Posts Tagged ‘babies’

An honest answer to a common question: How are you feeling?

Friday, July 25, 2014
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“How are you feeling?”

It’s the question I’ve been asked by at least one person every day since I announced my pregnancy. A simple question that shows the asker’s concern and that they care. Although it’s a logical question to ask a pregnant woman, it perplexes me every time it is directed my way.

I think there’s a few reasons why this simple, seemingly straightforward question always makes me pause before I respond.

My first thought is always, “Do you really want to know the answer?” I could talk for hours about how I’m “feeling” if someone really wants to know. So I try to gauge – does this person really want to know how I’m feeling or are they just trying to be nice? Are they really interested in my pregnancy or just making conversation? The answers to these questions can significantly affect how I answer their question, or more likely how scared the person is after I give them a 10-minute answer involving phrases like “dropped” when all they really wanted was a quick, “I feel fine!”

Next, I move to, “How am I actually feeling?” A pregnant woman feels a thousand things at once. Her mental feelings often do not match her physical feelings either. Unbeknown to the asker, their question can set off a string of thoughts that can totally change my mood. I don’t like to say “bad” or “good,” because most of the time it’s a little of both.

So for those that really want to know, this is how I’m feeling:

My hands are so swollen that my skin is burning; my head hurts; my mind is scattered and I can’t focus on one thought; I need a nap after walking from the basement to the upstairs; I kind of feel like crying but have no idea why; I could use something sweet; I have to pee; I feel like there is a ball of fire in my esophagus; the inside of my stomach is sore from a small person kicking me; I’m so excited I don’t know how to contain myself; my legs are sore for no apparent reason; and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it several more weeks.

As you can see, asking me this question could get you way more information than you bargained for. I guess a shortened answer would be, “I feel like I’m growing a baby.”

Asker beware: If you ask a pregnant woman how she’s feeling, make sure you’re ready to hear the honest answer!

A wonderful preview

Friday, July 18, 2014
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There are a few things I’ve learned about having a newborn from the many blog posts, articles and books I’ve read. These insightful tidbits of knowledge include:

  • I will be up all night for endless nights and basically turn into a mix between a vampire and a zombie
  • My baby will cry all the time and nothing will soothe her
  • I will not be able to take a shower except for maybe once a week
  • I will not have the time or energy to do anything – cook, clean, talk, breathe
  • Breastfeeding will be terrible and make me want to cry
  • I will not leave the house for weeks on end
  • Basically, I will go crazy

As you can see, the typical “Five Things I Wish I’d Known about Having a Newborn” articles don’t paint a pretty picture. In fact, these articles make it sound quite miserable. So when I went to visit my good friends and their newborn baby this weekend, I expected the worst. I figured I would find my friend in a zombie-like state, barely able to form words. I thought her house would look like a tornado had come through, and that she and her husband would be weak from not being able to cook dinner or grab food. I thought their baby would start screeching the minute I tried to hold her. I expected to hear a labor and delivery horror story (since it seems everyone else that shares theirs with me had a horrible experience.)

So, armed with a few grocery bags of snacks and a mental attitude of “whatever I see I will not let it scare me,” I went to meet the newest member of their family. What I found when I got there could not have been more different from my expectations, or more wonderful.

I found my friend looking the most beautiful I’ve ever seen her. I’ve heard of a pregnancy glow, but there must be a new mother glow, and it is radiant. I found the new parents energetic, talkative and relaxed. I heard a normal story of labor and delivery that lessened my own fears instead of increasing them. And I found the most beautiful, sweet little baby, contently napping in whoever’s arms were holding her at the time. I didn’t see red eyes, fights, dirty hair or tension. I saw so much love, beauty and happiness in this family that it made me cry right then and there.

I get why there are so many articles about the difficulties of bringing home a newborn. It’s important to portray reality so a new mom can know it’s normal to be tired, frustrated and confused. I’m sure I’ll have a few of my own posts about the unexpected difficulties I will face. But lately it seems I’ve read and heard so much of the negative and none of the positive. There is nothing in the baby books that could have prepared me for the joy I found in my friend’s home. That’s the joy I imagined I’ll have when my time comes.

Thank you friend for sharing your experience with me. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful picture to look forward to.

Ready, but not quite prepared

Friday, July 11, 2014
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It started around 2 a.m. I woke up in pain. It took me a few minutes to gain my focus before I realized I was having contractions. I didn’t panic right away – the doctor had explained to me that this was normal and I should expect it. I tried to remember what I was supposed to do: time them to see if they were coming in regular intervals and move positions or walk around to see if that would make them go away. I did both and the results told me that I was simply experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, a way my body is preparing itself for the birth process.

But there was a short moment when I thought, “What if this is it? What if I’m going into labor?” and subsequently, “I’m not mentally prepared to go into labor yet; the baby’s not ready to be born; I haven’t finished my childbirth classes; am I prepared to bring a baby home?” I was having these thoughts while looking at the time, so I quickly realized nothing was happening at regular intervals, and I was not going into labor.

Lately I’ve been having a reoccurring dream that I haven’t had since college. It’s a common dream – the kind where you show up to a class on finals day only to realize you have never attended the class before, or it’s the end of the semester and you just discover you were enrolled in classes but never attended a single one. The night of my “practice” contractions it dawned on me why I’ve been having this dream – I’m scared I’m not prepared to have and take care of a child.

I’ve read the entire “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. I follow countless pregnancy and parenting blogs and forums. I’m currently reading a guidebook on baby’s first year week by week. I’ve already told you about my nesting phase. My husband and I have taken not one, but two childbirth classes. Even my body is preparing itself, as I learned through my late night experience.

And yet, despite all these preparations, I still feel an overwhelming sense of heading into the unknown. I didn’t realize I had these feelings until I felt the Braxton Hicks contractions, but my recent dreams tell me these thoughts have probably been in the back of my mind. I have a feeling I’m not the only soon-to-be new mom who’s felt this way. I also realized that I can read guidebooks and take classes and set up baby gear until I pass out, but there is nothing that will truly prepare me for motherhood. It can be scary, but it’s also exciting. I’m ready for the test, even if I feel a little unprepared.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Friday, June 20, 2014
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Sitting, Waiting, Wishing – the title of a Jack Johnson song and an accurate description of the third trimester of pregnancy. Here’s a peek into what’s going on at this point in the journey to have a child:

You’ve come so far in the past seven months. You’ve made it through the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is the first trimester. You waited weeks and finally got to see an ultrasound of your baby, and if you chose to, find out the sex. You’ve looked at baby names, registered, and maybe even had a baby shower. If it’s your first (like me), you’ve probably been planning, preparing, researching, painting, purchasing and more. Most of your to-do-before-baby items are completed, except for the ones that you need to do in the couple weeks leading up to your due date.

So now, in weeks 30-35, the first half of your third trimester, your life pretty much boils down to sitting, waiting and wishing.

Sitting often, because you get out of breath from just walking to the bathroom. More than likely you are actually lying down, because even sitting can be pretty uncomfortable. Not to mention you need to keep your feet raised as much as possible to keep down the swelling. Sitting because your legs are not used to your additional load and they wear out easily. Sitting, then standing, then lying down, then sitting up again, because it’s impossible to find a comfortable position.

Waiting for baby. At this point, you’re probably going to the doctor every two weeks, but not every week. You count down the days until your next doctor appointment because it means the progression of time. But nothing really happens at the doctor visits – which is a GOOD thing, but leaves you feeling like nothing has changed. You can see the finish line, but it’s still in the horizon. Even though you try not to, you look at the calendar every day.

Wishing for so many things. Wishing for time to pass faster, while at the same time wishing you could simply live in the moment and enjoy this time. Wishing that your baby will be healthy. Wishing that your delivery will go smoothly and quickly. Wishing you could eat sushi. Wishing you could distract yourself. Maybe wishing that something was going differently in your pregnancy. Wishing that you will be a good parent to your child.

The baby will be here before you know it. But for now, it seems like even further away than when you found out you were pregnant. Yes, you could find something productive to do, but getting through a normal day is exhausting enough, and at the end of the day you can’t muster the energy to do anything but sit, wait and wish.

I’ll be sitting, waiting and wishing for a few more long weeks. When I’m at week 39, I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder how time passed so quickly. But for now, I’ll just try to enjoy the calm before the storm.

A cute look at Bucco babies

Saturday, October 5, 2013
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The Pirates are in the playoffs. Let’s hope these newborns will experience the postseason before they, too, are old enough to buy a beer.


These are the 'rally babies,' and may be the cutest Pirates fans ever

Los Angeles had the rally monkey in 2002. St. Louis had the rally squirrel in 2010. Could the 2013 rally mascot be the rally baby?A Pittsburgh-area hospital is dressing its newborn children in Pirates clothing, giving them Pirates bandanas and miniature bats.@TheCUTCH22 All newborns at St. Clair Hospital are “Bucco Babies” decked out in Pirates Gear pic.twitter.com/YkkAPj381T— St. Clair Hospital (@StClairHospital) October 3, 2013Check out the rest of the St. Clair Hospital Baby Bucco bullpen! #Buctober pic.twitter.com/7PQmhqLrYL— St. Clair Hospital …

View “These are the 'rally babies,' and may be the cutest Pirates fans ever” on Spundge

One is the loneliest number

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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If you, the loyal Mommyhood readers, will allow it, I’m going to be a little melodramatic for a moment.

In the past two months(ish), every, single woman that was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant has either had another child or announced her second pregnancy. I can think of ELEVEN off the top of my head.

Combine the rising number of friends announcing their first pregnancies with the fact that MY baby is now an independent 2 ½ year old, and I’ve got some major baby envy. It appears as baby fever, but that’s just a nice word for what it really is: a big, green, ugly womb of envy.

Photo courtesy of Jillian's Drawers

I want another child. If I could, I would have an entire houseful of children. As it is, we live in a tiny house and two children and whatever pets exist would more than fill it. Being the eldest of four, I believe four is a great number. Three is good, so is two. One is phenomenal, but it just feels lonely.

This pity-party leaves me a bit guilty, because I have so much. I don’t have infertility issues to contend with. I don’t feel a longing that many women feel — for just one pregnancy, just one child to carry in my body — and I’m so thankful I’ve had that experience. I don’t want to take anything away from it. However, this mama is ready for some more sleepless nights, 24-hour nursing, diapers and sweet, little baby clothes. Oh, the sweet, little baby clothes that cover the sweet, little baby toes…

I’m not romanticizing the affair, really. I remember our newborn and infant phase. It’s exhausting. I remember the pain that came with the childbirth recovery, and not being able to walk or sit normally for two weeks. But I knew, the minute I started pushing my son out, that I could do it all again.

This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, offers a few questions to ask before you add another child.

  • Do I want another child? Absolutely.
  • Will another child change our economic situation? Not really. If you wait until you can afford a child to have one, you’ll never have one.
  • How will life change, and are we ready for that change? Life change will be minimal, providing any future pregnancies and children are like the first.
  • How will a new baby affect the lives of your existing children? My son can’t get enough of babies. He’s a little jealous, but that’s a good trait to overcome, and it’s easier to overcome at a younger age.
  • Are you and your partner on the same page? Oh… that. That is where the issue lies. My baby-makin’ partner in crime (an only child himself) is more hesitant to add another to our brood. Lately, he’s warming up to the idea, but I brought up potential baby names the other day and he turned a sickly shade of green and started tapping his foot incessantly.

So, there’s only one question left: When? When will I be ready for another baby? I told new mom me that I would be ready for another when my son weaned. OK, done. Then I said I’d be ready when he was potty-trained. That happened in September. He sleeps through the night pretty well. He can talk, feed himself, undress himself, bathe himself. He’s a boy, not a baby anymore.

What do you think? How many years are in-between your children? When did you know it was time for another?

What’s the right space between siblings?

Thursday, December 29, 2011
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I think someone is trying to tell me something. I have four friends due to have their second babies within one month this spring.

Erica has a daughter who will turn 3 in March and is due in early June. Tori has a daughter who will turn 2 in January and is due in June. Molly has a son who will turn 2 in May just days before her due date. And Jen has a daughter who won’t turn 2 until November and is also due in early June.

Erica lives in Tennessee, Tori lives in Nebraska, and Molly and Jen live in Charleston. So I can’t blame it on the water.

I guess it’s like the year my husband and I went to something like seven weddings. Our cohort is in the baby-having phase. Still, four in one month is a lot.

Before you ask, I’m not pregnant. Nosireebob. But I’m feeling the pressure. My daughter is three months younger than Molly’s son and three months older than Jen’s daughter. So we’ve been in this together so far.

Are we ready for a second kid? I don’t know. But I dwell at length on spacing between kids.

I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong spacing for kids. Every family is different, and there are pros and cons to every approach.

For example, my husband is one of four, and they are on average five years apart. He was 15 when his youngest sister was born. On the plus side, each child had the spotlight for a decent period before a new baby came along, and their sibling rivalry isn’t bad. On the con side, my in-laws have a both a tween at home and a granddaughter.

When my mother-in-law and I talk about this, she always cites the example of her friend Lisa’s family. Lisa had her three kids at two-year intervals, so she had three under five at one point. While it seemed crazy while the kids were little, my MIL sees the virtue of it now that they’re all three done with college and married and Lisa and her husband are free to enjoy the next phase of life.

My brother was born two months before my third birthday. We fought a lot up until I got to high school, but we get along now.

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy says that a mother is physically best suited to conceive a second child 18-23 months after the birth of the first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recited that fact. My daughter is just shy of 17 months. I’m not there yet!

My mom says that when she read about spacing, she concluded that the easiest spacing in terms of child-rearing is seven years (for only two kids) because the first is old enough to be independent but also help out with the new baby. My dad is seven years older than his brother, and they are very close as adults.

I don’t think we’ll wait seven years, but I don’t know if we’ll be ready next month either.

I know I don’t want to own two cribs, and I’d rather not have two in diapers at the same time. But I want them to be peers, to go to high school together. That really narrows it down, I guess.

So tell me, moms, what have you learned about spacing kids? Is there an ideal interval?

Tickled Pink and Blue

Monday, April 4, 2011
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CORRECTION: Meet our bouncing baby BOY.

Last month, I blogged about our new arrival — a beagle pup to be named Betty.  As you may recall, I went all out for this pup… special food and water bowls, a pretty collar and leash, and a tartan plaid bed with her name prominently monogrammed on the side.

Well, Betty turned out to be…a boy.

A very long story short, we simply came up short.  There were several girls to choose from, but our deposit held a selection spot, not necessarily a particular puppy.  The night before we were scheduled to pick up Betty, we were informed a few pups in the litter developed pneumonia and died, and only three girls survived.  Based on our place on the list, we’d have to take a boy if we still wanted one.

When I told my husband that the pup, which I had branded as Betty the Beagle since Christmas Eve, wasn’t coming to live with us, his eyes lit up like blue C9 bulbs.  “Ha!” he exclaimed. “Outnumbered no more!”

I wasn’t upset, because I had said up front that I didn’t care about gender as long as the pup was healthy.  My reaction was also due to experiencing something like this before.  As Yogi Berra once said, it was déjà vu all over again.

During my second pregnancy, I went through quite a few ultrasounds to make sure everything was progressing normally.  During one of the first scans, the technician turned to us and said, “I know what that is, and that means you’re carrying a little boy.”

Off the table I jumped and down the road I drove… to Lowe’s… for blue paint.  I had it all planned: blue walls, chambray and red linens, and a giant stuffed moose head for the wall above his dark cherry crib.  I had planned a wild animal theme… lions, tigers and bears, oh my… and a pair of denim overalls from Gap.  Twenty-four hours later, I was trying on baby names from my favorite mini-series, The Thorn Birds.

My husband was not impressed with my source of creativity.

“You’re not going to name our son Stuart. He got killed by a wild boar.  And you are not naming him Dane, either, because he drowned in the ocean. And you can forget about the other brother who died when a burning tree fell on him,” Mike spat.

What about Ralph? He was sitting in the rose garden when he slumped over.  Does that make you feel better?

Three appointments later, a different technician scanned again to check the baby’s development.  “How’s he doing?” I asked nervously. “He?” the technician replied. “You mean SHE? She looks good so far.”

But… but… we were told we were having a boy! What happened to that certain something the other technician was so convinced of?  “I have no idea, but this is a little girl for sure.”

A few months later our second daughter, Maryn, was carried into a bedroom painted a pale, spring green (to be on the safe side).  And, I’m pleased to report that she’s 100% all girl.

BUT, getting back to my story about our beagle blooper:  Since Betty would not be joining us, I had to find a name within 24 hours for our baby boy.  And, if you hadn’t already guessed, I pulled The Thorn Birds novel off the shelf and began flipping through pages.

Paddy? Hal? Luddie? Bob? Jack? Hughie? Rainer?

Mike, proving to be the alpha in the family, took the book and gave it a toss.  “His name is Copper,” he stated.  From The Fox and the Hound?  A Disney movie?

After an hour of debate, I realized that I didn’t have a dog in this fight.  The story of a deep friendship between an unlikely pair (also true of a Roman Catholic priest and his mistress) would serve as the inspiration for our little “surprise”. Copper the Beagle has become man’s best friend.  Sometimes, that’s simply ‘howl’ the ball bounces.

Now with 20 percent more boy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Mickey keeps a watchful eye as the babe tries out his new bed.

My son will be 19 months old next week. As every day passes I am amazed at this tall, confident child walking around. Who is he, and where’s that baby I just brought home?

This week, for example, I sorted his baby clothes to sell and converted his baby crib to a toddler daybed. He’s only fallen out twice.

In all honesty, he never slept in his beautiful white crib. I like my babies where I can see and hear them whenever I want, and the best spot for that is in the bed, right beside me. He’s slept through the night, in his own bed, exactly three nights of his 560+ days.

But lately he’s been a bed hog and I don’t take kindly to someone kicking me out of a beautiful dream, then stealing my covers. In a moment of bonding, he and I grabbed the Allen wrench (the tool for only the finest furniture) and the Phillips-head screwdriver and spent an afternoon taking apart his bed, then putting it back together.

There were three meltdowns, only one of which was his, but we persevered through cross-threading and uneven hinges. At last the mattress was on the bed, then the pale blue sheet and mint green minky blanket.

As I covered my sweet boy for his first night in his big boy bed (it lasted an hour) I realized the newborn bedding we have used for so long is no longer appropriate for my rough and tumble boy. He wants cars, animals or balls, not toile, lambs and satin.

OK, he might not care, but I do! I’m not shopping for myself until I kick the rest of this baby weight off, so I have to shop for somebody.

As I looked through sites for boy room inspiration I ran across monsters, ferocious lions, bold blues and reds, and a lot of frogs. It was like watching the Biblical plagues go by, but in fun colors and patterns.

I look around as I type this and see my son’s baby months gone. His baby clothes are in piles, ready for consignment. Bottles are long gone, pacis and diapers are following close behind.

Toddlerhood awaits, and with it fascinating possibilities.

I just can’t believe it’s gone this quickly. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have his baby book filled out just in time for his high school graduation.

Won’t You Come Home, Beagle Baby?

Monday, February 28, 2011
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It's a girl!

It’s a defining moment in a woman’s life when she’s advised by a doctor to stop having children. The experience is similar to being put out of business; the sign on the door flips from “open” to “closed.”  The soundtrack to a woman’s life changes as well, from the sweet maternal hymn, “Baby Mine” sung by a member of the Disney choir, to the Texan twang of dearly departed Don Meredith.  “Turn out the lights…the party’s over!”

All kidding aside (no pun intended), it’s a sad moment to learn that your last baby is indeed your last. There will never be another first smile, first tooth, first word, or first step.  I remember giving my youngest daughter her last bottle, which resembled feeding a baby goat as she devoured its contents and toddled away.

Now, as our little one turns five, I’m experiencing a different type of closure.  In a few weeks, my husband and I will attend kindergarten roundup and enroll her in school. I won’t have any children at home during the day, and that means I won’t have as much to do.

When I stew in these moods for too long, friends grab my shoulders and shake them without mercy.

“Freedom!” They scream.  “Now you can do as you please! Take on more clients! Take Zumba!  Take a nap!  Take your pick!”

But, I can’t take it.  I need someone to take care of.  It’s instinctive.

With the shop closed (as my husband reminded me), then I’d simply have to find another way to keep the cradle rocking, and I discovered that a man in Southside, West Virginia could help.

“I’ll have an outstanding litter of beagle pups ready for homes this March,” Bob the Breeder told me. “Are you looking for a boy or a girl?” he asked.

I didn’t care, as long as it was healthy.

“The due date is January 6th,” Bob the Breeder continued. “I’ll send pictures as time goes on, and keep you informed of the mother’s progress.”

That night, I suffered a panic attack like none other.  My eyes flashed open, and fear filled my entire body.

Howling.  Crate training. Veterinary bills. Shots. Chewing and scratching. Accidents. Spaying and neutering. Food.  Heartworm pills.  Dog sitters. Obedience school.

Does it sound familiar?  Crying.  Circumcision. Teething. Vaccinations. Potty training.  Well child checkups. Sick child visits. Bed wetting.  Biting and hitting.  Formula and diapers. Childcare. Preschool.

What was I thinking? What had gotten into me?  I climbed out of bed and staggered to the bathroom for a cup of water.  I stared at my reflection in the mirror and noticed the small scar on my left cheek, a permanent reminder of my clash with a Pekingese.

It occurred to me at that moment that I wasn’t grieving my inability to have a third child. I was grieving for my own children’s babyhood.  I was frightened by how quickly they were growing up, and how I didn’t realize their firsts were lasts.

We greeted 2011 with a telephone call from Bob the Breeder, who informed us that we could have our choice of several female pups.  Thrilled by the idea of naming another little girl, I ditched my tattered baby name book for the urban dictionary found online.  I wanted to name the pup something that defined her true spirit.

Betty:  One that is attractive, stylish and self-confident. A Betty is typically a looker. Do you see that girl over there? She’s a Betty!

With our new arrival in mind, I drove to the farm supply store to shop for baby Betty.  I chose a pink lead and collar, a polka dot dish and bowl set, a pastel blanket, and a few toys.  When I got home, I ordered a tartan plaid pillow with her name monogrammed on the side.

Of course, I realize that many people will accuse me of having lost my mind, but they stand corrected. I’m having a ball. It’s the nature of the beast.