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Operation: Big Sister Prep

3 Jun

Married With Style

With less than two weeks to go until my due date, I’ve been ramping up final preparations for Baby Girl. Our newborn photographer is booked, my hospital bag is (almost) packed, and the essential newborn gear is (essentially) ready.

There is still so much I’d like to accomplish, like a top-to-bottom deep clean of the entire house, but I’m moving pretty slow these days and have to remind myself to take it easy. Still, one of the more fun projects we’ve been working on is “Operation: Big Sister Prep.” It has actually been really fun and has melted my heart a thousand times daily to witness her excitement over “Baby Sis-tah.”

1. Be aware of the words you’re using
Part of Operation: Big Sister Prep involved researching some fun ways to help Emilia not feel displaced in any of the transition that is about to happen. Lately I’ve been more aware of how I refer to her — less “my baby” and more “my big helper” and “my big girl” so there is less confusion when there is an actual baby on the scene here soon. She’s loved being my helper for everything from putting the groceries away to helping to make our bed in the morning to cooking dinner with me.

2. Utilize books to illustrate and explain
A great tip from my fellow mom and friend, Staci, that has proven true for us is that books are a great tool for helping with big transitions. After success with a Daniel Tiger potty training book, I was thrilled when Emilia went absolutely crazy for this My New Baby book by Rachel Fuller. I also purchased Fuller’s Waiting for Baby, but found that Emilia much prefers the book that highlights the big sister’s role. Since we bought it, she’s requested it nightly for story time and during the day, frequently points out all the ways she’s not a baby, but a big girl. For example: “Big girls no wear diapers,” is one of her favorites to say lately.

3. Talk about the hospital plan
Shortly after Emilia was born, I made a shadowbox with all our hospital bracelets, her hat, and nursery stat card, as well as a few photos of our first days as a new family. It hangs just above her light switch in her bedroom, so a few times a day, we’ll study it together and talk about how the pictures are of her when she was a “little baby” and daddy and I went to the hospital to have her. She loves to point to the various pictures and explains, “That’s me!” I a little baby!” Then she’ll recite the plan that we’ve been reviewing with her for a few weeks now, how mama and daddy will go to to the hospital to have baby sister, and she’ll go to Nana’s house with Skylar and May (my mom’s cat). Then Nana will bring her to visit at the hospital. She adores my mom and loves spending time at her house, so we feel good about how comfortable Emilia is with this plan.

4. Prepare a baby sister/big sister gift
I’ve picked up quite a few new goodies for the baby, but have also thought carefully about what the baby might “gift” to her new sister. Emilia absolutely loves the Little People School Bus toy at our gym’s play center, so I think that would be a huge hit in addition to another book about being a big sister and some sort of Big Sister shirt or ribbon to wear. I’ll probably also plan on some sort of chocolate as well as a disposable camera and little “brag book” photo album for the baby to “give” her as well.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of giving Emilia a special gift from her dad and I when we leave for the hospital. Like a Build-a-Bear with a special voice recording and some new pjs to wear while we’re at the hospital. She absolutely loves treats and trinkets, so “something special” as she says, will definitely be in the works.

5. Plan a “Big Sister Hospital Party”
When I initially heard this idea, it seemed like overkill to me. Then I saw the simple, sweet way that Melissa over at Fawn Over Baby put this together for her daughter and I was sold. The milk + donuts are especially significant since Emilia absolutely loves both and we frequently make an AM stop for both when we’re having special mom/daughter time. And you know I’m all about banners. Banners for ALL OCCASIONS I SAY! I can’t wait to work on this and start to scout for some sweet party plates and napkins. Considering that I just picked up a bottle of bubbly (prosecco, not champagne) to pack in my post-delivery hospital bag to drink in celebration with visitors, it’s really starting to feel like I’m planning a mini soiree!

Now, if only baby girl would shake a leg and make her debut! At 38 weeks+ now, I am more than ready to meet this little lady. I’m ready when you are, girl.

My pre-natal yoga experience

12 Mar

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I’ve practiced yoga for almost 8 years now and always planned to continue when I became pregnant. But the truth is, I hated prenatal yoga in the beginning. I missed the intensity of “real” yoga! I actually did one heated class early in my pregnancy after getting my doctor’s OK, but immediately felt that it was too much. It was early in my first trimester and the nausea was unbearable in the heated class setting. I continued on with pre-natal classes, supplementing at home with pre-natal pilates DVDs which I absolutely adored, but didn’t begin to really appreciate my pre-natal classes until I started my third trimester and really started to get uncomfortable and achey.

Which brings me to this past week. I’m 38 weeks today and had two of the most incredible pre-natal yoga classes ever, just in the last week. We focused on really restorative, relaxing poses in Lara’s class and I had one of the best experiences in shivasana that I’ve had throughout my pregnancy…maybe even ever. I also received some tips for guided meditation and music to check out on Spotify that I’ll share at the end of my post.

In Bec’s class which was just three students large today, we were able to get really hands-on attention and focus on exactly what we needed. I mentioned the tightness in my pelvis, hips and the knot in my shoulder and left the class feeling so much looser. I also have a new favorite move for dealing with those knots in my shoulders and back:

Yoga move to relieve knots
1. Laying on your back, place a block under your upper mid-back.
2. With hands in prayer pose, elbows extended out, rest hands between eyes.
3. Slowly lift your pelvis up off the floor.
4. Adjust, wiggle and massage the knotted area as needed.

I think the most beneficial aspect of regular yoga practice is breath awareness. It’s amazing how my breath aligns itself to postures automatically. So for newly pregnant women who haven’t practiced, absolutely start pre-natal classes early. But for more seasoned yoga practitioners, I’d recommend a different approach. I would have practiced on my own at home even more than I did in the beginning to encourage continued muscle development and toning as well as the meditative benefits of just breathing in a meditative way. I also would have been more proactive about seeking out really seasoned instructors with children, who know about the physiology of pregnancy. Stretching and relaxing yoga is great, but too many of my early pre-natal classes felt like a waste of my time when I should have been building muscle strength and exploring what was possible as my body changed and my belly really started to develop.

Now, at 38 weeks, I look forward to class and leave the studio feeling incredibly centered and calm. And as I prepare myself mentally for labor, I’ve really enjoyed working through guided meditations and playing the same music we use in class to help guide my breathing while I’m at home. If you have Spotify, check out Deuter’s Buddha Nature album and Michelle’s Young’s Hipnobirthing playlist. I’ve been loving them lately.

Weekly Update: 35 Weeks

25 Feb

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Date: February 19

How far along: 35 Weeks

Baby’s size: Honeydew Melon
Baby girl should be over 18 inches long and tipping the scales at 5 1/4 pounds, according to my baby books.

Symptoms: Noticeably more bursts of energy and exhaustion; some heartburn; very new dull, aching lower back pain; and lower abdomen pain, cramping and tightness. It feel like everything has dropped a bit and my belly feels SO tight. I joked last week that the baby was punching me in the cervix a lot, but the cervical pressure is real. If I lay too flat on my back, I have trouble catching my breath, too.

Sleep: Had been great until this week. I’d been regularly waking early at 4:30 or so from baby girl’s kicks and jabs or from anxiety over all the to do’s and preparations for Baby Girl’s arrival, but lately, the weight of her in my belly as I lay on my side hurts my hip joints SO much that I end up waking every time I need to turn. Brian has been great, helping me roll and always giving me a hand when I can’t quite get out of bed on my own!

Wearing: yoga pants and my pre-pregnancy long sleeve tops (which barely clear the bottom of my belly now!) over long maternity tanks.

Loving: Cheerios with strawberries and bananas

Hating: It is such a challenge to put on socks or winter boots, bend over to pick anything up, sit comfortably upright in a chair instead of slightly angled or reclined back, or stand or walk for any extended period of time. I’m so adapted to these physical limitations at this point that I almost can’t even imagine how my body used to be able to bend and twist!

Missing: Feeling comfortable when I’m not laying down. Walking and sitting for any extended period of time really weighs on my joints. Everything feels like it’s preparing for delivery!

Movement: Baby girl is definitely running out of space. I feel less “kicking/punching” and more whole body rolling and shifting. Hiccups at night are common still, too. Feeling her moving has been especially awesome lately, maybe because I know that it’s coming to an end soon and I’ll really miss her wiggles and squirms. Sometimes I’ll lay down for 10 minutes in the middle of the day just so I can focus on feeling her moving around in there. It’s so fun to gently nudge back when she’s rolling around and hilarious when she nudges back. I play music for her a lot too, especially at night before bed. She’s always very active as soon as I get into bed which is fun for Brian and I, but probably doesn’t bode well for her sleep schedule in the future.

Labor Signs: The aching lower back and lower abdominal cramping I’ve been experiencing this week are all signs that things are progressing as they should according to my doctor.

Health + Wellness: Just taking my vitamins and trying to keep myself moving around as much as possible, if at a slower pace.

What I’m looking forward to:
We are both just so excited. I want the next few weeks to pass as quickly as possible because I can’t wait to finally meet her. I know I’m in the homestretch and am trying to enjoy it, napping or meeting up with friends for brunch when I can, but the excitement is overwhelming. I still need to finish the nursery and get her clothes organized and put away, but it’s all coming along.

Best moments this week:
Our sonogram last Friday was awesome. It was a relief to see baby girl on-screen and hear that she is growing and developing perfectly and that my uterus and placenta all look great. She’s head down, her heartbeat is strong, and she has a ton of hair! In the sonogram pictures we were given, she looks a LOT like Brian when he was a baby! We definitely see a resemblance through the eyes, nose and forehead. We know we’re just going off a sonogram and she has more developing to do, but it was so crazy that it was so pronounced. To my relief, we were told that the two random bleeding episodes I had in late December and late January don’t appear related to any issues with the pregnancy and were likely popped blood vessels outside the cervix — phew. I feel like I can relax a tiny bit finally.