Friday, April 29, 2011

Highlights of Avery's 1st Week

Hey everyone, I'm sure you're wondering what I've been up to this past week with Baby Avery, and now that I've got a few spare minutes while she's napping, I'll fill you in!  So, I know I like to think of myself as someone who is prepared for everything, but I understand now, that nothing can prepare you for the role of becoming a parent for the first time.  All nine months I read up on newborns, breastfeeding, diapers, etc. and yet the second she was born I felt completely clueless.

For years, I've ranted and hated on those girls from 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, but now I give them (and any other first time moms) so much grace.  Granted, some of them make a number of bad choices with themselves and their babies, but I completely understand how overwhelmed they felt when their babies were born.  Suddenly you are responsible for another life...nothing can prepare you for that!  On top of that, you're body is still recovering from labor and delivery!  This would have been enough for me to process for several days, even though I had an amazingly, positive experience! But to have a newborn to care for and breastfeeding to figure out, it all became very overwhelming, very fast.  Luckily Brandon has been there to support me, my midwife has been there for me to call, and each day seems to get a little bit easier as I learn more about Avery and get more practice in this new role as "mom".

I read in a baby book that this is the time when a woman experiences the most changes in her entire life (when she has her first baby) and I can attest to that.  It kind of feels like I've abandoned my old life, routine, and schedule for a completely new and different one...and while it is exciting, rewarding, and amazing, it's also a bit scary because it's so new and I don't feel very good at it yet.  I'm learning though, one day at a time.  For example, during day 1 and 2, breastfeeding felt like rocket science.  I had to be in the rocking chair, with the Boppy, with complete concentration, and I couldn't move a muscle for fear that she would let go.  Now, I can get her started eating in the in all different locations, positions, and even in the dark in the middle of the night...woo hoo! It feels good to get some confidence going in that area because it's so vital to her growth and well being. 

I'm also feeling much better about things now that I can leave the upstairs and return to my life in the rest of the house.  Yeah! I can make my own smoothie, help with dinner, and even do laundry! Doesn't sound so exciting does it? Well, for someone as independent as I usually am, it feels good to do somethings on my own again. 

Okay so enough low down on all the "new mama emotions" that are running through my head, let's get on to the highlights of the past week!

On our first day as new parents Brandon's parents treated us to some Chipotle...which we ate in bed, the place where we basically camped out for the first two to three days.  Most people would have liked this time to relax, be waited on, and pampered, but I did not.  It was a bit difficult to be limited to staying on one floor, being dependent on others, and not being able to workout (I know, I know but when it's your daily routine it's hard to stop...even if you've just had a baby.  This "bed rest time" taught me two very important lessons: take time to let your body heal, and don't be afraid to let other people help you (especially if they are bringing you Chipotle)!  Want to know what I'm eating here? Check out how I go gluten-free, vegan at Chipotle back in this post.

Chipotle Time!

So in the first day or two she slept lots...sometimes 4-5 hours at a time.  This had us both a little worried, but sure enough, after a few days those long sleepy naps wore off and now she sleeps for about 2 hours or so at a time.  We just love watching her sleep, so peaceful. 

Our Sleepy Girl
On the 2nd day we had our first "new parent" scare, when we noticed a rash on Avery's whole body.  Turns out it was just something called erythema toxicum, which my midwife described as a benign newborn rash.  It sure looked scary (almost like measeles or chicken pox), but it turns out that it is pretty common in newborns, we did nothing to cause it, and it usually goes away on it's on in a few days.  Luckily her's went away after a few days...yeah!

On day 6, we tried out this Fischer Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper for the first time.  Kind of funny how in the first few days we felt bad when we would put her down...put after awhile we realized we had other things to do (like taking a shower and eating dinner!) so we gave this a try. 

Time to "Rock 'N Sleep"!
Most of the time she likes it, but we find it works best when she's sleeping...other times she would rather be in our arms!

On Day 7, we made our first trip out in public to the chiropractor (midwife approved!) for both Avery and I.  She seemed to like riding in the car, mostly while we were on the highway because it vibrated her car seat quite a bit. 

Happy and peaceful after the chiropractor.

Here I am watching out for my little girl on her first ride in the car. 

Here are our dogs, Jilly and Jackson looking out for Baby Avery as she hangs out in her Mamaroo Infant Seat.

"We'll protect her!"

Here's a closer shot of the Mamaroo Infant Seat.  This is a fun new gadget that takes the place of traditional bouncy seats and swings in how it mimics the movements of parents with 5 customizable and unique motions: ocean wave, kangaroo, tree swing, car ride, and rock-a-bye.  After watching some videos of it on YouTube, we were sold! Another fun feature is that you can plug your iPod right into it and have it play music while it's moving.   We don't use it too much, but it's great for while we are eating dinner or when I'm walking on the treadmill like in the pic below.  I'll keep you posted on how it works out for us.

Here's a fun shot of what we like to call her "Poopy Face".  This is when she gets all quiet and still, like she's up to something, then...BAM! Mega bowel movement-lol! ( :

Here it comes....

On Day 3, we got to cut the clamp that was holding her umbilical cord stump, and then on Day 8 her umbilical cord stump fell off...leaving this adorable little belly button!

Here she is napping in her Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper that sits right next to our bed. 

And here's one last cute picture of her thinking hard as she gets her diaper changed.

"I wonder..."

So that's the highlights of our first week with Avery.  I wonder what fun new experiences await us this week? Can't wait to share them with you all!  Eventually "green" blog posts will resume, but for now it's "All About Avery" around here.   ( :

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Birth Story

So, I've finally found a few spare minutes to get on here and tell you all about Avery's Birth Story!  I could probably ramble for hours and tell you all the details, but since my free time is a little shorter nowadays I'll try to keep it simple and to the point!  Now just a head's up, it might have a little "TMI" for some of you, but when I was pregnant I was very curious about all the details that lead up to and are included in labor and delivery...not just the general if you don't want to read that skip on down to some new pictures of Avery-hehe!
Let me tell you how I met my daughter...

So here's the cliff notes on how it all went down...on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 (11 days past my so-called due date):
  • Midnight Tuesday night, lost mucus plug that looked like clear mucus (kind of like when you blow your nose) and this continued to come out throughout the day
  • 6 AM woke up to contractions that were 6-8 minutes apart. These contractions felt different from any I'd had before because I actually had to stop what I was doing to close my eyes or lean up against something while they were happening. Despite these, I still managed to squeeze in one last yoga workout!
  • 8 AM called hubby to come home-had a feeling "today" was the day! 
  • 9 AM to 1 PM- hung out and watched TV (specifically favorite episodes of The Office), ate lunch, tried to take a nap...contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart
What I watched in the
beginning of my labor!
  • Afternoon was fuzzy...more contractions
  • 5 PM contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, called midwife and she said to stay up and moving around during the contractions even though it was uncomfortable because each contraction was bringing me a little closer to meeting my baby.  She then said to call her back in a few hours and let her know how things were progressing. At this point, I remember feeling tired and frustrated. I had got pretty accustomed to what it felt like when a contraction would hit and I didn't like that feeling, so each time I felt one coming I would be like, "Oh no..not again!" I also remember feeling tired since I had been having strong and consistent contractions for a few hours. I remember thinking, "I just want a time-out. How about I time-out this labor, go get a good night's sleep, a good meal, and then I'll pick it back up tomorrow when I feel more rested, confident, and prepared!" Ha! Silly Ashley!
  • 7 PM contractions were even closer together, even stronger, and my legs and body would not stop shaking.  The only place I was comfortable was sitting on the toilet...lovely right?! Brandon called midwife this time and she said my "shaking" was probably my body transitioning into active labor, and that I should go ahead and get in the water birthing tub. 
  • 7:30 PM got in the tub, immediately felt like I had to go to the bathroom so I got back out of the tub.  While on the toilet, my water broke (nice timing right?).  Called the midwife again, she said she was on her way over and that it seemed like we were going to have a baby before the night was over!
Here's what the tub looked like
on our practice run a few weeks back.
  • 8 PM got in the tub and turned on "Gentle Surge" music track on my iPod.  During each contraction, I would hold onto B and focus on my breathing.  I also found myself using my voice a lot to get through contractions, not in the form of yelling but low moans. 
  • 8:30 PM Midwife arrived, I was still laboring in the tub
  • 9:00 or so, midwife asked if she could check how dilated I was, I said yes.  After she checked she suggested I reach down and feel for myself how far along I was.  Amazingly, when I reached in about an inch or two I was able to feel my baby's head! This was very motivating to me and gave me strength I needed to keep going.
  • Probably around 10 PM or so, my midwife suggested I try sitting back in the tub so that the baby would be able to go down and around the pubic bone on it's way out.   (I currently had been leaning over the edge on Brandon and a change in position was just what I needed to keep going).
  • Moved to sitting back position with my feet resting on the handles inside the tub.  During each contraction I began feeling the urge to push.  I was slightly hesitant to push, fearing that I would tear but with each contraction I could feel her head pushing out more and more, so I went with it...gently.
  • It also helped that my midwife was in a way "coaching" me through each contraction.  She helped me direct my breath and vocalizations to best support the baby coming out.  So she would tell me to make deep, low, sounds (as if saying the word "Low") as opposed to yelling "Ahh!".  I really took to this advice and it gave me something to focus on rather than the pain. 
  • After a while of pushing and hearing how I was progressing, "Her head is out to about her forehead at this point." I remember realizing that as each contraction ended, she went back in...and this frustrated me.  I was very encouraged by how far she would come out and to find out that she was going back in, made me want to keep pushing long after the contraction had ended as if to "hold on" to the progress I had made.  I realized quickly that this was a bad idea, as it was working against my body and making me even more tired.  My midwife reminded me that there are breaks between the contractions to help my body rest and instead of fighting them I should embrace them and relax my body.  So I did.
  • Throughout the time I was in tub, my midwife kept checking my baby's heart rate with a Doppler to make sure that she was not distressed and each time she checked she said she was doing just fine, which was reassuring to hear and it helped me relax even more.
  • At that point I had no idea what time it was or how long I had been in the tub, all I knew is that I was getting closer to the end.  At some point I remember that I was holding back instead of pushing...again for fear of tearing, but my midwife suggested that I embrace the pressure and allow my body to push.  Things started picking up when I began doing this.  Basically this pushing felt a lot like I was having a really large bowel movement, and although it was tempting to push hard and fast, I tried hard to make gentle, slow pushes. 
  • Not long after I heard my midwife tell me the words I'd been waiting to hear: that her head was out and after the next contraction, I would have my baby! I remember saying out loud, "Oh I can do this!" To which my midwife and Brandon replied, "Of course you can do this." LOL.
  • Brandon then went around and got positioned to "catch" the baby.  And sure enough, with the next contraction, I pushed one more time and the rest of her body came out.  Brandon received her and brought her to my chest.  At 10:59 PM, my baby was born!
What happened after the birth?
-After being placed on my chest, we held Avery for about 30 minutes while we continued to sit in the water.  This was truly the most amazing part of the birth because instantly after Avery was born and placed on my chest, she was calm, alert, and had her eyes open and was looking right at us. Words can't describe the feeling we had as new parents to be holding our daughter for the first time.  On top of that the fact that she was so calm and alert made the moment even more surreal.  During this time our midwife checked her out to make sure everything was alright, and a few minutes later, I birthed the placenta.  On a funny TMI note, Avery had her first pee and bowel movement right there in the tub, good to know all systems are a go for her-lol! 

-About a half hour or so after she was born, I got out of the tub and made the move to our bed where I would try nursing her for the first time and also so my midwife could check me to see if I needed any stitches   As it turned out, I did have a small tear and it required a few stitches, which she gave me as I began nursing Avery. 
-Then my midwife helped clean up the tub and did a few more checks on Avery, all of which turned out great.  Then I went back to the bed and she gave me my restrictions for the next couple of weeks:
Because of the stitches:
-Stay upstairs (where our bedroom is) for 5 days because the stairs could open the stitches, not to mention put a strain on me
-Try to keep my legs together to help with the stitches, and avoid cross-legged positions as they might open the stitches for at least the first few days. 
Other restrictions on me:
-Stay home for 2 weeks, with full time help for the first week (thank you Brandon!), and part-time help for the 2nd week (thank you mom!).  I loved my midwife's analogy about why I need to stay home and take it easy: While showing us the placenta she said to make note of it's size (quite large) and remember that it was attached to my it's out so it's basically like there is a large scab (the size of the placenta) in my uterus and if you had a scab that large anywhere else in your body, you would take it easy.  The same is true for this mom is staying home!
-She also suggested limited visitors for Avery to reduce germs she's exposed to, to keep her and I from getting overwhelmed, and just to increase our new family bonding time. 

Our first family picture about an hour after she was born
in our comfy bed. Boy did I love being at home.
How did I use my Hypnobirthing practice?
-One of the primary Hypnobirthing tools I used was the Gentle Surge music track I mentioned in this post, which was playing in the background while I was laboring in the tub.  I put it on repeat and the combination of that with the dim lights and the water really helped keep me from stressing out and becoming overwhelmed as I got through each contraction. I couldn't have made it through my labor without this track (and the support of Brandon!). 

My Thoughts After the Birth:
-I truly am so happy and excited that I was able to have the home/water/hypnobirth I'd been dreaming of and planning for since before I was pregnant. I feel grateful that my birth was so short, so easy, so natural...what an amazing experience. I am happy that my baby was able to born in an environment that was quiet and calm with dim lights, only a few people (Brandon and my midwife), and not to mention in the comfort of my own home. It was probably the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of my life and I have a whole new sense of confidence that I will take with me from this day forward. And to know that I was able to give birth to my baby free of drugs, stress, and fear makes me even more happy and proud as I look back on the exciting day I met my daughter.

Now for some cute pictures of Baby Avery...

Love it when those eyes are open.

You know she'll be one "Green Girl"!
One proud daddy!

So that's my birth story and I can't wait to share more stories and pictures with you all on our new adventures in parenting.  Until's time to go back to my little girl! ( :

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Avery is born!

Hi greenies! I will post more later, but just had to share the news that Avery was born last night, April 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM.  She was born in the water at our home.  She weighed 8 lbs and was 21 inches long.  Here are some pictures...
First Family Picture after the birth.

So happy she is finally here!

Brandon got to weigh her with the midwife scale...8lbs!
See her cute little foot sticking out?!

Meet Baby Avery!

Dad giving her some love during one of her many diaper changes thus far!

Avery says "Hello!"

Avery and I

Daddy and Avery first thing this it!

Our sleeping girl...

I will post more about my birth story later...but for now enjoy the cuteness!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

41 Weeks and Patiently Waiting ...

Hey everyone...still pregnant here at 41 weeks.  Although it sounds crazy, I still feel healthy, happy, and active as I await Baby Avery's arrival.  Now although she's making us wait a bit longer to meet her, I know that she will come when she's good and ready.  We met with our midwife last Monday and she said everything looked great.  My blood pressure was good, Avery's heart rate was good, and she was positioned with her head very low in my pelvis.  

41 Weeks!

Granted it has almost been a week since we last met, and according to my earliest due date I'm a week late, but just as I've mentioned before I know things are warming up.  Each day I feel new sensations and new changes that let me know that her birth is just around the corner. For example, two days ago, I really felt her drop even lower (didn't know that was possible!) and it since then there has been a lot of pressure right above my pelvis that I can feel quite frequently now as I'm walking, moving, or even laying down. On top of this, there is sometimes a pinching type feeling that stops me in my tracks as Avery moves around that sure feels like things are really getting ready for labor.  I also still have a crampy, upset stomach type feeling on nearly daily basis which usually hits in the early afternoon and seems to only feel better when I eat..maybe just the hormones getting ready?  Another feeling I have each day that reassures me that everything is just fine is that I still feel Avery moving around as she normally does.  She's usually pretty active after I have my morning smoothie, after dinner, around 3 AM, (and even right now as I'm writing this post!). So it feels good for me to know that all is well with her.  
My pants can't get any lower

One thing I've done to help me cope with the waiting game I'm going through right now is to come up with an analogy to help me trust that my body and baby will be born when they are ready, which I call the "Baby Avery Party Planning Analogy".  It's basically the idea that my labor and delivery will be like a party (like the positive spin I've got on that?) and although I'm invited (I'm actually the host), I am not allowed to help with the set up and party preparations.  You hire people for that right? Well, who have I hired? My body and my baby, of course!  Here's how I see the scene, they're rushing around getting things ready table arrangements, food, decor, etc. and here's little ol' me asking, "Do you guys need help with anything?" Their response, "No Ashley, go chill out and relax..we've got this under control."  A few minutes later I check back in, "Hey do you want me to help put something out or go hang these decorations?" And they again reply, "Look Ashley, we're pros...we've got it under us.  Just go relax!"  That's how I feel right now as each day passes by, I want so badly to control the situation (or to help get ready for the "party"), but there is literally nothing else for me to do...except to sit back and let my body and my baby do the rest.  And when you're a bit of a control-freak like myself, this task becomes a pretty difficult.  On top of that, well meaning family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers out in public constantly asking if I've had the baby yet, if I'm going to induce, is everything okay, etc. get's a little bit overwhelming. 

The "Baby Avery Party
 Planning Committee" meets here!

So how do I cope with this? As I mentioned before...I visualize my Party Planning analogy, read other "it's okay to be late" pregnancy blog posts like this one, and stare at my Pregnancy/Birth vision board.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from the vision board:
"Slow down 
calm down, 
don't worry, 
don't hurry,
trust the process."
-Alexandra Stoddard

 Key words for me in this quote..."Trust the Process!"  I find it hard to believe that if I've had such a healthy, normal, natural pregnancy thus far, why would my body fail me now and not know how to get this baby out? I know that some women need help jump-starting their labors, or need to be induced for other medical reasons and I totally do not judge against that...everyone and every baby is different.  I just have a really hard time understanding why it would be needed for all women? I have no idea what labor and birth have in store for me, and maybe I'll need some form of induction, I don't know.  But I'm trying to stay optimistic and just trust that my body and baby know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Truly, letting go of wanting to control this and just "trusting the process"  is one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I know that in the end it will be worth it. 

We meet with our midwife tomorrow night, if I haven't had Avery yet just so she can do a few tests and make sure all is still well.  Be sure to check back later this week to see when our "party" has started...until then I'm going to sit back, relax and let my "party planners" do their thing! ( :

Sunday, April 10, 2011

40 Weeks and My "Due Date Party"

Hey everyone, I suppose you can tell from my pictures that Baby Avery has not arrived yet, and I'm still pregnant...40 weeks to be exact.  Here's Brandon and I getting one last pregnancy photo shoot in before she arrives (thanks to the timer on my camera and some awesome weather outside). We are both very excited for her to arrive and with everything all ready to go, the countdown is on!

We're ready for a family picture!

I've been loving our
"pregnancy hugs"!

So you may be wondering what I'm thinking about now that my due date has come and gone, but as I mentioned in my last post, I have somewhat of a "due date window" that ranges from April 9th (yesterday) to April 14th (this coming Thursday), so I'm not stressing because I know I've still got time.  Now even though Avery is not here yet, my body has begun warming up in some major ways.  For starters, she seems to continue dropping lower and lower into my pelvis as the days go by and I've been having lots more "pre-labor warm-ups" (or Braxton-Hicks contractions as you may call them).  It's kind of funny being a first time mom because I have no idea what "real" contractions feel know those ones that mean: "It's time!" or "You better call your midwife!"  Everyone tells me that you will "just know" but for someone who has never been through it, those are not reassuring words! 

40 weeks

Here's what's been going on as far as contractions are concerned this week:
-each day they increase a little bit more in length and strength
-they range in feeling like the following two things:

The first type of "contraction" feels like: period cramps, as though I ate something that didn't agree with me, and feeling hungry all at the same time.  Sometimes these are also accompanied by: hot flashes and waves of moodiness (watch out!).  After chilling out this weekend I've been wondering if these "contractions" occur most when I feel stressed or overwhelmed, such as: when my mom and I went to Wal-Mart on a busy Saturday afternoon, when my computer was acting up, or when things got hectic at school this week. During all of these times I felt these period-cramp-type contractions. Now I've been taking it easy today (no stress) and I haven't had we'll see?!

"How low can you go?"
The second type of "contraction" I've been feeling is a tight pressure right above my pubic bone and in my pelvic floor.  I've been feeling these a lot today, and it's nothing painful or even uncomfortable, just pressure.  I definitely like these more!

At this point I haven't had any that last long enough or that have a definite beginning and end, for me to time and track, but we'll see how they continue to progress.  We have a check up with our midwife tomorrow night so we'll see how she thinks things are progressing. 

Now you may think at this point in my pregnancy I'm so miserable, so uncomfortable, and so done being pregnant that I just want it all to end...but I don't!  Don't get me wrong, I want to meet her more than anything, but I've heard so many horror stories about the last few weeks of pregnancy that I always wondered if I was destined for that same fate, but I'm here to say that it doesn't happen to everyone (so stay positive other pregnant mamas out there!).  Avery sure has been treating me well and I continue to workout daily for an hour (mainly doing prenatal yoga or walking on the treadmill like I mentioned in this post).  I've found that I feel so much better when I keep up with these workouts so that my body stays active and flexible...not tight and tense.  Granted, I've been feeling quite a bit more tired than usual (there's got to be some statistic out there about that doing daily tasks at 40 weeks pregnant is like running a 5K each day something? Maybe I'm just making that up, but sometimes it sure feels like it!).  I make up for this fatigue by taking at least a 30 minute nap each day and by having 2 green smoothies a day...they give me the energy I need to make it through!  On top of all this, it really helps keep me feeling good to know that Avery could be born any day now!

Baby App says "It's time!"
Onto a fun note, I decided to have a "Due Date Party" yesterday, almost to poke fun at  "due dates" and the notion that you must give birth on your due date or something is wrong.  Check out what one of my pregnancy apps said yesterday on my so-called due date for the Countdown section..."Today is the day!!" Well clearly it was not the day...too funny!  So what did I do for my "Due Date Party"? I went to Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ of course!  You can read more about my love for Genghis Khan here.  Now although it was a small event (the only people that went were Brandon, my parents, and my brother), we had a great time!  The way I saw it was that the night would be fun either way.  First if the due date theory held true, we would be holding Baby Avery, or second we would be enjoying a delicious dinner with family down at my favorite restaurant. 

At Genghis Khan
We had a running joke all week about what I would do if my water broke as we were driving down to Genghis Khan, would I come home or go eat? What do you think a 40-week pregnant mama said? I'm going to eat! Ha- I doubt my family would have let me do that, but luckily we didn't have to worry about it since I'm still pregnant and it's a day later. 

Here's my delicious plate of: tofu, rice noodles, corn, onions, mushrooms, carrots, cilantro, chipotle seasoning and garlic all sauteed together on one mega Mongolian BBQ grill.  It was delicious and you can bet I went back for a second plate!  I think Avery liked it too because she was kicking and moving around while I ate. 

Gluten-free, vegan delicious meal!
Here's another pic of Brandon and I all smiles after our delicious "Due Date Party" dinner outside of Genghis Khan.   I guess I was so focused on the food I forgot to take pics of our other party guests...sorry Mom, Dad, and Andrew! 
40 Weeks and Full

So that's my update for this week...I wonder if this will be my last pregnancy update? Who knows? I've heard a lot of first-time moms go late, so I may have another week on my hands or maybe I'll have her tonight? I'll keep you all posted on here and let you know when labor begins (if I feel like doing a quick blog post at that point!). 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

39 Weeks & A Few of My Favorite Pregnancy Things...

39 weeks is here! Wow...the time sure has flown by and it's kind of crazy to think that in a matter of days-not just weeks-we will be meeting our baby girl! We met with our midwife earlier in the week and she estimated that she was about 6 pounds and she said we can expect for her to continue gaining about 1/2 a pound a week until she's born.  My midwife also checked her position and confirmed that she was head down, and her heart rate was good. After our visit with her, it seemed like Avery continued to drop even lower into my pelvis as you can see from the pictures, and my body has definitely starting to warm up for labor. 
39 Weeks
Being a first time mom, I have no idea what contractions feel like, but I'm starting to get an idea.  Braxton-Hicks contractions, or "pre-labor warm-ups" as Hypnobirthing calls them, seem to have begun this week...if they hadn't already.  Mine tend to vary in length and strength and seem to feel like a combination of the following things: uterus (from pubic bone all the way up to my chest) gets really hard, very light menstrual cramps, some tightness in my lower back, and sometimes even a pinching-type feeling in my cervical area.  I tend to experience these pre-labor warm-ups most often in the late afternoon, evening, and before bed, which always leaves me wondering, "Will tonight be the night?" But then I go to bed and wake up the next morning and think, "Guess it wasn't time yet!" I know she'll come out when she's good and ready, and until then, my uterus and body are getting a nice pre-labor workout so we can really rock it when true labor begins!
Can you say, "Dropped?!"

This leads me to the question I've been getting all week, "So now when is your baby due?" or as the preschoolers in my classroom say, "Your tummy is gettin real big...when dat Baby Avery gonna come out of there?" The due date given to me by midwife, is April 9th, which is based on a 28-day menstrual cycle, but my cycles were typically 31 days, which puts me about April 12th.  Another possible due date is the one given to us when we had the diagnostic ultrasound done at 20 weeks to find out her gender, and they said April 14th.  So, as you can see I have somewhat of a range: April 9th-14th.  I like this window because it keeps me from getting fixated on one certain day and thinking something is wrong if that day goes by and she is not born.  I know she will come when she is good and ready and if that doesn't fall exactly on the day we predicted, I am totally okay with it!  I know some babies come early and others come late, so as long as I continue to feel as good as I do now, I'm perfectly content to wait for her to decide when she's ready to come out! 
When are you coming out Avery?

Moving on to more pregnancy topics (sorry greenies), I've had fun checking out other blogs throughout my pregnancy of women who have been pregnant and are now raising their babies.  One thing I love is when they post about their "Favorite" or "Must-Have" Newborn Items, mainly because I feel clueless sometimes as to what we need for our baby girl and their lists have helped me formulate my baby registry and shopping lists.  Now since Avery is not here yet, I have no idea what my favorite or must-have items will be for taking care of her, but I do have some experience in being pregnant...about 280 some days to be exact, so I feel a little bit more qualified to tell you about some of my "Favorite Pregnancy Items" or as the song goes, "These are a few of my favorite (pregnancy) things..."!

So if you're thinking about getting pregnant, currently are pregnant, or have ever been pregnant, take a look at my list of "Favorite Pregnancy Things" and see if there's anything you can relate to, think you would like, or can remember enjoying during those special 9 months.

Let the "Favorites List" begin...
1.  Pillows- So when you're pregnant, it's key to be comfortable and the best thing I've found to help me with that is to have a wide variety of pillows available for me to use not only when I'm sleeping, but when I'm sitting in chairs, or even on the couch.  I was just a few months in when I started putting a pillow between my legs when I slept just to ease my hip muscles.  Since then, more pillows have been added and I'm up to using about 4-5 small ones each night...not to mention the two that are already under my head!  Now I know there are "pregnancy pillows" out there, but I liked having the freedom to move, rotate, and change these pillows around instead of being stuck with one shape. Plus by using what I had, it was one less thing I had to buy, which was nice.
My 6 pillows and I at 35 Weeks

2.  Exercise ball- Oh sweet exercise ball, what would I do without you? I think it was around 30 weeks or so, when my belly really started to grow that I started to get very uncomfortable sitting in traditional chairs for long periods of time, such as when I would blog or sit at my desk at school.  So, I began to experiment with sitting on an exercise ball when I was at home and boy did it make a difference.  It wasn't long before I bought one to keep at my classroom as well, and I'm so glad I did.  You might think...a big, red exercise ball in a preschool class, how's that going to go over? But, after a discussion of why I need it ("Baby Avery keeps growing and it hurts my back to sit in my old chair") and what the "good ideas and bad ideas" would be with it, my students have done awesome and haven't tried to play with it once!  It probably helps that we call it "My Sitting Ball" too. 

Getting ready on the ball.
Blogging on the ball.
At work on the ball.

Aside from easing back pain, it probably feels better for Baby Avery, it works my core (as if my abs are my top priority right now!), and helps me have good posture.  I highly recommend you get one if you are pregnant...and maybe two! You can find them at Wal-Mart or Target for $10-15.   I actually plan on continuing to use both exercise balls even after I'm pregnant, just because of how much better they make my back feel!  Here's an interesting article that gives even more reasons why it's beneficial to use an exercise ball as your office favorite reason: it could help you burn up to 350 calories a day just by sitting on it- a bit of a stretch, but still-wow!

3.  Heating Pad and Pack- As you know, I'm an all-natural girl and I will try every natural alternative or remedy before putting a drop of medicine in my bod.  Since I've been pregnant this drive to stay natural has only increased, because not only do I want to avoid having those toxic pharmacuetucial drugs in my body, but I don't want them in Baby Avery either.   But, as my pregnancy went on, there were definitely times when I felt some mild discomforts like: backaches, headaches, sinus pressure, or just muscle soreness.  What was my answer to these ails? Ibuprofen? Tylenol? Nope...a heat pack! I alternated a lot between our electric heading pad and a hot/cold pack to relieve any discomforts that came up. I posted a bit about this topic back here during week 17, if you're interested. Now although these weren't cure-alls, they did help ease some of the pain I was feeling, and I liked knowing that they were natural, non-invasive, and would have nothing but a positive effect on the little one growing inside my belly.  On top of their ease of use (plugging in or microwaving) they were also easy on the wallet!

4.  Going to the chiropractor- While on the topic of pregnancy discomforts, one of my favorite ways to prevent these from happening was to keep up with regular adjustments with my chiropractor.  I used to go once every two weeks, but around 32-34 weeks or so, I started going weekly. Some weeks I can tell I need to be adjusted more than others, and there's even others where I have a specific ache or soreness that I want her to help me with, but making my adjustments routine has really seemed to help me have a more enjoyable pregnancy.  There are also benefits related to labor prep and making sure the baby is in it's correct position which you can read about here on my chiropractor's website.  I can't wait until I can start taking Baby Avery to the chiropractor as well.  My chiropractor does special adjustments on babies and children, and it can have dramatic effects in preventing ear infections and other newborn ailments...I'll blog more about this when we try it out!

5.  Prenatal Yoga- I've posted about the benefits of yoga during pregnancy before, but I really just can't say enough good things about it!  Sometimes it seems like my body gets so tight and stiff from being pregnant, and the only way I can ease this pain is with a good prenatal yoga workout.  In fact I feel like my prenatal yoga workouts have helped me to steer clear of developing many pregnancy ailments, so you can bet that I'm going to keep them going all the way up until the very end.  Check out this post, for more details on my favorite yoga DVDs and workouts, which you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Prenatal Yoga at 30 Weeks
6.  Fragrance-free skin care items-

Buddha showing off my favorite "baby-friendly" personal care products.

As you can see on my "Green Body" page, I'm pretty diligent about keeping toxins out of my personal care products, and during my pregnancy, you can imagine that I've stuck to this even more.  On top of this, I have sensitive skin and I wanted to use things that I knew would be safe to be around Baby Avery once she's born.  So here's my favorites...

Body Wash: Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap in "Baby Mild" (I fill 1/2 to about 3/4 of a bottle with this soap and fill the rest with water and you have your own body wash!)
Laundry Detergent: ECOS Free and Clear Laundry Detergent (I don't want any perfumes or dyes rubbing off from my clothes onto my skin)
Lotion: Desert Essences Fragrance Free Hand and Body Lotion (use this twice a day and haven't seen a single stretch mark)
I love that all of these green personal care products are not only healthy for my skin, but they could also be used with Baby Avery as well, give them a try!

8.  Pregnancy Apps-
The first App I got when I found out I was pregnant was the "What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Tracker App".  It was free, and although I loved this main page which told me the food size for the week and a nice little countdown, I struggled with the "expect the worst" perspective it offered on pregnancy.  Each week I'd be excited to see what was in store for me and I would be hit with, "This week you may experience restless leg syndrome, or hypertension, or hemorrhoids, or coping with swelling, etc." Now even though all these conditions and discomforts are great to be aware of, it's not exactly the most fun thing to read about because then you go about expecting them to happen! So I usually skipped over the "Your Body This Week" section and moved on to what exciting things were happening with my baby's development. 

Another free App I used throughout my pregnancy was the "Baby Center: My Pregnancy Today Mobile App". This one had better visuals, seemed to be more positive, and even had videos (my favorite part!).  What I liked about using these Apps was that they helped teach Brandon and I what was going on with our baby girl's development.  Every Saturday our info would change, so that morning we'd lay in bed and I'd read it out from my iPod.  The most fun part was finding out what size food she was going to be for that week.  Truly, these Apps were so much easier than referencing some pregnancy book and reading what was going on for that particular week.  If you're pregnant, I highly recommend you try them out!

Well, I hope you liked my "Favorite Pregnancy Things" List.  Now since all pregnant mamas are different, please feel free to post some of your favorite items below and even though I probably won't get a chance to try out your item, since my pregnancy is almost done, maybe someone else could benefit from hearing about it!  Be sure to keep checking back throughout the week to see if there's been any action on the "labor front" or if our baby girl has arrived! What an exciting week (or two) it will be...
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