Mama Duck
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Monday, February 24, 2003

Week 14

Nutrition Class

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, and while I may quote things from a health professional, I'm quoting from memory, so don't do anything stupid. Always consult your own health-care practitioner for medical advice for you.

I attended a nutrition class at my local food co-op for healthy eating before, during and after pregnancy. The instructor was a holistic nutritionist. The class was made up of people from all aspects of her talk: some trying to get pregnant, some already pregnant and some with small children.

For getting pregnant, she recommended quitting alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. She also said that sometimes quitting dairy products helped as well.

During pregnancy, she couldn't say enough about dark green leafy veggies. She also said she recommended meat for protein rather than following a vegetarian diet. She said that it was often too hard for a mother to get balanced protein by eating a vegetarian, vegan or macrobiotic diet and that in her practice she'd seen a lot of malnourished moms. It was at this point that she noted, as I've read and heard elsewhere, that growing babies are very resourceful. If they don't get what they need from the food the mom is eating, they'll filch it from her reserves. So the baby will be fine, but the mom may have some trouble.

She did have something to say that surprised me, though. She said that while most books say that a moderate amount of caffeine a day is fine, that her research didn't back that up. She quoted a study (sorry, don't know what it was) that said that even a small amount of caffeine upped the chance of miscarriage. She said that caffeine was also a problem for nursing as well, making for agitated and less healthy babies.

This information sent me into a mental tailspin. I drink one cappuccino a day. I make it at home. It's a double espresso, which is about 1/4 c. of coffee, with an equal amount of milk. This drink is the foundation of my day. I only have one, but it means a great deal to me. Should I, could I, give it up?

After thoughts of running to the front of the class and beating up the instructor, I decided no. I've been following a gluten-free diet very carefully for some time now, plus I gave up alchohol and tobacco several years ago. I have to hold back in a lot of ways, and giving up coffee altogether feels too unjust. So I decided that I simply wouldn't take her advice on this, and I tuned back in to learn that breastfeeding is best, and that the kid doesn't need anything besides that for six months. Recommendations for length of breastfeeding vary between one and two years but it depends on the person and the child, which will often wean itself.

So the nutrition class overall was helpful, with a little caffeine scare in the middle. I've continued to have my little bit each day. So far, so good.

posted by Mama Duck5:06 PM


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Sunday, February 16, 2003

Week 13

Blargh. I hab a code.

Just last week I was rejoicing because the nausea seemed to be abating. Then I took a cooking class, a writing class and a nutrition class after work for three nights in a row. I woke up late in the week with a stitch in my back and a tickle in my throat. The latter bloomed into a stuffier-than-usual nose plus a headache. I've been an absolute joy to be around.

I am normally quite wary of medication. Growing up, I used a nasal inhaler at the first sign of stuffiness, a pain killer at the first sign of fever, and Dimetapp liberally throughout a cold. Over time, though, it occurred to me that I was treating the symptoms and not the cause. I became more careful--getting lots of rest and fluids when I started to feel tired and people at work were sick. I also tapered off the medication unless necessary. I let fevers run their course if they weren't too high (they weren't), chucked the addictive inhalers and only used Dimetapp minimally for those nights when I could not sleep. Part of that was nostalgia, though, for the grape taste. Mmm. Purple.

Over the years I've gotten sick less frequently, less severely and less often. It isn't only to the decrease in medication, though. I've also improved my eating habits and increased my exercise. Both of these were largely jump started after I spend the better part of three months of my first winter in Minnesota being ill with some virus or another. Frustrated, I consulted Andrew Weil's Eight Weeks to Optimum Health and followed some of its recommendations immediately (vitamin supplements and no more partially hydrogenated oils) and some of them over time (increasing excercise) and some not at all.

It's ironic that I now have more reason than ever to avoid medicating a cold, which only makes me want to more. I've got a headache that keeps popping up behind my left eye; and one nostril is always permanently (as opposed to the previous partially) out of commission. I am craving Dimetapp like nobody's business and wondering if just one little painkiller would be that bad. It wouldn't--I am allowed to take Tylenol, but I don't really need it. I'm just wanting something to make me feel a little better and to distract me from my throbbing head and stuffed up nose.

I think I'll go see a movie instead.

posted by Mama Duck10:08 AM


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Week 12

Another weird thing that's happening to my body

As I've mentioned before, one nostril is continually clogged up. In spite of having one side of my schnoz out of commission all the time, my sense of smell has sharpened. This is not a good thing.

I've always been sensitive to strong odors. I use fragrance-free versions of laundry detergent, household cleaners and paper products. Pregnancy has kicked this tendency up a notch. As I walk down the street, I am assailed. I am painfully aware of that dark corner where some homeless or drunk person chose to relieve themselves. Restaurants are a particular problem. Chinese food counters waft greasy smelling fumes. Subway sandwich shops are the worst. I believe they pipe the scent of their baking bread out front of their stores. I'm not sure how it smells to normal people, but I have to hold my breath and cover my nose with my hand for the half block till I'm out of range. It smells like burning chemicals to me. I've mostly stopped wearing perfume because no matter how lightly I spritz I'm still too aware of the scent. There is construction on my floor at work, and it smells of paint fumes. I walk through a newly constructed building to get to the gym and it smells of concrete and glue. Elevators are particularly dangerous. I can easily detect the perfume from the last rider, or I breathe discreetly through my mouth if I'm riding with someone who has on a strong scent, or who isn't keeping up their personal hygiene.

It's cold, so I can't go outside as often for fresh air as I might if it were warm, but there is one upside of being pregnant in the wintertime. I can only imagine how the scents would multiply and intensify in the heat. It's not a pretty thought.

posted by Mama Duck9:51 AM


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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Week 11.5

Sudden, happy realization

I was walking to work the other day and realized that I hadn't had my period in three months.

Woo hoo!

posted by Mama Duck3:19 PM


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Week 11

Telling family

While I'd heard from friends to wait till the end of the first trimester to tell people, my nurse/midwife said that the heartbeat was a good sign and we could begin to tell people over the next few weeks. My husband and I decided to tell family first, and worked out an elaborate back and forth plan for who we would call and in what order.

The best laid plans, however, certainly went awry. We were foiled because my husband ran out for an errand unexpectedly, during which my sister who lives in Europe called, so I told her first. I felt it was silly to call her back later in the day just so she'd fall in the previously agreed upon order. This made my husband distracted, since he'd wanted to be there when we started. We then got a later start on the rest of the calls, I had to leave for an appointment and finally, when I returned and called my family, no one was home.

By the end of the day, though, we had told parents, siblings and grandmothers. Without exception, everyone seemed quite surprised. I wondered if perhaps we had been a little too private with our intentions. We'd decided not to tell anyone we were trying when we began, because we had no idea if or when we'd succeed, and even then (and now, and forever, really) nothing is guaranteed. We felt that if we told people, then there would be monthly questions as to our success. I don't regret that decision, but the universal surprise felt a little weird.

But everyone was also quite excited. My mom first told me how thrilled she was, then checked herself and asked if we were happy about it and if we'd been planning this. My dad fell off the bed when we told him; and my grandmother became speechless. It's a joyous thing to be able to share news like this--I don't think they were this excited when we announced we were getting married.

posted by Mama Duck3:16 PM


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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Week 10.5

There goes the waist...

I went to put on a skirt for work this morning and ran into a snag. It didn't close anymore. I had the waist taken in on this skirt not too long ago. Last week it fit me perfectly. I wasn't exactly sure how long I'd be able to wear my regular clothes, but apparently I don't have as much time as I thought I did.

Maybe if I wear a long sweater that covers the waist I can leave the button undone. No one at work will notice, will they?

posted by Mama Duck7:40 PM


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Monday, February 10, 2003

Week 10

The first appointment

I was surprised when I called to make an appointment after the pregnancy test and was told that I shouldn't come in till 10 weeks after the first day of my last period. That seemed like forever, even though it was only 5 weeks after I took the first test.

My husband went to the appointment with me and met the nurse practitioner/midwife who I've seen before and will continue to see if the pregnancy goes well. She talked about exercise and nutrition and answered a lot of our questions. We found that I'd be eligible for the more in-depth ultrasound exam when I reached twenty weeks, because I'd be thirty-five when the baby is born. We told her that after a recent episode of CSI, I'd become nervous that I wasn't actually pregnant.

She told us she'd look for a heartbeat but that it wasn't always possible at 10 weeks; 10 was when it began to be possible. She rubbed the sound machine all over my belly, but all we heard was my slow heartbeat. She said she'd take a break then, and did a quick pelvic exam, in which she determined the tilt of my uterus. Then she brought out the machine again, stuck it on my upper right belly, and bam.

There was the heartbeat.

It was super fast. She counted it at 156 beats a minute and grinned as she assured us that it was no phantom pregnancy. Suddenly, I had physical proof other then all the weird things happening in my body that there was a little growing duck inside.

It was quite a moment.

posted by Mama Duck7:38 PM


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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Week 9

Exercise. Argh.

I've never been much of an exerciser. I was always the geeky girl who would much rather read during gym and recess than exert myself. But I seem to have found my niche with yoga. It's something that on a good day I enjoy and on a bad day I don't despise. It keeps me fit physically, plus makes me more aware of my body and breath, which helps with stress.

Several months ago, I was feeling great about my fitness. I was going to power yoga 2 or 3 times a week and was finally feeling like I knew what I was doing. Then I went on vacation, got the stomach flu, caught a cold, then got intestinal flu. When I finally started feeling better, I started going to yoga again and discovered that the two months of vacation and illness had taken a toll.

And that's when I found out I was pregnant. I had a double whammy of recovering from absence and illness, plus all new bodily limitations.

Nonetheless, I've continued to attend the yoga classes. I have to rest far more frequently than previously and I also do a lot more modified (i.e. easy, or more flatteringly, less challenging) versions of some of the poses. But at least for the first four months of pregnancy, there aren't supposed to be any big restrictions on exercise.

This would be great if I wanted to exercise, but I don't. It's winter and it's crazy-ass cold outside. It's dark when I leave for work and it's dark when I leave for home. The combination of pregnancy and cold-as-shit winter create a huge mass of inertia that I need to push through to get myself to the gym and to class.

So far, I've managed. As I've mentioned, I'm eating a lot more, so I remind myself to exercise a lot more. Also, I have been practicing yoga for long enough (almost three years) to know that it obeys the laws of physics. The more I go, the more likely I am to go. The more I rationalize staying away, the more likely I am to miss a month of class. My body in motion tends to stay in motion, even if pregnancy and cold weather are slowing it down.

posted by Mama Duck7:02 PM


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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Week 8

Pre-natal class

When I called to set up my first pre-natal appointment, my clinic sent me a thick packet of information on pregnancy and invited my husband and I to attend a class.

A nurse practitioner led the session, which was attended by about ten other couples, all at varying stages of pregnancy. Some had just taken the pee test, others had already had an ultrasound. To begin, she also had us go around the room and each say what about the pregnancy was good or bad. Most everyone said they were excited, and most of the women said they were nauseated and fatigued. The NP said that during the first trimester the woman's body is not only growing the little duck, but also the placenta, and the latter takes a lot of energy.

The class provided good general information that made a nice bridge between my online research and the two weeks till I had my first appointment. As we walked to the car, I commented on how lucky I felt not to be suffering from fatigue.

The very next day, it hit me. Oh, the irony.

It was sneaky, too. It didn't make me want to sleep more, but rather sucked out my will to do things. Instead, I felt inexorably drawn to the couch, away from my difficult book and toward reality TV.

Since then, I've tried to respect that I'm not up to accomplishing giant to-do lists while trying to avoid the brain-deadening couch and TV. I'm not always successful. I'm not making much headway in my book; and it's been a while since I vacuumed the apartment. But I'm not falling over with fatigue, nor am I wallowing in filth. For now, that feels like a decent compromise.

posted by Mama Duck7:31 PM


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