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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twelve weeks looks weird.

Twelve is one of those words that looks REALLY weird when you actually look at it and focus on it. And say it out loud a few times.

Anyway, almost in the second trimester! Holy cow!

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11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Hmm. Making some progress. But I'd like to be in that fourth line. I've never been in the fourth line before. Sniff, sniff.

We had the NT scan this morning and all looked good. We won't get the official results that take the blood tests into account for another week or so, but the nuchal translucency measurement was about 1.5 and nasal bones were present, which are both excellent signs.

In other news, I believe that we're having a gnome. Or maybe Jesus. Or Santa Claus? I see a beard on this baby.

Do you see the hand at the top of the picture above? You can see two fingers and the thumb. 

The bright white line that you can see under the baby's back in some pictures is the amniotic sac. And seriously, what's with the beard??? The doctor didn't mention anything about it and I didn't notice it until after we'd gotten home. I mean, I'd love the world's first bearded baby, but it might take some getting used to.

OR! Maybe the baby is a PHAROH. Like King Tut!

I totally see it. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Out of the Closet

Yikes! We are officially out of the closet to our families.  I just have to keep reminding myself that I can't jinx things by telling people.  In other news, I picked up the heartbeat with the doppler a few days ago, so now we just have to have good news at the NT scan and....and what? I won't stop worrying, but it will be another step in the right direction.  Just 195 more steps in the right direction, and we'll hopefully have a baby in our arms! A LIVE one, even! Holy cow!

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 Week Pictures

I called the doctor's office today because I was concerned about a possibly UTI (oh, the many small perils of being pregnant), and when I was there to get it checked out, they said that since I was there, they might as well check on the baby, too!  Opie is doing great - measuring 11 weeks, 1 day (I'm 10 weeks, 4 days) (oh, god, am I going to give birth to a giant?) (ouch) (oh, phew, no worries...I don't have to push him or her out! Yay TAC!). Heartbeat right on track, but I forgot to look at what it was.  Little arms and legs waving around. I have to remember to take video of the NT scan in two weeks. I immediately regretted not doing it at Caleb's and still regret it to this day - he was SO. CUTE. And the pictures don't capture the essence very well.

I love the new doctor's office - they are so responsive and focus on prevention - but every time I see a new doctor (well, both times) they question why I got the TAC. You can tell that they think I should have tried a vaginal cerclage first, though they haven't said as much. I just try to explain we weren't comfortable with the success rates associated with the TVC, but I'm glad it's done and over with so I don't have to fight for it. I trust Dr. Haney was truly looking out for the best interests of me and my future babies - as he does for hundreds of other women.

Optimus Prime, aged 10 weeks, 4 days:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten Weeks!

Holy crap, I'm 10.5 weeks.  Hopefully the "flying by" part has started and will continue straight through late June. I cannot wait.


I've been trying to find the heartbeat with the doppler to tide me over until the NT scan, but so far nothing. I'm hoping to find it before Christmas - I'd like some confirmation this pregnancy is still progressing before we announce it.   So this little one has 10 days to work out that heart and get it beating loud enough for the doppler to pick up.


Um, anyone out there have ideas?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just want to remember this.

This is just an exchange I want to remember, because it was pretty adorable in its ignorance.

A few weeks ago, I was telling Chris about some spotting I was having, and he replied, "Couldn't that just be from it planting? Or did it already plant?"  I know there's not much difference between "implanting" and "planting," but the mental image is pretty darn awesome.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby's First Vacation

Baby and I just got back from a trip to Australia, where we cuddled kangaroos (really), petted a koala (really), and ate crocodile (not really, but it was on the menu).

It was a great trip, full of good food and hot guys with Aussie accents, and tons of little school kids in super cute school uniforms. Seriously, the little girls looked like Madeline. And their uniforms came complete with sunhats and Peter Pan collars. I'm going to convince Chris to move to Sydney so that our kid will grow up with the accent. The hot guys with the accent (calling everyone "darling") were, well, hot, but the little kids were just adorable. Plus, it's warmer there. And there are palm trees. And cockatoos just flying around all wild. I mean, obviously cockatoos come from SOMEWHERE, but I just always assumed it was a pet store.

Sideways koala proof!

And thus ends my Australia trip pictures - because my laptop fried and I lost almost all of the pictures from the trip. SOB. I have a few more that I was able to recover that I'll post someday...maybe....but for now, you just get to see sideways me with a koala. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby's First Pictures

Sorry so small. The second one down on the right in the montage is the rapidly disappearing yolk sac. The others are all various views of the occupant and his tiny living space.

He or she is upside down here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Appointment Update

And it's great news!  I'll post pics in a second, but I mean, basically it's a jelly bean/gummy bear hybrid in a under-inflated black balloon. I think it's awesome, but I'm pretty sure all 8 week ultrasounds look pretty identical.  Anyway. We have a heartbeat: 172 bpm.  Caleb's was always around 160, if I remember correctly. So...girl?  Also, morning sickness this time and none last time, which according to my mom, also means girl (since she had morning sickness with the three girls and none with my brother). Optimus Raspberry Prime was measuring right on time - actually a day ahead! - at 8 weeks and 2 days.

My next appointment is December 30, where we'll have the NT scan, and then starting in January I'll be seen twice a month.  Hopefully we'll get in a good seven more months of appointments!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Queasiness and Subterfuge


I have felt sick pretty much 24/7 the past few days. I haven't actually thrown up since The Deviled Egg Incident (awesome band name) but it's been close.  I don't want to eat anything, but I feel worse when I haven't eaten, so I keep trying to force myself. But then I feel sick from eating. It's a lose-lose situation. Which I am gladly accepting, don't get me wrong.  But it is making me worried about Australia a bit. Flying for 14+ hours with morning sickness? Or rather, all-day sickness? Um, no thanks. I've tried Sea Bands, which seem to take the edge off but don't fix the problem, and I drank a bunch of ginger ale today, which didn't do anything.  I'm going to try to run out to one of the pregnancy boutiques tomorrow and see if they have those Preggie Pops, which I want to boycott because of the name (equally on my shit list: preggers and prego) but which I'm hoping will do SOMETHING to ease the queasiness.


Tried to fake drinking wine at Thanksgiving Leftover day at the mother-in-laws. I was doing pretty good taking fake sips until everyone else was on their second glass and mine hadn't changed. So I started pouring it into my iced tea drink in my laps. That worked perfectly for a bit until the color changed so much you could tell it wasn't iced tea anymore. So I decided to set the iced tea cup on the floor next to my chair. The next time I subtly tried to reach down and pour some wine into the cup, it was loud and sounded like...well, sounded like liquid being poured into liquid. My mother-in-law immediately looked under the table and said, "What are you doing?? Are you spilling your wine on the floor??" I tried to show the iced tea and swirl it around so the ice made clinky noises and said, "No, it's just my iced tea!" but I'm 99.9% sure she didn't buy it. I need to do some damage control. Also, Chris was mad I wasted the wine, but she 100% sure would have figured it out if I hadn't had any, so I needed to at least try.


Wednesday is my first appointment. EEEEK. Also, 8 weeks today!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday run, take one: check!

We survived the first big holiday of this pregnancy. Thanksgiving is done and over, with just one minor puking incident involving deviled eggs. Sorry if you love deviled eggs; I do. But I don't know that I can ever eat them again. Hint: When you're queasy and haven't had much to eat all day, don't eat three deviled eggs.

Other than that and a few instances of queasiness, all is going well. So far. Our first appointment is Wednesday and I'm hoping that we discover a gummy bear-shaped tiny person swimming around somewhere inside me.  We'll also be asking the doctor about a trip to Australia next week. Chris has to go for two weeks for work, and I'd love to go with him.  No amount of Googling has shown me that there is any risk of flying in the first trimester, and, as we all know, if Google doesn't have it, it doesn't exist. Therefore it must be safe. However, it's still a scary concept. But it's AUSTRALIA. A place to which I've never been, and to which Chris has already gone.  A place with kangaroos and koalas and I think everyone is upside down and the men all have hot accents. And it would not be even a little bit fair if Chris was able to go for a SECOND time before I even got to go once! And if we have a kid at the end of this whole thing, who knows when I'd be able to go again?  I asked Dr. Haney, the doctor who did my TAC, and he said I should absolutely go and there's no danger at all.  It won't make me miscarry if I wasn't going to anyway.  But I still want to make sure that my new doctor here in town approves as well. If she's even the slightest bit hesitant, I won't go. And I'll scheme of some way to keep Chris here.  It's only fair.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seven Weeks

Welcome to week seven, where baby has (hopefully) progressed to a blueberry and where mom is (kind of) starting to calm down and get excited.  Today, anyway.  Chris and I are talking about when and where to tell our families and I think we've come up with a plan for Christmas.  It was - and still is - a big internal debate whether to tell at Christmas when I'll be two days short of 12 weeks or to wait until after the NT scan, which is scheduled for the 30th.  Initially we were going to tell at Christmas, but when the NT scan was scheduled just five days later, we thought maybe we should just wait our baby had a clean bill of health.  However, right this very moment (as it might change) we're leaning towards telling at Christmas. For one, all the family will be together. Also, if something did go wrong and we needed to deliver, I'd possibly have to have a classical c-section by that time so it'd be kind of a big deal, and the news would spread through the family quickly.  If we waited, there'd be no way to get the entire family together until Easter without arousing suspicion. And if you remember from last time, they're a suspicious bunch. I want to take them completely off guard this time.  And honestly...last time the NT scan came back 100% perfect and we still lost the baby. So a clean bill of health doesn't guarantee anything, obviously.

Yesterday was my sister's birthday slash engagement party, so I carried a glass of wine around with me the whole time and tried to take several conspicuous fake sips.  My mom said my dad is starting to suspect and I think at least one of my aunts is as well. Hopefully faking drinking yesterday and during Thanksgiving will lead them astray until we're ready to share. That makes me sound like an alcoholic, doesn't it? I'm not, I swear. But alcoholics probably say that too.  We're just big holiday wine drinkers! And I'm always first in line. Whoops. Back to the alcoholic statements. Which I'm not. Holiday wine-aholic, at the most.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I know that a common question asked of women who are pregnant after a loss is whether this makes the hurt from your loss lessen.

So far? No. And from what I've heard from women who are further along in their pregnancies than I am or who are parenting after a loss, it doesn't change.  Part of me actually hated having to relive finding out I'm pregnant.  And then being four weeks pregnant. And five weeks. And six weeks. And some part of me will hate every part of this pregnancy. Why? Because I shouldn't be experiencing it AGAIN. Not yet. I should be changing poopy diapers and nursing a newborn.  Caleb should be two and a half months old.  It doesn't make the fact that my friends had babies or are having babies soon any easier.  Because I should have been there first. It still hurts. It always will. It sucks and it's an unfair burden for them to carry, but they will always be reminders of what I don't have.

I am beyond excited about this baby, don't get me wrong. This baby will never replace Caleb, nor will he or she have to live up to the legacy of a baby who passed away. This is a different baby.  This is a baby who would have been here no matter what - they'll just be here a year or so earlier than we'd planned. And I hate that we have to meet them so much earlier.  I hate it.  It's not fair. I hate that life isn't fair. I hate that there's no way to go back and not have these thoughts and no way to go back to the naivety that I had before.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Six weeks and so long to go...

Hey, look! I have a sweet pea nestled deep in my belly somewhere...and it's not from yesterday's dinner. I was hoping for a baby, but I'll take a sweet pea.  Six weeks today. Thirty-four left!  And actually, since I'll have a C-section around 38 weeks, it's down to thirty-six.  Time is melting away!


Going so slowly.  Can't wait for the holidays - hoping that once Thanksgiving week hits it will go so fast that I'll be in my second trimester before I know it.

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11 12  13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Hmm. That did not help matters.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And an update.

I actually took today off work to rest and keep my feet up. The spotting hasn't returned, so I feel a modicum better, but who are we kidding? Not really.  I'm still freaking out. Actually, freaking out isn't even the right state of mind. In denial? Definitely. I'm acting like I'm pregnant - I'm taking my prenatals and I've cut down my stripper and cocaine benders to just twice a week (do you know the self control that takes??). But I don't feel like I'm pregnant. Or like I could be pregnant. Or like I will ever be pregnant.

I'm going online and following the week-by-week development, I'm talking to Chris about it, I'm grocery shopping with pregnancy in mind, but I'm not connecting to it yet.  I'm there mentally, but not emotionally. I don't feel it in my heart yet.

I don't remember if I felt like this last time, so I don't know if this is a normal almost-six-weeks-pregnant mindset or if this is just what happens when you're trying to protect your heart from another loss.  Since I burst into tears every time I feel pain or a twinge, I don't know that I'm doing too well at that, but it definitely doesn't feel real.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Aaaand I'm spotting.

5w2d. Last time it started around 6 weeks - well, when they said I should expect spotting because they could see blood around the cervix but it never happened. Real true spotting began at 8 weeks, and then continued off and on (more on than off towards the end) until he was born.

So now...now I am fifty steps back. I was trying to be so positive. I know mentally you can't jinx a pregnancy, but I'm still asking myself what I did. Was it scheduling the NT ultrasound? Was it feeling a little bit hopeful yesterday? Was it not ending my last couple posts with "Today I am pregnant and today I love my baby."? What did I do wrong here?

I think once you've had a loss, you should get a FREE FRICKING TICKET on the worry-free pregnancy train. Where do I go to get my refund??

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Ok, I am taking down the last post I wrote. I'm freaking myself out way too much. There is nothing I can do to jinx this. Last time I was insanely superstitious (which is ridiculous, because I'm not like that when I'm not pregnant!) and fat lot of good that did me OR Caleb.  There is nothing I can do to make this pregnancy have a happy ending in nine months and nothing I can do to make me lose it tomorrow.

I wish this wasn't so scary.

I don't even want to write this...

...because I'm dumb and am just freaking myself out. Can someone PLEASE come take all these damn pee sticks away from me?

I got a package yesterday and realized that a while ago I'd ordered some special pregnancy tests that are available in Canada but not the state - they not only tell you you're pregnant, but also how far along you are. So I also have three of those, in addition to the ones I mentioned yesterday. I REALLY wanted to be sure, guys. Duh.

Anyway, so since I had the pink line First Response one right in front of me, I peed on it. And then I figured I might as well try one of the new Clear Blue digitals from Canada. Both came up positive, BUT. The First Response - which came up immediately and dark with Caleb - took a minute to appear and wasn't as dark or thick as the control line. The digital said pregnant as well, but it also said 2-3 weeks pregnant (so 4-5 weeks gestationally). I'm 5 weeks, 2 days, so it could be right, but at the rate that my HCG was rising, it should be well over 4,000 by now. Which is average for 25 days post ovulation, which is where I'll be on this Friday...or when I'll be very nearly six weeks. So shouldn't it have said 3-4 weeks if my HCG levels were still rising and hadn't started to go down??

I know I need to stop peeing on things, but I'll probably do another Clear Blue test next Monday to see if the numbers changed at all.

Plus I scheduled my NT scan today for December 30, so today I'm really feeling like everything is being jinxed. It's almost two months out, but I had to schedule it early because during the short timeframe when I could get it there are four holidays when the doctor's office is closed, and between the limited time slots and everyone wanting to get in before the New Year the slots were filling fast.

UGH. I suck. Why am I doing this? I laugh at other people who flip out about lighter tests.  Am I one of those idiots?

I mean, clearly yes.

And especially yes since I just read the instructions and it said to get the most accurate dating, you need to use first morning urine, which mine was not.

So maybe this freakout was all in my head. You know what that makes me want to do, don't you?

Pee on something else tomorrow morning.

But I promise you, my blog readers...ok, readER...that I won't. I'll wait. I'll try to wait, at least.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I need to stop peeing on things.

But I did again yesterday. And lo, but did a super dark super fast line appeared.

Comparison of 14dpo, 17dpo, and 20dpo:

Super observant people might notice that the one I posted from the other day is not pictured here, so yes...that's five total tests so far. I have one digital and one dollar store cheapie left. I mean, it'd be a waste to NOT pee on them.....right?

Update: Um, well, that's a lie. I have two dollar store cheapies, one digital, a Target cheapie, and two First Response tests. That's six...two a week until my first doctor's appointment on December 1?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The "pregnant after loss" mindset is a sad one.

While pregnant after a loss, I don't think it is possible to become any more cynical, even if your name is Cynical McCynicstan.  I thought I was superstitious and cautious last time...this time I have glued a piece of 2x4 to my knuckles so I'm always knocking on wood.  And this pregnancy seems about as real as a flying mermaid riding a unicorn in Neverland while drinking New Coke.

While I was walking the dog yesterday, I started repeating the famous "Today I am pregnant, and today I love my baby" mantra.  Then I realized...well, that's great for today, but what about tomorrow and the next day and the next nine months?  So I added, "And I will bring this baby home."  Then I thought of the moms I know who brought their babies home in an urn and clarified: "I'd better specify. I will bring this baby home ALIVE."  And then I remembered Chris and thought, "I'd better say 'we' to keep Chris safe. We will bring this baby home alive." And then I started thinking about infant loss and SIDS and felt the need to revise again: "Actually, better change that. This baby will stay alive."  And then I realized that I was pretty much tempting fate to give me a baby with three eyes and no brain with that phrasing, so I started thinking, "Ok, I need to add 'healthy' in there. This baby will stay alive and healthy." Emphasis on the "this," the "baby," the "will," the "stay," the "alive," and the "healthy."

I think it's clear that this baby has given me OCD.

Today I am pregnant.
Today I love my baby.
This baby will stay alive and healthy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Double Stuff

Good news: the betas doubled!

531 at 16dpo
1308 at 18dpo

That's a doubling time of just over 36 hours, which is well under the 48-72 hour marker they look for. 

So that's one milestone to cross off. Now I just have to make it to tomorrow...and Sunday...and Monday...and six weeks...and seven weeks...and eight weeks...and holy cow that's overwhelming. Hopefully with the craziness of the holidays just around the corner the time will fly by, but I doubt it since obviously the best part of the holidays is drinking and I won't be participating in that pastime.

NOT THAT I MIND, BABY.  Don't take that to mean you should depart anytime soon. I'm cool with it. Water is just as good as wine!

Okay, I can't start lying to you this early, baby. It's not true. Wine is delicious. But I'm happy to make the sacrifice for you, so again: STAY PUT.

Today I am pregnant, and today I love my baby.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Um, I know it means nothing...

But I tested again. You know, just to be sure. Even though it would mean nothing; with a first beta of over 500 it could take weeks for the hCG to leave my system if I had a miscarriage. I just really wanted to see the line get darker from the first test.

And it did. It didn't get as dark as the control, which I kind of hate, but at least it's darker.

Don't you love seeing things I peed on like every post?

Compared to day one:

Darker, yes?  I don't care what your answer is. I'm calling it darker.  And now I kind of want to go pee on something again.

(P.S. I totally did.)

Today I am MORE pregnant and today I love my baby!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beta Results

Yesterday after work I went to Whole Foods, because I figured there couldn't possibly be a better way to entice this baby to stick around than to drop $200 on three day's worth of food.  While I was walking down an aisle, I just started to cry. I'm still not entirely sure why - I don't think you can blame hormones at 4 weeks - but I just got overwhelmed with the thought of another pregnancy. It just seems so impossible that I could actually be bringing a baby home in nine months.  Then I got home and had that tiniest bit of brown spotting and just...well, not gave up, but certainly put it in a box and put that box under the couch where our dog hides his broken toys. Out of site, out of mind, out of heart.

I decided to call this morning to see if I could get my betas drawn, just to see if it's even a viable pregnancy. Isn't that terrible? Most women in my position assume it IS; most baby loss mamas assume it ISN'T.  Sigh. Jaded bitches, the lot of us.   The doctor's office agreed and I got in right away, and they just called back with the results.

531 at 16 days post ovulation.

I think I'm having triplets.

The average number for triplets at that time is 526, so maybe actually it's quads.

Kidding. For a singleton pregnancy the average is 203, but the range of normal is ENORMOUS - like 4 to 9,000. So I'm well within normal, even for a singleton pregnancy.  And no one in my family has ever had twins, and we weren't on any fertility meds, so I think I'm good.

What really matters is that the 531 turns into over 1062 within 72 hours. The doubling time is the thing that counts. So I go back Friday for my second blood draw, and if it's over 1000, then they call it good until my first appointment on the 1st.

Fingers crossed. I can't believe I let myself get even a little excited. Knock on wood. Again. My knuckles are raw.

And as always: Today I am pregnant, and today I love my baby.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's the opposite of confident?

Because that's what I am. I'm the total and complete opposite of confident in this pregnancy. It started with the light line.  Then it continued with the lack of symptoms. Then it increased with some weird pain around where I guess my cerlage is, and blew up all over the place when I went to the bathroom and had brown-tinged cervical mucus.

Oh, hi. If you didn't already know, this blog will talk about lots and lots of wonderfully disgusting things like cervical mucus, poop, blood, and zombies.

So I'm just going to say this: FUCKING FUCKETY FUCK.  I hope in nine months I'm looking back at these feelings and thinking about ways I can use them to guilt my child into doing my laundry or mowing. I hope this cerclage sucker is doing its job.

Oh, and: Today I am pregnant and today I love my baby.

And the digital says...



Still cautious. A positive test doesn't mean anything, except that at one point you were pregnant. It doesn't mean that I will be in two weeks or four weeks or four months. So in the spirit of not taking anything for granted, once again:

Today I am pregnant, and today I love my baby.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let's try this again.

I'm keeping this blog secret for a while, so if you know me at my other blog or in real life, please don't say anything...especially on Facebook!

I just - like less than an hour ago - found out I'm pregnant. Again. I discovered I was pregnant previously in December of 2009, and went into premature labor and lost our son Caleb in April 2010.  After that loss, I was diagnosed with likely incompetent cervix and underwent surgery to correct it permanently (called a trans-abdominal cerclage).  While it means I'll have to have a c-section for this baby (who WILL be coming home!...right?), I'm totally down with that if it means that in nine months I get to complain about my lack of sleep due to a squealing newborn.

I'm exactly 4 weeks pregnant today and our due date is July 11, 2011. I would love the next nine months to fly by. Last time, it was pretty slow from the time I found out until about nine weeks, and then from then until 20 weeks it went quickly. I hope it's the same way this time, with a different ending, obviously. 

So I don't have any symptoms right now. Nothing to write home about, anyway. Unless you regularly write home about gas or diarrhea or other unmentionable bodily functions.  Which I hope you don't. 

My pregnancy with Caleb was similarly boring at the beginning. While I didn't have a lot of symptoms - very mild nausea, tiredness, some cramping and stretching in the interior lady parts - I did have bleeding off and on from six weeks until...well, until he was born just halfway into my pregnancy.  Hopefully this kiddo's path sharply diverges from that one and takes the road less bloody. 

I'm terrified. I'm way too knowledgeable about everything that can go wrong this time around, from chemical pregnancies to molar pregnancies to early losses to 2nd trimester losses to still birth to infant loss to infections to placental abruption to dear god just so many damn things.  I approach this pregnancy with a healthy dose of reality and temperance and reality. I don't know when I'll let myself believe it or get excited about it.  I do know that I'm about to duct tape my hands down to keep myself from knocking on every piece of wood I see.  I'm going to turn into a superstitious crazy lady...and not because of the hormones.  When I bought the pregnancy tests, I also bought a box of tampons and a bottle of wine to offset it and let the universe know that I wasn't jinxing anything, I swear!

So. I'll end this post like I ended my first post about Caleb's pregnancy.  A picture of the test. I'm 14 days post ovulation and missed my period by two days. The line, it's light. That worries me. However, breathing worries me. Typing this worries me. Eating a s'more today worries me. I may be better off counting what doesn't worry me for the next 36 weeks.

I'll be confirming with a digital test tomorrow morning. Please, please let this one work.

As my pregnant after loss mamas have taught me: Today I am pregnant, and today I love my baby.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baby-led Weaning: The Whys and the Hows

Why do BLW?

First, the AAP now recommends nothing other than breastmilk or formula until the child is six months old. Yep. If your doctor recommends it prior to that, they are not following the newest guidelines. And yes, these things change all the time, so I highly recommend doing your own research also.


(Warning: long science-y rambling ahead!)

Babies are born with an "open gut" that allows them to better absorb nutrients (meaning there are large spaces between the cells of the intestinal wall). Breast milk (and maybe formula? not sure on that)  is designed to work with that open gut; however, other molecules, such as those found in baby cereal and purees, are not. These types of foods should not be introduced until those spaces between the cells close. This closing usually corresponds to several physiological milestones, such as sitting up unassisted (well - no pillows supporting them!), losing the tongue thrust reflex, able to bring food to their mouth and feed themselves, etc. These usually occur around six months of age.

Introduction of anything to their digestive system prior to this time interuppts the development of "good" bacteria that promotes digestive health for life. It also has been shown to reduce instances of things like celiac disease, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive ailments. Allowing the gut to "close" prior to introducing solid foods (i.e. anything other than breastmilk, and maybe formula, but again, not sure on that) follows the physiological, natural timeline of the baby's development.

Although it is the norm now, baby cereal and oatmeal are a relatively new concept, created when doctors were sure that anything man-made was far superior to what nature could offer. New moms were given pills to immediately dry up their milk, and babies were started on a formula that was basically caro syrup and evaporated milk. Because of this, babies were developing iron deficincies, so the formula companies developed iron-fortified cereals to boost the amount of iron that the babies were receiving. However, babies are born with a tongue-thrust reflex (with good reason), and they needed to make it thin and liquid-y in order to force the cereal past that tongue-thrust reflex. If you introduce solids early, they will quickly learn to suppress this reflex, but it does not naturally occur until they are about six months old (again: this all makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint - they are trying to keep anything out of their stomachs except milk until their guts close!).  Purees quickly followed cereals, but if you wait until your child is around six months old, there's no need for purees: they can eat real food!

Also, some very very introductory studies are beginning to link obesity with the introduction of solids before four months.  The earlier solids are introduced, the more likely babies are to be obese later. One theory behind this is that introducing simple carbs (which most cereals and oatmeals are) set up a predilection for preference for this type of food later in life, and simple white carbs are one of the worst things you can eat at any time in your life in terms of nutrition. Additionally, there is little to no nutritional value (a serving commonly has little to no fat, and lots of carbs - the exact opposite of what they need at this age!).  Many of them have added iron, DHA, or other vitamins, but in reality those add very little to the value of the cereal, as vitamins as additives are not absorbed as well or as easily as those found naturally in breastmilk or foods.  And a note about iron: the iron stores a baby has are plenty to maintain their iron needs through the first six months of life. After that, they begin to deplete, but they do not suddenly disappear!

Another benefit to BLW is that it teaches babies to chew and then swallow, rather than to swallow first. When you start with purees, there's a whole new set of skills to learn when you switch to 'real" food, and many babies have difficulties with that (we'll talk about choking later). 

Oh, and there's no need to do purees for the child to "practice" eating with a spoon or get used to swallowing or any of that nonsense.  Trust me, the kid can eat everything just fine!

And no, you don't need teeth to do it (we started at six months and Carys didn't get her first teeth until around 8 or 9 months, and besides, they don't get their "chewing" teeth until much later!).

(End science-y technobabble.)

So there's a long list of reason TO wait, and none NOT to wait (note: some doctors advise that babies need cereal introduced to their milk for reflux, and some babies are not thriving and need solids introduced early to combat that. Those are obviously a totally different situation!).  Because of these reasons, I choose to wait. I have a history of obesity in my family, so anything I could do to give her an extra boost away from that was a godsend.  Plus, it's ridiculously easy. And I love eating WITH her, instead of feeding her and then eating myself. It's so easy to model good mealtime behaviors when you're eating the same thing at the same time. And I'm not going to lie - it gives me a huge incentive to eat healthier myself. There's nothing like chowing down on pizza while your child is eating spinach quiche and asking to eat some of your pizza...and you have to say no because of course you don't want to give your kid pizza! And if you don't want to give your kid pizza, why are you eating it?!? (This is a conversation I had with myself in my head.)

The site I first discovered that led me on my BLW journey is Adventures in Solid Food.  There's also a great book out there on BLW called (what else?) Baby-Led Weaning (I like the Cookbook version; it summarizes the book in the first few chapters and then follows with great recipe ideas).  The authors of that book also have a great site, which can be found here.  Again, I think it's important to note: this is not a new concept. Gill Rapley did not invent this. People did this for eons before purees were introduced, and many of our relatives did it instinctively. Gill Rapley just gave it a new name and re-introduced it to the masses. Marketing, hey!

I don't want to completely re-hash the "how to" behind BLW that can be found at the resources above, but here are some guidelines:

When to Start
You can start BLW when your child has reached all of the below milestones:
  -Is around six months old
  -Sits well
  -Grabs items and brings them to mouth
  -Chews things
  -Shows an interest in food (this one is hard, because babies are interested in EVERYTHING... remember, they'd probably be just as interested in it if it was a rock!)
  -Thrusting reflex is gone

What to Feed
Anything that you're eating (within reason), as long as you avoid high sodium foods and foods with lots of sugar. Follow the same guidelines with fish that you follow for yourself (i.e. avoid high-mercury fish too often). Avoid overly processed foods.  No honey under 1 year (due to botulism concerns).

Some good things to start with:
-Avacado (perfect first food!)
-Sweet potato fries (steamed or baked)
-Steamed carrots
-Peas (great for working on the pincher grasp!)
-Ripe pears (super soft!)

Don't be afraid of spices, olive oil, and real milk or butter!

How to Feed
When appropriate, foods should be offered in large pieces - think a big steak fry (finger length and thumb width). It should be large enough that the baby can hold it in their fist and have bits of it sticking out the top and bottom to eat from. (Obviously, this doesn't apply to something like peas).  Hard foods can be steamed or baked to soften them up (like carrots or apples).  Cherry tomatoes, grapes, etc., should be squished or cut in half.  You generally want "sticks" of food, not "discs" - so for carrots, for example, you'd want long pieces, not "coins".

Only the baby should put food in their mouth. They alone know how much food they can handle, whether they've finished what they previously were eating, and whether they want more.

The baby should be sitting upright (you may need to roll up a towel to put behind their back if their highchair isn't upright enough).

It doesn't matter how much they eat! They might throw it all on the floor. They might eat every bite. They might eat two bites and then decided they want to play with the rest. For the first year, breastmilk or formula is still the primary form of nutrition. They might not eat three days in a row and instead mush all the food into their hair, and it would be okay. They are just exploring textures and tastes at this time!

Choking versus gagging
This is one of the BIGGEST things in BLW. Every parent is worried about their child choking, and when you give your kid a big chunk of food, it's a reasonable worry. What you need to know is the difference between choking and gagging.

Gagging - even to the point of throwing up! - is a perfectly appropriate, normal reaction to solid foods. A baby's gag reflex is not in the back of their throat like an adult's - it's more forward in the mouth. Babies gag as they learn to manage the food in their mouth and learn to move the food around. Gagging is loud, and the baby usually remains fairly calm (although a severe gag may cause them to tear up or cry, or even thow up!). All of that is okay.  Gagging is loud and can be scary, but a gagging child should be left to try to work it out themselves. 99.9% of the time, they'll cough the offending piece of food out.  In the vast majority of cases, when the child starts to gag, the parents should just stand by encouraging the child. "Oh, it looks like you got too big of a piece! Whoops! Can you spit it out?" Do not panic (although this will be hard the first couple of times). Do not put your fingers in the child's mouth if they are gagging - you may inadvertently push the food further down their throat and cause actual choking. Again, these 'rules' are for gagging - not the rare act of choking. Obviously, you don't want to stand by and watch your child TRULY choke!

Choking is the complete blockage of the airway. Choking is silent. Choking is panicked. I highly recommend that ANY parent (not just those doing BLW) learn infant/child CPR to learn what to do in the rare event that your child does choke.

It's been my experience that choking is less common with BLW, as the child becomes an expert at managing the food that goes in their mouth, and they are controlling the input. That said, it's not impossible that they might choke on something, particularly if the "whats" and "hows" were not followed (example: someone was complaining that BLW made their child choke, and we then found out that they were feeding the baby raw carrot slices - the discs, not the sticks).

Does it work?
Sometimes, you hear people say that BLW didn't work for them. In the vast majority of those cases, it's that BLW didn't work for the parents - that they weren't giving their child the chance to manage the food themselves, that they intervened when the child was gagging (and probably called it choking), that they were giving the wrong foods, etc. If your child is truly choking and not managing the food that you are giving them, or if they aren't showing any interest in the food, they are probably simply not ready for solids yet. Every child reaches readiness at a different time. Six months is merely the average.  If it doesn't work at the time you introduce it, try again a day later, or a week later, or a month later.  Or even beter, continue to offer them every day, even if the food is completely ignored!

That said, every child is different and, as the parent, you know your child best and should act accordingly.


Any questions? I'm sure I missed something, so please let me know if anyone wants more information!




Baby Led Weaning
Baby Led Weaning Cookbook
Baby Led Weaning, Step by Step (Note: I have not read this, only seen it recommended)
The Baby and Toddler Cookbook (BLW would suggest skipping the purees and using only the other recipes, or saving the purees for when they can spoon-feed themselves - or the purees could be great to put in pouches for on-the-go snacks, too)

Tomee Tipee Bibs (a favorite)
Baby Bjorn Bibs (another fave)
iPlay Green Sprouts sleeved Bibs (a favorite - if the sleeved bib isn't listed, contact the company and they'll send you pricing and pattern info - it just means that the store that the site feeds from is out of stock, not that the company is out of stock - but for real, this bib is A MUST, it makes clean up a huge snap!!!)
^^^^You'll note with all these bibs that the common factor is the pocket at the bottom - that is HUGE in making clean-up easy! The bigger and more, um, stick-outy the pocket, the better!
Boon Cutlery (all soft for when they are first learning)
Gerber Cutlery (with metal, like mom and dad!)
Disposable Placemats (for dining out)
Reusable Placemat (for home or dining out)

Friday, July 16, 2010



 We are Lara and Chris, married on 10/10/08.   We started dating in 2001 after meeting at work, through the prodding of our nosy boss. Our first date was to see Planet of the Apes (the remake), a movie so terrible we have not yet done the romantic thing and re-watched it. We married in a small(ish) ceremony with lots of friends and family and lots of booze and lots of s'mores (!), and honeymooned a year later in Italy. We've traveled quite a bit together, including Seattle (several times), Los Angeles, Austin, Washington, DC, Miami, Hilton Head, Branson, New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas (way too many times), Canada, Italy, Aruba (three times!), and Australia. We're no globe trotters, but we love it. We're also not music fanatics, but we love going to concerts together, and have amassed a ticket stub collection covering everything from Ke$ha (his choice) and Lady Gaga (my choice) to Rob Zombie, Usher, Nine Inch Nails, Dropkick Murphys, and Macklemore. There isn't a genre we haven't heard live. Except maybe polka. He works for a tech giant and is a self-proclaimed computer nerd; I work part-time for a hotel chain in customer service but spend most of my time being a stay-at-home mom. I balance those two with a love of photography, shooting as much as possible in my rare down time (what down time?!?).


We found out we were pregnant with our first child around Christmas of 2009. We were insanely excited. Devastatingly, on April 12, 2010 he was born far too early at 19w3d old and lived for just 20 minutes after my water broke prematurely. We named him Caleb Anthony. You can read more about him here. I never imagined I'd be in the horrific "dead baby" club (as one of my dear friends, also a loss mom, calls it), but here I am.


 On September 30, 2010, I had a transabdominal cerclage placed to treat the incompetent cervix that caused the loss of Caleb. You can read more about this procedure here.


Carys Josephine. Our rainbow. She was born on 7/7/11 - lucky girl! - weighing nine pounds even. Carys was a name we (okay, I) loved from the start (Chris took a bit of convincing). It's a Welsh name coming from the root word "caru", or love. And she embodies love. Josephine is after about a hundred relatives. She has a great-great grandma Josephine, three aunts with "Jo" as the middle name, and a great grandfather whose middle name is Joseph. She's a spunky, free-spirited little girl who makes us happier than we ever could have imagined, who is an absolutely amazing big sister to her little sister Emmeline.  Unless she's in the middle of a tantrum. Then we wonder what the hell we got ourselves into (normal, right?).


Emmeline Marie. Our rainbow-after-our-rainbow. She was born 12/12/13, at 9lbs, 7oz (!) and she's a sweet baby with giant eyes who studies the world with serious, wide eyes.  We are so looking forward to seeing our family grow with her as the newest member and getting to know her.


This is my fourth blog. My first, Anonymous Midwest Girl, was from a time when I used to be funny. Seriously, I look at some of those posts and wonder when I lost my sense of humor. Maybe when I hit 25 and got old.  But I was kind of a big deal for a while there, getting like a whole ten comments per post. Probably the 734,532th most read blog on the internet at the time. The second blog, AMG Goes to Europe, was a spin-off of the regular blog that just contained pictures from my trip to Europe. I started the third blog when I was pregnant the first time - this site would eventually become a sort of memorial to our son, Caleb. This is probably the last blog I'll ever make, and will hopefully will take us from being pregnant with Carys and through family life can continue until blogging isn't a thing anymore. Actually, it probably isn't a thing now. It's probably so uncool and behind the times already. What are kids these days doing?

The riff on carrots (like in the "Letters to Carrots") come from a nurse who, when I said her name was Carys, asked, "You named your daughter CARROTS?"  The blog title, as well as the text behind the blog header, is from a favorite poem: "You are my I love you" by Maryann K Cusimano:

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I am literally writing this just to pin it.

A friend emailed me this recipe and I want to remember it, so I'm writing this blog post so I can pin it.

What has my life become??

(stock image from here)
^^That link has marshmallow frosting...WANT WANT WANT

"An awesome coconut cake recipe. It is the best cake. 

1 box white cake mix
I can coco lopez
I can sweetened condensed  milk
I tub cool whip
2 cups shredded coconut

Bake cake as directed. 13x9 pan preferred. While cake is still warm poke holes all over top, mix coco lopez and milk and pour over warm cake. After is cooks, mix cool whip and 1 1/2 cups coconut and spread over top of the cake. When you're ready to serve toast remaining coconut and spread over the top."

Note to self: What is coco lopez?!?!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disclosure Policy

I'm a mommy blogger. I know that. And a small-fry mommy blogger with a tiny, tiny fraction of readers that others have.

I blog letters to my kids. I blog life stories. I blog little DIY projects. I blog about things that are important to me; things that I'd want to read about if I was reading this blog.  I blog because I love to write.

I don't blog to make money or get free things.

However, I do often link to things that I've enjoyed or that the girls have enjoyed, and I do have several gear lists up on the blog. These posts do contain Amazon Affiliate links. I do not post them BECAUSE they are an affiliate link; rather, I post an affiliate link because I use them. If you buy from an affiliate link, I get a tiny, tiny percentage of the sale. Clicking through and purchasing through an affiliate link does not change your cost of the item. The cost of the item remains the same whether it comes from an affiliate link or whether you found it yourself through Google.

Again, just to be clear: nothing I recommend in any of the gear lists was provided free of charge - these are all my actual recommendations based on actual life. None of the companies listed asked to be included. They probably have NO idea that I even listed them.