Wednesday, April 20, 2011

House and Baby

I'll post pictures eventually, but not only did we find a house but we're all moved in! It's a cute little brick thing only a few miles from our old apartment and there wasn't anything that needed desperate repair besides the fuse box. Yes, that's how old it was, it was an actual fuse box. We had an electrician completely take it out and install a nice, big breaker box and that was the only thing that needed to happen. Dan did paint the walls in the two bedrooms and the living room. We also had brand new carpet installed because I suspect the previous carpet was older than we are. It was a lovely shade of orange (Dan called it "skinned Garfield") in the spots that weren't worn down (like where the previous owner's couch had been) and was coming up at the edges of the room. Now that the paint and carpet are done, we'll be unpacking and getting ready for the baby :)

I'm now in the middle of my 35th week. In two weeks, the baby will officially be considered "full term" but we still want him to stay in as long as he can. Sleeping more than 4 hours straight is pretty much impossible. I've definitely had Braxton Hicks Contractions for the last several weeks now, and I suspect that the baby has either dropped or is in the process of dropping. I've felt heavier and it's harder to walk because it's getting painful in the hip/pelvic area. I also had two separate people yesterday asked me if the baby dropped because it looked like I was carrying lower than usual. My next appointment is next week and I think that I start going every week after that. I do know for sure that they will be checking to see if I've dilated at all next week, which I'm kind of excited about but I have a feeling it will be annoying having it done every week.

We found out almost a month ago, that enrollment at the school where I work was down. They set a deadline to receive enrollments by and if it wasn't met then the school couldn't open in the fall. The number needed wasn't met, not even close. I had been undecided about going back because of the baby anyway, so that decision was made for me, but I empathize with the other teachers and students who have to uproot and move. I still have my part-time contracting job, so no matter what happens, I'll have that in the fall. We're hoping that Dan will be able to get a good full-time job (with or without benefits, we can get our own if necessary) so that I won't have to work unless it's just on his days off for extra cash.

And that's where we are right now. Today is the start of Easter Break at school, I don't have to go back until Tuesday, so it's a 5-day weekend XD I'll be spending the break unpacking and organizing as much as I can. I won't get much of a break and I didn't have one three weeks ago during Spring Break because that was when we moved into the house and that took all week. At least I'll be able to sleep in.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Baby Update :)

As I write this, I am nearly at the end of my 27th week (the picture above was taken last week). Depending on what charts you look at, I'm either at the very, very end of my 2nd trimester or just finished the first week of my 3rd. Apparently this transition is open to interpretation. Judging by the fact that I'm getting slight bouts of nausea back again, I'm saying that I've hit the 3rd. All my symptoms (with the exception of the exhaustion) switched off as soon as I hit my 2nd trimester, so why wouldn't they switch back on when I hit my 3rd? Nausea is supposed to come back and the exhaustion doesn't get better, it gets worse as I get bigger and attempt to find comfortable positions to sleep in. Technically I'm not really supposed to be sleeping on my back anymore, which just leaves either side. Turning over is a challenge, my stomach muscles are shot and basically no good for anything besides holding the baby up, so I end up having to swing my hips around. I didn't realize how much I used my stomach muscles for until I couldn't really use them at all.

My belly at 25 weeks. Crazy amount of stretch marks or "Flames of Creation" as one of my books calls them.

At 22 weeks, the baby was measuring around 1.5 pounds, which means he's well over 2 now. Since our 19 week ultrasound, he has been measuring big, the last ultrasound he was measuring 4 weeks ahead of where he actually is! I'm not sure how that is going to translate into how big he will end up being, I really hope it doesn't mean that he ends up coming early! I'm only taking the week before my due date off work, I really don't want to go into labor two weeks early and not only explain to the kids why I'm leaving in the middle of class, but also drive all that distance to the hospital!

My favorite ultrasound yet. Done at 22 weeks, he has his hands and feet up by his face!

This coming week I will be going in for my glucose test, where they find out if I've developed gestational diabetes. It's also a regular checkup and my doctor is out of town so I'll be meeting one of the other OBs in the practice which is fine. I have to go in a few minutes early so they can give me this sugary drink, then I do my checkup, then sit around for an hour and wait to see how my body handles the sugar rush. It's no big deal, but they have to draw my blood in order to do it which means that I have to go during normal hours while the phlebotomist is there and that means time off from work. Normally, I'd just take a sick day and be done with it, but it's report card time and we've already had one snow day mess with the exam schedule and we don't want it to have affected the report card and grading schedule as well. So depending on how quickly the appointment goes, I'll be heading back to school to work on report cards. After that appointment, I'll be going in every two weeks for checkups until the baby's born. I don't know if I'll be getting anymore ultrasounds or not, I want to see the baby but then I don't want to pay the bill, so either way I'm happy ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pregnancy on a Budget

Maternity clothes are expensive when they're brand new, there's no way around that. I have managed to find a way around some full-priced things and save myself some money.


1) Bras - If you're like me and had to buy new ones almost every month, don't even look at the maternity or nursing bras, head straight to the sale rack at Target or Wal Mart. I got several bras for $5-$7 each in varying sizes so that I'll have room to "grow" ;) Also, I was well-endowed to begin with, so going larger meant sacrificing the pretty bras, they simply don't make them after a certain point. The other thing I found is that bras with little-to-no padding will last me longer and be more comfortable. My problem is that it's winter time and I don't need to broadcast to my whole school that I'm chilly. Solution: I took the small pads out of my bathing suit top (since I won't be using it until summer anyway) and use them with my current bra as I need them. I imagine nursing pads may do the same thing though I don't own any of those yet. I did score a nursing bra from the sale rack and it's been my sleeping bra, I like having it so I know what to expect when I actually have to start wearing them all the time.

2) Sleepwear - I do not own a single piece of maternity sleepwear. The idea is kind of ridiculous to me. I generally sleep in big shirts and comfy lounge pants and at 23 weeks (or 6 months) pregnant, I'm still doing that very comfortably. As long as your shirts are a size or two bigger than what you normally wear and your pants have an elastic waist, you'll be fine. I've seen some big sleep-shirt-nightgown things (that are non-maternity) and those probably work just as well too. I will also resort to stealing my husbands clothes if it comes down to that, though he's offered his clothes to me several times already. If you don't have a husband/boyfriend, typically men's clothes can be cheaper than women's clothes anyway. Again, check Target or Wal Mart.

3) Underwear - Now there could be a very good reason for maternity underwear, I don't have any so I can't really say one way or the other. I can tell you that at 23 weeks, I have not felt so completely uncomfortable in regular underwear that I've been tempted into heading to Motherhood and buying maternity underwear. I generally wear the "bikini" cut or "hip-huggers" and so far those have been perfectly fine. The only pairs that I haven't been 100% comfortable in were the pairs that were a bit on the small side anyway, but that's just an excuse to remember to throw out old underwear.

4) Pants - My first trimester was interesting. I couldn't tell if I started showing early or was just self-conscious about my stomach. Either way, I definitely wasn't fitting into my pre-pregnancy pants anymore. I went and bought a BeBand from Target for $17 and it was one of the best investments I've made during this pregnancy. There are other brands out there (BellaBand is a popular one but more expensive) for around the same price, Target's is on the lower side of the spectrum. What these elastic bands let you do is wear your pre-pregnancy pants unbuttoned and the band will flatten the button/button-hole against your body and keep your pants up all at the same time. Dress pants (my dress code at work) are expensive regardless of whether they're maternity or not, so I expanded my options to include how I could keep wearing the pants I already had since I had only slightly out-grown them. That was where the BeBand came into play. I wore that up to around 19 weeks which coincided with Christmas break, when I got maternity dress pants for Christmas, and have currently retired my BeBand since I have several pairs of maternity pants that actually fit now.

5) Thrift/Consignment Stores/Sale Racks - These should be your first stop when shopping for clothes. Our thrift store only has a teeny maternity section, but my mom managed to find me 3 pairs of pants (all that fit!) and a couple of shirts for much less than even Motherhood's sale rack. Consignment shops are more for kids stuff, but it's good to scope those out ahead of time so that when you do need to start buying clothes you already know where they are in your area. Sale racks are probably my favorite place in any store, maternity or otherwise. Old Navy has a tiny maternity section behind their kids section and when their stuff goes on sale, it's a good sale. I got an awesome pair of jeans from them for $15 (normal price is $30) and they're not "mom jeans", from the waist down, they look just like my pre-pregnancy jeans. I can continue wearing my style of jeans and be just as comfortable for half the price. I also recommend picking up a couple of tank tops when they're on sale. I use mine for sleeping or as an undershirt (one of the maternity shirts I was given is really low cut, but looks cute with a tank under it) and will definitely be picking up more when I see them on sale.

Non-Clothing-Related Savings:

6) Nursery Decorations - The reasons I know about maternity on a budget is because, well, mine's not huge. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all those cute nursery sets where everything matches including the rug, but for us they simply aren't practical to get. See my post in my other blog for Decorating a Nursery For $15. Cute decorations can be done on a budget and I tend to think that when you're limited in one way, it forces you to be creative and end up with something you'll love even more.

7) 3D Ultrasounds - Here's the deal: these ultrasounds are elective which means that your insurance probably won't cover them at all. My insurance has a huge deductible and I end up paying full price for everything anyway, including the diagnostic ultrasounds that most insurance carriers only make you pay a co-pay. Diagnostic ultrasounds cost way more at full price than 3D ultrasounds for a very good reason: they are examining your baby looking for potential problems and eventually your report will be sent to your doctor to be looked over again. I went to an elective ultrasound place (That's My Baby in Bowie, MD) for their Gender Monday special. The special was $40 for a 2D ultrasound and gender validation/determination. You can read the full details in my blog entry about it, but the short version is we also were given a peek at the baby in 3D and let me tell you, I'm glad we only paid for the 2D. I'm not sure what exactly the deal was with our 3D not being as clear as other 3D ultrasounds that I've seen, could have been the fluid around the baby, could have been he was a bit small, or it could be that 3D ultrasounds can be hit or miss when it comes to clarity. I had been toying with the idea of asking for one of That's My Baby's 3D packages for my birthday, but after seeing the fuzzy, blobby image that day, I'm switching my birthday request to a maternity photo shoot.

8) Baby Gear - We're in the process of looking for a house. At first we had found one and the inspection came back and there was no way we could take it (too much damage for a stater house with a baby on the way), so now we're unsure if we'll be moving at all before the baby's born. With space in mind, I started looking at Pack 'N Plays or Play Yards instead of a traditional wooden crib. I like Babies 'R Us for one thing: the store is family/pregnancy-friendly for set up. Their cribs, strollers, and car seats are all eye level or lower. Wal Mart and Target have a tendency to put their cribs and strollers up on a shelf where you can only look at them from the side. You don't get an idea of how high the crib sides are or if the stroller will accommodate your height. I don't like Babies 'R Us because it's a collection of name-brand gear/clothing at name-brand prices. So, I do my research there (I'm told they will let you borrow demo car seats to see what actually fits in your car, I will be trying this soon), then compare prices between Wal Mart, Target, and Amazon. Currently Wal Mart has the best prices on brands like Graco, but their in-store selection is wimpy. When it comes to choosing between Wal Mart and Target, it seems you'll have to weigh the price difference with the shipping cost unless you can get really, really lucky and find the exact item you want in-store. Me? I'm not picky. I don't care if my car seat, stroller, and crib match or not, I really don't. If I save myself a couple hundred dollars and the gear is mismatched, I'm a happy camper.

9) Baby Clothes - Since I told my family that I was pregnant, they have not stopped buying outfits. The outfits changed to gender-based once we found out I was having a boy, but every other week it seems I'm being handed another adorable outfit. Dan and I have only actually bought maybe 3 articles of clothing (technically 6 because one was a set of 3, but w/e) and that's a mere fraction of what we've accumulated so far. I read an article that suggested not even registering for baby clothes because those are the things people love to buy for baby showers. Even though I haven't had any showers yet, I can tell you that theory holds up just based off my family. When Dan and I walked into Babies 'R Us (with gift cards mind you) after finding out we're having a boy, we looked around at the various racks of boy clothes. I picked up a simply adorable zip-up hoodie with a pirate skull and crossbones on it. It was maybe a 6-9mo size and the price tag: $20. I put it back. It was not cute enough to blow an entire gift card on one hoodie that he'll only be wearing for a few months (if that many, by the time he'll need hoodies he would have outgrown that one). The sale rack was much more promising. Things were between $5 and $10 and between the two of us picking things out, we only used one gift card instead of both for several things (including a tuxedo t-shirt onezie, score!). Bottom line: don't register for baby clothes, you'll probably end up being given more than you'll need and when you do need to start buying clothes hit up those consignment shops we talked about. The consignment shops only put out the gently-used clothes, unless you have a really shady shop, the used-and-abused clothing doesn't come out at all. Like thrift stores, you can find name-brand stuff for a mere fraction of the original price, sometimes with tags still on it!

10) Toys - Last but not least. Toys are another thing that I have not actually paid for but somehow accumulated over the last couple of months. This is another thing that people will just give you. I put some cute things on my registry, but not a whole lot. We're especially not going crazy at Christmas because the kid is going to be playing in the boxes of whatever we get him anyway. I told my parents they can buy what they want, I'm wrapping empty boxes the first year or two ;) I still have a bunch of stuffed animals from my high school years and I will probably be re-gifting those to the baby for as long as I can get away with it. Also, if there are toys you've been given but aren't terribly fond of (my sister claims she's getting me all noisy toys), re-gift them at another baby shower. It's done all the time and saves you the money of having to buy a gift. Seriously, if it's something you really aren't fond of or can't use at all, don't feel obligated to open it just because it's a gift. Either re-gift it or donate it but don't let it take up space collecting dust (space is another thing we're currently short on).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Definitely Having a Boy :)

His leg and foot. The tech said he has big hands and feet already!

Yesterday was "Gender Monday" at an elective ultrasound place in Bowie. I found them several weeks ago when researching 3D ultrasounds (which I am no longer interested in, they're not that much better than the normal 2D ones) and I knew that I would have MLK day off so I made an appointment. Gender Monday is where they will do a 2D ultrasound, determine/validate your baby's gender and give you four prints from your session. It's also a customer-oriented company so they do a lot to make sure their customers are comfortable and happy. It was a small place with apparently only one person actually working there, but she was very friendly and a good ultrasound tech.

Definitely a boy, his umbilical cord was clearly visible in another shot and farther up his stomach.

Since it wasn't a medical diagnostic ultrasound, we invited family to come along. In the end, my mom and Dan's parents were the ones who came and they were very happy that we had invited them. The ultrasound room had plenty of space and a couch for family to sit on, the ultrasound was also projected onto the wall so everyone had a really clear view of what was going on :) I had an ultrasound done at 19 weeks to rule out anomalies, but the baby was not super cooperative and they got what they needed to see but we only got two pictures of his profile and they look almost the same. They didn't end up getting too many views of his heart and I have to go back later this week just for that, but I'm very glad that I made the appointment at That's My Baby.

3D picture #1, if you don't look at a big version, you can make out some detail.

Our tech even threw in a couple 3D shots, which was super cool of her. We took a quick 3D peek since he was being so good (although not at first, he had his hands up by his face, she had to poke him around a bit) and I have to say, I'm glad I didn't pay for it. I don't know if it's just that I'm 22 weeks along and other 3D pictures I've seen have been older babies (like 35 weeks), or if that's just the way 3D looks sometimes, but it was pretty blobby and not very detailed. We can tell that he's got chubby cheeks (which I could even see on the 19 week ultrasound profile, so that was no surprise), my chin, and probably Dan's nose. When we were looking at the 3D, they felt out of focus to me, and I liked the 2D much better because they felt clearer. We got more 2D pictures than 3D (yay) and we also got more than the 4 prints the package said it included. We got 9 pictures total and most of them are pretty good.

3D picture #2. You can see his chubby cheeks better here, his head still looks really big.

I was telling the tech about how at my last ultrasound they estimated my due date to be sooner than it really is because of how big he's getting. She did a quick measurement and said that her equipment was saying the same thing, that instead of measuring to be a 22 week baby, he was more like a 26 week baby! She estimated his weight at 2lbs. which is crazy because he was measuring around 12oz. at 19 weeks. So in a mere 3 weeks, he gained over a pound. I did some math and figured that if that rate of growth stays about the same, he'll be 8 pounds or more when he's born. I can handle 8 pounds. Dan was 10 and I was 6 so 8 is literally meeting in the middle ;)

I'm off to bed now. I was killing time waiting to see if school would announce a delay or a snow day, and they announced a snow day. I'll only be working 2 actual days this week (I have Friday off for the medical ultrasound and yesterday was the holiday), which I have to say is pretty nice.