Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ways to Help a New Mom

So you hosted/attended the baby shower and your friend/cousin/coworker/acquaintance just had her baby. You're excited for her and you're happy that she has all she needs for the new little bundle of joy.  She couldn't possibly need anything now that she's on maternity leave, right?  Her husband is at home with her and she probably has plenty of help from her parents...

This seems to be a common misconception when a new baby comes along.  Either that or friends/family of the new mom just don't think anything of it.  I never gave it a second thought until I became a mom myself.  But even if the mom is the most organized woman and has her act together pre-baby, she still has needs when the baby arrives. 

You may be thinking "I already bought her clothes/diapers, etc." or asking, "what can I do?" and that is what this post is for.  There's always something you can do to make the mom's life a little easier.  Here are just a few ideas:

Send a Text
     If you don't live nearby and don't have time to pay the new mom a visit, send a text of encouragement.  Something as simple as "thinking of you", "you're doing great!", etc. does more than you might think.  Life for a new mom is hard.  Her whole world has turned upside-down and she is focused only on the baby.  On top of that, her postpartum hormones are rearing their ugly head and if she's breastfeeding she is probably on the edge of a breakdown any given minute of the day.  Hearing words of encouragement can be just what she needs to hear to get her through the next feeding/diaper change/crying fit.

Make a Meal
     As a pregnant woman, one of the things I've had on the top of my "nesting list" is to pre-make meals to freeze so that when the baby arrives, we can just pull one out of the freezer and pop it in the oven, avoiding most of the prep and cleanup altogether.  But if a mom doesn't think of doing that or if the baby decides to arrive sooner than expected, the parents are going to be left with the extra burden of preparing meals.  This might not sound overly difficult, but trust me... when there's a newborn baby demanding all of your time and attention, the last thing you want to do is take the time to prepare a meal.  Also, most times the mom is so overwhelmed with taking care of the baby that she can forget to feed herself (and especially if she's breastfeeding, eating regular meals is extremely important!).  This is where you can help.  Make a casserole or something that they can just pop into the oven.  I usually try to add a loaf of poppy seed bread or banana bread/muffins, which they can eat for snacks or breakfast.  If you're not confident in your meal-making abilities, read on to the next tip.

Buy a Gift Card
     If you can't or don't want to make a meal, buy the new parents a gift card to a nearby restaurant, pizza joint, or even grocery store.  That way they can use it on a day that's especially tiring or stressful and they can buy exactly what they want.  Also, it can take a little of the stress of buying groceries off their shoulders.  Even something as small as $10 or $20 can buy multiple necessities (bread, milk, eggs, juice, etc.).

Offer to Visit (to clean, cook, or even just sit and talk)
     Even when my son was around a month old, I still struggled with time management.  I tried keeping up with chores around the house such as laundry and washing the dishes but there were days when I was doing good just to feed myself a piece of toast in-between feedings and diaper changes.  I learned to not be shy about asking my friends or mother-in-law to come by for a couple hours so that I could take a shower (oh, the things we take for granted).  New moms still want to feel like they're alive and a shower can have that effect on someone who has been pooped, peed, and puked on all within a matter of hours.  Send the mom a message and let her know that you're available to come sit with the baby if she ever needs an hour to herself.
     One of the nicest things a coworker/friend did for me after Logan was born was to come over and do the dishes and straighten up the kitchen.  When she did this, I immediately felt like I should get off the couch and help.  I started a load of laundry only to be told by her to go sit down and rest.  I really appreciated everything that she did and took the time to relax and not worry about the mess that had been in the kitchen before her arrival.
     Finally, offer to come sit and talk.  As mentioned earlier, a new mom's life is consumed by her baby.  Her brain is full of new information such as the last time the baby ate, the last time his/her diaper was changed, and she has probably already done her fair share of googling for information about baby poop, colic, and 'how to get baby to sleep through the night' (good luck with that one).  Trust me when I say she will welcome a normal conversation with an adult friend.  She will most likely spend most of the time talking about the baby but sit and listen anyway.  Offer a shoulder to cry on.  Ask how she's really doing and let her know you're there if she needs anything.  The fact that someone is thinking of her will really mean a lot to her.  Just be her friend :).

I hope these are helpful to anyone who knows someone who has recently had a baby or who is currently expecting.  These are the things that helped me most as a new mom and I'm sure will be greatly appreciated when I'm juggling a newborn and a rambunctious toddler in a couple of months :).  If anything, just ask the mom what she needs and try to do what you can to take care of them.  Of course, "sanity" is not something you can give to her but choosing one or more of the items above will go a long way in helping restore it :).

Friday, September 27, 2013

29 Weeks

Wow, every time I sit down to write a new post, I feel like the week has flown by... and here I am at 29 weeks!  It still seems like my due date is pretty far off (about 11 weeks away... after Thanksgiving) but at the same time, I know the weeks will go by really quickly. 

This week has been a pretty good one.  We've been trying to go on family walks at night since the weather has cooled off considerably.  They're pretty relaxed walks but they're walks nonetheless :). 

A few things that I've noticed this week are:

I've had heartburn almost daily for the past month (at least) but it has gotten worse this week.  If anyone knows of any home/natural remedies that I can try, please let me know!

My legs have been kind-of achy a few times this week, almost how your muscles can feel when you have a fever.  When his happens, I just try to stretch them out but that doesn't seem to help.  I haven't experienced it the past day or two, so hopefully it was just a random thing that won't come back.  Another pain/discomfort that seems to be back is my rib pain.  I don't think it will ever get completely better until after she is born.  I might have to go back to the chiropractor to get it pushed back into place.

I think I have to say goodbye to my ankle bones until after the baby gets here because my ankles and feet have been puffing up quite a bit this week.  As long as my blood pressure stays within a normal range, my doctor doesn't seem to be overly concerned about it.  It just means I have been spending a lot of time after work with my feet up on the couch... and at work, I've been putting my feet up on a pulled-out desk drawer.  The men at work know that it's in their best interest to not say anything about it ;).

I'm slowly getting items together to decorate the nursery.  I will try to post pictures in my next weekly post if anyone is curious about the 'theme'.  I'm excited to see how it all comes together :).

Basically I'm not getting much of it.  I keep waking up because I'm uncomfortable, I have acid reflux, I have to go to the bathroom, etc.  Also, Logan has been waking up more frequently in the middle of the night so I've been getting up to snuggle him and put him back to bed.  I don't know if it's an attention thing or what but hopefully it's just a phase that passes quickly.  Also, I've been snoring lately which has been hard on Jason (poor guy) and Breathe Right nasal strips don't seem to be helping much. So whenever I wake up for one of the aforementioned reasons, I feel guilty about keeping Jason awake from my snoring which makes me sleep lighter because I'm trying to make a conscious effort to not snore.  Ugh. 

Missing Feet
My belly has officially caused my feet to disappear, which is really saying something when you consider that I wear size 12 shoes.  I told Jason the other day "I feel like I'm following something" when I walk around because my belly is quite prominent.  My boss was cracking up the other day while watching me attempt to put socks on.  I guess he can laugh all he wants... because I'll be laughing while I'm on maternity leave, thinking about the amount of work he gets to do ;).  Anyway, my belly has a definite presence :).

I think that's about all for now.  My next appointment is on Wednesday so I'll post an update soon after that :).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

28 Weeks - Introducing: Elise Rose

Happy 3rd trimester to me!

And I think we've finally settled on a name, folks!  We have gone back and forth (and back and forth and...) on the name over the past few months and keep coming back to Elise.  Jason first thought of the name while thinking of a Lotus Elise (yes, a car) when I was pregnant with Logan and when we looked it up, it means "consecrated to God".  Wanting to have a little more detailed definition, I looked up 'consecrated' and here are a couple of the main definitions: to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity. to devote or dedicate to some purpose.  Now, I believe that everyone has been given a special purpose but I pray and believe that this little girl will be set apart to serve the Lord.  As for the middle name, we had originally chosen Noelle since she will be born in December and I've always loved that name but it just didn't feel right.  I was thinking about it earlier this week and my mom's middle name, Rose, just seemed to fit and gave me the warm fuzzies.  Jason says her first and middle names are too pretty to yell together, but so is Elise Noelle so we'll just have to get over it ;).  I will probably end up calling her Ellie or Leesie or something like that but we're pretty confident that her name is now set :).

On to this week's happenings.  I had my 28 week checkup on Wednesday immediately followed by another ultrasound.  I saw another OB doctor (there are 3 at the practice I go to) and she was super nice.  She said she had looked at my glucose test results and I did awesome... she measured my fundus (?) and said my belly was right on track for being 28 weeks along.  In total, I have gained about 15 pounds and she said that's perfect for where I am and my blood pressure was still around 110/70, which is great.  The ultrasound was just as good if not better.  They checked all of the baby's measurements and she is measuring right on track (or possibly a few days ahead).  Her estimated weight is 2 lbs 13oz and we saw her moving and kicking, clenching her fists, and I think she even blinked a couple of times.  The doctor spent quite a bit of time looking at her heart and we could see the 4 chambers and he said the arteries were in the perfect position and the blood was flowing correctly.  Having experienced everything we have with Logan's heart, those words were especially comforting.  At the end of the ultrasound, the doctor said that everything looks perfect and he sees no need for me to come back unless my OB says otherwise.  With Logan, I had ultrasounds as frequently as my OB appointments, so it will be a strange yet nice change to not have all the extra appointments :).  I kind-of have the strange feeling of, "wow, this is normal!" I'm feeling very blessed right now :).

As usual, this girl is very active.  I keep thinking she's doing jiu jitsu or flashdance or something in there.  This afternoon I felt a foot move about 4" across my belly.  She's currently head-down so she's been punching my bladder and kicking at everything else :).

My appetite is pretty normal, I'd say.  I've been eating regular snacks between meals but I haven't been seriously pigging out.  I've been enjoying fresh pineapple but I think I might have an allergy to it because after I eat it, part of my tongue gets red and swollen and it hurts for about a day.  Not sure what that means, but I guess I'll avoid eating it for a while.

I might just exclude this from future posts because it's going to be the same every week.  My belly is large and in charge.  I get comments almost daily from people I know as well as complete strangers.  I'm trying to keep a level head about it because it's nothing I can really control.  I'm just thankful that I'm healthy and she's healthy.  I feel very secure with my body while I'm pregnant because I feel like my body is doing everything it needs to in order to bring a healthy baby into the world.  I just look like I'm smuggling a basketball :).

Nothing yet that I can think of.  I thought I was maybe having some the other day but I kinda forgot that I had eaten an ice cream bar and... I'm a bit lactose intolerant when it comes to certain dairy products.  I texted Jason about it (he was in Boston) and he said "trust me, I know gas" and he was right.  *Ahem*  Anyway... no contractions yet :).

The sciatic nerve pain I was experiencing last week has pretty much gone away.  I'm guessing the baby has changed positions and I'm very grateful :).  I can actually halfway control my waddle now since I can walk without limping.

I haven't really done much of any nesting yet.  I did get some fabric to sew a couple of Boppy pillow covers but haven't finished them yet.  They're on the list :).  I'm planning on pre-making some meals to freeze (I did it with Logan and they were SO helpful) but I'm waiting to do that until sometime in November.  Let me know if you're interested in helping ;).

That's about it for now.  Will be back in another week!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

27 Weeks

This has been a very busy week!  And I probably mention this a lot, but the weeks just seem to be flying by... in 3 days I'll be in my 3rd trimester, wowwy.

I got the results from my glucose test and they were fine, yay!  It's always nerve-wracking when you have to take tests like this and you have no control over the outcome.  I'm glad I don't have to worry about it for the remainder of the pregnancy, though.  I have my next appointment and ultrasound on Wednesday.  Hopefully they'll go well because I scheduled them back-to-back and I don't want to be stressed out or late. 

I went to a baby shower for my friend who is due in October and it was so much fun :).  We got some cute belly pictures together and I had a nice time catching up with my college friends.

I haven't been overly hungry lately or nauseous.  I think my appetite has leveled out a bit.  Hopefully that will reflect on the scale on Wednesday ;).

According to my weekly updates, I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a while now, but haven't noticed them yet.  Hopefully I won't notice them for another month or two.

This sciatic nerve pain is ridiculous.  When I sit on the couch, I feel fine but when I try standing up or walking, I feel like an old man.  I have shooting nerve pain through my hips and down into the back of my thighs.  It's very annoying.  I thought about taking a bath tonight but I doubt there's much that can actually relieve the pain.  It has even made sleeping a challenge.

This little girl is very busy.  I woke up at 2:30 this morning to use the bathroom and when I got back into bed, she started kicking really hard.  I didn't get back to sleep until 3:00 or later because of it.  She especially seems to like when I eat because she starts kicking and rolling around about 5 minutes after I eat anything.

I've had SO many comments this week from people I know as well as strangers making comments about my belly.  It starts with "how much longer to you have?" or "when is your due date?" and when I tell them I have 3 months left, their response is "wow.... are you sure there's only one? " or "oh wow, you're already huge!" and I have to bite my tongue to avoid making a rude response.  Let me just put this out there.... the responses above are some of the most insensitive and hurtful that people can say.  I'm not a rude person but I'm almost to the point where I don't care about offending someone with my response.  That's all I'll say about that... for now.

Jason (and Logan) surprised me by painting the nursery yesterday.  The color is a bit different than I wanted, though.  I was wanting a soft grey and we chose one that looked like it had a tiny bit of a soft lavender tone to it but when I saw the finished product it looked a lot more lavender than I wanted.  I'll have to go back in the room to see it in different lighting but either way I can work with the color.  The room just might have more purple than I had originally intended :).

I haven't really done much of any nesting lately.  I bought some fabric to sew a couple of Boppy covers, a nursing cover, and a blankie, but the sciatic nerve pain has kept me from doing much cleaning.

We're still mulling over a couple of names.  So far we're pretty set on the first name being Elise, but are still talking about the middle name.  I just suggested a new middle name today and got a good response, so we'll see what happens :).  I'll let people know as soon as we know!

That's it for now, I think... like I said, it has been a busy week.  I'm looking forward to the 3rd trimester, though!  Only about 12 weeks left :).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

26 Weeks

This pregnancy has been so different than my first.  I have enjoyed looking back at my posts from when I was pregnant with Logan to see what happened then for a comparison to where I am now.  In my 26 week post with Logan I was consumed with the genetic testing results following the amniocentesis I had.  I know I was feeling a whirlwind of emotions at the time and, even though we were trusting God to take care of everything, it sometimes took the joy out of my pregnancy.

This pregnancy has had its moments but I feel so much more comfortable emotionally.  Even though the doctors have warned us that there are still risks of there being a "genetic" issue we're still praying and believing in total health for our little girl.  Anyway.... I just had to throw this in there... typing as I think :).

I had my 26 week checkup today and it went fairly well.  I had to drink the glucose solution this morning at 8 for my appointment at 8:30.  My blood pressure was 110/70, which is still great.  I have gained another 6 lbs, which puts me at a total of 10.  I should only gain another 10-20 but I think that's totally doable.  The doctor easily found her heartbeat with the doppler and it sounded really good :).  I asked him a few questions about sciatic nerve pain, seeing sparkles, and losing my eyelashes and he said nothing could really be done about any of them :P.  At 9:00, I had to get my blood drawn to check for gestational diabetes and the nurse had to stick both of my arms in order to get a vein (even after I warned her that I have rolling veins).  I should get the results back early next week unless something is wrong, but I'm really hoping I won't get an early phonecall.

My fingers have been swelling up a bit at night so I've had to take my wedding band off.  I'm still wearing my engagement ring and hopefully I won't have to take it off for a long time (if at all).  My feet haven't been too bad until tonight.  I went to the grocery store after work, picked Logan up from daycare, came home and made dinner, then cleaned the kitchen and my feet look like latex gloves that have been blown up like balloons :P.  Jason rubbed them for a while, but I think I just need to go to bed and prop them up a little.

I started taking a new prenatal vitamin tonight from the Rainbow Light brand.  We'll see how they work.  I took it a couple hours after dinner so I'm hoping it won't upset my stomach.  I'm hoping they will give me more energy during the day.

I've been feeling more and more pregnant.  I think it's a combination of the August heat and the extra weight I've gained (from baby growing and everything else).  Regardless, I've been pretty worn down and generally tired.  The doctor said my iron will be tested along with my glucose so if my iron is low hopefully it can be easily remedied.

I have gotten to the point where I will be going to the doctor every 2 weeks instead of 4.  I can't believe I'm already this far along.  Before I know it, I'll be going every week, agh!  And I feel like I have so much more to do before little miss arrives.  I have 14-ish weeks left so hopefully more nesting will kick in soon :).

Well, I'm fighting a headache so I'm going to give in and go to bed.  Will be back next week with another update.