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Things They Don’t Tell You About Having a Newborn September 10, 2010

Things They Don’t Tell You About Having a Baby


by Mary Renee Reuter

Breastfeeding and studying... It's not glamorous but somebody has to do it


1. Have a birth plan, but be prepared for it to be thrown out the window…


I did my research, I talked to other moms, I went to prepared birth classes and learned Lamaze breathing and pain management. I had five copies of my birth plan printed and ready to go, with one on the refrigerator too.

And then my due date came. And went. And then another week came and went. And even though I wanted to go natural they decided it would be best to induce me for the baby’s sake.

So instead of having regular contractions five minutes apart, mine were two minutes apart for 8 hours before I finally gave in and needed an epidural. And instead of a typical 18 hour labor, I was in labor for nearly 30 hours. When the baby’s heart rate dropped and couldn’t recover because my contractions were too close together, they almost demanded a c-section but luckily a second opinion came to the conclusion that they could pull her out faster, whether she was ready or not. After an hour of pushing (which I still wasn’t really sure if I was doing right, even when I was in the middle of doing it…) She was here!

Nothing went according to my birth plan. I didn’t want to be induced, I didn’t want pitocin, I wanted to try without pain medication, I wanted the baby to be immediately placed on my stomach. None of that happened.

Although you want what is best for your baby and although you trust the doctors to tell you that you MUST be your own advocate. One thing I indicated on my birth plan was that I didn’t want medical students observing the delivery. It’s my first baby and my you-know-what is up in the air with fetal monitoring tubes coming out of me and I don’t want some twenty-something-year-olds with clip boards staring at my vagina and taking notes during my most vulnerable moments.

I told the doctors this. I told the nurses this. I ended up telling the medical students who were STILL IN MY ROOM ANYWAY this. I kept saying I didn’t want them there, but they didn’t leave. The doctors explained that this is how they learn, ignoring my wishes. My boyfriend had to literally go over to them, put his finger in their faces (mind you, we had been in the hospital for 35 hours at this point) and say “You. You. And You. Get out of here. Out!” Which brings me to my next warning…

2. Doctors and nurses are great but women have been having babies since the beginning of time… 

Yes, doctors and nurses have seen hundred of births and went to school for a long time. They’re experts at knowing a lot about childbirth. But YOU are the one having the baby and women have been having babies without doctors forever so don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. And some doctors and nurses are better than others. Since I was in the hospital for 35 hours before Kali was born, I had two different night nurses and two different day nurses. The day nurses were far better than the night nurses.

The first night nurse that I saw did such a terrible job administering an IV that I lost so much blood there was a puddle of blood from my arm in the bed and on the floor next to me. I ended up passing out, coming to, and throwing up. She said “Maybe you’re just queasy at the sight of blood.” Uh, maybe there shouldn’t be a puddle of blood all over the room, woman!

Another nurse was ready to wheel me out of the room and cut me open and give me a cesarean until I was like “Who are you and where is my doctor?” You will want your significant other or your mother (or both – whichever is possible) to be there so they can be your advocate when you have tubes, contractions, and babies coming from every direction.

Secondly, if they hook you up to a fetal monitoring device, you have to stay in bed and not move for the whole time so avoid it! When the contractions hit, you’re going to want to move and change position so you can get comfortable but you can’t if you’re hooked up to a billion machines. They want to hook you up because it’s easier for them, but remember, this is YOUR labor and YOUR delivery, do what YOU think is best. You will find that alot of things that hospitals do (induction, fetal monitering, your position during delivery…) are for the convenience of the doctors, rather than the comfort of the patient.

3. Throw all modesty out the window… 

If you get an epidural, you’ll need a catheter. If your baby appears in distress, they might put a fetal monitoring device up there too. By the time you have your baby and your legs spread you might have two or three different wires up there. And then after you have the baby, a lady will take you in the bathroom and “show you how to pee.” Yep. And you’re like, what’s to it? I pee all the time, I’m pregnant. But now you just pushed a baby out and you need to recover. They will give you big mesh underpants, in which you will have both an ice pack and a diaper. And you’ll be so grateful for the relief of the icepack that you won’t even care that you’re pretty much wearing a diaper with an icepack inside. They also give you stool softeners just in case. On top of that they might give you a squirt bottle to rinse yourself off, especially if you tear. Yes, that happens.

Then, if you decide to breast feed, you will have your breasts out all the time. They are not cute little things you show off in a low cut top for sex appeal anymore. They are big and they’re only going to get bigger and you’re going to have to get them out all the time to feed your baby. And when your baby is hungry and cries, you can sometimes FEEL it in your breast because your body WANTS to feed them so you just want to get your boob out as fast as possible and get the baby on there and you won’t care. And nobody else will care that your boob is out. And a lactation consultant will probably come in the room at some point and she might even squeeze your nipple and shove it in the baby’s mouth a few times to show you how. Sexy, right? And your boyfriend or parents might even be sitting there watching. Haha. It’s ok! Get used to it! Which brings me to my next point…

4. Your baby will literally be attached to your breast 24/7… 

Mona Lisa was a new mother


Or at least it will feel like that. That was the biggest hurtle I had to overcome once baby was home from the hospital. Oh yeah, that’s another thing. They’re angels in the hospital. And they’re angels for the first few days. But once they’re two weeks old and they aren’t sleeping for the vast majority of the day, you might find that they want to eat constantly. From the time Kali was 2 weeks old until a little after 5 weeks, she wanted to eat every hour and a half for an hour each time. If you’ve already calculated that, it meant I had a half an hour in between feedings and that was it. Forget going to the store, forget seeing the sun, forget cooking or eating anything that takes longer than grabbing a granola bar, forget taking a shower or brushing my teeth. A half an hour was enough time to change her diaper, grab another water bottle, and take a quick pee before she was hungry again.

On top of that the pediatrician said she wasn’t gaining weight fast enough, so I felt like I was feeding her constantly but she still wasn’t eating enough. Turns out after seeing a lactation consultant, sometimes breastfed babies gain weight slightly slower, but she was absolutely fine she was just small to begin with. Make sure your pediatrician is an advocate of breastfeeding and make sure she’s aware of the differences. Weight charts are available at the Center for Decease Control website if you want to track your baby’s weight gain yourself.

Seeing a lactation consultant is an excellent thing to do. And you might read that before you have the baby and think, oh, breast feeding is just going to come naturally to me and my baby will be the perfect eater and we’ll be bonding and I won’t need any help. But it was such a comfort for me to see one just to know we were on the right track! Trust me, when you have a newborn, you will love that reassurance that you’re on the right track. It’s as good as gold to know you’re doing a good job at something you’ve never done before and no one is ever fully prepared for (except for in movies- in which the newborn is usually played by a three-month-old and the parents are seen magically out in public moving the plot along and you’re like… who is watching the baby?)

Honestly, there were times when I was ready to give up on the breast feeding thing and I had to hand her over to her father even though she was crying and just say “I need ten minutes, my nipples are so sore I feel like they’re going to fall off, I feel like I’m completely empty, I’m lightheaded and I’m about to go insane.” And then I would go to another room and cry because I felt so inadequate at caring for her. This is normal. It wasn’t until one morning I woke up and just decided to accept it. Instead of thinking “Why aren’t you eating every 3 hours like the book says? Why are you hungry all the time? What am I doing wrong?” I just decided to accept it and kept reminding myself that they’re only newborns a few weeks and it will get easier, but for now just keep going. Eventually her feedings started to spread apart and she started getting nice and chubby. Granted, my nipples still hurt (if you plan on breast feeding, plan on buying Lanolin for your nipples. You don’t want find yourself with nipples so sore they feel like they’re burning without any comfort.) But it gets less stressful.

I bought a “Hooter Hider” apron thing for when I’m in public but honestly? Before I had one I would pull my breast out and feed my baby without thinking twice because it’s really ridiculous to feel like you have to deny your baby food for someone ELSE’S comfort. Forget everybody else. You’re pretty much doing the most amazing thing humans can do. Anyone else who is uncomfortable can get over it. If it doesn’t bother you, don’t worry if it bothers anyone else.

Additionally, around two or three weeks babies can have a “fussy” period every evening. Sometimes this can be colic but other times they grow out of it in a few weeks. “Fussy” is a nice way of saying a cranky, crying, generally annoyed, unconsolable baby. You can change their diaper, feed them, change their clothes, do everything you can until you know they are perfectly fine – just wailing like they got their finger slammed in the door for no reason. It’s incredibly stressful but normal and they’re ok.

Every baby is different but I would usually take her outside, walk around (for what would feel like hours and hours) and sing to her. The change of location would work wonders sometimes (other times it did nothing). Hang in there! Baby’s cry! My dad says it’s just their way letting off some steam and airing their lungs out.

5. You will not be back in your pre-pregnancy clothes anytime soon… 

Well, I suppose this varies from person to person. But I was 115 lbs before I had this baby and wore a size two. I liked my shorts short and my shirts tight. I gained 40 pounds, which is only 5 or 10 pounds above the average recommended weight gain, but it’s a big difference from 115. The first 15 pounds came off easily. Half of that was the baby and the after birth, I guess. And then the other half of that first 15 came off breast feeding (because you’re not supposed to do too much exercising 6 weeks postpartum, and you won’t want to either).

Now that Kali is over 7 weeks old and I technically COULD exercise… but when would I fit it in between diaper changes and feedings and tummy time?

If you’re breast feeding, do not “diet”. Your baby will be less satisfied with your breast milk if you aren’t eating well and she will want to eat even more because the milk she’s getting isn’t as filling. But do take her on a walk outside of the house… if only to make yourself feel better. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my hips will never be the same again (and my ass won’t either) but I’m not ready to give up completely! I can’t give much advice on this one because I’m still struggling myself but I will say this: Go to Ross, buy yourself some jeans you feel comfortable in without worrying about the size, and a few tops you think you look good in, even if you’re hoping you won’t need them for long. I’m not going to be the same sexy 23 year old again, but I’m going to feel good about myself and that’s more realistic. And anyway I turned 24 in June.

6. Your In-Laws will drive you nuts.  

This goes for both sides. Your boyfriend’s mother will make you an expert on wanting to scream but smiling and saying “Mm hmm” instead. Your mother will have your boyfriend try to pick up every extra shift he can just to get out of the house. And all your sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, friends will want to hold the baby, but not change the diaper. And you won’t always get a shower or a fresh change of clothes on before they show up and want to take a million photos and immediately post them on facebook.

My only advice? Take advantage of all the help you can get. Don’t worry about “proving” that you’re good parents and can handle it on your own. You handle it all night long and you have the rest of this infancy (and the next 18 years) to handle it. If they offer to baby-sit, take advantage. If they want to hold the baby say “Fine by me!” And then jump in the shower at break-neck speed before anyone can stop you. And while you’re there go ahead and take a nice hot bath.

And say “Ok” or “That’s interesting” to people’s suggestions. You know your baby best and some of these people haven’t taken care of a baby in 30 years. Maybe then it was ok to give baby rice cereal when they’re only a month old or put honey on their pacifiers or put them to sleep on their stomachs but we know better now! (by the way, do NOT do any of those things)

Be polite enough that both you and your significant other can stand to look at each other after your family leaves, but don’t be so polite that you take their advice even if you don’t agree with it.

7. Buy a bouncer 

Ok, maybe you have heard this. And maybe in the first few weeks it won’t be as necessary. But when they’re 5 or 6 weeks old, they’ll start to be more interested in toys. Not playing with them at first, they’re still too little, but looking at them. The only way I get a shower in the morning is by putting Kali in the bouncer and taking it to the bathroom with me. She can be entertained by her blue plastic swinging friends for the fifteen minutes I need to get the spit up off me! And you’ll both feel much better afterward!

The play mat with the toys that hang down from the top is another excellent invention that can buy you a few minutes while baby entertains herself (under supervision) and even eventually gets some tummy time.

8. It is not about you. And it won’t be, maybe ever again. 

Sorry. Does that sound kind of harsh? Well, it’s something that you’re going to find out and it’s hard and nobody ever told me about it. When you’re pregnant everyone asks about you, they want to give you the seat on the bus and pull out the chair for you and they don’t care if you’re late for class they’re just showering you with praise for showing up in your condition (if you’re like me, and keep going to school until it’s already past your due date and you’re graduating a week after the baby is born). People throw you baby showers. Your boyfriend cooks for you.

Once the baby is born your job is to take care of the baby and nobody cares about you anymore and you don’t get showered with praise for waking up at midnight, and again at 3 AM and again at 5:30 AM to change poopy diapers and breastfeed for an hour even though you can hardly open your eyes. You won’t be going out and having that beer you’ve wanted for the last 9 months. You won’t be getting sleep. You won’t be taking showers or fitting back into cute clothes. Just forget about clothes for now because everything you own will be covered in spit-up and poop by two months.

And when people send gifts, it’s for the baby. When people see you on the street, they want to ask about the baby. Even the baby’s father will be so enamored with his new little angel that you might feel totally forgotten. You might want to say “Hey, remember me? I’m the one that pushed her out and carried her for nine months, she wouldn’t be here without me,” but he’ll be too busy picking out his features in her face and laughing over that adorable smile she gets when she’s about to poop that he actually has momentarily forgotten about you (although he’ll remember you as soon as she starts to cry and hand her right over!)

And you might even have flashbacks of your carefree youth, having an after-work cocktail with co-workers, that crazy concert you went to with your friends where you didn’t get back till sunrise, or that spur of the moment weekend beach trip. And you’ll realize that the freedom to do those things is gone now. And it’s kind of depressing.

But then you’ll wake up. Your baby will need his or her diaper changed and then she’ll want to eat and after she’s full and well-rested she’ll look up at you and smile because you’re her mommy and she knows it. Or she’ll look up and lock eyes with you while she’s feeding, or she’ll wake up from a nap so happy to see you. And smile. You will love that smile. And you’ll be willing to do anything in the world for that smile. When someone else holds her, she’ll act different than when you hold her. If you leave her with your mother-in-law she will look at you when you come back in the room or she hears your voice. You baby knows you. You are their whole life. And you and daddy will be your baby’s two favorite people in the whole world. Being a good mom will be way more rewarding. I mean, you just brought a whole brand new person in the world full of infinite potential.

And anyway, they’ll be 18 someday, so like everyone says, cherish it because they grow so fast!


So, I realize this is a lot to take in, but believe it or not, after a few weeks it all starts to come naturally. Hang in there, and if you have any questions, talk about it! I also depend on “Circle of Moms” or other message boards or mom groups constantly whenever I have questions. It can mean the world just to get reassurance that you’re normal. Don’t worry, you probably are! Now – enjoy those babies!


May 5, 2010 5:10pm

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Renee @ 5:19 am

Holding my daughter the day she was born

On May 5th, 2010 at 5:10 pm, Miss Mary The-Soon-To-Be-Mommy became Miss Mary The-NEW-Mommy when she gave birth to her 6 lbs 10 oz daughter, Kali.


Puberty 2.0 – Keeping Your Face Clear During Pregnancy March 25, 2010

Hormone changes can cause a variety of skin reactions during pregnancy – as if you didn’t have enough to worry about already. On top of that, some products and ingredients are off-limits, and it isn’t always clear what you can use and what you can’t use to wash your face during pregnancy.

What to Avoid

While trying to conduct my own research, I found a website that discouraged the use of products with SALICYLIC ACID, an ingredient commonly used in blemish fighting face washes to reduce the appearance of acne (also called beta hydroxy acid). Thinking I was being a cautious mommy, I decided to switch to a product that had BENZOYL PEROXIDE, a different acne-fighting ingredient. According to this particular website, there was not any proof that benzoyl peroxide could harm a fetus. Other websites said that the jury was still out.

Face wash containing salicyclic acid should be avoided by pregnant women

However, when I asked my ob/gyn about it at my next prenatal appointment, she strongly advised me to stop using products with the ingredient benzoyl peroxide as well. And as any good formerly-hormonal teenager knows, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the top two most commonly used ingredients in most acne fighting face washes. So what’s the deal with these ingredients and how serious is it?

The acid in salicylic acid, when taken orally, can cause birth defects similar to effect of someone taking aspirin early in their pregnancy (another no-no). If the acid used topically is allowed to absorb into the skin, it can reach the blood stream and get to the fetus. Because these products are designed to penetrate deep into the skin to remove oil, the likelihood of it being absorbed into the blood stream is higher.  

Many anti-aging products like this advertise the use of retinols, but should not be used by pregnant women

If you have been using these products topically, do not panic, further research is still needed to prove that these are absolutely off limits, and some Web sites, including www.babycenter.com, say that using small amounts (with less than 2% salicylic acid) once a day probably won’t cause any problems. The bottom line is that it is probably best for your baby and your peace of mind to avoid these products. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s only nine months.

Another ingredient you want to avoid is RETINOID. This substance comes with different names (retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid, retinyl) as has a variety of uses and therefore it is in a lot of different products. Many anti-aging face lotions include retinol due to its wrinkle-reducing qualities, while a lot of acne products, both oral and topical, include retinol for it’s acne fighting properties.

If you are taking anything with retinol orally, discontinue use immediately as it can cause birth defects in the fetus. Meanwhile, if you are using anything with this ingredient topically, it is best to play it safe and stop until you’re no longer pregnant.

  A Safe Alternative?

Cetaphil is a no-frills cleanser gentle enough for pregnant women

So what is a pregnant woman to do when that “glow” is glowing a little bit too much?

At this point I already had three full containers of face wash under my sink that I could no longer use, and although I have been blessed with pretty good skin, my t-zone could have used some freshening up. So I did what any frustrated soon-to-be-mommy out of ideas would do and I posted my dilemma online and asked every mother I knew what they suggested. This is what they said:

    Rubbing alcohol can be a safe alternative to toners but should not be used if you have dry skin

  1. Use a scrub with gentle ingredients for that super clean feeling. St. Ives Apricot Scrubs works, but do not use the one that says “blemish fighting” or “blackhead fighting” because they contain salicylic acid. Use the regular “invigorating” scrub to remove dead skin cells.
  2. Try a gentle regular face wash to remove make-up. I used Olay Foaming Face Wash for sensitive skin. Cetaphil is another brand that uses only gentle ingredients.
  3. Use a cotton ball with plain isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) on your t-zone as a toner, instead of the more expensive toners out there with harsher chemical ingredients.
  4. Finish with a gentle lotion or sunscreen if necessary. Sunscreen is deemed safe and is recommended for pregnant women whose skin may be more sensitive due to hormone fluctuation.

What to Wear (and How to Wear it!) When You’re Young and Pregnant January 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Renee @ 8:38 pm

People give you a lot of weird advice when you’re pregnant. Most of the time I find the solution is to just nod as you let it go in one ear and right out the other, but one thing that struck me as being completely unfeasible was something I heard from two veteran mothers regarding the subject of maternity clothes.

Their advice? Don’t buy them.

Now I’m not sure what the ratio of their pre-pregnancy bodies were, but I’m telling you that right now, at six months pregnant I couldn’t squeeze myself into my size two jeans if my life depended on it. Maybe at three months.

Before I get into all the ways to make your pre-pregnancy clothes last, I have one short statement. Buy maternity jeans. Even if it’s just one pair. You will be so glad you did and they’re so comfy. You don’t have to pay a fortune; I got mine for $11 at Ross, and “splurged” on a nicer pair for $27 at Sears. Additionally, I think everyone feels normal in jeans, and when every other part of you feels gigantic it can be such a relief to be able to throw some comfortable jeans on.

How to Make Regular Clothes into Maternity Clothes

Before I scare those of you still in your first trimester, that's my belly in the sixth month. You have a while till you're that big.

1.) The Rubber Band Button Method:

I can’t remember where I heard this, but it definitely helped me keep my regular jeans going in the earlier months. Ideally, your pants and shorts should continue to fit your legs, but your growing abdomen will quickly give you a problem. In order to keep wearing your favorite jeans without having to button them up, use a rubber band to give yourself a few more inches.

Step One: Wrap the rubber band around the button

Step Two: Pull the rubber band through the button hole

Step Three: Wrap it back around the button

***I don’t endorse wearing baby tees with this, that’s definitely a little too “walmart” for me, but any empire waist blouse, loose tee shirt, or free flowing shirt should conceal this button trick.

Drawstring skirt at Week 27

2.) Drawstring/Elastic Skirts

I am not sure why but skirts are awesome while you’re pregnant. You can still feel cute even if you also look like a walrus. With drawstring or elastic skirts, simply wear them below your abdomen.

3.) Fold-Over Yoga Pants – My New Best Friend

Yoga Pant, folded down in this photo but you can wear them either way

I bought these early in my pregnancy before I started to show and will continue to wear them afterwards. Not only are yoga pants comfy from hip to toe, but if you buy them in plain black or navy you can wear them with anything.

4.) Empire-Waist Dresses

Although your breast will also grow (in my case, from a B/C to a DD) many of the looser empire- waist dresses you wore before you were pregnant will still last throughout your pregnancy. I relied on these on the days I opened the closet to find that nothing fit anymore. One quick disclaimer: Now that’s I’m six months pregnant my abdomen is so big that some of the shorter versions of these dresses are no longer options without pants or leggings underneath.

Another trick I used was to pulling what used to be a short tube dress down under the bust to wear as a skirt under any blouse.


The important thing is to be comfortable. As you grow, this will be more and more difficult so soft loose cotton is your best bet. Even this former fashionista has been reformed. High Heels and corset tops can wait – it’s only nine months – not a lifetime. That said there’s also no reason not to embrace your favorite colors and patterns. Have fun, be comfortable, and don’t for one second be ashamed of that belly.


To Eat or Not To Eat… and What the Heck am I Supposed to Eat Anyway? October 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Renee @ 8:08 am
Tags: , , , , ,

When you finally get to the point where you are ready to tell people you are pregnant, you end up hearing enough bizarre advice, myths and old wives tales to write a really horrible ill-informed book.

“Don’t put your arms above your head!” (supposedly this makes the umbilical cord wrap around the baby’s neck, something that happens to one out of every four babies anyway)

“Girls steal their mother’s beauty” (ok, this one is just offensive)

“If a mother denies her craving, her baby will have a birthmark in the shape of the food” (does this include ice cream?)

But perhaps the advice that is simultaneously the most confusing and important is what you can eat and what you can’t eat when you are pregnant.


(as if you weren’t already hungry)

Eating is necessary to live, and it is even more necessary to carry a healthy baby, so naturally it was one of the first things to consider when one discovers they’re pregnant (after you put out your cigarette and lose the martini).

However, in this age of amazing advancements in medical knowledge and prenatal care, some of the information in medical journals and online sites is downright confusing. Some sites say to eat plenty of meat, but not lunch meat. Others praise the DHA in seafood, which the baby needs for brain development, but then warn that fish has mercury, which can cause a decrease in baby’s IQ. And after that, they tell you 6 grams a week is fine. Really? Do you want to risk it? What is the bottom line when it comes to what you should eat and what you should not?

How Fishy is Fish?

At work, I asked the bartender what kind of fish was safe for pregnant women. He said big fish, because small fish were more likely to carry a certain bacteria. I said that I thought it was big fish, because big fish eat small fish and therefore or more likely to have high levels of mercury. He said it’s actually the bacteria that’s dangerous, not the mercury.

THEN I asked a waitress, who also happens to be the mother of four healthy beautiful children. She said that it’s big fish you want to avoid because they’re more likely to carry mercury.

The verdict? The mama was right. Smaller fish are generally safer while the larger fish should be avoided. Some doctors allow 6 grams a tuna a week, but that too is a big fish.

And in case you were wondering, Mahi Mahi falls under the big fish category. I personally was really bummed.

Additionally, sushi is off limits. While smaller seafood is safe, everything must be cooked thoroughly. This goes for all other meat as well.

There are reasons why a pregnant woman should not ban seafood from her diet entirely. DHA, or omega 3 fatty acid, is found in shrimp, oily fish, flaxseed and walnuts. DHA is extremely beneficial for the development of a growing baby’s eye, brain, and spinal cord – and most women don’t get enough. If you are not getting enough, look for DHA supplements (sometimes eggs are DHA enriched) or ask your doctor for recommendations.

Just as a personal side note, cooked shrimp is totally fine. You don’t even have to limit it to six ounces. I specifically had to ask my doctor about that one. It’s hard enough giving up sushi, I can’t give up everything.

Meat – it’s what’s for dinner

Iron is another nutrient that’s vital for growing babies. Iron helps generate the blood supply, both yours and the baby’s. It is even more important to keep an eye on iron because many women don’t get enough, and many (myself included) are anemic. Where do you find iron? Unfortunately for this expectant mother (who could go her whole life without red meat aside from the occasional cook-out cheeseburger or baseball stadium hot dog) there’s a lot of iron in beef. Add that to the fact that protein is very important in the baby-making business, and you have a lot of steak dinners to splurge on. But make sure it’s well done, because undercooked meat is another big no-no for pregnant ladies.

But what about that hot dog? Like tuna, and mahi mahi, it’s kind of off-limits too. See, a lot of meat, including deli meats, lunch meats (you know, the sliced kind that’s really good on sandwiches and found in lunchables, and musubis?) and other meats are preserved with sodium nitrate which is not good for baby. Many doctors will say that like tuna, it ok in small amounts, but more than 6 ounces a week is not recommended.

However, not all is lost. Duck, soy products, spinach, potatoes, and dried fruits are also iron-rich, in addition to beef. Your doctor can also suggest an iron supplement, although it is usually easier for your body to extract nutrients from actual food. Furthermore, many delicious nuts are chock full of healthy protein that you don’t have to cook thoroughly. Peanut butter and jelly is sounding better and better, and wheat bread has plenty of healthy fiber.

Got Milk?

Calcium is also important for expectant mothers and their prenatal babies. Not only does it help grow their bones and teeth, but it also helps mama maintain a solid bone density and prevent osteoporosis. However, like fish and meat, there’s a small catch. All milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables must be of the pasteurized variety. If the regular nausea and risks associated with pregnancy weren’t enough, the last thing the expectant mother needs is harmful bacteria in her stomach and her baby’s.  In addition to cheese and milk, almonds, sesame seeds, soy products, green vegetables, broccoli, and some fortified juices have calcium.   Vitamin D, which you can get from being outdoors in the sun (finally, a fun one), milk, and egg yolks, is vital to the body’s absorption of calcium so make sure to get plenty of that as well.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock since biblical times, you should already know that alcohol is off limits. A study in Europe (go figure) has shown that drinking a glass of red wine a week when expecting is not harmful and can even have a calming effect on the baby (a relaxed mama makes a relaxed baby). While you’re free to form your own opinion on the validity of this study, I think it’s safe to say that you want to avoid, if not completely abstain for alcohol.

LA Times Article about a UK study suggesting light drinking during pregnancy is ok:


March of Dimes F.A.Q. on alcohol during pregnancy


But what about your morning cup of joe? Or your pre-night shift red bull? Or that Diet Pepsi/Mountain Dew with Lunch? Or even tea? Caffeine is another luxury that the expectant mother wants to avoid. And that’s caffeine in coffee, energy drinks, sodas, teas, and coffee flavored ice cream. It’s not that caffeine is necessarily in and of itself harmful to the baby, but it acts as a diuretic causing food to go straight through you too quickly for your body to absorb the nutrients that your baby needs. So while it won’t be devastating to have less than 80 milligrams of caffeine, you generally want to wean yourself off of it as best as you possibly can.


While I hate to be the bearer of bad news to coffee drinking, sushi-loving, medium rare steak-eating, mothers everywhere, there is good news. It’s only for nine months and it’s for the best cause you could think of!  So next time you feel like cursing all those happy people with their beer and hot dogs, just think of your baby.

For additional information, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” is an excellent source of helpful advice.



SURPRISE! October 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Renee @ 9:12 pm

The most important role a pink line has ever played in my life thus far

I’ll never forget the moment I found out I was pregnant.

I didn’t really think I was pregnant, mainly because I’m not that regular to begin with (Now in two short sentences I’ve managed to eliminate any potential male readers, but I honestly didn’t mean to) It wasn’t really until one of the fellow waitresses at work mentioned that she was late. What day is it? I thought to myself. Hmmmm.

“Come to think of it, I am too.” I said. She looked surprised and reminded me that I actually have a boyfriend and could possibly have something to worry about.

“Nah, I’m not worried. I’m never pregnant,” I replied. In hindsight, this is absolutely horrible rationalization for a 23-year-old college student. And I really wouldn’t have worried about it, except for she told me to buy a pregnancy test if not for me than for her, and call her as soon as I found out. But I didn’t plan to, and I went home to my apartment where I live with my boyfriend of three years, JR.

A couple minutes with JR and I realized I couldn’t wait, I had to go get that pregnancy test. So I rode my bike to Long’s, got a test, came home and peed.

Only JR didn’t know what I was doing.

I waited patiently, thinking of the handful of times in the past where I had been concerned and taken a test and then realized it was all for nothing. I thought of all those waits, and how I rarely actually waited with out taking a peek. I thought of how I always tried to mentally prepare myself for a positive result, with out really being able to think past the next three minutes.

And then I took a peek.

And there were two maroon lines. I mean dark maroon. I mean they weren’t even light pink, or faded, or questionable. They were two undeniable loud lines right in my face. And all the half-assed mental preparation immediately presented their true worthless nature as nothing could quite have prepared me for a truth this true.

My eyes widened, I gasped and I’m not really sure when I started breathing, but I somehow ended up both simultaneously leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor, and pacing back and forth all at the same time if I remember correctly.

For a brief moment (I’m mean like literally a split second) I thought of all the cutesy ways that people tell their significant other that they’re pregnant on television. Becky cooked Uncle Jessie miniature finger foods on Full House and eventually ended up telling him through the game of Pictionary. I think my parents went out to dinner.

I just shouted something completely intelligible. Most likely something along the lines of a cave woman. When that didn’t get his attention. I shouted his name, followed by more complete gibberish. He came down to the downstairs landing where the bathroom is,

“What?” he asked. I pointed to the bathroom. He peered inside and then looked at me with out having the slightest clue. I pointed to the bathroom again. Amazed that he couldn’t read my mind or notice the pregnancy test sitting on the sink. He looked in the bathroom and came back out.

“I’m [expletive] pregnant, JR!” I finally yelled. He SMILED!!!

And I have to apologize to my baby for cursing when I first announced his/her existence in this world, but I have never been that surprised or dealt with anything quite that life changing ever before, so I hope you can forgive me.

I’m only human. And the truth is that I’m a college senior that supposed to graduate in May, roughly a week after you’re due, and a part-time waitress living paycheck to paycheck with her boyfriend 5,000 miles away from her family.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love you more than anything already. I was just really surprised. And a little overwhelmed. And I still had homework due but that was the last thing on my mind.


Yes, I was completely nervous about telling my parents. But when I told my (Catholic) dad, he was calm and supportive. He called you a blessing in disguise. I was flabbergasted and eternally grateful for his kind and loving reaction. He was at a party the first time I called, so I told him to have fun and I’d tell him later, worried my news might preoccupy him.

My mom, as always, just wanted me to be happy.


It probably wasn’t until I saw you on the screen that it really hit me. I think in another sense it won’t hit me till you’re actually here, but when I saw you on that screen at my first prenatal visit when I was ten weeks along, my mouth dropped open and tears filled my eyes before the doctor could even say,

“and there’s baby…”

“Whoah,” said JR, and he reached up for my hand. He later admitted that he expected you to look like a blob, and not like a baby. But there you were. A real baby. With a head and a body and arms and legs, moving and rolling around.

I think that’s what surprised me the most. You always see sonogram photos and they’re always still. I never saw a sonogram where the baby was moving his/her arms and stretching his back and rolling around like that. You’re so rambunctious!

“Baby is so active! I can’t get it to stay still long enough for me to get an accurate measurment,” the doctor said. Maybe you just wanted to give me a little bit longer to look at you.

“That’s a good thing. It means he’s very healthy,” she said, noticing that my mouth was still open, half covered by my hand in pure astonishment, “It’s a miracle every time.”


And it is. But readers of this blog will soon find out that I’m probably not exactly your typical pregnant woman of the 21st century. Or maybe I’ll find out that I AM the typical pregnant woman of the 21st century.

A little surprised, a little overwhelmed, a little ill-prepared, but dedicated to learning as much as I can before you get here. You got me, babe. In the words of Olivia Newton John “I’m hopelessly devoted to you.” And my goal with these entries is to help other mothers that might find themselves in a similar position.

Because who can honestly they said they know everything there is to know about making babies? Who can honestly say that they were 100% prepared to carry a baby for nine months?

My goal is to share what I come to find out on this journey and welcome all women, married, unmarried, underaged, overaged, rich, poor, purple, pink, blue and everyone in between to learn a little bit more so we can do what is best for ourselves, our babies, and our loved ones.


Miss Mary is going to be a Mommy.

Holy crap. I mean cow. Holy cow.