Did you really just say that…?

Did you really just say that…?

I have recently “popped” and apparently people have felt the need to comment, and for the most part that is completely fine! I am not the type of person to get overly sensitive about comments, some of them I find funny however there are a few rude and uncalled for comments that some people just can’t seem to keep to themselves.

Pregnancy is a funny time. It evokes all sorts of emotions in people around you. People are suddenly more friendly and caring towards you. They are full of advice which though endearing for most part can be a bit stifling too. And then there are others who feel awkward looking at your growing belly that end up saying things to you during pregnancy which they shouldn’t utter even in private.

Though I am only halfway through my pregnancy, there have been times where I have received a few unexpected advices or requests from family, friends and absolute strangers. They were sometimes shocking and sometimes embarrassing. I have compiled a list of common questions and comments not only I have received but other women I have spoken with. Let’s see if we can have a good laugh over them today (because we certainly were in no mood to appreciate some of them at the time, we received them).

As soon as people heard I was pregnant, the first thing a few people asked after congratulating me was “I didn’t know you were planning!” or “Was this planned?” Now to some this may not be a big deal, some people are very open about conceiving, while others are more private and wish not to discuss their sex life openly. Some women may find it rude and quite honestly, nobody’s business. Another thing to keep in mind is that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. Some people are very vocal with their struggles, while others decide to keep them completely private. Asking this invasive question may stir up some emotions the expecting mother doesn’t want to relive. On the other hand, sometimes a pregnancy just happens. No matter how you conceived, this question can stir up a lot of emotions both good or bad so do so with caution.

Now like I said, I am only 21 weeks along. Currently I have a little bump, but I know there is a lot more growing for this baby to do. Although I want to believe most people mean well, comments such as “Wow, you’re huge!” can hit an expecting Mama’s self-esteem real hard. Why in the world anyone would think it’s a good idea to ever comment to another person about their body is beyond me, but pregnancy especially is NOT an invitation to negatively comment on a woman’s body. Women’s bodies change so much throughout pregnancy and it takes not only its toll on us physically but emotionally as well. Our hands and feet swell, our boobs get bigger, our bellies get bigger, our moods change, and did I mention stretch marks? Women feel pressure about their bump looking a certain way, when in reality we know that each bump and each pregnancy is just as unique as the baby you are carrying.

On the other hand, comments like “I couldn’t even tell, you hardly look pregnant!” can cause anxiety in a pregnant woman about the health of her baby. Wondering if her baby is underdeveloped and growing the way they should. Some women cannot wait for that cute little bump to blossom, only to feel a sense of sadness that she isn’t showing yet, or that her bump doesn’t look like her Sister or Best Friends had. It is never nice to tell a woman she is too big or too small and that extends into pregnancy. Pregnant bodies are all different and bellies take on many different shapes.

Comments about how much food the Mama to be should or should not be eating is also a big No-No and most definitely not appreciated. Though I have not personally experienced this, I have heard stories from other Mama’s being asked “Should you really be eating/drinking that?”. You should never comment on what a pregnant woman eats or drinks. If a woman is pregnant, she probably knows what’s best for her baby. You don’t need to make her feel guilty about indulging in a cup of coffee or ice cream. Besides, there might be tons of books she referred to before having that drink, so let her enjoy! Unless you are her Doctor or Midwife, it’s best to avoid making such remarks.

Another common thing that occurs once you are progressing in your pregnancy is the moth to flame phenomenon of people wanting to touch your growing belly. Now, this is something that is different and very personal for each Mama to be. I loved when my husband touched my belly and I would touch it all the time, but he first time someone else went for it without asking it completely caught me off guard and I felt a little uncomfortable. Most would touch my belly and then ask, “Are you ok with me touching your belly”? Well you already are so… no point in asking now. You may not know how you feel about it until it happens for the first time, and like myself I was a little uncomfortable until my bump started to grow and there was something there to touch. A great example I heard the other day is that most people I know ask permission before touching someone’s dog. Unfortunately, that same courtesy isn’t often extended to growing bellies. See the comparison here? Some women are just plain not comfortable with people touching their belly, and this can extend to their partner, parents, in-laws and friends. Don’t overestimate your importance in any woman’s life especially one who is pregnant because it is not an invitation to touch her body without consent. Now, before you start drawing assumptions here not everyone is uncomfortable with you touching there growing belly. Some find it comforting, enjoy the attention and don’t mind physical touch. But be sure to allow each woman to make this decision for herself. Don’t assume anyone is comfortable with unsolicited contact.

Anything about your horrific labor and delivery story (or others you’ve heard about) are in no way helpful or calming to the Mama to be. Unless explicitly asked, please do not feel the need to share your labor and delivery story good or bad. Each labor and delivery are so different and tailored to the Woman and Baby specifically.  This also goes for chastising a woman’s birth plan whether it is to go unmedicated or medicated is just mean, it’s not funny, and it’s ignorant. Every woman I know who has decided to give unmedicated birth has done so for very private and thought-out reasons, not because she’s seeking praise from other people. Many times she feels like this is the best choice for her and for her baby. Assuming she’s in it for the praise is gross, and it’s a tell-tale sign that you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. On the other hand a woman’s choice to go medicated (or C-sections) does not mean she is “taking the easy way out” or “weak”, there is still a lot of pain involved. Deciding to try for an unmedicated birth, medicated birth or scheduled C-section is quite the decision. HER decision. If she wants your opinion, she’ll explicitly ask for it.

THINGS TO SAY RATHER…

  • “You look amazing.” (Or any other body positive comment)
  • “How are you feeling?”
  • “Let me know if you need anything.”
  • “What are you looking forward to the most?”

There are so many pleasant, supportive things to say to a pregnant woman. Or you could just say nothing at all. Especially in the case that you are not absolutely certain that someone is 100% pregnant. Talk about mortifying. I think these comments are more about people being curious and *most* come from a good place

20 Weeks

20 Weeks

Where has the time gone and how are we already halfway through this pregnancy? I didn’t believe a single person that told me that pregnancy goes by fast, but I am starting to realize just how true it is! When I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks and 2 days I couldn’t help but think that 20 weeks seemed like an eternity, yet here we are in what seems like a blink of an eye.

At this point we have already had a few appointments, and everything has gone really well. My first appointment wasn’t until I was 8 weeks – which is very typical. At the first appointment they went over family medical history, basic pregnancy info – what to do/not to do, had some blood drawn and vitals taken.

At my 12-week appointment we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I will never forget that moment, it made everything seem more real – there was an actual baby in there, as if I hadn’t known that already! By this time, I had been tested  twice for glucose and protein levels – you do this every time you go in for an OB appointment. At both appointments it showed I had elevated glucose levels. After the first appointment they wanted to check my Hemaglobin A1C levels – for those of you not familiar this measure what percentage of your hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) is coated with sugar. The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control and the higher your risk of diabetes complications. The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The results of your A1C test can help your doctor identify prediabetes, diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes, etc. Those results were normal.

Following the 12-week appointment they had wanted to have me schedule an early glucose screening test due to the fact that I had been spilling excess sugar at each testing and with having a family history of type 2 diabetes. This test is routinely recommended to pregnant women sometime between their 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Typically, there is very little or no sugar (glucose) in urine during pregnancy. But when blood sugar levels in the body are too high, excess sugar can end up in the urine. This can be seen with gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that only develops during pregnancy.

So what is the gestational diabetes test? First of all, when I understood what this test was for, the whole experience seemed less scary. That’s pretty typical though — the more prepared you feel, the less scary things seem!

Basically, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a condition that happens when a pregnant woman — not formerly diagnosed with diabetes — develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Normally, insulin (a hormone) is released by the pancreas to help get blood sugar inside your cells to be used as energy. However, during pregnancy, rising hormone levels that serve to help grow baby also impair the action of insulin, which means that blood sugar rises too. So why is this a concern? Gestational diabetes carries a number of risks for both mother and baby. For mom, there is an increased risk for preeclampsia and cesarean section. For baby, a large birth weight, shoulder dystocia and birth injury, and low blood sugar shortly after birth may result.

Despite this, moms with gestational diabetes and their babies can indeed go on to lead healthy, active, and vibrant lives. So fellow mommas, if you’re reading this and have or are concerned about gestational diabetes, please know that everything will be OK.

The 1-hour glucose tolerance test breaks down like this. You will be given a sugary glucose test drink and are required to drink the full bottle. You can take this test at home or at the doctor’s office but are required to wait 1 hour after finishing the drink before having the lab draw some of your blood. That’s it – Pretty simple huh? You will get the results within a few days. Personally, I didn’t think it tasted good, but I didn’t find it all that hard to drink – so perhaps it depends on your sweet tooth!

I received the results back and was informed that my levels were slightly elevated. Normal range is 65-140 mg/dL and my levels were at 139 mg/dL. Therefore, I had to come back in for a 3-hour test.

“You failed,” shared the nurse to me on the phone after my prenatal glucose screening test. I was crushed. Disappointed. Frustrated. And fearful of what might be at risk for me – and more importantly, for my baby. Throughout the prior weeks of my pregnancy, I strived to achieve balance in my food choices and exercises regularly. I enjoyed fresh fruit, drank smoothies with vegetables, ate whole grains, incorporated nuts and seeds, you name it! I occasionally included sweet treats, of course, but more importantly, I listened in to my own hunger and fullness cues – eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was satisfied. But when I heard the news that I failed my screening test, I thought that I had done something wrong. I just didn’t know what. I felt embarrassed – naively thinking, I am a healthy person after all, how could this happen to me?!

The 3-hour glucose tolerance test is more difficult to complete and it was more taxing for me physically. However, DO NOT assume that just because you have to take the test that you’ve already failed. I was sure that the second test was just a formality for me, but it turns out that I passed the second test and did NOT have gestational diabetes! This time I was asked to fast before-hand – TIP: since you will be fasting 8-12 hours before the testing schedule your appointment first thing in the morning, as your fasting is overnight. You will be required to stay at your provider’s office for three hours after drinking the solution, and have your blood drawn three times (once per hour) NOTE: You are not permitted to eat during the entire three-hour testing period. I was also only permitted small sips of water throughout the test. This three-hour test gives a much more accurate representation of how your body metabolizes sugar, and if you fail this test too, then you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Fortunately for me, I passed the 3-hour test with normal levels. I will however have to repeat the 1-hour glucose tolerance screening again around 28 weeks as normal.

At 16 weeks we had another appointment much like the prior 12-week appointment. Spoke with my OB, had vitals taken, got to listen to the baby’s heartbeat – this is typical of every appointment.

At 20 weeks we had the anatomy scan! The anatomy scan is the ultrasound performed about half-way through a pregnancy, normally between 18-22 weeks. During this scan, an ultrasound technician does a detailed ultrasound of your baby, taking pictures of every body part and organ to make sure that your baby is developing the way it should. This is when many parents also often find out the sex of their baby. I did not find out the sex during my anatomy scan – more on that decision later!

Our due date of December 11 was confirmed, and baby was healthy and growing right on track! The ultrasound was pretty long – about 40 minutes give or take. Ben stood right behind me the whole time as we got to see our baby’s tiny hands and feet moving about. We even had the opportunity to get a 3D image of him or her. The tech was not able to get a few needed pictures of the heart because baby wasn’t cooperating – I can already tell this will be a stubborn child. So, we had to get a second ultrasound scheduled during my next appointment at 24 weeks – but I won’t complain I will take any opportunity to see my baby. It is typical to only receive 1 ultrasound around 20 weeks during your pregnancy which I was not aware of prior to becoming pregnant.

It is hard to describe the feeling of being able to see your baby for the first time. I couldn’t help but smile and even shed a few tears as I saw them move about. Prior to my appointment I had felt little movements here and there, but it wasn’t until I could see our baby move on the screen at the same moment of feeling them that it became much more surreal. I instantly felt more connected to this baby which I couldn’t even imagine was possible.

As the pregnancy progresses, I am noticing not only my growing belly, but a few other symptoms. I have experienced a little bit of round ligament pain, higher energy levels, increased appetite and shortness of breath – thank you baby for pressing up against my lungs. Overall, I have had an awesome pregnancy so far and have felt great! I am continuing to exercise as I feel, eat a balanced diet and continue my normal daily activities. I am trying not to let a number on a scale or guidelines upset me when my body is trying to do what it needs to do to support a healthy pregnancy. I am healthy. My baby is healthy. And that’s all that matters!

Registering + Free Baby Stuff

Registering + Free Baby Stuff

Building a baby registry list is overwhelming! Trying to figure out what baby products to register for and what your baby will actually need/use its first year of life is challenging. With a baby on the way, you may feel like there are a thousand to-dos. While it is a lot to consider, it is also an exciting rite of passage. It’s fun to dream about what it will be like once your little one is finally home, to imagine him (or her) wearing those teeny-tiny newborn diapers, to envision the perfect theme for your new nursery.… Setting up a registry makes it all feel real.Friends and family members will be eager to pick out presents for you and baby, so you may as well direct them to a list of items you actually want and need.

Personally, I haven’t delved too far into creating a registry. If I am being honest I don’t even know where to start. I have however started the process of creating a registry so that I can slowly add things to it as I go. I have done hours upon hours of research as to the safest car seat and carrier, the best stroller travel system, the right kind of bottle to use while also breast feeding, etc. There is a world of knowledge out there and everyone has their own opinion on what is the best brand and what works for them and baby. I am heavily relying on the opinions of those close to me along with my own intuition and research.

I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong time to create a registry. It is never too soon to start looking and doing research because this time goes by so fast! The places I have created registries so far are Babylist.com, Amazon and Target, each of which give you a nice little welcome box – more on that fun later!

The reason I chose Babylist first and foremost was the convince of it. With Baby List you can add anything to your registry from ANY store. It compares prices for you and provides guides with helpful advice and reviews. It is a more meaningful registry as well by providing gifts you cannot buy in stores such as asking for home cooked meals, second-hand baby clothes, or help walking your pet. It also includes some fun interactive features like week by week pregnancy symptoms and body changes for every week of your pregnancy. You can access the registry from your computer or  your mobile device with their convenient Babylist App. You also receive a FREE welcome box for registering – and who doesn’t love free stuff?!

Amazon was another registry I had chosen because I had such a good experience registering with Amazon for our wedding. With Amazon you can add any item from any site to your Amazon Registry using Universal Registry. Prime members save 15% on eligible items when you complete your registry. You have a full 90 days to return most items purchased from your registry. The registry also allows multiple people to contribute towards bigger gifts by enabling group gifting. You also will receive a FREE surprise box of items for parents and baby valued up to $35.

I chose Target as a registry as well not only because I am slightly Target obsessed, but having the option of a brick and mortar store is important for those who want to personally feel and pick out your baby gifts – because you know Grandma wants to touch all those adorable little outfits. Target offers a Baby registry checklist which crosses off items as you build your registry. You also receive a 15% discount on everything left in your registry, 8 weeks before baby’s expected arrival. You also receive a FREE welcome kit with over $80 worth of coupons & handpicked samples – sensing a trend here? It is a universal registry with the option to add the items you want from other websites. gift tracking to see who gave you what, and who you’ve already thanked. Easy returns with no need to save every receipt. Return gifts for up to a year. group gifting makes it easy for guests to contribute toward larger items. They also have a convenient app where you can scan barcodes plus easily manage your registry.

Now, about all that FREE stuff – I know you have been dying to know what is included. I do not want to ruin the surprise for those of you who will be registering soon, but I will sum up a list of the common items included. DISCLOSURE – each welcome box you receive is different so no two people will receive the same thing! There was a wide variety of different brands of diapers, wipes and bottles which I personally thought was awesome! I did not receive duplicates of any that, way we can try out each brand to see what we like best. There were a variety of samples of baby lotion, shampoo, body wash, detergent, creams, etc. Samples of breast milk storage containers and disposable nursing pads. Not only were there practical things, but of course some of the cute gifts we all adore such as onesies, a swaddle and a few pacifiers and toys. There were also some fun things for mom such as dry shampoo, lotion, hospital socks, gift cards and coupons.

Now Mama’s its your turn, I want to know all your registry secrets and must haves for baby! Leave a comment below with some of the things you cannot live without or wished you would have registered for from the beginning. I look forward to seeing everyone’s recommendations!

Pregnancy + Fitness

Pregnancy + Fitness

When it comes to working out during pregnancy, there’s often a ton of mixed opinions. In most cases, exercise is safe during pregnancy, and you will usually find that it is even recommended. Typically, if you were physically active before you were pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy. More than likely, your OBGYN will tell you to remain active as long as it is comfortable and there are no other health conditions suggesting otherwise.

Exercising during pregnancy is not only great for mom to be but is beneficial for baby too! The benefits of moving more during pregnancy are that you are likely to gain less weight, labor and delivery may be easier – who doesn’t want that? – you will sleep better, you will have more energy, and are likely bounce back  faster after delivery. Baby will likely reap these benefits as well such as your child having a healthier heart and birth weight. Babies of women who exercise through pregnancy also tend to sleep through the night sooner and are less prone to colic and are better able to sooth themselves – sounds like a win-win to me!

Before getting pregnant I went through a pretty dramatic change in lifestyle. A year almost to the date I had decided to take it upon myself to make a change and finally get healthier and fit. Ultimately, I lost over 25 lbs and was in the best shape I had been in my entire life. This definitely didn’t come easy, it took a lot of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice – but a big part of why I did it was for this baby. I wanted to be in the best possible shape before conceiving. I wanted to give this baby the best start to his or her life by providing a healthy place that would nurture and grow them.

Fast forward to March of this year I was still continuing working out and eating a balanced diet – whilst enjoying a few treats! Before I found out I was pregnant I had noticed I was lacking energy and drive but thought nothing of it. After I found out I was pregnant I was determined to not let my lack of energy get the best of me. This became increasingly hard as the fatigue started to set in. By the end of the day I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep, working out was the last thing on my to-do list. There were days I didn’t workout, and that was OK. There were days I did workout and I did not regret it at all, because in the end it helped fight the fatigue I was feeling.

A couple weeks into the pregnancy I got my energy back and was feeling really good, I began working out more continuously and it was paying off. I have had to make a few minor adjustments to my workouts because of the pregnancy. I am not a Doctor or am claiming to know everything however this is what I have found from personal experience, research and speaking with my OBGYN. A few things I had to keep in mind were…

  1. Listen to Your Body: Your body was created to do amazing things! After all, it was built to grow and birth a new life. If you get dizzy, sit down. If something hurts, stop doing it. Your body knows its own limits better than anyone else so take it easy and do what feels right.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Hydration is key! By staying hydrated during your workout, your body is less likely to overheat itself.
  3. Start Slow/Finish Slow: Respect your body and its changes. Start each workout with a warm-up to get your heart rate up and blood flowing. Similarly, you will want to end each workout with stretching or walking. Stopping abruptly traps blood in the muscles, reducing blood supply other parts of your body and to your baby.
  4. Avoid Certain Moves: After about 12 weeks you will want to avoid lying on your back for an indefinite amount of time which can cause your uterus and growing baby to put major pressure onto the major vessel that returns blood to your heart. This reduces the blood flow to the placenta as well as to the rest of your body causing you to feel dizzy and potentially harming baby. You may also want to avoid moves such as crunches, sit ups, planks, and twisting movements can cause your abdominal muscles to split into two halves. This is known as Diastasis Recti and it is very hard to heal depending on the severity.

I feel so very blessed to be growing this baby. The fact that my body is capable of creating and growing our baby is something I can’t even put into words but seeing your body change is FAR from easy. Especially after working my ass off to lose weight and get in shape. On the other hand, nothing is more powerful that being your own motivation! I am choosing to embrace this season of change and am continuing to remind myself that the fact that my body is capable of this is pretty amazing! Postpartum I am excited to see what more my body can do. I am excited to challenge myself again and see what I am capable of. I am excited to experience this kind of growth and transformation again because although it is hard it’s one of the most empowering feelings in the world!

Hello 2nd Trimester!

Hello 2nd Trimester!

Happy BUMP day! We are finally out of the 1st trimester, and it feels so good! Baby Koster has even decided to make a little appearance – quite literally seemed to have popped overnight. I am living in my husbands T-shirts, yoga pants and dresses because who really likes to wear pants?

Week 5-9: From fatigue and lack of energy to not wanting anything but fruit, pretzels and ALLLLL the carbs. If you would’ve tried to give me a green vegetable, I would have thrown it right back at you. I did have a little bit of morning nausea that typically went away once I ate a little something or popped these Preggie Pop Drops that helped ease nausea naturally. Things definitely slowed down in other ways, however. Workouts were kinda blah – I only had a few days where I felt like myself. I felt bloated everyday – especially when 5 pm rolled around.

As Week 10 started, I began waking up and feeling more like myself – more energy in the morning and afternoon, better workouts, started to crave things I haven’t had in years – I mean crave different food every single day – hello PB&J and cereal! Week 12 we were able to hear the heartbeat for the first time! Of course, it didn’t last long because this stubborn child of mind decided to toss and turn each time we were able to detect the sound for more than a few seconds. The frequency of having to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom has also decreased from 2-3 times to 1-2 times – at least for now.

Here we are now at 14 weeks and I have heard amazing things about the 2nd trimester including feeling the first kicks and finding out the gender, which we have chosen to remain a surprise until Baby Koster arrives. I have enjoyed using various pregnancy apps such as theBUMP and Ovia Pregnancy to learn more about the growth and changes of my body and babies. At this point in my pregnancy the baby is the size of a Peach – or nectarine depending which app you are using – and is a whopping 1.5 ounces and 3.5 inches long and growing like crazy and has doubled in weight since last week. Baby is now sucking his or her thumb, squinting, frowning and moving around like crazy, although I haven’t felt any movement yet – I hope to within the next few weeks. I haven’t experienced any round ligament pain yet, which is known to cause some aches and pains as your muscles and ligaments stretch to accommodate the growth of Baby.

I look forward to sharing more about my experience and want to hear more from other Mamas out there about how there 1st trimester was! So please comment below and let me know.