July 22, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 22 Weeks

How far along: 22 Weeks, about 18 to go 

Showing: Yes. I think I've grown a ton in the past week. I have more stretch marks to prove it (sigh). I hope my bridesmaid dress fits on Saturday.

Weight Gain: 8 lbs. according to the scale at the Dr.'s office. The nurse said that's good. I have a feeling my weight gain is picking up now though.

Maternity Clothes: Yes, but most of my shirts aren't maternity. I've been wearing a lot of v-neck tshirts from Target in a size bigger than normal. They're comfy and fit well.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: Nothing in particular. I did make some homemade bread and a sort of sour dough starter. I made waffles today too. They were yummy.

Things that Make me Sick: I threw up on Sunday for the first time in weeks, and I've been feeling nauseous most mornings again. I think my hormones must just be out of control right now. I also spent over an hour crying on Sunday for a dumb reason, and couldn't stop even after the dumb reason was resolved.
Other symptoms: Difficulty sleeping and achy hips/lower back. I tire really easily when I'm not at home too. I talked to my doctor about some other things at my appointment too. She recommended that I start taking a magnesium supplement in addition to my prenatal vitamin to help with my headaches, hip pain, skin crawling sensation, and my tendency to pull muscles.

Pregnancy Brain: Just a little bit of difficulty remembering words and what I was about to say.

Miss anything? Sleeping well. Feeling rested after a twenty minute nap instead of a two hour nap.

Best moment: Steve felt the baby move on Wednesday. It made me cry, but he wasn't quite as affected. We were watching the new Planet of the Apes movie...

Movement:  Lately, little man has been moving way more. Like all day long. Every time I wake up to go to the bathroom, he's moving. It's great.

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Still struggling with anxiety and occasional weepiness.

July 15, 2014

"Natural" Products for Pregnancy (Or Anytime): Beauty

When we started the IVF process, I made some changes to the types of products I use, particularly beauty, personal care, and household cleaning products. I thought I'd share some of the things I've started using and why (or if) I like them, starting with the beauty products. I'm also including some products I've started using since becoming pregnant for some pregnancy specific things.

Some of you may remember that I tried going "no 'poo" at one point last year. I kept up with it for a few months, but eventually quit, mainly because we have hard water, and I just couldn't get the right balance. The only time my hair was really nice was when we were away from home, otherwise it was either dry or greasy.
But, I didn't want to go back to using shampoo and conditioner with sulfates or parabens, so I've been using the following:

Shikai Shampoos and Conditioners
I've used both the henna highlighting and the volumizing and I like them both. I buy them at Wegmans, but there are several different places you can get them. The price is higher than normal shampoo and the bottles are a little smaller, but I find it still lasts me a while. These claim to be sulfate, paraben, and detergent free.

Burt's Bees Shampoos and Conditioners

I've used the Very Volumizing and the Super Shiny. I do not like the Very Volumizing. It leaves my hair feeling and looking greasy. I do, however, like the Super Shiny. My mom bought it for me for my birthday. It cleans and moisturizes my hair well, and the mango smell is great. Burt's Bee's makes a claim about how natural each product is, and these are all supposed to be more than 98% natural. I just like that they are sulfate and paraben free and use natural fragrances. I have been informed, however, that they have been bought out by Clorox; I'm not sure if we'll see any changes because of that.

 Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
I have used both the Lavender and the Eucalyptus and I love them both. They are non GMO, fair trade, castile soaps. I love the way they lather, and I love the way they smell. I use them as everday soap in the shower, to scent the bathtub, and I use the eucalyptus one to bathe Finn (eucalyptus oil can help keep bugs away). The only time I didn't use this soap was the day of the egg retrieval because the doctor told me that fragrances can affect egg quality. Dr. Bronner's does make unscented castile soap, but I didn't have any on hand at the time. These can be pricey, but I find a little goes a long way.

As much as I love Bath and Body Works scents, I've stopped trying to use them and have made the following substitutions:

Burt's Bees Richly Replenishing Lotion

This one claims to be 99% natural and is also paraben free and uses natural fragrances. I find that it moisturizes well and doesn't leave me feeling greasy. I even use it on my face sometimes.

Skylar Farms Goat's Milk Body Butter
Goat's Milk Body Butter, amazing gentle and Paraben Free.
I like to put this on before bed. I bought it at Klein's Dairy where I buy raw milk, but there's and Etsy store too. It is also paraben free. I have the pumpkin spice scent which smells AMAZING! I like to use it before bed as it is rich and creamy. It's pricey for every day use though.

Episcencial Soothing Lotion
Soothing Cream
I love this stuff! I first tried it in a bag of samples my sister-in-law Bridget sent me when I first became pregnant. It's an all natural lotion with probiotics. I love it because it's super light and super moisturizing. It really helps with the itchiness I get from my growing breasts and belly. Again, it's not cheap, but it's totally worth it. I bought a tube at the store where Bridget works in Rochester, Luvaboos. They have an online store too, and I recommend checking it out. They have a lot of great, natural products for mother and baby.


Tom's of Maine Deodorant, Wild Lavender
Okay, my goal is to use an aluminum free deodorant, and this is what I'm using right now, but I'm not in love with it. It's a little wet and greasy feeling. It does the job well enough though. I've also heard that Tom's was bought out by Monsanto and that they are making changes to their products which makes me uncomfortable. Right now I'm waiting for this one to run out, then I plan to try something new.

Kiss My Face Aluminum Free Deodorant
I bought this one at Wegmans, and liked it quite a bit; it works well. However, I'm looking for something a little more natural, so I probably won't use this one again.


Episcencial Silky Powder

Silky Powder (2.5oz)
This summer, as my boobs have gotten bigger and the weather has gotten hotter, I've been dealing with sweaty (and sometimes even smelly) cleavage. This stuff helps with that SO MUCH. It has a soft smell and is not talcum based. It feels silky like the bottle claims. I bought this one at Luvaboos too.

Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve

I bought this one from Luvaboos too. It smells like chamomile tea and helps with itchiness and stretch marks. It is a little greasy, so I usually put it on before bed, not in the morning, because I don't want to get it on my clothes. It really does help with the itchiness, and it smells good.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil
I bought this one at Wegmans, but Luavboos sells it too. It's an all natural oil that is supposed to help with stretch marks. It feels nice going on, but it is an OIL, so it definitely leaves me feeling greasy. I switch back and forth between this one and the the Motherlove.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Morning Wellness Tea

Okay, so this one isn't really a beauty product, but it's amazing. Bridget had sent me several of these tea bags in my little pregnancy sample bag, and they were the only things that really helped with my nausea when I had it throughout the day. It's a mint and ginger tea which I drank "black" or with a little sugar. It tasted really good, and it seriously helped with the nausea immediately. I would have drunk it all day except I was hesitant to overdue it on either of the main ingredients. I've read in several places to be careful with peppermint because of preterm labor and my friend Brad, an herbalist, said to be careful not to overdue it with ginger because it can affect your blood volume during pregnancy. I used a max of two tea bags a day, and sometimes I brewed the same tea bag twice. Luvaboos and Wegmans both sell it.

July 12, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 21 Weeks

How far along: 21 Weeks, about 19 to go (More than half way! That's crazy!)

Showing: Haha. Um yeah. There's no doubt for anyone that I'm pregnant now.

Weight Gain: According to my scale, 7 lbs., but I have an appointment next week, so we'll see what the doctor's scale says. I'm really shocked that this is all I've gained. I'm chalking it up to the puking and the fact that sweets aren't appealing to me as much as they used to.

Maternity Clothes: Yes. And I found a bathing suit! I ended up just buying a tankini at Kohls. I'm not in love with it or anything (it has zebra stripes on it which SO aren't me), but it covers me! Steve claims to really like it. It's definitely a "mom suit" though with a skirt. Steve's response to that was, "Well, you're a mom."

Food I'm Eating/Craving: I'm craving fruit juice and berries. Also, I made bruschetta for my sister-in-law's bridal shower, and now I'm craving that too!

Things that Make me Sick: I haven't puked in over two weeks, praise the Lord! I still feel sick and gaggy in the morning though. I'm also still sensitive to certain things. For example, the dog puked last week (just water), and I gagged cleaning it up, then started gagging when I told Steve about it...the next day.

Other symptoms: Difficulty sleeping and achy hips/lower back, especially when I've been sitting on the couch. It's actually really difficult to

walk when I first stand up. Oh and, in the interest of full disclosure for those who are pregnant and reading this, my breasts have started leaking! At 20 weeks! It's gross and hilarious and annoying and almost exciting all at the same time.

Pregnancy Brain: Just a little bit of difficulty remembering words and what I was about to say.

Miss anything? Drinking as much soda as I want. Wine. My sister-in-law's bachelorette party was a smidge frustrating because they made these cheesecake pudding shots, and I couldn't even taste them. Not peeing every five minutes.

Best moment: Our anatomy scan last week. We got to see the baby in detail, and it was awesome! Also, every time the baby moves!
Movement: This week it's much more often. Instead of just feeling movement before bed, I feel it throughout the day. It's still not strong enough for anyone else to feel, but I'm definitely feeling it all the time!

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander. We chose Cai because it means "rejoice" which we felt is super appropriate for this little man. Alexander is Steve's brother's name, and we've always wanted to use it (our nephew's middle name is Steven).

Happy or moody most of the time?: Generally I'm happy, but I have been struggling with anxiety and weepiness off and on. Last week while we were away, Steve and I weren't together most of the week (we go camping, and I decided between the heat and the uncomfortable beds, it wasn't worth trying to sleep in the cabins, so I stayed with his family who live nearby); the one night I couldn't stop crying because I missed him so much, even though I had just seen him the day before. I also struggled with anxiety during the bridal shower for no apparent reason, and was tempted to hide in the house. Poor Steve got the brunt of my moodiness the day we left his parents. I was mad at him for no good reason, and I knew the whole time that it was dumb and that I was just tired and homesick. Thankfully I was able to apologize and explain this to him, and he was super understanding.

July 11, 2014


I know it's supposed to be Throwback Thursday, but I'm not really on the ball this week. I've been helping out at VBS again, and I love it, but it wears me out even more than usually right now. If I had been on the ball, sharing this yesterday would have been perfect as it would have not only been Thursday, but exactly two years since I wrote the post below. I thought I'd share it again anyway though for encouragement for anyone still struggling through waiting and as a reminder to myself as to how we've made it to this point. It wasn't by my strength or Steve's or the doctor's and nurses' abilities, but because of the Lord and the Lord alone.

No Matter How You Feel, Trust God.

It's been awhile since I posted. Between vacation and the heat, I just haven't felt like putting together a post although I have about a million different things I want to post about. I decided to put together a quick post today though because I've been feeling so discouraged, and God was so clearly teaching me through VBS today.

The past couple days I've been feeling extremely discouraged over our battle with infertility. Without going into great detail, I will just say that for the past couple weeks, my hopes have been way up. There was evidence that the metformin was working, and other encouraging things had happened. My mind set was that if we didn't get pregnant this month, there was still hope for next month because my body had started to do what it was supposed to.

Not so much. The metformin either isn't doing what it's supposed to or just isn't doing it the way I expected to. And with no private adoption opportunities currently on our horizons, I've just gotten into that I'm-sick-and-tired-of-waiting-and-I-don't-know-if-I-can-handle-this-anymore slump.

Then I went to VBS today. Not at my home church, but at the church affiliated with the school where I work. Today's theme for the day was "No matter how you feel, trust God." The Bible story was about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I guess I never thought about Mary and Martha waiting from the view point of someone who is waiting. They waited past the point of hope. They had no hope left. And yet, God answered there prayer in a way other than what they expected.

The lyrics to the song we sang today also caught my attention.

My mind is spinning.
I'm all confused.
I'm feeling sad and afraid
and kind of angry too.
How can I be strong when everything is going wrong.
God give me strength and help me to find my way.
I've gotta think, think, think,
Think about the goodness of you,
My God.
Because I know, know, know
No matter how I feel
I gotta trust in you.
I wanna trust in you.

Never underestimate God's ability to speak to you through any situation.
Putting this knowledge into practice is a whole 'nother ball game though.

June 21, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 18 Weeks

How far along: 18 Weeks, about 22 to go.

Showing: Yup. Yesterday at Target a little girl rode past me in a shopping cart and said "There's a baby in her belly." Yes, darlin', yes there is.

Weight Gain: According to the doctor's scale, about six pounds. I'm pretty pleased with this so far.

Maternity Clothes: Yes. Not having a very fun time finding a bathing suit. You would think, since your boobs grow during pregnancy, they would make bathing suits with a good amount of support. No such luck. So far maternity suits just look obscene. I think I'm just going to end up buying a bra sized bathing suit at Lane Bryant.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: No real cravings. Still not loving sweets as much as usual. Fruit is becoming more appealing though.

Things that Make me Sick: Well, I only threw up twice this week which is a major improvement. I'm still sensitive to smells. It's nice to have an excuse not to do the dishes. :o)

Other symptoms: Itchy breasts and belly. I officially have stretch marks; little ones on either side of my belly button. Starting to have difficulty sleeping. I tire easily. This week I've just generally felt very pregnant.

Pregnancy Brain: I remembered the thing I couldn't remember last week! I vented my sun roof and drove to work. I left it open during the day to air out my car (currently one of my rear windows falls down and the car was smelling musty from moisture getting in). On my way home, I didn't realize until about half way there that the whole time my sun roof had been vented, the moon roof had been closed, so no air got in anyway. How I didn't notice that the whole time, I don't know. Other than that I've just had a hard time focusing on certain tasks. For example, I had to read a cupcake recipe multiple times in order to actually process what I needed to do.

Miss anything? The desire to clean.

Best moment: Watching my eighth grade students graduate. It was quite emotional because it was my last week teaching there, but I'm so proud of them. Oh! And the surprise baby shower they threw for me on Wednesday! They did I pretty good job surprising me. I didn't really have a clue until about ten or fifteen minutes before the shower. They had one of the preschool teachers make this beautiful cake and cupcakes. The whole eight grade chipped in to get me a bathtub and bath toys and many of the other students bought things too. I also received a wonderful card and gift from my coworkers. It was so fun and such a blessing!

Movement: It's funny, I actually felt stronger movement last week. I think the baby was lower and right on my bladder then (I was peeing like twelve times a day). This week baby is up higher. I'm peeing less and the movement doesn't feel as intense. I'm sure baby is up higher because at my appointment, the doctor heard the heartbeat with the doppler right in the center of my belly. 

Gender: I was mistaken as to when we would find out. Part of that was misunderstanding on my part, and part of it is that my doctor's office is not super great with communication. I'm actually anxious to switch doctors when we move. I like the doctors themselves, but the practice as a whole is frustrating. I never get a human when I call, and I often feel like a bother. All that being said, I still think it's a boy.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Pretty happy, though I did a lot of crying this week. Leaving my students was very bittersweet. I'm excited to start on this new part of our life, and I feel the way I always do, exhausted and ready for a break; but I'm going to miss my Good Shepherd family. Many of my eighth graders this year have been at the school since I first started teaching there seven years ago. My coworkers have supported me and prayed for me through the past six years of infertility, and I am so thankful for them. It really is like leaving family. 
Other than that, I've still been dealing with some general anxiety. This weird feeling of homesickness, or like I'm naked or something, haha. It's weird.

June 20, 2014

Baby Registry

A few weeks ago we registered for baby gifts. We decided to register at Babies-R-Us, because they seem to have everything, and Walmart because their prices are more reasonable. I thought I'd share some of the items we decided were important for us, either based on research or advice from friends, and ask for any suggestions from moms and dads. Any things that you couldn't live without? How about things that you wish you hadn't bought? As an aside, I feel the need to explain that we clearly don't expect people to buy us all of these things, but a registry seems a good way to plan for what we need to buy. I don't want this to sound like these are things we expect people to buy for us.

First of all we decided not to register for a few things including a changing table (many people have told us they're not worth it), and a dresser and night stand (I want to find these items at a yard sale and paint them with milk paint.

Some of the things we did register for are below.

Sophie the Giraffe
Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether - Vulli  - Babies"R"Us
We had several friends tell us that she is a wonderful and super endurable teether.

Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper (and the height adjusting pieces because we have a tall bed)
Arm's Reach Mini ARC Classic Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet - Arms Reach Concepts  - Babies"R"Us
We really want the baby in our room for the beginning for the convenience of breastfeeding and the bonding it provides, but we don't want the baby in the bed with us. I know many people co-sleep and in most cases it's perfectly safe, but we don't feel comfortable with it, so this is the next best thing. It's very similar to a pack and play, but the side that presses up against the bed is slightly lower for ease in picking up the baby.

HALO SleepSack
HALO SleepSack Swaddle 100% Cotton - Blue (Small) - Halo Innovations  - Babies"R"Us
My friend Kelly recommended these in a few posts about what has worked for her and her little one. I'm excited to try them!

Moby Wrap
Moby Wrap Baby Carrier - Black - Moby Wrap  - Babies"R"Us
I've carried my niece in one of these and loved it. I know several mommas who really enjoy this for baby wearing, and others who think the Moby is a little complicated.

Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Jogger Travel System Stroller

Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Jogger Travel System Stroller - Road Runner - Graco  - Babies"R"Us
Steve really wanted a three-wheeled stroller with a large front wheel that would do well on multiple types of terrain. I wanted one that could be used with and without a baby carrier, so this is the one we decided on. It's not the very cheapest available, but it's more reasonable than many of the jogging strollers out there.

4moms mamaRoo Infant Seat

We decided to register for this instead of a bouncer and a swing. This is electronic and has similar capabilities to both. It's a little pricey, but we thought this would solve the problem of buying both and having the baby only like the swing or only the bouncer. The selling points of this are the white noise options and the unique motion capabilities which are supposed to be more like mom and dad's natural motions. It also has a "car" setting which is supposed to be like riding in the car which puts so many babies to sleep.

Ingenuity Washable Play Yard with Dream Centre

We wanted a pack and play or play yard or whatever you call them, but we picked this one in particular because it is fully washable. 

A Few Other Things
  • We picked out a few different types of bottle nipples. We plan to breast feed, but I want to introduce the baby to a bottle pretty quickly so that Steve can feed our little one, and so that we are prepared if I need to be away. I know some babies prefer certain nipples over others, so I chose at least two kinds that were supposed to mimic the breast in different ways, either in shape or feel. If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them.

  • We didn't register for any of the normal Johnson and Johnson baby supplies or diaper creams, etc. We decided to go for more natural products without cancer-causing ingredients, particularly Burt's Bees. We also didn't register for many disposable diapers (we plan to do mostly cloth), but the diapers we did pick out are at least chlorine free. The thought of all of the chemicals in normal diapers on my babies vulnerable parts really freaks me out. 

Any other tips from mamas out there? Please feel free to share!

June 16, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 16 and 17 Weeks

How far along: 17 Weeks, about 23 to go.

Showing: Yup. Some days it feels bigger than others. I'm starting to have a hard time getting up because I can't lean forward all the way.

Weight Gain: According to my home scale, I'm fluctuation between four and five pounds. I'll find out for sure at my next OB appointment on Thursday.

Maternity Clothes: Yes. I need to buy more shirts because they are starting to not meet the tops of pants very well. I had an eighth grade girl tell me that my "stretchy panel" was showing last week.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: Nothing in particular this week. I'm not craving sweets though which is weird. I think that's why I haven't gained much weight yet. For example, usually when Steve buys Oreos, I have to hide them or I will eat an entire sleeve in one sitting. Right now, they don't really appeal to me. I'm still eating sweets, but just enough to taste them instead of repeatedly eating them.

Things that Make me Sick: Last week I was still throwing up a ton. In fact, the morning after my birthday I ate a slice of birthday cake for breakfast (ironic after my last statement, I know) and ended up throwing it all up, twice. However, I haven't thrown up as much the past few days. Once in the middle of the night, but I think that was because I took my vitamins without enough in my stomach. Smells still bother me a bit.

Other symptoms: Round ligament pain, itchy breasts and stomach, some minor anxiety, SUPER hot!

Pregnancy Brain: So today I had a really funny one, but now that it's time to write it down, I can't remember it at all. It was super funny too. Sigh. I guess that's my example right there.

Miss anything? Energy. Not wanting to take a nap every day after school. And being cough free. That's getting better, but I'm still coughing.

Best moment: Feeling the baby move for the first time last Tuesday!

Movement: The first time I definitely felt the baby was Tuesday of last week. Steve and I were laying around watching TV when I jumped because it was the most definite kick ever. It actually made me tear up with emotion; it was so cool. Since then I've been feeling the baby move pretty often; some days more than others and some days stronger than others.

Gender: We find out on Thursday. I still think it's a boy, but I will be completely happy with either. I also feel a lot more relaxed because we've settled on names for a boy and a girl.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Overall happy, but I'm struggling with a short temper. It's a good thing school ends this week because my students have less self-control and I have a shorter temper. Sigh. I'm also still experiencing mild anxiety when I'm with a lot of people or when I'm really hot (which seems to be almost all of the time). When it happens I get hot, fidgety, or sometimes I feel this overwhelming feeling of homesickness or vulnerability. It's weird.

The past two weeks also contained an adventure with our dog. While I was still at work on Friday and he was at home with my sister, he decided to "play" with a groundhog, during a thunderstorm. When the groundhog didn't like his playing and attacked, Finn's instincts kicked in and he kind of killed the ground hog. Katie said she felt bad yelling at him because it was the first "real dog" thing he'd ever done. 

Anyway, by the time I got home, she had bathed him and we discovered a scratch on one side of his face, a gouge right under his eye (to think a half an inch higher and he could have lost his eye!) and several small cuts under his jaw. The small ones were bleeding quite a bit, I think because they were close to bone, and every time he shook after his bath, blood sprayed everywhere. I had to wash all the walls. It was so gross. Thankfully my mom and sister were there to help with cleaning his wounds and the bathroom (they did most of the work) and my grandfather disposed of "the body." On top of all that, we found a tick on him and had to make him stand still long enough to yank it out. The joys of owning a dog!

He was really anxious after all of this and kept hiding in his crate or under beds. Not sure if it was because of the fight, our reactions, or because he was in pain. It was weird; between that and the cuts I felt like he wasn't the same dog. He's back to normal now though, and currently snuggling next to me on the couch. He really is such a good dog, and I know he will be so good with the baby. I'm so excited for him to have a kid to play with and for the baby to have the perfect dog. 

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