Staying At Home: In Hindsight….

It’s been a little over a year since we had Baby A, and though I’m not sure if I mentioned, we made the decision as a family that I would stay home with her during the day. However, working is a huge part of my life in that I love my job (I’m a freelance Dog Trainer in Boston). I’m also extroverted and can’t stay cooped up in the house all day without seeing people. It was important to me to get to go to work, see people, and continue teaching. It wasn’t for the money, but it was for my own personal sanity and my own personal identity.

Here are the things that I realized in the course of a year what staying at home really means:

1. Why We Did It:
My husband goes to work, and does so every day – even on the days he might not want to – so I can stay home with our daughter. That means the world to me. If he told me to go to work tomorrow, we’d put the baby in daycare and I would do it – but I would probably , as many women who put their baby in daycare, would have a really hard time with the fact someone else was raising our kid. The fact that we’re sacrificing some money now (and a house, and paying off the car fully) so one of us can be with the baby was very important to all members of the family at the time we made the decision. It’s a decision we stand by and I’m not going to speak for my partner, but I’d personally make it again in a heartbeat.

2. Daycare is too damned expensive.
Even if I kept walking 10 dogs a day, teach 5 classes a week, and brought in 2-3 private clients a week, we still would have been losing money by sending the baby to daycare. That seemed absurd. Yes, I could have charged more, but then I’d be literally working all the time to just pay her daycare bill, it wouldn’t be fair to my clients, I’d be tired, and not able to do the things I do with her. I personally feel, given our situation and our circumstances, that we did the right thing. Either way, my income would have been null and void – so I just stay home with her. Plus, I can pick the dogs I want to hang out with and my clients are super understanding if the baby is sick (or if I fall off the Baby Slide and went to the ER)

3.  You are the preferred parent and this is a double-edged sword.
The parent who stays home feeds, cleans, and changes the baby. When the baby can roll over and make expressions, you’re likely the one to see it (meaning, the other parent will maybe miss out on these “firsts”). You will be excited, and your partner might also be excited, but it will be laced with a little sadness that they missed it.

4. That being said, as the preferred parent, it’s hard to watch your baby turn away from your mate.
It’s hard to hand the baby over because you need a break or your partner needs a baby hug – and the baby just WAILS.  Soulful mourning and tears – real life tears streaming down their face. You have to pee, and they want your comfort. It’s exhausting to be needed all day long, and it’s crushing to see your partner want to reach out, and only have the baby cry at them. Recognize that this is only a phase (really the worst from 1-4 months old if I recall). Now that she’s a year, she gets excited to see Daddy come home, but at the end of the night, if she can see both of us, she comes to me. I can leave now for the night for work, and she’ll cry, but it’s really short-lived compared to the SADDEST SAD OF ALL TIME that we got before. So that does get better over time.

5. Work, Work, Work
I think the thing that I just realized in the last few weeks is that my husband goes to work, comes home, and he is done working. He still has things he needs to do (make lunch, iron a shirt, etc) but his brain is done with work, or he at least has a different set of responsibilities when he’s home. Essentially, he can change the channel. From her first cry in the morning, I’m working. I’m awoken by the sound of her cry like an alarm clock that won’t snooze. Half asleep, I change her diaper, start her breakfast, and get everyone else fed (all 4 animals, all the people, etc). Sometimes, in the course of this, I have food thrown at me. It’s no different from a normal commute on the Green Line, but still – I haven’t had coffee yet, and I’m “on the clock”. I’m with her all day, keeping her out of outlets, climbing on glass entertainment centers, pulling her away from the cat, cheering her on, having a dance party with bad Pop Music, rolling a ball for her, and give her a nap. We repeat this process while I’m doing laundry, washing dishes, walking dogs, and prepping for classes – but I’m constantly watching her. I have to – because if I don’t, she will find something to do, and it’s usually not good (like opening the dog food bin and feeding herself out of it, which she did yesterday).  No matter what  baby proofing you do, she will find something to get into that you really didn’t consider. Today, she opened the dishwasher. So I locked it. In retaliation, she started it, even though there were no dishes in it.  She will find trouble, which is normal. She’s exploring the world, mapping her own experiences on to her previously blank brain, and learning. But, when your partner comes home, you are still on the clock (see #4) because as the preferred parent, they want you to hold them through their tantrums, and in part, you want to do it because your mate has been away all day working. In part, you also just really want to pass them off. Some nights, you will hand the baby over and essentially say “fuck it – you HAVE to take this baby” but other nights you will hold the screaming, wailing baby and laugh because she needs you. And that is awesome.

6. The Baby Will Get Bigger In A 7 Minute Window:
I was just commenting that our kid grew 205% in a year. She came out at 7lbs, 14oz, and is now 20lbs 8oz. If I did that, my doctor would be horrified, terrified, and all sorts of -ifieds. Two weeks ago, her legs could barely make it over the curve of her stroller. Now her legs dangle all the way down, almost to the foot rest. That’s a significant jump in a couple of weeks. I am not being hyperbolic when I say there are days I put her down for a nap, and she is bigger when I get her a few hours later, or her hair is a little darker than it was earlier in the week, or her face is a little rounder. When people tell you it goes fast, it GOES FAST, often in a day or a week. Here is an example. I don’t often put photos of my kid online, but look at her the day we brought her home – my finger is HUGE compared to any part of her tiny body:
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Here she is just after Thanksgiving (she was 3 months old)
She’s as tall as my knees, and none-too-happy about it:

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And here she is in July – a few days shy of 11 months old. She’s almost as tall as my legs. Almost.

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It goes painfully fast. It’s thrilling, it’s exciting, and there will be no other time like it (every parent says that) but it’s hard, it’s exhausting, you will lose things – keys, glasses on your face, sometimes your mind, certainly your memory, but when she falls asleep on me, or learns something new (which she does daily), I would do it again, absolutely.

8. The Best Time Of The Day Is Drinking A Cold Beer or Scotch, Watching How I Met Your Mother Reruns, And Checking Out For The Night: I love having a beer (because every day is a victory that needs to be celebrated), catching up over really mindless television, and decompressing after a long day. Just like anyone else who goes to work. But, unlike going to work, I can stay in my jammies all day, and sometimes that’s just awesome.

Unexpected Things: Labor and Delivery Edition

1.  Labor hurts. Really, really hurts.
There was a point a couple of days before Baby A was  born that I was having painless contractions. I thought Braxton Hicks were just little contractions, or where parts of your belly would contract, but not offer the full experience. I didn’t have any of those – but I did have full on contractions a couple of days before, without the pain. My entire abdomen  would tense up, look like a loaf of bread under my shirt, and then slowly soften.

I mentioned to B that maybe we should call the doctor because I thought I might be in labor, but I wasn’t totally sure. His response, which was actually really sound advice, was: 

“If you’re in labor, I think you’d know it”.

When it did happen, two days later, I knew it, and it hurt. My back, my body, my everything. It took me 45 minutes to eat banana bread (which was the last thing I ate), 9 hours before the baby arrived. Overall, once it started, I knew it was happening. Before that I kept thinking “maybe this is it? I don’t know.”

When you find yourself saying “Ow, my most of me”, you know.

Oh god, do you know.

2. Doctors Not in Labor & Delivery Have No Clue What To Do With Ladies in Labor
During our first night of birthing class, our Labor and Delivery instructor told us not to go to the ER for anything relating to labor. We were to report to the 5th floor, and if emergency care was necessary, we’d be transported to a bigger hospital. Her reasoning for not going to the ER was that doctors that aren’t in L&D don’t know what to do with pregnant ladies who are in labor.

When she said that in class, we all chortled, giggled, laughed, and moved on without giving it a second thought. At least, didn’t give it a second thought until I was in labor.

When we arrived, I could barely get out of the car. When I did, I had to buckle over some strangers car, cry it out for a minute, then walk 20 feet to stop, cry and do it all over again. Meanwhile, there was a guy in blue scrubs walking to his car. He looked at us, turned his head away really fast, and completely ignored the production in the parking garage. Basically, he did this:

“La la la – if I don’t see it, it’s not happening…la la la”

I thought maybe it was the end of his shift, and he just didn’t want to deal with it. Totally fine. A little weird, but totally fine.

And then we got to the parking garage. There were two attendants at the help desk area when I started a contraction. I held onto the wall, cried for a minute, then looked up – – – and they were GONE! Poof, disappeared – like Roadrunner.

Once we got inside the lobby, the doctors and nurses seemed to totally ignore the commotion. The ones that did recognize that something was going on were standing in the doorway of the cafe as we passed.

Not a single one of them came over to help.

They stood there, staring and conversing like people watching Evel Knieval performing his next record-breaking stunt. Will she make it? Will the baby just drop out of her in front of the caf? Who will clean it up? Stay tuned – something might happen!

“Will she have it here? Now? Will we have to wait until next season to find out? The suspense is killing me!”

In fact, the only helpful person was the security guard who offered to get me a wheelchair. Sitting hurt too much, so I said I’d walk, foot by foot, to the elevator. The audience in the cafe thought my husband declined the chair for me, so they got a little judgmental. I felt like I was on a reality show, and they were watching from home. The only difference was that I could hear what they were saying because I was 5 feet in front of them.

“He should have got the wheelchair for her”.
“Why wouldn’t he let her have a wheelchair? I would have got her one.”

All I could think of was what they must have thought of my husband. He’s not the type to say “walk it off champ, deal with it”, and in that moment, that they would assume that’s what happened, is absolutely hilarious, especially considering that they just stood there with their medical degrees, coffee and muffins.

“Walk it off, Champ.”

Once we got to the 5th floor (L&D floor), everything was great. I stepped off the elevator and sat on my knees on the floor. I couldn’t go another step. A lovely nurse helped B pick me up off the floor. She carefully helped us navigate our way to the admitting desk, let me stop and cry it out a couple of times, and told us everything was fine. We were promptly put in a room, and everything was on its way to being great.

3. Epidurals – Don’t Be A Hero. Just Do It!
Seriously, this is a bumper sticker I want to have.

Waiting to get it was the hardest part. I was crying with each contraction. When our L&D instructor told us to have a mantra, I don’t think she had the cries of “Owwwwwwww, Owwwwww, Owwwwww” in mind, but that was all I had. Even the needle going in for the IV hurt like no pain ever before, because my threshold for pain was just shot. When the anesthesiologist showed up, if I wasn’t already crying, I would have cried happy tears for his arrival.

Here’s the deal with the epidural: it’s weird going in. An anesthesiologist is putting a needle into a very specific, small place in your spinal area. You are still having painful contractions and you have to sit up for the needle. You’d think it would be hard to sit still through contractions when someone is putting something delicately into your spine, but someone is putting something INTO YOUR SPINE. You find a way to suck it up for 3 contractions and not move very much.

It’s tingly, it’s a bit cold, but it’s fucking magic.

When my husband left, I was a ball of goo, crying, moaning, and in the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. When he came back, I was smiling, sleepy, and joking around. For a 20 minute turn around, the ability to sleep from centimeters 5-10, and have the peace of mind/body that I could deliver our child without worrying about how much it was going to hurt was worth it in spades for me.

During Transition, my body started to shake and twitch. All I kept thinking was “wow, I’m really glad I don’t feel this, because I’m sure it would suck”.

Seriously, don’t be a hero. Trust me. Epidurals are your friend.  A friend that only ladies can enjoy, so you might as well!

4. Hand Washing: Feel Like An ER Surgeon Without All The Annoying Schoolwork 
I’ve never washed my hands so much in my life, and I work with dogs/clean dog shit up all day. 

5. Breast is Best – But Hurts Like A Motherfucker
You’d think after pushing a 7 pound baby out of your whoo-ha, that nature would give you a break.

Nature sucks.

I’m all for breastfeeding. It’s natural, it’s cheaper than formula, and nutritionally complete for your baby. It’s a great bonding experience!

But it hurts SO MUCH.

The baby has no teeth, but the pressure such a little thing can create with the sucking motion of her mouth rivals any vacuum cleaner on the market. If Hoover could replicate the suction of a nursing baby, they’d make so much more money, and get so much more pet hair out of the carpet.

6. You Will Leak. A Lot More Than Expected.
Every time the baby cries, I feel like I’m leaking like a sieve. I’ve had to do more laundry for bras and shirts in the last week than I’ve done in the last year.

Scratch that. I feel like I’m leaking like this:

7. And You Thought The Belly Looked Weird When There Was A Baby In It! Wait Until Delivery!!!
When you have a baby in your belly, it’s round, it moves, and it feels weird when they kick/hiccup.

When they are on the outside, the movements they make at first seem to mimic the ones they practiced on the inside. You see a shoulder roll, and think back to the weird shapes your belly made for a few months. When they kick, you think about how many times that the baby kicked you in the ribcage, and though it hurt, you’ll miss it.

But, you look down at your previously big belly, and it’s gone. The organs have yet to move back to their place, but the immense pressure in the abdomen is gone, freeing up all sorts of space. Your belly feels empty – and almost like a sandbag. A very squishy sandbag. As the weeks go on, the organs drift back to their original spot, and you have a bit of a “pooch”, but it does feel mighty weird for the first 3-5 days after birth.

8. Surprisingly Hungry!
One thing that surprised me was how HUNGRY immediately after birth I was. I’ve heard women get really hungry after delivery, but I assumed that was a few days down the road. Pretty much after the shock of delivery had worn off, I was ready for the biggest, baddest meal on the planet.

Frankly, it makes sense. There you are, 9 months of having your internal organs shoved up under your ribcage, and suddenly, everything is free to move once the baby is out (#7).

Gravity helps, and everything starts to move back to where things are supposed to go. This frees up your stomach immediately. For the first time in almost a year, it’s able to expand without the threat of morning sickness, indigestion, or getting kicked by a baby.

Once I realized I could eat a full meal and NOT get sick, I ordered macaroni and cheese, and felt like this:

I totally would have done the dance, if I could feel my legs.

9.Shock Is A Weird Thing
When my best friend had her baby a few months back, I had the honor of being in the room with her, her husband, and the delivery staff. When the baby came out, we were all crying with emotion (it was quite a long ride and an emotional roller-coaster for everyone involved, but mostly for her). I took the photo of the first look, when she finally got to meet her baby for the first time.

The expression on her face has stuck with me. That photo with her looking at her son who she literally just met said more in the vein of “Pleased to meet you, I’m your mom. How was your day?” than the overwhelmed “ZOMG, this is my baby and I will love it forever and ever, and holy balls, I had a kid!” that you see in movies and birth videos in class.

I pretty much was in absolute shock that I had a baby. They handed her over to me after she was born. I heard everyone say “oh my god – wow – look at that!”, and because I didn’t feel much, I assumed that was indicative that she was born. When I took her, I  remember thinking “Hm. She’s really pale and covered in goo”.

I also recall feeling hungry (#8), tired, a bit overwhelmed, and totally in shock.

Before my husband went to help give her the bath with the nursing staff, I told him something to the effect of “I will love her. She’s great. But right now, I’m in shock and don’t feel a whole lot. I’ll see you in a bit. Take some photos”

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that feeling. Your body went through a pretty big trauma. Your baby went through a pretty big event. You haven’t eaten in 9+ hours, and likely haven’t really had good sleep in weeks/months. Now, you are suddenly not pregnant anymore, your belly looks funny, your baby is crying, and you’re starving. Plus, you are now 100% responsible for this helpless creature that you helped create and incubate.

And, you just met.

So it’s ok if you don’t feel that overwhelming gush of adoration and love from the exact moment of birth. Not everyone does – but it comes. For me, it was the next day, when it was just me, my husband, and the baby in our room. The sun was coming up, and it was a new day – we had breakfast, checked on Baby A, and realized that we were a family unit. Once that hit, everything clicked into place.

I’m totally in love with this kid.

Name Angst

We’re “due” on Monday.

Everyone says we’re as prepared as we can be. We have the room situated, bags are packed (for us, and the dogs who are going to stay with friends), phone numbers programmed in my husbands phone, and we have a name picked out.

Well….sort of.

We have a first name picked out, which I thought was going to be the hard part. We even figured out the last name, which was a little more of a thinking game than one would think. I hyphenated my last name because I couldn’t let go of my maiden name. I had it for 30 years and it was as much a part of me as frizzy hair. My husband kept his name in tact without the hyphen, so we did really have to sit down and figure out which way to go when it came to our child.

The middle name? The name that really shouldn’t be that big of a deal – it’s just basically used to yell out when she does something really wrong. For some reason, the middle name is really hard for me to commit to.

Totally a “First name, MIDDLE NAME, Last name” situation.

My husband loves a particular name, and I totally can get on board with this particular name. It’s a good, solid name that fits a few qualifiers that we have set in place, either by accident or intentionally. For example, we inadvertently decided that it should start with a C, like both of our middle names. Whenever we talk about this name together, I am renewed with excitement and vigor about this name.

That being said, every time I jump on the “YES! That’s it. That’s her name”, a few weeks go by, and I think “wellllllll……what about this one? Or this spelling? Or how about this?” I always come back to it, and always get re-excited about it, but there are these huge moments of angst and doubt about her middle name. The name of (relatively speaking) least importance.

You see, I have middle name angst. I LOATHED my middle name growing up. In a class of 26 in a small town, all the girls had middle names like Marie and Ann(e). Mine was Corinne. No one had that name back then, and the only association I had with it was of my then still alive Great Grandmother. So naturally, as a 6-year-old on the playground, I associated Corinne with Old People, which is not cool when you’re running around with a bunch of peers with youthful middle names, like Leigh.

“A name with a silent ‘G”! How cool is that?!? I’m jealous.”
– Younger me, age 6

I was convinced that was part of why I was never “cool” – though now, looking back, no one cared about my middle name. They did care that I was a nerd, socially awkward, and pretty hyper-intense. That might have had more to do with it.

THIS is why I wasn’t cool. No one cared about my middle name.

When I grew into my name, my Great-Grandmother had been dead for a few years, and I started to embrace it. I liked using it everywhere – on my diplomas, when I wrote things that were published, and anywhere that people would see that my name was cool, and alliterative, and did I mention cool? I really liked my name, and I really like my newly MORE alliterative married name.

That being said, as I got older, I met more people with the name Corinne – but they pronounced it differently. Cor-EEEEn. For some reason, that bothered me.

I tend to get stuck on things that are a little weird and absolutely meaningless to other people. Two examples of this are symmetry (bookshelves have to have balance on both sides if there are knick knacks involved) and pronouncing something, that yes, is an accepted Americanized pronunciation of the name, but isn’t right phonetically as per the way it’s spelled* gets my panties in a bunch.

*No offense to Corinne’s who really pronounce their name Cor-een is intended. This is my weird hang up. I’m sure you’re all nice people – I know several of you, and I appreciate that you don’t get upset when I slip and say Corinne from time to time!

Related note: As a football fan, THIS drove me nuts

It’s pronounced FAV-RAH. Get it right, dude!

Don’t believe me? Here is the pronounciation.

Once you know that, you can’t un-know that. For some reason, the name not being pronounced correctly is almost as bad as his “I’m retired. Just kidding!” episode of 3 years, and for an even MORE inexplicable reason, really, REALLY bothers me and no one else.

And it shouldn’t.

But it does.

So back to naming our daughter. We have this name picked out, and I keep wavering, thinking “will she hate her middle name? Will she hate us for picking it?”

In the long run, she’ll be fine with it. She’ll grow into it. Who knows what weird association (if any – hopefully she doesn’t get my OCD about names!) she’ll make regarding her name.

But it’s the name we’re picking for her, it’s the name she’ll have, and hopefully someday she’ll see for herself how hard it is to pick a name that one parent likes, the other parent likes, and that (hopefully) the kid will like, too.

I’m still baffled that this is the part I’m having a challenging time with, and not the first name that we’ll be using all the time. That was a bit of a surprise.

9 Months: What I’m Going to Miss

So we’re at 9 months as of yesterday (yay!) and I’m met with some new feelings on the pregnancy thing. Up until month 7 or even 8, I hated being pregnant. I couldn’t stand it. I kept saying “I hate pregnancy. I will love her when she’s out, but I can’t wait for her to get out.” Between the overwhelming shopping, the throwing up for 5.5 months, not “feeling” pregnant until 7 months, really sharp back pain, and all of the other things I’ve complained about (and there is quite a list!), I just couldn’t deal with it and wanted it to be over from day one.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve really liked being pregnant, and I can’t say why. Yes, my back hurts, my feet are swelling, and sleeping is hard – but I expected all of that to be happening for awhile, and the fact that it’s all just hurting now is pretty amazing. My OB chalks it up to me being a dog walker and a dog trainer. My job is active, which keeps my muscles working, blood flowing, and me mentally engaged. I’ve been VERY fortunate in that I could continue to do my job throughout this entire journey.

I think that I’m really going to miss having a lumpy belly. The belly isn’t perfectly round – sometimes a leg will stick out, or the baby will shift to one side, leaving me lopsided for part of the day. I’m looking down now, and it looks like the top of an apple with a dent in the middle with two big lumps on either side of my belly button. She’s really shoved in there, and is running / has run out of space, so she’s moving around a lot more to get comfortable. I love showing my husband when she’s moving and shaking – he can see it from across the room. I’ve had students laugh at my belly when it starts rockin’ and rollin’ during a lecture.

She also gets the hiccups, which cracks me up. Very deliberate, on rhythm, little hiccups that last anywhere from 2-10 minutes. It’s the funniest thing.

That part, I think I’m really going to miss.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Pregnant

One of my friends was asking last week what it’s like being pregnant, and what advice I could impart. I got to thinking about some of the things that I wish someone told me ahead of time so I could be prepared. So here it goes – for my friend (for preparation), for me (as reflection) and for anyone else who might be curious:

10. Morning sickness affects everyone differently, but many of those who suffer from it state that it’s not just “morning” and it’s not “puke and you feel better” (like college!). For me, it was like being seasick every time I tried to eat anything, and even randomly through the day.

The boat I got seasick on during our honeymoon: The M.V. Tranquility.
Tranquility my ass.

It often occurs for the first trimester, though for some women, it can go all the way through their pregnancy (those poor, poor women). Personally, 5 1/2 months of it was entirely too long. My OB prescribed a medication to help with nausea, which was a life saver.

9. I didn’t “feel” pregnant until about 5 months. Up until 5 months, I felt bloated, sick, tired, and generally icky. I felt doughy. I wanted to look pregnant so people would understand why I felt like I did. The irony is once I started to look pregnant, I started feeling much better. I have a few students that are pregnant and they are at the “I don’t feel pregnant” stage. I promise you – the minute you feel the first kick, you start looking for more of those. That’s when I finally “felt” pregnant, even though I looked it for months previous.

Side note: You also don’t feel any kicking until 16wks – 22wks, depending on the pregnancy. I started feeling what I thought was kicking at 18 weeks, but it was much further along in the pregnancy than I thought it would be. I also thought she was the result of eating too many beans in my burritos for the first few kicks. Now, we don’t have that confusion because my entire abdomen moves with each kick or flip and it’s really cool (unless I’m driving. Then it’s a bit distracting), but it did take a lot longer than I really thought it would to feel the existence of a little human in my own body.

8. Maternity Pants are THE BEST. I’m going to keep a pair around for Thanksgivings, or other special occasions. I also feel that they should make Man-ternity pants for Football Sundays.

7. What do you mean that you’re actually pregnant for 10 months?!? Currently, we are just a couple days shy of our 8 month mark. However, the baby isn’t scheduled to be here for another 2 months (July – August).  I couldn’t find a concrete answer to this, but the best theory I have is that we start counting at the day of our last period, which actually adds two weeks to the calculation. We also assume that when you hit 9 months, your turkey is cooked, but you are actually still counting (9 months, 2 weeks; 9 months, 3 weeks, etc). So you’re into your 10th month at full gestation instead of 9.

To toss one more wrench in: each month has a different number of weeks. Either way, it’s hard to explain to people “how far along are you” followed by “when are you due” and the two numbers don’t seem to add up.

6. Constipation anyone? Get stock in Benefiber and Colace. Even if you’ve never suffered from it before, buy it now and thank me later. Food takes longer to get through your system. It’s a built in response from your body to slow down digestion to make sure that all the nutrients are sucked out of food. This is to get the most nutrition to you and the baby, but the side effect is it takes longer for everything to get through your system, and as uncomfortable as you already are with 16+ pounds of baby counter weight, there are things that sadly make it more uncomfortable.

5. Gummy vitamins! Most prenatal vitamins are the size of horse pills. The ones I had at the beginning actually triggered a vomit reflex (taste aversions don’t just apply to food. For me, I had to switch toothpaste and vitamins as well). My sister recommended the gummy vitamins and I’ve been taking them religiously since.

SO much better than the horse pill alternative.

You do have to supplement with slow release Iron (they can’t put Iron in the Gummies), but those pills are little tabs, and much easier to swallow…pun intended.

4. All of your internal organs get shoved up into your rib cage. I made an entire post on the wacky things your uterus does while incubating human life. Perhaps the most fascinating thing to me through this entire process is that your internal organs have to go somewhere else.

Yup. This is really as uncomfortable as it looks. See how small the lungs are? See the intestines are all stretched out and pushed up? I now have a MUCH deeper understanding of how someone can be so tired all the time.

Your large & small intestines get pushed up into your rib cage, your liver gets shoved under your lungs (making it hard to breathe), and your entire abdominal cavity is dedicated to your new “womb mate”. Don’t believe me? Here’s a crazy animation showing exactly what happens, and why you can’t breathe after you eat, or walk up 4 steps.

3. People make weird shit you don’t need. Again, I’ve already written about it, but it begs to be shown again. Side-note – there are things in here that can’t be unseen. Placenta Bears, $17,000 binkies, and Man Boobs for breastfeeding are totally on this list. You’ve been warned.

Courtesy of T-Shirt Hell

2. Your joints get really loose and not in a good way. I wish I sought out Chiropractic sooner in this adventure, but I thought the stiff legs, back pain, tightness was all normal and something I had to suck up. Apparently, most of that is correct – except for the “suck it up” part. Conveniently, a woman I know through the dog park is a well respected Chiropractor in my neighborhood, so I popped in to see her last week. She explained that during pregnancy, the hormones responsible for getting everything flexible for childbirth has some other consequences: your joints get loose, things fall out of place, plus you are compensating for carrying 16+ pounds of weight out from your center of gravity. This puts an enormous strain on the spine, shoulders and neck. I hobbled in, and I walked out. 4 days later, at 8 months pregnant, I can still touch my toes from visiting with her last week. It’s not easy, but I can touch my toes 🙂  So my advice is, if it hurts, see someone about it and don’t suffer thinking “it’s normal”. It probably is normal, but you can still fix it and feel much better.

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Everyone will comment on your belly, and no two things will sound the same. It’s not meant to be a blow to your ego, a blow to your body, or a blow to you at all. People are just looking to comment, make a joke, or connect with you in some way. It’s hard to take “Wow – it looks like you swallowed a watermelon!” as a joke when you’re hormonal and feeling like a bloated cow, but keep in mind they don’t mean it as a slam. In the same night as the watermelon comment, I also heard the following:

“I thought you were only 5 months along – seriously, you look great! You should eat more because you don’t look like 7 months” (a student)

“You really popped this week – she must have had a growth spurt” (a co worker)

“Hey lady – congratulations!” – total stranger, rubbing his belly, wearing a Paul Pierce jersey, as I was getting out of my car.

So in a 24 hour period, I heard “fat, not big enough, getting bigger” and “Wahoo! Baby!” from 4 different people, different degrees of knowing these people and they all had a completely different perspective as to what normal is at a given stage of pregnancy – which makes sense because there is no normal.

Everyone is different. My sister is carrying her daughter higher than I’m carrying mine. We look very different standing next to each other, even though we are only three weeks apart. Some people bloat more. Some people put all their weight on at the end, while others do so slowly through the entire 9 (ahem….10) months. And everyone will comment on it.

It’s hard – but you are incubating a human life form. You’re not fat – you’re not bloated (well, you might be bloated. That’s a side effect). You are bringing life into the world.

And some days, it sucks to look in the mirror because the body you had isn’t yours anymore.

For some women, that’s really hard to get over.

For others, they embrace their pregnant selves and relish in what their body is doing (I am not that woman).

But every night when I lay on the couch with my husband and she kicks, it makes all the puking, back pain, morning sickness, bloating, not being able to tie my shoes, not being able to sleep, or having to pee every 7 minutes totally and completely worth it.

Unexpected Things: Things You Buy

My husband and I traded in our two vehicles today. One was an older crossover Jeep, the other was his most prized possession: a sporty Mini Cooper that he affectionately named Tess.

But, we had two car payments. We want to save up for a downpayment on a home someday, and I won’t be working for a few weeks to a month after the baby is born. It’s not practical for us to have a car that we don’t all fit in.

So today, we brought home a Mini Countryman. After driving it around today, I’ve totally fallen in love with this car.

I thought we’d be buying diapers, clothes, and baby Bjorns. Instead, our daughter isn’t even born yet, and we bought her a car. Didn’t see that coming…