Monthly Archives: May 2013

15 Tips by Trimester for First-time Pregnant Moms

The countdown is on – the final days are here! I’ve nested, prepped, packed, organized, re-organized, and been thinking and reflecting a lot. Over the last 40 weeks (and even some time before that) I received a lot of advice about being pregnant – some good, some terrible – but thought I would pay forward some of the most useful tidbits. So, here goes!

15 Tips for first-time pregnant moms

First Trimester

1. Find the right care provider for you.  Just because you’ve been going to the same OB for the last 10 years doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you and your baby. For us, we found great midwives and a hypnobirthing coach. They have made this whole experience 10,000 times better than I ever could have imagined. So, explore your options… and don’t feel guilty about it!

2. Don’t read pregnancy books (or internet discussion boards) that cause you anxiety. Sorry, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but you are kind of scary. And Google? You are way too quick to lead me to believe that there is something majorly wrong with the little cramp I just felt “down there.” There is such a thing as too much information, and it’s really hard to avoid but… try to stay away. If you really think something is wrong, call your care provider before trying to self-diagnose.

3. Buy a nightlight for your bathroom. During the first and third trimesters I’ve spent more time peeing in the middle of the night than I can count; the overhead light in the bathroom was too jarring and I found it hard enough to navigate my way there without stepping on the dog, any of his toys, or walking into the wall half asleep. That little beacon of light coming from the bathroom has saved me many times… best five dollars I’ve spent!

4. Go easy on the maternity clothes. I mean, maternity pants are kind of amazing and I never want to wear anything with a normal waistband again but… save some money this trimester. Pick up very few essentials that you really need (for me, it was a pair of black maternity slacks and a new bra) and wear the hell out of them until you have a better idea of how your body is changing as you go.

5. Find your support system. Find family, friends, a new mom group, La Leche League, whatever works for you! Make a point to stay engaged, ask questions, and meet new moms. Having the support as you go through pregnancy and beyond is invaluable. As one of the midwives at the birthing center said, “When you grow babies together, you form lifelong friendships.” Truth!

Second Trimester

6. Go away – no, really! Whatever it is that will help you relax – time away with your partner, your friends, or just you… make a point to get away and enjoy it.

7. Cross major items off your to-do list. Get the nursery set, finish projects around the house, and tie up loose ends before third trimester exhaustion creeps up.

8. Take a childbirth class and learn about your rights as a patient and parent. The more you know, the better off you and your baby are during birthing and beyond. Decide what type of birth experience you want to have, learn everything you can about the procedures in place where you’re birthing (from what you can do during labor, what tools do they have available to help you, to what their procedures are for the baby after birth including tests, vaccines, etc.) and then decide if it’s a good fit for your family.

9. Sleep a lot (and write down your crazy dreams). Sleeping was one of my favorite parts of the second trimester – for me, I was still sleeping comfortably and wasn’t peeing as often as I was during the first or third trimester. And those crazy pregnancy dreams? Write them down and share them with people (if they aren’t too weird) because they are hilarious.

10. Back to those maternity clothes. It’s probably time to expand your wardrobe – see what you can borrow from friends or find second-hand; save your money to buy a really cute outfit for your shower or maternity photo shoot if you’re doing one. Other than the hand-me-downs I received, my go-to shopping spots for a few necessities (which I’ve worn to death) included the clearance racks at Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s.

Third trimester:

11. Everything is harder on your body so celebrate the small victories – and ask for help. Honestly, I didn’t even feel that pregnant (other than my bout with morning sickness) until I hit the third trimester. All of a sudden everything was harder and I needed help with things… I hate asking for help. My low point came at the end of a long day at work when I found that I could not comfortably reach down to unclasp my sandals; I decided my small victory for the day was getting them on in the first place, and then sucked it up and asked my husband to reverse-Cinderella the shoes off my feet. 

12. Savor the time your baby is in your belly… it’s almost over! I have felt nothing but amazement every time I feel the baby move (OK, and a little bit of discomfort during those kicks and punches to the cervix) or wake up and see that my belly has grown. It’s just SO cool! As excited as I am to meet the little guy or girl, I’m a bit sad that pregnancy is almost over. Baby is safe and always with you when they’re in your belly. It’s a special time – so take every opportunity you can to soak it in.

13. Put a waterproof pad underneath your fitted sheet. Your body will continue to do things that are out of your control, and you will appreciate the waterproof pad saving your bedding if your boobs leak/you pee yourself/your water breaks at night/etc. at any given point in time from here on out. After baby comes, use it for any and all of the inevitable messes you’ll be dealing with. 

14. Stock up! It’s helped me mentally prepare for a big change knowing that I have easy-to-eat-with-one-hand meals in the freezer, ready to go, and that I’ve stocked the house with necessities and recommendations from friends like:

  • Post-birth goodies: chux pads, maxi pads (yes, like the ones you used in middle school), mesh underwear (the least sexy underwear you’ll ever put on, or so I hear), Preparation-H wipes (in case that happens, again)
  • Baby essentials: diapers, wipes, shampoo, gentle laundry detergent, clothes
  • Kitchen goods: paper towels, dish soap, napkins, dried & canned goods
  • Bathroom supplies: toilet paper, shampoo, soap
  • Other important stuff: bottles of wine, cheese, updated netflix queue for middle-of-the-night feedings

15. Make a wishlist – plenty of people (family and friends, near and far) will ask what they can help with. Be ready with an answer (or two). Don’t be afraid to take someone up on their offer of walking the dog, throwing in a load of laundry, or even picking up a few things for you at the store. People want to help, but sometimes don’t know what to do so… help them help you and be ready with that wishlist!

If nothing else… enjoy every minute of your pregnancy – the easy days and the hard ones. This is just the beginning of a fantastic journey so keep a journal, take pictures, and savor it.

What did I miss? I know there’s more great advice out there from moms and mom-to-bes! Leave your advice in the comments!

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Never-ending piles of … things.

As soon as we learned we were having a baby, I knew it was time to get rid of the crap that had accumulated in the soon-to-be nursery. Unfortunately, most of it belonged to me so I couldn’t even avoid the responsibility. Books, clothes, boxes of miscellaneous stuff… ugh.

Around the same time, I read this piece in the NYT, “Living With Less. A Lot Less,” and it really struck a chord with me. Graham Hill started out with a lot – a lot of money, a lot of things, a lot of excess but today finds himself living with everything on a smaller scale by choice – from the square footage of his home to the number of dishes in his cabinets to the amount of books he owns.  I also came across a piece about the prized possessions of immigrants who could not bear to leave something behind when they came to America – read and see more about it here. It made me wonder – what would I take with me, if I was leaving? Other than family and pets… I realized I have very few material possessions that I wouldn’t want to live without. Keeping that in the back of my mind while I cleaned out the house made getting rid of things that much easier.

So, what started out as a “clean out the nursery” project became a “clean out the entire house” project. Hellooo nesting – let the purging begin!

So much crap… 

I realized I had been carrying a lot of crap with me everywhere. I wondered if now, in my late 20s, I really needed to continue bringing it all with me. The answer was no. I started with boxes from high school and college – kept a few things, but got rid of a lot. Essays and papers from that undergrad history class that I absolutely hated? GOODBYE. A random collection of parking passes and other things that would never be any good again? Gone, gone, gone. The trash bags in the picture were just a sliver of what I tossed, recycled, or donated.

In the middle of cleaning...

In the middle of cleaning… it was a little precarious to walk in there.

Once I tackled the a life’s history worth of stuff, I began reaching my purging tentacles into other areas of the house. Nothing was safe – much to my husband’s frustration, as there were a few times when I threw out relocated things he might have been keeping for a reason. (Sorry, hon!) By the time I finished up, I had overhauled every cabinet, closet, nook, and cranny. I became a regular at The Container Store which is conveniently located right next to my office  (no seriously, it’s right next door) and I spent a small fortune on storage containers and organizing accoutrements. For the record, these are awesome. 

One of the biggest challenges was the kitchen. I tackled it not once, not twice, but three times from top to bottom. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen/dining room area, so naturally it has a tendency to accumulate things in a way no other room in the house does. Plus, we seriously had enough kitchenware to stock at least two and a half kitchens. Luckily, my sister-in-law was able to use some of it and what she didn’t need went to Goodwill. I cleaned out cabinets, purged expired goods, and I even went as far as writing the names of the spices on the LIDS of each jar to take the guesswork out of finding the right spice. (I then snapped a picture of it on my cell phone so that I could see what we had… and will refer to it the next time I’m at the store thinking it’s a good idea to get another container of garlic salt. Seriously, no one needs that much garlic salt.)

A winter project 

After I had attacked everything I could control, I turned my attention to a very neglected part of the house – the “entertainment center” corner. This needed more help that I could give it on my own… it needed help from someone who was good at building things… like my husband! We had two windows to nowhere, aka directly into our neighbor’s home. They didn’t want to see us lounging around, and vice versa, which meant that we rarely opened the curtains. On top of the view (or lack thereof), we needed to replace the windows themselves. The “entertainment center” was a folding bookshelf with all sorts of electronics piled on top of one another, and the other corner was a black hole for things that had no other place to go – like my free weights and exercise ball. The whole set up made me kind of crazy.

The windows to nowhere... before. Also note the precariously perched entertainment center... not so kid-friendly!

The windows to nowhere… before. Also note the precariously perched entertainment center… not so kid-friendly!

And then… I found some pinspiration – we needed built-in shelving there instead! Why spend the money replacing the windows, when we could make that entire wall super functional? I gently suggested this to my husband and planted the seed of the idea. After all, he had been saying he wanted to put up new sheet rock and rewire the living room as it was the only room in the house he hadn’t renovated when he bought it…

To my joy, renovating the living room turned into the winter 2012-2013 house project. It was win-win – I would get my shelves and he would be able to make the updates he wanted (and in the process, install speakers into the ceiling and other stuff that guys love). The only stipulation he gave me was that I was not allowed to complain about the dust. I took a deep breath and agreed (plus, given that I was ripping apart the rest of the house… I was really in no position to criticize anyone else’s dust). With my husband at the helm, and the help of friends and my father’s painting skills, they wrapped up the entire project pretty quickly AND it looked great.

During demo...

During demo…

Shelving built and installed!

Sheet rock up, shelving units built and installed!

After!

After! I’ve been having fun obsessively rearranging everything on the shelves.

Books… the final frontier

So, that covers pretty much all corners of our house except for… my books. My beloved books! Over the years I had accumulated a lot of books (mostly when I went through my “I should own this book because I’m an English major phase”). Don’t get me wrong – I love them! – but they are heavy, they take up space, and they are a bitch to dust. Also, I had somehow convinced myself that I would have enough time to re-read ALL of them again and again. As it turns out, I barely have enough time now to read a new book, let alone one I’ve already read before.

I accepted the fact that by the time I have enough down time to read all of them again (read: during retirement), most of the paperbacks I have been obsessively alphabetizing for fun would likely be disintegrated and falling apart. After some difficult decisions, I kept my absolute favorites, but I was really happy to give the rest of them a second life at the book exchange in town.

So… now what? 

It only took me three years after moving in, plus a baby on the way, to light a fire under my ass to organize everything from the last ten years of my life. One recent weekend morning, after vacuuming up enough dog fur to make three sweaters, I took a moment to look around and felt pretty proud of all of the work that had gone into everything.

I also made sure to take a mental picture of what would likely be the last time the house felt so clean, organized, and completely under control…  because just a couple of days later we started the next project: setting up the nursery. Stay tuned for more… because that adventure deserves its own post!

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