March 30, 2011

Color me Wednesdays

Now that I'm in week 35 of my pregnancy (about 5 more weeks to go) my comfort level has diminished tremendously.  I threw out my back yesterday right before my 35th week prenatal appointment.  You can just imagine how painful and uncomfortable it must have been for me to drive myself to the appointment, and once there, climb on top of the examination table for the doctor to examine us.  Luckily I managed to handle the ordeal without much sweat.  Unfortunately, there isn't much people can do for me.  My poor husband keeps asking me if there's anything he can do. I can't take any anti-inflammatory medication, which would zap this pain right away.  And I don't want to take Tylenol, which is not that effective with back strains.  So I'm staying home, this is the second day, and am basically lying down as much as I can resting my back and applying hot compresses.  At my last visit, the doctor said I was measuring a week smaller, which it's nothing to worry about because fundus measurements aren't 100% accurate either. Emma Lucia's heartbeat is at a healthy 140 beats/minute.  She is facing down, with her head not yet engaged, but this could possibly change soon, as I have already started to get uncomfortable, yet painless cramps in my lower abdomen, which are a sign that the cervix is softening, and thus getting ready for labor.  Yoohoo!

So, I'm just relaxing here at home, trying to get my head clear and organized for the weeks ahead.  Much will be happening.  I'm on a mission to re-organize and re-decorate the closets and the bookshelves.  And today, the little seersucker dresses I bought for Emilu at zulily have finally arrived. Aren't they dreamy?  The only complaint I have is their 3 weeks arrival time.  This sucks!  In this day and age of fast communications and flash consumerism, it really is shocking. 

March 29, 2011

Care for a Smoothie?

As I have stated before, one of the many cravings I enjoy and indulge on is plenty of fruits.  I eat apples, pineapples, mangoes, plums, strawberries, kiwis, you name it, and I have eaten it.  So lately I have been craving smoothies. But they can be expensive at $5 for a small one.  When you calculate one everyday that's basically almost $40 a week.  So I have been making my own.  You can throw in anything you have when it comes to fruits, but I like the berry smoothie, so I make it with strawberries, pineapple, bananas and a dash of grapefruit juice.  The result is a decadent citrus-berry explosion.

Follow the steps below:
If you don't have grapefruit juice, another good alternative is guava juice.  Guava is a wonderful tropical fruit. And you know who loves my smoothies more than me?  My kicking baby.  She gets a jolt out of so much flavor. 

Tonight and almost every night I go to bed with a full glass.  And this will come in handy once I start to breastfeed.  Mothers need so much nutrients, especially in liquid form.  And the baby will get good antioxidants and awesome sweetness in a full serving.
Salut and sweet dreams!

March 28, 2011

Blogs I'm lovin'

I recently discovered five new blogs which have sparked a sincere entrepreneurship spirit in me.  The authors are all parents of little children and share similar life interests with me.  But they are highly creative and highly committed. Check them out, I know you will love them too.  

I leave you with a classic little rhyme made of nursery print cards that can be framed, used as cutout pieces for your kids or even hung on a wall.  You bet I will be singing this to Emma Lucia during her bath.

March 27, 2011

Weekend Update

This weekend was so cold here in DC, but thank goodness I didn't put our Winter wear away just yet.  It's just that March can be so unpredictable! But two weeks ago it was so warm up here that I took it as a sign of Spring;s arrival, especially because all the sidewalks and home fronts got facelifts with new mulch and freshly planted daffodils and tulips.  Even the birdies were out making good use of the sun and collecting fringe for their new nests.  And the cherry blossoms, which are a big deal here, bloomed ahead of schedule, but it's so freaking cold now I don't think many people will go see them this weekend. 

So, braving the cold, I kept my Saturday wax appointment.  I have been meaning to do this, however, I have been lazy and to be quite frankly short of money for this expensive beauty upkeep.  I used to have it done back in Miami every month like clockwork, but once I arrive here, it wasn't my priority.  I definitely recommend a Brazilian wax at least once in your life and guarantee that once past the initial shyness and fear of pain, yes it hurts, you will love the result.  I recommend Leslie over at Last Tangle.  She is so sweet and professional, very efficient and makes you feel comfortable.  I could have easily prompted her to regret keeping my appointment when she saw this huge 8-month pregnant lady walk in and get naked.  But she was just perfect.  In fact I will be coming back in a month, just before delivery.

For the rest of the day, my husband and I did our usual errands;  grocery shopping, walking the dog, cleaning the house.  We went out to eat some pupusas and Argentine empanadas at the Mount Pleasant Latin food cookout.  For dinner we tried this relatively new place two blocks from our apt. called Agora and we absolutely loved it. Their approach is Mediterranean tapas.  We ate their stuffed flat bread, the fried mussels, the shrimp and the fried zucchini pancakes.  We finished off with a wonderful dessert made of mascarpone cheese and apricot covered walnuts sprinkled with caramel and pistachios. We also shared a semi-sweet Turkish coffee. I will definitely come back here.

When we came back home just before 8:30 p.m. we unplugged everything, shut off all the lights and went off the grid for Earth Hour.  We lighted candles, and sat in our toasty bed, watching the shadows form in our windows and chatting about our future.  It was the perfect way to end a lovely Saturday.  

March 25, 2011

Fashion Fridays

Is the head scarf back?  Let's be honest about head scarves and scarves in general.   Not everyone can pull them off.  Some women were born to wear them.  They just know how to.  Others, well, what can I say.  I 'm making my own fashion forward prediction for this Spring:  Scarves are hot again! Or it could be the biggest fashion faux pas ever. I wonder what my fashionista friend over at NewYorkerStyle thinks of my bold announcement. Only time will tell if I'm right.  In the meantime, let's enjoy some scarves.   

And some celebrities can really wear them well.  Take the case of Jennifer Lopez, whom I don't consider a fashion icon nor an icon at all.  However she knows how to wear it.  And the same goes for young Nicole Ritchie. 

For a more traditional or utilitarian look, the hijab is the choice for some Muslim fashion sensitive women.  And some are stunningly beautiful. 

By the way I think it worth mentioning that Queen Rania of Jordan does not wear a scarf.  She avoids it like it's poison.  Just try to google her in a scarf and see for yourself.  Although she must have worn it on special occasions I'm sure

March 24, 2011

Delivery and due dates

How close to your due date did you deliver or will you? (This poll was taken by the pollers at  So far 53,000 women have participated. I think it helps tremendously in understanding that due dates are not accurate at all.)

 It's said that less than 5 percent of women give birth on their actual due date. What about you? 

Did you deliver on your due date?
No, I was early     (I'm praying I'm one of them)
No, I was late
Yes, right on time

If you didn't deliver on schedule, how far off were you?
More than two weeks early
One to two weeks early
Less than one week early
Less than one week late
One to two weeks late
More than two weeks late

March 22, 2011

Ask the Labor Nurse

I submitted a question to Jeanne Faulkner, R.N. over at Ask the Labor Nurse at FitPregnancy and she answered.  She writes wonderful articles and patiently answers the dumbest questions by soon-to-be moms like me. Read the whole thing below.  It's good to be armed with as much knowledge as possible before the due date comes.  

Epidurals and Due Dates

02.17.11: I love my readers’ questions

It’s reader-question day. Patricia is six months pregnant with her first baby and has three great ones that a lot of women ask:

Does an epidural slow down labor?

Does epidural medication reach the baby?
I have a hunch I’m going to delivery early.  Why doesn’t my doctor agree?

Can an epidural slow down labor?
Yes and no.  Epidural medications themselves don’t slow labor down, but the IV fluids we pre-load you with before you get an epidural can dilute the contraction-causing hormones circulating in your blood stream temporarily.  That’s why it’s not uncommon for your contractions to space out a bit after an epidural.  Pre-loading with a liter or two of IV fluid is mandatory, but usually, your body eliminates the extra fluid and picks up the contraction pace again within a couple hours after your epidural is placed.  Sometimes, it doesn’t though and contractions piddle out. Then, your doctor/midwife might recommend starting Pitocin (the synthetic hormone used for induction and augmentation of labor) to move things along. 

The other reason why epidurals inadvertently slow things down is they’re frequently given too early in labor when patients should be still up and moving.  Even though we know contractions sometimes hurt like the dickens at three centimeters dilation, that’s still not technically
active labor.  When patients get epidurals too early, it knocks out their ability to use gravity and movement to keep labor progressing.  If she doesn’t mind that she might need Pitocin after her epidural (and increase her chances for a dysfunctional labor), that’s cool.  Otherwise, wait it out a bit.  Use other pain management techniques like a hot bath or change of position; massage, patterned breathing, meditation and even a little IV pain medication if necessary.  It’s not the magic pain-relief bullet that an epidural provides, but these techniques work for lots of women.   

Does epidural medication reach the baby?
  No, because the pain-relieving medication goes into the space around your spinal cord, not into your bloodstream.  IV pain medications, like morphine or Fentanyl, do reach the baby because they travel into your bloodstream and through the placenta into baby’s blood stream.  Baby doesn’t get the full dose you get because your body absorbs most of it before it reaches him.  Still, baby gets a dose.  That’s why we won’t give patients IV medication if we think baby might be born within an hour or two. 

IV medications work fast and wear off relatively quickly, but if baby is born with too much narcotic on board, he might be too sleepy to bother breathing.  We can counter act that with a narcotic antagonist medication (same stuff used for drug overdoses in the ER), but who wants to do that if we don’t have to.

Sometimes epidurals drop Mom’s blood pressure by dilating her blood vessels.  If Mom’s BP goes down, baby’s will too and his heart rate will slow. That’s why we pre-load Mom with lots of IV fluids before an epidural.  That usually prevents her BP from bottoming out, but sometimes it happens anyway no matter how much fluid we give her beforehand.  We deal with that by pumping in more IV fluid and sometimes give medications that temporarily increase BP.  It sounds complicated and it’s not ideal, but it’s not uncommon and we know how to handle it.
Now about Patricia’s hunch she’ll deliver before her due date.  Part of her “hunch” is based on her ultrasound, which gave her an earlier due date (by a few days) than her doctor gave based on her last menstrual period.

First trimester ultrasounds are fairly accurate for establishing due dates, though a good solid date for the first day of a last menstrual period is better. Ultrasounds done before 20-weeks gestation have a 7-day variation (meaning the due date they give might be off by as much as a week earlier or later).  Between 20 and 30 weeks – they can be off by as much as 14 days (two weeks before or after the day they say your baby is due).  After 30 weeks – they can be 21 days (or 3 weeks) off.  That’s why Patricia’s doctor didn’t think her ultrasound-based due date mattered much.  That’s also why you should never schedule an induction based on a due dates provided solely by a third-trimester ultrasound.  It could mean your baby delivers prematurely.

The “hunch” part of Patricia’s feeling that she’ll deliver before her due date is unfortunately all too common and not much to bank on.  It’s hard for most women to believe they’ll be pregnant the whole, darn time.  They’re so big and uncomfortable already, it’s inconceivable, unfathomable; simply unbelievable that it could go on for 40 - 42 weeks.  Seriously!  Who can be pregnant that long?  Sorry, sweetie – you can. 

I’ve said it before; I think the whole reason why we’re pregnant as long as we are is so labor seems like a good idea.   For most of us, being pregnant is all well and good, warm and fuzzy, a soft focus kind of thing, up until the last month.  Then, we’re willing to do anything, even labor, to be done with it already.  Good luck Patricia and keep those questions coming. 

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.

March 21, 2011

Braxton Hicks contractions

I have been paying close attention to the subtle changes in my body.  It's amazing how pregnancy gets you in tune with your physical and emotional self, and  I have been prey to some of the symptoms common in the 8th month.  However, I hadn't felt a single Braxton Hicks contraction until late last week.  These contractions are often called "practice contractions"  because they are actually helping you to prepare for labor.  Nature is really wise.  They help to soften your cervix and uterus for your upcoming labor. Without them, labor would actually be much more difficult and painful.  Nevertheless, not all women feel them, they could be as subtle as some of your baby's movements and get swallowed up in the busy schedule of your day, especially if you are an active person.

A couple of nights ago, I was wide awake in bed, product of insomnia, and I started to feel some cramping in the lower middle part of my abdomen radiating down to my buttocks. Voila! Braxton Hicks alright! They lasted about 10 minutes.

But what actually triggers them?  It's really unpredictable, but some accounts suggest common triggers that include: 
  • physical activity or exertion
  • sexual intercourse
  • dehydration
  • touching your abdomen
  • your baby moving inside your uterus
Last Saturday, my husband and I sprang up to clean our patio after months of Winter neglect.  We re-potted two Majesty palms, cleaned up the strip of soil which houses our boxleaf shrubs and mulched the strip once we were done. We also fertilized the fern and the shrubs.  We also took out the patio bench and swept the floor.  All this activity must have triggered my practice contractions that night.  But it also happens that one of my daughter's most active periods is in the middle of the night. Whatever the reason, I finally know what they feel like and am relieved that things are progressing and my body is gearing up to the big day:  childbirth.


March 17, 2011

Blast from the Past: My Childhood Toys

It might be a bit earlier to think about buying my unborn daughter toys.  But wouldn't it be amazing if I can bring back some of the toys I played with as a child?  My childhood was a blast.  I didn't have all the toys I wanted, but I owned some awesome ones.  My friends' and I would swap our toys for weeks at a time and we would get busy playing and creating masterful universes around these toys. Ready to be blasted?  Here we go.

Images:  Fashion Plates scrapbook, Fischer Price Little People, Rubik's Cube, Fischer Price Jack-in-the Box, Cabage Patch Doll, Pogo Ball, Snoopy and Friends Ice Maker, Fischer Price Music Box TV, Parcheesi, Rainbow Brite Dolls, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Viewmaster, Charm belt.