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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 36

DUE DATE: September 22, 2014

HOW FAR ALONG: 36.5 weeks

GENDER: Boy

WEIGHT GAIN: 55 lbs

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I actually haven't gained any weight since last week -- that's a first! I'll actually be totally okay if this is as big as I get, to be honest. Maneuvering the belly-heavy body has been an adventure in itself. At any rate, Brandon and I had a wonderful time getting maternity photos taken. Now we just have a few last-minute baby items to grab and then the waiting game begins. I had my cervix checked yesterday and doctor says it's still closed, but soft (which is a good thing). Baby Loudmouth, we are so excited to meet you!!

*Photos shot by Michael Almeida on August 23, 2014 and edited by me in Photoshop.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Loves :: 15 Last-Minute Mama Essentials

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Every time I think we've gathered everything we need for Baby Loudmouth, I realize I'm wrong. Let's face it, for the first couple weeks we'll get along just fine with boobs and diapers, but eventually the kid and I will need a little more than that to survive. Here are 14 more items that are still on my list (and believe it or not, I'm probably forgetting something). It's amazing to me how close we've gotten to his big arrival.

1) Breast pump. I've heard that Medela makes the best and it's usually the one that insurances cover, but this one by Ameda costs $100 less and I've read equally good things. Bonnie is also giving one away at her blog here and I've entered like 10 times, of course.

2) Titty cream. Apparently, the ta-tas get sore and therefore this stuff is like liquid gold. Many brands need to be wiped off before feeding, but Earth Mama Angel Baby's Natural Nipple Butter is safe for the consumption of infants. The combination of health and convenience makes my heart sing.

3) Nursing pads. My nipples are like leaky faucets and I'm sure it'll only get worse in the coming months, so before my bras get stained beyond repair I'd like to start using these washable pads by Bamboobies.

4) Hooter hider. You guys know I'm proud of my gargantuan breasts, but just in case the world doesn't want to see them, these Bebe au Lait nursing covers are cute and can probably double as an apron.

5) Drying rack. Pumping requires bottles and bottles require washing, so why not using a drying rack like this one by Skip Hop? Possibly not "essential" but handy nonetheless.

6) Burp cloths. What goes in must come out, so I'm preparing myself for any and all body fluids. Dundee makes the cheapest spit-up soakers I've seen -- who cares if they're plain white? Vomit isn't cute anyway, so I don't need anything fancy. These can also be used as cloth diapers, if you're not lazy like me.

7) Hygiene kit. Babies need brushes too, and let's not forget about the good ol' snot-sucker. A thermometer would also be nice seeing as I haven't owned one since I was a kid myself. Usually I can tell when I have a fever, but feeling my child's head with my hand doesn't seem responsible. This alone makes Summer Infant's Complete Nursery Care Kit crucial.

8) First Aid kit. Again, this is something important that I should already have, but ya know. Oops. I found a First Aid Only™ kit with 131 pieces which sounds like enough to bring someone back from the dead.

9) Baby monitor. Now for the fun stuff! Summer Infant's Dual Coverage Digital Color Video Monitor Set comes with two portable screens that B and I can each tote around. I'll probably be with Baby L 24/7 anyway but just in case I have to take a shit, I'll be able to watch him do nothing.

10) Baby wash and shampoo. Move over, Johnson & Johnson -- nowadays, Aveeno is where it's at. It's even more attractive when wrapped in a pretty, affordable gift basket. I'm sold.

11) Swaddling clothes. Just like they did with Jesus in the manger, it's recommended that we swaddle our babes. Not only do they stay nice and cozy, but the practice can also prevent SIDS. Summer Infant's SwaddleMe wraps make it easy.

12) High chair. He won't be eating solid food for awhile, but might as well prepare with the Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair. It's so modern-looking and funky, right?

13) Stroller. Our car seat is out of the box, but we don't yet have the Graco SnugRider Elite Stroller that it snaps into. I'd also like a more lightweight stroller like this one that we can grab in a hurry.

14) Teething necklace. This Chewbeads Perry Necklace is genius, and comes in a variety of stylish colors. I won't have to worry about my jewelry getting snapped off or leaving the bling at home.

15) Daddy diaper bag. Last but not least, let's not forget about Dad. I can totally see B rockin' the DadGear Backpack Diaper Bag. Did you think I was gonna do it all myself? He's def gonna be a DILF.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Links :: Best Mom + Baby Posts / Weekly Roundup 5

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The great nursing bra hunt.

The sweetest tea party for a little birthday girl.

I want to create our own reading nook.

Seeing as this Christmas will be our first with a kid, I doubt it'll be debt-free, but we can sure try.

Why the breast pump is the world's greatest invention.

Mattie's super cute (and similarly themed) baby shower.

Why some parents don't post kid photos on Facebook, and ideas for boundaries you should set.

Who knew that Target's generic brand made the best baby wipes?

I need to catch up on Project Life STAT before Baby L gets here and things get even more busy.

A day in the life with two kids.

Organic beauty essentials for pregnant ladies.

The emotional struggle of the first trimester.

I'm tempted to set up my office in the nursery like Amber, but I think he'd be distracted by my presence (or the other way around -- hello, constant baby photos)!

Steps to finding balance as a mom.

How to sign up for Stitch Fix while pregnant.

The best thing to say to a pregnant friend.

Lastly, don't take your toddler to Disneyland. It's not for the reasons you think!

PS: Just in case you haven't been following, I recently shared 7 things I learned in 7 months of pregnancy along with 6 more things that surprised me. They might be helpful. ;) Be sure to add me to your Bloglovin' feed so you don't miss a post!

*Photo found here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Loves :: 8 Ways to Display Family Photos

Since moving into our new home, I've been thinking of ways to decorate! That includes displaying photos and not just keeping them on my computer and in books. I've been collecting lots of ideas and here are my 8 faves. Now I just need to take the time to complete one of them. Help a girl out and tweet me which you like best and maybe it'll provide some motivation to get crafty!

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First, this Instagram canvas wall art looks super simple. All you need is a canvas, Instagram prints, and Mod Podge. Boom. It'd be cool to have one in each room!

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Or you can use those Instagrams to cover your fridge. I'd love to have an Instax camera for this very purpose. It's been on my wishlist for years, actually. I wouldn't mind that pink fridge either!

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Another Instax idea: wood, mini clothespins, and string. So rustic and pretty. It's a great idea for my parents' cabin, actually. Hmm...

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My sister would love this one -- she's really been into making jewelry with crystals lately. Such a gorgeous display, right?

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You can also use photos to decorate at a party, either in a special design or hung with twine. Cuteness galore. I can't wait to do something like this for my son's first birthday.

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Why not get a little crazy and cover an entire wall with photo prints? I'm down.

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These clipboards are a really unique idea as well.

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Lastly, a chalkboard wall with taped photos and art looks fresh and modern. Plus, it reminds me of 500 Days of Summer! Hope you all have a happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 35

DUE DATE: September 22, 2014

HOW FAR ALONG: 35 weeks

GENDER: Boy

WEIGHT GAIN: 55 lbs

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Though my pregnancy has had ups and downs (which you can read all about in last week's update), I can't deny that it's been one hell of a ride. I have also decided that I want to make a documentary on government help and healthcare in LA County. Stay tuned.

Besides that, here's the latest. Soon after that one random crampy day last week, I had a little bit of leakage in my underpants and thought maybe my water had broken. GG took me to the hospital (third time's a charm?) and texted Brandon and my mom to let them know what was going on (because my phone happened to stop turning on that same day). We saw one of B's exes working there (weird), and after she admitted me we headed into the triage area (which I'm oh-so-familiar with by now). I stripped down and got hooked up to the monitor. Poor Baby L had hiccups the whole time.

I was asked the usual questions (yes I have depression, no I'm not suicidal, yes this is my first pregnancy, no I'm not 4'10" your computer is wrong) and then given a speculum exam (fancy term for a nurse peering up your hoo-ha with a flashlight and plastic shovel). I was told the spotting was normal and I was having tiny, harmless contractions and the baby's heartbeat was great. I swear to God I'm not going back there unless I literally see the baby's head emerging because these people probably think I'm a hypochondriac.

My MIL (because I think GG deserves this title after witnessing my vajay getting inspected) updated the troops, the nurse called my doctor, and I was told to stay for an hour in case anything else happened. It was a good thing we toted along GG's phone AND Kindle AND tablet AND my laptop. Gadgets galore. We read articles, played games, and discussed 50 Shades of Grey while laughing so loud that a different nurse popped in and told me in one of those fake-nice voices to stfu. If she ends up being in the room while I'm in labor I'm kicking her out. I want it to be a party. No downers allowed.

Yesterday I saw my OBGYN as regularly scheduled, and everything was fine.

This past week we also did some baby shopping, including ordering this convertible crib and this rocking chair at Babies R Us. The pieces are really beautiful in person and I just can't wait to see them in our nursery. After using a plethora of gift cards and a few coupons, we left without paying a dime. I'm so happy about that and feeling so blessed! This weekend, we're getting maternity photos done as a couple with Michael and Megan, which I'm very excited about as well. I'll let you know when I get a working phone, but until then, I can be reached via Skype. My username is imtheloudmouth, of course!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life :: 6 Things That Surprised Me About Pregnancy and Childbirth

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Life is full of surprises, and so is creating a life. As you've read, a lot of what I heard when I first found out I was pregnant wasn't very helpful. I also don't have any friends in LA who have kids, and even though B's mom GG has plenty of tips, it's been 25 years since her son was born. I didn't read any baby books (until recently) because I like to learn as I go, and that's exactly what ended up happening. So, here are 6 more things I've learned along the way that I wanted to share with you!

1) Your hair seems thicker, not longer. I'd always heard mythical legends of the long, luxurious locks that pregnant women would get. I was slightly disappointed when my thick Italian mane became bigger than ever, and even tougher to brush. According to babycenter.com, "you're not actually growing more hair (and the strands themselves aren't any thicker) -- you're just losing it more slowly than you usually do." Damn. For ladies with thin or fine hair, though, this is probably a pro. Also, "your facial and body hair may grow faster when you're pregnant, possibly because of an increase in hormones called androgens." Did I mention that I'm Italian? Needless to say, deep conditioners and ceramic tweezers are my BFFs.

2) You might get stretch marks in weird places. This is another point that may seem vain, but let's be honest -- a lot of changes can happen to your appearance while pregnant. I've mentioned before that I've been using cocoa butter lotion and oil from neck to knees since the week I found out I was with child, but I still managed to get stretch marks on my butt and thighs. I was moreso expecting them on my boobs and belly, but I ain't complaining; the thicker the better, I say! It turns out that these lovely little lines are hereditary -- confirmed by my mother, my Lamaze instructor, and many articles. I still swear by my Palmer's, though, especially since my skin has been dry and itchy. If anything, it makes me feel better and smell nicer. What could be wrong with that?

3) The average length of labor is higher than the movies make it seem. Up until my Lamaze classes began, the only things I knew about childbirth came from talking to my parents, reading birth stories on blogs, and watching movies like Knocked Up and What to Expect When You're Expecting. My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours, and that sounded super long to me. I was surprised when our instructor informed us that the average length is 14-26 hours for a woman's first pregnancy nowadays. But according to babycenter.com it can take 10-20 hours, and pregnancyandbaby.com says around 16 hours. Basically, you just don't know (which is why I've said birth plans are useless). The thing is, there are 3 stages of labor, and during the first stage you can barely feel your contractions -- you may not even know you're in labor yet. I think that's why it's probably difficult to gauge.

4) Speaking of which, the movies stressed me out more than the real thing. It might be too soon to say this seeing as I haven't experienced the real thing myself yet, but I've watched it -- a few times now. To be honest, I was really nervous to see videos of real births. I'm a total wuss when it comes to blood and guts (even though Nip/Tuck and Dexter were my two favorite TV shows of the past 10 years, but I digress). I wasn't surprised by the yuck factor, but what did surprise me was how calm the mothers were. They went through labor without an epidural, and you could tell they were in pain, but they all focused on breathing and didn't flip out all screaming and swearing like I thought. Honestly, the birth scenes at the end of the aforementioned movies were more stressful for me to watch than the actual births, even though they didn't show anything. But that's Hollywood for ya!

5) For the first two weeks, your baby will be constantly eating and pooping. This can be safely assumed, but my poor naive self thought that babies ate maybe one or two times more than an adult, and pooped every time they ate. Nope. They need to eat every two hours, and get their diapers changed about 10 times a day. You're probably thinking, well duh, their stomachs are smaller. But that's why I figured they didn't need to eat as much. I was wrong! (If you use formula, you're still feeding almost as often, taking away maybe one or two bottles.) Again, this was learned in Lamaze, as was my next point...

6) For the first six weeks, you will be bleeding. I'm not sure what it's like after you have a C-section, but after a vaginal birth, I assumed the Red Sea would be back for a few days as you recover. Actually, it ends up flowing for about six weeks. Remember how awesome it was to not have a period for nine months? I think this is to make up for that. I'm a little concerned about my iron level, but maybe that's why they suggest continuing to take prenatal vitamins. I'm glad I found out in advance!

PS: Here are some essentials that have gotten me through these first 8 months of pregnancy!


*Disclaimer: Every post on this blog (minus those by guests) are based on my personal experience, opinion and point of view. Your journey through pregnancy and parenting might be different, which doesn't make either of us wrong. Thank you for reading!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Links :: Best Mom + Baby Posts / Weekly Roundup 4

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The cutest blogger pregnancy announcement.

Coconut oil wins again. Here's 21 uses for mamas and babies.

Usually, moms complain about shopping with their kids. This one loves it.

A gift list for toddler boys. Noted for future reference.

One mama's day in the life. It sounds wonderful.

Have you used a busy bag?

A letter for moms-to-be.

This is what really makes your kitchen beautiful.

My mom breastfed me until after I turned two whereas B's mom used formula, so we're going to meet somewhere in the middle with ours. There's been a lot of controversy recently about nursing in public, but I say do what you want. Everybody's different and only you can decide what's best for your child.

*Photo found here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 34

DUE DATE: September 22, 2014

HOW FAR ALONG: 34 weeks

GENDER: Boy

WEIGHT GAIN: 50 lbs

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I wanted to stop with the basics there because a lot has happened over the last few weeks and it would be much easier for me to explain it in story format. First, let's recap...

When I initially found out I was pregnant, I was surprisingly not stressed. Instead, my heart was filled with a mix of gratitude, excitement and peace. I did have a few rough months, though. Every pregnancy is different, but the first trimester is tiring for most, and at the time I was still working long days. I did nothing but work, sleep, and try to eat easy foods. I threw up in my car multiple times and spent many nights crying simply because I felt so sick. I also dealt with insecurity about my body because it was in this weird transitional phase of looking soft but not pregnant, and I grew out of my clothes fairly quickly. I learned that all of these symptoms are pretty normal and I was not experiencing anything out of the ordinary, but that did not make me feel any less physically or emotionally exhausted, and alone.

Brandon and I celebrated our anniversary and soon after that, I started to feel better. I'd heard that the second trimester is usually the best point of pregnancy, and that ended up being true for me. During those easy months I focused on my business, traveled to Michigan, and started wearing super cute maternity clothes. I spent a lot of time inside, but even though I was alone, I no longer felt lonely. I could feel the baby moving a lot, so I knew he was healthy. Even though there was a scare about my blood sugar, it ended up being fine, and though the baby was breech at my 22 week ultrasound, he ended up turning properly.

Then the third trimester started, and I began to freak out a little. Besides the pregnancy itself, I've had a lot going on in my life this year, and I think it all started to hit me at once. I became more emotional and as the weeks continued, I realized just how much I had to do to get ready for the baby. Even though B has assured me that he's on my team in this, he will never understand what it's like to be in my shoes. At the same time, I'll never know what it's like to be a new father, and I know he feels a lot of pressure as well. I started to wonder if I was wasting my summer away, so I made a pre-baby bucket list for us to complete in order to spend some quality time together before our son arrives, but chances are slim that we'll complete anything that's on it...

Which brings us to why I'm on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. Around the time of my second baby shower (yes, I am that blessed that I've had two so far) I started feeling upper abdominal pain that became more excruciating each day. It started on the inside of my right rib cage, then followed it around to the back. I felt as if a part of me was swollen and being squeezed by everything else around it. I knew that something was wrong so when I went to the ER to get a Rhogam shot (normal) I mentioned my pain (not normal) to the Labor & Delivery nurse. She hooked me up to the monitor and I wasn't having contractions so she suggested it was probably a pulled muscle and had nothing to do with labor. She sent me on my way but I was still in so much pain that I couldn't sleep at night and felt as if someone was stabbing me in the side. Poor B kept waking up from my tossing and turning and moaning.

The appointment with my new OBGYN (yes, I had to switch again thanks to the state, but that's another story) wasn't for another week so I decided to spend another day at the ER. Normally if you're over 20 weeks they'll send you straight to L&D but I insisted that they keep me there and check out my other organs. I was admitted and after describing my symptoms I was given a series of tests besides the usual urine sample and blood draw: x-ray, cat scan, ultrasound (on my upper abdomen, not the baby), some kind of heart monitor and a few other things I can't pronounce. The doctors couldn't guarantee that the tests would be safe for the fetus or that they would be covered by my insurance, neither of which were comforting. I had to get an IV for the first time and be pushed around in a wheelchair.

After seven hours I was told that everything was fine and to get my clothes back on. I was so angry, confused, and upset that I couldn't even cry. I had run out of tears over the past month. These people that were supposed to be helping me couldn't give me any answers, and it was extremely disappointing. And the sad part is that every time something like this happens, my trust issues are heightened. I couldn't help but mutter to myself, "next time I'm doing a home birth!" The emotional pain was starting to outweigh the physical at that point.

I was going to see my OBGYN in five days so during that time I did lots of stretching including my usual pre-natal yoga classes. Being on all fours seemed to help because it took pressure off whatever was swollen. Besides that, the only position that felt comfortable was laying on my back with a heating pad. I'd learned recently that I wasn't supposed to be on my back during these last months but I decided to risk it. My Lamaze instructor suggested I put a pillow under one hip so I did that. Walking, standing, sitting, and laying on my side all hurt, but when I needed to do one of those things I sucked it up and did my best to ignore the pain. I also spoke with my aunt, uncle, and cousin who are all in the medical field, and they had a few more suggestions of what it could be but all I could do was wait. Best-case scenario was that I had simple, common rib pain but I still had an inkling that it was something more.

I finally saw the new doctor and though I had never met him before I instantly felt comfortable. I had done tons of research before choosing him and it paid off. After checking the baby's heartbeat, feeling my belly for his position, and a routine pelvic exam, he studied my medical records (including the test results from the ER) and said that I have hydronephrosis. Now, why the ER docs couldn't figure this out is beyond me, but maybe they didn't notice it in the results or had forgotten to tell me? Who knows.

Hydronephrosis is a fancy word for the uterus pushing on my ureter, which connects the bladder and kidney. This causes the kidney to blow up like a balloon and the pain is supposed to be comparable to a kidney stone. I was glad that I had finally gotten what I wanted -- an answer -- but unfortunately it wasn't the one I wanted to hear. There is no cure to what I have and can only be surgically treated if I absolutely cannot pee (which shouldn't happen as long as I continue to drink tons of fluids). I just have to wait until the baby comes and until then relax, a lot, which I am notoriously bad at. Reading this blog post (which I found while googling "should I do yoga while on bed rest") made me feel a little less left out.

Over the weekend while moving I think I worked myself a little too hard because after too much caffeine and packing on Saturday (followed by very little sleep) I had cramps all day Sunday. They were too low and not regular enough to be contractions but still crippling. It was a disappointing reality check and I know that for now I can't expel the same amount of energy that I've been able to before. The next day I took it easy and felt a lot better. I know that this is temporary and I'll be okay.

If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, I'm not telling you this stuff to scare you. There are literally hundreds of things that can happen during pregnancy and labor and motherhood and everyone's experiences are different. But I have always wanted to share my life, and here it is. Hopefully when our little one arrives, I can look back and say it was all worth it.

*Photo by Megan Burke on July 25, 2014 in San Fernando, CA. More from this shoot coming soon to TLL!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Links :: Best Mom + Baby Posts / Weekly Roundup 3

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I promise I'll be back with pregnancy updates soon (things have been a little cray around here) but I've collected some fun links to hold you over. Enjoy!

Tips for postpartum wellness. I'll need them in just a few short weeks!

A sparkling water recipe for both moms and their kids.

Are the twos really that terrible?

I should probably start meal planning so I can be a good little mommy, and The Fresh 20 looks like it would make things easier. Then again, I could just make B cook. Yeah, that sounds good. ;) I might have to start consuming meat again, though -- he's a total carnivore! I seriously have to nag him to eat his vegetables. (Hopefully our son is a little more cooperative.)

One-handed (and delicious-looking) snacks for new moms.

Glad I'm not the only one feeling like this.

The cutest little girls' room.

"Much of our society has embraced the women's liberation movement that encourages women to usurp their husband's authority in the home. This is clearly a result of Satan's direct attack on families." Oy. I'm a Christian, but I totally disagree with this. Relationships are about compromise, and both parties should have a say in decision-making.

A lovely ode to the mother's postpartum belly.

How to survive pregnancy in the summer. I'm guzzling water like it's the Sahara.

On the adjustment period after having your first child.

"So if you're a working parent, please remember that working doesn't have to have a negative connotation to kids and represent the times that their parents are away from them, but it can represent something exciting -- accomplishing goals, building dreams, having a life outside being a parent, and lots of other things that none of us should feel guilty for." More here.

A funny story about breastfeeding class.

Take a day to let your kid choose her own adventure.

The coolest stroller ever.

"I couldn’t feed my own child nor did he even have the ability to gaze at me or coo in response to my voice. He was a stranger, really, hardly present. Those blissful feelings of maternal love were nowhere to be found, though I faked them well enough and smiled proudly at my son in front of others while grieving and hiding in a fetal position at night. I wanted him to die, not because of who he was, but because of who I was –- a mistake of a mother." More here.

*Photo credit.
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