Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Running when Pregnant

I want to document my efforts to exercise during pregnancy now at 17 weeks, and then revisit as things get more difficult.  I know people safely do it, but I still wonder if I can run while pregnant.  I used to love running (but not marathons or even anything more than 5k), and I really want to be a pregnant runner!

DS has recently entered a clingy phase. It's cute, but it's so bad he can no longer be left in the childcare center at the gym. This has really put a limit on my gym time, but I'm determined not to let anything stop me. If he won't be left at the gym, we go for a walk in the stroller no matter how hot it is.  DH only gets home before the gym closes two days a week, but at least that's something. I'm determined to stay in shape! Why? It's not entirely about the weight gain. It's true I don't want to gain 55lbs like I did last time, but when I came home after my son's birth I was so fat with so little muscle. I'd been in shape and then did nothing but walk my whole pregnancy. The three weeks before the birth I sometimes walked 7 to 9 miles a day, and when I got on the elliptical for the first time afterwards I couldn't even stay on the machine for twenty minutes. I was horribly out of shape despite the walking. Walking wasn't enough, and it was a full year before my body completely recovered. Even once it did recover, it was only January of this year that I returned to running, lost that last 5lbs and was back in pre-baby running shape. That's why it's important to me to run while pregnant. Of course I don't want to gain as much and I want a quicker birth, but I don't want to let my body go as much as I did last time. I don't think it was healthy.

Some things I've learned about running while pregnant. First, I think it's actually good for round ligament pain. You'd think it'd make it worse, and it does hurt towards the end of my workout, but the rest of the time it's better than before I started. Secondly, it's important to wear good shoes. You can tell I'm not really a runner because runners would say this is obvious.  I figured since I was only running a few minutes that my old everyday shoes would be fine. They're not. I had foot pain on the days after I didn't wear my good quality running shoes. Third, people don't think you're a terrible person for running while pregnant. I've heard some bad stories, and was concerned about what strangers at the gym would think about it since a lot of people think pregnant women should rest all the time. If anything, I think they're impressed. People either ignore me or give me a supportive 'you go girl!' look.

So here's the details on my exercise journey this pregnancy.  I was happily running 30min 5k's on the treadmill at the gym until I got my bfp.  I decided to stop until my first scan at 8 weeks (only a month away) since it was so soon after my miscarriage and I didn't want a repeat.  Unfortunately at my 8 week scan it became a moderate risk pregnancy instead of low risk.  Walking was allowed, but running was not.  By 12 weeks my issues had resolved.  I was declared a normal, low risk pregnant woman, but because I'd had bleeding due to resolving issues only 2 weeks previous, the doc decided another month before anything more than walking, just to be safe. I'd been out of the gym this whole time, but at 14 weeks I decided to go back, even if it was just to walk on the treadmill at a fair clip.  By 16 weeks I was dying to try running again. I felt that second trimester burst of energy and really wanted to see what I could do.  It was the first question I asked at my 16 week appt. Can I start running again? My doctor said yes! But that since I'd gone 3 months without, she wanted my heart rate to stay under 150bpm.  She said if I'd been running the whole time it would be fine to continue, but now it would be like doing a new activity and the advice has always been to only continue exercising while pregnant, not to begin a new program.

At first I was very happy, and thought the restriction wouldn't be a problem at all.  I was wrong.  The more I walked, the more I wanted to run, but even 2 minutes at a slow pace would put me over the limit.  It was especially frustrating because when I walked I was only in the 120's, so I really felt I could be doing more, but even the slowest jog put me over.  I finally got on the elliptical and through experimentation, found the exact speed and level of difficulty that put me at 145bpm.  I also continued walking 2.5 miles of hills in town with my son in the stroller several times a week.  In a matter of days I was able to run 4.5mph at 0% incline for 2 minutes without going over 150bpm.  Last week I was able to do three 4min intervals of running at the same speed without going over 150 although it increased each time.  After completing the intervals, I walked my heart rate back down to 119, and then tried running for 8 minutes instead of 4.  Heart rate was 168! Oops. 

Clearly this is going to be a process.  But there have been, and continue to be milestones along the way.  I was SO excited about that 12 minutes of running! Technically it was 20 minutes although 8 of it was 'illegal'.  I'm kind of torn because a lot of the advice on the Internet says the 150bpm restriction is outdated advice, and that as long as you can carry on a conversation while running that it's not too much.  It's funny, while running the 8minute interval this lady came in and had all sorts of trouble working the gym TVs.  I was giving her instructions the whole time without needing to catch my breath at all.  According to that advice, I'd probably be fine jogging for 30min or more.  I'm seeing a different doctor at the same practice on the 17th, and will get a second opinion, but I'm really not prepared to ignore my doctors advice at this point.  Especially since I make more progress each training session.  I'm usually on the treadmill for an hour.  Last time, I was doing 4min walking, 4 min running, but after the 3rd 4 min running interval I was too close to 150, and even at a walk my heart rate was in the 120s. It got higher after each running interval and didn't have time to go down all the way.  I'm thinking if I did 5minutes between intervals I'd be able to alternate 5 walking, 4 running, the whole hour.  Or if not that exact ratio, I think I'll be able to figure this out through experimentation.  My point is, last time I ran a total of 12 minutes out of an hour.  I bet I can at least double that number the next chance I get, and who knows what my limit is!  I'll update again in a few months with my progress.  Feel free to send me advice in the comments or on twitter.  I really want to be a pregnant runner!

UPDATE: After spending 15min soothing DS in the childcare center this morning I was able to breakaway and get on the treadmill. During the 45min I was on the treadmill I was able to run for 20min broken up in 5 intervals. I'm happy with that! Even got on the stairmaster for a bit afterwards. I hope to continue to see improvements!

Friday, July 27, 2012

See the Baby Move from the Outside at 17 weeks Pregnant!

I've been feeling baby move a lot starting last week, but not yet from the outside of the belly at all.  Even when I put my hand there and pressed a bit, I still could only feel very vague movements.  Last night, not only could I feel him from the outside, but I could see it!  DH wasn't home so I had to take a video. I'm so glad I did.  I've been replaying it all morning.  We're getting to the exciting and fun part of pregnancy. I can't believe this is possible to see this early!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

17 Weeks - How I'm Feeling

How Far Along? - 17 weeks pregnant.  I'm loving being pregnant and it's flying by! Here's 17 week belly pictures from my 1st and current pregnancies.  Seems like such a difference to me!

17 weeks this time
Maternity clothes? 100% yes for pants, shorts, and still very low on maternity tops that are small enough to fit my shoulders and not let my bbs fly through the neck hole while still covering the belly. New fab mat shorts from ebay arrived.  Already wore them and love them.
17 weeks with my 1st pregnancy. You can barely see the belly!

Weight gain? 7lbs.  I found my weight chart from ds's pregnancy, and I was at the exact same weight, 137, when 17 weeks pregnant with him.  But my belly was so much smaller! Considering I started out this pregnancy 5lbs lighter.  I'm not sure how to feel about that.  Right on track? Too much? I'm the same as last week, and only just started working out this month.  I wasn't able to work out during the 2nd trimester with DS due to severe round ligament pain so I'm cautiously optimistic I'll keep to my weight gain goal of 45lbs.

Sleep? It's hard to say. DS has been sick and up a lot at night, so I'm tired during the day, but I don't feel like I'm tossing/turning at all like last week. If anything it seems like as soon as I close my eyes I have to get up again.

Movement? Finally feeling some consistent movement! Still can't feel anything from the outside, but definitely feeling bursts of very strong movement.  It seems like he's trying to break out of there!
Gender? It's a boy! So says the NT scan. Will be nice to have a confirmation further down the road.
What I miss? I still miss my second child, but I'm feeling much better than last week.  This week I've been so appreciative of being pregnant.  I remember longing for this for so long, then losing it so soon after I had it. I'm just so happy to be pregnant again! While I can't wait to get even bigger, I know the bigger I get, the less time I'll have, so I'm trying not to wish away a day of it.
Food cravings? Beef! Been having it every day. I've tried to make ground beef casseroles to make it last, and yesterday made beef stew. I just can't go a day without beef!
Aversions? Still zero desire for fish, but the thought of it doesn't gross me out or anything.
Labor signs? NO! I've heard people start having Braxton Hicks contractions this early. I hope I avoid them again! Never got a single BH contraction with my son, I just went into full blown labor one night. That would be fine with me again.
What I'm looking forward too? Being more pregnant! I know I already said so, but this week my mind has been full of appreciation for how far I've come, and memories of how great my last pregnancy was.  Starting to kind of look forward to the birth, but I will really miss the pregnancy.
Any pregnancy news? I've decreased my metformin dosage from 1500 to 1000mg.  My doctor and I had a plan to wait until 20-24 weeks to begin weaning off metforming, but this week I've really been feeling my metformin was too much.  I'm not overweight, IR, or high risk for GD, and I think I was burning through my food too quickly.  I'd start to get the shakes if I hadn't eaten in a while.  While I'm worried my weight gain will take off because of the decreased dosage, I think this is the right decision.
Baby prep accomplishments? I was thrilled to finish painting ds's ceiling last week, but this week I needed to catch up on housework. Especially since ds was sick there really wasn't any extra time to do home improvement stuff.  But I DID make a new to do list!

Pre-baby home improvement to do list:
  • A few more painting touchups, mostly covering scratches and marks on doors. (small jobs)
  • clean out what will be the guest room (big job)
  • sell weight bench and treadmill (becoming a bigger job than it should)
  • paint over wood paneling in guest room (huge job, wood paneling in DS's room took 2 coats primer and 3 coats of paint) 
  • rearrange all furniture upstairs to furnish the guest room and create more room in our bedroom and DS's room.
That's all for this week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Parenting a child with food allergies Part 5: I Wouldn't Trade Them

This is Part 4 of my series on Parenting a Child with Food Allergies. Here's the link's to Part 1, There's Something Wrong, Part 2: Mom of the Allergic Child, and Part 3 if you want to catch up. 
I wrote Part 4 in April (though only published recently).  It's only 3 months later and things have again changed so much!  DS no longer takes daily Zyrtec.  Only 3 months ago I said it was our rock and we couldn't live without it, and now he only takes it before visiting a doggie house.  It wasn't on purpose.  We went on a beach vacation and though I brought all his medications, I forgot to give him Zyrtec the first four days we were there.  DH normally gets him ready for bed and he wasn't able to go with us, so I didn't even realize I'd forgotten it until four days in.  I couldn't believe he hadn't had a reaction!  He didn't have a hint of asthma symptoms either.  He was doing great off the zyrtec, so I decided to continue not giving it.  When we returned, he went to his Sunday babysitters who has a dog and she said he lasted much longer than the last time he'd had a dog reaction, but eventually became congested and miserable.  No hives or swelling, but sneezing, runny nose, and constantly rubbing his nose and itchy eyes.  She wisely decided to give him benedryl.  Since then we only give Zyrtec the night before we know he's going to a house with dogs. 

The old me might be happy at the prospect of a drug free child with no signs of asthma, of course I am, but experience has taught me the truth about managing allergies.  You're not looking for a cure, just what works for now.  We're very fortunate that our allergic child now only requires the occasional dose of Zyrtec to manage his allergies, but it's the middle of summer.  We first discovered his seasonal allergies in the fall, and that's also a season that often triggers more asthma attacks.  While I hope he only gets better from here, I know this journey has many ups and downs.  We'll just keep doing what we're doing until we need to do something else.  That's kind of how managing this condition goes.  DS starts preschool in Sept.  I hope to return to the allergist for a repeat skin test to see if his food allergies have improved, and also get more options for asthma treatment.  Although his asthma is doing great right now, when at it's worst I didn't feel like I had enough treatment options. 

There are some pieces of this story not medically relevant that I've left out, and I think I need to address them.  Sometimes an allergic child has allergies so severe, a mother has no choice but to isolate the child to save his life.  We're lucky that we did have a choice.  Risk reaction by giving him a normal life, or stay at home?  Some mothers disagree with my decision, but we have always put DS first and food allergies second.  I realize that a child can have a very full life without leaving their home because of fear of allergic reaction, but I want more for my son.  I often take him to playgroups when I know his allergens will be present.  It's either that or stay home. Not every allergy mom has this privilege, and though they say they think I'm risking a life.  I sometimes think they're just jealous.  Our kids have the same condition and I can take chances while they can't.  I do realize that previous reactions do not predict future ones.  Just because DS has almost always reacted with facial swelling and hives doesn't mean he won't go into anaphylaxis the next time he encounters the same allergen.  It's scary, but, at this time, we are willing to accept that risk for him to have a life as normal as possible.  I do worry, and sometimes I second guess myself, but I'm doing the best I can with the information I have.

There was a time he was contact sensitive to milk, especially milk chocolate and he'd often react when the chocolaty hands of other kids touched him.  I'd still bring him to playgroup the next week knowing it could happen again.  He's used to plain goldfish crackers, but once saw a bag of cheddar flavored and demanded them while still on Zyrtec.  I did give him a few.  It was a really bad time for a meltdown, and I was reasonably confident he wouldn't have any kind of reaction (he didn't react at the time, but later his dirty diaper blistered his skin from the contact.  I did regret letting him have them).  When he was ready for preschool, I found a very good school and sent him there.  I never expected he would be expelled because of his food allergies.  I've already covered that story, but the reason it was traumatic for me was because it was the first time he was being denied something because of his allergies.  We ended up loving homeschooling this year, and found a school that will probably be a better fit anyway.  DS starts in the fall and I know his allergies may effect his life there.  Obviously the school won't take the risks I did, and he may have to sit away from the other kids for meals.  In the first part of this post I said I was just doing the best I could at medically managing an ever changing medical condition, that applies to the emotional management as well.  I don't know how this school experience is going to go.  Though his allergies are improving as he gets older, the life-penalties for having them are becoming more severe.  I've heard rumors about how different public schools treat allergies and we'll just have to see how his allergies are by then and consider all our options.  I know many schools have all the allergic children sit at the 'allergen free table' during lunchtime.  I can't imagine the social stigma associated with that.

We're doing well, though summer is the easiest season for us medically, but we have hope for the future.  I could be optimistic and say he hasn't had a reaction requiring benedryl since the spring, or I could be a realist and share this picture from a few nights ago. 
Hello, swollen lips! He recovered on his own though we don't know what caused the reaction.
He will always be an allergic child.  There are some allergies he'll never grow out of, and even if he grows out of asthma, it may still show itself when he has a bad cold or steps outside on a frosty January morning.  Would I change anything?  If I had it to do over (and I might since I'm pregnant again) I might change some of my decisions, but it really wouldn't be worth it to take away his allergies.  They have shaped his life and personality in subtle ways and become a part of him.  There is no part of him I would take away.  I think all mothers claim to love their kids just the way they are, and we mean it!  He's perfect just the way he is, allergies, asthma, and everything else.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.  I know there will be medical issues, but the good will outweigh the bad.  I'll leave you with a great example of our happy, fun loving, penny throwing, allergic child.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

16 weeks - How I'm Feeling

How far along? 16 weeks!

Maternity clothes? 100% yes for pants, shorts, and my lack of maternity tops that fit me is starting to be a problem.  For some reason, all the shirts I have are a size too big.  I'm not sure if I'm smaller than I was last pregnancy or they're just stretched out, but they're not working.  They're a bit low cut and my increased bustyness is about to bust right out of them!  They're too inappropriate to wear.  Not sure whether to replace them or wait until I get bigger.  I DID go on ebay and find a fab pair of maternity jean shorts.  I really needed another pair of bottoms so I'm at least better off than I was last week.

Weight gain? I think I'm 6 or 7lbs up despite going to the gym regularly. Hoping that will at least stay the same the next few weeks because I feel I'm a little ahead of my weight gain goal of 45lbs.

Sleep? Last week I complained I didn't feel like I rested well because I was dreaming constantly.  This week I've been tossing and turning because the belly is getting heavier than I'm used too. I think I'll get the hang of it shortly, it's just an adjustment period.

Movement? Finally feeling some consistent movement! The last two days I've felt him every day, multiple times per day.  yay!  Still can't wait for his kicks to get stronger and higher up, but it's wonderful to be feeling anything.

Gender? It's a boy! So says the NT scan. Will be nice to have a confirmation further down the road.

What I miss? Today is my due date from last pregnancy.  It's a mixed bag.  I wrote about it my confused feelings earlier this week. I'll be happy for this day to be over.  I just don't know how to feel and I'd like to move past it. I miss my 2nd child, and love this baby dearly.

Food cravings? Beef! Been having it every day.  I've tried to make ground beef casseroles to make it last, and yesterday made beef stew.  I just can't go a day without beef!

aversions? Still zero desire for fish, but the thought of it doesn't gross me out or anything.

Labor signs? NO! I've heard people start having Braxton Hicks contractions this early.  I hope I avoid them again! Never got a single BH contraction with my son, I just went into full blown labor one night.  That would be fine with me again.

What I'm looking forward too? Continuing at the Gym.  At my OB appt on tuesday I got clearance to begin running as long as my HR doesn't get over 150.  I was very disappointed to realize that I CAN'T run without my HR getting over 150.  I'm sure it's because I haven't run in so long and I need to work up to it, but how can I work up to it without running a few minutes per session?  It's been kind of frustrating.  My walking HR is in the 120's, but on the elliptical I can get it up to the 140s.  I'm hoping to just slowly get back in shape until one day I can run without pushing it too far.

Any pregnancy news? Everything was great at my OB appt on tuesday.  The doc kind of freaked me out unnecessarily by commenting on how unusually high the baby's heartrate has been, but our anatomy scan is the 17th.  They can check out the heart and everything then, besides, some babies just have high heartrates!

Baby prep accomplishments? Next project is to paint my son's ceiling.  That room is the dustiest in the house (not great for his allergies and asthma) and I wonder if it's coming from the ceiling.  Also, we've had some water leaks recently that are repaired, but the ceiling looks terrible.  The new baby will eventually be moving into that room and better to do this now than later.  My first attempt went horribly!  I was trying to just do all the edges with a brush before I broke out the roller.  It was awful. Finally got one of those square pads they make just for this purpose.  It worked so much better.  I'm now all ready to get out the roller, I just have to be brave enough to do it.

That's all for this week!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Parenting a Child with Food Allergies: Part 4

This is Part 4 of my series on Parenting a Child with Food Allergies. Here's the link's to Part 1, There's Something Wrong, Part 2: Mom of the Allergic Child, and Part 3 if you want to catch up. 

After the disappointment of those two allergic reactions during the week, and the sudden change of plan to blood testing from skin testing, I again relied on support from the other allergy moms on the forums at the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation.  They were gentle in pointing out how unrealistic my goals for my allergic child had been, and sent me excellent links so I could educate myself on the upcoming RAST blood testing.  Appointment day came and we headed to the hospital. We no longer qualified for skin testing, but I was sold on the blood testing because we would finally find out all DS's allergens, even the environmental ones.  I'd know for sure if he had a serious dog allergy.  It wasn't that great of an appointment because I was giving DS pre-packaged toddler food, and the allergist is not a fan. He asked if maybe we'd had a lot of reactions because I was feeding him a lot of, "that type of stuff."  ERGH...I know which type of stuff he is allergic too.  I hadn't realized how long we'd have to wait for the appt and I kept fun snacks in my purse for emergencies.  I mentioned the two reactions we'd had that week, and there really wasn't much to talk about until after we got the results.

Blood Test Lab Order - I was happy they tested for so much!

We went down to the lab for a blood draw. By then, DS was late for a nap, and we still had a 45 minute wait ahead of us. By the time we got in to have the blood drawn DS was overtired and really cranky.  What followed is topped only by the first hours after his birth in the list of traumatic experiences DS and I have endured together.  He was still considered a baby, so they needed to use their tiny baby needle...to draw six vials of blood.  Oh, it was so awful. He screamed and screamed and screamed in pain.  The needle was so small his blood kept clotting in it, so she had to draw the needle in and out over and over to keep the blood flowing. It took almost four minutes, and he was being held down and in pain the whole time as she constantly moved the needle around.  It was really horrible. I started crying about two minutes into the procedure and tear up just thinking about it. Then because of the amount of blood taken, they wouldn't let us leave until after DS had eaten something or drank juice.  When they finally let him collapse into my arms sobbing it didn't seem like he was in the mood for juice. Ugh, but he drank it eventually and we were able to get out of there. I was carrying too much stuff to hold him properly, so it was more screaming while walking forever back to the car. I apologized to him the whole way home, and finally nursed him to sleep minutes after we got home.

Over the next month I got increasingly angry with the lab and the allergist's office waiting for the results. We'd really suffered to give the blood for those tests and I wanted to the results! Finally, we got them, and at first they were overwhelming.  He tested positive for allergy to milk, eggs, almond, pine nuts, sesame seeds, corn, peanuts, weeds, tree pollens, molds, dust, dogs, and cats.  WHAT?! Wow. Just, wow.  How do you deal with all of that? I'm comforted by research, and that's how I dealt with the news.  I investigated the RAST blood testing method used, and found that it's not very accurate, and has a lot of vulnerabilities.  It doesn't tell how severe an allergy is, only how likely the allergy. For example, DS was found to be very likely to be allergic to milk, but the test doesn't tell whether he'd have mild reactions like headache or a life threatening reaction. When we finally met with the allergist again to review the results, he said that we should only avoid the foods on the list DS hadn't yet been exposed to for fear of the unknown.  Foods on the list to which he'd already been found not to react we should continue to give him to build up a tolerance. He still believes DS will outgrow many of these allergies, and exposure to allergens that he can tolerate will speed up the process.  Without milk, we'd often given DS almond milk as a substitute and he'd never had a reaction. So, almonds were in. While never actually having a sesame seed, he'd been exposed many times. Upon further research I found that sesame flavoring is used often in prepared foods and seasonings. Most often when the ingredients list "natural flavorings" there is sesame involved.  I recently let DS have sesame crackers and he didn't react.  I'd known DS was allergic to peas because whenever he eats them or a food containing them he immediately vomits heavily and completely until his stomach is totally empty.  We hadn't tested for that, but peas were out.  I decided to try corn because I found it hard to believe anyone could be allergic to corn, but I assure you it's possible.  more extreme vomiting. We continue to avoid corn.

It was a process of trial and error, but this is where we really started to get a handle on food allergies.  I did attempt to get him off Zyrtec one more time, and that resulted in DS's first allergy induced asthma attack (It didn't cause him to develop asthma, it just caused first attack). We now deal with allergies and asthma. We avoid milk (chocolate, cheese, butter), corn, peas, peanuts, and eggs.  We do not avoid dogs since he has no reaction to them while on Zyrtec, although we wash hands after dog contact and change clothes when we come home from a doggie house.  Seasonal allergies? This has been one of the worst springs in our area in terms of pollen count, and it's aggravated his asthma much more than his allergies.  I make a point to take him outside for at least an hour everyday unless it's raining, and some days we're out much more.  I really think that's helped build up his tolerance.  It was rough in the beginning of the spring, but he got better.  He doesn't keep a runny nose like a lot of kids with seasonal allergies.  I'm also trying an experimental treatment of 1t local raw honey almost everyday.  I verified with the beekeeper that the bees are kept in an undeveloped wooded area so they are making honey from the very pollen he is allergic too. The idea is for it to be a safe way to expose him to his allergens so he can build up a tolerance. But Zyrtec has been our rock.  As much as I dislike DS being on a daily medication, our lives would be very different if we didn't have Zyrtec.  I still hope to get him off of it. When he's 3 we'll be able to try allergy shots/drops, but for now it's working, so we're sticking with it.

Part 5 is the last one!

Pregnant after Loss - My Old Due Date Approaches

My due date for my last pregnancy is coming on Thursday, and I admit I'm a little bit afraid of it.  Since the loss, I've been telling myself if things had gone differently, I'd be so many weeks pregnant now.  I still have an app on my smartphone that carries my old due date info instead of information for the new pregnancy.  I still subscribe to baby center emails that remind me I'm 39 weeks.  I guess, in a way, I've been holding on in this one last way.  When my due date passes, that pregnancy will really be over.  Will other milestones start? Baby would have been 1 month old? 1 year old? 5 years old?  I wish my feelings had a road map so I'd know what was going to happen next.

Do I think I'll ever move on? No. How can you move on from the death of your child. Why would you want to?  My life is moving on even though my emotions have not, and I'm OK with that.  I'm happy with how my life is now, but I will always grieve the loss of that baby.  I think I can be happy and still stop to grieve when necessary.  Can I, though?  Again, I don't know.  I don't know how this is supposed to work or what the best way is to handle it all.

Over time since the loss happened in January, I've come to believe the baby is with me.  Growing up outside my realm just like he'd be growing inside me, still.  Suddenly, I'll think my son's stuffed animal for a moment looked just like a baby's face.  Was that him borrowing eyes to look at me?  The thought makes me cry, and I take just a moment to grieve before laughing at DS singing the wrong words to a theme song on TV.  Things like that don't happen every day, but surely more than once a week.  Of course it does, I miss my baby.  I wish he was looking at me so perhaps I make it happen.

My elderly neighbor has been hallucinating for over a month now.  It's been getting worse and worse until now he sees other people around him all the time.  Whenever he sees me, he says I'm holding the smallest baby he's ever seen.  "Looks just like a doll baby!" he says.  It's happened twice now.  Am I being unreasonable?  Is that not extremely upsetting? Would that upset you if you were me? Wouldn't you think that's a 39week old angel baby growing up just where he's supposed to be?  The baby I am currently carrying is the size of an apple, and wasn't yet that size the last time I encountered this neighbor.  The sized baby he describes is a little 38/39 week old newborn.  Just like I should have right now.  It doesn't give me comfort.  Since the last time he said this I've been avoiding him unless he yells for help.  It's too much.  It creeps me out.  It upsets me.  I don't know what to think or how to feel about it.  I wish I knew what to feel so I could direct my feelings towards whatever they should be.

I know no one is going to think that because I will always grieve my lost baby, that I'm ungrateful for my son or this pregnancy, but I want to address it anyway.  Without my son I would not have survived the loss, and without this pregnancy I don't think I could ever be happy with my life.  I'm so grateful for them both.  I love all three of my children.  I love my son, and I feel so lucky to hang out with him everyday.  I'm excited to now feel the new baby move, and I love making home improvements to prepare the house for one more.  I'm just missing one.  I miss him so much, and I wish he were here.  I know some mothers of loss feel like they'd have to choose between the lost baby or the new one.  They think if the other baby had lived, the new one wouldn't be here.  Well, I don't really care about logic.  I'm a mother.  I've conceived three children, and I want them all to be with me.

I guess that's all I have to say and I have no conclusion.  I cried writing this because missing my baby is sad and hard.  I know sadness is normal, but I sometimes worry that my feelings aren't 'right'.  Or that I'm doing a terrible job of grieving.  Not that I'm dishonoring the baby or anything, just that maybe it would be easier if I knew what I was doing or how I'm supposed to be feeling.  I'm just taking it day by day and I have no idea what emotions are ahead or how I'm going to feel that day.  It's unnerving, especially with a crazy neighbor and wide-eyed stuffed animals all around.  I don't know if I'm going to be especially sad on my due date or not. (Don't most people have an inkling about that?) I don't know if things will be easier or harder after it passes, or after this baby's born, or after 5 years have gone by.  I'm doing it though, with a genuine smile, so I guess I'll continue handling it the way I've been, and continue to see how it goes.  Grief no longer rules my life, but I don't think it will ever leave me.  I hope that's the 'right' way for it to be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

15 weeks - How I'm Feeling

How far along? 15 weeks! OB appt on Tuesday.

Taken by the hubs mid-painting

Maternity clothes? 100% yes for pants and shorts.  I can still wear T-shirts, but mostly in maternity tops, too. My fav outfit has been the sundress. I'm also in maternity bathing suit and I need more maternity bottoms.  Been too busy to look for a block of them on ebay, but that's still my plan.

Weight gain? I think I'm 5 or 6lbs up despite going to the gym regularly.  Hoping that will at least stay the same the next few weeks because I feel I'm a little ahead of my weight gain goal of 45lbs.

Sleep? Sleeping well and deeply, but dreaming constantly.  When I wake in the morning I kinda feel like I didn't rest at all because my mind was so busy.  It takes me nearly an hour to completely leave that disorientation behind.

Movement? I've been desperate to feel movement this week. Seems everyone in the Jan due date clubs are feeling it.  I was one of the first to show and first to find out the gender, so I feel past due for some movement!  It's such a great feeling. I want to feel it too!  Pretty sure I felt him last night right at bed time, but I want to feel him more consistently.

Gender? BOY! So says the NT scan. Will be nice to have a confirmation further down the road.

What I miss? July 19th was my due date from my last pregnancy.  I'll be 16 weeks by then, and of course I wouldn't trade this little guy for anything, but I've been missing my lost baby.  I've heard other mothers say they feel guilty for these feelings because they know they wouldn't have the new baby if they had the old one, but I don't feel that way.  I think I should have them both.  It's unfair that I don't.  It's not unreasonable for a mother to expect all her children to be with her.  I miss my baby and feel sad he or she isn't with me, too. I'll probably write a post to further explore my feelings this weekend.

Food cravings? I guess I've been eating too much sugar? But I started getting sores in my mouth and sugar really takes the pain up a notch.  I started using Listerine three times a day and they finally got better.  I'm still associating sugar with pain in my mind so I've been having salads every day.  Also wanting lots of meat!

aversions? Still zero desire for fish, but the thought of it doesn't gross me out or anything.

Labor signs? NO!

What I'm looking forward too? Continuing at the Gym even though it's been a terrible experience thus far. Their AC is out in the cardio room.  So it's just a walk through the Sahara every time I go.  Every day I assume surely it will be fixed by now, and I'm wrong. It's disappointing since I think I could do a lot better if it weren't so hot.

Any pregnancy news? It's a boy! But no new news since then.

Baby prep accomplishments? Got a ton done on the house this week! I love all the work I get done while being pregnant.  We've been eating healthy, homecooked dinners, the bathrooms are clean, dishes are done, laundry is folded, AND I've been a painting machine.  Finally finished my chimney project and I think it looks great! Also been doing touchups all over the house.  If you're a piece of door or window molding in my house, watch out! Here I come!

Before and After Chimney Pics!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Parenting a Child with Food Allergies Part 3: Mystery Allergic Reactions

This is Part 3 of my series on Parenting a Child with Food Allergies. Here's the link's to Part 1, There's Something Wrong and Part 2: Mom of the Allergic Child if you want to catch up. 
Any parent who says they have found a successful treatment for their allergic child's food allergies, seasonal allergies, or asthma is usually new to the game. I have learned the only goal is to get things currently under control. There is no long term treatment plan.  You're not working for a cure. It's managing a constant, chronic, always changing condition. The situation is going to change, and you'll need to adjust your treatment as soon as you get comfortable.

Before we continue, I just wanted to include a pic of DS as he is most of the time. Happy and healthy :)
I think what happened over the next year is pretty typical of a family new to dealing with allergies. The skin testing was done in the summer. In the fall we had our first bout of seasonal allergies, and we started DS on Zyrtec. Things began to improve dramatically, but I hated my baby being on a daily antihistamine. Hated it! What were the unknown side effects on his still developing brain? Every day I hated giving it to him. Thankfully, the food allergies were so much better! We rarely had a reaction. I'm not sure we had to give benedryl at all during the fall of 2011. In fact, we began re-introducing a bit of milk products. Very well done pizza (the higher the temp, the more milk protein is broken down), and chocolate baked goods were now acceptable. Our 6 month followup with the allergist came around in december, and we were going to do repeat skin testing. I had big plans to blow the doc away with DS's improvments.  One thing I've learned not just from parenting just allergic child, but from parenting in general, never get too attached to plans!  At our allergy offic, in order to do skin testing, you can't have any antihistamine in your system for the previous five days. This meant we had to stop zyrtec, and not give benedryl at all during that time. I wasn't worried about this because it was winter, so his seasonal allergies shouldn't be that bad, and his food allergies had improved so much I didn't expect any reactions.  In fact, it was my plan to ask the doctor if we could stop Zyrtec entirely.  I was excited to soon have a med free, normal, healthy, allergy-free child.

The day after we stopped zyrtec we dropped DS off at his sitters (a very good friend of mine). He only goes once a week due to conflicting work schedules between DH and I. He stays for four hours, and my friend is always very mindful to avoid his allergens, but this time he had a reaction within 15 minutes of us dropping him off.  The same old reaction returned, hives, and facial swelling.  My good friend gave the benedryl that we always send with him, and it effectively stopped the reaction. His reactions are so scary to watch.  I can't imagine watching it happen to someone else's child while they were in my care.  I was really appreciative that she continues to watch him despite the terror she must have felt that day. I didn't cancel the skin testing at this point because I thought we still would have four antihistamine free days, and I was hoping the allergist would still allow it. Two days later, I had a different friend watch DS so we could go get my 8 week ultrasound done for my second pregnancy (sadly, the pregnancy ended in miscarriage a month later).  It was supposed to be a really exciting day for us, and it still was, but right after we finished the ultrasound and were waiting to see the OB, I received this picture via text.

You guessed it, facial hives and swelling, except this time the hives had appeared all over his head. They were even on his scalp. This friend has a fear of allergic reactions and seems to have gone into a panic when she realized what was happening.  I'm still unclear on the details and order of events, but it seems he became fussy within minutes of his arrival, and again, after about 15 minutes he was in a full blown reaction. She tried to give DS the benedryl, but he was combative.  Though it was adult versus toddler, she didn't want to spill the dose and then not know if he'd taken enough. She called her neighbor to run over and hold down DS so she could better give the meds. It worked soon enough (I think the more severe reaction was due to the delay in treatment) and all was well.  Again, I was very appreciative of everything she did, and what she went through.  Severe allergic reactions are scary!  She has since invited DS over for playdates as long as I come with him, but she never watched him alone again.  It's possible it's just a coincidence.  She never said it was because of his allergies, but if it is I really don't blame her.  Mild food allergies are so common, it's hard for a lot of people to take severe allergies seriously.  A lot of mom's might refuse to watch a child with a medical condition, not out of prejudice, but just out of fear they wouldn't be able to handle an emergency. Would you watch a child with severe epilepsy? Some would and some wouldn't.  Such a child is sort of a time bomb.  It's the same for a child with severe allergies, except at a glance they appear to be healthy children.  In our society, "food allergy" is often not even considered a real medical condition.  Someone might agree to to watch an allergic child without realizing to what they were agreeing.
Back to our skin testing saga. We had two reactions in the first three days being off Zyrtec that required benedryl. There was no way the doc was going to do skin testing. I called to confirm. They said they would do blood testing instead, and that it wasn't really a bad thing. They would test him for all environmental allergies as well as the foods.

Once that was done, I moved on to trying to figure out what had caused the reactions. They both had occured within minutes of being dropped off at someones house.  My anti-attachment parenting friends said it was due to anxiety from being away from me.  Militant allergy moms said it was because a child with severe allergies is only safe in his own home. Eventually, I figured it out. It had to be the dogs.  I'd been suspecting a dog allergy because DS sometimes got a rash when petting them, and soon he stopped wanting to pet them.  We have an indoor cat, but no indoor dogs. It was the only thing common to both homes, and explained why the reaction had occurred within minutes of entering each home. In both cases my first question had been, "did he eat anything?" and in both cases they said it had happened too soon after his arrival.  Of course they hadn't given him anything, they wouldn't have had the time. I was beginning to realize my dream of getting DS off Zyrtec was just a dream.  Everyone we know has dogs, and without the meds, this environmental allergy was severe.  What if it was the same with the food allergies? What if the Zyrtec was working so well, he wasn't having reactions? What if he hadn't improved at all?

To be continued in Part 4

Thursday, July 5, 2012

14 Weeks - How I'm Feeling

How far along? 14 weeks. Yay 2nd Trimester!

Maternity clothes? 100% yes for pants and shorts, but I can get away with the billowing pillow case shirts that are in style now. My fav outfit has been the sundress. I'm also in maternity bathing suit and I need more maternity bottoms.  I think when we return from vacation I'll look for a block of them on ebay.

Weight gain? On vacation so not totally sure, but at last count was 4lbs up.

Sleep? Despite being on vacation, I haven't been able to sleep in yet.  I crash at 10pm nearly too tired to stand, and wake up to use the bathroom a little after 6 and can't go back to sleep.  It's annoying, but also I've enjoyed the quiet times in the morning.  If this continues when we get back from vacation I may even get housework done before DS wakes up.

Movement? This week I haven't felt any of the 'is that the baby?' movement I used to feel, but thank goodness I brought my doppler so I can reassure myself all is OK.  Yesterday I could even hear the baby movements on the doppler.

Gender? BOY! So says the NT scan. Will be nice to have a confirmation further down the road.
What I miss? I really love being pregnant, but I last night during our families 4th of July celebration I did briefly miss having an alcoholic drink.  Not too much though, it was equally nice to wake up refreshed and without a headache or that feeling of hangover lethargy.

Food cravings? I hate to say it, but during last week when my baby was the size of a shrimp according to a cell phone app, the app showed a picture of a delicious looking little shrimp and it made me crave steamed shrimp all week! Luckily we're at the beach so I could finally have some.  I've also gone my whole life not liking tomatoes and all of a sudden like them. who knew?

aversions? I usually love fish, and this week I haven't wanted it at all. I kept thinking the fish I was getting wasn't cooked or seasoned properly, but now I realize I just haven't liked it.

Labor signs? NO!
What I'm looking forward too? Going to the gym next week! I've reached the 2nd trimester and as I leave the stress and worry of the 1st trimester behind, I'm feeling fat and sluggish. I'm eating healthy, but the lack of exercise has taken it's toll on my thighs. You may be able to see the effects in my belly pic. It's not good! But hoping some time on the treadmill, elliptical, and stairmaster will get me back on track.  I'm going to take it slow at first and then work up to it.

Any pregnancy news? It's a boy! But no new news since then.

Baby prep accomplishments? No progress on the house due to heat wave, major power outage, and vacation, but I did research labor doulas and came away very discouraged.  I'm still pretty determined to have a doula, but the search for one is going to be more difficult than I'd first imagined.

14 week belly pic:
Thunder thighs! But definitely sporting a baby bump! :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adventures in Pregnancy - 26hrs Without Electricity

You may have heard of the deadly storms that came through Virginia on Friday night.  They hit us at 9pm, and there was no warning.  Storms do not sneak up on us here in the mountains. It usually takes a significant buildup of noisy dark clouds for a storm to make it over the mountains to hit us.  Often, we'll see thunderheads (very large billowing clouds) from 2pm in the afternoon and it won't begin to storm until 5 or 7pm.  Though I later learned the alert system was activated and the authorities did the best they could to warn us, we're just not used to having to rely on those sources. 

Having no idea what was about to happen, I got ds ready for bed and laid down with him in his 2nd floor bedroom.  Every window in the house was open except for the ones in his room because he has our only window AC unit.  I played solitaire on my phone while he played with his fingers and then, BANG, a wall of wind hit the house.  There's no other way to describe it. It was completely still, and then we were in a wind storm.  The house shook and the windows vibrated.  The wind grew stronger and stronger, the power flickered, the bedroom door blew open and then slammed shut as the bed even started shaking.  While mountain tornados are very unlikely, they are possible and I started to wonder if that's what was happening.  I held ds tight as it continued to strengthen, and then it was calm.  I heard a pouring rain and saw lightning. DH soon appeared at the doorway and asked me if we were OK. Amazingly, DS was now too tired to be distracted even by all this noise. I asked DH what in the world was going on, and he said we were in a heck of the storm. While he was standing there, the wind hit a second time. The banging, shaking, and slamming all happened again.  The power turned off and on three times and then stayed off after the gust left us. We continued to get gusts of wind, but none as strong as these first two.  I later learned they were each 90mph gusts.

Since we had never lost power more than a few hours and it wasn't even 10 yet, I got out the portable dvd player we usually use to entertain ds on car trips and suggested DH and I watch a movie.  We started one, but I didn't last and soon headed up to bed. Without the ceiling or circulating fan, my 95 degree bedroom was a sauna, and despite having just gotten through a wind storm the air was completely still.  There was no breeze at all. At midnight I moved downstairs to our uncomfortable couch where it was at least a little cooler, and at 1:30 moved back to the sauna to finally fall alseep. DS awoke due to the heat at 4am, and experienced complete darkness for the first time in his life.  My little man totally flipped out.  DH usually handles night time wakeups, but there was really no consoling him since we couldn't turn the lights back on.  He fell asleep in our bed at 6am, and when he woke up at 7:30 I had a terrible case of the grumps. Still no power, still hot, no sleep, and I knew I had to work 3rd shift that night.

Since there would be no morning cartoons for ds I got us both dressed fairly quickly and intended to go out for a big fast food breakfast. We don't get fast food often, but the situation seemed to call for it. I stepped outside my dark, but normal house and saw the damage for the first time. Leaves, sticks and twigs were covering every square inch of every surface.  Trees and branches were everywhere, even healthy branches had been snapped off. I heard my neighbors out and about, and when we went over to chat we saw their enormous cherry tree uprooted and fallen next to their house.  They felt so lucky it had fallen without damaging the house, but had a teenage son on a mountain camping trip and were anxious for his return.  He came back while we were talking and joined his friends in quite an exaggerated and exciting tale of their storm survival.

The first let down of the day was finding all the fast food places closed, along with Wal-mart and our neighborhood grocery store.  We did find a grocery store that was open, but they were on generators and wouldn't sell any refridgerated or frozen food.  We went in anyway and bought potato chips and grahm crackers.  While the non functioning traffic lights hadn't been a problem on our way through town, traffic had increased later in the morning and it seemed everyone had forgotten how to drive.  We were happy to get home and report our adventures to the neighbors who were just leaving to go out on their own storm related errands.  We ended up having oranges, strawberries, and crackers for breakfast, and then since it was still cooler in the shade than it was in our hot house we collected sticks and did other fun outdoor 2yr old activities until a little after 12, when I figured we'd have junk food and then ds would take a nap. Yes on the junk food, no on the nap.  By then his room was over 90 degrees and though we sweated it out for 30 minutes he couldn't sleep. By this point I was really miserable from the heat and the power outage was starting to really interfere with ds's happiness.  I regretted wasting the charged DVD player the previous night, and I struggled to keep him happy despite his exhaustion until 2:30 when he finally was able to fall asleep in his room. 
There's no telling how hot it was in there by then.
No way of telling since thermostat doesn't go up that high!

I knew he was going to wake up miserable, and he did. At 4pm he woke up crying endlessly. I'm sure from being overheated and dehydrated but he wouldn't drink anything. Thankfully one of my friends in the next town over invited us to enjoy her AC. As soon as ds got in the air conditioned car his mood improved, and the rest of the day went OK, except for the constant unbearable heat. The high temp ended up being around 100 degrees outside, and I know it was higher than that in our house. Dh put our son to bed at 9 since I had to get ready for work, and he decided to take him on a car ride to put him to sleep since it was still so hot upstairs. I was happy to discover we had a little bit of hot water left, so I could take a nice lukewarm shower before work. Just after midnight he texted me that the power was back. What a relief!

No one got hurt.  We didn't suffer any property damage besides some fridge items going bad, and it ended up nothing more than a good story.  I'll always be able to say I went over 26hrs without electricity while pregnant and caring for a 2yr old.  I'll forever have sympathy for anyone going through a long power outage.  It's rough!