May 28, 2014

29 Weeks

The baby is... about the size of a butternut squash, apparently.  This kid is a mover and a shaker, I feel it dancing around every time I sit down.  According to the doctor it's head down now, which explains why I can feel it kick a good 2 or 3 inches above my belly button.

I'm feeling... pretty good most of the time.  Sometimes I get pretty stiff, especially in my lower back, and have trouble getting comfortable.  I have felt better since I've been on the GD diet, though.  I lost 3 pounds (which the doctor says is normal) and I think it was all water weight.  I didn't realize how bloated I was until it went away.

Cliche (or not!) Pregnancy Symptoms... Well some of the symptoms I had that I thought were typical pregnancy things turned out to be due to high blood sugar.  I have way more energy now that I'm counting carbs and watching what I eat, and I'm way less moody.  I still have my moments, but in general I just feel better.  I just got my testing kit yesterday.  While it is definitely a bummer to have to poke yourself four times a day, it's really not so bad and my numbers have been really good, which is encouraging.  I'm really missing sweets and pizza, but I'll survive.

I'm enjoying... the water!  Summer is finally here!  We've already been to the lake a few times, and plan on heading back every chance we get.  Swimming is harder than I thought it would be, my body just doesn't work the way it used to.  I feel like my abdominal muscles are weak, but I've read swimming is really good for you when you're pregnant so I should probably work on that.  What I've really been enjoying is floating on my little floaty in the water.  It's the most comfortable and peaceful I've felt during the whole pregnancy.

I'm looking forward to... baby time.  I know it's still 11 weeks away, and I've got plenty of stuff coming before then, but I'm just so excited to meet this kid.

May 21, 2014

In the Garden...

Baby bump on a swing- honestly just because I was tired and needed to sit down for a minute.
Last year I put a lot of time and effort into the garden and the backyard.  Our backyard is massive, but was essentially a wasteland when we moved in.  It's still mostly weeds to tell the truth, but we've added things to make it more useful and enjoyable- a garden, a swing set, a sandbox and some grass.  You can see pictures of the work we did last year here.

This year things were complicated by me being pregnant.  I was pretty nauseous during the time when I would have been getting the backyard ready, and I knew by summer I would be tired all the time.  We wanted to keep things simple, but weren't willing to give up on the garden completely.  We decided to stick with green beans, tomatoes and herbs- since those things were the easiest to care for last year, and our family loves them.  We also have our perennial berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes.

I'm not worrying about trying to make the backyard "pretty" this year, we're just trying to keep it useable.  The girls planted some tulip bulbs I picked up on a whim from Costco last fall, and they bloomed!  That's lovely, but I'm not adding any other flowers or shrubs, and I'm just trying to keep the small section of lawn we have back there alive, rather than making it any bigger.  We aim to keep the weeds one step below 'jungle' and to keep them away from our vegetables.

This weekend we plan to finish preparing the section of the garden where the tomatoes will go so I can transplant them soon.  I'm a little worried about my tomato and green bean plants- they still look so small!  I'm pretty sure I was concerned about them this time last year, too, and they did just fine.  If memory serves, the tomatoes like it hot, so they should be getting pretty happy now.  If you notice the thermometer in the greenhouse it was 100 degrees F in there by noon today.

May 20, 2014

Pregnancy Update: GD Diagnosis

Last Tuesday I spent all morning in the doctor's office for a glucose test.  They do this test on all pregnant women now, and I didn't think much of it.  I knew next to nothing about gestational diabetes.  I hadn't researched it independently, or any possible pregnancy complications really, because I've found the most effective mental state for me during pregnancy is simply doing my best and assuming nothing is going to go wrong.  I figure there's no point in dwelling on possible complications that I can't prevent- I'll only drive myself crazy with worry.

Needless to say, I was caught off guard on Thursday when the doctor called and told me I 'failed my test' and had gestational diabetes.  She told me I'd need to attend a class about it, held in the afternoon the same day of my next doctor's appointment- almost 2 weeks away.  I said ok and hung up the phone, and then I got upset.  I probably should have asked more questions and I wish she'd given me more information.  We tried to call back later that day but the office was already closed, not to be open again until Monday.  I called Chris in tears, and then spent the rest of the afternoon on google.

Here's what I've learned so far:

  • Gestational diabetes isn't my fault- it's a result of the hormones from the pregnancy inhibiting the ability of my pancreas to secrete insulin, and there's nothing I could have done differently to prevent it.  This was important to me.  I was afraid I hadn't been eating well enough and I'd caused it.  Finding out that wasn't the case really helped alleviate some of the stress and guilt.
  • The risks associated with GD most commonly include an 'oversized baby' (10lbs or more), underdeveloped lungs in the baby, and preeclampsia- when you're unable to manage your blood sugar levels.  I hope to learn more next week, but from what I can tell if I can keep my levels within a healthy range, we shouldn't have to worry about any of these complications.
  • 90% of women diagnosed with GD are able to control their blood sugar levels through diet and exercise alone- no insulin injections necessary.
  • Your specific diet will depend on your individual body and needs, but in general the GD diet seems to follow the recommendations given to all pregnant women- eat small meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar even throughout the day, avoid sugary drinks and desserts- basically any nutritionally deficient foods, eat plenty of vegetables, eat a variety of sources for carbs and try to stick with whole grains, eat about 2 servings of fruit, and eat plenty of protein.  The biggest difference is simply that now it's not so much that you should eat this way as it is you really really need to eat this way.  You're supposed to count carbs, but the number of grams you're supposed to consume varies a little depending on your body type.  Based on my height and weight the best I can figure before I see the nutritionist is I'm supposed to have about 200 grams of carbs a day.
I'm still trying to figure it all out.  In a lot of ways this is a good thing- I was often completely exhausted and overemotional during the last few weeks and I thought it was normal pregnancy stuff, but as it turns out it was from high blood sugar.  The simple changes I've made over the last few days have already made me feel better.  I've given up sugary drinks.  The closest I get to dessert is a measured amount of whole grain cereal at a designated snack time.  I set timers on my phone and eat at the same time every day, 3 meals and 3 snacks.  I count carbs, I include a lot of protein, and I'm journalling everything I eat.  I won't know for sure how well I'm doing until I take the class and get the device to measure my blood sugar levels, but I know I feel better.

It's all a little tedious right now, but I think I'll get the hang of it.  In the meantime my mood has evened out, I feel far less bloated and uncomfortable, I haven't had any heartburn, and I'm less tired- still pretty tired, but not like my limbs are filled with sand all the time.  So, while we're taking it seriously, we're going to be positive about it.

I'll share more when I know more.

Saturday afternoon at the lake...

May 15, 2014

27 Weeks

The baby is... taking over!  I'm closing in on the third trimester, and it's really starting to feel like I'm running out of room in there.  At my last doctor's appointment she gave me a chart to keep track of how often I feel the baby move, (by sitting down once a day and checking off boxes until I feel it 10 times).  It seems kind of like a joke though, because while you 'fail' if you don't get 10 movements within an hour, I estimate I get 10 movements in 45 seconds.  I guess the point is just to make you aware if your baby is moving less than normal so you can alert your doctor.

I'm feeling... fine but a little frustrated.  I feel like the past MONTH has been a series of inconveniences that take most of our time to sort out- stolen bank numbers, vehicle repairs, sick kids, forgotten groceries, and so many appointments.  I took a CPR/First Aid class to keep my daycare license, I signed up for a few free breastfeeding classes, we're taking a tour of the hospital this weekend (we're skipping the childbirth class offered at the hospital), my regular prenatal check ups are switching to every 2 weeks instead of every 4, and we're still not done getting all of the kids' regular check ups and dentist appointments taken care of.  On the outside I keep telling myself to get over it and be thankful it's all small beans, but on the inside I'm a 3-year-old having a tantrum because I can't sit in my pajamas eat cereal and watch The West Wing all day.

Cliche (or not!) Pregnancy Symptoms... Some days aren't so bad, but some days I get winded just walking from one room to another.  I took my wedding ring off and put it on a necklace because it was getting dangerously tight and I was worried if I waited much longer they'd have to cut it off.  I also feel easily irritated- which might be hormones, or maybe I'm just tired and uncomfortable.  Like I said, it's starting to feel like I'm running out of room in there.  No stretch marks yet, but I feel like I'm stretching.

I'm enjoying... squeezing in simple projects- things I can finish in one sitting that leave me feeling satisfied creatively and productive.  I made a mobile to hang above the baby's crib the other night.  I saw one online that I liked that cost sixty bucks, a bit rich for my blood, and I thought I can make that.  My favorite part about it was I didn't have to buy anything; I had all of the materials left over from other things.

I'm looking forward to... June.  June is when the items on my calendar run out and I can relax, (other than biweekly prenatal checkups).  Of course my house will have 5 kids in it all day every day, but they're 5 really awesome kids.  They're funny and helpful and when they're not it's movie time!  I'm setting myself up to do nothing but hang out with them all day, and I'm hoping it involves a decent amount of lake time.  I've got plenty of life jackets to go around and I'm ordering a floaty for myself.

My mobile- inspiration here.

This load is gettin' heavy...

May 9, 2014

Standing in Recognition

I don't mean to be a downer, but I've got to get something off my chest:

Mother's day is a bitch.

Ok sorry!  That's offensive, I know.  The truth is there are some great things about Mother's day- celebrating moms, cute cards, flowers, breakfast in bed, and whatever silly-but-heartwarming thing your kid made at school (hint: it probably involves noodles and elmer's glue).  I have the privilege of enjoying all of these things on Mother's day, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I am!

I'm just saying, it's so much more complicated than that.  My kids celebrate with me, but I'm not their one and only- they've got another mother out there somewhere.  And they love her and they miss her, and no matter how much they love me, if you think they're not thinking about her on Mother's day, you're kidding yourself.  Slim is already stressed out about it.  It doesn't help that their biological grandmother recently told them their mother "disappeared."  (Why would she tell a group of young children that, you ask?  Because this woman doesn't pull her punches, that's why.)  Of course what that really means is just that their grandma doesn't know where she is right now- which isn't uncommon with an addict.  Still, in Slim's mind it means every terrible scenario she can come up with must be true.

So for our kids Mother's day is a mixture of grief and loss and confusion, and let's be honest: no matter what your situation is, mother's day isn't really about mothers, is it?  It's really for your kids- it's a time for them to practice gratitude, (even though truthfully they're  too young and inexperienced to know gratitude), and it's a time for them to feel great about themselves because they made you this lovely card and noodle necklace.  Maybe it's different when your kids are adults, but if they have children of their own I'm willing to bet it's not.  Once your kids have kids then they're in the thick of it and it's really about them and your grandchildren, and you're ok with that because you've been there and you get it, and you love your grandchildren so much you don't really mind.  In many ways I think Mother's day is just a reminder for those of us lucky enough to be mothers to be thankful for it, (and a healthy payday for greeting card companies, I suppose.)

It's not just situations like ours that make Mother's day complicated.  People lose their mothers, mothers lose their children, and frankly some mothers and their offspring simply don't get along.  I'm not here to complain- I'm really really not.  I think that despite the complexities it's GOOD to have a day dedicated to the mother-child relationship on which you can celebrate or grieve (or both) in whatever way fits your situation.  I'm only saying, let's cut the crap.  It's not all hearts and flowers, and if your day holds pain and solemnity in addition to, or instead of, warmth and joy- that's ok.  Consider this a shout out, of sorts- a moment of standing in recognition of those who've experienced loss.  Just because your life doesn't look like a Hallmark commercial doesn't make it less beautiful or worthwhile.

So how are we doing Mother's day this year?  This will be our third one together as a family.  The first year we didn't do much of anything- we knew they were thinking of their mom and we thought it would be insensitive to make a big fuss over the day.  We were wrong, ignoring it just made everyone more miserable.  Last year we celebrated and it was fine, but I feel like we could have done more to acknowledge their grief over their other mom.  (And by more I mean anything, we could have done anything but we didn't.)

This year we'll still celebrate, because it is fun.  Dear finds comfort in rituals and 'normalcy', and she's been planning it for weeks.  In addition to french toast and homemade cards I insist that Chris buys me a present- something totally materialistic and shallow that will make me happy just because it's a thing I want.  Then we'll spend part of the day with Chris's mom and his family, which is always fun for us and the kids.  (My mom is in Washington so I'll just talk to her on the phone sometime that day.)  The thing I want to add this year is some kind of tribute to their other mom.  Without her my kids wouldn't be here, after all.  It's not really about her though, it's about them.  I'm thinking something kind of cheesy and symbolic that might be comforting for kids- maybe releasing some balloons into the sky with a note, I love you mom?  I haven't decided for sure what to do, but I'll probably present a couple of ideas to the kids and let them choose.

Then next month will be Father's day, and we'll be celebrating Chris as well as coping with the fact that they lost their other dad last November.  Sigh.  So here's wishing everybody whatever they need out of Mother's day- be it happiness or something else- and hopefully a little peace.

May 7, 2014

A Finished Baby Quilt!

Not sure what I did to get such a reddish hue in this picture... 

Done!  As it turns out, I had no idea how little I knew about quilting and binding.  I've made a few quilts before, but they were either rag quilts or baby quilts that I tied off with embroidery floss instead of quilting.  I had to do a little improvising when I realized I don't even own the quilting foot for my sewing machine. (It came with several others!)  It all worked out, though.

As I always do when I'm working on a project, I got frustrated at the imperfections that cropped up along the way.  There were a few times when I ripped out stitches and fixed things, but for the most part I tried to roll with it.  If I had tried to make it perfect, I never would've finished it.  I just crossed my fingers and hoped I would like the finished product, and I do, weird bunches and folds and all!

I shared links to inspiration and instructions in this post I wrote about sewing the top.  You can find the directions I followed for the binding here.

May 5, 2014

Sick Mister

Maybe it's my imagination, but I feel like the kids have been sick a lot more this past winter/school year.  There was at least a month around the beginning of spring where they all had runny noses and a mild cough the whole time.  It was beginning to feel like it would never end, and even though their symptoms weren't very severe I decided enough was enough and I should take them in to see the doctor- of course within a day they were all much better so we never went.

Mister has been sick enough to miss a handful of school days throughout the year, and he's home again today.  He's had a fever and runny nose since Friday.  Saturday night his temperature spiked beyond our comfort level at 103.8 degrees F.  We were 99.9% sure he was totally fine, (and I should probably preface this story by letting everyone know he was, lest you needlessly worry).  He was drinking water, he was due to take more fever medicine anyway, and he wasn't losing excessive amounts of fluids in any of the gross ways kids sometimes do when they're sick.

Still, we couldn't help but be worried.  His fevers don't usually persist much longer than 24 hours, and he looked terrible.  On top of that, when he was a tiny little baby he had bacterial spinal meningitis and spent a long time in the hospital.  After that he was susceptible to having seizures when he got a fever.  It has been years since he had one, and the doctor said once they're past 5 they're not really at risk of having them anymore.  But still.  Sometimes as a parent I think you worry and you just can't help it.  We really weren't comfortable giving him medicine and putting him to bed and then going to sleep.  We debated letting him sleep on the couch, and camping out down there with him to keep an eye on him, but it wasn't tempting.  We finally decided to take him in to the ER, just in case.  We put the girls to bed and I stayed home with them while Chris took him in.

Naturally, they waited in the waiting room for over 2 hours, spent less than 10 minutes with the doctor, and came home.  She checked to make sure there were no secondary infections, (there were none), and then reaffirmed what we already knew.  It wasn't a fun night, but at least once they did get home we all slept soundly knowing he was fine.

I have to say I am so grateful for Medi-Cal right now.  Visiting the ER costs something like $1000 minimum without insurance, even if it turns out there's nothing wrong with you.  I feel pretty lucky that when my kid is sick we not only have access to hospitals and doctors, but money doesn't factor into the decision on whether or not to take them in.  It's a luxury in this world, (it shouldn't be, but it is) and I don't take it lightly.

Anyway, he still has a fever.  As long as we give him something for it every 6 hours or so it doesn't really get above 99.8ish, but he still can't go to school.  It'll be another day of laying on the couch reading and watching Pokemon for him.  Hopefully soon he'll beat this super virus so he can get back to normal.  I feel bad for him, (though he's not complaining 'cause, ya know, Pokemon) and I hate when they have to miss school.  Fingers crossed he'll be over it soon.