The most important people during a C-section

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My first born and I in the operating room. 

In the never ending yet nonsensical mommy wars, apparently there is a fight over the “right way” to have a baby. It seems that some feel that having a c-section is the easy way out. Some have even gone so far as to say you really haven’t given birth if you’ve delivered by cesarean section. Hmmmm. I’m not hear to end the fight, but shed light on my experience because it seems there aren’t many articles sharing the good and bad of the c-section.

I can carry a pregnancy like a pro. My two pregnancies have been after the age of 35. At an advanced maternal age most people believe that automatically makes me a high risk pregnancy, but neither of the OBGYNs I had during my pregnancies viewed me that way. I was healthy, 30 pounds weight gain and good blood pressure.

During my first pregnancy I moved at six months from Arizona to Oklahoma. I started a new job, created a TV show and was so proud that I was able to carry my son full term without any complications. On my due date I visited my doctor. He did the cervix check and determined my son was going to be unable to pass through the gateway. It was hard and closed. No softening, no dilating, no nothing. It was stubbornly closed. My doctor said simply “you are not inducible.”

That is why we scheduled a c-section for 5 days later. For the second pregnancy, it was a no brainer for me to do a second c-section. You may think that was not a great choice, but I know it was the best choice for me. My cervix did the same thing this time around. No ripening, no dilating, stubbornly closed.

 

During my two c-sections I learned some things about the people in the hospital who will have the most impact on whether you have a good or bad experience. I had excellent care both times,and hopefully these tips will help you advocate for yourself and know what to expect.

Anesthesiologist: The anesthesiologist is very important to you during surgery. Obviously they prevent you from feeling the surgery, but they do much more. This is the person you are going to be communicating with the most. He/She will sit by your head, monitor your vitals and help keep you comfortable and calm.

I had a spinal block with both surgeries. The first time I was shaking like a leaf from nerves and tension. Not a good idea when someone is getting ready to stick a needle in your spine. The anesthesiologist made sure I was given warm blankets and that I understood what was going to be happening next.

I started to feel sleepy with my first spinal block. I knew that was not normal and I was able to communicate with the doctor so he knew how to adjust it. He also warned me that I would likely get nauseated and if I did to let him know. I did start to heave and he immediately gave me medication to end the nausea. That was amazing. It allowed me to feel well enough to take a picture with my boy.

The second time was similar. He told me exactly what I needed to do to make his job successful. The block worked just like it was supposed to. I was alert and ready when the surgeon came in. The anesthesiologist and I talked about the nausea before hand. He gave me medication, held a barf bag and gave me a play by play of the surgery so I would know when to expect the nausea to subside. (they’ve broken your water, they are pulling the babies head out, etc) This was helpful because my husband had no interest in seeing what was happening on the other side of the screen and even if he did watch he wouldn’t know what was happening.

My best advice is to communicate. Talk about your concerns. I prayed each time they stuck that needle in my back. It helped to keep me calm. Also, there is a nurse who will be helping you during that time.

The nurses: Let’s all take a moment to thank nurses. They are rock stars on the front lines of medical care. You will have a day nurse and a night nurse. They may be different all through your stay, but all want to know how they can help you. They cannot guess. What is the most important thing you need to communicate to your nurse each time you see them: your pain level. The first day the spinal block will keep the major pain away, but once it wears off oh sister it gets painful.

You have been cut open, your skin stretched so that they could pull a baby out of a small incision, your insides have been jostled and moved, and a lot of air has been introduced into your abdomen and as the gas moves it causes pain in your shoulders.

The day after surgery is the most painful. This time I was in a lot of pain early on. I got up and took a shower and I was struggling. My nurse that day worked hard to make sure we got my pain under control. She called the anesthesiologist and the OB, basically anyone she had to call to make sure she had orders for medication to ease my pain. There is no reason to suffer. You will not be able to take care of or enjoy your new baby if you are in pain. Don’t try to be a hero take the medication. Also, the sooner you get up and start moving the better your recovery. This will also impact your pain level, better to know what you’re facing in the hospital.

My best advice for those of you having a c-section is to speak up and ask questions. You are your best advocate. No one else knows what is happening with your body.

If you are facing a c-section and you are worried about the experience compared to a vaginal delivery I can’t give you a perspective on that, but I can tell you that when you hear your baby cry for the first time you will cry tears of joy just like every other mother has since the beginning of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Bed rest sounds great until it’s you

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Bed rest sounds fun, until it happens to you.

All of us enjoy a lazy day. The opportunity to just relax and recharge is something that is rare for mothers and working moms. But then they say you are on bed rest and you immediately want to get things accomplished.

At this point the bed rest has only been ordered for a couple of days, but already I’m going crazy. My husband has been running around like crazy taking the kid to school, getting me to doctor, picking up dinner and picking up our son. I feel worthless.

 

My husband and I are true parenting partners. He gets my son ready in the morning and makes lunch, while I get ready for work. He takes care of shopping and dinner most nights. He works weekends, so on the weekend I take on the boy’s activities and entertainment. I love him for all he does for us, and I struggle leaving him on his own.

The guilt I feel for not being able to help out right now is pretty overwhelming. I was to kick off the year as the president of my sorority alumnae club tonight. I am trying to plan another 4 events for work. I also have a lofty fundraising goal I want to achieve before going on my leave. I am spending quite a bit of time emailing and keeping up with work. I’m supposed to be on PTO.

It’s only been two days. I only have one day left. I can make it. Then back to work to accomplish what I’ve set out to do.

The question remains. Can I keep my job progressing, keep my baby safe and keep my sanity?

And to all the moms-to-be on bed rest, good luck. It’s harder than it sounds.

5 ridiculous things about being pregnant

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32 weeks in and this was the first time I saw myself in a full length mirror. I was in a hotel while traveling from work and took advantage to document the progress.

We all have images and preconceived ideas about what pregnancy is like. We hear people talk about the pregnancy glow. Pregnancy is the opportunity to assist God in creating a miracle and it is a privilege and a blessing. However, there are some parts of pregnancy that seem like a joke. They are just ridiculous. They are outlandish and outrageous. They are the things you don’t think about before you have a bun in the oven. I have five at the top of my list.

Bombshell boobs. Maybe you’ve been blessed with a voluptuous chest all your life, but for the rest of us it’s like the answer to our prayers. Finally! Seemingly overnight you gain a cup size. The sick joke is, while your figure is now the embodiment of your teenaged fantasy you now feel so lousy with morning sickness you don’t want to take it out for a spin. So your partner sits panting, while you sit praying you won’t puke on him.

 

Personal space please. What is it about a baby bump that makes people forget all about personal space and manners. This round mass protruding from under my enormous breasts is still my stomach! Why do people (even strangers) feel like they can just reach out and touch your stomach? If you ask me (and I know you) I’m happy to let you feel the baby kick, but don’t just reach over and touch me without permission.

Springing a leak. Between a loss of bladder control (no judging men, unless you want us to put a spaghetti squash on top of your bladder and see how you maintain control over your fire hose), vaginal discharge, spotting and breasts prepping for nursing there are a variety of opportunities to secrete fluid. Pregnant women practically get to diaper themselves before they diaper their baby. Seriously sexy.

Hormones. Just about the time you become the size of a baby whale, you also become as hormonally charged as an adolescent boy. This is the moment the first and third trimester roles for men and women reverse. Sure he wanted you and your newly grown chest in the first trimester and you had to pass. Now you would happily let him cop a feel but then the baby flips over in your stomach and makes the entire then move. Now he is looking at you with real fear in his eyes, certain that Sigourney Weaver’s Alien experience is about to happen in your bed. Sorry sister, no sex for you.

Maternity clothes. This one may have thrown you for a loop, but I find it truly annoying that maternity clothes are the same price as any other clothing. These are temporary clothes. They are likely only going to be worn 8 months max. If you have multiple pregnancies then perhaps you will use them a couple more times. They should be at least half the price of regular clothing. It’s absurd.

 

These are the five that are on my mind. I’d love to hear yours. What were you surprised by or find outrageous during your pregnancy.

 

The internet is not a doctor

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The bottle of acetaminophen I keep in my purse because of frequent headaches.

If you let it, the internet can make you crazy. We talk about science as an exact. You can’t argue with science because it’s fact. Well, in fairness to all those scientists out there, I agree that there are some undeniable facts in science, but there are also a lot of variables that impact the determination of scientific studies.

Take the new, scary study recently released about acetaminophen. Why is it scary? It says women who take acetaminophen during pregnancy are more likely to have children with behavioral issues. If you’ve ever been pregnant you know that acetaminophen or Tylenol, which is its brand name, is about all you’re allowed to take for headaches, backaches, muscle aches, etc. If you have a pain during pregnancy (and there are a lot of them) acetaminophen is about the only over the counter pain reliever your doctor gives you the green light on.

So now, women across the country, are losing their minds because of news articles about this study. According to NPR this study says behavioral problems were about 20-45 percent more common in women who took acetaminophen during pregnancy.

But that’s not the whole story. You can read more about the findings of the study in this article from NPR.

As a mother to be we want to be protective of our baby. We want to make sure this child arrives safe and healthy. We want to give it the best start in life possible. But stressing about every pregnancy risk you see on the internet is not helping. Stress is one of the things your doctor will tell you to avoid.

So how do you avoid stress, when the internet is packed with scary stories and the risk to your unborn child? It’s simple really, take yourself back in time. Just pretend it’s the 80s or early 90s and ignore what you read online and discuss it with your doctor. If you have a good doctor they will welcome this conversation.

A lot of the advice on the internet about pregnancy is outdated, and that can include medication risks. But before you suffer through a headache with no relief consider a quick call to the OBGYN.

I suffer from migraines. I have since college. In the first trimester of this pregnancy they were debilitating. The only times I ever vomited during my pregnancies was when I had a migraine. Guess what I was given to take for the pain? Acetaminophen. I was given a higher dose than you will find over the counter. Is it because my doctor wants me to have a child with behavioral problems? No. It’s because it is the best option. (by the way, it did nothing for my migraines)

When confronted with a dilemma or concern about my health or the health of my child (born & unborn) I skip Dr. Google and go right to the medical experts I’ve trusted to keep me alive and healthy so far.

When I had to determine whether I would travel to the Dominican Republic during my first trimester, knowing the risks of Zika, I sat down with my doctor and he gave it to me straight. Then he let me make a determination on what risk I was willing to take. (for the record, I did not make the trip)

Let’s do ourselves and our growing babies a favor and step away from the electronic devices and never ending barrage of studies saying this is good for you and this is not. (because tomorrow they may change their mind; see coffee, red wine & chocolate)

Walk outside and take a deep breath and remember you are assisting God in a miracle. He chose you for this journey. He has equipped you with discernment and judgement to make the best decisions for this child. You can do that when you have all the information and not just an article that was used to drive clicks on a website.

Eating for one and a half

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I saw a story where Chrissy Teigen was shamed for eating this Fruity Pebble & Cap’n Crunch combo while pregnant. I figure if it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for me.

When I found out I was pregnant I was in the middle of preparing for a beach vacation to the Dominican Republic. I was working out at lunch each day, had given up most of the treats and was really seeing progress in muscle definition. I am average weight. No one has ever accused me of being overweight or fat, although I have been overweight before.

I have been unhappy with my size since the 7th grade, with the exception of the summer of 1994. The first year of college with its all hours of the night eating, study pizza and beer had left me pudgy. I started walking every day and was very toned and slim when I went back for my sophomore year. That brief moment lasted maybe a month, otherwise my weight has been an issue in my head.

To be honest, I’m thankful for it. I have never gotten too close to an unhealthy relationship with food on either side of that slippery slope. I don’t binge eat to feel better, nor do I starve myself. If I let myself get out of whack, I can usually rein it back in pretty easily.

But this pregnancy has proven to be a little more difficult for me. My head is very unhappy with the weight I have gained. My doctor says I’m right on track. Most people have said very little about my size, although there is one exception of someone who told me I was looking really big, twice. But the person who has the most to say about my weight gain is me.

Logically, I know that I’m right on track. The first trimester I ate whatever sounded good because I gagged at the thought of lots of foods. But in the second trimester I have found my rhythm again. I’m able to eat like a normal person.

My daily diet is pretty simple, plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a sprinkle of nuts, a turkey sandwich (yes, I consulted my doctor. He said go for it.) for lunch sometimes chips, sometimes fruit, and my husband makes me dinner at home most nights. But as you can see by the picture, I do still have the occasional treat.

I remember when I was working in my twenties and one of my co-workers became pregnant. She told me then you really only need 300 extra calories a day to support a growing pregnancy. As I lifelong calorie counter that really stuck out to me. That’s one extra small snack a day. A far cry from the eating for 2 mantra I had heard before.

I am not counting calories during my pregnancy, but I do wish I could get this voice in my head to relax a little. The worry is not really about what I look like during pregnancy, that part is inevitable, it’s the climb to get back to looking like my old self after the baby arrives that has my brain working overtime.

So I have a plan. It’s what I do when I face a problem that keeps me up at night. Whatever is stressing me out gets a plan of action, whether work, kiddo or weight.

First, I’m going to continue to eat like I am now and before the pregnancy for those first several months. Remembering the last go round, there will be a multitude of mini Halloween candy bars around my home. I’ll need to remember they are treats and not my main food supply. Drinking lots of water and enjoying my baby is the first order of business.

Once I pass the zombie phase (however long that might take, I’m hoping a 3 or 4 months), I’ll start cutting down the treats. Kick up the veggie intake and continue with the water.

Hopefully, as the New Year starts I’ll be able to take baby for walks in the park with his brother. Or go for a walk after an early morning feeding before work.

My hope is by this time next year that I am looking like my normal self. I don’t think anyone will be knocking down my door asking me to model bikinis, but that’s okay by me. My goal is to feel healthy, strong and happy in my own skin.

On that note, it’s time to eat.

Born without the mommy “gene”

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My belly at 22 weeks. (please ignore the smudged mirror)

There is a gene that most women are born with that seems to have been left out of my DNA. It’s the baby, nursery, must be a mommy “gene.”

I’m pregnant with my second child and I’m looking forward to meeting this little man. His older brother is a true joy and a blessing. He makes me laugh with his creative stories and non-stop chatter. I thank God every night for this beautiful persona and for trusting me to be his mother.

All of that being said, it was never my hearts desire to become a mom. I would’ve been perfectly happy if my husband and I had never become parents. I didn’t feel anything was missing from life.

When I was pregnant with him I changed jobs, moved halfway across the country from my career and created a television show that went on air one month before he was born. I picked out graphics and web themes and social media schemes for the TV show. I wasn’t worried about the decoration for his nursery or what he would wear home from the hospital. Those details were not at the top of my to do list. I felt his life would not be significantly altered if he didn’t have a giraffe mural in his room.

Now it is the second time around and honestly my outlook is the same. Four months form the arrival of this little blessing and I pray about being a good mom. I think about how I will foster his gifts so that he becomes the man God needs him to be fulfilling his purpose for God’s kingdom. I have no idea what I want his nursery theme to be. If I hadn’t donated all of my first child’s nursery bedding, that’s what we’d use. Unfortunately, I have to go out and pick again. Trust me it was hard enough the first time.

People at work ask me if I’ve registered. They ask about the theme and maternity pics. That’s when I realize that I missing the “gene.”

For me it’s not a problem, but I think others believe I’m a little off. I can see it in their eyes, “How is she not obsessing over the nursery theme, why has she not scheduled her 3D ultra sound, why has she not bought the babies going home outfit or scheduled maternity pictures?” My answer is, that all feels like small stuff. It’s cute and fun and I am excited for other mom’s who were born with that “gene.” I love seeing their baby outfits and nursery colors. It’s just not my personality.

I know I’m a good mom. Yes, I experience mommy guilt plenty, but I know I’m doing the best I can. I play with him as much as possible, but I love that he is independent and likes to color and build on his own. I take him to experience new things and tackle adventures, but we also like to spend days in our pjs.

I know some of you will feel sorry for my children after reading this post. It doesn’t bother me that you feel that way. My life is one of simplicity. I like basic. I look at the big picture. If I believed the perfect going home outfit would make my newborn sleep through the night I would be scouring the internet for hours looking for the perfect thing, but it won’t. Whatever outfit he wears home will be outgrown in minutes, but he will never grow to big for my embrace, for my love, for my guidance (though he may not appreciate it) or for my grace.

I’m honored to have been chosen to be mother to these two boys. I hope I make them into strong, respectful men. To me that outweighs the importance of the perfect nursery.

41, pregnant and so tired

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When I learned 19 weeks ago that I was pregnant with my second child I behaved like a toddler. A glass of wine in one hand, staring at a positive pregnancy test on the counter I burst into tears. I had decided when I had my son almost 5 years ago that he would be an only. It was just the way it was. Every once in awhile I’d have a twinge of sadness that he wouldn’t have a sibling. My husband and I are both from big families, I have 3 siblings and  he has 5. I love my family and being around my siblings, but when I got pregnant at 36 I was decided that I would do it just once.

Then God intervened. I started having trouble with my birth control. In an effort to avoid the graphic details, lets skip to the end, I had to stop using it in November of last year. Fast forward to February and now I’m having another child. In just a few hours we go to see another ultra sound to make sure this blessing is indeed a boy.

My tantrum started mostly because it wasn’t my plan. I was going on vacation to the Dominican Republic in April. Now I had to change plans. I was not willing to risk my perfectly healthy child for the sake of a week on the beach. Zika virus makes me more than a little nervous. Instead, I took a week in LA with my family and my son got to go to Disneyland. My husband got to hold on to his denial longer than I did. I was the suffering migraines and nausea. He kept thinking it was all a dream.

Since I was no longer going to be in a bikini in April, I did what came naturally, I ate like a teenager. Following the whims of the first trimester I indulged in fast food, very little meat, lots of cheese and peanut butter cups. But now the reality of all of that unhealthy eating has set in. I am tired. So tired. Where will I find energy? I’m getting back to my old self. The only cure for my headaches was acetaminophen (which is not tough enough for migraines) and diet soda (which I had given up more than a year ago). I am ready to get off the soda and back to a healthy way of eating.

I would love to hear suggestions from other moms out there. What did you eat that helped you feel healthy and energetic?