Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birthing Excitement

Although my previous post was mostly about how I am NOT ready to have this baby quite yet, I must follow it up with a post about why I am very excited about the actual birth of my little man.

Although I am delivering at a military hospital and have received all of my medical care through the military providers, I had the option of going with the midwives rather than the OBs. Both my previous births have been with private practice OBs and my births, although both vaginal deliveries, were in private hospitals with those OBs.

I truly didn't have any real complaints about my previous births at either hospital or with either physician. I did not ask many questions. I just did what was "routine" for the hospital and providers.

With this pregnancy, I was intrigued by delivering with a midwife because it was different from what I had done in the past. I was induced at 39 weeks with both C and D for different reasons. Neither delivery was complicated or problematic, but I would describe both as "very medical." I knew I didn't want to be induced with this one. I WANT my body and this baby to decide when the time is right.

In my previous births, I walked in and was immediately hooked up to an IV. I stayed in the bed virtually the entire time. I received an epidural when the contractions became decently uncomfortable (I received it earlier with my second birth than with my first because with my first, I waited slightly TOO long to request it and quickly became very miserable). When I eventually reached 10cm dilation, my legs were put in stirrups, blue sterile drapes were placed over my legs and belly, and I pushed until the baby crowned and was born.

As a side note, I did receive episiotomies with both births. Neither developed any complications and neither caused me any more pain and discomfort than I think any normal vaginal birth would have caused.

I never looked back on my births and thought, "I wish things would have gone differently." I was extremely pleased with both my physicians and with the outcomes of both births - healthy 7lb babies!

BUT, there are things that I would like to experience differently this time. The biggest issue for me was how "medical" the whole thing felt. I know that women have birthed babies since the beginning of mankind. I am not comfortable delivering away from a medical setting because of the possibility of an emergency (though rare, it still frightens me), but I realize that birth isn't an event that needs extreme "medical" intervention. To me, a well trained nurse for me and a nurse for my baby is about all that is necessary unless a complication arises. In that case, of course I would welcome a respiratory therapist, and OB, and a neonatologist. And anyone else who may become necessary!

Okay, back to yesterday's appointment...

The midwife I saw answered all my birth related questions. She explained to me that there was no medical need for IV fluids during delivery, so although the nurses at the hospital would want to hook me up, she said I can request a hep-lock instead of a IV. She explained that this would basically provide them "access" to my vein incase they needed it, but that I would not need to receive any fluids through it unless it became medically necessary to have some medication via IV. (I am praying for a negative Strep B screening result so I don't have to have antibiotics during labor)

I asked about the blue sterile drapes that were laid all over me for both previous births. She shook her head and said that the midwives don't even break down the bed (for those of you who have never given birth, this means that they don't remove the bottom portion of the bed when you begin pushing). She said they don't use stirrups and she said many times, she doesn't even put on a gown.

She also told me that they will not cut an episiotomy unless there is true emergency and they thought it would help get the baby out faster.

I must say that I am SO excited about this birth. I do not intend to go drug free. I do plan on getting an epidural at some point. I understand that this requires a flush of a bag of IV fluids before it is given. I understand they will want to monitor my blood pressure when the epidural is in place. I am okay with all of this.

Mostly, I am excited that the midwife will be there to encourage me and to give me the courage to be my own advocate. She even told me to write up a birth plan.

I have so few true birth desires that I thought it wasn't even worth bothering with, but she said that I should write up whatever it is that I'd like - no matter how small or seemingly "short" my list of desires is. She said they want to know what I want and what I hope for.

I love the midwives already! Yay!

Of course I know that things may not go as I have planned or even as the midwife and I discussed, but I know that I will leave with my baby at the end of my stay. I know that they will support me no matter what happens. I will be in good hands.

And after all my hard work, my husband will again get to "cut the cord." I may let it pulse for a few extra minutes while the baby is placed on my chest (one of my few desires that I've never experienced) and rubbed dry with a towel. But this glorious, praise worthy moment will happen.

Praise God for birth and healthy babies!
This is D meeting us for the first time :-)
The most beautiful 7lbs 4oz that I've ever seen!

The Home Stretch

I am now 35 1/2 weeks pregnant.

My midwife told me yesterday that if labor started from this point forward, they wouldn't do anything to try and stop it.

To, me, that means the final countdown is on!

I am now trying to enjoy my last few pregnant weeks. Some days are easier to enjoy than others. It is really all in my mind though.

When I stop to realize that these last weeks are probably the last weeks I will EVER be pregnant, I get a little sad. And in less of a hurry to "get it over with."

I am trying to enjoy each movement from within my belly. Those movements that make me laugh as I can feel the individual feet (or small parts) poking out on the my right side. And the ones that make me wince in pain as I feel his head slam down against my cervix. Ouch! And of course, the reoccurring hiccups in my lower left abdomen that seem to happen each time I try and fall asleep.

I have to laugh at myself whenever I get up from laying down these days because each time, the change from laying down to standing up makes me feel the instant need to pee. Combine that with the stiffness in my legs and hips and I must be quite a site as I stand up and immediately limp to the bathroom. (2-3 times a night!)

But I am relishing the times that I can lay down and rest.

Lately, I take a nap every day when D takes a nap. My sweet C plays quietly in the living room or playroom as I snooze on the couch. I don't know how I'd make it through the day without these naps. I know they are numbered though. I wonder how I am going to make it through the days when the baby arrives and I can no longer grab a nap each afternoon.

I am also trying to enjoy the moments with my "big" kids. Today I took them to Moe's for lunch...just because I could. It is their very favorite place to eat. B and I don't really care for it, but they love it. In a month or less, I will not be able to spoil my "big" kids and take them to their favorite place for lunch by myself.

In fact, I'm not sure how long it will take before I even feel I can leave the house with all 3 children by myself. I am hoping I'll adapt sooner than I think I will. I am also hoping baby N will be an easy going little guy that goes with the flow and enjoys being lulled to sleep in the baby carrier I plan on wearing him in. (That I finally was able to order this morning!)

Part of me is beginning to freak out a bit because of all the things that are still up in the air. I don't really know exactly who will watch C and D when I go into labor. I have some wonderful gals lined up, but as to who is available at that exact moment, I don't know yet. I need to finish packing the bag for the baby and I need to start packing a bag for myself. I need to install the car-seat. The bigger I get, the more daunting crawling in the van to rearrange all our seats is going to be. I better do that now before I get any less "nimble." And of course, I don't have any idea when the baby will make his debut. I am praying it is sometime AFTER April 7th. B is out of town until then.

I am throwing C a birthday party on April 9th and then her real birthday is on the 17th. I'd love it if the baby didn't come on either one of those days either. I know the Lord has each moment of this birth planned out, so I am not really worried about any of this.

Just anxious to figure out how it is all going to go.

And then I am very much looking forward to spending about 48 hours in the hospital when I have the baby. I am going to savor the nurses that are there to help me. Savor the quietness when the baby sleeps and I can rest.

I know these 48 hours or so will be the last "restful" hours I may get for a while. Unless this baby holds out and doesn't come until my actual due date when we have family coming in town to help us, coming home is going to be anything but relaxing and peaceful.

It will just be me and B. And I will have just had a baby. And we still have our other two kiddos to take care of. And this new little newborn.

This is why the hospital is appealing to me :-)

Anyway, join me as I countdown the last weeks. I am enjoying them. The baby is no longer up in my ribs making me terribly uncomfortable. I am used to peeing each time I cough and sneeze. I am used to rubbing oil on my belly twice a day. I am used to wearing sweatpants every day. And although I can't wait to meet my youngest son, I am not really ready to be done being pregnant.

I am still enjoying life as I know it.

Which I know will never again be the same.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Recommendation

I've never made a book recommendation on my blog before, but I am finding the one I am currently reading to be SO good, that I feel I owe it to you to recommend it...

I am in the middle of reading The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. It is a non-biased book that was written to educate parents about the vaccines the AAP recommends for our children. In the past, I have vaccinated my children 100% based on the recommendation of my pediatricians. I would sign the forms, they'd inject my kids, I'd wait my 10 minutes to see if they had a reaction and then I was out the door with my child and a handout about the vaccine we just received and its possible side effects. I never read those sheets. Most often, they'd lay in my car, or in the bottom part of the stroller until I eventually just threw them away.

Neither of my children ever had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. I have no reason to NOT want to vaccinate.

I am simply reading this book because I want to learn more about the diseases these vaccines aim to prevent as well as the vaccines themselves.

I cannot tell you how informative this book has been! It goes through 12 of the vaccines we commonly give our children and tells you about the disease including the severity of it and the rarity of it, and then goes through how the vaccine is made and how effective it is. It gives you reasons why parents choose to give the vaccine and why some parents choose not to give the vaccine.

I am all for moms making informed decisions when it comes to their children. This was one area where I had never bothered to do the research. All I can say is that I am SO glad I'm reading this book now :-)

Baby No.3 will still be vaccinated. But he will be vaccinated differently than my other two children because of what I am learning. If you've got a baby at home or if you're going to be having a baby in your home, please think about reading this book.

Its full of great information and it is very well written!

So, that is my $0.02 :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rear-Facing *Update*

Four days ago, I switched D's car-seat back to be rear-facing in my van as a bit of an "experiment" to see how an older toddler fits rear-facing as the AAP now recommends. I know many of you probably thought this was a weird thing to do since he is almost 2 1/2 and is developing into quite a big boy these days.

But to me, my child's safety will always come first.

So, I am not concerned with how strange you may think it is or how weird you think it looks :-)

These past few days with D being rear-facing have actually gone very well - considerably better than I expected.

In fact, I have decided to extend my "experiment" and keep him rear-facing until he becomes incredibly unhappy with it or until he no longer fits - again, he is 6 months OLDER than the new AAP rear-facing guidelines apply to. I have actually considered getting him a different car-seat so he can be even more comfortable than he currently is (this is just in consideration mode at the moment though, haha). However, in case you were wondering what some of the seats are that people use to keep these bigger kids rear-facing though, here is one. And here is another one.

What I have discovered:
I have figured out that D fits better in his "new seat" if I remove his shoes when I strap him in. His sneakers don't really pose a problem, but his rain boots added quite a bit of bulk. He just looked more comfy sitting cross-legged with his little sock feet.

I have also figured out that he is extremely happy rear-facing when his sister is in the car. This is likely because they can see each other very well. They chat, play, and pass toys back and forth. I couldn't be happier about this.

I learned that it is still possible for him to have a bit of a snack while rear-facing even though I can't actually see his face. We stopped at McDonalds once and I was still able to pass 2-3 fries back to him at a time (as I normally would forward facing). We just passed the fries over our heads. Its worked just fine.

He and I also figured out together the best way for me to lift him (even at 35 weeks pregnant) so he doesn't hit his head on the side of the van when getting in or out of his seat.

Hmmm, what else...

I noticed that he doesn't drop his toys as often thus keeping him MORE entertained when riding in the car. This is obviously because his toys/books are more or less boxed in by his torso and the back of the captain's chair in the van.

Oh, and both my kids can still climb in the van on the side where his seat is. They are both small enough to just duck and walk in under his rear-facing convertible car-seat. This was a concern of mine, so I am glad to learn that this isn't actually a problem as I figured it may be.

Overall, he has stayed very happy, I have asked him several times if he is comfortable. He has told me "yes." I have asked him if he likes his legs flopped out over the edges of his seat. He has told me "yes." And I can't help but to notice how excited he is when he climbs into his seat. He eagerly jumps in. He has even learned to say a new phrase this week - "back-wards," haha!

I have not installed the new baby's infant seat in the van yet, but I have reconfigured in my head where all three of my car-seats will go. D is going to stay where he is behind me - rear-facing. The new baby will go in the infant seat behind the passenger seat. C will go to the third row and be forward-facing directly behind the baby. From this spot, she can see both her brothers' faces and help me keep them occupied and tell me what they are up to :-) She is excited about her new placement and job. Oh, and for now, she will stay in her car-seat with the harness. This is simply because she can buckle and unbuckle herself in it. I know I can't say that about an adult lap belt over a booster seat.

So, in conclusion, my experiment was a huge success. If my 2 1/2 year-old, 37" tall boy can ride comfortably and safely rear facing in his convertible car-seat, then so can most of your toddlers as well.

I am sure most of you think your kids would hate it. You probably think that they would not be comfortable all "squished" up. But, you see, what I have learned is that kids are not little adults. They are children. Their bodies are different. For the same reason they don't wake up with a stiff neck after falling asleep in the car with their head flopped over onto their chests, they are not uncomfortable sitting with their legs crossed or flopped over the sides of their seat. They also think its "cool" to ride backwards. Remember when you were little and there was a seat turned around backwards on a bus or a train? Did you run for that seat first because it was cool and different? I know I did. I think that is why even my big girl asked me if I could flip her around "backwards" 45lbs, she's too big for this of course. Haha!

So, if you have a 13 month-old, or an 18 month-old, or even a 23 month-old or older, please consider putting them back in a rear-facing convertible car seat. The AAP didn't change their guidelines to age 2 as the minimum for no reason. The recommendation wasn't changed from 12 months/20lbs to be a pain for moms and dads. It wasn't made to sell more car seats. It was made because toddlers died and suffered severe head, neck, and spinal injuries in car accidents where they would have been far less injured had they been rear-facing.

Here is a very short video I found that shows exactly how a toddler's body will react and take on an impact in a collision while facing both forward and then facing the rear of the vehicle.

Out of curiosity - and because I love to know that I have like-minded mama friends out there - please leave a comment if you have your toddler rear-facing, or if you plan to flip them back around as I did. Remember the AAP is now recommending that toddlers rear-face until they are at least two years old.

Thats not a number I came up with.

This is the same AAP that we trust with our immunization schedule.

The same AAP that tells us putting babies "back to sleep" is best.

If you trust their wisdom for that...won't you trust it for this?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I hate roaches. I hate killing them. Its the "crunch" that gets me. BUT, if I see a roach in my house, I will not stop until I have killed it. I will move furniture, call over a friend to help (at 11pm...), and make sure that it is DEAD before I go to bed that night. Wasps come in a close second to roaches on my "hated bug list."

2. My daughter is my best friend. Truly. I don't just say that to make her feel good about herself or to make her feel more loved. She truly is, without a shadow of a doubt, my best friend. She holds me when I need it. She says the exact right thing at the exact right moment. She gets excited when I'm excited. She anticipates how I will react to certain situations. She helps me out around the house and with her brother (as much as can be expected, haha). She lays with me and puts her little hand on my belly and feels her brother move like nobody else does. She giggles when he kicks her. She is just as excited as I am about him being born soon. Sure, we fight. But we always make up at the end of the day (or hour). She is my very best friend. I hope that never changes.

3. In high school I was the drum major in the band. For those of you not awesome enough to know what that means, I was the one who stands on the podium and "conducts" the band from the front of the football field. I did this for 2 years and I loved it. I never considered myself a nerd. I still don't.

4. Even though I attended every single high school football game and many college football games, I know next to nothing about football. I kept thinking I would eventually pick it up, but nope, it never happened. First Down, Fourth Down, Running Back, Sacked....all these words are still Greek to me!

5. I wish I was a princess. Not a real princess like in Europe, but more like a Fairy tale Princess. Basically, I wish that all my husband had to do ALL day was woo me and win my heart - every day. I hate that work, stress, money, school, and traveling get in the way of our fairytale love story. I wish he would sing to me like the "Princes" sing to their loves in the movies. I think I'd like to be Rapunzel in Tangled - when they are out on the boat watching the floating lights. That looked AMAZING to me!

6. I cry at the drop of a hat. The other day a country music song made me cry. I couldn't even relate to it. It was about a man that wanted to leave his love after trying to do so time and time again. It had nothing to do with my life, but I still cried (It was called "Tomorrow" by Chris Young in case you're interested). I cry when babies are born on A Baby Story. I cry at a specific Pampers commercial that comes on occasionally. I cry when I think of my friends who have deployed husbands. I cry when I think of the life that was lost in the car accident I saw yesterday. I cry sometimes when I just look at my children. I cry when my husband brings me flowers. I cry when I am overwhelmed. I cry when I miss my mom. Truthfully, I am crying now...

7. I struggle with my body image. I know many women struggle with this issue, but I do to. My self esteem is all wrapped up in how I feel about physical body. I felt unhappy with myself for a long time until I lost weight last year. I haven't been as happy as I was last year since I was in high school or college. Gaining weight with this pregnancy has been hard on me. I love my belly. I love feeling the baby, but I cringe when I see how the rest of me looks. I can't wait to work out again and shed this weight. I need to feel confident about the way I look again.

8. I can't believe I am about to write this...two of my favorite things to do are to sneeze and poop. Its not that I think they are "fun," its just that usually you feel kind of miserable up until its finally "time." Just such a relief to get it out - the sneeze and the poop :-) Sorry, that may be TMI! haha!

9. I call my mom about 4 times a day. The first time is usually between 7 and 7:15am. She is always up. And even if for some reason she weren't up, she'd still answer her phone. Thats just the kind of mom she is. I hope I will be that kind of mom when my kids are grown too.

10. Speaking of grown up kids, I hope my little D never grows up. I baby him way more than I should. This goes against about everything I stand for, but I can't help it. He IS my baby. I never thought I'd fall into the "mommy's boy" syndrome, but I totally have. I rock him, carry him, sing to him, snuggle with him, let him suck his thumb, and run to him every time he falls down. In return, he runs to me, clings to me, calls out to me, and drives me nuts. Its a relationship I could never have anticipated, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You can call me crazy...but you can't call me unsafe!

Today is a big day for child safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their car seat safety recommendations.

Among the changes in AAP guidelines:

  • Children should ride rear-facing to age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. (The old policy from 2002 cited age 12 months and 20 pounds as a minimum for when to turn a seat around.)
  • Children should use a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • Children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they are 13 years old.
You had to know I'd be blogging about this :-) I am THRILLED to see that now our pediatricians will be making official recommendations such as these. The AAP has encouraged parents to keep their children rear facing for as long as possible for quite some time but because they had not removed that dumb 20lb/12 month minimum, many parents still "flipped" their kids around at 12 months or younger just because they could.

These changes have gotten huge buzz online today. Many moms, like myself, as so glad that the AAP made this the official recommendation. But there are many parents and grandparents that think it is absurd.

On some of the forums I read today, there were many comments about how it was ridiculous and that they wouldn't be following it at any cost. They state that "a parent knows best" or that "moms know what is safest for their children." My genuine hope is that as this recommendation becomes less "new" and car seat manufacturers begin to slap different labels and directions on their seats and the pediatricians begin handing out different paperwork on car seats that those parents will be educated to how incredibly wrong they are.

And yes, I believe they are wrong. I try to be very open minded about parenting in most aspects. If it "works for your family" to co-sleep, then go for it, if it "works for your family" to breast feed until your baby is 2 1/2, then go for it! If formula from day one works better for you, then go for it.

But, until you can change the laws of physics, flipping a baby/toddler around forward facing will never "work better" for any child. It WOULD work much better for me (if I was in a car accident) if my children would float gracefully in the air and not hit a thing, but you know what? I can't make that happen. I can only make sure they are properly restrained so that their heads and necks are as protected as possible. I believe all babies deserve this protection. You can't fight the physics of whiplash and internal decapitation. Your big 16 month old does NOT have the neck strength/development to withstand a front end collision unharmed. This is physics. Not opinion.

ANYWAY, off my soap box...

I decided that since the new guidelines were to have toddlers rear facing until age 2 or until the limits of their seat that maybe I should try turning D rear facing again to see how it works for an older toddler. I know that children in Europe rear face until they are 4 or 5 years old, so I figured this experiment would not be THAT strange (plus lots of moms on my online parenting forums rear face until age 3 or 4 here in the states!)

D is 2 1/2 years old. He weighs 28lbs. He is 37" tall...which is very tall for a 2 year old!

His car seat is a Britax Boulevard. It will hold him rear facing until he reaches 35lbs. I knew he would still fit.

The question is, how would he REACT to being flipped around backwards after about 10 months of being forward facing. I was assuming he'd hate it. I thought he'd cry or scream.

Well, much to my surprise, he did neither. He went out to the car with me when I reinstalled his seat. I made it sound fun with the words that I chose and the tone that I used. (The same tone I use when I talk about how tasty green beans are and how good milk is for our bodies!).

He was SO excited to see the seat flipped around backwards. I think he was thinking he was getting to ride backwards....kind of like a "ride." He was eager to jump in it as soon as I got it all installed and tightened. I was very surprised how excited he was!

We then went inside and he ran to tell C about his "new seat" and how it was "flip!" When we all went out to the car to run an errand, C took one look at the change and asked me if I could flip her seat around too. She thought it looked awesome too...strange, I know!

Where did he put his legs?
-Basically, he flopped them out to the sides over the edges of the seat.
-After I took off his rain boots (I didn't want my car dirty...), he curled his legs up and sat with his legs crossed.

But he couldn't SEE!!!
-Yes he could. He could see out the back windows, the side windows, and he could see his sister's face. In fact, they talked and laughed more today in the car than they have in months. Most likely because they could see each other's faces.

He must have been so bored staring at the back of the seat.
-No, he either played with his sister or he read a book. He was perfectly fine. I promise.
-He did get mad once. It was because he wanted his sock off and he couldn't seem to get it pulled off. It had nothing to do with being a 2 1/2 year-old riding rear-facing.
I am not sure how long I will keep him rear facing. He is 6 months older than the 2 year minimum, but he is still under the rear facing weight limit on his car seat. I will go with this for a few weeks as we continue to "feel" it out.

To be fair, I will give you the downsides of this extended-rear-facing thing.
-It was more difficult for me to get him in the seat. I had to make sure he didn't hit his head on the side of the van as I lifted him in and out.
-It was a little more difficult for me to get him buckled in.
-I did feel bad when I couldn't help him get his sock off while we sat at a stop light and he was getting mad.

So....basically, those are all parental inconveniences. I think I can "inconvenience" myself for a few extra months to make sure my son is 5 times safer. The 5 times safer thing is a fact. I didn't pull that out of thin air.

This afternoon as I was driving to pick up my daughter from a play date, I thought very hard about this decision. Was I being too "extreme" by turing my 2 1/2 year old rear facing for a little while? Is the AAP making unrealistic recommendations on parents? Why are so many parents SO against keeping their child as safe as possible? I don't get it.

Just then, I got slowed up by a bit of traffic. It was then that I saw why. I passed a HORRIFIC car accident. There were at least 3 cars involved. One vehicle was completely destroyed - smashed in from the front and from the back. I couldn't even tell you if it was sports car, a 4 door sedan, or a hatchback something. All I can say was that it was blue.

The cops hadn't arrived yet. There was no EMS there yet. Just smoke coming from the vehicles and people who had seen the accident pulling over onto both shoulders. There was one man talking to whomever was in the destroyed car. I hope that person was still alive. It was THAT bad.

As I drove away, tears formed in my eyes. THAT is why D is rear facing at the moment. THAT is why C is still not in an adult seatbelt. Because THAT could be me and my family. I don't care how "extreme" you think it is. Or how "weird" it makes me. My children will not be a statistic. My children will not be a YouTube tribute video because of what "could have" or "would have" changed the outcome of an accident. I will do EVERYTHING I can in my power to provide a safe place for them.

I can't prevent them from getting sick. I can't prevent terminal cancer or a brain tumor. But I CAN provide a safe haven in my vehicle.

Thank you, AAP for taking a formal stance on this issue. I know many lives will be saved!

Here is a GREAT video made by a pediatrician all about the new AAP guidelines. It is the best and most informative video I've seen so far :-)

And I just saw online that the accident I passed had 4 cars involved, 7 injuries, and one fatality. It is so incredibly sad and scary.

I see accidents all over the place where I live. Last week we had a fatality on the same stretch of road and over the weekend there was an accident that caused a horrible car fire - all on the same road within a couple miles. Oddly, I saw the car fire accident as well. I guess when the roads you travel on frequently are so dangerous, its a good idea to be extra safe.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Tale of Two (Three) Pregnancies

I have been pregnant 3 times and each time has proved to be a very unique experience. Sure there are some similarities.

-I am one of those women who doesn't throw up during pregnancy.

-I don't gain 50lbs.

-Sleeping at the end of the third trimester is incredibly difficult.

-My boobs do not get incredibly huge like some women's do.

-Up until now, my babies happily flip head down and prepare for a rather easy uncomplicated delivery.

-I have never peed on myself like many women do during pregnancy. I am very thankful for this :-) Apparently, I have "decent" bladder control (at least, when I'm not sneezing...).

This pregnancy in particular has been a bit different than the other two. Way back in my first trimester, I developed varicose veins in my right leg. Those puffy veins then got spider veins as friends. The inside of my calf now looks like a purple and red bruise from top to bottom. Its super unattractive and one of the reasons I am thankful to have been pregnant during the winter so I can wear pants and nobody has to experience my ugly leg.

I have also had heart palpitations for much of this third pregnancy. They started in the first trimester, subsided in the second, and have returned (and increased) in the third trimester. I have had them checked out by a cardiologist and he assured me that they were harmless. So, for now, I am okay with them occurring.

I started this pregnancy at a much lower body weight then I had started either one of my previous pregnancies. I was healthier and I looked better. Mentally, I have had a harder time with the weight gain aspect of pregnancy. Seeing the scale go up, and up, and up each time I step on makes me feel uncomfortable. I can see that my belly is getting bigger and bigger, but I still hate watching those numbers go up. Plus, while we're on the subject of numbers, I have already gained 29lbs and I am only 34 weeks along. With both previous pregnancies, I gained 29lbs total. So, yeah, I think I am going to go over the 30lb mark with baby N. Bummer!

I have NOT developed stretch-marks with this pregnancy. If you read my blog regularly, you will know how exciting this is. In the past, I had used Palmer's Coco Butter as a stretch-mark preventative. It never worked at all and I was left with a purple roadmap on my entire big itchy belly. With this one, I am using Bio-Oil, a completely different product, and I have had amazing stretch-mark free results. And NO itchiness. Its been wonderful :-)

Lastly, with this pregnancy I have developed more aches and pains than I can remember having in the past. For the past few weeks, by the end of the day, I have been feeling a dull but constant pain in my pelvic region. I can only figure its from the loosening of my ligaments and muscles to prepare for delivery combined with the extra 29lbs on my frame. Unfortunately, that pain has recently decided to begin in the morning and last all day. Only a warm bath after the kids go to bed seems to provide any relief. I am thankful for the bath remedy, but I hate that I can't feel the relief until 8pm each day, haha.

And just for kicks, I found this picture of me pregnant with D about 2 1/2 years ago. I think I was around 31 weeks...
And I was 36 weeks in this one.
And then here I am in this 3rd pregnancy in the same dress at 34 weeks. I can't believe how much I've changed! That, and how big my belly is, haha.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ice Cream Memories

Today, the weather was amazingly perfect. It hit about 66 degrees and stayed sunny with little wind. After D woke up from his afternoon nap and B got home from work, we all headed outside to enjoy this blessing. C rode her bike and D drove his little "Power Quad"- its like a tiny motorized 4-wheeler for toddlers.

The kids thought it was awesome. D cruised up and down our walking path in the neighborhood at a snail's pace. C sped up ahead and then waited for us to catch up. I waddled around just hoping the contractions all the walking was causing wasn't actually putting me into labor. My hubby just stayed back with D to make sure he didn't run off the paved path and down into the lake.

I wished I had brought along my camera to capture C flying up ahead and D sputtering behind me on his Toy Story 4-wheeler with his tiny Cars helmet. It was all SO cute!

As if that wasn't awesome enough, the ice cream man was making rounds in the neighborhood. B had to run an errand, so he took D with him and handed me a few bucks to get an ice cream for our oldest.

She was overjoyed to choose a Dora ice cream and then tear into it on our front sidewalk. This time, I did run inside to grab my camera.

Just seeing my big girl enjoying the warmth, eating her ice cream, watching the boys across the street build a fort made me feel so blessed. She was incredibly happy. I wish every evening could be so peaceful and calm.

But alas, according to The Weather Channel, the weather will turn chilly again soon. The baby will be born and life will get a little more hectic. My husband inevitably returned home from the dry cleaners with little D in tow. All good things must come to an end.

I'm just happy I have the pictures to remember this fleeting moment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Last Few Items

After going through all my old baby things and pulling out the cute little outfits and blankies, I have made a short list of items I would still like to acquire for the new baby. None of these items are obviously, "must have" items since I have had 2 babies and haven't had them yet, but nonetheless, I'd love to try them with Baby No. 3.

Since I am constantly learning more about parenting from other mommies, I have learned the benefits of some of these newer products and like most people, I'd love to try them out. Anything that has given other mommies more rest and happier babies is a winner in my book!

So, sit back and take a look at some of these cool baby products. Maybe you'll want to add one or two to your baby wish list as well :-)

First up is the Woombie Swaddle wrap. I am a huge swaddling fan and I love to see new products out there that keep babies happy and content and all snuggled up in a safe way. The Woombie seems pretty cool to me. I have read that many moms rate this as their No. 1 baby product. I can see why babies would love it. Its very stretchy and soft. Its lightweight and allows baby to move his arms around within the wrap. It does pretty much look like it would feel in the womb, haha. I'd love to give one of these a try!
Next is the Beco Butterfly 2 baby carrier. It is both a front and a back carrier and it holds babies from the newborn stage all the way up to an older toddler age (45lbs)! From the reviews I've read, it is very comfortable and distributes the baby's weight very well across the parent's body. You can even transfer it from mommy to daddy without removing the baby. Pretty cool feature in my opinion! It is expensive, but I think it will be money very well spent....once I find the money, that is, haha.
Next on my wish list would be a nursing cover. I've never had one of these nice ones with the stay put opening on the neckline. I love the fact that you can see the baby while you're nursing. I love that you can adjust the baby on the breast without having to hide under under the cover yourself. Plus, I love all the beautiful fabrics available for these. The one I have been looking at is the Hooter Hiders nursing cover. I think it looks pretty awesome to be able to nurse in public (and even just around extended family) without anyone feeling embarrassed or exposed :-) I would LOVE to have one of these!
The last thing that I'd love is a new diaper bag. I have a couple bags that I've bought over the years and although I do like them and plan to use them, I'd love a new one that is special for this baby. I have settled on the Do-it-all Diaper Bag from Land's End. I can't seem to grab a picture of it, but if you click on the words, it will link you to it. It opens like a "doctor's bag" and it is incredibly roomy. I think it will hold my cloth diapers, pacis, extra outfits, nursing cover (haha!) and wallet with room to spare. I would also love to have it embroidered with N's initials. I just think that would make it look so special :-) Ahhh, I can dream, right?

I hope you enjoyed my wish list. I am not having a baby shower with this third baby, so I can't be certain if/when I will be able to acquire these few items. When and if I do though, I will be sure to blog about them and let you know how they worked for me! I'd love to share the success of these baby products with you.

Oh, and on that note, the Bio-Oil I've been using on my belly to keep stretch marks at bay is STILL WORKING WONDERS! I am now almost 34 weeks along and haven't gotten a single one. This is so incredibly exciting since I got so many stretch marks with my previous pregnancies. I am also not suffering from the horribly itchy belly that I suffered with in the past. The Bio-Oil is awesome!! I highly recommend it to you pregnant women out there in blogger land!
(You can faintly see the sheen of the "old stretch marks" on my belly, but overall, the results are remarkable! By this stage in my previous pregnancies, I looks like I had a purple road map from my pubic bone up to above my belly button.)

The Shoe Closet

When you look like this...

You can see why cleaning out this closet seemed like an overwhelming task.
At least C had some fun playing in all the shoes :-)
Can you believe ALL those shoes came out of here?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Keeping up with my hubby

I feel like I can't keep up with our housework. Not even a little bit.

Its starting to have me really worried about how things will go once this baby comes. I keep telling myself that its easier right now with him still all tucked away in my belly, but that just seems to make me feel worse.

The problem is not keeping up with the day to day tasks, its keeping up with the mounding of tasks that build slowly over time. For instance, my front coat/shoe closet is a DISASTER. Seriously, it has shoes in it that the kids outgrew last Fall. It needs an extreme overhaul, but when is this 8 months pregnant woman going to make time to spend an hour on her hands and knees sorting through shoes of 4 people that are either no longer being worn or that just plain don't fit? Then, where are the ones that don't fit going to go? Shoved in a bag in another closet somewhere? This is why I haven't even attempted this task yet.

Another monumental task would be cleaning my laundry room. If you knew where my laundry room is in my house (tucked in the corner of my kitchen), you could see why it is the "dumping ground" for everything in my house. Everything from a bin of winter clothes, coats that don't fit in the hall closet, the dog's food, a stack of cloth diapers, ALL C's crafting supplies, and most of my seasonal decor house themselves in this average sized laundry room. It needs a huge cleaning.

I did start this task today, but I only accomplished clearing off one small area. I'm happy with it for now - maybe I will attempt another small area tomorrow.

The laundry piled up in different sections of my house is driving me crazy too. I love to do laundry but I've always hated putting it away. Now that our house has two floors, I hate it even more. How am I ever supposed to get caught up once the baby comes?

I feel like I should be doing better at these tasks. Like I shouldn't be resting on the couch when D takes his nap. I SHOULD be using that time for productivity. Its just that by 1pm, I am nearly exhausted already. I need to rest. I tell myself that once the baby comes, I don't think I'll be getting any naps or rest time anytime soon. So, is it right to rest on the couch now when I could be cleaning out that goofy closet? Please tell me that it is...

Okay, back to the title of this post - keeping up with my husband. I feel like as B trots around the globe, I should be able to keep up with the tasks in our 1800 square feet. Maybe its not fair to compare my daily life with his, but really, how does my day stack up when I am fretting about laundry, a shoe closest, and running out of toilet paper when he is out experiencing things like these?
I do need to point out that in this picture, B is standing on a frozen sea....this will make the irony of the next picture pretty funny.
(I probably shouldn't disclose the location of where he was or exactly what he was doing, but if you follow the recent activities of our executive branch of government, you'd be able to find out.)

My days hardly compare to the awesomeness of B's recent days. I hope he can overlook the craziness of our home and find the beauty in the everyday things right here at home too. Sometimes I see it and sometimes I don't. It creeps up when I least expect it and then dashes away just as quickly, haha.
I am just thankful for the amazing souvenirs he brought back for me and the kids. After being gone for a while, I am sure B is just glad to be home - even with the messy shoe closet and exploding laundry room. I know we are thrilled to have him!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deployment Mode

When my hubby was deployed, it stunk. There really isn't a nice way of putting it. It was hard. I hated it. I missed him. I was tired. I needed help. The kids missed him. I worried about him. Etc, etc...

With that out of the way, I will say that I did at some-point "adjust" to being without him for an extended amount of time. I am not going to say that I "got used to it," because I don't think any wife ever gets used to her hubby being gone for 8 months in one stretch of time. I did however kinda get in a groove with the kids, with my friends, with my church, and with my schedule.

After each of his deployments finally ended, I was THRILLED to have him back home with us. It was truly a huge relief on so many levels to have him around again.

When we moved here to the DC area, we knew that B wouldn't be deploying for at least 4 years. We knew he would be traveling frequently on shorter trips but that he wouldn't be deploying. We were both relieved about this! Big time.

Now that we're here and he has completed all his initial training, he is in full "travel" mode. And they weren't kidding! He has been on the road a lot these days. The 2-4 days trips aren't so bad, but right now he's on a 10 day trip. These 10 days have felt forever long. While my daughter understands how long 10 days is, little D has no concept of time. He asks several times a day about daddy. I just keep telling him, "just a few more days..." He just doesn't get it at all.

Its been a hard 10 days because 10 days really isn't THAT long. Its not a deployment by any stretch of the imagination, but its not a normal "overnighter" either. Its not quite long enough to get in "deployment mode" in my brain where the kids and I adjust to being alone. We just miss him and count the days until he comes home.

Unfortunately, counting the days isn't really all that helpful because as soon as B come home from this trip, he gets sent back on the road for 3 back-to-back trips. He will be gone a total of 3 weeks on that stretch of trip-hopping.

Again, I totally realize that its nothing compared to a deployment, but still, its a long time. Its a long time for him to be away and its a long time for me to not have him home. Especially when he will be gone from weeks 34-37 in this pregnancy...

Haha, I kind of have to laugh about it, since if I don't chuckle some, I may (*do*) cry about it. I am exhausted from waddling around. Bending over to pick things up off the floor is a challenge. Hiking up the stairs to our second floor has become a form of "exercise," and I can't help but to be slightly nervous that I may actually go into labor or have my water break while he's gone!

He and I talked today, and I now know that I can call his work cell phone at any time no matter where in the world he is traveling. It doesn't actually mean that he can "poof" himself back here, but at least I can reach him and notify him should our youngest decide to enter this world a few weeks early.

Please just pray for me over this next month. I'm tired. The kids miss their daddy. Pray that I can snap in and out of "deployment mode" in my brain with the kids as he heads out of town each time. Please pray for B too. He is currently in his first semester of online classes and he is definitely overwhelmed with writing papers, answering discussion questions, and keeping up with two very reading intensive classes while on the road living out of hotels.

Oh yeah, and pray that our baby stays put in my belly. And that he flips head down.

Thanks in advance to all the prayer warriors out there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Me and the boys

My 2-year-old may as well be called, "my shadow" because he seems pretty incapable of playing solo these days. He is glued to my side every waking minute of his day. Its not that I really MIND him loving me and wanting me to be his source of comfort, love, entertainment, and transportation, its just that, I have this huge belly in the way.

Sitting down on the floor to play is more difficult than it used to be. Or is it the getting back up off the floor? Haha!

I have had to limit how much I carry him around. Many moms would just say "make him walk...put him down!" (In fact, sometimes I try and tell myself this.)

But, they haven't felt the little scrawny legs and arms of my 28lb monkey around their torso. I love holding him. He doesn't weight THAT much and he clings to me like one of those stuffed monkey toys with the velcro-together hands and feet.

I love it.

Especially when he is fresh out the bath or shower (with me of course) and he is just in his undies. A sweet smelling, soft skinned toddler is just the best thing ever :-)

Right up there with fresh and clean newborns. Something about that innocent and perfect skin makes snuggling come naturally to mamas.

So, with that being said, he remains "my shadow..."

Anyway, as usual, D was playing within about 18 inches of me when I decided I'd take a picture of my growing belly on the computer. I am now 32 1/2 weeks and since no member of my family lives anywhere near me to see me during this pregnancy, I like to photograph my changing shape as much as possible. They love to see the pictures and I love to document this final (*insert tears*) pregnancy.

Of course...I had to have an assistant for this round of pics.

Here are a few of the "good" shots of me and my boys :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Greener Grass

Is the grass greener on the other side? I like to think its not.

But, sometimes I still like to take a look.

Tonight after bathing the kids, wrestling PJs onto them, reading to them, tucking them in...retucking...retucking...over and over again (Okay, just D does this. C stays in bed properly most nights), I got to thinking about what it would be like if I didn't bear the full 100% load of "caregiving" to my children.

It came to me 45 minutes after I first tucked D in as he sat on the toilet because he told me he needed to "poo-poo."

At first I thought, "No. This is just an excuse to get out of bed again." But then I thought, "Who am I to tell a potty training toddler that he can't try and poo-poo on the potty 45 minutes after going to bed?"

So, I carried him in and sat him on the toilet. As he did indeed go poo-poo and proceed to report MANY times that he was going a "lot a poo-poo, " all I could do was sit on the edge of the tub and think.

If I worked full-time and my children stayed with either an at-home caregiver such as a grandparent or friend or in a day-care style facility, how would things be different?

My immediate thought was that I wouldn't have to be the ONLY person potty training D. Someone else would cheer when he pees and poo-poos during the day. Someone else could show him how to pull his pants up and down and how to wash and dry his hands.

When my kids were younger, probably the day-care provider would have been the one to get them in a schedule/routine during the day. Maybe they could even get them to take better naps!

My children probably would eat a better variety of foods because day-care facilities/providers probably don't cater to picky children. They probably just make one thing (truthfully, I do this too, but I tend to make PB&Js or cheese and crackers WAY too frequently for lunch). I think my kids would have learned to eat a better variety of foods at an earlier age.

I got to thinking that if I worked full-time, I would still have to do all our laundry, all our grocery shopping, all our "fun time shopping," cook/plan all our meals, and still clean my house. This sounds like A LOT of work on top of a full-time job.

Sometimes I just wish I wasn't the only care-giver raising my children. My husband helps when he's home of course, but the daily grind is 100% mine. I know what D is saying when nobody else does...but if he stayed home with my mom during the day, she may know too. I always feel bad when D tries to say something and I answer him with the correct answer to his question or statement and my husband has to ask me, "what is he trying to say?" Its time like those that I realize I do a BIG job.

I hold a huge responsibility in my family.

Its a big load to carry, but I think its an honorable load, nonetheless.

I don't write this to say that being a stay-at-home-mom is "harder" or "better" than being a working mom. I just realize thats its different. I think those differences can be both good and bad. I think that what works for some moms would drive others nuts and vice versa.

There are many days that I wish I could go to work. I miss working. I miss having adult friends and co-workers that I see on a regular basis. I miss the extra income. I miss having a real reason to shower and put on nice clothes. I miss feeling important and having a great sense of accomplishment after doing something and seeing it through to completion. I miss being recognized for my efforts...I think this is what I miss most of all.

But then I see my friends who work have to rearrange their whole day/week because their child got sick and needed to go to the doctor. And I think about how hard it must be to work a full day and then come home to a house where the laundry still piles up and the fridge still needs filled. That must be exhausting! I really can't imagine having to take care of my house only between the house of 6-10pm each night or on the weekends.

I guess if the trade off is that I, as a stay-at-home-mom, have to do 100% of the child rearing, booty wiping, nose blowing, encouraging, disciplining, car pooling, cooking, nap enforcing, sight-word teaching, grocery shopping, language interpreting (and teaching!), and creativity building, then I guess I'll take it.

I don't think the grass is greener on the other side in this case. I can see a lot of upsides to to being a working mom. But, for me and my kids, staying at home has been the best choice. :-)

Now let me go check and make sure my little guy is actually STAYING in the bed this time...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cute kids and my haircut

One of the most exciting aspects of this pregnancy is watching how excited my children are about adding a new baby to our family. C frequently talks about "the baby" and D always likes to point out the baby's room and the baby's bed. C randomly asks me "how's the baby doing? Is he kicking?" and she will often put her hand to my belly to try and feel the movements from within.

The kids are also making me laugh with their innocence regarding pregnancy and their baby brother. Recently D and I were talking about the baby. I was holding his hand on my abdomen so he could feel the kicking. He was more interested in trying to "see" the baby though. He kept saying, "I anna (wanna) see...I anna see." He then proceeded to put his eye ball up to my belly button, haha. I guess he thought if he got close enough he could peer in.

Last night as I was reading to the kids, the baby starting moving quite a bit. Both C and D had their hands on my belly to feel. I said, "maybe if we talk to the baby, he will move for us." C quickly said, "let me talk down your throat," haha. I guess she figured it was a more direct route then just talking out in the open!

My favorite conversation that I've had with one of the children about the baby was a few nights ago. C was telling me how excited she was about the baby coming in 2 months.

She said, "Its going to be awesome when the baby comes! The most awesomest thing ever...even more awesome than Disneyland....or Chuck E Cheese!"

I was so happy because to her, THOSE things are AWESOME. If the arrival of her new baby brother ranks up there with those things, then I am the happiest mommy in the world. To me, it really is that awesome!

On a completely different note, I wanted to share with you my 32 week pick-me-up. See, by this time in pregnancy, I LOOK big. I FEEL big. The scale says I AM big. To someone who lost 40lbs last year, this is all a bit depressing. I am already waddling around and straining to bend over to pick up things from the ground. Being that it is just the beginning of March, I am still as pale as a ghost. I cringe when I look at my body when I'm in the bath tub.

While I actually do love feeling the roundness of my belly, I hate to look anywhere else. I must give credit where credit is due though. I have continued to use the Bio-Oil that I started using about 12 weeks ago, and I still have yet to develop a single stretch mark. This is really amazing to me since with both previous pregnancies, my belly looked like a complete roadmap! I am just hoping that the oil will continue to work its magic over the next 8 weeks :-)

With all that negativity out in the open, I decided that I HAD to do something to make me feel better about myself. I decided to go with my hair. I decided I was in desperate need of a cut and highlight. I have been putting off doing anything other than coloring it with a at-home box color because up here in the DC area, haircuts are EXPENSIVE. More expensive than anywhere else I have lived. But after living here for over 6 months, I realized it is what it is. I still need a hair cut. So I went to the salon/spa on-post today and got a ton of hair cut off and got some beautiful fresh highlights put in. I feel about a 100 times better. And about 100 times lighter :-) Ahhh, that is worth the money in my book! (Especially since the hair stylist gave me a 20% off coupon! Yay! Praise God for that one!)

Here is a picture of me and my new hair-do. And, I must note that I am wearing the nursing camisole I just got from Target. I am so excited about it! Its wonderful and so comfy!