RE-POST: you know you're pregnant when...

i just attempted to paint my toenails yesterday (AWKWARD), and it reminded me of a post i wrote a few years back when i was pregnant with gibson.  oh the joys of the 3rd trimester.

originally posted 03.24.2009

you know you're pregnant when...
  1. it takes you half the night just to turn from one side to the other.
  2. your feet have completely disappeared.
  3. your belly-button has ceased to exist.
  4. you're feeling sleep-deprived even though the baby isn't even here yet.
  5. trimming or painting your toe nails requires some serious yoga moves.
  6. you gain 4 lbs. in 1 week and that's normal.
  7. slip-on shoes are your new best friend.
  8. going to the bathroom to pee has become your new exercise regimen.
  9. sitting is uncomfortable, standing is uncomfortable, laying down is uncomfortable...
  10. you attempt to "squeeze" by someone and you end up taking them down with your huge belly.
  11. even maternity pants are no longer comfortable.
  12. you find yourself getting a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) helping of food "for the baby."
  13. you get in and out of the car slower than your 2 year old.
  14. you miss the cup when trying to give a urine sample (twice!).

i can keep going.

any others?



i had a 3rd trimester ultrasound yesterday.

it's not something most pregnant mamas get...i think most only get the one around 19 or 20 weeks.

i had my first (and i thought only) ultrasound at 22 weeks.  but they found something...different.

my umbilical cord only had 2 vessels.  umbilical cords usually have 2 arteries and 1 vein.  the vein carries oxygenated blood and nutrients from the mother's blood supply by way of the placenta to the baby.  the 2 arteries carry nutrient-less, deoxygenated blood and the baby's waste from baby back to the placenta and into the mother's bloodstream where she can dispose of it through her system.  really, the umbilical cord's basic functions are to bring nourishment and oxygen to the baby.

the technical term for my condition is called single umbilical artery (SUA).  it means that instead of having the 2 arteries that carries out all the waste and deoxygenated blood i only have 1.  it's a rare condition and only happens to 1% of pregnant women.  yes, folks...1% of all pregnant mothers and it happens to me.  huh. kind of like having the e antibody.  rare an uncommon seem to be the theme for this pregnancy.

one obvious complication from having this type of condition is that there could be a higher risk of baby not getting enough oxygen through out the remainder of the pregnancy.  labor can also be a higher risk for baby since contractions limit the amount of oxygen the baby gets (pitocin probably  makes it worse since it intensifies contractions and speeds up labor).  sometimes, SUA is associated with other structural and chromosomal abnormalities in the baby and growth restriction.  if the ultrasound finds any abnormalities including heart, brain, and bone abnormalities then the risk for chromosomal abnormalities goes up by 50%.  chromosomal abnormalities include trisomy 13, trisomy 18 and VERTA association (vertebral defects, anal atresia, tracheosophageal fistula with esophageal atresia and radial dysplasia).  however if SUA is an isolated incident with no other abnormalities found in the ultrasound then the risk for any chromosomal abnormalities is very low (0-2.6%).

the 22 week ultrasound indicated that our sweet babe was healthy with no other abnormalities aside from the SUA detected.  a fetal echocardiogram was recommended in addition to a 3rd trimester ultrasound.  the fetal echocardiogram checks to make sure there are no heart issues with the fetus.  we decided to decline based on the 22 week ultrasound results and the fact that there is really nothing you can do for the baby until he/she is born.  terminating the pregnancy because of abnormalities, genetic disorders or the like is out of the question so it would be a "waste" of money and resources for us to do the fetal echocardiogram.  the reasoning behind the 3rd trimester ultrasound was to check baby's growth, since SUA has been associated with low birthweight and a higher chance of stillbirth.  however, based on feedback from my midwife and other sources i've read if you have an isolated condition of SUA then there really isn't a problem.

i would have been fine without the 3rd trimester ultrasound.  especially since at my last visit i was measuring big (no growth problem there).  baby's movements have also been regular so as of now there is no concern for stillbirth.  but i suppose it's a nice (and expensive) treat to be able to "see" my sweet baby again.  and of course on the off-chance that a stilbirth does happen, then...well, i don't really want to think about that but, you know...

praise God, everything was fine.  baby is 3 lbs and some change, and i'm measuring right where i'm supposed to be (maybe 2 days ahead).  i almost cried seeing that sweet baby face on the screen and watching his heart beat.  i love this little one already and have yet to meet her.  it really doesn't matter whether he will be born with abnormalities or not.  we will love you just the same, little one!

we put our trust in the one who created our sweet babe.  the one who created each and everyone of us.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,  
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them the days that were formed for me when as yet there was none of them.
psalm 139: 13-16

there is no doubt in my mind that whatever happens with this pregnancy that the Lord has it under control. no amount of tests and monitoring will make any difference on the outcome of this pregnancy.

we put it all in God's hands and wait.  wait and see what he has planned for us.

for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
jeremiah 29:11

more on SUA (in case you happen to be among the 1% or are just interested in finding out more):


PSA for pregnant mothers

so i had a pre-natal appointment last week, and i was up for the dreaded (at least for me) glucose tolerance test.

i dread it because:

1. i do not care for orange flavored drinks, candies, treats, foods, etc.  even orange infused dressings, orange marmalade or orange juice.  [i do however like oranges.  fresh oranges.  navel oranges, mandarin oranges, clementines.  they're yummy.  as long as in fruit form.]

2. there is a ridiculously high amount of sugar in the glucola drink and it's very hard to chug it all down in one sitting.

3. the fake flavor and fake orange coloring makes me gag.

4. i have to go the hospital to get my blood drawn at the lab which takes for.ever.

this bottle is for 100g but i've only ever had to take the 50g bottle

after 3 pregnancies where i have tested negative (and let me again emphasize NEGATIVE) for gestational diabetes (GD), i decided that there really was no reason for me to take this test for baby #4.  with the exception of emma, i have measured big towards the end of my pregnancy.  this one is no different.  i was at 30 weeks for my appointment and i measured 31 weeks.  that's right.  yet another possibility of a "big" baby.  while i understand the dangers and risks of having gestational diabetes, my track record doesn't indicate that i'll be at risk for it.  so why take it? plus, it's just going to cost us extra money to have a lab tell me something i already know.

so during my may appointment, when they informed me that i'd be taking the glucose test at my next appointment, i declined.

surprisingly, i didn't get off that easy.  i thought for sure that being surrounded by midwives, i wouldn't experience any resistance to the request.  [i have to add here, that i was discussing this with a student, who obviously was not my regular midwife.  i'm sure, because she was a student, she was still learning and navigating her way through all the political medical policies.]

"well, it's part of hospital protocol."

i was insistent that i didn't want to drink the orange stuff, and pushed to skip the test all together. can't i just sign a waiver that i understand the risks of skipping the test and promise not to sue if something happens?

"no.  you have to take it."

actually, i don't think i have to.  so i was offered "the diet."  that's right.  a diet, which must be followed precisely, containing 50 grams of carbohydrates (a substitute for the 50 grams of glucose you consume from drinking the orange stuff). why didn't i know about this before??

you want me to eat eggs, an english muffin, and buttter?  ok.  twist my arm.

now, i don't drink milk straight so i ended up mixing some of the milk in my eggs and the rest in my coffee (ended up being more milk than coffee, but that was fine with me).  it was a most enjoyable breakfast, which was made even more enjoyable knowing that i didn't have to drink any orange soda stuff.

but here was the best part.  i went to my appointment under the assumption that i would have to go to the lab to get my blood drawn for the glucose tolerance test.  but instead of sending me off, all i got was a finger prick using one of those little readers that i believe diabetics use when they have to measure their blood glucose levels.  that's it?  are you kidding me?  why didn't i do this with the other pregnancies?  why wasn't i made aware of this option before?

i was surprised and pleased.  i asked the office how long they've had this alternative option, and apparently they've always offered it.  they just don't make it public unless a patient specifically asks for an alternative or wants to refuse the test (guess that was me).  the primary reason the diet was not presented as an option was because the hospital prefers patients to take the drink and go to the lab for the test.  while there are some in the medical profession that claim the glucola drink provides the most accurate test results for glucose tolerance, there have been some other studies (though from what i've been able to find not much research has been done all together on the effectiveness of glucola for measuring GD compared to alternatives) that suggest that alternatives, like the diet i did, is just as sufficient in measuring glucose levels in pregnant mamas.

here's my (cynical) take: money.  what costs more and who stands to profit?  blood work at a lab or a finger prick test?  an orange drink supplied by your doctor's office or making your own breakfast at home?  while i think the glucola drink might possibly be a more accurate option for the test for a pregnant woman going through her first pregnancy, why does it have to be so for women who have had previous pregnancies with negative results? or why isn't information for other options presented to even first-time pregnant women so that they are able to make an informed decision, especially if there are alternatives out there?

i feel that the "protocol" claim for this test, treats women as all the same (not as individuals), and undermines the pregnant woman's ability to trust in her own instincts and intuition about the state of her body.  and apparently some women don't tolerate the drink well (maybe it's the abnormally high amount of sugar they have to ingest in a short period of time. or the food coloring. who knows.).  and for some it gives a false positive, because consuming sugars or carbs as part of their regular diet is not a daily occurrence. 

quiet honestly, i haven't done any research into the glucose tolerance test until now.  with the amount of research i've done in other areas of my current and previous pregnancies, i don't know why i've never paid much attention to this one area.  i guess i just thought that it was something all pregnant women did.  i mean really, it's just an orange drink.  what's the big deal, right?  in the grand scheme of things, it's probably not a big deal.  but i really don't like orange flavored drinks.  and this is is my 4th pregnancy, so i would like to think that i kind of have a good grasp on what's going on with my body and how it will react to things.  plus, our insurance gets more and more pricey each year so if it's not a medical necessity why should i have to shell out money and time (i have 3 little ones to tend to now) on something that will give me the same exact results as the last 3 times?  so for us, considering to opt out of a test like this had its merits.

i don't know how it's like for other OB offices, but i did feel it was important to share this new discovery.  like i said, there isn't a whole lot of information about alternate options to the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) except for the fact that it's something all pregnant women get to take during their pregnancy.  but there are options if you choose to consider them.

listed are links to more information related to the glucose tolerance test (i tried to stick with medical journals, etc.):


the teen years: v. 1.5

that's right folks.  15 years old.  hard to imagine that in 3 (short) years this little guy young man will be old enough to vote, have his own place, and be considered a full-fledged adult.  gah!

it's a little weird to think about, but it's true.  

of course, only the coolest of 15 year olds would choose one of the hippest places in town to have their birthday dinners.  that's right.  it was happy birthday dinner at the happy dog.  you can't beat a 1/4 lb. all beef hot dog with customized toppings (who else would like to try a hot dog topped with peanut butter, cheese, bacon marmalade and onion?  anyone??).

and for dessert?  no, not cake.  or cupcakes.


birthday doughnuts for dessert was specifically requested (that maple bar looks like it could catch on fire at any given moment), and i believe, thoroughly enjoyed.

happy birthday, buddy! 

RE-POST: a million words or less...

this was originally posted on 9.14.2009.  

i thought it might be fitting since it's his birthday today.  

although he continues to experience the same challenges as outlined below, we have seen him succeed in all areas when he really does take the time to put the work in.  legos continue to be the constant interest in his life (better than girls, right??), and it has been a pleasure (ok, and sometimes a challenge, but i think that comes with the teenager territory) to watch him find his individuality and discover who he is.

during the first week of school, tyler came home with a bright yellow sheet of paper and handed it to us.

"here. this is your homework," he said with a smile that almost looked like a smirk (i think he thought it humorous that mom and dad got homework and he didn't).

our assignment:

in a million words or less..tell me about your scholar...tell us what you think we should know about your scholar. you could tell us some of your scholar's interests, strengths, areas of need...basically anything you want.

we didn't use a million words, but i thought i would share with you what we submitted to his 7th grade teachers (i think they should do this every year).

Perhaps a million words would not be enough to fully describe all of our son's characteristics and mannerisms. We see him as a unique individual, and words are not sufficient to clearly express how much we love and care for him. The following is our attempt in providing you with a summary of some of Tyler's special qualities.

Since Tyler was a little boy, he has always been filled with a vivid imagination. This particular creative energy especially flourishes when he is doing something he enjoys, such as working with his Legos. The time he spends building and creating with Legos is when we notice his imagination taking flight. Unlike his Uncle Jon, who opts to keep his vast collection of Legos according to their specific sets, Tyler purposefully mixes pieces from different sets to design one-of-a-kind structures, describing in great detail the specific functions of some of the pieces. However, when doing an activity he does not find interesting or perhaps too difficult, his creativity comes to a standstill as he fails to put forth his best effort. It is most noticeable when it comes time for Tyler to complete class assignments that he may find tedious or challenging. Instead of putting the same amount of effort and commitment into his class work as his Lego creations, he is often easily frustrated by the assignment and quick to pass on the challenge by completin
g the work half-heartedly and as quickly as possible in order to move on to what he deems as more enjoyable activities.

Tyler is a well rounded and social individual. He is active in the school band, our family bowling league, and tae kwon do. He also serves at our church by assisting in the children's nursery and setting up and tearing down before and after the service. He genuinely cares about people and enjoys the company of others. He seems comfortable in relating to people of different ages and has much to add to a conversation once it continues in a direction that interests him. At times, he takes this social quality to a fault by allowing his joy of conversing to manifest during inappropriate times.

In regards to school, we feel Tyler is extremely capable of completing the work assigned to him when he puts forth his best effort. Directing, and at times redirecting, his energy into his studies is a task that can be challenging. Areas of opportunity for Tyler lie in his organization skills, time management, attention to detail, and effort. The keys for success in these areas are to follow-up both at school and at home and making what he is learning both practical and relevant. We consistently check his planner, progress book, and work every night to ensure that he has completed the assignments to the best of his ability.

We think Tyler is a bright young man who is able to achieve anything he puts his mind to. With the full support of his family, he has the potential to succeed in all areas of his life, including school. Although this is merely a small glimpse into Tyler's personality, we hope it will be a starting point for discovering who he is.


wordless wednesday::six

to our sweet girl.

in reflecting how quickly time passes for me, i think you will reach double-digits before i can blink.  

words to describe you at this moment: 

sweet, caring, compassionate, silly, loving, helpful, crafty, bookworm, independent, creative, chatty, stubborn, beautiful, special, motherly.

you are special because you're you.  

we're thankful for the opportunity to nurture and encourage you in your journey to become a young lady, and to be able to watch you grow, discover and learn more about what life is about.  

keep aiming high, stay passionate and pursue what you love.

love you.


even though mine was not so wordless this week, there's more wordless wednesday here, here, and here.


RE-POST: on 6 years ago today

a birth story.  

i had always planned on writing down my birth stories but never did.  why would i want to?  so i can share them with my children, and so i can remember them myself.  especially since each one was so different.  and now, with the birth of our 3rd child quickly approaching i really think i should probably get on the ball about writing them down.

so i begin with our first born.  the writing may not be eloquent, but it has been almost 5 years so some things do get a little blurry (this is why i should have written it down earlier!).


emma was originally due on the 20th of June [2006].  from what i had read and been told, babies of 1st pregnancies don't usually arrive early or on time.  but they do tend to arrive fashionably late.  so i had planned on her arrival a few days after the 20th.  

in fact, i was out of town (1.5 hours away) from the 10th-11th of june.  i had not experienced any braxton hicks through out my pregnancy, so i really believed that this baby was going to come later than expected.  the morning of the 11th, i had experienced a few minor tightening sensations but immediately dismissed them as braxton hicks.  i had a few more later on in the day, but after that everything was quiet.  i remember feeling excited that i finally got to experience some sort of pre-labor signs since i hadn't had any throughout the tail end of my pregnancy.

well it's a good thing that we came home that sunday.  i woke up around 4:30 a.m. on monday to some serious abdominal cramping.  i mean serious.  holy moly!  this was not the same experience as yesterday?  are braxton hicks supposed to hurt this bad?  and i was 8 days before my due date.  there's no way i could be in labor this early.  no way.

aaron was out, and i didn't bother waking him because i wasn't even sure if these were the real deal.  i had read many birth stories to help me prepare for this birth, and i remember reading about how a few 1st time moms were sent back home because they weren't dilated enough despite the contractions.  our hospital was 30 minutes away, and i wasn't about to pack up and go at 4:30 in the morning to drive half an hour only to be turned away and drive another 30 minutes back to the house.  or what if the hospital checked me in and my labor slows down?  i had also read some experiences where mothers ended up having a medicated deliveries because they were now on the hospital's clock.  if labor doesn't progress enough, what if i got pressured into taking something to speed up labor when i had really planned on a natural delivery?  i had a midwife who supported my natural birth choice, but what if she caved under pressure of hospital politics?  i didn't want to risk that either. nope.  i'll ride it out and then go back to sleep, because surely this was not the real deal anyway. 

i remember barely falling asleep only to wake to the same pain half an hour later.  i decided to grab a notebook and pen, in case this was “the real deal,” and notate how far apart the contractions were.

6:00 a.m. and i was back up with more contractions.  the contractions were pretty regular as soon as they had started though they were about 7-10 minutes apart. i did try to wake aaron up at this point to let him know that i was having contractions, but he only mumbled and went back to sleep.  nice.  i thought the husband was supposed to play a supportive role in all this?  this was not how we practiced at all.  on the plus side, the contractions weren't anything i couldn't handle on my own.  they were painful, but never excruciating.

i decided to try a warm shower since i couldn't go back to sleep.  the warmth of the water helped, and i spent some time in prayer and meditated on some of the memory verses i picked out to give me encouragement through the laboring process.  i remember, after praying that a warm, tingling sensation came over me, and i was overtaken with a feeling of peacefulness.  it was a surreal experience and at that moment i knew that the Lord would be with me through this whole process.  

7:00 a.m. and i was convinced this had to be it.  i was finally able to get aaron up so he could notify his parents to watch ty while we were in the hospital.  for some reason, he didn't sense any urgency in me because after he made the call he decided to shower and shave.  i remember overhearing ty ask aaron, "can i take a bath after your shower?" and me thinking, "NOOOO.  no time for bath. why are you showering?  and shaving?  i'm in pain and you're showering?  no bath!"  aaron told me later that it didn't look like i was in pain at all, so he thought it wasn't a big deal to shower and do his regular morning routine (ha, ha...maybe next time i should start screaming?).

8:00 a.m. and it was evident that the pain was increasing.  we decided to call the hospital since the contractions were 5 minutes apart and increasing in frequency. i made aaron call for me, but the lady on the phone insisted that she speak to me (didn't she know i was in to much pain to speak coherently?  how am i supposed to focus working through my contractions when i'm being asked 3 times to spell out my last name over the phone?).  after some unsuccessful attempts at getting the details she wanted from me (did i already mention that she asked me to spell my last name 3 times?  t.h.r.e.e....while i'm having some serious contractions) i told her she needed to talk to my husband. it was determined that i should come in and get checked out.

8:30 a.m. and the 3 of us piled into the car (aaron's parents hadn't made it down yet so they got re-directed to the hospital) and began the 30 minute drive, in rush hour traffic, to the hospital.  the drive sucked (for lack of a better term).   i just being REALLY uncomfortable and the pain increasing EVEN MORE than half an hour before.  the worst part was that i had no. where. to. go.  i was stuck in a car.  in rush hour traffic.  all the cars seemed like they were driving too SLOW. and we weren't going fast enough, even though aaron was speeding.

during the pregnancy, i had envisioned myself walking on my own when the time came to check into the hospital.  it was going to be lovely and beautiful and i could work through all the contractions that way. 

unlike my vision, once we arrived at the hospital i couldn't even walk.  it seemed like every second i had a really painful contraction.  i felt like crawling.  how was i going to make it to the labor and delivery floor when i couldn't even move my legs to walk?  the wheelchair came to my rescue and we made it to our destination.

9:00 a.m. and everyone on the labor and delivery floor was very calm, despite the fact that i was feeling very frantic that this baby was going to come out at any minute.  i coudlnt' understand why everyone was so calm.  didn't they know this baby was getting ready to come out, now?  right now people!  move it or lose it.  stop asking me all these questions.  get me to a room, stat!

they didn’t even put me in the actual birthing room yet, and had me in another room to change my clothes (which I could barely do on my own with the frequent contractions) and take my vitals. then i said the magic word. "pressure."  yes, ms. nurse, i was feeling some serious pressure.  is it time to push yet?  because i'm ready.

after that, the mood changed.  the attending nurse went from calm to rush, rush, rush.  more nurses came in. one asked me a bunch of questions, another checking my vitals, and another prepping the heart monitor for the baby, etc., etc.  

aaron's aunt (who happened to work in the same hospital i was delivering in) came in to pick up tyler since aaron's parents hadn't arrived yet, but i barely remember that.  my [super-awesome, amazing] midwife ellen was called immediately and she told me I was 100% effaced and 10 cm dilated! what?!?  because things were happening so quickly, she had to take care of her patients (her office was just on the 1st floor) and would return as soon as i was ready to push.

after the protocol 15 minutes hooked up to the electric fetal monitor (EFM), i was unhooked and was able to move around.  the rest of the time, they would monitor the fetal heart rate via a good, old fashioned stethoscope (yes, it is a bit more time consuming for the nurses to do this, but with the encouragement of my midwife it was a better choice if i wanted to remain mobile through the remainder of labor).  

aaron's mom arrived soon after (i think) to help with the labor process.  it was game time.  i remember ellen breaking my water since it hadn't happened yet, but i didn't notice the contractions being that much more intense.  i think it just became more frequent.  the birth ball was heaven.  i was very thankful that i had freedom to move since i wasn't hooked up to the EFM or an IV.  they didn't even have time to do a hep-loc on me. 

i don't remember the specific details of the rest of the laboring process.  i remember there was another midwife present observing (she was doing her residency) and she offered to take photos.  she was wonderful and full of support along with aaron and his mom.  i remember getting lower back massages as i worked through the contractions.  i remember aaron cracking jokes about my tea being ready each time the timer would go off on the baby warmer.  i remember laughing, and i remember experiencing some intense internal focus.  i remember aaron trying to get me to do the breathing techniques we learned in birth class and me throwing it out the window and deciding in the midst of labor that it was stupid and didn't work.  there was no screaming.  there was no crying.  there was no writhing in pain.  

i couldn't recall the memory verses anymore at this point.  all i could do was remember that the Lord would see me through the end.  what also helped me through this last part of labor was remembering that the pain served a purpose.  it was my uterus changing to prepare for the arrival of the baby.  it was a natural process.  God's perfect design and his amazing engineering of a woman's body to give birth to another human being.  

the baby was coming.  when emma crowned, ellen grabbed my hand so that i could feel her head. it was very exciting and encouraging at the same time.  

10:26 a.m. and with 2 pushes she was out.  the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but after assessing her health our 6 lbs. 15 oz., 19 in. long baby was immediately handed over to me. they cleaned her up while she was on my belly. how amazing it felt to have the baby immediately in your arms. another surreal, indescribable, magical moment.  when ellen said she was a girl, we were surprised even though we had kept the sex of the baby unknown.  we had been certain she was going to be a boy.  but girl or boy, she was a blessing none the less. 

ellen said it was a textbook birth.  and i suppose being in labor for 6 hours wasn't so bad either.  the hospital experience was great.  the attending nurses were fabulous and they were all very respectful of my birth choices.  i think that the respect given to us, coupled with our openness to change plans if medically necessary made the whole hospital experience pleasant.  

before my 1st baby, i used to be fearful of giving birth, because of all the “horror” stories i heard and how birth was often portrayed (inaccurately) in movies.  but there is no fear when you know that childbirth is a natural process.  and there is no fear when you know that God is always on your side.


wordless wednesday::celebrate!

our first joint birthday party celebration for emma and gibson was a success (even after the fat lip emma got from falling down the hill)!

beautiful weather, beautiful friends and a beautiful time.

thanks, friends, for coming and celebrating with us!

more wordless wednesday here, here and here.
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