When Birth Is Traumatic

“It’s time to push.”

I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I made it. After 32 hours of labour, I was finally going to get the one thing I’d been striving for since the moment that line turned pink.

I was going to get my VBAC.

I had done everything right. I read the books, and attended the classes. I opted for a midwife, and hired a doula. Hell, I even refused drugs for 28 hours, just so I could give myself the absolute best chance.

And it worked. At 5:30 a.m. on July 15th, 2017, surrounded by an incredible support system, I got what I wanted.

I got my VBAC.

But it wasn’t the birth I pictured.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

So You Want To Destroy Your Baby: My VBAC Journey – Part 2

Aidan Robert: two minutes old. Weighing 8lbs, 2oz & 21 inches long.

It wasn’t an easy delivery, I knew that.

I knew because I watched the nurse obsessively study the baby’s heart monitor with a furrowed brow. I knew when a team of specialists suddenly came pouring into the room moments before he was born. I knew by the looks on the doctors’ faces as they strained and struggled to help me get him out.

Whatever euphoria I felt after achieving my goal of a natural delivery was immediately trounced by panic, confusion and urgency as my newborn was whisked away to the special care nursery for observation and pain management.

Only a few words sunk in as I lay there dazed and confused in the unsettlingly calm aftermath.

“His shoulders were stuck…cord around the neck…had to act quickly…we think his arm is broken…”

“…I’m so sorry.”

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a rare complication in labour and delivery (between 0.3% and 1.5% of births) where one or both of the baby’s shoulders get “stuck” behind the mother’s pelvic bone as the baby descends into the birth canal. As many as 20% of babies will suffer some sort of injury as a result, either temporary or permanent. The most common of these injuries are damage to the brachial plexus nerves, fractured clavicles, contusions and lacerations, birth asphyxia, and fractured humeri.

Aidan suffered a broken arm, or a fractured humerus, during delivery. This occurs in approximately 4% of infants with shoulder dystocia.

We are told that broken bones in infants heal exceptionally quickly.

I wish that offered even an ounce of comfort.

He’s Perfect

Three days after he was born, we brought our new baby home to a sea of brave faces.

“He’s perfect,” whispered my mother-in-law as she gazed down at him, sleeping peacefully still buckled safely in his car seat.

“He’s a perfect baby boy.”

No he isn’t! I wanted to scream at her, at all of them.

His head was covered in bruises and lacerations from his urgent vacuum delivery. His skin was tinged a dull yellow from what was clearly a nagging case of newborn jaundice as a direct result of the trauma. And his right arm, purple, swollen and lying limply at his side, was most certainly broken.

No, he wasn’t a perfect baby boy.

He was fractured and bruised. He was exhausted and in pain.

He was broken, and it was all my fault.

When Birth Is Traumatic

For most women, childbirth is not a serene, blissful experience consisting of one or two easy pushes, resulting in a precious pink bundle. Even for women with straightforward and uncomplicated births, it’s far from a walk in the park.

Unfortunately for some, birth can also bring physical and emotional trauma, and the effects can have a lasting impact on bonding, feeding, healing, health and future family planning.

As I continue to process my experience, I’ve taken note of a few things I’ve learned along the way. Here is what I’ve found so far:

1. Childbirth complications are difficult to predict. My labour was long, but relatively uneventful. However, even the most routine labour can be disrupted by unforeseen complications which can occur within a very short timespan. With Aidan’s birth, there was no cause for alarm until the last few minutes, but fortunately, with the help of experienced doctors and immediate interventions, serious complications were avoided.

2. Blaming yourself doesn’t accomplish anything. Sure, there are moments when I wonder how different things would have been if I had opted for a repeat cesarean section instead of a VBAC. It took me several days, but I eventually accepted that my son’s injury was not my fault. I made an informed, educated decision based on what I thought was best, and just because it didn’t work out the way I had hoped, doesn’t mean that I failed. Or that I failed him.

3. Postpartum support is everything. New parents should never have to wade through the murky postpartum period alone, especially new parents who are dealing with a medically complicated child. We could not have gotten through these last few days without the incredible support of our birth team, friends and family. In addition, our community also offers significant resources to help new parents cope, such as postpartum drop-ins for new dads, breastfeeding clinics, counselling services and more. We will certainly be using these in the coming days.

4. Healing – for all of us – will take time. Unfortunately, a difficult birth makes for a difficult recovery – both physically and emotionally. Accepting this, and most importantly, letting other things slide – such as laundry, cooking, dishes and cleaning – so we can focus on the healing process, is the best way for all of us to recover. Does McDonald’s do delivery in Canada, yet? Asking for a friend.

5. She was right. He is perfect. The cast just makes him look even tougher than he is.

Knocked Up Together: 5 Perks of A Preggo Friendship

The sun is peeking through my poorly drawn curtains, which means that somehow I made it through another sleepless night.

My lower back hurts so much that moments ago, I made the painful decision to fat girl tuck-and-roll into an upright position just so I could get some relief.

Standing at the foot of my bed in dizzy agony, I clutch my phone and begin to type.

Got up too fast, now I have lightning crotch.

I know she’ll sympathize.

It’s 6:45 a.m.

Friends Who Get Knocked Up Together, Stay Together

I met J in the fall of 2012 when fate brought us together in the form of medical office administration at one of our city’s major hospitals.

We quickly bonded over our mutual disdain for 9-5 wage slavery, fluorescent office lighting and Microsoft Outlook. Sadly, we both suffered early miscarriages a short time later, but it wasn’t until we became pregnant again only weeks apart the following year that a true friendship was born.

2014

There’s something particularly comforting and familiar about experiencing pregnancy – especially first-time pregnancy – alongside a good friend. Pregnancy can be a scary, isolating experience, especially if you’ve experienced complications and/or loss. Having someone in your corner – someone who simply gets it – can mean the world.

Two adorable toddlers, two subsequent losses, and two healthy pregnancies later, we’re both back at it, and I couldn’t be happier to share this journey with her once again.

2017

In addition to sending early-morning nonsense texts with absolute impunity, here are my top 5 perks of a preggo friendship:

1. You’re allowed to incessantly complain 24/7 without feeling the least bit sorry. As a lifelong pessimist and self-admitted chronic complainer, I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to constantly gripe and grumble to someone else without feeling like a complete and total burden. Backaches? That’s a grumblin’. No sleep again last night? That’s a grumblin’. An hour-and-a-half wait at the OB’s office? Oh you better believe that’s a grumblin’.

2. No fear is too small. I’ve written about fear before. It’s crippling, and a lot of the time, it’s far too easy to go down the rabbit hole of dark – and sometimes irrational – thoughts. No matter what we’re feeling in the moment, we always know that no fear is too small to share with one another. Sometimes, simply saying it out loud makes it all seem a little less scary, and that can make all the difference in the world.

3. Advice and experience-sharing isn’t obnoxious and condescending. Fortunately for me, J’s little girl is a few weeks older than my little boy, so whenever I have a question about behaviour or development, I simply ask about her experiences. Frankly, I’ve learned more about the subtle nuances of parenting from her than anything I could have read in a book or online. The best part? Her advice is 100% sanctimommy-free.

4. Maternity leave just got a whole lot more fun. Sometimes, simply daydreaming about spending maternity leave together is enough to pull me out of my pregnancy funk. While it’ll undoubtedly be complete and total chaos most days, I know we will both welcome it with open arms. No TPS reports until 2018 for these gals!

5. TMI is just a formality at this point. Finally, oversharing in any form simply doesn’t exist between us. We’ve literally seen and heard it all. Sometimes, as a formality, one of us will say, “TMI” in advance of sharing something gross and/or embarrassing, but we both know that truly, nothing is off the table. How liberating!

Mom Friends Postpartum Care Kits: The Hero We Deserve

[Jerry Seinfeld voice]

What’s the deal with babies getting all the stuff?

baby shower gifts

My first born was hella spoiled.

I mean, let’s be real: when it comes to getting that baby out, mom does all the work.

She nurtures it inside of her for nine long months, and when the big day finally arrives, she endures the most painful hours of her life in the form of labour or severe abdominal surgery.

And don’t even get me started on the recovery process.

Guys – this baby thing is no joke. Mom deserves something for her efforts.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

MOM FRIENDS POSTPARTUM KITS: THE HERO WE DESERVE

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Look, I’m all about showering babies with clothes and toys and RESPs, and I am so incredibly grateful for everything that I have been given.

But like the Food Shower, sometimes it’s good to give mom a little extra something. Whether that something is in the form of food or adult diapers – there isn’t a new mom I know who wouldn’t welcome it with open arms.

Speaking of adult diapers, I was fortunate enough to receive the Above & Beyond the Bump Postpartum Care Kit courtesy of Mom Friends, a Canadian company that is working to bust postpartum stigma and increase women’s access to practical information, peer support and postpartum resources.

[Frank Costanza voice]

Finally, a Tucks for the rest of us! (And a bunch of other sweet PP swag, too, so keep reading).

ABOUT MOM FRIENDS

Mom Friends was founded by three Canadian women who know a thing or two about what moms really need after giving birth. They’re moms themselves, so they’re not afraid to tell it like it is: having a baby is serious business, and women need all the support they can get.

Adult diapers? Check.

Cooling pads for your nether regions? Check.

Delicious milk chocolate to snack on while in labour? HELLA CHECK.

They know what’s really going on during that joyous postpartum period, and their kits definitely reflect it.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading.

The Kits

Mom Friends Postpartum Kits

Currently, Mom Friends offers two postpartum care kits – Beyond the Bump ($65) and Above & Beyond the Bump ($93) – chock full of practical and essential items moms need after delivery. Click here to learn more about them from the official website, or continue reading to see what is in my very own personal kit.

ABOVE & BEYOND THE BUMP

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

I don’t know about you, but when I pack a suitcase, I fold everything poorly, cram as much as I possibly can into it, zip it up, and say a little prayer. These kits on the other hand, are clearly packaged with expert care. First impressions are everything, and Mom Friends impresses right off the bat.

Unlike me, it’s obvious that this company pays close attention to each and every detail, and that includes everything from the packaging to the products themselves. There is no cramming. There is no praying. Simply a flawless box polished with a delightful bow.

It’s basically a work of art. I almost didn’t want to open it.

Almost.

There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an entrepreneur – but enough about my failed dreams: let’s get to the good stuff.

FOR THE LADYBITS

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends has mom covered from head to vagina – literally.

Let’s start with the latter.

We all know that for most women, labour means that their ladybits are about to have the worst day of their life.

But it doesn’t have to totally suck.

This kit has everything a woman could possibly want to ease postpartum discomfort “down there”, including:

  • Adult diapers
  • Feminine pads
  • Granny panties
  • Epsom salts
  • Tucks personal cleansing pads
  • Witch Hazel
  • Perineal spray bottle

Why this is awesome: Thanks to Mom Friends, I don’t have to look the 17-year-old Shoppers Drug Mart cashier in the eye when they ring up a sale of bulky, overpriced adult diapers and mondo pads. Also, did you know that Witch Hazel can be applied to a cesarean section scar to reduce pain and swelling? I wish someone had told me that two-and-a-half years ago.

FOR THE BOOBIES

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

To help mom out on the upper deck, this kit also contains:

  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Disposable and reusable nursing pads

Why this is awesome: For the breastfeeding mom, there’s no greater joy than not having your expensive nursing bras stained with over-eager breastmilk. I’ll also take no cracked nipples for $100, Alex.

FOR THE MOM

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Keeping hydrated and fuelled for what could be a marathon labour is no small task.

And that’s just pre-baby challenges.

After baby comes, mom needs to be taken care of as well – both physically and otherwise. Fear not, Mom Friends once again has you covered. In the Above & Beyond kit, there is also:

  • Lip balm
  • Lactation tea
  • A soap bar
  • Chocolate and energy bars
  • A water bottle
  • Brochure on postpartum depression

Why this is awesome: While I’m tempted to list a thousand reasons why chocolate is bae, I have to give a shout-out to Mom Friends here for not shying away from the fact that postpartum mental health is important AF. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, as many as 20 per cent of new moms experience varying degrees of postpartum depression, so if you plan on bringing a new mom a savory treat when you visit her, don’t forget to also ask her how she’s doing. It may not be as delicious, but it’s a hell of a lot more sweet.

NOT AS UNFIT

As my due date looms, I’m feeling more and more prepared thanks to the incredible support system I have around me.

But many women aren’t as lucky.

If someone you know is expecting, be a friend. Don’t forget about baby, but I urge you to strongly consider a Mom Friends postpartum kit in lieu of a diaper cake and 20 pack of facecloths.

Trust me – a little extra mom love will go a long way.

Mother and newborn

Four weeks to go until I can do this again!

Less Stuff, More Food: Why The Food Shower Is Where It’s At

This past weekend, my aunt threw me a small, intimate baby shower to celebrate my second little boy who is currently roundhouse-kicking his way across my uterus.

Now you may be wondering: but Becca, you don’t seem like the type of humble, agreeable human being who would enjoy such festivities, so what gives?

It’s true.

I don’t particularly like showers of any kind, including – but not limited to – ones that are thrown in my honour. However, due to the past and present generosity of both friends and family, my tiny black heart has managed to grow several sizes.

This weekend was no exception.

The theme of this shower – and by “shower”, I mean “a relaxing, casual afternoon surrounded by close friends and family sipping wine and eating gourmet sandwiches” – was food.

Food: literally the best part of life.

Food: get in my fat, disgusting pregnant belly.

Food: listen, I can’t stop eating … no seriously you guys, I have a problem.

The Food Shower

The Food Shower is hands down, the most brilliant way to help out second-time moms since rich people invented the nanny.

In lieu of gifts, tacky games, and similar standard baby shower fare, guests were instead asked to prepare and bring a meal that could be frozen, so my family wouldn’t have to worry about eating McDonald’s five nights a week cooking immediately after the baby arrives.

No cooking.

No grocery shopping.

No meal prep.

No dishes.

What new parent wouldn’t want that? Screw diaper cakes and games and registries – give me family, friends, and frozen meals any day.

So if you’re planning on throwing a mom-to-be – especially a second, third or fourth time one – a baby shower, consider this alternative to the standard nonsense.

Less stuff, more food.

You literally can’t go wrong.

Especially with a haul like this.

Gym Class Hero (Ode To My Mother)

Image courtesy of iStock.

“I’d be lost without her,” my friend lamented the other day.

She was talking about her mother.

It was a foreign sentiment to me–the earnest appreciation of the bond between mother and daughter. I suppose it’s because the relationship with my own mother has always been strained.

From an early age, I knew my mother was different from other moms. Around the same time, I believe she came to a similar realization about me; that I was not going to be the daughter she’d always imagined I’d be.

I think that’s when the distance between us began to grow. We have always been two extremely different people from two extremely different worlds. Throughout the years, I’ve lost count of the times and ways we’ve hurt each other; the months we’ve gone without speaking.

Today, the absence between us is as wide as it is far. It will never recede–something I accepted long ago. When I became a mother myself, it still wasn’t enough to bridge the gap we’d created over time and space.

But when push comes to shove, she’s always had my back.

GYM CLASS HERO

It was 1996 and I was in the eighth grade. Gym class had just ended and I was changing in the locker room with the rest of the girls from my class.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the loudest and most aggressive girls in the class yelled out, “Rebecca smells!” and the room erupted in laughter.

For the record, this was probably the first and only time I’d ever experienced any form of “bullying”. By today’s standards, being called out for stinking up the place (which I did NOT, by the way) wouldn’t even register on the bullying scale.

While being made fun of in front of half the class by the girls who could afford new clothes and dance lessons wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities, I got over it pretty quickly. Again, let’s not even call this bullying.

Let’s call it what it really is–kind of hilarious.

At least I thought so.

I remember casually mentioning the incident to my mother over supper that night, but thought nothing more of it the next day. Life resumed.

At least I thought it did.

Little did I know, while I was eating my lunch in the cafeteria the following afternoon, my mother was on a mission. After the lunchroom cleared out and the children were herded outside, something strange started happening.

One by one, they came up to me.

And one by one, they apologized.

“I’m sorry I laughed yesterday in the locker room.”

“She shouldn’t have said that to you for no reason.”

“I apologize for saying that you smell, I won’t do it again.”

It was a very confusing time.

Don’t Mess With My Child

I never found out exactly what she did, or how she did it.

Did she spend the night calling around to a handful of eighth grade moms, demanding an apology from their daughters?

Did she march down to the schoolyard that morning to meet with the gym teacher?

Did she somehow manage to personally track down and confront each and every one of those girls?

Furious and mortified beyond belief, I refused to speak to her for days. My life was over. How dare she embarrass me like that! I didn’t need my mommy to fight my battles. This wasn’t even a battle!

But that’s the thing. She wanted to fight for me, even if I didn’t want to fight for myself.

And whether she knew by doing what she did, she would make my life a lot worse, I eventually came to understand that it came from a place of love. Despite our differences, at the end of the day, she was just a mom, standing in front of a gobsmacked preteen girl, asking her not to bully her child.

So happy Mother’s Day, mom.

We may not always see eye to eye, but you’ll always be my gym class hero.

Dollar Store Toddler Easter Basket Ideas & Why I Didn’t Mind Spending $50

Sometimes, I don’t even recognize myself.

Easter is going to be lit this year.

See, normally I couldn’t care less about Easter (minus the four-day weekend and chocolate everything), as our little family is a big ol’ pile of sinners. I also typically loathe feeling obligated to buy stuff that we don’t need whenever a big holiday rolls around.

But two weeks ago, when I walked into The Dollar Store for dish sponges and came out with $50 worth of Easter bounty for my two year old — I realized that I’m no longer the person I used to be.

I’m one of those moms now.

And for the first time since I was a toddler myself, I’m actually excited for Easter.

Dad & I rocking Easter hard in the 80s.

I finally get it.

I finally get what all the fuss was about. You know, all those times when your parents used to say, “One day, you’ll understand.”

There’s something remarkable about watching your child experience something for the first time.

That first taste of chocolate cake on his first birthday.

Opening presents from Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

Hunting for Easter Eggs after the Easter Bunny stops by during the early days of spring.

I feel lucky, because this is one of those things that not everyone gets a shot at. That isn’t lost on me. These are those rare moments when being a parent stops being scary and frustrating and exhausting, and for a brief moment, you remember.

Through their eyes, you suddenly remember when things were easy and simple and full of magic. You remember the time before — before life showed up and the clouds rolled in. Before you knew what worry and stress and poor life decisions and property taxes were.

So yeah, I take it back.

I am not sorry, for any of this.

Now let’s find out what I spent my money on when I should really be saving for the new baby.

WHAT’S IN MY TODDLER’S EASTER BASKET

1. Paw Patrol MASHEMS

$3.50 each.

For the longest time, my son was absolutely mental for Paw Patrol. He’s mostly moved on to Thomas the Tank Engine now, but once in a while, he’ll decide he’s interested in the adventures in Adventure Bay again, which is why I grabbed a few of these weird, gross little things. MASHEMS are basically just squishy, stretchy toys that vaguely resemble a beloved cartoon character. Mash away, kids.

2. Thomas & Friends Blind Bag

One surprise engine, $1.50.

Thomas is the flavour of the week, and for $1.50, you can’t go wrong. These toys are perfect for hiding inside of eggs, too. Which beloved Island of Sodor weirdo is inside? I can’t wait to find out.

3. VARIOUS Easter Themed Toddler Activities

Paint book, $2.50 | Easter Themed Stickers, $2.75

This one checks off two boxes. Not only are these full of tacky Easter cheer, they’re also good for fine tuning those adorable little toddler motor skills, and a lot better than slapping an iPad in front of him for an hour when I inevitably need a mommy time out. I apologize in advance to my mother-in-law, who will probably be scrubbing tiny paint smudges off of her floors and peeling stickers off her walls for the remainder of the weekend.

4. Random Boy Toys & Book

Book, $3.00 | Bubbles, $1.25 | Sunglasses, $1.25 | Hot Wheels, $3.00 | Bouncy Balls, $1.25 |            Paw Patrol Playing Cards, $2.00 | Washable Markers, $1.50 | Creepy Bugs, $1.25

This pack has everything: reading and art supplies, the need for speed, gross bugs, and cool shades. This collection should keep him busy for around five minutes. Ah, five minutes alone on the toilet — bliss!

5. Different sized Plastic Eggs & Basket

Basket, $1.50 | Plastic Eggs, $3.00

Rain or shine, this kid is going hunting for hella eggs this weekend. I’m more excited for this than the time I got to sleep past 6 a.m. (that was this morning).

6. Candy and Chocolate

Maynards Gummies, $1.50 | Jellybeans, $1.25 | Chocolate Bunny, $1.25 | Chocolate Eggs, $2.50

Obligatory. I could have gone way more overboard than this, but the important thing here is that this is still way too much candy for a two year old to consume on his own, so he’ll need some assistance. I grudgingly accept this role.

Happy Easter everyone, and remember the true reason for the season: the opportunity to buy your child’s love.

I’m Tired of Talking About It: Do I have Gestational Diabetes Or Not?

Are you as sick of reading about my potential gestational diabetes diagnosis as I am of writing about it?

You’re in luck, because this is the last time either of us have to endure it.

After a week of officially freaking out (mostly sulking), not sleeping (there’s a shocker) and eating healthy (barf-o-rama), I am happy–and frankly, a little shocked–to report that I do not have gestational diabetes.

Far from it, actually.

According to science, my fat, disgusting pregnant body is completely normal when it comes to insulin production and blood sugar regulation.

My Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) Results

So what gives?

Why all the unnecessary stress over nothing?

Only around 75% accurate

Last week, my midwife–rather unconvincingly–tried to assure me that the first test I spectacularly failed–the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)–is actually only around 75% accurate.

Of course, I couldn’t take what a grown woman in overalls was telling me at face value without conducting my own research.

So I did, and it turns out she was right.

According to a study* conducted in 2012, if there are 100 women that actually have gestational diabetes, 74 will have a positive GCT test, and the other 26 won’t know that they have it. The 77% “specificity” means that if 100 random women test positive for GD, 23 of them (including me in this case) don’t actually have it.

Yo, science: listen up. There has to be a better option than putting us through this crap. On behalf of fat, disgusting pregnant women everywhere–please come up with a better plan.

I’ll leave you to it while I power through this box of Oreo thins over here.

No calls.

*Shoutout to my new friend and fellow toddler mom Sarah, who helped me make sense of the study. Women & Science, y’all. 

The Two-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test: Highlights, Lowlights and Vern

Because I’m a spectacular failure and soared well over the threshold for my one-hour Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) last week, I went back to the lab today for a second screening for gestational diabetes — the dreaded two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

As predicted, to pass the time, I once again live-blogged the entire thing.

But first, a little background.

WHY THE TWO TESTS?

In Canada, there are two screens for gestational diabetes, according to Diabetes Canada: the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) and the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

The GCT involves drinking a sugary drink containing 50 g of glucose, and having your blood drawn an hour later to check your blood sugar level. The idea is to see how efficiently your body processes sugar.  If the reading is too high, you have to go back for a two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), which involves more blood draws and a higher concentration glucose drink, to see whether you really do have gestational diabetes.

Okay, let’s do this.

8:00am: After 12 hours of fasting, my blood was just taken to establish a baseline. This is the first of three blood draws I will have this morning. I feel lightheaded already and I haven’t even choked down the glucose drink. 75 g this time, vs 50 g last time.

Cheers.

8:30am: Since I’m going to be here a while, I wasted no time in making new friends.

Meet Vern.

Vern is a year-and-a-half-old yellow lab whose likes include wandering around sniffing everyone’s crotch, whining impatiently when he’s not being directly spoken to, and delicious pocket treats generously dispensed by his human, James. I’m not sure of the specific medical reason James has for needing a service dog like Vern, but I kind of want the same diagnosis because Vern is a really, really good boy. If he wasn’t so obviously serving a legitimate medical purpose, I would be currently orchestrating an elaborate plan to kidnap him when James gets up to get his blood drawn. We’d start a new life together, Vern and I, full of frolic and fancy. Take me out of this place, Vern. Take me far away.

9:00am: It’s time for my second draw to see how I’m reacting to the early morning sugar dump into my bloodstream. If last week is any indication, my guess is not well. Vern, send me all your strength.

Wait for me on the other side, pal.

9:15am: My favourite lab tech — a no-nonsense Jamaican hurricane named Karen — is here today, and we had a good chat as she expertly stuck a needle into my bruised arm. Shortly before my name was called, an irate eastern European lady sitting across from me began to sass-mouth her and Karen was having NONE OF IT. Her professionalism shone through like the class act that she is, but I swear, she was seconds away from Lab Lady Smackdown 2017 on this horrible woman. Team Karen all the way — I’d ride with her into battle any day of the week. Vern informed me he is also on Team Karen.

9:30am: To everyone’s dismay, Vern has departed the lab, dutifully following his human, James, out the door. No one is more devastated than I am. How will I make the last leg of this journey without you, Vern?

I’m never washing these pants.

9:45am: Janet Jackson is blasting in my earphones. If this woman can dance like it’s her last day on earth and pop out a baby at 50, I can handle a secondary test for gestational diabetes at 33.

10:00am: Karen beckons. It’s time for my third and final blood draw. I’m not sure I want to do this without Vern to come back to. I’m not even sure that I can.

10:30am: It’s over, and now we wait. Special shout-out to Vern, for giving me the support I needed during this difficult time. Full disclosure — today, I’m eating like there’s no tomorrow, because in mere hours, I’ll probably have a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and it’ll be, at the very minimum, a strict diet of vegetables and chicken from now until July. This is unbelievably devastating for reasons I’m not quite ready to acknowledge, so in the meantime, I’m going to savour these Toaster Strudels like I’ve never savoured anything before.

Bon appetit.

My Fat, Disgusting Pregnant Body Was Tested for Gestational Diabetes Today, and I Live-Blogged The Entire Thing

There comes a time in every fat, disgusting pregnant woman’s life when they have to drink the Kool-Aid.

That’s right, folks: it’s Gestational Diabetes testing time!

I’m blogging to you live from Gamma Dynacare Labs here in beautiful, sunny Ottawa, Ontario. Just kidding. It’s -6 and we are expecting 15 cm of snow today. Ottawa: where happiness comes to die.

For the next hour, you’ll bear witness to my sleep-deprived, sugar-infused ramblings as I yammer on about what I can only predict to be intolerable nonsense, including, but not limited to: pregnancy grievances, general malaise, and petty insults I bestow upon my fellow unsuspecting lab-goers waiting alongside me in this stuffy, overcrowded waiting room.

I’ve been gone for a minute, after suffering an incapacitating virus and an almost inconceivable lack of sleep. But I’m back, and better than ever. (Just kidding, I had less than 4 hours of sleep last night and I’m pretty sure I blacked out on the drive over here).

What exactly is gestational diabetes?

I’m glad you asked. According to The Canadian Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes (GD) occurs when your fat, disgusting pregnant body can’t produce enough insulin to handle the effects of the growing baby and changing hormone levels. If your fat, disgusting pregnant body cannot produce enough insulin, your blood glucose levels will rise, which can pose a health risk to both you and your baby.

Before we get started, I highly recommend you head on over to my previous failed blog, Mandatory Sobriety, to get the low-down on this whole GD thing, and find out what happened to me last time. Then meet me back here.

I’ll wait.

Okay, everyone settled? Bottoms up!

Glucose drink

8:15am: Well, good news. I managed to down my glucose drink without throwing up, which is legitimately no small feat for a significant portion of the pregnant population. As I sat down to consume my sugary breakfast, I was joined by a fellow fat, disgusting pregnant woman who proceeded to challenge me to a drinking contest. Obviously, she had no idea who she was up against. Lady, I’m a former high-functioning alcoholic. You don’t stand a chance. Needless to say, I absolutely destroyed her.

8:30am: My fetus seems to be responding in a rather agitated manner to the elevated amount of sugar I’ve consumed. Frankly, I’m surprised, since a typical breakfast for me includes two Toaster Strudels, a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a bagel, cinnamon sticks, the most sugary fruit I can find and one time I even popped open a can of Coca Cola because when you’ve had less than 4 hours sleep, don’t drink coffee and work full-time, you resort to some desperate measures. My fat, disgusting pregnant compadre is playing Candy Crush.

8:45am: Have you ever had the unfortunate luck of being seated next to a crying baby on a flight? The equivalent of that has to be being seated next to a sniffling adolescent in a blood lab. This kid, who I’ve affectionally labeled Dopey, posted up next to me about 10 minutes ago and I actually counted the amount of sniffles in the span of one minute: it was a staggering 56! Dopey, dude. C’mon. Get a tissue. I’m not playing, and my compatriot over here isn’t, either. We are two pregnant ladies on a mission not to rage-throw up our glucose drink, and I will choke a teenager if that’s what it takes to get a little peace and quiet around here. The court would throw out my case. My companion has closed her eyes and seems to have slipped into a glucose coma.

9:00am: It’s getting down to the wire. My fetus appears to be freaking out, throwing punches and elbows and possibly a butt cheek or two, I don’t know. I’ve been informed that in addition to not being allowed to eat, drink, or even leave the lab for the duration of my test, I’m not even allowed to pee. On the real, if my little womb buddy continues to Riverdance on my bladder, there’s going to be a clean up in aisle 4 situation all up in this Dynacare. My pregnant partner in crime woke up from her trance, but I’ve since discovered that she does not speak English, so we’ve resorted to communicating using elaborate hand gestures and dank memes.

9:15am: What the hell is taking so long? It’s officially been an hour, Dynacare. I’m getting pretty fed up of staring at this waiting room of blank-faced sickos and breathing their contaminated air. I’ve also grown weary of my foreign friend. She seems more interested in crushing candy and less interested in playing a game of Date, Marry or Kill with me and our waiting room population. What a buzzkill.

9:20am: My name has been called! Off to get poked with a needle. PEACE OUT YOU SAD, SICK SACS. And to my fellow gestating glucose buddy, may the odds be ever in your favour.

9:30am: What better way to celebrate the successful completion of yet another gestational diabetes test than a wholesome breakfast at McDonald’s. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my GD journey, as I’m sure to have failed this initial test spectacularly.

Gender Reveal Part 1: I mixed my own urine with baking soda so you don’t have to

Before we begin, I’d just like to state for the record that I am a firm believer in science.

I consider old wives tales – or alternative science – to be thoroughly asinine, which is why I decided to waste my time and energy testing a bunch of them to see if they can predict a baby’s gender. (My guess is a hard ‘no’, but stranger things have happened, like that time my cat decided to go vegetarian).

On Friday, science will confirm whether I’m having a girl fetus or a boy fetus, so in the meantime, let’s screw around with some silly charts, experiments, and good old fashioned folk tale folly to see what they say.

Old Wives Tale #1 – The Chinese Gender Predictor

The Chinese gender predictor calculation is based on the lunar month of conception and the mother’s age (both based on Chinese calendar) at the time of conception. For me, the lunar month – not to be confused with the actual calendar month – was 9,  and my lunar age – not to be confused with my actual age – at conception was 34.

For this one, I wanted to be sure I was doing it right, so I used two different calendars from two different sites. Both gave me the same result: girl.

Here are the results from YourChineseAstrology.com:

chinese-gender-predictor-2016

And here are the results from TheChineseBabyCalendar.com:

calendar-edited

OLD WIVES TALE #2 – THE MAYAN GENDER PREDICTOR

I’m an equal opportunist, so I’m not letting the Chinese take all the credit.

What do those pesky Mayans have to say?

Well, for starters, they keep it simple.  According to TheGenderExperts.com (more on them later), here is their simple predictor:

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-3-47-18-pm

My age at conception was 33 (odd), and the month of conception was October (calendar month 10, even).

Here’s another way to view it:

mayan

The Mayans say boy.

Tie game. Let’s keep going.

OLD WIVES TALE #3 – FETAL HEART RATE

Another popular, yet highly unscientific gender predictor uses heart rate of the fetus. According to this one, a girl will have a consistent heart rate of 140 beats per minute or higher, and a boy will have 140 or less.

At just under nine weeks, I was able to pick up my baby’s heartbeat on my home doppler. Check out that impressive little mini ticker, clocking in at nearly 145 beats per minute:

Most recently, at my midwife appointment on Thursday, my now 18-week-old womb warrior’s beats still came in at a solid 145 bpm.

Let’s call this one girl, but by the skin of her teeth.

OLD WIVES TALE #4 – The baking soda test

That’s right, I peed into a cup of baking soda for the purpose of this blog. I’m not even getting paid to do this – that’s how dedicated I am to my craft.

I PEE FOR FREE, PEOPLE!

The theory behind this one suggests that the gender of the baby changes some of the hormones in the mother’s body, which may then change some of the acid content of her urine. This experiment first instructs you to add a tablespoon or two of baking soda to a glass or cup. Author’s note: I used a disposable paper cup, because I’m not disgusting.

Once you have your baking soda, you’re supposed to pour some of your urine in there. If the combination fizzes, like a soft drink that has been shaken up, then you are having a boy. If there is no reaction at all, you’re having a girl.

There was no fizzing in my cup. A tiny bit of white foam formed, but it stayed flat otherwise.

We’ll say girl for this one too, given the extreme lack of fizz.

OLD WIVES TALE #5 – Nub Theory

Fun fact: did you know that boys and girls both start out with the same little doodad down there?

That’s right – all babies regardless of sex have something called a genital tubercle in the initial stages of development, which is sometimes referred to as a ‘nub’. Gender is determined at conception, however, sometime between 9 and 13 weeks, the sex organs begin to differentiate into male or female. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “in a comparatively late stage of embryonic life, the genital tubercle of male embryos encloses the urethral canal and becomes the penis; in female embryos it remains small and becomes the clitoris.”

In other words, by 13 weeks, a little penis or a tiny clitoris has developed, but will likely not yet be visible on an ultrasound. Most women wait until around 18-20 weeks, where it is fairly unmistakable.

The ‘Nub Theory’ of determining gender states that it is possible between 12 and 14 weeks to accurately predict gender. This is done by analyzing the angle and shape of the nub. The scan must be in profile view, to allow viewing of the spine, and the nub’s relationship to it.

The below example shows how this is “calculated”:

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-9-00-57-pm

This brings me back to TheGenderExperts.com, mentioned earlier. They are a group of self-described “experts” that offer a variety of methods to determine the gender of your baby, even as early as 6 weeks.

Nonsense, right?

Well, for the low low cost of $7.99, I decided to put them to the test. Shortly after my 12 week ultrasound, I submitted my scan (below).

I got the following response less than 12 hours later:

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-4-35-19-pm

These self-identifying “experts” say girl, and they do so with a bold 83-92% accuracy claim.

SO, WHAT’S THE TALLY?

Out of my five chosen alternative science gender predictors, four predict girl.

Check back on Friday when I reveal who was right, and who was wrong in the exciting conclusion tentatively titled: GENDER REVEAL PART 2: BUT REALLY THOUGH, SCIENCE.