Sunday, January 27, 2013

Henry's birth story, part four: the arrival

(Please note: there are birth photos in this post, including some of Henry with some gunk on him. You have been warned! And check out parts one, two and three, if you haven't already.)

Getting to my own room was quite a relief. However, by this time, I barely knew where I was. The contractions were close together and so, so painful. It was all I could do to get through them!

After getting set up in my bed, hooked up the blood pressure cuff and the stupid NST monitors (I say stupid because, well, they became ridiculously annoying as my contractions increased in intensity and became closer together. My stomach would tighten up to an inconceivable point, and the straps for the monitors seemed to make each contraction worse.), my nurse decided to check me again. It was about 12:10 p.m. And I was dilated to 8cm.

I looked at my nurse and said, "It's too late for an epidural, isn't it?"

For the life of me, I cannot recall how she responded.

Soon after I got in my room, my mom came in to check on me. She stayed for a few minutes, but during my next contraction she headed back out to the waiting room (which was fine by me!! She stresses me out a bit...). My friend and photographer had also arrived by this time, and she was posted up by the entrance to the room.

I continued laboring in bed, hooked up to the NST monitors, for the next twenty minutes.

So that's why the rails are there... for gripping the shit out of.
During that time, my nurse hooked another bag of something up to me. I didn't know until after she had it going that it was Fentanyl. My doctor came in at that point as well, and told me that it would help to relax me during contractions, but wouldn't help with the pain of contractions. That seems useless, right? But apparently my doc thought I was tensing up too much during contractions, and wanted to try to get me to relax somehow.

The Fentanyl made me sleepy in between contractions. I would shut my eyes, and then open them to Buster saying, "Keep your eyes open! Focus on me." I did not understand for the life of me why I couldn't shut my eyes in between contractions! I got a little mad at him, but there wasn't much time to be upset. I think it freaked him out when I shut my eyes. I guess he wanted me to focus on the task at hand.

At 12:30 p.m., I told my nurse that I needed to push. She decided to check me again, and all that remained of my cervix was a little lip. She wanted me to do a practice push on my next contraction to see how much of baby she could feel. My very first push was probably pretty weak, honestly. I had no idea what I was doing. My nurse just kept repeating, "Push like you are having a bowel movement," and I did my best. But, the push did the trick, and she could feel Henry's head. It was go time, and she went to get the doctor.

See the stupid NST monitor strap?? The bane of my existence.

My doctor came in, and on the next contraction we did another practice push (and being such a noob, I didn't realize this was how it worked. I thought when you got to the pushing portion of labor, you just pushed like hell until baby came out. I didn't realize you only pushed on contractions. Like I said, I was a noob!). My doctor was amazing, by the way. He was so nonchalant and laid back, but also comforting. I don't think he was expecting me to really be ready to push at this point. But after my first practice push with him, I think he realized that baby Henry wasn't messing around, and was ready to make his arrival. It was now 12:40 p.m.

After one more push, I motioned to my photographer friend to head back behind my bed (she had mentioned to me earlier that she wanted to be back there before Henry was born, as she liked that angle). I thought if she waited much longer, she might miss her opportunity!




I continued pushing during contractions, while my doctor became incredibly focused on me pushing for a longer length of time that what I was currently doing. He wanted me to push until he counted to ten...I had only been getting to about count three or four. So he started counting to ten on each push, and that was so incredibly helpful. Without that, I probably would have been pushing for days! But he was able to get me pushing for longer than I thought I could.

And let me just say right here how amazing my husband was through all of this. By the time I was pushing, I was no longer grabbing and squeezing his hand (I had moved on to white-knuckling the rails on the bed). So during each push, Buster would lean down and tell me how great I was doing, and how proud of me he was. And he would encourage me to keep pushing to ten. It was really just what I needed. Pushing is really hard work, and having him tell me how proud of me he was gave me extra strength.

At one point during one contraction and pushing session, my doctor noticed how tight my belly was getting and how the stupid NST monitor was cutting into me, and told the nurse to remove it. I could have kissed him.

A couple times, I had to stop pushing before I got to ten. I just ran out of breath and energy. During one hellacious push, my doctor had Buster walk around and look to see his son's head. My doctor's motivation was that Buster would then be able to get me to push a bit harder.

My doctor showing me how much of Henry's head he can see. I responded with, "That's all??"
As you can see from the above photo, the doctor showed me how much of Henry's head he saw on that last push. And you can also see the one nurse holding my foot. My other foot was on my doctor's side, like so:


My doc had me grab the inside of my thighs during pushes, so that I could really bear down. Once I started doing that, things moved more quickly. After Buster saw Henry's head (and all that hair!!), a new, reinvigorated look was on his face... he was so excited to meet his son!

Two minutes and one brutally intense push later, I felt my son being expelled from my body. The time was 1:15 p.m.

Henry's first seconds on this earth.

Henry giving a good cry... it's cold out here!

What an amazing moment. I think I was in shock. Buster cried almost instantly (you can see in the above photo that his jaw is locked... that's a tell-tale sign he's about to shed a tear!), but all I could do was to smile and look at my baby boy in awe.

My doctor used the aspirator to get the gunk out of his nose and mouth, and set him on my chest with the umbilical cord still attached (per my request... delayed cord clamping, remember?!).




After about three minutes, Buster cut the cord. And not long after, my mom popped her head in (which she also did during one of my pushing sessions... I frantically waved her out of the room), and came in to meet her first grandchild.

Grandma meeting her first grandchild!
Proud daddy saying hi to his son.

Henry actually latched on and breastfed for a few minutes! I had about 25 minutes of skin-to-skin with Henry before they even weighed him.

Henry weighed in at 8lbs 5oz, and was 20" long.
Buster holding his baby boy for the first time.

love.



I pushed for 35 minutes. The nurses and my doctor were pretty astounded that everything went so quickly, especially considering I was a first-time mom. My nurse told me I was "the talk of the floor". That pretty much made me feel like a rockstar. And not to mention there were other ladies on the floor who had been laboring for two days!

From start to finish, my labor lasted about twelve hours (from first real contractions to Henry's arrival). I feel pretty lucky that my labor and delivery went so well, especially considering my mild pre-eclampsia and blood pressure issues at the end of my pregnancy.

I did tear a little, and my doctor ended up cutting me a little. He said that Henry's heart rate was dropping on some of those last pushes, and he just wanted to help him along. But I only required two or three stitches, and he classified it as a second-degree tear.

Overall, my birth experience was very different than I envisioned. And even though it didn't start out so great,  the most intense part of labor was actually a really great experience. My doctor was amazing, as were my nurses. And I'm proud of myself for doing it without an epidural (even though I was begging for one...).

Experiencing such an amazing life-event with Buster right by my side was incredible. There were moments (days, months, years) over the past five years that I didn't think I'd ever be a mom, and to finally experience it... well there aren't any words. I've used them all up.

I'm just so in love.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Henry's birth story, part three: my own room

(For the story so far, click here for part one, and here for part two...)

I think my body somehow was holding off on really kicking it into gear until we were officially admitted to the hospital. I say that because around 10 a.m., when we were finally admitted, my contractions really started getting painful.

I was, once again, hooked up to a blood pressure cuff (thank you, mild pre-eclampsia) and strapped up for an NST. So, there was no getting out of bed at this point. Every contraction, I would squeeze the shit out of Buster's hand. And try to breathe through them, while keeping my jaw relaxed.

Eventually they got painful enough where moaning through them was the better option for me, rather than breathing through them. It was basically a one-note, one-breath "ughhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" until the contraction was over. And the couple on the other side of the curtain got to listen in on all of this. I checked my dignity and self-consciousness at the door.

When my nurse checked back with me, I let her know that contractions had really picked up in pain and frequency. She decided to check me again. It was now 11 a.m. And I was certainly progressing: I was 6-7cm dilated now (does that mean 6.5?? Who knows!). She told me that they were still working on getting me my own room (so much for that birthing tub... I had still been holding out a smidgen of hope for that). She unhooked me from all my wires at this point.

(side note: one of my last correspondences with the outside world happened at this time: "6-7 cm dilated. Henry should be here by late afternoon. Contractions suck dick.")

After she left, I told Buster I wanted to try laboring standing up. That was the main reason I didn't want an epidural, after all! I wanted to be free to roam, free to stand, free to sit on a birthing ball, etc. I had been in bed for an hour at this point, and I wanted to see if the contractions were more tolerable while standing.

Buster helped me to sit up, and I swung my legs around. I dangled my feet over the edge of the bed, and gently tried to step down. The pressure I felt down low was excruciating and completely took me by surprise. Wincing in pain, I felt a gush of warmness: my water had broken.

The pain and pressure I experienced after my water broke took my breath away. I told Buster that I had to get back in bed IMMEDIATELY. Standing was not going to be an option. It was now 11:20 a.m.

Apparently your water breaking is like steroids for contractions... holy shit did they hurt at this point. And they were coming much, much closer together. I lost any awareness of the people in the room with me, and started yelling (not really yelling, but not talking either... somewhere in between) about how I'm in horrible pain, and REALLLLY want an epidural now!!!!! And PLEASE get me my own room (I was certain I would be birthing Henry here in this stupid triage room!)!!

My nurse showed up and I told her my water broke. I begged her for an epidural. She paged someone to come draw my blood (because apparently you must have blood drawn prior to getting an epidural?). She goes ahead and puts an IV in (which she REALLY struggled with. All kinds of fishing around in my wrist area with a needle. And during a contraction. WTF that was awful.).

Things had been moving so quickly since we had been admitted that so far, only my mother-in-law had made it to the hospital. Buster texted my family and let them know that things were progressing very quickly now, so they should head to the hospital.

I continued laboring in the triage room, moaning and grunting through my contractions while squeezing Buster's hand. I continued talking loudly about how much they hurt and how I reallllly wanted that epidural. Every time my nurse came in, I asked about the epidural. And every time, she told me the same shit: they are so busy, they are trying to get someone up here, blah blah.

Someone finally did come to draw my blood, so that gave me some hope that maybe I would get that epidural (that I had said I didn't want this whole pregnancy) after all. My nurse goes ahead and starts a fluid drip. She said something about them having to get some amount of fluids in me before I could even get the epidural. I forget how many bags she said, but by the looks of the drip (it was pushing pretty damn slow), it seemed like I'd be lucky to have that one bag in me.

About ten minutes after the blood draw, my nurse and my former nurse (who was so busy earlier and said that I might just have an irritable uterus) show up with a wheelchair. I was FINALLY getting my own room! No more scaring the couple on the other side of the window with my epidural demands.

But that meant I had to get up from the bed... ugh. I started to make my way out of bed, but a contraction stopped me in my tracks. After it passed, Buster helped me up and into the wheelchair. As they wheeled me down the hall, I had another contraction. I saw pregnant ladies walking the hall, and somewhere in my mind I thought how that was me so many hours ago. I'm sure I scared them shitless with the pained look on my face and my labored breaths as I was pushed to my room.

A sight for sore eyes!

It was now noon. I finally got my own room, 7.5 hours after arriving at the hospital.


to be continued...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Henry's birth story, part two: should I stay or should I go?

(Note: You can read part one of Henry's birth story here.)

On the way to the hospital, I forced down half of a Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax granola bar. My contractions were picking up in intensity, and I found myself breathing through them, birth-class style.

We arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. and headed in through the Emergency Room entrance. I tell them why I'm there, and how far along I am. They sit me in a wheelchair, and the most untalkative attendant ever wheels me up to the fifth floor. That was an awkward elevator ride.

When I got to L&D (labor and delivery), it only took a few minutes of observation to realize that they were packed. I caught a glimpse of the doctor from my practice who was on call (my least favorite one... he actually did my D&C. There are three doctors, and the other two I really like). Doctor looked exhausted. The way he looked at me said, "Oh no, not another one."

I fill out all of the annoying paperwork, and they tell me that they are going to put me in triage, as there are no empty rooms. I don't really like the sound of that, but I have no choice.

I head down to the triage room, which is a semi-large room with two beds and a curtain divider between. The nurse points to my bed, and tells me that shortly another pregnant woman will be occupying the other bed. I change into my gown and hop into bed and wait for a cervical check.

As I'm waiting, the other pregnant lady and her husband enter. The curtain is drawn, so I can't see them. Weird.

The nurse comes back and checks me. I'm 4cm (still...) but 100% effaced. She is not impressed with those stats. She tells me that they don't know if they will admit me or not, but they will check me again in an hour to see if there is any progress. At that time, they will decide if I should stay or go. She tells me to walk the halls for this hour to try to get things going. It is now 5:30 a.m.

Well, I don't want to go home at this point! I want to have my baby! So Buster and I hit the halls, and walk for an hour. We head back to the room and I get in bed, expecting to be checked soon. Instead of checking me right then, they hook me up for an NST. And slap a blood pressure cuff on to monitor that as well. Ok, sure. Whatever.

All of the sudden, there is a flurry of activity on the other side of the curtain. I have no clue what is happening, but I believe the baby's heart rate dropped. They put oxygen on the woman (I can hear her breathing through the mask), and this really mean, ugly nurse pops her head around the curtain and says entirely too sternly, "DON'T COME OVER HERE."

Um, HELLO. I'm hooked up to a bunch of stuff right now! Why in the HELL would I want to peek around the corner at something that sounds so ridiculously scary to me right now??? And did you have to be so mean to me?

After she disappeared to the other side again, I look at Buster and just start crying.

"This isn't how this is supposed to be," I say.

And there is the problem with having expectations. Nothing ever goes according to them, especially a birth. I expected to be admitted, have my own room, request a birthing tub, etc, etc. Not listen to some scary traumatic Grey's Anatomy shit on the other side of a curtain in the shared room I'm in (and so you know, everything was ok with that girl and her baby. They had to do an emergency c-section, but Buster saw the baby daddy later in the day, and he gave him the thumbs up.).

At 6:40 a.m., they move the emergency c-section girl out, and my nurse pops in and says that she will be by to check me in 20 minutes.

7:00 a.m. comes and goes, and the only thing that happens is a shift change (thankfully! Get the rude nurses out of there, please!). At this point, contractions are 4 1/2 minutes apart, but only lasting about 30 seconds or so.

At 7:30 a.m., my nurse finally returns. But not to check me. She tells me that she has other things to do, and that she will be back in a bit to check me (always dangling that carrot). I tell her that I'd just like to know if we are staying or not. She then goes on to mention that they may be sending me home because I might just have an irritable uterus. Oh, and that I'm getting a new roommate. Awesome.

An irritable uterus?! I don't even know how to respond to that, as I've never done any research on it. But I do know it sounds a bit hard to believe. How can I not be in labor? I had a membrane sweep two days ago, I had my bloody show, and now I'm having timeable contractions that are less than 5 minutes apart.

She leaves. I'm frustrated beyond belief at this point. We've been at the hospital for three hours and know absolutely nothing, other than I'm fully effaced.

Buster decides to take a nap. I'm still timing contractions on my phone, but don't even know how important that is, since I'm hooked up for an NST (I was hooked up for NSTs for what seemed like the majority of my time in the triage room).

By this time, the other pregnant lady and her husband have come in, but I can't see anything because my curtain is drawn. I hear the husband ask if they will be getting their own room, and I want to yell over that I was here first (yes, like a big giant baby), but I bite my tongue.

At 9:40 a.m., still no cervical check. As a reminder, it was supposed to happen at 6:30 a.m. I'm in tears. I decide to push the call button and see if I can get any answers. A different nurse comes by and tells me that my nurse is with someone who is pushing, and will check with me after that. Through tears, I tell this new nurse that I just want to know either way if I'm staying or going. I tell her we've been here for 5 hours and know nothing yet. And I just want to know something.

My tearful plea must have gotten through to her, because she decides to do a cervical check. And I've progressed to 5cm. She still doesn't know if they will be admitting me (??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?), and she tells me to go walk the halls again. So we do. It is now 10:00 a.m.

Once out in the halls, I see one of the doctors I do in fact like from my practice. The other one had gone home, and Dr. H was now the doc on call. Yay! He sees me in the hall, and tells me that he isn't letting them send me home.

Soon after, we head back into the shared triage room. My new nurse comes by and says that yes, they are in fact admitting me now, but there are still no rooms available for me. So, we wait it out in the triage room.

Finally, we feel comfortable telling our family that today is the day. Buster texts and calls our immediate family. I text our photographer (we did birth photography!!) and let her know that today is the day, but that it still might be a while (the nurse told me it usually goes 1cm per hour, so if that was the case, Henry should arrive around 3 p.m.).

I'm just hoping I get my own room by then!


to be continued...


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Henry's birth story, part one: the prelude

(Note: If I don't break this up, it will be a birth novel. So, there will be parts. Also, in case you wonder how I know the exact time of certain events, I have technology to thank for that. I was able to go back and see Facebook posts and texts, and make a timeline based on my electronic communications. This was not only extremely helpful for mapping out my birth story, but also was a great way to relive the most exciting and anticipated day of my life. And please note, it really does get more interesting as the story unfolds... this first entry is more for setting the stage! Enjoy!)

On Monday, January 7th, I had my 39-week appointment. First we had a growth scan, and Henry was estimated to weigh 8lbs 3oz. My doctor then did a cervical check, and I had made some progress: 4cm dilated and 75% effaced (two weeks prior I was 3cm). And my doctor agreed to do a membrane sweep, which made me quite happy. I was incredibly ready to meet my little man, and since I was already 4cm, I figured it wouldn't be long!

Monday evening I was crampy and passed a lot of plug. By Tuesday morning, however, everything was back to normal (unfortunately!). To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

I decided to rebel against my bed rest and head to the grocery store and then bake muffins. Muffins that were recommended to a friend by her doula to help promote lactation. So I hit up the store, and made two dozen muffins (pumpkin oatmeal and banana oatmeal chocolate chip).

All of my expended energy must have done something internally, because I lost a huge chunk of plug.  I think it was my bloody show. But nothing exciting happened after that. So I spent the rest of the day relaxing, playing Call of Duty, doing laundry, etc. Normal bed rest day.

I had taken a short nap (I typically never nap) earlier in the day, so I stayed up later than normal. I finally went to sleep at about midnight or 12:30 a.m.

Buster came to bed at 1:30 a.m., and being the light sleeper that I am, of course I woke up. And out of the blue...I felt what I figured was most likely a "real" contraction. It felt different than the Braxton Hicks I had experienced in the past. This was more pressure down low (towards my butt!).

Hmmm.

Enter overactive mind.

Was that a contraction? Did I just imagine it because I want to be in labor so badly? If that wasn't a contraction, what was it?

And then another one happened. This time I was prepared. I had downloaded a contraction timer, and timed this one. It lasted 1 minute and 11 seconds.

By 2:08 a.m., I had logged four such contractions. They started out 11 minutes apart, but by the fourth one they were 6 1/2 minutes apart.

At this point, I told Buster to go to sleep. If this was in fact the real thing, I wanted him to try to get a little sleep before we needed to head in to the hospital.

At 2:17 a.m., I experienced the most painful one yet. It was a little over 5 minutes from the last one. I decided that this is probably it, and I jump in the shower. I wanted to go in to this experience feeling my best, and that includes clean with freshly shaven legs!

In the next hour and a half, the contractions are sporadic. Some come four minutes apart, and then go back to seven minutes apart. They stop lasting one full minute, and usually last about 40 seconds.

At this point I'm wondering about the "5-1-1" rule. My contractions aren't exactly lasting one minute, nor are they consistently five minutes apart. But, I'm already 4cm dilated... and my friends (who were thankfully awake and able to chat with me on Facebook during all of this!) were concerned about me not making it to the hospital in time! But the hospital is only about 7 minutes from our house, so I didn't think that would be a problem... but I did have visions of me birthing Henry in our new car on the side of the road.

During all of this, Buster is sleeping. Which is fine. I start throwing things together (our bag was packed, but I needed to grab some other things), all the while still timing. At 3:30 a.m., I wake his ass up. Finally, at 3:45 a.m., he drags himself out of bed. Of course, after he gets up, they seem to slow again (7 minutes apart).

Maybe they are stopping?

At 3:52 a.m., I had the worst contraction yet, and started to feel nauseated.

We leave for the hospital at 4:15 a.m. And that's where the fun begins...


to be continued...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Henry has arrived!

I know I'm late in posting this, and I apologize. I've had my hands full, though :)

Henry Marshall G. made his arrival on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 1:15 p.m. He weighed 8lbs 5oz and was 20" long.

His first moments on this earth!
After they gooped up his eyes!
Henry, day 2

Henry, day 5

I have quite a birth story to type up! I hope to do that in the coming days. It was a crazy whirlwind of a birth day for Henry. Can't wait to share the details.

And again, sorry for leaving you all hanging! It's been hard to find time to pee, let alone sit in front of the computer :) Thank you all for your support leading up to this moment. This blog community is amazing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

39 weeks... and a membrane sweep!

Yesterday I hit the 39-week milestone. And I had a doctor's appointment. Exciting stuff!



The first portion of my appointment was a growth scan to make sure that my placenta and fluid were good, and that Henry was growing as he should be. And thankfully, all is well inside my uterus!

Henry is measuring five days ahead in the 76th percentile and estimated to be 8lbs 3oz. My fluid levels were perfect and Henry's movements were wonderful. All great news!

After the ultrasound, Buster and I headed into the exam room to wait on the doctor. I told the nurse that I was hoping for a membrane sweep, and she said the doc would definitely do it. She headed out and said he'd be in shortly.

When the doctor came in, he went over the ultrasound results and seemed very pleased with them. Then we discussed a membrane sweep. He told me last appointment that an induction increases the chances of a c-section, so I asked if a membrane sweep did the same. He said no, which was comforting to hear. So we decided to do it.

Before the sweep, however, he did a cervical check. I am now 4 cm dilated and 75% effaced (I was 3 cm and 80% two weeks ago, but I'm thinking the difference in effacement is because different doctors did the check...?). My doctor was seriously giddy over finding out I was already 4 cm dilated. He mentioned several times how perfect this was, and "how nice" (which is odd to hear when someone's hand is rammed up in you).

So then he stretched my cervix and did the sweep. Um, ouch. For those of you who have had an HSG, you know how it feels when they push the dye through? Like the worst period cramps ever, but thankfully it's so short? That's kind of what it was like. Except the menstrual-type pain was even worse and more uncomfortable, and lasted a tad longer.

My doctor seemed to think there was a good chance I would go in to labor that night. And he definitely thinks I will not be pregnant on Henry's due date, which is Monday the 14th.

Well, since I'm here typing this post this morning, there was no labor last night. And I'm pretty disappointed! I know it's stupid to be disappointed, but I was really hoping that the sweep would kickstart something. I did have some timeable contractions, but they were quite far apart and only lasted about 30 seconds. Then they stopped.

I kept hoping that overnight I would awake to painful contractions, but no such luck. So here I am, sitting on my exercise ball, contemplating what my plan of attack is for the day.

Baking. Definitely some baking. And maybe a trip to Michael's so I can walk around for a good, long while. Hip circles on my exercise ball. And maybe some Call of Duty when I want to sit and relax for a few.

I'm just so ready to meet my little Henry!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Favorite maternity products

Several bloggy friends of mine have done posts detailing what baby products have proved most helpful. I love these posts, even though chances are I probably won't be able to find them when I really need them! And perhaps I'll even do a similar post, after Henry arrives.

But today, I wanted to list some maternity products that I couldn't live without during this pregnancy! I scoured online reviews, tested out different products, and these are my tried and true. Hopefully this might help someone who has been looking in to any of the following:

BEST MATERNITY CAMI EVER:

Let me preface this by saying that I'm quite particular when it comes to camisoles. I was really hoping to find a nice maternity cami with a shelf bra, but the ones I ordered (from Kohl's... don't do it, no matter how good the price) rode up and were too short. I'm not super tall (5'8"), but I think I have a long torso. And I don't want my bare back or belly to be visible to every passerby. That's not too much to ask, right? So give me a nice, long cami!

And I found one. I loved it so much, I ordered it in two colors. Wish I would have gotten more, actually, but it's a bit too late in the game for that.

The award goes to... Be Maternity Seamless Cami, which I purchased at Target. They sell them online, and in the stores. The sizes in the store are really hit or miss, so I ended up ordering both online.

Photo courtesy of Target.com

I probably purchased this cami when I was around 20 weeks. And they still fit. Forty some odd pounds later. The length is amazing. And since I can no longer wear full panel pants (crazy that something which was incredibly comfy in the beginning is so horrendously uncomfortable now), I wear these tanks under everything to make sure my belly is covered. I ordered the gray and white, but I would have gladly purchased the other two colors (nude and black) had I felt it necessary.

The runner-up in this category goes to Gap's Support Cami. I ordered this one at about 30 weeks pregnant, so I haven't gotten quite as much use out of it. However, it's great to not have to wear a bra, as it has a built-in shelf bra that is pretty darn supportive (I'm about average, bust-wise).

Photo courtesy of Gap.com

I ended up with the nude color, but I wish I would have gotten a different color. I can't remember why I ordered the nude, perhaps they were out of white or black. My issue with the color is that if whatever shirt I'm wearing underneath rides up, it looks like skin. So even though I'm not baring my bod, it looks that way to the average bystander. Oh well, it's still quite comfy and supportive. I think I might even be able to breastfeed in it, depending on how big my boobs get.

BEST MATERNITY UNDIES EVER:

Ok, I know many women don't ever buy special maternity underwear. I was thinking I wouldn't either... just buy some cheaper, larger ones from WalMart or Target and be done. But then, I had a coupon to use at the Gap, during a time they were having a big sale. I scored some of their maternity Stretch Cotton Hipsters for about $3 a pair, and HOLY SHIT how did I live without these?

I'm a hipster girl, so of course that's what I ordered, but they also come in bikini and thong.

Photo courtesy of Gap.com

The full retail price of these underwear are $10.95, which I would never pay. Both times I ordered some (yes, on two separate occasions... I think I have six pairs now!), they were on sale and I had a coupon. But they actually fit my ass! All of my Victoria's Secret undies were getting tight and allowing more of me to hang out than I cared for. I tried buying some cheap, size-up undies at WalMart, and they just weren't very comfortable.

Once I tried these, I couldn't go back. Lovely coverage. Nice and soft. So comfortable. I'm in love. Honestly.

If you see them on sale, and you are even remotely considering them, BUY THEM. You won't regret it. The first set of three I ordered was one size, and the next set was a size up from that. They both fit fine now, but I wanted to cover all bases, just in case!

BEST MATERNITY LEGGINGS

Granted, I've only tried two different brands of maternity legging: Gap and Old Navy. And the Gap Supersoft Maternity Leggings take the cake!

I ordered both pairs of leggings in black, and the Old Navy pair has really faded. The Gap pair, on the other hand, is still nice and rich black. For some stupid reason, I ordered the Old Navy pair in full panel... ugh. That was fine at 20 weeks. 30, not so much. 39? No freaking way. So uncomfortable. The Gap leggings fit nicely under my giant belly, and are so comfortable.

Photo courtesy of Gap.com

I wish I would have ordered two black pairs, or one in gray. I wore these so much with dresses and flats. Easy (and comfortable) work attire! Highly recommend!

FAVORITE MATERNITY T-SHIRT:

I know it seems like I'm being paid by the Gap, but I promise I'm not. I just found several items of that brand that have been amazing.

Including the Pure Body line of t-shirts.

Photo courtesy of Gap.com

Photo courtesy of Gap.com
Initially, I purchased the Pure Body short-sleeve t-shirt in a brown color. It was on sale for $4! How could I pass that up? And it has been, hands-down, my favorite t-shirt. It's the one that the majority of my belly photos have been taken in, as of late. It's super soft, super comfortable, and most importantly: nice and long! Eventually I ordered two more (a gray one that I seem to have misplaced, and a white one that I dribbled gravy on and stained).

I also ordered one Pure Body long-sleeved t-shirt. I wish I would have gotten a couple more long-sleeved shirts, since it is winter and all. But the one black one I ordered will suffice. The downside is that I am usually living in my yoga pants, which are black. So black on black... I kind of feel like a ninja. Next time, I would order a different color.

FAVORITE MATERNITY YOGA PANTS:

Ok, so yes, these are my favorite. But these are also the only ones I've tried. I read reviews on tons of maternity yoga pants prior to purchasing, and these had the best reviews: Old Navy's Maternity Roll-Panel Yoga Pants. I ordered the black pair (of course), and loved them so much (and wore them so much...) that I bought the gray pair as well.

Photo courtesy of OldNavy.com

Yes, the black pair has faded. But because they are yoga pants, I just can't be too concerned with that. Even though they are pretty much my uniform at this point. The gray pair is packed in my hospital bag, which resides in the car, so they have been out of commission for about a week or two. I wear the black pair whenever they are clean, and until they are so covered in blonde Kelsey hair that I need to re-wash.

FAVORITE MATERNITY JEANS:

Now, here is one category that I can say I've tried a varied selection of brands, including Old Navy, Gap, Target, and Motherhood Maternity.

I had a hard time finding Gap and Old Navy jeans that worked well for me. The cut was wrong, or the belly panel was wrong, or something. The most success I had was with some hand-me-downs from Motherhood Maternity, even though they were a tad on the short side. I could only wear them with flats. And once my belly started growing and growing, I had to stop wearing them completely (they could have passed for capris, practically).

My expensive (read: full-price... probably not expensive to some, but $70 is a lot to me!) Gap 1969 full panel sexy boot jeans started getting too snug around 32 weeks. So, way too late in the pregnancy game, I ordered a pair of jeans from Motherhood Maternity.

Photo courtesy of Motherhood.com

And they have quickly come to be my favorite! They are the Secret Fit Belly® Signature Pocket Boot Cut Maternity Jeans, and I wish I had gotten them sooner! And in both washes. You really can't beat the price on these jeans, honestly ($30, regular price?!).

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And there you have it! A rundown of my favorite maternity clothes from this pregnancy. I suppose soon enough these may be packed up in a box, but I really hope I get to use them again!

Friday, January 4, 2013

38 weeks

I'm still pregnant! And still on bed rest, although my doctor has now termed it "modified bed rest". Ok, whatever. He says I can go to my grandma's house, or go to dinner, but no all-day shopping excursions. Doable.

I've been checking my blood pressure at home, and it's typically always right around 135/85. Not great, but not awful. Makes me wonder if I was dealing with work stresses, etc, if it would be higher. Bed rest was probably the right call.

And as an update to my last weekly post, the 24-hour urine catch I did came back with the exact same level of protein as the one before it: 310. Still above 300, but not getting any worse. My official diagnosis is mild pre-eclampsia, and I certainly hope it stays mild.


How far along?
38 weeks and 4 days today. I was slacking a little on this update, sorry!

How big is baby?
Your guess is as good as mine! I know he's much, much bigger than he was even a couple weeks ago. And I know this because his punches HURT. Really badly. I think he's trying to punch his way out of my ute. I guess that's what happens when you are cramped and uncomfortable! I have a doctor's appointment on Monday that includes a growth scan, so I will have a somewhat better idea of his size then.

Weight gain?
I should just remove this category. Have hit the 60 lb mark. Impressive, I know.

Belly photos?
Couldn't be arsed to put on the same brown shirt I've been using for my pictures, so that whole "same shirt in every belly photo" idea I had last time is now officially out the window.



Cravings/Aversions?
Nope.

Sleep?
Sleep has, amazingly enough, gotten slightly better. I'm still waking up (usually around 3:30 a.m.), but I'm able to fall back asleep within an hour. I've also slept in a couple days, since I don't have to go to work. That's been nice.

Symptoms [...of impending labor]?
After the excitement of last appointment (cervical check, finding out I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced, the bed rest order), this week seems pretty boring. I had a couple days of decent, sporadic contractions. That excited me. Then it stopped.

At my last NST (this past Monday), I didn't register ONE contraction. Lame!

I've still been losing bits of plug, but my doctor told me I would since I am already dilated to a 3. He said that the plug will regenerate. So basically, it means jack shit.

So no symptoms here. I'm such a disappointment, I know! Apparently baby Henry wants to just keep on cooking. And that's fine. But I really am hoping he arrives by his due date! Which is ten days away...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Those two dirty words: stretch marks

Like most pregnant women, I hoped to avoid stretch marks. Or if not avoid them altogether, at least have a minimal outbreak.

So, I started buttering up quite early on.

And I know what you are thinking. That stretch marks are genetic. That if I'm meant to get them, I will.

Maybe you are right. But, I figure it can't hurt keeping my belly, boobs, thighs, and love handles nice and moisturized, right? And if it even helps in the slightest, well... hot dog. Yes, hot dog.

Although I didn't get my wish of avoiding stretch marks altogether, I did manage to not get one on my belly. I think that's quite a feat, right? Instead, they are on my boobs... But, at least they aren't covering both, right?

Here is my 38w3d bare belly:




The only "issue" I've had on my belly is where my belly button was once pierced (17-year-old me had this done back in 1999 at a store called 4:20 in Myrtle Beach... classy, right?!). Well I haven't worn a belly ring in 10+ years, but man does the pierced area do funny things while pregnant.

I thought I would run down which products I've been using and what I like or dislike about them. I have no idea if they have really helped me, but even if they mentally helped me, that's good enough for me.

DREAMBELLY BUTTER

I received two jars of DreamBelly Butter, and I've used it daily since I was 20 weeks pregnant. Out of everything I've tried, it goes on the easiest and absorbs the best. It's also great because it doesn't leave you feeling oily, only moisturized. I used this every morning after getting out of the shower on my belly and boobs. After I noticed a couple faint stretchmarks appearing on my thighs, I started using it there too. This was my morning cream, since it didn't leave me feeling greasy (didn't want my clothes to end up greasy!).

What I love most about this cream is that it is all-natural, and doesn't contain any parabens or phthalates (two things I tried to avoid using on my skin while pregnant). The fragrance is pleasant. It's not amazing, but it's nice and not overwhelming.

I ran out of DreamBelly Butter about a week ago. Since I'm so close to my due date (11 days!), I decided not to restock. I'm starting to regret that decision, as my belly has been noticeably itchier since I stopped using it.

Price-wise, it's not too bad. It's currently on sale over at Fairhaven Health for $14.95/jar, plus free shipping. I definitely recommend this product!


BURT'S BEES MAMA BEE BELLY BUTTER


I'm a Burt's Bees girl. So, I had high, high hopes for this product. And it did nothing but disappoint.

I can't say I used it for very long. The consistency and smell did nothing for me. The smell is... well, not good. It's not awful, but definitely not good. I can't even explain what it smells like. Close to nothing, with a hint of bad. Or sour.

The consistency of the "butter" is really like a thin lotion. It did not leave me feeling as moisturized as I had hoped. And since I got the DreamBelly and this one at the same time, I quickly shelved the Mama Bee Belly Butter.

The only upside to this one is that you may be able to find it at a Target or WalMart. And that's the only real plus. Unfortunately, I could not find it at my local stores, and ended up ordering it from Amazon.

BURT'S BEES MAMA BEE NOURISHING BODY OIL


Thankfully, Burt's Bees Mama Bee products didn't completely let me down.

I love this oil! It has a really great, clean scent, and leaves you feeling incredibly moisturized. A little goes a long way, and a bottle lasts quite a while.

The downside is that it is, well, oil. And so it leaves you greasy... which is why I did this one at night. I could let it air dry while I'm in bed reading, and don't have to worry about getting a shirt all greasy.

Although I do love this oil very much, I'm not sure I would have used it on its own (without a belly butter). I liked having the combo of belly butter in the morning, nourishing oil at night. I felt like I was covering more of my bases that way.

This product is also available at your local Target or WalMart, which is handy.

PALMER'S COCOA BUTTER FORMULA TUMMY BUTTER


This was a gift given to me at my baby shower. I didn't open it until I ran out of my Dream Belly Butter, because I was well-entrenched in my routine.

Palmer's Tummy Butter is probably the most popular of butters. And the formula is impressive: collagen, elastin, and no parabens or phthalates.

And it's an ok product.

It's hard to apply. It's chunky and greasy. I have yet to apply it to my whole stomach. Wayyyy too much work. I use this on my boobs every day, though. Since that is where I have the most stretch marks, I figure I will concentrate this "Intensive Treatment" on the part of my body that is most heavily affected.

The smell is just ok... nothing to write home about.

I don't think I would purchase this product again. I'm glad it was given as a gift, though. Especially since I'm running low on all of these stretch mark butters/oils/creams.

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In summary, next time around (if I'm lucky enough to be pregnant again), I will definitely use the DreamBelly Butter + Burt's Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil combo. And although I'm not sure that any of it has helped prevent stretch marks, staying moisturized and not itchy is imperative, especially so the bigger your belly gets. No one likes an itchy belly!
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