32w6d 33 Week Prenatal

Baby Z and I just went in for our 33-week prenatal appointment, and yay, for once, we passed everything with flying colors.  We definitely don’t have gestational diabetes, we’re right on target on weight gain (despite my anxiety about growing a fatty and becoming one myself), and we’re still on track for a Feb 1 due date.  But if my OB had to make a guess, she thinks that Baby Z will make an appearance at least a week early…

Also good news:  We found out that under Obamacare, breast pumps are now 100% covered under our insurance starting Jan 1.  My OB wrote us a prescription for one today, and I guess Baby Z and I are going to give breastfeeding a shot in a few weeks.  From all sources, I hear that it’ll be a challenging (and possibly painful…) experience.  Gulp.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos on breastfeeding, and I still can’t wrap my mind around my body producing actual FOOD to feed a human being.  It seems so…sci-fi.

(Sort of funny side-note:  I’ve been watching these videos on birth and breastfeeding at work.  Which is probably not a good idea since I sit in an open office environment.  Just last week my boss kind of snuck up on me and I had, like, 5 videos of boobs playing simultaneously on my computer screen, along with a video of a very loud live birth.  Nice.)




23w6d Prenatal Appointment (24 weeks)

Baby Z and I had our first prenatal appointment sans Daddy Z this week 😦  J couldn’t make it because he had a doctor’s appointment of his own.  Boo.

All is well, though. Baby Z’s heartbeat is steady at 140 bpm, and he even showed off a little for our doctor by kicking (visibly) during our visit.  I’m beginning to notice that Baby Z starts kicking up a fuss whenever I sit or lie down for prolonged periods of time – his way of telling me that I’m boring him!  Which is probably just as well, because I used to sit all day at my desk without ever getting up for a stretch or walk – now I’m reminded every half hour or so to get up and take a short stroll (usually to the bathroom).  Baby Z is already watching out for my health 🙂

Our OB also gave me a glucose drink for my next visit in one month.  I didn’t know this, but apparently between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, many doctors check for gestational diabetes, a high blood sugar condition that some women get during pregnancy.  According to Baby Center, between 2 and 5 percent of expectant mothers develop gestational diabetes, making it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. And because the condition rarely causes any symptoms, testing is the only way to find out whether you have it.

So in a few weeks, I’ll have to fast for 14 hours and chug this bad boy one hour before the test.  When I arrive for the test, the technician will take a blood sample to measure my fasting blood glucose level.  Fun stuff.

It’s a good thing that I scheduled my next OB visit/glucose test for first thing in the morning!  These days, I’m not sure if I can fast for 14 minutes, much less 14 hours.

And hopefully this drink tastes better than it looks.

19w4d Prenatal Appointment (20 weeks)

Baby Z and I had our fourth prenatal checkup this morning!  All is looking well at 20 weeks, and Baby Z’s heart is beating steadily at 150 bpm.  Yay!

I’ve learned over the past few months that these monthly visits to our OB’s office are relatively brief and to the point (assuming that all is well with the mom and baby), and it’s harder to get our OB on the phone later on so it’s better to go in now to each prenatal visit prepared with a list of questions.

Below is my list of questions in bold below and our OB’s response to each.  (Note:  I realize that some are pretty goofy…J laughed out loud when he first saw my list :(.  But whatever, I don’t care!  It’s my first kid and I want to understand what’s going on!)

  • Should I get the flu shot?  I actually really struggled with this one.  Getting a flu shot is highly recommended for pregnant women by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other organizations, and there is even evidence that getting a flu shot during pregnancy offers your baby some protection after birth.  (Read more about it here).  Since I will be in my third trimester during peak flu season, now would be the best time to get the shot.  What was my hesitation then?  Well, my only reservation in getting the shot was that I’ve never had a flu shot before, and I had no idea whether or not I would be allergic or have a negative reaction to the vaccine.  What’s the verdict?  After speaking with my OB about it, I felt comfortable going ahead and getting the shot this morning.  I’ve had the flu develop into pneumonia a couple of times before in the past few years, and it’s scary to contemplate that happening to me while I’m pregnant.  Also, the flu shot our doctor administered to me today was thimerosal-free (which some people claim to have detrimental effects on a fetus’s mental development, but this has NEVER been proven by either the CDC or the ACOG.)  In any case, my shot didn’t include it.  And so far…no negative reactions (fingers crossed).  I actually feel more mentally at-ease now that I’ve gone ahead with the shot.  I feel that both Baby Z and I are more protected now!
  • When and how often should I start to feel our baby move?  Our OB confirmed what I’ve been reading all along – most moms start to feel their babies move somewhere between 16-24 weeks of pregnancy (on the later side if it is their first child).  But even though I’ve started feeling Baby Z’s movements (last night!), I shouldn’t be alarmed if I don’t consistently feel him every day until around 28 weeks.  I guess I should feel somewhat relieved that Baby Z won’t be using my insides as his own personal soccer field until a couple of more months from now, but for now, I’m really enjoying and treasuring his first movements!
  • Should J and I take a tour of the hospital in which I’ll be giving birth?    Definitely!  I’ll be giving birth at Mt. Sinai on the UES of Manhattan  – a very conscious choice on our part because they have one of the best NICU and pediatric facilities in the country (random trivia: it’s where Gweneth Paltrow gave birth to her daughter Apple and son Moses) – but neither of us have ever been to the hospital.  Per our OB’s suggestion, we’re scheduling a (free) tour of the maternity ward so we have a better idea of what to expect when the big day comes.
  • Should we think about cord blood banking?  Still debatable for us.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth.The cord blood of your baby is an abundant source of stem cells which are genetically related to your baby and your family. The stem cells are dominant cells in the way that they contribute to the development of all tissues, organs, and systems in the body.  Banking a baby’s blood and stem cells in a cord blood bank is a type of insurance. Ideally, you will not need to access your baby’s stem cells in order to address a medical problem later on in life.  Parents can opt to store their baby’s cord blood for personal private use or donate it to a public cord blood bank, which could be a life-saving resource for another family.   Private cord blood banking is very costly (running upwards of $2,000 for initial collection, and $200-$300 in storage fees annually), and the chances of a family actually retrieving it later if it is needed is very small. (The chances that your baby will have a stem cell transplant by the time he or she is 10 years old is one in 5,000 for donor transplants and one in 10,000 for a transplant using the child’s own cells, according to a study published in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplant.)  Unlike private cord blood banking, public cord blood banking is supported by the medical community.  However, there are very strict regulations in which you can donate cord blood and you can only do so at a participating hospital that collects cord blood for donation to public cord blood banks.  What’s the verdict?  J and I would love to donate our baby’s cord blood to a public bank, but unfortunately, our OB told us that Mount Sinai just recently lost their funding for cord blood collection.  We’re opting out of private cord blood storage, but we do know friends who have made the choice to do so.
  • Since our baby’s legs and arms are still so tiny relative to his head and body…could his “kicks” really be his head or butt jutting against my belly?  (In other words…is my son a head thrasher?)  J laughed when I asked this question…and frankly, so did my OB.  Hahaha.  It makes sense to me that since at 20 weeks, Baby Z’s limbs are still small (and therefore, weak) so maybe the thumps I’ve been feeling are coming from his head or his squishy butt instead.  Our OB said it’s possible that it is indeed our son’s head or butt that I’m feeling (take that husband!), but his legs and arms are definitely strong enough at this point to make an impression against my belly too.  So maybe Baby Z is not a heavy metal enthusiast after all…
  • Last but not least…is it just me, or is my son’s penis ENORMOUS in his ultrasound pic?  (see pic below re: the white spot near his butt)  Ok, so I knew this question was (a little) ridiculous even before I asked it, but still…I was just curious!  Unfortunately (or fortunately?), our OB said that the white spot depicts an area of higher density, which makes it more likely to be a bone than his, um, manly parts.  A bit of a disappoint to Daddy Z, but I think we’re both (somewhat) relieved that our son is not (likely) going to make the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest family jewels around.

Stay tuned next week for our baby’s 3-D ultrasound, when we can finally get a sneak peak at his face!!!   Crazy!

15w3d Prenatal Appointment

Baby Z and I had our third prenatal today! (Or fourth?  I’ve ran to my OB’s office in a panic so many times now that I’m losing count.)  I was really hoping that our OB would perform an ultrasound, but instead, she only used a Doppler to listen for Baby Z’s heartbeat – which is beating steadily at 150 bpm.  I guess we will just have to be patient until next Monday, when we will finally (*fingers crossed*) find out Baby Z’s gender.  We’ve also scheduled an amnio at the same time, so it’s going to be a big day.

In the meantime, I took Baby Zone’s Gender Prediction Quiz…and this is what it says about Baby Z:

It Could Be a Girl

According to old wives’ tales, a number of things indicate that you might be having a girl: carrying low and wide, conceiving just before the time of ovulation, eating a magnesium-rich diet, having severe morning sickness (that can last all day long), a fetal heartbeat that’s more than 140 beats per minute, and looking less beautiful. As the saying goes, “Boys give beauty, girls take it away.”

But according to another quiz, I actually “secretly want a boy“.

I’m not quite sure if either is true – I genuinely believe that I’d be thrilled either way with Baby Z’s gender, but I guess we’ll know for sure next Monday!  Stay tuned.

p.s. I don’t know what’s going on with my Gmail account, but currently the top recommended link on my Gmail reads: “Is your vagina normal?  Click here to find out!”  I hadn’t realized that I’ve been sending out so many emails about my problematic vagina.

11w0d to test or not to test?

Baby’s now the size of a plum!

The end of the first trimester marks an important step for your baby-to-be. All of her major body systems are in place. In her digestive system, her small intestine is no longer entwined with the umbilical cord, but instead is tucked neatly within the abdomen. Her nervous system continues to develop, and her brain’s structure is fully formed. Many of her organs are starting to work on their own, too. For instance, her thyroid begins to secrete hormones. In your 13th week of pregnancy, she’s no longer considered an embryo, but instead graduates into a fetus.  She’s already looking more and more like the baby you’re probably imagining—she even has tiny fingernails.

(Source: The Bump and BabyZone)

I can’t believe that I am almost at the end of my first trimester.  One more week and Baby Z will officially graduate from an embryo to a fetus!  J and I have been waiting for this coveted 12th week mark to start telling people about my pregnancy, since at 12th weeks, the risk for miscarriage drops significantly.  For now though, we’re still holding off until our end of first trimester appointment next Wednesday, when we can see our baby’s heartbeat again.  We can’t wait!

One of the things J and I have been discussing lately is whether we want to do a CVS test at 12 weeks.  CVS, or chorionic villus sampling, is a prenatal test that is used to detect birth defects, genetic diseases, and other problems during pregnancy. During the test, a small sample of cells (called chorionic villi) is taken from the placenta where it attaches to the wall of the uterus.   According to WebMD, CVS can help identify such chromosomal problems as Down syndrome or other genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and sickle cell anemia.

The benefit of CVS is that it’s considered to be 98% accurate in the diagnosis of chromosomal defects. The procedure also identifies the sex of the baby (we’ll be able to find out already if we’re having a boy or a girl!), so it can identify disorders that are linked to one sex.  The downside to CVS is that it has a higher risk for miscarriage and a rare risk of defects in the baby’s limbs…both of which are very, very scary to us.

We’ve been talking to our friends who have had children recently, and there seems to be a 50/50 among our crew of pals who have had the procedure.   Those who did do a CVS all live in New York City and went to the same OB who specializes in CVS testing and is considered the BEST in the country in safely conducting these tests.  If we were to do a CVS, we would definitely go to her too.

Still, J and I aren’t sure if we want to take this risk with Baby Z, or whether we want to wait until 16 weeks to do an amniocentesis (amnio), which tests for the same things as CVS and has a lower risk for miscarriage.

Definitely lots to consider.  We’re planning to discuss it with our doctor next Wednesday – which can’t come soon enough!

8w0d: the most beautiful sound in the world

Your pregnancy: 8 weeks

New this week: Webbed fingers and toes are poking out from your baby’s hands and feet, his eyelids practically cover his eyes, breathing tubes extend from his throat to the branches of his developing lungs, and his “tail” is just about gone. In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. (Source: BabyCenter)

Two weeks ago, J and I went in for our first prenatal expecting to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.  We were excited and anxious (J the former and I the latter – if you know us, this should not surprise you).

The first twenty minutes went the way of the expected:  I completed some forms, peed in a cup, undressed and sat on the exam table while our doctor asked us general health, medical history and lifestyle questions.

(Sidebar:  I’m convinced that peeing in a cup is one of the most stressful experiences known to a woman.  How far out do you hold the cup?  Too far and you risk splattering all over your hand, too close and you risk splattering over the paper label on the cup and have to spend the next ten minutes frantically blotting and blowing to make your name legible again.  So good people of the internet, if you find a good solution to this conundrum, this inquiring woman wants to know.)

When the doctor finally got to the transvaginal ultrasound, J and I were feeling quite reassured – after all, we had just told the doctor that we led a healthy lifestyle and were relatively healthy people ourselves with no history of medical problems on either side of our families. So when the doctor did the ultrasound, we were shocked when the first words out of her mouth were:  “I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything in there.”

No heartbeat.  No little fingers and toes.  No blueberry.  No kidney bean.

No baby.

My mind went blank.  I vaguely remember J putting an arm around me, our doctor giving me a gentle pat on the leg, and getting dressed, but the rest was a blur.   Later J filled me on what our doctor said (I wasn’t aware that she had said anything else).  Our doctor told us that it could be too early on in the pregnancy for the ultrasound to pick up the baby’s heartbeat, although she at least expected to see something.  But all hope was not lost.  She wanted to monitor my blood levels for the next few days and she also wanted us to make another appointment with a diagnostic imaging center with state-of-the-art ultrasound scans for a second opinion.

The next three days were torture.  I went back to the doctor’s office to give more blood, dragged myself through work, watched entire seasons of Modern Family, cried, called my mother, and cried some more.

By the time Friday came around and it was time for the second ultrasound, I was a mess.

J met me at the imaging center, where he filled out the necessary forms (I was in no state to do anything except to nurse my cup of decaf coffee and stare at the clock).  An interminable hour of waiting later, we were finally ushered into a dark room by a no-nonsense technician.  Immediately, I could tell that this was going to be an all-or-nothing affair – either my baby was in there or it wasn’t.   If these enormous, fancy-looking machines and large HD monitors could not find my baby, then I didn’t know what else could.

About five long minutes into the exam, our no-nonsense technician (who had yet to say a word to us at that point), finally said, “I don’t…”

I grabbed J’s hand and took a bracing breath.

“Wait, I see it.  There is your baby in the corner.  And this is the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.”

Thump, thump, thump…

It was the most beautiful sound in the world.

I would tell you what else happened afterwards, but frankly, I just can’t remember.  I may have floated out of the building and floated back home (ok, I took a cab).  I’m not even sure where J went afterwards.  I think he went back to work.  Hmm.

In any case, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my little expert hide-and-seeker, Baby Z.   (aka white blob on the bottom right)

It’s funny, because up until the moment that I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to become a mother.

Scratch that.  If I’m honest with myself,  I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a mom.  J and I had just started trying to have a baby when I became pregnant – I thought that I would have more time to mentally prepare myself.   After witnessing many of our friends struggle for months, if not years, to conceive, I just assumed (and secretly hoped) that I would be no different.

But after the experiences of the past couple of weeks, I can honestly say that while I’m still not sure that I’m ready to become anyone’s mother, I do know that I want to be this little fluttering heart’s mom.

So Baby Z, I can’t wait to meet you.  I hope you turn out to have your dad’s brains, my offbeat sense of humor, and a beautiful heart that flutters to a beat that is uniquely your own. Oh, and if you hide from the ultrasound again, you’re grounded for life.