The Joys Of Pregnancy At 24 Weeks

The Joys Of Pregnancy At 24 Weeks

I am happy to announce that our pregnancy is entering its 24th week! Our little boy is growing faster by the day and weighs about 1.2 pounds. In a few more weeks I will be starting the 3rd and final trimester. Its all uphill from here!

Pedometer on Iphone

This is the app on my iphone. It reminds me to keep moving. Today at work I got 17,000 steps!

Sarcasm aside, I’m actually feeling pretty good these days, with the exception of a little fatigue and annoying pregnancy brain.  My bump is finally pretty obvious now so I so I can walk around proudly displaying a pregnant belly instead of just feeling full-figured and puffy.

I am still practicing yoga and working out when I can. My goal is to walk 10-15,000 steps a day, so I started using the activity app on my I-phone to track my progress. I admit, I am becoming so much dorkier as a second time mommy-to-be. I’m just a busy mom with a toddler trying to take good care of herself when she can.

Thankfully, this pregnancy has been pretty non-eventful. All of my prenatal testing has come back showing no signs of any health issues. Each appointment has gone smoothly without any big scares or hiccups (unlike my last pregnancy, which is a long story for another post!). I know nothing is 100% certain, but I feel optimistic that things will run relatively smoothly this time around (fingers crossed!).

The compression stockings are back (pregnancy is sexy!)

Last week I had to bring my lovely waist-high, graduated compression stockings back out of the drawer (they have been in hiding since the birth of our daughter in October of 2015).

As a nurse who works 12 hour shifts at a busy level 1 Trauma hospital, I have been a little concerned with the amount of time I spend in my feet everyday. I am specifically concerned about varicose veins which are a common side effect of pregnancy (and being a busy nurse). Pregnancy increases your blood volume by 50% and I’m also carrying an extra 12 pounds right now so its no wonder that my legs swell after 12 hours of being on my feet!

Woman wearing compressing stockings.

It just doesn’t get any sexier than maternity compression stockings (not my legs). The joys of pregnancy are many.

Alas! Compression stockings to my rescue! My legs are so much more energized at the end of a long shift after wearing compression stockings on then they are without them. They don’t feel swollen and they actually look visibly less swollen too.

I am sure you are profoundly intrigued and want details so I’ll tell you more about my compression stockings. I wear the Jobst 20-30 Waist High Closed Toe Compression Maternity Pantyhose. It just doesn’t get any sexier then that! Just a word of warning for ladies needing compression hosiery: this is not a place you want to be thrifty. I have tried the cheaper versions and quite frankly, they suck and are a waste of money. Mine are so well-made and will actually last through an entire pregnancy, unlike the cheaper ones.

I look like a whale trying to put them on in the morning. They are so tight on my legs it takes me about 6 minutes to get them all the way up (believe me, its a treat to watch!). Per recommendation, I put them on before I even get out of bed in the morning. Before the blood even has a chance to swim around my ankles.

I have a love/hate relationship with these darn things, but they work wonders I tell you. So I will continue to wear them until I stop working towards the end of this pregnancy.

More joys of pregnancy:  heart burn and nosebleeds

Due to daily, mild-to-severe bouts of heartburn, I have Tums strategically stashed in my work bag, the kitchen cupboard, the diaper bag, and at my bedside. Heartburn is just another great side effect of all those fantastic pregnancy hormones!

At about this time in my first pregnancy I started having frequent heartburn, which is something I never have had non-pregnant. Unfortunately, as I get bigger, it will only get worse.  Another one of the awesome joys of pregnancy that I get to deal with!

On another note, I luckily haven’t experienced any nosebleeds this yet. As mentioned earlier one of many fun physiologic changes during pregnancy is that your blood volume doubles. So nose bleeds can be unfortunate side effect. My last pregnancy I got a few nose bleeds right before laying down to sleep at night. Then I was up for over an hour each time trying to stop them!

VBAC or c-section?

At my 22 week appointment my OBGYN asked me of I wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or another c-section. She really caught by surprise by this question.

I was under the impression that since my last pregnancy resulted in a c-section (due to a placental abruption at 33 weeks) that I had to have another c-section. In fact, I thought it was considered dangerous not to. Friends have told me that they had to have c-sections for their subsequent babies since they had one the first time.

My OB explained that I was still a good candidate for vaginal birth since I didn’t have a situation that prevented me from having a natural birth while laboring in my first pregnancy. Like, for example, if the baby wouldn’t descend down the birth canal, or I had gestational diabetes or severe preclampsia while I was trying to deliver naturally. She said that for women in my situation, most are still able to have a successful vaginal delivery. (I’ve since done a bit of research, and it does look like the statistics are in my favor).

I never even had an opportunity to go into labor with my first pregnancy. Instead, I had a freaky, rare and life-threatening situation called a placental abruption at 33 weeks. (Essentially, my placenta detached from my womb. Not good.  You can read about that here.)

By some existential miracle our daughter is OK. She is perfect, actually. She is smart, funny, precocious, brave, and absolutely amazing in 1000 different ways. On Halloween Day she will be two years old.

Anyways, back to my VBAC versus c-section decision. I have done a lot of thinking about it lately. Due to the fact that I will have a 2 year-old at home to take care of in addition to a newborn, I have decided to forgo my original c-section plan in lieu of a new VBAC plan.

My reasoning: a c-section requires major abdominal surgery that cuts through many abdominal muscles resulting in weeks of recovery. I want to be able to take care of my family the best I can when I get back home. Another c-section will make that even more difficult for me.

So my new plan is to have a regular, vaginal delivery. That is, if I can help it. If there is any concern whatsoever over the health of the baby, by all means, I’m 100% all for having another c-section. Priority #1 is to have another healthy baby.

There is no rest with a toddler in a second pregnancy

Zoe and Mom sleeping on couch

It just doesn’t get any better than a sleeping baby Zoe.

I don’t have the time to rest like I did in my first pregnancy. I do get tired and nap on my days off when my daughter naps. Working in the ER now is also much more tiring. It’s doable, just harder.

Fortunately, in some ways I also feel more resilient then before. I know what to expect this time around so there are fewer surprises. I’m not checking my baby apps every week to see what developmental stage our baby is in (I wouldn’t have the time to anyway). I just get to be pregnant and focus on what ever is going on that day.

That may be the biggest unexpected benefit of pregnancy the second time around. I’m forced to live in the present because I’m so busy and I have an extremely energetic toddler to take care of.

And I’m feeling the baby kick a lot! I love that part.

Weird side effects and all, I am glad to have the opportunity to go through pregnancy a second time. This will be the last time so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Pregnancy Kick Counts:  What I Just Learned About Fetal Movement

Pregnancy Kick Counts: What I Just Learned About Fetal Movement

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I was not feeling the baby move as much for the last two days. So I did what I knew I was supposed to do: I laid down for an hour and started doing “kick counts.” After 1 hour of counting less then 10 fetal movements I was not reassured.

My husband drove me to the labor and delivery unit at our hospital. I called them first to explain the situation and they told me to come in and get checked out.  I am only in my 33rd week of pregnancy.

As I have written about before, I had a placental abruption when I was pregnant with my daughter at 33 weeks pregnant. We were able to have an emergency c – section and get her out safely in time (thank God!).

That is one of the reasons I am such a stickler about doing daily kick counts. They are the only way to determine fetal health in between doctor’s appointments.

(I have also been using an at-home fetal dopplar since I was 13 weeks with both my pregnancies. It definitely helped minimize my stress levels!  However, doing daily fetal kick counts is still the number one way to assess if the baby is in distress.)

I admit, I am probably getting a little paranoid considering the circumstances that happened during my first pregnancy. But I figured it was better to be safe then sorry, even if the staff at the hospital thought I was totally overreacting (which they didn’t).

My trip to the labor and delivery unit was relatively fast and saved me from many days of worry.

Fortunately, everything looked great! The trip calmed my nerves so that I could get through until my next appointment in 2 weeks (they were so booked I had to wait 5 weeks in between appointments this time, which I think is way too long at this point anyway).

Of course once the baby was placed on a fetal monitor he started kicking, turning and jabbing. He was bouncing around and showing off like a good, healthy baby should.

The midwife even told me our baby “had the strongest heartbeat of all the babies on the unit.” I’m not sure if she was just trying to reassure me or she really had some difficult pregnancies to deal with at the time, but I was so glad I went in.

Doing “kick counts” after 28 weeks is so important.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about doing “kick counts” because I had done a lot of research on it. I even wrote a blog post about it.

To do kick counts you lay down on your left side and count the number of kicks or fetal movements you get in one hour. Most providers says that once you get to ten counts then you can stop counting. Then quit for that day and start again the next day.

You are looking for a significant decrease in movement from a previously normal pattern.

The Midwife taught me a few new things about doing “kick counts” that are SO important.

#1. Babies in utero have 40 minute sleep cycles.

Which means that if you don’t feel any kicks for the first hour then the fetal movements should pick up in the second hour.

#2. Eat something while you are laying down to do the kick counts.

Eating will wake the baby up some you can feel more fetal movement. Don’t eat and then wait an hour, because it will put the baby to sleep and you will feel less movement during that time.

#3. If you are ever concerned about the health and safety of your unborn child, it is always the right thing to get checked out.

There is no benefit in sitting at home worrying that there may be something wrong. I was reassured many times that if at any time I felt a decrease in fetal movement or had any other concerns about the health of the baby that I should not hesitate to come back in. The staff reiterated that to me several times.

Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

I am getting large and even though I am pretty wiped out most of the time, I actually am enjoying this (when I’m not scaring myself to death, that is).

Even though the extra “nesting” energy I had a few weeks ago has dissipated.

And I’m also still experiencing foggy pregnancy brain symptoms.

But aside from all that, I am so grateful to be in the midst of such a healthy pregnancy. There really is nothing better. It feels awesome to know that our baby is doing so well and that he growing normally.

Baby boy is still measuring 2 weeks ahead! I’m shooting for a potential 9 pounder!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

I’m 28 Weeks! How This Pregnancy Is Different From My First

I’m 28 Weeks! How This Pregnancy Is Different From My First

I had an appointment with my OB two weeks ago and everything appears to be progressing normally with my pregnancy (thank goodness!).

However, I did have one tiny little scare. When looking at the screen I noticed that our baby was measuring at about 26 weeks, which totally freaked me out since I was 28 weeks.

When I brought it up to my doctor she said “No, everything looks great and you are 26 weeks.” To which I responded: “but I’m 28 weeks!” She looked at my dates and said, “No hon you’re 26 weeks and right on target!”

Seriously? How is that even possible? That is one of the biggest differences between my first pregnancy and my second. I was an entire two weeks off on how far along I was. And I have been so busy with a toddler that I didn’t even know it.

First pregnancies are magical. Second pregnancy’s are cool too, just way busier.

Sarah and little Zoe

Caring for this little one is a lot of fun. But I’m so much busier with a toddler these days that I lose track of time.

In my first pregnancy, I could tell you to the day exactly how far along I was. Weekly belly selfies were taken every Sunday to mark my progress. I knew exactly how big my baby was in terms of vegetable size, weight and length.

I practically studied fetal development on a daily basis. Weekly emails were delivered to my inbox telling me each and every detail of our baby’s milestones. I knew the exact time when she could open her eyes, suck her thumb, hear noises from outside the womb and every other possible developmental detail.

During my first pregnancy I practiced yoga at a studio several times a week, alternating between Vinyasa and prenatal. Then I would watch Netflicks and chill, sometimes marathon style. After all, why not? I was pregnant and I had the time.

Also, I also read every single baby book ever published (fyi, Baby Knows Best and Bringing Up Bebe where my favorites!).

My husband and I even started taking weekly Bradley Method classes. Which didn’t help me at all during my emergency c-section at 33 weeks. But hey, I ultimately still got my healthy baby girl, so who cares?

My second pregnancy has been cool too, sans all the extra me time that I had with my first. Toddler care taking has replaced pretty much all of those activities this time around. That is how I ended of forgetting how far along I was by two entire weeks!

Busyness aside, I love being a mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Baby Boy has reached eggplant size. Yum!

Sarah and Zoe, 28 weeks pregnant with #2

I’m trying to enjoy the joys of pregnancy while they are here. Despite the weird symptoms, there is something so amazing about being pregnant.

I have joined the third and final trimester, yahoo!

Our amazing veggie is now 14 1/2 inches and weighs in at 2 1/2 pounds. Right on track! Nice job, little dude.

Even though I haven’t met my mini-man yet, he has definitely been making an impact in my life. Many of the symptoms of my first pregnancy have returned. I’m suddenly clumsy. I’m fatigued. I have heartburn at least once a day. And I have the worst pregnancy brain (so embarrassing).

In addition, I have even welcomed a brand new pregnancy symptom that I didn’t have last time: lovely varicose veins, on my left leg only. They are SO delightful, I tell you. Once the temperatures finally dip below 90 in Los Angeles I’m going to have to resort to daily compression stockings – toe to waist – for the remainder of the third trimester. Pregnancy sure knows how to make a women feel sexy!

Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon.

Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon!

I love watching how my little girl is reacting to my belly bump with amazement. She now looks at it and says “baby” in the cutest, innocent voice. I don’t think she fully grasps that there is an actual human is in there… yet. But we are trying to verbalize it to her and are reading her a few children’s books about becoming a big sister.

Tonight she was able to say “baby boy” which pretty much melted my heart. She is going to be an excellent big sister! I can’t wait.

I have a few goals to reach before childbirth.

We are only five weeks away from the time when I had Zoe via emergency C-section. Although I am planning on having a full term baby, truth is that you can’t always plan ahead. Therefore, I have a few goals I am presently working on in advance:

#1.  Have a healthy full term baby.

I will be relieved to finally pass the 33 week mark. My doctor says the chances of having another placental abruption are extremely low, which is reassuring.

#2.  Continue working as ER nurse until it makes sense to stop.

With the help of my nifty 30mm graduated compression stockings, I am going to continue working as an emergency room nurse until I am either:

a) too big, or

b) too exhausted, whichever comes first.

As a per diem registered nurse I am not granted disability or maternity leave benefits. I can take up to 6 months time without losing my position, but I receive zero compensation before or after childbirth. Once I’m out, I’m out for a while. So I’m trying to hang in until it makes sense for me to stay home.

#3.  Figure out how to have a 2 year old and newborn share a bedroom without constantly waking one another up.

This one has been a real zinger for me as I can’t figure out how I’m going to make this work. The newborn will stay in our room for several months but then what?

If anyone has any tips on goal #3, I am all ears. Any expertise in this area is appreciated.

At the end of the day I am so thankful for a healthy, happy family.

Life is busy and tiring, but it’s all good. Pregnancy is a gift. Having children really is a miracle. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for a wonderful life and good health for my family and friends. That is the only thing that matters.

Thanks for reading.

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Reasons Why I Am Lucky To Be Full Term

Reasons Why I Am Lucky To Be Full Term

As uncomfortable and large as I am right now, I am so lucky to be full term.

I’m actually even grateful for my current state of enormity and girth. Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that! That sounds so odd coming out of my head, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it lately. And there are a lot of reasons to be so joyous and excited about it (besides the obvious excitement that comes with having a baby).

Some moms don’t get the opportunity to go full term.

lucky to be full term

It may not seem so lucky at the time but moms are lucky to be full term when they are pregnant.ome moms don’t get the opportunity to go full term.

Some moms don’t get the opportunity to carry a child for the full nine months. As the mother of a premature baby born at 33 weeks, I had a few moms mention that I was actually lucky to not have to deal with the hugeness that comes with carrying full term.

But the alternative is having an infant with potentially significant medical issues and spending weeks or even months in the NICU.  Or even worse.  The safest option for the baby is always the best one.  From experience I can tell you that it sucks to be discharged from the hospital without your baby.

We are very lucky that our sweet little preemie was born so healthy and has no obvious residual effects from being born early. Not every mom is so lucky.

I get to have the whole experience of a full term pregnancy.

As I just mentioned, our daughter was born early (due to a spontaneous placental abruption at 33 weeks). After she was born I remember feeling like I wasn’t ready to not be pregnant anymore.  I felt like i had somehow “missed out” on the full pregnancy experience.   I thought other moms were so lucky to be full term and I still wanted to be pregnant.

Because of my past experience, I have been relishing In these last few weeks of my full term pregnancy.  I am enjoying both the good and uncomfortable parts because this experience is so temporary.

Some women don’t get the opportunity to have children.

There was a time almost a decade ago when my husband and I discussed the possibility of not wanting to have children. We were much younger and our interests included our social life, travel, and pretty much anything that didn’t have to do with caring for anyone but ourselves.

lucky to be full term

I am lucky to be full term.

Fast forward many years and our priorities have completely changed. When we decided to start trying to have children we are very lucky that we were able to.

I know parents who wanted to have their own children but couldn’t, and it was devastating for them. I also know several women who have had to go through in vitro fertilization, which is not only extraordinarily expensive but requires months of doctors appointments, medications, and often repeated disappointments. Sadly, even after all that it doesn’t always work.

There is something really fun about being super pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss my wine.  But I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I love it when people ask me questions about being pregnant. It is fun for me to talk about.  The more I talk about the joys of pregnancy the more I realize how I am so lucky to be full term right now.

Even strangers stop me on the street to ask questions and the questions never get old. I happily tell people how far along I am, that I am having a boy, that it is my second child, and I couldn’t be more excited!

It’s better than being in the first trimester again.

I felt horrible during the first trimester. I was nauseous and felt hung over for at least two months. Work was difficult, especially since I as working and training as an emergency room nurse. Worst of all, it was early in the pregnancy so I couldn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant.  I’m sure my co-workers thought it was weird that I was constantly snaking on a saltine.

At least when you are double your size with a huge baby bump people automatically know that you are most likely pretty uncomfortable. I often had people offer up their chairs so I could sit or ask if they could help me with anything. While it was usually unnecessary, their gestures are very kind and appreciated.

Being full term (and huge) is something I can bond with other moms about.

At nine months pregnant, it’s difficult to explain how enormous one feels to someone who has not experienced it. But other moms who have been in the same situation totally get it.  Especially my need to continue nesting even 3 days before I have this baby!

I have even made friends with people whom I I’ve worked with for several years but never had a conversation with. It gives me an automatic connection with a lot of other women who I never may have spoken with.

Full-term babies have less complications and are generally healthier at birth.

This one is that obvious best reason that I am so lucky to have a full term pregnancy.  I can feel our son moving around so much. It’s mostly because he is so big, and that makes me feel relieved since our daughter was born at 4 lbs. 3 oz.   I am really excited to have a baby who will be at least in the 7 pound range. He will be born at the right time with the least amount of potential complications due to the fact that I am full term.

I have 3 more days until our son is here!

I am so excited to count all his fingers and toes and cuddle him silly. However, having a newborn in the house is going to be an adjustment and I know I won’t be getting any sleep for a while.  So for the next three days I am going to just enjoy every minute of my full term largeness. This will be the only time in my life where I can be proud to be almost 30 pounds heavier and not feel guilty about it.

I am so lucky to be full term!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love