Enjoying the Slow Fix

It’s interesting how fast life passes you by. But since having Baby E, I wonder if that’s more because we choose to (or are sometimes forced to) live life at a fast pace. When all you do is go, go, go, at the end of the year, you find yourself wondering where all the time went. You simply blinked your eyes, and it was gone. At the start of a new year, I'd find myself looking back and thinking, Where did all the time go?

Since the birth of my son, I’ve been forced to slow down. My “Go, Go, Go” mantra was put on hold.

The first few months, when he was waking up every few hours to nurse, all my spare time was spent napping along with him throughout the day. One day slipped into another in this way, but yet I had a very authentic grasp of experiencing every moment. It was as if my entire life could be signified by a time turner. The sand that descends so quickly, making me so wish for just a bit more, was replaced by thick, amber honey, oozing so fluidly, so slowly, making every nanosecond count. The days felt truly full, filled to the brim with precious, priceless memories. Rather than not nearly long enough, with so many things left undone.

Once my son started sleeping through the night, and therefore I was able to also, I wasn’t tired anymore during the day. Well, not nearly as much, that is. That allowed me to spend my days focused on Baby E, and get much needed things done around the house during most of his daily naps: laundry, dishes, prepping cloth diapers for use, cooking, baking, etc. But, unlike the days of old, which always had a sense of urgency as I ran around trying to cram as many things into a window of time as possible, I take it easy. Some days, when he drifts off to sleep, I don’t get up. I just look at him. I watch how the soft light, streaming in through the curtains, kisses his face. I watch his chest slowly rise and fall, and appreciate how truly precious every breath he takes is. In such priceless moments, it seems like I can almost feel time pass. It feels like I could almost, just almost, see it.

Now, time goes fast in a different way. My son is almost seven months old. Seven!!! Watching my son grow, and learn, and change everyday has given me a profound grasp of time. Once we reach maturity, it seems there are no changes in us from year to year. We get fixed in our lifestyle, our habits, and we find our look and we stick to it. So the years slip through our fingers, and we don’t even notice. But once you have children, it is not possible to ignore these things. A year, which seems so insignificant to those of us who are all grown up, seems infinite and enormous in the eyes of a child. I am trying to see time as my son might now. To see every day as a magnificent amount of time, with endless promise and potential.

The average human being lives 78 years, therefore, theoretically, we have a lot of time in which to live our lives. We plan our entire existences, accordingly, around the presumption that we have all the time in the world. But it is never safe to assume anything. It takes only one event, one day, one moment, to change your life forever. If I still lived my life in a way where I was always on the go, and I died tomorrow, I have no doubt my last moments would be filled with regret. I would think about how I should have done things differently. But, right now, if I were to die tomorrow, I’d be sad about the things I wouldn’t know (the way my son will look 20 years from now, who he’ll marry, what his children will look like, etc.), but I would be content. Because I would know that at least my husband and my son have each other, and that, while I lived, I gave them all the time I had, tried to appreciate every moment, and loved them with all my heart.

This is not to say, of course, that you should never plan ahead. Nor am I saying that you should live in fear that at any moment you could die. Of course, that’s no way to live, and life is always about balance. But the French have a shorter work day, a lunch hour 4x that of the average American, and a much longer vacation time, and they seem much more content with life. Should a single mother have to work three jobs to support her children, which allows her little or no time to actually spend with them?

So I’m taking to remember, that when things seem to pile up, and I get irritable and frustrated, to just take a deep breath. To remember not to get caught up in the small things that, next week, I won’t even remember. To instead appreciate the little things and the big things who make me who I am, that give me meaning, that make my life whole.

Right now, I’m sipping at a cup of tea as Baby E takes his morning nap. There’s laundry and dishes that need tending to, but I’m not going to fret. It will get done eventually. And even if I didn’t get around to it today, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Not even close.

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Review: Lifefactory Silicone Teethers

My first review! This is a review for the Lifefactory Silicone Teethers, which are composed of 100% silicone, and made in the USA!

Although Lifefactory was founded in 2007, I didn't hear about the company until about 6 months ago. My mother went to a launch party that included the founder, and thought the product seemed so great she shared the website with me as soon as she got home. Mainly makers of reusable water bottles (which I will review another day!), they seem to have a wonderful commitment to a green, eco-friendly vision. One of their other products are silicone teethers!

My son, now 6.5 months old, started getting his first tooth over a month ago, and the second one followed right after. Any mother can tell you how heartbreaking it is to see their child in pain, and I was no exception!

The teething toys we did buy didn't seem to soothe him much. He wouldn't even do more to his Jellycat teething blanket than grab it and toss it on the floor! Goodbye, $15! Even his Lamaze toys didn't make him feel better, as it appeared that the plastic chewable portions of his toys were too hard. Am I the only one sensing a Goldilocks similarity, here? Anyway, what did make him feel better, was chewing on my fingers. But, I have to say, my fingers weren't too thrilled with that arrangement.
So the other week, I was perusing along Whyte Avenue, and stopped into Planet Organic. I discovered they just started carrying the Lifefactory silicone teethers. It was $15 for a set of 2, and I decided to just bite the bullet and give them a try. I like supporting local products whenever possible, natural products, and companies who have a commitment our planet.

When I took them home, I washed them in soapy, hot water, and then sanitized them straight away. And once they were ready, I handed one over to Baby E. I have to say, my son hasn't liked anything this much since he got Sophie the Giraffe for Christmas! He seems to enjoy sampling each notch of texture before inspecting it and trying another.

We've only had them for two weeks now, and yet he's spent more time chewing on these than any of his other toys. He seems to love the texture of the silicone itself, since it is very easy to manipulate the shape, and so he can get it into his mouth just the way he likes, with one hand, or using both hands. He has been going stretches of even 20 minutes just chewing on one of these, and he's never had an attention span of more than 5 minutes for anything! The different notches seem to provide an amount of textural variety he loves, and the flexibility means that the teether is even capable of reaching far back into his mouth, which will be useful when he's getting in his molars.

The only negative thing I can say about this product, is that, being round, when Baby E has decided he's tired of it, he'll drop it onto the floor and it goes rolling away. If I were to not be paying attention, this could easily result in it slipping under a piece of furniture, not to be found until months later.

That being said, it certainly isn't something that would discourage me from buying them again. The product would actually have to have a lot going against it for it not to be my new teething product of choice, because there's just so many great things about it! Because the silicone is so flexible, it is impossible for him to hurt himself with, it provides just the right density for a teething baby, they're cute (or at least I think so!), and it's one of the few products I can hand to my son, knowing they are completely safe and non-toxic.

Along with pictures of the product itself, you'll see pictures of Baby E using each of the silicone teethers!

If you’d like to try them for your little one, go to the Lifefactory website to order from them directly, or find a retailer near you! They are available in three color varieties: blue/green (seen in this review), pink/purple, and yellow/green.

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 Disclosure: These were purchased by myself, and I was in no way compensated by Lifefactory. This review is not tied to the Lifefactory company in any way, and is a completely independent, honest review.

My Birth Story: Welcoming Baby E Into the World

Warning: May be best not to read while eating! This is a very honest and detailed account of my birthing experience, in the hopes it may give others an idea of what to expect.

I went to the hospital around noon on Wednesday, August 29th, after I noticed a small trickle of water down my leg when I got up in the morning. My due date was the 26th, so I was already three days past due, and getting anxious. I was observed on a monitor for several hours, and then started to have bloody show around 2 pm. I was examined, and was only at 2 cm, the same as I had been at my OB appointment that Friday. So half an hour later, I was discharged, since they were not able to confirm I was in labor. My back started to feel a bit sore when I got into bed that night.

The morning of Thursday, August 30th, I awoke to discover my back was quite sore. Even stranger, the soreness would come and go. My husband had to go to work, and just in case something was up, I went along with him so we could drive straight to the hospital if necessary. By 11:30 am, the soreness had become achy. My bloody show continued, and the aches were gradually getting harder to ignore and sit through. But the entire day passed without event, and we returned home when my husband finished work. I had no idea what I was experiencing, but it was nothing like what I expected contractions to feel like—-there was no obvious tightening of my stomach, and no pain in my belly or south of my abdomen whatsoever. So I presumed I was experiencing false labor, or something else as equally minor. To err on the side of caution, I called Health Link to ask one of the advise nurses about what I was experiencing. She said that she couldn’t find anything about what I was experiencing being related to labor at all, but that it might be best to go into the hospital to be sure. Reluctant to get my hopes up only to be sent home yet again, I decided against going to the hospital.

I was feeling a bit restless, so after dinner, we ran out to the grocery to get a few baby basics (newborn diapers, wipes, and nail clippers) that we didn’t have yet. We returned home at about 9:30 pm. At 10:30 pm, we decided it might be best to try to get some sleep, in case I woke up in the middle of the night to discover I was experiencing contractions. I laid in bed for 15 minutes, getting up frequently because the aching feeling had now become a sharp feeling, and it seemed to be worse when I laid down on my side. I started to feel nauseous, and within 10 minutes, I threw up part of the light dinner I had had. I attempted to return to bed, as I was quite tired. I may have dozed for about 15 minutes, but then woke, because the discomfort of the come-and-go back aches were too much to sleep through.

I got up, and tried timing the pains. But they were inconsistent. I would get five in a row that were only 4 minutes apart, and then get six in a row that were 10 minutes apart, etc. etc. Until now, I could easily walk through any of the back aches, but suddenly, I had to be sitting when they came on, because they were quite sharp. My husband stirred from sleep, realized I wasn’t in bed, and came to check on me. He asked me what I wanted to do, but I still was not convinced I was in labor. My husband encouraged me to at least call Sturgeon Community Hospital to ask one of the L&D nurses if we should go in. So at 12:45, I made the call. I described what I was experiencing, and the nurse said she wasn’t at all sure if I was in labor, my pains were irregular and only in my back, so she told me they were not obvious signs of labor. But she said I should come in anyway for peace of mind. I wasn’t entirely convinced we should go in after hanging up the phone, but decided being told it was all in my head and being sent home would at least ease my mind. Perhaps after that I could get some sleep!

We drove to St. Albert. The roads were dead the whole way there, and it seemed eerie to see the city at night. I had a hard time sitting down in the passenger seat when the aches would start, as having my back up against the seat seemed to make the pains sharper. We arrived at Sturgeon Community Hospital at about 1:30 am. I was hooked up to a monitor, and the nurse left to attend to other patients for awhile. My husband and I watched as the machine measuring my contractions went up to 93, when the aching got really strong, and then came slowly down to 25, where the aches died off. I was observed for about 30 minutes, and the nurse verified I was, after all, having contractions. I felt relieved, I wasn’t crazy after all. I had worried I was turning into a huge wuss and was making a huge deal out of some little back pain for no reason!

The nurse then examined me, and told me that I was dilated a stretchy 5 cm! They told me they had no rooms, so they were probably going to discharge me and have me drive to the Royal Alex. The nurse left to talk to the doctor on-call for the night, and a feeling of dread started to sink in. We were going to have to leave, and go to another hospital.

About 10 minutes later, the nurse returned. “Good news!” she told us, “You can stay.” I got really excited, but was in doubt, so I asked, “Really?!?” And she said, “Yes. I explained that you’re already a stretchy 5 cm, so he decided to let you stay! You’re going to be admitted.” My husband and I were both relieved, and I told the nurse I loved her. She laughed. A few minutes later, she was walking us upstairs to a room, even though we’d been told just shortly before that they had none available. We had a private LDR (Labor, Delivery & Recovery) room, which was one of the many reasons we had hoped to have our baby at Sturgeon in the first place after I had done a bit of research when I was 38 weeks along. The room also had a private bathroom with a walk-in shower and sitz bath.

Not long after settling into my room, I hopped into the sitz bath, after the nurse encouraged me to try it to manage the labor pains. It was absolutely wonderful. If I used the sitz bath and the shower head nozzle at the same time, and held the nozzle on my back when contractions came on, it toned the intensity down a few notches. After a good 30 minutes or so, my skin was red from sitting in the heat of the water so long, so I decided to hop out.

I attempted to lay in bed for a few contractions, but they were quite painful that way, so I asked to try out a birthing ball. When the nurse brought it in, my husband would hold warmed towels on my back in-between contractions, and then massage my back when contractions came on. This was another wonderful labor management technique for me. I found that heat made me feel wonderful, and I felt quite chilly throughout my labor. When I would feel too cool, I would hop back into the sitz bath for as long as it took to feel very hot, and then return to the birthing ball. I hopped into the sitz bath six or seven times by the end of my stay.

After my third visit to the sitz bath, the nurse checked me. It was about 7 am. I was only a stretchy 6 cm. My spirit felt a bit deflated. I had been admitted at about 2 am, and had been checked last at about 1:30 am. In 5 hours, I had only dilated 1 cm. At this rate, I’m not going to have the baby until tomorrow night at the earliest, I thought glumly. Back into the sitz bath I went, figuring if I was going to be there awhile, I might as well be as comfortable as possible. My husband came in and tried to help, offering to hold the nozzle over my belly for me, but I told him to try to get some rest. After all, he’d only had 2 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours by that point. He asked if I was sure over and over, but I insisted. He went to try to catch a bit of sleep in the lounger, and I started to doze off during the hour I spent in the, wonderfully, piping hot sitz bath.

A nurse came to check on me with the doppler, and suggested I lay in bed so my dilation could be checked again. With reluctance, I left the sitz bath. I wasn’t eager to leave its warmth, or be checked only to be told I hadn’t dilated at all. But I was checked, and I was almost at 8 cm! That was much faster progress than getting from 5 cm to 6 cm. This brightened my mood considerably. I was getting close. Soon, it would be over, and our son would finally be in our arms. The nurse had also checked our son’s position, and informed us he was sunny side up. She told me to try to lay in bed for a few contractions on my side to see if we could get him to turn. As three contractions came and went, I recall thinking to myself, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not in the sitz bath anymore, or just because I’m in bed, but these are the most excruciating contractions I’ve had yet! The nurse checked his position again. He hadn’t flipped. So she asked me to try laying on the other side. I passed through three or four more contractions, as my husband held my hand through them. It’s hard to describe the feeling of those back labor contractions, but it felt like a giant knot twisting my spine, pressing into my back, and then sending a sharp, aching feeling all the way up to my neck, and all the way down to my tailbone. The nurse checked the baby’s position once again. No change. She said she was going to leave for a bit and check me again in a little while.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine laying on the bed throughout the rest of my labor, since laying in bed seemed to be giving my back labor an undesired edge. I tried to use laughing gas through each contraction, but it was making me nauseous. Then the nausea seemed to grow stronger, even while I wasn’t using the laughing gas. I wanted to get up to go to the bathroom, but a moment later I had the overwhelming need to throw up, and leaning over the bed onto the floor was the best I could do. My husband asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t respond, each time I thought I was done, I would throw up a bit more. My husband went to get the nurse, since he didn’t know what was happening. By the time she had come, it was finally over. I apologized for the mess, but she told me there was nothing to be sorry about, and in a moment, it was all cleaned up. She also mentioned it was a good sign that the labor was progressing well.

When I was checked again, I was finally at a stretchy 8 cm. I had two nurses at that point, and they both encouraged me to try labouring on my knees, hugging the back of the bed while it is in an upright position. It was hard for me to change into that position, since there was little time in-between contractions, but I managed, and the contractions that came on were very intense. Then, all of a sudden, a contraction hit me and I had to push. I felt like my body did it automatically, and I was simply a bystander. I forced myself to stop, and took a few quick breaths, but again I had the strong urge to push, and I couldn’t stop it. “Don’t push, don’t push! It’s too soon to push, you aren’t at 10 cm yet!” the nurse told me. I tried to get control of my body, to stop from bearing down, and I cried out for the first time in my entire labor, trying as hard as I could to stop. I heard the second nurse say she was going to get the doctor, and saw her figure leave the room in the corner of my eye. The contraction passed, and I was okay. But I still felt a lot of pressure, and I was allowed to go to the restroom, after being reminded, “Peeing is okay, but no pushing!”

Once I had gotten off the toilet, I didn’t even make it to the door before another contraction hit me. It took all of my focus to control myself and resist the urge to bear down. My body started to push against my will again, and I had to really try to stop it. It felt like my brain was sending the message to my body to stop, but it was delayed, and took a minute for my body to respond to what I was asking. I forced myself to open the door, and I couldn’t seem to move my legs on my own. All the back labor was starting to make my spine feel like jell-o. My husband and one of the nurses came to offer me their arms, and with a lot of help, I managed to get back into bed. I returned to labouring on my knees, hugging the top of the bed. When the next contraction came on, the urge to bear down was irresistible, as it was the only thing that eased the pressure I was feeling. The nurse reminded me not to push, and I cried out again, and told my body once again to stop. The nurse gave me the laughing gas mask, and told me to breathe slowly, in, and out. If I broke the rhythm of breathing for even a moment, the urge to bear down would overcome me again, and I would cry out from the discomfort of resisting the pressure. I breathed in and out slowly, and the laughing gas relaxed me. The contraction stopped, and I took a break from the laughing gas. It felt like only a moment passed before another contraction started, and I was breathing with the laughing gas again, the nurse right there with me, reminding me to breath steadily.

Finally, I met the on-call doctor, Dr. Tam. She introduced herself and slipped into a disposable gown. She checked me, and told me my water hadn’t broken, so she was going to break it for me. I said okay. Another contraction started, and I focused all my energy on breathing steadily through the laughing gas mask the nurse held up for me, and not bearing down. There was a momentary relief of pressure, but then the pain peaked again.

As soon as it was over, I could hear Dr. Tam say, “Okay, it is a little more tricky to deliver the baby this way, since he is sunny side up, so we are going to try pushing this way. During the next contraction, go ahead and push, okay?” I looked at her, confused.

“But, my water hasn’t broken yet,” I said.

“I broke it already!” she told me. She and the nurse both laughed.

“What?” I said, bewildered, and surprised.

“Yes! I did it during your last contraction!”

“Oh,” I said, thoughtfully. I hadn’t felt it at all.

A moment later, it happened. The pain in my back got tense, the pressure formed again, and the urge to bear down filled me. But this time, I didn’t resist. I pushed for a minute with my breath held, and then cried out as I stopped. I took quick breaths in and out, and pushed again. But then the feeling passed. When the next contraction came, the process repeated. When the contraction was over, Dr. Tam said, “Okay, try laying down. It’s easier that way.” I was reluctant, since I had read so many stories about pushing while laying down being the most difficult. However, my back felt relieved when I managed, with a lot of help, to lay down. “When the next contraction comes, push as hard as you can, okay?” The contraction came, and I pushed, I could feel the baby’s head at the ring of fire, and it felt like trying to squeeze a ball through a plastic ring that was too small. It didn’t want to go. It’s not going to work, I thought. Oh my god, I’m not going to be able to do it, and then I’m going to have to have a c-section! The thought scared me, so I cried out, and gasped for air. I was psyching myself out. When the contraction was over, Dr. Tam told me I needed to take a deep breath, and then push as hard as I could. I was trying to push and breath at the same time, and it wasn’t going to do anything. So I collected myself, and when the next contraction hit, I focused on what she said. I took a deep breath, as deep as I could, as if I were about to dive deep into a pool, and then I held both my legs up and bore down as strongly as I could. “Good! Keep going, you’re doing a great job, Mom! That’s it!” It felt like I was pressing the ball was pressing tighter and tighter against the plastic disk. This doesn’t burn, I thought. “Okay, take a breath” she said, just as the contraction ended. I breathed quickly a few times. “One more push, and we’re going to get this baby out, okay?” I nodded. When the contraction came, I bore down again, feeling like the ball was putting so much pressure on the disk, it was about to burst. “That’s it!” she said. Suddenly, a relief, as if the ball and the disk were both gone. Dr. Tam lifted up the baby, and a moment later he took his first breath of air, and cried.
“It’s a boy!” she told us, and in just the blink of an eye, they were wiping him down. They asked if I wanted skin-to-skin contact. I said yes, and they helped me unbutton the top of my gown, and then they immediately placed my son on my chest. “Oh my god,” I said, tears welling up in my eyes, which I was helpless to stop. “He’s perfect. I can’t believe he’s ours. He’s just so perfect. I can’t believe we get to take him home.” Tears streamed down my face as he looked up at me with his perfect round eyes. It felt like I was filled to the brim with so much happiness, it was spilling out of me in tears. Somehow, seeing my son didn't feel like I was meeting someone new. Instead, if felt like I was finally reunited with someone I've always known. “Hi, baby. Hi, handsome,” I said to him. For the next few minutes, all I could do was say the same kinds of things over and over. I looked up at my husband, and behind his glasses, I could see he was welling up a little bit, too. I was shocked, never in my life had I seen him like that.

And so we welcomed our son, Baby E, into the world. Fashionably late—-6 days past his due date—-at 10:24 am.

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A Textbook Pregnancy, or Something Like It

My first 8 weeks were blissful. Only a few incidents of “morning sickness” (funnily enough, it never happened in the morning), very little nausea, and no other symptoms. The day after I woke up with a positive pregnancy test, I started to feel like a different person. I was already a mother. But I wouldn’t get to meet my baby for 9 months. I’d think, in amazement, how with each passing moment, and each passing day, a perfect little child with ten little fingers, and ten little toes, was forming in my womb. I was walking on air.

But then, something happened. I started to read, a lot. All kinds of posts on all kinds of experiences… in books, in magazines, all over the web. That was a mistake. The seed of doubt, once planted, is impossible to dispose of. My mind started to weigh down with all the horrible things that could happen at any—-and every—-moment. Miscarriage, pre-term labor, gestational diabetes, eating the wrong thing that can affect the baby… the list goes on and on. There is truly an endless list of things that can go wrong in a pregnancy.

I took my prenatal vitamins every day. I actually quite liked them. Rainbow Light Certified Organic Prenatal Vitamins (in vegetarian capsules!) were gentle, and never upset my stomach, a problem I consistently have with superficial vitamins. I tried to eat healthy, and yet would worry I was not eating healthy enough. I’d worry the fumes of something could hurt the baby. It became ridiculous. And then I started to freak out about labor. I thought to myself, How am I ever going to do this? Now that I’ve gotten myself into this, there’s no going back. I’ll never be able to do it!!!

A friend went to a baby expo with a parent friend of hers, and picked me up a few things. I won’t ever be able to repay her for that kindness, as it had a priceless affect on me. Among other things, she had picked up a book called Adventures in Birthing: Natural Childbirth Stories and Approaches by Janet Schwegel, published by ASAC, the same people who publish the Birth Issues magazine in Alberta. Forget What to Expect When You’re Expecting, this is the book I’d recommend every pregnant woman to read.

I read the book slowly and thoughtfully, really visualizing the experiences these women were having in the book as they shared their stories of labor and childbirth. There were a lot of moments I was grossed out, “Mucus plug? What? Eww!!!” But something slowly started happening inside me as I worked my way through the book. I’d come to accept the things I was reading, and acknowledge them as natural. By the end of the book, I wasn’t afraid anymore. Although unassisted childbirth didn’t seem like what I wanted, I did want to use a midwife, and although a home birth wasn’t an option for me (house was under renovations), a birthing centre seemed like a beautiful idea. I called around to the 5 midwifery groups in Edmonton, AB, my hopes high for having the birthing experience I now had in my head. I was quite disappointed to discover they were all booked up already. So I resigned myself to a hospital birth at the Royal Alexandria in downtown.

Things proceeded as expected. The months came, and went. When I was 23 weeks along, we went to UC Baby for a 3D ultrasound. I was in awe of this perfect, chubby-cheeked little guy sitting in my belly. We also found out the gender. My suspicion had been right: we were expecting a little baby boy. After it was over, we ran errands while we bickered over the name. We had two favorites, and had opposite opinions about which name was the most suitable for our little boy. Now that we’d actually seen him, it seemed only appropriate to find his name.

One thing I was immensely surprised by, was that I never… ever… got the pregnancy waddle. I swear, I really didn’t. Each day, I’d expect it to start happening, but it never did. I also never had to roll out of bed. At 7 months, my husband and I took a road trip to Vancouver, and on our last day (we were there and on Vancouver Island for a total of 8 days) I climbed the Grouse Grind trail of Grouse Mountain. It was slow going, as the 1.8 mile hike (which was very steep, mind you) took us 2 hours. But we did it, and I can’t even explain the amazing feeling that overcomes you when you get to the top and realize you made it.

Around this time—-after all, I hiked up a steep trail for 2 hours and didn’t go into labor early—-I started to suspect our son would be born late. One thing was starting to weigh heavily on my mind. Shortly after we got back from our Vancouver trip, an ultrasound done for medical reasons came back showing some white spots on the heart. My OB informed me that is a soft marker for down syndrome. She told me that it was very unlikely, and that I should forget about it. But, still. The seed was planted. I worried, mostly in silence. When my husband brought it up, I acted like I wasn’t concerned so as not to scare him.

Then, our second scare happened. Around 36 weeks, I went in for my usual appointment with my OB. She listened to my baby’s boy’s heartbeat, like any other appointment. But this time, there’d be a random stop, and then the heartbeats would continue again. I thought it was nothing until I heard it for the fourth time. My OB said, to be safe, I should go in for an ultrasound the following week. I said little, but internally, I was really freaking out.

Five days later, my husband and I went in for the ultrasound. As I looked at the monitor of my baby, I thought to myself how perfect he looked. “Everything is going to be fine,” I told myself. The technician said nothing during the whole ultrasound, and then excused herself to consult the supervising doctor on shift. When she came back, she wasn’t alone. “Oh my god, something must be wrong,” I thought. I felt tears threaten to unleash themselves, and I held them back. Even my husband, when he looked up, was startled to see that the doctor had come in. He also suspected it must be because there was bad news. The doctor introduced himself, and said he was going to do the ultrasound. After a minute, he said, “I’m trying to find out why you’re—-otherwise perfectly healthy—-baby is having a skipped heartbeat.” He didn’t speak for another few minutes. “Here,” he said. Pointing it out for the technician as well as us. “You see this?” There were a few lines under the baby’s head. “The umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck, I’d say three times.” That was the culprit. He told us that it did not harm the baby, and there was no reason to intervene with anything. “There are precautions they will probably take with delivery, but chances are things will be fine.” Then he was gone. Finally, I felt I could exhale.

My due date, August 27th, came and went. Finally, 6 days overdue, my husband and I welcome our son into the world. He was perfectly healthy, so I had worried for naught.

One thing to remember about pregnancy, is that each experience is unique. Your pregnancy, labor, and birthing experience will be yours, and yours alone. Even with multiple children, each pregnancy is its own, so enjoy it for what it is. It only happens once.

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Me at 23 weeks

The Beginning (of Parenthood)

I grew up in a big family, and let me tell you… Two parents + five kids + one grandparent all living under the same roof = perpetual chaos. At least for our household. This could be because our household was a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the heart of San Francisco.

Regardless, having so many siblings, and being the eldest, it gave me a very early head start on thinking about babies. At the age of 12, I was helping out immensely with the upbringing of my (then) 3-year-old brother. I’d watch endless episodes of “A Baby Story,” and my favorite toy was a baby doll. A little weird? Yes, okay, a little weird. But I just found them so fascinating. I knew then that if I were to have kids, I wanted them earlier rather than later.

Fast-forward to many years down the road. Somehow, my thinking had evolved from knowing I wanted kids, to firmly believing I didn’t want kids. This has mostly to do with the fact that I had some self-image issues as a teenager (who doesn’t?), and so the idea of pregnancy unpredictably changing anything and everything about my body really scared the heck out of me.

But, then I married the love of my life. After two years of him occasionally mentioning “If I had a son, I’d never let them ___!” or “If I had a kid, I’d want them to ___!” I started thinking about it more seriously. I had known since I had met him in 2006 that he wanted kids. He wasn’t one of those guys who said they might want kids. He knew he wanted kids. And while he hoped I changed my mind, he had resigned himself to the fact that we may never have any. I didn’t tell him I was thinking about it, but I took the next year to internally mull over the concept of our having kids.

Selfishly, I have to admit one of my biggest concerns was that I didn’t really want to share my husband. I love him, dearly, and it already feels like we don’t spend enough time together. And I mean quality time. Not him sitting on his iPad reading the news while I’m reading a book on the couch, and we just happen to be in the same room together. So if I occasionally felt neglected when there were only the two of us, how might it feel if a baby were thrown into the mix?

Finally, I couldn’t get any further in my thoughts without having someone else in the conversation. I broached the topic with my husband. I expressed my concerns (one of which was that he might not be attracted to me anymore if I gained a lot of weight), and he soothed all of my worries. We also discussed waiting another 5+ years v.s. having kids in the immediate future. We both felt sooner was better than later, since neither of us was getting any younger.

So it was decided. We were going to have a baby, and soon.

Two months later, after having our first go at it, I found out I was pregnant two weeks later, a few days before Christmas. And that was the beginning of our journey…

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