31 May 2011

Luck of the Draw: You've got Gestational Diabetes!

Guess who gets to be on a low-carb diet for the next 3 months or so?  :: thumbs in shoulders :: This girl!

Guess who gets to give up dessert for the next 3 months or so?  :: sobs :: ... this girl...

Okay, I'm being dramatic. I know.   I didn't actually sob when I found out.  But I did have an emotional roller coaster of a day.

Turns out around the beginning of the thrid trimester, it's entirely customary to test all preggo's for something known as Gestational Diabetes (GD).  At the time our mommies were giving birth to us, this particular test was not being done.  The hubs and I are confident that his mom had GD, since the guy was born weighing more than 12 pounds.  << Yes, she delivered naturally, with nothing to numb the pain.  Did I mention she powered her way through labor and delivery with the support of her husband and a midwife in a small village in Bolivia?  She wasn't even in a hospital!  There was no trained doctor attending to her... WOW! >>  My mom is not sure whether or not she might have also had GD, but it's possible because we were all 3 fairly big babies requiring an epesiotomy with each delivery.  As she likes to say, she huffed and puffed and blew us out. Ha!

Here's how we found out that I'm one of about 200,000 women in the US every year who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy .

Thursday: At 27 1/2 weeks gestation, we show up for the 1-Hour Glucola test which required me to fast since midnight, drink a super sweet and very cold orange drink, then sit and wait an hour while my body did its thing to process all the sugar.  After an hour I followed the nurse to have my finger pricked to read my blood sugar level.

These were the words out of her mouth. "You failed the test."

Pardon me for getting on a soapbox here, but this is another one of those DO NOT EVERY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE SAY THIS TO A PREGNANT WOMAN statements: "You failed."  It's bad enough for any non-knocked-up person to be told that they've failed, but when you say this to a pregnant woman you might as well go ahead and assume she can NOT be held accountable for her actions. << I had a brief fantasy where I turned into a monster, ripped her head off, chewed it up, spit it out, and then went right back to being sweet and gentle preggo Jess.  I blame the violent fantasy entirely on the raging progesterone that has hijacked my body. >> The initial fury at the news delivered from this inexperienced nurse passed, and I became simultaneously hopeful that there had been some mistake, saddened by the thought that something was wrong with me, and scared that something could be wrong with our son.

We then go to see the nurse practitioner, and she assures us the test results from today only tell us that we have to do the 3-hour test to get an accurate look.  At this point it's not definite that I have GD. So we schedule the 3-hour test for the next day.

Friday: We arrive and I have a pre-sweet-drink finger prick to measure my fasting sugar levels. They're GREAT. The doc wants that initial number to be 110 or below, and mine was 87.  Drink the drink and wait an hour for finger prick #2. Ideal number would be 190 or below, and mine was 212. :-(  The nurse, a different one from the day before, gently and sweetly tells us, "Your number is a little higher than what we're looking for." << In contrast to the reaction I'd had the day before, I took this news in stride... I think.  The hubs might tell you differently, but do me the favor of not asking him. >> We go back to the holding area to wait for finger prick #3. Here's the deal- I could have failed 1 out of 4 of the finger pricks and still "passed" the test.  So if my numbers for finger sticks #3 and #4 were below the desired levels, then we would have avoided the GD diagnosis.  Turns out the #3 test read 175, when they were hoping for 165.  So we wait to see the doc.  It's official according to the doc: I've got Gestational Diabetes.  The Dr's office will make a referral to a local Diabetes clinic, and they'll call us to make an appointment to come in and learn what's next. We'll do this in the next few days.

So what is Gestational Diabetes, exactly?
The National Institute of Health has the following information.
Normally, your stomach and intestines digest the carbohydrate in your food into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy. After digestion, the glucose moves into your blood to give your body energy.  To get the glucose out of your blood and into the cells of your body, your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin.  If you have diabetes, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or your cells can’t use it the way they should.  Instead, the glucose builds up in your blood, causing diabetes, or high blood sugar. Gestational diabetes happens in about 5 percent of all pregnancies, or about 200,000 cases a year in the United States.
How is gestational diabetes treated?
Many women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies because they follow a treatment plan from their health care provider.  Each woman should have a specific plan designed just for her needs, but there are some general ways to stay healthy with gestational diabetes:
  • Know your blood sugar and keep it under control – By testing how much sugar is in your blood, it is easier to keep it in a healthy range.  Women usually need to test a drop of their blood several times a day to find out their blood sugar level.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Your health care provider can make a plan with the best diet for you.  Usually controlling carbohydrates is an important part of a healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes because carbohydrates affect blood sugar. 
  • Get regular, moderate physical activity – Exercise can help control blood sugar levels.  Your health care provider can tell you the best activities and right amount for you.
  • Keep a healthy weight – The amount of weight gain that is healthy for you will depend on how much you weighed before pregnancy. It is important to track both your overall weight gain and weekly rate of gain.
  • Keep daily records of your diet, physical activity, and glucose level – Women with gestational diabetes should write down their blood sugar numbers, physical activity, and everything they eat and drink in a daily record book.  This can help track how well the treatment is working and what, if anything, needs to be changed. 
What happens after the baby is born?
For most women, blood sugar levels go back to normal quickly after the baby is born.
Additionally, I digitally sauntered on over to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website and found some very good, NOT ALARMIST, material about Gestational Diabetes.  Here's a snip of what the US FDA website said about GD, in case you're confused, concerned, worried, freaking out on my behalf, etc.
Why is gestational diabetes a problem?
For you:

• Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased.
• You are more likely to have a large baby (a condition known
as macrosomia). This may cause discomfort during the last
few months of pregnancy.
• Having a large baby may lead to a cesarean section
(C-section). If you had a C-section, it may take longer for you
to recover after the birth.
For your baby:
• Large babies are more likely to suffer from birth trauma.
• Soon after delivery, your baby may have low blood sugar.
This can be treated with early feedings and should not result
in any long-term consequences after birth.
What can I do during pregnancy if I have gestational
Go to all of your • prenatal visits.
• Follow your health care providers’ recommendations for
controlling your blood sugar. This can help reduce your risk
of having a large baby.
• Stay physically active.
• Make healthy food choices.
• Ask your health care provider to see a dietician or a diabetes
In order to avoid a total melt down while attempting to be proactive and become informed over the Memorial Day weekend, I decided to research carb content in some of my favorite foods.  As far as my preferred fruits and veggies, I learned that lemons, limes, avocados, and strawberries will be A.O.K., and there is a huge long list of veggies that will be just fine for low-carb requirements.  

In closing, you should know that if you're planning to come for a baby-viewing visit at any point postpartum, I may just have to charge you an entry fee of fresh bread, pizza, pastries, macaroni and cheese, cookies, or something else of the carb and/or sweet variety.  And in the meantime, if you have any sugar-free, low-carb recipes you love, send them my way!

23 May 2011

The Miracle of Movement

I've been trying to come up with words to describe the sensation of womb movement. Sounds weird, right?  "Womb Movement"... I tell you what, this baby is a total wiggle worm.  I had the slightest awareness of the sensation that my little passenger was exploring his space around 18 weeks.  Right around week 22, I began to suspect that I'm in for it.  Around that time is when the lil' nugget must have learned how to lace up his dancin' shoes.  Now, at 27 weeks he seems to have figured out how to thoroughly enjoy his amniotic playground.  Sometimes he seems to be trying out for soccer practice, and other times he like to play hide-and-seek with himself.

There are moments when movement on both sides of my abdomen lead me to believe the ultrasound techs are picking up only one of the two passengers who are actually in there.  << A friend of  mine, who is a twin, proudly proclaimed to me that when his mother was pregnant with him and his brother, they only ever saw his forearm.  They didn't know there were two until close to delivery. Of course my mind likes to run wild with the notion that this could happen to me, too.  Perhaps all this movement is actually attributable to 2 babies. >> Or maybe it's that he's practicing jumping jacks.

Some people describe a fluttering sensation.  Others describe a sense of something swimming around in there.  Personally, I don't find either of these descriptions accurate.  To be sure, there are different kinds of action.  To have the experience of a small being growing in your abdomen that moves independently of yourself is all kinds of disconcerting at first.  It has become much more entertaining as I've gotten used to my little passenger's activity.  I'm sure as the time for delivery gets closer << and his living quarters get tighter >> , all the action is going to get old- especially when my kidneys are bruised, my bladder is crushed, and my ribs get pressed.  For now, it's still completely, totally, absolutely lovely.  To describe the sensation with real words takes effort. Here goes.

First, there's the Hand Stand.  I swear the kid's balancing on his hands upside down kicking those little feetsies directly into my diaphragm.  When he wasn't quite so big, I could sense his little hands pushing straight down on my abdomen. Now that he's longer than a foot in length << $5 Footlong, anyone? >>, his kickers reach all the way up to my lungs.  No kidding.  He's getting pretty darn talented at kicking the wind right out of his momma.
Then there's the Chicken Dance.  You know the one.  For the first round, he moves his little hands like they're chicken beaks. Then he flaps his little arms like chicken wings. Then he shakes his little heinie and lowers down like a chicken on the verge of laying an egg.  Our little man loves to practice his sweet dance moves in the middle of the night, just after I've gotten up to pee.  It's ridiculous, and it makes us fall into giggle fits every night, in the middle of the night.

Then we have The Jumping Jack.  This is by far the most exciting << or bizarre, if you're not used to witnessing an actual parasite moving beneath the skin of a loved one... yes, I just referred to my baby as a parasite >> .  If you watch my belly when the munchkin's getting in his daily cardio, you'll see action on both sides. Hands and arms pump upward on the left side, while feet and legs kick outward on the right side.  If he's facing inward, you can actually feel the curve of his spine across the bump.

He's got a trick to show you: the Rollover.  His big brother Rolo has a small bag of tricks that he knows how to do, on-command and for a treat, which include Sit, Down, Rollover, Shake, and Stay.  Little Brother is already unwilling to be outdone by Big Brother, and he's unafraid at anytime to show me that he, too, can roll over.  I can hear it already, "Mommy, watch this!"

And finally, there's Soccer Tryouts.  Our little athlete gets confused about when it's time to rest and when it's time to compete.  Typically it's late at night, and just as I lay down to unwind before bed, he laces up his cleats to go tear up the turf.  And someone thought it would be a clever idea to implant a fetal soccer ball for him to kick around in there.  This move might be our favorite for the simple fact that the hubs and I typically experience it together as we're getting ready for bed.  The little dude likes to put on a show.

For the record, I'm developing this sneaking suspicion that, in light of my son's confusion about when it's playtime and when it's sleepy time, coupled with his absolute love of attention, we're going to have an athletic and energetic little ball of BOY.

Who wants to sign up to be on the 3 am Call List when he's wide awake and ready to play, and the both of us are running on fumes?

11 May 2011

The Cute Side of Pregnancy

The Cute Side of Pregnancy

People make comments like, "You look like you swallowed a melon!"  And when they ask you how you're feeling, they actually stop to listen. They legitimately CARE!

Each week, pregnancy literature compares the size of my baby to FRUIT! At week 8, he was the size of a blueberry. At week 23, he's the size of a papaya.  With as much as I'm craving fruit, it's only appropriate that we refer to my baby as fruit.  Speaking of fruit, this is what happened after a trip to the grocery store a few weeks ago:
Some people might argue that my obsession with fruit is going a little overboard.
I'd suggest you not argue with a pregnant woman.

I might be the *luckiest* girl in the world.  First of all, I'm pregnant, which does not come easy with every couple desiring to procreate.  Second of all, I have felt so good throughout the entire pregnancy (25 weeks), that I will literally forget <<for brief moments only >> that I'm pregnant.  Our little citrus baby likes to remind me when I get too focused on a task that he's there, so he'll usually throw a 'bow or tiptoe on my kidney as a gentle reminder.

I know I whined in the "Not-So-Cute" post about putting away all of my pre-pregnancy clothes <<may they temporarily rest in peace >>, but now I can celebrate Maternity Clothes.  Here's the thing.  The bump precludes anything non-stretchy to even approach my waistline, with the only exception being a seatbelt.  That means I get to sport pretty much all-things-cotton: dresses, skirts, tops, and leggings. In my highly evolved fashion opinion  << NOT >>, maternity shirts have become quite cute. I'm still highly, strongly, deeply opposed to maternity pants (the kind with the wide panel), so my preference is to let all "lower pieces" low-ride.  Below the bump is AOK with me.  In a nutshell, this means that during pregnancy, it may be the most comfortable time in my life for wearing clothes. *High Five*

There's not a part of my body that isn't... well... ROUND.  Redonda, en espanyol.  For real.  I look down, and all I see are curves.  I've *always* found the pregnant figure to be the most beautiful... on other women. I'm working on my own sort of self-love when it comes to my figure at this point.  I'm definitely trusting that this truly is the most beautiful and magical experience a woman can experience.  Let's be honest.  Babies are miracles.  New life is a miracle.  And this time, I get to be an active participant in a miracle.  Now whether or not that fits so accurately with "The Cute Side of Pregnancy" may be up for debate, but my argument for inclusion rests on one simple fact: Babies are Oh.So.Cute.

The Not-So-Cute Side of Pregnancy

Pimples and Acne and Zits, Oh My!
I have acne reminiscent of middle school.  The other night before bed, I washed my face and brushed my teeth, and we were getting ready for bed.  The hubs and I were passing each other in the bedroom, and he stopped to hug me.  He sort of leaned back while telling me some sweet nothing, and instead of looking longingly into my eyes, I'll be darned if he wasn't staring at the giant mountain just above my right eyebrow.

This struck me as being far worse than it was back in high school when you were trying to have a conversation with a teenage boy and he was staring straight at your boobs.  << Can I get an "Amen?" >>

Frequent Urination
I pee ALL THE TIME.  I've always been a really good water-drinker.  << Who am I kidding? The hubs, on a regular basis, accuses me of opening my throat when I have a beverage in front of me- especially when it's either a.) a margarita from Pelancho's, or b.) a bottle of water on a really good hike >>.  I have continued my healthy water-drinking habits, but I swear the kid produces his own urine that transfers directly through my kidneys and on to my bladder.  What's worse, I even have phantom pee!  The sensation of an urgent need to pee travels from my bladder to my brain. I go to pop a squat and get a .7 second trickle. Fail.  Then, approximately 9 minutes later, I've got a FULL bladder and have to race right back.  I see this habit as wasteful of toilet paper, soap, water, and the clean hand towel in the bathroom. << Can I get an "Amen?" >>

Muffin Top doesn't begin to describe it.
Now I've never been a small person.  I'm 5' 7", and I've been athletic since I could lace up my own roller skates.  I love to lift weights with the big boys, and I've always been curvy (at times overweight, but usually within a healthy weight range).  All that to say, this is the first time I have not had a flat stomach.  At first this bump was just plain cute.  But it's getting to be cumbersome << Someone tell that girl to get a grip! She's got 3 more months of GROWTH >>. While the hubs hasn't pointed it out yet, I think I've actually started to waddle.  Getting up and down from a chair, the couch, or even getting in and out of the car, takes more of both time and effort. When I look down, all I see are curves.  I've given up wearing pants altogether, with the exception of stretchy pajama pants, stretchy leggings, and stretchy workout pants.  When I'm in the car, I even have to wear the lap belt part of the seatbelt in such a way that the bump hangs over it. The chest strap rests nicely between the over-sized girls.

Goodbye Pre-Pregnancy Clothes.
At 25 weeks, I've packed away ALL of my pre-pregnancy clothes << if you're one of those women who never had to buy maternity clothes, we can still be friends, as long as you promise not to tell me about it. Kthanks... >>.  This part of the process just plain sucks.  I have way more clothes than I could possibly need, and nothing reminded me of this more than packing them all up for the day (that feels as though it will be a long way off) that I can gloriously sport them again.  My button up shirts and skinny jeans were the FIRST to go.  Soon after were my non-stretchy pants (work and casual alike) and cute work shirts that just weren't long enough to cover the bump. 

At first I shifted these items from the closet in my bedroom to the closet in our guest bedroom. We had to buy a new bin, after all.

Now we arrive to the last of the last, the hold-outs that were staying in rotation as long as they could: the stretchy cotton tops that could no longer conceal the bump; the gym shorts that now create a GIANT muffin top, the cute dresses that have become a flashing hazard as a result of the bump- they all join the others in the bin.  In hindsight, I have some advice. This is a little nugget that, amidst all the other unsolicited advice I've received, no one thought to share with me. When it's your turn, ASK SOMEONE ELSE TO FOLD AND PACK UP YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY CLOTHING.  This is not part of the process that you will enjoy.  Trust me.  Ask your sister, your mother, your significant other, your neighbor- anybody but you should handle that task.

Furthermore, while they are packing away the part of your pre-mommy-to-be-identity << i.e. clothes that no longer fit >>, go to your happy place. Or do something like paint your toenails or listen to your favorite music.  Whatever you do, do not fold up and pack away your clothes that no longer fit. Trust me, avoiding that little emotional roller coaster is a good idea, both in theory and in practice.

07 May 2011

How to Throw a Citizenship Party

You become a citizen exactly one time in your life.  Whether it's at your birth or after the naturalization process, it ONLY HAPPENS ONCE.  So this begs the question:
How do you celebrate a Once In A Lifetime event? 
Here's your answer:
With a Citizenship Party, of course!

Here's a glimpse of how ours went down.
Yard spinners were strategically placed.
Outside decorations were essential.
Bells were hung, along with a <3 shaped sign
and a patriotic wind chime.
Sweet tea, soft drinks, water, and underneath the mosquito netting
we had some homemade hummus, carrots and pita chips,
and let's not forget the watermelon.
In order to plan a proper Citizenship Party, we had to have some patriotic activities and accessories.  I called up a friend of mine, Zach, who has always been our music guru.  He's known us since the hubs and I met in 2004 and is a dear friend, even when he lives across the country and we rarely talk outside of FB.  He sent us a party music mix (and a totally sweet after party mix, too).  Some of the magical, USA party-appropriate tunes included Graceland, Shout, Jailhouse Rock, Sugar Pie Honey Bun, One Fine Day, California Girls, and many, many other easily recognizable and fun hits.  The tunes lasted all the way until the kids needed a movie to entertain them.

Also, I created an "Order the Presidents" activity, starting our guests with #1, Washington, and #44, Obama. It would take the collective knowledge of the group to fill in Presidents #2 through #43.  How do you think you'd do?
The "Order the Presidents" game, with some framed photos from the
swearing in ceremony hung too. I built a clue into the game, in that every other
president was either on a blue piece of paper or on a white one.
As the group got closer and closer to being finished, that built-in clue came in very handy.
Just in case it was hot outside, I created some patriotic fans.
Blue with Stars and Red and White stripes kept us cool
(figuratively, not literally, because we had perfect outdoor party weather).
I also pulled together a sampling of the questions that the hubs (and all candidates for citizenship) had to study prior to taking the test.  I thought it would be eye-opening for our native-born guests to be exposed to questions they *ought* to know the answers to.  Could you answer any of them?
19 out of 100 questions that we studied prior to the hubs' test.
We saved the test for later in the evening, and we had the Order the Presidents going on beforehand.  Also, we set up a small liquor bar, but folks mostly stuck with beer and wine we had in coolers outside. The baskets up top (in the photo below) held the cutlery, which eventually were relocated to the food table (duh!).
And no, canned Fresca isn't typically
included with a liquor spread.
The dessert table was covered with an American flag cloth.
This table filled to overflowing once folks started to arrive.
Even the W.C. got some USA attention
on both the toilet and the towel rod.
Toilet decor. Seriously. I went there.
So the invites were sent out early, and we anticipated around 50 folks to come and celebrate with us.  Including our bun in the oven, we had exactly 48 revelers.

After everyone had gone, we took a photo of ourselves
since we had neglected to get one earlier.
The bump and I were beyond exhausted, and OH SO HAPPY!
Amazingly (or perhaps not so much so), we never once played Miley's "Party in the USA". I might be the only one slightly disappointed over this in hindsight, but I'll survive.

06 May 2011

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman_Part 1

Let me be clear: this is a list of what not to EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE say to a pregnant woman, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD << yes, I'm SHOUTING WHEN I'M IN ALL CAPS >>.

1. You're looking plump.
- Since when is the word "plump" complimentary? Seriously.  How about something like, "Look at your round belly!" or simply keeping your mouth shut?

2. Maybe the guys hitting on you from their passing hooptie thought you were a prostitute.
- Oh. Em. Geeeeeeeeeee.  Seriously?  What part of this comment is EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE appropriate to say to a woman, regardless of whether or not she's pregnant?  I don't have an alternative suggestion because there's just no reason to substitute something else for this. FILTERS, PEOPLE. Put your filters on when you're around hyper-sensitive, progesterone-poisoned preggsters.

3. I didn't recognize you since you've filled out.
- A kind alternative to this statement might be, "It's been a while! It's good to see you."  Do not EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE point out to a pregnant woman that she has "filled out," even when she has the sweetest little 10-fingers, 10-toes reason to have grown in the first place.  THIS IS THE ONLY TIME IN MY LIFE, PEOPLE, WHERE WE SHOULD CELEBRATE WEIGHT GAIN.  It's new life we're talking about.  I'm growing a baby. Filling out is part of the gig.  Back off.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned! I'm sure folks will continue to fuel many more parts to this particular blog topic.

02 May 2011

Naturalization complete

My spouse is now, officially, both US American and Bolivian. He's got all the rights and privileges that I << and maybe you, too, if you're a US citizen >> do, with the single exception that he cannot serve as Commander In Chief.  In order to do that, you have to have been born in the US << hence the "Birthers," which has nothing at all to do with labor and deliver and is, quite frankly, offensive to those of us on track to give birth >>.  He can vote, he can be called for jury duty, he can travel with a US passport, etc. etc.

Last week we traveled to Chattanooga for his swearing in ceremony.  It was a wonderful experience!  The ceremony was official, the courthouse was beautiful, and it was a truly compelling opportunity to see what is possible.  Here's a montage of how things went that day.

Mo, Me, DWagg, A, and the hubs posing
for a photo, pre-swearing in.

The judge invited me and the bump to join him
and the hubs in the photo. We're so proud!

It's official!

And then it was time for lunch.
Did I mention Rolo was with us?

He was sporting a blue harness with a red leash- dashing, no?

At lunch, and Mom insisted we drink our water out of
her patriotic, plastic cups!  I'm not sure she could get any cuter.

We raised our glasses!