19 Weeks: Pregnancy, Gestational Diabetes, AND The Big Reveal!

I am happy and thankful to report that Baby is growing well, kicking strong and has finally “popped”!

I'm actually glad that this is the best photography my 7 year old can do.  I'm not anywhere near as tall as I look, and the blur really hides the sleepy eyes!

I’m actually glad that this is the best photography my 7 year old can do. I’m not anywhere near as tall as I look, and the blur really hides the sleepy eyes!

Gestational Diabetes hasn’t been much of a challenge this time around (so far).  The first weeks I had great blood sugar readings but I was spilling some ketones, so I upped my carb intake little by little which got rid of the ketones, but didn’t change my blood sugar much.  Right now I’m able to eat pretty much anything within reason if I’m careful about portions, and staying active.  I’ve had a few (3) high readings, but have been able to narrow them down to a higher carb meal on a lower activity day.  I’ve had the same meal leave me at 85, and 135 on different days, so you can really see where exercise makes a big difference.  Right now I’m walking or doing really light step aerobics any day that my incidental activity level is low, or when I know I’m going to be tempted by extra carbs, like birthday parties or BBQs.  I fully expect my blood sugar to be more of an issue, and to need tighter diet restrictions as I get further along, but for now I’m thrilled that I can enjoy my regular diet, and even the occasional treat.

Baby is very active, giving me lots of kicks, and showing a preference for (or maybe against) big glasses of ice water.  Big sisters can’t wait until they can feel the kicks too. They also can’t wait to hold Baby, feed Baby, change Baby’s diaper and generally be Mom’s big helpers.  They are spending a lot of time “practicing” with their baby dolls, and I can tell they will be excellent big sisters!

Today I had my mid-term ultrasound and, while the tech can’t really tell you anything “for sure”  it looked to me like we have a healthy baby with the appropriate number of arms, legs, fingers, toes and organs.  Baby was a bit of a stinker, and didn’t want to let us see all the angles we wanted to, but we were able to get a good idea of the gender.  Also we’re pretty sure it’s an alien.

A Girl alien!!

Introducing Hazel Rosemary Clark.

We love her already.

 

Gestational Diabetes: Round 1

Disclaimer:  It’s been nearly six years since this sweet babe was born, so some of the details have gone a bit fuzzy, but what follows is my best recollection of my first experience with Gestational Diabetes.

Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes during my second pregnancy wasn’t a huge surprise for me. I don’t know why exactly, but I just had a feeling I would fail the glucose tolerance test. Perhaps it was that I have a family history of diabetes, I was overweight, and I had some spells of feeling “puny” between pop-sickles, which were my #1 craving that round. Perhaps I’m a tad on the hypochondriac side and, for the first time ever, I just happened to actually have the thing I was worrying about.

Either way, my first reaction was feeling totally overwhelmed.  I felt like my body had betrayed me.  In fact it was I who had betrayed my body, by not getting enough exercise, enough sleep, or enough of the right foods.  I had been indulging my junk food cravings, living on caffeine and had been yo-yo-ing between 10 and 20 pounds heavier than I had been prior to the first baby (for which I was already overweight).

I had a general idea how I needed to adjust my diet, since my mom is diabetic, and I had glanced through a few diabetic recipe books. Basically what I thought in the early days was “Carbs are bad. I’m only going to eat the bare minimum of carbs, and I’m going to exercise every time I eat.”

It almost worked. My post meal blood glucose readings were mostly in the middle of the target range.  Unfortunately I was still having some slightly high fasting readings, and I started losing weight pretty rapidly.  The weight loss would have been wonderful if I hadn’t been pregnant.   My midwife wasn’t crazy about the amount of weight I was losing and my fasting numbers weren’t crazy high, so I saw a nutritionist and started trying to push my post meal reading toward the upper end of in-range.  I wasn’t terribly good at it.  Once you have the “carbs are bad” mind set it is really hard to eat a grain without feeling the need to do some sort of exercise.  Also, I had a hard time finding the right balance between “more of the right carbs” and “too many carbs in general”  I was able to bump my numbers up a little, and by adding a snack at night I was able to get my fasting numbers down a little, but the weight loss continued.

My midwife started having me come in for weekly weight checks and eventually consulted with an OB about my weight loss.  The OB wasn’t worried about the weight loss given that I had extra weight to lose, but she wanted to make sure I wasn’t spilling ketones.  I was.

We gave it a couple weeks of trying to keep my numbers in the upper range, and trying to get rid of the ketones.  But after I lost even more weight (around ten pounds by this time), we decided I’d probably need medication and that my care should be transferred to an OB.

Under the care of the OB I ended up going on a low dose (10 units) of NPH insulin at bedtime.  I still had to eat carefully, but my fasting readings stabilized and the ketones went away almost immediately.  By this time I only had another 6 weeks or so to go, and for the first time in my pregnancy I started gaining weight.

I only ended up seeing the OB twice.  She was going out of town and scheduled me with another doctor for what would have been my third visit with her.

Around nine o’clock the morning of my third appointment I was pretty certain I was in labor, so I called my husband at work and asked him to meet me at my 11:00 appointment.  I figured if it turned out I wasn’t in labor, I’d rather find out at a regular appointment than go to the trouble of booking into the hospital and then waiting around to be discharged.

I was meeting the OB who was filling in for mine for the first time, and when I told him I felt like I was in labor, he was kind, but gave me the look you give a four year old who tells you he is really Superman.

“MMm hmm, well you could be, but your due date is still two and a half weeks away, so we’ll just check”

And then.

“Mrs. Clark you’re only dilated to about 3, but you’re completely effaced, and you’re contracting regularly. You’d better head to the hospital”.

“You mean like right this minute”?

“Yes.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect 200 dollars.  Go directly to the hospital”

Two hours later and just minutes after my water broke, we were holding our sweet baby Montana.

She was 6 lbs 15oz, which surprised me since the ultrasound “estimate” was eight pounds a couple weeks prior, and you always hear about women with Gestational Diabetes having huge babies.

At that point I wasn’t sure we would try to have any more babies.  It had been exhausting to pretty much have my life revolve around food and think and calculate and worry every time I took a bite.

As time passed, so did the exhaustion, and eventually I started having spells of baby fever. My husband did not.  He was absolutely ready to be done having babies, and when Montana turned five years old, I started to realize how nice it is to sleep all night and only wipe my own bum.

My husband planned to have a vasectomy but never got around to it, and I temporarily went off the pill, to try and figure out if that was what was causing some terrible headaches I was having this winter.  When I went off the pill, the headaches mostly went away.  I still didn’t know if that was a coincidence, and had planned to see my midwife about a different brand or different dose.  But by the time I got around to calling her I had a different reason.

Turns out half backward glances at the calendar and judging whether you’re ovulating by how you “feel” isn’t such a great method of birth control, especially the longer you go past age 30.

I realized in early April that we are expecting another sweet baby mid December.

Because of my history my midwife wanted to test me early for GD, and we found out I do have it again.  So far my blood sugar has been great and actually even a little low at times. But more about that later.

Come back in July for a pregnancy update, a baby bump pic (finally starting to get one) and part two of my GD story.  It’ll be shorter since It’s only been a few weeks.  ;-)

 

Kids Backpack Emergency Kit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We (wee, little children mostly) are pilferers of the supplies in our 72 hour kits, and back packs.  The kids especially love to borrow the light sticks, and granola bars.  Every once in a while I need to go through all of our supplies and evaluate and replace items.  Since we have a backpacking trip coming up soon, today I’m focusing on the kids’ packs.

We’ve previously had a few comfort and safety items such as light sticks, whistles and a few band-aids in the front pocket of their packs, but it is too easy to shuffle these items about when they are loose in a pocket.  Instead I’ll make a kit in a quart sized zipper bag.  Slide top freezer bags are both sturdy, and easy enough for a kid to open.

What I’m Including:

  • A small first aid kit  -  purchased at the dollar store, it includes antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment
  • 3 power bars -  I choose these because they are edible but not delicious.  I don’t want them looked on as a treat to be sneaked out and enjoyed at the first hint of an appetite.
  • 3 mini light sticks – Each glows for  several hours providing a night-light like glow.  More for comfort than function.
  • Moist Towelettes – For cleaning up before/after eating.
  • A Mylar Blanket- We already have these, so I’m including them, but don’t really know how they hold up to handling by kids.  I’ve heard they tear easily.  We still have a lot of receiving blankets around so I may place one loose in the backpacks too.
  • An N95 mask – I keep these around for cleaning the chicken coop, because chicken poop lung mud grosses me out, but we’ve had “real world” use of these when wild fires made our outdoor air hazardous for the better part of a month.

You’ll notice that most of these items are very non-technical, and not for any kind of serious event. Little ones really just need a mom or dad to help with the serious stuff.  I’m not saying I don’t think children can be taught to use serious tools, just that my children are a little young to be alone with knives and lighters just yet.  They have used both under supervision.

I also didn’t add water, but I always make sure everyone has her own bottle for each hike/day trip, and I carry a lightweight filter.

It seems like I’m always thinking and re-thinking the items in their kits, mainly because they are growing, changing, and able to handle more all the time.

I should also mention that these are in their hiking/day packs, NOT their school backpacks. I do think there is a place for a kit such as this in a school pack, but I’ve seen public school from the inside, and between shared lockers, and kids always wanting to show off their cool stuff, the most useful items would just land my kids in trouble. I could also see my kid pulling out a granola bar during a lock-down and being told she can’t eat it because she didn’t bring one for everyone.  Some might consider these good reasons to home-school, but that topic deserves an entire series of posts all it’s own.

Do you keep a small emergency kit in your kid’s pack?  What do you include?

Sharing at The Homestead Blog Hop.

Surprise!

I was planning to wait for this announcement until I had an obvious “Baby Bump” photo to share with you, but as it turns out, I’m nowhere near patient enough for that.  My jeans have just barely started getting snug, and I haven’t gained any weight yet. (No complaint about that!)

Clark baby # 3 cookin' up nicely.

Clark baby # 3 cookin’ up nicely.

We are expecting this little blessing to arrive mid-December.

I had a doozey of a first trimester compared to my previous pregnancies.  I felt really good for most of both prior pregnancies, despite having had Gestational Diabetes with the second.  This time I had a few weeks of nausea, which I never had with the girls, but the most difficult part has been being extremely tired.  The upside of that is that I’ve been able to shed, although probably temporarily, my night-owlish ways, and have been getting to bed early and sleeping well except for the middle of the night bathroom trips.

I’ve just started getting my energy back, but still I think there is no denying that being pregnant in my mid-thirties, is very different than it was in my twenties. I also have Gestational Diabetes again this round, which did not come as a surprise given that I have all the risk factors except for a history of large or stillborn babies.  This means I’ll be monitoring my blood sugar, following a very carb-balanced diet, walking daily, and trying not to gain or lose much weight.  There’ll be no caving to random chocolate or ice cream cravings for me.  I’ll share more about my previous and current experiences with GD later.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this was not a planned baby, but will be loved and treasured all the same.  The surprise did throw a little wrench into our financial plans, but I think all will ultimately work out just fine.  We’ve decided that I won’t return to work for the kids’ school next fall since daycare for an infant would cost more than half of my take-home pay.  I’m working on another post to share some of my ideas for filling that little financial gap, and keeping our baby related expenses as low as possible.

Now that I’ve gotten past the shock, nausea and tiredness I’m enjoying little flutters in my belly, and starting to prepare to have a sweet-smelling, wiggly, little wee one in the house again.

 I have to add that I find it just a tad comical that our first unplanned pregnancy happened after five years of premarital cohabitation, followed by nine years of marriage, and two impeccably planned children.  It just goes to show you that an “It won’t happen to me” mentality can and will catch up with you. Feel free to share my story with your teenagers.   ;-)   

 

Shared at The Homestead Blog Hop.

A Perfect Life

Dawn breaks on our view

Dawn breaks on our view

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced at my husband, or he at me, and we’ve agreed that our life is perfect.  When I say perfect I’m not talking about the kind of perfect you see in Better Homes and Gardens.

I’m talking about the kind of perfect when your family is bursting at the seams with love, and when you look around, you want to freeze time and just smile, despite the crumbs on the floor and the power bill that keeps getting forgotten.

This is actually looking pretty good for our back hall... is there a shame font?

This is actually looking pretty good for our back hall… is there a shame font?

I’m not trying to boast when I say this is how our life has been pretty much since we met. We’ve had our share of trials, but at the end of most days we have been happy and thankful, feeling that our life and our family is moving in the direction we’ve wanted and planned for.

We’ve always had enough, not always extra, but always enough of what we really needed. Is there always money or time for vacations?  Do we always get to eat what sounds good? Do we see every movie we want to? Nope.  But our needs have been met, and we’ve had our share, maybe even a tad more than our share, of luxuries.

I know looking back that we’ve had moments when life looked like it was going to get hard, and I know that we’ve sailed through those moments easier than I thought we would.  I’m afraid I’ve allowed myself to be under the illusion that it was our strength and grace, and the solidity of our marriage that brought us through the tough times with flying colors.

What a mistake.  How could I thank God every day for his blessings, and still go about shining my own apple, thinking that our life is so good because we have made it so?  Yes, we’ve made our plans.  Yes, we’ve worked hard.  But too often we’ve forgotten that we’re not the only ones with plans for our family.

Today I’m striving to remember that my life is not my own, and God’s plan is more perfect than I can imagine, even when I feel like life is going perfectly “my way”.

We’re facing a season of changes and folks, I’ll admit that while I’m excited, some days I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  I’ve been that proverbial duck, calm and unruffled on the surface, paddling like a maniac below. Sometimes the paddling has helped me iron out details and more plans (there I go making plans again!), and other times it has just exhausted me.

Today my goal is to stop worrying and just be open to what God has laid out for us.

Today I’m choosing to have faith that our life will continue to be perfect, crumbs and all.

 

Ideas for Entertaining on a Budget

We all have them.

You know, those months when you fail to plan ahead, spend more than you meant to at Costco, the car tabs come due, and you realize that you didn’t pay for cable last month, so you have to pay double this time. Then the kids run out of lunch money, and you need to refill the gas tank.

Bam!  Paycheck dissapear-i-o!

You’re outta cash, but hey, the bills are paid and you have groceries, so no big deal right? You can just hang out close to home and pinch pennies ’till payday rolls around again.

Then you remember you need to bring a dish to the Easter potluck.  Fortunately you’re a resourceful gal, with a fairly well stocked pantry, so you can come up with something, and it probably won’t even seem like “poor food”.

Then, you remember you’re hosting a Lia Sophia party next weekend.  EESH.

Yep, that’s been my month.  I knew when I left my “serious” job to work at the kids’ school that there would be less margin, but until now we’ve been able to pretty nearly maintain our former lifestyle by making just a few minor tweaks.  This month it all added up and just caught up with me.  I’ll admit it.  I’m pretty much broke.  Like I said before, however, the pantry is looking ok, so I think I can pull off some modest festivities.

Here’s my plan.

Easter dinner is a potluck with the extended family.  There is usually more food than any of us should attempt to eat, but as a grown woman bringing four mouths to the party, I just wouldn’t feel right showing up empty handed.

After a cursory look through the pantry I figured I’d bring deviled eggs, but then remembered that someone else usually brings them, so I decided on my Mexican Restaurant style rice, dressed up with some chopped carrots and onions.  I may also bring a loaf of sourdough bread.  Doesn’t seem very scrimpy at all, now does it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As for the Lia Sophia party I’ve been to a few of these events, and never have seen anyone just make a bowl of popcorn and pass around glasses of ice water, but it’s not really an occasion for sit down food, like beans and rice either.  What to do?

If the chickens keep laying as well as they do, I’ll do a round of deviled eggs.  I can also make a fresh loaf of artisan sourdough bread (that’s what you call it if you want it to sound fancy, if only folks knew it’s just flour, salt, and water. . . ) and if I do some scrounging in car ashtrays and couch cushions I’d bet I can come up with enough for some plain cream cheese that can be “herbed” and “berried” out of my spice cabinet, and freezer.  To drink I’ll offer some wine that has been hanging around in the pantry for awhile, 89 cent store brand soda, and Ice water with a little Lemon Essential Oil.

Again, I knew going into this reduction of income that things might get tricky at some point, but by being a little creative, planning based on what’s already here, and not worrying too much about what I wish we had, I’ll be able to pull it off almost painlessly!

Now that I’ve figured out what I’ll serve, I need to turn my attention to the front porch which is looking rather Clampet-y.  That way I won’t have to pretend I’m not home when the guests arrive!

To be completely honest, my husband did get another paycheck and our tax return arrived, between my starting and publishing this, but I did stick to my plan and not spend any extra on this month’s festivities.  It feels so good to know one doesn’t always need to run to the store to keep things moving!

A Morning on The Farm

Dawn breaks on our view

Dawn breaks on our view

The girls are ready to be let out.

The girls are ready to be let out.

 

The garden isn't looking like much,  but take a closer look. . .

The garden isn’t looking like much, but take a closer look. . .

A row of onions has overwintered and is stretching arms high to meet the rising sun.

A row of onions has overwintered and is stretching arms high to meet the rising sun.

Spinach and lettuce have sprouted.

Spinach and lettuce have sprouted.

And there will be peas for shelling.

And there will be peas for shelling.

What a blessed life we live!

 

 

 

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back over our journey there is one factor that has held us back most.

I don’t know. . .

I don’t know how.

I don’t know if it will work.

I don’t know if we’ll like it.

Well, I’m here to tell you.

If you don’t know how, do a quick internet search, ask a neighbor or go to the library.  Once you’ve done that, if you’re still unsure, just go ahead and poke your toe into the water.  I won’t say dive in with your eyes closed.  Proceeding slowly, however, there is much about farming, (and just about everything else) that can be learned along the way.  So your chickens get a little too much scratch at first.  You’ll soon notice egg production “lay off” and make an adjustment.  So your garden doesn’t produce well, make a note and try something different next year.  You’ll learn.

If you don’t know if it will work, again, internet, library, neighbor.  And again, poke that toe into the water.  Move slowly, try not to spend too much, and make adjustments as you go.

If you don’t know if you’ll like it, there’s one sure way to find out.  Remember the first time Mom put broccoli on your plate?  Well, maybe not.

But she probably said, “How can you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?”

Find a neighbor with goats and ask if you can taste the milk.  Chicken-sit for a weekend. Grow a few tomatoes in a pots.  Again, moving slowly and trying not to spend too much, you’ll get a good idea if this is the path for you.

Bottom line is that you need not be an expert to get a start.  Even the “experts” had to start somewhere.  If you find you don’t like keeping chickens, gardening, baking your own bread, or milking a goat, put an ad on craigslist and another upstart can benefit from your experience, while you make back some of your investment.  And remember, the modern world will probably be waiting for you with open arms.

There is very little in life that can’t be undone.  So dispense with the “I don’t knows” and go get your boots on!

 

 

 

If I Could Only Have Three

Recently I attended an essential oils class with some friends and one friend posed the question “If you could only have three, which would you choose?”

Now most of you know I am a huge fan of essential oils, and use them for many applications here, from health and beauty, to cooking and cleaning.  I like the way they work.  I really can’t imagine, now that we’re daily-users, ever having only three.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I had to choose, I’d narrow it down to. . .

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)  I mostly use this topically for cuts and scrapes, but it is also good for relaxation, immune support, allergy relief and just plain smells good.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia frereana) I use this to improve skin condition, improve brain function, calm emotions, and for immune support.  Plus who wouldn’t want to smell like baby Jesus?
  • On Guard (a blend of wild orange peel, eucalyptus, Clove bud, Cinnamon bark, rosemary)  I use this to make my own household cleaners, to make my own sore throat syrup, diluted as a hand-sanitizer during flu season and applied to feet for immune support.  We’ve even used it in gel caps with olive oil to replace antibiotics. It worked as quickly as the antibiotics worked for a prior similar skin infection.  I know this is anecdotal, at best, but it did work for us.  We followed the same protocols as with “real” antibiotics, including using it for a full ten days even though the skin was healed within a week, and replacing gut flora with probiotics.

Of course I have to mention that nothing in this post is approved by the FDA or to be taken for medical advice.  If you have a medical concern don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider.  You should always do your own research before using any alternative methods to treat yourself or your family.  I started with a great book by Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. (affiliate link)  Beyond that, I like the information provided at Learning About EOs, and Everything Essential.me.  

Remember, just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it is risk free. Anything can be dangerous if used incorrectly.  Have you ever tried to take a deep breath of water? Wonderful stuff, good ol’ H2O, but if you use it wrong you’re in deep trouble.

Many EOs should be diluted for topical use, and most brands are not safe for ingestion. You really have to be diligent about knowing what you’re purchasing and how you’re using it.  I’ve heard of people ingesting them daily for ongoing health, but I wouldn’t do that any more than I would take an antibiotic indefinitely.  If it can kill MRSA in the lab, my guess would be it can wipe out normal flora in your gut.

I try to use common sense with anything and not get too wrapped up in hype and mommy trends, but this one really has worked well for us.  We still have a few “real” medicines, supplements and beauty treatments in our bathroom cabinet, but the EOs are quickly taking over.  I mostly use DoTerra Essential oils, but I don’t sell them, and I do occasionally get oils from other companies.  I’m not into the EO wars happening on online forums, which say company A adulterates their product, or company B, or C is run by a quack.

The bottom line is that each person has to do her homework and decide what works for her family.

What are your “Top Three”?

Happy Sunday!!

Winter is making it’s final  roar, this early March.  At least I hope it’s the final roar.  I know our winter has been mild and short, but I so want my toes in the dirt!

Our cat decided my pot of lettuce seedlings in the window looked like a good place to do his business, so I took a deep breath, reigned in the urge to kill him, and dumped the contents in the snow covered knapweed patch above the driveway.   Guess I’ll have to start over.  I have to get the potting stuff out anyway, since I still haven’t started my peppers and tomatoes (I know, I’m so late!), but it is disappointing nonetheless.  Especially since that freeloading cat isn’t even a good enough mouser to earn his keep.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

Many hands make light work.  Who needs a bread machine?

Many hands make light work. Who needs a bread machine?

Mastering the fold. . .

Mastering the fold. . .

. . .and squish.

. . .and squish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Today, we’re all tucked snug into our little old farm house enjoying our Sunday.  I’m waiting for the bread we mixed up last night to finish it’s second rise, and the girls have made a “tiny house” in the living room.

Boxes for "walls" and couch cushions for "the bedroom"

Boxes for “walls” and couch cushions for “the bedroom”

Today is Daddy’s Birthday, so later we will join the family at the in-laws’ house for chili and fry bread, and cake.  Did you know that sometimes I cheat and use boxed cake mix?  It’s true, I do.  You may, however, take comfort in the fact that I use fresh homegrown eggs, and I don’t follow the directions.  I’m wild that way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Happy Sunday!