Monthly Archives: January 2014

My Pregnancy is the Billy Mays of Bad News

“But wait, there’s more!”

I thought of this yesterday and decided to repeat it eighteen times. Cause it was clever.

Last Saturday Team Gwinn went to the gym. I tried all the modified lower body workouts the chiropractors suggested, and by the end of it all I was sore, but walked out. We grabbed lunch, drove home. By the time we pulled into the garage, I couldn’t walk (I sat in the car for five minutes? Maybe three miles?). Like, for real, couldn’t walk. I dragged myself up the stairs, let Captain Laser Pants manage mini Gwinn, and crawled (yes, crawled) into the shower. For the next four hours, if I needed to pee or eat something, I rolled off our bed and crawled to it. That following Tuesday, after over two hours of massage and adjustments, the chiropractor told me to expect to be in a much more constrictive support brace very soon, that I may need to be induced early to alleviate the pain, and, before the end of my third trimester, to be on bed rest.

I laughed. How would anyone expect a mom of a toddler to lay in bed? We don’t have help, we don’t have family in the area. Bed rest is absurd. You may as well tell me that some barn animals are going to come over twice a week just to mill around in my living room and poop on stuff.

I had my glucose test that Wednesday. Mini Gwinn charmed the nurses and staff, my OB cooed at his every uttering. On Thursday the nurse called to tell me my platelet count was 80,000. The low normal is 150,000. Below 100,000 at delivery and you can’t have an epidural. 50,000 scores you a blood transfusion. To amp your count up before delivery, they do transfusions and steroids. Inducing after 37 weeks isn’t unheard of. The nurse told me I’d need to come in for additional blood work.

I drove in to the hospital on Friday because I started spotting. My OB wanted me to get an ultrasound to check on our little guy and go ahead and have my blood taken for further testing. While I was waiting for the ultrasound, I started having debilitating kidney pain. The baby hadn’t moved much that morning, and with all the stress, I started to cry. The ultrasound office staff was SO kind, but the pain took a very long time to subside. The technician let me hear our little guy’s heartbeat and took some pictures to calm my nerves- he was ok, even if I wasn’t. Then she checked my kidneys. Both were abnormally enlarged, even for pregnancy. She urged my doctor to suggest a visit to the urologist, but there’s nothing they can do for kidney stones while pregnant, including confirming the existence of kidney stones.

So the lab took several vials of blood, leaving both my arms blue and bruised. The lab technician told me they were sending my blood to a hematologist, not to lift anything heavy (does a 35 lb. toddler count?), and to take it easy. They’d call on Monday with results.

Yesterday the nurse called to tell me that my blood was put into vials with coagulate in them, thus hindering the testing (whatever that means), and that I would need to make the 25 mile drive back to the hospital to give more blood.

The good news is that our little guy (whom we affectionately call “Graham cracker”) is big and STRONG. We have full on viewings of his acrobatics now and can watch him move my entire abdomen. He moves for HOURS at a time. I’m glad that he’s growing healthily, even if I’m internally shutting down.

Also, Atlanta is getting snow for the first time in three years. Traffic is gridlocked and the city is closing up shop.

If zombie Billy Mays pops up and tells me there’s more, I’m going to go Daryl Dixon (that’s zombie for “postal”).


Two Years and Two Months

I haven’t written about mini Gwinn’s shenanigans in a while, in part because said shenanigans keep me away from the computer for days at a time. But here are some pretty rad things little dude is up to these days.

He is SUPER into painting lately. And it’s adorable to hear him say “paint” all day, even when we’re in an elevator at the doctor’s office, or at the store, or when he first wakes up. If I let him, he’ll paint for hours. I’ve started mixing up “bath paint” as well- 1 part finger paint to 3 parts shaving cream, and he paints the bathtub.

He’s learning shapes and colors these days (organically, I’m not pushing a “sit down” education with him, he’s way too busy to sit still), and his favorite shapes to identify are stars and circles; his favorite color to find is “puh-poo” (purple). He was even painting circles with his shaving cream and paint brush in the tub last night. I’m a proud mama. He’s clearly a Dali or Van Gogh in the making (just kidding. All kids are special, yadda yadda yadda, and I don’t want him to be as tortured as Van Gogh).

He makes “girlfriends” every where he goes, as in, flirts with women, shamelessly. He talks to them, bats his eyelashes, tucks his chin to his chest, and waves goodbye. In rare instances, if he really likes the lady, he shows off by doing something really weird, like laying down on the ground or squatting. He gets his awkward flirting skills from his father.

He doesn’t know what to do with bullies. A couple times last week some bigger kids pushed him down and yelled at him, and he had no idea what to do. The bigger boy really hurt his feelings, and he ran to me, so I yelled at the piece of crap kid. I may or may not have said to my own son, in front of the crap kid, that I would punch him if he didn’t have a mom (another mom overheard this and got a hearty belly laugh). Just a few minutes later I saw this loser kid push another small toddler and his mom did nothing. Maybe I need to start punching people, instead of just thinking it. My sisters tell me I hit like a guy. It may do everyone a world of good to get a kidney punch. Any way. Call me crazy, but it warms my heart a little bit to see that my little guy is still tender and sweet enough to not hit back. Granted, when he’s old enough, I’m going to tell him what I heard my parents say: Don’t you ever start a fight, but you better finish it if someone starts it with you. And I’ll teach him how to use the heel of his hand to jam it into a bully’s nose. And indoctrinate him that Captain America is the superhero to emulate. Stand up for the little guys. Mind your manners. And kick serious tail when required.

Ok, I’m digressing. He also has started throwing tantrums. But about stupid, stupid things. Like putting on clothes if we need to go out. He screams and kicks about putting on a clean tee shirt, or a new pair of sweatpants, kicks and screams all the way down the stairs to the car, throws himself on the ground when I attempt to put on his shoes, and then once he’s buckled into his seat, acts as if the tantrum never happened. This is not something I find cute or redeeming, but it’s something he’s doing that’s new nonetheless, and I’m sharing it with you all. One of my sisters likes to tell everyone that my kid is so perfect even his poop doesn’t stink, so I’m telling you all: he’s only mostly perfect. He throws tantrums and refuses to eat his vegetables, just like every other twenty six month old.

He’s a big fan of wrestling. And I love picking him up by an arm and a leg and throwing him on our bed, tickling him, or pinning him down and tousling his hair. If it’s one area where I totally know what I’m doing in motherhood, it’s wrestling with my little guy. I feel badly for boys that don’t get this from their parents. Boys need the physical interaction and outlet, and there really isn’t anything so sweet as his peals of laughter filling the air in our four walls.

Mini Gwinn is also becoming more snuggly, oddly enough. He’s never been a cuddly kid, but he has several moments a day where he runs into my legs and bear hugs them, or wants to be held so he can wrap an arm around my neck with his little fingers in my hair, or when he grabs my cheeks and pulls me in for a lippy kiss (yes, lippy kiss. They’re the sweetest, goopiest, wet little lip kisses. And they’re my favorite.). When he’s first waking up or going down for a nap, he likes to lean against the railing of his crib with his head on my chest for a sweet hug. I love his chaos (most of the time), but those moments of affection just melt me totally.

In other news, my doc warned me of bed rest in my near future, as well as a more restrictive support brace, and potentially early inducing for delivery. I’ll write the full update when I’ve got a hot cup of coffee and more free time.

 


Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, Or Why I Hate Everything

So, remember me talking about a pinched nerve in my pubic bone?

I’m tough. I complain about minor aches and pains, but the real stuff- I’ll muscle through it with a tylenol or nothing at all. Grunt. Keep going. So when I say that rolling over from one side to the other at night is excruciating, I’m for real. Getting up to pee in the  middle of the night may as well be a part of boot camp torture for me. Going up stairs, or getting out of the car, sometimes walking- any time my legs separate too widely, I immediately hate everything and want to turn green and rip off my clothes and Hulk out.

Turns out, it’s not a nerve (although that’s a good way to describe the pain). It’s symphysis pubis dysfunction. If you don’t want to check out the Wikipedia link I’ve included, it’s basically when the symphysis pubis (your pubic bone is not one whole bone, it’s two that come together with ligaments between the bones) separates unevenly during pregnancy and HURTS LIKE —-. I was tired of my OB group not having anything to say other than “it’s normal” to be in this much pain. For some reason, OB-GYNs seem horrendously uneducated on something that can affect up to 20% of pregnancies. So I went to a chiropractor that specializes in treating pregnancy pain. My general opinion on chiropractors before I met my new one was that about half of them are snake oil salesmen and the other half have gotten a bad name because of the bad ones. I was pretty stoked to meet this one- not only is he a long time chiropractor, but he also has a focus in physical therapy AND specializes in pregnancy pain. Score for me.

So, I went in, not knowing at all what to expect, but knowing I was officially over being in close to constant pain and not taken seriously by doctors. After meeting the staff, the senior chiro of the office went to work just massaging my lower back. For over 30 minutes. He told me that my sacrum was severely turned and causing major swelling in my lower back, to the point where the skin was actually pale and pulled taut. Then the female chiro (I think she’s a resident?) explained that because the sacrum was so turned and swollen, it was pulling the muscles over my sciatic nerve taut and putting pressure on my sciatic nerve. Dur. No wonder my legs, in addition to my butt, back, and lady parts, hurt so dang badly. After reducing the swelling, doc told me to ice the area every day. Then the female chiro came in with an activator to adjust my pubic bone (I was clothed the whole time, btdubs). Apparently my left side had gone wayward- drifting out and down substantially while my right side was in place and trying to hold it all together. I was fitted with a support belt, given a list of modified exercises I can do for lower body at the gym, and sent on my way.

During the massage the doctor commented on the fact that I don’t have a single stretch mark. I told him I was cursed with acne scars but genetically blessed with no stretch marks. He told me that this meant my body heals quickly, I would probably have little to no scar tissue in the instance of an internal trauma, and that it’s healthily elastic, except for the case of the drifting symphysis pubis, of course. Human bodies are so cool, guys. Who knew that something as seemingly cosmetic as stretch marks would tell a doctor so much more?  I’d like to think my ancestors were BAs on the battlefield or in hunting parties, surviving animal attacks and going on like it was no big deal, or giving birth in the rice field (I know, I’m not Chinese. They don’t have cheese fields in Switzerland or pretzel fields in Germany) and continuing about their work immediately after an easy delivery. Any way. Genetics are fascinating.

The doc started running through the workout modifications I could do, and then told me to really advocate to my doctors that I shouldn’t deliver on my back. My best friend and I talked about this while I was pregnant with mini Gwinn- it’s not natural at all for a woman to labor and deliver on her back. It goes against every instinct to do so. The chiropractor was telling me that it could do long term damage to the symphysis pubis to deliver while laying down, and I told her that I wasn’t able to really run for several months after my first delivery. She nodded and told me that only about 7% of women who have SPD experience the long term pain like I had. Great. Captain Laser Pants said that it would be a hard sell to convince a delivery doctor otherwise.

Next week I’m taking in lots of information on symphysis pubis dysfunction to my OB. She’s a great doctor, but COME ON- how did this go ignored in my first pregnancy and dismissed this one by so many doctors? If you go through this in a pregnancy and a doctor tells you “it’s normal”, IT ISN’T NORMAL. Advocate for yourself.

In other news, my birthday was this past Sunday, and I want to thank the lovely ladies that made my day so special!! Love you all so much.

Big plans this weekend, interwebs?

 


Thought Vomit

Just a quick post to vent off some thoughts. Or thought vomit. Your call.

-Are “skinny jeans” actually “skinny” if you’re really fat?

-I don’t think people know what “clean eating” and “Paleo diet” mean. I’m really tired of seeing “clean/ Paleo recipes” with regular old chocolate chips, cheese, milk, etc.

-By that same token, if a recipe has 14,000 ingredients, and they are things like “coconut flour hand milled in your own home”, “homemade vegan cheese”, or something else equally impossible for a pregnant mom with three dogs and a whirlwind toddler, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

-I made homemade almond butter (for real easy, especially by comparison to hand milling your own coconut flour). It’s good enough to eat solo. And a lot cheaper than store bought biz.

-Lego Marvel on PS4 is a really fun game.


Dairy Free for the Baby

I have “Midwestern”in my bones. Casseroles = hot dishes. Snowy nights. “You betcha”. And drinking cow’s milk like it’s my job.

Throughout my first pregnancy, I drank several whey protein shakes a day. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk, specifically, fyi. It’s one of the proteins found in cow’s milk, along with casein. While nursing my newborn, I continued the protein drink regimen because it was filling, healthy, and gave me plenty of protein to keep up my supply. He was a miserable newborn, and the culprit: whey protein.

This is a common problem. There have been several medical studies done to support what I’m about to say: whey protein causes colic in many, MANY newborns. Why? Tiny human digestive systems aren’t meant to break down these kinds of proteins. If you think about it, cows have FOUR stomachs. Their milk is meant for their calves, who have digestive enzymes to break down whey and casein proteins found in cow’s milk. A significant portion of the population, as adults, has digestive issues associated with the consumption of cow’s milk. Humans are the only animals who willingly drink another mammal’s milk (except when necessitated, like when a little kitten is orphaned…). Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying infants are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a kind of sugar found in cow’s milk, not a protein. Furthermore, an inability to digest whey protein isn’t an allergy, it’s an inability to digest whey protein. I’m not talking about a rash, I’m talking about gut wrenching pain from rotten, undigested proteins creating gas in the intestines in a little baby.

Got it? Good.

Both my mother and mother in law have reported that Captain Laser Pants and I were VERY colic-y babies. Upon inspection, I found out that both our mothers consumed dairy while nursing (my dad later told me I was also on a formula supplement, and most infant formulas, especially from 29 years ago, were cow- milk based). Whey protein intolerance is genetic. So, when our pediatrician and pediatric gastrointestinoligist (that’s a mouthful) finally discovered the culprit of my always- in- pain- never stops crying- newborn, I stopped nursing immediately (milk proteins can stay in your system for a long time, and I wasn’t able to cut it out of my diet) and switched to a pretty pricey formula (called Nutramigen). After burning through $2,000 in formula in the first year of our baby boy’s life, CLP and I knew that if we were to have a second child, the second baby would a) have a 95% chance of having the same intolerance to whey and b)I would have to quit dairy entirely before the kiddo was born.

That being said, ya’ll, I love to cook. And bake. And drink milk, and eat cheese, and donuts, and ice cream. And although I know how unhealthy cow’s milk is (cows are getting dosed with growth hormones to produce way more milk these days, and this hormone is linked to early puberty in girls as well as a higher likelihood of contracting prostate cancer in men), it just tastes so creamy and yummy. But I’m combating this deep seeded desire to consume a gallon of milk a day with other options.I’m swapping the dairy habit for things like dairy free creamer in my coffee, almond milk for cereal and baking, and coconut oil or olive oil for cooking. I can make ice cream with frozen bananas and make fudge without a smidgen of dairy (I even made raw vegan chocolate pudding and -gasp- liked it!). Some days are hard, cause I really REALLY want to bite into a Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bar, but mostly, I’m able to curb the cravings. Tonight I made chicken tortilla soup for dinner, with which we usually have sour cream and shredded cheese to accompany the bed of crumbled tortilla chips and delicious soup. I opted for chopped avocado instead, and while it wasn’t the same, it was still pretty dang good. It’s not easy, but with the exception of a candy bar, I’ve pretty much found a solution to each dairy problem. To keep up my protein intake, I’m doing an all natural egg white protein shake to replace my whey protein- great for after workouts or when I need to consume some calories and feel full. Homemade cakes don’t need cow’s milk or butter. There are dairy free creamers out there for coffee.

And, really, knowing that $2,000+ won’t be going toward formula next year, and knowing that this will be something we will avoid with our second little guy, I already feel great about going dairy free.

 


Nothing Important

Love ’em or leave ’em, the guys on Duck Dynasty have some funny things to say. Captain Laser Pants and I have many belly laughs while watching the show. One quote I heard from Phil, the patriarch, though, stuck with me. I can’t find it verbatim (if you search his name and ‘quote’, you mostly get results from the GQ hit piece written up on him. Don’t think it’s a hit piece? Did you read it? I digress.), but it was something to the extent of: women leave their families, change their name to yours, have your children, raise your children, keep your house […] go easy on them.

If I had heard that five years ago, I would have wondered if women had any say in their marriages at all.

Now? I get it.

I love my husband. I love my precious, sometimes wild, son. I love the little nugget growing inside my body, despite how crappy I feel. while growing him. I love that my husband’s career affords us the luxury for me to stay home to raise our boys.

But.

Of course there’s a ‘but’. I miss having financial independence. I miss silence. I miss the distinct satisfaction of having an entirely spotless home. I miss feeling like I had some contributing value to society, whether it be through my efforts in my career, volunteer work, or just having something thoughtful to say in an adult conversation.

I miss adult conversation. I miss being heard. A two year old boy and the three dogs that usually surround him do not hear me, let alone listen to me. I miss having something clever to say that wasn’t about someone eating crayons or ingesting Vick’s vapor rub or how many surfaces can be covered in poop in less than thirty seconds. I miss my husband hearing me as an intelligent resource for witty repartee or insightful wisdom and not just a source for where more wipes are located. I miss being heard.

When I was studying in college, I thought I would have my master’s in Library Science by now. I thought I’d be flourishing in my specialty of children’s literature. I thought I’d be certified to be an American Sign Language interpreter and working with deaf children. I thought I’d be pursuing my passions and utilizing my set of talents. I thought I’d see the faces of children that were learning and my thanks for my work would be on those little cheeks.

Marriage was hardly on the radar, children weren’t even on the screen.

Although I understood the existential insignificance of my life (what I do or want to do won’t ever impact the way the world turns or thinks), I never thought I’d live day to day with it blaring in my face.

I cook and I clean and I sweep and I mop and I do dishes and I clean crap off the soles of shoes and I cut hair and I feed dogs and I pick up endless toys while my body aches and I’m so tired and no one says “thank you”.

No one ever tells you what a hard job motherhood truly is. Society tells us over and over again that women who stay home to raise children are lazy or stupid and selfish for not contributing to the financial gain of the house. But they’re so, so wrong. It’s not bio-engineering, but my job is hard. And there aren’t seasonal reviews or cost of living raises at the end of each year. And there aren’t “thank yous”.

I love my family. But I would also love to be thanked once in a while.

To those outside these four walls, and even to those inside them, what I do looks like nothing important. If the laundry isn’t done, America doesn’t go to war. But I’ve put aside my old hopes and dreams to pursue the career of taking care of a family. My family.

And I wonder how that stacks up against those great, influential men and women who gave up everything to pursue their dreams.

Is theirs a bigger sacrifice? I suppose it’s all relative.


Pregnancy 2.0- Before to 20 weeks

Hey gang, I hope you kids had an exciting New Year’s. Team Gwinn went to bed before 9 PM. Some of our redneck neighbors shot off fireworks from 10-1, but that didn’t really stop us from getting our beauty rest.

So, in other news, I’m 22 weeks with our second boy! WOOHOO! We’re 66.6% settled on his name (cannot agree on a middle name, despite my many brilliant ideas), and talking to mini Gwinn about his baby brother still brings mostly non-interest at best and “do you want to be a big brother?” questions followed by an adamant “NO” as his response. Well… tough nugget, kiddo. Cause this is happenin’.

Anyway. Here’s some big ol’ belly progress from pre-pregnancy to 20 weeks. I’ve already gained so much weight, but have to keep reminding myself that I can lose it (and bonus, I don’t get stretch marks, so I’ve got that going for me…).

Spring 2013- about 10% body fat

Spring 2013- about 10% body fat

Side view of pre-pregnancy 2013. Spring. Ribs, people. They're in there somewhere...
Side view of pre-pregnancy 2013. Spring. Ribs, people. They’re in there somewhere…

 

Side view around 10 weeks. Don't I look stoked to be showing so early?

Side view around 10 weeks. Don’t I look stoked to be showing so early?

Front view around 10 weeks. Arms still rockin' some cut, but holy smokes. Gelatinous belly abounds.

Front view around 10 weeks. Arms still rockin’ some cut, but holy smokes. Gelatinous belly abounds.

14 weeks

14 weeks

18 weeks- Thanksgivin' ya'll.

18 weeks- Thanksgivin’ ya’ll.

19 weeks- gym clothes, despite their desperate attempts to stretch, no longer fit.

19 weeks- gym clothes, despite their desperate attempts to stretch, no longer fit.

20 weeks- that was the last day I wore my size 3 jeans. -sniff-

20 weeks- that was the last day I wore my size 3 jeans. -sniff-

It’s not the weight gain that blows my mind so much as the CRAZY curve of my spine. Human bodies do cray things, ya’ll.

 

I’m battling a cold, mini Gwinn is fighting something similar, but he’s in a way better mood than me. Nothing phases this kid! I sure hope his little bro is as easy going as he is.

Time to get some tom kha and see if red rooster sauce will clear my sinuses.

Dairy free is difficult. I’ll have to write a whole post on the subject. I can’t think of anything more difficult to cut out than sugar.

Adios!