The Unexamined Pregnancy – Part 2

That was easy!

That was easy!

I hadn’t meant to make this a two part post, but after the last post got too wordy, I figured it was time to shut it down and start over again (after all, I have 9 months of pregnancy to catch up on). Some random musings are below.

Differences this Time Around

Once the initial disbelief that I was pregnant again subsided, I was able to very quickly get comfortable with the idea that this pregnancy would again result in a take home baby. While I was  pregnant with Gus, I believed that I did a good job enjoying my pregnancy, without letting the past trauma of infertility and pregnancy loss affect me too much. However, it was only with this pregnancy that I realized how far I still had to go emotionally and mentally last time around.

Despite being fortunate to have straightforward pregnancies both times, I did have a fair bit of anxiety while pregnant with Gus. I was very conscious of how hard we’d worked to become pregnant, and hyper aware of all of the things that could go wrong. I was grateful for every milestone that passed – I still remember counting down to the magical 24 week mark, at which point if you delivered, your baby would have a fighting chance of surviving. I also remember how I felt in the days leading up to our anatomy scan – the excitement of getting a detailed look at our baby overshadowed by the fear that the scan would reveal that something was horribly wrong. I even remember sitting in his nursery in the few weeks leading up to my due date, and feeling sudden terror that it was not too late yet for something to go wrong, and that if it did, it would be the end of me.

This time around was a world of difference. By the middle of the first trimester, I just knew that things would work out. While the pregnancy with Gus felt like it lasted forever, this pregnancy has flown by. Every time I checked in with how far along I was, it seemed like a few weeks had passed since I last thought about it. While I generally saw this as a positive development, and a sign of healing, part of me also wanted to slow things down so I could savour and appreciate every moment. While the anxiety I’d felt with Gus was not present, I did worry from time to time that I was taking this pregnancy for granted, and letting it fly by too quickly.

The Gender Reveal

As I alluded to above, physically this pregnancy has been very similar to the last one, down to the fact that I am carrying another boy.

Like many couples, we were excited by the possibility of having a boy and a girl. We had the perfect girl name picked out (first and middle), which we’d come up with while pregnant last time, while we were drawing a blank on boy names. Early on in the pregnancy, I found myself peeking at the adorable baby girl clothes when shopping for clothes for Gus. I fantasized about what my daughter would look like. And yet, the second I found that out we were going to have another boy, the desire for a girl melted away.

Instead, I realized I could stop sorting Gus’ old clothes into “boy” and “gender neutral” boxes, and stop the practice of the last few months of buying new clothes for him that were more gender neutral, in case they were to be passed down to a girl down the road. I appreciated that I could relax a bit with the toy budget for Gus (both in terms of money spent, and space available to store everything) now that there were two boys who would be enjoying everything, instead of needing to budget for future purchases of equivalent girl toys. I was suddenly grateful that I would not have to figure out what my stance was on “princess culture” and how much I wanted to limit its impact on my daughter (and that down the road I would not have to deal with the stress of her dressing too sexy at too young an age).

Aside from the more immediate benefits of having two boys, I felt an excitement about down the road being the mother of two strong, capable men.

Recently a friend asked me if we would try for a third baby to “try for a girl”. I have enough issues with people asking about your plans for future children shortly after (or in this case even before) the current child is born, not to mention a distaste for any mention of “timing” pregnancy or trying for a certain sex. Despite my usual inability to think of the right answer to these types of questions until the moment had passed, in this case I was able to answer without skipping a beat that at this point we were not planning to have more children, but if we did decide to try for a third, the motivation would be to have a third child, and not to try for a girl.

And I actually meant it! I’ve so bought into my role as “mother of boys” that if we did end up having a third, there is a big part of me that would be expecting, and hoping for a third boy.

I’m working on another pregnancy related post, so stay tuned!

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The Unexamined Pregnancy – Part 1

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I will probably be shutting down this blog soon, mostly due to the fact that I never seem to get around to  writing here (some combination of time and motivation). I’m also not sure (notwithstanding the above photograph) how comfortable I am with posting pictures of my child(ren!) on the internet  where anyone can access them and do with them as they please. I have considered password protecting posts, watermarking the photos, and other measures, but given that there are about, oh maybe 3 other people who even bother reading this blog other than me, nobody would even miss it, so simply taking it down, or making it completely private may make more sense.

In any case, if I do take it down, I have wanted to write a few final posts to wrap up, as there is nothing more annoying than an abandoned blog, especially given the somewhat cliffhangerish tone of my last post.

When I last wrote, I was in the two week wait of our first embryo transfer for baby #2. I was six days post five day transfer and planning to do a pregnancy test the following morning – at 7 days post transfer, or approximately equivalent to 12 days post ovulation.

This was the same schedule I followed after my transfer with Gus, except that with Gus, my motivation was different. Last time, I just KNEW that I was pregnant. While I am not someone who gets much (if any) pregnancy symptoms early on, there were a few subtle things that convinced me I had an embie (or embies) snuggling in. At four days post transfer, right on cue based on an IVF timeline I read, I was sure that I felt something implanting. It was a feeling like I’d never felt before….the best way I can describe it is that it felt like something was gently tickling me from the inside. I remember wondering if I was imagining it, and touching my stomach in the place where the tickle was, and each time my touch made it feel a bit more intense. This happened on a Friday, and over the course of that weekend, I became more and more convinced that I must be pregnant.

By Sunday evening, I decided that I was going to test on Monday morning, so that I could (most likely) start celebrating the pregnancy, or if for some reason I was wrong, bring my expectations back down to earth. Sunday night before going to bed, I had another strong sign that I was pregnant – I had some spotting, which I just knew was implantation bleeding.

Fast forward one hundred and four weeks, and I felt the complete opposite. Based on my past pregnancies, I knew enough not to expect any of the “typical” early symptoms such as nausea, heightened sense of small, painful breasts, or fatigue. But at four days post transfer, I tuned in to my body very carefully, being mindful so as to catch the slightest twitch, cramp, or tickle. And I felt…nothing. I continued being vigilant over the weekend, but there was still nothing.

By Sunday night, in addition to the usual lack of symptoms, there had been no twitches, and no spotting (no matter how hard I wiped). I was sure that the cycle had failed in a way that I had never been more sure of something. In my mind, I was already planning the timing for the next cycle and starting to mentally move on.

As it was our first assisted try for baby #2, (after only 2 months of “trying” on our own without any pressure/expectation that natural conception would happen), I felt like the failure was not only unexpected, but also that it would not be that difficult to process. After all, I had not really “earned” the right to be successful yet. The road to baby #2 needed to be longer and more difficult than this, and I could deal with it. We still had four embryos in the freezer, and would be transferring at least the next two one at a time, so I felt like we were far from panic mode.

This time around, the decision to test Monday morning was made so that we could officially close the door on this cycle and look ahead to the future (while continuing to be grateful for and cherish the child we did have). So, as I did 104 weeks ago, I went to the bathroom as soon as I woke up, pulled out my favourite brand of pregnancy test, which I’d purchased the night before, and peed.

I watched the light pink colour spread across the window, and the control line come into focus. As the pink continued to spread, I was shocked to see what looked like the faintest of faint second lines. I remember my husband coming into the bathroom with a concerned look on his face as I sat there staring at the test (I’d warned him that I was expecting a negative test). “What do you think? Do you see it?” I remember asking him. He nodded. “There’s definitely something there.”

Even seeing that second line was not enough to convince me I was pregnant. The line was very faint, and that first day I was convinced it signalled that a chemical pregnancy was coming. I had been through a chemical pregnancy before, so I knew what to expect. My husband and I were not yet ready to be cautiously optimistic – instead we agreed that “something” was happening, but it was too early to know what it would turn into.

Every morning that week, I tested again, and every morning the line got darker. The implantation bleeding I’d been looking for also arrived, though a day or two later than last time. My blood test was Friday, and by then I was getting comfortable that my beta results would be quite good, given that it looked like they had been rising since at least Monday. Sure enough, the bloodwork confirmed that I was definitely pregnant, with a very respectable beta result.

I still couldn’t quite believe it though – the pregnancy still felt precarious to me. My second bloodtest also came back with a strong result, with the appropriate doubling time. While the first bloodtest for this pregnancy was a day earlier than my test for Gus, in both cases, the second tests were 15 days post transfer. I was curious how they compared, and was shocked when I saw that my results were actually higher this time around than with Gus. It was only then that it really sunk in for me that I was pregnant again.

 

 

 

 

Baby Led Weaning – 6 Weeks On

Yes, two food posts in a row! This is not intentional, just a function of what happens to be on my mind today. If I had gotten the chance to write yesterday, you would be reading a post about sleep, and if it had been a few weeks ago, it would be a post about childcare and/or me going back to work soon. But Gus is down for a rare morning nap, and I am seizing the opportunity to write a long overdue blog post.

Six weeks in, I am loving BLW and we are all having so much fun with it!  Gus loves to try new food, and I’ve noticed that anytime I present him with a few options, he always grabs at the new food first. So far, he pretty much has enjoyed everything, with yogurt (plain yogurt with home made blueberry sauce mixed in) being the only thing that he seemed ho hum about. I still feel self conscious from time to time that we are doing something that is strange or different to a lot of people, but the more I hear of the challenges that other people are having with the traditional approach to introducing solids, the more I feel that this has definitely been the right approach for us.  Now, I realize that BLW is not for everyone. The two situations that come to mind are babies with weight concerns (too small), and very large babies with voracious appetites. In both these cases, a benefit of introducing solids is that the babies can consume a lot more calories than they would get from breastmilk or formula alone, and BLW just will not deliver the caloric punch that the traditional method will.  But for most situations, I really think that BLW is the superior method. I’ll get off my soapbox now, and get back to what we have been doing.

New Foods for the Whole Family

As I mentioned in my last post, one way that we are having some fun with solids, is that every week I buy one fruit and one vegetable that I would not normally buy in an effort to expand our horizons, and continue to introduce Gus to new foods. Here is a list of what we’ve hit so far:

Papaya and eggplant – The papaya was pretty easy – all three of us enjoyed it sliced. I kept the skin on Gus’ slices, so that it would be easier for him to grab. For the eggplant, I did an “eggplant french fry” recipe. My husband is not a big fan of eggplant, and I thought the recipe would be a different way to enjoy eggplant, plus if it worked out I thought that it would be a fun way for Gus to enjoy eggplant when he’s older. My husband and I got the full eggplant fry recipe (strips soaked in Italian salad dressing and rolled with egg, parmesan and breadcrumbs, then roasted in the oven). However, when it came to Gus’ portion, I chickened out about introducing wheat, eggs and dairy all in one go, so I just soaked his pieces in the salad dressing, and softened them in the microwave. Gus enjoyed his eggplant very much, but the eggplant french fry recipe was a disappointment.

Mango and broccoli  – I served the mango like the papaya: sliced, with skin on for Gus, and skin off for the adults. For the broccoli, I made a stir fry with garlic slices and sesame oil for the adults, and steamed it in the microwave for Gus (as I wanted his broccoli to be softer than ours). This was a success all around.

Kiwi and green beans – For the kiwi, same treatment as the mango and papaya. The green beans were super easy. Our grocery store sells them in a plastic bag, with the ends already cut off. All you have to do is pierce the bag a few times, and steam the beans in the microwave for a few minutes. I then tossed our beans with some butter, and salt and pepper, and served them to Gus plain (and again, steamed a little longer than for the adults).

Tamarillo and butternut squash – Tama who? I discovered tamarillos in the exotic fruits section, after having already picked through the usual suspects of mango, papaya and kiwi. They look similar to roma tomatoes, though are more purpley/orange, and aren’t quite as soft. I figured I could serve them in wedges. After getting home, I did some research, and realized that tamarillos are not usually served raw since they are too bitter, but rather baked, steamed or poached in some fashion. I decided to bake them with sugar and vanilla, but was less than pleased with the result (I think I added too much vanilla extract), and in the end never ended up serving them to Gus. The butternut squash, however was a success! I found a recipe for a butternut squash and apple puree which sounded delicious. In addition to the squash and apple, it called for cumin, some vegetable stock, olive oil and salt and pepper. I did not add salt, and replaced the vegetable stock with extra olive oil (also to avoid salt) to make the dish more baby friendly, but even with these changes it was delicious!

This is a good opportunity for a sidebar about purees. While the divide between the traditional approach to introducing solids and BLW is often framed as pureed food vs. non-pureed food, there is certainly room for purees in BLW. One significant benefit of BLW is that it introduces babies to a variety of textures early on, and as one of the food websites that I follow pointed out, puree is also a texture. My rule is that if a dish would be served puree style to adults, it’s an option for us (with any baby friendly modifications required). So, this squash recipe, and my mother in law’s carrot turnip puree were perfect. Where I do have an issue with purees is with some of the commercial baby purees that throw together a strange combination of fruits and vegetables that we non-babies would never enjoy in combination.

As to serving the purees, I pre-load spoons for Gus, and as eats them, I load more on until he is done.

Cantaloupe and beets – Cantaloupe (see mango, papaya and kiwi above). I like beets, and they are actually a significant staple in my Eastern European heritage’s cuisine. But, I have always been scared of cooking with them myself, due to the mess, and also because they seemed so hard to get at. The recipe I chose was a beet salad with feta, dill, parsley and a dijon and red wine vinegar salad dressing. The beets were roasted in the oven first (skins on, tops chopped off, and wrapped in foil), and when they came out, the skins came off very easily. I made sure to wipe any beet juice quickly, and was happy to find that even though it was a very intense colour, it didn’t really stain quickly and was easy to clean off. My husband and I enjoyed the salad in its full glory, and Gus got beet wedges on their own.

Passionfruit and cauliflower – While I have tried many passionfruit flavoured foods, I have never tried passionfruit in its natural glory. Passionfruit is purple on the outside, and has an orangey pulp filled with small black seeds inside. The pulp is very sweet when the fruit is ripe, but the seeds are a bit bitter. After I sliced the passionfruit open, I hemmed and hawed about whether to give it to Gus, as I was worried about the seeds. I read some stuff online about serving passionfruit to babies, and even came across a recipe for passionfruit puree which called for pushing the passionfruit through a sieve to remove the seeds. I tried this, and managed to get a tiny bit of sweet pulp without any seeds to it. There was so little of it, and it was so slippery that I ended up serving it to Gus on my finger. Passionfruit gets wrinkled looking as it ripens, and is actually tastiest when it looks quite wrinkly and gross, and this morning I served Gus the pulp (including seeds) or our remaining wrinkly, sad looking passionfruit. This time, I pre loaded spoons for him, and while a lot of it slipped off, he quite enjoyed the bits that he managed to eat.

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of cauliflower, so I was looking for a different, innovative cauliflower recipe. While cauliflower with cheese sauce was tempting, I was hoping for something healthier, and came across for a recipe for cauliflower roasted with dijon mustard and garlic slices. The recipe also included small slices of bacon, but while that sounded delicious, I omitted it due to the salt content.  Overall, the recipe turned out well! It was still cauliflower, but definitely something I would try again.  I don’t think I ended up actually giving any of it to Gus though, as the cauliflower always seemed a bit too hard for my liking no matter how many times I microwaved it, and there were always lots of other foods around for him to try. I had previously served him some cauliflower and apple puree soup in a restaurant though, which made it easier to skip this time around.

With each “new” food that we’ve been buying, I have tried to introduce it (or a variation) again within a few weeks, so I get more comfortable with cooking with it and it does not fall off my radar. For squash, I have now also bought and cooked buttercup squash (wedges roasted with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar), and acorn squash (quarters roasted with butter and brown sugar), and this week I bought some yellow beets to try some of the other beet recipes I dug up on beet week. I have also bought broccolini a few times now, as a friendlier alternative to broccoli.

I meant to touch on other aspects of BLW in this post, but seeing as it’s so long already, I’ll save those thoughts for another day, and finish off with some pictures of Gus enjoying his food.

Gus enjoying some kiwi and mango (and cucumber in his mesh bag).

Gus enjoying some kiwi and mango (and cucumber in his mesh bag).

The mango shot!

The mango shot!

Recent Milestones

It has been ages since I last wrote, but the blog is not forgotten! I have posts on several topics that are itching to be written, however it has been hard to find the time to sit down and write them. The main reason for this is that I have started working again as of the middle of November (this topic deserves about 10 posts in itself). At this point, my workload is light and manageable – ten hours a week from home, which I can work any time of day.  I try to work as much as possible in the evenings after Gus has gone to bed, or on Sundays when my husband takes care of him for a few hours at a time, which takes away from my blogging time.

Gus is six months old tomorrow, and as expected since I last wrote, he’s grown and changed a lot:

Teeth – Gus has his two bottom teeth which suddenly appeared about a week before he turned 5 months. We  are expecting more to come in shortly as lately he has been pretty fussy and obviously bothered by painful gums.

Sitting – Gus finally started sitting earlier this week. I say finally because even though he started sitting right around  6 months, which is textbook, I had felt like he was sooo close for the last month. I kept trying with him, but he could only manage one or two seconds here and there until we finally had a breakthrough. We even managed to get some great video of the early sitting days.

Solids – I was originally planning on waiting until 6 months to start solids, since I am planning to do baby led weaning. however I caved and gave Gus some rice cereal this past month, since I couldn’t wait to start.  This is a topic that deserves a post all of its own, which hopefully I’ll get to eventually. In the meantime, Gus has loved the cereal and I’m excited to start the real stuff this weekend now that he’s 6 months old.

Mobility – While crawling is still a few months away (I’m assuming), Gus is getting stronger and stronger and has some rudimentary moves. I don’t know the official name for what he’s doing, but he plants his head on the ground, sticks his butt up in the air and propels himself forward with his legs. He’s not doing it a lot yet, but it’s very effective when a toy that he’s interested in is just out of reach.

I was planning on writing about our recently completed first family vacation in this post, however Gus is ready for a feeding so instead I’ll finish off with one more picture from vacation.

Gus in our new baby carrier.

Gus in our new baby carrier.

Adventures of Baby Boy at Three Months

Baby Boy has dozed off, so I’m trying to sneak in a quick post while I have the chance. Over the last week, I’ve had several ideas for posts in my head, but of course now that I actually have a few minutes to sit down and write, all of it is forgotten!

September means back to school for many people, and for us it meant Baby Boy’s 3 month birthday. Both of these milestones have resulted in me trying a  few new things with Baby Boy, which I thought I’d share.

Baby Boy Becomes a Dumbbell

The first new thing, which I’d been anticipating since before Baby Boy’s birth is that we have entered the world of mommy and baby activities with twice weekly baby and me fitness classes. I had no idea what to expect, but so far I am happy to say that the experience has been great!

The classes themselves are very similar to normal aerobics/boot camp type classes, if you can get past the occasional woman sitting on the floor breastfeeding or changing her baby. The babies spend most of the class lying on pilates mats around the perimeter of the room, though there are many opportunities to incorporate them into the workouts if we so choose (instead of using hand weights). Baby Boy was a bit fussy during the chaos of our first class, so I ended up doing quite a bit of the lunges and squats with him in my arms.

What surprised me the most is that the classes are a real workout. I am wiped when class is over, and am sore for several days afterwards. I had gone to prenatal pilates and yoga right up to my due date (actually, even past my due date), so thought I’d kept myself in pretty good shape. However, once I realized that it had been 3 months since my last prenatal fitness class, it was no surprise that I am feeling sore and out of shape.

Each class ends with a short discussion about a baby or parenting  related topic. I’m hoping as time goes by that in addition to the fitness benefits for me, and the change of scenery for Baby Boy, that we can both make some new friends.

Baby Boy Becomes A Guinea Pig

The other big new thing that Baby Boy participated in this month was being a subject in a study conducted at one of the local universities. Shortly after Baby Boy was born, in addition to getting mailed coupons for diapers and several containers of formula, we received a letter from a psychology professor soliciting babies for his various research studies.

I filled out the enclosed card with Baby Boy’s pertinent information and mailed it off, and a few weeks ago I got an email asking whether we were able to take part in a study on memory in babies. Baby Boy and I went in on two days this week and he got to look at pictures of different shapes and colours. After the second visit, I felt strangely sad that we were done, so when the researcher asked me if I’d be interested in future studies, I said we definitely were, and now we’re heading back in next week.

The cool thing is we’ll get copies of all the study results, and it’s neat to think that we are contributing in our own small way to what science knows about babies.

Baby Boy Becomes a Mallrat

On the way back from our testing at the university, I realized that our route took us right past the mall, which I’d last visited just before my due date to stock up on nursing tops and baby books. So, I thought it would be fun to pop in, do some window shopping and grab lunch.

Overall, the mall trip was a success, though I did have a moment when it briefly felt like a total disaster. I decided it would be best for both of us to go to the bathroom before lunch, which led us to one of the mall’s finely appointed nursing rooms. The nursing room was a large space where only women and children were permitted. It contained a pretty deluxe change table, lots of bench seating, and several comfy armchairs where mothers could nurse. There were also several family size washrooms, and a tv playing a children’s show. Pretty cool!

After doing my business and changing Baby Boy, I sat down on one of the benches to give him his bottle. Near the end of his bottle, I heard the tell tale gurgling sounds of a bowel movement. It sounded pretty big, and sure enough when I lifted Baby Boy off my lap, there was a nice yellowish wet stain down the front of my jeans. Lovely!

I took him right over to the change table where I found that he had poop all up his back (and strangely very little actually in his diaper). I had to change him out of his fancy “going out” outfit and into the sleeper which I frantically managed to dig out of our diaper bag, while dabbing baby wipes at anything and everything. As this was going on, Baby Boy took the opportunity to pee all over the front of his soiled onesie, on his thigh, and on the counter next to the change table. Then he started wailing like there was no tomorrow.

At one point during this chaos there was a woman waiting for the change table, but mercifully she decided to go elsewhere. I finally managed to get Baby Boy somewhat cleaned up and calmed down, and at this point I was ready to surrender and just go home, but by now I was starving so decided it was best to stick with the original plan and eat lunch at the mall before going home.

Thankfully, Baby Boy stayed calm and quickly fell asleep in his stroller, and the rest of our mall experience went very smoothly.

And there it is, a glimpse into some recent moments in this mom and baby’s lives!

Finally!

Here it is – the first post on my new blog! I am so excited to finally be able to write this.

Some of you will be familiar with my other blog: www.unfertilized.wordpress.com where I wrote primarily about infertility, and then pregnancy, and finally about the birth of my little boy less than a month ago.

After I got pregnant, I was not sure whether I would continue blogging after the baby came, and if so, in what format. After seeing how other infertility bloggers handled the transition to motherhood, and also remembering my feelings and preferences while still in the trenches, I decided that once the baby was born, I would retire the old blog, and start up a new one for any motherhood related blogging. I secured this web address when I was in the 2nd trimester, and have been waiting for the opportunity to start using it.

At this point, I am not sure how often I will need/want to blog, and how active this blog will be. I don’t know whether I will feel that same urge to get my feelings out into cyberspace now that I’m a mother as I did when I was trying to become one.

That said, I can already tell that in addition to all the wonderful moments, motherhood will bring self doubt, confusion, and occasional frustration. I know that there will be times when I will question my judgement, and also times where I will have strong opinions about the many polarizing views about parenting and children, all of which will provide fodder for potential blog posts. So I’m going to give it a shot!

Lastly, I am still playing around with how open I want to be on this blog. On my old blog, being anonymous was very important to me, as I wanted to have complete freedom to write about situations and people in my life without feeling like I had to constantly look over my shoulder, or hide any identifying details lest someone I know happened to accidentally stumble on my blog.

While this will still be an anonymous blog in the sense that my real name won’t be attached to it, I may decide to post pictures of my baby, and even of myself. I may also provide other potentially identifying details such as neighbourhood hot spots that I visit, or baby and me programs that I participate in, or my son’s first name.

For now though, I’m going to stay anonymous and unidentifiable until I figure out what I’m comfortable with.