Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ten Great Frugal Gifts For Preemie Parents

"When my son was born full-term in January of 2005, I received the usual assortment of baby gear... tons of 0-3 month and 3-6 month outfits, blankets, bottles, rattles, baby books, prepared casseroles and meals, etc. All of these were very much appreciated. A mere eleven months later, when my daughter was born sixteen weeks early in December of 2005, I found myself again receiving precious little baby gifts. The difference? With a tiny preemie still in the NICU, our needs were drastically changed. There was nothing "typical" about our situation and what normally constituted a perfect baby gift suddenly became, well, useless. Thoughtful, but useless. So what to give the new preemie parents? Here are ten simple ideas for frugal gifts that are a perfect fit for those parenting these tiny miracles...

Please head over to Baby Cheapskate to read the rest of my guest post! I have lots of ideas to share for thoughtful gifts that won't break the bank...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks...

(So, this is a picture of my two kiddos in the rusty tub... except... you can't see it. Because I think Blogger thinks there's something "inappropriate" about this pic or something. All of my "tub shots" come up kind of scrambled. Anyway, I promise it's not an offensive shot. ;) I also promise you that, could you see it, you would be able to see my filthy-looking, rusty, icky tub...)

There are many, many things I love about this whole blogging thing. One that I loved even before I started my own blog and became more a part of the "community" was how I was able to learn new things through the wisdom of other women. It is really because of reading blogs that I learned how to be super frugal, how to get all sorts of free samples, how to make my own (fill in the blank), etc... I cannot even begin to tell you how many recipes, tips, and ideas I've found on the pages of blogs...

And, occasionally, I learn something that just blows my mind.

When we moved into this home four years ago, our front bathroom tub had rusty stains. No matter what I did, those stains did not go away. I've lost track of how much money we've shelled out for "rust removers" over the years. I cannot even tell you how many caustic chemicals I've exposed myself to in an effort the clear out those stains. But, rather than go away, they've gotten worse over the years. I certainly clean my tub. We even have "rust buster" water softener salt. Didn't matter; the rust stains bloomed larger and darker than ever.

Several months ago, I read a blog post that talked about using Bar Keepers Friend to remove rust stains from bathtubs, sinks, etc. (Here's where I insert my heart-felt apology that I truly do not remember where I read it... if it was you, let me know so I can give you credit!) I was intrigued enough to leave a comment and then forgot to ever look for the stuff... that is, until a nesting frenzy sent me scrambling out to pick things up at the store the other day. For $1.98, I picked up this can at Walmart.

Guess what?

My tub is white. White white. Gleaming even. My husband and I have both been guilty of just staring at it in wonder...

Learning new tricks? Well, that's a finer thing indeed.
This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Did I Have To Do With An Abortion??

So, by now I'm fairly certain that everyone in the blogosphere knows that I'm fiercely pro-life. I've struggled deeply over the past few months as we move further into a liberal-run era that, quite honestly, frightens me in terms of what it means for the unborn.

So why do I have medical paperwork that links my name with abortion? What on earth could that all mean? Did I have an epiphany at some point and come to my senses? Nope.

Actually, it has to do with the terminology we use. Terminology that I think is inaccurate and manages to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

When I was six weeks pregnant with my second child, my father-in-law had a devastating stroke and was hospitalized in the ICU. While visiting him one day, I suddenly felt crampy and realized I had started to bleed. I sat down and prayed it would ease up and stop but, when it didn't, my husband and I slipped away to the ER. At that point, no one else even knew I was pregnant.

A part of me wondered,
"Had the home pregnancy test been wrong? Was I just late that month?"

It was true that I hadn't been in to see a doctor yet...

Several tests and an examination revealed that, yes, I was indeed pregnant and, yes, the blood was cervical blood. The on-call OB speculated that it was highly likely I was in the process of miscarrying and that there was not anything we could do to stop it. He advised me to come back in two days to have my hormone levels checked. If they went up significantly, he informed me, it would be a sign that the pregnancy was intact and could most likely be sustained just like normal. If they dropped, he explained, it would mean that the pregnancy was over.

He sent me home with a packet of papers. The diagnosis circled in bright red marker?

Threatened abortion.

What? That sounded like something a malicious mother would do to father who wanted a baby that she didn't. It didn't sound like what I was going through... the crushing devastation of thinking I may be losing this baby who was so desperately wanted. How could they call what was happening to me by the same name they call it when someone chooses to murder their unborn baby? I remember staring at that phrase kind of sickly. The nurse who was discharging me noticed and put her hand on my shoulder,

"I don't know why they call it that. It makes no sense. And, for heaven's sake, this is even a Catholic hospital..."

I believe we need to rephrase that as "threatened miscarriage" or "potential miscarriage". Abortion, whether by true definition of not, suggests that someone would choose to end the pregnancy. I think that's an unfair label to throw at a couple who are already reeling with grief at the thought of losing a wanted child...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pregnancy Update... the homestretch!

I had yet another appointment with the OB today. I'm almost 35 weeks and still feeling great. I do have a whole lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions, but they're very manageable as long as I make sure to drink lots and lots of water. It's hard for me to remember to drink that much sometimes, but I've found that keeping flavored seltzer on hand helps a lot. As a result of being so far into the pregnancy and drinking so much, I rarely feel very hungry anymore either. I remember this feeling from my first pregnancy though and I know it's perfectly normal.

Weight, blood pressure, swelling, heart rate... all good. :)

We were all ready to welcome our little one on June 17th, but learned there had been a change of plans. Turns out I'll be snuggling our little newborn five days earlier than expected. My scheduled c-section has been moved to June 12th which means only two weeks and three more days of being a family of four. That's pretty wild to think about! I feel like there's so much planning to do before then. For some reason, having two and half weeks seems much shorter than having just over three weeks! Because we've been so involved in a job search and traveling, it often feels like time has "gotten away from me". I've not once felt anxious or in a hurry to have this baby.

I'm determined to find at least a few special things to do with my 3- and 4-year olds over the next couple of weeks. I'm not sure I can manage "big field trips", but I'm sure we can fit in some fun and meaningful little things.

My next appointment is one week from Thursday, June 4th. Some time shortly after that, I'll be asking for gender/weight predictions! :) Start thinking...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Wishing all of you a lovely Memorial Day. Enjoy your families, gathering together, the cookouts, and honoring those who gave so much for this country.

I'll be taking a break from "My Story..." Monday this week, but I'll be back!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Having An Old Stand-By...

If there's one thing that I've learned over the past few years, it's that life has seasons. Our family size and situations can change from year-to-year, sometimes from month-to-month. To live frugally and be a good steward of our finances, we must be willing to change and adapt with the times.

For me, one of the most crucial things I've had to adjust to was the fact that there will be times that I simply CAN'T do a thorough "bargain run". While I truly enjoy looking through the sales papers and sites and matching my coupons... and I delight in perusing my "You saved 80%!" receipts... sometimes, well, LIFE interferes. This was certainly the case early in this pregnancy when nausea and fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks. It was definitely true when my daughter arrived so prematurely.

And it's true again.

I'm eight months pregnant and my husband is currently out of state. When I realized that we needed a few items to round out our pantry yesterday, I inwardly cringed at the idea of loading up preschoolers and traipsing through supermarkets. And so I didn't.

I went to Aldi.

For me, Aldi is a great back-up plan. I know I can find my essentials there and that I won't pay through the nose. Can I often score better deals other places by matching sales and coupons? Yep. But was it worth it to get in and out lickety-split with no fuss or long prep? You better believe it.

Every season is unique and special... it pays to remember that.
This post is linked to Frugal Friday, hosted at Life as MOM.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Final Yoplait Prize Pack Winner

Congrats goes out to MH in OH for being our final winner! Asked where she likes to "get active" with her kids, MH writes:

"Our yard! It's why we have 4 acres. But we also enjoy stopping at different parks when we are out running errands."

Enjoy trying out some fun new activities on those four acres, MH!

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-05-20 12:58:55 UTC

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ditching the Sippy Cup

I've said it before.. we are a nation with a real sippy-cup addiction. Seriously. You would think I'd be used to it, but it still blows my mind to see 5- and 6-year olds carrying sippy cups around the grocery store. Or seeing parents fill their preschoolers' sippys with soda at McDonald's. Innumberable children entering preschool or kindergarten have never held an open cup until snacktime... and they promptly dump it all over. They have no concept of "cause and effect" and what's going to happen.

The thing is... the sippy cup should just be a transition step. And a fairly short-lived one at that! As far as our kids' teeth are concerned, it's really not any better than drinking from a baby bottle. Drinking from an open cup builds coordination. It requires different oral strengths than a sippy cup. And, quite simply, it's a life skill. I truly believe that, as parents, we need to be more pro-active in getting our kids off the sippy... We've successfully ditched the sippy cup well before the third birthdays of both of our children. Here are my best tips for being successful.

  • Use a very small cup and very little liquid to start. There's no reason to start out huge. Face it-- you ARE going to be wiping up the contents of said cup. May as well keep the damage to a minimum.
  • Start with water. Same idea-- it's so much easier to clean up than sticky juice or milk!
  • Feel free to hold the cup yourself the first few times. This allows your child to sip at the liquid and grasp the concept without getting "flooded".
  • Serve drinks at the table. I know that seems like a no-brainer tip, but I really think one of the main reasons for the "sippy cup epidemic" is that, somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that our children must have access to a drink every moment of the day. I'm not sure why this is... I certainly don't remember EVER having a drink in the car or church or the doctor's waiting room as a child. And I wasn't deprived or dehydrated either. By all means, make sure your children are getting enough fluids. But there's no reason they need to run all over the house with them.
  • If you MUST serve something to drink away from the table, consider using a straw. There are lidded cups with straws available that can be washed and re-used. Or give a juice box as a treat. Straws are actually GOOD for kids because they build oral strength (especially "crazy straws"!) and help prevent aspiration since your head remains upright (rather than tipped back) when you swallow. Furthermore, straws are socially appropriate even as adults, so it's not another thing to "wean" your child off of down the road.
  • When you feel frustrated, remember that YOU never had a sippy cup as as child. And I bet you turned out just fine. :)
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Monday, May 18, 2009

"My Story..." Monday: The First Full Day At Home

The night we brought our baby girl home from the hospital went surprisingly smoothly. It was the first night that ANY of us had spent in our house since since December 22nd... almost four months before. Juggling her equipment into our home and getting her (and our 14 month old!) fed and tucked in kept us hopping, but I don't remember having any real struggles. After so many months of unspeakable stress, my husband and I had an unspoken agreement to just "do what needs to be done" and you could definitely see it in action that night!

We had to get up twice during the night to feed C.-- once at 1 am and once just before 5 am. We were actually very lucky as preemie parents; some have to feed their babies much more often than that. Keep in mind that our little girl was almost four months old, but still weighed only 6 1/2 lb. She was eating just under an ounce and a half of breast milk, fed through an NG-tube, at each feeding. This all went smoothly. Her apnea monitor never alarmed that night and she slept very peacefully. Our very-tired son fell asleep fast and hard in his own crib for the first time in months.

The next morning, my husband left around 7 am to go to work. It was a Wednesday. I was on my own. I had no friends in the area and didn't even really know our ONE set of neighbors at the time. My mother-in-law was still struggling after having lost her husband earlier that year and my sisters-in-law both work outside the home. It was just me. And my two babies.

And you know what?

I was deliriously happy. Busy, but happy. After months of NEVER seeing my children together, it brought such joy to my heart to be able to snuggle them both. Was it difficult to haul all of C's equipment from room-to-room as went through our daily routine? Absolutely. Was it challenging having one baby on oxygen, monitor, and tubes to cart around while ALSO carrying my 30-lb not-yet-walking 14-month old son? You better believe it. But so very worth it.

Some of the toughest things for me to figure out were: 1) when to eat (like most moms of newborns, I was constantly meeting "baby needs" and frequently neglected my own), 2) when to pump (this became a huge challenge for me-- I couldn't nurse C. directly because of her swallowing difficulties so I HAD to pump... but I would frequently forget or let long stretches go), and 3) how to run errands with both of them (from the beginning, I refused to just "stay home in a germ-free bubble"... we were careful, but we still led a fairly normal life). As the weeks went on, I got better at (most of) these things. I'll be writing more about that soon...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Day At the Falls...

Last week, we had the great joy of visiting Connecticut and staying with my parents (Bama and Papa to the kids). We had lots of lovely times together but, without a doubt, this day was one of my favorites...

We went to visit a waterfall... it was free, it wasn't crowded, the weather was cooperative. I love the pure happiness I got to see on my children's faces...

Daddy and A. take in the view... and toss a few pebbles.

Papa casts a line... and catches a trout!

Bama supervises C. climbing the steps...

The beauty of nature... the comfort of family... the sound of children's laughter...

Definitely a few of the finer things in this Mama's life.

This post is linked to Finer Things Fridays.

13 Foods I Can't Get Enough Of This Pregnancy

First of all, I apologize for how all of my posts seem to be "pregnancy-related" this week. I certainly have plenty of other things going on in my life, but these things keep popping in my head!

Here are thirteen foods that I just can't seem to have enough of right now. Watch how the list starts out so nice and healthy and steadily veers off path... I can't deny being tempted by unhealthy choices!

  1. Steamed broccoli
  2. Strawberries
  3. Egg whites with salsa, preferably extra spicy
  4. Mushrooms (I always love them, but I've been planning almost all of our dinners to include them lately!)
  5. Iceberg lettuce on things (I'm not a huge salad fan, but I've been loving this crunchy lettuce on my tacos, sandwiches, piled on nachos, you name it...)
  6. Ground chicken burgers (For some reason, these taste far superior to ground beef burgers to me right now...)
  7. Extra-sharp cheddar cheese (especially the white variety which is surprisingly hard to find here in Indiana)
  8. Super cold skim milk (You should know that I am a HORRIBLE milk drinker under normal circumstances...)
  9. Decaf Cinnabon coffee by Seattle's Best
  10. Polar Bears (our small-town ice cream shop's version of DQ's Blizzard-- make mine Heath with chocolate ice cream, please!)
  11. Jellybeans (which I cannot STAND ordinarily...)
  12. Lemonheads (those super sour little yellow round candies? Yeah...absolutely no health value there. Nada.)
  13. Doritos (Thank goodness there have been so many BOGO sales on these! And, also, thank goodness I haven't had any worries about gaining too much weight!)
I believe very strongly that "cravings" that involve healthy foods you don't ordinarily enjoy may indeed stem from a biological need. I don't normally eat many strawberries, but I recently learned that they're real folic acid powerhouses. Early in the pregnancy, I craved orange juice (something I never drink typically) and my doctor said it helps with iron absorption (something I struggled with early on). I don't believe those are coincidences. But I also believe strongly that many women blame their own whims and desires on "pregnancy cravings". And you know what? There's nothing wrong with indulging a pregnant lady! I just don't want to see those cravings getting attributed to "the baby wants/needs it!". Because, really? That just doesn't even make sense to me.

Either way, though... biological or psychological... you can be my big buddy right now by providing me with those thirteen things!
This post is linked to Thursday {Thirteen} hosted at Happy To Be At Home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sharing Maternity Clothes

(33 weeks and counting!)

I've never been pregnant in the warmer months before. Well, I've been two or three months pregnant during the summer, but that's pretty irrelevant when it comes to needing new clothes. At least in my case. Furthermore, since my last pregnancy ended abruptly during the second trimester, I didn't ever get around to buying anything new. As a result, the maternity clothes that I own are the items I bought to wear during the December and January before my son was born. Oh, and I was also a supervisor at a bank at the time. So... lots of "dressier" things.

Now I'm a stay-at-home mommy to two preschoolers and the temperature keeps climbing. I really don't want to go out and buy more clothes... but my own supply wasn't really meeting my needs. Can I tell you how grateful I am to have two sisters-in-law who have happily passed boxes of clothes among us for the last couple of years? I'm feeling good about making it to the end without having to shell out another dime.

Here are my best tips for making "maternity clothes sharing" work:

  • Be courteous. When you pass on (or return) the clothes, make sure they're clean and folded. If a strap breaks or a button falls off, mend it. If something gets stained (and, face it, it happens), let her know so she doesn't discover it after she's already left the house.
  • Be organized. Find a system, be it bags, boxes, or what-not, that works for keeping things straight. We used large diaper boxes to keep seasons and sizes sorted. Label them clearly. This makes it much easier for the next person to find what she needs.
  • Realize you may still need to buy something. My legs are a good 4 or 5 inches longer than either of my sisters-in-law's. So, when I busted out the knee of my beloved maternity jeans, I made the choice to watch for sales and spring for a new pair. I wear jeans too often to always look like I'm waiting for a flood...
  • If in doubt, don't lend it. Do you have an article of clothing that is just too precious to you? The shirt you were wearing when you went into labor the first time? A dress you searched high and low for to wear to your sister's wedding? If the thought of something happening to it makes you want to cry, just don't lend it. Hold onto it and graciously pass on the rest. It's unlikely the next mommy in line will need or miss it, and this way you avoid having it get lost or damaged.
  • Don't be picky. It is rare to have friends and relatives who have the exact same taste and wear the exact same size as you. As I mentioned earlier, I'm taller than my hubby's sisters. I'm also on the narrow side (shoulders, ribs, etc.) They're both blessed with more curves. The result? My tops are all smalls and mediums. Theirs are larges and extra-larges. Does that mean we don't share? Not at all. It just means that they got the most use out my maternity shirts earlier in their pregnancies. And the shirts I borrow are a little baggy. They may not be "perfect" fits for us, but we're certainly able to stretch our own wardrobes by filling in with these pieces! My dressy bank clothes? Well, those came in mighty handy for my accountant sister-in-law. My other sister-in-law's casual summer clothes? You can bet I'm grateful to have them now!

Sharing maternity clothes works for me. And it definitely works for my budget.
This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, and Frugal Friday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Portrait of a Pregnancy After a Preemie: Part 7

You can't really see my bump, but you can see me having fun in CT! Pretty, pretty, isn't it?

"Are you hanging in there?"
asked my OB as she walked in the room this morning.

"Oh, absolutely!!" was my enthusiastic reply.

I'm almost 33 weeks pregnant now and feeling fantastic. I actually really LOOK pregnant now (though a few perhaps myopic people still like to tell me I don't look it) and I'm enjoying actually needing maternity clothes. I really never got close to this point with my last pregnancy so you better believe I'm just delighted to experience all the changes that go along with the third trimester.

My blood pressure was excellent (120/62) again today and my weight is holding steady at the "low end" of recommended gain. I'm perfectly happy with that!

My kids, especially my four year-old, seem to have a better concept of what's going on now. I still think it will come as a bit of a shock to them when we bring an actual BABY home next month, but, for now, they like patting my growing belly ("giving the baby five") and they giggle when they get kicked in the back while sitting on my (shrinking) lap. Because my check-ups seem to fall on Tuesdays, our 4yo son is with us for every visit. He gets a real kick out of hearing his new sibling's heartbeat!

The baby's heart rate was in the 160's today. Before anyone decides that definitely means we're having a girl, I should warn you that the doctor said this may be the busiest baby she's ever tried to pin down. I truly spend most of my day with my shirt moving all over the place. I really, truly though my other two were active babies. But this one? I'm not going to lie... I'm a little worried about what we should expect once he or she is born! :)

I feel great. Very occasional heartburn and a sore back if I sleep wrong. (I'm a back-sleeper normally and, at this point in the pregnancy, if I wake up that way, I can be a bit achy...) Other than that? I have to say that I feel healthy and rested and very comfortable. Our long car ride to and from CT didn't cause me any issues whatsoever. Did I need to get out and stretch periodically? Well, yes. But is that something to complain about? Heavens no.

Because I passed the 32-week mark, a couple of my restrictions have been lifted. That is certainly an indication that things are looking really good!

I go back in two weeks. I can hardly believe I only have a few more appointments until the big day. While I am excited to hold our newest little blessing, I am a little bittersweet about the pregnancy nearing the end. I've been so fortunate to carry this long and to have such smooth sailing. I plan to cherish these next weeks just as much as I can...
I know a couple of my readers are also expecting babies. How are you feeling? I love to hear. Also, a big congrats to Crystal who welcomed her third baby and first son on May 6th... enjoy your precious new bundle!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun in the Sun With Yoplait!

The sun is shining here in Indiana and the weather is just about perfect. What a great opportunity to get out there and play with the kids!

I've already been fortunate enough to give away two fantastic Yoplait Get Active Prize Packs. And there's still one more up for grabs! This will be the final Yoplait Prize Pack that I give away, but there's more fun stuff to come...

My kids (and I!) absolutely adore yogurt and I love the convenience and health benefits of it. It appears somewhere on their menu at least five days a week. And that's great news! Because you know what? Research has shown that fewer than half of all kids ages two to 12 get the calcium they need each day. And calcium and Vitamin D are both essential nutrients for building strong bones. Yogurt is a great source of both nutrients!

So I was thrilled to receive a coupon* for a free 6-pack of any of the Yoplait for Kids yogurt products (Go-Gurt, Trix, Yoplait Kids). These yogurts are available in a wide variety of flavors and none of them have any "chunks"- handy, since many kids are opposed to chunks in their yogurt! My kids' latest favorite? Strawberry-Vanilla.

Along with the yogurt coupon, we received a Yoplait Get Active Prize Pack. Perfect for a fun-filled day for active children, it includes:

  • A travel cooler (to take the yogurt on the road!)
  • A jump rope.
  • A water bottle.
  • An outdoor game set that includes a beach ball, paddle ball, Jai-Ali, and a Frisbee
And it's all neatly packaged in a drawstring net bag. Can I tell you how much I appreciate that fact? Much less clutter sitting next to my door!

There's nothing like new outdoor toys to help get you busy and moving out there. It had been awhile since I'd had the opportunity to show off my mad Frisbee skills... not that my skills are all that impressive at this stage of pregnancy but, still, it's fun to get out there!

We've already had a ton of fun enjoying our prize pack and, just this past week, we put our new cooler to use as we headed halfway across the country. How handy!

If you'd like to join me in getting active with our kiddos and you'd like some fun new things to help make it easier, simply leave a comment answering the following question:

Where is your favorite place to "get active" with your kids? Your yard? The park? The beach? A pool? Let me know!

I'm a real water-girl myself but, since I'm awfully land-locked here in Indiana, I enjoy checking out new parks and nature trails too!

This giveaway will remain open until Sunday evening, May 17th. The winner will be announced Monday morning. Good luck!

(*Important: This coupon offer for a free six pack of Yoplait for Kids yogurt is not valid in some states, including Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota and Tennessee.)

"My Story..." Monday: The 'Why I Think I Went Into Premature Labor' Edition

I'm settling back into my normal routine now that we've returned from our last-minute trip out East. Some people may think I was crazy for deciding to travel almost thirty hours in a car during my third trimester... especially given my history. But you know what? It all went very smoothly, as I had anticipated, and I'm feeling pretty confident that this pregnancy will carry on right up until my scheduled c-section (on June 17th).

The thing is... I really have no reason to suspect anything different. Really. Does that surprise anyone? I mean, I DID give birth at 24 weeks last time around. And it was the scariest, most challenging, and most amazing thing I've ever had to deal with. I certainly would be the last to deny that the whole experience made this pregnancy a lot more nerve-wracking and frightening for me. I spent a good many weeks (okay, months) feeling like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had so many "mini-milestones" to hit in order to feel more confident. But the truth is... everything has gone smoothly. Just as the doctors told me it likely would after my daughter's premature birth.

As I wrote about here, the thing about "preterm labor/unknown causes" is that, while it gives you nothing to blame, it also leaves you with nothing concrete to fear. It really shouldn't be a shock that my blood pressure has been great. That my health has been superb. That I've suffered no swelling or edema. That I've had no nerve pain. That I've had no bleeding or cramping. I'm not trying to jinx myself here, but I'm starting to have a better idea of what my post-partum doctors were trying to tell me-- there was no discernible reason to suspect that I would face preterm labor in a subsequent pregnancy. They said it was a fluke.

A fluke? Well, let me tell you this... I didn't (and don't) like that explanation. I'm one of those people who really WANTS a reason. I want an explanation. The doctors couldn't give me one, but I'm going to share with you what I think...

These are the three things that I think factored in to why my daughter was born almost four months early:

I got pregnant really, really soon after having given birth the first time. Don't get me wrong here- plenty of women have closely-spaced children (and, for the record, I LOVE having mine so close) without any pregnancy issues whatsoever. I would never advise against having babies in quick succession! That being said, there are some studies out there that indicate that your body may not have enough time to fully recover from one birth before the next if your children are super close together. I don't regret getting pregnant when my first was still tiny, but I do sometimes wonder if it didn't make things a bit tougher on my body...

I didn't take "ideal" care of myself. Oh, no, I didn't do anything reckless or irresponsible during my second pregnancy, but I also didn't pay as much attention to my own needs as I did the first time around (or even this time around, if it comes down to it...) I was so busy taking care of an infant that I probably failed to eat enough and rest enough. I also disobeyed my "nothing over 25 pounds" lifting restriction because, well, my baby son was HUGE and weighed that at six months! He certainly wasn't walking yet and I could see no way around lifting him.

I went through incredible stress and major life events. Here is a brief rundown of what those months just before and during my second pregnancy looked like... We found out my father-in-law had stage three lung cancer. We decided to move from Virginia Beach to the middle of Indiana to be near his family. We sold a home. Bought a home. Moved with a four-month old. My husband quit his job. Then couldn't find a new one in our new location. Our "new" house was very old and required tons of labor and money to make it work. We went on vacation (a bright spot!) and returned to find my father-in-law even sicker. We found out I was pregnant. My father-in-law had a stroke. I started cramping and bleeding (while my father-in-law lay in the ICU) and had to go to the ER. We lost my father-in-law the next day. I attended his funeral just after being told I was likely miscarrying. I did not miscarry. My mother-in-law, not surprisingly, went through a very hard time after losing her husband and stayed with us many nights. I couldn't seem to gain weight and suffered severe "all-day" sickness. I had no friends in this new town. I was even afraid to drive because I didn't know the area. I stayed home all the time and had little outside contact. My husband found a job (hooray!) with a two-hour commute each way, no health insurance, and a significant pay cut. At 22-weeks pregnant, I woke up with blood streaked all down my thighs. My daughter was born less than two weeks later. So there you go. It was not a time of "smooth-sailing". While not much has been done on the subject here in the States, there are several European studies that seem to indicate that "unreasonable stress" can really up the risks of preterm labor. I truly believe that it did in my case.

This time around? I have normal "mommy-stress". I am taking care of a 3- and 4-year old after all. I have typical "family issues" that come up. I'm even dealing with job loss again as my husband's position was eliminated in February. But even with all that, it doesn't even compare to last time around. My body had had almost three years to recuperate since my last pregnancy and I've strived to take excellent care of myself and follow doctor's orders as closely as I can.

I'm looking forward to about five more weeks of being pregnant. The third trimester is a blessing indeed!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Where AM I?!?!?

I can't begin to tell you all how much I appreciate all the emails I've received wondering where I'm at... and I also must apologize for leaving you all hanging, especially with being 31 weeks pregnant with a history of preterm labor.

Rest assured, baby is still in utero where he or she belongs at this point and I'm doing great!

My husband and I ended up leaving Indiana on the spur of the moment for a trip out East (where I hail from!). We divided the drive over 2 1/2 days so that I could get plenty of movement and our recently potty-trained son could have plenty of pit stops. I'm in Connecticut now and doing great.

I probably won't be around much for the next few days as we tackle a whirlwind of visits and interviews, but rest-assured, this blog isn't going anywhere. I'll be back! I will also be working my way through the piles of email slowly but surely...

Until then, thanks so much for checking in and checking up on me... I miss writing and look forward to getting back to my regular routine!