Why A Birth Center and Midwife

I want to be clear first: I think modern medicine and hospitals are awesome. Seriously, they have been my good friend this pregnancy. Rehydrated me 6 times now due to hyperemesis. My son bashed his chin open a few weeks ago and the wonderful local children’s hospital glued him back together. I had repeated tonsillitis and ear infections (so bad it was damaging my immune system) in college, my amazing ENT took out my tonsils and my hospital took great care of me afterwards. Seriously, wonderful and totally awesome when you need that kind of treatment. But I don’t view a pregnancy with no major complications as a something that needs that kind of treatment.

 

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Jack was a few hours old, both of us doing good.

Jack’s birth was good. Nothing horrible happened and we were both given reasonable care. It was very standard Medical Model of Care. They followed protocol and did all they could to ensure we both were healthy and alive. I gave birth in a very busy county hospital, so some resources took longer to get. But when they did come, they tried hard to give us good care with the limited time they had. Overall, I say it was just good.

However, now that I am more educated on birth, I want better than good. I want my requests respected (within reason). I want the Midwife Model of Care this time. In a nutshell, the Midwife Model of Care believes that birth is a natural process that your body already knows how to do on its own. You just need a little guidance and enough time to relax to do it. There is still medical care offered—a midwife doesn’t just leave you alone for 40 weeks and only show up if you have a problem in labor. Standard procedures like blood tests, ultrasounds, and exams are offered. The key difference is you build a closer relationship with your midwife, so you feel comfort and trust her during the birth process.

That last part was what drew me to midwife the most. My OB with Jack was not the person who delivered him. I adored her and wish she had delivered him, but that’s not how my clinic worked. The on-call OB at the hospital at the time delivered Jack. I had no idea anything about her, only her name and that she was a doctor. I didn’t know her stance on natural childbirth practices, c-section rate, or anything else. And I had no choice but to just trust this random woman when I was the most vulnerable. It was worked out okay, but it’s not something I want to do again. There are a few things I want to avoid now that I know better.

First of all, when I got to the hospital, they did not believe me that my water actually broke. The triage nurse looked at me like I was lying…despite the fact that I was carrying a SOAKED towel between my legs. She left me standing next to the bed leaking and gave me no instructions. I had a contraction, so I leaned over the bed and set my towel on the tray. She came back in and freaked out! Threw the towel at my husband and said NO NO NO! She immediately got cleaning supplies and sanitized everything again…leaving me hunched over wanting to cry from the contraction and still no instructions. Then she left again. I just grabbed the gown on the bed, got undressed, and laid down. She came back in and asked if I was having contractions. I looked at her crazy and said yes. I told her they were 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long. She kinda rolled her eyes. She hooked me up and looked very surprised to see I was right. Then she asked for a urine sample. I told her I did not have to pee and really needed to lay down because my contractions were coming faster. She said I had to, they needed a urine sample to admit me. So Michael helped me hobble to the bathroom. I tried, but only got a big gush of fluid. I came out and told the nurse I couldn’t. She took the cup and said fine, she will check to see if it’s actually amniotic fluid. Then she announced it indeed amniotic fluid and without saying anything else really, she checked me. I was 2 cm. I was kinda bothered that she didn’t ask first, but it got me away from her faster so I didn’t argue. She left without saying anything again and came back close to an hour later. At this point, I was starting to transition. I couldn’t talk during my contractions and was started to shake. While Michael was asking if I wanted him to sign the epidural form just in case, I started to vomit. The nurse once again couldn’t believe it so she checked me again, I was close to 5 cm. They quickly took me to my room and I was so happy to be away from that nurse. Looking back, I can understand her attitude. She had to follow the Medical Model of Care and I was not following the procedure she was set to do. I didn’t come in as a women not sure if she was in labor who had the time wait as she checked all the boxes. That being said, she did have poor bedside manner.

In my room, I was progressing so fast and was exhausted. I knew I needed an epidural to relax. They needed my blood work results before the anesthesiologist could come. One nurse really fought for me. She put a STAT order on my blood work and refreshed the screen every 5 minutes to check. Then once the results came, she called the anesthesiologist immediately. She held me while the needle went in and stroked my hair when I had contraction at the same time. So, I know nurses can be very amazing and really help you when you need it.

 

Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?
Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?

However, there were some other issues. She and another nurse kept insisting that I had lay on my back for continuous monitoring. I physically couldn’t. That made contractions unbearable. Plus, I knew on your back is the worst position possible for labor progression. And continuous monitoring is unnecessary if there are no complications. I did go onto my back for a bit every hour or so to check if Jack was still okay, but flipped back on my side once they said it was good. I finally asked if there a major reason why and they said no, just protocol. Then they backed off. Once again, they didn’t do anything bad really. They had a system to follow, but my body’s needs didn’t fit into it.

 

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Taken the day I posted this. The red mark is permanent. It should have been our consent to give it to him.

I pushed for 1.5 hours and Jack was stuck with his 1 head inch out. The doctor stuck an external probe on Jack’s head to check his vitals since he had been in there so long. No one said anything to Michael and I, just told me to stop pushing for a second. At the time I didn’t really realize what she was doing. He was fine so she told me to push again. In general, I have no objection to having this done. He was stuck for awhile and it was important that she made sure he wasn’t in distress. But, it left a scar on Jack’s forehead. If anyone was going to make the choice to permanently mark our child, it should have been ours. I would have totally understood if they said “I’m going to stick this on his head to check his vitals, okay?” It was not an emergency situation, no one was rushing, they did have time to ask. I resent the lack of communication and consent, not the actual procedure.

 

About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said...
About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said…

After Jack finally came out, they plopped him on my chest and encouraged me to nurse him. I vaguely remember them saying my placenta came out intact and no excessive bleeding. I thought yeah yeah, I’m trying to feed my child. Then I looked up at my IV and saw the bag said Pitocin. I really wanted to get mad. I said out loud and in my birth plan that I did not want Pitocin unless it was truly necessary. They started a bag to get my placenta out quickly and never mentioned it to me. They gave me a medication I did not consent to. If they said something like, “We would like to start Pitocin right now to get your placenta out quickly because we need to make sure you are okay before the doctor has to leave for the next delivery”, I would have totally understood and said okay. I know this is standard Medical Model of Care, but I resent not being informed of what was happening to my own body.

I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don't let the smile fool you.
I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don’t let the smile fool you.

I also hated my hospital stay. The nurses were all super busy because the ward was full. Many of my questions and requests barely got answered. Also, being woken up to be checked every few hours stressed me out beyond all belief. I was exhausted and the hospital was not restful. The second night there, Michael went to sleep in the car because he was so exhausted and had to drive us home the next day. I was alone in the room with screaming Jack and so exhausted I couldn’t even think straight. I burst into tears and was shaking. The nurse came in and said I just needed to sleep. I explained that I can’t because he won’t calm down, and you are going to come back in shortly to check us. She just shrugged and left. I know there was nothing she could do, that was not her role and she was just following the Medical Model of Care once again. But it was stressful and hard for me in that moment. It made me feel like I was already a horrible mother.

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This time around, I know what I want in my birth experience. And unless there is an emergency, I don’t want the Medical Model of Care. There are women who truly need this type of care all along (my friend who has Sickle-Cell Anemia and fought infections most of her pregnancy definitely did). So, it is wonderful this type of care exists. However, I want something different this time. I want a connection with the person I am trusting to touch me when I am the most vulnerable and help bring my child into the world. I want her to know right off the top of her head that I do not want Pitocin. I want to labor on my side without question and not have to argue for occasional monitoring. And I want to recover in a relaxed, comfortable setting with my husband and newborn. I want my provider to believe me when I say something is happening. With the Midwife Model of Care at a birthing center, I get all this. They are not crazy things to ask for at all. I want to be respected, informed, and comfortable. All medical patients deserve this, especially women who just giving birth.

I really suggest you check out Birth Without Fear. It really changed my views on birth and helped me process some of the issues I had with Jack’s birth.

Pregnancy Belly Wrapping 

You are tired, sore, and swollen. And sometimes, you feel anything but pretty. It’s all part of the pregnancy experience. The only real cure is to get through it and deliver your baby. One thing can give you some temporary relief: belly wrapping.

I’m not talking about those weight loss shrink wraps or coreset waist trainers. (Your supposed to get a big belly while pregnant, it’s unsafe to try to prevent it). I’m talking about supporting your belly gently while it grows with a babywearing wrap.

It is a safe way to give you little extra support. It’s similar to belly bands and belts commonly found it in maternity stores. They are so much prettier and easier to adjust to your body shape. It’s also a great way to break in a new wrap before baby comes!

There are several ways to wrap your belly during pregnancy. There is no best method, it will depend on your body’s needs and personal preference. Here are four basic methods, give them each a try and see what you like. However, there are two schools of thought when it comes to this subject: cover the belly or not. Some believe that it’s bad for mother and baby to have the entire belly covered. Stating it constricts fetal movement, possibly effecting growth and causing stress. Others believe that as long as you don’t over tighten and cause pain, there is nothing wrong with covering your entire belly. Most maternity pants cover all the belly, often with elastic to add tension support. There is little scientific evidence to proof/disproof either school of thought, so at this time it is not fair to say either one is correct. As for my personal opinion as an educator, I am comfortable recommending the entire belly covered as long as the wearer can still move easily and the wrap is truly giving her relief.  I will post some links at the end of this post for more information.

This first one uses a stretchy wrap to basically do a Front Wrap Cross Carry without a baby.This carry provides full upper body support. The cross in the back provides support to your back and shoulder, while the giving your belly an extra lift at the same time. Great for back pain and general muscle pain from carrying a heavy belly around. I really recommend a stretchy wrap over a woven wrap for this. I find a woven wrap just does not get as tight over your shoulder to give you that nice lift.This would work with a Moby, Boba, or other stretchy brands. I am using a Wrapsody Hybrid Stella One Size. This wrap is equal to a size 8 woven wrap or 5.7 meters. For this carry, your need a long wrap. As you can see in the video, I had a lot of tail left over.  I’m petite and only 19 weeks along in this video. On a non-short person who is further along, there would be less left over and tying in front would not be an issue.

Next is a long woven wrap. I guess this would be similar to a Torso Carry, just around your belly without a baby.This one provides support to your lower back, belly, and most importantly the pelvic area. It’s great for round ligament pain, too. Just a little lift, without all the passes limiting your range of motions on your shoulders.The key to this one is getting the bottom rail nice and tight. This carry should be done with your base size (keeping in mind that during pregnancy it may change, I went from a base 5 to a 6).  If you want a less bulky knot, use a thinner wrap. I used a Bijou Babywearing Wildthing Crush Size 6.

The last of the fully belly support is the ring sling. It’s pretty much like doing a front carry in a ring sling, but on your belly and not cover one shoulder. The ring sling provides all over, even belly support for those days it feels like your skin is about to burst into pieces. And there is the added bonus of no bulky knot getting in your way. Just make sure the rings a laying flat so they don’t dig into your side (threading properly will keep them from turning into you). There isn’t much lift, but a gently tug keeping everything supported. Any ring sling that fits around your belly will work for this carry. I recommend medium size rings if possible,  the smaller the rings the less likely they will be to dig into your side. I used a Wrapsody Cara Ring Sling 78″ (about a size Medium).

Lastly, a carry that does not cover the whole belly. There really is no babywearing carry like this, it’s more like a support belt. This is perfect for those days when your body starts loosen all the joints and your hips feel like they are going to rip apart. Just enough tension to gently push them back together so you can walk without pain. It also offers a dash of back support to keep you from wanting to cry stand-up to go to the bathroom for the millionth time. And your baby is free from constrictions, able to move and grow as they please. I am using a Little Frog Pyrope Size 3. I recommend a base minus 2 for this carry. Keep in mind what I said earlier though, your base size may have changed from your pre-pregnancy size. I had to tie on the tails because I guessed too small, a size 4 would have fit much better.

There you go! Four ways to wrap your belly during pregnancy. I hope of them gives you relief and you use a wrap that makes you feel beautiful.

Here are some links on belly wrapping:

Healthline, “5 Reasons You a Pregnancy Belly Bands”

Midwife At Your Doorstep, “Belly Binding for Optimal Fetal Positioning”

Beyond Birth Support, “A Few Thoughts on Prenatal Belly Wrapping”

LiveStrong, “Neagative Effects of Tight Clothes on Pregnant Women”

Babywearing International of Cleveland, “Belly Wrapping for Pregnancy Support”

And lastly a link on Woven Wrap Sizes.

My Third Trimester

I can’t tell you how happy I am to no longer be pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally in love with my son and so happy to have him. But I hated being pregnant. And I think the third trimester was the worst by far. Now it’s all over so I thought I would share some advice like I did for my First Trimester and Second Trimester.

Things I would do again:

Taking Zantac: My acid reflux kept getting worse and worse. First it was just spicy foods at made it act up. Then it was acidic foods. Then it was the amount of food. Then it was practically every food. Then I started waking up in the middle of the night to throw up acid. I had a prop myself up with pillows and wedges, and only lay on my left side to just be comfortable to even think of falling asleep. I wasn’t losing weight but I hadn’t gained any weight in 2 weeks at my 34 week appointment. So my OB/GYN said I could take Zantac daily. It wasn’t complete relief, more like 50% better. But it was so bad that something was better than nothing. I could eat smaller, bland meals without throwing them up most days.

Walking Everyday: My husband and I work for the same company, so everyday we went for walks on our breaks. Just around the building. It was great exercise and time for us to chat about the baby. Plus neither of us have windows at our desks, so it was nice to have some sunshine. I really think daily walks helped Jack turn downward and get into position for labor.

Prenatal Massage: My mom got me another prenatal massage when I was 37 weeks. Oh boy, did I need one! The way I had to lay at night to be comfortable put a lot of pressure on my hips. And I was starting to have braxton-hicks contractions in my back. It was so nice to just lay on the table for an hour and have all the pain melt away. If I had the money, I would have gotten a massage every week while pregnant.

Going On Leave Early: In my maternity leave post, I mentioned my original plan was to work up until I went into labor. But Jack was measuring big and I was uncomfortable that I decided it was for the best to go on leave earlier. So I set-up to go on leave at 38 weeks, but then at 36 weeks couldn’t take much more. I went on leave at 37 weeks and it was probably the best decision of my whole pregnancy. I rested up a bit and got to focus on preparing for labor—and considering how fast my labor went, this was very helpful. I am so glad I listened to my body.

Things I would do differently:

Eating Out So Much: I don’t mean in terms of calories and weight gain. I had such bad acid reflux I was lucky if got more than just breakfast down most days and barely gained 6 pounds my last trimester. What I do mean is that I was just crabby and nothing sounded good most days. The acid reflux left a weird taste in my mouth that ruined most of my favorite foods. And my stomach was just so squished that I had little room for food. I could fit in a very small meal at best. So I figured since I was so miserable I should just eat whatever I wanted. And I didn’t want to cook so this mean take-out. I still ate pretty healthy so it was not that big of a deal. But it would have been nice to save that money

More Baths: I loved taking a nice Epsom salt bath in the evening to relax and relax my muscles. A little nice music and same candles too.  I wouldn’t have the water that hot and had a glass of ice water with me so I didn’t overheat. I have no idea why I didn’t take one every night! One night I was really crappy and Michael pretty much put me in the tub to calm me down. Next baby, I will just make this a nightly ritual from the start.

More Sleep: Between the hip pain, acid reflux, and the over 8 pound baby squishing all my organs, I got very little sleep. I also started having Braxton-Hicks and cramps at night. A few night a week I would end up on the couch. Not because it was more comfortable, but to let Michael sleep without my tossing and turning. Even on maternity leave I didn’t get much sleep–which totally came back to bite me in the ass for labor. I was so tired that I didn’t have the strength and patiences to do my all natural birth plan. I needed an epidural to calm me down enough to push. I really wish I was more well-rested. I am not sure how I could have accomplished this–besides taking serious sleep medication–but it’s my own regret my whole pregnancy so far.

The thing I am not sure about:

Support Belt: My back started to hurt sitting at my desk at work. So Michael got me a support belt. It did relieve the back pain. And took some of the pressure of my belly off my pelvis and bladder. But it dug into my back side when I sat down. And if I moved from side to side too much, it would unvelcro itself. And was a bit impractical to put over clothes sometimes and look weird under clothes. I ended up only using it when I was going to be walking around a lot, like for our Babymoon. Not sure it was worth the money.

The Nursery: Decorative Sign

I love all the trend of the quote signs. Just basic letters with a quote or saying that reflects something important to you or a central theme. I knew I wanted one for Jack’s nursery, but didn’t want to spread $200 for some of the ones I found on Etsy, so I decided to make my own!

When I was little, my mom always sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me. It still think of it when I think of her. I have dreamed of the day I get to sing to to my own children. I thought it was very fitting quote for my son’s room.

So it seemed pretty simple. Buy some boards, put them together, paint and hang. Or so I thought….

I showed Michael some examples of the sign, and he pointed out that the sign we have above the fireplace is the same basic idea. So he looked at it’s construction. Three boards across with two boards to secure the others in place.

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So Michael bought 3 pieces of finished hobby board from Home Depot and cut them to the appropriate lengths, resulting in 3 long and 2 shorter pieces. Our sign is about 2 feet by 1.5 feet, because the wall we wanted to place it on the wall is not that big. If you have a larger room, you may want to make your dimensions bigger.

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Then Michael glued the the 3 longer pieces on the edges together with basic Elmers Wood Glue widthwise. Then he glued the smaller boards across on the bottom lengthwise. Similar to the image above.

Then I painted the front of the orange using the same paint we used for the walls (see baseball seam post). I only did one coat so the grain would still show, giving it a more vintage feel.

Then came the text…the stupid, stupid text. I have horrible handwriting so I knew I could never free-hand it. Michael has nice handwriting, but couldn’t make the fancy font I wanted. So I first came up the with idea of printing out the text I wanted and tracing it.

Then I realized that I didn’t know how to trace the letters without leaving big pencil marks or having tape pull the paint off. After some thought and consultation from others, I decided to print the text out again, but this time use the paper the letters were cut from as a stencil.

I did the first coat with Crayola Washable Kids Paints (the same I used for the wall letters), but it was not thick enough. So I used the same white we used for the nursery walls. The stencil did the basic job, but left the edges a little messy and uneven. So I went back over with both the orange and white paint to clean it up. Then I needed to paint the sun. For the circle, I just traced 8 inch pot. I free-handed the waves. The color is a mix of the white and orange painted I already used on the sign. About 70% orange to 30% white.

I let it dry for a day before I sealed with Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer Spray. I did about two medium coats. Just a word of warning, this stuff is potent. Please do this outside in a well ventilated area. And let it dry and defuse for several days before you bring inside.

Michael hung it up with a simple sawtooth hook on the sign and picture frame hook in the wall. We placed it between the two baseball seams, but not over the crib in case of earthquakes.

Babymoon On A Budget

I don’t recall how, but a few years ago I first heard the term babymoon. It’s a vacation you take with your spouse before the baby is born to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the baby is born. Similar to a honeymoon right after a wedding. I loved this idea! Taking time to focus on your love and crazy journey you two are about to embark on.

Map of California’s Gold Country.
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We dreamed of a vacation back to Hawaii where we met, but sadly that was not going to happen. We need something relatively nearby, so we didn’t need to take off work or be too far away from areas we knew if something happen with my pregnancy. We also needed something inexpensive so we could actually afford to buy diapers later on. But still worthwhile so we didn’t feel like we wasted our money. Then it dawned on me we could do that Gold Country trip we have both been dying to do for over a year now.

Big comfy bed, with my maternity pillow.

With a little research, we found a deal on Expedia for mini suite the Hyatt House in Rancho Cordova. The location of the hotel was nothing special, but the room was very nice. The staff was great and the room was well-cleaned. And it was nice so spread out on a plushy king bed!

The couch was really comfy, I did not want to share it with Michael.

All the places in Gold Country we wanted to see were within a reasonable driving distance too. I have no complaints about this hotel and would stay here again if we did another Gold Country trip.

So much fun to get all dressed up for once! Dress from Old Navy.

We splurged on a fancy dinner one night in Sacramento at Pilothouse and then walked around Old Town afterwards. It was really fun to dress up and feel all pretty for the first time in awhile.

Aren’t we cute? Michael was very happy because
he just ordered his steak dinner.

We kept it simple for food the rest of the trip. Plus, the hotel offered a great breakfast buffet so we saved money on one meal a day. Check out my food blog for reviews on the restaurants.

I don’t know why Michael didn’t zoom
in more, but that’s me and my bump.

On Sunday we checked out Fort Sutter in Sacramento. I loved that this historic site was preserved/restored despite being right in the middle of prime real estate in the city.As we walked into the park, we noticed the State Indian Museum. Michael is a part Native American so he was interested, and I love any kind of history so I was too. The museum is small but has a lot of artifacts and stories. Right when we walked in a docent greeted us and explained some key things. Being from Oregon, I didn’t know much about California Native history so I loved the mini lesson. This little place is worth checking out, only took us an hour to look through. We also found the trickster graphic novel we wanted to buy for our son in the gift shop! I am sorry I don’t have pictures from inside, no photography was allowed.

Inside the Fort, the building in the center
is one of  Sutter’s original structures.

Then we went into Fort Sutter. It is your standard restored pioneer fort. But this fort and John Sutter himself played a very important role in the California Gold Rush. It took us another hour to leisurely stroll through fort.The museum and the fort provided great background information the original Californians and how the Gold Rushers settled once they arrived.

We also stopped by the Capital Building for a little bit, very lovely building and gardens. After that, we had lunch with Michael’s sister who lives just outside Sacramento and ended up hanging out with her the rest of the day. We had planned on going to see stuff around Auburn, but I was tired and decided it was better to take it easy. And we don’t see Kristina that often, so it was nice to catch up.

Lovely drive on Highway 49

The next and last day ended up being kind of busy, but so much fun. We took Highway 49 (which dawned on me afterwards it’s called 49 because of the 1849 Gold Rush….the 49ners…). It is a beautiful drive,  lovely trees and hillsides. Almost made the trip worth it alone.

Our first stop was the Marshal Gold Discovery Park.

My husband likes to point at things…

It’s the site where James Marshall found gold in the American River and started the Gold Rush in 1848.

The spot where Marshal found gold
and change California history

He was building a sawmill for his business partner John Sutter (who needed wood to build Fort Sutter) when he suddenly spotted something flashing in the water.

Replica of Sutter’s sawmill

The park consists of a replica of the original sawmill, some restored/rebuilt homes and business, the visitors center, and easy trails to various important sites (like the site where Marshal found the gold).

And they offer a gold panning lesson with a Park Ranger. It costs an additional $7 fee, but you get to keep anything you find that fits in the vile they give you.

Two big garnets,  a few gold flecks, pyrite,
smokey quartz, and a few other lithic wonders.

We were the only adults without children doing it—and to be honest it probably wasn’t fair for two people with degrees in geology to do it. But it was so much fun! We didn’t find that much gold, but a lot of garnets, pyrite (fool’s gold), and smokey quartz.

It was getting on in the afternoon, but we both still wanted to check out Empire Mine State Historic Park. It was an hour drive, but we didn’t mind since it was so beautiful.

The mining yard with the old equipment on display.

Empire mine was one of the most successful mines in California, operating up until the 1950’s.Though, in the end it had to switch from gold to other rocks and minerals to stay profitable.

This picture doesn’t even come close to showing the depth.

We got there an hour before closing, and sadly missed all the tours. But it was still really cool to see on our own. The main mine shaft was insanely deep and insanely steep from even just the top! It’s crazy to think men went down there everyday to work.

A scale model of the Empire/North Star underground mine system.
People actually worked daily in it!

And it has a huge, elaborate under ground mine system beyond just the entrance shaft.

The mine owner’s cottage, so beautiful.

And the breath-taking cottage and surrounding gardens of mine owner was worth walking my pregnant butt up the hill to see. Shows you the difference even back then between the working and upper class.

Totally how I felt walking down the hall with my swollen legs.
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That concluded our Gold Country Babymoon. We both really enjoyed the whole trip. The only problem was when I woke up Tuesday morning with legs swollen up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from all the walking we did. I had to call in sick to work because I could hardly move. Guess this pregnant lady had too much fun! However, it was nice to spend some quality time together doing activities we both enjoy. It also made us excited to take Jack to these places when he is old enough. I am totally going to dress him in a flannel shirt, jeans, and boots when he pans for gold. Mommy’s little 49ner!

Want to hear the best part? We did all this for around $400! That’s right a mini-suite, a fancy dinner out, and a good amount of site-seeing without breaking the bank.  Here are my tips on how you can have a fun little babymoon (or any vacation) on a budget.

Babymoon Budget Tips:

  • Don’t do things you can’t actually afford. There is a difference between we could afford it (by maxing out our credit card) and actually affording it (we have enough in our savings or we will pay off the credit card easily in a month or two).
  • Do some research. Try Expedia, Orbitz, Travel Zoo & etc. Don’t just settle for the “best price” listed on one site. Shop around and compare.
  • Consider staying just outside the area you are visiting, if practical, where the hotel rates tend to be cheaper. Just make sure you are not so far away that you waste time/ gas getting around.
  • Take advantage of free things at hotels, like continental breakfasts or breakfast buffets (just make sure you pick healthy options).
  • Look up all the things to do in the area, and prioritize what you really want to do. Sadly you can’t do everything so this allows to budget for the things you would be truly sad if you missed.
  • Not everything needs to cost a lot of money. Consider National Parks, State Parks, smaller museums, or even simple walks or hikes.  Sure, take that $100 white-water rafting trip one day, then maybe the next explore a local historic site for only a $5 donation. If you are going to splurge on a nice meal like we did, try to keep your other meals simple and less expensive. Not every meal needs to be over-the-top. There is no shame in ordering a pizza to your room and watching HBO in your pajamas.
  • Research things to do for free along the way to the expensive places too.
  • Factor in all the little stuff. Admission fees, gas cost to get there, and any trinkets you may buy from the gift shops. These can add up to a lot in the end.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks (very important to have on hand while pregnant), gift shops and little stores charge a lot for even a small bottle of water.
  • Don’t force yourself to stick to a strict schedule if you are tired or not feeling well (especially if it involves walking a lot while pregnant). There is no point in wasting money on gas, admission, food & etc. for something when you will only remember how miserable you were there. You and your baby’s health is more important. And you never know, you may find some totally awesome low-key thing to do that ends up the highlight of your trip.
I would also like to mention the recipe contest I have running on my food blog, All You Eat is Vegetables?. Submit recipes that reflect my future son’s multi-racial heritage, and you would win an Amazon gift certificate!  Check out this link for more details and look out for more contests coming in the future.

Dealing with Severe Acid Reflux

Around 10 weeks, I got some very mild heartburn. It happened maybe twice a week and would ago away easily with antacids.  I also figured out what foods triggered it pretty quickly. One of the wonderful delights in the Bay Area is garlic fries, but raw/not totally cooked garlic quickly became a no-no. Mainly because your husband will not appreciate going down to the car at 2 AM to get your Tums while staying overnight at his sister’s house.

It started to get a little worse around 20 weeks, but a few more antacids would usually do the trick. We went to my parents’ house for Christmas when I was 26 weeks. I didn’t overeat, but I ate 3 full-sized meals a day, which lead to more nights of me sitting up with horrible heartburn. My mom bought me a bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Drink one day when it was really bad. It helped tame the throat burn, but didn’t really settle my stomach. When I got back home, I started eating smaller meals, which worked great for a few weeks.

Then one night when I was 29 weeks, I woke up coughing and suddenly realized stomach acid was rising in my throat. Michael asked if I was okay, as I was quickly racing out of bed, but all I could was shake my head no. I made it to the bathroom just in time to throw up a bunch of stomach acid. It hurt so bad, I started crying instantly. Michael calmed me down, gave me antacids and soy milk, and helped me prop myself up pretty much vertical in the bed. But my stomach/throat hurt so bad, there was no way I was going back to sleep.

The next day all I could eat was plain toast for breakfast, plain ramen noodles for lunch, and a grilled cheese (vegan) for dinner. Even water upset my stomach and burned my throat. After a few days of this my stomach felt better, but I was getting more dizzy. That Friday I had doctors appointment and brought it up. She said I am probably getting more dizzy because I am not eating enough, which is not good for someone with low blood pressure. She said I could take Zantac everyday from now on. And if that doesn’t help, she will send me to a specialist.

We bought Zantac that night it started working within an hour. I ate a decent dinner that night and felt a lot better. The box says to take 2 pills every 8-12 hours as needed, but when I woke up in the morning I felt fine so I didn’t take one. Half way through work that morning, my throat/stomach were on fire again. I took another one as soon as we got home that night and the relief came back. I decided from now on, I need to just take two everyday so I can eat/drink enough and not be in pain. I have been doing that for a week now and it’s been going well. I hope this treatment sticks, I don’t want to go to a specialist.

Heartburn and acid reflux are common problems during pregnancy. Usually caused by increased hormone levels effecting your digestive system. Or, the baby could be shoving your organs out of the way to make room to grow. My brother actually permanently moved my mom’s esophagus, causing a lot of stomach problems for years to come. Since Jack is measuring big and he is growing more into my body rather than outward, I was expecting this to happen. However, I was not expecting it to this painful!

Here is my advice for anyone else experience severe acid reflux:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals of simple but more nutritious foods. I try for 6 smaller meals every 2-3 hours.  See my food blog here for meal suggestions.
  • Sleep with your head propped up above your stomach. This can be done with pillow, foam wedges, or Dr. Oz. suggests putting something under your actual mattress.
  • Try a bit of apple cider vinegar mixed with some apple juice.
  • Also try some aloe vera juice. It didn’t stop the burn, but afterwards it helped sooth/heal my stomach and throat.
  • For fast acting relief, take a few antacids. I really like Tums Smoothies, taste good and dissolve easier in your mouth.
  • If get’s really bad, ask your doctor what other medicines you can take.

Maternity Leave Plans

Two Fridays ago I met with the real OB/GYN , not just the practitioner, because I am in my third trimester now (27 weeks at the time). She said everything is fine and Jack is doing great. Then she started going over signs of preterm labor and how I need to go straight to the hospital if I something doesn’t feel right. Then I suddenly remembered that Tuesday night I woke up feeling like I REALLY had to pee. And no matter how many times I went to the bathroom, it was not go away. Jack was still moving normally and I could tell it was only urine was coming out, not amniotic fluid(urine smells like ammonia and you can stop the flow easily, amniotic fluid usually smells sweet and cannot be stopped). I was concerned, but decided not to the hospital. It went away by noontime so I was not that worried. My doctor immediately said I should always go when I feel weird pressure. Then decided I need to have an ultrasound and a cervical checked.

She asked me to have a seat in the waiting room while they squeezed me in between other patients. Forty-five minutes later and several text from my boss wondering where I was, I was called in. Jack was fine (he was in a weird position so we didn’t get a good look at his face) and I had plenty of fluid. Then they did a vaginal ultrasound for my cervix. It was long and closed, so everything was fine. She said he was probably just sitting on my bladder that day.
However, while they were checking his anatomy, I caught phrases like, “Measuring at 29 weeks”, “About plus 2 weeks” , and “Early April.” They also asked when my due date was and if it had ever been changed. I have heard thing like this all along, even at my pregnancy confirmation ultrasound. But no one had ever actually changed my due date directly. So I asked the ultrasound tech. She said that yes, he was measuring 2 weeks ahead. But an estimated due date is based on your last period plus or minus two weeks. Since he is not off by more than two weeks, they will not officially change it.
I asked the OB/GYN when she came back in. She agreed with the ultrasound tech. She said she will not officially change my due date, but unofficially I should not be surprised if he came at 38 weeks. And to not be upset if I am told I need a c-section because he is big and I am petite.

I am already getting really uncomfortable so I would not mind at all if he came reasonably early. And as much as I want to do it all naturally, I would not be upset if I had to get a c-section. I just want a healthy baby. However, my mom said they told her the same thing and she had two healthy babies vaginally that were pretty close to the actual due dates. I am pretty much her carbon copy, so if she can do it, so can I.

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This week I started thinking about all the stuff I need to do before Jack arrives, including finalizing maternity leave.When my husband got me a job at his work, I was 16 weeks already. My boss asked during the interview how much leave I would take and when I would take it. I told him I wanted all the 12 weeks Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles me to and I will try to work up to my due date. He said no problem. He also kept asking every once and awhile if my plans have changed once I was hired, just so he knows when to start training my replacement while I’m gone.

I realized that maybe it is for the best I start my maternity leave at 38 weeks instead of working until I go into labor. I am already pretty uncomfortable, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s probably for the best if I give myself a break. And if he does come early, I wont have to be faxing in my leave forms to work and my disability forms to the state with a screaming newborn in my arms. My mom is also coming to stay for a month around that time. We can finish getting everything ready and have some nice bonding time together.

I wish I was tough enough to be one of those women who works right up until her water breaks, but I am not. I need to do what is right for my baby and myself. Like I said, I totally would not mind–if he is ready–to come early. I am already over being pregnant and just want to kiss his sweet little face already.

And yes, I already thought about what to do if he comes late, when I would have used up several weeks of my 12 week maternity leave. I have Paid Time Off that my boss said I can use if I need to once my leave is up. I will just need to let him know two weeks before I want to take it.

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Before you finalize or take your maternity leave, make sure you talk to your boss and HR director. Also check out FMLA. It has some very specific wording that might disqualify you if just started your job or work for a small company. It can be confusing to figure out and you might need to think about your options for awhile if you do not qualify under FMLA. And see if your state offers disability pay for pregnancy and bonding time. California offers up to 4 weeks before birth and 6 weeks after of  disability pay for mothers. Dads get 6 weeks unpaid after the birth. Both of which are beyond awesome!

Michael is going to wait to take his until after my mom leaves and might use some PTO instead. My boss approved my leave to start the Monday I am 38 weeks. All I had to do was fill out an Absence Request Form. I see my pregnancy counselor in a few days, she will help me fill out the disability forms then. And I know that 6 weeks pay will not cover the full 12 weeks I plan to take off, so we will need to plan accordingly. That is why you should start getting this stuff in order before the baby comes!

Here are some important links to help you finalize maternity leave:.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
California Family Rights Act (CAFRA)
Maternity Leave: The Basics, Baby Center
Maternity Leave, American Pregnancy Association