Monday, September 3, 2012

"Labor" Day Wrap Up

 Down to the final days here on the baby front.  Today is Monday, the 3rd of September- "Labor" Day.  Though, at 38 weeks pregnant, there is no "laboring" in the Stepanoff home.  If baby didn't make his appearance today, I don't think anything will bring him around except for him literally being pulled out of my body. 
Exactly 1 week from today, we will be a family of 5 (yes, I count the dog).  I cannot tell you what is going through my head right now.  Anxiety, excitement, fear, and terrified comes to mind right about now.  I don’t know if I’m ready yet, but who’s ever really ready?  I felt pretty prepared with Zach, but the only thing that threw me for a loop was just how demanding and time-consuming breastfeeding was.  This time around, I know much more about what the first year will hold, and I cannot lie, this is my biggest fear this time around.  It will surely be a demanding and difficult year, and I hope I can keep my sanity for at least some of it! 
As we approach the end, I’d like to share the end results of my pregnancy.  Basically, a “wrap up” of how this pregnancy has treated me this time around.  These are the things that most women fear the most, and I’d like to share with you that it doesn’t all have to be scary!  I did it!

Morning Sickness
I am one of the lucky ones.  I was with Zach as well.  I never once got nausea or morning sickness of any sort with either!  With Zach, I had to eat small meals every 2-3 hours in order to keep myself from getting sick.  This time I didn’t even have that problem.  For those who do get sick, I don’t know what to tell you except for what many people told me: Eat protein.  Lots and lots of protein will stay in your stomach longer, keeping you full and preventing you from getting sick.  I cannot attest to this, but this is just what many people have told me.  Perhaps this is what saved me from getting sick in the first place.  I eat a lot of lean, healthy protein anyway.  Fish, chicken, eggs, and turkey are all staples of my diet, and perhaps what prevented my morning sickness in the first place!   

This was harder this time around.  I think this was largely in part to the fact that I already had a toddler at home to care for, but also due to some low iron levels on my part.  I eat plenty of iron rich foods and took my prenatals, but couldn’t seem to escape my exhaustion.  Dima was also deployed at this time, so being home alone wasn’t helpful.   At this point of the pregnancy, I was going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 7:30am AND taking a 2 hour nap in the afternoons and drinking the 1 cup of coffee I was allowed.  I’ve been told time and time again that exercise helps you gain energy.  And I do believe this is true.  But that was NOT the case for me.  I could not escape the exhaustion, no matter what I did.  It was a rough first trimester in that aspect. 

Weight Gain
Ahh the biggest fear of women.  Gaining weight when pregnant is normal, but just what exactly is a normal weight gain?  Generally speaking, a weight gain of 25-35 pounds is healthy for a person of a healthy weight, like myself.  That may sound like a lot but think of it in this aspect:

Baby’s weight= about 7 pounds
Placenta= 2-3 pounds
Amniotic fluid= 2-3 pounds
Breast tissue= 2-3 pounds
Blood supply= 4 pounds
Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding= 5-9 pounds
Uterus= 2-5 pounds
Total=25-35 pounds

With Zach, I gained exactly 23 pounds.  He was an average sized baby, so this amount was perfect for me.  This time around, I haven’t exactly gained that much.  At this point of the pregnancy, I have officially gained 19 pounds.  I don’t see myself gaining even another pound at this point.  As far as being worried goes though, I don’t think I’m concerned.  As far as we know, baby has developed perfectly, and is an average sized child.  So that dreaded weight gain everyone’s concerned about is something that I warn you all not to be too terrified of.  If you treat your body well and eat healthy, clean foods, you should be just fine.  I was on no kind of diet during this pregnancy or Zach’s.  I simply eat healthy and clean.  Lots of lean protein, and tons of veggies. 

Stretch Marks
This is another of those things many people cringe about.  Unfortunately, I think this is just a luck game.  I don’t think any amount of lotion and creams applied will help to prevent them.  I think it even differs based on the pregnancy.  A woman can have a baby of the same size both times and only get stretch marks with one.  I never got a single stretch mark with Zach, and was hoping to be that lucky this time around.  I am happy to report that I do not have even the slightest sign of a stretch mark 7 days before delivery.  Again, I escaped one of those terrifying aspects of pregnancy!

Many women completely stop working out when they find out they are pregnant.  This is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  Pregnancy is no excuse!  You’re carrying another human being, not dying!  There is no reason to not continue doing what you were doing before getting pregnant.  For me, I was lifting weights 4-5 times a week, and running on average 6-8 miles 3x a week.  I was also in the process of doing the insanity workout when I first got the news.  I initially continued on with my exercise routine just as I was before.  But once the 4th week or so came around, I found my exhaustion prevented me from going all out like I used to.  It was at that point that I cut back considerably.  My running went down to about 3-4 miles three times a week, and my lifting took a bit of a weight break.  I completely stopped insanity, as it was a lot of jumping that was probably not advisable that early on.  Once my energy came back in the second trimester, I continued to run, and added a safe lower weight strength training routine in.  I attended some classes at the gym, but mostly kept with cardio at this point.  I didn’t want to have to start from scratch in the cardio department once baby was born.  I think exercising helped me a lot.  It gave me something to do that I enjoy, and gosh you should see the looks I got/get at the gym when working out!  Watching Marines stop in their tracks to watch me squat is without a doubt one of the greatest feelings.  As you know, I even ran a 5k race in July, when I was 8 months pregnant.  I cannot tell you how many Marines I passed at this race.  Can you imagine a 6-foot tall Marine being passed by a 5 foot tall girl who is 8 months pregnant?  That was me, and gosh was it a great feeling!  I strongly encourage EVERYONE, pregnant or not to exercise.  It’s a great motivational tool!  I felt awesome every time I laced up my shoes.  (which these days are harder to reach!)

Those movies and TV shows where a woman sends her husband out to get her ice cream and WAVY potato chips at 1am?  I’m calling BS!  Maybe it’s due to my healthy eating habits, but I never once had a pregnancy craving.  With Zach, I was in the mood for sandwiches a lot of the time, but I don’t feel that it was a craving.  I didn’t HAVE to have my sandwich.  I wasn’t going to die without one.  I simply liked having sandwiches at lunchtime.  But who doesn’t like a sandwich at lunchtime?  Maybe cravings are a real thing for some women, I don’t know.  I just think it’s all about control in what you eat. 

This is something nobody really discusses, not because it’s not important, but because they don’t feel that it’s important!  I’m warning you now- DRINK DRINK DRINK your water!  Drinking a lot of water (no joke, a gallon a day) is one of the healthiest things you can do.  Around the second trimester, I noticed an extreme need for water.  This happened both times.  I would drink and drink and drink to my little hearts content and would still not be satisfied.  Drinking water not only will prevent you from passing out of de-hydration, but it also is helpful in building up that ever important amniotic fluid that your baby needs for protection!  I also find that drinking water keeps you fuller longer.  Many times your body tells you you’re thirsty and a person will interpret that for hunger.  If you drink a lot of water, you may find you’re not pigging out at the buffet!

Mood Swings
I don’t think I ever had one of these.  I’ve seen so many movies and TV shows where the woman just goes nuts and starts screaming at her husband.  I won’t lie, I have had moments where I was frustrated, but I don’t think I ever had a complete turn around in mood like they portray on TV. 

This one I am completely guilty of.  I am well aware of my nesting problems.  Both times, I nested.  This time worse then last, because I know I will be very busy after having a second c section in 2 years.  My freezer is stocked, my house is clean, and I have even gone as far as having a family organization binder that has everything in one place.  I think I’ve benefitted from this though, as I now meal plan and have a strict cleaning schedule that I follow each week.  I plan on continuing to freezer cook in the next few months as well.  I will simply chop and prep everything once a week or so, and throw things in the freezer for easy meal prep during the week!

I have been extremely lucky with both of my pregnancies.  I have had the most healthy and ideal pregnancies that a person can have both times around.  The ONLY complication I had with Zach was that he was breech, requiring a c-section.  With this baby, the age difference was too close for a VBAC, so alas I will have another c section.  In my eyes, this is not even a complication.   
The only serious complaint I had this time around was that I got very dehydrated this time around, requiring a trip to the hospital for an IV.  Granted, it was hot and humid here.  I was drinking a lot of water, but apparently not enough for the little guy in there.  Since, I’ve almost doubled my drinking habits.  I drink about 1 ½ gallons a day!  That’s a lot for a girl my size! But I feel great!

And so, I wrap up the last week of pregnancy with this reflection.  I am happy to have been so lucky and really owe a lot to a healthy lifestyle and my young age.  The next few weeks should be interesting, and I look forward to updating everyone on delivery next week!