Saturday, April 28, 2012

The 35/35 Milestone

Today we hit a good milestone. We are 35 weeks along, and have 35 days left until the due date! 

We had our last ultrasound on Thursday, which was great! 

I have been carrying the baby a little differently in the last week and a half, so I thought the baby had moved. I could also feel different parts of the baby pushing me around, which also got my hopes up. Well, at the appointment, we found out that the baby's head is down! I was so relieved, and I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I now know that I don't have to worry about trying to spin the baby into place. I was worried about the baby being stuck in a breech position, which may end up forcing us into a c-section. Good news! 

The baby is growing perfectly, but I can't give any numbers on here (there are family and friends in a pool). Let's just say that things are going very well! Oh, and the baby has lots of hair! It was cute! For whatever reason, I thought the baby would barely have any hair coming out (probably because my hair is so thin). The baby was being very shy, and rolling from side to side, trying to get away from the probe. Shy little munchkin, just like mommy. 

Oh, and my weight gain is going very well! My goal was 30 pounds, to be healthy for my initial weight. So far I have gained 25.8 pounds, and I can expect to gain 1 pound per week (according to the books). Looks like I may just come out one pound over my goal by our due date! 

Sean and I have done some more work to prepare for the baby (I will be posting some nursery pictures in the next few days). The car seat is even in my car! We feel that we're almost ready now. We will be packing our hospital bag this week, and then we will be all set! We wanted to be "ready" 4 weeks before our due date. Hopefully we'll be able to do it! 

Can't wait for our little munchkin! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Baby: Their Mother's Child

My oh my, this baby already knows what he/she wants. It's hilarious. The best part is that the baby is already telling me what he/she wants... and getting it.

This started a few weeks ago (around week 31) and hasn't stopped. Well, I should say that I noticed it a few weeks ago, who knows how long it has been going on.

The first example relates to getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and want to lounge in bed, like on a Saturday when I want to sleep until 8 am instead of 7 am (my body doesn't let me sleep past then anymore). After about 45 minutes of tossing and turning, the baby literally kicks the side of my stomach that is on the mattress. It's like the baby is kicking the bed through my body to get me to move. There isn't any kicking on the other side (the "up" side), or in the front. Only where my body is touching the bed as if to say, "Get up! Get out of bed! Now!" This makes me giggle, and of course I give up on the hope of more sleep and get moving for the day.

The second example pertains to food. Of course. If I'm running around and not eating every 2 hours like I usually do, the baby lets me hear it. It's not normal kicks. It's more like angry attention-grabbing kicks saying, "Mommy! Feed me!" I equate it to crying I guess. So if I haven't eaten for about 4 hours, the baby gets upset and starts to bruise my insides. This is probably normal, but I love that I can link it to a cause (Yes, I'm a dork. My engineering background makes me love cause and effect relationships.) Oh, and if you're wondering... yes I eat ASAP when the baby reminds me that I'm late to eat. Plus, I'll start to get dizzy if I don't. Not so fun.

The third is perhaps the funniest. I have this one pair of maternity jeans that has a tight band at the top (most of mine are loose at the top). When I wear this specific pair of pants, the baby spends the day kicking at the tight waist band! Nowhere else on my belly, just at that specific area! I will move it up and down throughout the day, because it's not comfortable, and the kicks follow the waist band. Pretty funny. I try to avoid wearing those pants, but I only feel up to doing so much laundry in a week (and yes, I'm too cheap to buy more at this point).

The fourth is most frustrating to me. The baby will be kicking and rolling away, making my whole stomach move in a way that is very obvious to the eye. I want to record this, so that I have the memories for later. Also, so I can share with family and others that are interested! Anyway, as soon as the video camera comes on, the baby gets shy! No more movement. It's like the baby knows that a camera is around. It drives me nuts. How does this happen? Obviously the baby isn't psychic, but I really don't understand the coincidence! It cracks me up.

I told my husband about these things a few weeks ago. He laughed and said, "Sounds just like you!" I hadn't realized this, but yes! When I want to get out of bed (or off of the couch, etc) and get moving, I HATE laying/sitting there waiting. I have a lot of trouble doing absolutely nothing. Looks like the baby hates me laying around too! Hunger. Oh hunger. My poor husband. When I'm hungry, I let you know. I get dizzy (and cranky) if I don't eat often enough. My husband can usually wait hours to eat, and it doesn't phase him. Lucky him, right? So here we go again, another example. Another thing, I hate wearing tight clothes. I don't like being uncomfortable. If you don't believe me, ask my sisters (who think I need a total makeover). And finally, I'm shy. Super shy. I don't really like my picture being taken, I don't like attention at all. Yuck. I hope the baby will not be shy like me, but it doesn't look like we're starting off that way!!

So all in all, it looks like our baby will be their mother's child! Now, is this a good or a bad thing? Hey, be nice!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Bread

For Easter dinner, my mother-in-law requested that we bring something that I had made for Christmas dinner. Cinnamon Bun Bread. Delicious. It is so good that I decided that I should share the recipe. It's a quick project, and well worth the reward!

    1/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts*
    1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 egg
    1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    3/4 cup whole milk
    1 cup powdered sugar
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    1 to 2 tbsp whole milk
    3 tbsp chopped toasted walnuts*

my prep space

1 Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8x4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine all filling ingredients in a small bowl.
2 Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
3 Beat 1 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl at medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and 1 1/4 tsp vanilla until smooth and well-blended. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the 3/4 cup milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
4 Spread one-third of the batter in the pan; sprinkle with half of the filling. Top with half of the remaining batter, spreading gently. Sprinkle with remaining filling. Spread with remaining batter. Gently run thin knife through the batter to swirl.
5 Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

still in the pan

6 Whisk powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp of the milk in a small bowl, adding additional milk for desired consistency. Drizzle over top of bread, allowing to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tbsp walnuts; press into icing. Let stand until set.

the finished product!!

This bread can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.

*To toast the walnuts, place them on a baking sheet. Bake them at 350 degrees, for 6 to 8 minutes or until pale brown and fragrant. Cool before handling.

Bonus info for you:
Per slice: 235 calories, 7 g total fat, 3 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 25 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Note: The pictures are all mine, but the recipe is courtesy of an article I snipped out of the Cooking Club magazine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No Drugs, Please

I've heard that I'm crazy more than 30 times in the last few weeks. Why am I crazy? Because I started telling people that I didn't want an epidural during labor. I'm a crazy person I guess! Pull out the straight jacket! 

I have a few reasons for this decision. I'll start with the one that isn't as fun to talk about. In 2006 I had a pretty serious back surgery. I had a herniated disc which ended up shattering like an egg, and they had to remove about 75% of it. This was the L4-L5 disc (which caused lots of issues with sciatica), which is your lower back. This location happens to be where the epidural is placed. Back in 2006 I heard that an epidural would probably not be in my future because of the surgery. My OB looked at the area recently and is concerned that it won't work because of the amount of scar tissue at that location. So, let's just say that I have a 50% chance that the epidural would work if I requested it. 

One of my mottos is "plan for the worst, but hope for the best." This runs through my mind frequently, and not only because I'm a Project Manager. This has been something I've relied on since I was around 8 years old. So I am planning on not using an epidural. I am planning that I can suffer through the pain, and have a wonderful drug-free labor. Maybe the pain will be too much for me, and maybe I'll request the epidural. But you know what? I'm far better off planning to not use it, than to plan on using it and then find out (when I'm howling in pain) that I can't. Make sense? No? Well that's how my brain works. My mom had four children without an epidural, and my mom knows me very well. She has faith that I can do it. She's been there, she knows me very well (poor mom), and I love that she supports me in this. I may have thought twice if she had said, "Honey, you should really reconsider." So that's part of my plan. 

A few other reasons? I hate pain medication. I bailed on prescription pain medication in 2006 because I really didn't like what it did to me. I made Aleve work for me, and trust me, I was in PAIN. I want to be able to feel my legs (and other stuff), be able to walk around, and to feel somewhat in control of my body. 

I would really like to avoid a c-section. My back is weak enough as it is, I don't want to weaken my stomach muscles with a c-section (I've heard this debated, let's just let me think it does weaken them, okay?).  The epidural could slow things down, and make it more likely that I would get a c-section (again, this could be debated). I want the initial skin-to-skin contact with my baby, I want to breastfeed as soon as possible, and I want my husband and I to have a better experience of our child's birth. These things would be affected by having a c-section. 

Now, for the sickest reason of all... I want to see if I can do it. Yes. I said that. I want to know if I can handle that kind of pain, and if I can make it through it without completely losing my head. I think it would be somewhat interesting to video tape the crazy part, to study it later. Sound weird? Yes, I know. 

Most of all, I want a "natural" labor. I don't mean natural in the way that people use the word. I mean natural in that my body was made to do this. Billions upon billions of women did this without an epidural. I want to try to have my baby in the purest way possible (albeit, I'll be in a hospital, but you know what I mean). I want to be able to walk around in the room, bend over, rock in a chair, shower, bounce on a ball, whatever I want. I don't want to be stuck in a bed just waiting. 

I want to point out that I do NOT judge anyone that gets an epidural. I get it. I really do. I totally understand it. I don't think any more or less of women that take that route. It really doesn't make sense to put yourself through all of that pain if you don't have to. Yes, I understand it. Honestly. I'm just doing what sounds best for me, and that's all. Oh, and if you don't think I'm crazy enough as it is.... I don't really like chocolate. See? I'm nuts! 

A natural childbirth really sounds so much better to me, and I can't really put it to words. I've read a ton about it. I've talked to plenty of women about it. I've heard both sides. But really, I tried to put it into words for you and don't feel like I explained myself. You know what though? It doesn't matter. It's my body and my decision. As long as I'm not endangering the baby, or my husband (in case I take the pain out on him, sorry love!), I think it's okay. This is my PLAN, and you never know. I could end up begging for the epidural and absolutely love it. Nothing will be predictable, it's the miracle of life after all. If I do end up taking the epidural, I don't need to feel bad or ashamed because I really don't see an issue with it. In just two months we'll know how I did! 

I'm a tough cookie. We'll see just how tough I am. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Raised Garden Beds: How-To

After my last post, Preparing the Seedlings, I had questions on the layout of the raised garden beds. I figured that I would post a little bit of explanation to how they were put together. 

I live in Massachusetts, where winters can get pretty cold. In order to get as much "summer" time out of my garden, I decided on raised beds (the soil thaws out faster and you can plant earlier). Also, I wanted beds that were rather narrow because I have a bad back. The less of a reach to the veggies (and weeds too), the better. Keep in mind that this was my first garden, and I'm still learning, but I have loved the layout so far! 

Initially we decided to put the garden in a different location from the location chosen by the previous owners of our home. We picked a spot out of the shade of nearby trees, where the farthest side of the garden would be the north side (we planned to have the taller plants on the north side). 

I decided on an eight-foot square, creating two garden beds with a narrow path between them. Each bed would be 8' by 3' and the path would be 8' by 2'. Here is a sketch of what I had planned: 

For materials: 
8 of 4" x 4" posts, 1' in length
10 of 1x 6" boards, 8' in length
4 of 1x 6" boards, 3' in length
Landscaping fabric, 8' x 3'
64 of 3" Galvanized Deck Screws
Note: Be sure that the wood is pressure-treated to ensure that it lasts

He started by creating an 8' square, using 4 of the 4x 4" posts and 4 of the 8' 1x 6" boards. Using 2 of the galvanized deck screws per joint (you will do this for each joint throughout the assembly), tightly screw the boards to the 4' x 4' posts. He measured for the location for the 4 other 4" x 4" posts, to be placed on the north and south sides. He attached the 4" x 4" posts, and then 2 of the 8' 1" x 6" boards. This created the first layer of the garden beds. 

For the second layer, he ran the 4 other 8' 1" x 6" boards from north to south, attaching them to the 4" x 4" posts. To close the beds on the ends, he attached the 4  3' 1" x 6" boards. Lay the landscaping fabric under the path section, and pull it up the inside of the beds to staple it against the inside walls. That's all for building the beds!

Now we of course filled the beds with soil, and we bought a few bags of river rocks from Lowe's to fill the path between the beds. I would recommend laying landscaping fabric under the path when building the beds. This would help avoid grass and weeds from growing in the path. We did not think of this (beginners, grr) unfortunately, and I have to pull plenty of weeds from inside there. 

I wish that I took pictures as he put this together, it would be a great help in explaining the process. Hopefully the explanation helps, but if you have questions please feel free to ask! 

Here's a picture of the first planting, June 15 of 2010: