Thursday, June 28, 2007

Family Portrait

Awwwww... Feel the loooooooooooveeeeeeee... :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Had a gyn appointment today, so went with the mage. Today was the third pictorial sonogram session, and everything looks just fine. The growth is as it should be for 31 weeks, and based on the stats Deirdre weights 4 pounds. Again, the doctor confirmed she is indeed a girl. And all in all, I’ve only earned 6 pounds so far, so things are very much under control (hope that THAT keeps up!). Showed him the stats of the lab tests I had to do for the insurance thing, and what I thought was bad (high cholesterol and tri) turns out to be normal and fine because of the pregnancy. Having the sugar under control has been a curse, a pain in the neck, a stormy ordeal… but with the help, support and iron will of the Mage it all has been done successfully. He has the full credit, I would have surrendered to junk food on my own… Battling me has not been easy.

So, the girl has been a daysleeper, being a bit feisty at nights. A vampire in the making? LOL I’m thinking of taking vacations after the maternity leave so I get to take care of her until January. I think newborns should only be taken care of by their parents, no strangers allowed. We will see how that turns out. It is already a headache thinking who/how will take care of Deirdre while we both work... But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

All sonograms are together, now I need to try scanning them so I can at least put a face to Deidre in here! :P Problems with the cameras and missing cables have kept me from even updating the fotologs... Hopefully something will be done soon. In the meanwhile, reviewing the What to Expect book for the seventh month, and taking some Tums so heartburn is gone... true story.


Monday, June 25, 2007



BODY: Shortness of Breath
Movin' on up, your uterus can now be felt four inches above your belly button. This means that your uterus is pushing all the internal organs that used to be there somewhere else. So your stomach feels like it's in your chest and your lungs feel like… hmmm… they don't even feel like they're there anymore — do they? That could explain why you're feeling a little spare on air lately, don't you think? Indeed, in an effort to provide spacious-enough accommodations for your soon-to-be bouncing baby boy or girl, your growing uterus has compressed your lungs, limiting their ability to fully expand when you take a breath and causing you to feel like you've just run a marathon when you've only climbed a flight of stairs. While this shortness of breath may feel very uncomfortable to you, your baby is blissfully unaware and unaffected. Your fetus gets all the oxygen it needs through the placenta. So relax and take a deep breath (if you can). That out-of-breath feeling may get better toward the end of your pregnancy, when your baby (and its uterine home) drops down into your pelvis in preparation for delivery. Until then, be sure to stand as straight as you can (given the weight you're carrying around) and sleep propped up or on your side so that your lungs have more space to… well, breathe.

BABY: Thumbs Up
As far as growth goes, your baby's still on a roll, measuring an impressive 18 inches and weighing in at more than three pounds. You can still expect your baby to gain at least three to five pounds, possibly more, before you two meet. Your baby's brain is working overtime these days, developing faster than ever. Connections between individual nerve cells are growing at a frenetic clip, and your baby can now perceive information from all five senses. Sure, your baby can't smell anything right now, but that's only because he or she is still submerged in amniotic fluid and needs to be breathing air to get a whiff of anything. Lucky for you — and your baby — yours will be one of the very first scents your baby breathes in, a scent that will quickly become his or her very favorite. So what's your little dove doing all day while you're busy feathering your nest for his or her arrival? Making faces, hiccupping, swallowing, breathing, pedaling with little hands and feet along your uterine wall, and even sucking his or her thumb. In fact, some babies suck their thumbs so vigorously while in the womb that they're born with a callus on their thumb (what a little sucker!).

EXTRA: Basking in the Afterglow?
Parental lovemaking and orgasm can have an interesting effect on babies in the womb, as you may have noticed. Some babies are very quiet after their parents have a session in the sack (rocked to sleep by the rhythmic movement, perhaps) while others become frisky themselves (hey, where's the party?). Both responses are completely normal and in no way indicate that baby is aware of the goings-on…just that he or she is having fun going along for the ride. So keep on enjoying your sex life — and your orgasms — as much as you like. And for as long as you can (which, with your practitioner's approval and a few advanced Twister-type moves, can be right up until delivery day). After all, pretty soon making love with a baby in the house won't be quite so easy or convenient.

DAD: Who, Me?
Abdominal pain? Leg cramps? Cravings for ice cream? You might be experiencing "Couvade syndrome," a common condition in which the male partner experiences pregnancy-like symptoms. Rationalize the cause — sympathy (you wish you could feel her pain, and so you do), anxiety (you're stressed about becoming a father), or jealousy (she's getting center stage, you'd like to share it) — and take action to counteract it. Find other ways of expressing your sympathy, preferably ones that give her a chance to rest, such as talking about the anxiety with your partner and other fathers, or getting more involved with the pregnancy so you won't feel left out. Keep in mind this other possible cause: Men (and other males of the animal kingdom) experience surges in female hormones when their mates are pregnant, as well as right after delivery — which could be nature's way of bringing out the nurturer in you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Silent...but certain

Deirdre had me worried for almost two days, as I didn’t felt her from Thursday to Friday night. She was quite feisty moving too much the days before… I guess she was really disturbed… By Friday night she came back to normal, being her lovely self, kicking just as I finished my daily bowl of Cheerios and milk.

The breathing thing is true, I find myself reaching for air, almost gasping at all times. The weekend was really bad thanks to the never-ending dust from the Sahara, which also leaves me with allergy… The heat and humidity is too much. Almost hourly I would have to go to the bathroom and splash water on my face and arms and torso, as I felt overheated… Summer promises to be a bitch… especially without A/C.

I really feel like staying at home, doing nothing but being in bed. The office is burdening me, plus my eyes close at all times… I am not resting all I need to rest, and it is all getting worst. I need to stretch myself to the limit… I cannot spend days at home without it being necessary, I need to leave days for sickness and doctors appointments… But God, I just want to be in bed… It is so bad having to do everything because money is needed… It is so bad feeling there’s no way out…

Life goes on…



Your Body: Heartburn
Only ten more weeks to go! And what an interesting ten weeks it'll be. Many of the early pregnancy symptoms you thought you'd put behind you are coming back to haunt you: like the need to pee all the time (because your baby's head is now pressing on your bladder), along with the tender breasts (as they gear up for milk production), the fatigue, and the heartburn. And no one — not even a regular at the corner greasy spoon — does heartburn like a third-trimester pregnant woman (except, of course, a pregnant woman who's a regular at the corner greasy spoon). During pregnancy, the muscle at the top of the stomach that usually prevents digestive acids from splashing up into the esophagus relaxes (like all those other muscles in your digestive tract), allowing digestive juices to back up. That's the burning sensation you feel when heartburn strikes. Add to that your now gigantic uterus, which has taken over your abdominal cavity, forcing your stomach to practically reach your throat, and you've got good reason to be feeling the burn. So how do you spell relief for pregnancy heartburn? Among other things, avoid foods that can cause digestive discomfort (spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, chocolate), eat smaller meals, and don't lie down while eating or right after eating. And, of course, keep a supply of Tums or Rolaids (which also give you a healthy bonus of calcium while they ease the burn) at popping distance. Fortunately, once your baby is born, heartburn will be a thing of the past (at least until you try to gobble dinner during a colic marathon).

BABY: Making Headway
Your baby's height and weight haven't changed much in the past week, but the big news is your baby's brain gain. Until now, the surface of your baby's brain was smooth. Now, your fetus's brain is taking on those characteristic grooves and indentations. The reason for this change in appearance? Those wrinkles allow for an increased amount of brain tissue — a necessary change as your baby prepares for life outside your womb, and the street smarts he or she will need. Another big change this week: Your baby's bone marrow has taken over production of red blood cells (before, tissue groups and then the spleen took care of producing the blood cells). This is an important step for your baby, because it means he or she is better able to thrive on his or her own once born (with a little TLC from you, of course). So it's in with the new (brain cells, red blood cells) and out with the old (lanugo). Much of the lanugo — the soft, downy hair covering your baby's body — is beginning to disappear now because both fat and the brain are regulating your baby's body temperature (so no need for that furry coat anymore). But you may see a few leftover strands of fur on your newborn's back and shoulders.

Looking Good: That's Just Swell!
Do your legs look like tree trunks? Swollen feet and ankles may not be sexy, but it's what most pregnant women are wearing in any given season (especially in summer). To reduce that puffy look — which gets puffier when you're overheated, or when you've been sitting or standing for a long time — try to take a five-minute walk around your house or office at least once an hour. (A quick dance works, too, and may take your mind off your fat feet, so crank up the tunes, Mama!) When it's time to put your feet up, really put them up (as in, elevate them as much as you can when you're sitting down — even at the office). Drinking plenty of water will also, paradoxically, ease the fluid retention — but if it seems excessive or suddenly gets worse, check with your practitioner.

Extra: Banking Baby's Blood
The big day is coming, so here's a big question: What is cord blood, and should you consider banking or donating your baby's? First, a definition: Cord blood is what remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. So why is this blood so important? Because cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat certain diseases, such as cancers. This safe and painless procedure is performed just after the baby is born (all it takes is about five minutes). More and more parents are saving their baby's cord blood, either for donation to a public facility so the cells can be used by others in need, or for private storage so it's available should the need arise within their own family. Whichever you choose (and it's okay if you choose not to at all), you should talk to your practitioner about it now, so all the necessary prep work can be done.

For DAD: The Last Ten Weeks
You both have that delivery date on your mind (and marked in your calendar in red), but don't forget she's got a much more intimidating experience in her future than you do. Anytime there's an opportunity, take her mind off her worries by indulging her and helping her relax. Get her talking about how exciting the next months will be. Impress her by washing and putting away all the baby clothes people have been giving you. Or impress her by putting the crib together. Want to really impress her? Bring home a few new items for the layette. (If you don't know what that is by now, you haven't been paying attention.)

Friday, June 15, 2007


Well... I love Skellanimals, and they will be part of the nursery decor, but to get into the ambience of the whole cuteness of pregnancy and the merry desires for hoarding... erm, partying... I changed this site's layout to something more into the baby shower theme... Yes, it's HelloKitty... A very girly thing... But we all know how cool Kitty can be, she's a cool cat! And so, she joined the cruise of infamous Captain Sparrow and headed to the Caribbean! Pirates and cats... What else can a little girly baby ask for?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Steaming Off!

Today was the fourth class of the Birthing Prep 101… An actual nurse was there and gave all main details of what goes on from contractions to delivery. Nothin g new, but a nice recap on everything with many funny moments. The companion must remember some tips to make it through the birthing process in one piece, so I hope the Mage took many mental notes… As usual, comments from my dear peers make me feel I am an alien, but whatever… I rather be a realistic blunt bitch than a pink faerie that has no idea who Tinkerbell REALLY is. Oh, yeah, they showed a movie where a baby was being pushed out and the exclamation from the first row stating “How cute!” deserved an instant WTF. Cute? Well, if you are into larvas… yeah, cute larva. LOL Oh, well…

I’ll never get the cuteness of it all, or the wonder and excitement that these women see in the beautiful journey towards bringing a bundle of joy into the world… Where they think “beautiful wondrous belly” I think “Damn, your weight is killing me”. Where they think “Oh, I’ll bring a new life into the world”, I think “Yes, please, let it come out ASAP! Finally get it over with!”. Where they think “Babies smell so good, babies are so cute” I think “Babies are too much work, loud, noisy, and in the end turn out as ungrateful bitches or bastards that go on with their lives and in the end don’t really remember to honour their parents!” Ugh…

Ok… I’ll try to lighten up… I just hate all this crap that women have in their heads, because they have been designed by culture to simply have the main purpose in life of delivering babies… I cannot romantize the idea of what motherhood is. Facts are facts. It is all a sacrifice that you do and that won’t be fully appreciated in any way. It is all a big responsibility that most forget as soon as they start school, leaving school to play parenthood with kids and young adults… The idea of living forever thanks to the memories and knowledge that you pass on to the newest generation is very valid, the idea of making a difference through the way you raise your offspring or the so called “future of this world” is very valid, the idea of sacrificing everything you are or everything you have for offspring is not. Here the more a mother suffers and ties herself to children the more they are valued… Ah, the ways towards martyrdom… Women forget to live for themselves, their dreams and goals, theirs aspirations… choosing to live through their children what they couldn’t live or refuse to do simply because of fear of going against what has been established.

So it’s been said that NOW I should understand and that NOW I will be able to see the world in a different way… Hmm… That’s the problem with people. Just because they don’t know WHO they really are and what they REALLY want that doesn’t mean that I have been that way all along. I cannot see anything differently because I know who I am, what I am, what I want to do, how is life, what is right and what is true freedom. More than once I have given advise that fall in deaf ears because I didn’t knew better, because I was not a mother. Guess what? I still think the same, and years later I see that after trying things the hard way people in the end have done the logical things I stated at first but they dismissed as useless facts… I may not have been a mother, but I have always had a brain, knowledge and imagination… A deadly combination that more often than not SOLVES PROBLEMS.

My way of seeing/viewing/enjoying the world won’t change because of a child being born. I will just get the chance to put to practice all I know, to help someone develop a sense of self and worth so she can go out into the world ready for many battles. When will people see that pink clothing filled with ruffles and bunnies that she should not mess up doesn’t really help a little girl as much as a nice pair of jeans, a t-shirt and an adult that actually is willing to play with her in the mud? Or play at all… and not video games, but games of imagination, games under the sun or under the stars? The simple things that leads to sanity, stability, happiness and sense of worth… the simple things that our modern society spurns each day… I believe in simple things, for they are the most complicated priceless things. Ancient wisdom that falls in deaf ears most of the time…

Deirdre has been less feisty, seems the pirates calmed he down… LOL Been kicking but not spinning too much. Finally going back to being less stressed… Sides of the tummy still feel sore, damn the pushing the doc did on Monday… She told the Mage I should be feeling contractions… Well, no… no contractions… its all called being sore from being a guinea pig! During all this time I’ve felt nothing bothering this way, although I have complained about fatigue, back pain, and exhaustion… and endless nausea. All in all, so far I’ve had no varicose veins, no swelling, no linea negra, no huge belly, no weird side effects… I started acknowledging Deirdre’s moves I think a month ago… And that’s about it. My belly had not bothered me in any way until the last three days, after the almost-alien-dissection session… So I’m glad the swollen sides are going back to normal, it bothered sleep too much. Hopefully I will get a full night rest tonight.



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tossing & turning & puking and loathing at Anthill

On Sunday made the great mistake of eating a grapefruit. It was cold and sour (just how I love it), and so I dig it with great delight… only to be constricting myself with pain half an hour later… Ugh! It was enough to disturb the whole day… Just managed to stay put, trying to be calm and serene about it.

Had an appointment at the GYN yesterday, and everything is just fine. Went to see the other doctor, and she kinda went overboard on the “feeling your baby” crash course… Her pushing and pulling of poor Deidre left her quite upset an irritated… I’ve been feeling nonstop nausea and vomiting everything that comes in to my stomach ever since I left her office… And Deirdre has been feisty, kicking all over and being quite upset…

Today was the 3rd course of “Labor Prep 101”… We barely arrived in time, and Deirdre’s misbehavior had me in pain, sweating cold and feeling overall blah… more blah than usual. Went to eat something at auntie’s… not much since I feel like throwing up everything… And finally arrived to my dear controlled environment… my office.

Feeling like crap, wanting to be in bed, in cold and unconscious for quite a while… Hopefully the bed part will come true soon. My belly feel quite sore, and Deirdre is restless… Sheesh… I’ll definitively put in practice the “STAY AWAY FROM MY BELLY” law… This kind of disturbance is quite a pain in the woohoo…



Mom: Varicose Veins
Your belly is probably large enough now that you can't see your legs anymore when you're standing. And that could be a good thing if you're like the nearly 40 percent of pregnant women who develop varicose veins sometime during their pregnancy. Who wants to see that, anyway? Varicose veins, swollen veins that can either develop or worsen in pregnancy, are rarely cause for concern — perhaps just cause for putting away the miniskirts for a couple months. They pop up because of the increased blood volume during pregnancy, because your growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic veins, and because of the relaxation of the veins due to pregnancy hormones. Varicose veins can also occur in your rectum (hemorrhoids) or even your vulva (isn't that a pretty thought?) — fortunately, two other places you'll be hard-pressed to see them. (Don't confuse varicose veins with those less than attractive purplish-red spider veins, which resemble — you guessed it — spiders. Spider veins result from hormone changes and usually fade after delivery.) Some pregnant women find varicose veins painful, while others have no discomfort at all. Like stretch marks, they're passed on from unhappy generation to unhappy generation (so if your mother had varicose veins during pregnancy, chances are you'll have them, too). Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or minimize varicose veins. Your best bet is to keep your circulation going by avoiding standing or sitting for a long time and by being sure to get in some daily exercise. Special support hose can also be helpful. Most of the time, varicose veins will recede within a few months after delivery.

Baby: Putting on the Pounds and the Padding
Your baby is almost 17 inches tall now (nearly as tall as he or she will be at birth), and close to three pounds (a weight that will likely more than double — and may even come close to tripling — by delivery time). His or her wrinkled skin is smoothing out as more fat is deposited under the skin surface. This fat, called white fat, is different from the earlier brown fat that your baby accumulated. Brown fat is necessary for body temperature regulation while white fat (the fat you have, Mom) actually serves as an energy source. Which explains why your energizer baby feels so…well…energized! Space in your baby's living quarters is now at a premium, so you'll be feeling jabs and pokes from elbows and knees mostly. But those kicks will be more vigorous than before (and also less erratic) because your baby is stronger and excitedly responding to all sorts of stimuli — movement, sounds, light, and that candy bar you ate half an hour ago. Luckily, your baby doesn't have teeth yet that would need a brushing after that sugary treat, but it won't be long before you'll need to buy that first baby toothbrush! You'll recall that your baby's baby-teeth buds formed weeks ago, but now the buds for permanent teeth are forming in his or her gums as well. And back to those kicks, who's counting? Actually, you should be. Now's a good time to start doing a kick count twice a day to make sure baby's doing just fine (plus, it's a good excuse for a rest). Lie down (preferably after a snack) and keep track of your baby's movements. You're looking for at least ten movements in an hour's time (don't forget to count movements of any kind — kicks, flutters, swishes, rolls, and so on).

Every Kick Counts
Have you gotten your kicks today? Once you've passed week 28, you should be getting them every day. To make sure that you do — and to make sure that everything's A-OK in your belly — make a habit of counting your baby's kicks twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Best to do your counting lying down (since babies are more likely to kick up when Mom's lying down — a pattern they tend to continue after they're born). If you can't lie down, sit. Count any and all movements (even swishes and rolls) until you hit ten. If you haven't reached ten within an hour (your little Rockette may just be on her break right now), have a light snack and try again — that blood-sugar rush is likely to get baby on the move again. Just remember that fewer than ten movements within two hours warrants a call to your practitioner. Chances are everything's fine, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

DAD: Attitude Adjustment
Have you been staying up all night thinking about all the things you won't be able to do once the baby arrives — seeing the world, taking up exotic hobbies, getting that golf handicap down, or even just going out at night whenever the urge hits? Time for an attitude adjustment. Instead of thinking of what you won't have in your life any more (or won't have as much opportunity for), start thinking of what you will have in your life: A very special little person to share it with. Will your life be different (your favorite hobby becomes blowing raspberries on that chubby little belly; your late nights involve rocking instead of dancing)? Absolutely. Will it be better? Immeasurably.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle twinkle little star,
how I wonder what you are?
Up above the world so high ,
like a diamond in the sky

When the blazing sun is gone,
when he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
twinkle, twinkle all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
if you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
and often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
'till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark
lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are
- twinkle, twinkle little star.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Pregnancy, Babies, and Your Cat

By Gary Loewenthal, from (courtesy of LightShadow)

Expecting a Baby?
You do NOT have to get rid of your cat!

Now that I have your attention: Pregnancy when you have a cat presents some challenges, but don't worry, none of them are even remotely insurmountable. You just need a little planning and know-how. Cats and babies have coexisted peacefully for thousands of years. This article deals with preparing for a new baby; the second part of this series discusses what to do once baby arrives.

1. Common questions and myths. No, cats do not suck the air out of a baby; that is an old wives tale. Yes, it is theoretically possible for a cat to inadvertently suffocate a baby, although there are no reliable reports of that ever occurring, and it's easy enough to block kitty's access to the crib (more details below).

2. Toxoplasmosis. Because toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects in children, pregnant women sometimes assume that they must get rid of their cat. This is entirely unnecessary, as a few simple measures will thoroughly safeguard against catching the disease, especially from your cat. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can infect your cat if she eats prey already harboring the parasite or comes into contact with contaminated soil. Toxoplasmosis is rare among indoor-only cats. Note that cats who contract toxoplasmosis do not always show symptoms. To prevent getting infected with the disease, whenever you scoop or clean the litter box, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands immediately afterward. Even better, get a friend or adult member of the family to take over litter box maintenance while Mom is pregnant.

3. Eating raw or undercooked meat is the most common way that humans contract toxoplasmosis. If you eat meat, wash off all surfaces and utensils that touched raw meat, and don't prepare meat and raw foods like salads on the same cutting board. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.

4. If you garden, wear gloves when working in the soil. The toxoplasmosis parasite lives in the dirt, so also wash your hands well after gardening. Many people naturally acquire an immunity to toxoplasmosis, and will not pass it on to their unborn child. Your doctor can test to see if you are in this group.

Planning Ahead for the Introduction
Let's look now at how we can get your cat to accept your new baby with open paws. From your cat's point of view, a baby who shows up with no advance warning is a loud, threatening, and attention-stealing invader. It doesn't have to be this way. Babies and cats can be buddies. The key to getting a cat to accept a major jolt to her routine is soften the blow and introduce the change gradually. In the case of a new baby, you want your cat to be as used to baby stuff as she can possibly be beforehand, so that when your baby comes home, kitty is not totally shocked by this very interesting human life form.

1. Get kitty used to baby sounds and smells. Long before the big day, wear the baby lotions and powders that you will be using. Let kitty sniff you, and help her develop positive assocations with the new scents by praising her and giving her a treat.

2. Get a recording of a baby crying - possibly from a neighbor or relative who has a baby. You can also tape babies crying in a pediatrician's waiting room. Play the tape for kitty, starting with low volume and short length, and working up to full volume and duration. Again use positive attention and treat rewards.

3. If at all possible, invite a friend or family member with a baby to come over, with their baby, for a short visit, followed by a longer visit. Or two or three. During the visits, let kitty walk around, but it's best to have baby sitting on a lap.

4. A baby seat or playpen might work well, also. Play with your cat as long as you don't bother or scare the baby.

5. If you're building or preparing a nursery, give kitty a chance to become used to the new setup one step at a time. Let her get her curiosity throughly out of the way. Remember to keep up your daily interactive play sessions. Make kitty feel like she's a part of all this, not an outsider.

6. Set up the crib long in advance of baby's homecoming. Make the crib uninviting (to a cat). Fill several soda cans with pennies and tape the openings of each can. Fill the crib with these soda cans. If this doesn't deter kitty, you can buy netting that fits over the crib.

7. You can also block access to baby's room by installing an interior screen door - this is actually quite effective.

8. Give kitty plenty of exposure to toys, mobiles, and other baby accoutrements. You want all these things to have lost their novelty for her weeks before baby comes home.

Avoid Too Many Changes
Keep your cat's routine the same as much as possible. This won't always be easy between the hubub of visitors and houseguests and preparing for a new baby, but the effort is well worth it. A predictable routine reduces cats' stress and prevents a host of problems. Ask others to help make sure that your cat gets fed, brushed, and played with in the usual manner. Don't go overboard and give your cat extra, compensating attention prior to the baby's arrival because it will be impossible to keep that up once you have a baby at home to take care of. But do enlist family members to help kitty feel like a valued member of the family. Let all the adults and kids in your household know how they can help keep both kitty and baby safe, happy, and on peaceful terms.

Babies and cats do not have to be mutually exclusive. By using patience and common sense, you can teach your new baby and your cat mutual respect and ease the introduction of a new baby into your previously cat-owned home.

The big day approaches! You've gotten your cat used to everything baby-related, including baby sounds and smells and the crib. You've assigned family members to their proper cat duties: your loving husband George volunteered to scoop and clean the litter box, daughter Julie will take care of brushing and combing, and your boy Elroy signed on for daily interactive play. You've read, memorized, and followed to a tee the previous article in this series. You calmly go to the hospital.

While Mom and baby are still at the hospital, have a family member bring home something soft that has the baby's scent, so that kitty can get used to it before the baby arrives in person. As you can guess, praise kitty when she sniffs; tell her that she's going to enjoy meeting the newest member of the family. Give her a nice treat and lay the baby-scented article in a place that kitty frequents.

The Introduction
If you already had a practice session with a friend's baby, this will be - knock on wood - old hat. Ideally, someone feeds and plays with kitty just before baby's arrival home, so kitty will be relaxed. Let kitty sniff baby all she wants. Use the power of your calming voice to let kitty know that baby is her friend and not a threat. Have someone give kitty some fun treat rewards. If kitty or baby is too upset, that's okay, just try again later. Repeat the introduction several times, which allows your two littlest residents of the house a chance to gradually get used to one another. Each time, use praise and encouragement to reinforce in kitty's mind that baby is her friend - and future humble human servant! It would not be a big stretch to say that kitty will pick up on your positive vibes.

Keep Kitty's Routine the Same
As much as possible maintain your cat's regular schedule. In addition to fundamental items like meals and brushing, it's important to keep up the fun stuff like daily playtime and "quality time" on the lap. Doesn't have to be your (Mom's) lap - that will probably already be occupied. Although kitty might squiggle her way in and then you'll have two "babies" on your lap.

In addition to a new baby, you may have lots visitors who come to see the new baby. More stress for kitty (and sometimes the humans). Make sure you have a quiet room to which kitty can escape. You may want to use Feliway if she seems upset. Feliway is a well-known and safe artificial cat pheremone (body scent) spray. Pheremones are what cats rub on wall corners and pants legs with their cheeks. The type of pheremone that Feliway mimics tends to have a calming effect on cats. Apply it to walls and vertical surfaces as directed. Also, make sure that visitors don't inadvertently let kitty out by holding the front door open too long. Even if your cat normally never makes a move toward the door, with all the commotion and people coming and going - not to mention a new baby in the midst - she may be more prone to dart out. Family members should help guard the door and watch kitty. Remind visitors to try and limit how long they open the door and to watch for felines stealthily attempting to mosey outside. Put a sign on both sides of the door if necessary. And of course strive to make the indoors as hospitable as possible.

Especially as baby grows up, remember that little hands can yank, poke, and strike a cat unintentionally. Babies and toddlers don't always realize that cats, in spite of their claws and teeth, are fragile. If kitty is afraid that baby will hit her or bother her, she'll avoid him and be more defensive around him. You don't want this; you want the two of them to be respectful of each other, but friends. As baby grows up, teach him in an age-appropriate manner that kitty needs to be handled gently, and sometimes left alone. But for now and the next couple of years, to be on the safe side, never intentionally let your baby and cat be together unsupervised. (Remember the tip about the screen door to the nursery.) Baby and kitty may get to be fast friends - your two little schemers - but always with an adult watching.

In case you're wondering... There's no need at all to declaw your cat. A cat without claws may feel more defenseless and compensate by biting. In addition, repetitively digging claws into a scratching post is one of the most important and frequent ways that a cat works off stres and negative energy. The only way to ensure that kitty doesn't hurt baby is to watch the two of them closely and use behavioral techniques - a combination of humane disincentives and positive redirection - to reinforce into kitty's head that she has to be nice to baby. This is a proven and time-honored system. (Later on, you'll also want to use similar techniques in teaching your toddler respect for cats.) You may want to clip your cat's claws (see instructions here), or look into SoftPaws (, vinyl nail caps that significantly reduce the risk of claw damage while still allowing your cat to enjoy the many benefits of claws.

Even if you're doing everything right, kitty may need some time to adjust. A new baby is pretty traumatic for her. No matter how much she may have heard baby sounds before, it's always a little different with an actual baby living in the house. Don't worry, in time all of your efforts will pay off handsomely. Your baby will have a furry friend and companion for many years.
As baby grows up and learns about the wonder of animals, keep the camera (or two) handy because there will be countless moments of inter-species affection and cuteness that you will want to capture. Yes, a bit of a challenge now, but a big happy family in the end.

Gary Loewenthal is a dedicated animal advocate, and former host of the About Cats Forum. He has written several articles for the About Cats site, including many of the popular Shelter Sheets, and his articles have also appeared in The Whole Cat Journal, a monthly print magazine devoted to raising cats naturally. Gary is owned by Mike, a gorgeous cat with Traditional Siamese roots



Body: Sciatica
This is it — you're two-thirds to the finish line, as you enter your third and final trimester! And what a difference a trimester makes. Gone, most likely, are the days when you could call pregnancy "comfortable" (that is, if you ever did). These days, your baby's kicking (or lack of) is keeping you up at night and worried during the day, your feet are swollen, you're getting tired all over again, and your backache is a pain that just won't quit. And even though he or she hasn't started crying yet, it may seem that your baby's getting on your nerves already — literally. As your baby gets settled into a proper (you hope) position for birth, his or her head (and your enlarging uterus) may rest on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine. And if that happens, you may feel sharp, shooting pain, tingling, or numbness that starts in your buttocks and radiates down the back of your legs — otherwise known as sciatica. The pain of sciatica can be quite intense at times, and though it may pass if your baby shifts positions, it can also linger until you've delivered. A heating pad, a warm tub, stretches, or just some self-imposed bed rest can help with the discomfort. So can some complementary and alternative therapies.

Baby: Dream, Dream, Dream
Are you dreaming about your baby? Your baby may be dreaming about you, too. Brain wave activity measured in a developing fetus shows different sleep cycles, including the rapid eye movement phase, the stage when dreaming occurs. By now, your baby, who weighs in at about two and a half pounds and stands — or rather lies — at almost 16 inches (measured head to toe) has added blinking to his or her growing bag of tricks. (Outside in the real world, blinking is necessary to help keep foreign objects out of the eyes.) Other impressive new talents being added to your baby's roster include coughing, more intense sucking, and, perhaps most important, better breathing. The good news is that babies born this week, though premature, have an excellent prognosis because their lungs have reached the point (for the most part) of maturity — so you too can breathe a little easier now. Of course, it's still best if a baby doesn't check out of that uterine hotel just yet — there's still a lot of growing and maturing to do over the next 12 weeks.

Puff Mommy
Feel like you could fit a week's worth of laundry in those bags under your eyes? The two main culprits are water retention (see, it's not just in your ankles) and fatigue, so try to get as much rest as possible and drink plenty of water to flush your system — the more you drink, the less you retain. Still puffier than you'd like? Here are some quick fixes: When you first wake up (bags are more prominent in the morning), place something cool over your eyes — the always favorite cool cucumber slices, cold tea bags, chilled spoons, or a bag of frozen blueberries (then use them for a smoothie), followed by healthy helpings of concealer and eye-opening mascara.

Take Care of Mommy
Take time during this last week to pamper yourself a bit, since you probably need a little TLC and you won't have much time for it once your baby is here. (Now there's an understatement!) Treat yourself to an easy-care haircut (it'll be months before you'll find the time to get one again). Consider a manicure and pedicure or a facial and prenatal massage. Take your best pal to lunch and a movie…or treat yourself to a romantic dinner out with your partner. You deserve it, Honey.

Just as your raging hormones cause the hair on your head to grow faster, hair growth on your legs and underarms may unfortunately be speedy as well. (Um, didn’t I just shave there this morning?) Shave those legs with care (and a lot of nick-protecting shaving gel), since (a) your balance may be off and (b) you probably can’t see beyond your belly. Make sure the blade you use is new, so you’ll be less likely to draw blood. If possible, enlist a willing husband or friend to shave you, or sit on the edge of your bed and try an electric razor. A definite no-no: Shaving in the shower, where it’s way too easy to lose your balance — and where a slipup could be serious. Another option: Head down to the salon and have a wax (but only if pregnancy hasn’t made your skin too sensitive; itchy bumps that you can’t reach to scratch are the last thing you need right now).

Extra!: The Learning Process
Okay, students: Your due date is still months away, but school (or at least a childbirth ed class) is in session — so start taking notes. You'll graduate from one of these classes with all the skills (and know-how) you and your labor coach need to get through delivery — with honors. You can choose a class at the hospital or with a local instructor, but sign up early so you can finish several weeks before your due date. Ask whether your course includes lessons on infant care, CPR, and breastfeeding (it should). Have special needs? There are classes for second-timers who need to brush up on their techniques, classes for moms who are attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), and classes designed for those expecting multiples. There are even intensive classes taught over a weekend at resorts, which can double as a couple's getaway. Whichever class you choose, make sure your instructor is certified by a national childbirth education organization. And here's a bonus: Your insurance company may cover your tuition, so be sure to submit your bill.

Fitness: Take Heart
Now that you're pumping for two it's more important than ever to keep an eye on your heart rate when you're exercising. The best way to check how much you're exerting yourself is to use the exercise-talk test (no need to take your pulse!). If you can't exercise and talk simultaneously, your heart rate is probably too high.

Dad: Got Milk?
Bottle or breast? She may already have made up her mind, or she may really appreciate talking it through with you. Together, do your homework — you'll find out, if you haven't already heard, that breast is best for a variety of compelling reasons (from less risk of allergy and illness for baby, to a lowered risk of breast cancer later on for mom, to less smelly poop for you to clean up). If either of you have reservations about breastfeeding (some men worry about the idea of their partner exposing her breast in public, others worry about their territory being appropriated by baby, still others worry about being left out of the feeding process), put them on the table before you make your decision.

Eating Well: A Fish Tale
Been reading the headlines lately? Then chances are your head's swimming with fish stories. Fish is heart healthy! But wait, it's also full of mercury! Fish is loaded with baby-friendly DHA! But not so fast — it's also loaded with PCBs! What's the dish on fish? It's a first-rate source of lean, baby-building protein — an essential ingredient throughout the making of your amazing baby, but an especially important one in the third trimester, when brain growth is fast and furious. What's more, fish, especially the fattier varieties, is an excellent source of DHA, the fabulous fat that's known to boost baby brain power. It benefits your brain power, too — getting enough omega-3s can improve your memory (remember when you had one of those?) and your mood (a low intake of DHA during pregnancy is linked to postpartum depression). Plus, fish deserves those heart healthy headlines — a diet rich in fish lowers the risk of cardiac disease by stabilizing heart rhythms, reducing blood clotting, and lowering blood pressure. But there's a dark side to the fish story. It's true that some fish, particularly large ocean-faring fish (and especially predator types) contain high levels of mercury, a distinctly baby-unfriendly toxin. Others, especially those that frequent polluted lakes and rivers, are laden with PCBs, a chemical you definitely don't want to be feeding a fetus — or an infant. To play it safe, you'll need to keep all those fish off your dish while you're pregnant, as well as when you're nursing. And to play it extra safe, you'll have to limit other kinds of fish as well. When fishing for dinner that's healthy and safe, take these guidelines along. Avoid: Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, fresh tuna, tilefish, mahimahi, grouper, amberjack, and fish from contaminated waters. Limit to six ounces per week: Canned (or packaged) albacore tuna and freshwater fish caught by family and friends. Limit to 12 ounces per week: Shellfish, canned (or packaged) light tuna, smaller ocean fish, farm-raised fish, and store-bought freshwater fish. Safely eat: Salmon, sea bass, sole, flounder, haddock, halibut, ocean perch, pollack, cod, and trout.

This is the start of the Third trimester... Your lucky 7th month!