Baby Basting

I’ve taken to lying in bed, slathering myself in oil or body butter and declaring that I am “basting the baby” – much as you would a perfectly browned roast chicken. I guess technically, the baby-baking process is probably more akin to a slow-cooker method…moisture-sealed environment, long cooking time and whatnot. The basting analogy is much more satisfying. And I look forward to my belly button popping out like the timer on a Butterball turkey.

It’s all in the name of preventing stretch marks, which is apparently all in vain, since there is absolutely zero evidence that any of these products can actually prevent stretch marks. Sigh. I just can’t accept that.

I get it. Stretch marks don’t happen at the surface level of the skin, they are actually tiny tears in the middle (dermis) layer as your skin stretches with weight gain. So nothing we rub on externally is going to prevent these tears in the supporting tissue underneath.

Evidently, it’s largely genetic and you’re either predisposed to developing stretch marks or you’re not (like cellulite, in my observation). If your mom got them, you probably will too. So…women who say they used “X product” and didn’t get stretch marks probably wouldn’t have gotten them anyway. Damn hey? Except my mom didn’t get many and they quickly went away so, yay genes! The speed of your weight gain has something to do with it, as do hormones. Some people get stretch marks because their bodies produce more corticosteroid than normal. This hormone decreases the amount of collagen in the skin, and collagen is the protein that helps those deeper skin fibres stretch elastically without breaking down.

Facts be damned. These stretch-mark products are seductively lovely and I still want to cling to the notion that I have some control over the outcome of 40 weeks of bodily abuse. Plus, your skin gets itchy as it stretches and nothing scratches that itch like spending money on body products. In my defense, there is some evidence that exercise (boring!) and massage (bingo!) may help with stretch mark prevention by encouraging new tissue growth and promoting circulation. As can drinking tons of water (back to boring) and getting lots of vitamins A, C & E, zinc and silica in your diet (zzzzz).

So far I’ve gone with these: the Clarins Tonic Body Oil and the Neal’s Yard Mother’s Balm, alternating between them as the whim strikes me.

StretchMarks

The Neal’s Yard is rich and solid, but melts into a nicely spreadable texture that goes a lot further than you’d think. It certainly smells good enough, but the Clarins….sweet baby Jesus, it’s like instant spa all over your house as soon as you open the bottle. It just smells expensive – and so it should. Plus, when I went to the Clarins counter, the nice lady in the white lab coat warmly congratulated me and gave me a ton of little samples of other products (a few décolletage/bust things, a stretch mark minimizer lotion…other things I can’t remember because I did this in week 8 or something) along with a nicely produced book (not a booklet or a brochure, mind you – a full-on book) on pregnancy according to Clarins (also sorta pictured above) and all sorts of advice on product usage. It’s interesting, because the brand doesn’t go out of its way to overtly market this product to pregnant women, but it’s kind of a cult favourite that everyone and their dog (online) swears by. At any rate, when the pregos do come flocking to the counter, they are certainly prepared for them.

So far so good on the belly…although I do have a few marks on my boobs. I got those within the first few weeks of pregnancy and I have some leftover from when I got boobs the first time around. I think I am just prone to them in that particular location…but the new ones have definitely faded already.

The first name ain’t baby. It’s Perry. MISS Perry if you’re nasty.

It’s a girl!

I have no explanation for the fact that I’ve had Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” stuck on a loop in my head for 3 days, but so it has been. Perhaps little baby girl fetus (or the “shetus” – credit to Nicole G.) was trying to tell me that boys drool and girls rule, as the ancient wisdom holds.

The ultrasound was a ton of fun this time around. Baby is much more interesting at this stage (19 weeks), to be sure, but our ultrasound technician made a big difference as well. This one was really friendly and excited about stuff, which made me excited too. She was pointing out body parts and explaining things and providing colour commentary that just made it way more fun and interesting.

The shetus was moving around like crazy – kicking, punching, opening and closing her hands, giving two thumbs-up, pointing with her index finger and somersaulting around. When she took a break to “rest”, she would raise one arm straight up in the air (which is also a really bizarre thing I often do in my sleep, incidentally).

It was cool to make the connection between the physical sensations (which could have been gas bubbles for all I know) and her movements on-screen. Today, the movements have been much more noticeable and I’m not sure if she’s just getting stronger by the day or if it’s that I now know what I’m feeling for that’s made such a big difference overnight. Maybe both. It feels less like flutters/vibrations and more like I’ve swallowed a live (and rather large) goldfish that is vigorously flipping around in a rather small bowl. She seems to like food and is really active after I eat something, and the cats on my belly make her go crazy too. I can’t wait until the kitties can feel her kick/punch them back!

It turns out that I have an anterior (front) positioned placenta, which sort of acts as a buffer between me and the shetus. This can cushion her movements somewhat and explain why the sensations had been so subtle. The way she was going at it in there, I think this could be a good thing for me.

We do have our favourite name picked out (I think?!) but I have been forbidden from discussing it with anyone. Andrew is pretty much the meanest.

With that said, I now present the first baby butt photo. She was mid somersault here – and as a former gymnast, I’d like to see a little more toe-point happening, but we can work on that.

BabyButt.jpg

Other random stats I can remember…heart rate was 144. Foot is 3cm long. She weighs 0.7 lb.

The most pointless post ever: part two

Forgot all about finishing this one off, so I’m getting this in with just hours to spare.

Ring on a string. Let me tell you, Andrew was just thrilled about helping me out with this one, and didn’t at all act like it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard of. Science is totally lost on him. So you tie your wedding ring on a string, lie down, and have someone dangle it above your belly. If it moves in a circle, it’s a girl, if it swings back and forth like a pendulum, it’s a boy. This was a back and forth swinger. Edge: Boy

Baking Soda & pee. For this one, you add some pee to a tablespoon or two of baking soda and see if it fizzes/foams. If the combination fizzes, like a soft drink that has been shaken up, then you are having a boy. If there is no reaction at all from the baking soda and pee cocktail, you’re having a girl.  Supposedly, the gender of the baby changes your hormones, which then changes the acid content of your pee. Well, this foamed….I wouldn’t say fizzed, and it wasn’t a reaction like when you add vinegar to baking soda or anything like that. But it sort of got a head on it like on a pint of draft beer. And just so everyone knows…I used disposable red solo cups for this fun little project – you don’t have to be afraid if I ever serve you a drink. Unless you have a problem with cups that cats have drank out of. Then you’re screwed. Edge: Boy

Drano & pee. I decided to scrap this one, and not just because I got a “please don’t pee into Drano” text from my mom. For this one, a colour change to green means a girl and if it stays blue, it’s a boy.  It just seems dumb. Drano is blue, pee is yellow and a combo of the two is going to be green. You learn that colour magic mixing Tempera paints in kindergarten.  If anything, as my friend Kate pointed out, this would be a hydration test – if you’re really well hydrated and your pee is almost clear, the Drano would stay blue. Either way, I can’t imagine the fumes from this experiment are too healthy (or pleasant) so, no thanks.

Final Tally: Boy finished strong but still came up short, with a final result of:

Boy: 3 Girl: 5

The most pointless post ever: part one

A week today we get to find out Perry’s sex! Well, I do anyways. I was late booking the ultrasound and had to take what I could get, which ended up being a date that Andrew is out of town for work. So he will be standing by on his cell for me to pass the news along…or not…muahahaha! (gleefully rubs hands together)

Andrew has been predicting a girl for several weeks now, and I have to admit, he had me on that train as well…but lately I’m second guessing that and feeling more of a boy vibe.

Old wives’ tales and techniques for gender prediction abound. So with nothing left to do but wait, I’ve decided to run through a schwack of them and see what the prediction scorecard says leading up to the big reveal.

High or low? If you’re carrying your bump low and out front, it’s a boy. If it’s up high or the weight gain is spread all over, it’s a girl. This one is a bit of a wash for me, because my bump hasn’t really arrived yet, and I managed to actually lose a tiny bit of weight since my last appointment four weeks ago. I do feel thick all over, but I can’t commit to this one. Edge: Even

Chinese Gender Chart. This one is based on your age and the month you conceived in. According to the super reliable online forms I submitted… Edge: Girl

Heart rate. This is a big old myth (until actual labour and birth, when a baby girls’ heart rate will tend to be higher). But as the tale goes, if it’s over 140 it’s a girl, under 140 it’s a boy. What was Perry’s heart rate at my appointment yesterday? 140, of course. Way to be a fence-sitter, little one. However, a month ago it was 155 and at 7 weeks it was 143. So once again…Edge: Girl

Sickness. The sicker you are in the first trimester, the more likely you are carrying a girl. Supposedly. One of the sickest pregos I knew had a boy, so I am highly skeptical of this one. I wasn’t awfully sick in the first trimester. I had a few shady weeks where I puked once or twice a day, and then felt fine right afterwards. And I hated a lot of food. But horribly sick? Not really. Rumour has it that boys make you sick in the morning and girls in the evening…the latter was definitely the case for me. But this one is too close to call. Edge: Even

Cravings. A hankering for sweets indicates a girl, while sour, salty or savoury urges are for boys. I am normally a salty treat girl, with almost no urge for sweets and I still love my chips and fries, but for the first time in my life I have a sweet tooth and I’ve eaten things I would normally never want. So…Edge: Girl

Heel of the bread. This is the weirdest one I’ve ever heard. If you’ll eat the heel (the end piece) of a loaf of bread, it’s a boy. If you won’t, it’s a girl. Who eats the heel of the bread?? That’s unnecessary and gross – pregnant or not. Edge: Girl (and common sense)

Hit with the ugly stick. This one makes me feel great (ha!). The worse you look, the more likely you are having a girl. Specifically, if you have breakouts and dull hair you can blame your daughter for sucking the estrogen (and beauty) out of you. Breakouts – sure – but that’s just my lot in life when I’m not on the Pill, however, earlier this week (way before reading about this) I noticed that my hair is super dull, so that detail intrigues me. Edge: Girl

Hands. If your hands are drier than normal, it’s a boy. Soft hands mean a girl. Edge: Boy (finally!)

To be continued…Coming in part 2: the “ring on a string” test, and TWO pee tests involving Drano and baking soda. I can only take blogging while I’m at work so far…stay tuned for the results and final tally!

 

 

The spa that shunned me.

Even if you’re not afraid of certain activities during pregnancy, you will inevitably find yourself at the mercy of other (well-meaning?) people who are. These people suck.

Andrew has an upcoming conference at a fancy schmancy hotel about an hour and a half away. Fuck it, it’s the Fairmont Banff Springs. With our anniversary falling on the weekend prior, we figured we’d treat ourselves and head up a couple days early. They have an amazing spa, so I also reasoned that I may as well funnel the money I’d normally spend on overpriced cocktails into an equally overpriced spa treatment. I’m cool with it being overpriced…everything in Banff is, and it’s something special that I don’t get to do all the time.

That said, I’m not going to shell out for a treatment that I can get anywhere / any time, for half the price. I want something different than my typical mani/pedi or massage. So I scour the brochure. I spend 2 days looking at it every time I have a spare minute. I finally settle on the “Seasonings: Feet First” treatment:

Massaging reflex points on the feet and hands relieves tension throughout the body. In this head-to-toe experience, a foot soak and scrub is followed by a foot and hand massage, focusing on vital energy points. While skin absorbs the essential oils, you are pampered with a head, neck and shoulder massage. Great for any season.

The site mentions disclosing any medical conditions or special considerations including pregnancy at time of booking. So in the notes section of the online form I type, Pregnant – second trimester and hit submit.

Not long after, my phone rings. It’s the spa and since they have noted that I am expecting, they are sorry to inform me that the treatment I have chosen is “too stimulating and not appropriate for pregnancy.” They can suggest a regular pedicure ($85 for 45 minutes is the cheapest of the three offered) or a pregnancy massage ($199/hr). Er, no. The caller was super polite, warm and seems genuinely sorry about being the bearer of bad news, but her employer’s fearful policies suck.

I totally understand that massage, essential oils and reflex points can all be very powerful therapeutic tools, but surely there are ways this can just be adjusted for my needs rather than avoided altogether. Don’t use the essential oils that are contraindicated in pregnancy? Don’t drill your thumbs into the “uterine contraction” trigger point, if one exists? Don’t somehow mistake my feet, hands, shoulders or neck for my abdomen and jump up and down? Don’t scrub all the flesh off my feet leaving me susceptible to a systemic infection? I mean, really…what the hell could happen in this treatment that would compromise a pregnancy?

At least offer me more choices. Maybe offer to send me a list of ALL the treatments that would be acceptable for a woman as frail as I. I have a hard time believing I couldn’t receive a facial, or a moisturizing treatment. I was a bit too dumbfounded to press her on it, and as I said, she was totally pleasant, so I’d never shoot the messenger. But I would have liked a more specific explanation. I may still email them and ask for one. I’ll see how bitchy I feel tomorrow.

I think the truth is that there is no real reason, they are just scared shitless of something coincidentally going wrong while I’m in their facility and being blamed or sued.

For now, I’ll happily give my business to my regular kick-ass massage therapist who has no hesitations about treating me at any point in my pregnancy and the hardcore ladies at my local cheap n’ cheerful nail salon who, truth be told, could probably deliver a baby while doing a set of acrylics at the same time.

A no-show

So many punny title options for this one, my head nearly exploded. It took a lot of restraint to scale it back to this one. I suppose it’s the rare woman who is totally happy with her body at any given point—but I’d venture to say that having too small of a belly rarely makes it to the top 10 complaints list. Unless of course you’re 16 weeks pregnant with next to nothing to show for it.

I’ll be the first to admit that this falls into the “good problem to have” category. I haven’t had to change a single thing in terms of wardrobe yet, and having done some preliminary browsing, I’m not all that eager to start shopping the maternity sections. Plus, it’s nice not walking around like a billboard for procreation, inviting all the borderline offensive commentary, labour horror stories and unsolicited advice that I’ve heard is (eventually) coming my way.

But I can’t really feel anything either, and therein lies the problem. When you can’t feel the baby and you can’t see the baby, it’s really easy to let your head get away from you. I’m also midway between prenatal appointments right now, so it’s standard practice for me to start doubting that all is still well in there. I’ve found that the reassurance of a Doppler stethoscope or ultrasound only lasts a couple of weeks before it wears off. For that reason, I’m anxious to start having some tangible proof of life.

For the last 2 weeks or so I’ve occasionally felt some weird flutterings, almost like vibrations, inside and down low. So far, it only happens if I’m lying on my back at night, being very still—but it doesn’t happen every time I do this. Sometimes Twitchy tries to help by stepping on the baby and kneading his paws on top of it, so if the kid has a phobia of being crushed by sturdy cats, it won’t be without good reason. From what I gather, these flutterings can be the start of being able to really feel the baby move – which apparently happens somewhere between 15 and 25 weeks for a first pregnancy.

Mostly I’ve just felt bloated for months, and I’m juuust starting to get to the point where I’d rather leave the buttons undone on certain pairs of jeans. Needing to do something – to take action of some concrete nature – I ordered 2 of these:

I have decided that this is the way forward—as online shopping so often is. The training wheels I need before I will be ready (physically and mentally) to dive into the full-on, over the belly, stretchy, high-waisted maternity jeans that haunt the corners of my dreams. These and leggings, which I can see a lot of in my future. By the way, wtf are maternity leggings? Aren’t those just called bigger leggings? I feel that maternity is a marketing word much like “bridal” in that using it to preface anything can make the product seem like a necessity and allow you to charge 30% more for it.