I find this a weird question. But yet it’s asked all the time. Do you like being pregnant?
I certainly don’t hate being pregnant. I have had an “easy” pregnancy when it comes to symptoms, feeling good and not having to change much about my routine. But do I like it? My answer is that it’s fine.
I miss things I shouldn’t have in pregnancy. I’ve been pretty strict about following the guidelines. This list includes but is not limited to: coffee, alcohol (summer beers and Pimms cups), lox, raw feta and goat cheese, sushi and soft ice cream (omg the Mister Softee truck taunts me on our block and on the way home from work).
Midwife note: Guidelines for safe eating during pregnancy vary from place to place. For example, women in Japan eat sushi in pregnancy. People in some cultures drink wine and eat soft cheese. Caffeine up to 200mg is considered a safe amount, but it does cross the placenta so some people give it up completely or drink significantly less.
Avoiding soft ice cream is not really a standard recommendation in the US. It is in the UK and Australia. The reason is that machines are not always properly cleaned and can grow bacteria such as listeria. A truck (like Mister Softee) is more likely to have improperly cleaned machines than a place like McDonalds.
I suggest doing your research and deciding what makes the most sense to you, and of course talking to your healthcare provider.
US guidelines, UK guidelines and Australian guidelines.
I miss having more than 4 outfits. This is an exaggeration - I have more than 4 outfits. But I don’t have a lot of maternity clothes, nor do I care to buy a bunch, so my options are limited. I have started accessorizing with belts, scarves and jewelry.
I very much dislike that no bras fit and I have to keep buying more. Maybe some people like that their breasts change and get bigger, I am not one of those people. It frustrates me and I’m constantly annoyed with bras.
I don’t like gaining weight. But we knew this already from my prior post. I have come to terms with this, but it’s still not my favorite thing, obviously.
I like getting seats on the subway (sometimes). There are actually times I’d rather stand because sitting is uncomfortable but then someone gets up for you and so you kind of have no choice….this is a love/hate thing.
I like the fact that my body is growing a person. This is really, really cool. No one told my body what to do, it is just doing it. There is an organ that was grown specifically for this purpose, the amazing placenta.
I like that I am never alone. This is actually my favorite thing and something I’ll definitely miss when I’m no longer pregnant. You are literally NEVER alone. There is always this little fetus with you. A client of mine recently said, “It’s like you always have a friend.” I find this to be so true and something I never, ever thought I’d be so sentimental about. I actually think about the fact that this won’t always be and get sad about it. Of course I’m excited to see my baby on the outside, but I will miss the feeling of this person being inside me. I like feeling the kicks and movements. I like being able to talk and sing to Embers and to be able to push on my belly and have Embers push back. I’m getting teary just writing about it.
So do I like being pregnant? It’s fine. I don't hate it. There are good parts, there are annoying parts. But I am so happy that I am pregnant because I’m going to have a baby! Fred and I are adding to our family and we couldn’t be happier about meeting this kid and raising a human. It's truly amazing.
Today was our baby shower! We felt so much love for our little one and were so happy to celebrate.
I actually hate the word shower. I feel like it's associated with these "traditional" women only affairs with cheesy games. I tried to call this a party for our baby, but had to resolve to give into the word shower so people knew what it was. But it was definitely not traditional - we had everyone come (partners and kids), not just women and we did not have any games, thank goodness. The traditional showers are great for some people, but just not our thing.
The theme was Star Wars. The invitation was amazing and created by my in-laws and it was so great and creative! We were so lucky they hosted a party at their house for us, our friends and family. We had a great time. About 35 people came to our party to celebrate Embers.
It was the hottest day of the year so far. It was 95 degrees. It would have been nice to spend some time outside, but there was no way that was happening. Luckily the house was nice and cool and everyone seemed fine with that.
We had delicious food from an Italian restaurant. We had fastnachts (special German donuts) and assorted donuts. The dessert was perfect and so fun because we love donuts.
There is a pool going for guessing Embers’ sex, weight, birthdate, etc. My sister in law made it and it fit right in with the theme. We loved seeing people's guesses. It's especially fun when no one knows the real estimated due date.
We got a lot of really great and generous gifts. We especially loved that everyone gave us a book for the baby, which means a lot. It’s really important to us that our kid likes books and reading so it’s fun to build up our collection. We've been reading to Embers nightly since mid-pregnancy.
We had a really nice time and think everyone else did too. We are so happy for those who came to celebrate with us!
Today was a great and productive day.
I started my morning off by going for a run. I am really proud of myself for running this long into pregnancy. It has always been my goal to run as long as possible because in my experience, the people who have run during their pregnancies have had faster labors and easier deliveries. So here’s hoping!
Midwife note: There are actually studies that support that regular exercise during pregnancy is related to shorter labors, more vaginal births and less epidurals. See info from two of those studies here and here.
Before pregnancy and now, I am not a daily runner, but I do try to run at least once weekly, depending on the weather. I hate treadmills and my gym closest gym is kind of far, so I really prefer to run outside. With the heat of summer coming, combined with pregnancy, I doubt I’ll be running too much longer. But I will take every opportunity that I can! I have been a runner for many years (since middle school) and I can pretty easily just run 2-3 miles, even if it’s been awhile. I also ran a marathon in 2013 which was one of the most physically hardest things I’ve ever done (and the training which I actually did twice since in 2012 the marathon was cancelled).
Today I ran 2.5 miles at 8 months pregnant and I felt great. I’m running a lot slower than when I’m not pregnant, of course, but I don’t care. It feels good to get out there and run. I make sure to hydrate a lot before and after and watch my footing carefully. Surprisingly, not many people have given me weird looks for running while so obviously pregnant!
Fred and I accomplished another big thing today - we finished painting the spare room/baby’s room! It was the last room (in our living space) that needed to be painted. We have painted every room in our two floors and it’s been a long process. I used to like painting….haha. But it has been a lot of walls to paint! Fred totally hates painting. But it feels really good to have finished finally!
For the baby’s room, we have a lot of baby’s stuff in there, but we aren’t fully setting up the nursery yet, or at least it’s not a priority. The reason is that baby will be in our room in our Snoo bassinet (which really seems like the greatest invention ever...stay tuned when baby is born), for at least the first 6 months. However, we are happy that the room is painted and that step is finally over!
Midwife note: This is the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Infants should share their parents’ room for at least the first six months, optimally the first year.
Today was our childbirth education class. Even though I’m a midwife, and Fred feels like he knows a lot, we thought it was a really good idea to take a class together to learn about the birth process.
Midwife note: I believe EVERY first time parent should take a class of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a particular method or type, but something that goes through the labor and birth process so that you know what to expect!
We took our class at Parent Craft, which is in Park Slope, Brooklyn and run by an amazing midwife, Casey. We used to work together at the same hospital. The class was the full day, from 10-5.
I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would learn from taking a class that I could probably teach. Though I knew the stuff about the labor and birth process, I was happy to get some good pointers and suggestions! Fred also said he learned about some new things and liked hearing all the information too. My favorite part was that she did some pretty great demonstrations of how women sound in labor! It was also engaging and the day, though it was long, went by fast.
The other fun thing was that I asked Casey to keep my job a secret. I think it was fun to listen and engage as an expectant parent, not adding in my midwife thoughts. I also didn’t want to take away anything from Casey’s teaching or be asked “what do you think?”. We were successful at keeping it a secret.
From a midwife standpoint, I was also really happy to have taken the class to see what they are all about from personal experience. We always tell people to take classes, but I never really knew what to expect from them. Now it’s another great thing that I can add to my list of personal experiences from my own pregnancy. Casey’s class was also supportive and informative, as well as very real and reasonable, when it comes to birth. I think a lot of classes (from what I hear) discuss the amazing and perfect stories, but they don’t talk about the things that could happen if things don’t go as planned. They can provide (in my opinion) too many false expectations and no preparation for some of the unexpected. Of course, everyone wants mom and baby to be healthy and safe and to have a vaginal birth, and we want birth to go smoothly and as planned, but it’s important to be realistic that that doesn’t always happen. And if it doesn’t, parents should be prepared for that and what it could mean. I’m not being a pessimist, just a realist. Most births go smoothly and often as planned. But sometimes they don’t, and that is why interventions exist.
Overall, I’m so happy we did this class! Sure, I didn’t learn medical and physiological information, but definitely learned some new tips and things to think about, and it triggered some talking points between us that I think will help us as we prepare for Embers’ birth.
This is a hard entry for me to write, but I think I need to address it and talk about it for myself. But also I think it’s important to share for anyone else who may be experiencing similar issues.
Eleven years ago, I lost 40 pounds. I was overweight and kept gaining throughout college. Finally, during nursing school, in the winter of 2007, I decided to lose the weight and joined Weight Watchers. About seven months later, I had lost about 40 pounds. It was such a great feeling and accomplishment.
I’m currently at/approaching that starting weight.
To be clear, I haven’t gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy. I have fluctuated over the years and started out at about 20 pounds more than that lowest weight. Only for small amounts of time (twice, to be exact, when I first made goal weight for about a year and again later for our wedding) was I actually maintaining that lowest weight.
I had always told myself I’d try not to be bigger than my highest weight if/when I got pregnant. Even at the beginning of the pregnancy, I thought maybe I could do it (which would mean about a 20 pound gain total). I was happy - I didn’t gain much weight until about 22 weeks. Then I started gaining a pound a week, no matter what I did. And that goal to not gain to the highest weight was looking less and less likely.
Midwife note: Depending on BMI, weight gain during pregnancy varies. For women of normal BMI, 25-35 pounds is recommended. For BMI under 18 (underweight) it’s 28-40 pounds. For BMI 25-29, it’s 15-25 pounds. For BMI over 30, 11 to 20 pounds.
These are, of course, guidelines, not strict rules. Everyone gains at a different rate, everyone is different and anything above the guidelines is not necessarily unhealthy. Your healthcare provider can give guidance on weight gain that’s right for you.
I have definitely been struggling with the scale for at least a month. I’m watching the gain, but actually feeling not so different. I know (in my head) that this gain is for a good reason! I’m growing a baby! The baby is about 3-3.5 pounds now, plus all the extra weight for other important things!
Midwife note: Weight gain in pregnancy is because of a variety of things, not just the fetus. There is extra blood volume, amniotic fluid, increased body fluid, placenta, breast tissue, uterus and extra pounds in other areas too.
Being a midwife, I KNOW this is normal. Being a person who has always struggled with weight, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I find myself obsessing about the weight. Do I look big or small? Am I going to have a giant baby? Do I look giant? Fred is definitely being driven nuts with my weight and body image issues (which I talk about a lot). My midwives have reassured me that things are fine.
I’m trying to be positive. I’m trying to tell myself what I would tell the clients in my practice. I’m trying to reassure myself.
On the other end of things, I am definitely NOT starving myself, nor am I eating perfectly (ice cream, anyone?). I AM still exercising regularly, 5-6 days a week. I am even still running (in the third trimester) which makes me very happy and proud of myself and I will continue as long as I can. I could eat better, but I’m not obsessing about that and trying not to deprive myself and enjoy some of the cravings!
Just for comparison, I made a side by side picture grid of myself. The picture on the left is me 11 years ago, before I started the weight loss journey. The second is me a week ago. Besides having aged, I notice a difference in the way my face is shaped and looks. Looking at this picture reminds me that weight isn’t the only indicator of health.
I will continue to keep doing the best that I can and trying to be positive and healthy. A woman’s body changes SO much when she’s pregnant, in more than just the belly. It’s hard for me, as it is for many women. I think it’s important for me to recognize this, acknowledge my feelings and keep doing the best I can. Afterall, I am doing something amazing - I’m growing a person inside of me. That’s pretty damn awesome.
Today was the first day I experienced a stranger’s pregnancy prediction.
I was checking out at the grocery store and a guy behind me randomly says “Girl! It’s a girl!”. I acknowledged him, said something like, “well okay, I don’t know so I guess we’ll see”. He was persistent though. He kept saying it. Eventually he told me he was “never wrong because he has three girls and always wanted a boy and he knows what a girl looks like."
It is interesting to hear random strangers comments and predictions. I don’t mind it (yet). I actually like hearing people’s predictions for the sex of the baby, and it’s especially interesting when it’s total strangers. I think a lot of people who know you will just guess what they picture you having or think you would want to have, not necessary because of the shape, etc.
So many people have said girl. It makes us think that it’s probably a boy, haha. But I guess only time will tell. Until then, I’ll keep hearing the predictions, I'm sure. And I'm also sure I'll get sick of them!
Today was my last flight during pregnancy. This weekend was a girls weekend with three of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other since 6th grade). We went to St Petersburg, Florida. It was a lovely weekend, but too short, as most vacations tend to be.
A few highlights from the trip, aside from great company and awesome girl time:
Overall, it was a great trip. It was also my second trip in a few weeks, so I’m happy to be done traveling a bit. I’m lucky enough to have TSA precheck/global entry and also I checked my bags so I didn’t have to deal with carry-ons in the overhead bin. I purchased the optional insurance too, just in case. My trips went smoothly and I’m happy I took them. But now I’m happy to stay more local and with Fred going forward.
Midwife note: Travel is considered safe in pregnancy for most women. I always discuss the nature of the trip with women before they travel, especially toward the end. Most airlines will not let pregnant women fly past 36-37 weeks. I usually recommend 32-34 weeks at max, depending on where someone is going and what they are doing. There is a huge difference between going to a resort somewhere where you know no one vs going to see family somewhere. Here is what I usually go through this list:
1. Is the trip necessary? Is it a work trip? Work trips are generally easier to get out of!
2. Where are you going? Is it near any friends/family? Or are you going to a place where you know no one?
3. If, God forbid, you needed a hospital when you were there, do you know where to go? It's never a bad idea to look, just in case!
4. If, God forbid, you were to deliver early while away (extremely rare, of course!!!), would you be in a place where you could stay for several weeks or even a month or two after? The risk of delivery is low,, but a preterm baby would need to be in the hospital weeks to a month or two after birth, depending.
5. I would recommend getting the optional trip insurance no matter what. This will help you if you did need to cancel last minute for any reason. It's very hard to get money back (even with a note from a medical provider) for trip cancellation.
6. Check your bags, especially if traveling alone, so you don’t have to worry about overhead bins.
I like music, but I have never been one to always be listening to music at home or on the go.
Since around week 20, I think I’ve been listening to a lot more music. I’ve really been trying to mix it up and listen to a variety of things and albums I haven’t heard in years. Some favorites have been Michael Jackson (especially the Thriller album), the Wicked soundtrack, Rent soundtrack, Mamma Mia! Soundtrack (broadway cast), Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Beatles, 80’s music and 90’s alternative. Fred listens to the White Stripes a lot too so that’s been on a lot.
I really think this started because I wanted to expose Embers to as much music as possible. Embers is hearing everything around me.
Midwife note: The fetus can hear around weeks 16-18. By week 24, fetuses have been shown to turn their heads in response to sound.
Embers’ favorite song is “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson. It’s by far the song that has gotten the most response. Embers likes a lot of the Thriller album (mostly the upbeat songs), but P.Y.T seems to be the favorite.
I also feel like we get a good reaction from “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. Fred plays this song pretty regularly and I like to tell Embers that it’s Daddy’s song.
Our new bedtime routine is to read a book or two to Embers and playing “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight” by the Spaniels. This song was from Three Men and a Baby. I sometimes sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” too.
In the mornings, I often play “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain. I also sing a Frelaine original song (yes, we make up songs and have many of them) that says good morning.
We think it’s really important to read to Embers, sing and play music and talk to Embers. I never thought I’d be so into these things and I’ve really surprised myself with it.
Midwife note: There is some evidence that a fetus can be positively stimulated by reading, talking and singing while in utero. It is believed by some that it can enhance intellectual development, but this is hard to prove. Some studies have shown that babies can recognize sounds, songs and voices when they are born. One study showed that fetuses could recognize their mothers’ favorite soap opera theme song when born (I can’t find this actual study but it’s cited a lot...Hepper PG (1998) 'Foetal 'soap' addiction' Lancet (June 11) 1347-1348).
Many people play music with speakers or special headphones on their bellies. I think this is not recommended, as water (amniotic fluid in this case) conducts sound and doing it this way is probably very loud for your baby. Playing music that you would hear is probably sufficient enough and I do not recommend the special speakers/headphones or playing anything too close.
There was also a study that showed that infants who were read “The Cat in the Hat” by their mothers during pregnancy sucked more after birth to hear their mother’s reading the book. Source
Some good summaries and articles I found:
Although some research is pretty inconclusive, there certainly seems no downside to exposing your unborn baby to reading, talking, music and singing. So we’ll continue to do all of those things until baby is born!
This morning when I woke up, Embers also woke up. I noticed the movements were getting strong so I started watching my belly. After a few movements, I noticed it move! I was able to see Embers’ movements from the outside. I took a video to send to Fred. It was hard to see, but it was there!
Later in the evening, we tried to watch as Embers moved again after dinner. Penny, one of our cats, was also lying near me. Fred spoke to Embers and Embers reacted and I saw it, but Fred missed it because Penny kind of attacked him at the same moment. He was so disappointed. I couldn’t help but laugh, and knew we could try again later.
Within the next hour, we did try again and finally we could see it again. He was so happy again!
Another funny thing happened today. Fred was at work and talking to a coworker. He told him that I was flying alone and he was all worried about me. “You’re sending your pregnant wife on a plane?” he said. Fred’s awesome response was "She's pregnant; she doesn't have terminal cancer, nor does she have a flesh eating bacterium". Amazing!
Tonight as we were going to bed, Embers started moving strongly. I told Fred to put his hand on my belly and he felt the movement! I’ll never forget the look on his face when he felt it - he was so happy! Embers gave him a few movements. It was such an exciting moment.
A pregnant midwife living and working in New York City