Supporting a Friend During Infertility

Infertility is a topic that will impact nearly all women in some way. Either yourself or someone you know will likely struggle with this – it affects 1 in every 10 women. For some women, it can feel unbearable to wait 6 months to get pregnant – others will wait years and spend thousands of dollars, undergoing invasive treatments to conceive. As more women wait until they’re a bit older to start trying to conceive, more struggle with this every day. As a physician, I am very well practiced at discussing the “medical” side of this when patients come into the office…. but as a friend? I still struggle to come up with the right things to say and do.

I reached out to one of my #WCW’s, Natalie Bushman, fellow mommy-blogger at Nat your average girl, for some help and am so happy to share her wisdom here. On her blog, she has shared her journey through new motherhood, then through secondary infertility (difficulty conceiving after a successful natural pregnancy), the twin pregnancy that resulted from treatments and being a mom of 3 along with fabulous personal style and home decor posts.

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Total blogger crush on this cute fam!

She recently discovered they’ll be bringing baby #4 into the family (congrats!!!) and I asked her to give us some insight into being there for friends who are going through an infertility journey since she’s personally experienced this from multiple angles.

Thinking back to when you first got pregnant with Blair, did you have friends who were already dealing with infertility issues? How did you approach them with news of your pregnancy then?

I was one of the first people to get pregnant in my friend group and didn’t know anyone at the time experiencing infertility. Looking back though, I was so naive and it never even crossed my mind that I could have a hard time getting pregnant (even though my Mom struggled for years). I just assumed that since I was healthy with a regular cycle that it would be a cinch… and lucky for me it was the first time! I didn’t think twice about miscarriage or not seeing a heartbeat at the first appointment. Ignorance was bliss but oh how the tables have turned!
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Baby Blair, their 1st

I’m sure people had all kinds of responses when you were struggling to get pregnant the second time around. You’ve blogged about the things people should NOT say to couples. Did any friends or family members say things that were helpful and supportive?

Yes, my close friends were amazing. Honestly one of the best things to say is simply,
I’m sorry. That’s so hard. Is there anything I can do for you to help?
Totally basic but shows that you care even if you haven’t experienced infertility yourself. The other things that helped were when my friends would check in on me after they knew I had a big appointment. Or they would say, “Call me after your appointment. I want to hear what the doctor said.” Things like that. Things that you would say to anyone going through a hard time or health scare. It’s just about showing you care. Hearing that someone is praying for a specific need of mine also made me feel better. To know that I wasn’t forgotten.

How can people approach this with friends who they aren’t sure if they’re having fertility problems – do you think that’s different than how you approach friends who have told you outright they’re in fertility treatment?

Ok, so I actually had a friend who told me she was struggling but she hadn’t told anyone else. At that point, she had an adopted child but had made it clear that he wasn’t adopted because of fertility reasons. She had even previously made it known to our friend group that she didn’t have a desire to have biological kids. However, over the course of time, things changed and her desire to have bio kids grew.  In group settings, it would be wildly uncomfortable because I knew to be sensitive but others didn’t. Other moms would share their birth/breastfeeding stories and I would try to direct the conversation elsewhere.
However, if people don’t know you are struggling then you really can’t expect them to be sensitive…especially if you have previously made it clear you aren’t interested in being pregnant. I guess it’s a balance. It kind of depends on your relationship with the person. I steer clear of asking strangers any type of kid-related questions. But if you’re my good friend and you’ve decided to be tight-lipped, then that is harder to help. Overall, I guess it’s just always best to be sensitive. But if people aren’t honest with their situation then it becomes harder to be sensitive.

Did you want people who knew what you were going through to check in on you regularly? Or did you feel like you just wanted to update them and not be bothered?

I kind of referred to this a little bit in question three. For me, I liked having people check in on me. There was only one instance in which I protected myself from this and that was right after IVF. I knew that I would get the phone call on December 28th that would tell me if I was pregnant or not (it was through a blood test result) and I purposely told my friends I wouldn’t know till December 30th. I wanted to be able to process the news (if it was bad) with just Matt. I wanted to have time to wrap my mind around it and be sad for a little while. I didn’t want to have to field a bunch of texts and phone calls. When we did find out I was pregnant I told them that day…it was too good to hold in!
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Evie and Cal

Did you worry about announcing this recent pregnancy since you didn’t have trouble conceiving this time?

Oh, totally. I was sweating over it. I know that a lot of my followers are dealing with infertility and I wanted to be SO sensitive to that. It was this weird mix of emotions because I was so thrilled/surprised by our pregnancy but so distraught over how others still struggling would react. I prayed that they would be encouraged and filled with hope that this could happen for them too, instead of feeling bitter or angry. This may sound ridiculous but when I was having a hard time getting pregnant, and I knew someone who just “looked at their husband” and got pregnant, I would be mad. But if someone who had struggled like me got pregnant, I would be so happy for them. Was that fair of me? No. But if I’m being honest I did have those feelings initially. Part of me hoped that since I had struggled in the past that I wouldn’t be that “annoying pregnant girl.”
For some reason, we seem to be happier for people who have “overcome” to get where they are. It sure makes for an incredible story. But, I regret being spiteful to those who didn’t have the same struggle as me. So what if they can get pregnant easily? You never know what else they could be dealing with behind closed doors… an abusive partner, ongoing sickness, the death of a parent, unemployment, depression… the list goes on and on. There’s so much sadness in our world.
I think if we all had a little more grace we’d all be better off!
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I can’t think of any better parting advice than that! Thank you Natalie! And friends, if you don’t already, go follow this awesome mama on instagram @natyouraveragegirl and check out her blog!
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Dr. Annie is a family doctor and mom in the Sacramento, CA area.

Retreat Yourself! Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat Wrap-Up

In case you need a refresher or are new to our blog (welcome lovelies!), I wrote a post a while ago about my amazing friend, Dr. Sara Smith and her work as a life coach, yoga instructor, and overall supporter of the great thinkers and inspirational leaders of this world. This weekend, I attended her Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat and wanted to give you all a recap.

While spiritual workshops may vary depending on religious affiliation, this one was all-encompassing, forgoing denomination, and welcoming your individual belief system as a source of empowerment, guidance, and healing.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In a world that is the most stressed, depressed, anxious, least empathetic, and most disconnected than it has ever been, unplugged retreats such as this one, that inspire community-based learning and self connectedness, are absolutely vital to shift the collective consciousness this world is currently embodying.

Through two days of yoga, guided meditation, and specific Life Coaching exercises, we were led to find one positive personal truth to feel within our bodies. We learned that no matter what, we have a choice to become aware, and to choose to feel peace within each moment.

The most profound lesson I took away from Sara, was that everything within me is perfectly made and is living my life in perfect timing.

I have spoken here so much of “brokenness”. I have spent SUCH a long time wondering, “what can I do to fix ________ aspect of my life?”  Sara reminds us that, we are perfectly made, and each moment we are going through, is a moment that can remind us that we are simply learning. We have been given a gift and can choose love in every move we make, instead of choosing anything that makes us feel imperfect.

For example, many of us are struggling with debt.

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I know I personally spend too much brain power and way too many minutes staring in terror at an overdrawn bank account with no hopes of reconciliation until next payday. During these wasted moments of anxiety, I would tell myself so many things.

“How could you let this happen AGAIN?”

“You’re so bad at managing money. Great, now we can’t afford anything”

“We will never be out of debt. We are so poor and we’ll be poor forever.”

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Sound familiar to anyone? This self talk comes into play in many aspects of our lives. Turns out, the way we do one thing translates into the way we do everything. Let me continue the example above, and translate it to other scenarios.

If I don’t do as well as I expected of myself in a workout:

“You could have done more. Why did you wimp out? Now everyone will be disappointed in you.”

Move into motherhood. Let’s talk about when I have a bad parenting moment, which is, until this week, I all too often labeled my moments parenting:

“You’re going to ruin your kids. They’ll never be kind and stable. You’re the reason they’ll need therapy.”

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I have wasted so many moments of my life choosing wrongly.  While these moments still happen, I must remind myself to tell the critical part of my brain to, for lack of a better way to say it, shut the hell up.

Internal dialogue has a profound effect on our outward reactions and emotions. According to an ASTONISHING article quoted here referencing research done by the National Science Foundation , “regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.”

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Holy…..Bananas.

So, not only is our brain thinking mostly negative things, but we are also thinking negatively like a BROKEN RECORD! That thinking is powerful within our bodies, and has power to make us feel like CRAP about ourselves in every aspect of our lives.

When we say things like, “I hate my body” or “I wish I had her hair.” or “I’m a horrible mother” we are committing into our brain a false truth of negativity. When you are on “loop” in a negative self-talk spiral, ask yourself, is all that mind-chatter really true? If you reset to a mindset that we are created perfectly and there is nothing to fix, now are those thoughts REALLY TRUE?

I know I am glad to be breaking this awful cycle.

We must tell those repetitive thoughts to take a hike, and replace them with CHOICE. In the case of bank account chaos, instead of the swirling negativity, I can choose in the moment to break the cycle, forgive, and release it.

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Turning, “We are broke and we’ll never pay off debt”, into “We have delicious food on the table, all our true needs are met, and we come home to a warm and safe home every night” can make all the difference in the world. It can turn a sense of lack and fear, into gratitude and the feeling of abundance. And the power of that choice is ours.

Is this mindset going to be easy to maintain? Probably not.  Of course it’ll take constant reminders and integration into my routines. But! I am committed to choose LOVE instead of anxiety, worry, and negativity, or anything that does not serve me in my life that will not lead to peace. For it is from that peaceful and mindful state that we can create true and meaningful Action.

Example from Today: “I yelled at the kids today. I was feeling negative and anxious about money. I choose to let the anxiety go because it does not serve myself and or my children anymore. I am learning better habits every day.” <Breath. Pause. Release. Smile> “Hey kids!! I sure love you guys! Who wants to play freezetag???”

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Photo Cred: Eva Centeno

Have any of you attended a retreat? We want to hear about it! Commend below!

 

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Kristy is a peace-seeker, wife, mother of 2, and constant student of spiritual uplifting in Virginia.

Don’t Wash That Baby!

So, I know some of my Labor and Delivery or Newborn Nursery friends are gonna hate me for this post… but too bad, it’s important and our readers deserve the best information! I keep finding myself rushing to check in with friends and family who recently had a baby and try to catch them before the baby has gotten that adorable first bath. Such a cute moment! And the freshly combed wispy hair after?? Alllll the 😍😍.

The thing is, babies aren’t supposed to have a soapy bath so soon after their skin hits fresh air. Their skin has been protected in its own natural lotion called Vernix in a pH balanced amniotic fluid bath for their whole existence up until birth. It’s the most fragile and sensitive their skin will ever be when it first comes into contact with dry, cold air outside the womb.

My dad, a family doctor with a huge amount of experience, trained at a time when as soon as babies emerged from the womb, they were scrubbed down with chlorhexidine – a powerful antiseptic we use to sterilize ourselves before surgery.

It was thought at the time that this would “protect” them from the dangerous bacteria they encountered when they passed by your rear end. That was after the doctor had of course sterilized your vag with copious amounts of iodine solution. He told me this and my eyeballs very nearly popped out of my head. *GASP* The yeast infections that must have caused!! The superbugs that would breed!! NO WONDER so many kids have crazy allergies and autoimmune disease has skyrocketed!!

You see, I have been fortunate to be trained in the time of advances in the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. The understanding we now are working with is that, lo and behold, in the days before all this anti-septic overzealousness, those autoimmune and allergic issues (which are so freaking hard to treat, btw) were lumped into the “rare diseases” category. And while it’s great we now know to wash our food so we don’t all die of dysentery Oregon-Trail-style, we have certainly skewed too far into the anti-microbial realm which is boosting many if not all of these processes*. (In case you’re wondering, my dad was WAY ahead of his time and would not let this happen to his patients’ babies.)

SO back to that brand new baby. Current practice is to wash with your typical Johnson & Johnson baby wash within a few hours of birth. This makes it so that the health care team is not functionally putting their hands on something that came out of your vag when they come to check on baby. Also, it’s cute and baby then smells like what Johnson & Johnson have decided we should all believe a baby smells like. You get that white smooshy vernix stuff off so your photos don’t look like something out of a Halloween movie and everyone is happy.

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Rosie, fresh outta the womb and covered in blood and goo

…..Except the baby. It NEEDS that vernix still on there to protect it. There is no lotion on earth that can really replace that and a soapy scrub washes it all away. A review in Advances in Wound Care sums it up well*:

The retention of vernix on the skin surface contributes to a higher skin hydration, a lower skin pH, and relates to a reduced heat loss after birth

So, washing this off your baby is like slathering your face in a thick layer of Creme de la Mer and then immediately washing your face again to leave your skin naked and dry. But worse. Because you can’t buy more.

This is in addition to the absolutely critical happy bacteria (aka skin flora for the nerds like me) that you worked SO FREAKING HARD to put on your baby if you had a vaginal delivery or labored with your water broken. That “skin flora” has dramatic health implications. So much so that many hospitals are starting to swab mothers’ nether regions to coat the baby in them after c-sections too. A soapy wash kills up to 99% of those bugs and you may never get them back in the same way.

There are studies galore out there going on looking at the benefits those bugs go on to have on gut health, maintaining healthy body weight, absorbing nutrients, allergies, eczema, auto-immune disease and more. I won’t get over-sciency about this, but suffice it to say, we’re going to look back on this hyper-sterile era and cringe.

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Photo by Wayne Evans on Pexels.com

So is it a little weird to think about your baby being coated in all that stuff from your lady parts? Sure. Is it an extra step for the docs and nurses to put on gloves? Yeah. Is it still super worth it to wait a bit for that first bath? HellToTheYes. Bottom line, just wipe the excess gore off, wait at least 24 hours, and preferably do a gentle water wash when you get home. Thank me later.

I would LOVE your questions about this, comment below!!

 

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Dr. Annie is a Family Physician, mom of 2 with 1 on the way (nope, baby’s not here yet, that’s baby #1 over there, also, that’s my husband, not a creeper nurse, he’s a doc too so was working in scrubs when I went into labor) and lover of healthy bacteria in the Sacramento area.

 

 

 


*. 2015 Oct 1; 4(10): 587–595. doi:  [10.1089/wound.2015.0642] Skin Physiology of the Neonate and Infant: Clinical Implications. Teresa OrangesValentina Dini, and Marco Romanelli*

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

If you’re like me, the second the temperature dipped below 70 degrees, you were all over all. the. pumpkin. things.  Literally, in one afternoon (in which I barely had time to shower mind you), I somehow managed to acquire multiple fall scented candles, and at least 4 cans of organic pumpkin.

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Yes, Reese. 100%. Yes.

I know that my 20-something-year-old self would be mortified to even think I that I would say this out loud, but I was legitimately excited to crack open a can of pumpkin to bake our first pumpkin bread of the season this week, y’all. Actual, real excitement. Hold on to your mom jeans…

I’ve been making a derivative of this delicious, spice-filled Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, for years (maybe even pre-motherhood, I honestly don’t know because my memory no-longer functions at that level, given the last 6 years of sleep deprivation, but I digress) and it’s become, as I suppose I’ve made apparent at this point, a fall staple in our household. I usually pare down the sugar by adding vanilla and extra cinnamon, but in lieu of recent studies on good fats and bad fats (Dr. Annie breaks them down here) I made an extra swap this year.

As with most old-school pumpkin bread recipes, my go-to recipe called for a boat-load of vegetable oil (read: NOT a good fat). So this year, I swapped ALL the vegetable oil for 1/2 heart-healthy coconut oil and 1/2 high-protein full-fat greek yogurt to make this pumpkin bread unofficially healthy enough to pack in our kiddos’ school lunches as something other than a glorified dessert, and because it packs extra protein it can double as a legit breakfast. Not to mention it pairs incredibly well with a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall morning.

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“WHAT?!?!” You say “Reduced-sugar-coconut-protein-pumpkin bread?!?! STOP RUINING FALL!”

I know, I know that’s what it sounds like. But I swear to you on my pumpkin spice candles, this version is, I daresay even better than the original, and IMO does not taste coconutty or unsweetened in any way. Nope. Just tastes like fall should.  And should you need proof, not a single picky sugar-loving child objected (or even noticed)! In fact they just asked for more…

So here it is folks, the healthy pumpkin bread recipe your whole family will love!

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

*For coconut allergies or intolerances, try substituting ghee

** You can use even less sugar (I typically use about 1/4 c. less) but I believe this amount keeps it closest to traditional taste.

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To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 large, or 3 small/medium loaf pans with coconut oil. (Mine yields three loaves, as pictured.)
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar until well blended. 
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, and mix until just blended. (I probably shouldn’t, but I completely skip the whole “dry ingredients in a separate bowl” step and dump everything into my stand mixer and I’ve yet to have any complaints…)
  4. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pans and sprinkle the top of each loaf with the reserved 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven (depending on the size of your loaf pans). Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm, and enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3 children, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer who is passionate about healthy living and pumpkin-scented fall things.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

The Silver Lining To My PUPPS Nightmare

Everything happens for a reason

….or so people say.

I had always longed to be a mother. I dreamed of pregnancy, a little baby bump, and a group of like-minded women to with whom to hang out and help raise our little ones in friendship, unicorns, and rainbows.

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What a wonderful portrait of “what to expect when you are expecting”… am I right? In fact, we even joked amongst the four of us here at Real As A M*ther that I would be the one with half a dozen kids and a goofy husband that made me endlessly laugh until I cried and doted on me daily. Perfection.

DSC01327So when my wonderfully hilarious, awesome, doting husband and I got married, it was natural for me to not want to wait to start this family I’d been craving. By the blessed powers that be, within 6 months I had the exciting news to tell my friends and family…..

I experienced the normal first pregnancy woes in the beginning. Morning sickness, nausea, food aversions, being super tired, and reallllllly missing wine. But overall, things were looking great. We relocated to a town outside of the city, and my husband hand-made the baby’s crib and dresser.

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I mean, the man is hilarious, awesome, and talented. What can I say?

When I was about four months along, we went to visit Christiana, who was living in Japan! It was an amazing, globe-trotting, babymoon trip where my tiny baby belly began to show while posing for picturesque photos overlooking Japanese pagodas. Pregnancy dreams, on. track.

When we got home, however, life threw my dream a giant curveball. I was on a walk around town, when my calves began to itch. I sat down at our quaint town hall fountain and saw that it looked as though I had been bitten by 30 mosquitos simultaneously. I just chalked it up to summer, and maybe… heat rash?  But the itching persisted.

Within two weeks, it had spread. My inner thighs, underarms, and belly had broken out in a rash. It felt as though I had just slept in a den of mosquitos and chiggers. After calling my midwife, I started taking some liver cleansing teas/supplements. I got some special soaps to help calm it down, and tried oatmeal baths. Nothing helped. Not. A. Thing.

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Post Biopsy

I was about 20 weeks along when I saw a specialist that, along with my midwife, decided after bloodwork and a biopsy and although it rarely occurs this early, that I had PUPPPS.

Like many of you right now, I had this reaction.

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‘da heck d’you just say?

According to Healthline.com, “Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash is an itchy rash that appears in stretch marks of the stomach during late pregnancy.”

Stretch marks, you say? I was 18 weeks! I hadn’t barely even begun to show, much less stretch. And this was systemic, not on my belly! But, at least I had some sort of explanation that calmed me down. Thinking, ok now let’s get rid of this mess, I said,

“Ok, doc, what can I do?”

“Well, the only cure, is delivery” <heart sinks>

So basically, what I was being told was this: I was going to itch like this for 20 more weeks. 

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20 Weeks: just the beginning

4 more weeks went by, which felt like an eternity. The rash got so bad that I could not sleep, eat, or even wear clothes. I had to take cool/cold showers because the heat would spread the rash to a new area, which I kept finding out the hard way as it spread all over my body. It was on the soles of my feet, palms of my hands, even in my nail beds and on my eyelids. The longest I went without solid sleep was 7 whole days. I don’t even remember if I was hungry.

I, did, however, hold tightly onto the fact that I needed to drink water. I remember having thoughts of “I don’t want the amniotic fluid to get low, and that be the reason I have to get a C-Section,” which was a huge fear for me. That was the only coherent thought I remember having during this time.

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It was when my mom found me naked on my kitchen floor at 24 weeks (I was lying there because it was cool and clothes made the itching turn to burning pain) that she scooped me up and into the car. I have no recollection of this event, but she took me to the doctor and demanded an appointment right then and there. I had lost 20 pounds, the baby wasn’t gaining any weight, and I was put under the care of a neonatal specialist. I was delusional, depressed, suicidal, and covered in what looked like oozing poison ivy.

At this point, desperation kicked in, (mostly from my husband and parents because I had checked out) and a steroid regimen was put into place. I was on Prednisone until my 30th week and experienced so much relief. The rash was kept at bay and the baby was monitored regularly to make sure the medicine didn’t cause any problems.

Thinking I was in the clear, I weaned off my medication because I was so worried about steroids affecting the baby. Around Thanksgiving, however, it came back with a vengeance. At it’s worst, I could literally peel the layers of my skin off with a tissue. I immediately started the steroids again, and the rash was mostly cleared up in about two weeks.

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Belly scarring at 37 weeks

When I went into labor at 37 weeks and 6 days, I had such relief. Where most women are fearful of the unknown, I was prepared and ready for the natural pain and hormone release I had learned about through my teacher of The Bradley Method.

Most of me has forgotten about just how incredibly difficult that pregnancy was. In fact, I am only reminded when I have bad cycles now, because the rash creeps back up under my upper arms and on my legs, raised and irritated ghost shadows of such a dark time in my life.

We still don’t know what causes it. But, some risk factors for developing PUPPPS are:

  1. Carrying a boy: we didn’t know at the time but…check
  2. Being Caucasian: check
  3. First pregnancy: check
  4. Maternal hypertension: undiagnosed but with no sleep…check
  5. Multiples
  6. Rapid or higher than usual weight gain

While I did not fit into the category of the last two risk factors, my mind got to thinking about why my personal case was so different. The only reason I came up with, ties back to the beginning of this post. Because… everything happens for a reason.

It was through this tough and terrible time that I learned about prenatal herbal supplements, and how and why they work. I learned a valuable lesson in the blend of a cooperative maternal care team, and their strategies for helping. I learned the importance of relying on medical intervention, because it saved my life, my son’s life, and my sanity. But the most important gift this experience gave me was the fact that I knew I wanted to help support other women through pregnancy and birth.

I tell this story because it is important to look back and find gratitude in the lessons we are given in this lifetime. Even though I did not know this going through it, I am certain that this time of suffering gave birth to the compassion for women in their childbearing years that I had never known was inside of me. It gave me the tools for empathy that one can only develop while in the depths of great personal struggle.

DSC01829.jpgNow, I feel healing each time I help a woman accept and trust in her body through the pregnancy process. I am energized by watching her awaken to the power within her, and I am both blissfully honored and overwhelmed each time I watch her hold her baby. Because no matter what type of pregnancy, what kind of prenatal education we choose, how or where we labor and birth, or what the birth outcome is, I am reminded in that moment, women are bound together as one. And that is my most ultimate, and ever-present, silver lining.

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Kristy is a certified massage therapist, doula, homesteader and mother to 2 kids in Virginia.

Pregnant, MD: Second Trimester

This post is not meant to be personal medical advice, you should always seek medical advice from your own healthcare provider. 

I love, love LOVED getting all your insights about second trimester experiences on Instagram and Facebook. I also had the great pleasure of being a guest on my good friend Shelly aka Doctor Mommy, MD’s podcast to discuss it – check her blog for even more info and hilarity!

Second trimester is for *most* women the best time in pregnancy. Good riddance, first trimester (if you’re still wallowing in that misery and want more info on managing the issues, see my first trimester post)!

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16 weeks, photo credit: Fiona Margo Photography 

Generally, you can expect decreased pregnancy-related nausea and fatigue. You’ll start feeling baby kicking more and more starting at about 18 weeks, which is the. most. magical. thing!! (IMHO). Mamas usually get to go to that fun 18-20 week ultrasound and see baby including finding out the sex if you so choose. And you get to look actually pregnant and fill out those maternity clothes! Woot! And you’re usually not starting the third trimester discomforts quite yet. However, it’s not all bliss and ice-cream sundaes…

Reflux

That cute belly that’s starting to look more unmistakably like a pregnant bump rather than like you just ate a huge breakfast burrito also puts more pressure on your stomach. Notice the loss of space in image above… This can lead to heartburn or acid reflux that can range from annoying to stop-you-in-your-tracks painful. You should ALWAYS get checked out for bad chest pain that is new. If you’re checked out and know it’s heartburn, you can try to minimize with a few strategies.

  1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and not for 1 hour before bed. I know, you’ve probably got the appetite of a teenage boy on steroids right now, but pace yo’self!
  2. Make sure you’re managing that pregnancy-related constipation – the more you’re backed up, the worse this will get (again see first tri post for info on this)
  3. Avoid acidic food & drink: citrus, tomato, soda, black coffee, and spicy foods are the worst for most, but you might find your own special fire-starters you’ll need to avoid.
  4. Use Tums as needed if it’s been ok’ed by your provider. Never more than 6 doses daily, and honestly, if you’re taking 4 or more, you should be discussing other treatment with your healthcare provider. WORD OF CAUTION: The more of these you take, the worse constipation you may get, so beware.
  5. If all else fails – ask your provider about starting another antacid medicine daily

Back pain

Relaxin hormone (yep that’s actually what it’s called) is well at work loosening up your pelvic ligaments in preparation for birth. That along with your new weight up front can often start up some low or upper back pain towards the end of second trimester. Some women also start to get shooting nerve pains including sciatica or the infamous “crotch lightning“.

If you haven’t had the latter, praise Jesus for a minute because it’s awful. Basically, that’s one of your pelvic nerves getting pushed on and leads to a sudden sensation of being electrically shocked in the labia. Yowza! Here’s what you can do to help the back:

  1. YOGA!!! Prenatal yoga is a fantastic way to ward this off and stay balanced. That slight decrease in fatigue should help you make it to those classes. No prenatal classes near you? That’s ok – head for an easier flow class that’s not a “hot yoga” class and ask the teacher to show you how to modify poses.
  2. Heat it up. Choose your flavor – a daily heating pad session, steamy shower or very warm bath can work wonders for the soreness. IMPORTANT NOTE: You must stop as soon as you feel “hot” in your body. Getting overheated while pregnant is dangerous.
  3. Massage: I can’t say enough for the benefits of a regular prenatal massage. This is a GREAT thing to put on your baby registry – some places even offer a prenatal “membership” package. Do check that the person you see is trained in prenatal massage – certain positions and pressure points should be avoided.
  4. Still not better? Ask your healthcare provider if its ok for you to take medicine, see a physical therapist or consult with a Pregnancy and Webster trained chiropractor that they can recommend. Chiropractors trained in Webster & pregnancy techniques can be a great help, BUT there are some out there who have questionable training since it’s a less well-regulated field. Make sure you’re going somewhere safe!!

Peeing

You thought you were peeing more in first trimester, didn’t you?

Get ready ladies – more bladder pressure + tiny human karate chopping = soooo many potty breaks. Advantage of this is you can get your 10,000 steps in daily just walking back and forth. Don’t let this deter you from drinking enough water – that can lead to pregnancy complications. Accept it. Don’t fight it. It’s only going to get worse. Go with the flow (see what I did there?? #PunIntended).

You might also get the fun experience of snissing at this point too: sneezing that makes you piss yourself. Great reminder to get busy on your Kegel program!

Contractions

Anybody heard of Braxton-Hicks? Named after the random dude who decided to name the phenomenon back in 1872, these are contractions that are NOT part of labor. They can start as early as 16 weeks for some sensitive mamas, more commonly toward the end of second trimester or beginning of third. However, some women don’t get them at all – and that’s ok too!

The thought is that these are little “preparatory” contractions, the uterus is working on it’s squeezing abilities, but they are not coordinated in a way that leads to any change in your cervix. Some women feel them as a slight tightening, like your pants all the sudden downsized on you but for others, they are quite uncomfortable with pressure-like sensation.

They are by definition irregular. They can be triggered by being dehydrated, pushing yourself too much in exercise, having a full bladder or completely at random.

No need to worry about them UNLESS: Of course if you have known risks for premature labor (talk about this with your provider). OR you have 3-4 in one hour, they persist even though you hydrate, rest and empty your bladder, the discomfort lasts longer than a couple minutes for each one, you are otherwise ill or have vaginal bleeding with them. When in doubt, ask YOUR healthcare provider.

Round ligament pain

You probably have never heard of or known you had a round ligament until pregnancy. It’s essentially a tether for the uterus to keep it where it’s meant to be. It stretches as the uterus expands in pregnancy and can be tweaked with a sharp sneeze or cough or even just standing up. It causes a pinching or sharp pain in the side of your lower belly or groin that lasts for a few seconds to a minute then goes away on it’s own. Unless the pain doesn’t go away – no need to worry about these either.

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Not always the “Golden Trimester”

 

If you’re not the pregnant person yourself, don’t assume ANYTHING. Some of us have pregnancies where none of the first trimester misery gets any better and then second trimester just adds to it. Some still don’t look pregnant. Some are still puking. Some are still so tired they want to take 3 naps a day.  Ask how they’re doing. Ask how you can help. Restrain yourself from commenting on the size of a woman’s belly unless it’s to tell her she’s beautiful. Period. Hard stop. No one needs to hear they’re soooo small or sooo huge. In fact, a simple, “you’re beautiful” is a good comment for all 3 trimesters – because you are, mamas!!

What are your favorite parts of second tri? Any other weird symptoms you have/had?? Comment below for the other mamas!

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Dr. Annie is a family doctor, mama of 2 with 1 more on the way in the Sacramento area who has experienced all of the above.

Fresh Air

The exhilarating feeling of getting fresh air on a perfect fall-ish day is something I always forget how much I love until I get the opportunity to do it. Sometimes, I even have to be forced into it by what could be seen as an unfortunate turn of events…

Saturday, I decided to spend the majority of the day outside with the kids.  It was gorgeous.  We took a long walk/run throughout the neighborhood.  Levi asked, “Do you think Aiden (our neighbor who we’ve only seen once) wants to come out and play?”

Usually, I would say, “He’s probably busy, bud.”  But that day, the fresh air must have gone to my head.  “Let’s knock on his door and find out!”  After all, that’s how I made friends when I was a kid.

We knocked on the door and his grandma answered.  They already had plans and were about to head out for the day, but she encouraged us to try back tomorrow.  I promised we would.  Success, just delayed a bit.

On the walk back, we decided to take the long route, down the back gravel roads.  Levi asked lots of good questions about the trees, the holes that (hopefully) were bunny burrows, and imagined some rocks were dinosaur fossils from a T-Rex who used to roam in our area long ago.

When we arrived back home, off to the trampoline we went.

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Then, to the swing set.  Then, the kids got some ice pops and rode around in Levi’s little Jeep.

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Idyllic is certainly a word that comes to mind.  When I envisioned having kids, this was the dream.  A blue house on a cul-de-sac.  Riding bikes, taking walks, swinging and ice-pops.  Watching my studly husband fix things outdoors with his muscles shining in the sun.

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You know what I didn’t dream of?  Realizing I had lost my keys somewhere on that long, long walk and having to retrace my steps 2.5 miles to try to find them, only to come home and find them wedged under the sun-visor of the stroller.

Still, I had had such a good day that I managed to laugh at myself and carry on.  I think the universe knew I needed more fresh air and had to force me into it 😉 For dinner, we went out for pizza and got the kids some ice cream. After all, we burned a lot of calories with our accidental adventure!

Despite my absent-mindedness, Saturday was a blazing success, and a nice reminder to enjoy the weekend, and ignore the chores sometimes.  They can wait, and they won’t mind.  But my kids can’t, and they do. Three cheers for the power of fresh air! Go get yourself some!

What are your favorite fall fresh-air activities to do with the family? We want to hear all about it!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeupMargo is a financial advisor back in school again and a married mom of 2 in Maryland.