Welcome to my maternity leave…

I always thought I would be one of those women who worked until her water broke. I imagined texting my boss in the middle of the night to let him know I wouldn’t be coming in to work the next day. I would have all my accounts wrapped up nicely in a bow, all my policies issued and accounts cleared… only, that didn’t happen. Why am I even surprised? This pregnancy has been unlike anything I’ve ever imagined.

Sometime in the last week the nesting urge took over… It started with me wanting to rearrange the living room and one thing led to another and we ended up organizing the spare bedroom and putting away our winter coats and decluttering the basement and color coding the bookshelf, which is probably when the thought hit me… when was the last time I sat down to read a book, uninterrupted?? Suddenly, working until my water broke did not seem like such a badge of honor. I wanted to sleep in if I wanted to, read a book or two, do an art project or go for a walk or do nothing at all. I wanted some time to myself before the baby came… So, I called my boss the next day and told him I wanted to go out on maternity leave early.

So, fast forward to today… my first day being at home, supposedly enjoying the time off that I had earned, so why was I feeling so anxious? I woke up at 7 AM like I normally do and couldn’t go back to sleep. By 9 AM I had a nagging feeling that I was playing hooky from work. I tried watching TV but nothing interested me. I tried reading a book, but kept getting interrupted with thoughts of work. Did I move all my files over? Did I let all my brokers know? Should I call my boss to see how things were going? I mean, c’mon, how pretentious am I? Obviously, life goes on without me… duh! By 1:30 PM I I was utterly bored and miserable. I tried taking a nap, but when I woke up I felt even worse. Seriously, what is wrong with me?

For many years now, my job has been my anchor. It has defined me as an individual and given me a sense of purpose… if that sounds sad to some of you readers, then so be it. I’m owing it! When nothing else was working in my life, I had work to fall back on. So, now that I’ve given it up voluntarily for some ‘me time’, what the heck am I supposed to do? How am I going to handle showing up to a new job where I’m the only one at the office for the next several weeks?

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Once the baby is here, I will have my hands full… In the meantime, I have to come up with a plan.

How did you handle transitioning into maternity leave?

Baby Lelan- 38 Weeks!

Even as I type this, I feel a slight guilt creeping in… I swore I wouldn’t rush my little guy, but I catch myself talking to him every day, trying to coax him out. Sorry little one, I’m a bit impatient to meet you! Mostly, I’m just filled with excitement for the impending labor. I’ve been training like I would for a marathon and I’m ready to go!

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How far along? Today, I’m 38.2 weeks pregnant! Most babies are considered full-term anywhere between 38 & 41 weeks. So, it’s quite possible that I have another 2 or 3 weeks to go! I can’t imagine being pregnant for that much longer. But, this is a lesson I have to learn in letting go of any plans I have in mind. My little watermelon will choose his own birthday. As his mother, I promise to fiercely protect his right to choose his own destiny. I just need to breathe…

Total weight gain/loss: I’ve gained somewhere around 38 lbs. All of it in my stomach. ALL OF IT! And, I’m going to miss it when it’s gone. Something about seeing a rounded belly when you look down is… beautifully feminine and I know many pregnant women who can relate to this. So, where does all this weight go? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
1.5 pounds the placenta,
7 pounds maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients
7.5 pounds your average full-term baby
2 pounds breast tissue (we know it feels like so much more!)
4 pounds increased fluid volume
4 pounds increased blood volume
2 pounds the uterus
2 pounds amniotic fluid
Total = 30 pounds

Symptoms: I’m uncomfortable all the time… but, that’s to be expected at this stage in my pregnancy. I’m not feeling any pain, whatsoever, so there’s that. I can feel my stomach tighten and relax a lot more, which may or may not be an early sign of labor. Pretty much everything now can be a sign of labor… or not eyeroll! My heartburn has kicked into full gear. Everything gives me heartburn. The other day I ate a PB&J sandwich and had the WORST heartburn of my life. Go figure?!?! I read somewhere that it’s because the baby has a lot of hair. And, today during my ultrasound appointment, my doctor remarked on how much hair our son has… amazing! I can’t wait!

Cravings: Sugar, Ice-cream, Sweets, Milk, did I say Sugar? Any discipline I’ve held on to has gone out the window during these last couple of weeks.

Best moments: Today was my last day of work… When I finally shut down the network this evening, I felt a rush of relief. I won’t be logging back in for another 12 weeks, give or take and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it… But, I’m okay. Like a passing of a baton, I felt a seamless, yet deliberate shift of energy towards the next phase of my life.

Looking forward to: Meeting my son… any day now! It’s mind blowing! I can’t think of anything more exciting than that.

Current wisdom: Surrender is a scary word… it demands utter faith and absolute trust in a process you cannot possibly fathom. It’s about being open and giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing what is beyond your control. I think I’m finally ready…

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He said… She said…

Reason# 1456 why we won’t be co-sleeping with our baby.

Last night I was startled awake in the middle of the night…

Him: Babe, what are we going to do? She’s up there… She could hurt herself (totally agitated and pointing to the exposed beams on our ceiling)
Me: Just go back to sleep. It’s okay, honey. (Patting his forehead)
Him: Ugh, you just don’t care. (Rolls over and goes back to sleep)

This morning I find out that Rob had a vivid dream of two tiny Asian ladies wearing vests swinging from our ceiling… One of them ended up on our tall dresser and naturally he was worried for her safety.

Hahahaha! Never a dull moment!

Sleep has left the building!

2015-11-21-15-47-18.jpgIt’s official…  My worst fears have been realized. Sleep has left the building and it doesn’t look like it will be returning anytime soon.

By all accounts I’ve had a textbook pregnancy so, with less than 3 weeks to go, this is to be expected. But, anyone who knows me can attest to how much I enjoy sleeping, so I’m experiencing a bit of an adjustment. Last night I couldn’t fall asleep until 1 am, woke up at least 6 or 7 times to pee… I stopped counting and this morning I was wide awake at 7 am. This is definitely  preparation for the weeks ahead, I’m sure! So, I’m embracing it!

Here’s a list of things that I’ve been focusing on lately. Maybe some of you are on the same boat and can relate, or better yet, share your thoughts on this list.

1. Packrat! I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to get the hospital bag packed. I have a bag, a list of things to pack in the bag and I’ve washed everything I think I’ll need for myself and the baby, but something about putting this bag together has eluded me. Here’s my list:

  • Hospital documents including Picture ID, Insurance Card
  • Toiletries, including Chapstick, Lotion, Hair products
  • Bathroom slippers/Socks
  • Undergarments, including Nursing stuff, Sanitary pads,
  • Pajamas, comfortable change of clothes for both mom & dad
  • Going home outfit for mom
  • Going home outfit for baby in NB & 3mos sizes
  • Receiving blanket for baby
  • Swaddling blanket for baby
  • Socks, hats, mittens for baby
  • Car Seat (This is done!)
  • Electronics- Phone, Camera, Chargers
  • Snacks/ Drinks/ Quarters for vending machine

Did I miss anything???

2. There’s an app for what? My friends tell me that I need to download a contraction timer app, a baby vitals monitoring app to ease through labor and the early days. It’s nice to get in the practice of recording everything and nothing beats data when you’re trying to figure out sleeping and eating schedules. So, I’m on board. The contraction app seems pretty straight forward, I downloaded “contraction timer” on my android but does anyone have a suggestion regarding the latter? What questions will come up during the first pediatrician’s visit?

3. Finding a Pediatrician: As a new parent, it’s important to find a pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable with. If your child becomes ill, you want to have a good working relationship with a doctor you trust and respect, and who will be there to support you. Ask around and determine what your personal preferences are, male vs. female, proximity etc. Research on healthgrades.com and yelp for potential red flags about a doctor. Don’t wait until the last minute as we have. When meeting with the pediatrician, don’t hesitate to interview them. Here are a few questions:

  • What are your office hours? Is emergency coverage available 24/7?
  • Which hospital does he/she have privileges in?
  • Do they accept your insurance plan and how does the office process billing and claims?
  • What are the qualifications of the pediatrician? Is he or she an AAP member (i.e., “FAAP,” a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics)?
  • What are his/her thoughts on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, circumcision, parenting techniques, getting babies to sleep, alternative medicine, antibiotics, immunizations, childhood obesity?

While you’re there, take mental notes on how clean, kid-friendly and professional the office is. My guess is that we will go through a few doctors before finding one we like for our son. Trust your gut!

4. Cord Blood Banking: I have to admit, I had not thought about this much. Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use. I did ask a few friends informally but didn’t get any satisfactory answers. A quick google search revealed more than I wanted to know… for example, private blood banks typically charge a $1,500 – $2,000 collection fee and an annual $100 – $200 fee per child. Over a lifetime, that adds up to a pretty penny. All for what??!! It turns out that the odds that the cord blood of any given baby will be needed by that baby later in life are quite small…  1 in 2700, according to Dr. Steven Joffe, a pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School. One reason is that for many of the conditions where a blood cell transplant is the answer, a patient’s own blood cells cannot be used, because they would reintroduce the disease you are trying to cure. A sibling donor is almost always ideal, but in most cases, that sibling is still alive and available as a donor, so banked blood is not needed. There is an option to donate our son’s chord blood to a public bank, so, I think we’ll be going down that route and saving our hard earned money for better options.

5. To eat or not to eat? Yes, I’m talking about my placenta and before you say ewww gross, let me just say, most other mammals, except humans, routinely consume their afterbirth. Still, the truth is there’s not much evidence to say whether the practice benefits humans. A few small studies have connected placenta-eating with increased breast-milk supply and increased energy. But no studies have looked at the possible risks, if any, of ingesting human tissue. Most medical experts believe that there’s no known benefit to eating your afterbirth, but I’m still curious, so I contacted a local postpartum doula who specializes in this practice. The placenta can be dehydrated and made into pills for around $300 for a 3-4 month supply. If you’re considering this, please find someone who is experienced and knowledgeable and always consult your physician or midwife before taking anything.

6. Breastfeeding: A friend of mine suggested that I take a breastfeeding class before I give birth, but there are quite a few videos on YouTube on this subject that can give you a running head start. Most insurances will cover lactation services while in the hospital, so definitely take advantage of it. Lastly, speak to a lactation consultant in your area and have their number on speed dial before you go into labor… if breastfeeding is not going well, for whatever reason, invest the $100 and learn the skills necessary to get it right. Most consultants will come to your home and help you put together a plan for how to manage breastfeeding during the early days postpartum.

7. Bringing home baby! I can’t believe that after only a couple of days in the hospital, they’re gonna let me go home with a newborn. If the thought doesn’t terrify you even a little, then nothing ever will. I’m going to be responsible for another human being for the rest of my life. eeeek! While I feel very confident that my instincts will kick in once he’s born, I don’t think anyone is ever quite ready for what’s ahead. So, it’s important to have a plan to manage the first 24hrs, the first weeks and month, until you become a pro get the hang of things. Here are some things to think about:

  • Do you have all the essentials ready and setup for your baby? This includes a place for baby to sleep, change and feed.
  • Have you ordered your breastpump through insurance?
  • Will you have full-time help for the first 24hrs after you come home? Trust me, you will need someone there!
  • Have you planned your freezer meals ahead of time?
    • OR
  • Have you identified someone to prepare your meals, shop for groceries, help with light household cleaning, laundry etc. during the first couple of weeks?
    • OR
  • Have you researched postpartum doula or mother’s helper services in your area? Most start at $35/hr and will provide postnatal services including light cooking and cleaning services during the early weeks. Care.com has some wonderful part-time helpers you can research.

Have I overwhelmed you yet? I hope not… Part of being prepared involves thinking and talking about these things. As a naturally inquisitive person, I’m always looking up things online or asking silly questions of my friends. Luckily, I’m surrounded by well-informed friends and family who always have something new to add.

8. Love is all you need! The transition to parenthood can test the strongest of relationships. Not surprisingly, 69% of new parents experience conflict, disappointment and hurt feelings during the first few months. I could probably write a separate post on this topic but, I’m no expert. For now just remember, this too shall pass. As a good friend said, don’t start sleep wars and be kind to each other. So what if the house is messy and you haven’t showered in a couple of days… give each other a break!  You’re a family now and like everything new in life, it will take some getting used to.

 

Time is elastic

The excitement in our house is palpable… We are truly in the home stretch and everyone is on high alert. Any day now there will be a signal, a gentle nudge from mother nature, that initiates an ancient ritual that women have performed over eons. My body knows the steps and I simply need to follow its lead. I’m not in control of any of it yet, I hold the reigns and it feels strangely empowering, no matter how things play out in the end, to realize that I’m following in the footsteps of my ancestors. I’m fulfilling my role in the history of evolution in the propagation of my species. I’m merely a cog in this colossal design.

Last weekend a thoughtful collection of friends, family and well wishers, both young and old, congregated to celebrate my journey. I was showered with love by these folks who showed up for me and made it count. Next to the uterus, the heart is my favorite organ in the human body, for it expands beyond time and space touching everyone and everything in its wake. Suddenly, strangers feel like family and with a quiet nod my tribe swells with pride. I’m riding on a natural high, fully supported, and feeling confident in my ability to enter into a new realm.

When I began this journey little did I know that many of my decisions would be influenced by instinct. The analytic in me tried to read, absorb as much as I could, but little by little my desire to know was replaced by my desire to… just be. It truly has been a journey inward, accepting whatever is in store for me and being at peace with those things that I cannot control. It has brought me and my partner closer together. We are a team and we have each other’s back. So many couples let their children, once they’re born, become the focus of their lives, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I feel very strongly that our partnership should and will always come before everything else. As long as we have each other, we can be whatever we need to be for our kids… for our families… for everyone else.

On Sunday, we finished our last Hypnobabies class in preparation for childbirth and let me tell you, it was worth every penny! We opted for an instructor led course for the following reasons:

  • We wanted a weekly routine to anchor us into this process
  • We wanted to meet and learn from other like-minded couples
  • We wanted to tap into all available local resources through this course

The information itself is quite overwhelming and I’m pretty sure we would’ve been lost had we chosen the self-study course. But, we had a wonderful instructor who kept us focused on what we needed to know and the weekly assignments- homeplay– helped us hone in on the techniques that were taught in class.

The concept of Hypnobabies is nothing new to anyone who is on a spiritual journey. Simply by changing the way we approach something, we have the power to change its outcome. By creating and maintaining a bubble of peace around us at all times, we consciously maintain a positive mind frame throughout our pregnancy and throughout our lives, really. And, by reinforcing positive imagery through daily affirmations we are able to rid the mind of any and all negative associations about pregnancy and giving birth, in general. Mind over matter! Do I think childbirth will be easy? Absolutely not! Do I think it will be pain-free? Not really. But, pain is subjective and pressure is temporary. The goal is to stay relaxed and mindful… to be present in the moment and completely trust the body’s ability to birth naturally.

We spent the rest of the weekend nesting, finishing up odd projects for the nursery, hanging pictures, assembling furniture, resting etc. Almost all of the baby furniture, with the exception of the crib, were donated to us by our friends and I can’t tell you how special that feels! The bassinet, the bouncer, the swing have all held other sweet, happy babies who are already part of our lives. They contain so much history already. We’re beyond blessed to be a part of this community and the beneficiaries of such benevolence! The crib was bought by my mother in law, in keeping with tradition, and it too holds a lot of sentiment. I can’t help but smile everytime I walk past it!

So, for now we wait… for our baby to choose his birthday. In the meantime, we fuss over the details, practice our patience, condition our minds and try to contain our anticipation, knowing fully well that our attempts are futile against the mounting precipice. But, the indeterminate buzz in the air keeps us grounded and we clasp our hands together and repeat… yes. yes. yes. to everything ahead of us!

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