Preggo Reads.

Pregnancy Reads

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When I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor, I couldn’t wait to get reading on all things pregnancy, birth and babies. BUT… I was scared that I was going to jinx things by delving too far into believing I was pregnant. It’s crazy, but it’s true. I had serious pregnancy anxiety!

Over the course of my pregnancy (especially once I could feel her kick) my fears subsided and I dove head first into any and all reading material I could get my hands on. This list contains some of my favorite pregnancy related reads!

Lucie’s List – You guys, this site and the email newsletter (based on where you are in pregnancy/postpartum) rocked my socks. I was on here all the time and actually looked forward to every email I received — which is not something I can say about pretty much any other newsletter I get. There is a wealth of information here on anything and everything pregnancy/baby/birth. (Just a note: the newsletter gets EVEN BETTER during postpartum. She’s got tips, notes on baby milestones and all sorts of other good stuff to help you feel like you’re on the right parenting path.)

The Wise Baby – As much as I loved the newsletter from Lucie’s List, my all-time favorite site was The Wise Baby. I was on this page multiple times per week looking at product reviews and absorbing the new mom favorites post. They took a bit of a hiatus over the winter, but they’re starting to post again. If you do only two things it’s look at this site and sign up for the Lucie’s List newsletter.

Bringing Up Bebe – This was one of the first books I read because I could rationalize that it wasn’t totally a pregnancy/baby book. I love reading about the way different people/cultures do things and this book was no different. The author was very relatable and did an excellent job comparing and contrasting pregnancy, birth and child rearing in the US vs. France. I liked this book so much that I had a hard time putting it down and it made me want to move to France for reasons other than croissants. It had a lot of good information on parenting in general with more philosophies to remember than hard and fast rules to follow. Read this, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Pregnancy Bible – I ordered this book from Amazon after seeing it on a list of “best pregnancy books”. It’s really comprehensive and covers just about anything you’d want to know about pregnancy as well as what comes after. It was really interesting to see/read about how the body changes as well as go in depth about what is happening at each step along the way. My only critique of this book is that it didn’t go as deep into some topics as I would have liked. Overall, it was just a great general guide.

Natural Hospital Birth – I was hoping to have a natural birth, in a hospital… hence the purchase of this book. I really like the approach the author took in respecting the expertise of the medical staff, but also trusting in your body and standing up for what you want. It was the perfect mix for me since I’m neither 100% crunchy mama nor 100% I believe medicine is king. There were some really great helpful tips as well as practical applications to help make a natural hospital birth a reality. I would definitely recommend this if that’s the approach you’re wanting to take.

Ina May’s Guild To Childbirth – This is the quintessential natural child birth book. Ina May is the country’s most renowned midwife and this books spares no detail in what natural child birth looks like — however, it does it in an empowering way. I think you’d be hard pressed not to believe you’re capable of natural labor after reading this book, though being capable and willing are different things entirely! If natural childbirth is the path you’re planning to take this book is a MUST READ.

During the course of my pregnancy, I also read Birthing From Within. It was WAY too crunchy mama for me and I ended up scanning the pages and wishing I hadn’t spent the money on it. I can definitely see how some people would enjoy this approach, but it wasn’t for me. To each their own.

The (First) Lose-Lose of Motherhood.

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My twelve weeks are almost up.

My baby isn’t old enough to sit up, she’s exclusively breast fed and has eaten from a bottle only four times in her little life. She’s just starting to laugh and really chat it up with the goo goo gaga business. I’m mostly healed from pushing a 10 lb baby out of my nether regions and feeling almost back to myself.

All of which seems to mean I’m about to face one of the infamous lose-lose moments of motherhood.

Going back to work or staying home.

Either way, the moral of this story is that you lose.

Looking back 3 years ago, Christian and I decided to start trying for a family. Over the course of our journey to get pregnant we would discover I have PCOS, endure all sorts of hormone treatments (which weren’t a walk in the park), suffer a miscarriage and weather through the tears each month when my period showed up instead of those two little lines.

The day I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor I was ecstatic while also feeling an equal measure of fear. Nonetheless, my pregnancy progressed pretty normally and being pregnant was even better than I had imagined it to be (most of the time). Throughout each day I’d be met with questions about my pregnancy, about the baby – each holding a air of excitement and wonder. Everyone is excited about pregnancy, everyone is excited about babies.

Fast forward to the present. No one is excited about a 3 month old (well except me, her dad and probably her grand parents). My profession tells me it’s time to give up the goat. Go back to work. Leave my baby – the baby I fought so hard for. The baby that believes I’m her entire world.

And if I do? If I go back to work full-time?

I’m a bad mother.

In fact, I’m giving up precious time with my child, I’m leaving my child at her most vulnerable stage, I’m leaving her when she needs me the most. I’ve been asked “do you want her to be bonded to you or to a nanny”? Isn’t the answer clear and more importantly why is this even a question in the first place?

On the flip side of this argument, I can stay home.

When you check out the other side of the highly judgmental Mommy wars – this is what is supposed to happen. This is nature’s way. I can breastfeed on command, I can snuggle that sweet little baby when she needs me and clearly she will be bonded to me… and not a nanny.

But… but…

What do I lose in the process?

I lose the last 8.5 years of work, I lose the salary I worked so hard to earn and I mostly lose any future job prospects once I’m out of the work force for a couple of years. I went to college, I’ve worked hard, I have dreams.

I’m not special, this story isn’t unique and neither are the anxious feelings I’ve been fighting. The problem is bigger than me. It’s bigger than the atrocious maternity benefits my company offers. It’s systemic and it’s a shame.

Right now, I don’t know what to do. The only thing I do know is that either way I lose.

For the first time in a long time.

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Yesterday on New Year’s Eve, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of relief that the year was over. I wasn’t craving a fresh start or thankful to be putting a year of hardship behind me. Don’t get me wrong, the past few years have had their share of highs, but they’ve also had some pretty significant lows. And at the end of each year I’m grateful for the good times but ever so eager to be escaping the hard moments.

As the clock turned over to 12:00 AM (a time I didn’t think I’d be seeing with a 6 week old, but alas I was wrong), I found myself hoping that 2016 would be as good as 2015 and wondering if it was even possible for it to be better? And in that moment, it felt good.

It felt good to be thankful and most importantly, it felt good to be happy. Because, that’s what I am. Happy.

2015 was full of greatness — here’s a quick rundown:

  • I found out I was pregnant after trying for almost 2 years.
  • I was in 3 weddings for some of my very best and oldest friends.
  • We traveled – Austin, Aspen, San Diego, Ventura!
  • Did I mention that I was pregnant and loved every minute – even the uncomfortable ones.
  • We continued renovating our house — which is a never ending work in progress.
  • We spent time with family. Both our immediate families that live close as well as our extended family that came through Denver to visit. Family is truly such a gift!
  • We welcomed our sweet Eleanor Anne on November 16!

There’s so much more to say and catch up on, but that’s a start.

With that, all I have to say is: hello  2016, you’ve got some big boots to fill, but I’m looking forward to making it happen.

 

It all feels broken.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart. - Helen Keller // LifeLoveandGarlic.com

This has been a tough year for me. There were certainly bright spots, but when I look back on it (at least right now) it’s full of dim, sharp, hurty things and I want nothing more than to fast forward my life to a time when it all just hurts a little less. I find myself begging for the days to pass, the weeks to fly and the months to blur together.

I’ve mentioned that we sold our house and lived with my in-laws & my mom for two months. What I may have left out is that right at the tail end of that my Dad died, on June 30, unexpectedly. He had been deteriorating for years, but for all intents and purposes he was stable. Until he wasn’t. We, also, had scheduled our move (without, obviously, knowing he would pass away) for 3 days later — starting July 3. To say that week was awful would be an immense understatement.

As the weeks wore on, the memorial passed and though still mourning, I was fighting my way through the fog. Christian and I decided that I would stop taking Clomid (helping us ovulate/conceive with my PCOS) for a couple of months since I was grieving, stressed and just not in the right frame of mind to be trying to get pregnant.

On August 27, Christian’s birthday, I found out — very unexpectedly — that I was pregnant (without drugs). It seems as if there would be a light at the end of this dark tunnel, after all. I immediately began having cramping (no bleeding) and very sore boobs, both of which I was reassured by the nurse at my OB/GYN office were normal.

It’s funny how finding out something like this quickly changes everything. Where would we put a nursery? What projects do we need to put on fast forward to get the house in a little better shape? What will maternity leave look like? Crap, I can’t go to one of my best friend’s weddings. Should I buy new dress pants or just wait until I need the maternity ones? What will I wear on our trip in November if I don’t fit in my clothes? Let’s talk about names. Let’s spend many, many, many hours researching pre-natal vitamins and stalking pregnancy boards on The Bump to feel even the slightest bit of pregnant camaraderie.

You get the idea. Our due date was initially set for May 3. I couldn’t wait. It was almost like having a school year baby — in in the fall, out in the spring.

After the initial positive test, I called my doctor to set up my 8 week appointment. September 23. I circled it on the calendar and methodically counted down the 26 days that would take to get there. Which, for the record, were the slowest 26 days of my life.

Christian took the afternoon off to go with me. We loaded up the car and drove to Parker (about 20 minutes from our house) where my doctor had moved her practice. After signing in, a urine sample and a short wait in the waiting room we were taken back for our first ultra sound and I couldn’t wait. My stomach was a mixture of nervous butterflies and knots — I wanted to see that little heart beat more than I wanted anything on this earth. As soon as the black and white images flashed on the screen I began searching for any sign of a heartbeat, any flicker.

I didn’t see one.

The tech told us she was going to check my ovaries, cervix etc. before circling back to the baby. But, I knew it wasn’t good. As she rounded back to the baby, you could tell. There was nothing resembling a heartbeat. She said she was very sorry, but that it appeared the baby had stopped growing about a week earlier and wasn’t showing a heartbeat.

All I could think was that she had to be wrong, this had to be wrong. How could the baby I prayed for, prayed over daily and wanted so badly just be gone? Not after the year I’ve had, there’s no way that this could really be happening. No possible way.

But, it was.

My doctor assured me that I hadn’t done anything to cause this, that most likely it was a chromosomal issue that my body hadn’t allowed to continue. After meeting with my doctor, I was sent home with Cytotec (to induce my miscarriage since my body hadn’t started on its own) as well as Percocet and Zofran to help combat the impending side effects of what was about to happen. That night, I sucked it up. We had family in town and my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday to celebrate. I went, I smiled, I broke apart on the inside.

Wednesday morning, after a good cry on the phone with one of my best friends, I made it to the office. Tried to hold it together and ended up leaving because all the emotions I was trying to hold in just wouldn’t be jailed any more and the sobs weren’t exactly conducive to a productive office environment.

I started the Cytotec Wednesday night — needing the uncertainty to end — thinking that maybe if I put the process of the miscarriage behind me rather than letting it linger I would feel better, less defeated. From what I’ve heard about miscarriage, there isn’t a good option – between DNC, “the pills” and trying to pass it naturally… no option seems to have much up on any of the others. The Cytotec induced labor like waves of cramping and a whole host of symptoms that had me very sick for the next four days. During that time I, also, had to go back in for a Rhogam shot due to Christian and I having different (negative vs. positive) blood types.

Passing your baby at home, no matter how small, is nothing I would wish on anyone…miscarriage is nothing I would wish upon anyone.

My follow-up appointment was the next Tuesday — I still had more to “pass”, but it appeared that “the pills” had done their job. I had hoped that I would feel better and more on the mend. But, I don’t. I feel more defeated, frightened and heartbroken than ever. I’m trying to process, trying to find things in my control, all without much avail.

This baby made me a Mom, though I will never get to hold my baby, watch it grow — I will always cherish the time I got to spend carrying him/her and know that we’ll be reunited one day. And, truthfully, this is what I’m holding on to and what is helping me push through.

I’m sharing this because I was blindsided by my miscarriage and felt/feel very isolated by what has happened. Miscarriage is extremely common, possibly in upwards of 1 in 4 pregnancies. Personally, I didn’t know anyone that had shared their miscarriage story, that could fully understand what I was feeling, what I was grieving. Miscarriage is something a lot of people don’t talk about – it’s hard, it’s grief, it’s uncomfortable. But, it happens and we shouldn’t be ashamed, we shouldn’t hide it in our hearts, we need to be open to talking about it.

Today, October 15, is Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. This post isn’t something I’m super comfortable putting out there, but if it makes even one person feel less alone, then it’s worth it. 

Finally Friday.

A Glimpse of My Week

It’s Friday and I have some AH-MAZ-ING news…

The black widow is dead. [Insert happy dance]. I officially evicted the little creature and placed his tupperware out on the back deck on the 27th (of May). It died half way through this week (for those not keeping track it lived about 3.5 weeks in the tupperware without water, air or food). I’m thinking that it was the 91 degree day that really did him in. Either way, he’s toast and I’m thrilled.

Anyways, enough about the spider and on to something a little less creepy (and dead). From the bottom of my soul I am just so very thankful for summer and each and every day I just can’t soak up enough of the sunshine, crisp green leaves and the little blooming flowers that are poking up everywhere. Plus, our garden is planted and growing – it’s wonderful! When its 75 degrees outside with a light breeze blowing, I’m not even sure how I survive winter… needless to say, it was a good week.

This weekend is also packed with goodness: I brought a big container of cookies to work today (which makes Friday that much sweeter), then we’ve got date night tonight, a family portrait session tomorrow morning followed by a BBQ with some family in town from Iowa. Then on Sunday we’ve got some top-secret plans on the books. Looking forward to it all!

Here are my favorite finds from around the interwebs:

Spoiler Alert: I’m not pregnant, but after watching my sister go through her pregnancy and hearing all the criticism out there about gaining weight while growing a baby, I thought this article was a very important reminder that pregnancy comes in all shapes and sizes… not just skinny.

There’s something about having to start at the beginning or start over that always leaves me with a sense of apprehension. I want to be an expert from the start, you know? That way I don’t have to worry about making stupid mistakes or failing all together. But, in reality, that’s not how it happens. You have to start somewhere.

Is it just me, or does everything have the possibility of giving you cancer or ruining your health? First it was sunscreen now its the particle boards inside our walls. Le sigh. In an effort to combat it, here are some tips on de-toxing your home. With the warm weather going on around here, opening the windows more often shouldn’t be an issue!

If there’s something nearby with the words chocolate and peanut butter in the name, you can be certain that it will find its way into my pie hole. The whole salty sweet combo gets me nearly every time. When I saw this recipe for Vanilla Peanut Butter Chunk + Chocolate Ice Cream I wanted to inhale my screen. We should try it.

Have you heard of Naptime Diaries? I. Love. Her. Blog. It’s so uplifting, real and absolutely centered on Christ. Plus, their print shop has me wanting to buy every single one for our home (I bought this one, recently). This week she released a free scripture print that you can download and then print yourself – in almost any size.

There is never a time when taking two months off in the middle of the summer doesn’t sound good. The same can be said for a leisurely meal outside a sweet little cafe. Maybe I’m meant to be French? I’ll settle for living in Europe… at some point. Mmmk? This post on “WTF America” makes me want to slow down, live a little more intentionally and move to Paris.

 

 

Pulling The Wool Over Our Eyes.

*Warning, this post contains some thoughts on birth that may be hard to swallow. Read at your own risk.

You know the mark of a good friend? A truly good friend? A friend you can tell anything to and have them understand, empathize and commiserate with your life issues? The ability to talk about episiotomies and vaginal tearing. Drop those two phrases in a conversation and you’ll be able to weed people out from the very start. “Hi, my name is Megan and I have a fear of vaginal tearing.” The ones that stick around will be the ones you want to keep around. And if you can’t talk about these woman fears with your closest friends, then really you ought to consider yourself alone in this world.

I’m not married and if you just met me you would probably believe that I’m not a fan of children. I like kids, just not any that would be coming out of my body in the next few years. And, the more I hear about child rearing, pregnancy, and birth the more convinced I become that this whole “wondrous bringing of life” is a big sham.

See this picture, the one right below this line? The one of the sweet, adorable baby. Yeah, that one.

It’s precious, darling and reeks of that “baby smell” that causes grandparents and strangers alike to flock and glue their noses to the top of the baby’s head. You can picture it, because that’s exactly how it happens. There truly is something about babies. BUT, what I feel many conveniently forget to mention is that having babies is anything but cute, darling or precious. I think that people omit all the gory details, because if we as women (if you’re anything like me) fully understood what it took, we’d never have kids. Therefore leaving grandparents lost and confused without any children to smell and spoil and leaving strangers without any large, pregnant bellies to grab.

Pregnancy is rough, or so I hear. There’s a little human encroaching on your lung capacity, your body swells and stretches in ways you never thought possible and your feet have the potential to grow out of all the wonderful shoes you’ve collected up to that point. Sigh. And, you know what really scares me? Stretch marks. I’ve seen the devastation and truly I don’t want an abdomen that resembles a bagel 2 years after I’m done with the whole ordeal. Oh, and a horror story frequenting my house has people growing third nipples… dude, I don’t want a third nipple. Two is more than enough for this gal.

Ok, ok, I know I being highly insensitive and terrible. But it doesn’t stop here.

The thought of birth makes me shiver and feel the urge to vomit all at the same time (gag reflex).  And who decided on the word birth. It just sounds gross. There is something about “snip”, “tear”, “spinal tap”, “mucus plug” and “catheter” that really just has me running in the opposite direction. I don’t understand how people refer to this whole disgusting process as “beautiful”. Yeah, yeah the bringing of life is pretty amazing, but let’s not over glamorize how that life gets out exactly.

I’ve had a couple friends that have had children, they’re the type of friends that shared ALL the gory details. Every single one and then more. I know more about their pregnancies and births than I’ll probably know about my own. EVER. Because now I’m going to have to adopt, or be on Valium for 9 months (except really isn’t it more like 10 months?). One of the two.