So Long, Due Date: 40 Weeks, 2 Days, and Still Counting…

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This is a Maternity Monday post by still-pregnant guest blogger and teaching artist, Jess Levey.

Yup, the time has come, and gone, for the final looooong stretch. Although my husband and I are both very punctual people, I have always been pretty sure that baby would be late.  My due date was January 12th – two days ago.  Children are known to test their parents’ patience on a routine basis, so what better time than now to put me to the test?! And, it really wouldn’t be all that bad if it wasn’t for that fact that it is flu season (and as we have been told the WORST ever on record) so going to crowded movies or museums or taking the subway is pretty much not an option. Although, I may go against doctor dad’s orders on this one if baby doesn’t arrive soon!

So, basically we quarantine ourselves at home, working as much as we can on our photography biz, taking long walks, watching way too much TV, cooking, eating, and making up silly songs that we sing to the baby asking it to come on out.   On top of all the waiting are the constant stream of phone calls, text messages, and emails from friends and family asking what’s going on. Just when I feel like I have successfully distracted myself from the looong wait, I get another text saying something like “I can’t believe you don’t have a baby yet.” Really?  YOU can’t believe it?! But, I shouldn’t complain, all these texts and calls are from a place of love, even if they do sound like a broken record.

My husband and I are working as hard as we can to get this labor started so we can welcome our new amazing baby. I’m taking primrose oil and blue cohosh, eating spicy food, going for long walks, getting acupuncture treatments, and of course that other task which is how we got to this finish line in the first place (and, which really is not has much fun as it was 9 months ago!). So, basically, our daily lives are being taken over by this curiosity and attempt to control biology. And, then there are these blissful moments when I feel normal, like this is just how my life is.

My body is bigger but I’m not in any terrible discomfort.

I get to have my shoes put on for me.

I get to eat chocolate every day.

I have an excuse to not do anything or go anywhere, including to work, and life is quite relaxing.

I like these moments, when I can forget, maybe work on a project rather than obsess about the unknown.

And, I’m pretty sure it is during this relaxed state that baby will most likely decide to make his/her debut.

Just like a watched pot never boils, I know that baby ain’t gonna arrive until I chill out. But then, the phone rings, or a text comes in, or an email arrives, saying “So??? What’s going on?  Any baby yet?” And, I am reminded, once again of my main goal in life right now – to wait, and it may just be the longest line ever!

Nesting for Baby – 2 weeks to go

This is a guest post by Jess Levey as part of Maternity Mondays.

We are now at 38 weeks, and as Braxton Hicks contractions (or ‘practice labor surges’ as we say in hypnobirthing) appear as quickly as they dissipate, the reality has definitely set in, that yes, we will soon be experiencing a life changing event, probably the most altering life event that we have yet encountered and may ever encounter. And, like any great adventure there is that amazing excitement and fear of the unknown that I have learned to embrace while trying as much as possible to control what’s to come, as futile an attempt that may be. We all do it- we try our hardest to control parts of our lives that we know are uncontrollable, and as much as I have prepared mentally and physically for labor, I know deep down that most of what will transpire is really out of my hands.

I can practice my hypnobirthing meditations every night, do my squats, begrudgingly do perineal massages, walk and walk and walk, insert and ingest primrose oil, eat my greens and omega 3s, talk to baby, stay positive, drink my pregnancy tea, and visualize the ‘perfect’ birthing experience, but in the end, something major or minor can occur and I can end up with an emergency C-section, or maybe I won’t be able to breast feed, or maybe our baby will be jaundice for a few days. As much as we can try to prepare and control what is to come, I know deep down that placing too much attachment on this ideal labor is dangerous.

That said, my husband and I have been greatly enjoying nesting and preparing as much as we can. If we can’t fully control the birthing experience, we may as well control what will happen when baby comes home. After my ridiculously fun baby shower a couple of weeks ago, we had to find room in our tiny one bedroom apartment for all the baby goodies- a task which has been quite an overwhelming challenge. The more stuff we get, the more anxious I seem to get. But, with subtle furniture re-arrangements I am hoping we can make it work. The most satisfying preparation we have done thus far is cooking home-made meals and freezing them so that we have yummy food to just heat up and enjoy during those sleepless first few weeks (or is it months?). So far we have made butternut squash soup, meatloaf, chili, lentil stew, sweet potato Quiche, broccoli Quiche, and currently my husband is cooking up a shepherd’s pie and some kugel.

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If there is one thing that Jewish people do when they are anxious, it’s eat, and in our case, it is cooking that has given us this wonderful sense of control and ease, and a feeling that we will be well taken care of when we bring baby home- not just by our close family and friends, but also by ourselves. My mother keeps telling me how much help we will need when the baby arrives. I keep trying to remind her that we are only having one baby (while my sister had the great challenge of two at the same time), that it’s not THAT hard, and that in case she forgot, my husband is actually a domestic maven who works from home, so there are two of us here supporting each other, doing the laundry, cooking, and cleaning together. While we are constantly in sync organizing and cooking and cleaning, I am reminded how lucky I am to be in this situation and it just boggles my mind how women have been doing this alone for so many years. Every time I go to do the dishes with my aching back, my husband looks over and says “you want me to finish that up?” And, as much as I want to continue to praise him for his ‘modern ways’ I also believe that this is really how it should be- we are in this together, preparing for what’s to come, even if I am the only one pushing through the pain.

And, with that, I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR full of adventurous unknowns…20121231-094739.jpg

 

Anxiety and Motherhood – Can you separate the two?

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger and arts educator Jess Levey.  This series appears almost every Monday on Beccarama.com

Yesterday we received an email from my mother in law in Israel who relayed an emotional story about my sister-in-law’s race from the playground to the bomb shelters while she struggled to carry both her children with sirens blaring above. I think one of the reasons that this image was so terrifying aside from the obvious, is that my sister-in-law is not exactly someone who you would call anxious or fearful. My husband’s siblings, like him, have an incredible way to brush away worry, knowing deep down that everything will always be just fine.  While traveling back from our honeymoon in Costa Rica in a tiny commuter plane while in a storm, I was sure we were done for, but my husband just assured me of our safety by merely telling me, “don’t worry, I’m not dying in a plane crash, I am sure that’s not the way I am going to go.” Somehow this made me feel better. And, when he went to Israel a few years ago during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, I decided not to join him, and instead sat at home worried (until I managed to get my ass to an ashram in the Bahamas to chill out).  He assured me, once again, that nothing will happen to him, that he is not going to go that way either. Now, all this confidence about his own mortality is one thing, but when you have a child, how do you find the tools to truly believe that they will always be as safe from harm as you. When my mother in law met my sister in law at the bomb shelter and asked her how she was, she replied that she had been scared. My mother in law explained to her that when they were constantly running for shelter during the first Gulf War when she was only 12 years old she was never scared, and she replied, “that was before I was a mom.”

That got me thinking (and crying!) about the relationship between motherhood and anxiety. For the past two weeks, as our baby grows extremely close to full term (it is now beginning it’s 33rd week), I have begun to experience a feeling that is all too familiar to me, fear. I have always been a worrier, the kind of child that never slept before the first day of school. But, through the years, I have been given tools to help ease this innate emotion, and now I have methods to detach myself from any irrational or convoluted nightmares that I imagine in my mind.   Over the last three weeks, however, beginning with Hurricane Sandy, new anxieties have risen up, all having to do with the health of our growing baby. There was the sore throat and chest cold after volunteering in the hard hit Rockaways that I was convinced was caused from post hurricane toxic air that would in turn affect the baby, then there was the hot bath that I took in order to allow for a relaxing, sleep filled night that only left me completely wound up and anxious that the water was too hot and I had cooked the baby, and then this past weekend I suffered an asthma attack during a child-birth class because I had forgotten to ask the teacher if she owned any cats (super allergic!) before settling down on a mat on the floor. Was I ever scared for my own well being during these physically trying experiences?  Of course not, the only thought I had was, “I just hurt the baby, and now it will be damaged forever.”  Of course, this is all a bit insane, especially considering how healthy baby and me have been throughout the pregnancy.  I am sure all this new anxiety has been exacerbated by my restless sleep, but, from what I have heard, I won’t be sleeping much for the next 18 years or so anyway (wait, then he/she gets a driver’s license!, so make that the next 30 years?), so I better just get used to it. If being anxious plays a big role in motherhood, I guess I will be a super mom! Especially, if we ever move to Israel (oh no, I better not say that here, my mom may be reading this!).

I always envisioned myself as a mom who watches with ease as her child climbs alone to the top of the monkey bars, or who can introduce led feeding at 6 months, or who is fine with my kid licking the city streets (germs are good immune boosters after all!). It is not these actions that actually scare me, it is the fear itself. I know that being a fearful mom will in turn affect my child. Just like being fearful during labor restricts oxygen to the uterus and tightens muscles causing more pain, being an anxious parent can be very hurtful to a child since they are so sensitive to their mother’s emotions.  I am sure I will try my best not to show my anxiety, and when all else fails, well, at least there’s dad.

 

Sardines and Entenmann’s: Why Some Cravings are Better Than Others

photo credit: bettybl flickr

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger Jess Levey.  This series appears almost every Monday on Beccarama.

Well, it is official.  At 27 weeks people now know I am pregnant – thanks in part to my Facebook declaration as well as my now very obvious belly bump, or as I like to call it my belly mound.

Sometimes I forget that I am pregnant and then I catch a glimpse of my profile reflected in a store window and have a moment of internal freak out,” How could I let myself go like that?!” And then reality kicks me in the gut (literally.) Much like when you wake from a dream in which you were smoking cigarettes and eating an entire Entenmann’s chocolate cake only to wake up with extreme relief that it was all just your subconscious playing games with you, again.

The problem is that like many women I have spent much of my interior life struggling with my self worth merely based on this body profile that I catch in a reflection from time to time.

Last weekend while on a work trip/babymoon in Montauk, we came across Woody Allen’s film Melinda and Melinda. In one of the opening scenes Brooke Smith’s pregnant character explains to her friend that her husband says having sex with her is like having sex with the loser from weight watchers.  This happened to be a night when I was feeling much huger than usual, partly in thanks to one of those very wide hotel mirrors that hung across from our bed as well as the 4 Tates chocolate chip cookies that I eaten (never again, I promise!). I just sat there, wondering if my husband felt this way, but then I remembered that he is not a complete a-hole like the character’s husband in the film.  Just that afternoon, my husband had me modeling for him on the beach while he celebrated my new beautiful body with his talented photographer ways.  For the first time in my life I was sticking out my bulging belly with pride and love.

We are all very much aware of the extremes that some women will go to ensure that they stay sexy and desirable while pregnant, making sure to gain only the recommended maximum 20 pounds (or less) during pregnancy. I am not one of those women. I am thoroughly enjoying eating without counting calories. But, just as when I wasn’t pregnant, my goal needs to be about conscious behavior towards good health.

That said, there are foods that make me bloated and foods that make me way more tired than I normally am. The culprit, of course, is white bread and sugar. I couldn’t shake my exhausted-ness these past few weeks until it hit me, I had been eating way more bread than I normally do, mostly because it’s a quick snack, can be eaten with anything, and well, it’s what I crave.

But, today I decided to be more conscious of my eating, and it worked. I stuck to eggs and salad and just a couple of pieces of my sprouted grain bread, which I ate with sardines (luckily for my growing baby this is one of my favorite foods to eat), and I had more energy all day. I had a photo shoot in Staten Island in the morning followed my 5 straight hours of editing and I didn’t for one instant feel my usual exhaustion, which is shocking since it was a rainy gloomy day!  This is an amazing relief at a time when I was beginning to think that the next three months were going to be a brutal fight with extreme tiredness, aches, bloating, and all the other bad stuff people tell me comes with being pregnant.

Hopefully as I get closer to my due date, I will have more power over those undesirable pregnancy symptoms by making better choices on a daily basis.  I am relieved to find myself figuring out what works for me. Let’s just hope that all that bread I was eating won’t make my kid one of those super carb-cravers who demands buttered noodles for dinner while throwing the quinoa salad on the floor in a fury.

A Rational Approach to Formula vs. Breastfeeding…

English: teat, baby bottle nipple (Lovi/Canpol...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger, Cristie Ritz-King.  Cristie attended a Perrigo Nutritionals event on behalf of Beccarama.

When I had my first baby I thought I was totally prepared. I had read all the books, taken all the classes and made up my mind about how it would all go down. Then, nothing went as planned and I found myself exhausted, overwhelmed and often out-manned while trying to make decisions. I was often going against either the medical personnel or the lactation consultants, depending on which shift was on duty.

When the nurses wanted to give my jaundiced baby formula or even water from a bottle, I practiced all the empowered statements I was taught. I asked to nurse her more. I asked for more time. Finally, I asked that they use a dropper and not a bottle.

Honestly, I’m not sure that they honored any of my requests because they took her from the room and brought her back swaddled, clean and sleeping. Quite frankly, that was all I cared about at that moment.

What I learned over the coming weeks was that it shouldn’t matter what people think or even what I thought before the baby was born. What I learned was that the best thing for us was going to look only like the best thing for us. It may not look like it did in other people’s nurseries or on the playground or in the coffee shop. My husband and I, and often our baby had to be the only people in on the decision. We sought counsel from doctors and other “experts”, we for sure asked friends and our parents chimed in accordingly, but at the end of the day, we were all that counted.

That’s what I hope new parents learn sooner than we did. When it comes to caring for your baby, if you have armed yourself with all the information, then you will know what’s best. Yes, you will be judged. It’s a sad fact that no matter what you decide about nursing or formula, cloth diapers, nanny or daycare, someone out there is going to think you’re wrong and they will not hesitate to tell you or stare at you or whisper when you walk away. I’m sorry for that fact.

The good news is there are plenty of supportive parents who will do no such thing. There are women and men like those I met yesterday at a lunch held by Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula sold at places like Target, Walgreens, CVS and Babies R Us.

As you might imagine, an event sponsored by a formula company can be a risky situation in the parent-blogging space. However, yesterday held no hateful comments or judgments. What we had was an intelligent, honest discussion that reminded me that most parents are helpful and hopeful and supportive no matter whether they agree or not.

What I learned about Perrigo is that their formulas are half-the cost of their name-brand counterparts. And, because the FDA regulates the infant formula industry so tightly, they are nearly identical. So much so that NYC Pediatrician and author of The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses and Accidents,  Jennifer Trachtenberg (who has incredible whole-patient care incidentally) recommends them to her patients.

Beyond learning about formula, what I took away from yesterday’s event is how fortunate a thing it is to be surrounded by parents who support you for doing the best you can-no matter what that looks like. Remember that power when you wade into the world of parenting decisions. Seek out the ones who hold you up because they are out there and they are irreplaceable.

As a Childbirth Educator and Holistic Health Coach, Cristie Ritz King’s mission is to provide busy women all the information they need to make empowered decisions that work for their best life-judgment free. Read more about what she’s saying about Real Life Wellness here and her life as a mom on her blog, The Right Hand Mom.

Pregnant in Flats (Because I’m working all the time!)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger Jess Levey.  This series appears almost every Monday on Beccarama.

I have been taking a break from Maternity Mondays since, well, I have been very busy starting a new teaching job, shooting and editing weddings, and working in my art studio – did I mention, that I lead three different ‘work’ lives?  All of this busy-ness has got me thinking: When did it become OK for pregnant women to take on as much when they are pregnant as they did pre-pregnancy?

As I begin my third trimester I have developed new aches and pains, walking up a flight of subway stairs or bending over to buckle my shoes has become increasingly difficult. The pressure in my pelvis and uterus (and well, entire abdomen really) seems to be cause for alarm, but from what I have read, this is all normal. I am so thankful for the Ingrid & Isabel BellaBand that I’ve been using to help support and lift my tummy.

I wasn’t sure if I’d need it when they sent it to me a few months ago since I couldn’t fathom my stomach being big enough to need something like this – but now it’s a life saver – giving me support and taking weight off my back, especially while teaching all day, and shooting all night!

Finding something to wear is a whole other issue, especially since I am now teaching in a religious school where I need to hide my bulging cleavage which seems to want to pop out of even the highest of necklines.

Most of the time when I am home, I sleep or I think about sleep. I have never been a morning person, but my sleep patterns have become as upside down as a newborn’s.  On Sunday, I slept till 11am!  Then went to brunch with my husband where I drank two cups of (half-decaf) coffee and a ridiculously too heavy eggs Benedict with chorizo, came home and slept for another 2 hours! Granted, I was resting up in preparation for a wedding I was off to shoot starting at 5:30 in the evening and ending at 11pm, but even after all that sleep, I still felt exhausted.

So, I guess it is true that the 2nd trimester is truly the honeymoon period, full of much more energy than I think I ever had pre-pregnancy.  And, just as quickly as our actual honeymoon in Costa Rica flew by, so did the 2nd trimester. I just can’t believe that I have 3 ½ more months to go until my due date, and my workload will just get more and more intense as winter approaches.

All of this need for rest but lack of time to do so, has got me questioning this pressure that pregnant women have succumbed to be as busy as possible before the birth of the baby, if not even more so. We are so terrified of the possibility of three months without work post-baby, that we do as much as we can beforehand to make up for the likely lost income, especially if we are freelance like most of my friends and colleagues.

I am not sure this is healthy for my baby or for my sanity.  I am constantly hearing stories from friends about how they worked up to the very last minute before giving birth. One friend just yesterday was saying how she was shooting a gig in midtown (a 45 minute commute by subway) on a Wednesday and she delivered on Friday. Another colleague told me that she was shooting a wedding two weeks before giving birth, and she had three herniated discs at the time and was on Percaset! An artist friend told me that the day before giving birth she was on the last step of a 12 foot ladder installing a project in her studio. The stories of ‘survival’ continue and when women tell these stories, it is with a sense of pride. Pregnant women have not avoided this NYC mom competition to be able to do it all, regardless of how far along in pregnancy they are .

At first I welcomed my busy-ness, finding it a nice distraction from the daily changes that my body was enduring. But, now as my body seems to want to rest more, I am beginning to want to relax, connect with my unborn baby, work on my new hypnobirthing homework (more on that later), and search for more baby-must-haves to add to my registry. But, no time for that!  Mommy needs to work, so she can afford that Made in England Co-Sleeper!

Pregnant Road Trip – Swollen Feet and a Really Good Audiobook…

Interstate 80 - Pennsylvania

Interstate 80 – Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Dougtone)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger Jess Levey.  This series appears every Monday on Beccarama.

Well, there is one thing I am sure that I will not do again while pregnant – drive 22 hours roundtrip in a car. Last week, my husband and I made the 11 hour journey to Detroit to see my extended family and to celebrate my Grandmother’s 95th birthday. We figured it would be a fun adventure and would help our depleting bank account. I have been traveling to Detroit every year since I was 3 months old, but this was only the second time that I decided to make the trip via the open road rather than the speedy skies. My husband thought it was great fun! I, on the other hand, was a bit uncomfortable to say the least. With the seat belt simultaneously pushing against both my seemingly always full bladder and my sensitive chest as well as my new found nausea, my aching tailbone, and my inability to find a desirable air temperature, I was pretty unhappy. And, then to top it all off, I noticed when we arrived at our hotel that my feet had begun to swell, REALLY swell! And, since that trip they have yet to be normal. Along with the swelling feet is a strange sharp shooting pain whenever I twist and flex my left foot. So, I am taking my doctor dad’s advice and am not twisting and flexing that foot, although it’s hard not to! Why is it that we always want to put ourselves in agony by checking if that annoying pain is still there even though we are pretty damn sure of it’s existence?

So, onto happier things. The one thing that kept me a bit content during this grueling car trip was the fact that I had just finally started to feel the baby move! I basically just sat in the passenger seat waiting and waiting for it to move again. The movements were rare (but are much more frequent this week!) unless I was driving. It seemed that when it was my turn to drive the baby would dance in delight. I take this to mean that baby already knows who the better driver is in our family ☺, or maybe it’s because I am more relaxed as a driver rather than as a passenger (or more relaxed when I am controlling the situation, eek!) When I was the one driving, I also didn’t endure many of my aches and pains, must be a better position for me to sit in or maybe just focusing on driving took me out of my body enough to actually enjoy myself. Only problem is that I am what you might call a carcoleptic, I fall asleep pretty quickly as a passenger, and get , tired as a driver. What kept me awake, aside from the jumping jacks in my womb, was the awesome audio tape that we listened to – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. WOW!! That book is sensational. I highly recommend it for any long trips, but we would have been better off driving to the Pacific Coast since even after driving for 22 hours, we got home and still had 27 chapters left! We had to sit in our living room over a couple of nights and just listen to this amazing book, so we could find out how it ended.

I have to thank my Aunt M for that recommendation because listening to that piece of amazing fiction made our road trip much more enjoyable and bearable. I am shocked that I am only 5 months along and am already dealing with discomfort. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be the honeymoon period! Yesterday, I was up on a tall ladder pulling books from our ceiling molding (it’s the only place where we can fit my sentimental book collection) so that I could sell many of them at spontaneous stoop sale (sold 50!). I was feeling so proud of myself, and also feeling physically fit and strong. But, by the end of the day, my feet had blown up, I had to cancel plans to go to a friend’s outdoor party in the city, and I passed out on the couch at 7pm. I guess I just can’t do that much anymore, and it’s only going to get harder, especially since tomorrow is my first day back at work which entails standing for long periods of time teaching and/or photographing. We will see how that goes, in the meantime, I am keeping my feet up and enjoying the baby’s reassurance that relaxing is the best position there is.

Is That A Baby in Your Belly or Just Too Many Croissants?

Ice Cream Sundae

Ice Cream Sundae (Photo credit: Swamibu)

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger Jess Levey.  This series appears every Monday on Beccarama.

So, the other day my neighbor who has lived in my apartment building for 20 years or so, and who likes to bond with people by throwing out insults to them, said to me, upon finding out I was pregnant, “well, I was going to say something but since you are not the skinniest person in the world, I wasn’t quite positive that you were pregnant.” I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been. She also once entered my apartment uninvited, saw my collection of clogs on my shoe rack and remarked, “women with our stature shouldn’t wear clogs.” Funny thing is that she says these things as a way of getting closer to me, and these insults always follow with a kind gesture the next day – one day it was antique brownie cameras left on my apartment door mat, the next an email with a relevant job posting in my inbox.

I took this insult lightly. I mean, I’m not completely unaware that I am not the skinniest person in the world, but I guess I was hoping that no one else knew this. Also, I was hoping that it was pretty obvious that I am pregnant and haven’t just taken up a nasty beer guzzling habit. The night before this incident I went to an art opening where I saw some friends and acquaintances that I had not seen in a while, and no one said anything about my new (or what I though was new) plump rounded belly.  I had to point it out to everyone who I saw, and was shocked that it wasn’t so obvious. Granted, I was wearing a baby doll dress that made me look pregnant even at my thinnest, but it was still disappointing.

There were many reasons I was looking forward to being pregnant. Aside from the fact I would be able to experience this incredible biological miracle, and I could use my pregnancy as an excuse to not lift anything or go to that lame ass party, I would also have a much better excuse for having a rounded belly. I have always carried my extra weight in my tummy. One of my earliest memories is from when I was 5 years old doing pirouettes towards my ballet teacher and being so proud when I reached her chair and having her pat my stomach and say “you’ll have to get rid of that,” in that high-pitched cutesy tone that people seem to use when speaking to children even when they are being just plain old mean.

I’m pretty sure this is when my harsh self judgment began. I have always been a size 10/12 trying to just be a size 8, a goal I have successfully reached twice maybe three times after yet another stretch of diligently counting Weight Watchers points and exercising routinely or punishing myself for not keeping up my routine. But, the fact is that I love food, and even as healthy as I am, calories are calories especially for someone with as slow of a metabolism as me, and eating half as much as I want to eat doesn’t last very long.  How nice to be pregnant and not be counting my points anymore. I knew in the beginning that I would want to let myself go, eat croissants every morning without worry since I was going to grow big anyway and maybe baby will like croissants as much as I do.

But, I knew that eating empty calorie foods would never be good for me and the baby either. I know from experience, that when I am my healthiest, meaning when my husband and I are cooking together from our food co-op’s incredible produce selections that I not only look better, but I am also my happiest. I know women that gained 70 pounds when they were pregnant which always freaks me out, but they also revealed to me that they were eating Doritos and Pringles daily, they didn’t gain this weight from eating watermelon (my one major craving throughout the past 5 months). When my midwife had told me that she doesn’t care how many calories I eat as long as the calories are from healthy food, I was so relieved. I haven’t been told this by any nutritionist or dietician in the past 20 some dieting years. Of course, I still have that occasional ice cream, but only from our local homemade organic shop (there is calcium in ice cream right?). But, mostly I eat tons of fruit, lots of veggies, fish more often than meat, whole grains, and yogurt. In the amazing book Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, which I have been reading, the author explains how studies have shown that eating leafy greens during pregnancy can actually prevent cancer in your child. The fact that I can help my child’s health this early on is extremely empowering. Before my child is even born, I am able to truly affect its development by making simple choices. If I can’t control the air that it is breathing, I might as well control the quality and type of fuel it is ingesting.  Now, if I could only look at my new even bigger belly as a strong home for my growing baby rather than a reason why I can never be a ballerina…

Making Room for Baby – NYC Style

This is a Maternity Monday post by guest blogger Jess Levey.  This series appears every Monday on Beccarama.

I’m pretty sure my husband is upset with me. Or maybe it’s not me, but just a general sadness for the loss of something he was deeply attached to. Yes, the aggressive nesting has begun, and I have taken the advice to get the apartment ready for baby in the energetic 2nd trimester VERY seriously. Today, we finally tossed the mammoth (and very powerful) speakers that my husband has owned for over 8 years, which were handed down to him by his great friends from Israel. Yesterday we made the trip to J&R (free parking!) where we bought small Polk bookshelf speakers.

Bye, Bye, Gargantuan Speakers

Hello, lovely little speakers

This exchange was necessary in order to open up some much-needed floor space which will now be home to storage ottomans and a shoe rack/end table. You can see my growing Pinterest board to get an idea of the types of things I have decided we desperately need in order to keep a sense of openness in our tiny Brooklyn one-bedroom apartment.

When we first found out that I was pregnant, our first response was to figure out where we would move since we obviously would need a two bedroom. We would no longer just walk by the many real estate agencies in our neighborhood who post some of their favorite weekly listings. Now, we would stop and read and comment on the crazy price hike that has occurred in our now fully gentrified neighborhood. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, rent on a one bedroom apartment has gone up by at least $1000 more per month than what we pay, and two bedrooms are basically out of the question. We love our neighborhood, with its small village charm, proximity to Manhattan and many other favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, wonderful and diverse restaurants, shops, movie theaters, book stores. You name it, we’ve got it. I rarely even need to go to Manhattan for anything other than museums, galleries, and to see my family or the rare friends who still haven’t made the move Eastward. So, after many aggravating conversations about the neighborhoods we could afford to move to, some of which have regular shootings too close for my liking or a very limited offering of good schools, we have decided to stay put, at least until we can afford a two bedroom in our neighborhood. Or until other neighborhoods become safer, get better schools, etc. Of course, this may never happen, in which case we may find ourselves leaving NYC entirely, but for now, I am not thinking that far ahead. For now, I just want to make our adorable one bedroom work for our growing family.

Fortunately, I love anything having to do with home decor and organizing, so I have thoroughly enjoyed purveying the many sites and stores that offer some great small apartment solutions. When my husband was telling a good friend of his that I was pregnant, his friend replied, “Oh, have you experienced the obligatory Ikea trip yet?” So, of course he found it quite hysterical (as I felt utterly mainstream) when he came home and I was making our Ikea list. When we finally went (it happens to be only 2 miles from our apt) 50% of the women there were pregnant, lugging their husbands around who were all amazingly compliant. We got the few things we needed to create more storage in our kitchen and bathroom and spent a stormy summer night putting it all together. I realized why this whole second trimester nesting time is essential because in your third trimester there is no way that you could manage to sit on a hard floor and screw in tiny little bolts with those silly Ikea tools and warping fake wood. We managed, with my sciatica acting up, and many a sigh and complaint. Next up was the dreaded Target trip which was way worse, but we got what we needed two small hampers (one for us, one for baby), a new bath mat, and an over the door ironing board since we have to remove the one from under our bed to make room for storage bins.

where would you fit a crib?

Today, we decided that we would peruse our neighborhood antique and second-hand stores for the remaining small pieces that we needed –  a small toy chest to sit inside our non working fireplace and an end table which will live next to our couch/behind front door and will also house our regular wear shoes.  It was exhausting and hot and in the end, I was happy to be home in our AC shopping on our computer. After 5 minutes I found exactly what we were looking for on Etsy.com. Duh. Not sure why I hadn’t just gone there in the first place.  So, we are almost there.  Next up is the bedroom where the dresser that used to be my husband’s will now be devoted to the baby’s clothes and diapers (thank you hanging closet shelves!) And, since we cannot fit a full size crib, our baby will be co-sleeping with us for as long as possible. Only problem is that the chic and modern co-sleeper that we want from England is not cheap, and shipping is $175! We may just be putting that on our registry, alone.

I would love to hear your home decor suggestions for small spaces!

Making the Decision to Have an Amniocentesis

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t want an amnio.  I never thought I would need one, even though I am 36 years old. The whole idea of intruding on my baby’s quiet home-made me shiver.  I likened it to throwing bricks on someone’s roof. But, when my nuchal translucency results came back stating that I had an increased risk for Trisomy 13 and 18, I knew that an amnio would be the only solution to put my mind at ease. I spoke with friends and strangers who had it done and those who had chosen not to. I was conflicted in the weeks following the nuchal translucency. I remember a friend telling me that she never had any tests done since she felt they were based on fear, and she didn’t want her pregnancy to succumb to those pressures. This friend also birthed alone in a house in the woods, so I reminded myself that we are pretty different. As much as I would have loved to be as chill as she was, I also knew that I was the type of person who often needs to be reassured that all is going to be OK, even if that means having a doctor tell me this rather than my own intuition.  But, I did know deep down that all was fine. I was actually 99.9% sure of this, but then again there is always that .1%.

So, last Wednesday, my husband and I went to the hospital to have the amnio. First we had the sonogram where we once again shared our joy that our baby was alive and well.  Since my first trimester pregnancy symptoms like nausea have seriously subsided (except when walking around in this wretched heat) I was starting to worry that we had lost the pregnancy, so it was great fun to hear the heartbeat once again and see a close up of the baby’s brain! For the first time in a long time I was feeling very positive about western medicine, the amazing technology we have at our fingertips! But, then we waited. We had to wait 2 ½ hours for the doctor to show up for the amnio. She had been called into an emergency meeting and since she is the head of  the high risk group, I began creating some pretty dramatic stories in my head about what must have happened to warrant such a meeting. Maybe she’s getting fired? Maybe she screwed up big time and will be totally shaken up when it’s time to insert that wretched needle into my womb!

In the end, the amnio was fine. The pain was minimal, nothing at all compared to going to the dentist. I actually didn’t even notice that the needle was inside of me since I was obsessed with staring at the sonogram and watching my baby’s little feet get closer and closer to the needle in the womb. I was freaking out inside saying to him with my inside voice “Get away from there!  You are going to get hurt!” So, through this process, I experienced my first maternal instinct to put my child’s feelings before my own. Simultaneously I was saying, calm down, don’t stress or the baby will be stressed as well.  Another good lesson as I prepare for motherhood. So, it’s done, the first bump in this long journey, and as usual, it was the fear that was worse than the actual experience. Always is.

The appointment also opened my eyes to new pregnancy magazines!  During our long, anxious wait, I calmed myself by reading Pregnancy and Newborn magazine. And, what fun that was! We sat side by side flipping the pages, and finally getting to the fun part – the small apartment baby wish list! I was shocked by all the goodies that are out there, and was anxious to come home and start searching online for some of these tiny room solutions.  More on this in my next post, but for now you can check out my new Pinterest board, and I would love to hear other suggestions for squeezing a new baby into a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment if you have any…