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On Being Sick While Pregnant

It started Wednesday. The subtle pain in the back of my throat. Always a sure sign that I’m about to get sick. I started to mentally prepare for the worst. At least one, maybe two sick days from work. A trip to the doc for a prescription. Homebound for the next couple of days. Pretty standard stuff, really.

I had plans to get a haircut on Friday, but decided I shouldn’t take my chances so I called and made a last-minute appointment for that night (Wednesday night). Good choice, because I was about to be knocked on my ass for the next several days.

Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat and lots of sinus pressure. Since most of my colds turn into sinus infections, I figured I would get a head start on this one and call my OB. (My primary doc moved and I’ve been too lazy to find another one.) The nurse at my OB’s office called me back within the hour (a miracle in itself!) and after I convinced her that I was dealing with the beginnings of a sinus infection, agreed to prescribe a pregnancy-safe antibiotic (Z-pack) and told me to take some Sudafed. By noon I was off to Walgreens, practically skipping because I had outsmarted this sickness and would be better in NO TIME! hahahaha!!! Also, I’m not sure how it is in other states, but Missouri is one in which you have to buy Sudafed from BEHIND the counter and must show your ID and sign some big legal document which I assume says “I am not a meth maker,” in legal terms. There are many reasons to hate meth-heads, and inconveniencing sick, pregnant women is now topping my list.

Anyway, once I got home and took my medicine, I delightfully hopped back on my laptop to get some work done. But later that night, my nose started running. On Friday, my roll of Charmin wasn’t cutting it for Kleenex anymore so the hubs had to run out to buy some because I was starting to give Rudolph a run for his money in the red nose department.

By Friday night, I was completely miserable and starting to realize that this sickness was something nasty. Something viral. I tossed and turned all night long getting MAYBE an hour of sleep, total. I got up at 6am and took a hot shower.

Saturday was much worse. Constant nose blowing. Headaches. Pressure. Sore throat. Loss of appetite. Congestion. Couldn’t nap. Just awful. I had to miss a friend’s PJ playdate, which I’d been looking forward to for weeks.

Saturday night was much of the same until I finally moved downstairs to the couch so at least the hubs could get a decent night’s sleep, because I certainly wasn’t. I watched as the clock hit 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30 and so on until I was just so damn frustrated I couldn’t stand it. Then the coughing fits started. I can handle just about everything else, but coughing until gagging just puts me in a bad place. So then I just spent the day moping around, pissed that antibiotics weren’t working and that someone out there got me sick. And whoever that person was, I wanted to kick them in the shins. Hard.

Because here’s the thing about being sick while pregnant. YOU CAN’T TAKE ANYTHING! No DayQuil/NyQuil. No sleep aids. No nasal sprays except saline. And even cough drops are used at a minimum since they make my stomach hurt after about 3.  On top of that, a pregnant woman’s immune system is much lower than a normal person’s so this means that viruses hit us much harder and last much longer because our bodies aren’t able to fight them off as well.

So what have I been using?

A combination of things. I only wish I would’ve purchased some of these things a bit sooner. If you’re pregnant and feel the sickness coming on, do or buy these things:

1. The most important thing so far: A warm-mist humidifier. My house is SUPER DRY. If you don’t have a way to measure the humidity of your house, get a digital humidity gauge. We bought a combo temp/humidity ditial reader so we could monitor the temperature and humidity in D’s nursery when he was an infant and it’s astonishing to me to see that in the winter months, our house’s humidity level is around 10%. This is too dry. Comfortable humidity levels should be around 35%-40% in the winter. Even with D’s humidifier running at full blast all day long, his room only ever gets to around 25% humidity. I had no idea how much of a role this would play when battling a cold, until I tried taking a nap and couldn’t sleep because the air was so dry on my throat that it would send me into coughing fits every 5 minutes. Once we bought the humidifier and cranked that puppy up to reach 40% in our room? I took a solid 1.5 hr nap without any issues and woke up feeling 10 times better. Still ridiculously sick, but able to sleep and breathe.

2. Good Kleenex. And lots of it. When you’re blowing your nose every 2 minutes, it’s important to have good quality Kleenex on hand. And not just one dinky little box. Buy a HUGE box or do what I do and buy a bunch of smaller boxes to leave in various rooms of the house so they’re always just within reach. I went through two boxes in less than one day.

3. Juice, soups, and warm beverages. I’m not a big tea person. I can tolerate about one cup a day but for some reason, it makes me nauseous. So I rely on decaf coffee, and an assortment of juices. I’ve been loving my “fake mimosas” lately. Orange juice and Sprite. So tasty, so full of vitamin C. Cranberry juice is another favorite. Water only makes my itchy throat more itchy so it’s hard for me to sip water all day to stay hydrated, but I imagine some lemons added to the water would be nice. As far as soups, I’m all over the place. It’s just important to make sure that you eat. Colds have a way of tricking the body into not feeling that hungry. Maybe it’s all the snot draining into the stomach, which is gross, but true. So I rarely feel like eating, but know it’s important because I feel so much better after eating a bowl of nice warm soup.

4. Sudafed is great and pregnancy approved, if it works for you. It didn’t seem to do much for me and may actually be a cause of my insomnia since they promote their “non-drowsy” formula. So I stopped taking it after day 2. But for some people, I know it works great.

5. Vicks Vaporub. Seems to help clear the nasal passages a bit, even if only for a few minutes. I rub it on my neck too, and the cold sensation feels soothing on a sore throat.

6. Warm salt water. Gargling warm salt water several times a day seems to help with the sore throat.

7. Cough drops. I try not to use them much because as I said above, they tend to make my stomach hurt after too many. And I’m also really picky about cough drops. I despise Halls and throat lozenges that are basically just candy. I prefer Vicks. They’re hard to find and come in a small box. If those aren’t available, then I suggest Burt’s Bees Honey & Pomegranate flavor.

8. Hot showers. It’s so easy to just lay around in your sick clothes (aka pajamas) and wallow in your own filth for a few days on the couch. But I’m telling you that a nice, hot shower can do wonders for your body and sinuses. That hot steam is just heavenly. And blowdry your hair. I’m usually too lazy to blowdry my hair if I’m not going anywhere, but a wet head and cold hair while sick just drives me nuts, so I make sure to dry my hair. And then I put on clean pjs and get back on the couch.

9. Sweet oil. This was a tip my SIL shared with me when her kids are coming down with an ear infection. She swears by just a few drops of warm sweet oil in the ears. When my inner ears started itching and feeling clogged, I figured it was worth a shot to try to alleviate some of the congestion. And believe it or not, I think it worked!! It at least stopped the itching.

10. Saline nasal spray. I didn’t use this until Sunday evening and while it provided only very temporary relief, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

11. Lots of pillows. I’m usually just a one pillow person but with all the drainage that comes along with being sick, I find that being propped up a bit more helps. So I like to use two big pillows propped up so that I’m on a very clear incline. I sleep much better this way, even if it feels like I’m almost sitting straight up sometimes.

12. Chapstick. A necessity for winter months anyway, but more so when I’m sick and become a heavy mouth-breather.

 

Any pregnancy-safe cold/flu remedies I missed?

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Fall Fun List

Some people call it a bucket list. I prefer a “Fall Fun List.”  Whatever you want to call it, here’s my list.

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Fortunately, we’ve already done most of these things and we have plans to do all of them by the end of the week! (Yes, even WIN THE WORLD SERIES! Go Cards!)

What’s on your Fall Fun List?

(To make your own, check out this lovely blogger.)

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I mentioned that a friend of mine recently had her second baby. Unlike with the first pregnancy, second pregnancies don’t get nearly enough attention. I kind of hate that about second pregnancies because it’s still a baby, a miracle of life, a tiny individual person, and deserves just as much fuss as the first baby.

But no one asked me, so it is what it is.

Since Jen was having her second boy, I knew she didn’t need much in the way of baby-related stuff. So instead of bringing a pack of onesies I’m sure would only be worn once, I decided to go a slightly different direction with my gift and focused on her – the mom. (And who wouldn’t love that?!)

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Here’s what I gave her, and the rationale for each item:

1. A good book. When I was on maternity leave, I actually read quite a bit to pass the pumping time. Jen loves good chick lit and Nicholas Sparks is the epitome of that. At First Sight is his latest novel and while I ran the risk of her already having it, I just made sure to include a gift receipt. (Bonus: she didn’t have it already!)

2. Chocolate. It’s a must for any gift-giving occasion.

3. Starbucks Via Refreshers. For nursing moms trying to watch their caffeine intake, I knew coffee wouldn’t be a great idea, but I thought these little strawberry lemonade mixers looked yummy and would serve the purpose of helping her stay hydrated too.

4. Trailmix. When your hands are full, sometimes it’s all you can do to scarf down a handful of something. Trailmix is usually packed with good proteins to keep your energy levels high when you’re “on the go” (even if you’re just “on the go” in your own house).

5. Burt’s Bees baby shampoo and body wash. Ok, so this is actually something for the baby, but I LOVE the smell of this stuff and it seemed to be gentle on my son’s sensitive skin so I’m hoping she has a similar experience. Is there anything better than a delicious smelling baby?

6. Emery board and nail polish. The emery board serves dual purposes – for her nails AND for filing the baby’s nails because I wouldn’t get near my son’s tiny fingers with clippers those first few months. A quick file with the emery board every few days was all he needed for a long time. And the blue polish was just something fun. And what better color for a boy mom??

7. And last but not least, a candle that smells like the beach. When life gets stressful, smelling the sweet scents of coconut makes me feel like I’m on the beach, sipping a pina colada. And since we’ve been to Hawaii together, I’m hoping this little candle has the same effect for her.

8. The basket is a find from Target in their home decor section. I loved that it was cloth so she could reuse it in the baby’s nursery for toys or ointments or whatever. And it won’t splinter like a wicker or wood basket (even though I love how those look!)

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What are your go-to gifts for new* moms?

*the “new” here applies to any mom who has just given birth – whether it’s her first or fifth kid.

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I think I skipped a 6-9 months post on my favorite baby things so I’m cramming them into one, big 6-12 month post.

1. iPhone or iPad – preferably both. The iPhone has come in handy for SO MANY THINGS. Taking photos/video, playing music (babies love music, especially my baby), or playing videos when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and baby D has decided that everything within reach must be thrown on the floor. The iPad has been most helpful when we’ve  spent 10 hours in the car ONE WAY to visit my husband’s family, which has already been SIX times since he’s been born. That’s about twice the amount of trips we make on a normal year. We try not to rely on it until he’s getting really annoyed, which typically happens after about hour #6. I can’t blame him though. I’m pretty much over the road trip after that long too.

2. iPhone stand – As mentioned above, we like to eat out and while I’ve read posts from other parents who think it’s better for kids to learn how to behave in social settings like a restaurant without the need for an i-something to distract them, those people aren’t usually around when my kid is throwing anything he can get his mits on to the floor. If they were, I’d say “here, you take him so we can eat our meal in peace.” Then I’m sure they’d probably be okay with us playing a little Baby Einstein for 20 minutes. And this iPhone stand helps keep the phone out of reach and in place.

3. MumMums – All of those baby finger foods found in the baby food section are fantastic (and puffs/yogurt melts/etc.) but MumMums are probably our favorite because he can hold them and gnaw on them until they’re mushy. They keep him busy for awhile and I don’t have to have a special place to set it down; I just hand it to him and he goes to town. Unlike puffs or yogurt melts that basically require a clean, flat surface to lay a few out and let him pick them up.

4. Baby Einstein exersaucer – Really any exersaucer will do. This one just happened to be free from my inlaws when they found it at a yard sale for $5. At first, we didn’t think we would need this, since we already had a bouncer seat, bumbo, and jumperoo. I mean, how many baby contraptions does one family need?! But we soon realized that this was the best of them all because it gave us somewhere safe to put him, and I could move it from room to room (unlike the jumperoo) so I could make dinner and have him right there with me.

5. Playmat – Once D started crawling and pulling up on things, we decided even our carpeted living room was too hard and purchased this playmat to provide a little extra cushion should he take a tumble. Maybe that’s the overprotective parent in both of us, but it gave us a little peace of mind. And while this mat is supposed to be some sort of cool block building thing, if I had it to do over again, I’d probably buy a mat with a fewer parts since D likes to pull it apart all the time.

6. Board Books – I don’t know what it is about books, but they fascinate him! His favorite BY FAR is called Baby Woof Woof and we keep it separated from the rest of the books and only break it out at certain times because one reading requires at least 5 readings and even when you’ve done that many, the boy will fuss and cry until you read it again – or find something better to distract him with.

7. Balls – Basketballs, baseballs – any kind of balls really. Balls are his favorite toys. First, he learned how to roll it back and forth, then he quickly taught himself to throw it and loves to spend an hour playing his version of catch. Already a sports fanatic.

8. Blocks – After balls, his blocks are his second favorite toy. Well, blocks and stacker rings. He loves to pick two of them up and bang them together. He still hasn’t quite figured out the sorting aspect of it yet, but he loves to put him in and out of the bucket.

9. Original Sprout Shampoo – I try to use Burt’s Bees lotion and bubble bath almost exclusively because I love the smell, but after fighting a bit of cradle cap when he was around 7 months old and getting his first haircut, the stylist suggested the above Original Sprout Shampoo. And you guys, it cleared up with just ONE use and we haven’t had so much as a dandruff flake since. Awesome stuff, even if I don’t love the smell as much as Burt’s Bees.

10. Glow Seahorse – I was determined to get baby D a glow worm for nostalgia’s sake (both the hubs and I had them as babies) but the glow worm didn’t look the same and I just liked the seahorse better. He doesn’t fall asleep with his arm around it like the baby in the picture but it has provided some comfort and distraction from time to time and I can probably credit it to at least a few hours of extra sleep a week, so it’s already worth the minimal cost.

Tell me your favorite baby item for months 6-12!

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We did it!! Baby D’s first plane ride!! While not a beach destination, we still had a blast in Philly. More to come on that soon, but first, let’s get to the travel nitty-gritty since this was a topic I agonized over for HOURS before we left. And because I like to be helpful, I’m going to write up a list of tips. These are all things that I wondered about or researched and have now experienced first hand.

1. Baby ID. As some folks commented on my last post and on Twitter, not every airline requires a boarding pass (and therefore ID) for your baby. BUT, some do. Southwest does, for example. And while they don’t specifically state this on their website, and they only say “birth certificate or passport?” when asking for ID, they will accept immunization records if that’s all you have. Also note, that you do not need originals. Copies of baby’s birth certificate or shot records will do just fine. Again, this varies by airline so check with your carrier.

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2. Car seats and strollers can be checked or gate checked – your choice. Either way, expect plenty of rough handling, so consider buying a travel cover if you’re worried about it. Or ask for a large plastic bag from the ticket counter. We have a travel system (car seat and stroller combo) that we ended up taking through security and gate checking. We did not buy a travel case for either item, so our stroller ended up with lots of deep scratches on the handle. Apparently strollers/car seats have even been broken during transit and the airlines won’t take responsibility. So maybe don’t take your $500 BOB stroller without a protective carrier.

3. You need about 8 arms to get through security check points smoothly. Between the stroller, the car seat, my laptop, purse, backpack, shoes, belt, liquids bag, and the baby – it’s a PROCESS. Fortunately my husband was with me to help (I took the baby while he put the car seat and stroller on the belt). Some airports have special security lines for families. I always thought those were the slow lines, but as it turns out, we were able to bypass a huge security line by being in the family line.

4. Look for family changing areas. Most airports have them. They’re separate from the general ladies room, and tend to be cleaner. But almost every single public changing table I’ve used has always been out of the protective covers, so bring your own if you’re worried about germs. Most airplanes have a changing table in at least one of the lavatories, but I have a hard enough time using the bathroom on those things by myself, let alone trying to change my child on a tiny table.

5. Families typically get priority boarding. On Southwest, this means family boarding comes right after the A boarding group. So even though we were ticketed as B45 and B46, we were able to board before B1, which meant we were able to get seated together, and had room for all of our carry-on stuff. Nice!
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6. For longer flights, put baby in overnight diapers. Even though our flight was only about 2 hours and 15 minutes, we ended up circling for an extra hour. And because of turbulence, it would’ve been more dangerous to try and change him in the airplane bathroom than to just wait it out. That’s a long time to go without a diaper change though, so be sure to use overnights so baby is as comfortable as possible.

7. Pack plenty of snacks in your carry on. Given the delays we had, our feeding schedule was totally messed up. Fortunately, we had plenty of puffs and mum-mums on hand to tide D over.

8. If possible, feed baby during takeoffs/landings. When I booked our plane tickets, I purposefully scheduled our flights so that feeding times occurred while we were in the air. This helped a lot with ear pain on the way up. On the way down, we made sure D had his paci, but he still tugged on his ears quite a bit. And since we’ve moved from breastmilk to formula, I bought those handy Enfamil travel packs and just purchased water for mixing once we were inside security.

9. Tablets are a lifesaver. Be prepared with a downloaded video or two. Though D slept most of the way to Philly, he was wide awake and raring to go on the flight home. We decided to splurge on the in-flight WiFi so we could play his Baby Einstein videos. (Nothing works on him like Baby Einstein. And Baby Einstein isn’t available for download – only streaming via YouTube.) That said, try not to depend on in-flight WiFi. It’s terribly slow and spotty and not worth the $8.

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10. Some people are jerks, but most are really nice and friendly. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about people being treated poorly because they were traveling with a baby. I didn’t experience this, thank goodness, but I was totally prepared for it. For the most part, we were either treated very nicely or just basically ignored. That said, your baby will still probably do something that someone will find annoying. Babies are too mobile and too curious to sit completely still, so the chances that they’re going to bang on the tray table, reach through the seat crack and touch someone, squeal loudly (either out of anger or delight), or kick someone’s seat is very likely. You just have to hope that people will try to ignore it or at least pretend that they find it as cute as you do (although we all know they’re lying).

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11. Elevators are everywhere and they are your friend. Never try to navigate an escalator with a stroller. We had zero issues using the elevators, except for the fact that D hates them and cries every time we get in one.

12. Babies can ride on shuttles and it’s no big deal. I know this probably sounds stupid, but I was having major issues with the fact that we’d have to take a shuttle to our rental car. Since I’m not allowed to park in the airport’s short term parking lot (rates are too high and my company won’t reimburse unless it’s long-term parking), I made my husband drop me and baby D off at the airport while he went to park the car and ride the shuttle back. Once we got to Philly, we found out we would need to take a shuttle to the rental car facility. We just hoisted the stroller up and onto the shuttle and locked the wheels so it wouldn’t roll around. Is it a safety issue? Yes, definitely. But is that your only choice and is it legal? Yes. It also sucks for fellow shuttle riders. I’m sure I banged a few ankles and knees with our stroller, but they were polite enough to accept my apology and ignore it.

13. If you’re renting a car, upgrade to a full size or an SUV. I say this for two reasons: 1. Luggage/stroller space. We rented a full size, which was a Nissan Altima, and it was like playing Tetris to get our luggage and stroller to both fit in the trunk together. 2. Car seat size. Our infant seat bumps right up to the driver/passenger seats, so we always have to move them up to give the car seat plenty of room. This is not possible in smaller cars, unless you want to feel like you’re in a clown car.

14. There is no “traveling lightly” when it comes to traveling with a baby. There just isn’t. Accept it, embrace the fact that you have most of the contents of your home with you, and move on.

15. Stay positive. Babies feed off your energy. If you’re in a bad mood, chances are your baby will pick up on your anxiety and will be irritable too. Stay optimistic that everything will be great, and just enjoy the ride.
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Five on Friday

Wow, what a slacker blogger I’ve been lately. I’d love to give you a song and dance about this excuse or that but ya’ll could probably one-up me on the level of busy you’re dealing with in your own lives so I won’t bother. Instead, I give you bullets! Five of ’em. You’re welcome.

1. Did you know food brands still put MSG in their foods? I thought this was just a Chinese food thing. Or Asian food thing. NOPE! I found MSG in Cheetos. CHEETOS! I mean, sure, not the healthiest snack anyway, but MSG? Yikes. What’s up with that?? On the plus side, you can buy “Natural” Cheetos that come in a tan bag (made to look like burlap I guess? Because burlap = natural?) and they taste 1,000 times better than regular Cheetos anyway. So why do regular Cheetos even exist anymore, huh Frito Lay? HUH?!?!

2. Jessica Simpson is looking pretty good these days. How the woman designed and already launched her new maternity line is beyond me. It seems strange that she would already have a maternity line when her first born is only 9 mos old, but maybe she put the gas on it since she was expecting baby #2 so soon and wanted to wear her own stuff? I don’t know. But as much as I hate to admit it, her stuff DOES look pretty cute. There’s no way I’d ever wear heels like these models, and the prices are a tad high, but it’s nice to see a bit more choice in the maternity wardrobe world.

3. I wish there were an easier way to eat grapefruit. I have a grapefruit spoon but even that doesn’t keep me from splattering juice all over my keyboard, monitor, desk and shirt. And thanks to the dozens of tiny seeds lurking in there, my hands always end up sticky from picking them out. Why must you be so tasty and healthy and yet leave me sticky and frustrated, grapefruit? Why? (Apparently I’m on a talking to food kick today. Just go with it.)

4. My favorite post I’ve read this week.

5. This last week was less than enjoyable at work. Frantic emails regarding mundane tasks like invoices and vendor contracts. Things that need to be done but are a huge, giant time suck that do nothing but leave me drained at the end of the day. That, coupled with the less than stellar weather has left me feeling a bit more anti-social this week than usual. So I’m giving myself props that when I was invited to my friend Alyssa’s 30th birthday sushi dinner, I actually went despite considering bailing when I not only forgot my wallet at home, but also got caught in traffic, made a wrong turn, and was about 20 minutes late.  It was a frantic hour and a half but I made it, and I had a great time chatting with some lovely ladies.

I read a quote earlier this week that said, “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.” How true that is for a lot of things in my life. It’s one of those “things that make you go hmmm…” (Hello 1990s reference!)

Happy Friday!

 

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Friday Five

1. Fridays are my favorite day of the week. Well, ok, maybe Saturdays are my favorite, but Fridays always put me in a good mood because it’s the very beginning of the weekend. It just holds so much promise and excitement for the weekend ahead that I actually look forward to getting things wrapped up and organized at work so that I can come home and hang out with my two favorite guys for the next two days.

2. Actually, the next THREE days. I had to work over Super Bowl weekend so even though my office is open on President’s Day, I’m taking it off. (happy dance!)

3. My mom is coming to town tomorrow. I’m mostly excited, but given what happened last time she was here, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting a similar situation. So I’ll spend a good part of my night tonight prepping the guest bedroom and bathroom to make sure it’s as “bug-free” as possible, which means I’ll be Lysol-ing the heck out of it.

4. The weather in STL lately is driving me bonkers. One day it’s 60 degrees and sunny, the next day it’s barely 30. My sinuses are protesting via a sore throat. Not fun.

5. Now that Valentine’s Day is over, I’m looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. We don’t do much for either holiday, but I love any excuse to dress up my baby. (See Valentine’s Day photoshoot example.)

Happy Weekend everyone!

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