My Pregnancy and Birth Related Checklists

I’d like to preface this post with the following disclaimer, you’ll probably look through these lists thinking I am a little crazy and a control freak, and you’re probably right.  I am a planner at heart and love the process and thinking about the process almost as much as the end result.  Babies are no different in my book.  Bulleted you will find the items I planned before having my second (I really had no clue before my first) and italicized you will find my review of those items and also what I am doing to prepare for my third baby.  Also, these items most definitely DO NOT pertain to everyone and every situation, just sharing what has worked well for me!  It’s also been important for me to examine why I make these lists, if my intent is to control every outcome of events that I want to go a certain way, I will be disappointed.  My goal is to do my part in preparing for things to come but also remain flexible in the event that something does happen that I didn’t plan for.  Now that I have older kids I also don’t want my planning to get in the way of enjoying the current special family dynamic before a new sibling arrives.

Before Getting Pregnant:

  • Reach ideal weight: I can’t tell you how thankful I am that this happened finally for my third! This pregnancy has been my most active and comfortable and I’d like to think starting fit and healthy had something to do with it.
  • Purchase and start taking a prenatal vitamin: as soon as I got that positive pregnancy test I started taking them!
  • If needed, do a pap smear now: if you can use the word “comfortable” with this procedure, it is more comfortable before you are pregnant!
  • Health insurance check: It’s wise to know how much a new addition will cost during pregnancy (things like ultrasounds and blood tests) and for the birth.

Once Pregnant:

  • Buy: My “morning sickness friendly foods” weren’t quite the same with each pregnancy, but it sure was nice to have something in the house the second I started feeling sick!
    • Ginger Ale
    • Saltines
    • Lemonade
    • Maternity shirt for pictures: If you want to use the same shirt for the whole pregnancy make sure it will accommodate a large pregnant belly…made this mistake with my second.
  • Frozen Meals: This was a life saver and doing this before I felt sick was important!
    • Dinners: Chicken Enchiladas, Lasagna, Pulled Pork. I’ve found that covering a dish with wax paper, taping the sides down, then adding foil on top helps preserve freshness in the freezer.
    • Breakfast: Pancakes, Waffles, Muffins
  • Cleaning routines:
    • Stock up on disposable dishes/silverware
  • Clothes:
    • Get maternity/comfy clothes out of storage
  • Schedule:
    • Minimize commitments for 14 weeks: This is because of morning sickness and fatigue, if you’re lucky enough not to experience these things carry on living your normal life.  😉    
    • Try to avoid vacations: That didn’t happen this time and it was tough! 
    • Organize a list of necessities from the store, have the husband shop
    • Schedule a nap: Doable only if your kids sleep at the same time!

Second Trimester

  • Clean out closet and drawers, garage, and basically do all the stuff that has been piling up during the first trimester: This is the stage when I had the most energy and the smallest belly to accomplish these things.
  • Older Sibling Preparation: Start reading “big brother” books, talk about ways they can be helpful (hand me wipes and diapers, blankets, and pacifier for new baby) and what our life will be like with a newborn.  We also moved our boys to a “big boy bed” and got them well established in their new room before they could feel like a new baby was “kicking them out of their old room.” This is also a good time to start building age appropriate independent skills (climbing into and bucking themselves into carseats, getting used to holding hands instead of being carried around, wiping their own bottom ;), getting their own water, etc)
  • If you know what you are going to do for the nursery, do it now! : I always seem to underestimate how long things take me to do during the third trimester.

Third Trimester

  • Think through where the baby will sleep, how the baby will eat, how you will transport the baby in the car, what the baby will wear, and what type of birth is ideal for you and prepare for these first: having these things done will ensure that you have the “essentials” accomplished and allow you enough time to think through these decisions.
  • Older Sibling Preparation: Talk about guidelines/boundaries with baby gear (we don’t climb in baby beds or touch swings or bouncers in this house), practice holding a baby and what they can touch (feet, hands, kiss the top of the babies head, etc) and what to say when they are done holding the baby and then to WAIT for the adult to take the baby from them (newborns are amazingly resilient). Gather “nursing time” toys or special activities that they can do only while mom nurses the new baby (books, puzzles, color wonder marker sets). Think about anything in your daily routine that requires your immediate attention from your kids and work on their patience with these things.
  • Get out the “next size/season” for the older siblings, store/give back clothes that are too small: ideally this would be done in the second trimester when you have the most energy and ability to lift storage bins, but you want to do it closest to the birth as possible to make sure you will have the right season/size in their closets.
  • Pick out and wrap presents for older siblings and new baby to exchange with each other: This time I made the gift from the “baby” to her older brothers the special items to use during nursing time. It was fun to see the things the boys wanted to buy for their new sister (a soft blanket to hold her in and an owl car seat toy)
  • Blow up exercise ball: So helpful to sit on during Braxton hicks contractions, but it was never comfortable during “real” labor for me.
  • Put together “nursing friendly” outfits in drawers: It was so nice to come home from the hospital to a home already set up for life with a newborn.
  • Set up “stations” with diapering and nursing necessities: living room, baby’s room, master bedroom.  It was so nice to have everything I needed in each room instead of trying to remember…where did I use that last? with my sleep deprived brain.   I also liked keeping a nursing cover in the living room for when guests were over.
  • Coordinate and pass out schedule of who will watch the older siblings: Haven’t had to do this before but it is helpful for me to already have people lined up to take care of the boys/get me to the hospital in case Mel is too far away. I won’t have to try and coordinate all of this while in labor.
  • Create a list of people to update on the way to the hospital.
  • Plan loose goals to accomplish for the next six months, balance projects/fun activities for last few weeks of pregnancy: This was very helpful and this time I am adding some healthy eating/exercise goals.
  • Organize Desk with folders: “Urgent”, “Check weekly”, “Can wait until whenever I want” for incoming mail and paperwork
  • Get thank you cards ready for gifts in hospital/for those first few weeks
  • Create and Print labels for Birth Announcements
  • What holidays or birthdays are coming up? What can you plan/do ahead for these?
  • Pictures: Line up hospital photographer, newborn photographer
  • Freeze meals for post pregnancy
  • Create a “Helper Friendly Routine” list for where to find clothing, meals for, and activities with older kids for family or friends helping out during the postpartum period. Including things like special instructions for appliances, TV, remote, etc.
  • Pack for Hospital: My babies have come at 38 weeks so I like to have this done no later than 36 weeks.
    • Birth Plan: I like having one but have veered from it a little each time and that is OK. Flexibility is key with these! 🙂
    • Shuffle and speakers: I like to a have a mix of calming music ready to play during labor, but once I got an epidural I found that I didn’t need ANY extra help relaxing, I felt great!
    • Toiletries:  Whatever I would pack for a night away and make sure I have hair ties and chapstick, oh and I loved have feminine wipes for after the delivery.
    • Nursing friendly PJs (dark colors are ideal), warm socks or slipper, and a nursing cover/pillow: I never used my boppy in the hospital.
    • “Going Home Outfits’ for myself and baby: “Make sure mine is “nursing friendly.”
    • Baby’s clothes/blanket/socks/hat in a couple of different sizes that you can use based on how big the baby ends up being: This time I’m also bringing my own chemical free shampoo, diapers, and wipes
    • Pack for older siblings: Anything they would need overnight including any special outfits for when they first meet their new sibling.
    • Make list of “items to grab last minute”: My Glasses, make up bag,  phone charger, security items for older siblings, camera
    • Install car seat
  • When in labor:
    • Have “items to grab last minute” list easily accessible
    • Make sure camera/shuffle batteries are charged
    • Let the people on your “people to update on the way to the hospital” list know what’s happening!

ImageI’m excited to try out the “RockNPlay” this time around! Also, in the bin on my nightstand I have a changing pad, diapers, wipes, and my favorite discovery for the middle of the night diaper changes…a book light.  It is a small but bright concentration of light for a specific area, meaning that you don’t have to turn on a bright room light to see what you are doing. I’ve found this promotes getting back to sleep faster for everyone in the room!

Below: A picture from “Older Sibling Bootcamp” I like to set up the swing and get other baby gear out a while before the baby comes to get them used to it and what our guidelines are with these fun new “toys.”

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Minor Drama Defined

I broke my “Facebook Code of Ethics” last night without realizing it.  There are several types of posts I try to avoid in this era of living intentionally—a vague post is one of them.  I carefully chose my words, but I now realize the strong implications, given that I was talking about my baby, that the words “minor drama” can have.  By the amount of texts and messages I received I recognized that more of an explanation might be helpful (thank you to my friends who expressed your concern for us!). So I will explain what happened yesterday in two ways.

The short and sweet explanation, or what we call the “Man Version” around here, is that an ultrasound technician called me the morning after my 20 week scan and asked if I could come in for another scan that day.  He said they didn’t get clear enough images the first time.  I said yes, scheduled my exam, and found out that night that Daelynn was indeed healthy.

The “Female Version” of this story adds a few more details.  I felt anxious and excited going into my first 20 week ultrasound…would they find anything wrong, is she still a girl, was my life about to change forever due to the images we all saw? I can be a little dramatic at times, I know.  I also feel  like I am not naïve anymore, life is so precious and fleeting, and I truly need to enjoy each day with my loved ones because I do not know what I will face tomorrow.

I instantly liked my technician, she was warm and talkative…perfect, I wanted her to talk as much as possible during the scan!  I let her know that I understood and respected that there were only certain things she could tell me, but to anything and everything she wanted to share I would gladly listen.  She proceeded checking things off her list: heart, kidneys, stomach, diaphragm, brain, face, limbs, cord, etc. She would tell me what she was looking for and when she found it, just not a “looks good” or “everything looks fine.” She confirmed that Daelynn is definitely a girl and was in the frank breech position.  Not the ideal position, but she is still so small and will most likely be changing positions frequently for the next ten weeks.  Mel and the boys came in for the last part of the ultrasound and we got some the pictures I shared on Facebook that night.  That was it, now I just needed to wait for my midwife to receive the report and then I could find out the exact findings of that scan.

One of my favorite aspects of having Kaiser is the ease of being able to communicate directly with my doctor/midwife. While I have rarely had a phone conversation with them, the internal message center has been a very reliable way to communicate and I have usually been able to get a response from the doctor/midwife herself in twelve hours or less. That night I promptly messaged one of the midwives that is caring for me during this pregnancy and who happened to deliver Micah.  I asked if she would be willing to share the results of the ultrasound report when she receives it instead of me waiting until my appointment next week.  I willingly admit that I am not patient when it comes to test results!

The next morning I was going about my usual Thursday routine after dropping Joel off at preschool when I got a call from an unknown number.  I answered it and learned that it was an ultrasound technician from Kaiser.  He said that some of the images from my scan the day before were not clear and he’d like to get me in ASAP, like one hour from then. He said it was very important that they have a complete report to give to the doctor and I really needed to come in that day (I found that comment odd because the tech the day before stated a few times that she had gotten really good images of everything she needed!).  I calmly asked if there was anything more he could tell me. He said something like “Oh, these phone calls always freak mothers out.” (UHHHM YES!) “He said don’t worry, it’s only bad news if a doctor calls you.”  Ok, trying not worry…that was going to be my goal for the day.  I called Mel and let him know the latest update, and he offered to help coordinate his parents watching the boys since it would be difficult for him to make it to the appointment.

I made a few phone calls/texts and asked for prayer.  Prayer for peace and that they would get the pictures they needed that evening.  I then had to ask God for help numerous times that day, I wanted to take every thought captive and not let my imagination run wild with different problems that my little girl could be facing.  A lesson I have learned this year, and need to keep learning, is that I need to be thankful for what I know to be true day to day or minute to minute…not worry about what I do not know.  I cannot control all that is going to happen in my life, and I need to fully trust Jesus, He will do a much better job than I ever could.  I often prayed throughout the day, “Thank you Jesus for each day that I get to be pregnant with Daelynn, thank you for this day.  Thank you that I can feel her gentle movements and carry her in the amazing way you have designed babies to grow.”

After nap time, I dropped my kids off with Mel’s dad and headed to the Kaiser Hospital in Roseville.  I checked into the radiology department and waited for my name to be called.  While I was waiting I got a phone call from my midwife.  She said that she received my message and wanted to give me the information she knew at that point.  She said that the incomplete report indicated that everything they had definite images for looked wonderful and healthy, yay!!! I asked her what part of her body they did not get clear images of—it was her brain. She said she would let me know the results of the report when she got them the next day.

My name was called and I followed an ultrasound technician into the scan room.  She said there were only a couple images she needed to get.  She also shared that an image from the original scan made it appear as though there might be a cyst growing in her brain. (WHAT?!!) She shared that usually if the technician finds a cyst, he or she will leave a note for whoever creates the final report for the doctor.  There was no note attached to that image making it seem like it was probably just a shadow, but they needed to know for sure.  The scan only took a couple of minutes and I found out she’s still a girl and now head down, wonderful!

The next part of the scan was truly a gift, the technician read my emotions and said definitively “There is no cyst, she looks just fine.” My eyes swelled with tears as I felt relief wash over my body.  The technician said the final report would go to the doctor but she wanted me to be able to sleep that night.  That was it!!!  Also, I did get a message from my midwife this morning confirming that everything was fine in the final report.  Yesterday was such a good reminder of how vulnerable my heart has become now that I am a mother.  What turned out to be completely nothing could have been something that many other mothers have had to face.  I pray that my faith would continue to be strengthened as I face whatever challenges I am given in life, I am so thankful that no matter what happens, nothing can change the Hope I have in Christ.  What gift in the midst of the most dire circumstances.

What If I Never Have A Daughter?

This month our gender reveal ultrasound is scheduled. I have been through this experience two other times, each with its own unique and special memories. As a planner I loved finding out as soon as possible and spending the rest of my pregnancies bonding more specifically with my babies and of course painting and setting up the nursery. This baby we plan on being our last and will be the determining factor whether we have three boys or able to raise both sons and a daughter. I truly have come to a wonderful peace about either scenario, but I didn’t start this way.

 

I was naïve before we started having kids, most people have a boy and girl, right? I don’t know the exact statistics, but it seemed like the majority of our family and friends had at least one of each. I never was good at predicting the gender of either of my kids, my cravings were different each pregnancy and I had dreams that went both ways. I was thrilled to find out our oldest was a boy, how fun!

 
It wasn’t until after I found out our second was a boy that it hit me…I might never have a girl. I want to be very clear, I was so excited for Micah to join our family I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. He was given to us by God and the perfect fit for our family. In fact I started to feel defensive when strangers would ask what I was having and say, “It’s ok, you can try again for a girl.” I struggled with a polite way to say that we are actually excited for our second little boy. But, I also started to mourn a possibility that I never really thought would happen to me—I might not ever experience raising a daughter. I loved growing up with younger sisters and doing fun girly things with them. There is something special about a bond with a female family member. Also, more superficially, no cute little girl clothes, tea parties, princess dresses at Disneyland, shopping trips, and the list goes on. The fact that I was feeling this way also bothered me a bit, in my opinion there is not an ethical way to 100% guarantee having a baby of a certain gender, and therefore it was something out of my control. While it’s ok to acknowledge my feelings of potential disappointment, why dwell on something that I might not have, when I have so much to be thankful for? I decided at this point that I wanted God to change my heart and I began to wrestle with some other deeper thoughts in the process.

 

Why did I become a parent? Well there is a biological answer as well as a philosophical one. Did I have children to make me happy, to meet my needs, and fulfill my desires of what parenting should be like? Answering yes to my last question would lead to a very disappointing parenting experience for me. I like this quote from Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Parenting:

 

“We live in the midst of holy teachers. Sometimes they spit up on themselves or us. Sometimes they throw tantrums. Sometimes they cuddle us and kiss us and love us. In the good and bad they mold our hearts, shape our souls, and invite us to experience God in newer and deeper ways.”

 

I want my role as a parent to be less about making my life pleasant and self-fulfilling and more about learning to love our Creator and others in a more meaningful way. I decided that it wouldn’t be wise for me to try for another baby until I could truly be grateful for whatever God gave us, a girl or boy. Sure I’d love to have a girl, but I much rather embrace God’s plan for our family whatever that looks like.

 
Interestingly, I finally felt a true peace about a third child in December 2012, the month I unknowingly got pregnant with our baby that I call Blessing #3. As you can recall from this post, Mel and I weren’t exactly on the same page about adding another baby to our family and the feelings hadn’t changed after my miscarriage. Also interesting, the month that we tentatively planned when we might start trying again in the future, I found out I was pregnant with Blessing #4, as I will call this baby until our ultrasound.

 
Until my next post I leave you with a letter to our baby:

 
Dear Blessing #4,

 
As I ponder how thankful I am that you have been placed in our family, I want you to know that I love you just the way God made you. Whether you are a boy or girl, healthy or sick, have two toes or ten, are easy or challenging, you are perfect for our family just the way you are. Your father and I can’t wait to meet you and hold you. You have one very excited oldest brother and an older brother will get to learn the joy of adding a baby to our family. I am honored to be your mother, and I will love you along with your brothers and sibling in heaven my whole life.

 

With Love,

 
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13 weeks pregnant with Blessing #4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life With Morning Sickness

Let me be clear…I am thankful to have the opportunity to have morning sickness again. I am thankful that the waves of nausea haven’t let up enough for me to wonder, ” is everything ok?” I am also thankful that I am nearing the second trimester, when I have historically become free of the nausea and extreme tiredness.

 

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My home, especially now with two young boys, has never been spotless or perfectly organized. My life in the last two months has dictated that I lower my expectations to an all-time new low, survival mode like I’ve not experienced so far. It also so happened that we had three trips planned in June. The first was a wonderful kid-free weekend away for Mel and me to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. I forgot how easy it was to travel with just adults! It was a wonderful time together and I am so thankful for friends and family that made this trip possible and took such great care of our boys.

 

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The second trip was a quick two night/one day visit to San Diego for Micah and I to watch my youngest sister graduate from high school. The next trip was a ten day expedition to Southern California, staying in Santa Barbara and San Diego. This was a challenge from the packing, traveling, fun having, visiting, eating, etc., but there was no way I was going to stay home just because I knew it would be tough. By the time we made it to San Diego, my kids had a small army of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and friends to meet their every need and gave me some much needed time to rest. The eleven hour trip home and the ten days it took to unpack were also tough, but we all made it!

 

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In the aftermath of this busy month of travel,  I just want to take the month of July off from my household duties and hang out on the couch…I know, not possible. While it seems so easy for me to complain these days, I’d like to choose a different course of action. When I take time to think about it, I really have SO much to be thankful for. First of all, the reason why I feel this way is because there is a precious new life growing inside of me. A person I can not wait to meet!  I am appreciative for a husband that has been only supportive during this rough period. While he’s never experienced morning sickness firsthand, he has been quick to take over tasks when nausea overtakes me. It doesn’t matter what time he woke up that morning, how much he has eaten that day, how many hours he’s worked, how inconvenient my cravings are, he has served me with a loving attitude. It’s actually really humbling to feel so worthless day-to-day and to have someone help me so selflessly. And then there’re my boys, while they do make create a lot of work on a daily basis, there is no better medicine than their cuddles. Joel has sweetly put his hands on me and prayed for me when I am feeling at my worst, my mama’s heart just wants to burst for joy at those moments. Joel’s excitement about this baby has been priceless too. I have an app on my phone that shows a picture of what the baby looks like week-by-week that he loves to look at. Micah, that poor dear, has no idea what he is in for! It will be fun to watch him become a big brother next year; he has potential to be a great one.

 

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Here’s something else I’m thankful for—Meals in the freezer! My last three pregnancies I have diligently spent the first week of knowing that I was pregnant, preparing and freezing meals. This has been a life saver from the family eating out every night. While I usually don’t eat what I have frozen, I like knowing that the family has a nutritious meal. That leads me to a public confession. You know my new found healthy diet that I adhered to more consistently this last year? That pretty much went out the window once I started having cravings. Let me emphasize that I do not understand my cravings but only know the consequences of not meeting them in a timely manner. Thankfully I have been able to consistently eat oatmeal, cherries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, watermelon, and apples. Some of my cravings that I’m not so proud of include honey mustard dipping sauce, lemonade, sprite, crunchy tacos from Taco Bell with hot sauce (yuck!!!), tuna sandwiches, California rolls, cinnamon rolls, glazed cinnamon roll donuts, and chocolate cream pie. I look forward to getting back on track with my healthier, minimally processed, low in refined sugar and flour, full of fruit AND veggi diet.

In the meantime…I’ll work on, with God’s help,  giving thanks continually, receiving help graciously, and keeping my priorities in focus.