Archive for April 2014

Blue dye pregnancy tests (are evil)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Back in my days of trying to conceive, it did not take me long to learn that that blue dye pregnancy tests were never to be trusted.  BabyCenter, Fertility Friend, Pee On A mention a blue test and they will all tell you the same thing.  Blue = BAD.  Whether it was the thickness of the line, the depth of color of the line, or whether or not there was a true plus sign, those things were considered extremely unreliable.  Visit any tweakers board and they will usually have a disclaimer that says that they do not tweak blue dye tests or if you came to them with a blue dye test to tweak, they would tell you to come back with a pink one.
When I was peeing on sticks, regularly, I always preferred FRER (First Response Early Response).  When that habit started to get too expensive, I would buy large quantities of cheapie Wondfos off of Amazon to satisfy my "craving".  Those tests sucked, but the pregnancy tests were pink and thus tweakable and considered more reliable than the blue dye tests.

After my last miscarriage, I regularly tested to see if my HCG levels were back down to 0 so that I could start trying again.  During that time, I made the mistake of purchasing a CVS brand pregnancy test.  I was in a hurry, it was on sale, and yadda, yadda, yadda, it ended up on my bathroom counter.  For the purposes of testing to see that my levels were back at 0, I figured it was ok.  When I took the test at that time, back came a thin blue line, which indicated to me that I still had some pregnancy hormones floating around.  Taking the same test two weeks later showed me a negative.  Case closed.  I still had one test left, though, which I stuck in the back of my closet for a future emergency.

About a week and a half ago, I started feeling a little bit off.  All of a sudden my nipples were incredibly sensitive, I developed a zit on my chin, I was terrible lethargic, and I started feeling crampy.  "You're getting your period!" you might think.  I would have thought that this might have been the case except for that my husband and I had unprotected sex (for the first time since the baby was born) and 2 days later I had some serious EWCM.  I was about 6-7 days out from there so I started to get a little bit suspicious that maybe,  just maybe, I was pregnant.  Oops.

I did what any normal, post-miscarriage surviving mommy to an almost 1 year old would do and dug into the back of my closet for any pregnancy test that I might have.  Poof!  CVS blue dye test, a cup of fresh pee, and an extremely nervous me, secretly holed up in the bathroom.  I checked the expiration date on the box and I will admit that it was just ever so slightly expired (only by 2 months).  I figured that it was better than nothing and I dunked the stick in.  I set it on the counter with a tissue over it like I did back in the old days.

Those five minutes of me sitting on the toilet, waiting for the test to finish, were agonizing.  Was I really ready for another baby if I were pregnant?  Could we afford another child right now?  Why didn't we use a condom?  Was my body ready for another pregnancy?  Where would we put the baby?  Would it be a boy or a girl?  Would I have to cancel my NYC Marathon entry...again?  How would I tell my husband?  Would he be happy?

Ding...ding!  After five of the longest minutes in my whole life, I pulled off the tissue and saw this...

I will admit the line was light, but you see it, right??

Another shot from farther away...

Of course I started panicking and texted the picture to a few close girlfriends who also confirmed that they saw a line and were eager to offer congratulatory remarks.  I was not so quick to accept, though.  This was "unplanned" and I was not even sure that I believed the tests.  They were expired and blue.  Two things that test tweakers would shake there finger at me for doing (and that I would have shaken my head at doing a few years back).

That night, we went out to dinner for my baby's first birthday.  I did not have any alcohol and was super quiet.  Thoughts were racing through my head.  I was supposed to run a 5k race the next morning, but now would have to cancel because I was afraid that I might damage any potential baby, that might be in the early stages of development, by my high racing speeds.

Before I had left for dinner that night, I had posted to a tweakers board asking for advice and they told me what I already and FRER and test with FMU.  Hadn't I learned anything?!  So on the way home from dinner I asked my husband to stop at CVS for contact lens solution and I headed to the family planning aisle to grab a test.  I saw a bizillion new types of First Response tests.  I quickly grabbed one, sheepishly paid for it and the lens solution, and then headed home to bed.

That next morning, first thing, I got up and peed in a cup.  I opened the box and briefly glanced at the instruction leaflet when I noticed that I had not gotten an FRER.  I had gotten an FRRR (Rapid Result), which, up until this point, I didn't even know existed.  It said to test on the first day of your missed period, at the earliest.  I was only at 7-8 DPO at the absolute latest.  What a waste of money!  I decided to pee on it anyways and the results were stark white NEGATIVE.  No tweaking necessary.  I felt a wave of relief even though I had no idea when my missed period might even be since I haven't had one since July of 2012.

Looks like an FRER, but it isn't!

Since taking that FRRR test, I have taken several more negative pink dye pregnancy tests that have all showed up as negatives and I have lost any of the symptoms that I *may* have thought were pregnancy related.  I guess there are four morals to this story:

MORAL #1- Blue dye tests always suck.  False positives are common (Google it, you'll see) with them and this can cause lots of confusion and is a waste of your hard earned money.  Don't buy them.  End of story.

MORAL #2- Slightly expired tests may add to the mess of confusion that exists with blue dye tests.  Throw them out.

MORAL #3- First Response now makes several different types of pregnancy tests, one of which includes the Rapid Result test.  Stupid test.  Who cares if you can find out in 1 minute after peeing on the stick?  I want to know several days before my missed period, assholes.

MORAL #4- I am DEFINITELY not ready for another baby...yet.  

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Secret sadness

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I wrote most of this post a few weeks ago, but got sidetracked and never posted it.  This past weekend, we celebrated my son's first birthday by having a rather large party with family and friends.  It was a really great time.  I was so proud to see my little son interacting with others and hamming it up for the camera.  Admittedly, those happy and proud feelings were mixed with a strong sense of sadness.  Sadness of no longer having a "baby".  Sadness because time moved so so fast during the past year.  Sadness because he may have been my only baby.

Without further ado, here is my post...

My son's first birthday is approaching the station like an out of control train.  I want it to slow down, it is going too fast.  No matter what I do though, the train is going to keep moving with my baby and I on it.  I blinked and my "tiny" 9lb 2oz sleepy baby was an over 22lb babbling little man.  Sound a little dramatic?  Maybe so.  Maybe not for mommies who are either done having children or are not sure that they will (be able to) have another.

This past week, I have been quite the weepy mess.  People mention to me about the impending birthday and I put on an ecstatic front of happiness when in fact I am actually filled with sadness.  Every time I think about my baby turning one, my eyes well up with tears.  Don't get me wrong, I am so incredibly happy that I have a very healthy and happy almost 1 year old, but I am sad because this may be it for me as far as babies go.  I'm just not sure that another baby is in the cards for us.  He may be my first and last baby.

When I think back to all of the firsts that I saw my baby accomplish, I wonder, did I really appreciate that enough?  The first time that I looked into his eyes?  The first time that he smiled at me?  The first time that he belly laughed?  The first time he babbled "dada"?  Was I really present enough?  Did I really appreciate all of his firsts?

I also have some mommy guilt over some things that I have not done, or have done differently than I had originally planned.  His baby book sits within the living room coffee table almost completely untouched and instead Baby Connect holds most of the data from his first year.  The regular videos that I wanted to take with our video camera have turned instead into short clips on the iPhone.  The hand-print ornament that I was supposed to make for Christmas to put on the tree turned into a purchased one from Hallmark.

I am incredibly excited for the years to come.  They will be filled with many more firsts.  First hair cut.  First trip down the sliding board.  First day of school.  First read/written words.  There is so much fun stuff to look forward to, but there will be no more infant moments with him.  My little baby is growing up.  Soon he will be a toddler.  In creeps the sadness.

It is funny how, in those early days soon after B's birth, that the days seemed impossibly long.  I feared that I might not make it through.  Everything seemed so hard, so new, so scary.  My days revolved around breastfeeding every 2 hours and changing the right amount of mustard colored diapers.  Getting out for a walk was a monumental fete.  I would drive 40 minutes to Starbucks so that I could go to the drive-thru and not have to wake my sleepy baby.  Baby music class was my only social activity.  I barely recognized myself, both physically and mentally,  and some days I was worried that I might not be cut out for motherhood.  I was worried I might not be a great mother and that I was too selfish, to impatient, and much of a perfectionist.  Looking back on that, now, I realize that I was just transitioning from my individual self to my mommy self.  Everything was ok.  I wish I could go back and reassure myself  during those, sometimes bleak, days.  Everything was ok.  It really was.  Just different.  Maybe then I could have enjoyed those early moments with my son just a little bit more and I wouldn't have this nagging feeling that I may have missed out.  I can only hope that I did the best that I could at the time.

So now the first birthday has passed.  The first birthday party was a success.  The #1 candle was blown out and the presents were opened.  It's on to the future.  I'm not sure what it will hold, but I know that I am going to be present and I am going to enjoy it.  So I'll keep my secret quiet, for now, and hope that the sadness dissipates.

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ONE huge breastfeeding milestone

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A little over a year ago, sitting in my hospital bed, swollen and bloated with IV fluids, getting a blood transfusion, and trying to breastfeed my screaming starving newborn baby with my flat as pancake nipples, I never would have thought that I would still be breastfeeding a year into the future.  Today, I am and I am patting myself on the back for it.  It still is hard sometimes, but so incredibly worth it.

In the earliest of my breastfeeding days, I wanted to give up.  Everything about breastfeeding was so hard.  I was so tempted to throw in the towel and quit.  Here are some of the reasons why I almost quit and along with those reasons are the actual reality.  Well, my reality, that is.  I know that not everyone has an easy time breastfeeding and some women, no matter how hard they try, are unable to continue.  That's ok, too.  If you are reading this and trying to decide what to do, hopefully this will help you out a bit.  I wish I had read something similar 12 months back.

1.  I had a c-section.
Ooooof, strike one.  If you end up with an emergency c-section, like me, you'll hear it from nurse after nurse that having a c-section means that your milk will come in later than if you had a straight-forward vaginal delivery.  This means day 4 or 5 compared to day 2 or 3.  Although it is proven that milk will come in later when you have a c-section, I believe that this is partially a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you are super stressed about waiting for your milk to come in then it will take longer.  Thankfully my milk ended up coming in on day 4.

2.  I had to give my baby formula so I may as well just continue making bottles.
My baby lost 10% of his body-weight in the first few days after birth.  Since I had a c-section and was delayed with my milk coming in, the doctors and nurses convinced me to give the baby formula.  Even though it was not in my master "plan" and I felt terrible about it at the time, I did what I thought was right.  I didn't want my baby to suffer at all and to go hungry.  We used the SNS (supplemental nursing system), which hooks a tube of formula to your nipple so the baby gets a good supply of food while still learning how to nurse at the same time.  Guess what?  Once I left the hospital, I never used the SNS again or needed to give the baby formula.

3.  It HURTS too bad to bear.
When my milk came in on that 4th day it was so painful.  It felt like to 2 hot, hard, rocks on my chest.  I had a slight fever.  I thought I was getting mastitis.  More than the breast pain was the nipple pain.  My nipples chaffed, bled, and scabbed.  I cried every time the baby latched on.  MISERY, I tell you.  For something that is supposed to come so naturally to a woman who has just given birth, this felt just about as unnatural as humanly possible.  Experience helps here because this pain is temporary.  If you haven't had the experience, call someone who does.  Let them talk you through it.  My mom assured me that the rock solid feeling of my milk coming in would go away.  It did.  She assured me that my nipples would "toughen up".  They did.  I liken the early days of breastfeeding as running the first mile of a race.  Getting into it is hard, but once you get warmed up, you'll be on your way.  That is not to say that you can't use tools to help make the pain go away...nipple shields, lanolin, soothing gel pads, heating packs, ice packs, ibuprofen...YES.  Anything that helps with the pain in those early days is worth using.  Seriously.  USE IT!!

4.  Breastmilk isn't filling enough so my baby won't sleep through the night and I NEED my sleep.
First things first, I am not sure that it is a fact that your baby will sleep longer if he/she has formula instead of a bottle.  Some people may tell you that breastfed babies will continue to wake several times a night because they are not getting enough milk or because they want the comfort of their mommy.  My experience has been this, it isn't the amount of milk that he is getting (if I pump instead of feed, I get 7-8 ounces), but the comfort factor.  For me, even though the lack of sleep sucks, I work all day and don't get to see my baby very much all week.  It is nice to get to spend some snuggle time with him, even if it is at 3 AM.  They are only little once and he isn't going to be up all night and in need of his mommy forever.

5.  I am going back to work and don't want to deal with a pump and pumping.  
So this one is probably going to vary greatly for each person based on the job that they do.  I have a lot of teacher friends who really have a very limited amount of time to pump during the workday so their experience was much different than mine.  Luckily my work is pretty supportive of nursing mothers and basically ask no questions and make no demands about what you can and can't do.  I started pumping 3 times a day when I first got back to work and that was difficult.  Constantly getting interrupted from work, cleaning the pump parts each time, answering lots of awkward questions about what I was doing in that "little room"...not the most fun I have had.  Moving down to 2 pumping sessions a day was such a treat.  So much more time during the day and I could finally go out to lunch again!  This past week I have dropped down to one session a day, and let me tell you, it is like a vacation.  No more washing pump parts!  I can just pump at 11:30 AM, throw the parts in a bag, and wash them when I get home.  I am down to 18 minutes from my desk back to my desk, 4 days a week!  Looking back on my pumping experience, I would not change a thing about it.  I think it worked out for me and I was lucky.  It wasn't always easy and I did have some mishaps (forgetting parts, plugged ducts, scheduling follies), but nothing that I couldn't handle.  It was a sacrifice of time, but I feel that it was worth it for me and my baby!

6.  Reflux, spitting up, MSPI, oh my!
Seeing my baby so upset at the breast and constantly waring bibs because of the crazy amount of spit-up, was hard to watch.  When the pediatrician told me that I would have to give up so many foods that I like to try to alleviate the problem, was hard to fathom.  I didn't think I could do it.  Dairy, soy, nuts, wheat, eggs, etc.  Yikes, what else is there to eat??  Wouldn't it just be easier to give him some hypoallergenic formula?  Yes, it may have been easier, especially coming from someone who had to restrict their diet during pregnancy due to GDM.  It turns out that there is a lot to eat that doesn't include the above items and when you finally start adding back those items, you either find that do don't want them anymore or that they taste that much better since you haven't had them in so long.  Either way, babies usually grow out of this around 6-8 months and this was true for me.  Although I am now mostly Paleo, I do eat some raw milk cheese, butter, and occasionally a wheat-laden treat (like a cookie).  Eggs and nuts didn't seem to be the culprit of his issues so I added them back in early on.  I also gave him some Zantac in the early days and that seemed to help with his discomfort and it helped me to sleep at night knowing that it was making him feel better.

7.  I'll breastfeed until the baby gets teeth...then I'm done for sure.
I actually said this several times before I had him.  Lucky for me, B got teeth before 4 months.  Haha.  Right now he has 8 and is working on a few more.  I have been bitten a few times, but surprisingly, not that much.  Usually it is when he is really teething, isn't hungry, or can't breathe out of his nose because he has a cold (just had him bit me for that reason today).  It hurts, but no more worse than my nipples hurt when I started breastfeeding and the pain is gone fast.  When he bites, I say no and I unlatch him.  I wait a minute then I try again.  If he bites again, he is done for the session and I try again later.

Here are a few other tips that I ave found to help me in my breastfeeding journey so far:

  • Take it one day at a time.  Today may be really rough, tomorrow will be a little bit easier, and months from now it will be a breeze.

  • Set realistic goals.  My first goal was 3 months.  When I hit that goal, I made another which was 6 months.  I hit that with no problem so my next goal was 1 year and I am about to hit it!  Those goals have been realistic for me, but might not work for you.  Manageable goals are much easier to attain!

  • Extra pump parts are a MUST for pumping mamas!  Cleaning regular dishes sucks.  Cleaning pump parts sucks more.  Cleaning pump parts multiple times a day sucks even more. That was the best $65 bucks I have spent!

  • Don't be so hard on yourself.  If you have to supplement then by all means, supplement!!  You have to do what you have to do to get by.  When I had to supplement in the beginning I felt like a failure of a mom, but I should not have.  We are so hard on ourselves when we should not be!  

  • Mother's Milk Tea.  Do it.  The taste is acquired, but now I kind of like it and it definitely helps with production.     

  • Seek advice from others who have been there.  My mommy friends who have breastfed their babies have been a tremendous support to me.  So has my mom.  

  • Ignore the nasty comments.  Whether it is asking why you are still breastfeeding or asking why you formula feed just explain that you are feeding your baby.  It is working for you and your baby.  Period.  None of their business.

  • Build up a freezer stash.  You may or may not need to use it, but it is like insurance.  If you need it, it is there.

So on to my next breastfeeding goal...until it is time to stop.  I'm not sure when that will be.  I can admit to you that thinking about my last breastfeeding session in the future makes me weepy.  I have read several stories from moms who have weaned and I get upset every time.  I have not always enjoyed every aspect of breastfeeding, but I am so glad that I have stuck with it.  It has made me feel incredibly close and bonded with my son.  I am so lucky to have been able to experience this.

My young little nursling.  They grow so fast!

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Overcoming diastasis recti (part 2)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I apologize that this post is so delayed.  At the time that I wrote the first post about diastasis recti I had wanted to follow-up shortly thereafter with another post regarding how I was dealing with the issue.  I'll update you on my "progress" and where everything stands right now.

Back when I wrote my first post on this subject in September, I had made great progress with my physical therapist.  I was doing regular core exercises that were specifically geared towards people with my condition.  I was running a ton and feeling great.  I felt like I was getting so much better so in November, I joined CrossFit.  For a while I was modifying all of the workouts that had any ab components because the physical therapist told me that they could make the condition worse and un-do all of the work that I put in (sit-ups, v-ups, toes-to-bar, etc).  After a while it started to get embarrassing and decided to disregard what my PT had said.  I always had to modify exercises and always had to explain to others why I was "cheating".  I was tired of it.

One day, during a class, I decided to just go for it.  I felt like my core was pretty strong so I did a whole workout with a component that included "toes-to-bar" except that I did "knees-to-elbows", which is the beginner version of the former workout.  I did the workout and felt ok during it, but that night when I got home, I noticed in the mirror that my stomach looked worse than it had in a long time.  My lower back was also bothering me.  UGH.  After only one workout, my diastasis looked so much worse than it had in months.  How completely defeating.

Since quitting CrossFit, I have been running a lot more.  I started training with a coach again and do weekly intervals with a "team".  I am back in my element!  The only problem is that I still have this annoying ab separation to deal with.  Besides causing some lower back pain, it looks like I am 6 months pregnant every night, which is terrible for my self-esteem.  Last week my Aunt asked me when I was due.  Seriously?  I had really hoped to wear a 2 piece bathing suit this summer, but that isn't going to happen (maybe ever again).  It is crazy that I am 115 lbs, which is lower than I was before I got pregnant, but I have never felt more uncomfortable with my body.

So now I am back to, what I feel like, is square one.  I need to start doing my core exercises from my PT again.  I need to practice getting up and out of bed in the way that she taught me.  I need to start wearing the brace at night again.  I also need to really be strict about what I am eating.  Sugar and wheat tend to make me bloated, which exacerbates the problem.  One girl in a support group that I am in, mentioned that apple cider vinegar helps with bloating.  I tried that one night when I felt very bloated and it worked within 15 minutes (I put 2 teaspoons in water and pounded it...totally gross).  I know it is bad for your teeth though, so it isn't a perfect solution.

For reference, here are some pictures to detail what I am talking about.

Picture #1

On the left is me in June and on the right is me now.  In both of these pics I am "flexing" my ab "muscles".  From this view, things definitely look much improved.

Picture #2
Same pics as above on the left and right.  The middle pic is from me in October, before starting CrossFit.  I think that I looked much better then than I do now.

Picture #3
This is a current photo of me on the right "flexing" and on the left not "flexing".  Anyone with diastasis recti will tell you that the constant need to suck in so you don't look pregnant is exhausting.

Picture #4
This is a current photo of me from the front "flexing".  I have a faint linea negra, some wrinkled skin, a herniated belly button, and a protruding belly with no ab muscle definition (even when "flexing")!  Not what I would call attractive to look at in a 2 piece!

Picture #5
This is a current photo of me from the front, not "flexing".  Not pretty.  

So, the diastasis recti saga continues.  I am going to try to get back into doing my core exercises and doing everything that I was doing before.  I am still not ruling out surgery in the future to stitch things back together, but since we have not closed the baby window, I don't want to go there, yet.  ;-)  I'll check in again on this topic sometime in the summer.  I'd be really interested to hear from others with the same condition.  What have you done to try to correct it?  Have you just accepted that you will never look the same again?  Does it affect your self esteem?  

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