Category: pregnancy (page 2 of 5)

Staying in Shape Through Pregnancy: Time to Taper

Did you know that it’s hot out there? I heard that NYC is currently experiencing its fourth heat wave of the summer. Fourth. And the summer is young, my friends. Young. Not even a month into it, technically.

Do you know what is not young? This fetus I am carrying. She’s old. Thirty-eight weeks for crying in the mud. She’s ready to come out (although she’s resisting all my efforts to encourage her). And between this heat and the length of time I expect to be pregnant, I did some quick calculations and decided this: it’s time to taper.

Meaning that yes, I’m still running. But I’m taking it super easy. Letting my body rest. Going slow, slow, slow (and leaving my Garmin at home so that I don’t get discouraged about it). My goal of running to the end of the pregnancy is still on track, but the one about completing my 5-mile loop? Forget about it. The one about 9:00 miles? Not a chance.

Instead, I’ll run a couple of miles (“couple” = 1.5-2.5), then I’ll rest. Sit on the grass and chat with a friend while Micah plays Ultimate and the boys climb trees, or I’ll go shopping. Because, you know, I needed some things at Target, and it’s only 1.5 miles from my house, which is a good run when it’s already 82 degrees out and totally not worth hopping on a bus or a train for. And then I’ll get back on the road and run home.

Tapering at this point in the pregnancy feels great. I still feel like I’m getting the exercise I need, but I’m pretty relaxed about it. And it feels good to think, after every run, that it could have been my last run before she’s born!

Even if I do end up being disappointed in that wish for the next three weeks.

What A Dad’s Got to Do

Emperor penguin dads sit on an egg and eat nothing but snow for 4 months.

Emu dads also sit on a nest and don’t eat anything for 2 months.

Poison frog dads gives dozens of little tadpoles a ride to a pond and then watches over them for 3 months to keep them from harm while they turn into froglets.

Seahorse dads are basically the ones who get pregnant and carry the many, many eggs until they are developed.

Jawfish dads protect their eggs in their mouths and occasionally spits them out and sucks them back in so they get the oxygen they need.

And jackal dads bring nursing moms all their meals until the pups are big enough to leave her, then he takes care of the pups while she hunts for herself.

Meanwhile, the human dad gains sympathy weight, fetches mid-night cravings from the local (or not so local) fast food joint, suffers through a thermostat set to something way too hot (or cold depending on the time of year). He rides the roller coaster of mood swings and talks sense to his emotional wife when she cries about getting “fat.” He takes the kids out to the park when mom needs an extra afternoon nap and fetch cookies and ice cream when she is too big to get off the couch without an uncomfortable amount of effort.

And then he sits helplessly by as his wife breathes deeply and relaxes (or maybe moans and clenches her teeth and fists) as her body contracts again and again and again. He may be white-faced, sitting there next to the bed, where  he may be recruited to hold a foot while she pushes. Or he stands, unshaken and calm, offering words of comfort: “You’re doing great. That was a big one, but you handled it well. It won’t be long now.” Once the baby out, he must be in two places at once, checking on the baby and assuring his wife that she is okay, looking good, nice and pink and squirmy.

When they are home, he’ll pull the meals out of the freezer and fix them just the way his wife planned. He’ll get up with the baby and try to soothe it for as long as he can, giving his wife an extra 10 or 20 or 30 minutes of sleep between feedings. And then he’ll collapse into bed for another hour or two, until the baby wakes again and his wife, too tired, doesn’t hear its cries.

At least that has been my experience (minus the white-faced stint next to the delivery bed). How about yours?

Also, thanks to this month’s issue of Ranger Rick magazine for all the animal fun facts.

Note on Spreading News

My niece as a newborn, just over a year ago.

We’re going to have some big news to share in the next few weeks and with the many many ways we can spread it, I’m planning our attack: Phone calls, e-mails, text messages, Instagram photos shared on Facebook, blog posts.

Family will be informed first, of course. As directly as possible, preferably with a phone call. Then close friends with something slightly less personal like a mass text message. And finally, the rest of the world via Instagram and Facebook and the rest of the Interwebs.

Do you have a method to sharing big news? I hierarchy of who gets to know first? Or do you just make it as accessible as you can as quickly as possible?

(ps You can follow me on Instagram if you like. I’m lizzieheiselt.)

Staying in Shape Through Pregnancy: Prepare to Be Noticed

“Be careful, Mommy!” those are the words I hear most often when I go out for a run these days. (Followed closely by, “You go, Girl!”)

It’s hot out. I’m big. And a big pregnant woman running down the street is not something people are accustomed to seeing. It’s no wonder they are concerned for my health and the health of my baby.

And so I respond: “Thanks, I will!”

It’s nice to know that people notice me. I feel like if something did happen, I would be taken care of. But it’s also a good reminder to me to anticipate any criticism that I don’t want to deal with. It’s hot, so I bring a water bottle. I go slower and run shorter distances. I’m not ashamed to stop and walk if I need to. I know people are watching me and it keeps me from doing stupid things.

Of course, not everyone is tactful or informed of what is safe during pregnancy. I went out this morning and while I was waiting for a light to change, a guy stopped and said, “I hope you’re not running!”

And I said, “Oh, but I am!”

“Why?”

“To keep me sane.” (It was the first thing that popped out, though there are many other better answers I could have come up with.)

“But you’ll shake the baby!” he said.

“She’s fine,” I said with a smile as the light changed and I ran away. “I’ve done this twice before.”

Part of me wonders if he thought I meant that I’d run during my pregnancy twice before, or whether he realized that I have two other kids and I ran while pregnant with them as well, but that is not the point. The point is that if you are out running in your third trimester, people are going to notice you. Many will be concerned for you. Many will cheer for you. And some may not understand you (and they don’t have to).

But I think it’s important to be confident and ready to respond cheerfully to those who may have something to say, whether it is encouraging or critical. There’s nothing like a happy pregnant woman out for a morning jog to help someone start their day off right.

Time Bomb

I am 37 weeks today. Full-term. She could come any time and it wouldn’t be a problem.

I don’t dare call anyone in my family for fear they will be disappointed to find out I’m not announcing the birth of my child.

I am trying not to make too much of the Braxton-Hicks contractions that I’ve been having several times an hour for at least a week. (Though I secretly enjoy every single one of them.)

I am beginning to realize that there will be life beyond the birth, and that my attention will need to shift to some important things that I’ve been neglecting as I have focused on my ever-disappearing navel.

But for the moment, I am savoring these last few weeks (days? – I shouldn’t get my hopes up).

Yesterday, I made a cake. A three-layer pink cake tinted with pureed strawberries. The layers are in the freezer, awaiting an actual birthday girl to celebrate.

Today the boys and I went to the library. I checked out Bossypants by Tina Fey, which I plan to read to help me relax and laugh through labor. Yes, I plan to laugh this baby out of my body. Micah read The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman to me while I was laboring with Manchild, and it was nice to have something to take my mind off the contractions.

Tomorrow I am getting some maternity photos taken, which I’ve never had done before and which I’m looking forward to.

And after that . . . who knows?

I do know that eventually this pregnancy/baby will not be the only thing I can think about or write about or talk about. Eventually I will remember that there used to be other things I did with my life before I got so big and tired that getting off the couch was a major accomplishment. Eventually . . . and until then . . . I’m ticking away.

Pre-Birth Anxiety (And Relief)

(Squish with our friends’ new baby girl, born on the 4th of July.)

It was an innocent thing, really, just me awkwardly scooting off the bed last Saturday night. But something about the movement made an image jump into my head and practically stopped me in my tracks. I imagined giving birth on that bed. And this whole endeavor was suddenly a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.

I spent the next hour or so trying to re-assure myself. I’ve done this before. Twice. I’ll be fine. I can do it. My body is strong. It knows what to do. I pulled out some mantras: I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. Over and over and over again.

I told Micah about my sudden anxiety. He seemed surprised, but I think I’m allowed to have a little freak-out about pushing a baby out of my body.

Thunder rolled and lightening flashed as we fell asleep that night, and I worried that the storm would bring the baby. Just at the moment when I was least mentally prepared . . . . But it didn’t. I woke up with the balloon still under my shirt and that sense of dread still percolating throughout my body. And so I started with the mantras again. I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. But still. What a bad idea this was.

So I tried to forget about it and focus on getting to church on time. Waiting for trains is not conducive to forgetting about anxiety. Especially since waiting for trains makes me slightly claustrophobic, which promotes anxious thinking. Thankfully, we made it without any drama or trauma.

But then, at church, everyone asks me how I’m feeling. Mostly just in passing, and I can get away with, “Pretty good.” Or, “Great.” Or, “Just fine, thank you.” But sometimes we’re actually having a conversation. Standing, talking to each other, and suddenly I’m telling them how I’m anxious about giving birth, about how I don’t really want to do this any more.

It’s probably the third person I’m telling. We’re walking down the stairs together. She asks how my other births have been. “Easy. Normal. No problems.” I say. “I know I can do it.” I say. And then I hear myself say this: “It’s just the anticipation. The waiting for it to finally start.” And with that, the anxiety dissipates. As suddenly as it came, it’s gone.

It’s just the anticipation. Just like before a race. Of course. If I think about the race – the whole race – all at once I’m going to be anxious about it. Whether it’s 26.2 miles at a 7:40 pace or 3.1 at a 6:40 pace, it’s going to be uncomfortable, overwhelming, ridiculous to attempt. But thankfully I get to take it one step at a time, one mile at a time. Same as childbirth. Just take it one contraction at a time. Relax when  I can. Know that I’m as ready as I’m going to be. And I’ll get through it just fine.

Staying in Shape Through Pregnancy: Prepping for Labor

Last Friday afternoon I practiced some of my labor “exercises” for the first time this pregnancy. Relaxation exercises, to be specific. The kind in which I lie on the couch and see how close I can get to falling asleep without actually being asleep, visualize my body opening like a flower, and “breathe the baby down.” Sure, it only lasted 20 minutes or so, but I must say I’m feeling pretty confident that I remember all the right moves from the previous pregnancies. At least, I felt so relaxed that I had a hard time shaking that relaxed feeling right up until I lined up for the 5-miler on Saturday morning.

(This is what I see when I visualizing my body opening like a flower . . . .)

I fully endorse practicing all the relaxation techniques in the book in preparation for labor. Fully endorse. But I also know that sometimes your body doesn’t want to take things lying down. Sometimes your body wants to be up and active as it pushes that baby down and out. And so I think it is good to prepare for that possibility as well. The more tools you have in your box the better. The more prepared, the less scared. Right?

So let me suggest a few other exercises to practice in preparation for birthing a baby:

Kegels. I am not in love with Kegels. I can think of a million things I’d rather do than contract my pelvic floor 8 times in a row, and let’s not even talk about holding it for 10 seconds. And yet. It is a good thing to do anyway. It improves circulation to the area, may help your body prepare to push that baby out more quickly, and helps to heal the area after birth. So, do your kegels. Contract your pelvic floor like you would if you were trying to stop your pee. Hold it for 10 seconds, or contract and release several times in a row. Do it many times a day. Whenever you think about it. Whenever you’re bored. And get your abs and glutes into the act as well. Contract them while you contract your pelvic floor. Keep them all nice and strong and working together.

Squats. And when I say squats, I don’t mean just the half-way-down-like-your-sitting-in-a-chair kind of squat. I mean all the way down, bum almost to the ground kind of squat. This is the kind where you really have to open your hips, which is something you’re going to want to do when you are passing a human being through them. Stand with your feet hip-width apart (maybe a little more) and toes pointed out. Relax your shoulders, keep your chest up, and lower your tailbone to the floor. Keep your weight mostly toward your heels. Once you get all the way down, use your legs to push yourself back up. If you need to, use a chair to help you keep your balance. Repeat 8-10 times.

Tailor Pose. I like this one. It’s another hip-opener and it’s also called butterfly, I believe. Sit with your back straight up againts a wall, with the soles of your feet together and your knees as close to the ground as you can get them. Relax your hips, let them open, and gently push down on your knees to encourage your hips to open even more. Breathe, relax, and hold the pose for as long as you can/want.

Anybody else have some recommendations for exercises/poses to practice in preparation for labor? Please share in the comments.

(Also, I apologize for the lack of photos of the exercises. My photographer is away  and I don’t want to wait for him to get home. If you really want me to, I’ll add some later this week.)

Note on Babies and Cords

You hear a lot about babies and umbilical cords when you are in my line of work (breeding). And this phrase is often uttered: “That c-section was a good thing because the cord was wrapped around the baby three times!” Or something like that. Now, this kind of thing makes me nervous. And also puzzled. Isn’t the cord always wrapped around the baby? Isn’t the baby really slippery? Isn’t the cord really slippery? Wouldn’t the baby generally be able to slip out of the cord when the time came to be born? How often does it actually happen that the cord “prevents” the baby from being born naturally?

I asked my midwife about this supposed “design flaw” and she confirmed my suspicion that there actually is no design flaw. The cord, if it is long enough, likely is wrapped around the baby which will keep it from emerging first (prolapsed cord) and cutting off the baby’s oxygen supply, leading to tragedy. There probably are times when the cord is wrapped around the baby in a way that prevents it from progressing down the birth canal. But for the most part, it isn’t that the baby is wrapped in the cord that necessitates the c-section: it is that the baby isn’t handling the stress of the contractions well. When the baby is born, it’s easy to look at it and see: the cord! Wrapped around the baby! No wonder she couldn’t get out! And point to that as if it were the reason, when it probably was not.

Note on Nesting

I made lots of lists when I was pregnant with Squish: lists of possible names, lists of what was going on that week, lists of things I wanted to do (or have Micah do) before the baby was born. And we worked on that list. The month before I was due, my mother-in-law came and helped us with some of the final projects. It was crazy. I was nesting like a real-live pregnant woman.

This time, not so much. Earlier in the pregnancy, I did have a list of things I wanted to do: get a new pad for the rocking chair, make a quilt for the baby (and maybe one for each of the boys, too), get bunkbeds for the boys, figure out how to store clothes for another little person. But nothing has happened on any of those projects. The boys are still in their toddler beds. The rocking chair has been taken over by stuffed animals (who will be homeless once the baby comes). The clothes we have are all folded nicely and stacked into boxes and suitcases.

But the baby will come anyway. She’ll sleep in our little moses basket. I’ll rock her in the chair. We’ll dig through the boxes to find her clothes. And maybe, sometime in the next six months, we’ll get around to a more permanent solution.

Have you nested? What projects were important to you? One of mine was getting a bookcase we found on the side of the road sanded and refinished. We did it and we love it.

Staying in Shape Through Pregnancy: It Doesn’t Take Much

With all my talk of keeping up mileage, maintaining speed, cross training, etc., I am afraid I may have made it seem like staying in shape through pregnancy is something that takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, tons of energy and motivation, and maybe an audience of blog readers who want to know (or maybe don’t) how to run through pregnancy.

But the thing is, it really doesn’t take that much to stay healthy and active when you are pregnant.

Maybe you don’t have it in you to run fifteen miles a week. Maybe you never have. But it might be pretty easy to find ways to walk 15 minutes a day – taking the dog out, meeting up with a friend, walking the kids to a park you usually drive to.

Maybe going to the gym to lift weights is something that no longer interests you once you are in the throes of morning sickness. But taking a couple of minutes to some squats or lunges in the living room is do-able.

Maybe you used to rock it in Zumba class, but you’re having a hard time dragging yourself out the door and just can’t make it to class anymore. But there’s a playlist you and your roommates used to rock out to in college and every time you hear a song from it, you can’t help but relive those days – and, even better, the kids like to get in on the action, too. So you put the playlist on and dance it up in the living room every afternoon.

What I’m saying is this: Even the little things count. Take note of them and feel good about it.

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