35 Weeks: Race For The Finish

As people have inquired about my birth wishes, I’ve told them I’m hoping for a drug-free childbirth. Reactions have ranged from “good for you!” and “mine was awesome!’ to “you don’t get a medal” and “why on earth would you want to do that!?”

The best analogy I have come up with is to compare childbirth to running in a race*. No matter what kind of race you might have ran, biked, swam, etc, there’s really nothing pleasant about the final stretch of a race. It’s uncomfortable. It HURTS. At times you want to give up. But you don’t. Why not? Determination for the finish line, for the PR, for the endorphins, for the experience. I’ve seen several lightbulbs go off when I bring this analogy up to those who seem to be opposed to wanting to experience labor without drugs.

*Please note I realize that the level of pain might be a bit more extreme in childbirth : )

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While there are certainly people who have no desire to run a race, I feel there are far more people who fear childbirth – especially a drug-free childbirth – than people who fear running as fast as you can. Perhaps the unpredictability, length or medical intervention potential are what makes childbirth more scary – but those unknowns also come with racing. You can train for months for a marathon and just have a bad race. You can get injured, sick or find that you just have to stop and walk because the course is hard and it takes much longer than anticipated. I guess another major difference is that you can’t really just stop and walk during childbirth – once it’s on it’s on.

Like racing, childbirth requires some training (although like racing you can certainly go in without any!). It requires thinking about fuel and hydration. And it commands mental concentration, and determination.

I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically for this athletic event ahead in several ways, and I plan to fuel myself much like I would a race – with dates, coconut water, toast with peanut butter and a support crew on the sidelines. I would never expect to perform well in a long race without proper fuel and hydration, so I expect childbirth will be similar – a very long taxing physical process. Luckily doctors are now realizing this and the ban on anything but ice chips has lifted at my hospital.

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Just like childbirth options, we all have different race preferences:

Some people like short + fast 5Ks

Others love steady half marathons

Then there are triathletes, ultramarathoners and Ironpeople.

No one criticizes a 5Ker for her distance or an Ironperson for her speed. The races are different styles. Similarly, if you want to feel everything during your birth or want to minimize sensation as much as possible, there shouldn’t be judgment. What matters most to one person might be of least importance to another. It all depends on why you’re “racing.“ The only thing all races have in common: a finish line.

In one way, the whole “you don’t get a medal” comment doesn’t make sense at all. Because at the end of the childbirth race you DO get a medal – one that is quite worth the effort – a baby that you’ve been training for 9 months to meet! 

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35 Weeks: Baby Care Basics Class

Last week Matt and I attended the final class in our baby prep series. First was Childbirth, then came Breastfeeding and finally: Baby Care Basics.

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The class was a great overview of things to know about caring for a baby. Having babysat many-a-sweet babe in my life and thanks to some of the recent reading I’ve done, I didn’t feel that I really learned too much new material, but Matt has very little baby experience, so I’m glad he was able to absorb the information hands-on. I have enjoyed our classes because it’s hard to find time to read whole books on topics (especially for Matt), but these present all the up-to-date info in a concise 2-hour evening. We had two couples in our class who are adopting infants, so it was cool to learn with their perspective in mind as well.

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I liked that we talked a lot about Happiest Baby on the Block, which I read and shared with Matt over a DVD and dinner discussion. Matt actually came off looking pretty experienced when he already knew how to swaddle from the DVD : ) He’s a pro – better than I am!

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A few tidbits I learned (not saying these are the end-all-be-all rules, but sharing what our nurse shared!):

-The American Pediatrics Association no longer recommends taking rectal temperatures at home. Our instructor said to use a regular digital thermometer under the arm. This totally surprised me and is not what I was prepared for, but she says rectal temp taking is harder and riskier and the underarm is now recommended.

-I need more sleep sacks : ) They are recommended over regular swaddle blankets because there is much less of a chance the blanket becomes loose and a suffocation hazard. Not that swaddle blankets are bad, but just that sleep sacks are better.

-You can give a baby a real bath even before the cord falls off – just be sure to dry it well after. The research showed no difference in healing time between babies given sponge baths and submerged baths for the cord stumps.

-Baths are recommended twice a week because babies have such sensitive skin. Don’t use lotion on the face or hands – because the face is sensitive and the hands get eaten!

-Tummy time 3x a day is good – or more if your baby is up for it.

-Tests performed at our hospital by the pediatrician include a metabolic panel that is sent to the state to test for things like PKU and sickle cell, a hearing screen, jaundice and an oxygen saturation test for heart problems (which was researched at UVA!).

-We also viewed a series of images of normal variations of newborn skin and appearance. Things like swelling, blue feet, clogged pores, dry/cracked skin, vernix and some head shape formation are normal at birth.

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Diaper change! I think putting on a diaper is pretty easy – kind of wish we had talked more about diaper rash, types of poop, signs of a problem, how exactly to wipe both girls and boys, etc.

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At the end of the class, we played a jeopardy game and Matt and I won!!

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Diapers for the win. (We are using cloth long term but disposables until we’re ready)!

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35 Weeks: No Sides Left

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IT’S AUGUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5-ish weeks to go!

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I’ve been waiting….a long time….to be able to write that. This may not even be the month in which my baby is born, BUT the final 31-day countdown has begun!

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I think the baby actually flipped horizontally this week – hopefully not vertically! Friends have told me that if he did a full head to toe turn I probably would have felt it at this point, and my doctor said that’s very unlikely. Plus I didn’t really feel anything that felt like a head up top. Maybe he went transverse for a day? But what I think happened was that he flipped over to mirror his usual position – because all of a sudden I felt feet on the left! It was really weird and different. A day later, he seems to be back in his old spot. So curious what he’s doing in there!

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I know babies can drop at any time between 30 and 41 weeks – sometimes not until during delivery. But our childbirth class said it’s common around 36 weeks, which I am rapidly approaching… My rib pain is slightly better, and I have been feeling what I would call and ache down there at times. Perhaps he’s just getting really big and heavy! Or maybe making a slow decent into the pelvis.

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How about visually? Any different? Doesn’t look like it to me…

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I still have moments when I forget that I am pregnant. When the baby is still and I’m not looking down, I feel pretty normal! But then there are other moments when I think that I am so ready to get over these aches and pains.

Sleeping is my biggest complaint. Generally I’m pretty good during the day – so long as my rib muscle pain is not flaring up! But at night is when it all sets in.

A normal person has a minimum of four sides to sleep on: right, left, stomach, back.

I am down to…zero. I’ve been trying to sleep at angles to create a new side!

Obviously sleeping on my stomach is out of the question. Lying on my back makes me feel woozy (due to the vena cava compression I think – also not good for baby). My right side brings too much gravity pressure on my rib muscles, and my left side now has a sore hip/glute from not enough variation! I spend most of the night testing out both the right and left sides to see which one hurts the worst.

Luckily though, this is mostly a problem in the early morning – I generally am still sleeping through the night, and for that I am very thankful. I did have one night when I had been on my feet all evening and my rib pain was getting to be just too much – I couldn’t get any relief and couldn’t sleep. But luckily that seemed to get better when the baby did his flip flop and has been OK since.

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We were showered with love and gifts this past weekend and are so thankful for those who were there to celebrate! I am putting the finishing touches on my to-do list this week – and it feel so good!!

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35 Weeks: Wet Nipples

[And I don’t mean mine!!!!!]

I mean the ones that came with my BreastFlow bottle set :mrgreen:

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I washed all of the new bottles last week and found a spot in our kitchen to put them.

I considered relocating a lot of our barwear, but I decided that up high was not an ideal place to reach for a bottle if I have a baby on my hip. If I’m reaching for a wine glass, I’m probably hands free!

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So I started looking low – and decided this “catch anything” drawer didn’t really need to be full.

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I moved our baking basket to the pantry – how often do I bake anyways!?

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And in its place, added a basket with our most used kitchen tools (grater, funnels, rolling pin, food scale) I put the Cuisinart attachments down in the basement with the appliance and moved the knife sharpener to the top shelf (since only Matt uses it anyways).

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In a very short time – I had an empty drawer!

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And inside went the nipples (in an IKEA pop-up box), the lids (in the basket) and the bottles.

I really have no idea how much I will use bottles. I guess my goal now is to pump a little bit for babysitters/nights out after the first month, but as we all know, you just never know. I wanted to have a stock of bottles ready just in case I have to rent an electric pump and do it a lot or if we have to supplement with formula for whatever reason.

I imagine in time this drawer will fill will sippy cups and baby things – and perhaps some plastic kitchen toys that can be his “mom’s cooking dinner” play toys!

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In other nesting news, I completely organized the tool area!! Because the baby is going to care how neat our tools are Winking smile

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Really though, what I have learned about nesting is that it’s not so much about preparing the house for the baby (although parts of the instinct definitely are) but the whole “organize every drawer and clean the baseboards” craving is manifesting in my brain as “I MIGHT NEVER GET A CHANCE TO DO THIS AGAIN!” Better organize the tools now because my life is about to change.

I bought 6 of my favorite $6 bins at Target (in a fun color!) and sorted our supplies by topic: Lightbulbs, Cords, Paint Supplies, Batteries + Tape

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Plus the drill, Nuts and Bolts and one to grow into!

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Our most used tools are in a tool box that is within easy reach for measuring tape, hammer, duct tape, etc.

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Matt was VERY pleased with the transformation.

Now if only his nesting instinct would kick in on his brew shelves… I have offered a handful of times to buy big baskets and more to make them look neater and help him sort it out. He has yet to take me up on that offer Winking smile

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35 Weeks: Nesting Projects

Up until now, I hadn’t had much of an urge to clean my baseboards. It was all about decorating and making sure all of our little projects were complete. Then 35 weeks kicked in and I found myself….cleaning baseboards!! Craziness that one day I just looked down, saw dirt and was living a stereotype!

As you saw in the baby central post, earlier I was working on the basement. I wanted to create a cozy space to enjoy with the baby, and the black shelves we had down there felt outdated and old. I don’t know why I bought so much black furniture in 2005!?

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So step one was to buy a bunch of spray paint at Lowes. Luckily spray paint is SUPER CHEAP! $3.98 for a bottle of Valspar – and it comes in so many awesome modern colors!

I learned when I painted the nursery fan and then the yellow box in our house the following tips: 1) wear gloves 2) wear a mask 3) sanding wasn’t necessary for nicely polished furniture 4) use a drop cloth that is not plastic that blows in breezes (learned in part II of this project) and 5) wait for a cool day – do not attempt at noon on a 100* one!

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Step one was primer! The shelves took 2 coats. I loved it so much more already!

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I didn’t bother with the undersides – mostly because I am lazy and ran out of paint! Only crawling babies will see it anyways : )

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I also neglected the back – the wall won’t care. [Note the terrible drop cloth idea – I ended up using an old curtain later on that worked so much better with summer breezes!]

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After a few hours of drying, I sprayed on the beautiful teal color!

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All was well until I started in with can #2 to finish and start on a second coat. Suddenly everything was splotchy green and dark – nothing like the first coat!!

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Same color, same day purchased, same user, same technique = different result

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I think I just got a bad can because not only was the color different (like it hadn’t mixed well?) but the spray was so splotchy and uneven. The shelf looked tie-dyed!

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So, so sad. I really didn’t want to go back and buy more paint! I ended up using the “new color” to turn the whole shelf greenish and let it sit on the porch for a few days to mull over what to do.

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I actually started to like the color alright, but the splotches were still bothersome.

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Final decision: repaint:

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And yay yay yay – the final coat went on perfectly!

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The shelf feels brand new and now resides in the basement – covered in bright, cheerful colored baskets!

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I had one more spray paint nesting project to note – a rocking chair that Karen had given us needed a modern color as well:

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And I turned it avocado green!!

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This was so much easier to paint than the shelves – and I love the fresh color!

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It matches our other porch furniture perfectly. And is cleaned up for indoor use if we need it for baby rocking.

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Spray paint for the win!

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[SO glad to be finished with painting projects though – they were not the most fun!]

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35 Weeks: Saturday Snapshots

Baby eats (1)

It will be a long time before he’s ready to eat out of his new fancy china from our friend (and Karen’s friend)Tracy, but they are ready when he is!

Baby eats (2)

"The House That Jack Built” by Mother Goose

Baby eats (4)

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