Photo Share Tuesday: Mom is here

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in My Pregnancy, PHOTO, PREGNANCY

So finally the day that I didn’t think would ever come is here. My mom has safely arrived from Russia, having endured a 48 hour trip: an overnight train ride, a 10 hour flight and 2 connections in the US. In the past few days we’ve been enjoying her cooking and her presence! It’s nice to have her around and it seems like it’s always been that way.

She’s very funny when it comes to my belly moving and me telling her what Alexis is doing there. I guess back when she was pregnant in Russia, there were no ultrasounds, they didn’t know the sex of the baby or much about the development of the baby, so it was just something that was happening TO them, rather than a human life growing. She’s a bit freaked out about labor, I can see that every time I mention it. There is no way she’d want to be in the delivery room and no way I’d want her there, because I’d be concerned with how SHE’S handling it rather than concentrate on relaxation techniques.

She’ll be here until end of May. I’m really excited that she’ll get to be with Alexis as a baby and not just a newborn, she’ll get to bond with her and speak Russian to her. It’s also HUGE help for me to practice my Russian so that I can speak it more fluently when Alexis arrives.

So without further edo, here are the first shots of my mom and I, first and probably last ones with my pregnant belly. I am also working on taking some of the last shots of the nursery. It won’t be 100% complete when Alexis comes, since I am still not sure what to put on certain shelves and in certain drawers, but it’ll be close to the final state.

A s far as labor signs, I don’t really have any. I feel great, I am resting a lot until week 39 when I am going to start walking a lot and I always get contractions while walking. And otherwise, we’re just waiting for Alexis to decide she’s ready. The hospital bags are as packed as they can be right now (will do a post on that), the birth plan is signed, the car seat is installed, my mom is here- we are ALL READY!

Safety in organic

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, My Pregnancy, PRODUCTS


I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, so I am very glad I finally have the time and the resources to put this in writing, and have 2 baby related giveaways.

A few months ago after doing some research, my husband and I decided that it was important to us to somewhat continue the natural approach we’ve been using in this pregnancy further into Alexis’s life.

We committed to making sure that we buy organic clothes and bedding  for her for as long as we can. The initial goal for clothes being six months, bedding-indefinitely.

It’s well known how incredibly sensitive an infant’s skin and system are and that her lungs, digestive system and brain are still developing outside the womb, so using items that are  softer, more pleasant to her skin and most importantly are free of harmful dyes and chemicals was something that we considered of value.

I remember thinking a while ago: It’s just clothing/bedding . How harmful can it be?  Well, it turns out a normal 100% cotton top is usually far from being just cotton.

With the advance in manufacturing (and subsequently the amount of money to be made on mass produced cheap clothing), companies are doing all they can to cut costs and make things cheaper and more efficient. That results in clothing that is full of pesticides, chemicals, flame retardants, ammonia, metals, formaldehyde and artificial dyes. Aside from all these harmful substances leeching into the baby’s system, there’s also a big possibility of them being a big allergen for small babies, especially those born to parents with sensitivities. The skin of a baby is much thinner and less oily than an adult’s, which makes it more porous and their immune system isn’t strong enough yet to handle the toxins, even in small amounts. And unfortunately, washing clothes doesn’t remove all the chemicals and pesticides ( though it does help somewhat).

The problem with cotton is that it’s very susceptible to pests and insects, so in order to increase production and profits, companies have to  spray the crops with an unreal amount of pesticides and insecticides. According to Organic Consumers Association, “just 2.4% of the world’s arable land is planted with cotton, yet it accounts for 24% of the world’s insecticide market and 11% of sale of global pesticides, making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet.”  And think about this: five out of top 9 pesticides being used on cotton are known cancer causing chemicals.  1/3 Pound of chemicals are typically used in the production of one cotton T-shirt.  And this is the stuff that sits on your baby for days, your baby sleeps on it, breathes it, touches it – quite disconcerting.

Now we both realize that at this point, it is impossible to get away from all or even the majority of dangers in our environment, but just like in pregnancy we’d like to try to do as much as we can handle. At least until her body is not as sensitive to things as it will be in the beginning. And anyone with allergies would probably benefit even more from switching to organic.

So I’ll leave the clothing for the next post, but here’s what I found out about bedding. Buying organic bedding and sleepwear is just a no-brainer, as a newborn she will be spending MOST of her time sleeping on her sheets and mattress, breathing whatever they have to offer. Organic mattresses are really expensive, sheets are much more affordable, so are mattress pads, changing pads and protectors. But after reading some information about SIDS and it’s very possible link to the chemicals in our baby mattresses ( thanks to a blog reader). Here’s a shorter simple explanation behind the theory and science. After reading a bit, it blew my mind to find out what the baby mattresses are made of : petroleum, vinyl,  pesticides, cancer causing substances, and then to comply with stupid government fire safety regulations, they’re sprayed with horrible flame retardants.

So after a lot of procrastination and looking around and after we tried out a Naturepedic changing pad (see below), we just purchased a Naturepedic organic mattress. We also have organic sheets from different brands ( those are really cheap), as well as organic changing pad covers. Anything that I know my baby will be spending a lot of time on/in, I want it in organic if possible. I’ll try to write a post about my Black Friday purchases (I know I promised), a lot of which were organic since I had just read about it all, mentioning where I got them and how much they cost, in case anyone is looking to switch to organic as well. But here are a few popular baby related things that actually come in natural and/or organic option.

NATUREPEDIC ORGANIC CHANGING PAD (giveaway below)

One thing that hit me right away was “NO SMELL!”. You know how you get things, you unpack them from that vinyl wrapping and you get a good whiff of glue-like, plastic-y smell. None of that here. This one didn’t smell like ANYTHING! That was a very reassuring thing for me. It’s waterproof and easy to clean, but not made out of vinyl and other toxic chemicals. They use a  clear non-allergenic 100% polyethylene food-grade waterproof coating.  The filling is 100% organic cotton without pesticides and chemicals. There’s no latex which can be an issue in allergic people.

The pad is also really really sturdy and of good quality. I can see us using it for 2-3 years without having to replace it versus a cheap $25 pad that is flimsy and toxic. It also has the standard straps and clips to attach them to a dresser in the back, as well as safety belt. It’s also deeper and curvier than other changing pads I’ve seen which I can imagine will be a big bonus. It is more expensive than other pads on the market ($99) but from what I can see, along with other people’s feedback and reviews, the money is well spent, just from the longevity standpoint. And aside from that, you can’t put a price on your baby’s health. You can buy it here (Naturepedic) or here (Amazon). You can also enter our giveaway for a chance to get one for free ( please see the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post for the giveaway)

ORGANIC BRESTFRIEND

Everyone I talked to recommended that I get a Brestfriend as a breastfeeding pillow. I loved that they had an organic option. Unfortunately, it’s only the cover that’s organic, not the actual pillow, but I realize that they’re not in the business of making organic breastfeeding pillow, so I really appreciate at least having the option to purchase an organic cover, since I’ll be spending many many hours breastfeeding Alexis. The cover can be bought separately for $17 if you already own a BrestFriend, or you can buy the pillow with the cover for $48 right now on Amazon (down from $60). I will write more about my experience with the pillow once I get to try it out, but I wanted to mention it here, since it fits in the whole organic theme.

 

 ALLERGYSTORE.COM

This is a good website to bookmark. It basically stocks all kind of natural and organic products, as well as allergy related supplies. You can buy safe non-toxic laundry detergents, asthma care, air cleaners, pet allergy products, organic and hypoallergenic bedding. I used two items from the website: an organic crib blanket (sale $26.95) and a waterproof wool mattress pad ($89.95).

The crib blanket reminds me of being a kid and spending summers with grandma in the country: natural, comfy, hand knitted blankets that were spread all over the country cottage. The waterproof wool pad was a little bit of surprise for me. I didn’t know that wool is a natural flame retardant and is waterproof. If you don’t want to use toxic waterproof padding for your crib mattress, you could opt for wool. Check out the picture below of water droplets just sitting on the wool pad-  they don’t soak in. Pretty cool!

Also, baby’s bedding and clothing need to be washed in a different detergent than our adult clothes, one that’s hypoallergenic and safe. Allergystore.com stocks the best one: OxyPrime and Oxy Clean, which I am a fan of. And if you have allergies, try the Allersearch.

 

I am also finding out that a lot of brand name baby items now come in an organic option. Like…

HALO SLEEPSACK 

A well known original wearable blanket comes in an organic option seen below ($32.95 or $28.95 on Amazon). It’s only 6 dollars cheaper than the non-organic option and I consider it $6 well spent. I’ll write more about how it works on an actual baby when Alexis arrives, but I thought that it was definitely worth including into the post. Halo also has the swaddle version of this blanket which is perfect for newborn babies.

 

SHI SHU BABY (giveaway below)

 

Have you noticed how difficult it is to find soft comfy cozy baby blankets that aren’t made out of polyester, fake fur or other synthetic fabrics?

Meet Shi Shu Baby!

Made of bamboo and cotton – super soft and pleasant to skin without the use of synthetics. It’s a REALLY BIG blanket- perfect as a stroller blanket or a crib blanket. It’s awesome for cold weather babies plus toddlers will love the feel of it, too.

Tamre, the founder, actually came up with the idea for the blanket when all her gifted blankets made her little baby hot and rashy. Bamboo is perfect for babies because it regulates their temperature and is naturally antibacterial. It comes in adorable sweet colors – perfect to match any nursery. I can’t wait to finish Alexis’s room and hang this very blanket on the crib as a design piece until I can use it with her when she’s a little bit older.

You can enter our giveaway below for a chance to win this blanket or you can visit Shi Shu Baby website to purchase one ($88)

I am actually going to put the SHI SHU HOME throw on my wish list, because I want to have a matching throw and will strongly hint to my husband that I want it for Christmas ( what a perfect cozy gift)

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for my reviews other than free samples of the products. All opinions are 100% my own.


38 Weeks Bump Update

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BUMP UPDATES, My Pregnancy, PREGNANCY

STATS:

Her size: BIG GIRL READY TO COME OUT

How far along: 38 WEEKS!!!! Wow 38 weeks just seems so much more substantial than 37 weeks for some reason!

Total weight gain: I’m at 174 lb. (+3 lbs this week, total at 38 lbs).  Seriously? I mean what the hell! I don’t understand my weight gain whatsoever. The only thing that saves me from being pissed at it is that I don’t look like I’m gaining that much weight..and the fact that I am almost done…and the fact that weight loss has always been easy for me, since I know exactly what my body needs. But still seeing these numbers on the scale and not having a clue where it’s coming from, considering I eat really really healthy (+ a few small treats a day) is a little confusing.

Sleep: My sides really hurt, but otherwise it’s pretty solid sleep even with bathroom break interruptions.

Maternity Clothes: Dresses, yoga pants and fitted tshirts is what I’m most comfy in.

Food cravings: None really at this point.

Food aversions: cooked tomatoes- they give me wicked heartburn

Symptoms I HAVE: This morning I woke up and for the first time during pregnancy looked down to see somewhat swollen feet. Whoa! They weren’t majorly swollen (when you press on them there’s no indentation), but it sort of concerned me. I measured my BP and it was fine, called the nurse to just run it past her since it’s a pretty sudden symptom and she said that as long as my BP is good, it’s nothing to worry about, most women get swelling early in their third trimester.

Heartburn- YUCK! This sucker picked up this week! A few times, I even had to take half a Tums and drink by-carb ( I only take it when it’s really really bad).

Otherwise, I feel great! No back pain, no pains in general- really expected to be more miserable towards the end.

Doctor’s Appointment: Everything was fine as usual. I brought my birth plan (which I will post soon) and had my OB look it over  and sign it. He said that the only two things that he foresees us having a problem withwhen it comes to the L&D nurses was the “no IV” and “no continuous monitoring”.  Again, he reiterated calling his cell if there’s a problem and also telling the nurses to call him in when I’m dilated to 10 cm rather than wait till she’s crowned, which is when they usually call him in  (because of my family history of fast labors and pushing and because of my body build).

Also I could see a marked changed in his attitude towards me going for un-medicated birth and using hypnosis for relaxation. He started our relationship with the “why take the pain if you can have an epidural” attitude, which is where I was at that point as well. When I first told him about my plan for hypnobabies, he smiled and I felt like he was letting me do what I wanted but was pretty skeptical of whether it would work or if I’d pull through. This appointment, hubby and I both got an impression that he was actually routing for me to go without an epidural. A few times he said: “You can definitely do it!”  and “You won’t need an epidural” and seemed genuinely excited! I’m really glad for his support!

Movement: This girl loves to move! It’s especially fun when her  head presses on my nerve in my crotch! lol

Belly Button: Outie

Gender: GIRL! Though…… we never got it confirmed. We had our 20 week anatomy scan when we were told a girl, and the only other u/s we had, she kept her legs tightly closed. So we hope we’re not going to be “surprised” in the delivery room!

Best moment of the week: I have two this week! My mom has finally arrived and it’s so awesome! I feel all is now well in the world and Alexis can come whenever she’d like. My mom is amazing help, but also a huge distraction because all I want to do now and hang out with her :) She’s so funny with Alexis and my stomach, so gentle and curious and cute! I guess they never thought of the baby as a real baby back then, they didn’t know anything about what’s going on inside. So this whole “it’s a real baby inside you” thing is new to her. She sees her a her granddaughter even though she’s not here yet.

Another awesome moment this week was a surprise mini-shower from my friends, Michelle and Christine. I totally didn’t expect it, and was completely oblivious to the clues (read my attitude towards traditional baby showers post)!  They did such a  good job, though- I had no suspicions and was completely caught of guard and we had such a nice time ( and no cheesy shower games haha). I was coming over Michelle’s to hang out with her while my hubby was flying to NYC, in case I’d get in labor and I literally almost put sweats and a tee on to go over there and at the last second she insisted we take “last bump” photos together, so I was forced to at least put on a dress. hahaha I still laugh at how oblivious I was of all the clues that were out there.

I love you, girls! I’m so lucky I have you here close by!

That really makes me want to do a baby party when Alexis comes! Hope I can pull it off!

What I’m looking forward to:

I am really excited about experiencing childbirth and seeing Alexis for the first time and just understanding  what this whole “being a parent” thing is all about.

What I miss:

Not being helpless. My husband is even more protective of me and Alexis now that she’s almost here, so he won’t let me do anything. He wants her to cook till 39 weeks, because the doc said that’s where most of the time they’re truly done developing, so I am not even “allowed” to go for a walk or clean or move around much in case it’ll kick start labor. I’m personally fine with her coming this week, but I do understand what he’s saying so I just smile and do what he says, realizing that in 1 week things will change and it’ll be mostly me having sleepless nights and breastfeeding on cue with as much help from him as possible.

 

So I almost feel like it’s possible this is my last update! :)

In case I go into labor, I will try to have Andrew do a quick post to tell you all that it’s show time. I will most definitely post something on my Facebook page and that’s also probably how I am going to be updating you all in the first day or so. So if I disappear with no posts, it’s most likely NOT due to labor.

 

Christmas Photos

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in My Pregnancy, PHOTO, PREGNANCY

This was our first year sending out Christmas cards. It was somehow not important before we had a kid on the way. Now that Alexis is in the picture, we both suddenly felt the need to reach out to friends and family on Christmas. Getting around to taking Christmas photos wasn’t as easy as deciding that we needed to send cards. Finally, when we couldn’t wait any longer, we quickly got dressed, put make up on for the first time in weeks (me) and as the sun was setting and we were loosing most of our light took off to the one place we were almost sure would be decorated at this point.

Both crabby, without any desire to pose, with business calls coming in constantly, we somehow pulled it off.

Note: All the shots were taken and edited by me, using a tripod, a remote, 50mm and Lightroom (even though I tend to be pretty good at hiding the remote, you might be able to spot it in my hand in some of these)

At this point everyone, even my oversees friends, has already received the cards, so I feel I’m not spoiling the surprise for anyone by posting these. {Patti, yes, you know who you are, I have sent you TWO cards and each time they keep coming back with “wrong address” stamp on it. I now give up! But please know that we did send it and we think of you and Bernie often}

Red dress is from Isabella Oliver Maternity Collection

and what is a shoot without some outtakes.

Childbirth “Training”

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in My Pregnancy, PREGNANCY

In one of the posts I mentioned the hours I have to spend a day preparing for childbirth. I’ve often heard the intensity and strength of childbirth is compared to a marathon and the preparations needed being just as important.

So I’d like to break it down for you:

Kegels: 3 times a day

This one is easy. It’s best to start as soon as possible even before you’re pregnant to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to prevent issues with urinary leakage during pregnancy and after birth, as well as get them strong enough to push effectively. I have to say my PC muscles weren’t very strong when I started, some time after my 1st trimester nausea subsided. I use a iPhone app called Kegel Camp to train 3 times a day. The difference in my PC muscle strength now is amazing. It is a pain in the butt to remember to do them three times a day ( I have to put it on my daily to-do list), but it’s definitely worth it not having to pee your pants anytime you laugh or sneeze.

Strengthening exercises: 30 min

These were taken from the the Bradley Book and combined with a few pregnancy exercises. I mainly concentrated on my abs and my upper thighs , since those are the main things that will need endurance and strength when time comes to push the baby out. I have to admit that with the introduction of additional hypnobabies training (see below), I just haven’t been finding the time to do these lately . I feel really bummy about it, but I have to learn to accept that sometimes I can’t do it all. I just simply can’t fit it into my day anymore. I TRY to do them every day but I fail more often than I succeed.

Perineal massage: 10 min a day

Oh, this one is my favorite! NOT!

Guys, I gotta tell you – I was looking forward to doing it and preparing in that way and was waiting to turn 32 weeks to start. The massage has been shown useful in preventing muscle and skin tears during delivery and is to be done once a day 6-8 weeks before due date.

What I didn’t anticipate was how awful the first try was going to be. {If you don’t know how it’s done, look it up, so that you knew what I am talking about} I attempted to do it myself, but my big belly just didn’t let me get into a position where I could do it. So I did what most women do –  ask my husband. We got all set up, prepared the oil, and he tried it with 1 (!!!) finger. OH MY FREAKING GOD! I literally jumped back, looking at him like “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” It was really painful and the feeling wasn’t like anything I’ve felt before. After a few more attempts, I said “Screw it! We are waiting till next week to try again!”

The next week we resumed and now that I knew what to expect and used my relaxation techniques things went a lot smoother, but it’s definitely not a fun thing to do, I’ll tell ya! So 4 weeks later, there’s a HUGE improvement in elasticity, but you know what I think is the most valuable thing in doing the massage? It’s the familiarity with the feeling of what the baby’s head will feel like pressing on all the same parts while crowning. I can now imagine where “ring of fire” term came from. lol I am now actually prepared for that feeling and feel I can take a lot more than what  we’re doing, i.e. baby’s head.

Inversions: 3 times a day

I only had to do this for a few days. Back when Alexis was transverse, I did inversions (spinningbabies.com) 3 times a day to encourage her to flip. I don’t know whether that helped or she flipped on her own, but she was good and engaged a week later.

Walking: 40 min a day

(to encourage baby to flip head down when she was transverse)

I stopped doing it, because I started getting very strong Braxton Hicks a bit too often for my peace of mind. I’ll be resuming the walks after 38th week.

Finger drop 5 times a day

This is a relaxation technique to be done as a part of Hypnobabies course. You basically let your whole body go limp for about 5 minutes total, while doing the techniques they teach you in the Hypnobabies course 5 times a day is challenging but it’s also good  to force yourself to take a 5 minute break to relax.

Hypnosis track: 40 min a day

Again, this is a part of Hypnobabies program. Every day you’re supposed to listen to 1 Hypnosis track, preferably during the day, though I do delegate it to right before bed most of the time. It is THE BEST remedy against insomnia. It knocks me out in a matter of minutes and my husband loves it so much that he downloaded it on his iPhone as well and turns it on in the morning when he has trouble going back to sleep. (Speaking of sleep, since he started drinking that cherry extract he’s had no problems sleeping (cherry juice contains melatonin that helps regulate your sleep cycle)

Affirmations: 35 min a day

A non-hypnosis track that helps you set a positive tone in your mind about childbirth. It can be listened any time and I usually turn it on while writing a blog post or doing some work. It’s a great tool to ease worries and concerns about pregnancy and childbirth. It’s definitely helped me have a more positive outlook on things.

Partner script: 10 minutes every other day

This is something we do together. My birth partner (my husband) reads out a hypnosis script to me every other night while I practice my relaxation. It’s very helpful and I gotta say, having him read that script is much more powerful than the hypnosis tape.

 

I have to admit- it’s a lot! And it gets overwhelming sometimes. I try to make it my priority but it’s hard to do, since there’re always more pressing things to accomplish rather than prepare for this hypothetical, some-time-in-the-future event. It’s always extremely hard to do something that you can’t see the results for right away (or even know if it would work). But I guess all important things in life are like that: eating well and exercising for your health, going to school to advance in a career, parenting, saving money for the future- it all requires lots of patience and determination and in the end it’s always worth it.

37 WEEK BUMP UPDATE – FULL TERM

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BUMP UPDATES, My Pregnancy

STATS:

Her size: THE HIGHLYANTICIPATED WATERMELON.

How far along: 37 WEEKS!!!! FULL TERM!

Total weight gain: I’m at 171 lb. (+2 lbs this week, total at 35 lbs). My husband laughs at me, because at some point he was 178 lbs which is not far from my weight now! I laugh WITH him, because I know how much easier it is for me to lose weight than him 😛 So he might tease me (good-heartedly) now when he tries to help me get up, but I know I’ll be taunting him when the pounds just come off without much effort and he’s still trying to lose “the pregnancy weight” he gained.

Sleep: Oh my sides just hurt! I don’t like the idea of sleeping on my right side because vena cava is located more to the right and if I accidentally flip half way on my back in the middle of the night, the weight of the baby might block the blood flow. I read in a few places that pregnant women who sleep more on the right have a statistically double the chance of stillbirth. The link is weak, but it’s enough to make me flip over to my left every time I find myself sleeping on the right side. But man, I have to say, a few times a night I just HAVE to do it, because the left side feels bruised.

Maternity Clothes: Just the same old stuff I’ve blogged about before. I am obsessed with Boob Design and am patiently waiting for their US website launch this month, as well as the release of their spring collection. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway– 3 more days left!

Food cravings: Chocolate cake (considering I’m not a fan of anything chocolate)

Food aversions: I have finally conquered my aversion for beans, left over from the 1st trimester nausea. And I’m glad I did, because as of last week I stopped eating diary products to clear myself of milk proteins for breastfeeding and I need to get my protein somewhere. (Diary is the biggest allergen and can make the baby colicky, gassy, aside from many other things that I won’t get into. If you’re interested, I’d pick up a book called The Baby Bond: The New Science Behind What’s Really Important When Caring for Your Baby. The book does like to go on about things, but if you can sit through that, there is a TON of information, all backed up by studies, that is not to be missed: from breastfeeding to allergic reactions, to baby wearing and so on.)

Symptoms I HAVE: Nada! I mean, yeah, there are a few minor ones I’ve learned to live with: minor heartburn, minor fatigue, minor pelvic pain when Alexis decides to play. But overall, I am feeling better than I ever thought I would at this point. That fact makes hubby think that Alexis will come AFTER her due date. “You don’t look or feel like you’re about to pop!”- he says. I tend to agree, but of course anything out of the ordinary sends me into “Is this it? Why am I feeling so nauseous?” haha
My BH aren’t very frequent at this point, my boobs stopped leaking- so I might be far far away from actual labor :)

Doctor’s Appointment: I have my doc’s appointments every Thursday on my weekly anniversary. It was all good as usual. My OB seems very supportive of my Hypnobirth plan. We discussed the fact that my mom AND my sister both had fast labors (6 hours and 4 hours respectively with only 15 min pushing), so it’s possible I’ll go the same way. He also gave me his cell phone number to call in case there’s anyone who is giving us any hassle about following the birth plan in a non-emergency situation. I did opt out of cervical checks – he didn’t say a thing. So I’m very happy with my OB and super excited about birth.

Oh and Alexis disengaged! Boo! She’s about at -3 station (considering she was engaged my last appointment). It’s good because there’s noone to headbutt my cervix for the time being but bad because I’d like to know she’s getting closer to labor.

Movement: Evenings are her time! I love the movement! Even when she is hurting me, I still love feeling her move. It definitely beats worrying about why she isn’t moving. Now that Andrew can hear her heartbeat from the outside, I often ask him to listen when there is a stretch of a few hours without much movement. It’s so nice to have that reassurance. I hated the time before movements were felt. The only thing that saved us was the Doppler (which was the best purchase ever).

Belly Button: Total outie! I think it’s kinda cute!

Gender: GIRL!

Best moment of the week: I couldn’t remember so I asked hubby and his answer was “Hanging out with my baby!” :) Aw!

What I’m looking forward to:

Only 5 short days till my mom’s arrival. I’m already dreaming of all the awesome meals she’ll cook!!!!

What I miss:

SMOKED SALMON and normal people clothes! I have recently allowed myself to look through catalogues and websites for clothes because I feel I am close enough to wearing normal non-maternity stuff. I’m going to dance like a crazy girl when I fit into my NYC size skinny jeans (those are really really small), but before I do, I want to get some colorful skinny jeans in coral and yellow to wear in the meantime. YUM!

So I am officially full term and it feels good. I’ll slowly start natural labor induction after 38th week when my mom is here and everything is ready to go. What I mean by that is simply walking. I’ve been having strong BHs when I walk so I’ve stayed away from it. Once I’m done with week 38, I can resume walking again and not worry about contractions.
We are sort of ready for her to come. The seat has been installed, we took our car for service to make sure it’s in tip-top shape, birth plan is made and printed, hospital bag list is ready, hubby is trained, a few more things this weekend and Alexis officially has the go-ahead from us. The room is not fully finished yet, but she’ll be sleeping in a co-sleeper for the first 6 months anyways, so I’m not worried. This weekend we’ll do as much as possible, including pack the hospital bags, clean the room, wash her clothes and diapers, and organize everything. But mentally I am ready and excited! I cannot wait for this new chapter of our life to start- I’m definitely ready to be done with the last one!

HAPPY FULL TERM, ALEXIS!


BOOB DESIGN: Nursing and Maternity Brand {Pregnant with Style}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in My Pregnancy, PREGNANCY FASHION, PRODUCTS

Welcome to the Last Week of Pregnant with Style feature, a weekly low down on the cutest and little known maternity brands.

{Discover other weeks and maternity brands here}

BOOB DESIGN (5 winner giveaway)

This week I am super excited to bring to your attention {a rather unknown in the US} Scandinavian maternity and nursing brand BOOB!

It was founded by Mia Siepel, who after watching her sister nurse in the the cold of Stockholm autumn with half her body bare to the wind, decided that nursing mothers deserved better designed clothing that would make breastfeeding more pleasant and convenient. So that’s how Boob Design came to life.

Aside from the best freaking name for a maternity and nursing brand, Boob has what seems to me the most functional and at the same time cute and comfy maternity and nursing clothing out there.

Currently, Boob only delivers within the European Union, however in just a few weeks they will be launching a full US website and then maternity wear will never be the same. So if you’re pregnant/nursing, I’d suggest you sign up for their newsletter (top right) or like their FB page to be notified when the US website is up and running. Trust me you will not want to miss it!

You can visit their EU website right now and check out their styles. The main focus of Boob is maternity and nursing wear. Almost all maternity pieces double as a nursing pieces as well, so you’ll be able to wear them postpartum. Boob makes nursing easy and accessible without sacrificing the seamless look of the outfit. All your do is lift the top part of the top to expose the nipple – super easy and inconspicuous ( even for Target employees)

So here’s the breakdown of what I got to try and what I think about it.

NURSING PAJAMAS

I fell in love with the brand the second I put the first piece on.

These are the perfect PJs to wear around the house, sleep in, nurse in. They’re made out of organic cotton and are softer than any other PJs you might have. I haven’t gotten out of them since I received them, except to do laundry. And I haven’t been able to appreciate the best feature of these pjs yet, which is easy nursing access. As you might be able to see from the pictures below, the top part lifts up right below the boobs. I can’t wait to try out this feature. I know it’ll be my go-to sleepwear when Alexis comes.

This is definitely a must-have for maternity and breastfeeding!

MAMA AND BABY TWIN SET

I love love love love the concept of this set. It’s basically a matching nursing tee and a baby onesie. How adorable is that? I cannot wait to carry Alexis around in this outfit. The nursing top has the same feature of a flap that opens up for easy nursing, but as you can see from the pictures, you can’t even tell it’s two separate pieces of fabric. Boob has 5 different styles/colors in this set (see below) and you can win one today (see giveaway at the bottom, open to EU, US and Canada residents).

Both items are made from organic cotton as well, so they’re super soft and pleasant to wear.

This would make an AMAZING baby shower gift if you have friends/family who are expecting!!!!

Another piece from Boob Design I’m wearing in these photos are the maternity capri TREGGINGS. These super stretchy jean capri have a seamless (no pockets) back, which makes them more flattering and not bulky. I love the thin full belly band, that unlike in some other brands I’ve worn, doesn’t restrict your movement or press on your stomach. It can also be folded neatly to mid-stomach level ,as well as worn under the belly. I like these capri so much that I am considering having the band resewn when I’m done being pregnant for good to make them into a non-maternity item.

So here’s how you can win one of these
MAMA AND BABY TWINSETS
(styles are subject to stock availability)

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAY RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries, after which you will have additional entries available,
and 1 daily entry for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Please make sure to visit Boob Design facebook page and write on their wall which design of the twinset you’d choose
The giveaway is open to US , EU and Canada residents only. See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

UPDATE: You can now log into the Rafflecopter through Facebook or just by using your name/email.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then I’VE DONE IT once the action is completed}


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received these items from Boob Design in exchange for my honest opinion.

36 WEEK BUMP UPDATE

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BUMP UPDATES, My Pregnancy, PREGNANCY

36 WEEKS

 

It was so cold this morning that I jumped out of bed and quickly put clothes on without realizing that my bra is inside out until I took these pictures- haha!
Oh and I was taking these shots when hubby brought me an ice-cream cone- I couldn’t let it melt while I took pictures :)

STATS:

Her size: Still cantaloupe, almost watermelon.

How far along: 36 WEEKS!!!! OH YEAH!!!!! 1 more week to full term.

Total weight gain: 169 lb.  (+1 lbs this week, total at 33 lbs). According to my OB, I haven’t gained anything this week, but weighing yourself in the middle of the day with clothes and shoes on isn’t as accurate, so I’m going by my morning weigh ins.

Sleep: Still good. I am pretty much used to getting up many times a night to pee which is a good sign for the upcoming middle of the night baby-thon. I also started waking up “concerned” with whether Alexis is moving or not. She doesn’t move at night, so I wake up to go pee, all worried that she’s not moving. As soon as I get back into bed, I put my hands around my belly and wait for her to stir. She does move almost immediately and I go back to sleep only to wake up a few hours later and repeat it all again.

Maternity Clothes: Just the same old stuff I’ve blogged about before

Food cravings: Cucumbers, cakes

Food aversions: none

Symptoms I HAVE: Occasional major pelvic pains. When Alexis is moving, sometimes her head presses on SOMETHING in my pelvic bone (nerve? bone?) and it really hurts- like a jolt of shock. Sometimes it lasts for hours of her squirming around. The other day I was helping hubby take this super difficult 3 hour test and she wouldn’t stop moving. I couldn’t even use my relaxation techniques, because I had to be concentrating on the questions. I guess it’s a good sign meaning she’s deeper in my pelvis and possibly settling even more down.

I had 2 leg cramps this week for the first time this pregnancy, so I probably need to up my calcium intake a bit more.

And finally, I am almost always tired, but feel really great otherwise!

Doctor’s Appointment: Yesterday. I got all negative on Strep B and cultures, which was good news. BP was excellent, no swelling, good heartbeat and measurements. Based on the external exam, Alexis appears to be at about 0 station (which is why I was feeling pain). So everything is fine, now we just have to wait till she decides to arrive. Next appointment is in a week and I am sure they’re going to want to check my cervix for progress, which I totally don’t see the medical need for, since it doesn’t predict how close you are to labor. I’ll go into labor when I do, so why check it.

Movement: She’s very active. I guess they’re supposed to slow down due to cramped space, but it seems like she’s only starting and I like it that way. The more movement, the more brain development happens in these last weeks, since synapses are created by experiences. So I don’t care if she has to punch me multiple times a day- You go girl! Oh and she’s insanely strong now and her feet are big :) lol

Belly Button: Outie. That area of my belly is stretching the most and the skin looks almost translucent and reddish. If I am going to get stretchmarks, something tells me that’s where they will first appear.

Gender: GIRL!

Best moment of the week: WOW I can’t remember what I did yesterday, let alone this whole week. Oh, there was Christmas (lol), that was really nice. But mostly I am just buried under a load of last minute baby preparations and work.

What I’m looking forward to:

Being full term next week- that’s just soooo exciting! And then the week after that my mom arrives. Let’s just hope I don’t go into labor before then!

And I am almost giddy about my labor starting- seriously I can’t wait!

What I miss:

Not watching every little thing that goes into my mouth or on my body.

What else?

  • The realization of Alexis being pretty much ready to go hit me hard. I still don’t have a lot of basic items like diaper pails and baby care items (I have a 49 point list on my Wunderlist). We still haven’t read the newborn books, since we’ve been trying to get through other attachment parenting books, as well as breastfeeding books and baby brain books. So most likely I am going to have to stop any work projects going on that aren’t urgent and get all that ordered and if she doesn’t show up early, attempt to get the work stuff accomplished before she arrives. So today I am knee deep in ordering baby essentials.
  • It’s probably every pregnant woman’s feeling but I think she’ll come before 40 weeks ( which would be my preference, since I don’t want to drive myself crazy with “OMG are we gonna have to induce?”)
And finally a closer belly shot. Because of the direct light, I don’t think you can even make out my belly in the bump update shots (the front ones), so it looks more like a belly here. With that uneven side where Lexi rests her feet lol.

Evolution of My Attitude Towards Childbirth

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in My Pregnancy

My attitude towards labor and delivery has changed DRASTICALLY from the time before I got pregnant, then pregnant, then VERY pregnant, to NOW.

Before I was pregnant, birth was a hypothetical painful dreadful experience that we all have to deal with one day. It’s not something I wanted to think about at the time.

Once I got pregnant, that attitude changed to “yes it’s going to be horrible, but whatever it takes to bring my little baby into this world”.

After I watched some less-than-PG13 youtube videos of birth, I was horrified and was CONVINCED that the only way to do this was to “hook myself up to an epidural and try not to look down”. Once the fear passed and I got used to the idea of birth and the imagery of it, I was dreading it less, however I strongly felt that there was no reason for me to try natural birth, since we have things like epidurals that will keep you comfortable with minimal risk. I don’t know my pain threshold and I didn’t want to exactly test it ( I still don’t) and with everything that I read about an epidural, while I’d love to avoid it, I  just didn’t feel like the side effects justified going through so much pain.

There are some things that I can be strong about and blow people’s mind with my willpower, and there are others that I just don’t think I can do (running is a great example). We all do what we know we are capable of and I did not think I was capable of going through the pain of childbirth without an epidural. I also knew I definitely didn’t want any pain relievers aside from an epidural, so I figured I’d deal with the pain until I could get an epidural and hopefully I’d get it around 5 cm, so  it wouldn’t stall my labor.

I continued reading books about birth and relaxation techniques. I read the Bradley book along with the Bradley Partner book and found the information invaluable but not enough to change my mind about the epidural. It did help me understand the process better and that it’s natural and the mechanics of contractions and not to fear them as much but to relax during them. It really really helped me understand what really happens when the uterus contracts. I felt like that knowledge would take me to my 5 cm until I could get an epidural. I also loved reading about the emotional signposts of labor rather than going by dilation to judge the progress. It just made sense. {I’d be very curious to hear from any of you who knew about the emotional signposts going into labor , whether you recognized them  and whether it helped you know where you were at}

However, nothing in Bradley method made me think that I would want a natural birth, nothing promised it’d be roses and champagne and the best experience of my life, so I still wanted an epidural, BUT now I was willing to have a wait-and-see attitude. I wanted to see if I could do it naturally with the tools the Bradley book provided me and if not, I was perfectly ok with an epidural.

A few weeks later, I was reading one of the million pregnancy books I read weekly and they mentioned hypnobirth. I had been seeing the name “hypnobirth” and “hypnobabies” as ads on random birth related websites, but I always steered clear of them because 1.) I thought “hypnobirthing” had something to do with laboring under hypnosis and 2.) “Hypnobabies” just sounded strange… Babies under hypnosis? I didn’t even realize it was a labor technique. What do babies have to do with it?  I didn’t even want to look into it- I thought it was weird.

That was until one of my books mentioned hypnobirth saying that it’s a relaxation method for unmedicated birth and that some people swear they have painless “pleasant” experiences. I was intrigued. I instantly jumped on my iPhone and looked up some information. There was a lot of “sales pitches” online, so i was still skeptical even after I read about how it works. That was until I decided to look for videos on youtube, in case someone filmed a hypnobirth. Of course, someone did and I just kept watching hypnobirth video after hypnobirth video and I couldn’t believe that these women were completely relaxed, not screaming, not writhing in agony ( which is what we see everywhere else), not blaming their husbands for knocking them up (lol). One woman was so relaxed that her midwife completely missed the baby slipping out of her with 1 single sound “Agh”!

So the days of watching hypnobirth videos and researching began….

If I can have a natural birth without the agony that everyone else promises, and all you have to do is put some work and preparations into it (hello? It’s my specialty),then I am all for it!

To make a long story short, I settled on Hypnobabies program. If you know what hypnosis birth is all about, then skip the next part, but I wanted to write a bit about the concept of these programs for future mamas.

Basically, the concept is the following ( whether it’s hypnobirth or hypnobabies or any other hypnosis program):

It is a self-hypnosis technique, where you get yourself into a state of relaxation and “hypnosis” while staying completely lucid and awake. You feel the same, you feel normal, just really really relaxed. It is achieved via a lot of training and practicing. According to these programs ( and many birth stories I read), childbirth doesn’t have to be painful. It is often made painful by the fear-tension-pain cycle ( which makes sense based on the stuff I read in Bradley books on how the uterus contracts). We have been conditioned to think that childbirth is super painful and it is what we expect and thus it is what we get. When a contraction comes in, we dread it, tense up (which is a completely natural reaction), make uterus muscles work harder, pull harder, creating more pain than we need to. If you fully relax your body, you will feel pressure, discomfort but not pain. However, this full relaxation doesn’t just come easy. It requires weeks and weeks of practicing, concentration and most importantly weeks of changing your attitude towards what childbirth SHOULD BE like.  Not expecting pain, but expecting tugging pressure sensations.

I did find it very true that just the simple expectation of pain (fear) makes you so tense and it’s such a normal reaction you don’t notice it. It first rang true with me when we started doing perineal massage (more on that later). Fighting the fear is really really hard. I’m sure anyone who has gone through “painful” contractions will tell you how you start DREADING the next one.

All this made sense to me. I was still a bit skeptical, but I was convinced that if I had any chance at unmedicated childbirth, this is it and I might as well give it a try. Oh and there are people that undergo surgeries with hypnosis techniques without anesthesia (those that can’t have anesthesia), so if that’s not an argument to give this a try, then I don’t know what is.

Next came picking the program… from what I understood Hypnobirth was the original hypnosis based birthing program with a book and a CD and Hypnobabies is a refined hypnosis childbirth class that takes you step by step to learning how to relax using self-hypnosis (you can buy the whole home study package here). It is much more expensive, but very convenient in how structured it is. I went with Hypnobabies because I didn’t have time to mess around ( I think I was 26 weeks or so).

So I’ve been working this program for almost 10 weeks now and my attitude towards childbirth is very different now. I am looking forward to it, I am more or less confident in my ability to handle it, I am DEFINITELY NOT afraid of childbirth anymore. The realist in me keeps wanting to continue being skeptical about the efficiency of this program, however I am set on following the program, and doing what it says, believing what it says and not second guessing myself  or over-analysing everything (which is hard). One of the big parts of the programs is staying away from negative imagery and stories about childbirth (because they perpetuate that fear-tension-pain cycle) and truly believing that it’s going to be a wonderful experience. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Obviously, I haven’t gone through birth yet to tell you whether this program is effective or not, whether it worked for me or not, but I feel that training and preparing is the least I can do to hope for a more pleasant experience.

This is getting to be way too long of a post, so I’ll stop right here and will have to continue in another post about the training that I’ve been doing, what it entails and other non-hypnosis preparations for childbirth, our birth plan (wants and “do-not-wants”) and our baby hospital plan.

 

Resources mentioned in this post:

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition

Husband-Coached Childbirth (Fifth Edition): The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

Hypnobabies Home Study Course for Expectant Mothers Plus 2 Bonus Cds

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition)