Blush: Lactation pre-birth

Any lactation that starts before the birth of the child is made up of colostrum, the nutrient-rich, high antibody early milk.

I noticed that I’ve been producing it for a while now, but I’m not sure when it started, as mine doesn’t really interfere with daily living. My nursing pads aren’t even wet.

I talked with another person who had nursed their first-born for 3 months, and he said that he had also started lactating early while pregnant with his second.

It is nice to know that it’s normal, although I was fairly certain that it was, especially given that I had nursed my toddler until Christmas (end of first trimester).

Anyways, I thought I’d take a look into the actual facts about lactating before giving birth and see what the professionals say.

I am very glad that I did.

Apparently, it is recommended that people who have gestational diabetes (GDM) express some of this early milk and freeze it in anticipation of the baby’s birth, because the baby will have a drop in blood sugar after birth (hypoglycemia) and the extra colostrum will help regulate the blood sugar levels much faster.

Umm…okay… I didn’t know that! Good thing I received some milk storage bags from Baby Box University. And I guess I know what I’m doing sooner rather than later. (I’m 37 weeks and 5 days as of the writing of this post.)

This is the pump that I have. I loved it with Dragon – hopefully I’ll still love it for Pegasus! Image from walmart.ca.

The other option, of course, is formula feeding.

But if I’m already producing a slight amount of colostrum, I’m definitely going to try to collect it!

And hey, if the only danger in doing so is inducing labour, at my stage of pregnancy, I’m REALLY not going to complain.

Please note: there are other risk factors in expressing milk early, including to people who are supposed to receive a caesarean, if there is excess weight gain, if the baby is too small, or if there is too much fluid in the womb. Expressing milk might also reduce blood flow to the womb.

If you are considering expressing milk pre-delivery, please talk to your healthcare professional before doing so.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

References

theconversation.com
nhs.uk

I can’t remember if I’ve done this

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m Bisexual… I have no idea if I’ve ever officially come out. It’s not something I talk about a lot unless I see Jason Momoa…

I’ve been attracted to all genders for as long as I can remember. The few same sex relationships I saw I could never understand why people made a big deal about. It wasn’t until I got older and people started to use Gay as a slur that I realized I wasn’t the norm. I didn’t have a word for what I was until university when I met other people in the LGBTQ+ community.

It wasn’t a positive interaction. I was told I was just confused and couldn’t choose a side. That I should come back if I decided to be gay. (Yep, a gay man actually told me that.) It wasn’t until I met some really good friends in my mid twenties that I realized I wasn’t just confused. Then I saw Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and it was great to see a character like me.

All that to say, if I hadn’t told you… I’m bisexual and to me that means I can be attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender.

For pride month, the wonderful Cait Gordon wrote an awesome tweet about me:

For #PrideMonth, I want to shout out some awesome books and authors. @EricDesmarais‘ YA series is based in a town called Baker’s City with Elizabeth Coderre solving paranormal mysteries in a Sherlock-esque sort of way! Book 2, Sign of Faust is an Aurora Award nominee! #AmReading pic.twitter.com/E6fX5368Dw— Cait Gordon 👽🍰♿️ (@CaitGAuthor) June 11, 2019

Thanks Cait!

And to everyone out there still trying to understand themselves, you’ll get there and there are people like you out there. Be brave and find friends who support you.

Later Days,

Éric

Blush: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

One of the benefits of being the author of this blog is if I have a question about my own health, researching doesn’t feel like a waste of time because I can then write about it.

One of the negatives of being the author of this blog is that everyone knows what is going on with my health. (Not that every post is about me. I usually say if it is.)

Good thing I don’t mind sharing?

So I’m pregnant.

Is anyone surprised? I guess you haven’t seen me lately.

I’m 35 weeks and 6 days today.

Image of myself pregnant, with my daughter happily reaching up to my belly.

It’s also our ten year anniversary, but that’s irrelevant to my health. I’m just excited about it and want to share.

The thing about being so close to the end of the pregnancy is that, well, you’re close to the end. Very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s so cool to feel movement from another being inside of you and you’re never alone (that doesn’t really go away if you have a clingy baby/toddler). On the other hand, you’re sore, it’s hard to move/roll over in bed, and the number of doctor’s appointments increases dramatically (a pain to get to and a pain to arrange around your schedule).

Today, I want to talk about soreness. Specifically the soreness that comes once hormones like relaxin kick in.

Relaxin is pretty great, to be perfectly honest. It’s the hormone that loosens the ligaments and muscles in the hips and pelvic region and allow for the human body to stretch enough to deliver a baby vaginally. Remember, the pelvic area, on a regular day, is only so big. The bones have to be able to accommodate the head and shoulders in order to push a baby out. Hence, relaxin.

However, relaxin starts its work in the third trimester (usually. Sometimes it’s early). So not only are you gaining extra weight from the baby gaining weight, but your ligaments and muscles are no longer supporting you the way that they did before. This can cause quite a lot of pain.

Enough that there’s a name for it.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

I’d like to make a quick note here that although this is most often referred to as a symptom of pregnancy, you can have it and not be pregnant.

So how can I minimize the pain from SPD?

Avoid triggers like standing or sitting for too long, crossing your legs, and lifting or pushing.

Whew. That’s a lot.

But you do a lot with your hips without realizing it.

Physiotherapy is very helpful. Your physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help to minimize the pain and recommend other ways of improving muscle function and joint stability.

Personally, the things I find the most helpful are icing the outside of my hips and doing Kegels. Even if it hurts at the beginning of my Kegel reps, by the time I get to rep 5-6, I feel so much better. Sleeping with a pillow between my knees has helped immensely as well, especially since I don’t normally lie on my side – I much prefer sleeping on my stomach. Not exactly an option right now for some reason.

I hope this helps those of you who are feeling pain, and for those who know me, it helps you understand why I wince every time I move to stand up or try to get into a car. (Widening legs or taking a big step is rather painful for me, especially at the end of the day.)

If you’re not in pain and don’t know me, I hope you at least found this interesting.


References

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Menstruation Changes Article

I read this article from Heathline yesterday, and I loved it so much that I’m going to recommend it for today’s post.

It’s all about how menstruation changes throughout a person’s life (and it uses neutral pronouns!).

Image from healthline.com.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Breaking Water

It occurred to me the other day that I don’t remember what to do if my water breaks. That didn’t happen with Dragon.

And hey, look at that, I need a topic for my Blush blog this week. If I’m going to research it anyways, might as well write about it, right?

What is the “water”?

Water. Image from shutterstock.com

In pregnancy, the water is the amniotic fluid that fills the sac that protects the baby in utero. This protection is both macroscopic (bumps and falls) and microscopic (keeps bacteria and other foreign microbes away from the baby).

How does water “break”?

The membranes of the amniotic sac tend to tear or rupture during labour, allowing for the amniotic fluid (water) to leave the body.

Will it be like in the movies, where there’s all of a sudden a huge pool of fluid on the ground?

Apparently this is rather rare (10-15% rupture before labour starts, and only a fraction of THOSE experience a gush of fluid). It will most likely feel like a sudden popping sensation followed by a slow trickle of fluid. Contractions are most likely going to be the first sign of labour, not the water breaking.

What’s the difference between “water” and urine?

The amniotic fluid is usually clear with a slight yellow or pink tinge and odourless (or sometimes sweet-smelling). If it is green or brown, it means the baby had a bowel movement and the health care team in charge should be notified. Urine is yellow (usually) and has a scent.

You can find out more about water breaking too early, what to do if labour doesn’t start, etc in the references. Check it out if you’re concerned or interested.


References

Today’s Parent
Baby centre
Mayo clinic
What to Expect


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: GDM

GDM, or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, has taken over my life.

In week 24, most OB’s/midwives recommend a blood sugar screening. You go in, drink an orange drink (I’ve heard there are other flavours, but the place I went to only had the one) that tastes like flat Orange Crush with 50 sugar packets added to it, wait an hour, and get your blood taken. They are testing your blood sugar level (at a higher accuracy than a diabetes monitor would be able to).

My results from that test came back at 8.4. The upper limit (to not have GDM) is 7.8.

So my OB had me go and do the whole thing again, but the two hour test this time.

The two hour test is slightly different. It must be a fasting test. They take your blood when you arrive before you drink, one hour in, and at the end of the two hours.

This time, one hour in, my blood sugar was at 12.2.

I had GDM.

Dammit.

Sugar cubes. Image from nytimes.com.

I was told this on April 5th. My appointment at the hospital with the nurse and nutritionist was on April 18th. I was given no further information.

Not wanting to endanger our unborn child more than necessary, we started doing research into how to control my blood sugar, and found the low GI diet.

Fortunately, not only was this very easy to follow (especially since I love veggies) but it ended up being the recommended diet to follow by the nutritionist that I saw two weeks later.

At the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist, I was given a diabetic monitor, test strips, and needles. (and a prescription for more of the latter two – thank goodness for insurance!) I was to prick my finger when I woke up and one hour after every meal (not snack).

Dragon insists on watching me do it and has started “pricking” her finger with a crayon and saying a random number.

I’m seeing the doctor at the hospital today, two weeks after the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist. She will hopefully say that my numbers are okay and I don’t need to go on insulin. We shall see. I’ve had a couple pretty weird readings.

On top of watching my blood sugars and eating a mildly strict diet, I also get to have more ultrasounds. One a month for the next two months, and then one a week until the baby arrives. These are to monitor his growth, to make sure he doesn’t get too big.

One of the biggest risk factors with GDM is the baby growing too large. Another is the risk of the pregnant parent developing type 2 diabetes in the future (ugh, fun).

I’m sure there will be more appointments that I’m not yet aware of. For someone with a toddler who sleeps until 11am and doesn’t have a car (but has awesome parents who give me access to theirs or drives me to the appointments, yes I know I’m very lucky), these extra appointments are very trying.

Let’s hope I don’t need insulin on top of the rest of this.


References

Diabetes Canada
Glycemic Index

Blush: Surrogacy in Canada

A few weeks ago, an article on surrogacy crossed my timeline. It was incredibly interesting to read; to get the perspectives of both the surrogates and the intended parents.

Image from
www.surrogacy.ca

The article states, at the end, that there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding the topic of surrogacy, and that the ethics surrounding surrogacy and gamete donation are still under debate.

Let’s clear up some misinformation:

In Canada, surrogates do not get paid. In fact, it is illegal to be paid to be a surrogate. There is usually allowance for expense reimbursement, and if the intended parents and surrogate agree to do IVF instead of traditional surrogacy (most surrogacies in Canada are done through IVF) then the expenses of that are paid by the intended parents. The bulk of expenses for surrogacy seem to be for legal fees and IVF.

Another myth is that it is hard for the surrogate to give up the baby at the end of the pregnancy. It has been found that, for the most part, the surrogates have no problems with this, as they are fully aware straight from the beginning that the child they are carrying is not theirs. (source)

If you do wish to either be a surrogate or have a surrogate, do your research. Evaluate your options. No matter your decision, I wish you the best!

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.


References

Surrogacy in Canada Online

The greatest gift (Parenting Times)

Surrogacy in Canada: What you need to know (Global News)

Blush: Chest pain during pregnancy

The past few nights, I have slept with my Teddy.

This is not my Teddy. This one looks more like Raoul, Dragon’s sleep bear. Image from www.chapters.indigo.ca

He was given to me by my grandfather when I was born, and he is VERY well worn. I haven’t really slept with him since I was a teenager (possibly earlier, but I don’t remember the exact age when I stopped cuddling him in my sleep).

So why am I all of a sudden cuddling him again?

Because yes. (Sorry. Inside joke.)

I am cuddling my Teddy because I need the extra support between my arms as I lie on my side, otherwise my rib cage feels like it’s being crushed. And Teddy is exactly the right size to give that support and allow for easy rolling over.

Chest pain was not something I experienced in my first pregnancy. Heartburn, yes. Feeling like my upper arm was too heavy and crushing my sternum, no.

This seems to be a fairly common symptom, or at least, it was easy to find a reason why I was feeling this way. The expanding uterus puts pressure on the diaphragm, causing the rib cage to widen. Poof, pain. It’ll go back to normal once the baby is here because my internal organs will go back to their normal places.

If I had to guess, I would say that the placement of the placenta is what is causing the differences between this pregnancy and the last. The last one, I had an anterior placenta (forwards), and this time it’s up top.

Differences:

  • last time, I couldn’t stand the pain and nausea of being on my stomach, even at the very beginning; this time, I have woken up on my stomach several times and the only thing that hurts is my back
  • last time, no chest pain; this time, chest definitely hurts
  • last time, baby was mostly on the right side of my body (I felt very lopsided in third trimester); this time, baby is hanging out at the very bottom almost constantly (we’ll see what happens in third trimester)
  • last time, didn’t really grow out very much; this time, I feel like I’m already the size I was when I delivered

Hmm…that last one doesn’t really fit the hypothesis – you’d think the anterior placenta would mean a bigger belly because it’s taking up more room.


Reference

UPMC

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: New game?

On March 4th, Global News* reported on a new interactive game* for mobile, called “Clit-Me”, designed to simulate different “techniques” to “satisfy” the clitoris avatar. Each of the five levels unlocks content and statistics on sexual satisfaction.

*Please note: gendered language is used throughout the article and game.

Image from globalnews.ca

This game was designed by eight interns at NFB’s Digital Studio in Montreal during their internship through the Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM). During their research into the statistics on clitoral orgasms, they discovered that only 62% reached climax with a first time partner compared to 85% of those with a penis. So they decided to build a game that might help to close that gap.

I played it. It’s cute. A little clunky at times (especially the multi-touch level), but cute. This game is only available on mobile devices.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Unconditional Surrender Statue

You may have heard that, following the death of George Mendonsa earlier this week, the statue depicting the iconic kiss at the announcement of Japan’s surrender at the end of WW2 was vandalized.

Statue depicting the iconic kiss at the announcement of Japan’s surrender and the end of WW2. The outside of the left leg of the nurse has been graffitied with “#METOO”.

I had heard that the nurse in the picture/statue had not known the sailor that had kissed her, but this vandalism made me curious to know more.

Fortunately, there is an article in The Smithsonian that had a chance to interview the nurse, Greta Zimmer Friedman. She died in 2016 at the age of 92. And while she remembers the event as “not romantic, but of celebration of the war being over” (paraphrasing), she also describes it as “not her choice to be kissed, the guy just came over and grabbed.” (paraphrasing).

Some interpret her statements as descriptions of sexual assault. However, Greta herself did not view it as assault, although she did understand the argument for it. (source NYT, as described by her son)
“[…]she made it clear the kiss was a “jubilant act” and “it was just an event of ‘thank god the war is over.'” ” (source BBC.com)

I am privileged to have grown up in a world that has not known war on the scale of WW2. I cannot imagine the relief, jubilation, and freedom that the announcement of the War being over would have caused.

No matter the cause of his excitement, or her retroactive approval, he should have asked for consent first. This isn’t a radical idea; simply respect others’ bodily autonomy. A quick question along the lines of, “Kiss?” or, “May I kiss you?”, would have had the same outcome.

Now, to get back to the vandalism of the statue, it cost $1000 USD to repair the damage.

The person who vandalized the statue was out of line. Although vandalism can be used as an effective, illegal, and destructive, form of protest, it feels disproportionate and disrespectful in this particular case. Damaging other’s property is against the law, no matter how much you disagree with the message.

It would have been better if they had printed a copy of the picture, graffitied on that, and taped it in front of the statue. Water soluble paint or chalk could have worked too. No damage done to anyone’s property, and the message would have gotten across.

Thoughts?


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.