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36 weeks!

Last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, marked 36 weeks for Baby Smith!  My baby is comparable to a crenshaw melon in size!

“Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day.  She now weighs almost 7 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long.  She’s shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. 

At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term.  (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.)  Most likely she’s in a head-down position.”

34 weeks!

Today I am 34 weeks!  My baby weighs a little more than a large cantaloupe!

“Your baby now weighs about 5 3/4 pounds and is almost 18 inches long.  Her fat layers — which will help regulate her body temperature once she’s born — are filling her out, making her rounder.  Her skin is also smoother than ever.  Her central nervous system is maturing and her lungs are continuing to mature as well.”

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doula.

So we are now a mere 6 weeks away from Baby Smith joining the family, and I am beginning to get just a tad bit nervous about trying the whole “birthing naturally” thing.  I see the benefit of it, and really desire to do it, but when the times comes, can I handle it?  Both my Bradley instructor and my cousin have emphasized that having a doula makes a whole world of difference once those labor pains kick in.  So in order to make my wish closer to a reality, we’ve begun the search for the right doula — not that this is the answer to birthing naturally, but it sure will be a help!  First off, what is a “doula?”

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Where does the word “doula” come from?
The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “woman’s servant.”  Throughout history and in much of the world today, a cadre of women support a woman through labor and birth, giving back rubs and providing continuous emotional support.
 
What is a birth doula?
A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.  Most doula and client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due.  During this time, they establish a relationship that gives the mother complete freedom to ask questions, express fears and concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan.  Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone to answer questions or explain any developments that may arise in pregnancy.  Doulas do not provide any type of medical care.  However, they are knowledgeable in the medical aspect of labor and delivery so they can help their clients get a better understanding of procedures and complications that may arise in late pregnancy or during delivery.
 
During delivery, doulas are in constant, close proximity to the mother at all times.  They can provide comfort with pain relief techniques, such as breathing, relaxing, and laboring position.  Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance.  A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her desires for her birth.  The goal of a doula is to help the mother have a positive and safe birth experience, whether the mother wants an un-medicated birth or is having a planned cesarean birth. 
 
Benefits of a doula:
  • Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life.
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.
  • Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth.
  • Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor.
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions.
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical care providers.
  • A doula perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
For those of you who are interested, here is an informative clip, called “Birth Matters — Doulas Make A Difference.”

2 years!

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It’s crazy to think that we’ve known each other for close to 7 years now.  But today, Greg and I celebrate 2 years of marriage (actually it was around this time, 3 PM, that our wedding ceremony began).  It’s simply amazing when you get the chance to live your life with your bestest friend.  Greg has been the utmost most special blessing in my life.  His desire for God is so appealing to me.  His prayers for his baby girl every morning are the sweetest things (he speaks right into my belly).  His ability to carry himself in completely different circles really rocks my socks off.  His love for me is special beyond anything else I’ve ever experienced (except for God’s love of course!).  We feel like kids when we’re around each other.  We speak in funny voices when no one is around.  We have our own special sign language when no one is looking.  Oh God, I love this man so much.   

To celebrate our anniversary we whisked ourselves away to a cabin on Point Mountain in West Virginia.  There we rested, cooked good food, prayed together, built fires and stayed toasty, and lastly, conducted a little pregnancy photoshoot of my ever growing 33 week belly.  To all those who persistently asked, enjoy.

edit2edit3edit4edit5edit6edit7[point mountains, elkins, west virginia]

yogurt.

In just six days, Greg and I will have been married for 2 whole years!  To us, that is unbelievable.  This weekend we will be taking a 4 day vacation in the Point Mountains, WV, and staying in an eco-friendly cabin that has a brick bread warming oven and a Swedish green system.  Our plan?  Just to sit, relax, enjoy each other, and bake bread.  That’s how we do.  I’ve been planning our meals, since we’ll be cooking all our own meals in the cabin — which I think is more fun than going out.

When Greg and I went honeymooning in Portugal, we cooked alot of our own meals.  We would walk the dusty roads to the grocery store and purchase items to make soups, sandwiches, and other tasty meals using Portuguese goods.  One of the foods I absolutely loved was their plain yogurt.  You may wonder why plain yogurt?  Well, I had never tasted anything like it in the US.  Plain yogurt in the US is bland and watery and not good.  Plain yogurt in Portugal was creamy, slightly sweet, and came in small, homey glass jars.  We would eat them with tiny metal spoons we found in our resort apartment — the tiny-ness of the spoons made the yogurt last longer.  It made me sad to think that I wouldn’t get plain yogurt like this back home.

But give it a little time, and things do start to look up.  One day my mom comes home from the grocery store and tells me to try this new greek yogurt she heard about.  It’s called FAGE.  One bite and I was hooked.  It reminded me of the yogurt in Portgual.  FAGE comes in different flavors, but the plain is good for me.  It’s a tad bit pricey at around $1.75 per individual container, but it is oh so worth it!  Especially during pregnancy, when an abundance of protein is a must.  The average yogurt has about 5 grams of protein.  FAGE has 17 grams of protein.  A favorite snack of mine these days is a FAGE yogurt with a dash of raw sugar or honey and a handful of whole grapes mixed in.  So very yummy.  A close second to FAGE yogurt is Chobani yogurt.  It doesn’t have the custardy goodness of FAGE, but it’s still good, and it’s cheaper.

FAGE — it’s “ridiculously thick yogurt”, and it’s got my approval.

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sweetness.

One normal day I got out of the shower, got dressed, and came out of the bathroom to find this package of sorts on my bed.  If anyone knows I love packages, it’s Greg.  But, there was no Greg to be found — just this brown paper bag.

IMGP3136As soon as I saw it, I knew my husband had come home from work.  So I quickly ran to the bag and took out its contents.  IMGP3108What was inside?

Delightful little items from Roots Market, like,

1.  pecan splendor granola — for our “crunchy granola” tendencies.

2.  rainbow pre-natal vitamins — because we don’t want that “government fortified junk” going to our baby.  Thanks Sue Williams.

3.  nitrate-free hot dogs — because after only one bite, I fell in love with Hebrew National hot dogs over the summer, but could not indulge myself because of those nasty things called “nitrates.”

4.  ginger brew — because Greg and I are always always up for new kinds of ginger ale.  This one did not pass our taste test.  We still have yet to taste one better than “Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale” — yummy.

5.  heart-shaped “Love You” note — because I have a husband that falls under the category, “sweetness.”  The note didn’t come from Roots Market — I know because I found the paper he cut it from hidden in one of my drawers.

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32 weeks!

Today I am 32 weeks!  My baby weighs a little more than a large jicama!

“By now, your baby weighs over 3.75 pounds and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus.  You’re gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby.  In fact, she’ll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb.  She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz).  Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.”

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the business of being born.

bornLast night Greg and I watched “The Business of Being Born.”  We were deeply impacted by the information shared in this documentary of hospital births versus home births.  Here’s the trailer.  It’s really a must see for parents-to-be, or anyone who plans on having children in the future.  We really appreciated the information that was shared through the various doctors, midwives and pregnant moms in the film.  However, if you do plan on watching this film, be prepared for the nudity of the labors and some profanity. 

The following is a statement from the Director of the film:  “When my friend Ricki Lake approached me about making this film, I admitted to her that I was afraid to even witness a woman giving birth, let alone film one.  I had never pronounced the word “midwifery” and I thought Ricki insane, as she planned the birth of her second child, for passing up an epidural in a hospital delivery.

But as I did the research, I discovered that the business of being born is another infuriating way medical traditions and institutions – hospitals and insurance companies – actually discourage choice and even infringe on parents’ intimate rites, ultimately obstructing the powerful natural connection between mother and newborn child.

As I began to shoot the film, I saw that nowhere does the tension between technology and nature play out more dramatically than birth.  The film became an unexpectedly personal journey when I hesitantly turned the camera on my own pregnancy and became my own subject.  Initially making choices based on faith and intuition, I had to contend firsthand with all the issues and politics I had been exploring from a comfortable distance, until my choices were put to the ultimate test.  The birth of my child and this film will remain forever intertwined, and both continue to surprise and thrill me every day.”

30 weeks!

Today I am 30 weeks!  My baby weighs a little more than a head of cabbage!

“Your baby’s about 15.7 inches long now, and she weighs a little over 3 pounds.  A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds her, but that volume will decrease as she gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus.  Her eyesight continues to develop, though it’s not very keen; even after she’s born, she’ll keep her eyes closed for a good part of the day.  When she does open them, she’ll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means she can only make out objects a few inches from her face.  (Normal adult vision is 20/20.)”

30 weeks