The Surprise Has Arrived :-)

You know, I have a good life.

Now I say it that way because life here on the Wisconsin homestead has been CRAZY these past few months… and as a mother of four, with a garden and school starting up in a month and the day-to-day battle in keeping house… well, one can get overwhelmed. But life really is good.

The last time I blogged I was still pregnant. Then hey presto, mid-Spring a cute little package showed up with huge charcoal eyes and an adorable, wide smile. Our William is the happiest baby ever… he’s been smiling since week one, and he smiles all the time. He’s also an alarming go-getter. He babbles non-stop, tries to copy the motion of my mouth as I talk to him, and is already trying to scoot himself on his belly. This will work better when he figures out how not to trap his arms under him when he rolls over. In the meantime, his nose is getting to know the carpet on a deep and meaningful level. I think the friendship has promise.

This was the first pregnancy where I had an epidural at the birth. I had always been against them before, because of all the stories I heard where the mother had one and then couldn’t feel to such an extent that she couldn’t tell what was going on and couldn’t push well and the birth took a much longer time than it needed to. Unfortunately, I have back labor, and after having my daughter (which took a total of three miserable hours) I swore I had to find some kind of pain management/killer that worked. I’m not afraid of pain, and I actually have a high pain tolerance… but back labor makes me crumple. Normal labor hurts; add back labor into it and it’s three times worse. I’ve had it with three out of four pregnancies. I decided that if I didn’t have back labor, I would just have William naturally, med-free. If I did, I was going for the epidural (nothing I had tried in any previous birth worked). And wouldn’t you know it, my old friend showed up again, worse than ever. I tried to stick it out for about an hour, and then I thought “This is crazy! I can’t even breathe and I’m bruising my poor husband’s arm with my fingernails… someone stick me!” And they did. And it was glorious. The pain completely went away, but I still had total muscle control. Why hadn’t I done this before?! I spent the rest of the birth sipping ice water and chatting with my mom and Sackett Man while we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. The actual birth took about two minutes, and then there he was… a bawling, fighting, beautiful baby boy who I got to hold for thirty minutes before they took him to clean him up. He spent the entire time howling his fury to me. It was actually hilarious. And when he was done he calmed down as if nothing was wrong and just looked at me with his big, dark eyes. When Sackett Man spoke he craned his head back and back and back till he could see his Daddy’s face. It was beautiful.

William

William

So here is our little surprise. The baby boy we hadn’t planned and hadn’t expected, but God knew we needed him. 🙂

God Knows Best

I have been in to the hospital three times now with false labor. Well, the first time was because of some blood. The next two times I had contractions 3-4 minutes apart for hours before they suddenly would just disappear! What?! Why? The last time I was positive it was real. It hurt so bad and was so constant! And then ‘poof’. Like magic. I was SO FRUSTRATED! We live 40 minutes from the hospital. We have three kids that we have to drop off at a relative’s house every single time. My husband usually ends up taking off the next day of work because I end up so sore that I can hardly move the next day. These trips are not simple or easy, despite the medical staff always breezily telling us “Oh, just keep coming in each time. Even if it’s a dozen more times. No problem. One of these times it will happen!”

No problem? Says them. It’s a two day ordeal for us.

What I have come to realize though is this: I think God is stopping it each time. Why? Because a) Sackett Man has got the mother cold of mother colds. He wouldn’t be able to hold or kiss his new baby boy. And b) stomach flu has hit our house today. Not exactly the best time to introduce a new baby into the family.

So I’m okay now. I wasn’t before; I was getting mad and frustrated with the emotional and physical stress of thinking “This is it! Hello, William!” and then having it not happen. Now, this morning, I’ve hit a new understanding that God has not only kept this pregnancy healthy and safe, kept me from having him prematurely (yay!), but He is also making sure that William comes when we are healthy and ready to receive him.

So I’m taking a deep breath, and I’m just going to wait for the germs to leave us. Because I know I won’t be pregnant forever, despite what my pregnancy hormones keep telling me. I just need to be patient. God knows what He’s doing. 🙂

Nesting a Car

Nesting is a funny thing. We ready-to-pop pregnant mothers have so little energy, but a buzz of unexpected, out of the blue get-up-and-go can enable us to do some hard stuff. I have so little energy right now, and the little mister inside of me is currently grinding his head into some rather painful nerves, making it hard to walk and causing my sciatic to go bonkers. Naughty boy! So moving is difficult, to say the least. But yesterday I went down into our attached garage to clean the seat where our baby will go. Vacuum up the crumbs, clean off the spill of milk from my daughter, and then hook in the base for his infant car seat. I took a big rag, some safe cleaner, and the dustbuster to vacuum up the crud and crumbs.

About ten minutes later I realized I was upside down vacuuming under the seat, and that I’d removed two car mats already. And I couldn’t stop! I just kept removing mats and vacuuming and vacuuming and vacuuming, crawling and getting myself into crazy positions to try and get the crumbs and crud that liked to hide in out-of-the-way places and corners, and then I took my rag and cleaner and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then I took the rubber mats and dumped them in the tub of our basement bathroom, grabbed a cleaning brush, and washed and scoured them till they looked like new. Finally, an hour-and-a-half later, I hooked in the infant car seat and shut the doors. (Don’t worry, I had turned off all the lights to save the battery.)

The car doesn’t look brand-spanking new, but it’s pretty good. It’s the best that a fully-pregnant woman could do, anyway!

You should have seen the look Sackett Man gave me when he came home from work. “Not to criticize, but was that the best thing for you to do right now?” he asked, concerned. “I mean, you can hardly walk…”

I hobbled around, my baby boy grinding his head, nerves pinching and hurting like fire and my sciatic twanging away as I tried to prepare supper. “Right now, I go when the energy’s good!”

He shook his head in exasperation, but his green eyes were soft and tender, and a little smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

And once the kids were in bed, he treated me to a leg and foot rub. 🙂

The Two Week Drain

We’re nearing the end. Hallelujah. Not that I don’t love parts of being pregnant… but this last month has quickly propelled me to an early state of “I’m ready when you are!”. Especially the last two weeks. I had spotting two weeks ago, and ended up under observation for five hours being poked, prodded, ultrasound-ed, and monitored. It was nothing. He’d shifted down, causing the stitches of my cerclage to pull. That was it.

The next week I got the mother of all stomach flus. It would have been bad enough getting it on a normal day, but getting it while eight months pregnant? At one point I was crying and begging God to ‘just take me now’. It took three days to get to a point where I could eat normal food without my stomach cringing.

Two days later I started contracting. I laid down on the couch, drank water, did everything one is supposed to, but pretty soon I was timing the contractions to about ten minutes apart. Which for me means “Get in the car NOW!” (I have 3 hour labors. Fast and Furious, according to my doctor.) In the car it went from six minutes apart down to four. I labored with contractions four minutes apart for TWO HOURS at the hospital. The doctor on call wasn’t my doctor, and he did not believe me when I told him that I have three-hour labors. It took them two hours just to check and see if the labor was real, and I still had my cerclage in. Because of my repeated insistence and my husband and my mother’s pushing he finally called some other specialists, and was flatly told that due to my history, YES, the cerclage should come out. Even if this labor turned out to be false. Because I live 40 minutes from the hospital, I’m home alone during the day with my three children, the next time could be real, and let’s just say that labor and cerclages don’t mix. So he grudgingly came in and took out the cerclage stitches.

Within 30 minutes the contractions stopped.

Needless to say I was upset that it had turned out to be false. It’s hard being in labor that long and being all ready to welcome your little one and dealing with a difficult doctor and then having it all be for nothing! The one good thing is that I no longer have the stitches to worry about. If I go into labor now, I can just proceed like a normal woman and have my baby. Yay!

Perhaps God had this happen so that we went from almost-prepped to totally prepped. Not only is my cerclage out (a HUGE stresser gone), but I have packed my hospital bag completely (along with stuff for my husband and our baby boy), packed an overnight bag for our other three kids, prepped our room with the bassinet, another dresser, baby clothes and paraphernalia, and got the infant car seat ready.

Now I can just rest easy. And wait.

The unfortunate thing is that I am so physically exhausted from the last week that it’s hard to do much each day. Between the flu and the long false labor, I’m still in rough shape. I’ve had to pick one project for the day, per day, and that’s it. If I find I have energy enough after to do another thing—score!

But now I can look forward to having my baby, whenever he decides to show up, in peace. Because I’m no longer stitched shut.

Sackett Man and I can welcome little William whenever. 🙂

Gestational Diabetes

Yep. I’ve got it. I went in for the obligatory glucose test, and darn it if I failed! Obviously my insulin did not study for this particular test.

I felt ill all day. It’s no joke to ask a pregnant woman to fast from midnight the night before until after the 4 hour test is done. I didn’t get to have anything at all to eat until 3 pm. That, my friends, is hard. I would have been able to stand it better if they hadn’t forced 8 ounces of orange-flavored sugar syrup into me three hours earlier, at noon. That much sugar would make me unwell on a good day, but on a stomach that had been empty for 14 hours? Then they drew my blood every hour for three hours to track how my body processed that much sugar. This is all done to see if you’ve got Gestational Diabetes or not. And when they’re done testing you, what do they offer this potentially diabetic lady? A third of a cup of juice. And 2 cinnamon sugar graham crackers. In other words, sugar and carbs.

Now I am being somewhat sarcastic. I knew it would be like this; I’ve been through it before, and knew what to expect. Which threw them, for some reason. But I just wanted to share some of my frustrations with being Gestationally Diabetic— not because I’ll have to eat carefully, sugar-free, low carb, and have to prick my finger before and after every single meal— but because I’ll have to deal with a couple ‘experts’ in the diabetics department who, honestly, I’d really rather not.

What is Gestational Diabetes? It’s pregnancy caused diabetes. There is nothing you can do to prevent it; if there were, I wouldn’t have it. The reason is because it’s the placenta that’s causing all of the trouble. Placentas become ‘plugged in’ to your body’s nutritional system, and are therefore perfectly poised to mess with your body’s insulin levels. A healthy placenta will leave well enough alone. A placenta that formed ‘wrong’ in some way, won’t. It will mess with your body’s insulin and therefore your ability to process sugar and carbs and voila! You are now diabetic.

The good news is that it ends literally the moment you give birth. The placenta is discarded with a ‘good riddance’ by the body and the baby, and that’s the end of that.

The other good news is that you can, ABSOLUTELY, control it with a sensible diet. I had Gestational Diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter. I researched till I was blue about Gestational Diabetes, and got smart about my activity and eating. I used My Fitness Pal, an online food diary that you can completely customize to give you exactly the nutritional info you need, and I set it to show me: carbs, vit. C, iron, calcium, and protein (but there are many, many things you can track beyond that). I found that 20-30 carbs a meal (3 meals a day) and 10-15 carbs a snack (morning, afternoon, pre-bed) was perfect. My blood sugar numbers were glorious at those levels! My baby girl wasn’t affected at all, I never suffered low or ultra high sugar spikes, and everything was dandy.

The fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the gestational diabetes counselor and the g. d. nutritionist. After one meeting with the nutritionist I refused to see her anymore. The reason? Here’s one of many: she told me to eat a full cup of ice cream for my evening snack because the ‘protein content was worth it’. And what about the sugar content? You know, the sugar that could make me spike, said spike could mess with my growing baby, and I might need insulin shots to control it? She just shrugged and said ‘Then you’ll need insulin. No big deal.’

The g. d. counselor was very upset with me for several sessions because I wasn’t eating enough carbs. She wanted me to eat 40-60 carbs per meal, and if that caused problems for my blood sugar I could just take insulin. Needless to say I didn’t do that. I continued eating the amount I’d found worked, and I and the baby continued to be healthy. She scolded me. I was nutritionally depriving my baby and being irresponsible. I finally went onto www.myfitnesspal.com and printed off the last 3 weeks of my food diary and took it in to her. She was quite suspicious (insultingly so) and dubiously took the papers from me. Her expression changed as she glanced through, and soon she was mumbling something about ‘one of the best diets she’s seen’ and ‘tons of good nutrition here’ and ‘maybe I was all right.’

For example: for breakfast that morning I had made myself a 2 egg omelette with a slice of cheese, a ton of sautéd greens and cabbage, and a cup of decaf coffee with a splash of whole milk. Low carb, delicious, and so so satisfying! It’s still one of my favorite breakfasts.

Now, two years later, I have a perfectly healthy and rambunctious 18 month old daughter, and I am pregnant with a healthy baby boy. And darn it all, if I don’t have to start dealing with those two medical diabetes ‘experts’ again!

So please, mothers, if you find yourself gestationally diabetic: educate yourself. You may luck out and end up working with a fantastic g.d. counselor and nutritionist (my sister-in-law did). But if you end up with people like I did… take what they say with a huge grain of salt and educate yourself and do what’s best. Please.

No one knows you and your baby like you do anyway.

 


 

Check out my pinterest board for low carb meal ideas: http://www.pinterest.com/phoenixvoice/the-low-carb-plan/

 

Pregnancy Advice, from the Experts(?), to a Mother of Three

The holidays are over. Fun, food, gifts, family, visiting…

… wait… where’d my SLEEP go?!!! I’m sure one is supposed to get at least ONE morning to sleep in during the holiday break!

You mean I missed it? I missed my chance?

I’m going to lay my head on the table and cry now.

Sackett Man kindly told me the other day that my being tired right now, in this third trimester, is good practice for March. If I think I’m tired now…! Ohhh, just wait! Of course I refrained from pointing out that we have three children already, so I am well aware of the malady that afflicts twelve out of ten mothers who have new infants. Somnus Privatio is the technical term. We know it by it’s common name: sleep deprivation.

I have been feeling the effects of Somnus Privatio most acutely this pregnancy, and was interested in the possible causes. I first looked up the effect on the mother’s body of growing a human being from scratch. It’s actually quite incredible and also a bit… well, almost unbelievable. Did you know that in order to successful nurture and grow another human being, the energy output of the body is equivalent to running a marathon? Every day? Without having trained first?

No wonder I’m tired. I’ve been running a marathon every day for 202 days!

I also have kids. Three of them. Did you know that kids are a major cause of Somnus Privatio among parents?

I’m pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three, and I homeschool. I have Somnus Privatio coming out of my ears.

To combat this fatigue, experts say one should get plenty of safe exercise, lots of sleep, and naps. One should schedule one’s nightly routine so that one always goes to bed at the same time, and make sure you get 10-12 hours of sleep. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to bed, but a eat a snack right before lying down to combat any heartburn or queasiness! Don’t work too much in the evening as that will keep your energy levels up and mess with being able to go to sleep. If you’re tired, sleep! 30 minute catnaps through-out the day, whenever you need one.

Now I realize that much of this advice is for new mothers who have the luxury of owning their own schedule. But what about for us veterans who lost said ownership years ago?

Safe exercise? I’ve decided that taking care of three children under the age of six counts.

A scheduled nightly routine? My kids have a nightly routine. Mine consists of ‘get done what I can now that the kids are in bed, fit in time with Sackett Man, and hope I remember to brush my teeth before I topple over on the couch in the middle of what I’m doing!’

I’m kidding. It’s not really that bad.

(Yes it is.)

10-12 hours of sleep? That sounds lovely! When I’m retired and mature that luxury will at last be mine! Mwa ha ha! For now I’ll have to do with 7-8 hours. Chopped up into little bitty pieces with bathroom breaks, little kids, and a teething toddler. (So make it 5-7, depending on the night.)

Don’t eat too close to bedtime, but eat something so that you don’t get heartburn? Well, because I’m efficient and organized… (don’t laugh! I heard you laughing!)… I like to combine the two and just get it over with in one go.

Don’t work too much in the evening? A) If I have work that needs to get done, guess what… it needs to get done. My husband and children like having clean dishes to eat on and clothes to wear. B) By the time evening rolls around, if I don’t have to do any work (aka: Sackett Man did the dishwasher, and no one is in danger of needing to wear a pillow case or towels  the next day) I’m usually way past the point of of even contemplating more work, much less doing it.

“If you’re tired, sleep. Take as many naps as you need.” Okay, this is my favorite one. Really. Because in my experience, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at home even before children, you can’t sleep whenever you want. Much less when you have kids! I can’t even take a 2 minute bathroom break without something happening. What would happen if I checked out for 30 minutes?!

“Sir, do you have any idea what happened here today?”

“No, officer. I came home to a pile of smoking ruins, my kids in a tree looking like Call of the Wild, and my wife standing in the middle of it all in a crazed daze muttering ‘I just took a nap. All I did was take a nap!’ ”

I even get this advice from the nurses and doctors when I go in for my prenatal appointments. I’m tired? Take a nap. Get more sleep. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Go in for a spa treatment. Read.

Again, I know that 99.9999999999% of the advice is for new mothers. You know what is lacking? Practical advice for the rest of us. What can we do when we’re tired?!

Someone needs to write a book.

Here are some things that I do:
A) Sackett Man and I had several conversations, and I ‘accidentally’ left some web pages open on the exhausting effects of pregnancy upon the woman. So he knows, is aware, and I ask for help. I don’t whine about my aches and pains and weariness and the kids and whatnot, and then expect him to magically know what I need. I ask for it. I say: “I did this and this, and we (I and the kids) did this and this. I’m really tired and sore now, and really need to sit down. Could you switch the load that’s in the washer, and load the dishwasher after supper? That would help me so much!”

And guess what? He’s happy to do it!

B) I drink tea. No, I’m not kidding. I avoid almost all herbal teas as there’s this whole what’s-safe-and-what-isn’t thing. I drink: black tea, green tea, and peppermint tea. I am quite serious when I say that a cup of hot peppermint tea is relaxing and rejuvenating (I don’t care if it’s only in my head; it works).

Photo on 1-2-15 at 3.17 PM

C) I try to stay organized. I get up one morning, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee. One cup of caffeine is not going to kill you or harm the baby, I promise. Just don’t drink 3 or 4. I open my planner and my computer, and I take the time to organize my calendar and plan my son’s school, my doctor’s appointments, the grocery lists… whatever I can think of. One day of organizing can take the stress (and thus weariness) out of a dozen weeks.

D) I cut back on sugar. No, I’m not on a sugar-free thing. I just try to eat smart. I eat lots of vegetables, good grains, hearty proteins… I don’t put sugar in my coffee anymore (sadness) because it’s one daily thing that can make a big difference. No harm in indulging a bit during the holidays or if you get that sweet-tooth craving, but all in all… moderation! Moderation! Moderation! Also, if you can’t or don’t eat a lot of that good-fatty-fish doctor’s like us to eat, take fish oil. I get the enteric coated fish oil (the coating keeps that fishy after-taste from happening!). Fish oil does amazing things in regards to health and mental/emotional feel-good. I started taking it when I suffered postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, and I’ve never stopped! A healthy diet can help more than you realize when it comes to weariness.

C) I don’t ‘exercise’ when I’m pregnant, but I don’t just sit back either. Firstly because I can’t. I have three children depending on me. And I firmly subscribe to the belief that: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Lift those laundry baskets and keep your arms trim! Use your abs when you do things, not so that it hurts and you end up with sore crampy muscles, but so that you can feel them working. When you lift things or do stairs, use those leg muscles and buttocks! Tighten it up! You’d be amazed at how much you can stay fit just doing the everyday. And when it comes time to have the baby, you’ll be so glad you did. Keeping yourself moving does actually help combat weariness (even if it does nothing more than distract you!).

D) Realize and accept that you won’t get it all done, and that’s okay. Pick what needs to be done. Your family needs clean clothes. Clean dishes. Food. Your kids need your time. Your husband needs your time, too. (A healthy marriage makes for a much healthier, happier family.) The floors should be swept once a week. Clean the toilet every week or two. Change the bedding every couple of weeks. Make sure the cat gets fed every day. You know, the important stuff. Because you know what your kids will remember the most later on? You. Not the corners of the carpet being crumb-and-fuzz-free, not the house being Martha-Stewart-perfect. You. Did you take care of them and love them? Or were you crabby because you were over-stressed trying to do it all?

E) Do set a time of evening when you stop moving. If someone needs underwear and socks, throw them in the washer earlier in the day so that all you need to do is throw them in the dryer that evening. They can rummage in the dryer the next morning for their clean underwear. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 at night is when I stop. And I mean stop. I don’t think about the work around me, the next day, the next week… (unless there’s something that needs to be thought about)… I just relax and be. I open my eyes and look at my Sackett Man. I breathe. I recline against the couch pillows. I watch whatever it is we choose to watch. I talk with my beloved about whatever (the day, some frustration I have, a problem, the new movies coming out in theater, what our favorite foods are…). I rub his neck, he rubs mine. My thoughts wander hither and yon, or just settle and I go blissfully blank. I let myself get tired and drift off. And after a while Sackett Man gently rouses me enough that I can walk to bed, and I crawl under the covers and return to sleep.

And pray that none of the three critters in their rooms wakes up before dawn.