Induction Day!

On my due date, I went into the hospital to be induced. September 20th was going to be the day I got to hold my baby girl in my arms for the first time.

It was such an exciting thought.

At the hospital, they monitored the baby’s heart rate for an hour before the induction. They just wanted to make sure with the low fluid and the way her heart rate had been dropping the day before, that all was good and it would give them a better idea of how I would be induced.

Baby was doing well.

As a first time mom, I don’t know the options for induction. I can only tell you about my experience and what they decided to do in my situation.

What they decided to do was induce me with a drug called Cervidil.

Cervidil is dinoprostone, or prostaglandin.

They insert it into the vagina. It is extremely uncomfortable. It is kind of like inserting a tampon, however the tampon is made of abrasive, dry paper towel or something like that. I grit my teeth and powered through it.

Once it is inserted, they monitor both you and the baby for another hour to be sure you don’t have a negative response to it. As long as everything is good, they send you home where you can wait things out at home.

Cervidil can be kept in for 24 hours. It is supposed to help soften your cervix and bring on contractions. However, what I didn’t know was it can also intensify contractions.

We went home from the hospital around 3:00pm after being induced. The plan was for both of us to go home and take naps because we didn’t know when labour would actually start or how long it would take and we were both exhausted.

My husband found a comfortable spot on the couch, cuddled up with our dog and easily fell asleep. I laid down for a few moments and felt some uncomfortable tightening in my back.

Through my pregnancy, my lower back has been an issue. Since my car accident, I have used prescription naproxen to ease some of my constant discomfort in my neck and back. Since I got pregnant, I have stayed away from all drugs and medications, prescription or over the counter. I sacrificed a lot for my pregnancy and looking back I would do it all again to ensure I have a healthy baby.

In the last month, a lot of my pains and aches have intensified. There was a lot of extra weight on my lower back and every day I felt like something was getting closer and closer to crushing my spine. (Ouchie!)

Lying there on the couch, hoping for contractions or for my water to break so we could head back to the hospital, my back pain was intensifying in a way that I couldn’t even begin to put into words.

My back pains got to the point where I was bent at the waist, resting on my elbows as I stood at the side of the bed in tears. I struggled to breathe through it all, unsure of what could have changed to have brought my back pain from something I had grown uncomfortably accustomed to, to this crippling pain.

My husband was still asleep and I had no reason to think anything was really wrong. I suffered on my own for hours before pulling out my phone and doing some research. Was it possible for you to feel contraction-like pains exclusively in your back?

Yes!

It’s called Back Labour and they say it occurs when your baby is in the occiput posterior position. For those of you who don’t know what that means (I sure didn’t), it is basically a sunny side up position. The baby’s head is low in your pelvis facing out towards your belly button. From what I read, it intensifies during contractions but can sometimes linger in between as well.

Well… through hours of pre-labour I never experienced a single contraction in my stomach. From the time I started feeling these back contractions at 5:30pm on September 20th, to the time they finally checked me into my birthing suite at 5:00am-ish on September 21st, I felt absolutely nothing in my stomach whatsoever. Just a climbing pain in my lower back that got worse and worse to the point where I was hanging onto the side of my bed for dear life, crying and telling myself I would give absolutely anything to not be in the pain I was in.

They didn’t take the Cervidil out until my water broke which happened at about 4:20am on September 21st. My water broke just as the nurses were going to put in my IV and prep me to be moved as the pain was too much to bear and I am sure all the women in the Labour Assessment Unit of my hospital were tired of hearing me sob.

If there is another, easier way to be induced, I don’t know but I would have gladly done it if it meant my back contractions wouldn’t be as bad as they were.

As a first time mom, you take everything they tell you at face value. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t know any better and you don’t know what questions to ask to ensure you are making the right decisions. If we are completely honest with ourselves, we don’t really know anything.

We ask our friends and family that have been through it, but really every woman’s body is different, every woman takes a different path towards becoming a mother, even if it seems like they went through the same thing, when you break it down, there are infinte differences.

All of us just pretend to know what we are talking about, we pretend to have the information needed to move forward.

I pretended, and I got through it.

We women are strong, and we push through even when we can’t push anymore.

I can’t say 100% if the induction was what caused my back labour, or if it intensified it to the point it was. All I could say was that was what had happened ot me, and from what I read on some of the other forums, Cervidil does seem to intensify contractions, wherever you may have them.

This is something I wish I knew going in, although even if I did, I am not sure what I would have done with that information.

At least any of you reading my blog know it could happen, and hopefully when your time comes, it helps you decide if this kind of induction is right for you.

Recognizing Your Voice

At 27 weeks, if you have been talking to your baby enough it will recognize the sound of your voice and even react to it. That is what the pregnancy app I have on my phone told me, and I was a little skeptical at first.

Baby hears me all the time. Every time I open my mouth to talk, whether it’s to it’s tiny little ears or to the store clerk that sold me salsa, my little kiwi has to be hearing my voice, right? It’s not like I can press my lips up to my own belly and talk to my child.

Last night I was standing at the sink doing dishes when my husband got home from work. He did the usual thing he does when he comes home, he gave me a kiss, pulled up my shirt and said hello to our baby.

For the first time, our baby went wild! All the skin on my stomach seemed to move around, we could see my belly point and morph as our unborn baby wiggled around, all because my husband said Hello.

I couldn’t help my grin from spreading ear to ear.

Our baby knows him!

I genuinely think it’s the little things that keep up going through pregnancy. When there is a huge lump pressing out against your skin and you push it back only to realize it was the baby’s head, and baby turns and kicks you defiantly for the poking. When you play a song they react to, or eat something that gets them really moving. These are the things we need to hold onto when pregnancy seems a little too much to take.

This morning, when my baby started shadow-boxing my ribcage and I woke up in agony, it was hard for me to remember those moments. Harder still was it to hang onto the magic of being pregnant when I was hit with an overwhelming bout of nausea this morning that had me running to the bathroom every half hour. So between the throwing up, and being kicked by what I can only assume is a baby kangaroo in there at this point, my morning was looking very bleak and my mood was anything but pleasant.

As I spend my second consecutive day on the couch with little to no plans of moving due to the discomfort in my belly and the overly sensitive old belly-button piercing (the old scar tissue is also being stretched ouch!) I try to remind myself that in a few hours my husband will come home, he will give me my usual kiss, and then one for the baby before he says Hi and our little kangaroo kicks with more vigor than I thought it could muster.

No one is here but me and my pup today, and thank goodness I don’t have to pretend to be loving this when it’s just us. I am going to curl up beside him (he likes to be little spoon) and we are going to be couch hobos for the rest of this rainy Sunday.

3D Ultrasound

I typically think of myself as someone with a good amount of self-esteem. I can reason myself out of eating the whole tub of ice cream. I can save half a chocolate bar until later, I can talk myself out of the conveniently placed burger shop located across the street from my apartment that I have to pass on the way home from work every day.

However, after getting so amped up about finding out if my little bundle of joy was a baby girl or a baby boy before my last ultrasound, leaving without knowing that left me feeling antsy.

I kept thinking about the boy name and the girl name I had settled on without any help from my husband who suggested the name Dracula, Draxle, and of course Kyle Jr. (Kylie if it was a girl) he lost all naming privileges. I had decided on two and was pretty much set in stone, but while rubbing my growing bump while watching TV or walking down the street, I didn’t know which to call my bump by.

We had the intention of finding out the sex of our baby and then keeping it to ourselves until the birth. Not finding out sure made it easier to keep the secret. There was really no secret to keep. However, I did think knowing what we were having just between the two of us was kind of a bonding opportunity. A secret only we knew, one we would both hold onto.

Not knowing was really getting to me. My mom reassured me by telling me she didn’t find out the sex of my three younger brother’s until they were born. My mother in law told me she didn’t find out the sex for any of her three sons either. Well… that just wasn’t going to work for me. I needed to know.

I had already started to get things together for my hospital bag, and on the list of things to bring, it said to bring three complete outfits. Now, this sounds like an easy task until you walk into the baby stores and realize it’s split right down the middle based on gender and age. There is no middle ground. A limited amount of gender neutral gear.

How in the hell do women go without knowing?

At twenty weeks, I was obsessing over baby gear. I wanted to look up all the strollers, I wanted to decide whether I would do the bassinet, or whether I would skip it all together and find something else more practical that could be used for a longer amount of time. I wanted to decide on colours for the nursery. All of which would be easier if I knew if it were a boy or a girl.

Popping onto the pregnancy forums, I reached out to all the ladies in the Toronto area and asked for suggestions for a 3D ultrasound place that would guarantee us the sex of the baby would be revealed.

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This place was AMAZING!

I got to see my beautiful baby for thirty minutes on a big screen TV all while the tech explained to me what was what. I’ll have to admit, I have never been a fan of the 3D ultrasound. My husband and I always felt like the colour and the mushy look of the baby always made them look like Pumkinhead. When it is your baby though, it’s something completely different.

We saw how active our baby was. How they were using my placenta for a pillow and would give us a glare and move away as the tech pressed down where they were trying to sleep.

At twenty weeks, your baby doesn’t have a lot of fat. The tech was great and she explained all of these things to us while being sure to take lots of photos that were put on a jump drive for us to take home so we could print out any we liked. On the jump drive was also a video that was everything we had seen on the screen during our whole visit!

They gave us a printout of our choice when we left as well as a teddy bear that played the heartbeat of our baby!

Honestly, I would say it was worth the visit just for the memories. It would be so cute to show them later. At this point, I like to collect all I could because you never know what your kid will want from you later. I have an ultrasound of myself as a baby and was hoping to frame it side by side in the nursery along with my husband’s and our baby but my mother in law never got one.

I was disappointed to hear that. I really thought it would have been cute to compare all three and keep them framed in our baby’s room.

And when all was said and done, we knew what we were having!

So, boy or girl?

Sorry guys, it’s still a secret!

2nd Trimester

Most of the time, people break down your pregnancy in weeks or in trimesters. I noticed, people rarely mention pregnancy in months? Why is this? It’s like people who tell you the age of the baby/toddler in weeks when they are like two years old.

“How old is your baby?”

“Twenty-six months.”

*Does some quick mental math* “So, like… two?”

This has always been something that has driven me completely bonkers mostly because I can’t find any reason for it. Why can’t you just tell me your baby is two years old? Why can’t you just tell someone you are five months pregnant? All this math! *Insert groaning face*

The first trimester is between 0-13 weeks pregnant or the first three months of your pregnancy. The second trimester is 14-27 weeks pregnant or from the second half of your third month moving through to the beginning of your sixth month of pregnancy. The third trimester is between 28-42 weeks or from the second half of your sixth month through your ninth month.

Trimester   | Months Pregnant   | Weeks Pregnant

1st                 |  0 Months                   |  0- 4 Weeks

|  1 Month                     |  5- 8 Weeks

|  2 Months                   |  9- 12 Weeks

|  3 Months                   |  13 Weeks

2nd               |  3 Months                   |  14- 17 Weeks

|  4 Months                    |  18- 21 Weeks

|  5 Months                    |  22- 25 Weeks

| 6 Months                     |  26- 27 Weeks

3rd               |  6 Months                    |  28- 30 Weeks

|  7 Months                    |  31- 34 Weeks

|  8 Months                    |  35- 38 Weeks

|  9 Months                    |  39- 42 Weeks

You know me, leading with honesty. The first trimester of my pregnancy was complete agony. I slept more than I was awake, when I was awake, I was throwing up, frowning over my new crop of pimples that had popped up overnight, or in a whirlwind of emotions that seemed as though it would never cease.

I woke up every day literally counting how many hours it would be before I was right back where I was, in my bed with the blinds closed and the curtains drawn erasing all signs of light from the room.

My diet in the beginning consisted mainly of soda crackers, dry toast, Gatorade, Powerade, and apple juice. There would be days when I would wake up and have a hankering for something specific, like sausage pasta or grilled cheese. I would rejoice in inhaling without gagging and eat it slowly, savouring the first meal I had in weeks. Sure enough, an hour would pass and I would be hunched over the toilet once again.

I turned to the blogs and forums, hoping some women further along in their pregnancy would shed some light on what was to come for me. I wanted the tiniest glimmer of hope, and by god, I searched for it. Most women said the nausea and the extreme fatigue would fade away by the 12th or 13th week.

Opening the same app I had used once to countdown to my vacations and my wedding day, I put in the date I would be 13 weeks pregnant knowing better than to bet on the shorter amount of time. As the days slowly dragged on, I rode it out.

I parted my hair far on the side to pull it over my crater forehead, I sucked on mint leaves and drank ginger teas. I smiled through the lurching in my belly, farting my way through the day hoping I could go poo because it had been over a week and my stomach was in agony. In the back of my mind I thought to myself; ‘Your time is coming!’ 

My brother’s girlfriend who has a son who is going to be two years old in September reminded me that everyone is different and her agony lasted not only the first trimester, but her WHOLE PREGNANCY!

I remember the sassy moment, when I shook my head, snapped my fingers and went “Hell Naw!” I had weathered the storm, I was almost through it… I would not stand in the eye and realize I still had more storm to weather through. I was done!

Luckily, I came out of my first trimester and felt like a completely different woman. Suffer no delusions. I didn’t wake up on the first day of my second trimester with a clear face, an easy stomach and an abundance of energy. My acne was still there, there just weren’t;any new ones that morning, I still threw up in the morning but my stomach settled after that and although I was still tired, I didn’t feel like every blink I took was one where I could easily slip into a coma.

Over time my acne faded slightly, not completely. I threw up only once in a blue moon instead of every day or every morning. The second trimester was looking a lot brighter than the first.

Thank whatever deity you want.

My baby bump still hadn’t made an appearance and that had me feeling a little blue. My clothes seemed to be getting tighter anyhow. My thighs and my butt were practically bursting the seat of my pants, yet at 15, even 16 weeks (depending on my bowel movements) my stomach was pretty much flat!

My second ultrasound was scheduled for my second trimester at the 18th week. I was excited to know I may get to find out the gender of my baby at this appointment! I was biting my lip in anticipation!

Bring it on! What’s mama having?

Boy or girl didn’t really matter too much, but my husband and I had a running bet on what it was and by the hair on the Grinch’s fingers, I wanted to win!

So I guess for now, I am going to pretend to be an adult and keep my cool until I get to this ultrasound and find out what we are having. Gladiator or Gladiator. Knight or Knight. Doctor or Doctor… come on guys, my kid can be whatever the hell it wants no matter what the gender.

Baby Shows- What To Expect

IMG_0741At seventeen weeks pregnant, and during an awful spring ice storm, I ventured out with my mother and eight year old nephew to a baby show at The Enercare Centre, at the Exhibition Ground in Toronto.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was a first time mom mostly excited about the possibility of freebies and coupons, and wasn’t sure what else the show would have to offer.

The admission to get in was $15, and children under 12 got in for free.

When you first walk in, it is a little bit overwhelming. Everywhere you look there are women in different stages of pregnancy wandering around. There are rows and rows of booths and it’s hard to know where to look or which way to walk. Do you walk towards the strollers, the cute photography booths, or maybe those adorable outfits that are causing your uterus to contract despite your baby only being the size of a poppy-seed?

I just did the rounds, making sure to see everything so I was thoroughly informed, keeping a careful eye on the coupons given to me at the door to see just how much I would be saving.

Overall, unless you go there with the thought that you will be spending thousands of dollars, there isn’t too much you will really jump at in regards to furniture and baby gear. There were all these intense strollers and car seats. All upwards of $1000. To be honest, if I had brought my husband with me, I probably would have spent a lot more money than I did. Although, I am not sure I would have gotten any of the strollers.

I have done more than my fair share of research and had decided at that point that I wanted a travel system. Although they did have some there, they were these high-tech ones that I couldn’t quite figure out and the sleek designs had me feeling a little nervous about putting my fragile newborn in them.

One thing that definitely caught my eye was this really cool up and coming company called Sprout.

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As my stomach went from flat to “Dear God, I swear these fit me yesterday!” I wondered if buying maternity clothes was really something I was going to be doing. I am a thrifty person by nature, and the idea of buying maternity clothes just felt like a waste to me. Not to mention, there aren’t a lot of really affordable options.

Enter the brilliant Sprout Collection. Where you can browse their collection online, choose pieces and have them mailed right to your door. Once you are done, you send them back, they handle the dry-cleaning, shipping, hell, the only thing they don’t do for you is carry the baby. As I listened to the stylish, chic and adorable owner explain everything to me at the baby show, my eyes lit up.

Check them out here, worth a look.

At the show, they hadn’t launched yet so you had to sign up for an email list and hope for an invite. I am happy to say they are up and running now.

Of the few things I purchased, there were two things that I really, really loved and was happy to come by.

After binge-watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix, the episodes where poor Mateo got a flat head and had to wear a helmet had me thoroughly looking for a solution to that. I kept thinking, “Oh my god, babies lie down so much! How in the hell am I going to keep my baby from getting a flat head?” Insert Ellie Ears.

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I bought two of these! Why? Because they are adorable, exactly what I had been looking for and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t decide between two of the patterns not knowing the sex of my baby as of yet and hoping for something gender neutral.

They aren’t overly pricey and at the baby show, they were together with another booth which earned me a discount on both items if I bought them together… and of course I did.

Adorable Ellie Ears

The booth that was sharing with the Adorable Ellie Ears was a towel place. At first glance, I didn’t pay too much attention to them, I was struggling to decide between the patterns I liked for the Ellie Ears and wasn’t looking at anything else.

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Fortunately, the woman working the booth was charismatic and pulled me in. Plus, the towel she was wearing at the time seemed to match the Ellie Ears I had in my hand perfectly.

She had the towel clipped around her neck like an apron and quickly explained how difficult it could be to juggle a wet newborn, shivering baby as you tried to get the towel around them. Just the idea of my poor wee babe shivering as I took a second too long to wrap them up made my heart immediately ache and… I bought one.

This is definitely a product I felt I would use and use often and would make my life so much easier. As a first time mom, I was hoping for things to help me through a time I knew would be stressful.

One Berrie proved it would do just that for me.

Believe it or not, I didn’t buy too much else besides that. There was a lot of big-ticket items I wasn’t ready to commit to just yet, and for the other things, I felt like I wanted to know the gender of my baby before I bought cute outfits and stuff like that.

These seemed to be the most useful items when I looked around.

I am sure a lot of other mommies with less self-control than me went bananas at the show. I saw some poor husbands, partners, mothers, and sisters carrying bags upon bags of items.

As a first go-er, I would definitely say I got a lot of information. Even if you didn’t plan to go and spend any money. Going just to get pamphlets from things like RRSPs, Service Ontario, and talking to a financial advisor about how much you need to save to pay for your child’s education was enough to make me want to go to another.

First time mommies, don’t panic. Just nod your head, act like you know what is going on and pretend you know exactly what you’re doing there.

Boy Or Girl?

I found out I was pregnant on January 16th, 2018. At the time, I was so excited and completely wrapped up in the new idea that I was finally pregnant, that I didn’t think too much beyond that.

I had this new, exciting secret.

I was pregnant.

However, as more time passed and my OCD started to kick into full gear I began to think about everything. Every outcome, good and bad. I researched and planned it all, every path my mind could have thought up.

When the dust settles, and you battle your way through all the fits of worry and endless planning, you stop and think about one simple thing; boy or girl?

You have this life growing inside you and you want to bond with it. You want a link and you want to start calling your little kiwi by the name you have chosen but will most likely keep to yourself for a few more months. This is a little difficult when you are constantly calling the baby it.

Typically, they say the gender is best revealed during your second trimester ultrasound, somewhere between 20-25 weeks. It was long before my 20th week when I started painting these mental images of my life and the small differences the sex of my unborn baby would make.

If you are a whimsical person, there are a few different things you can do to “determine” the sex of the baby before that ultrasound. You can pee in a cup of baking soda and water, whether or not it bubbles determines boy or girl. You can use the Chinese Gender Calendar method, which seems to be successful just as often as it is wrong.

I didn’t do any of these things. I hate having blurred answers. I hate the idea of maybes. I opted to wait for my second trimester ultrasound to determine the sex of our baby, however that didn’t stop my mind from wondering.

Turning to the forums that both kept me sane and shook my sanity, depending on the day, I decided to take a poll. Not to find out what everyone was having, but to find out what they hoped they were having.

When I was younger, I always liked the idea of having a baby girl. My reasoning was because I thought my life would be like the Gilmore Girls. I would be best friends with my daughter, we would be completely wrapped up in one another’s worlds and although we would disagree at times, we travelled through life together and our paths always worked their way back to one another.

My own mother described the differences between having daughters and sons to me. She always told me that raising girls was hard, it was an uphill battle from the time they could talk back to the time they were teenagers and eventually moved out. Similar, we were often at odds with my mother (my sister a lot more than I was). Raising boys, she said was a lot simpler. They were easier to entertain, they were like whirlwinds that seemed to leave everything slightly askew but they were easier. However, when they got older, they grew apart. They fell in love, and they created their own families, often forgetting about their mother, or leaving her a smaller role in their lives as their partner was usually close to their own parents. (Again, this is not always the case, just her opinion.)

Daughters, if you raised them right, grew up to eventually become companions. They were people that could sit with you, have a glass of wine and discuss life. They were phone calls you would spend hours on, just discussing your life and the ups and downs of it all.

Either way, raising children is an adventure.

According to the polls that I set out, it seems a lot of women these days would disagree with my mother. A lot of women want sons. This made a lot of sense to me.

I have worked with children all my life. I have been baby-sitting since I was twelve years old, long before parents asked for references and experience. I was a camp councillor, a daycare teacher, and even a nanny. My life, at one point or another, always seemed to be evolving around children.

In my own personal experience, I too felt like boys were easier. I helped my mother raise two of my brothers. Whenever a female cousin would be left in my care I would always groan at the idea of having to watch them. They always seemed like more work, like I needed to keep them entertained, always interacting with them. Boys kept themselves busy, almost a little too well and often they needed to be told to take a break from it all.

The poll had me wondering; “Why have a preference at all?” Are mother’s falling into the whole Mama’s Boy/ Daddy’s Girl lines? Children are blank slates when we get them, rough pieces of clay yet to be molded into anything, aren’t they?

Their very personalities are formed by influence. By the things we allow into their lives to shape them. Sure, sometimes children fight the molding we are doing, they become what they are to spite us rather than because of us, but even that is something we’ve done in a way.

So what does the gender of our babies matter?

When I was younger, when I had everyone else children and before I was pregnant with a child of my own, I thought I knew. It all seemed so simple to me. Boys seemed to be more fun.

Yet, meeting the right little girls has shown me first hand that there are girls that aren’t divas in training. There are adventurous, rambunctious, imaginative, wild and free little girls that make me smile and think; “Hell yeah, I want that!”

As far as I am concerned at this point of my pregnancy, the sex of my baby doesn’t matter. Healthy and happy, that is really all I want.

I’ll let you know what I think later (I will be honest, I am happier with the baby girl name we have chosen than the baby boy name, and my husband’s suggestions make me realize he will get absolutely no say in anything :P) when I actually do find out the sex of my baby.

Until then, I will pretend I know what I am talking about, and tell you that the gender of your baby is irrelevant.

1st Doctor’s Appointment

So, you’ve taken the pregnancy test and gotten your YES, what now?

The first thing I did after taking my at home pregnancy test, even before I decided to tell my husband the good news about finally getting pregnant after months of trying, was make a doctor’s appointment. I had experienced the disappointment of not being pregnant for several months now, but it didn’t seem as real for my husband. I didn’t want to tell him I was pregnant in all my excitement and then have to go back and tell him it was a false alarm.

No use in us both being miserable if that turned out to be the case.

At the doctor’s appointment, it is pretty much like doing the test at home. You pee in a cup, the doctor comes in, he tests your urine and tells you pretty much right away. No waiting for results, no biting your fingernails. Easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as it once was).

Now, the doctor will give you a smile and a once over (as I look like I am more seventeen than twenty-six) and he will tell you that you are in fact pregnant. There will be a pause as he looks over your paperwork and then he will ask you about your cycle, if you know when your first day of your last period was, and such things to determine how far along you are.

Something that I didn’t know before trying to get pregnant is that they count the pregnancy from your first day of your last pregnancy. I was thinking I was two weeks pregnant based on my ovulation, but they would count that as six weeks pregnant. It is all a little bit confusing, but this is how they have done it for countless years, so who am I to question the scientific reasons behind it?

After you find out how far along you are, you will be sent for blood work to ensure everything is good and so they can assess your needs through your pregnancy. Then he will ask you the question that always has my mind going completely blank: “Do you have any questions?”

I of course stared at him for a few minutes before smiling and shaking my head. I drew a complete blank of course. However when I got home, I sat there kicking myself as a list started to write itself in the back of my mind.

“Can I still drink coffee?”

I am an avid coffee drinker. As a writer who typically has several short stories and novels in the works, I tend to be up late, brainstorming, writing down thoughts. This means that before I got pregnant, I was drinking three, maybe even four cups of coffee a day. The thought of giving it up entirely made my knees weak and had me chomping on my lower lip.

Yes, if you are a coffee drinker you can still have 200mg of caffeine a day. This is the equivalent of a small order of coffee a day. If you have a coffee at home, a mug is fine. If you are like me and love the frozen coffees in the summer a large Ice Cap from Tim Horton’s only has 150mg of caffeine in it. Their ice coffee is 160mg in a large.

I decided in the long run to cut out coffee while I was pregnant all together. Life as a mother is all about sacrifices and I could surely sacrifice my cup of Joe for the baby I have been working hard to get. Now before you turn your nose up at me, I have my reasons. One, you can get a cup of decaf that taste surprisingly just like coffee. Unfortunately I can’t get any cold coffee beverages out as they don’t come in decaf, but I made the choice because I realized just how many other every day things I consume have caffeine in them.

Iced tea, teas, chocolates and anything else with chocolate in it. That was probably the thing that made me go “Uh-oh. I have to cut out caffeine somewhere then.” No chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins. All the little things start to add up, and fast.

Is there anything I can’t eat?

Almost anything is fine in moderation. The one red flag that seems to go up is pre-packaged sandwich meats and hot dogs. Now the main reason these are shied away from is because of Listeria, which is really rare but you are more likely to get it when you are pregnant. I don’t think this would be as much of a problem if there hadn’t been that recall a few years back. These things are fine to eat if you heat them up to a temperature that kills the bacteria causing listeria. For me, I just skipped the sandwich meats and made sure to cook my hot dogs until they were practically bursting.

Is there anything physically I can’t do that I was doing before?

In the first trimester, your little poppy seed is so protected in there that you can carry on with your life as though you’re not even pregnant at all. You can lift, jump, run, whatever your heart desires. I even fell down the stairs at my moms townhouse, rode down about fifteen steps all the way on my bottom and the baby was none the wiser.

How much weight am I supposed to gain?

In the first trimester you aren’t supposed to gain any weight. You are supposed to keep your calorie intake the same as it was pre-pregnancy. This was something I didn’t know and I had to look into. My first trimester was pretty rough and I ate very little because I spent most of my time doubled over my toilet. Every day I was worried the baby wasn’t getting enough. Had I known this, I would have avoided a lot of stress.

How much throwing up is normal?

Unfortunately the term Morning Sickness is called that for some unknown reason because if you are like I was, it will happen around the clock, all the time. Basically, as long as you stay hydrated you are fine. I was trying to force myself to eat something, but no matter what I put in it came back up.

I started drinking lots of Gatorade and Powerade. It kept my electrolytes up and kept me hydrated.

A new question pops up every single day, and I have come to the conclusion that we can’t know all the answers. Our parents had babies with a lot less information, and their parents before that. Even though I feel like I know nothing, I know a lot more than my mother did, just like my doctors know more than hers. Every day we learn something new.

Even if you don’t have all the answers, chances are, you will be fine and hopefully nine months from now, you will have a healthy, happy baby.

But if you’re like me, and a bit of an over-worrier make a list. Write down all your thoughts and bring it to you to your doctors appointment.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

When you are someone who is trying to conceive, something you will find yourself on the web searching for a lot is Early Signs of Pregnancy. Every woman is different, and every one of our bodies is different. Although there are some of those articles and blog posts that give you a list and also have you wondering when you scroll down to the bottom “If what I am feeling isn’t on this list, does that mean there is no chance I am pregnant?”

We know ourselves and even the most oblivious of us knows our body. We know when we are feeling a little under the weather long before that cold starts flipping switches in our immune systems. We know when it is going to rain based on that trick knee, or wonky shoulder. We know just by how we wake up in the morning if we are going to have an off day. We sense these things in a way that can’t fully be explained, or maybe it can and I just haven’t been reading the right blogs or scientific reports.

In the beginning, when I was already pregnant but had yet to take the test, there were things I noticed, changes in myself that didn’t quite fit the lists that I had been reading. I thought I would share some of these early symptoms with you and hopefully, if they are ones that fall into play with subtle changes in your body, you will be a little more hopeful as you journey towards the stumbling of parenthood.

First and foremost, I noticed that no matter what I had been eating that day I had an obnoxious amount of gas. I was taking prenatal vitamins at the time and thought that this explained the rise of gas. Every body farts, we all let some slip in moments when we are alone or are sure they will be silent. These, let me tell you, were something to be embarrassed about… not that I personally was. Although, I am sure my husband wishes I was a little more nonchalant with my passing of gas in the early stages.

Honestly, I would wake up farting, and let out these trombone type farts all through the day. When I wasn’t releasing gas, I was bloated and cramping. A build up of gas I couldn’t quite get rid of causing me to almost double over. It was a lot. Thinking back, I don’t know why a light bulb didn’t go off in my head hinting that maybe there was a hormonal reason for it, a little pea in there shaking things up from the inside. Especially since before all this I wasn’t a particularly gassy person.

Gas was definitely the first symptom and it is one that has stayed with me along the way.

My second symptom was pressure in my lower abdomen.

I am someone who has always slept on my back. I tend to roll onto my sides before I wake up early in the mornings, but my preferred place is on my back. Now before bed, I like to lie on my belly. Usually reading, playing sudoku or other things to help me shut my brain off before I go to sleep. I noticed that those moments had become less and less comfortable.

It suddenly felt like my stomach was hard, like there was pressure there. Sure, this could be explained by the new build up of gas. I could have been bloated and lying on my stomach was making me hyper aware of just how bloated I was. However, it was something that was constant, something I felt every night for the first few weeks after conception.

This early on into the pregnancy, there is no way you could feel that tiny little sesame seed of a baby in there, but your body is getting ready for all the changes. The hormones are running marathons through your body and making changes to the way you normally function. I would account the stomach pressure to any number of these things, but it was a symptom that was again missing from a lot of the sites I was reading.

One of the symptoms that you won’t be celebrating and will probably cause you a great deal of grief and sad days is something you thought you had under control but will come back through your pregnancy in full force.

Acne.

Unfortunately this is another symptom that has stayed with me. I had terrible acne in my teens, it was the main reason for bangs even though I had a mass of curls. When I was fifteen, I started birth control to help me keep it under control. Sure, I still got random pimples here and there through my life. Unlike what they may have told you in health class, acne is not just something you experience through puberty and it can stick with you well into adulthood. Yay!

It started with acne all along my hairline. It wasn’t my usual spot for pimples, which again should have clued me in. Along my jawline seemed to follow. No matter what cleansers I used, what facial treatments, what masks, they just kept popping up all over my face like weeds.

The main three symptoms I experienced early on were the gas, the pressure in my stomach and acne. These symptoms seemed to start a week or so before my expected period and I became more aware of them after I took the pregnancy test.

A lot of women are probably hoping for some sign, some hint towards their baby before their expected period. Hopefully, some of these fall true for you!

Trying To Conceive

Alright ladies, if you are like I was when I was growing up, everyone you knew who was having babies were people who were surprised by their pregnancies. I grew up in a more low income area, and unfortunately teen pregnancy was something that happened often. I remember thinking to myself when I was in my pre-teens: “Geez, it must be really easy to get pregnant!” This, as well as many other personal reasons, is why I didn’t lose my virginity until I was nineteen years old.

If you are one of these lucky ladies that experienced an “oopsie” that later became one of the great joys of your life, CONGRATULATIONS! However, this is not the case for a lot of women. As many Fertile Myrtles that are walking around out there, many of which are in my own inner circle of friends, there are just as many, if not even more women out there who are struggling, hoping, and praying that whatever they are trying will work for them this time.

I can’t speak for everyone, I don’t know personally what it is like to get knocked up without even having to think about it, or the stress, heartbreak, and long road of fertility treatments, or even about the new sciences that are involved in IVF. What I do know is that after my husband and I got married this summer, the thought of a baby was on my mind more prominently than ever, and I had this thought that without the birth control, all I had to do was let nature run it’s course.

To be fair, we didn’t try for very long. From the time I got it in my mind that we would get pregnant to the time we did was four months. For those who have been trying for years, you are probably rolling your eyes at me. I am not saying it’s really long, but as many women know who are trying, every day feels like an eternity. I had lived most of my life with this idea in my head that all it really took was one time, because for most of the people I knew, that’s all it really did take. I never thought I would have to try to get pregnant. I think for a lot of women, that’s a sad realization.

So this is the narrative of someone who got pregnant naturally after a few months of trying. The apps are super helpful. If someone were to ask me before I got married how long my cycle was, or the state of my vaginal discharge, I would have raised a brow at them and wondered how in the world any of that mattered. When you are trying to get pregnant, not only do you need to figure those things out, but you need to keep track of these things every day. Discharge, basal temperature, weight, diet, these are all things that impact your fertility. Certain apps are better than others at this, and what I ended up doing was downloading all the free apps the Apple Store had to offer and using them all for the first month to determine which was more accurate. In the end, I ended up sticking with OVIA.

There are truly too many things to keep track of and the apps help minimize the stress a little bit.

Trying To Conceive forums are both a blessing and a curse. After my first month of trying and still getting a visit from my awful Aunt Flo, I quickly flocked to the forums to see if there were any tips to make sure the next month, my Aunt would stay elsewhere. The plus side of the forums is there are thousands upon thousands of women in these blogs that give you reassurances. It makes you feel a little better to know you are not the only one and that helps you feel normal in your struggle. On the downside, it is a little bit like falling into a rabbit hole. I would find I would go to post a single question and look up at the clock to see an hour and a half had passed and instead of getting my answer, I had a dozen new fears and worries.

Having sex every day isn’t ideal. The common consensus is that you should have sex every other day or every three days. Sperm can live inside you for up to five days, and your partner will need time to replenish. This was probably our biggest mistake.

Having sex on a schedule removes the intimacy and maximizes on the stress for both you and your partner. Sometimes the need for a baby is so desperate and the idea, that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you it may not happen gets louder and louder every day. The louder that voice gets, the more you think about the schedule and sex becomes less and less about you and your partner and more about the end game. There was a time when I forgot he was the love of my life and not just a donor. Although sex is necessary to make it all happen, it’s important to keep the intimacy present and even add a little more fun to your nights when sex is on the calendar.

A negative test doesn’t mean NO forever. You pee on the stick and wait, practically holding your breath for the full three minutes it takes you give you your yes or no. It’s a miracle you don’t pass out from lack of oxygen. The whole time you are trying to tell yourself it’s no big deal, and that no matter what the test says, you will be fine. Yet, once it says no, you can’t help but be crushed. The first time I got my negative test, I felt like I wanted to draw the shades, climb back into bed and sleep until someone magically brought a baby into my life. I would love to tell you it gets easier as time goes on, and by the second or third negative test, you will be seeing things a little differently.

Sorry ladies, no such luck, at least not for me anyways. However, I would like to think it’s yet another way life is toughening us up, preparing us for the time when we actually do get pregnant and later, when we get our bundles of joy.

There are probably about a hundred other things involved in trying to conceive, especially because I am just skimming the surface of conceiving naturally. I’ll stop here though, as I hope there are some women reading this who are just starting their journey and I don’t want to make it seem like it’s daunting.

I will leave you with this thought though. Do you remember back in High School in health class? How they went over the reproductive organs and basically told us that if we had unprotected sex we would either get an STD or end up with a baby? All it takes is one time. That is what they used to tell us. I wish they had been a little more honest with us and prepared us a little better for adulthood. Maybe had they gone over all the scenarios, I would have been better prepared in my own.

No matter how you are going about all of this, just know that a journey is not a sprint. Anything worthwhile in life takes time, energy, and commitment. Whether you conceive naturally, with a donor, with fertility treatments, with IVF, or if you get your bundle of joy through adoption, just know that if you really and truly want to be a mom, put your whole heart into it and it will happen.

Until then, just pretend you know what you are doing.