Tag: life

Preparing for an Arizona Summer

Preparing for an Arizona Summer

With a due date at the beginning of September, I will be experiencing my last trimester during the peak of a blistering Arizona summer. Though a little early, this weekend is forecasted to reach high triple digits! It will probably be anywhere between 114°-116° degrees just Saturday alone. Though we, hopefully, will have a dip in temperatures towards the middle of next week, I am not looking forward to the rest of the summer.

To survive the summer heat, I am trying to prepare myself — both mentally and physically.

Water and lots of it!

Here in Arizona, especially in the summer, it is highly encouraged for everyone to carry water with them whenever they go out. My husband is always so diligent in never leaving the house without both of us having a bottle of water. Now that I am pregnant, staying hydrated is even more important.

I found that it was especially difficult to drink enough water while at work until I discovered that our break room now has an ice machine. I have not used ice on a regular basis in about two years, but being pregnant and being a little hotter than usual, I was having a hard time drinking room temperature or even slightly chilled water. Now I keep a plastic cup on my desk filled with ice, and I just refill it from my water bottle whenever it needs. I also refill the ice any time it is all gone, which gives me an excellent reason to leave the desk and walk around the entire floor.

Two bonus points for finding little ways to exercise throughout the day! 😉

Sun Protection

I also plan to wear a big floppy hat and/or use an old parasol when going out into the sun. The floppy hat was given to me years ago by my mom, and I love it! I might need to get a more formal looking floppy hat for work purposes, though. The parasol is quite old, not that pretty, and was given to me just recently by my mother-in-law. Since I tend to have meetings on the other side of campus a few times a week that require me to walk anywhere between a quarter mile to a mile, I am keeping the parasol under my desk at work. It may look hideous, but it does its job go keeping the sun off of me perfectly. (I tested it out Tuesday!)

Warm in the office, cool outside.

When it comes to choosing the proper clothes for an Arizona summer, I unfortunately have to face a dilemma that many Arizonians can relate to. Our offices are kept at barely 70°, and if the AC vent blows the cold air down on you (as it does me), then you will be very cold for about eight hours a day. You will have to dress in either pants or longer skirts and mid-length sleeves, perhaps even a cardigan or light sweater, just to not freeze. Then the moment you exit your office building, you are blasted with 110° or more heat! You would prefer to be in shorts or a knee-length skirt and a light, sleeveless top.

Now think about adding to this dramatic temperature fluctuation the fact that you are very pregnant, run a little hotter than usual, and maternity clothes tend to have a lot of additional fabric and layers that normal clothes do not: belly panels, low-cut V necklines that require a camisole underneath. With some of my maternity tops and bottoms, I have 3 thick layers of fabric around my middle. No wonder I end up feeling overheated some evenings!

So the problem I face over the next three months as the thermometer creeps over and stays above the three digit mark is finding maternity clothes that are:

  • warm enough for the cool office
  • cool enough for the hot outdoors
  • professional enough for the office
  • comfortable enough for… Well, you know. I am pregnant!

I have a feeling I’ll be wearing cotton shirts with dress pants and a sweater at work, dresses and loose skirts to church and events, and exercise shorts and baggy T-shirts when at home. I must admit that I am dreading the heat.

I already have a little hand fan that I carry in my purse and have used quite often over the last few months. I think I will also start carrying a bandana that I can soak in water and wrap around my neck if I get too hot.

Comfortable footwear

I have been able to continue wearing my usual footwear up until this week. Last Wednesday, I had an unexpected meeting come up that required me to walk about a mile in shoes that are not meant for walking long distances. If the meeting had been properly scheduled ahead of time, I would have worn appropriate shoes, but I was intending to be at my desk all day and wanted shoes that looked “cute” with my outfit. I ended up with a very bad and painful blister on my pinky toe that made the next couple of days miserable.

This week, I have switched to wearing tennis shoes every day. It looks extremely dorky, especially with the knee-length skirt I wore yesterday, but comfort is more important than fashion. Over the next few weeks, I might go shopping for a more office-appropriate flat walking shoe, but a part of me does not want to spend the money on new shoes when my tennis shoes (old and gray and not professional-looking in the least) will do.

If you are a mother, were you pregnant during the summer? If so, how did you survive the heat?

Over halfway there!

Over halfway there!

It has been awhile since I did a pregnancy update, but we have been quite busy. April 15th was my birthday and April 18th was our second wedding anniversary, so we took the whole weekend to relax, celebrate, and do a little bit of sightseeing in our local area. Part of that weekend, we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Biosphere 2. It was a lot of walking and stairs (my legs were quite tired the next day) but so much fun!

April 18th we also had a first ultrasound, which I did not realize would be so involved! It took nearly an hour just to do the ultrasound itself, because they check on the baby’s anatomy, growth, heart, etc. and take so many measurements. We learned the baby’s gender, but we are keeping it a secret until after our gender reveal party on May 15th for family and close friends.

On April 24th, we had one of our monthly/bimonthly family get-togethers at my parents’ house. The whole family tries to get together, especially during months when there are birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate, and April is a huge month! Three birthdays and 3-ish anniversaries! You see, my parents sort of have two anniversaries: one from their first wedding (a justice of the peace ceremony) and one from their vow renewal ceremony in 2010 (church ceremony). Anyway, since most of the family was present (we were missing one of my brothers-in-law and two oldest nephews, unfortunately), we decided to get family photos. This was also the first time I had any “baby bump” photos taken.

That is not because I have not wanted to take any pictures, it was more… I was not showing hardly at all until about Week 19 so even if we took pictures, there would have been absolutely nothing to see. So here is the first baby bump photo, taken at the halfway point: 20 weeks!

Jacquelyn Van Sant, Pregnancy #1, Week 20
April 14, 2016 – Week 20

Today I’m actually around 22 weeks and the belly keeps getting bigger, so I’ll need to ask Bradley to take some more pictures this weekend.

Cravings: So far this whole pregnancy, I have not really had any cravings. Sometimes food tastes surprisingly delicious after I start eating it, but no cravings for anything specific.

Mood: Bradley might disagree, but I wouldn’t say that I have not had any terrible mood swings. Every once in a while I’ll feel extremely exhausted and might be a little more… short/terse. I do find that I cry faster/easier than before. Not cry just to cry, but when I hear something sad I’ll tear up faster or when someone else is crying. Ugh! I’m a sympathetic crier anyway, and it seems a bit stronger now.

Baby’s Gender: Bradley and I know, but we’re keeping it a secret until May 15th! 😀

Movement: I’ve been feeling flutterings of movement for a long time, but lately the baby has been even more active and the kicks are stronger. In fact, Baby is wiggling all over my belly right this moment.

Carrying: I think I’m carrying pretty low this whole time, which makes sitting upright at my desk at work or driving uncomfortable and tends to trigger the: “Bladder is full! Must run to the restroom!” even when there is hardly a genuine need. In the evenings, the lower belly sometimes feels soooo heavy.

Weight Gain: I have my next doctor’s appointment next week so things might have changed, but up to my April appointment, I had actually lost weight. I lost about twelve or so pounds between conception and Week 20. My face, neck, and shoulders have really slimmed down, but even my hips, bottom, and thighs have shrunk (Yay!).

Aches and Pains: Somedays I end up doing a lot of walking for work, and on those days, my legs tend to ache. Last week was full of walking, not just to/from meetings across campus but also because either the bus drove right passed me so I had to walk a mile to my car OR the bus missed the turn to take us to the correct bus stops and let us off a 1.5 mile away and I ended up having to walk to the car. I’m seeing a pattern here that public transit is not reliable. Fortunately, Bradley’s summer break starts in about two weeks and he’ll start taking me in to work and picking me up so I won’t have to worry about driving and then hopping the bus (or walking) to the office during the HOT summer months!

Sleep: I sleep rather well and even better now that we bought new pillows this week! I do tend to have to get up once or twice in the middle of the night to use the restroom, which is a little annoying.

Nursery: I have created a mood board for inspiration on the Baby’s room and we have started clearing out some of the items we were storing in that space, but other than that, we have not made any significant progress. We have been focusing more on getting the main living areas (kitchen, living room, and dining room) completely re-organized as well as making our back patio usable space during Arizona’s extremely hot summer that is just around the corner. Our next project in the office, and only then will we really focus on the nursery. For the first few months, Baby will be in a bassinet in our bedroom so the nursery is not a crucial thing right now.

Names: We have had our names selected for quite a while and we are not changing them. 😀

As I mentioned before, we’ll probably take Week 22 pictures this weekend and I’ll have another update next week after the doctor’s appointment.

Finding a Doctor

Finding a Doctor

When we discovered I was pregnant, what cause me a great deal of anxiety was finding the right doctor.

I was one of those people that did not have a regular doctor. It is not that I dislike doctors, but I feel that if you are healthy and take care of yourself, there is no reason to routinely visit a doctor. Medical personnel are there when emergencies, injuries, illnesses, or other usual things happen. Now, let me just say, I completely respect all those in the medical field. My older sister and her husband are ER nurses, specializing in pediatrics, and I have numerous close friends who are nurses, dentists, or doctors.

I just do not go to the doctor if there is no reason to.

So when the home pregnancy test came back positive, I was far more anxious about finding the right doctor than any other aspect of being pregnant or bringing a new life into the world. I spent a few weeks carefully going through my insurance’s list of OB/GYN doctors in my network, comparing their office locations and investigating the hospitals they deliver at. It was a long list, but I finally found a doctor that seemed to meet my preferences.

Every woman is going to have her own list of preferences when selecting a doctor, especially an OB/GYN or mid-wife. For me, I had three preferences:

  • a female doctor
  • accepts my insurance
  • delivers at the hospital down the street

Call me a prude or ultra-conservative, especially since I know there are many excellent male OB/GYNs, but I was adamant from the beginning that I wanted a female doctor. I also desired a doctor who delivers at the hospital down the street, for two reasons: proximity and I know that hospital’s excellent reputation. My older sister actually works there (originally in the pediatric ER and now in the adult ER), and the hospital has one of the best NICUs in the area, should anything happen.

Fortunately, the doctor I found meet all three areas. I called the office and asked if she was accepting new patients, and praise the Lord, she was!

Bradley could not come to the very first appointment, and I admit to being a bit nervous. The nurse was friendly. She took my weight, check my blood pressure, chatted with me, and gave me a pregnancy care package with pre-natal samples, pamphlets, and a hospital package with a list of classes, tours, forms, etc. A few minutes later, I met the doctor. She was so nice and friendly. I immediately felt at ease with the doctor and felt comfortable asking those silly first-time pregnant questions… Well, the few I could remember at the time.

Since then, we have had two more appointments. Both times Bradley was able to go with me, and we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The first time, the doctor had just a little bit of trouble locating the heartbeat because the little one was hiding pretty low and deep. The second time, the heartbeat was easy to locate. It was so exciting lying there listening the strong and steady beating of our baby’s heart. Both times, I teared up.

My advice to women who either pregnant or plan to become pregnant, take the time to find a doctor/mid-wife that you are comfortable with. Whether you intend to deliver at a hospital, birthing center, or at home, take your time to investigate.

Week 16

Week 16

Today we’re 16 weeks!

Well, 16-ish weeks, we’re still guestimating until our ultrasound in a few weeks. We opted out of the early ultrasound, and I need to set up an appointment for the standard one in a few weeks. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to find out the baby’s gender at the time. So far we have three individuals who predicted a baby boy, including our doctor, but it is just based on old wives’ tales or opinions. Though we will be thrilled with either a boy or girl, I think both Bradley and I are kind of hoping for a girl. So we’ll know in a few weeks and then we are planning a gender reveal party for our families and closest friends before we announce it to the world. How exciting!

Tuesday afternoon was very hard for me. Sunday I went too long between meals, and I think that started the series of unfortunate events. Yesterday I intentionally ate a hearty breakfast and lunch, and I did not go long without a healthy snack. Unfortunately, my stomach did not feel right all afternoon. It was all nauseous and sick. Then minutes after getting home from work, it was a rush to the bathroom and I was throwing everything up. I threw up twice during the first trimester, but that was very minor (barely counts, in my opinion), but this time was BAD. It was the type of uncontrollable, must empty the entire stomach, can barely breathe vomiting. It even had Bradley worried.

Oddly enough, after it was over, my stomach was finally feeling better than it had in a long time. I rested a little while and then made a delicious dinner of stir-fry veggies and glass noodles made from sweet potato. It was amazingly delicious! And I was lucky enough to have some leftover for lunch today. 🙂

First Trimester Symptoms

First Trimester Symptoms

Family and friends who have already gone through pregnancy, pregnancy 411 books, and web sites and online communities can be very helpful in providing explanations on the weird and unexpected changes that happen during pregnancy. Some I was prepared for, but others were a surprise.

I will try to avoid going into any extremely personal details, but be warned that this post will contain details on natural bodily functions and changes that occur during the earlier stages of pregnancy. This post is intended to be informative for those who have not had children or, like me, are first-timers and often find ourselves thinking: “Is this normal?”

So to begin! I have a fairly regular cycle of 28 days and a period length of about 6 days. There have been a few times where my period came slightly late or heavier than usual, but for the most part over the last four years of charting my cycle carefully, it has been quite regular.

Side note: Ladies, I highly encourage – whether you are single or engaged or married, teen or young adult or mid-thirties – to get a calendar, chart or free app and start tracking your cycles. There are so many benefits to being familiar with your body and how it changes throughout your monthly cycle. Though some women only start tracking their cycles to either avoid or to improve the changes of conception, the greater benefit is knowing what is normal for your body and so staying on top of your health. Knowing your body can help you detect changes in your health early on that you may need to discuss with your doctor or health professional.

Because I track my cycle and know my body fairly well, the week my period was due I began noticing some changes. Very early pregnancy symptoms can sometimes be confused with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) signs, as many are nearly identical: sore or tender breasts, changes in eating habits or food cravings, cramps or abdominal discomfort, bloating, etc. The only PMS sign I typically get is bloating and some slight abdominal discomfort, so when my breasts began feeling unusually sore and tender, even somewhat heavy, and my stomach seemed a bit too queasy, I knew things were not normal.

Then my period was late. As I mentioned before, I have had the occasional late period so I had to force myself to patiently wait a few days before taking a home pregnancy test. The test was positive! Because it is difficult to determine the exact date of conception, the way modern medical science reckons the length of pregnancies is to go all the way to the beginning of your last period. So according to the charts, I was about five weeks!

During Weeks 5 and 6 there were noticeable changes to my body. I was not expecting my breasts to hurt as much as they did so early on. They grew half a cup size in just two weeks, and I had to buy larger bras to accommodate. Also, there is a significant increase in the blood flow to a woman’s uterus and lower abdomen as her body begins to build the placenta – the life-support system for the baby. I quickly discovered that this meant being highly uncomfortable “down there” due to swelling. It was not fun. Probably somewhat related to that, I was not quite prepared for the discharge, which continues sporadically even today (Week 16). The discharge is similar to what happens in the middle of a normal cycle, nothing heavy or abnormal, but uncomfortable when it happens without warning. I have started wearing panty-liners everyday, and you can pick up a small pack at the 99¢ Store.

I was prepared for morning sickness. I heard some terrifying horror stories about it, but my experience was actually quite mild. I had bouts of nausea that came and went throughout the day and then stomachaches in the evening that kept me from eating dinner a few nights a week. I also felt completely exhausted, and would just collapse on the couch after work.

The nausea gradually lessened and faded away towards the end of the first trimester (about Week 11 and 12), and Week 13 my energy began to return. I was beginning to feel “normal” again! What a relief. I finally had the energy to wash dishes or clean the bathrooms again.

I have to share how amazing my husband is. He does half of the chores anyway – vacuuming, laundry, etc. – but he was so helpful during the first trimester when I was not feeling well. There were many evenings when I could not muster enough energy to even microwave a quick meal, and he would make me whatever I wanted for dinner… even if it was just peanut butter on toast! He also makes the best cup of tea in the world, and peppermint tea is so soothing for upset tummies.

I am so very blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.

Sharing the News With Parents

Sharing the News With Parents

I could barely contain my excitement, but I wanted to share the news with our parents in a fun and memorable way.

As this is our very first child, and the first grandchild for Bradley’s parents, we wanted to share the news to our parents in a special way. Something a little more thoughtful and personal then just a basic: “Hey, Mom. Dad. Guess what? We’re having a baby.”

I searched the Internet – from Pinterest to Baby/Mommy forums – looking for ideas. Most, to be honest, were either too cheesy, too confusing, or too elaborate. Finally, I decided to just make a little keepsake myself. So Bradley and I made a quick stop to the Michael’s near our house, and I browsed the aisles looking for anything that could give me some ideas. I picked up two small square canvases, two different colored ribbon, and scrapbooking stickers.

Example of scrapbooking stickers. At home, I attempted to use glue to attach the ribbon to the canvas with little successful so I ended up just using tape. I try to be crafty, but it never seems to work out the way I plan. Oh, well! I covered each canvas with green ribbon and used a gold ribbon as an accent on the left side. Then I placed the stickers so each little keepsake read: “We’re expecting!” And there was little baby footprints and other baby-related items on the canvas.

Then I wrapped each keepsake up and placed them in two gift bags. We were seeing my parents first on a Sunday afternoon, and I thought long and hard about how to break the ice so that a gift in the middle of January would not seem odd and give it away too fast. We arrived and about five minutes into the visit, I grabbed the gift bag but kept it out of my parents’ sight. We were all congregation in the kitchen and taking about things.

That is when I said something along the lines: “So my co-worker was telling me about a book she recently read. It is by a Japanese lady named Marie Kondo, and she is really famous for her organizing methods. And my co-worker said that one thing she liked about Marie Kondo’s style was that she stresses that you should only keep the items that bring you joy.”

My parents nodded, interested. I pulled out the gift bag and handed it to my mom. “Bradley and I knew right away that this would bring you guys great joy.”

My mom took the bag and Dad joined her. As the dug through the tissue paper, they wondered aloud what the present would be. Then my mom pulled out the keepsake and they only took a second to read it.

“Congratulations!” they both said. There were hugs and lots of smiles. We spent the rest of the visit chatting about how I was feeling, how Bradley was feeling, and about the new little one.

Wednesday evening just a few days later, we picked up dinner to go from Chipotle and went over to visit Bradley’s parents. Unfortunately that day, Bradley was quite sick, but he did not want to wait to tell his parents any longer. Again, I kept the gift bag hidden from view while we ate dinner and chatted. After dinner, Bradley said a few things to his mom, and I added: “We got you something special that I think you will really like.”

I handed Bradley’s mom the gift bag, and she carefully removed the tissue paper until she was holding the keepsake. She stared at it for a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity, and happy tears swelled up in her eyes. She could not even speak, so I jumped up and gave her a big hug. Bradley’s dad, who was seated on the other side of the living room, had no idea what was going on. When his mom found her voice and shared: “They are having a baby!”, I think he was in shock and it took some time to register.

We stayed and talked for a little while longer, and then hurried home so Bradley could take some medicine and sleep. He ended up staying home from work the next day with what was most likely the flu, and the following week I was sick with a sore throat.

Having both of our parents close by is a huge blessing, and I am so happy we were able to share with them our big news in a personal and meaningful way. This is the first grandchild for Bradley’s parents, so they are extremely excited and also a little overwhelmed. My parents have six other grandkids, but they are just as excited about this new addition as each of the others.

It is so much fun talking about what things my mom and Bradley’s mom did when they had babies, what items they found useful, and getting their advice and opinions. There used to be a time when new parents gleaned parenting advice from those who went before them, but now it seems that many young parents tend to disregard the experiences of the older and wiser and prefer to get advice from strangers in parenting forums online. While advice online can be helpful at times, do not get me wrong, there is something natural and beautiful about talking with your mother or mother-in-law or sister or friend who already has children face-to-face and hearing what worked for them, what they would do differently, etc.