Friday, May 15, 2009

Allergies, Cops and DC Area Meet Up (Oh, My!)

Because I'm even more oblivious to things than normal, I found out only yesterday that this week is both Food Allergy Awareness Week and National Police Week. These are two topics that mean a lot to me, so I'm going to talk about them a little before I get to the post about the DC Area Meet Up (which looks like it will be 5/23!).

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Since it looks like the Pumpkin is allergic to peanuts, awareness of food allergies has become especially important to me. I highly suggest everyone learn at least a little about food allergies, because even if your kids don't have an allergy, one of their friends or familily members might. It's important to understand how to be respectful, informed and considerate of those with food allergies.

I have always thought, what if it was my child who could literally die if she was exposed to ______? Wouldn't I want understanding from others, not just eye rolling and frustration from another parent who can't pack a lunch with, say, peanut butter? Now that it might be (probably is) my child, I really hope that others try to learn a bit about how serious these allergies can be and want to learn to create environments that are safe for ALL children.

I don't yet know much about the food allergy world, but there are other bloggers who do. Please check out some of these other bloggers who know more about this stuff and have links to resources with even more information:
From the Desk of Mama
The Nut-Free Mom Blog
No Whey, Mama

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A family member of mine was a police officer in DC for more years than I want to count right now. While I've always been extremely proud of this person and what he has done, it is not easy having a police officer as a family member. (Nor is it easy have a member of the family in the armed services, fire and rescue or so many other dangerous professions that many people just take for granted, but today I'm going to focus on the police force).

You never know when the call might come. If that call comes, you never know how serious it might be. Police officers put their lives on the line every single day. They run into danger while most everyone else is running out. They protect others even if it may cost them their own life. They bring criminals to justice. They search for the truth. They put the wellfare of others and the community in front of their own. Without the police, thing truly would fall into disorder and chaos.

This honorable job with honorable men and women can come at a truly high price. When a police officer falls in the line of duty, the police force and the community they serve suffer. But even more is the family and friends they leave behind.

I have to stop writing about this now, because I'm too emotional to write what should come next. I'll just leave you all with this: If you see a police officer, thank him/her for their service. If you are in the DC Area, there are plenty of police men and women from across the country here this week remembering those who have fallen. Let them know that you appreciate them.

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Okay, let's move on to some fun stuff. Crazy, emotional, hormonal pregnant woman needs to not dwell on sad things like children who could die from an allergy or police who have died.

The poll clearly shows that May 23rd is the winning date for a DC Area Get Together. It turns out that weekend is Memorial Day weekend! But since it's a Saturday, I'm guessing the BBQs and other get togethers won't interfer too much with a play group.

Many people have requested an indoor place in case of rain. I agree that this is a good idea, however I am concerned about the crowds on Memorial Day weekend, especially if it is raining. Perhaps if we get to the At Play Cafe early enough we could claim a good spot. I think early is also important for those of us with kids who need an afternoon nap (not that mine will actually nap for me, but I've got to keep trying her). The Play Cafe opens at 9:30 on Saturday, and I believe I could be there then.

Another suggestion a few people had is the National Building Museum (which was also a contender for the last meet up). I know nothing about this place, but it sounds good! It opens at 10 on Saturdays and has free admission. (Don't you love the price of museums in DC?)

I'm also totally game for planning the get together at a park/playground (Stacy suggested a few) and having a back-up rain plan. I'm willing to make the call a day or two prior, but I'm not sure if you all need more specific plans in advance.

So if you are planning or hoping to come, please leave a comment with the following:
1. The fact that you are planning/hoping to come
2. Your name or alias so I can keep track
3. How many kids and adults would come with you (everyone is welcome!)
4. Your location preference
5. If you are okay with meeting in the morning
6. Your feelings on last minute rain decisions
7. How crazy awesome I am for attempting this when I'll be in my 9th month of pregnancy

That's all I've got for now, that I know of. I do currently have the memory of a goldfish, and I've always got the tendency to ramble on and on. So there might be something I forgot and lots of things I said that couldn't have been edited. Either way, I'm going to hit Publish Post now!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Planning the Boy's Birth

I always thought it was crazy to think you could actually plan a child's birth. But I believe in knowing as much as you can about the birth, trying to figure out what you think will work best for you, listening to the doctors/midwifes/duolas/relatives/friends whose opinions you respect, and then going with the flow once the labor process starts. Most importantly, I believe it's so important to be flexible and not be set on how it has to be because babies, your body and nature are going to do what they do regardless of what you expect them to do.

I really believe that my feelings about flexibility and not mentally insisting that labor and delivery had to meet my ideal expectations helped me adjust well to the Pumpkin's labor and delivery. The labor which started with what I had thought were Braxton Hicks until my water broke at the movie theater, continued with 16 hours of labor in the hospital and ended with an unplanned C-section for her delivery. I never mourned "what should have been" or felt robbed of any particular experience. I was truly fine with the whole thing and was simply happy that I was a healthy mother of a healthy baby.

Now that I get closer and closer to my due date (June 19, 2009), I find myself constantly thinking about the boy's upcoming labor and delivery. With this child, I'm at a completely different starting point, as a woman who is pregnant after having a C-section. Right from the get-go, I (with my husband) have a choice to make towards planning my labor and delivery that actually will influence the start of labor: Do I try for a VBAC or just go with a planned C-section?

I've known (mostly online) many women who have had successful VBACs. I thought it would be no big deal, really. It would be something to try, and if I could do it great! If it ended in another C-section, fine. Been there, done that, could do it again. I also thought it was important for the baby to start the process of labor to help prepare him for the world, although I'm not sure where I got that from. So I thought we'd plan a C-section for just after the due date to give us time to go into labor and attempt the VBAC.

So since my first OB appointment with the boy, I've been telling the doctors I'd like to at least attempt a VBAC. Most of the doctors mentioned that there were risks, but it was up to me/us if we wanted to try it. My primary OB, Dr. A, said the same and didn't disparage the VBAC, but something in his demeaner gave Londo and I the impression that he was not a big fan of the VBAC. The only real words of caution he gave was that if this baby looked to be a big one, he would be highly recommending a planned C-section.

Apparently, the risks during VBACs with a larger baby are greater than VBACs when the babies aren't so large. The Pumpkin was 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and both Londo's family and my family tend to have big babies. As Londo pointed out to me, we have to assume this baby is also going to be large based on our history and family history. Londo has voiced to me that he is concerned about attempting a VBAC because of the risks in general and the heightened risk of a larger baby. I said I would look into the risks of the VBAC more and we'd discuss it with the doctors more. I will not make this decision alone because we are a team, and if he is uncomfortable with a VBAC I respect that and will not brush it off. Yes, it's my body. But I'm his wife, and this is his son. What happens to me and this baby is of great concern to him, as it should be.

So yesterday, we happened to see a different doctor at our practice, Dr. W. After the ultrasound (the boy's kidneys still look good so the doctors aren't concerned, and that was my last ultrasound!), we had our appointment with the Dr. W, who delivered the Pumpkin. (We love this guy! We love all the doctors at this practice, but this guy safely got out the Pumpkin!) I told Dr. W, "My husband would like to talk about the risks involved with a VBAC." Dr. W confirmed what Dr. A said about large babies, and he went into the risks specifically.

Apparently, there is a 1 in 100 (1%) chance that the internal scar will rupture. I knew this, but still didn't think there was much to be concerned about. But then Dr. W went on to say that the biggest problem is that they would have very little idea that there was a rupture, because the signs of a rupture? Pain and blood. What happens during labor and delivery? Pain and blood. So how can they tell?

A rupture can lead to many different issues that could affect mother and/or baby. Most of which I can't recall at the moment (I currently have the memory of a goldfish), but the two that caught my attention were possibilities of a ruptured bladder (bladder apparently lies on next to the incision scar or something like that) or need for a hysterectomy. I kind of like my bladder the way it (normally) is, and a rupture of it that they wouldn't even realize happened sounds like it would suck. And I am still hoping to keep my options open for a third child. (I totally forgot to ask what repeated C-sections mean for another pregnancy, but I will next appointment.)

Still, I did not have an easy time of it during the C-section and recovery from it. I start to tear up when I think about having to go through the recovery again: the pain of the surgery, being laid up in bed, the months it took to for the incision to heal, the year or more until the itchiness of the scar started to get better... Well, it just sucked. And that doesn't even include the worst part of my entire labor and deliver, which was being the surgery recovery area for 1.5 hours without my child or anyone except the very nice nurse who was checking on me. That was probably the worst 1.5 hours of my life, and I'm not exaggerating. Some of it was purely my circumstances, such as the nausea during the surgery leading to them not giving me anything to drink for SO LONG even though my mouth was as dry as a desert!

So we talked to Dr. W about planning the C-section and the recovery from it. A main difference from a planned one to an unplanned one is that I wouldn't be exhausted from hours and hours of labor. That is actually a HUGE difference and I think would make the recovery (short term and long term) go so much smoother. Also, they would give me something for the possibility of nausea before I started feeling nauseous. In addition, my mother can be in the surgery recovery area with me, AND Dr. W said that they now do some of the newborn checkup stuff right there where I'd be recovering! I'm pretty sure he meant where I'm recovering from surgery, but we are going on a hospital tour soon where I will find out for sure.

We are giving birth at the same hospital, but now they have Mother/Baby suites where Londo could stay the night while MIL stays with the Pumpkin at our house. No sharing rooms! No waiting on the verge of tears for Londo to walk through the door in the morning! No worrying about how others feel when I have the baby room-in with me! No strangers glancing into my curtain while I try to breastfeed my infant!

Finally, a planned C-section means that we will (most likely) know the date of the boy's birth and make sure everything is in place (this is huge for my hubby who is a total planner). We can set up our support system, make sure that my mom is available to be in that recovery room with me, and ensure that my MIL is at our house (5+ hours from hers) to stay with the Pumpkin. We will (probably) not have to sit around wondering when labor will begin and worry about gushing water somewhere inconvient.

The idea of going through labor again doesn't scare me. I like the thought of possibly delivering vaginally. But the more I look into the risks, the more I look into the benefits, the more I think about our history and the likelihood that my labor will most likely end in a C-section anyway... Well, let's just say that we are heavily leaning towards a planned C-section. My biggest concerns with going through another C-section really seem to be mitigated by the circumstances of planning and the changes at the hospital.

I'm open to any stories, thoughts, ideas, facts, statistics or whatever you guys have on VBACs versus planned C-sections. I will listen to it all. Londo and I need to figure out what is right for us, but as I said in the first paragraph I believe in learning all I can before figuring what is going to work for us. And even then, nature might have something else in store for us!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Question of the Week - Date Night

First, (belated) Happy Mother's Day!! I hope all you mamas had a wonderful day and you daddies aren't too exhausted from shopping for presents and cards, making breakfasts, watching the kiddos and doing housework! I had a wonderful day, and I thank Londo for being so good to me.

Second, there is a fantastic new website/blog, which just went live yesterday, called The Breastfeeding Experience. The purpose is to help support mothers and mothers-to-be by sharing other mother's experiences with breastfeeding. The triumphs, the struggles, the disappointments, the experiences. I shared my story, which was posted last night. (There's even a picture I submitted with it!) Please check out the site and all the fantastic stories that women have shared so far. Please consider sharing your own.

Now on to today's post...

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Here I am, 34.5 weeks (8 months) pregnant. I am feeling huge, achy, uncomfortable, tired, emotional and all that other fun stuff that comes with being this pregnant. I'm nervous and excited about having a second child join the chaos that is our house. But I'm really worried about having time with my husband to simply enjoy each other and stay connected with each other. (I'm also worried about getting any "me time" at all, but that's a different post.)

Thankfully, my dad and mom were so wonderful to babysit Saturday night so that Londo and I could go out to dinner and a movie. We have no idea when we will have another chance to go out to a movie, as we are definitely not going when I'm much closer to my due date. And after that, we will not want to (or at least be able to) go out for a few months.

But my parents gave us the opportunity this Saturday. And what started out as a rush because everything takes me so freaking long these days, turned into a relaxing evening out when Londo convinced me to go to the later movie so we wouldn't rush dinner. And my parents insisted we take our time and enjoy ourselves.

We had a delicious dinner at a Thai restaurant, followed by enjoying the sunny evening at the courtyard of the stores where kids and dogs were playing and we ran into neighbor/friends. Finally, we headed to the theater around the corner and saw the new Star Trek movie (absolutely awesome!!!).

When we got home after 11:00 (so late for me!), my dad was hanging out with our dog and the monitor. The Pumpkin had gone to sleep really easily for my mom just after 8:00 (whew!) and hadn't stirred since then. The perfect end to the night would normally be some romantic time between hubby and me, however, it was way past this pregnant woman's bedtime. I totally fell asleep within minutes after getting ready for bed, and Londo got to watch TV and I think he texted with his brother about how great the movie was.

So it was almost my ideal date night. Delicious dinner, relaxing time chatting while enjoying a summer evening, great movie, and coming home to no problems reported about the toddler. Oh, and we got to sleep through the night without the toddler waking up--BONUS!!! Back in my youth, I might have wanted to go dancing or play pool at the bar or go to a party. But right here, right now, when I'm this pregnant and we have so much else going on, I can't think of a better date night!

Which is this week's question of the week:

What is currently your ideal date night?

Do you just want to stay in and cuddle on the couch? Do you want to geek out at opening night of Star Trek? Do you still want to go dancing all night? What would be perfect for you and your partner right now?