Pregnancy the Second Time Around: Advice Needed!

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. My son is 17 months old and while we are thrilled for the new addition to our family, this pregnancy is entirely different from my first.

My first pregnancy I worked full-time, but was able to nap when I got home from work and sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is still a semi-rare occurrence in my home. My son, especially while teething, will wake up a few times through the night and/or is up for the day at 5am. The lack of sleep contributes to a much more tired, worn-out pregnancy.

Gone are the days I can throw my feet up and relax when feeling nauseous or tired, now I have a little buddy wanting to throw a ball or go for a walk. Now, I can barely think about this pregnancy, in contrast to my first pregnancy where I obsessed over every little twinge or symptom. This time, I have more faith in my body and trust everything is going to be ok. I don’t have time to worry about the alternative.

Despite the obvious differences in having a toddler this time around vs. having no kids, this pregnancy has been totally different. First time around, I never got sick or even nauseous. This time felt like I had the nastiest college hangover from about weeks 7 through week 13. My first pregnancy, I felt so good I was in a fantastic mood all the time. This time, not so much. These differences have my husband convinced we are having a girl. I’m not sure either way, but we will find out for sure on June 1st.

With my son’s pregnancy I took weekly pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy (You can see them here). This pregnancy, I have a total of 5 “belly pictures” at 17 weeks. I feel HORRIBLE about it! I always swore my second baby would have an equal amount of pictures, little did I know I would be WAY more sick the second time around. I hope he or she forgives me! Thankfully, I am finally feeling better and will make up for lost time.

I hope I will be able to be as good of a Mom to this new baby as I have been to my son. People always tell me that your heart expands and you never know you could love TWO little babies so much. I hope that’s true because it seems implausible to think of loving another baby as much!

Moms of two or more: I would love your advice on introducing a new baby into your family. Especially on how to introduce a baby to a very jealous toddler who will be 22 months when he takes on the new role as “Big Brother.” Thank you!

Milestones…and moving on

I stood staring at the teddy bear mobile hanging from the ceiling. It hung over our spare kitchen sink. Yes, spare. Our 111 year old house has a pantry on the second floor, complete with …you guessed it…a kitchen sink. The sink comes in handy. I soak white baseball pants in it. I clean up craft projects in it. And I bathe babies in it. It is the perfect size for that task. When I was pregnant with my first child I did what any respectable, first-time pregnant mommy did. I registered for baby ‘stuff’. I registered for sheets, onesies, a buggy…and a tub. Which we used. Once. From that point on, every tubby that my kids took, until they were big enough to bathe in the big tub, was in the sink. So when my ten year-old was just a baby, we hung this mobile over the sink to hold their attention. It was a crank kind and it played a rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. We used it for all four babies. Now that our youngest has used the big tub for over a year now, I thought it was probably time to take down the mobile. No one needed it anymore. At least none of the kids did.

When the older three kids reached their ‘milestones,’ I was always excited. I looked forward to what was next. Never rushed, mind you. Just excitement. With my forth, things are different. Maybe because I am pretty sure there will not be anymore. Each stage we finish means a stage I will never experience again. And it almost seems like Cait knows. She cruises through the milestones with an ease that bites my heart. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get her to hold on to being a baby. Every day she figures out another way to be a ‘big girl’. What is her rush??? Slow down. With each proclamation from her that ‘I am a big girl’ comes the end of an era in our house. She potty-trained fairly quickly, so we returned an entire case of diapers to BJ’s. The changing station that had been set up on the first floor (because we all know that new mommies shouldn’t climb the stairs) ten years ago was dismantled. Each time I walk into our first-floor bathroom it is another heartbreaker. I thought I would ease her into her big-girl bed. In true Cait style she informed me that the crib was no longer needed. And another heartbreak. She feeds herself. She dresses herself. She makes choices for herself.  She is more than ready to let go…and I am more determined to hang on.
I know I should be happy that she is ready to move on. My mommy friends are amazed at how at ease she is with separating from me. As we dropped one of my sons off at kindergarten the other day, she turned to me and said “It’s OK Mommy. Cait stay here at school now. You go home.” She is not yet three. I know I will appreciate this. Some day. That day is not now.
So I have a decision to make. What do I do with the mobile? Do I leave it up as a reminder of the milestones that have passed? Or do I take it down and move on? You know, it really isn’t in the way…yet.

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Pregnant in Heels: my feet hurt for these women!

Have you seen the new TV show on Bravo, Pregnant in Heels? I caught my first episode the other night and was reminded that there is a completely different universe than the one I’m living in. Namely, pregnant women living in New York City who have a completely different reality than my own. I don’t know about you, but I’m only 16 weeks pregnant and my feet complain after just hearing the word “heels.” These women teeter around in 4 inch heels at 39 weeks pregnant through the cobblestone streets of NYC!

Mina and her husband, Herman

The episode I viewed is titled “Clueless” and there couldn’t be a more apropos title. The show is hosted by a really cool woman named Rosie Pope who is a “Maternity Concierge” and basically caters to affluent pregnant women who know more about spending money than raising babies.

The first woman on the show is named Mina Au and has never even held a baby before. She thinks that her husband and the nanny can do all the diaper changes, after all- “there are people for that.” Mina couldn’t understand why Rosie said the dog’s “pee pad” had to come up when there’s a baby crawling around the apartment floor. Diaper pail, what’s that? I need one of those?

Michelle and her husband, Gary

The second woman on the show is named Michelle Shaeffer, a Catholic woman married to a nice Jewish man named Gary. Michelle can’t understand why Gary has a problem raising their daughter Catholic, after all  it is “her” daughter. Apparently they never once brought up how they would raise children with their two different religions. Rosie brings in Lisa Oz (Dr Oz’s wife) to mediate the heated discussion and manages to bring the couple to a compromise.

The first 45 minutes of the show I kept asking myself “Are these women serious? OMG! Wait till that baby comes!” Somehow Bravo manages to humanize these princesses in the last 15 minutes so you don’t completely despise them, but it still amazes me that there are women out there so self-absorbed. I know it’s reality TV, but some things can’t be edited by Bravo producers.

Being a toddler mom and pregnant myself, I don’t know how these high-rise Mommas do it in NYC. My hat is off to them. I love being able to drive my car to the grocery store and not worry about lugging car seats into cabs every time I want to run an errand.

Pregnant in Heels gives a really unique glimpse into the lives of pregnant women who don’t live like “the rest of us.”  The host, Rosie Pope, is charming. I adore her London accent and her honesty with secondary infertility struggles on the show is endearing. She works with her clients with a unique blend of grace and straight forwardness. I can’t wait for the next episode to air!

If you’re looking for a new show to watch, I recommend giving Pregnant in Heels a chance. You can watch the show on Bravo, Tuesdays at 10 pm EST or watch full episodes on BravoTV.com.

Have you seen the show yet- what did you think? If not, what’s your favorite show at the moment?

Photos courtesy of Bravo TV

A Mom’s Guide to Dating After Divorce

According to statistics, 1,000 people get divorced every day in the United States ALONE…WOW! That means fewer than 50% of first marriages end in divorce.  Now most of you out there reading this who might be married will probably gasp a little, and I do not blame you.  But those of you who are divorced might be doing a little happy dance right now at the thought of all those possible divorcees out there for the taking. But first, be forewarned, my friends. If you are recently divorced, or have been divorced for a long time, whether you are old or young/have kids or do not, entering the dating world can be a very exciting time in your life.   It also presents itself with some challenges that you should really think about before making the decision to jump back in and get into the dating driver’s seat.  You are going to feel scared, and at times, intimidated. But never let that hold you back in finding and meeting other people because, in turn, you will find out more about yourself along the way.  If you let it, it can be one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you.

Dating after divorce can be very overwhelming, but over the past five years, I have developed my own “Method to the Madness” for dating after a divorce. Here are some tips that have helped me in the dating scene, and some tips that have basically helped me in ALL of my relationships as well:

1.         WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING?  –  Make sure you can answer these questions.  If you cannot, then you should not be dating anyone until you can.  DO NOT PASS GO and DO NOT COLLECT $200.   I cannot stress this enough to all of you.  Being able to re-establish your identity is PARAMOUNT to the success of any relationship you have or want to have down the road.  Whether you want to admit it or not, you lose yourself sometimes when you are in a marriage, and you need to take advantage of this time alone.  You need to take the time to re-discover who you are and what you like.   You need to make sure you are ready to move forward and know what you are looking for in a mate.  You never get a second chance on life, but sometimes, we do get a second chance on dating. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF IT!

2.                  BE ACCEPTING BUT DO NOT SETTLE –   This one is very important.  Never let possible post-divorce loneliness, sadness or insecurity make you lower your standards when you start dating again.  Everyone deserves and has a right to be happy in life.  Be respectful of what it is that you want, and be proud of who you are and what you can offer a person.  This is one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks you can achieve.  Believe in yourself and others will follow. 

3.                  DON’T DISH THE DIRT AND TRY AND LET GO OF THE PAST – It is important to not discuss your ex on your dates.  It is within reason to discuss your divorce, but you do not need to become the Daily Gazette with all the dirty details on your date. This tip is extremely important, especially if you were recently divorced or it was a messy or sticky situation.   I am not going to lie and say you will not be tempted to talk about the details on what went wrong, or who did what to whom and how and when, etc.  It is important that you try to resist the temptation and focus on the person across the table from you instead.

4.         PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!!   IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, TAKE YOUR TIME AND INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARTNER SLOWLY!  –  I find this tip invaluable in every possible way.  My son adores my boyfriend, but we waited and took our time before we introduced him.  You need to be able to identify your relationship and what you are as a couple FIRST before you bring your children into the picture.  It can be an incredibly stressful situation for all involved, and timing is everything when bringing your children into your new relationship.   Make sure you give your children enough time to be able to adjust to the new changes on their own.  Do not ever force your child to accept the relationship, but also do not let your child call the shots on who you do or do not date.  It is important to have a healthy balance in this situation.

5.         TAKE YOUR TIME, STAY POSITIVE AND ABOVE ALL, ENJOY YOURSELF –   We all know that divorce can leave you with baggage, and we have to stay positive and believe that someone out there has that “matching set of baggage” just for us to make a complete luggage set.  It is very important to take your time and have fun with it.  This is a time of re-discovery for you in so many areas of your life, and it would only benefit you to live life to the fullest and be confident in what you can bring to a relationship. 

6.         IF ALL ELSE FAILS, THERE IS ALWAYS WINE AND CHOCOLATE –  Of all the tips out there, this is the MOST IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE ONE!!!  Well, not really — but I have benefited from this one a time or two myself.

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Kids: What’s the Right Number? (and when to have more)

 

How do you know how many kids are right for you?
I always find this an interesting topic of conversation. Probably because almost everyone, from your best friend to a stranger on the street, has an opinion.
When my dear husband and I were blessed with our first pregnancy, and the baby boy that resulted, everyone was thrilled. “Oh a boy, what a way to start a family”. Then we were blessed again, this time with a beautiful daughter. She was not even in the incubator when the talk started. “A boy and a girl, now your family is complete!” For some odd reason, I thought that was a decision for my husband and I to make. Then, when we became pregnant a third time, people felt the need to remind us “They only come two ways, you know”. Yes, we are both well educated. We are well aware of the ways they come. A second boy it was, and now we had the heir and the spare. Life moved along swimmingly until, gasp, we decided to have another. Suddenly, the tone of the remarks shifted. When people inquired about my pregnancy and I replied it was my forth, their faces would drop. I would say the quips were about equally split between “What are you nuts?” and “Better you than Me!” A second beautiful daughter. Two boys, two girls. And then the winning comment became “Two pair, are you going to go for a full house?”

     So how do you decide how many?  Gone are the days of the white picket fence, car in the garage and 2.2 children. Families today enjoy a diversity that was non-existent just decades ago. We live in a completely different time and place than even our parents did, never mind our grandparents. Every generation faced their challenges. Our generation faces economic uncertainty, war, what seems like one natural disaster after another…why would one want to bring children into this world. The answer is simple…family.
     I was raised as an only child. I wanted nothing more than to give my children the gift…and I remind them daily that it is a gift…of siblings. I once had an acquaintance comment “Oh you singletons. You all feel the need to repopulate the world.” Not quite. I do know that my kids are never lonely and rarely alone. Although they find it a tad difficult to appreciate it now, my friends that have siblings assure me that one day, they will. And they will have best friends that won’t ever bail. No matter what.

     The decision about how many children to have is a very personal one. Can we afford to live on one income, or childcare if we both work? How many beds can you fit in one bedroom? Exactly how many car seats can a vehicle hold (and don’t forget the other miscellaneous gear associated with raising happy, healthy, well adjusted kids today)? Just how will we pay for four college educations (still working on that one). The questions go on and on. One of my favorite quotes from one of the parenting classes I teach is from a cartoon. The caption reads “This, as with all things, trust your instinct.” You will know.
     You just might be crazy enough to do it again. And again. And again…
Four is good for us. I certainly would never say no to another. Inexpensive vacations, two sets of bunk beds and a Suburban that seats eight answered the questions for us. The message I want to leave with you is this. Feel free to decide for yourself . Don’t feel the pressure of others. You will know when your family is…just right.

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Reading: Good for Your Social Life and Good for Your Kids

Before having children I was an avid reader – and why not? I had lots of unstructured time with which to do what I pleased. When I was single in NYC, there were long subway rides, lazy Sunday mornings in bed, and quiet moments after dinner to while away in the pursuit of a good read. One marriage and four kids later, those days are a distant memory. In fact, we gave up our Sunday New York Times subscription last year because the guilt of not reading it outweighed the sadness of cancelling it. The stacks of New Yorkers around the house, most of which I merely scan, or worse, restack, are enough of a reminder of the time “we used to have” for reading.

I haven’t completely given up on staying abreast of current events, though. In place of the NYT we now subscribe to The Week magazine. This terrific compendium of newsworthy events from around the globe has become a family favorite. It arrives weekly with the most perfectly digestible amounts of information and opinion. Since we made this switch, the most wonderful thing has happened – our kids read it. They also read The New Yorker. It must have something to do with the magazine’s prominent placement in the main loo, but never mind that, they read it and discuss it with us, and that is grand.In fact, when it arrives we all scramble to see who can get a hold of it first. I must say, it’s a hoot to hear my 10 year old recount a strange fact he read that day in an adult conversational style at dinner – a vast improvement over the usual scatological drivel the group can stoop to.

The sad truth is, that when I finally get the four kids to bed, I’m often so zonked, that reading acts like a soporific and puts me right to sleep.  I was becoming increasingly frustrated, not to mention nervous, about the growing tower of books leaning over my head as I slept, many of them with bookmarks in just the first few chapters. I needed a push, and lo and behold, along came the answer: Book Club. This has been a reading lifesaver. Were it not for the incentive that the next meeting date provides, I might never finish a book! There’s something about knowing that if you don’t finish, then you really shouldn’t go to Book Club where you’ll eventually hear the ending of the book discussed. By not attending you would avoid that, but you would also miss out on the company of friends, good wine and yummy food. That’s just unacceptable in my book (ha!). I look so forward to my time with my friends, that to miss any is unthinkable. So, I try to read the book no matter what it takes. Sometimes I sit in the hostess’ driveway until I do. I’ve also seen fellow Book Club pals reading in a wingback in the corner while the social portion is underway, or one time at a school meeting beforehand. Many of us treat it like a requirement for participation (it’s not), and as a result of our determination, we are rewarded by lively discussions and great camaraderie.

Recently, one of my pals from our ‘Reading Between the Wines’ Book Club informed us of a study that was conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development which states, “a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.” http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/102510-reading-family-income.cfm

My eldest

Well, that right there is motivation enough for me! If I can revel in friendship and accomplishment while also improving my child’s chances of scholastic success, then I am more than happy – I’m successful. Maureen wrote here at AMKB about pursuing passion, as did Carla. In my life now, my marriage, my kids, and my friends are my passions, and books are hot on their heels. Through a few adjustments to what I read and how I read, I have been able to keep up with current events and great novels, while deepening my friendships and benefiting my children. A win-win I’d say.

My Chinese fortune cookie the other night said, “The world is a beautiful book for those who read it.”  Yes, so true.

I’d love to hear your stories of book clubs and about any great books you’ve read.

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Heartbreak via Toddler

Grandma, Toddler & Mom

As some of you know, I am originally from Florida and now live in Rhode Island. This past week I was fortunate enough to have my Mom visit for six days. She has been a huge help to my husband and I since we are selling our townhouse. We’ve spent the past several days packing boxes, moving them to our storage unit and she has helped us out by taking over toddler-duty. I’ve enjoyed not changing as many diapers or waking up quite as early as normal, but I’m surprised by how quickly my young son has thrown me aside for another woman.

Until a few weeks ago, my son has always been a sweet pea, giving kisses and hugs on demand. Now he shakes his head and laughs when I ask for a kiss. For the first time in 16 months, I don’t feel as needed by him. I breastfed him for almost 13 months and during that time he definitely needed me, even if it was only once a day.  I was a source of nutrition and comfort for him.

He has always come to me for solace when he fell down or needed something. That is, until my Mom visited. I’ve been replaced by his Grandma. She has spent the past six days with my little boy attached to her hip. When he fell off the couch today, he went to her for comfort when I was just as close. I have to be honest, it stung! I’m not looking forward to the tears (from all of us probably) when I drop her off at the airport.

Moms of boys, I’m well aware this is just the beginning. I’m sure he will be too cool to give me a kiss when I drop him off at school. He is going to spend more time with his Dad shooting hoops than cuddling with me on the couch. Someday he’s going to fall in love with a girl in high school and I’ll be second place while he obsesses over her text messages and where they will be going on their date nights.

I knew this was going to happen but I was not prepared for it to be so soon!

Moms of toddlers, please tell me he will come back to me for a little bit…

Diagnosing and Treating Urinary Reflux in Children

As some of you know, sweet little Paigey had a battery of tests today at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  We scheduled the tests several weeks ago after two seperate incidents of  UTIs and several days of fevers between 103-105.  I talked to my doctor about the concern that Paige might have urinary reflux and she suggested we get her tested when she returned from her recent Arizona trip. Paige eating ice cream

So, what is urinary reflux? Urinary reflux, or vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is the backup of urine from the bladder  into the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureter) during urination. [Read more…]

(VIDEO) Early Intervention is Key to Helping a Child with Autism

Keeping Our Kids Safe

As a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in Neurological Rehabilitation, most of my days are consumed with assessing and treating teens and adults that have been affected by brain injuries. Although brain injury can take many forms, one of the most common types is TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury. A TBI is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal function of the brain. Symptoms include headaches, motor dysfunctions, sensory changes, attention and concentration difficulties, loss of memory, word-finding and fluency issues, among others. Not so fun, huh? How do we keep our kids safe?

Annually there are 500,000 admissions to hospitals due to brain injury. 200 per 100,000 people are affected. The most popular occurrence is among pre-school age children and 15-25 year olds, with falls dominating the younger range and motor vehicle and sports related injuries dominating the teen and young adult ages.

For the pre-school aged child, it is important to follow all car seat safety regulations without fail. These vary from state to state, so check your state laws to keep your kids safe. Ironically, some of these accidents happen outside of the car when kids are not buckled properly into their seats, and then when picked up, fall out. Although personally embarrassing to admit, I had my child strapped into a vibrating chair watching me cook once when the chair vibrated right off the counter. Another child rolled off the middle of my bed while I was standing right next to it trying to change. Thankfully, both were safe and head injury free. However, these are some common pitfalls.  Also try to avoid sharp corners on tables or exposed edges when those little ones are learning to walk. If possible, keep them in a carpeted area during the “new walker” stage. Your kids will fall down and hit their heads. I am not sure how many little raspberries I saw on my boys, but there were plenty. Unless the crying ceases to stop and you notice other changes, they are most likely fine. If you do fear a concussion, contact your pediatrician.

From the ages of three to seven, kids move on to scooters, bikes and more. A helmet should be worn at all times while engaging in these activities. Furthermore, it is important to make your kids aware of local traffic laws. Biking always occurs with traffic, and at this age, preferably on the sidewalk. As they get older, and the bikes get bigger and more advanced, the bike lane is probably most suitable. One common occurrence during our family bike rides is that cars usually fail to see bikes when they are backing out of driveways. So, if your kids are biking on the sidewalk, it is important to talk to them about running cars and noticing brake lights.

On to the teenage years. Of course head injuries from MVA’s (Motor Vehicle Accidents) are quite common and lead in statistics. Always, always, encourage them to wear their seat belts. However, even more disturbing is the increase in sports related head injuries, which account for 21% of all TBIs. Why is the incidence increasing and what can we do about it? Well, one reason is that sports are starting younger and younger and are much more serious than when I was growing up. Tackle football at 8? Club soccer starting at 7? Repeated jolts to the head over time in both of these sports can lead to serious problems.

The American Football Association created a task force to decrease head down contact. Apparently, our helmets have become so padded and feel so safe that kids are often leading into tackles with their head, and repeatedly over time, this can have serious ramifications. At the high school level, 10-15% of athletes sustain concussions and only a fraction of those are receiving proper treatment. Just now, more rules are being made regarding pre and post season physical and cognitive exams to help determine if there is a concussive syndrome that has lead to a mild TBI. Just last week I saw a college athlete in my office from a division II school that had been playing tackle football since he was 8. Again, he has not even gone pro yet and is exhibiting memory loss,  attention and concentration and headaches. He is constantly fatigued and struggling in school.

One common injury in soccer occurs with repeated “heading” of the ball. Sixty percent of college level soccer players reported symptoms of concussion during a single season. There have been some head gears that have been developed to help alleviate this problem, but as of yet, all have been claimed ineffective.

Despite my career, I am not a worrier by nature and encourage my kids to be as physically active as possible. However, I would encourage all parents to think long and hard about at what age and what intensity our kids should be involved in these sports. I have two boys, and we love sports in our house. So I do what I can do to prevent some injuries (i.e. helmets and seat belts), and we have made the decision (despite some protests) not to start tackle football until at least the junior high years. It’s flag until then. Every family is different and certainly starting these sports at an early age does not guarantee a head injury. This is what feels right for us; so do what you can to keep your kids safe and do what feels right for you.

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