Monthly Archives: December 2013

We’re Having a …






See the blue cupcake mini Gwinn is demolishing?
I made a surprise cake and cupcakes to tell my fam.

We’re having a boy!


Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Pregnancy

I’m the first to admit that I’m a Sally Sad Pants for the majority of my pregnancies. It’s not just the physical aspect of major discomfort, but the mental damage a seemingly exponentially growing body can have on my psyche.

The pinched pubic bone nerve is legit now. With mini Gwinn, I used ice packs, support girdles, yoga- anything I could do to alleviate the pain, I tried. My doctor didn’t have much advice to give on the issue, and it’s not exactly like you can get a massage to help this. It’s back full swing, and taking a toll on my day to day. When I roll over in my sleep, or get out of bed, or out of a car, go up and down stairs- pretty much any movement where your legs move at all- I feel shooting pain. Good times, right? Really, if it was just the physical stuff that I was combating (you know, the growing belly, the bizarrely curving spine to accommodate the baby ‘bump’, swollen feet, etc), I could probably manage this second go around the block.

But, like I’ve written about long ago on this blog, I also have body dysmorphic disorder. It’s not a commonly known mental disorder because it’s one enveloped in shame. Those of us that have been diagnosed with it (and those that haven’t) don’t want to talk about it. It’s an obsessive mental disorder that focuses on a few flaws, perceived or real, in one’s appearance. For me, those flaws that I’m neurotic about are my face and my weight. Since I’m prone to acne, particularly while pregnant and postpartum, my skin looks like a topographical map. And my weight? Well, I’m not one of those fortunate goddesses who only gains 13 pounds while pregnant. I think my boobs weigh that much now.

Is it sacrilegious to buy a burka and niqab?

Any way. I try to keep my mouth shut about it. When polite inquirers ask how I’m feeling, I refrain from saying, “Fat.” But this little corner of the interwebs is my sound board, so I’m telling you. When someone tells me to cheer up or shut up or “just think about your baby!”, it’s like telling someone with depression to “just feel better”. Do you tell someone with a broken leg to just feel better? No? That’s because it’s a “real”, physical issue. Mental disorders aren’t perceived as “real” to many. But the fact is that BDD has been crippling in many instances in my life. I’m embarrassed to be seen in public, dreading to even go to my doctor’s office tomorrow. And the last thing I need is to be shamed for feeling ashamed. Except for maybe another pinched nerve. That’s probably the actual last thing I need.



Pregnancy after Accutane

Even though it wasn’t covered much in the blogaroonie, I was on ‘accutane’ (technically “isotretinoin”, accutane is no longer on the market. I was on Claravis and Amnesteem) for 8 months between 2012 and 2013. The standard round for this medication is 4 months, if that gives you any indication to the nature of my cystic acne. According to what my dermatologist said, I was on a double dose for my weight, as well as double the standard round. It was  fairly hard on my body (like moderate joint pain), but over the long period of time I was on it, my blood work stayed good enough that I wasn’t technically at risk.

After mini Gwinn was born, my skin went absolutely haywire. I developed painful cysts all over my face that stayed for weeks. Every time my newborn touched my skin, I cringed. When I saw the dermatologist, she told me I really had no other option aside from isotretinoin to help. Between his birth and this spring (around 18 months), I was left with dramatic scarring, especially on my cheeks. The medication doesn’t fix the scarring, but it does prevent more cysts from forming.

During my first pregnancy, I had several bouts of breakouts, but nothing like what was to come once my little guy was born. Now? I’m still having small breakouts once in a while. But it bodes well for after pregnancy. At least, I’m hopeful. There’s a chance that I’ll have to do another short round (4 months) after this delivery. We’ll see.


Let’s Be Real

It cannot be glossed over any longer: this pregnancy is hard.

So far it isn’t has been as difficult as the first. But I’ve already started swelling in my hands and feet. And the pinched sciatic nerve. And the acid reflux that is triggered by everything, including water (despite 60 mg a day of omeprazole). And the sleeplessness. And the kidney pain (probably from kidney stones, again). And now the pinched nerve in my pubic bone. Again.

Chasing an active two year old doesn’t help. He helps keep my mind off the discomfort usually, but then there are moments where the pain in my back is excruciating and I can’t bend over to restrain mini Gwinn from throwing eggs out of the fridge.

I would consider cutting off an arm to get a massage and a pedicure and a full night’s sleep. And clothes that fit comfortably.

I told Captain Laser Pants that the only thing I think I could do to myself that would be worse would be willingly putting myself in a state prison. He laughed. But really. I genuinely dislike everything about being pregnant (and the first three-four months after). He seems to realize how much I love him that I would torture myself in such a heinous way for him.

In other news, I think I love dairy too much to quit it. Especially cookies and eggnog (for now). December 26th is going to be a rough, rough day.

Happy Friday the 13th, interwebs.

Traditional Christmas

Not gonna lie, interwebs. I really love the Christmas season.

When I was single, I was really bitter about Christmas, and that had a lot to do with my own happiness in relationships. The first Christmas I truly enjoyed as an adult was the one where I took Captain Laser Pants to meet my family. That was the weekend I knew I wanted to marry him. Since then, the holiday has become more joyful than I could expect (with a little family stress here and there- the act of traveling is such a pain!), largely because I have two incredible loves in my life with whom I can share the season. Decorating for Christmas is a spiritual gift in my family (you should see my mom’s tree and my sisters’ trees!), and I have to confess that I take part in it. Pictures don’t do my tree justice. This year it’s a six foot- wide, over eight foot- tall Fraser fir (real, of course), and because it’s smaller than last year’s tree, is now dripping with ornaments. The collection of German blown glass ornaments (the ones that inspire thoughts of Christmases from 75 years ago) is ever growing. We have everything from robots and hot dogs to more traditional balls and Santa Claus-esque ornaments. I love it.

After fussing with the tree for days (it has over 1200 lights on it, for crying out loud), I felt like I had to start a hundred other holiday projects. Neighbor gifts (we like our neighbors a lot), Christmas cookie baking and decorating, planning gifts, making memories- but it felt forced. “Now we must read Night Before Christmas and sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolate and sing carols!” As if one can force the making of precious Christmas memories. Silly me.

Team Gwinn has some traditions that we’ve put in place for our own little family, including watching Elf and buying new family ornaments with a theme every year (the first year was robots, the second was dinosaurs, and this year was a family of foxes [four were included!]). My own family is steeped in tradition. Every year we all get together at my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story from the Bible, open presents, and eat some of the redonkulously good cookies my sister and mom make. They’ve always had an upstairs tree (think pastels with Victorian ornaments) and a downstairs tree (colored lights, ornaments the siblings made over the years as kids), lights on the hedges outside their house, and candles in the windows. Regardless of what we were given, even when times were tight, some of my happiest memories from growing up are wrapped in Christmas.

Needless to say, I’m pretty darn traditional when it comes to this particular holiday. I love going to carol sings and candlelight services at churches, hearing choirs, and sipping eggnog by a fire.More importantly, though, is the tradition surrounding the core family. I’m really protective of Christmas morning with my husband and child. Unless there’s a fire or flood, I always go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Call me crazy, but I feel like traditions are part of the glue of a family. And when you finally have your own, it’s even more important to have traditions that are yours (largely so if you grew up without a core family or traditions) to pass on to your children.

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Even though he was too small last year to help, one of the traditions we’re working on building in Team Gwinn is having mini Gwinn assist with the tree decorating. Letting him choose from the shatterproof (read: plastic and stuffed) ornaments and then asking him where they should go- totally precious. Yes, there may be seventeen ornaments on one branch, but that’s his branch that he decorated. And hearing him yell “twee! Wights!” when he wakes up and runs to the tree? Heart melting. This is his last year as the only little one in the home, so I want to make memories (saved with pictures, cause I doubt he’ll retain them from this age) with him at the center. He wants to try making cookie dough? Go for it. Stringing lights on the tree? You betcha. He really enjoys looking at the Christmas lights, which means a few night excursions to see what the neighbors have in their yards. Maybe a ‘hood tour with some eggnog and Christmas carols playing in the car will be another Gwinn tradition. Who knows.

What do you and your family/families do for the holidays? I would love to hear about your traditions!

Musical Marvel

When I was pregnant with mini Gwinn, I played Bach’s cello suite number one – prelude to my growing belly three times a day, every day (yes, every day).

It’s a very well known piece of instrumental music, and Yo Yo Ma’s version (the one I played) is a half step lower than the written original, so it gives more allowance for the cello to really show off its rich timbre in the piece (hi, music major).

The day after he was born, while we were still in the hospital, I played it for his newborn ears. And as he was laying his sweet little cheek on my shoulder, he turned towards the music to better hear it. To see it in person was pretty darn awesome.

But now? When he’s having a rare toddler moment of fussing or a temper tantrum, I can play that same piece of music, and, miraculously, he stops. He calms down. He centers himself. If he’s sad or scared, this song, especially if he’s in my arms, comforts him.

Pretty incredible, if you ask me.

So now I try to play that same song to 2.0 in hopes of achieving the same kind of success as I had with my oldest.


Humans are fascinating.