My First Weekly Update: 8 WEEKS

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

Hi, guys!
I’m finally at the stage where I can justify a weekly update and possibly a weekly belly picture. I don’t have a bump ( obviously), but I do have a BELL-A-Y.

Someone had the nerve to comment on my last post with “You’re ‘noticeable change’ is bloat, dear” (copied as is)!

Ha! Well, shit, Sherlock! No, I truly think that my 8 week pregnant belly is an actual baby trying to poke out. Come on!
Bloat or bump or intestines being pushed out- whatever it is, it’s there because of pregnancy and pregnancy alone. And therefore it’s a “noticeable change” :)

Please ignore my disgusting looks. I love how you can see the progression of nausea in my horrible pictures. Week 4- good and healthy, week 5- oh shit the nausea started, week 6 – ok I’m getting used to it, week 8- oh fuck! This shit sucks! ( don’t you love my forced smile haha)

So again, I almost didn’t post these because of how gross I look, but please remember, I’m preggo in the throws of 1st trimester :) haha

STATS:

How far along: 8 weeks.

How big is baby: It’s a yummy raspberry.

Total weight gain:Looks like 1-2 pounds, but it could be all water weight. I seem to fluctuate a lot. My goal for the first trimester is to NOT lose any weight and gain somewhere in the recommended 2-6 pounds. My maternal fat stores have exploded- WHOA! I might not be showing a big change on the scale but I feel my legs are a size of an island and my stomach…well my stomach is a separate story. Never ever in my life have I had a stomach even close to what I have now. It seems HUGE to me, considering my abs have always been awesome looking. It doesn’t freak me out, per se, but it feels so different, to be bending at your waist while sitting and actually feel my stomach lol I normally eat a lot of bloaty foods ( do healthy things have to be bloat inducing too???), and I’m used to being bloated once in a while, but this is beyond the normal range.

Maternity clothes:No way! Don’t want to, won’t go for it. I’ll wear sweats the whole pregnancy! Ahahahha Ok not really. But it’s too early for maternity. I’ll just pull out my fat jeans. I wasn’t always a size 2, there’ve been times where I was a size 4-6..so I’ll go back to that for the time being…and when I actually start showing we will see. It’s just all the maternity clothes I’ve seen are sooo….old-ladyish. Luckily, I’m working from home and not going many places, except for daily walks, so I don’t need a whole new wardrobe. Though I can’t wait to get some super baggy off the shoulder tops, but not from maternity stores.

Sleep: It’s been really good up until a few days ago. Since I drink so much water, I get up 3 times a night to pee, which doesn’t bother me as much as the body aches I seem to get in the morning… Oh well, hello the next 7 months of uncomfortable sleep.

Best moment of the week: This week has been pretty quiet but I loved writing the posts about how we found out and our doc’s visit, because it let me re-live it. And then reading your comments was awesome! Reading your comments,guys, is always the best part of my day! They make me feel such a connection with you all! reading about your experiences or hearing that you’ll soon be doing the same- it’s just awesome!

Food cravings:In the very beginning I was craving tomato sauce. Now it’s salt, tomato and cucumber salads, dough (and not whole grain but actual refined grain dough. I don’t normally eat refined grains, but that’s the only one you can buy ready made at the store and hubby refuses to make his own dough (and I can’t cuz I’m too nauseous). I honestly only ate a tiny bit of it. We make vegetable pizza with spinach and mushrooms, pepper, tomatoes, eggplant and tomato paste (no cheese)and we use the store bought dough. So the crust is my fave part. I’ve been salting the shit out of everything too :) Hubby thinks I’m crazy.

Food aversions: Anything sweet! Pretty much anything is too sweet for me, except for fruit and organic no sugar added fruit juices. NUTS! OMG I cannot stand walnuts now. Just the thought of chewing on them-ew! Which is too bad, because that means I have to get my omega3s somewhere else. Anything oily and greasy, obviously. Meats, but that’s normal for me, I have an aversion when I’m not pregnant.

Symptoms: Mild occasional cramps, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, sore boobies that have grown so much that hubby’s eyes light up every time he sees me topless :) Luckily, no gas or constipation so far because I eat a ton of fiber. I’ll be writing a separate post about all the symptoms and what i expected and didn’t expect and how it was different in real life. I thing preggo-to-be’s would be interested, because I was always curious what symptoms felt like and whether I’d get all of them.

Movement: just some muscle cramps and uterine cramping, which, if you think about it, is the baby’s housing growing and moving :)

Gender: I AM DYING TO KNOW! I think the best part of pregnancy is finding out the baby’s gender, because then you can picture him/her better, use his/her name, start preparing for him/her. 16-18 weeks cannot come soon enough! But up until then I’ll definitely take your votes on whether you think it’s a girl or a boy :)

What I’m looking forward to: Well, up until yesterday I was looking forward to getting our doppler…but now that I was nicely informed that doppler and ultrasound is essentially the same (less power and less damage but still), we’ll be mostly likely sending it back. If we’re careful during this pregnancy, we’re careful and we just can’t justify our somewhat selfish need to hear the baby’s heartbeat by “possibly” endangering it more than necessary. (I read that ultrasound can “scramble” brain cells in a fetus. Say what?) So now I’m looking forward to our next 12 week appointment and hearing the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound that I can justify ( diagnostic).

What I miss:SUSHI, smoked salmon! I would love to have some sushi. That is the first think I’ll be doing post-partum-I’m telling ya! Being able to walk on our golf course ( we live on a golf course, and used to take walks in the evening. Now that I’m preggo, hubby is super paranoid about all the pesticides, insecticides and fertilizer they continually spray on the green, so he has forbidden me to walk on it). We’ll probably buy a membership at a local sanctuary and take walks there instead. Not having boat trips and wave runner outings every weekend with our friends. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat!

Next appt: July 8th.

 

Oh and somehow I never mentioned, but my EDD is Jan. 24-26 ( depending on whether you calculate it based on my LMP or the actual conception date).

Also, my belly heart photo you saw in the last post got onto the 1st page of Flickr Explore. Not sure why, considering it was a quick snapshot. But am still honored. I’ve only had 2 other shots that ever hit the front page, and they’ve been a lot more artistic.

First ultrasound and heartbeat

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

6 week scan 1

So, continuing my last post about my newly pregnant self…

If you remember, it ended on the fact that my HCG and Progesterone levels were super high and that we were suspecting twins…

So… hubby and I were determined to wait till 8th week ultrasound and not go for a 6 week ultrasound for a few reasons:

  • The fewer u/s, the safer it is for the baby(though u/s haven’t shown to cause any damage, as usual, we’re erring on the side of caution)
  • If we go in too early and the heartbeat is nowhere to be found, we’d have to come back a few days later, which means more u/s and a lot of freaking out and stressing

So everything was going as planned, until I had an intense cramps episode one evening after having done 180 sit ups. Ok, you have to remember, this was my 5th week- the time of the MOST worry about miscarriages and what not. Miscarriage is probably the only thing on a pregnant woman’s mind in the first several weeks… So of course, we freak out (mildly), hubby forbids me to work out anymore ( “But it’s beneficial for the pregnancy…… poo!”… of course I resume once everything is straightened out) and we take it easy that evening. The next morning, I realize I’m spotting. It wasn’t real spotting, just slightly colored discharge (sorry if TMI, but might be useful for future preggos). Oh-oh! I start scouring the forums for similar situations and find out that it’s perfectly normal to not only have that but to actually spot/bleed during pregnancy. It calms me down just a bit, but I still call my doctor who suggests that I come in for a 2nd blood work to check HCG levels. That’s when the levels come back at 18,000 (wow!) vs the normal range of 18 – 7,340. They had doubled perfectly from the last blood work. So it wasn’t a miscarriage, whew! But there we went again with the worries. High HCG levels are associated with molar pregnancies! Ahahahaha! Can a girl get a break? Levels too low= miscarriage, levels really high= you should be happy, but NO! It’s indicative of molar pregnancy!


I was really laughing at that point. The nurse said that the levels were perfect and that I needed to stop reading on the Internet :) But I’m the kind of person, who’d rather be mentally prepared for all kinds of outcomes than be surprised with a negative one. So after some research,  I relaxed and told myself that it’s going to be what it’s going to be.

But we did decide to do a 6th week ultrasound INSTEAD of the 8th week one, just to make sure everything was fine.
My “spotting” disappeared after a week, which means it was probably just some old implantation blood that my sit ups helped push out.

The day of the ultrasound couldn’t come SOON enough. We still had a possibility of twins, though by then we had convinced ourselves that it’s not very likely, with me always having a super regular cycle and no family history of twins. We figured my levels were that high, because it’s just a really good strong pregnancy.

Finally the day of the ultrasound arrived and we walked into the 1st floor of my doctor’s practice where they conduct u/s exams. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my OB himself doing the ultrasound (is that normal?), but some surly old woman, who kept ignoring our giddy faces and our silly jokes.

I was mentally prepared not to have a heartbeat since it was possibly too early for it (6w 1d). But was secretly hoping for one, of course!

Since it was an early pregnancy ultrasound, it was going to be an internal one. The woman quickly showed me “THE DILDO” and told me that she’d be putting a condom on it (lol). Once the thing was in, the image appeared on the screen. An image of an empty black space (uterus) within a fuzzy white space. She started moving the transducer back and forth, looking for the baby. It must have been literally only 3 seconds, but in those 3 seconds I had time to panic :”Where is my baby? What if I’m not pregnant?” I turn to hubby who’s intensely peering into the overhead flat screen and ask “Do you see anything?”
And before I was able to finish that sentence, out of nowhere, a loud sound filled the room: “Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!”
My first reaction in my head was “Is this my heartbeat?”, which I knew was wrong the second I thought it. It was our baby’s heartbeat! So fast and loud and SO SO SO THERE!

Later hubby told me  that his whole body went HOT when he heard the heartbeat.

It was truly a life changing moment for both of us. With it being our first baby and me not showing, the heartbeat was a confirmation of the fact that there was something there.

The disappointing part was that the nasty u/s tech gave us no more than 5-6 seconds to listen to it before she turned it off and finished the visit. We were still so in shock from what we had just heard that it didn’t even occur to us to argue with her and ask for more heartbeat time ( hello, we’re the ones paying!).

After the ultrasound we spent the next 30 minutes in a daze, replaying in our heads the rhythm of the heartbeat:” Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!Ta-dum!”

My nurse took me to the nurses’ station to take more blood for a standard pregnancy work up and my doctor, who hadn’t seen me yet since I got pregnant and didn’t know I was ( I’d been communicating with his nurse up until now) was there at the computer entering something. So he sees us in the nurses’ station and turns around to greet us with his mouth opening to say hi and then spots an ultrasound picture in my hubby’s hand. His eyes bulged out of his sockets with his mouth that stayed open the few seconds it took him to process the news and he goes:”What? Are you pregnant already?” ( for those who are new to my blog, I had done a pre-conception check up with him and knowing me, he had warned me “You do know, most people don’t get pregnant right away, right? So don’t be too hard on yourself andyour husband, if you don’t!”).

When hubby showed him the ultrasound, the doctor laughed and commented: “Well, you guys don’t waste time! If she wants something, she gets it done, huh?”

After a little chat we had, he took a look at my numbers and asked for the ultrasound picture again. After I gave it to him, he looked a bit confused, and mumbled to himself: “Hm… with your numbers, Iwould have been sure you had twins!”. Up until that moment we had completely forgotten that twins were even a possibility. We were so smitten by our ONE rice grain size baby that it never once occurred to us to process the fact that it’s not twins.

And that was it. He let us go until the next 12 week appointment when we’ll be doing NT scan, triple marker tests and whatever other diagnostic services they perform during the 12 week visit.

We had seen our little blob, had heard its heartbeat, got the “good job!” from our doctor and were off to wait another 6 weeks to be back again.

Today I’m officially 8 weeks and entering the 9th week of gestation. Two months are done and 1 more to go until I can officially be in the safer 2nd trimester. At this point, with my history and the heartbeat that we heard, the chance of miscarriage is down to 4%. Once we see the baby for my 12th week ultrasound, the chances will go down to 1%. I like those odds and I am very hopeful, despite the fact that I know many cases where the babies stopped growing during 8-9th week. But of course, like anyone, we’re trying to note the negative outcomes, but not think much about them.

Oh and we ordered a Doppler. We’re both so excited, especially hubby. We know it’s really early and most likely the Doppler won’t catch the heartbeat until week 10, but everything so far has been ahead of schedule, so we’re really excited. I know Dopplers can be a double edged sword. Some people can get really attached to it, and go crazy if heartbeat can’t be found, but we’re trying to “talk ourselves” into the fact that we won’t always be able to hear the heartbeat. And we’re ok with that. But it’s still pretty exciting! Isn’t technology amazing!?

Btw, my mom is totally and completely freaked out by all the knowledge we seem to have about babies now. She sees it as a negative thing, as  in we knew nothing and weren’t too worried. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m much happier knowing everything I can, so that I never get unexpected bad news ( though I’d love some unexpected good news :)) and I can always work on myself not to get too worked up over things. I love all the opportunities technology opens up for us and our experiences!

So, if you didn’t catch it, we have ONE baby. No twins. Though, with how careless and fast our tech was, I wouldn’t be surprised if we discover a second baby hiding somewhere in there ( half of twin pregnancies aren’t discovered at the first early scan), but I’m not holding my breath. Most likely, it’s one really healthy baby and that’s what we’re going off of :)

In a few days you’ll be seeing my first weekly update with pictures at 4,5,6 and 8 week belly ( not a bump yet, but a noticeable change).

How we found out…

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

Ok, so here’s the story  how we found out I was pregnant.

{Disclosure: I didn’t really proofread this post since I had just enough energy to finish writing it, so please ignore typos and mistakes}


As many of you know, May was the first month we were given the self-imposed green light to start trying for a baby. Everything was in place and we were ready to go. Our plan was to try Shettle’s method for a girl. We both really wanted a girl first ( though of  course we’d be ecstatic to have a boy too), so we thought it wouldn’t hurt to use Shettle’s method in case it’d give us more of an edge. For those not familiar with Shettle’s method, it’s based on a theory that male sperm is fast but weak and female sperm is slow but very strong, so if you time intercourse to be very close to ovulation, the fast boy sperm would get to the egg faster, or if you stop intercourse a few days before ovulation, the strong female sperm will survive longer than male sperm. So it’s kind of some natural selection kind of deal. It also had to do with the alkalinity of the vagina and sperm, orgasms and a few other things ( i won’t get into the details, if you’re interested, feel free to google it).

{If you’d like to skip the ovulation timing part and go to the testing, click here }

So the plan was to start having sex a week before the big O and stop 2-3 days before it. It was going to be relatively easy for us, because my cycle has always been like clockwork, and I always ovulate on the day I’m supposed to based on the 14 day cycle. In addition to that, I had been tracking my basal body temperature ( BBT) for about 6 months, which would show THE day of ovulation as well as when I’ve ovulated. So I was pretty confident we’d know when to stop.

We were also very prepared for it to take 4-6 months for us to get pregnant and we determined to have fun and not focus on the goal. The week of baby making dance came and we, indeed, had a lot of fun. It was more fun than I thought it would be. We stopped the baby dance ( BD) 2.5 days before the supposed ovulation and just waited. I was very confident there was a very small chance I’d be pregnant that first month, hubby on the other hand kept telling me he was sure I’m pregnant. I dismissed his words as the usual macho man confidence in his sperm. Haha!

I kept tracking my temps and honestly was getting more confused. I always get a dip the day before ovulation ( some women do, others don’t). The dip happened a day early, but the temperature never rose up, so I figured that wasn’t it, then 2 days later, it dipped down again and the next day I saw the usual spike informing me that the ovulation has, indeed, happened. But what was confusing is it happened 1 day later than it was supposed to. We had already stopped having sex 2.5 days before my supposed day of ovulation and now it turns out I ovulated 1 day late. That was it, I thought. There’s no way his sperm could survive 3.5 days there waiting for the egg ( I know some sperm can live up to 5 days, but most die within 3 days). So that made me even more confident in the fact that there was no way on earth I could be pregnant that month. There was too long of a wait between last BD and my Ovulation, plus what are the chances of being pregnant the first month, really?

 

So I went on pretending like nothing happened and there’s no chance I could be pregnant.

I was still watching my temps and cramps very closely. On the 10th of May (5 days post ovulation {DPO}) I got very distinct cramps early in the morning, my temperature took a massive dip too ( some women get an implantation dip and this was a huge dip I’ve never seen before, that was followed by higher temps). I told hubby and he said “This is it!”. I was still very sceptical, and figured he was just saying that because all his info comes from what I tell him, so he doesn’t know that dips and cramps simply happen sometimes.

So the next day we had plans to go celebrate a friend’s birthday that I had organized and then go boating the next day. We talked long and hard about the possibility of me being pregnant. I refused to believe it was possible, because Ovulation came late and because it was our FIRST MONTH, for God’s sake. Hubby on the other hand was SURE we have conceived and got really mad at me when I told him we’d be going out the next night and the next day. He accused me of welshing out on our plan to keep me safe and away from germs and smoke and parties the first chance I got. He had a point, but I really didn’t want to miss our friend’s birthday. We looked over all the books to figure out if I was pregnant what was happening now and if me being exposed to certain things would influence the baby somehow. Remember, we weren’t willing to take even a minuscule chance. The biggest concern for me wasn’t the germs or  people, since that early in the pregnancy my body hasn’t had a chance to lower my immune system yet for the pregnancy. Out biggest worry was the smoke. All our friends who were going to be at the party smoke, some smoke cigarettes, other smoke cigars and others stronger stuff. There was no way I could stay away from smoke. I tried to convince hubby that since the baby wouldn’t be attached to me at this point, anything in my blood stream would not get to it. I knew it was wishful thinking because from the 1st day of implantation there’s little capillaries that go into a mother’s system, but I just really didn’t want to skip our friend’s Bday. I kept repeating: “I don’t think I’m even pregnant, honey!”. The conversation was going nowhere, so we decided to see how things go tomorrow and talk about it then.

So on Wednesday, the day of the dinner, while working, I kept having a strong urge to test. I knew it was impossible to get a true result this early (6DPO), but I just wanted to know. I guess I was hoping that if it’d show negative, I’d have more leg to stand on trying to convince him to go to the party. At some point in the day I looked over at hubby and with a sly smile said: “Do you want to go test?”. I told him I knew there was no way it was going to show positive this early and that I just wanted to do it for fun. He shook his head in disapproval, but agreed and we ran to the bathroom.

Now you have to remember we were both going there KNOWING that even if I am pregnant, the test will show negative. The average time that tests show true positive is 16DPO. Some women get it as early as 8-10DPO, other get false negatives up until 18DPO.  I was still over a week from missing my period.

So we get to the bathroom,I do my thing, while hubby watches all excited, pull my pants up and walk over to him to look at the stick turning together. We naturally moved into the area with more light and stood there full of trepidation. “I know I am not pregnant”-I kept repeating. We kept twisting and turning the test while waiting for the line to appear. The control line was starting to get dark and then I thought I saw IT : “Honey, do I see something?”. I turned the test slightly to drop some light on it. I thought I was seeing the faint line behind the white, like the test was see-through, but not actually the pregnancy line…. Then the line started getting darker and we both whispered: “I think it’s there”. In a few seconds there was no doubt. We looked at each other in shock and disbelief!
– “I told you my soldiers did the job the first time through”- he said.
– “Hey, it’s not just up to you! There’s lot of things that go into the whole process and make it happen”
– “I just told you! I knew you were pregnant”

We just kept looking and grinning and repeating “Omg, I think it’s there” . To explain the kind of emotions that went through me is probably impossible. I remember a hot flash running through my whole body.

I still couldn’t believe it. The very first second we realized that the line is there, I felt an amazing mix of emotions:
FEAR – definitely fear of “What have we done? Now there’s no way back”
ELATION –  I can’t believe it’s happening!
DISBELIEF – How could it be? It’s out first month, my ovulation came a day late, we were doing Shuttle’s for a girl, which means we stopped sex 3 days before O.
RELIEF – Oh thank God, we can make babies (one of my big fears was that it would take us long to conceive)
HAPPINESS – We did it! We are complete!
and then finally, about 15 minutes later
UTTER EXCITEMENT – This is it. Something we’ve been preparing for almost a year and it’s here. 

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

If you’ve ever planned a pregnancy or had an unplanned welcomed pregnancy, you must know exactly what I am talking about. If you’re still to create a family, just wait until that moment when you look at the line. It’s by the far most emotional moment of anyone’s life and until you experience it, you won’t know what it feels.

The shock wouldn’t wear off for a while. Even now as I am pre-writing this at 15DPO, I still cannot believe I am pregnant.

Of course, I immediately called my mom, who being an older woman, was very sceptical of how I could know this so early. They didn’t know until 2 months in.

At the party. Left to right: me, Chia, Elena

We also did end up going to that dinner. Now that we knew I was pregnant, we could tell our friends not to smoke around me. We wouldn’t go boating though.

But that meant actually telling our friends this early on. Yikes!  One of them, Elena, called me 20 minutes after us finding out, like she felt something… I couldn’t help it but tell her- I had to tell someone. I also told the birthday boy right away, because he’s an amazing trustworthy sweet man. The tough part was my two guy friends that were in town from NYC and Miami and were going with us. One of them, Robbie, used to be my best friend when I worked in NYC- we had so much fun together. Since me quiting modelling and moving back home, we’ve been slowly growing apart. He’s very judgmental and can be really rude, too. So I just wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him yet. The other guyfriend was, Alex, one of my photographer friends from NYC, single guy always looking for chicks, who’d also not understand the whole pregnancy thing, though would always be nice about it. So I was a little bit worried about telling both of them.

As the dinner was progressing, Elena kept throwing me dirty looks and telling me in Russian, so that noone understood, that I needed to tell Robbie, that he’s be very upset if I didn’t tell him or if he were to find out some other way. I kept telling her I needed time and I would tell him when I can. And that was happening while Robbie was making fun of us for being vegan :) hahaha Like hell I was going to tell him then.

My very first test

Hubby also thought I needed to tell Robbie, because he just wanted him off our back for the whole “not going boating” thing. So I was under freaking pressure :)

So finally I couldn’t handle the dirty looks anymore and I shoved my cell phone with a pregnancy test picture on it into Robert’s face.  His reaction was great: “You’re preg nant? Seriously? Guys…I couldn’t be any more happy right now! Congratulations!” I loved his reaction, mostly because I expected something snide from him.

The rest of the evening went great. They all smoked outside, and I’d just stay inside while they were doing that. So I didn’t get even a whiff of smoke.

The next day we were finally able to slow down and digest the news. I started reading on chemical pregnancies, which of course freaked me out. I was determined not to get to attached until at least the blood work was done, but hubby made it impossible, with his “Everything is going to be great- I know it!”
After reading some forums, we started realizing that getting a positive at 6DPO is not quite the norm. Most women get a positive at around 13DPO and most get a very faint line. I went back to my chart to make sure I ovulated when I thought I did and there was no mistaking it. The ovulation happened on the 5th, I tested on the 11th. There was this overwhelming urge to make sure I was still pregnant, that it’s not going to fail implantation or what not. I’m sure a lot of you understand. SoI started testing daily to make sure the line gets darker which it did day by day until at 9DPO it was the same color as the control line and the next day much darker than the control line. I stopped testing then, but I continued taking my BBT to make sure my temperature stays up.

As many of you know, this early into pregnancy there’s this huge fear of miscarriage, that’s the reason most people don’t even announce the pregnancy until 12 weeks. I am still worried about it of course, but I’m hoping everything will be ok.

I kept reading about early positive tests and one of the things that jumped out at me was the fact that in you’re pregnant with twins your HCG grows much faster than if you’re carrying a single baby and it shows up earlier on a pregnancy test due to the increased HCG.
Hubby got super excited at the idea of having twins. I LOVED it too, but I am a bit more realistic- we have no family history- the chances were small.

So on Monday 1 day before I was supposed to miss my period, I went in for blood work. My progesterone came back at 38, and my HCG was 587  ( the HCG range for that week is 72-426 and according to most women on the forums, their progesterone was in the low 20s). That was screaming twins. A later HGC test showed my level raising to 18,000 in week 5 (normal range: 18 – 7,340). My levels explained the early positive test, but we were definitely very curious about twins and had to wait until our first ultrasound which we were determined not to have too early and wait till the standard 8 week one.
Next post about ultrasound, symptoms, blood work and doctor’s visit…

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It’s time!

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

I’ve been postponing this announcement for way too long. So instead of trying to gear up for a long post with all kinds of details, I’m just going to throw it out there.

 

We’ve known for a month now. I’m currently almost 7 weeks. And I promise all the details ( every single one of them) are coming. I just need to learn to find the motivation to blog with this yucky nausea (which, believe me, is hard). So I figured that if I keep waiting to write a big post to announce it, it’ll never happen. Instead, I’ll be taking it step by step, with this being the first one. YAY!

Epigenetics and Prenatal Development

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION

As I continue to seek out and read books about prenatal development and epigenetics ( in my words, a study of how genes get turned on and off without changing DNA during intra-uterine development), I am more and more amazed at how much we don’t know, our mothers didn’t know, and many doctors, who refuse to educate themselves, don’t know.

And in this case what we don’t know CAN hurt us and our babies.

My current read is Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul, a scientific writer who set out to educate herself as she embarked on her second pregnancy.
I’m only on chapter 2, but it goes along the same lines Dr Verny followed in his Pre-Parenting: Nurturing Your Child from Conception.

Right now, I am reading about nutrition and how it affects the expression of genes and level of hormones. It’s actually not new to me. I read about it in my favorite pre-conception book Get Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Prepregnancy Guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby.
It was a new concept to me at the time, that what we eat and how we eat can “program” the fetus by “turning the genes on and off”, but it turns out it’s not that uncommon of a concept in the scientific world. It’s just our real world is pretty slow to jump on the bang wagon ( as it has always been with any medical breakthrough that challenges the previous notions).

For those who are curious, just a quick example in short:

Nature made it so that the intrauterine environment “lets” the baby know of the world outside of us via hormones and a few other processes.
For example, if a mother is constantly stressed and the released cortisol crosses the placenta, the baby’s brain will be programmed for the flight-or-fight response, taking from it the fact that in the outside world, the baby will need to be quick and vigilant. The baby will come out of the womb ready for the environment that was “pre-programmed” into him, fast and unable to focus, possibly even predisposed to aggression. That’s how evolution helped our ancestors survive.
…or…
By eating lots of sugar and simple carbs that send our insulin skyrocketing (and doing it all the time), we’re “teaching” our unborn baby to become insulin resistant, so in the future he/she might have troubles keeping weight off (apparently, insulin also controls how our body stores fat). The same happens with leptin, the substance that tells us when we are full. I don’t remember the exact mechanism by which leptin resistance occurs in a unborn baby ( i think it was somehow connected with insulin as well), but it creates a human being who is unable to know when to stop eating.

On another hand, {i read in the new book} it turns out that low birth weight babies (due to malnutrition specifically, I don’t think that other reasons, like preterm birth, were included in that) suffer from the same problems as  babies born with insulin resistance- diabetes, obesity, heart disease. At first glance, it’s surprising, but before I even read the explanation for why it happens, it made perfect sense to me:

When the baby doesn’t receive enough nutrients, it learns to live on little, his body being “programmed” that food out in the real world is scare. However, when he’s born into the world of excess and processed foods, his body can’t handle it properly, having been “taught” to store every single nutrient received (kind of in the same way the fad starvation diets never work long term). I guess the effects were the worst for babies who were malnutritioned during the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
What baffled me, though, was why the heart disease? What would this have to do with the heart? The explanation was the following: by receiving few nutrients, the fetus “sends” them to the most important organ in our body, our brain, leaving other organs short of necessary food. That, later in life, came back to bite him. In addition, inability to properly control and process high fat, processed diets helped that too.  They did a study on the survivors of one winter during World War II, during which food was so scarce that most people had to live on 500 calories a day ( including pregnant women), and a tremendous amount of survivors born or conceived during that winter were obese,with diabetes and heart disease, compared to babies born during other times. Here the effects were stronger, if malnutrition happened during the first trimester, when the heart was developing {which isn’t really fair, because of morning sickness which is something that our body does to us)

There’s an amazing amount of information and studies brought up in all three books I mentioned, it’d be impossible to relay every single detail of even one example here. It’s definitely fascinating and opened my eyes on many things. Even if you’re sceptical, I’d recommend you read it, because the examples and studies brought up in the books are pretty convincing.

Either way, as I go through this, I find it slightly difficult to find a happy middle. Everywhere we turn there another advisory about what is good or bad during pregnancy. It seems like everything can influence the baby. Omegas-3s in fish are great for the brain and produces higher IQ scores, but at the same time, fish is high in mercury, exposure to which produces low IQ scores. It’s like we can’t do anything right. {btw, my personal answer to the fish dilemma are sardines- small fish that doesn’t accumulate much mercury at all and one of the best fatty fishes for Omega-3s. Canned sardines are tasty, safe and very nutritious}.

My personal dilemma has been Vitamin E. When I was preparing for pregnancy, I found one Prenatal Vitamins brand that fit what I wanted,which  was “no vitamin or mineral could exceed 100% of daily value” ( it’s amazing how many prenatal vitamins have mega doses). I was very happy about it, until I showed it to my OB, who liked it a lot too, until he saw vitamin E content- 100% of DV. Then he informed me that there have been studies that linked vitamin E consumption to heart defects. So he prescribed me a formula that had 50% of vitamin E. After I got home, I jumped online to try and research those claims. I did, in fact, find plenty of articles citing several studies in which vitamin E consumption before pregnancy and during pregnancy of as little as 2/3 of Daily Value was linked with 9 fold increased risk of heart defect.
Obviously, supplementing vitamin E was not something I wanted to do ( considering I was already eating at the point where I received everything at at least 100% from food). Vitamin E can be found in oil, nuts, but the truth is I don’t really consume oil, or products that contain oil ( processed foods), and I am not a fan of nuts ( though I do take them for their nutritional benefit).

For a bit, i wondered whether that increased risk was connected more with consumption of fatty, oily foods, rather than actual vitamin E. But of course I can’t completely discount the study based on a hunch. So I don’t supplement E, but I don’t really get much E from diet. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Hubby and I decided that we’d curb vitamin E consumption pre-pregnancy and during the 1st trimester when the heart is developing, and then ease up on that in the 2nd trimester. But I still feel uneasy about the whole situation….

Pregnancy Safe Products – Face Wash, Exfoliator and Sunblock- LOVED ‘EM!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION

One of the first challenges I encountered while getting ready to get pregnant were the toxins and teratogens all around us. I mean, EVERYTHING is made out of chemicals nowadays. And since certain chemicals and toxins can adversly affect a fetus, it was important for me to switch to everything natural and toxin free.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I started with cleaning supplies, which we switched to 7th generation ones –  they smelled interesting and strong (herbs and lemon) and cleaned decently but not as well as full on chemical stuff.
I went to organic shampoos – I loved the feel and the smell and the idea that they’re all natural, but to be honest, the shampoo just didn’t clean as well, and the conditioner didn’t make my hair as soft as the typical brands.
I bought a zinc oxide sunblock, but it only came in a white cream that was really hard to put on.

Let me just say I wasn’t too happy about these changes, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

I was still looking for a good facial SPF, moisturizer,body wash, face wash,etc.

A few months ago I became a part of a new affiliate programs and as I was going through different online stores, I bumped into Belli Skin Care. I would have probably passed them by if not for  the word “teratology screened”.
“Oh!”- I thought.

I have never seen a skin care care line SPECIFICALLY tested against teratogens, phthalates, BPA, parabe, artificial dyes, etc. Before I knew about nsBelli, i had attempted to research this on my own, emailing my favorite brands for a list of ingredients and then cross checking them against known problem agents. eventually I gave up, because it was too much work. I knew just going natural and organic wasn’t going to do it, because there’re quite a few natural things that can cause birth defects, like aloe vera, rosemary, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin A. The problem with something as minor as personal care is it seems like it’s too much work for a relatively low risk. Some people think that there’s a placental barrier to protect the baby from toxins, however the barrier only keeps larger molecules away, like bacteria, but lets some others through with no problem.
So needless to say, I kept postponning ordering something for when I am pregnant, because it was just too hard.

After reading more about Belli products I was sold on the concept. They also carry maternity skin care lines, breastfeeding lines, and baby care, each specifically designed to protect us and our babies from toxins at different times of our lives. I will definitely be using other products when I breastfeed and for the baby. You can get a Stretch Mark Minimizing cream if you already have them, or Belly Oil, if you want to prevent them

So I placed an order for an Acne Wash, a SPF25 facial sunscreen and an Exfoliator. To be honest, I was expecting one of those organic products that might be safe for my baby, but does pretty much nothing for me. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. I got my package yesterday morning and last night I took a shower to try them out (oh come on! Don’t you get all excited when you buy new products? Except for I was expecting it to be something like that organic fragrance free soup I bought from Whole Foods- UGH!).

I LOVED IT!

I soooooo didn’t expect this reaction, but I loved all three products!
1. Ache Wash smelled like lemons and cleaned my face so well, but without stripping it, that when I got out of the shower it looked like I applied one of those primers that you put under make up to make your skin smooth and soft. I couldn’t believe it!
2. The exfoliator was one of those super fine particle exfoliator and did an amazing job without irritating my skin
3. The Anti-Cloasma had a little bit of a tint to it ( which usually annoys me because it tends to be darker than my skin) and went on smooth and nice and didn’t look like I had anything on.

So I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I will be ordering shampoo and conditioner from Belli as well, in hopes of getting something that works better than other organic shampoos.

If any of you guys are interested, there’s a coupon for 15% OFF  right now. Just use the code: 15BELLI

Just wanted to mention that I wasn’t compensated in any way to write about these products, or anything like that. I just spent so many hours researching safe products and trying to decide what to buy that I hope this would make it easier for some of you who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, are breastfeeding or just want safe baby skin care.

Since Belli doesn’t carry any facial moisturizers, I will be ordering mine from Beauty.com, they have a massive section of natural skin care and make up, plus right now there’s 2 promotions going on that I want to take advantage of:
1.  New Customers – get $5 off $35 or $10 off $70 on your first Beauty.com order! and
2. Get a free Lela Rose Designer Bag + deluxe samples ($140 value!) with your $100 Beauty.com order! While supplies last.

 

On another personal note, I am feeling fabulous and happy and just having the best time of my life. So many things I want to be doing and never enough time to do it.
So right now I am off to make a salad, play some drums and maybe go for a walk. Hope your Sunday is just as relaxing.

Oh, two new things:
I got a Facebook Page for the blog, feel free to like it if you want
I might start taking pictures of the meals I make and posting them here. I way too impatient to actually write recipes, but I might be able to take  the time to post photos only. Too many people have requested that, so I think it’ll be helpful for those trying to eat healthy/vegetarian/vegan. Let me know what you think.

Obsessive Pregnancy Shopping anyone?

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

I’ve been looking at baby stores, and pregnancy items and nursery ideas since the day we decided to try for a baby. Not too obsessively, just sort of getting ideas, pinterest’ing them, seeing what’s out there and what I like.

One of my favorite online store that I bookmarked happens to be running a nice promotion right now, so I’d love to introduce you guys to it.

Some of you might know this store, because, honestly, it carries the most adorable things ever. I especially love their home decor collection,
but I didn’t realize how great their children’s department is. I adore their Layla Grace cribs, their wall decor and rugs, baby’s blankets and just everything baby related.
It’s like “HELLO!!!! Look at this chandalier!”

or this rug:

to go along with this bedding

New Arrivals Crib Bedding English Rose Garden

But my favorite brand that the store carries is Little Giraffes. I am sooooo buying those soft cozy warm security blankets for my future baby! It so happens that there’s a promotion going on for 15% off Little Giraffe brand and I am doing everything I can to NOT buy a blanket or two yet.

But for those who might want to get the discount , just go to Layla Grayce website and use code LG4LG at check out.

I know I will be sweet talking hubby into letting me buy blankets and those adorable baby towels with ears soon enough.

Tuesday Pregnancy Question – Pets and Infants

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION, Pregnancy Q of the week

As most of you know, I have three cats and the question has been floating in my head for a while:

HOW DID YOUR PETS REACT TO YOUR NEW BABY?

Our cats are super curious when it comes to new things or rooms that tend to stay closed for a long time. Our future nursery is the only room in the house that hasn’t been used, since we’ve always known it’d be turned into a nursery eventually. So we keep some boxes and furniture there, along with some files- so it’s basically a storage room. It generally stays closed. But the second we go in there to find something, all three cats launch themselves into the opening of the door and proceed to sniff everything out.

I realize that after some time in that room, they’d get bored. But the day we bring a new baby into our house with its new baby smell, the cats will go crazy, I know it.

I assume it’s not really safe to let a cat sit/lie/sleep in the baby’s crib. I haven’t done much research about infants yet, mostly just pre-pregnancy and pregnancy itself.  But it makes sense that you wouldn’t want pet hair and their bodies anywhere near the baby in the first few months, right?

Any experience you’d like to share about your new baby and your pets? Their reaction, their incessant need to be in the baby’s crib/bassinet? What did you do to prevent that? And also once your baby was able to sit and play, how did they interact with the pets?

I’d love to hear your stories!

Kittah licked me

Oh and I am sorry I haven’t been to all of your blogs recently. I am going to catch up today.

Also I will be making a BOOK PAGE, where I’ll psot a list of all the pre-conception and pregnancy books I’ve read or am reading for those who might be interested. It should be quite an interesting list.

There are sacrifices to be made…

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

NOTE: The original post has been deleted due to incessant speculation and erroneous rumors

I originally wrote this post about our approach to pregnancy. We had spent months preparing for our pregnancy, reading every book we could find, taking every test out there to make sure that Alexis had the very best start in life, unencumbered by anything that might be going on in our bodies or our lifestyles. We committed to making sure that the 9 months that I spent being pregnant were peaceful, without stress, exertion, full of nutritious foods and, most importantly, as germ and toxin free as we can be without living in a bubble. If we could have gone to a Tibetian retreat, we would have done that :) But since we were left living in a Floridian suburb, we did the most we could: stayed away from large crowds or small spaces with lots of people, smoke, germy places, flus, colds, etc (If you’re interesting to read the reason why something as drastic as that could possibly be important, I suggest you pick up a copy of Pre-Parenting: Nurturing Your Child from Conception or Origins or any other book dealing with epigenetics, the science of how gene expression works and how they interact and are influenced by the environment, including time in the womb).

That did not mean never leaving our house, but it meant doing what we could in terms of the things I mentioned above.

Feeling a little bit Alice today

In the deleted post I also wrote about the studies brought up in the above mentioned books about maternal anxiety and stress, inadequate nutrition and the effects of it on the development of an unborn fetus. It is not a secret that stress releases cortisol that can make many changes to a healthy body, but what has been glossed over until recently is the changes stress can make in a neural, cardio-vascular and hormonal systems of an unborn developing fetus. Growing a baby is such an intricate process, so many things can go wrong under the influence of seemingly harmless external factors. It is absolutely fascinating  ( and scary) to read all that can influence the development of a fetus. Most studies were done on the pregnant “victims” of natural disasters and those who lived through world wars and famines and their babies, so the conditions were, of course, very extreme, but it is not known whether a little external factor AT THE WRONG TIME could do harm. Just like there is no safe amount of alcohol… The conditions linked with prenatal environment are as harmless as allergies and go all the up to ADD, dyslexia, asperger’s, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, asthma, and more, more, more. {note: I did read somewhere that mild non-chronic stress is actually beneficial to the fetus}

One of the things mentioned was homosexuality. According to the studies brought up in the books, there is evidence that maternal stress at a certain period of time of fetal development can result in different brain wiring. One that makes you legitimately attracted to people of same sex, or have a brain wired for one gender and body of another. And that makes it a completely normal occurrence. Not unnatural – completely normal.

Unfortunately, this citing has earned me hundreds of outraged comments and a series of erroneous speculations. It’s like the best case of a broken ( and very stupid) telephone. A citing that was essentially “proof” that homosexuality ( among other things) is a completely natural thing, isn’t a choice and cannot be “cured” was turned into name calling by {predominantly straight} idiots, set out to “defend” the LGBT community. It is even more ridiculous to see someone commenting saying that I am a “homophobe”, when it is the furthest from the truth. I support and always will gay marriage, gender reassignment help, equal rights for everyone regardless of their orientation or preferences, I have a ton of gay and a few transsexual friends that I love, my opinion has ALWAYS been that you are born that way and  who you are attracted to or chose to live with should have no bearing on your rights or attitudes of people. But alas, those who probably know the least of the subject, the close minded straight females, have been spreading rumors about what I am or am not.

So  for whoever it is that is looking for the truth, for my side of the story, here it is:

LGBT COMMUNITY HAS ALWAYS HAD AND ALWAYS WILL HAVE MY SUPPORT NO MATTER WHAT.

And if someone continues speculation, spreading lies and name calling based on something they misunderstood and have absolutely no idea about, that is perfectly fine by me. It would not be the first time that “herd” has gone off on something completely irrelevant.

 

To Alexis: Sweetie, if you’re reading this when you’re older, and by some chance you feel that you’re different (in any way, shape or form), know that you can come to me without judgement and I will celebrate you for who you are and jump happily up and down because you have taken the awesome step of discovering and accepting that you are absolutely perfect no matter what. {even if that means you’re a tattooed piercing-crazy headbanger *cringe* no offense to those who have tattoes or piercing or like heavy metal}

 

New Beginnings

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, FUN TIMES, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION

So we are done with  TTCing for this month. I have no idea whether I am pregnant or not. I also have no idea whether I could be pregnant. My BBT sort of gave out on me this month. The temperatures are making no sense, but I did switch the time when I take it, so I don’t know.  I’m usually pretty regular with my ovulation, so we’ll see. Also since we’re trying the Shettle’s method that has us TTCing 2-3 days BEFORE ovulation, I don’t think there’s a big chance that I could be pregnant this month.

And I am totally OK with that.

It’s kind of funny because I always read that “sex on schedule” will be boring and a chore. It couldn’t be far from the truth for us. We had so much fun trying that, honestly, it would be just fine if we get to do it next month {wink wink}. We both found it fun and exciting and couldn’t wait to get out hands on each other. I realize it’s the first month only, but I don’t see this getting old :)

Right now, hubster is super protective of me, which I love (in case I am pregnant, his words too, not mine). He is the one telling me that we have to think of it like it already happened, and think good positive thoughts. I am in the process of reading a fascinating book about the life of unborn babies and how our moods and feelings influence them and I re-tell him everything I find interesting. He has taken it so seriously, and asks me every hour how I am feeling and whether I’m positive and happy :)

So honestly, this rocks!

However, I am being very pragmatic and realistic, and not keeping my hopes up,  because I know the average chances are 25%, plus the fact that we’re avoiding the ovulation day and one before, and that probably takes it down to 5% or so.

We will keep on trying if it doesn’t happen this month or next and I will notify all of you as soon as it happens.

Oh and here’s what I decided about “to tell or not to tell” dilemma:

I am not a secretive person, and I hate keeping things from people because that makes me feel conniving. Plus, this blog is specifically a baby blog, so it’d be silly to ignore the first 3 months of pregnancy and not journal  here.

So I decided to annouce it here within a week or two of getting a positive pregnancy test (or earlier). However, I will not post it on Facebook or other social networks, neither will I tell anyone outside of this blog except for my family.

My closest friends, who I love and want to know about it, already read this blog. I will, though, make sure to tell them personally as soon as I find out. The rest are people I do not know in person, so I am not afraid of judgement or anything like this-  and I’d love support and feedback.

Those people that I wouldn’t want to know, in case that a miscarriage occurs, do not know about this blog.

So I think I feel pretty comfortable with that.

{I was going through our wedding photos and re-editing them and I bumped into this one. I love it and it’s so fitting: showing the beginning or our relationship, the excitement and the beginning of our new chapter in life}