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English: Black Bear mother and cubs in den,, h...

Black Bear mother and cubs in den (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary this weekend. We kept it low key and went out to dinner with all three kids and had a great time. But the best part of the day? When our brand new king-sized bed was delivered. I had been begging for a king for years because my older sister (and mother of four) told me the best piece of baby equipment she and her husband owned was a king-sized bed. But my husband kept saying our room was too small (he did have a point), we’d have to buy all new sheets in king-size (another good point), and he didn’t think we should spend the money (and there I heartily disagreed).

Since none of our kids have been great sleepers (read my blog “When Will My Babies Sleep Through the Night? Maybe Never,”) we ended up co-sleeping by default. I liked the idea of co-sleeping anyway, I mean, baby bears don’t sleep in a nearby den do they? And yet, I was nervous about rolling over on a newborn or having a baby fall out of the bed. In the end, it was our babies themselves who made the choice. They woke so often to nurse or for a snuggle that it just didn’t make sense for us not to sleep together. It was the only way any of us got any sleep (and sleep is very good thing).

Having a queen-sized bed and one newborn was not a problem. Even when Kate was born and Lauren was two and a half, it was still ok. Lauren loved her crib. We didn’t rush her into a big girl bed because Kate was sleeping in bed with us or in the bassinet in our room and if Lauren was happy in the crib and staying in it all night, who was I to mess with that?

When Cooper was born however, things changed. Never have I had a child so physically and emotionally attached to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful having my little Mama’s Boy but it’s new to me. Both of our girls are very independent. Cooper, much less so. At three and a half he’s happy to go to school but as an infant and young toddler, it was Only Mama or Big-Time Drama. This holds true today if he is hurt or tired or waking up in the middle of the night. I don’t think that there has been a single night since Cooper was born that he hasn’t ended up in bed with us. Have I attempted to get him back to his own bed? Sure. Yes. Did I give up rather quickly since we have a small house and Cooper screams really loudly? Yes. Yes. Yes. Call me “one of those mothers who doesn’t follow through” or “a parent who allows bad behavior,” if you must. But I’d much prefer to be called an exhausted mother of three who just wants everyone in the family to get some sleep: my husband who needs to get up to go to the office, the girls who have to get up to go to school, and bleary-eyed, coffee-siphoning, yoga-pants wearing me. Oh, and Cooper, our littlest family member who won’t be doing this forever.

The image of our sleeping baby boy, feeling safe and secure, nestled between his two parents is a nice one. The reality however, is often more like this: a large, sweaty, toddler sleeping horizontally between us (is it better to have the drooling end or the kicking end?)….or a large sweaty toddler donkey-kicking the covers off of his two shivering parents…or a large sweaty toddler attached to his mother like an adorable, sleep-sucking parasite while she clings to the edge of the bed in unnatural positions, trying to fill every millimeter of space she can find despite the LOVE that is both pushing her both off the edge of the bed and off the cliff of sanity, into the dark waters of sleep-deprivation below.

Last night was our first in our new, gloriously roomy, gigantic bed. We went to bed alone but we woke up both Kate and Cooper in the bed and the dog. So did we need this bed? Was it worth the money?? Yes, yes, and yes! And guess what? Now my husband can’t believe we waited this long.

Do you have plenty of room to get your Zzzzzzzzs or are you cramped with cuddlers?

positive pregnancy test

positive pregnancy test (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was beyond excited to get pregnant after my husband and I were married. I remember that agonizing two week wait after ovulation, but before the start of my period in which miraculous changes may or may not have been taking place inside my body. Was there a little zygote free-floating down my fallopian tubes? And if so, would it successfully burrow it’s way into my uterine lining? Could I possibly wait to see if my period was late or would I buy one of the many early home pregnancy tests on the market?

Early home pregnancy tests look for the smallest traceable amounts of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone (cCG). Some pregnancy tests say that the earliest you can get accurate results is the day after a missed period. Several early home pregnancy tests claim you can get a positive result up to five days sooner–before you’ve even missed your period.

The obvious benefit of early home pregnancy tests are that you will know much sooner if you are pregnant–MUCH being a relative term of course. For some, four or five days might not seem too long to wait–to others, myself included, each day feels like a century or two.

There also some things about using early home pregnancy tests that aren’t ideal. For instance, the earlier you test, the less accurate the results. You are much more likely to get a false negative than a false positive. So if you test five days before you expect your period and get a negative, will you wonder if you just tested too early? If so, you’ll be spending more money to buy another test and you won’t even have quieted your racing mind.

Another thing that isn’t great about early home pregnancy tests is that they can detect pregnancies that may not last. There are times when a fertilized might implant for a day or two and then the pregnancy might terminate naturally. A woman who hasn’t taken a pregnancy test will assume she has gotten her period while a woman who has taken an early pregnancy test will know she has had a very early miscarriage. I know my doctor told me that he isn’t a big fan of early testing for this reason–every day that goes by increases the chances that the pregnancy will be viable.

I remember getting a positive pregnancy test with my second pregnancy at day 22 of my cycle, which probably meant I ovulated very early that month. I even took the test in the middle of the afternoon–I couldn’t even wait until the following day to use first morning urine which is the most concentrated. Talk about impatient. So, while I well know the cons of testing too early, have I ever been able to follow that advice? No Ma’am!

Did you test early or were you patient enough to wait until you were “late”?

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A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of Labor Day, the day when we as a nation, honor all of our working people, I decided I would write a post in honor of a different type of Labor. This is in honor of the hard work women do after going into labor and pushing one (or more!) living beings out of an orifice that was made far too small to comfortably do the job.

I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I was bubbling with excitement even as I heaved Cheerios and milk mixed with coffee into the toilet every morning. Was it the beads of sweat that formed on my forehead as I tried not to vomit every time I brushed my teeth or tried to eat something that gave me that pregnancy glow? Maybe. But I really was glowing on the inside.

However, when the morning sickness finally passed and my waistline was no longer prone to curious glances of friends and acquaintances who were too polite to ask if I was pregnant, just in case I had actually been binge eating Twinkies, and I began to have the perfectly round beginnings of a baby bump, I realized the tenant in my uterus was getting bigger by the day and that this tenant was going to be inevitably evicted by my body, one way or another. It was an odd moment of realization since I had “known” this fact long before I became pregnant. It just hadn’t hit me on a gut level until that point. I was scared. Luckily, the impending arrival of our bundle of joy and all of the amazing dreams I had about meeting our daughter for the first time, kept my mind occupied more than the two options I had to actually get her out.

I, like many first time mothers, worried about how I would know I was going into labor. But here’s the funny part…I didn’t really know. I remember hearing in our birthing class  “you’ll know,” because once the contractions start coming there is no mistaking them for Braxton Hicks. But of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

The day before Lauren was born, I had horrible lower back pain all day and some irregular contractions–that is, they were not coming at regular intervals all the time–sometimes they would be neatly spaced five minutes apart and I’d think, ok, this is the real thing! But then they’d stop, only to start up a little later and be eight minutes apart, then three, then five. Sometimes they were painful and I had to breathe through them and sometimes they weren’t as bad. I remember calling my boss and telling her I thought I was in labor and that I wouldn’t be coming in to work the next day. She laughed because it was still two weeks before my official due date. We went to the hospital about an hour later.

When we arrived at the hospital, I remember being annoyed at the nurses because I didn’t feel like they were taking me seriously. They seemed to think I wasn’t really in labor but I insisted that I was. When they finally put the belt on that measures the strength of my contractions, they seemed to think things were too irregular for this “to be the real thing,” and I remember them telling me I could stay a while longer but that I would probably sent home on account of the false alarm. I was peeved. I sat in a hospital bed with a belt around my stomach, extremely uncomfortable because I was in a lot of pain and worse, they seemed to think I was being an over-reactive drama queen. Then about forty-five minutes later, my water broke. I was triumphant. Even the increasingly agonizing pain of the contractions couldn’t stop me from gloating for a bit. HA! So there! I TOLD YOU I WAS I WAS IN LABOR. And then, the anesthatizing jubilation of being right wore off and I was just another woman having intense, painful and yes, REAL, contractions.

I’ll skip the epidural, the three and a half fruitless hours of trying to push my daughter out of my android (read “man-like”) pelvic opening, the emergency c-section I had after her heart rate started to drop from the stress of being stuck for over three hours at the top of a birth canal that was apparently a one-way street, and get right to the moment I came to my senses and looked at a nurse washing her hair and said “Is that our baby?” And it was! Sure, I hadn’t heard her first cry because I was knocked out cold for the c-section because there wasn’t time to re-do my patchy epidural, but there she was–perfect and pink and healthy. Not quite what I had expected but a process ,which I to this day, believe is deserving of a National Holiday.

**During my c-section, it was discovered that Lauren was sunny-side up, or face up, so I had been having back labor which is different than labor women experience with babies presenting face down. Apparently, this is typical for women with android-shaped pelvises.

Do you remember the day you went into labor with your first bundle of joy? Or if you are expecting your first, how are you preparing for the day your baby will make his or her grand entrance out of your body and into the world?

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