Monday, September 30, 2019

Halloween Decor + Our Fall Bucket List

Happy October Eve! As of this weekend, we have all the decorations up and a very festive porch filled to the brim with mums, pumpkins, and lanterns galore 👻. The boys and I also jotted down some of our fall bucket list to-dos, which are less ambitious than last year's list, but life's been a little more hectic this time around thanks to after school activities, busy work schedules, and a growing bump that tires me out by 8pm. Our narrowed down list includes a Saturday morning of the best apple cider donuts, hosting our annual Halloween party, reinstating our soup Sunday tradition, watching Room on the Broom, making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to give to neighbors, and going to as many pumpkin patches and hayrides as we can possibly squeeze in. I wanted to share some of my favorite Amazon finds that really brought our house to life this year, including the white pumpkins, black porch lanterns, and black bats that made our fireplace pop.There was nothing better than watching Hocus Pocus for the third time this weekend, surrounded by decorations and candles lit while snuggled up with two little boys who made completely sure that the Sanderson sisters weren't REALLY real before bedtime. Wishing you all the coziest fall. Have a pumpkin beer for me!

Friday, September 27, 2019

What I Didn’t Know About Miscarriage + My Experience

I wanted to write this post because I know some of you are in the trenches, and sometimes it helps to read other people’s experiences and also to know what to expect. There’s so much I didn’t know about miscarriage and loss before experiencing it, so I wanted to write out the things that stuck with me most in hopes that this knowledge can be power for you. Also, please note: every experience is completely different. This is just how mine looked, and what caught me most off guard as I navigated these turbulent months.

1. That you don’t have to bleed much, or at all, to lose a baby. I never bled a lot, and I never had any cramping or pain, which isn’t how miscarriage stereotypically looks. I was 6 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding enough to wipe onto toilet paper. I called my OB who ordered a stat ultrasound. When I went in later that day, the scan showed a baby that had stopped growing at 5 weeks with no cardiac activity. My experience was CLOSE to a “missed miscarriage”, or when your body gives you no indication that anything is wrong. I did have some spotting, but others don’t experience anything at all until they go to a regularly scheduled ultrasound to find out that their baby didn’t make it. Something that hadn’t even crossed my mind in prior pregnancies.

2. How long and mentally exhausting the process can be. After my initial ultrasound, the doctor tried to be reassuring. “It may just be too early”, she said, but I knew. She told me to come back in 2 weeks to confirm. I had to return another 2 weeks later to stare at that same blank ultrasound screen. I still hadn’t passed the baby on my own. My OB told me to give it another 2 weeks before electing a D&C, which meant a 3rd ultrasound, that same silent screen. This put me 6 weeks out from the day I started spotting. I carried a baby for over a month that I knew was not viable, but still just wouldn’t let go. I finally got scheduled for a D&C to be able to move on. As I was prepped in for the OR, the physician went through possible complications, and ended on a nonchalant sentence to make sure we didn’t try to conceive for 3 months, if we decided to try again. This put the whole process at just over 4 ½ months.

3. Your pregnancy symptoms continue post miscarriage. Same sore boobs, same bloated belly, same nausea, same fatigue. On top of that, the bleeding didn’t stop for nearly 2 weeks post D&C, and what’s worse, I still got glaringly positive pregnancy tests for over a month. My body couldn’t catch up to what was happening and was SURE I was still pregnant, that this was a fluke. My hormones were all over the place, up and down a million times a day.

4. Life doesn’t stop. Which is totally obvious, but so difficult in the moment. Miscarriage is changing your blood soaked pads (there’s no hiding what’s happening: tampons are a no as you navigate this process, by the way) while your 2 and 4 years olds barge into the bathroom, asking you to please come play LEGOs already. It’s such a strange space to be in, and I often times felt like I was watching a loss happen to somebody else.

5. Several months after my D&C, I experienced a chemical pregnancy, or a loss that occurs shortly after implantation.  Two losses in a row aren’t statistically supposed to happen, and I took this part hard. I had very little empathy from my OB, who told me that they would have to wait until a third loss to move forward with any kind of testing (which I fully realize is the medically correct decision to make). It felt like an extremely frustrating, slow moving, eternity—like I was just waiting to lose another baby to potentially get some answers on what was happening to me. Even if that day came, my OB warned, we didn't always get answers when we wanted them. From somebody who wanted to control the process, this was difficult to hear all around.

6. I’ve found that the feelings came much later for me. Months down the road, especially when there was still no baby, all of the emotions really settled in. It got harder, not easier, with time, so give yourself grace. There is no “right” way to grieve

In summary, the whole experience, even though only a year, gave me so much empathy and understanding to those going through the same thing, be it a shorter or exponentially more difficult journey than ours. “Fertility privilege” is a term I had never known before, but there’s so much more that I know now, and truthfully, am better for it. If you’re walking this path, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Don't lose faith. The baby that is meant to be yours will find you. Remember, even miracles take a little time <3.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

1st Trimester Must-Haves

Now that I've made it into my 2nd trimester (hooray!) I wanted to share my must-have-for-survival products that got me this far. The first handful of weeks of pregnancy can be HARD, with nausea, breakouts, fatigue and lots of other not-so-fun symptoms. Growing a baby is no cake walk, but some of this stuff made it a little bit more manageable.

1. Witch Hazel: My skin went nutso during my first trimester, and I searched high and low for something that was completely natural and safe that would also help my breakouts. This Witch Hazel did the trick and also left my skin feeling super clean.

2. The Pregnancy Countdown Book: My favorite little pregnancy book with a few fun pages on each week of gestation so you can know what's going on inside your body.

3. Pregnancy Pillow: 5,500 5-star reviews are not wrong. This pillow will be your best friend when you’re feeling wiped out and exhausted (which will be always).

4. New Toothbrush: Fun fact: pregnancy destroys your teeth, so it’s time to invest in a good toothbrush and water pick. Did you know that some insurances cover 3 dental cleanings during your pregnancy to stay ahead of the havoc that your hormones are wrecking?

5. Preggy Pops: Perfect for nausea and that queasy, carsick feeling that you just can’t shake during those early weeks. I had these in my pantry and in my purse for on-the-go, and have used them for all 3 pregnancies. 

6. Pajamas: Invest in good pajamas. Do it. I love these because 1) they’re so comfortable, and 2) they’ll serve me well postpartum since the buttons unbutton for nursing.

7. Peppermint Tea: A good, caffeine-free way to wake up in the mornings. This also helped to settle my stomach when needed.

8. Prenatal Vitamins: These have been an Amazon subscribe-and-save favorite since they’re gel coated and super easy to take. My doctor also wrote me a script for prenatals, but they’re huge and chalky, and hard to stomach if you’re already feeling nauseated.

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!

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