Wednesday, July 18, 2007



BODY: Vision Quest
Your eyes do not deceive you: Your uterus is still growing (and you thought there was no more room!) and is around five inches above your navel now. But wait…are your eyes actually deceiving you…or at least, playing tricks on you? Many women discover that their vision seems less sharp during pregnancy, or that their contact lenses are less comfortable than they used to be. Pregnancy hormones do more to your body than meets the eye, yet they also do plenty to your eyes. They affect not only your digestive tract and your ligaments (not to mention your reproductive organs), but also cause a decrease in tear production, leading to eye dryness, irritation, and discomfort. What's more, the same fluid buildup that causes your ankles to swell can also cause the curvature of your eye to change. You may find wearing glasses rather than contact lenses to be more comfortable during your pregnancy. These eye changes are temporary conditions, and vision usually returns to normal after delivery (so no need to get a new prescription). Do keep in mind that certain more serious vision problems can be a sign of gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, so be sure to mention any vision changes to your practitioner.

BABY: A Rising Doughboy (or Girl)
Your baby could be as tall as 20 inches right now and about five pounds. Need a visual? Hold a five-pound bag of flour in your arms and imagine it's your soon-to-be-born baby (cradle it, and you'll only get strange looks in the baking aisle). Then stack three such bags one on top of the other (and get ready for some more strange looks, maybe from the same clerks who saw you grinning and holding that one-pound box of sugar a few weeks ago). That's how tall your baby is now. (Now go bake some oatmeal raisin cookies with all that flour!) If your little doughboy is, well, a boy, then you'll be pleased to know that this week his testicles are making their way down from his abdomen to his scrotum. (Some baby boys — three to four percent — are born with undescended testicles, but they usually make the trip down sometime before the first birthday.). Your baby's fingernails now reach the end of the fingertips and may even curl over the tip, making a manicure one of the first things you'll need to do for your little bundle.

EXTRA: A Cheeky Trick
Look in the mirror — is that you or Alvin the Chipmunk? If your cheeks are looking as round as your belly these days, you're in good company — most expectant women start sporting that gathering-nuts-for-the-winter look in their third trimester. Though you may not really rediscover your cheekbones until after delivery, you can pretend that you have with these makeup tricks: Dot some concealer along the sides of your nose and brush a light shade of blush or bronzer along the center length of your nose. (That slims your nose to take the attention off it.) Next, apply a light shade of blush onto the apples of your cheeks; then, following the line of your cheekbones, apply a sheer sweep of a slightly deeper shade. Blend the two and smile — you're gorgeous.

EXTRA: Dear Baby…
You've got so many hopes and dreams about your baby, and each one is worth remembering and sharing. Record them (before you forget) by writing a letter — or a series of letters — to your baby. Feel a little funny writing to a fetus — and one you've never met? Don't, just speak from the heart. Start by visualizing your baby, and writing down what you see in your mind's eye. (Gorgeous, of course! Brilliant, duh !) Talk about what this pregnancy means to you, and how it's changing your body and your world. Recount the foods you craved (the cheese, grape jelly, and pickle sandwiches) and the lengths you went to satisfy those cravings (driving six miles out of the way to the one deli that would make it). Relay how you chose your baby's name (you have chosen it by now, haven't you?) or the colors for the nursery. Share your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant; when you felt those first kicks; when you found out your baby's sex (if you have). Imagine what your future will be like together (do you see yourself pushing a swing in the park, tossing a football on the front lawn, baking muffins in the kitchen), and what your baby's future might be like. (A movie star? A scientist? The president — dream big!) Open up your heart, put the contents on paper — and seal it with a kiss. Your letter to your baby is certain to become one of your most treasured possessions — and eventually, your child's.

DAD: Get Packing
It's time: Pack the overnight bag for the hospital together. She no doubt knows what she needs, but she's likely to forget something in her excitement and anxiety. Print out the Packing for the Hospital Checklist, talk about what personal items she wants included, and double-check that everything is in the suitcase. Don't forget a few CDs of her favorite music — and maybe a deck of cards in case her labor takes a long, long time.


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