postpartum and newborn favorites

Feb 25th 2015 10:09:16 am

postpartumfaves

Kenneth is more than six weeks old at this point (wow!) which means the immediate postpartum period is over. I had worked extremely hard to prepare myself for parenthood, but being prepared doesn’t really decrease the amount of work it takes to sustain a newborn! Finding time for anything other than breastfeeding and baby rocking is tough… but I am getting into a groove and really starting to enjoy Ken’s emerging personality.

In addition to the obvious necessities (diapers, wipes, crib, baby clothes, etc) these items all helped the postpartum period go more smoothly:

  1. Eat Sleep app – While still in the hospital, the nurses tell you to log each feeding and diaper change. Keeping track helps you to determine if your baby is getting enough to eat and helps you to start learning his routines and demands. The nurses suggested a paper log, but an iPhone app is much more handy! I don’t know for sure if Eat Sleep is the very best one, but it is super easy to use and allows you to track feedings, diaper changes, and sleep. I don’t track Ken’s sleep, but it is great to have a record of when he last ate and got his diaper changed.
  2. iPhone6 – Speaking of iPhones, I don’t know how women survived the postpartum period prior to their existence!! Travis and I had splurged on the new iPhone6s with extra storage space before Kenneth’s birth because we figured we’d need the extra space to store tons of photos… but my phone has meant much more to me than just cute photos. It is amazing to have access to friends (via Facebook), family (via text), entertainment (via YouTube), distractions (via blog posts and Pinterest), and knowledge and support (via internet searches) all in the palm of my hand while breastfeeding or soothing my little symbiont.
  3. Miracle Blanket – Kenneth seems to like being swaddled at night. It prevents him from waving his arms uncontrollably and hitting himself in the face. We have used traditional swaddle blankets, but this Miracle Blanket is the best we’ve tried. It stays wrapped up nice and tight all night long. I can even breastfeed him while he is still wrapped up!
  4. Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads – Breastfeeding is demanding, but it has gotten much better over the last few weeks. I wear these pads in my bra at all times to absorb leaks and to protect my sensitive nipples. I like that they come individually wrapped so you can pack them in a bag easily.
  5. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin – I put this medical grade lanolin on my nursing pads to help soothe my worn out nipples. It is safe for breastfeeding and doesn’t need to be cleaned off before feeding.
  6. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breastpump – Breastfeeding is basically my full-time job at this point. I feed Ken every 1-4 hours (we are still working out our schedule) and if I want/need to be away from him for longer than that, I have to pump a bottle in advance. I actually have only done that a handful of times and I don’t use the pump very often, but it was nice to have on hand in the first few days after his birth to relieve engorgement and help establish my supply while Ken and I were first figuring out the whole nursing concept. (You should be able to get this pump for free via your health insurance when you are at 36 weeks.)
  7. ErgoBaby Carrier – A baby carrier is a necessity! Ken loves traveling in one and it helps him go to sleep. It also keeps him warm while outside in this frigid winter weather! We have used a Moby wrap, a BabyBjorn, and the ErgoBaby. All three work great, but the ErgoBaby is the most versatile and comfortable.
  8. Baby Nail Clippers – Baby nails are SO sharp! And they grow fast! I clip Ken’s nails while he dozes off after eating.
  9. An awesome husband/partner – A lot of the baby care falls on my shoulders, especially now that Travis is back at work, but I wouldn’t have survived these last six weeks without his support. Ken loves being held by his dad and Travis has spent many late nights walking him around the apartment to get him to sleep. He sings and reads to Ken at night, and brings me water when we are breastfeeding. Travis has also been doing all of the grocery shopping and much of the cooking. Plus, he brings me chocolate on particularly tough days! Two adults vs. one baby seems like the perfect ratio!

I recommend having all of these items on hand prior to baby’s arrival, if possible.

Have you recently brought home a newborn bundle? What do you recommend for the first few weeks?

No Comments » Categories: Baby, Pregnancy

Kenneth at one month…

Feb 9th 2015 03:29:56 pm

onemonthKenblog

Little Ken is one month old! We are extremely fortunate and grateful that he is healthy and sweet and progressing perfectly. It is amazing that he is a miniature human made of equal parts Travis and me. He is not quite what I expected, but instead a unique individual with a distinct personality starting to emerge. He is a lot of fun. He looks like Travis, my brothers, my dad, my father-in-law, and myself all at once. The last month has flown by and dragged on. I hope Kenneth has enjoyed getting to know us as much as we’ve loved meeting him.

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Facts about Kenneth at one month:

  • He weighed 9 lbs 10.5 oz at his four week doctor appointment. Two pounds more than at birth!
  • He sleeps in 3-4 hour chunks at night… which isn’t too bad on his mom.
  • He is a champion eater and has been meeting all of his dirty diaper quotas.
  • It took a few weeks, but he has been making eye contact, making lots of cute noises, and even cracking a few adorable smiles.
  • He loves riding in his baby carriers and being swaddled at night.
  • He makes endless funny faces, especially when I give him kisses on his face.
  • He has had lots of visitors and he has been on trips to Shake Shack, Ample Hills, Calexico, and Prospect Park.
  • He is the best baby in the world!

onemonthphotoshoot

Postpartum Update:

I was ready for a lot of the things that come with bringing home a new baby — sleepless nights, getting little accomplished except baby care, dealing with a flabby, out-of-shape, recovering body, emotional highs and lows — but you add it all together and this new life can feel TOUGH sometimes. Thankfully, Travis has been a huge help. He has done the grocery shopping and much of the cooking. And despite being back at work full time now, he stays up with the baby when I desperately need to sleep. We are adults and I know we will get through this early baby time just as billions of other parents have. Hopefully, we will even remember it fondly. I try to keep things in perspective and remember that everything is actually going very smoothly…

BUT I need to vent about one major challenge… breast feeding. Ugh. Overall, Ken and I have had a lot of success and I am going to stick with it, but I am sad to admit that I don’t really like it. I had high hopes in the first week, but then the pain set in. It was excruciating for about a week. There was blood and blisters and a lot of tears. It felt terrible to dread feeding him. But as all of the lactation resources predicted, things have gotten better. (These nipple pads and this lanolin help.) I no longer dread it, but it is still uncomfortable, time-consuming, and utterly (udderly?) draining. I have a low level dehydration headache at all times despite my best hydration efforts. Also, my boobs are unmanageably huge and sore and stretched to the max. I know Ken is getting plenty to eat (he makes lots of dirty diapers and is gaining weight) but his feeding schedule is still unpredictable, and he can be quite demanding! Oh, and my weight is absolutely NOT “falling off” as everyone said it would if I breast fed…

It has only been a month and I know things will continue to get easier, but even compared to my fertility struggles, the pregnancy, and childbirth, I consider breast feeding during this postpartum period to be my least favorite and most difficult challenge. Of course, maybe my feelings will change once I get through it…

6 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, Pregnancy

Kenneth’s birth story

Jan 29th 2015 09:12:08 pm

It has been three weeks since Kenneth arrived on January 8th. I have been thinking a lot about his birth and have wanted to write it all down before I forget all of the details. I know that I am already revising the experience in my mind and underestimating the pain and intensity of the day…. but hopefully, I can get as close to the reality as possible. I will try to be somewhat discreet about the medical stuff, but proceed with caution if you don’t want to read the details of labor and birth!

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THE SHORT VERSION:

My labor and Kenneth’s birth was fast, intense, mind-blowing, painful, overwhelming and amazing. It was my dream birth situation, but it was not what I was expecting and it caught me off guard. Ken was born nine days before his due date at NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan. I was in “real” labor for just six hours and we barely made it to the hospital in time! The labor and vaginal delivery were totally natural and medication-free. They were also scary and all-consuming. Travis was the perfect husband, dad, and birth companion, and Ken and I both made it through the experience totally healthy and happy. January 8th was a very good day!

THE SUPER LONG VERSION…

The Day Before:

On January 7th, I had what turned out to be my final prenatal doctor appointment. The doctor checked my cervix and said I was about one centimeter dilated, but not efaced very far. She didn’t think it meant much and told me that if I hadn’t gone into labor by the next week’s appointment, she would strip my membranes then. She also discussed what would happen if I went past my due date.

So… I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about BabyJ arriving early. I was a little bummed to think that I still had a long time to wait, so despite the very cold weather, Travis took me out on a date to Stone Park Cafe to cheer me up. We shared a really delicious meal (not too big or rich, which turned out to be a very good thing) and had a great night together.

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Labor:

After going to bed around midnight, I woke up with some minor cramping at about 3:00 am. Being woken up by contractions is a definite sign of labor, but I really didn’t think much of it. The cramps didn’t hurt much and they were really sporadic. I had maybe four or five of them between 3 and 4 am, and then I sort of fell asleep on the couch until Travis woke up at 7. I told him I was having some light contractions, but that they had pretty much dissipated and that it was probably just Braxton Hicks or practice labor. I think we ate breakfast. I told him to go to work.

I thought that even if it was early labor, I had hours and hours until the real deal. In our Prepared Childbirth class our instructor really reinforced the fact that first baby labor can last a REALLY long time, on average 18-22 hours. We spent a LOT of time in class discussing all of the things a woman can do while in early labor — get her nails done, make cookies, go out to eat, watch movies, etc. I figured that I was NOT even in early labor yet, since there wasn’t much pain, and once I was, I would still have tons of time.

I did some computer work, took Crusher for a walk, vacuumed, texted with some friends, and started thinking about what I wanted to get done before going to the hospital IF I really was in labor. My list included going to get a pedicure, cleaning the bathroom, baking cookies, and showering. I actually texted Travis and asked if he thought I should try to make an appointment to get my hair highlighted, too. ha! But I was feeling a little worn out and decided to nap before tackling my list…

This will be too much info for most, but another sign of labor that I sort of ignored? I had three bowel movements during the course of the morning, which is three times what is normal for me. Clearing your system out can be a sign of early labor, which I knew, but didn’t think much about at the time.

At about 12:30 I woke up from my nap to a really painful contraction. I tried to get up during it, but couldn’t walk until it passed. I think it was actually when my water broke. There was some liquid, but not much, so I wasn’t sure. I also might have lost my mucus plug then. All of a sudden, I got worried. It was real pain. I actually thought, “this whole labor thing isn’t going to be easy.” I started texting Travis even though he was in a meeting…

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The contractions started at about three minutes apart before 1 pm, but quickly sped up. I tried using my app, but I couldn’t really time them. I was still thinking that once Travis got home maybe he could time them while I watched a movie (I was thinking Aliens)… but the contractions just kept coming faster and were getting more intense. I got through a shower, but had to stop to lean against the wall for each contraction. The pain was intense. It is hard to be objective about it, but it was definitely white-knuckle, stop-what-you-are-doing, focus-on-getting-through-it pain. Sitting on the toilet or being on all fours on the bed helped.

Our hospital bag was already packed, but I managed to round up a few extra things in between contractions (including snacks — thank goodness!). Then, I called my mom at 2:30 pm. She says I didn’t sound like I was in pain, but I was. I thought I sounded terrible. I was on all fours in bed with wet hair and I finally admitted to her (and myself) that I thought the baby was coming that day. She said that if I thought he was coming, he was!

Travis got home shortly after that at about 2:45. I think my water sort of broke again then. More liquid came out, anyway. At some point I called my doctor’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her my water had broken and that the contractions were a minute a part. She clarified that they weren’t actually AN HOUR a part and when I said no, she told us to come in to the hospital asap.

Getting to the Hospital:

Travis stayed calm, took Crusher out, and rounded up all of our things while I worked on drying my hair. (It was very cold that day and I didn’t want to go out with wet hair.) We called an Uber car at around 3:20 and I quickly made it down the stairs from our apartment in between contractions.

The car ride was one of the most difficult things I have ever withstood. It was a bumpy ride and the contractions seemed to be coming less than 30 seconds apart. There weren’t really any breaks, just waves of pain. I think I might have held Travis’ hand, but I also remember worrying about hurting him. I was grasping the car door with white knuckles and just trying my best not to make too much noise. The driver was really nervous and asked us whether we needed an ambulance instead. I was definitely getting worried and was in focused survival mode, but I still didn’t really know how deep into labor I was. I certainly didn’t want to show up to the hospital in an ambulance and then be told that I was barely even dilated!! Despite the intensity of the contractions, I was still afraid that I might show up and they would tell me I had hours and hours of labor left…

A natural, medication and intervention-free delivery was my goal, but during the car ride I decided to ask for an epidural if my labor was not very far progressed. I felt weak for mentally giving up on my plan, but I couldn’t have handled hours more of those extreme contractions.

It turns out that I should have been a little more worried about not making it to the hospital in time…

hospitalcarride

Delivery:

We made it to the hospital at around 4 pm. I thought I could make it up to the Mother and Baby unit on foot, but as soon as I walked into the hospital, I doubled over a trash can to get through a contraction. A woman in the lobby scolded Travis and told him to get me a wheel chair. I was so focused on getting through the pain that I didn’t totally know what was happening, but somehow I got in the wheel chair and they got me into an elevator and up to the check in desk. Travis checked me in — i think — and they took me to triage.

I had been dreading triage because it is in a more public area and you have to stay there while they monitor the baby and your contractions for 20 minutes. I was thinking of this when we arrived, but really, I wasn’t thinking of much but getting through the pain. I don’t even know if my vision was working. I don’t know how my clothes were removed. I do sort of remember the nurses putting the monitors on me, and me saying that I couldn’t lay on my back for 20 minutes. I asked if I could be on all fours instead. The resident doctor (I think) did an internal exam and… OMG guys… I was fully dilated!!

In retrospect, I think I was in transition while we were arriving at the hospital. My body was doing what I described as “convulsing” but I think it was actually pushing. They quickly transported me to a delivery room.

labor

The doctor excitedly said, “You are going to have a baby today!” There was no time for an epidural, and I am glad that I didn’t have to make a decision about getting one. I think the nurses and doctors thought I would have the baby within a few minutes, and maybe I would have, but once I transferred to the delivery room at 4:25 things seemed to slow down. (How did I get in the new bed? I don’t know.)

I was scared. Much more scared than I thought I would be. I needed a mental break. I hadn’t anticipated the labor progressing so quickly and I felt like I had to catch my breath. I had more time in between each contraction during the pushing stage, like 2-3 minutes, to rest. Maybe my own anxiety slowed things down. I know that it decreased the efficiency of my pushing. I had thought I was going to be really good at pushing — empowered and strong — but I felt weak and scared. I felt bad for wanting a way out. If I had been given a way out, I would have taken it, which is humbling. I even thought about asking for a c-section, but I don’t think I said it out loud. Travis tried to remind me that I would be meeting our baby soon, but even that didn’t feel like sufficient motivation. I didn’t really care. I just wanted the pain to stop. But I kept going.

The nurses and Doctor Erin Conroy (who I loved — she was wearing a NYRR race t-shirt under her scrubs) coached me through pushing during each contraction. The last book I had read was Hypnobirthing, which describes labor as “breathing your baby out” and advises against coached, forced pushing. So I was confused about whether I needed to follow the pushing instructions. I felt a little annoyed at the doctors and nurses for telling me what to do. I wanted to do things my way… but thank goodness I listened to them instead. I pushed for two and half hours, which isn’t a short time period, but it would have been way longer if I had been left up to my own devices. I think I would have just held the baby in indefinitely. I really hadn’t anticipated being so scared of the actual birth.

I was half sitting up in the hospital bed and pushed while pulling on a bar over the bed, on handles by the side of the bed, and even while pulling on a sheet held by the doctor. Eventually a nurse and Travis started holding my legs while I pushed and they set up a mirror for me to watch my progress. I was fine with having the mirror, but it definitely was not an attractive sight!

The two+ hours passed quickly with what seemed like little progress. The doctor was a little concerned about Ken being in distress during contractions and they encouraged me to keep working hard. I think I asked the doctor how long it would take. They wanted me to hold my breath while pushing and do two or three per contraction. Many of my pushes were ineffective. They only seemed to work when I could push in conjunction with my body’s natural pushing action. The doctor suggested Pitocin to get things moving faster, which I didn’t want. I was a little frustrated but tried to muster up my courage and determination to just GET THE BABY OUT!

Ken is here:

Finally, at 6:41 pm, Ken’s head was crowning and he was born quickly after that! They had moved the mirror, but I looked down and could mostly see him being born. Following his head, he had his little hand up under his chin. “He’s waving at you!” the doctor said and she helped pull him the rest of the way out. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t tell you the exact details. They quickly put him up on my chest. I was very happy and relieved and in love with our new little baby.

delivery

I got to hold Ken for a bit. I did not cry, which is a little strange. I was just so happy and overwhelmed. Ken cried a bit, but not loudly. Travis cut the cord at some point. Time passed quickly. The nurses rubbed Ken clean — he had a lot of vernix on his body. The nurses called him “cheesy” — yum. He also had a lot of mucus in his nose, mouth, and lungs, so a nurse had to take him for a bit to suction it out, but she did it right by my bed. He also got foot printed and “tagged” with all his hospital bands.

ken

Unfortunately, I did have a second degree perineum tear, but I couldn’t tell you when it happened. It didn’t hurt as far as I could tell. Maybe my anxiety (and all those Kegels I had been doing) prevented me from relaxing my pelvic floor during the birth, but who knows. While Ken was cleaned up, I had to get a few stitches. That was NOT fun. I wanted a break from all the discomfort, but I was also really happy and excited, so I got through it. Another pre-birth fear that I really didn’t need to worry about? Pooping during labor. I do not think I did, but I really couldn’t tell you, and no one in the room would have cared at all either way. I was so focused on getting through the pain and getting out the baby, that I was not worried about much of anything else. I also didn’t care that I had an IV in my hand or the fetal monitor around my waist — two things that I had anticipated not wanting. Everything happened so quickly and I was very happy with the help that the hospital staff gave me during labor and the birth.

After Ken was suctioned and cleaned, he was put on my bare chest. I am so glad Travis took photos because the time went so quickly. I just enjoyed holding him. Travis and I ate some of the snacks we had brought, and Ken nursed a bit while we waited for his eye ointment and Vitamin K shot. I think this is also when they gave me the Pitocin drip, but I am not sure. I had been suspicious of the hospital for requiring Pitocin after every delivery, but in the end, I did not care at all and I had no side effects from it. If anything, I was just insanely happy, excited, and at peace.

hospital

Hospital Stay:

Staying at the hospital was not something I was looking forward to, but despite my anxiety, I was very happy with my stay and care at NYU Langone hospital. The nurses were all fantastic. I saw two lactation consultants, two pediatricians, and took a breast feeding class and baby care class all within my 40 hours at the hospital. The nurses helped me breastfeed and taught me how to use a breast pump.

I ended up with a private room, but only because the other bed in the room was broken. Despite the privacy, we decided Travis should go home to sleep at night and to take care of Crusher. The hospital food actually wasn’t bad, but Travis also brought me Doughnut Plant donuts the day after the delivery. Our friends, Joel and Amanda, came to visit on Friday evening.

It must have been the hormones, but I just felt thrilled and at peace in the hospital. I felt like I had accomplished something big and I was just so pleased that Kenneth had arrived.

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Bringing Ken home:

On Saturday morning we got discharged really quickly. We were out of our room by about 10 am. They require that you sit whenever you carry your baby in the hospital, so I got to take another wheel chair ride down to the hospital exit. You can tell by my goofy smile, I was just deliriously happy and excited.

kenleavinghospital

Travis had borrowed Joel’s car and had already installed our car seat. He went to go get the car while I waited in the lobby. (Side note: as far as we can tell, you do NOT officially need a car seat to leave the hospital in NYC. No one checked us or asked us how we were getting home. Of course, you SHOULD use a car seat.)

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There wasn’t much traffic on our way home. Travis says he wasn’t very nervous while driving. I sat in back with Ken and told him all about his home borough of Brooklyn.

Crusher was very excited to meet his new brother when we got home. He went a little crazy and both wanted to get close to Ken, but also was a little nervous. He has since warmed up to him, but he doesn’t like his crying.

The four of us have spent the last three weeks getting used to the very literal blood, sweat, and tears of caring for a brand new baby. We are having fun together and slowly finding our rhythm. My recovery has gone well, but between that and breast feeding, there has been a lot of pain and discomfort. But things are getting better. I had felt so proud and pleased to have gotten through the pregnancy and birth, but bringing home a newborn is a fresh new challenge that may be the hardest yet.

kenathome

Childbirth vs Marathoning:

I was very interested to learn how the experience of labor and birth compared to running a marathon. Prepping for childbirth was not my main motivation for running marathons, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my reasons.

I AM very glad to have had nine marathons under my belt before giving birth because it gave me a lot of self confidence and knowledge that I could endure pain and hard physical work. BUT, childbirth was MUCH more difficult than running a marathon.

I was lucky in that my labor was super-short, but even so, it was six hours of intense pain. Some marathons are six hours long, but you aren’t in pain that full time. Labor pain is like the last hour of the marathon, but for a much longer period of time.

Other differences: In a marathon you can adjust your pace or even stop if needed. You don’t have much control over labor. And you don’t know how long it is going to be. During my marathons, I’ve definitely thought, “I’m never doing one of these again.” But I’ve never thought about quitting. Labor was much scarier. I am sad to say that I think I would have quit if I had been given the opportunity. It is definitely hard to remember and compare pain, but I do know that I was thinking I would much rather be running a marathon than trying to push out a baby. But of course, a sweet, little baby is a much better prize than a medal!

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Don’t worry. I don’t actually sleep with the baby like this. We were just lounging.

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You can see LOTS more photos of Kenneth in his Flickr album.

9 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, love, Pregnancy

Introducing…

Jan 13th 2015 05:44:05 pm


Kenneth Gunner Johnson!

January 8th, 2015 – 6:41 pm

7 pounds, 8.6 ounces

20 inches long

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Wow. We are in love. Ken is already five days old an we’ve been having a magical time with him. (It is going too fast!) His birth was early, fast, and intense, but I’ll save that story for a future post. He is healthy and sweet and adorable. We are amazed and thrilled that he is ours.

If you want even more photos, you can see LOTS in Ken’s Flickr album.

5 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Feeling Happy, Kenneth, Pregnancy

third trimester pregnancy favorites

Jan 5th 2015 12:53:35 pm

thirdtrifaves

Well, guys, this pregnancy adventure is getting very close to completion! The third trimester has definitely been the most uncomfortable for me, but I also feel really happy and excited about what comes next, so I can’t complain… too much. These are a few of the things that have helped make the last three months more enjoyable.

Third Trimester Pregnancy Favorites:

  1. Exercise/birth ball – Our Prepared Childbirth class instructor told us that sitting on a birth ball was one of the best ways to prepare for labor. I have been sitting on mine at my desk while doing computer work. It definitely helps me sit up straight and loosens up my hips. I am not sure it is is doing anything beneficial for my perineum, but I guess we’ll find out when this baby decides to make his debut!
  2. fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish – I have itchy skin!! Especially on my legs these days. It is weird. I had a sugar scrub during a pedicure that felt so good that I begged Travis to get me this body polish and scrub my lower legs for me. I can’t really reach my lower legs any longer to do it myself. Good thing my husband is so sweet!
  3. Slip-on Vans – I can no longer really bend over to tie my shoes. Or put on socks, for that matter. Travis helps me when I must wear tied shoes, but otherwise, I am wearing these Vans or other slip-on shoes.
  4. Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream – I ran out of my fancy face lotion and had some of this oil/cream on hand that I have been using instead… and I love it! I like that the ingredients are all natural, so I feel ok using it while pregnant. Plus, it absorbs quickly and makes my skin really soft. And you can basically use it anywhere on your body, which is great since I am trying to simplify my entire hygiene and beauty routine.
  5. Comfy UGG Slippers – I’ve been spending a lot of time at home these days, and it is just fun to have a nice pair of slippers to wear around during the day. Travis got me these new UGGs for Christmas! …I sometimes think I should make an effort to change out of sweats and slippers, but why?
  6. Milk – I am still craving a lot of dairy and I am drinking a good amount of milk. I am still drinking whole milk, and trying to get the Omega 3 stuff when I can. BabyJ’s bones are ossifying during this trimester, so I definitely don’t want to skimp on any calcium. Plus, it helps with my heart burn.
  7. Dried Fruit – (Not pictured) I have been snacking on dried prunes and apricots daily, along with a few nuts, to make sure to get some extra fiber in my diet. I have stayed regular throughout this entire pregnancy, which I classify as a major accomplishment!

Are you in your third trimester of pregnancy? Or recently survived it?? What were your favorite things that helped you stay comfy and happy?

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Check out my First Trimester Favorites and my Second Trimester Favorites!

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Things I did NOT use during pregnancy:

Since I’ve talked about all the things that I’ve found really helpful during my pregnancy experience, I thought I should share my warnings about pregnancy-related things that many women recommend, but that I did not find useful.

  • Bellaband – This was one of the very first things I bought when I found out I was pregnant because it is recommended on nearly every blog and pregnancy website. It is basically a band of fabric that you can wear over your belly and pants to avoid showing skin or an unbuttoned waistband. In theory it sounds helpful, but I just never wanted to wear an extra item. I just relied on long tank tops and NEVER used the Bellaband once. But… maybe I’ll want to use is post-pregnancy to cover up my wobbly belly… we’ll see.
  • Giant Full-body Pregnancy Sleep Pillow – I will admit that sleeping during the third trimester is not fun, but I never broke down and bought one of the huge full-body pillows. I am sure they are comfy, but I just could not imagine fitting one in my Queen size bed with my 6’6” husband and space-demanding dog. I also didn’t want to worry about storing it or getting rid of it later. So, take it from me that you CAN live without one if necessary.
  • Tracy Anderson The Pregnancy Project – I am a sucker for workout programs and this set of 9 DVDs (one for each month of pregnancy) seemed like a great way to stay motivated and active. I bought it before I was even pregnant! To be clear, I DID do each of the DVDs… at least once. AND if you did these workouts every day (like Tracy suggests) I have NO DOUBT that you would have the best pregnant butt ever. BUT the workouts are boring. And they are basically all the same: 30-60 minutes of strangely contorted leg lifts. I was more likely to choose taking my dog for a walk or going to prenatal yoga over popping in a DVD, so I can’t really recommend The Pregnancy Project.

Any other items that you did not find helpful during pregnancy? Or, that are overhyped and not necessary?

2 Comments » Categories: Food, Make-up & Beauty, Pregnancy, Shoes

pregnancy log: weeks 37 & 38

Jan 3rd 2015 03:15:41 pm

36.5weeksTuesday, December 23rd – Happy Christmas Eve Eve! We are getting so close to the end of this pregnancy adventure! I am still feeling good, but having some major hip pain when sleeping and an even more increased need to pee all the time. I think I pee every 45 minutes! Oof. But overall, I am appreciating the awesome fact that I have a little human inside me. I want to absorb the experience and be able to remember it all. After he is outside and I get to know him, I feel like I will look back and appreciate the pregnancy even more. For now, BabyJ is still a bit abstract — what will he look like? what will his personality be? — but he is getting more real every day! His movements are a little more, um, I guess, uncomfortable. They are sort of bigger, but also sort of cramped, so he really presses on my belly and organs. He is probably about 6 lbs and 20 inches long at this point — which is basically getting very close to what his birth size will be.

I feel so big and unwieldy that I want to sit on the couch all day and hibernate, but I am forcing myself to stay a little bit active. I went to pre-natal yoga last night and it was really good. It is lovely to see all the other pregnant ladies. Today I am going to try to force myself to do my Pilates dvd. I have another doctor appointment tomorrow, and of course, I am nervous about getting weighed. I am trying to drop my anxiety over my weight, but it is just so hard when the doctors are charting and judging you every week. I want to tell them, “hey, it is the holidays, I’m sorry if my weight is one pound over your precious weight chart!” But I will try to stay calm and just keep my mouth shut.

I am going to try making these Lactation Cookies today as a semi-healthy holiday treat… and to just test them out to see if they are something I will want to keep making once BabyJ is here and needing lots of milk. I am a little nervous about breast feeding, but maybe it will come easily. You never know!

christmas

Thursday, December 25thMerry Christmas! Travis and I stayed in Brooklyn again this year for Christmas. I’ve passed the “ok to fly” stage of pregnancy and I am also pretty tired in general, so it was good to have a low key holiday. My Christmas pajamas just barely fit over the belly…. next year I hope to get brand new matching PJs for the whole fam!

My doctor appointment yesterday went well. All my stats look good and my Group Strep B test came back negative, so that is fantastic. I am still feeling good, but I have a lot of aches and pains while trying to sleep. I also have to pee about every 30 minutes. It is getting annoying. My belly button is entirely stretched out and now it is looking bruised. Ick. I am really doubting its ability to return to normal after all of this… but we’ll see.

We took a really nice hike to Prospect Park this afternoon and I felt great! But then after getting home, I was really worn out. I napped, but still couldn’t quite recover. I think my body is just getting tired. I definitely feel like I am nearing the end of this pregnancy… or at least, I feel like I can’t make it much longer! BabyJ is pushing on my pelvis a lot and it can get quite intense. I think he is running out of room!

Sunday, December 28th – Yesterday marked 37 weeks of pregnancy. BabyJ is officially considered full term now. I still feel like he will come a week early, but who knows! Whatever happens, I only have a few more weeks left of being pregnant. It feels almost sad except that I am so ready to meet this little baby… and get to hold him, and cuddle him, and kiss him, and take too many photos of him!

37weeksdonuts

Monday, December 29th – So… the weird thing is that I haven’t really gained any significant weight now for about 10 days. Travis calls me crazy because now I am worried that I am starving BabyJ… but I am not overly worried. They say weight gain can taper off in the last few weeks as you wait for delivery. As long as the baby is healthy, that sounds fine to me! I figured a little Doughnut Plant treat was allowed if my weight gain is under control…

37.5weeksThursday, January 1st, 2015!Happy New Year! It is very exciting to have officially entered the year in which BabyJ will be born. We are eagerly awaiting his arrival! My weekly doctor appointment was yesterday and it went really well! (This is a photo of me outside the hospital where my appointments are and where BabyJ will be born) All my stats are still good and I didn’t gain any weight. I got to see my favorite doctor and she did my first pre-labor internal exam. She says that BabyJ’s head is definitely down low and engaged in my pelvis and my cervix is softening (but not opening yet). So, we are definitely making progress toward delivery! Of course, they can’t really predict when labor will actually start, but I’m thinking this baby will arrive within the next two weeks. I have a LOT of pelvic pressure and discomfort and BabyJ seems to be pushing for more room from my ribs to my cervix! He is usually positioned with his back against the left side of belly and his right leg kicking up under my right ribs. My belly button is stretched completely flat at this point! eek.

After the appointment, Travis and I went to lunch and shopping in Soho. We had a great time. Despite the discomfort of being 8+ months pregnant, I have been feeling really happy and content lately. I think it must be a hormonal thing because I feel overly happy and excited. Of course, today I am doing a lot more couch sitting and resting to recover from the 5 miles we walked in the city yesterday, but I still feel good. I’m focusing on resting, staying positive, reading my baby & birth books, and trying to stay somewhat caught up on work.

flatbellybutton

Saturday, January 3rd – Today marks 38 weeks of pregnancy. I had another really great day yesterday. I went to prenatal yoga, felt productive, did some work and cleaning, and even went out to dinner with friends. Pregnancy seemed totally doable yesterday. BUT today I am wiped out again.

I can only sleep for 30-60 minutes at a time before needing to get up to pee. Last night I got up eight times! It is getting tough. I feel like I got my hopes up too high thinking that BabyJ could come anytime from here on out… But in reality, it could be another two weeks, or more! I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.

This might be my last two-week pregnancy log. I’m thinking I’ll just post updates as they occur… Hopefully we will have baby news to share sooner rather than later!

2 Comments » Categories: Pregnancy

one little word 2015

Jan 1st 2015 07:31:58 pm

love

Happy 2015! My New Year’s tradition has been to NOT make any resolutions, but instead to pick a word to focus on for the year.

My word for 2015 is love.

Yes, it is a common word and maybe too obvious of a pick, but it encapsulates three major themes I want to keep in the front of my mind during 2015:

#1 – Love for this little baby inside my belly who will be here before we know it. I want to cherish and appreciate my time with him while he is little and shower him with love.

#2 – Love for life and gratitude for what Travis and I have built and for our many blessings. I want to stay positive and enjoy every day. Even the tough ones.

#3 – Love for self. Body image, productivity, accomplishments – I want to have patience and give myself a break in all of these areas.

Love = filling my heart and mind with gratitude + peace.

————

My past words:

2014: optimism
2013: sweetness
2012: explore
2011: peace
2010: wonder
2009: busy
2008: hope

What is your one little word for 2015?

4 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, Thinking

Merry Christmas 2014

Dec 24th 2014 04:55:05 pm

holidaycard2014blog

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the soon-to-be FOUR Johnsons! (Rachel, Travis, Crusher, and BabyJ)

We are laying low this year in Brooklyn, just patiently waiting for our little New Year’s gift to arrive in a few weeks. 2015 should be the best year yet!

xoxo

No Comments » Categories: Christmas, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, Pregnancy

pregnancy log: weeks 35 & 36

Dec 20th 2014 06:01:55 pm

christmastree

Wednesday, December 10th – Still pregnant! I am thinking (hoping?) that BabyJ might come a little early and make his arrival in just one month, on January 10th… but his official due date is still more than 5 weeks away. The weird news: I have actually been feeling REALLY good the last few days. The constant backache I was experiencing, although not entirely gone, is way less intense and even goes away at times. I still have heartburn daily, but I have been getting much better sleep thanks to my hips hurting less. BabyJ seems to be fairly comfortable too. He is snuggled in there so comfortably that I’ve even caught myself forgetting that I’m pregnant for a second, until he kicks or shifts position! Very strange considering that my belly sort of sticks out like a big round shelf these days. I can’t quite explain my good fortune, except that it is probably a combo of getting more sleep and eating quite healthily. I haven’t taken the “low-carb” suggestion to heart, but I am working hard to eat healthy, whole foods, and not too much of them.

I know I’ll have plenty more uncomfortable days, but right now I feel happy and calm. It just feels great to have a few productive days to catch up on work and do some Christmas errands. On Sunday, Travis, Crusher and I went for a walk around the neighborhood (yes, to the new Doughnut Plant, but we really limited ourselves, I promise!) and picked up a mini Christmas tree and wreath. We also took these winter belly glamour shots. I feel like my coat disguises the true size of my belly, but I’ll take it.

34weekswalk

I record my frustrations here a lot, so I figure I should record my good moods too when they strike… and today I am feeling very grateful. If I didn’t get so stressed over my weight and the doctors/hospital, I would have basically no major complaints about pregnancy. Of course, it can be quite uncomfortable at times and it is frustrating that I can’t do all of the things or as much as I used to do, but overall, it has gone perfectly. I just hope the trend continues through the birth and beyond!

babyshowerdads2

Thursday, December 11th – Wow. We know that we have really amazing friends here in Brooklyn, but I was not expecting the awesome surprise baby shower they threw for Suzy and me last night! Really, I am blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. Joel and Amanda hosted the shower… Amanda had planned a little “ladies night” and I thought maybe she had something shower-like planned, but I did not expect the huge party she pulled off! Suzy and I walked in and ALL of our friends were there! I was surprised to see so many guys – including Travis and Suzy’s fiance, Shams – but it was awesome to see everyone. I just wish the night could have lasted longer.

babyshower2

Our friend Emily made a giant, delicious cake covered in babies. And people brought gifts! I can’t believe it. Really. We did not expect gifts… but everyone was so kind and thoughtful. BabyJ got a bunch of great things that he did not already have, like Sophie (which I didn’t even know was the most popular baby toy!) and a full suite of adorable baby Warriors gear, including a jacket, three onesies, and pants! So awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our wonderful friends.

babyshowergrid

Saturday, December 13th – Today I am 35 weeks pregnant. I am still feeling overwhelmed and loved while looking at photos and reliving the shower on Wednesday. BabyJ is so fortunate to already have so many kind and supportive friends. I have already washed all of the new clothes and organized everything! Now I just need to get out the thank you notes.

Travis helped me hang a bookshelf today near the crib for books and toys and we have hung up most of his little outfits. His nursery (corner) is looking good!

nursery

Tuesday, December 16th – You guys! I am feeling good. It is weird. My back pain is gone! And I got the BEST sleep last night. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still wake up to go pee at least four times a night, my hips still hurt, and heart burn still happens everyday, but otherwise I am really surprised by how good I am feeling. It is crazy what your body can adapt to. I feel like I have just gotten used to being pregnant at this point. It is strange to think that I won’t be in just a few short weeks…

walkingcrush

35.5weeksWednesday, December 17th – So… one month until BabyJ’s due date! Crazy. The car seat was delivered yesterday and I went ahead and ordered our diaper subscription service… I think we are basically ready! I guess we still need to start packing our hospital bag, but I am going to try to go minimal with it. BabyJ has so many cute outfits! It is hard to choose which to bring to the hospital. As for BabyJ, he has settled in very low in my pelvis these days. He is right on my bladder and sometimes it gets painful and makes it hard to walk. I am also having some weird nerve issue in my hips every once in a while – not exactly pain, but it makes them feel weak. I am definitely transitioning to the pregnancy waddle. But I guess it is all good because it means he is getting himself into position for delivery!

Thursday, December 18th – Last night I went to a breastfeeding class at the hospital, today I ordered my FREE (thanks to health insurance and the ACA) electric breast pump, and tonight I am going to meet our pediatrician. I am getting things checked off our to do list! One other thing I’ve done is stock up on post-partum supplies for me — two nursing bras, disposable breast pads, regular pads, lanolin nipple cream, etc — we’ll see if I end up using it all, but I want to be prepared.

The breast feeding class was ok. It covered a lot of info that I had already heard or read, but it is good to get it reiterated. It seems that so many women have trouble breastfeeding and coping with the first weeks of having a newborn. That gives me anxiety. I want to look forward to the arrival of our sweet baby, not have to anticipate more pain and frustration after he arrives. I want to be as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, but I am also going to try to think positively and assume that everything will go smoothly…

36weeks

Saturday, December 20th – Today I am 36 weeks pregnant! BabyJ isn’t technically considered full term until next week, but 36 weeks still feels like a milestone. I feel like he could decide to arrive any time from here on out… although, it will most likely still be a few weeks from now. I am actually feeling good. After my doctor appointment, Travis and I did some final Christmas shopping yesterday in the city. BabyJ was down on my bladder pretty intensely the whole time, which meant for a lot of bathroom breaks, but otherwise I felt energized and happy.

The doctor appointment was fine. My weight didn’t really go up this time, which is a very good thing because the doctor I saw this week said they would have scheduled me for a growth check ultrasound if my weight had continued to rise quickly. So, they were truly concerned about my weight. I did try to watch what I was eating over the last two weeks, but then I found myself waking up hungry at night. Thank goodness everything at this appointment looked good: my blood pressure is still normal, BabyJ’s heartbeat is 130-140 bpm, he is in a head-down position, and my belly is right in line with their size charts. I also got swabbed for my Group B strep test. I have to go back for a check up every week from here on out, which is tough with the holidays over the next few weeks. They don’t have a lot of availability, so we’ll see when I can get in. I think I have to go on Christmas Eve next week!

Overall, I am really happy. And super in love with BabyJ. I am already proud of him for getting in the right birth position! ha. I’ve been playing with him and talking to him a lot. It seems like he responds when I gently poke and squeeze him. I am just really excited to meet him and I think that motivation will help me through labor. I am feeling ready. It will be here soon!

3 Comments » Categories: Pregnancy

pregnancy log: weeks 33 & 34

Dec 6th 2014 01:18:43 pm

travisbabycare

Wednesday, November 26th – Yesterday was our fourth Prepared Childbirth class at the hospital. We learned about postpartum care at home for both mom and baby. Travis practiced swaddling, holding, diapering, and bathing a baby doll. He was pretty good at it.

turkeytrot2014

Thursday, November 27thHappy Thanksgiving! This morning I walked a five mile Turkey Trot with my pregnant partner, Suzy. It was a long way! Now my pelvic floor is sore. My hips are so loose and wonky lately. My entire pelvic area is sore after walking too much, but also after standing up from sitting on my exercise ball and while sleeping on my side. I guess everything is loosening up for labor.

I was sad to not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, but it was probably for the best. We went over to our friend, Joel’s, house to eat with friends and his family. It was absolutely lovely, but I was pretty exhausted and bloated by the end of the night. I am very thankful to have a healthy baby growing and moving inside and a great husband (and dog) to support me in this challenge.

33weeks

Sunday, November 30th – Yesterday marked week 33 of this pregnancy. We mostly rested for the whole long weekend, but today we went into the city to do some Christmas shopping. I held up ok, but I feel huge. And unfashionable. I feel some desire to buy new maternity fashions, but my more practical side wins out. I don’t want to spend money on stuff I’ll only wear for the next few weeks. Even though much of my maternity stuff already feels too small. I hate this unflattering belly pic of myself (trying to capture a Brooklyn scene), but it is all we’ve got for 33 weeks, so I’ll live with it. I could keep complaining about how huge I feel and how scared I am about my weight, but I’ll spare you. I’ve almost reached the point where I want to just give up and stop thinking about my body all together.

Wednesday, December 3rd – Getting some real work done today! Hooray! Suzy and I went to pre-natal yoga on Monday night, which was good, but then that night Travis came down with a bad case of food poisoning. We didn’t sleep much that night. (And we missed our final Prepared Childbirth class. Boo.) Tuesday was spent trying to get him feeling better and hoping that he didn’t actually have the flu or something else terrible which I could catch. He didn’t. He is feeling better today and I am feeling more productive and energetic thanks to better sleep last night. Whew.

34weeks

Saturday, December 6th – Today I am 34 weeks pregnant and I am feeling well, but also overwhelmed. Yesterday I had a pre-natal doctor appointment AND the “virtual tour” at the hospital.

The doctor appointment didn’t go so well. The doctor was an hour and a half late, which I was actually ok with. She was another new doctor for me to meet and she was really nice and cool, and I was thinking that I wished she was my primary doctor until I brought up my concern about my weight gain. I shouldn’t have done it, but my weight was REALLY high at the appointment. I think it had to have just been a strange fluctuation because it wasn’t registering high at home and had been really consistent for the last week… but anyway, it indicated that I had gained too much weight according to their charts in the last two weeks. Ugh. My doctor told me to basically cut out ALL CARBS. She recommended a low-carb, low-fat, high-protein diet for the rest of the pregnancy. She wants me to cut out all grains, fruit, and even carrots! Which sounds insane to me. Foods she actually suggested that I eat for lunch were a chicken breast, no-fat cottage cheese, and diet Snapple. Not only does that sound completely unappealing, but I also think it sounds unhealthy. And when I asked her about missing out on all the fiber from fruit and whole grain, she said to just take a stool softener! I am not SO concerned with my weight that I am willing to mess up my digestion with a crazy, unnatural diet and then fix the issues it causes with medication. There is just no way I am going to start eating weird processed diet foods and artificial sweetners (which I have avoided all pregnancy). BUT, I AM definitely doubling down on my efforts to moderate my weight gain by reducing processed carbs and sugar and increasing protein.

The entire interaction made me feel overwhelmed and confused. I guess, what do I expect the doctors to tell me about my diet? I mean, no one should be eating treats and sugars. But hearing a doctor tell you to do something completely against your idea of healthy, normal eating is confusing. I want to be the perfect pregnant patient, but it is hard when you don’t agree with the medical professionals. It stresses me out. AND I feel frustrated because I really have been watching what I eat and feel like I have been quite healthy. All I want is juice and donuts and I have tried hard not to give in to my cravings. I am so mad that my weight had to be so high at the appointment. Blergh.

The virtual hospital tour was ok. It was basically just a big meeting with power point slides. We had heard a lot of the info at our Prepared Childbirth class, but a new tidbit I learned is that NYU Langone Medical Center delivers more than 6,000 babies a year. Wow! There is still a lot of registration, insurance, and birth plan paper work to fill out, which makes me feel a little stressed… but I am sure we will get it all together somehow.

In other news, BabyJ is getting really big. His movements are much more Alien-like now, pushing my belly all around and almost painful at times. I am also having a lot more pelvic pressure. This whole pregnancy thing is definitely progressing!!

We ordered BabyJ’s car seat today. We did NOT get a combo stroller/car seat travel system. We’ll see if we regret it. Travis also ordered a baby monitor last week. We can view the video feed on our phones. Right now we have it set up in the living room (seen below) to spy on Crusher, which is pretty fun. We only have a few small things to order — a nice thermometer, baby clothing hangers, post-partum supplies — and then I think we will be pretty ready… in the “stuff” sense. It is kind of impossible to be ready in the mental sense. It is just impossible to know how the labor will go and what it will really be like to bring home a new human. It feels scary, but we are excited.

babymonitor

2 Comments » Categories: Pregnancy

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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