.  She asked if we wanted a picture of the baby which was very kind of her. I asked her if she could tell when the baby had died.  I was a little over 11 weeks and the baby was measuring a little over 9 weeks.  She left to go tell the doctor what was going on and to page the midwife on call.

Our 5 year old picked up pretty quick that something was not quite right and asked what was going on.  I started crying and we told the boys that the baby had died. We told him that mommy and daddy were feeling sad.  He came and gave me a big hug and tried to cheer me up by telling me that I would be okay.  He was sad for a minute and then pretty much moved on.  All three boys were more interested in the sonogram machine and how it works.  Their curiousity and inability to really understand what was going on diminished the emotional impact of what was happening.

On the very quiet car ride home, I had a hundred thoughts going through my head.  Was it the Advil Cold and Sinus I took a few weeks ago?  Was it the cold I had?  Was it all the stress of moving? Was it my own doubts of how I would handle raising 4 children? Or how sometimes I felt like all this transition would be easier if I weren’t pregnant? Basically, was this somehow my fault?  Logically, I know this is very unlikely but the thoughts kept coming anyway. I think it is a natural part of the grieving process to ask those questions just to get them out there.

When we got home we made some coffee, let the older boys play on the computer, and sat on the floor with, Graham, the toddler and played blocks with him.  I think we were feeling thankful for the quiet and relaxed atmosphere of being at home.  I turned on the tv and watched The View just to escape the reality of the situation for a while.  It wasn’t until we laid Graham down for a nap that my husband and I had time to talk and process how we were feeling, what we were thinking, and to connect emotionally while the older two were happily playing in their bedroom.  I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t have a “what’s the big deal, you were still in your first trimester” attitude about it.  He is sad too–in a little bit of a different way.  He was excited about this baby and as we have been making all our plans for the future and our big move to England– this little baby was in every scenario.  We cried together and it felt really good to tell him all the things that were going through my mind.  

We called our families and told them the news and then we called friends.  We’ve only had a few of the unhelpful comments that Mckenna wrote about several months ago.  Sure, I know that there was probably something wrong with the baby or the placenta.  Sure, I know that everything will be fine. Sure, I know that God is there in the midst of all this.  Of course, I know that I should be thankful for my 3 healthy boys.  I KNOW that–but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we lost something that is precious to us!  Most of those came from the same person (who of course shall remain nameless and doesn’t read this site).

Our community of friends and neighbors have been wonderful.  One of my husband’s professors (who is also a priest) called last night to pray for me over the phone.  She was willing to come to our house if we wanted and offered to come up to the hospital if we end up needing to go there for a D&C.  A good friend of mine who has also had a miscarriage brought by a meal.  Some other friends have offered meals too.  Another friend brought by some flowers that are beautiful.  Several friends have offered to take the boys for a while.  We have lots of friends praying for us and offering to help in any way that we need it.  We feel deeply loved and cared for.  I have been amazed the care being given by our friends.  They are doing everything they know to do to help us out.  

I’m still waiting for the actual miscarriage.  I had an appointment with the midwife this morning to get a rhogam shot since I am rh-.  I asked her how long it would take for the cramping and passing of the baby to start.  She couldn’t really say one way or another but that if it didn’t happen in the next week I should consider getting a D&C.  I’d rather not go that route unless needed. I am not particularly fond of the idea of someone scraping out my uterus and treating my baby like it was medical waste.  And even though the risks and complications with a D&C are small, I don’t want to do it unless my body doesn’t naturally pass the baby.  

I imagine that seeing the remnants of the baby will be difficult and that I will have moments of grief over the next several months.  I don’t want to go into the pit of despair but I do want to allow myself to grieve when the moments come.  It is easy in a faith community, like the one we are involved with, to feel like I have to put on a positive face about it.  I don’t want to rob myself of feeling sad about something I was very much looking forward to.  

A friend had given us a shadow box after Graham was born and I hadn’t decided what to do with it.  It has been sitting on my dresser, empty.  My husband suggested that we put one of the sonogram pictures in the shadow box as a keepsake for our precious little one.  I loved the idea and am glad to have a memory of our sweet baby.  

When it comes down to it, there never is any perfect thing to say to anyone.  The things I have appreciated the most are “I’m sorry for your loss, May the Lord bring you comfort, My thoughts are with you, I’m sad with you, How can I help?”  The things that communicate that people are along side us in our journey mean the most.  Advice or pat answers, not so much.  

What do you do if a friend loses a pregnancy?

  • Offer a meal.
  • Call to say your sorry.
  • Ask to take the other children for a while.
  • Send some flowers.
  • Bring by a pint of ice cream.
  • Show up to the house and give hugs.
  • Write a little note telling the family you love them.
  • Offer to pray for them (if you are of that persuasion).
  • Offer a listening ear.
  • Allow your friend to talk about other things if she wants to.  

I’m sure there are other things to add to the list…feel free to add them in the comments section!  Maybe you found some things helpful when you went through this yourself.  


P.S. In writing this post, I’m not looking for a bunch of sympathy.  Don’t feel like you should or have to say anything!  I did want to write a post that would be helpful for others.  And honestly, I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to write about anything else.  This has been a little mind consuming as you can imagine.  I feel like I need help dealing with my own kids when my emotional margins are small and fragile!  I’m living in the reality that there are MANY, MANY things to do while dealing with the emotional impact of losing the baby as well as some  bleeding while I wait for the acutal miscarriage.

How To Get Your Preschoolers To Pick Up Their Toys: A Follow-Up


A couple of weeks ago, Amelia posted a method for how to get our preschoolers to pick up their toys.  It was a battle we ‘ve waging in our home, so the timing was right for us to try Amelia’s suggestion.  I read and re-read her post, shared it in detail with my hubby so we’d be on the same page, and even made a cheat-sheet on the how-to so I would get it just right (nerdy + forgetful = me).

The results have been middling for our family.  My preschoolers are 3 and almost 2.  I explained the new “deal” over and over again for close to a week, and our kids just didn’t get it.  Or maybe they did get it and just didn’t care a whole lot.  It was a combination of both, I think.  At the end of the first night, my hubby was the only parent home – poor guy! – so he was left alone to implement the consequence of the kids’ choice not to pick up their toys: he filled 3 kitchen-sized garbage bags with all the junk that had covered our floor.  He reported to me that their response was curious and bemused.  In fact, my son eagerly started putting the toys into the garbage bags to help him.   Why not the toybox just one foot away, son?  What’s the appeal of the new container?  Lucy, my 3 year old, kept asking questions the next day, like, “Where are the toys going, Mommy?”  “They’re going bye-bye.”  “But where?”  “Someplace else where you can’t have them.”  “Where?”  etc etc.  It didn’t seem like a sad situation for her, just a discussion about geography.

Every now and then, Lucy would help out in a great way with a chore around the house, so we allowed her to get a toy out of one of the garbage bags.  This pleased her for about 3 seconds.  Then said toy was placed on the floor and forgotten about until later that night when she chose not to put it away.

Hubby and I have not sat and confirmed this together (yet), but I think it’s kind of understood for us that this strategy is not the right one for our kids at this point in time.  I’m sure I’ll try it again in a few months.  I can say that I haven’t missed the 3-5 bags of toys that are stored in our garage at the moment – and frankly, the kids don’t seem to miss them much, either.  Maybe cutting out half of their toys was what we all needed anyway.  :)   I’m sure we’ll just give them away.

As for the messes they continue to make every day, I’m onto the next strategy: we don’t do the next activity until a mess is taken care of.  The promise of the next trip outside, coloring session, or even an errand to the store is incentive enough for the kids to get their little butts moving, at the moment.  But this is all still very much a trial-and-error issue for our family.

Did any of you put Amelia’s advice into practice?  What has worked for you?  What other clean-up-your-toys strategies have you employed?

Photo courtesy of rogue3w

A Rave About Midwives

by Amelia on May 21, 2009
category: Labor and Delivery,Pregnancy

1289283711_1d68423a87 I had my first prenatal appointment today with the midwife group that I see.  The birth center is downtown which is about 35 minutes from where we live.  As I was driving I got teary because I knew that when I got to the appointment I would feel very cared for.  I wouldn’t have to put on a positive, faith-filled front. I knew I could let my guard down and share my concerns and worries.  I wasn’t toting all the kids with me so I wouldn’t have to play mommy either.  It felt nice that I wouldn’t have to reciprocate any questions.  I had the luxury of going somewhere that was just for me.  

It sounds sort of selfish, I know.  It felt more like I was going to a counseling appointment than a prenatal appointment.  I have a lot on my plate right now.  We are downsizing in a MAJOR way, selling more things than we are keeping, and moving across the country back to Texas before moving to England later this summer. And we just moved up our leave date to Texas by about 11 days so the pressure to finish all that needs to be done has gone up a new notches. There are so many details that float through my head on an hourly basis it is exhausting.  I’ve been sick with a cold and sinus problems for the past 2 weeks–sometimes feeling okay and sometimes laid out on the couch.  I’m mindful of keeping the stress of the 2 upcoming moves as little as possible for all the kids.  And hubby and I are having a lot of conversations about all the details and trying to communicate well about them (a.k.a not argue and take the stress out on each other).

I walked into the appointment and was purely thankful because I knew that the midwife I was seeing was “with me”.  Midwife means with woman. And she is for me. One of the first things she said was, “I have a lot of things to ask, but first is there anything that you would like to talk about…any concerns or questions?”  There was no hurry, no pressed time.  She was all ears about any questions I had.  I did have a small list.  I’ve been having a little spotting the past few days so I wanted to talk about that.  I told her that although I have been thankful for much less nausea this pregnancy it did have me concerned because it has been so different from my last 3 pregnancies.  I mentioned that I don’t want to have another (almost) 12 lb. baby and would like some direction on what to do about that.  I also needed some guidance on what I could do with all the sinus headaches I’ve been having for the past week.  Even though I had my last baby with the group, she looked at my file and looked over any concerns about my last pregnancies and/or health issues.  We went through my health history together and I was free to share any new thoughts that came up during our conversation.  Through all of our conversation, she was very encouraging and reassuring.  I never felt stupid for asking questions and I never felt like I needed to rush.

3036272286_0336e0c399_m She asked me if I was comfortable with getting an ultrasound to help me feel better about how the baby is doing.  I agreed and made an appointment for early next week.  We tried to listen to the heartbeat but since I am still in my 10th week I knew it would be a slim shot.  We didn’t get to hear it but I knew it wasn’t something to worry about.   She did an exam to check my cervix and make sure it was closed and to look and see if there was any old/new blood.  As she did the exam she walked me through the whole thing (even though I totally know what to expect).  I still appreciate it because she is respecting me as a woman/mother.  We set up an another appointment right before we move even though it is a few days earlier than it would normally be.  I don’t think I’ll have prenatal care again until we get to England so having one more appointment just to check on me seemed important.  They will have my file ready so I can take it to England with me.  She was very encouraging about the prenatal care I will get in England.  She worked with a midwife who was trained in England, so is familiar with the system and how it works.  

Even though I am a birth teacher and I know a lot of information about pregnancy and birth, I still need to be cared for.  I don’t mean to imply that my husband doesn’t take care of me or look out for me, or that my friends and family don’t care. It’s just that there are many different hats I wear as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, mother etc.  Do you know what I mean?

I left my appointment feeling relaxed, uplifted and cared for.  And that is how it should be!  I love midwifery care! I love that one of the values of midwifery care is to look at my whole person–not just the baby growing inside me.  I find that I appreciate it more, the more children I have!  There are many women who choose midwifery care (from Certified Nurse Midwives-CNMs) even though they want epidurals during their labors or need to have c-sections for one reason or another.  You don’t have to be earthy-birthy to love the personalized care you often get from midwives.  Their job is to be “with woman” and to care for her where she is–not make her super granola.  

I’m sure that many of you have had similar experiences with ob/gyns but I have heard many, many stories where that is not the case.  I just like to throw out an alternative for anyone who might be looking for something different, who might need some extra attention during pregnancy and motherhood.  Midwives are wonderful and I hope that anyone who has been comtemplating switching practices might consider the midwifery model of care.  Most CNMs also do well-woman visits too!  

So what do you think?  Does that kind of care sound appealing to you?  What extras do you need when you are pregnant? Would you ever try going to a midwife?  Why or why not?

Is Postpartum Depression Worse After Having Boy?

by Amanda on April 29, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Health and Fitness,Pregnancy

mom_and_little_boy While discussing my emotional roller coaster after having my baby boy 8 weeks ago with friends one mom made the comment that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is worse after having a boy. She attributed it to the higher testosterone levels while pregnant with a boy.  I have unscientifically surveyed my friends and most have agreed that their PPD was worse after having a boy than when they had a girl.

In the last few weeks I have had a few episodes of baby blues and anger. Now at 8 weeks I feel like my symptoms are calming down and my hormones are leveling out. My baby blues mostly consisted of my crying at night while watching a commercial or a t.v. show.

When I was angry I wasn’t angry at my new son, but at my husband and 23 month old daughter. My husband got sick and I was angry that he couldn’t help and I had to do everything. I know it wasn’t his fault that he got sick, but I still didn’t like it. I have been angry at my toddler daughter too. One day after I got angry with her I emailed my friend Amelia about my feelings and it read:

I do get really mad when Annabelle wakes up her brother. And then last night she was doing her usual – i don’t want dinner, but want to be in your lap while you eat – thing. In the process she swatted her plate of food away and it landed on the floor. I grabbed her, spanked her, ran her up to her room and put her in her crib and left her.  But i was so upset and upset at myself for getting so upset about it. (i hope that makes sense.)

After I had gotten angry I remembered that Amelia had written a blog post about anger and PPD here on The Mom Crowd and I went and read it. In her suggestions on how to deal with it, she suggested that you talk about it with a friend. So I emailed her and she called me back. Our conversation helped me, because it made me not feel so crazy. She told me that she had gotten mad at her husband for being sick too. She said that it was good that I put Annabelle in her crib and walked away. She encouraged me to watch my symptoms and to keep an eye on how often I get angry.

Thankfully my bouts of anger have pretty much subsided. I am normally an easy going person. I also don’t cry at every sad thing on t.v. anymore. I was also able to talk this out at my 6 week follow-up appointment with my midwife. She brought it up and asked me how I was doing emotionally. We talked while I nursed my baby. This would have never happened at my former OB/GYN’s office.

After the birth of my daughter I only had some baby blues. I remember bawling during the Series Finale of Gilmore Girls and texting my husband to come home from Target so I could have a hug. I don’t know if my Postpartum Depression was worse after my boy, because I also had a toddler to deal with.

In February the BBC reported that French scientists found a “statistical quirk” in their research suggesting that the mothers of boys have a greater chance of having a severe case of PPD.  I have also researched around the web and it doesn’t seem like their is difference in the severity of PPD in relation with the gender of your baby.

Have you noticed a difference in PPD between genders? Have you experienced a form of PPD and how did you handle it?

While we are on the subject this is a great post about not judging what form of PPD treatment people use over at Postpartum Progress (click here).

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