Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Push the Push Present

I had never heard of a push present until about four years ago, when a friend of mine from Long Island told me about the concept.  Essentially, a new dad presents his wife with a sizable gift when the baby is born.  It is a token of thanks for the child, for carrying the baby, and for going through the pain of labor.

I thought maybe this was just an east coast thing, but in fact, it has fully migrated over to midwest.  My close friend got diamond stud earrings.  Another got a beautiful necklace.  I had one friend that was less than subtle about making her wants for a push present known.  She actually sent him a link to Tiffany's with two things she would want- either a necklace with the baby's first name initial or a locket to put his picture in.

Not only did she send him the links and harshly remind him, she even had me remind him, which I couched with, "I am only saying something for your own good, she will be pissed if you don't do it." Her thought was he never makes an effort for birthdays or anniversaries, he just never put energy into doing something nice for her.

Well delivery at 41 weeks came and went and there was no push present and she was in fact pissed.

Personally, I don't care about a push present, the baby is present enough.  However, I did tell my husband for my push present, I want a large diet coke with 4 lemon wedges pre-squeezed into my savory drink.  Ideally, I do want one of those beer helmets where I can put in two diet cokes (lemoned of course) and have the straws feed directly into my mouth.  That would be the most thoughtful gift of all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Just Sitting Here Remincising

It is Saturday night and my husband has been at work all day (minus a 2 hour break for our infant CPR class) and it doesn't seem like he is coming home anytime soon.  So before I settle in for a night with a Lifetime movie, I decided to spend some time cleaning out my e-mail inbox.
After sorting through way too much junk, I started deleting e-mails between me and my best friend.  After going through a bunch of recent messages, I thought it would be interesting to go back to see what we were talking about before and after my surgery, when I thought I was pregnant in September and wasn't, and when I was finally pregnant in October.

It made me really hopeful for all of my TTC friends (which is a club growing by the day).  In September, I was convinced I was pregnant only to find out that not only was I not pregnant but I had luteal phase defect.  I wrote to my friend that I just can't see it happening anymore.  I then started mapping out all these contingencies, like if I am not pregnant in October, then I can't do Clomid and IUI in November because we would be in Italy and my husband wouldn't have had a semen analysis which the doctor requires before fertility treatments. I wouldn't have been able to get the prescription in time and couldn't be monitored.  So for me, the pregnancy took me by surprise, because to a large degree,  I had given up hope.

Speaking of giving up hope, during my infertility journey, I met via email a friend of my cousin.  Both my cousin and I each had two miscarriages.  She had two good friends also having issues.  One of them had been trying longer than both of us.  She was actually the one that turned me on to Atkins, because her fertility doctor made her go on this extremely strict diet to help regulate hormones.  Well in the time since we were all in the same boat, my cousin got pregnant and now has a 4 months old and I am 8 months pregnant.  I think that is a tough pill to swallow - knowing people that weren't even trying when you started TTC and now have kids or are about to.  Well great news, the IVF finally worked, and she is 8 weeks pregnant with twins!  She had said this was her last shot because it was just talking a horrible toll on her.

As I mentioned before, it seems there is a new wave of friends trying now and I am really excited for them.  Some had tried before and issues were found that have since been corrected (like thyroid irregularities), others have tried casually but are now getting more serious with the beloved Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor, and some are just throwing their hat in the fertility ring.

The one thing I wish for them, which I wasn't able to maintain, is a breezy attitude and to know it doesn't matter in the scheme of things if it happens the first month or six months later.  I know if someone had told me it was going to take me sixteen months, but I knew at sixteen months, it would work, I would have been a lot more fun to live with.  There's a job for me- a pregnancy oracle.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Notebook

Today was my consultation with the pediatrician. My sister-in-law and good friend have both used the practice, which is good enough for me. Yesterday I put together a list of 19 questions and after another restless night with tons of time to think, I added one more for good measure.

First off, when you go to a pediatrician's office, without a child, the first thing you feel is tall. I was surprised at how sterile the environment was -where were all the toys? But then I realized, it seemed nobody cared about germs in the 80's when I was a kid and now we are pretty much all germ phobs.

After answering my 20 questions to my complete satisfaction, they doctor actually asked to photocopy my notebook because these they are questions new parents want to know but don't always seem to ask.

Here are my questions. I will also write short responses to some that are specific to her practice.

1. What medicines/toiletries/supplies should I have in the house?

A: Rectal thermometer, Vasoline, Desitin or other diaper cream, and a saline nasal spray (like Ocean Spray, but make sure it isn't a decongestant), Unscented Baby Products (not the traditional Johnson & Johnson in case they have sensitive skin). You don't need Tylenol for the first month or so because if the baby has a fever, we will want you to bring him in.

2. What are your policies for calling with questions? Is there a fee for after hours calls?

3. What is the schedule for well-checks? Do you see the same doctor?

A: At the beginning it depends on how the baby is doing but typically 1 wk, 2 wks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12, 15, and 18 months?

4. What are your policies for sick visits? Is there a separate waiting room? Will we get a same day appointment?

5. I have concerns about vaccines. Why don't you offer a modified vaccine schedule? What's your take on prophylactic treatment with probiotics/vitamins?

A: I won't go into everything because it was a long discussion but she believes there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism and she has never seen a kid regress from vaccines (though said they wasn't relevant because you need to really look at hundreds of thousands of practices). She also saw no medical evidence that treating kids with specific vitamins and probiotics does anything. I asked about why when I was a kid 1 in 10,000 kids was diagnosed with Autism and now it is approximately 1 in 50 boys. She said she thinks it is how we are classifying people now and cited a British study that looked at adults with mental retardation and found the numbers were the same. After our talk, I felt much better about vaccinating on the prescribed schedule.

6. What are signs to look for that something might be wrong and should call (i.e. fever)?
A: Fever when under 2 months, screaming in pain, lethargic.

7. When do you think sleep training should begin?
A: Technically, a baby can start being trained at 2 months. Once they start smiling responsively they can learn. Most people tend to start at 4 - 6 months. It is a personal preference.

8. What formula do you recommend? I had a bad reaction to milk based formula, should I start with soy? How will I know if he is having a bad reaction?
A: Enfamil, Kirkland, Similac are all good and pretty much the same. Kirkland (Costco's brand) is actually Similac. All have the omegas added in. Start off using milk based formula. If he has an intolerance he might be extremely fussy (6 hours of crying versus 2 or 3) and blood in stool.

9. Both my mom and I have a bad reaction to erythromycin (stomach cramps). I read the eye gel used at birth is erythromycin, should I be concerned?
A: No, erythromycin commonly creates stomach issues. Kid isn't going to go blind.

10. Why does an infant need a Hep B vaccine? Should I delay it until his immune system is more mature?
A: It isn't exclusively an STD. 1/3 of the cases origins are unknown. It is more prevalent in other countries and when people from those countries come here, our kids are exposed. 95-98% of her patients get it in the hospital.

11. How do we care for the circumcision and belly button?
A: You don't really need to do much for the belly button, just sponge bathe until it falls off. For the circumcision, for the first week, use Vaseline and gauze. The second week, you need to push back the skin. (I stopped her there because it freaked me out and figured I would ask at his 2 week appointment).

12. Should I wake him to eat? If so, when should I stop?
A: You should until he regains his birth weight. After that, you don't need to.

13. How often should we bathe him?
A: Every 3 days. Just clean with a washcloth daily in chin and arm folds, and of course after diapers.

14. Should I routinely use a diaper cream or only if he is irritated?
A: You don't need to unless he is irritated, but if you know he has sensitive skin and gets rashes, you might want to.

15. Any suggestions to avoid SIDS?
A: No bumpers, no stuffed animals, put him to sleep on his back. Don't let him sleep in his car seat for more the 2 hours. You don't want him sleeping in there for 6 hours at a time. I strongly discourage a family bed.

16. How soon until I can take him on walks? How do I protect from sun? How long until I can take him into closed places (i.e. stores)?
A: You can take him out the first day you are home. Don't use sunscreen until he is 2 months. I recommend Blue Lizard sunscreen. Just use the screen on stroller or cover with a blanket. You are going to have to take him to the grocery store, so bring him in his car seat and put a blanket over it, so people aren't breathing on him. (Another note: I asked my friend who is a dermatologist, she also said 2  months and don't take the baby out when the sun is the strongest. Do expose for about 10 minutes to get some vitamin D).

17. How much do we feed him? How do we know when to increase his food intake?
A: Weight checks, how satisfied they seem, urine output. You will learn the signals and we will go over this in the hospital. If you are breast feeding, he will just take it and your supply will increase to keep up, you probably won't notice. Follow up question: After 2 months, should I try to increase day time feedings so he needs less at night? A: Yes, if the kid is taking a 5 hour nap but is up every 2-3 hours at night, wake them up to give them more during the day so you can get longer stretches of sleep at night.

18. Is it ok to just use the filtered water in my sink or do I need to buy baby water?
A: Filtered water is fine. Room temperature is easiest for the parents because you aren't always figuring out how to warm the bottle.

19. When do I use a humidifier?
A: They have limited use. For one, they can get moldy. Also, if the room is big, it might not be that effective. But if the kid is sick, put it by the crib. Taking a baby into a steamy bathroom or steam shower a couple times a day also is pretty helpful when they are congested.

20. What are your thoughts on sleep positioners?
A: I am not crazy about them. They are like a giant bumper, a SIDS risk. Kids aren't really rolling over before 3 months and if their arm gets caught in the side of the crib, they can usually get it out themselves. But I had a patient at three months that was rolling on his stomach, so she thought he should use one.

That's it in a nutshell. Obviously some of these questions are specific to my medical history, but it might jog your memory. Happy interrogating!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mini Mick Jagger and the Hand Slap

Last week I had my first appointment in 4.5 weeks.  I was a little nervous because I had put on too much weight since the last appointment.  But there is a back story to this.

I normally weigh myself every day or two.  Well two weeks before my last appointment I weighed myself on a Monday, and then didn't the rest of the week.  That weekend I went out of town to visit my best friend who is also pregnant.  We are roommates from college and used to love Papa John's Pizza in college but they don't have one in Chicago.  So we ordered in Papa John's, because we could.  We also had TCBY during the day with Reese's Cups sprinkled on top.  But heck,we were pregnant.  I then get back and the next day had my Bachelor Party (a screeing of the Bachelor Final Rose, it is a tradition I have had for about 8 years for the people in my Bachelor Pool).  And so there was more pizza eating and some candy eating.  So yes, I threw nutrition to the wind for a 3 day bender. 

Well Tuesday, three days before the last appointment, I weighed myself and was up 5 pounds from the Monday before, not to mention a couple pounds from the rest of the month. 

I then started crazy workouts, like an hour and a half on the elliptical everyday.  I only got carbs from fruit and vegetables. And by my Friday appointment I lost 4 of the 5 Papa John's pounds.

Well two days after the appointment I put on those 4 pounds right away, to no fault of my eating or exercising, which had gone back to normal routines. 

During the last 4.5 weeks I put on 9 pound, but I like to think it was really 5 because of the 4 Papa John's pounds.  I told my webkins and they were all like, the doctor isn't going to say anything.  Wrong.  She did.  She she that was a lot of weight to put on in a month (four AND a HALF weeks, thank you very much) and then asked if I was drinking calories- nope, just water.  Working out- yep about 4 times a week.  So she said to watch portions and I would be checked again at my next appointment which is only 2 weeks away.  So that was the bad news.  She wasn't mean about it, so I didn't want to burst in tears, I certainly didn't want to hear about it though.

The good news is she too had anterior placenta. This is where the placenta is in front of the baby.  Normal placenta is behind the baby between the baby and the spine.  You don't feel much movement because it is like the baby is kicking a sponge and the shock is being absorbed by the placenta.  It is a total mindtrick and drives me crazy.  I go days without feeling a kick and then the next day he will be active.  I told her this so she sent me for an Ultrasound.  It has been 10 weeks since my last scan.

I got a 3-D picture. It is so crazy.  I had one at 19.5 weeks but he looked like a teenage mutant ninja turtle.  Now he actually looks like a cutey baby.  But he does have on noteworthy feature.  During her exam, the tech kept saying, "check out those lips".  I couldn't see much.  Well then she prints out the pictures and my kid has some massive and I mean massive lips.  No one that I know of on either side of our families has disproportionately large lips.  The tech said it could be swollen from all the fluid in the womb.

So I send my hubby the picture and he writes back asking about his mouth.  I met with the doctor again and she said it is probably the technology and this is why she doesn't like these pictures because it makes parents neurotic. 

We had decided we weren't going to get a 3-D at one of those places that you pay to go.  But I have to say, I am so happy we have a picture.  Even though it probably will look nothing like him, it makes it so real.  He is estimated to be 3lb 4oz and he looks like a baby.  As much as I loved him before yesterday, I think I love him more now, just because it is so clear there is a little person inside.  I definitely think our parents feel more connected too.

Check out the rock star.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Where the Kid has No Name

If you haven't put it together yet, I am a planner of the highest order. I haven't met a checklist that I didn't love.

When I was trying to conceive, I had pages of estimated ovulation dates, I planned trips to accomodate my cycle, and systematically bugged my husband to make me a baby, all according to the plan. And guess what, the plan worked (eventually).

Once pregnant, I put together a check list of month by month what I needed to do to prepare for the baby. Items included paint room, have closet organizers installed, order furniture, buy must have items, meet the pediatrician, and so on.

One thing I failed to put on the list was name the child. Everything on the list are things I can do myself.  And right on cue, they are being checked off on time or earlier. But things that involve my better half are yet to be done.

The biggest one is the name. I only have 11 weeks left if I make it to 40 weeks.  We started talking about names in Italy when I was around 4 weeks.  We got to a point where we just argued about it and we decided to table it until we knew the sex.  So that was December.  Okay it is now April and my sweet little guy may be called "the baby" for the rest of his life. What a horrible moniker for a boy, notwithstanding all the "no one puts baby in the corner" jokes he will have to endure, when some creative Hollywood Exec has the brilliant idea of filiming a second  remake of the classic Dirty Dancing, which will no doubt happen during his gawky middle school period.

My husband doesn't understand the urgency. I guess it is two things.  One, I hate living under a cloud of indecision.  I am a very decisive person.  He is more of a hem and hawer.  He likes things to marinate. This has been an issue before when making big purchases like a house or a car.  He wants time, not that he does anything in that time like research, just idle time to pass.  I do my research up front and then want a decision ASAP. I am not the most patient person when I want something. Bottomline, I just wanna to know his name already (should be read with the whining tone in which it was intended).

I also need the name for his going home outfit. I saw this really cute footed outfit from Restoration Hardware Baby and Child (where his linens and rug are from).  It is the same color as the stuff in his room and you can get the baby's monogram on it.  I have envisioned taking him home in this sweet little get up for months.  Well you have to allow time for processing, monogramming, and shipping.  Who knows when I will go into labor and I need that outfit in my hospital bag ready to go.  And no, I am not that crazy, bag isn't packed yet.   Waiting until May, and yes it is on the checklist.

The next unchecked item on our joint to-do list is to create a plan for what happens when the baby gets here in terms of hospital visitors and help once we are home. He doesn't see why we need to figure this out now.  While on one hand, we will have to play some things by ear, some planning is needed to avoid hurt feelings (like I don't want his parents to sit in the room all day like they did with his brother's wife). She was very uncomfortable and wishes she had said something and I know from my surgery, I didn't rest when visitors were there because I felt  like I need to entertain.  So if we tell family to come a couple hours each day, but not all day beforehand, it isn't like we need to kick them out.  Also, we need a bit of planning because my parents live out of town and I doubt I am going to want to be deciding how long they should come for in the midst of contractions.  

I do wish I could be looser about this but it really makes me anxious.  If anyone has any advice on these issue, I am all ears.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Well-Timed Baby

Yesterday, my husband and I watched a great documentary on Fantasy Baseball called Fantasyland.  The film centered on Jed, finance wizard by trade, but seems his full time job was centered around running his fantasy league baseball team.  His wife was in labor with twins and he was in the hospital lobby trying to deal a trade.  And she was super understanding.

Granted, we watched this on the eve of opening day of the baseball season, which means I will likely be a sports widow for the next 7 months (assuming the Cubs make it to the post season).  My friends have joked that hopefully there won't be a game while I am in labor.  I am not kidding, this thought has crossed my mind on more than one occassion. I have flashes of us in the delivery room will me yelling in pain and he yelling at the closing pitcher.

So I started thinking, how many people try and plan their conception based on big life events.  Some people don't want a baby near their other children's birthdays. Some fear a Christmastime baby while others think it would be the bee's knees because of the tax right off.

On Saturday, I went to my niece's birthday party and saw a friend who is due in 3 weeks.  She said this pregnancy is so much easier because she didn't have to contend with being pregnant in the dead of summer like her first child.  She said, "people who opt to be very pregnant in summer are crazy!"

There is probably truth to the notion that being pregnant in the fall, winter,and spring is more comfortable for mom-to-be.

Now in my case, I didn't really care too much when I got pregnant or delivered.  When I realized I would be having a June baby, I was a little sad to think that when my kid was older, he might be at sleep away camp for his birthday, or his friends would be on summer vacations and miss his birthday parties.  But on a completely selfish level, it is great timing.  First, I haven't been uncomfortably hot yet and with just two and a half months to go, if it gets bad, it won't last too long.  Most importantly, the reason people live through Chicago winters is for Chicago summers.  During the summer,we walk everywhere.  It typically doesn't get too hot and there is so much to do outside.  We live an 8 minute walk to a huge park and Lake Michigan and a half hour walk to the zoo and farmer's market.  I can be outside when he gets here, instead of paralyzed with the fear of slipping on ice with the baby.

I really can't see myself timing a future conception around sporting events, holidays, or seasons.  Not because I don't think there is merit to this calculation, I do.  Just knowing myself, I am too antsy about getting pregnant.  I could though, see trying to time it so our kids are a certain amount of months apart.  But as John Steinbeck once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry."