Friday, March 27, 2015

Tips for dad-to-be on how to help your partner deal with the stress of being pregnant.

Since I am nearing the end of a pregnancy, I feel qualified to make a post like this. (Since I am, after all, a pregnancy pro now.) This post is for significant others of those who's lady has a bun in the oven and things you can do to make the baking process as easy for her as humanly possible. She deserves it. After all, she's carrying your precious little parasite around in her stomach. 

  • From the moment she takes the test her whole life changes. Yours does, too. But not in the same way that hers does. To a pregnant woman, the world becomes more dangerous than a tiger on a unicycle. Seemingly innocent foods like pineapple suddenly become cervix-softening poison. Anyone with a cough looks like they're incubating Pertussis. She will lose sleep over whether or not the cheese she had earlier was possibly unpasteurized. So while it looks like she's developing an anxiety disorder, try your best to assure her that everything is going to be okay. Don't, however, make her feel crazy for worrying about cheese. 

Keep an open door policy for venting. Pregnancy, especially for first time moms, can be a little scary. Women wonder if the baby is doing okay, what labor will be like, whether they’ll have to have a c-section, and whether they’ll be good at being a mom. Be willing to let her vent or cry whenever she needs to, even if it’s in the middle of the night. If there’s something specific that’s worrying her, do some research so you can confidently tell her, “Those pains you’re experiencing are normal and do not mean you will give birth to a two-headed hydra baby.” 
  • You may notice that her boobs have gotten bigger. Like, excruciatingly bigger. Trust me, she has noticed too. It is more than likely the first thing about her body that changed. (In addition, it is the reason for her back pain and why she can no longer wear low cut shirts without looking like a prostitute.) So you don't have to point it out every time she changes in front of you. Maybe this one is just me, but I personally didn't feel like Kate Upton the moment I got pregnant. It was more like this.

Boobs. Boobs everywhere.

Because Ethan is amazing, he took me to Destination Maternity where they were having a sale on Motherhood Maternity bras. They were buy three get one free. I got three sleep bras and two bras to wear out. The sleep bras are the most amazing thing in the whole world. They're so comfortable and if you plan on breastfeeding, go ahead and purchase nursing sleep bras. I thought the transition would be hard for me because I usually don't wear a bra to bed, but they were so comfortable that I didn't mind. When I became pregnant, I went up two cup sizes. I began to worry about whether or not I would get stretch marks because my bras were no longer supportive enough and sleeping in a bra became something I was more than willing to do to prevent stretch marks. I feel like it's going to be hard wearing regular bras again after i'm no longer nursing just because of how amazingly comfortable these ones are.

Tell her she’s beautiful and that you love her. She will be undergoing some serious body transformations during pregnancy. Reassure her that you think she’s beautiful and that you love her immensely. Affirm your unwavering dedication to her each and every day.

  • Help her get some ZZZs. Sleeping will become more and more uncomfortable as she gets further along in her pregnancy. When she sleeps on her back the baby's weight puts pressure on her spine, back muscles, intestines, and major blood vessels. All of this can lead to pain, decreased circulation, and consequently trouble falling asleep. During a trip to Babies 'R' Us, Ethan made the genius suggestion that we purchase something called a Snoogle. I said no because I couldn't justify spending $80 on a pillow when there were so many other things that I knew we had to get. I am so happy that he insisted. It has been one of the things I truly could not have made it through this pregnancy without. I even took it to the hospital with me when I was admitted a few weeks ago for a lung infection. All of the nurses were envious. You can purchase one here. You may also want to look into getting a slipcover to prevent from getting the Snoogle dirty. 
  • If she's craving something, get it for her. (If it's safe.) Sure I have to admit, I've abused this a little...but I have every right to cheesy fiesta potatoes if I want cheesy fiesta potatoes after everything I've been though in the past few months. If she wants a banana cream pie, do not come home with bananas and say ''I couldn't find any banana cream pies so I brought home bananas.'' (Unless you intend on searching for banana cream pie recipes on Pinterest and using said bananas to make them yourself.) I don't care if you have to go to a Little Debbie manufacturing location itself and demand banana cream pies, you get those banana cream pies. 
Now, if your partner is weird like me and craving something that is not supposed to be consumed you should probably suggest that her doctors do a blood test to see if she has any deficiencies such as calcium, iron, etc.

PICA IS A REAL THING. It is the persistent eating of that have no nutritional value. For me, this substance was chalk. I was watching a show on Netflix one night with Ethan when one of the characters began drawing on a chalk board with a piece of white chalk. I was suddenly OVERWHELMED with this urge to reach through the television, grab the chalk out of the characters hand, and EAT IT. I paused the show, turned to Ethan and said ''I'm craving chalk.'' and he's a pretty smart fella so he knew that probably meant that I had some sort of deficiency. We later learned that my magnesium levels were low but I am unsure if that would cause me to want to munch on chalk. I obviously knew it was strange so I was trying super hard to ignore the urge. We tried tums thinking that the chalkiness of them would soothe the urge. It didn't. We thought about candy cigarettes but couldn't find any. After researching it for weeks, Ethan finally went and got me some just to shut me up. I tried it and it was terrible. I didn't swallow it, I spit it out...but the actual texture cured the craving. But before, it actually made me feel depressed that he wouldn't go out and buy me a pack of chalk.

So be cautious of things with no nutritional value but if she wants a burger, you get her a burger. 

  • Do not ever tell her to ''Hurry up'' when you two are trying to get somewhere while walking. Pregnant women tend to waddle (you would too if you had a human growing inside of you), so you’re probably not going to get a super warm reaction if you chide her for not being Speedy Gonzalez.

  • Act like you’re pregnant. No, I don’t mean you need to put on one of those ridiculous bodysuits that let men know what it feels like to be pregnant. Nor am I encouraging wild mood swings and consuming ice cream sprinkled with nacho cheese. What I’m talking about here is adding or dropping the same habits she has to add or drop because she’s pregnant. It’s a way to show moral support and to help her follow doctor’s orders as closely as she can. So when she has to give up alcohol and coffee, become a teetotaler too (or at least don’t imbibe in front of her.) 

  • Exercise is incredibly beneficial to mom and baby to be, so help her get in the habit by offering to go for a walk or to the gym together. But keep the exercising light...and don't push her too hard if she doesn't feel up to it. 

Just because you saw an article on that bodybuilding forum you go on every day about some pregnant woman who exercised a whole bunch and didn't even show that she was pregnant until her 8th month, doesn't mean everyone is capable of dropping it like a squat while pregnant. If I tried to do a squat right now, I would not be able to get back up. In fact, I need help getting out of bed at this point. Everyone is different. 

  • Moms-to-be often experience the nesting instinct, and will feel a lot better if they feel things are in place. You’re going to have to get things ready eventually, so you might as well do it now, especially if it puts your partner at ease. If she wants to clean out the spare bedroom, let her. (Of course, not if she's going to be lifting heavy things. In this case, offer to help her.) If she's working too hard, make her rest. It's totally normal to be obsessed with cleaning and getting things ready for your little one's arrival. 

However, it is also totally normal to be exhausted and not feel like doing a single thing. Like I said, everyone is different.

That's about all I can think of for now. If you have any suggestions for dads-to-be on how to help their significant other while pregnant, feel free to leave a comment. :) 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The best news I have ever received in my entire life.

After having an amniocentesis done, I was told it would take 10-14 days to get the results back. A week after having it done, I received a phone call saying ''Hey, we need baby daddy to come in and give us his blood (again) because Willow's blood has to be compared to it in order to know whether or not she has Cystic Fibrosis.'' And all I could think was ''Why couldn't you have told me this a week ago!?'' So poor Ethan had to go give blood yet again and we had to wait even longer. Okay, not much longer...but when you're waiting for news like that, every day that passes with no news feels like a year. I would work myself into a crying frenzy thinking about how I would feel upon receiving the news if it were bad news...but I didn't even truly think about how I would feel receiving the news if it were good...and it was.

It was Friday. January 23rd at 12:30pm. Ethan had a three day weekend that started on that day so he was home with me watching the Tudors when my phone rang. I jumped up to get it any my heart started to pound when I saw the number that was calling was the number to my geneticist. 

I answered. She said ''Heather! Guess what!? Baby DOES NOT have Cystic Fibrosis!'' and she started to ramble on about other things but I couldn't hear anything after that. My heart was singing too loudly. The phone call lasted only a few seconds and I just burst into tears and laughter at the same time and Ethan just knew. He scooped me up in his arms and I was laughing hysterically. And WAILING. I think I may have been in shock and he was just laughing with me. It wasn't the most glamorous moment, especially when you consider that Ethan went to give me a little kiss on the lips and shouted ''EW! THERE'S SNOT IN MY MOUTH.'' as he jumped up and ran to the bathroom. I'll never forget how it felt to receive the best news I have ever received in my entire life. All I could think was ''You better get used to snotty kisses.'' 

Growing up with Cystic Fibrosis for me wasn't easy. I had a feeding tube placed in my stomach when I was two because I only weighed 14 pounds. I was going through something called failure to thrive and if they didn't do something to put some weight on my bones pronto tonto, I wasn't going to have a very long life. Aside from being pancreatic insufficient, my lungs weren't the best. I had two sisters and a brother and if I said I was able to keep up with them and do everything they did growing up, I'd be lying. 

I've always been the girl with Cystic Fibrosis and I didn't want that for Willow. I didn't want someone to not chase her in a game of tag because of her ''disadvantage''. I didn't want her teachers to have to stop in the middle of a lesson to check on her because she is having a coughing fit that's so harsh she can't even catch her breath. I didn't want her to change her clothes in gym class only to be stared at by a child who has never seen a feeding tube before or even worse, picked on for it. For being sick. For something she couldn't control. I didn't want her to have the childhood that I had because of this disease. I wanted her to have a normal life. Realizing that she was going to be healthy hit me harder than the possibility that she wasn't. I had been hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. I had already told myself in my head that she was going to have CF, just incase she did. Finding out that she was CF free is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Finding out that despite everything I have been through with this disease, I can still give life to someone who it will never physically amazing.

Even if Willow had Cystic Fibrosis...if she were anything like me, she would be absolutely fine because Willows bend but they don't break.

I can't believe how lucky we are...that I will have a mini me visiting me in the hospital and making art work for me to hang on the walls there to give the place some color. I can't believe that Ethan and I created this perfect little human, and I can't believe how in love with her we are already. CF or no CF, she's the best news I have ever received in my entire life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

25 weeks and an amniocentesis! (Ouch.)

After getting over the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant, I had the chary cogitation that it were possible for our child to have Cystic Fibrosis. This apprehension grew even stronger upon learning from the results of Ethan's genetic blood test that he is a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis. He has the DF508 gene, which is the most common one. Honestly, I don't know much about it besides the fact that it is the most common CF gene.

What I do know though is that there is a 50% chance that Willow will get this gene...and to save myself from worrying for the rest of this pregnancy, I had an amniocentesis done on January 06, 2015 just to be certain. I knew within a 24 hour period after finding out Ethan is a carrier that this was something I felt strongly about doing. I knew the results would not make a difference. If she has it she has it. We just needed to know so we could mentally prepare ourselves for the roller coaster that IS Cystic Fibrosis. 

When I went to see the geneticist I thought he would just be sitting down and going over the chances and making yet another appointment if I wanted to go through with the amnio. I already knew these chances were 50/50. But what came as a shock to me was when the genetic counselor said ''Do you want to do the amnio today?'' I had not prepared for that question but without hesitation, I said yes. 

After I spoke with the genetic counselor (who was extremely nice) she took me to a room and let me know that a sonogram technician would be in shortly. The sonogram technician started off doing an anomaly scan, which is just a scan to make sure that the baby is developing like she should be. I hadn't seen a sonogram of Willow since my sisters and I went in on an elective sonogram to find out if Willow was a boy or a I was on the edge of my seat during the sonogram just waiting for the sonogram technician to say ''Congratulations! It's a boy!'' I would have died. She confirmed that Willow was a girl, counted all of her fingers, measured her arms and legs, looked at her heart, she looked at everything. It was neat getting to see how she was developing, and relieving to find that she was doing well. My favorite part of the anomaly scan was when she was counting Willow's fingers and she threw up the Vulcan Salute from Startrek. A friend of mine made a joke that it means she will ''Live long and prosper'' and the thought made me feel warm inside. 

After the anomaly scan was finished, the sonogram technician let me clean all of the petroleum jelly off of my stomach and then we had to get down to the nitty gritty of an amniocentesis. I had to sign a disclaimer saying I understand the risks and I was explained the process very thoroughly. I knew everything about it, though. From the moment I found out Ethan was a carrier, Google had been my best friend and I was looking up everything there is to know about amnios. His mom always tells me to stay off of Google but it's impossible. 

Of course, amnios are a scary thing. It's not just them putting a needle in your stomach, it's them putting a needle in your uterus...the same small area that your baby occupies. So it always raises a few eyebrows.

They started off by prepping my stomach by sanitizing it. I don't know about you but I think the worst part about a shot is the part where they're rubbing alcohol on the part they're about to stick and you get all nervous because...well, shots. I was told that it was going to feel like a bee sting. I've been stung by a bee before. (On my lip. I looked like Angelina Jolie for an entire week.) The needle was very long and very thin. It was so thin that they didn't even need to put a band-aid on my stomach afterwards because there was no blood. 

The sonogram technician guided the doctor and told her where to put the needle. It was supposed to be something that lasted just a few seconds...and it would have only lasted a few seconds if my little womb-mate hadn't decided to have a funkadelic dance party in my stomach AS SOON AS THEY PUT THE NEEDLE IN. They were right, it felt like a bee sting. But then the doctor informed me that she had not even put the needle into my uterus yet, and I just knew it was going to hurt.

They had to hang out there for a few seconds with this needle just hanging out of my stomach and wait for Willow to stop shaking what here mama gave her. She finally calmed down and they were very careful but it was still scary because I could look on the screen and see that the needle was so close to her head. Too close for comfort. I was tensed up the entire time because I was so scared something was going to go wrong and my perfect baby was going to get stuck with a needle. Thankfully I'm just super paranoid and that didn't happen. But when they pushed the needle into my uterus, a frenzy of cramps ensued. That was the worst part.

All I could think was ''THIS IS NOT WHAT A BEE STING FEELS LIKE.'' I'm not sure if it's because I had tensed up the way you would when getting any shot, or if it was just because they had to go through the abs of steel that are hiding under all of this baby fat, but it was not a painless experience like Google said it would be.

I'd like to take a second to rant about Google real quick. Anytime I google something that is going on with my body, I find out that I probably have some sort of cancer and that I shouldn't even be walking the earth because that's how close to death I will be if I don't seek medical attention within the next 30 seconds. Google has always freaked me out and told me ''Hey, this is gonna suck'' BUT IT LET ME DOWN THIS TIME. It said all of these things about an amniocentesis that made it seem like a walk in the park. Noooo sir. 

I walked out of there feeling like a complete baby because the cramps were so strong that I could not even keep my eyes open during the procedure. All I was aware of was that the moment the needle entered my uterus right next to Willow's head, my sister who was sitting in a chair next to the bed exclaimed ''Oh my god!'' and I was just ready for it to be over. They only took three viles of amniotic fluid. I am a wimp. 

They took me to a room and sat me in a chair just to monitor Willow's heart rate and make sure I wasn't having any contractions. I had to sit in the chair while they monitored us for about 20 minutes. It wasn't too bad. I was exhausted after the amnio anyways. I felt relieved because I could feel Willow kicking and although it hurt because my stomach was sore, it felt good to know she was alright.  

After it was over I was given instruction to go home and rest for 24 hours so of course I went to Chili's with my family and celebrated the fact that Willow has the cutest nose in the entire world instead. I just had a few cramps afterwards and they were mild. Today I feel a little sore where they put the needle but I think that's only because I tensed up. 

See? I wasn't lying. Cutest nose in the entire world!

So there it is! My (probably a tad over-dramatic) experience with an amniocentesis. 

I would like to point out once more that this was not something I would have done if I found out Ethan was not a carrier of CF. I'm not sure why anyone would get an amnio done unless they had something in their medical history that they felt would affect the baby. 

Now we're just playing the waiting game to find out the results. They should be in within 10-14 days. We're hoping that when the results come back, they will be in our favor. In the amazing words of Ethan, ''If she has CF, she will be taken care of. If she does not have CF, she will be taken care of.'' 

Waiting for the amnio to begin.
The room where I went to be monitored afterwards
Completely exhausted.
After the amnio Willow's heart rate was 141.