Archives for the month of: August, 2014

Apparently, the end of pregnancy involves learning things like patience. About two weeks ago, the baby dropped, and things started getting less comfortable. A little over a week ago, I had my first experience of “wow that hurts” for several hours that made me wonder if that was labor. And now… well… the crampiness and soreness continue, the intense “is this a contraction” back pain has been coming and going, and I usually think I am in labor about once a day.

I am trying to learn to find a little peace in the wait that is coming.

Last Friday was the oddest day on record. After several days of feeling downright crappy, I woke up feeling good. I wasn’t in pain! I went to work and got things done! I had this moment of “it’s ok, I can be pregnant for longer, I got this!” Then an hour or two later, I had intense pain in my back with period-like cramps in the front. The pain didn’t come and go, but it also wasn’t relieved by changing positions, as over the course of the next several hours I tried different chairs, positions, walking, sitting, leaning, and at one point trying to prop my keyboard up on a precarious stack of books in the idle hope I could keep working while standing up. I ended up going home, until I had this moment when sitting backwards on a chair that suddenly the pain went away. I already had made an appointment to stop by the obgyn, and so showed up feeling dang stupid that I was there for a labor check and was now not in pain–for the record they were very gracious about it. I have made some “progress,” if you can call it that, and am now 2cm dilated and 80% effaced–so I’m trying to tell myself that these pains aren’t for nothing. 

The problem is that this “am I in labor or not” question is really not good for my mental state. If I could keep saying “it will be several more weeks” and believe it, then I could move through life much more smoothly. But going back and forth makes it very hard to wait. “Maybe today” is a dangerous thought.

For now, I’m trying to hold off asking the question. I am less than two weeks from my due date, and I know that due to the gestational diabetes, the doctors are unlikely to let me go past 40 1/2 weeks. In the scheme of life, a little over two weeks to wait for labor isn’t much at all. So here’s hoping that I can spend that time in a positive place, being grateful for this pregnancy and this life inside me, and appreciating days rather than wishing them away. 

When I first found out I had gestational diabetes, I spent a remarkable time on the internet trying to figure out what on earth I would now eat. I had this meal plan that included numbers of carbs and protein, but I struggled to try to picture what “breakfast” would look like or what exactly a snack with so-many carbohydrates and a source of protein could be that wouldn’t sound gross right before going to bed. I was really grateful for this post that showed what real food could actually look like! Of course, follow your actual doctor or dietian’s instructions rather than me (aka, some chick on the internet). But thought it might be helpful to pass along what has helped me!

A few things I have learned along the way:

It takes a while to figure out what works: I had to work through three or four different kinds of breakfast before I found one that worked for me on a regular basis. Later on, I realized that some things that worked initially needed to change as my sensitivity increased. It was hard to be patient along the way, but if possible be gentle on yourself.

Technology helps! If it wasn’t for my hour-long timer on my phone, i would never remember to test blood sugar. This is actually true, because those times I say “oh, I’ll test right when I do such-and-such” instead, I invariably forget. It was a real help when I stopped trying to remember times in my head and trust my phone to remind me. I also strongly recommend a food scale to help with measurements. There are some foods that are hard to count for carbs, and the scale makes it much easier! 

Finding the happy balance between “easy to count,” “easy,” and “actual food that has nutrition.” It took me a while to figure out exactly how much work I could put in on a regular basis for food preparation. Originally, I made chicken breast sandwiches for lunch that required thinking and cooking ahead. That lasted about a week. I found that “good lunchmeat that I microwave past the temp limit” was about as much work that I could put in to put a lunch together. I decided I could wash things and count, but was unlikely to have pre-sliced vegetables to go with hummus. I could microwave an egg each morning, which for some reason seemed more possible than anything that involved a pan. You may fall on a different end of the “I can work to make food” scale, and figure out what works.

A whole lot of ways to count to 15 carbohydrates: Life became much easier when I could figure out a whole lot of things to have in the house every week that I could add together to make a snack or get a meal up to a certain number of carbs. Here in August, I would fill up the fridge with many types of fruit–berries for earlier in the week, stone fruits or apples for later on. Carrots or milk have worked well for me as toppers if I need a few more carbohydrates in a meal. Having a variety of healthy carbohydrates in the house helped to piece meals together with a bit more variety.

When you exercise matters: This is one of those things that they told me in my initial interview, but I didn’t appreciate until later on. It makes a huge difference if I walk between eating and testing blood sugars, or even if I spend 10-20 minutes just on my feet. (I guess at this stage of pregnancy, standing counts as exercise.) There are very few things that I can eat that will not leave me with high sugar if am seated for the full hour afterwards. The other realization for me has been that when they say “manage with diet and exercise,” is that exercise at other times of day than that key hour can actually hurt. If I have a big exhausting activity in mid-afternoon, I have to be careful that I won’t be too tired to walk around after dinner or make over-the-top food choices. For me, I’ve also noticed that in extreme heat especially, exercise can actually spike my sugars. They say stress levels can increase blood sugar, but just something to look at if you too are “very pregnant in the middle of summer”

And without further ado, the food!

Breakfast

After MUCH trial and error (sprouted grain toast and peanut butter, oatmeal with fruit, oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, yogurt and fruit and granola all managed to push me over my blood sugar levels), I have ended up with an egg on toasted thin bread. As thin bread has less than the 30 carbs I’m supposed to have for breakfast, I have an awful lot of milk in decaf coffee, which I then call a latte ;-). I microwave the egg in a cup, because I am lazy. 

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Snacks

For my plan, I need to eat 15 grams of carbs plus protein several times a day between meals. Most of the time, have one of those 15 grams of fruit with a mozzarella stick. Or crackers and peanut butter. Or most recently if I’m home, “a strategic amount of full fat vanilla ice cream with almonds.” But I wanted to share especially my two “buy it at the store and throw it in my purse” options. Needing to snack so frequently, I was surprised about how few prepackaged options fit the bill–and after frustratingly checking labels these are the two I have lived on for the last many weeks

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Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix: 14 grams of carbs, lots of nuts, doesn’t melt in your purse–winner!

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Kind bar–Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt: 16 grams of carbs, which is a hair high, but close enough, and really the only bar I found that did. It is tasty, I can pronounce all the ingredients, and although it gets melty in hot weather–shouldn’t something that claims to be chocolate get melty? I eat these a lot. 

Lunch

For lunch, I have discovered a routine– it’s turkey sandwich plus “whatever carb sounds good.” Needing to pack a lunch has limited some options, but having a variety of fruits and veggies around has helped. 

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Dinner

For us in the summer, dinner usually involves “putting something on the grill.” I have pretty much just gotten a variety of proteins that can be grilled over the course of the week, we make one, and then I add on whatever sounds good from my “great carb collection.” For dinner, I need to be especially careful when I try to eat something with a bun: they can surprise me, even when small, by their carb count.  When we go out to dinner, I’ve had luck with quesadillas, nachos where I count the number of chips I eat along the way, sandwiches where I request whole wheat bread and sometimes leave some bread behind, salads–providing I can find enough carbs in the meal, and burgers where I eat part of the bun and request a salad instead of fries. 

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Drinks

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My high recommendations for plain soda water with a slice of lime. Preferably in a fancy glass. I have ordered this in restaurants everywhere we have gone, and mostly judge based on what kind of glass they serve. 

Evening Snack

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I pretty much always eat a cracker and peanut butter and greek yogurt. In the summer, I’ve found it hard to find things to eat before bed that sound appealing, but this has fit the bill between “not too filling” and works with the schedule.

 

So there you have it, everything I have eaten for the last 10 weeks or so. This has both been easier and harder than I have thought it would be–so if you are starting off and feeling overwhelmed, know it will get better. You will figure out what works for you. And I am grateful both to be aware of my long-term risks, and that this short term higher-ristriction time will soon be over!

 

 

She believed she could

I saw this gorgeous picture on the Hypnobabies Facebook page and was pleased to know that it’s a print available on Etsy. All of her images are inspiring, empowering, and women-affirming. Check it out.

For my fellow moms-to-be, we got this!

Now officially 37 weeks! If I went into labor, they wouldn’t stop it! A milestone I celebrated by seriously wondering if “going into labor” was what was happening to me.

Yesterday afternoon, I had driven in the car to meet someone, and when I got out I said “wow, that really kind of hurts.” I had a feeling like period-cramps, painful enough to be distracting, including the fact that they were constant and without breaks that I could time. I still hurt at the end of the meeting, still hurt driving back, still hurt back at the office. At which point I say to myself “I am 36w6, this can’t be labor, and it doesn’t come and go, this isn’t contractions!” but do think it might not be a bad time to try out some of those comfort techniques on the practice pain.

At this point, my lower back is also hurting and I call up my spouse, trying to figure out if I missed some part of our birthing classes where they talked about “moderate pain that doesn’t come and go.” He says he doesn’t know, but call the doctor. I leave a message on the nurses line, because surely this isn’t an emergency, and continue trying to not focus or obsess about my abdomen hurting. It gets close to the end of the day, and I hear back from them. As long as baby is moving, and I haven’t had broken water they aren’t concerned–and say things like “Go home, drink water and put your feet up, and it will either get better or worse.” (aka, you will feel better or go into labor)

If I can have a minor side note, this is when my brain explodes by the idea that labor is a non-alarming possibility. We have now crossed the line into nurses not being concerned when labor is a possibility, while I am still that girl without a hospital bag packed, because it seemed like jumping the gun.

So in any case–continued to have period-cramp and back pains all night, which did fell better in a bath and laying down without moving. Today they have calmed down so that it doesn’t hurt to sit, and standing feels “sore, with occasional twinges” which sounds about right for this late in pregnancy. I’m wondering if this baby was getting lower and expanding things that weren’t used to being expanded.

But now, I guess I need to actually pack that hospital bag? 2 weeks left at work, 3 weeks until due date. Ahhhhh!

I can honestly say that part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I have been belly-deep in Hypnobabies class! If you’re interested in the class, there is a ton of information on their website, but I’ll give you my take on it so far.

Hypnobabies assumes the following: in the United States, portrayals of birth in the media are overwhelmingly frantic and traumatic with women in agonizing pain, screaming at their partners, and demanding pain medication at the first sign of discomfort. Because very few of us witness a birth before our own, these images are usually the only ones our brains have to formulate an idea of what birth is, namely something to be dreaded and feared. When the body is afraid and anticipating pain, it tenses up. Our uteruses actually have muscles that can constrict when the body senses danger in order to stop the birthing process. When we were out in the wild and hunted by predators, this was a good thing because we could find a safer place to deliver. But nowadays it’s not very useful and often prolongs the birthing process unnecessarily or leads to interventions that we might rather avoid.

Hypnobabies is designed to retrain the subconscious part of the brain to believe and accept that birth can be comfortable and even pleasant. It does so through self-hypnosis scripts and exercises that facilitate deep relaxation and positive ideas around pregnancy and birth. Through repeating these positive messages and teaching deep relaxation techniques, Hypnobabies aims for mothers and their support systems to approach birth in a relaxed, gentle way.

Yeah, yeah…so what does this all mean? It means that I have completely chilled the f*** out since starting this class. Seriously, remember my anxiety post?  I can honestly say that is is incredibly rare for me to feel even the slightest hint of anxiety around my pregnancy. For the last three weeks I have dedicated at least 30-45 minutes to doing a self-hypnosis script and since starting the class a week and a half ago, I’ve been listening daily to pregnancy affirmations, which sound so cheesy at first (“I enjoy eating healthy foods everyday for my baby” and “Babies are born on their birthdays, not when doctors decide”) but honestly they have made me think about pregnancy and birth in a new way. I’m starting to feel more confident in my body’s ability to birth and anticipating birth as something slow and requiring patience.

Another bonus is all of the partner work required, which has brought my husband and me much closer together. Every other day he reads a script to me, we read the materials together, and practice communications exercises. It all sounds a bit hokey but once we decided we were in, we were completely committed to the process 100%. I now see the birth as a real team effort whereas before I saw him more as a helper of sorts.

The best part? Our doula is teaching the class, and the only other couple who signed up has since dropped out. That means we have completely private instruction for the next month and lots of time to get to know one another. I’m starting to think of the three of us as my “birthing team” and how less alone I feel now that I have this amazing support the entire way. Go team!

Things that have happened in week 35:

I got my first stretch marks. Sigh. And they now seem to be everywhere. It was bound to happen, but can I get a communal booooo?

I went over my lunch blood sugar limits twice– on the same meal I had eaten within limits earlier in the week. This led to a type of in-depth analysis, that involved researching peaches, discovering that riper fruit has a higher glycemic index than unripe fruit (which would mean if you were to try to minimize GI, you would avoid ripe fruit, a fact which blew my sense of reason), and had a minor meltdown.

I went over my dinner blood sugar limits three times. Which led to some despair, discovering that chicken sausage has 11 grams of sugar, discovering exactly how much variation there can be in carbs in an ear of corn, a good moment of utter despair thinking that my nursing staff would require me to go on medication and then picture that in the worst light possible, and as you can imagine, a less-minor meltdown.

I tripped in front of a crowd of over a hundred– making a gasping noise that I have never before witnessed. I also learned there is very little ways to actually convince people that you are fine, and a bruised knee does not mean I am going into labor.

I went to my gestational diabetes appointment and remembered how kind and reasonable my nursing staff really is. In talking through, they were not as concerned about the over numbers as I was, and we came up with a plan for the next week. Win!

I went to a regular OB appointment. Because I now do that every week

I got an ultrasound that showed baby girl at a lovely 47th percentile for weight, which should mean that if I can manage GD these next few weeks, they shouldn’t be concerned about her being too big. Yay!

I got a little sick of doctors appointments.

All in all, a rather exhausting week. And for anyone with gestational diabetes out there, can I have a shout out for how tiring it is to have your psyche tied up with a number that you check four-five times a day? Yikes! I’m guessing pregnancy hormones also don’t help the “a high number is the end of the world” spiral I can work myself into.

Tomorrow starts week 36 which makes me:
1 week from “they don’t stop labor”
4 weeks from due date and
5 weeks from “baby will be here no matter what”

It’s getting real!