Amazon Roundup: Surviving the First Trimester

Posted by Carly Morgan

I am very lucky to be able to get pregnant and (with a little medical help) stay that way, but I’m also the first to raise my hand and say that the first trimester of pregnancy sucks.

I classically have about 48 hours between learning that I’m pregnant and starting the whole throwing-up-for-weeks-and-weeks process. I’m moody, tired, and generally disgusting. There is no glow or magic for me in those early weeks. The best part about them is that when they end, I always feel like Tim Robbins pulling himself out of the pipe from Shawshank.

If you’re in your first trimester, congratulations! And it’s ok if you hate it. For a lot of people, it sucks.

FIRST TRIMESTER

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1 – Prenatals: I’m not able to take the big horse-pill prenatals in the beginning, but I can usually handle these gummy ones without throwing up. Sadly, it seems to be a little different for everyone, but if you find yourself getting more sick after your morning prenatal, you should look into your options.

2 – Unisom: the tablet form of this sleep aid was part of a cocktail recommended to help with morning sickness, but I was never able to keep the other half (a vitamin) down. The good news is that Unisom is safe for pregnancy and it works to help relax you at night and calm your stomach a little, even on its own. Half a tablet every night made a huge difference for me.

3 – Snacks: I really do throw up and throw up so eventually it becomes a struggle to keep anything down at all. My biggest successes have been pretzel rods (not too nutritious but they aren’t likely to make you sick and at least you’re eating something), peppermint tea (make sure there are no other ingredients because not all tea is safe for pregnancy), and these chocolate covered banana snacks (sugary but the potassium boost from the banana will carry you for a while).

4 – Maternity nightgown: tight clothing makes my nausea worse and I spend every minute I can laying down trying not to be sick during those early weeks, so a splurge on a comfortable nightgown that will work for your whole pregnancy is money well spent.

5 – Essential oils: not all oils are safe for pregnancy, but the Cheer Up Buttercup blend of citrus oils works and helped with my nausea, both in the tub and in a diffuser. It’s a yummy summer scent reminiscent of popsicles.

6 – A TV show to power watch: watching TV is a nice distraction from feeling like complete crud, especially in the evenings when my nausea got really bad. I’ve actually been burning my way through House on Netflix, but watching sick people feel sick when you don’t feel good isn’t the best advice ever so I’m going to recommend my favorite show instead.

7 – Ziploc bags: file this under not-sexy, but these large disposable and sealable bags are a lifesaver for me when I need to leave the house and I’m 80% sure I’ll throw up before I make it back home. Toss some in your bag – better to have them and not need them! I was especially glad that I’d packed them when I flew out to California. Since when do planes not stock those in the seat back pocket???

Our Memorial Day Weekend in Yellowstone

Posted by Carly Morgan

No travel for us this weekend for lots of reasons, but a few years ago we took Eva up to Yellowstone and had a fantastic long weekend in my favorite national park. Kyle had never been so we splurged a little and stayed at the fantastic Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I think we’ve been spoiled because I can’t imagine staying anywhere else now. The room was so comfortable and the silver dollar pancakes in the restaurant downstairs were absolutely fantastic. We didn’t see many families there so I’m not sure if it’s the most kid-friendly hotel in the area, but the portable crib they provided for tiny Eva (she was 15 months old at the time) was clean and in great condition.

As for the park, it’s one of those things you have to see at least once in your lifetime. Very humbling. Plus, even when it’s crowded there’s plenty to see and you don’t feel boxed in. Just don’t touch or harass the bison! We’ve had enough of those news stories, thank you very much.

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Eva’s Asthma: It’s a Big Deal

Posted by Carly Morgan

Strangely, I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about Eva’s asthma. Her allergy issues come up a lot more often, particularly when it comes to food, because her reactions are so severe and food is so absolutely-everywhere-we-go. The asthma thing is always a secondary thought. We carry her medications and give her daily steroids, but if you ask me what her biggest health hurdle is I think allergies always come to mind first.

Right now, thinking about that, I think I might have it backward.

We had an epically rotten weekend. Some kind of virus tore through the house and put Eva out of commission starting Thursday night and then led to me being sick out of mind from Friday through Sunday. We’re starting to recover, but Eva still has a low-ish fever (101 degrees) and this pesky little cough that she had has now turn into a gross drowning-sound cough that is a classic precursor for something that might turn into asthma. If you want to know what I mean, listen for it in this video:

I sat up with her for most of the night last night to see if she was going to go into a full blown asthma attack. She didn’t, but it’s amazing how much she doesn’t sleep when she’s like this. About every five minutes she’d cough and turn over…all night. I watched her from about 10 PM to 6 AM when I went to sleep myself and I don’t think I saw her sleep for a consecutive ten minutes.

Nighttime (nocturnal) asthma is something you don’t hear much about but it’s a big deal for kids. Tons of asthma kids miss school because they spent the night having a hard time breathing and being tired makes it harder for them to get past an illness that could be causing the asthma. Plus, there’s an emotional toll to asthma (the stress of not being able to breathe can actually trigger a cycle which keeps the asthma on constant flare-up mode) and exhaustion doesn’t make that any easier to deal with, either for the kids or for the parents.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re in the clear, but outside of hoping that she outgrows this crummy disease we don’t have any full relief in her future. There aren’t as many treatments promising an asthma cure as there are treatments promising an allergy cure (not that Eva is eligible for any of those yet) so we just have to teach her how to take care of herself, watch for symptoms, and occasionally stay up all night watching her sleep.

One final thought: I hate how often kids with inhalers are used as punchlines in movies. There’s this idea that those kids are weak by choice or because they have overprotective parents…I don’t think it’s deliberate but it isn’t funny, especially for families who have had asthma tragedies totally outside of their control. This month last year, friends of friends back in Ohio lost their six year old boy to an asthma attack moments after her got home from Kindergarten. Everyone did all the right things, but something invisible happened and his lungs stopped and that was that.

I thought about Xander a lot last night when I was getting tired of listening for the sounds of not-breathing from Eva. His story is definitely something I can depend on to keep me up at night.

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1, 2, 3, Here We Go Again

Posted by Carly Morgan

Kyle came with me to the hospital yesterday so that he could be there for my second ultrasound. I told him not to be sad if there wasn’t a heartbeat this time because that happens sometimes in these things but as soon as the wand hit my abdomen there was a wiggling baby on the screen. Waving hands, kicking feet, little head bobbing up and down. It’s in there.

When I found out that we were going to have a third baby, I was ecstatic for about two seconds and then panic set in and stayed for a few weeks. I have rough, rotten pregnancies. The first four ended before I ever got to this point and the other two came with their own complications and questions about whether the kids would be OK. There is a very fair elephant question in the room about whether this was a good idea, medically. I have to have surgery if I want to stay pregnant and then I’ll have to have another (more minor) surgery if I want to stop being pregnant at the appropriate time. The baby will come early because the other two came early and now we’re in a battle to make sure I can cook it long enough. I’m city-bound, travel restricted and leaning on the grace of the universe to avoid another summer of pregnancy bed rest. So there’s that.

Also, it’s the third. The truth is that you automatically go on the defensive with the third kid. Everyone is excited for your first kid (assuming you’re old enough to vote) and if you’re stable and happy with the first it makes sense to people when you have a second because now there’s a sibling and you’re “really” a family. The third…the third is questions about how you can handle three kids, which birth control method failed, are you having marital problems you’re trying to sort out, when are you moving to a bigger house, why did you sell the minivan, and the ever present do you really think you can afford this?

And maybe there’s a little guilt. Part of it is that I already have two great kids and I could be complicating things with this third one, taking time and love away from the others. Plus, from a fertility standpoint, three feels like showing off when I used to consider myself part of the can’t-have-a-baby club. I’m having another baby and with all our medical ducks in a row, I’ll probably be able to bring a healthy kid into the world. It feels greedy. Stealing blessings.

Honestly, actually being pregnant doesn’t help. I always know my hormones are haywire in the beginning because I can go from euphoria to despair in five seconds flat. Plus, in the beginning when nobody knows, it’s so hard to be home, walking around with a bucket to throw up into (an accurate picture of the last 6-7 weeks in my life), and you have this thing you want to talk about but it’s too early because you can’t count that chicken until hatches…or at least until you’ve seen the heartbeat a few times. So you’re just sick, tired, lost, and waiting. First trimester joys.

And then…

Through everything, past all the reasons why maybe this was crazy, after running around with the other kids all day and wondering how you’d ever fit a napping newborn into the mix, that little bit of joy starts. You carry it around quietly but you know it’s there. It doesn’t make sense and nobody can see it, but there are bright warm sun streaks scattered throughout the day and it’s because you’re having a baby. Everything is fine because you’re having a baby. The kids are crazy and messy and kind of mean to each other and it’s all good because you’re having a baby. And your husband comes home from work exhausted and rumpled and carrying paper bags of french fries and all you can do is grin at each other because you’re having a baby.

This is going to be so good.

 

Preschool Activity: Raising Butterflies at Home

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We’ve had some pretty rotten luck with pets.

When Eva was born, we had two cats but we had to rehome them when Eva was about one and a half because it turned out that she has severe cat allergies. She’s also allergic to birds (another rehoming), dogs, rabbits, hamsters, horses, and pretty much all the cute and fluffy things. We caved and got a betta fish last year but that fish went the way of all fish eventually. Le sigh.

So, butterflies. Little pets that grow from babies, turn into beautiful beings, and then they go away so you don’t have to have sad pet funerals. High fives all around!

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Fair warning: this was a homeschool lesson in slooooow motion. I ordered an easy reader book about butterflies and a live butterfly kit which came with a certificate good for five shipped-to-your-home caterpillars. It took about two weeks total between ordering the butterfly kit and actually getting the caterpillars so I held off on sharing the butterfly book with Eva until they arrived. Finally, on delivery day, we read the book and then opened the box.

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Ok, I had no idea how temperamental caterpillars are. We were home when they were delivered and we spent about 10-15 minutes reading before I opened the box (honestly, I thought maybe they could use a break from the motion of being shipped) but according to the company, I waited to long to open them. Those suckers were NOT moving.

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This was confusing because the pamphlet that came with them said that they might seem like they aren’t moving but really they would be fine. In theory, you aren’t supposed to do anything with them (you can’t even take the lid off the cup) so all we could do was wait and watch and wait. We did that for three days. Then I called the company.

Despite the fact that they blamed me for not immediately opening the box, they did send out a replacement cup. They were very careful to say that we had to be home to get them and that if the weather was too hot or too cold they wouldn’t make it anyway and we wouldn’t get any more replacements. Yikes! These little pets were much more high maintenance than I had anticipated. Luckily, our replacements were active and moving around from the first moments out of the box. Of course, this was two weeks after we’d gotten the other ones. Like I said, sloow motion.

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A little comparison: dead baked caterpillars vs happy camper caterpillars.

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About three weeks after that, they started to do this:

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Three weeks! It’s an eternity for preschoolers. The kids liked checking on them, but since they couldn’t poke them or hold them or shake them, the experience wasn’t quite as interesting for the kids as I would have hoped. I had a hard time getting them excited after a while and they didn’t really connect with these little guys.

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Once they were all in a chrysallis, I removed the sheet of paper attached to the lid and pinned it to the inside of the butterfly house. I have to admit that this made me a little squeamish because they’re creepy little papery shivering things that rattle and squirm but once they were pinned I could zip them up and forget about them. After that, it was about another week before they hatched. Sadly, the kids weren’t home when the butterflies all decided to come out so they missed out on what was probably the most exciting part.

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We kept them for another week, feeding them using a sponge that was soaked in sugar-water and then we let them go. The kids wanted to keep them longer, but I didn’t want them to up and die on us and I don’t know how long butterflies can live on processed sugar so it was time for them to go. Apparently some people build freestanding butterfly homes and raise these guys all the time, but I think an annual release is a better fit for us.

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Here are a few movies showing the butterflies in action, including their exciting release. The little guy at the end had gotten his wings wet in the sugar solution and needed a little help:

Homeschool: Raising Butterflies

Home movies from our time as butterfly parents

Posted by Ever Clever Mom on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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