A Decemberween Miracle!

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Woah, posting twice in a week?!  IT’S A DECEMBERWEEN MIRACLE!!! Since my last post, I’ve done a lot of reading, talking to family and friends, and thinking about things, and I figured it’s a good idea to update.

Stem Cell Things

So, first thing’s first – stem cell transplants are making a splash in the MS community. CBS published an article discussing the positive effects of stem cell transplants for those of us with MS.

“In a small clinical trial [currently in year 3 of 5], patients experienced long-term disease remission after undergoing a transplant of their own hematopoietic stem cells.” …

“The researchers found that nearly 79 percent of the patients who underwent the procedure sustained full neurologic function for the three years following the treatment and symptoms of their disease did not progress. Additionally, patients in that time period did not develop any new lesions related to their disease.

More than 90 percent of patients did not experience disease progression, while 86 percent did not have any periods of relapse. Though a small number of patients did have side effects from the immunosuppressive drugs, they were no different than the side effects typically experienced by MS patients taking the drugs who haven’t undergone stem cell therapy.”

While I think this new research is awesome, I’m curious about what the control group looked like, and whether they were on a DMD. RRMS is a tricky sonofabitch because it’s different in every patient and we still don’t know what causes relapses!

It did, however make me think pretty hard about the cord blood banking issue, because these folks used their own adult stem cells, which makes me think that banking the cord blood might not really be necessary.

Private umbilical cord blood banking is crazy expensive. Even the least expensive option, ViaCord, is ~$1500 with a recurring fee for storage. At first, I thought, “Wow, we have to do this for our kid’s wellbeing!” …but then I started getting stuff in the mail, a ton of spam email, and pamphlets every time that I went shopping for maternity clothes. More and more, it started looking like it might be a scam.  So, I did the research — and the truth of the matter is that it’s an extremely expensive insurance policy.

“[A]ccording to most experts, the odds that a child will ever use his or her own stored cord blood are small. According to a 2005 editorial in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the chances are about one in 2,700.

Other estimates range widely. Advertising from one private cord blood bank puts the odds at 1 in 27. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests it’s more like 1 in 200,000. Indisputably, there are very few documented cases of a child receiving his or her own banked cord blood as treatment. The Institute of Medicine says that there may only have been as few as 14 total of these procedures ever performed.” —WebMD

So, after a lot of thought, talking with my husband and family, I’ve decided to find out what stem cell bank the University of Chicago Medical Center works with most closely, and to donate the cord blood to them.

If, in the future, the kiddo or I need stem cells, that’s what those public banks are for! I see no reason to hoard potentially life-saving cells when there’s a better chance of winning big on a lottery scratcher than our kid needing those stem cells.

Cloth Diapering MADNESS!!!!

For the last several days, I’ve been learning about cloth diapering. Or, now that I’m in-the-know and part of the cool kids’ club, I suppose I should call it FLUFF.

At first, I was really overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information needed. I naievely thought there were 2 options – disposables and cloth diapers. NOPE. There are disposables… and then there are NINE different types of cloth diapers. NINE!  (flats, prefolds, fitteds, contours, hybrids, pockets, sleeves, all in ones, and all in twos!) I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still feel a little bit overwhelmed with choices.

Truthfully, I’ve had moments over the last couple of days where I’ve thought that it’d be worth it to use disposables if for no other reason than it meant that I wouldn’t have to keep learning about diapers.  But then I realized that thinking that way was not helpful. It was the first time I had to tell myself, “Don’t be a lazy parent.”  It probably won’t be the last.

From everything I’m reading, it looks like these 3 choices are likely the way we’ll go – either prefolds w/ a cover, pocket diapers, or all-in-twos.  I like the snap feature of the all-in-twos, but I’m gonna have to see about the washing routine with each of them before I make up my mind.  And even then, if I make up my mind, there’s no telling whether or not it’ll be the best fit once the baby comes along.

Sure, cloth diapering is more economical in the long run, and it’s better for your kid’s skin and the environment. But let’s be real here… it’s all about fashion. Disposables have nothin’ on these.

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Food-type Things

It’s getting towards the new year, which for most folks means New Year’s Resolutions. What’s the #1 resolution?  GET FIT & LOSE WEIGHT!
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Fortunately for me, being pregnant  means I don’t need to worry about losing weight this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can’t improve my diet. Today, my good friend Annie asked if I wanted to join her for a 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge, and I agreed.  I’ve gotta find a way to get all my veggies in! The kiddo seems to only want me to eat pizza, pickles, and ice cream. Not the healthiest! At least he’s not causing the same cravings that I did to my mother… which would be eating scrambled eggs on top of pizza! Then again, it’s only week 22, starting tomorrow. There’s all sorts of time for crazy cravings! 🙂

I’ve read about women who are able to continue the paleo diet while they’re pregnant, and I have to say, my hat’s off to them! I’ve been surviving on greek yogurt, whole wheat bagels, carrots w/ french onion dip, french fries, cheese bread (pizza), burgers, macaroni & cheese, and ice cream. I can’t seem to get enough dairy. It’s so unusual for me, so I’ll be grateful to get smoothies back into the rotation.

Speaking of food… dinner should be here any minute, so I’m gonna log off for now. Hope you’re all having a good day! ❤

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Wooooooahh! We’re halfway there! Woooaaaahh! Livin on a prayer!

21 Weeks!

Officially, we’ve hit the halfway mark on this pregnancy.  Sure, full term is 39 weeks, but it can also go as far as 42 weeks, so I’m calling this halfway.

Wanna see the newest pic of our little wiggleworm?  Here you go! 🙂

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I love this picture because he already has so much character. He’s sucking his thumb, and has his other arm stretched out behind his head, just chillin’.  I really hope this is a portent of things to come.

Yes, I know that his hand kind of looks like a foot, but I trust the tech when she says that it’s his hand. She took pictures of his feet too. 5 fingers and 5 toes on each limb! His heart and kidneys look good too. I’m so excited that he’s developing well.

Oh yeah, and there’s also this other little thing I haven’t announced… we know he’s a boy! 🙂  I would post the ultrasound picture that confirmed that, but I don’t want to be the mom who posts pictures of her son’s genitalia on the internet before he gets the chance to make that mistake himself.

The “fruit of the week” to show baby size is either a pomegranate or a banana. I find this perplexing, as the two are very different shapes. At least they agree that the average size is 10.5 inches and 12.7 oz.

I found some weekly questions that I thought might be cool to share with everyone.

Total weight gain/loss: None! Not since conception. Doc’s not worried about it, so neither am I.

Maternity clothes? Um, YES. Belly panels are the best. I might not ever go back. I mean, it’s like having built-in SPANX that make your clothes more comfortable. Why don’t all plus-size pants have these?

Stretch marks? Not yet!

Best moment this week: A tie between turning 34 and Adam surprising me with a Snoogle!

Miss anything? DEAR LORD, YES. I was really sick this past week, and I have really missed decongestants.  I also missed wine at Christmas dinner.

Movement: Loads! He seems to like to wiggle the most when I lay down to go to bed or when I wake up first thing in the morning.

Food cravings: pickles

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not really, but I’m still afraid to try turkey again. It made me so violently ill during my first trimester.

Have you started to show yet: Yes and no. Adam can definitely tell, but other folks might not be able to see it. If I’m naked, you can totally see the roundness of my lower belly, and how much my waist has changed — but with clothes, I just look like I did before I lost weight in order to conceive. The plus side of that is not having any new stretch marks, and still fitting in all my t-shirts.

Labor Signs: Had my first Braxton-Hicks contraction on Christmas day. MAN-OH-MAN do they suck.

Belly Button in or out? In

Wedding rings on or off? Off my hand, but on a necklace.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Mostly happy, with scattered showers of irrational, silly crying over things like cartoons or adorable baby clothes.

Looking forward to: having a big, round pregnancy belly

My Most Recent Adventure With Time Travel

Earlier this week, I had my first time travel seizure in months.  I guess I was due for it, since I’d been really sick for about a week.  Sure, MS goes into remission when you’re in your second and third trimesters, but, sadly, that doesn’t preclude pseudoexacerbations.

I thought it was February of 2013 and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my tummy, and why it was hurting. I thought I was having some kind of awful gas. (Of course, I was feeling the baby moving around!) Adam asked, in response to my question about what was wrong with my belly, “What’s our goal for this year?” and I said, “To not want to kill myself?” at which point he realized that he was thinking of 2014…and that I was further behind.

The follow up was him showing me ultrasound pictures and me crying and asking him how on earth I’m going to be a good mom if I can’t stop thinking about suicide. He assured me that I’ve gotten much, much better. After the confusion lifted, I was very relieved to have done all the hard work in therapy and continued with good daily mental health habits.

Amusingly enough, I’m halfway through this pregnancy and am actually smaller in size than I was in 2/2013. I was amazed that I could have life inside of me and be “so much smaller.” I was my heaviest then, weighing in at 30 pounds heavier than I am now.

All the things!

As the big day ekes ever closer, I find myself starting to think about things that previously fell under the heading of “Eh, we’ll worry about it closer to time.”  Things like finding a pediatrician (?!?), making a short list of doulas to interview, budgeting for all of the things, making a baby registry (God bless you, Amazon, for having a universal registry.), planning for a nursery, and creating a guest list for the baby shower.

Baby Shower Guest List
Honestly, I don’t even know how to go about putting together a guest list for the baby shower. Most of my friends and family are scattered all around the country. Is a virtual baby shower a thing? Can I Skype/Google Hangouts/Live Stream the shower? What’s the etiquette on that? But more over, does the etiquette even matter, so long as I’m genuine in who I want to include and grateful for whatever gift they give – whether it’s their presence or their presents? I mean this is me we’re talking about. I’m not exactly known for following convention, and I want to include as many people that I love as possible because celebrations like this are rare and awesome. I just also don’t want people thinking that they’re only invited because I want stuff. That’s not the case at all. Then again, anyone I want to invite probably knows me better than that anyway.

Cord Blood Banking
I’ve also started reading up on things like, “what to pack in your hospital bags for you and baby” and whether or not I want to blow ~$3000 on cord blood banking. I mean, as someone with MS, I definitely see the benefit of having my kid’s stem cells available to him. On the other hand, tons of people opt to donate their kid’s cord blood, making it available to people who need it. It’s a much less expensive option, and seems to me like it would be a mitzvah. There’s no telling whether my baby will ever need his extra stem cells, so spending a bunch of money to hoard them for him seems like it might not be the best use of our money.

Then again, there’s a part of me that wonders if I could use those cells, since stem cell therapy has been proving very helpful in the fight against MS. That part of me feels, oddly, like I’m somehow being selfish even thinking that it might be an option. But then again, I’ve grown those cells. That umbilical cord is as much mine as it is his. *shrug* I can’t even begin to understand myself on this topic. I’m hoping my husband and parents will have some helpful thoughts.

The Great House Hunt
And then there’s the whole “finding a house” thing.  Adam is still hopeful that we’ll find the right house for us before the baby is born. I am much, much less hopeful. In fact, I would say that I’m sort of against the idea of moving at this point. My parents are going to be in town for the first month that the kid’s around and they’ll be staying less than 20 minutes from where we are currently residing. The idea of moving is just too stressful and complicated for me right now.  Right now, I just want to figure out how to keep this apartment clean on a regular basis and somehow fit all the baby things in here.  My best guess is that we’re going to need to either get a storage unit for all the already-packed boxes we have, or unpack and sell a ton of stuff that we clearly don’t need (since it’s been sitting in boxes for months).

Clean, Clean, Clean
The need to nest is real. Every day, I wake up and think about all the cleaning and organizing I want to do and then am thwarted by my body’s limitations. At least I’m regularly getting the dishes put away and the laundry done, folded, and mostly put away. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating to bend over and pick stuff up. I am sure it’ll only get worse as the baby gets bigger. Maybe there are some ab exercises I can do to make that better.

Too Hot For My Own Good.
Also, I’m surprised that TV and movies don’t make more fun of how disgustingly sweaty you get during pregnancy. I swear that it’s comical. I’m deeply in love with the Kool Max® Deluxe Cooling Neck Tie that I was gifted by Polar Products. It’s currently 70 degrees in my apartment, I’m in barely any clothes, and I’ve got it on because I can’t stop sweating. Adam, on the other hand, is enjoying his sweatshirt.

Usually, I try to find some kind of witty way to end a blog post, but I’ll be honest with you: today, I’ve got nothin.  Hope you and yours are doing well and that you had happy holidays and are headed for a very happy new year!

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3 Important Things I Want My Child To Do

Earlier today, I read an article that inspired me. A father-to-be wrote out 14 things that he wants his future child(ren) to know… things that he doesn’t embody right now, but that he’ll probably strive to embody as his child grows.

I’m not so arrogant as to say that I feel prepared to be a mother.  I honestly don’t know anyone who isn’t either totally narcissistic or uniformed about the complexities of parenthood that can say they feel totally ready. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s possible to be ready.  But that’s the first thing I want my kid to know.

Try new things, especially if they scare you.

As a kid, this is gonna be easy because everything’s new. You don’t really have a say in the matter. You’re going to be presented with challenges over and over again. It’s part of growing up. But… as you get older, you’ll notice there are some things that you’re great at and other things that make you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t yet proficient. You’ll get comfortable with the idea of who you are and what you can do. That’s when you need to try something out of your comfort zone.themagic

The scary things — the things you see other people doing that make you think, “WOW, they are awesome!” Those are the things I want you to do, especially if you are afraid that you will fail or that people will laugh at you. Neither of those things are a good reason to stop yourself from growing.

When you think about doing those things, part of you will be excited and giddy… but there will also be a tiny, cowardly voice inside you saying, “Are you sure you can do that?” or “They’re so much cooler than you. There’s no way you can do that.” I want you to respond to that voice in a loud and powerful thunder inside. Respond to that voice by saying, “WATCH ME KICK SOME ASS.”  And then do whatever needs to be done. Don’t shy away from the hard work. It’s the most important work you can do.
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Embrace the suck.

I’m gonna bet that well before you’re an inevitably foul-mouthed teenager, you will have already heard the following phrases so many times that they seem reasonable to you. I say this, not because your father and I will say them frequently, but because they’re pervasive in pop culture, and real people say and think things like this all the time.

“Life sucks.” … “Work sucks.” … “I suck.” … “The Bears suck.” (Okay, that last one might be true.)

First, I apologize for cussing through your whole childhood. I’d like to pretend that becoming pregnant with you magically improved my vocabulary, but it didn’t.

Secondly, I’m gonna let you in on a secret that most people in our day and age have forgotten: Life is supposed to be hard. It’s a feature, not a bug! Sure, there will be times that are awesome and fun and happy and easy. It is my greatest hope that those times are a much bigger part of your life than the others… but you can’t have the good without the bad.

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I know, for a fact, there are going to be moments in your life that just, well, suck. You’re going to face loss. You’re going to face failure. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’ll lose hope. We all do, from time to time.

But, if your dad and I do our jobs well, you’re going to become resilient. You will know that nothing lasts forever – not sadness or happiness. You’re going to understand failure as a step towards success.  You’re going to accept loss as a natural progression that comes from having people and things in your life that you truly value, and you’re going to appreciate people and things while they’re around as best as you can. You’re going to learn that your heart is stronger and bigger than it ever feels like it is at any given moment. You will learn that time heals most pain, and that hope and happiness are things that you choose.

 

There are gonna be times when you’re building skill at something and you’ll get frustrated and think to yourself, “I suck at this!”  That’s a good thing, really! It means you have good taste, and that you should keep working.

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I can’t tell you the number of times I heard classmates at Berklee College of Music say that they sucked at their instruments. It was almost mandatory to believe that you weren’t good enough. Heck, it might as well have been an entry requirement. Truthfully, nobody who attends that school sucks at their instrument. They all are just humble and know how much better they could be. Everybody there was working hard to get better every day. I would go so far as to say at least half the folks at my college were perfectionists, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  There are folks out there who say that “perfect” is the enemy of “good”… but really, the enemy of good is quitting.  This is as true for honing your skill in any art form as it is for gaining skill and technique with bodybuilding, gardening, carpentry, or any other pursuit in life.

KMBA-Ira Glass Quote

There are also folks out there who will tell you to follow your dreams. I’m one of them!  But in all the dreamy talk, people often forget that the actual act of doing what you love is still damn hard work. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, honestly. The way you’ll know that you’re on the right path is that you will not hate the hard work or yourself for doing it. Sure, it’ll still suck. Work almost always sucks. That’s why it’s called work and not “fun.”  But if you’re doing the right kind of work, you won’t mind it so much. You’ll think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m doing this and not [insert something you truly hate here].”

One of my friends in college had a gross saying that used to make me laugh pretty hard, but it’s dead on in this regard. He would say, “Being happy is all about deciding the right flavor of shit sandwich to chow down on.”

So, embrace “the suck” in all of its forms. Doing so will make your life so much more enjoyable. Resistance to pain only makes it subsist.

Love Yourself.

For some people, this is one of the hardest lessons they will ever learn in life, if they ever learn it.  The world is full of folks who exist in a state of sadness that comes from years of untreated trauma. They have low self-esteem. They believe they somehow deserved whatever bad treatment they’ve endured. They don’t believe they deserve good things. They don’t feel like they deserve unconditional love. I know this person.  I’ve been this person, and I healed because of your father (and our family)’s unwavering and unconditional love and patience, and a lot of work with several good psychologists. It took years for me to be able to say that I love myself without feeling guilty or like a fraud.  I will do everything in my power to make sure you never have that same challenge.

I want to assure you, right now, that you are unquestionably loveable.  I can say this without hesitation because I already love you like crazy, and you’re not even born yet. Heck, you were created from love. I thought this world needed more of your father in it… and he thought the same thing about me.  If you ever find yourself wondering, “Why did my parents have me?” the answer is very simple. We loved the idea of you before you were part of our world. We wanted to hug you and love you and teach you and watch you grow. We wanted to leave a legacy of goodness and love, and the best way we could think to do that was through you.  And that goes for any siblings you might have later too.

So please, treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat anyone else. Be kind to yourself. If you ever find yourself beating yourself up over anything at all, ask yourself, “What would Mom say to me?” I promise, I’d say something nice. 🙂

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Advertisements, magazines, and many TV shows exist to make you believe that you’re not enough exactly the way you are. Companies, in an effort to sell you things, will tell you that you need to be thinner, faster, sexier, richer. Don’t believe any of it. You are the only one of you that has ever existed or will ever exist. Your existence is unique event in the history of the universe.

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Right now, you are the size of a sweet potato… and I know there are many more important things that I want to teach you.  Those lessons will have to wait for another day because I desperately need a nap.

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