Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Your TTC, Loss, and Pregnancy Questions Answered

Hi! I'm back with a fun post today to answer some of the questions I've received around trying to conceive, our losses, and pregnancy journey so far. If there's anything else that you're curious about, you can find me on Instagram @thelaurablog1 and send me a message there!

Did you do anything differently to finally get pregnant?

There are a few things, but I really can’t say whether they contributed to us getting pregnant or not. Here’s what I changed.

I added more healthy fats to my diet (avocados, nuts, fish), and also began taking this prenatal DHA every day.

I swapped out all of my cleaning products, certain cosmetic products, soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents out a few months before I got pregnant to cleaner and greener ones. I was especially cognizant of any endocrine disruptors and used the Think Dirty app to choose products for our home more wisely. 

And finally, I stopped tracking my ovulation. I hate this answer, and I didn’t even want to write it here, because it makes no sense and I never really took this advice myself. We went on vacation and I left the tests and tracking at home, and sure enough, that’s when it happened to work for us.

What pregnancy tests do you recommend?

I love First Response Early Result because of their extremely low sensitivity (6.5 mIU/ml), but you pay the price for this. These are great to get your first positive, and to intermittently check on line progression (if you so choose), but Clinical Guard strips are otherwise amazing to have on hand because they cost next to nothing and are still super accurate. If your TTC journey is taking a little longer than expected, make sure you have these so you can test as often as you want.

Will you continue to work?

Yes. I love my job and have it too good there for me to leave it.

What were your pregnancy symptoms leading up to your positive home pregnancy test?

The first pregnancy symptom I always have is VIVID DREAMS. I normally don’t dream, but when I wake up and remember every detail of what I dreamed that night, I know something is up. This began around 5DPO. I also had some very light acne/breakouts, sore boobs, light cramping, headaches and constipation between 5DPO and my positive HPT on 9DPO. However, these symptoms were so light that I wouldn’t have even noticed them unless I really sat down to think about them and write them down (which I did).

What prenatal vitamins do you take?

I started off with these, coupled with my Prenatal DHA. I then had my doctor write me a script for prenatals because they are typically cheaper this way. I still continue to take the same DHA.

How did you cope with your losses and what helped you the most?

Three things.

1. Knowing that my lost pregnancies would have likely resulted in a bad outcome for me or for that baby. I placed trust in my body for knowing that something was (probably) chromosomally wrong. Some mothers go on to carry pregnancies to term, only to have a baby that needs intubated, or fed through a g-tube, or that requires life support. I tried to remain thankful that my body knew something more that my head possibly could have.

2. The knowledge that it was perfect timing that gave me my two beautiful boys that we couldn’t imagine life without. The baby that was waiting for us, that was MEANT to be ours, had to come at his or her time. Just as we couldn’t fathom not having our boys, that very same child that was yet to be born, that we wouldn’t be able to live without down the road, had to come when he or she was meant to.

3. Gratitude for what I already had. Beyond just our beautiful and healthy boys, that would ALWAYS be more than enough, I actively thought about (or even journaled about) how much I had already been given.

Did you chart while TTC?

I monitored ovulation some (not all) months, but never took a BBT. I'm lucky in that my body is very consistent. I ovulate on day 17, with 28 day cycles. Like clockwork.

Is there an app that you found to be helpful?
I really like Period Tracker which has a TTC mode you can switch on. This allows you to add notes, symptoms, CM observations and ovulation, etc. And it's free. 

Do you recommend having the NIPT bloodwork? How much did this cost you out of pocket?

For me, this gave me incredible peace of mind at only 10 weeks gestation. The blood work tests for chromosomal abnormalities and can also give you the gender, if you so choose. Our insurance requires us to pay 10% of the cost, but for me, this was 100% worth it. I would have probably paid for it completely out of pocket if we would have had to. It's such a relief to know that everything is OK during an already stressful time.We used Quest Diagnostics (QNatal). I had the test performed on a Tuesday and received results the following Tuesday.

Are you hoping for a girl?

I'm excited to share what we're having very soon, and I'll share lots more about this question then!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Baby #3!

July 12th. I took a pregnancy test fully expecting it to be negative. When that second line didn’t pop up just a few seconds later, just as I had thought, I was so close to tossing the whole thing in the trash. I went downstairs to start my morning, but when I returned an hour later, I glanced at it again. Sure enough, there was a faint line.

Backing up a year, we had thrown the idea of a 3rd baby around for quite some time, never quite feeling ready, while at the same time knowing we really would never be. We nervously decided to take the leap of faith last fall. We found out we were pregnant in January, only to miscarry at the 6 week mark. The whole experience humbled me to my core, coming from a world where I got pregnant twice as soon as we wanted to (or even earlier than we wanted to—sorry August), with uneventful pregnancies, smooth deliveries, and beautiful babies. After we had collected ourselves, I then went on to miscarry again in May. I was the statistical “impossibility”, or really, the extremely high improbability. There’s so much more I want to share about these long, trying months, but I’ll save this for another post. Just know that the road wasn’t easy, but we’ve somehow ended up right where we belong. For any of you that might be reading this who are walking this very same path, my heart is with you. I know the pain that comes from other’s pregnancy announcements, and the jumbled emotions of happiness for somebody else and sadness for yourself. I wish I could bring together every waiting mama with the baby that is meant to be theirs, and if I could, I would do anything to do just that. But, all I can offer are words. I know how you feel, I’m sending you all my love, and I pray one day soon your storm, too, will end. 

Back to that July morning. I spent the rest of the day carrying that dang test around, wondering if it really could be. I told Matt, of course, but we were both so cautiously optimistic, not letting ourselves get ahead of where we were right that minute. I tested again the following morning, and the one after that…and for the next 21 days straight. Coupled with this came 3 sequential HcG draws since my OB took pity on me and my anxiety that I just couldn’t shake. My HcG more than doubled after each draw, an indicator of a viable pregnancy. The first bit of reassurance I’d have to believe that this could really be it. 

I had my first prenatal appointment in August, followed by a dating ultrasound and NIPT bloodwork, which tests for chromosomal abnormalities (and can tell you gender!) right at 10 weeks. We chose to find out whether we’re having a boy or girl and will share that (always surreal) news another day. For now, we’re so thankful to report that we have a healthy baby growing right according to schedule, who is now a full 12+ weeks and the size of a lime. You better believe I’m soaking in my fruit updates and the magic that each week holds. 

I never went into August’s pregnancy thinking it was my final time to experience it, so 3.5 years later, I started to feel panic that I never acknowledged the “lasts”…my last newborn, last time nursing, last first words, last first holidays. I’m just so grateful that I’ll now have that chance. 

After we knew that all was well, it was time to tell the boys. I just couldn’t wait for this part because somehow, Oskar’s intuition has been spot on. He’s told me several times, even before I was pregnant, that our family would have another baby, and his preference for a brother baby or sister baby. We’ve been practicing sight words with Oskar for a while now because the kid just loves to read. I decided we would sit them down and flip through a special surprise message via flashcards, for Oskar to decipher for them both.


Their reaction was solid gold, with Oskar bubbling over from excitement, his little voice so full of giggles, and August, who was happy enough, until we told him that the baby was due in March. HIS birth month. Sorry, kiddo. Your first middle-child blow. 

I can’t wait to go on this journey one final—yes, FINAL, for those of you wondering 😊—time, and to share with you along the way. This blog has been so cathartic and such a rewarding hobby, with the added bonus of having these posts to look back on months and years down the road. A huge THANK  YOU for reading along. I can’t wait to see what this journey—and little baby-- has in store for us. Here we go!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Best Books for Learning How to Read

Hi friends! Happy September! We have a (semi) kindergartner on our hands this year, and with that comes sight words, letter and sound recognition, and learning how to READ. Today I'm sharing some of the books that are adored in our house and that have really helped to develop Oskar's confidence while still keeping his attention. When brand-new readers are ready to start reading on their own, it can be challenging to find books that fit their skill level that are also interesting. Here are our recent favorites that he reads to me, or that we read together, before bed every night.

Hi, Jack! (A Jack Book) and Jack Blasts Off (A Jack Book): These are two of Oskar's recent favorites and remind us a lot of Elephant & Piggie. They have basic plots that are easy to understand (and read!), while still remaining silly. We're on the lookout for more to come from this series to build his collection.

BOB Books: The holy grail on where to begin if you have a little one learning how to read. These have come recommended by just about every teacher I know. Consistent new sounds are added to the books gradually, until young readers have read books with all letters of the alphabet (except Q). Short vowels and three-letter words in simple sentences make these books a fun confidence builder.
We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book): Oh, Mo Willems and the love that our boy has for his books. This series has truly done more for his reading ability and comprehension than any other, and he just can't get enough. A fun twist: one of us reads as Elephant (Gerald), and the other as Piggie.

The Munschworks Grand Treasury: The best collection of funny and engaging stories. Complete with 15 favorite stories, your kiddo will be sure to laugh along as you read them together.

Green Eggs and Ham: This may have been where it all began. Dr. Seuss's sing-songy, rhyming cadence may seem like cheating when it comes to learning how to read, but repetition, anticipation, and site word recognition are important building blocks when it comes to developing this skill. We love so many Dr. Seuss books, but Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat are our two favorites.

Usborne My First Reading Library: These books are genius in that the adult reads one page, and the child reads the next (simplified text). Each consecutive book in the series adds new letter sounds which multiplies the words they can read.

My Favorite Bernstein Bears Stories Learning to Read Box Set: Who didn't read Bernstein Bears growing up? This set comes with several favorites that just so happen to be Level One I Can Read books, which means they are perfect for children learning to sound out words and sentences. Hand in hand with the Bernstein Bears are the Pete the Cat I Can Read books, which get major points from both of our boys since they're big fans of the show as well.

You are (Not) Small: A sweet little favorite about two friends who can't agree on who is small and who is big. With beautiful illustrations and simple words, this is one that big brother can read to little brother at night time.
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