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pregnancy

New Mom Monday, Pregnancy, unexpected pregnancy, the truth about an unexpected pregnancy at 39

A few years ago, I wrote a post called, Unexpected Pregnancy at 40, What Would You Do? and it was about my friend who was pregnant. What I didn’t disclose in the post was that I too was pregnant. I had my own unexpected pregnancy at 39 and had no idea what I would do and I couldn’t talk about it on the blog. I was waiting until the following month to tell my family and friends at my daughters’ 5th birthday party. Unfortunately, I lost the baby before I got the chance.

Over the years, many people have contacted me asking for advice or wondering what I would have done. What I did. This is the first time I am writing about this part of our third pregnancy and having an unexpected pregnancy at 39. I think mostly because I felt so guilty.

I realized I was pregnant at my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday party, March 10, 2012. It was the strangest thing, I was holding my newborn nephew and something in me knew. I just knew I was pregnant. I was sure of it.

READ ALSO:  Unexpected Pregnancy at 40, What would you do?

The next day, when I dropped the girls off at school, I went directly to the Walgreens and took the test in the bathroom there. In fact, I took 3. We were living with my in-laws who had teased us at their relief that our family wasn’t growing. I was really nervous to find out that I was pregnant during such a time of upheaval in our lives. Even though we had previously planned on a third child. We hadn’t planned it now. Not like this.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I was shocked. I stared at the pregnancy test in disbelief and I may have vomited if we’re being honest. I didn’t even know how to react. If the circumstances had been different, we would have been ecstatic. But living in a room at your in-laws with two small children, trying to sell a house in another city, with no privacy and nothing of your own, made the thought of all of it daunting. We didn’t know what we were going to do.

A million questions and scenarios went through my mind.  What if something was wrong? I was 39 years old. How would my in-laws react? Financially, we were strapped. Could we afford this baby? If something was wrong, how could we pay for it? Could we burden our children with that? Did we want to start over? Could we? Would our in-laws ask us to leave?

READ ALSO: Unsolicited Co-parenting

Would I have to go back to living in our house in South Bend without my husband (back to commuter marriage life)? Could we afford a third child? Were we too old to do this? Maybe this was too much. But could I even consider the other option? I pondered all the options from the time I found out I was pregnant until I saw the doctor. I was.so.stressed.out.

The doctor wouldn’t see me until I was 8 weeks pregnant. We saw the baby’s heartbeat. We left the doctor’s office, overwhelmed and scared shitless about what the future would bring. We knew there would be obstacles and opposition but we were excited. It was the third baby we had always wanted, just not at the time we had planned. We drove home smiling and discussing names for boys and girls. Declan or Luchedio for a little boy and Graziella for a baby girl. We were hopeful and we were in this together. So no matter what the world threw at us, we had each other; the 5 of us. But for now, it was just for the Big Guy and me.

Those first 11 weeks were like an out of body experience. I was hiding the biggest secret of my life from everyone I knew and loved, including you, my readers. On top of being overwhelmed and scared, I felt like a complete fraud talking about every inane thing under the sun except for the only thing I wanted to write about…my pregnancy!

READ ALSO: Things No One Tells You about Pregnancy

The Big Guy and I fully passed the consideration of what to do and were full-on in the embrace, the fact that we are going to be parents to 3 while living in our in-laws’ house, decided to surprise everyone at Gabi’s 5th birthday party that May. I would have been 15 weeks and 3 days at her birthday party.

We planned on giving her a t-shirt that said “Big Sister.” We were so excited to do this for her. Gabs had been begging to be a big sister since she was 3-years-old. Due to the commuter situation (the Big Guy working and living in another state), since she was 2, the opportunity had just not been there before. We had wanted it but neither of us wanted me to be pregnant while we weren’t living under the same roof full time. We have always been 100% parenting partners. Surprising her with the news on her birthday was going to be perfect.

We imagined how excited our family and friends would be. We’d have support, even if it was a little cramped at my in-laws. We were excited. Like I said, in the beginning, we were terrified and it took a lot of soul searching (and hearing a heartbeat) to get us on board with a solid yes. I was so excited to get to be the mommy to 3 children. But then…

On Monday, April 31st, after a weekend of slight spotting when I wiped, after dropping Gabs off at preschool, I stopped in the parking lot of the Dunkin doughnuts near her school and I called my OB/Gyn. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t worried. This happened with every one of my pregnancies. It was going to be nothing. I was being silly. But, like my mother always says, better to be safe than sorry. So, I called and they had me come right in for an ultrasound. I wasn’t worried.at.all.

There was no heartbeat. There on the screen, my perfect baby. No.heartbeat. I never wanted this baby more. A room filled with deafening silence as I tried to understand what I was seeing. I was alone. The tech wouldn’t tell me anything, only that she needed to take me to see my doctor. I didn’t bring my husband because I didn’t think there was anything to worry about.

READ ALSO: Some Things Change You Forever

She took me down the back stairs to avoid the main lobby. My world was collapsing. I felt like a mad, hysterically silent hostage in my own body. I couldn’t make a sound for fear that I would start crying and never stop. I couldn’t blink for fear that all my pain and loss would escape from my eyes and drown all those perfectly round bellies surrounding me. I couldn’t make eye contact for fear I might die. All I could do was sit in silence to contain the floodgates.

Then, all I could do was cry.

So what’s it like being pregnant at 39? It’s terrifying and it’s beautiful and it’s scary and amazing. But only you can decide what to do about this pregnancy. There is no wrong answer. You must do what is best for you and your family. Not what society or your friends or family expects you to do. A baby is forever. Being a parent is forever. I still consider myself the mom of 3 children and I think about that baby every single day but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong if you decide that you can’t or don’t want to have a baby at 39 or 40 or ever.

READ ALSO: How to Survive the Loss of a Pregnancy

You know YOU better than anyone. Do what will make you happy. Do what you can handle. And don’t let anyone else stress you out or bully you into a decision because that will be a disservice to you and your baby. If you’re not all in, that’s ok. No one is judging you. You are the one who has to live with whatever you decide; baby or no baby, it’s a lifetime commitment.

I didn’t get what I wanted in the end but I felt guilty for many years for the fact that I even considered there was a decision to be made. I felt like God was punishing me for stopping, however briefly, to consider there was an option other than having the baby. I’ve since realized that I wasn’t punished for having free thought. I don’t know why it happened. I never will. I know there was nothing wrong with my baby. I know that I wanted that baby as much as I’d ever wanted the other two. Mostly, I know that the choice to have that baby was the right thing for us even if the universe had other plans.

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what giving birth feels like, giving birth. New mom Mondays. new moms, parenting, pregnancy

Good Morning moms and dads of the Internet. I’ve been a mom in the motherhood for quite some time now but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a new mom. It was hard. So hard. I remember those first moments after I gave birth and physically feeling the mental shift in my existence. It was profound. It was terrifying and, if we’re being completely honest (and I always am), it was overwhelming. That’s why I’m starting this New Mom Monday series here on the blog.  We all need a little guidance, support and let’s admit a little commiseration.

For this first post, I thought, why not start at the beginning, birth.  If you are like the rest of us, you’ve read all the books, blogs and heard all the advice that your brain can hold. I’m pretty sure that when I was boning up on how to treat a colicky baby, how to tie my shoes got shoved right out of my brain. Anyways, as I said, this first post is about birth. Not the watered down version that the book and your moms and sisters have given you. This is the unadulterated truth. If you are squeamish, you may want to look away but if you are pregnant and don’t want to be shook while giving birth, read on, my friend.

READ ALSO: What Does Birth Feel Like

No one can truly tell you what giving birth feels like. Well, we can but it’s sort of like Marie Kondo writing about her folding methods. Sure, we read all about it but reading about it doesn’t quite make sense. Giving birth is something that you actually need to see to understand and to really get a grasp about what it feels like, you have to give birth. It’s a bum deal but that’s the reality. Of course, I never had anyone even try to explain it to me and that’s why I’m going to explain it to you as honestly as possible.

The only thing people told me about giving birth at my baby shower was that it was going to be such a blessing and as soon as you held that new baby, you would forget all about the pain of childbirth. As if pain could just melt away from your memory like an ice cream cone on a hot July day. I knew then that this was suspect.

I was scared before I even went into the hospital to get induced. What if I pooped on the table? I mean what if I full on, as a grown woman, lost control of my bodily functions in front of a room front of people including my husband? What then? Well, I’ll tell you what then…it’ll happen and you will survive and you will get over it because that will not be the most profound thing that happens to you on that day, not even close.

I didn’t eat for 24 hours before I gave birth because, well, my vanity wouldn’t allow me to purposely poop on the table but maybe my body had other plans. I don’t know. No one will tell me. And anyways, who would notice with all that other stuff coming out of you like a human being. By the way, eat before you give birth. It is a lot of work and I don’t recommend going into 13 hours of induced labor without any food in your belly.

READ ALSO: Mommy Truisms

The day was unlike any other day I had ever experienced in my life. I arrived at the hospital at around 6 am. They did all the normal stuff like check me in and check my vitals. Then, after a slight freak out about the gown not fitting me and the “mortification” of my butt hanging out the back, Pitocin was administered. Recalling how crazy I acted about doctors and nurses possibly seeing my exposed derriere, when there would, in fact, be several doctors “checking my progress” throughout the day, is hilarious. Thank you teaching hospital for giving me a lesson in humility.

Shortly after this, they broke my water. I came into the hospital 4 centimeters dilated. You’d think that would mean that I was ahead of the labor and delivery game but you would be wrong. I still had 6 centimeters left to dilate and as far as I can remember, 6 centimeters is about the same distance as a transatlantic flight for babies being born.

I remember my early contractions felt like period cramps. I got all cocky and thought to myself, this is no big deal. It was uncomfortable but nowhere as annoying as my broken water that kept replenishing and gushing out. Yes, that is completely normal and completely gross (to me.) Then somewhere around hour 5 and centimeter 6, I asked for something to take the edge off but refused to get my epidural. Instead, I opted for a drug that ended up making me feel completely drunk but took away none of the pain.at.all. It was the worst.

Finally, around 7 hours in and 7 centimeters dilated, the Big Guy asked me, “Is there anything I can do to help?” To which I whispered (because that was all that I could muster), “Get the anesthesiologist!!!” What I really wanted to say was, “You do this laboring bit!” He told the nurse to which she replied, “Sorry, the anesthesiologist is in surgery right now. She’ll have to wait.” Did I mention that there was only 1 anesthesiologist in the entire hospital and he was now, in surgery?

I’m sure I looked like a caged, wild animal when I looked at the picture window across from where I was laying and tried to contemplate whether or not, in my state, I could make it to the window to jump out. That’s how bad the pain was. My contractions were on top of one another and hyped on Pitocin, they were coming on fast and furious. I was shaking, my teeth were chattering, I was nauseous and trapped. Held hostage by my body, my baby. It felt like a near-death experience only I never saw any white light. I couldn’t talk or yell, all I could do was take refuge in my head. Try to stay as still as possible, cry and survive this crazy ride.

I never used the breathing that I learned in all of those Lamaze classes. I think I kept waiting until I “needed” them but we went from annoying contractions to frantic, trying to escape the situation contractions in the matter of a few minutes. I laugh at naïve me who wanted a natural birth. I ended up getting accidental non-medicated transition labor anyways thanks to my refusal of the epidural when it was originally offered.

By the time the anesthesiologist arrived, my teeth were chattering so hard I thought I might have broken some and my head felt as if it was going to spin off of my neck from the pain, while he was trying to inform me of all the side effects. I foggily remember something about migraines and paralysis and me telling him, that I didn’t care if I couldn’t walk, just put the damn needle in my back so the pain went away. Mind you, this was after the nurse annoyingly had asked me if I could sit “Indian Style” while I was experiencing off the Richter scale contractions only a minute apart.

READ ALSO: Play Dates What Every New Mom Should Know

*Now, I think I should reiterate here that both of my births were induced and, though I’ve never gone into labor naturally, I’m assuming (hoping) that going into labor naturally is less painful as your body is doing what it needs to to not being forced into labor before your body is quite on board. **

All of that being said, after finally getting the epidural, I laid back and they checked me, I was fully dilated and ready to push, if I wanted to. There is nothing quite like experiencing transition labor unmedicated only to lay back, get checked and hear the nurse say, “Well, would you look at that you are fully dilated.” Then the anesthesiologist says, “We’ll just turn this up high enough to take the edge off the ring of fire.” I felt pretty jipped but at least I didn’t want to jump out of any windows anymore.

The nurse asked me if I wanted to push or wait for the doctor. Since I was much more comfortable, I opted to wait for the doctor. 3 hours later she arrived and I pushed my baby girl into the world, with the help of a mirror and the support of my husband and a needle the size of Texas in my spine.

The “ring of fire” was nothing in comparison to the Pitocin fueled transition labor. Bella came flailing into the world at 4:54 p.m. on a Thursday in March. She weighed 7 lbs. and 13 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. The cord was wrapped around her neck and she didn’t cry at first. She was purple.

I didn’t scream or yell once…because I couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy; I was in too much pain. I had a silent birth and I still don’t know if I pooped on the table. No one told me if I did and I really just didn’t care to know at that point.

They laid my sweet baby on my chest and I simultaneously laughed and cried. Joy makes you act like a psycho, in case you experience the same. You’re not crazy, just blissfully happy. The first thing I did once I let my baby go to be checked was call my sister-in-law and ask her why the hell she didn’t warn me and she said, “Once you’re pregnant, what’s the point. It’s coming out and it’s going to hurt whether you know it’s coming or not. There’s nothing you can do about it but worry for 9 months and what’s the point of that?” She was right.

But I’m here to tell you, those who want to know, unless an anvil falls on your head after you give birth and causes you to completely lose your short term memory, you will never forget what giving birth feels like. It’s indescribable, unforgettable and unexpected but 1000x worth it. And while you might not forget about the pain, after holding your new baby and looking deep into the soul of those eyes of the human being you made, you won’t care. You’d go through it a million more times if in the end you got to hold this baby and that, my friends, is how the species survives.  Not because women forget but because we are tough and love really does trump everything else.

My advice to you, try to go into labor naturally if medically possible. Get the epidural before you are in excruciating pain, maybe around centimeter 5. There are no awards for experiencing pain. Your baby won’t pop out and hand you a trophy and it won’t prevent the eye rolls that they will give you as teens. Bring Dermaplast with you to the hospital. It will be a savior after giving birth.

A birth plan is not a guarantee so unclench your hands from around that piece of paper, unclench your jaw, forget about what you look like and try to relax and enjoy the experience. It only feels like it lasts forever; before you know it, you’ll be choosing to do it all over again.

If you’ve already given birth, tell me about your birth story. If you are pregnant and about to give birth for the first time, please leave any questions that you might have about it in the comments. I’ll answer any that I can.

Do you remember what giving birth feels like?

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Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I never thought of New Orleans as a romantic getaway but here I am writing this post Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant. After a well-timed road trip to Louisana, we got pregnant. I’m not saying New Orleans is the best travel destination to get pregnant but I’m not saying it’s not.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before children, the Big Guy and I went away for a long weekend to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary and we came back pregnant with our first child. Now, it wasn’t a babymoon. We weren’t trying to conceive but we weren’t not trying to conceive either. We were in the planning to plan to conceive phase of marriage.

READ ALSO: Life is what happens when You are Busy Making Plans

On that trip, we fell in love with New Orleans and even more in love with each other. New Orleans, literally, changed our lives forever. New Orleans made us parents so it is our top best travel destination to get pregnant.

Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA

Stay at a sexy boutique hotel complete with rose petal baths and fertility blessings

We stayed at the International House Hotel to celebrate our 5th Wedding anniversary and it was amazing. Anthony Bourdain said, “The International House sets the standard for modern hotels with its creative design and meticulous attention to detail. ” And the Big Guy and I agree. It’s beautiful, sexy and mysterious and it makes you feel all those things when you are there. They say 1 in 8 New Orleaneans practice voodoo. All I know is that magic happens at the International House Hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, cafe du monde, beignets

Indulge in Beignets

Warm, powdered sugar pastries are always delicious but the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans melt in your mouth. They taste heavenly and nothing will start your day off in a better mood than having one after sleeping in with your beloved.

Seriously, indulge in everything.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, cafe du monde, beignets, Pat O'Brien's, hurricane

Get a drink to go and wander the streets

Yes, you can do this is New Orleans because they operate under Napoleanic law and you can carry open containers as long as the container is plastic and the legal drinking age is 18-years-old. Go crazy, head to Pat O’Brien’s and get yourself a giant Hurricane and hit the streets.

Eat and drink your way through St. Claude Avenue

So much food and so little time. New Orleans has some of the best food you will ever eat and such a variety. You can stroll the city and taste your way around the world.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter

Get a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop or the Old Absinthe House

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the oldest bar in NOLA and was once the workshop of the famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Another favorite of ours was the Old Absinthe House. If you’re in the French Quarter, you must stop. The history is palpable.

Jazz do it!

Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez .If you like jazz, there is really nothing more romantic than taking a leisurely, night river cruise on the Mississippi. I can still remember the sound of the water beneath us as the jazz band plays in the background. The boat swaying, as you dance with your partner under the moonlight, may just be the most romantic thing you never knew that you were always missing.

Speaking of jazz, listen to live jazz music in Jackson Square. Maybe a little spontaneous dancing will happen. Expect the unexpected in NOLA. I never knew before this trip just how much jazz is baby making music.

While you’re at Jackson Square be sure to stop by St. Louis Cathedral. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and if the fertility statue you got from the voodoo priestess isn’t doing the trick, light a few candles in the Cathedral just for good measure.

 

Stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District

I know it doesn’t sound romantic but strolling someplace so quiet and introspective, holding hands with your favorite person is so romantic. The Big Guy and I could have strolled that cemetery all day long.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

Go on the garden district tour

The garden district is gorgeous and on a sunny day in May, it might just be the most beautiful place in the world. It kind of felt like walking around our own private island enveloped in flowers and trees as the sun peaked through overgrown willows and it’s shadows played upon our faces. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Big Guy.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

Go to Bourbon street and get lit AF and let go of all of your inhibitions.

We hit the 5 for 1 beer at what used to be the red rhino. Then we stood on the balcony throwing beads to hotties. We got hit on by a couple of swingers, which only fueled our lust.  We refused their offer, drank some more and headed back to the hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District, pizza

Eat the pizza.

Yep, Dominos pizza was being sold on the street by a vendor somewhere between Bourbon street and our hotel. We were ravenous. We bought a $5 pizza and ate a piece before a night that I can only call a blur of lovemaking and gymnastics from which I still daydream about 14 years later. Needless to say,  I now refer to Dominos as pregnancy pizza. I’m not saying the pizza had anything to do with the fact that we got pregnant but I’m not saying it didn’t either.

READ ALSO: What a Difference a Decade Makes

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in New Orleans to get you pregnant or otherwise engaged, but it is my tongue in cheek list. Look, I know nothing can guarantee getting pregnant. My point is that we relaxed, stopped thinking about it and that’s when it happened. Infertility is not as easy as that but, for us, New Orleans changed our entire lives because we came back from that trip pregnant and, to us, New Orleans will always be the city of love and hope.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I can’t wait to take our girls there someday so they see and experience the amazing, beautiful city that is New Orleans.

 

 

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miscarriage, loss, pregnancy, I forgot, fertility, motherlode, babble.com, babble, amy klein

I Forgot

It was a crazy busy day last Tuesday.

I was flying across the country.

Headed to a conference for this blog.

Excited to see old friends.

Trepidatious for a reason I couldn’t quite place.

I Forgot.

6 years ago on that day.

All I could do was cry.

I lost my baby.

There was no heartbeat.

I turned primal and feral.

But today, I forgot.

READ ALSO: Unexpected  Pregnancy at 40, what would you do?

Every day, I think of that day.

Every moment, I know something is missing.

There is no closure but I have made peace with the pain.

It took 6 years to not wince at the thought of it.

But today, I was busy with minutia and there was no marking of time.

I Forgot.

The lady next to me on the plane had a beautiful little boy.

He climbed into my lap and held my face.

I was moved.

His little arms and legs, that smile.

I’ve missed it.

READ ALSO: Missing that New Baby Smell

But on the plane, I Forgot.

I arrived and met my friends.

I was weary and distracted,

Discombobulated and put out.

Disconnected and distant.

I was there but I wasn’t.

That’s when I realized that maybe I hadn’t remembered to cry

but my heart did not forget and it never will.

Have you ever forgotten an important day in your life and if you have, how did you deal with that?

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Mother's Day. march of dimes, anthem foundation, premature births, fertility, regret, postponing motherhood, baby, birth, pregnancy, labor, delivery,new mom, what labor feels like

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with the Anthem Foundation, however, all opinions are my own.

Did you know that one in every 10 babies born in the United States is born prematurely? In fact, I was born prematurely at just barely 7-months. I weighed 4 pounds and my dad said you could fit my entire stretched out body in the space between the crook of his elbow and his wrist. I was tiny. I was jaundiced and I wasn’t what anyone expected.

Babies born prematurely before 37-weeks gestation can face a host of issues like breathing problems, difficulty with feedings, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, vision and hearing impairments. I know first-hand that these are true because I myself have had chronic breathing related issues my entire life and live with a 15% hearing loss. I was sick a lot as a child, almost constantly in the early years and fun fact, my mom said when I was born I was covered in lanugo. That usually falls off before you are born, but when you are born prematurely, you’re simply not done gestating.

In the U.S., prematurity is the number one killer of babies, and those born just a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the stress and worry toll, it takes on parents, the cost of prematurely born babies is estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine. No new parent needs that extra financial burden on top of trying to care for a premature newborn. The Anthem Foundation is investing in healthy maternal practices, giving more babies a healthy start in life.

Can you imagine? Being so excited for your brand new baby, waiting for months to hold her in your arms and then realizing she came too early before her little body was ready to be born; before she was fully formed and functional to live on the outside. My parents said the worry was constant in those first few months, especially since they were first-time parents to this tiny premature baby. But that was a long time ago and there have been significant advancements in prenatal care and the programs women have that provide them with more easily accessible information about pregnancy and their bodies.

Since 2010, the Anthem Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million in grant funding to the March of Dimes to scale up and implement several programs that encourage and facilitate first-trimester prenatal care and help at-risk mothers commit to behaviors that reduce the numbers of low-birthweight babies.

These programs include quality improvement initiatives related to the elimination of early elective deliveries, smoking cessation, Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Community Programs® and a group prenatal care model called CenteringPregnancy® (CP). This last program brings together 8 to 10 women with similar due dates, and from all races, ages and socio-economic backgrounds. The women meet for nine sessions. In the last year, more than three thousand women were registered, of which 1,410 were Latinas. By 2020, the Census Bureau projects that there will be more than 13.8 million Hispanic women of childbearing age.

Get Informed visit www.marchofdimes.org and https://www.anthem.foundation.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Five years ago this morning, I broke the news of my miscarriage to you in a blog post, as I was undergoing my D & E. It was the only way that I could process any of it. It was the only way that I could carry on and your support meant everything to me but every day since, I’ve had to live alone with that loss like we all do. Try to make sense of something so senseless.

Recently, I did something that surprised even me. I shouldn’t have looked. Until, I saw it, in person, in the flesh, it wasn’t “real”. It was just this terrible thing that happened to me five years ago. It was the bill I paid for what is referred to by the medical billing department as a “missed abortion”. It was a child I will never hold. It is the faint whisper of sadness that lingers forever and leaves me melancholy just around the edges. It wasn’t real in the way that you could see it with your own eyes.

But I’ve seen it now and I can’t unsee it.

Last month, we took the girls to Chicago for Spring break. It’s my hometown and the girls have been many times but they’ve never done the touristy things so we took them to some museums and the zoo. It was a fantastic trip.

Then, I saw something that I’ve seen before but with fresh eyes and a heart that’s survived a miscarriage.

As we entered the exhibit, one I’d seen before, I suddenly felt anxious. Like I needed to know. I was borderline obsessive and I couldn’t control myself. No one noticed what I was doing but I think the Big Guy caught a glimpse of the desperation in my eyes as I walked up to the dial upon entering the Your Beginning exhibit and turned it to the first trimester; I wanted to pinpoint specifically the 4th day of the 11th week. What could he do?

grief, loss, anniversary, parenting, miscarriage

 

The exhibit was different than before. It was completely in black, darkness was everywhere and only the fetuses were lit up as if my very soul had put this exhibit together. It is somber. I tried not to do it. You’re not supposed to do it. You’re supposed to carry on. Push it down and pretend it never happened. You’re supposed to move on. Go on living as if your entire life is not tinged by the hole in your heart. 

I didn’t want to make a spectacle with my mom, my sister, my daughters and my husband there. I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole of grief facing anger and sadness head on but I had to know, so I turned the dial.

Such a little thing and to anyone who didn’t know or even just wasn’t paying attention, this was naturally inquisitive behavior. Only I never twisted the dial to progress to the second trimester. Instead, I left it frozen in time, suspended in disbelief, as is my daily existence since that day 5 years ago.

I try not to overthink it or linger too long in my loss. The emotional time bombs are less and less frequent but I remember every single day. I have two children but I am the mother of three but most people don’t know that.

It’s not like I wear a t-shirt that says so. It’s not like I’m marked in any way but on the inside, I am scarred. I don’t howl like an injured animal as I did on that day or fall apart anymore; so silently I continue on, remembering but not making too big of a deal about it.

Pregnancy loss is so common that some people believe it’s almost normal. I could never subscribe to that way of thinking because for me it was profound. For me, losing my pregnancy changed me forever. But still, after a while, it feels like it happened to someone else and you learn to live with it. It feels like a wound that’s healed and the scar has faded and you hide it beneath your clothes so no one has to look at it or think about it or feel sorry for you ever again.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

But you want to feel it. The pain makes it real. It reminds you that it happened. The pain is the only thing that proves your baby was here at all. So, I looked and now, I can never forget.

The scarred wound of my miscarriage has been ripped wide open.

On the morning of my D & E, I frantically demanded that they perform another ultrasound. In complete desperation, I refused surgery without one more ultrasound. I was desperate for rescue. I needed this to all be a mistake. I needed my baby to be alive.

But when they did the ultrasound, there in black and white, the perfect baby with absolutely no heartbeat. He looked like he was sleeping. Like a little astronaut exploring the space of my uterus and that was the last thing I saw before my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. I broke, just before they wheeled me into the operating room and I’ve detached myself as much as I can since.

My heart still aches but it’s in survival mode. But on that day in April at the Museum of Science and Industry, I purposefully opened my wound. The pain makes me feel closer to my baby. I walked into the exhibit and I slowly made my way to the 11 wks. Fetus. Yes, the exhibit has fetuses from conception until 40 weeks in formaldehyde. Then, I saw it, the closest thing to my reality; 11-weks and 4 days and 11-weeks and 6-days.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

I felt the wind get knocked out of me as it has been almost every time I think of what will never be. My eyes began to go blurry and the room began to spin. It was hard to breathe. There it was; bigger than I’d thought; a fully formed person; with 10- fingers and 10-toes and ears and a tiny little mouth and eyes. It wasn’t a “pregnancy” that I lost, it was a person.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

 

I wanted to run away and howl, like I did in my car on that day 5 years ago. But I was frozen and trying to digest the truth. I couldn’t speak. I only lingered. Truthfully, part of me never wanted to leave because it was like seeing my baby for the first time. I know it wasn’t my baby but it was what my baby would have looked like could I have seen him; touched him; held him in my arms.

My miscarriage robbed me of all of that.

No one said a word. I was like thin glass in an earthquake and it was taking everything inside me to not collapse and sob like a baby on the floor. My legs were shaky. I could feel myself getting wobbly. It hurt reopening that wound but it was something I needed to do. In some small way, it gave me closure just knowing/seeing what was. It made him real and less than a memory cloaked in sadness and emptiness.

On this day, I forgive myself and give myself over to the grief. I get no birthdays to celebrate with my third baby but I will never forget he existed, if only briefly. Every year on the 1st of May, for the rest of my life, I will be alone with my grief and allow myself to remember the worst day of my life because it’s the only tangible memory I have of my third child.

Today, I am frail and vulnerable and my heart is heavy because my arms are empty and my house is filled with the laughter of one less than it is supposed to be and I can never forget any of that.

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how to explain where babies come from, where babies come from, having the talk with children, explaining sex, how to feel sexy after having a baby, new mom, marriage, pregnancy. feeling sexy after baby, vaginal dryness

Disclosure: This is a compensated post written in collaboration with Lubrigyn but all opinions about how to feel sexy after having a baby are my own.

I’ve had pregnancy and babies on the brain lately because, any day now, we are expecting a brand spanking new baby nephew. The business of making and growing babies is a miracle. It also happens to be a lot of hard work but, as all of you know, totally worth it. The thing is when you are 40 weeks pregnant, you are usually too exhausted and feeling way too much like your body is a foreign territory to feel sexy.

Sure, we all do that last round of “get this baby outta me” sex but there is nothing sexy about it for us. It is 100% functional. There is a goal, get that baby out. It’s the same reason why we walk miles and eat pineapple by the buckets in that last week. It’s us, trying to deliver an eviction notice to our beloved little miracles. Sure, we want to meet them but also, we want to see our feet. It’s all hands on deck desperate times, desperate measures. I won’t lie, by week 39 of baby girl number 2, I was ready to go full on succubus on the Big Guy.

But I had no idea of how to feel sexy after having a baby.

You promise yourself that after that baby comes, 6 weeks, and boom! It’s on like Donkey Kong. You just know that you’ll be feeling extra sexy once that giant belly is out of the way and you are still rocking those “I just had a baby” breasts but that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of that works.

Aside from the fact that it is impossible to feel sexy when you are sleeping in 2 hour increments and are hearing phantom crying, even when that newborn is asleep, you’ll find that being covered in your baby’s spit up, no matter how much you love them, does not help you get your groove back. Plus, your mind is just not that into it: when you have an adorable munchkin suckling your breasts non-stop, it’s hard to see them as sexual.

The reality is that your body went through profound changes during pregnancy. That doesn’t all just go back to normal as soon as the baby comes out. Sex is one of those things that changes. In fact, 83 percent of female participants in a recent study said they experienced sexual problems in the first 12 weeks after their first delivery.

One of the most common issues is postpartum vaginal dryness. It is very common and a natural condition. We’ve all been there. Many new moms find that vaginal dryness makes sex uncomfortable or even painful. Who wants to deal with that, right? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease the vaginal dryness situation and get your sex life back on track.

Vaginal dryness is opposite of how to feel sexy after having a baby.

Let me explain, I know you probably know this from 9th grade sex ed, but bear with me… The hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced in your ovaries and are what trigger puberty, breast development and menstruation. These hormones are also responsible for the buildup of lining in your uterus during your menstrual cycle. If you do not become pregnant during your cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and the uterine lining is shed during your period. Life goes on as normal.

Estrogen and progesterone levels increase while you’re pregnant because instead of shedding your uterine lining, it develops into a placenta. The placenta also produces estrogen and progesterone, which is crucial to the health and development of your baby during pregnancy, so you are living in the world of estrogen and progesterone abundance.

However, estrogen and progesterone levels drop drastically almost immediately after you give birth because you just shed the mother of all linings. Hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy levels within 24 hours of giving birth. Your body’s estrogen level can drop even further while breastfeeding because estrogen can interfere with milk production. These are all your body’s way of keeping your baby healthy, but all that missing estrogen can cause vaginal dryness.

Estrogen is absolutely vital to sexual arousal because it boosts the flow of blood to the genitals and increases vaginal lubrication. And every woman knows, that sex without arousal and lack of vaginal lubrication is pretty terrible. I like to see it similar to trying to swallow a mouth full of crackers with no water. No one wants that, right?

This lack of estrogen is also what’s responsible for many of the symptoms women have during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness so that’s something to look forward to, right? But seriously, it doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to and shouldn’t be suffering. Women deserve great sex too.

“Be mindful of your intimate health as you get older. As estrogen levels decline, so does your intimate skin become more delicate.  Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion provides rich hydration and is free from harsh, potentially irritating ingredients contained in other soaps and body washes.”  – Dr. Alyssa Dweck

There are a couple things you can do. You can power through, if you are the rub some dirt on it kind of gal, which I am not. I am not a fan of pain, in any way, shape or form. Not even in the name of sex. A little hair pulling and lip biting I can do… but sandpaper vagina? I’ll pass.

So what does all this vaginal dryness mean for you? Well, the tissue of your vagina may become thinner, less elastic and more prone to injury. Your vagina can become inflamed, which may cause burning and itching. Intercourse can be painful and can even cause vaginal bleeding. Now, I don’t know about you but when I gave birth, I felt like I had a nuclear bomb go off in my vagina, so no, I didn’t really relish the idea of further damage.

The good news is these symptoms are not permanent and should disappear when you stop breastfeeding, when your estrogen levels return to normal. But no woman should be physically punished for breastfeeding, and stopping breastfeeding should not be the answer to the problem. We shouldn’t have to choose one or the other. We deserve to feed our babies and be able to have good sex.

What can you do to figure out how to feel sexy after having a baby?

I’m here to tell you that you can have a stellar sex life, despite postpartum vaginal dryness. The following are tips to help:

  • Avoid harsh soaps and body washes in favor of a hydrating formula like Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion. Today, more women than ever are taking charge of their vaginal hygiene and comfort with Italy’s #1 choice in feminine care. pH-balanced and made with botanical ingredients, this rich, silky formula soothes, protects and moisturizes the delicate skin of the vaginal area. It’s an all-in-one intimate wash that will keep you clean, confident and comfortable all day. It contains hyaluronic acid and elastin which is an effective synergy to alleviate vaginal dryness. Lubrigyn cleanses gently with natural oils without irritating lather or harmful ingredients, it has non-lathering with deodorizing properties. Lubrigyn can also be used in the shower or simply applied with a tissue, making it convenient for use at home, while traveling or on the go.

“There are easy ways to alleviate postnatal vulvar dryness and irritation. My patients love Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion because it cleanses, moisturizes and lubricates so you feel refreshed and hydrated throughout the day.” – Dr. Michael Krychman

  • Talk to your doctor about prescription options
  • Use a lubricant when you’re having sex.
  • Drink water. Keep your body well hydrated.
  • Avoid douches and personal hygiene sprays.
  • Last, but certainly not least, increase foreplay and try different techniques and positions. Seriously, talk to your partner. He doesn’t want it to be painful for you. He wants you to enjoy it too.

If you’d like to give Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion a try for yourself. There is a $5 off coupon on lubrigynusa.com site.

How to feel sexy after having a baby is a tricky situation, what did you do to get your groove back?

 

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Mother's Day. march of dimes, anthem foundation, premature births, fertility, regret, postponing motherhood, baby, birth, pregnancy, labor, delivery,new mom, what labor feels like

I never thought of the possible consequences of postponing motherhood but  lately, I’ve been missing that new baby smell. It’s crazy that I am saying this out loud because it feels a little like something I should be keeping to myself but what they hell, I figure when I go through these difficult times, I’m not usually the only one feeling this way. I can’t be the only one who has regretted not having more kids or wishing they’d started having babies earlier.

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new baby smell, wanting another baby, unexpected pregnancy, midlife

I hate to admit it but I’ve been missing that new baby smell. I thought I was done having babies but lately, I’m having some sort of parenting growing pains and amidst all of the letting go, my uterus is trying to hold on for dear life. It’s crazy that I am saying this out loud because it feels a little like something I should be keeping to myself but what they hell, I figure when I go through these difficult times, I’m not usually the only one feeling this way.

The thing is I’ve always wanted a big family. I come from six brothers and sisters and even when it was crazy, crowded and hard there was a simple peace in knowing that I had 5 built in “ride or die” bitches at my disposal. I mean, we’re the kind of deep that if one calls to tell the others that we just murdered someone, there is no asking why or questioning our morality and sanity, there is only, “where do I need to be and what do I need to do to protect you?” These are the people I would die for or at the very least murder for. I’m not afforded the luxury of dying for anyone since having children, except for them.

Anyways, the point is I kind of wanted my children to have that. They do. They have each other and I have taught them in specific what it means to be each other’s ride or die bitch and they know that’s how family works. Family is everything. They know that. They embrace it mostly except for when they are telling the other one that they wish they were an only child. That really burns my ass because I worked hard for the two I have and they should be grateful that they have one another. That new baby smell is like heroine.

When I was a little girl, I wanted at least 4 kids. It was a many as my mom or my grandmothers had but it was a nice even number of children to love. I wanted two boys and two girls. I got the two girls. But life and circumstances just didn’t provide us with the opportunity to have four. I would have settled for 3 but then I had the miscarriage and then I was just too freaking beaten down and betrayed by my own body that I gave up. I was afraid; terrified of another loss. That was 4 years ago but it hasn’t stopped the desire for holding a newborn to my chest and inhaling that new baby smell.

We waited to have babies until after we had been married for five years. In truth, I was ready after year one but the Big Guy wasn’t so convinced early on if he was sure that he wanted kids. We had fallen in love and gotten married quickly. In all that hustle, we forgot to hammer out the details like children. It was a really shitty spot to be in knowing that you absolutely loved your husband but that you would both have to make a decision whether or not the marriage could survive the sacrifice of not having children. I knew I wanted to be a mother. It wasn’t something I was willing to forgo. I knew if I did, I’d regret it later and probably end up hating him for it in the long run. It was all coming to a head when we decided to plan to plan to get pregnant. Life had other plans. We got pregnant on our five-year anniversary getaway.

The point is we got pregnant and after the shock wore off, we were both absolutely thrilled with the idea of being parents. So thrilled in fact that we immediately planned to get pregnant again. We wanted the kids to be two years apart and so that’s what we did. Again, it was amazing. The Big Guy is not only an amazing man in general, he is an outstanding father. I mean he’s the kind of dad that you see in the movies. He not only loves his girls unconditionally, he is involved in their lives and not only talks to them but listens to them; like really listens. He even hears what they don’t say. It’s kind of beautiful and every time I see it, I fall deeper in love with him. So, we planned to go for baby #3. I really wanted a boy because the thought of raising a son with my husband, molding another boy into a man like my husband; let’s just say, there need to be more men in the world like my husband. But fear tricked me into believing that I was done.

Now, here I am, past my own personal expiration date and I can’t stop thinking of that one more baby. My ovaries occasionally twitch and I my imagination conjures that new baby smell. I get glimpses of what another baby would look like in our family but it’s too late. My time has passed. But it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming about what a son raised by the Big Guy would have been like. Then I find myself sad because I feel like we missed an opportunity to do something amazing. I’m missing that new baby smell. I’m feeling a giant hole where baby #3 should be. Maybe it’s just that time of year and I know we had it in our grasp and we lost it. We had it and it’s gone, like those damn Pokémon that ghost out on you after using 10 superballs. Once your balls are gone, they’re gone. I don’t know how to fill this hole. I don’t think there is anything I can do but learn to live with it.

I can’t be the only one who’s felt this way. I imagine there are plenty of people who have decided to forgo becoming parents or put parenthood on the back burner only to feel regret later. I’m actually certain that there are people who’ve had children and wished they hadn’t. Only I know that I wish I had our third. It’s my only regret in my life. I’ve always believed that where there is a will there is a way but, in this case, there is no possible way that I can have another pregnancy or have another natural pregnancy. I have the tools and all my parts are still working but the risk just outweighs the reward and the odds of failure are much higher. I don’t want to go through that but how do you learn to live with not being able to fulfill a heart’s desire?

How do you reconcile being done having babies but missing that new baby smell?

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