I can finally see the light at the end of the morning sickness tunnel

After weeks spent feeling like utter garbage — even with the help of prescription morning sickness meds — I think the worst is finally behind me.

With my previous pregnancies, the all-day nausea eased up in the early second trimester.  (Usually sometime around 16 weeks or so.) This time around, week 14 rolled around and *POOF* I feel like an actual human being again. Out of nowhere I have more energy, I’ve been able to go off my nausea meds, and the incredibly uncomfortable bloating has even eased up.

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Honestly, this symptom reprieve is like a breath of fresh air. At the same time, though, I’m obsessing over the possibility that something could be wrong. Logically, I know that it’s normal for early symptoms to dissipate as I enter the second trimester. However, since I’m still in that awkward stage of not feeling any movement, but having my symptoms ease up, it’s still concerning.

The good news is I had a prenatal appointment on Monday, and everything sounded good with baby #4’s heartbeat. So that was reassuring, at least.

So hooray for entering the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. You know, that glorious stage of not throwing up all day, but not yet being horrendously uncomfortable by a flailing fetus punting your internal organs. I can’t wait to feel those first flutters!

I discovered a $50 secret weapon that tames toddler road rage

My husband and I are taking our 15-month-old daughter with us on a 4-hour car trip — and I have no doubts that it’ll be a smooth ride. Because we’ve got a secret weapon for car-hating babies and toddlers, and we’re not afraid to use it.

It’s a $50 portable DVD player with Peppa Pig playing nonstop. We just strap that sucker to the headrest facing our daughter’s car seat, hit “play” and let the magic begin.

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The thing is, car trips weren’t always this simple. Far from it, actually.

My first and third children are what I lovingly refer to as high-maintenance, or high-needs kids. (Our middle child, in comparison, is laid-back and just kind of floats through life.) As babies, kids one and three both acted like the world was ending if they didn’t have constant physical contact with me. And in cars? They screamed the entire time. I could hardly drive anywhere that took longer than 20 minutes because they would either, A) Eventually throw up from crying so much, or B) Cause too much anxiety for me to even consider attempting a longer trip.

We tried it all. I sat in the back seat next to my youngest. That ended up backfiring because then she could see me, but I still wasn’t holding her. We tried toys/books/milk right before leaving/snacks/music/singing/ignoring. But still, she wailed. And I felt terrible.

Everything changed once we discovered the distracting powers of Peppa Pig on the go. Is it the bright colors, the simple shapes, or the British accent? Perhaps it’s fact that they’re all animals? Or maybe it’s that catchy little theme jingle? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m thankful for that cheeky little piggy and her family. Because my otherwise pissed and writhing pint-sized car rider is transformed into an angelic, expert traveler.

I’d like to point out that we don’t force hours of screen time on our toddler under any other circumstances. However for everyone’s sanity, this is our go-to arrangement for long car rides. (And we still make pit-stops for diaper changes, food, or to stretch or our legs.) But dare I say it? Car trips with a three kids — ages 1, 3, and 5 — can actually be pleasant these days.

And I owe it all to this magical device and a cartoon pig.

This post originally appeared on BabyCenter in 2017

How motherhood is exactly like running a marathon

There’s a lot of time for bizarre thinking and life reflection when you’re training for a marathon.

All that time spent with my feet pounding against the pavement — both training for the 26.2-mile beast and actually conquering my first full marathon — I couldn’t help but find many parallels between motherhood and marathoning.

Preparation

  • Marathon: It takes months of physical preparation – including increased eating, more conscious eating, extra vitamins, soreness, pain, cramping and sometimes even vomiting. Wetting yourself at some point is also a high probability.
  • Motherhood: It takes months of preparation – including increased eating, more conscious eating, extra vitamins, soreness, pain, cramping and sometimes even vomiting. Wetting yourself at some point is also a high probability.

It’s normal to second-guess your abilities

  • Marathon: At the starting line right before the gun goes off, you’re a huge ball of nerves and raw emotion. The anticipation, the fear, the unknown. How is this going to play out? You have prepared for months for this moment and finally it is here. WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS, AGAIN?!
  • Motherhood: In the delivery room, I freaked a little when my doctor told me it was time to push. I had waited 40 weeks for this moment, was it really here? Is it really go time? I can’t do this. WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS, AGAIN?!

Bleeding nipples

  • Marathon: Marathoners (usually men) sometimes end up with bloody nipples caused from miles and miles of T-shirt friction over the sensitive area. (Thankfully, this didn’t happen to me.)
  • Motherhood: Breastfeeding women know all too well the joy of bleeding, cracked nipples during those first few weeks. (Unfortunately, this did happen to me.)

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It takes a while to find your groove

  • Marathon: About 3-5 miles in, you’re still trying to find your rhythm. Your lungs and legs are burning, and you’re wondering why running this godforsaken race was such a brilliant idea in the first place. But then, your body just sort of switches over to auto-pilot. Gradually, it feels like you’re powering through the miles with slightly less effort.
  • Motherhood: The first few months with a newborn can be pretty rocky. You’re trying to establish a routine with your baby, but your body isn’t used to the huge lifestyle adjustment. You begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. Am I really cut out for this parenting thing? Somewhere along the line, it starts to get a tiny bit easier.

Hitting “the wall”

  • Marathon: At about 15-20 miles in, cramping and ultra fatigue set in as your body burns through 2,000 calories. Many runners hit “the wall” at this point. Every step feels like trudging through quicksand. You push the electrolytes, the water, the salt tablets, but nothing works. You slow down to a slow trot or even a walk, ashamed. But eventually, you’re able to force yourself to start running again.
  • Motherhood: After weeks and sometimes months of only sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches, your body reaches its breaking point. Coffee just isn’t cutting it anymore. You can’t keep your eyes open or your brain focused on the tasks at hand. You’ve hit “the wall,” and you’re not sure how you can keep going, mentally or physically. But you dust yourself off and keep on going.

In the end, it’s worth it

  • Marathon: After 26.2 grueling miles, you finally did it! All of your hard work has paid off. Sure, you’re exhausted, but the endorphins and the adrenaline rush are totally worth it. The experience is so gratifying, in fact, that you want to run another!
  • Motherhood: When your baby meets a new milestone, celebrates a birthday, or when you just gaze into her eyes and are filled with so much love and joy, you realize it’s all worth it. The experience is so gratifying, in fact, that you want to have another!

*This post originally appeared on BabyCenter in 2014

Coping with miscarriage anxiety after a loss

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I’ve discovered that pregnancy after miscarriage is riddled with uncertainty.

To a certain extent, I’m sure the majority of expecting women who have experienced a pregnancy loss – whether it’s a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage or a still birth – also experience some sense of anxiety during subsequent pregnancies.

I still feel sick; I must still be pregnant, I reassure myself each day.

I hold my breath each time I go to the bathroom, willing there to be no red streaks on the toilet paper.

I’ve heard a heartbeat on three separate occasions, and yet I can’t seem to convince myself that everything will be OK because I’ve painfully learned there are no guarantees in life.

Even though I’m “safely” into the second trimester now, I’m very aware that miscarriage can happen at any point during pregnancy. Something can go wrong in an instant. Even after nine months of normalcy, a still birth could tragically happen.

I wasn’t so paranoid during my first pregnancy with my son. In fact, I was blissfully naive about the prevalence of miscarriage, assuming that it would never happen to me. I didn’t realize that as many as 1 in 5 known pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

I’m pretty healthy. I eat the right things. I don’t smoke or drink. I’m young and invincible.

And then it did happen to me.

I found out I was pregnant this year in January, only to start bleeding in early February. The on-call OB/GYN tried to offer hope by pointing out that some women bleed like they’re having a regular period while pregnant, and they end up having perfectly healthy babies.

But I knew something wasn’t right. A trip to the ER for an ultrasound and blood testing confirmed the loss.

To get back to my original point –- miscarriage has happened to me. And it could happen again.

Because of this lingering thought in the back of my mind, I’m having trouble getting excited at all about this pregnancy. I haven’t allowed myself to get too attached at this point because it could all be ripped away without warning.

I keep hoping that I might finally relax a little when I’m able to feel the baby’s movements. These simple kicks serving as a regular reminder that everything is still OK might help to put my mind at ease. Then again, maybe they won’t.

I know I’m not the only person to ever feel this way after a pregnancy loss, and I’m sure it’s only more difficult after multiple losses.

BabyCenter offers advice to women in my shoes, but I would still appreciate your input: How did you cope with anxiety after having a miscarriage/chemical pregnancy/still birth?

This post originally appeared on the BabyCenter Blog in July, 2013.

(However it’s still relevant now, as I’m pregnant with my fourth child.)