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Week #22 of Pregnancy

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Your Pregnancy: Week 22

By Erin Horner, edHelperBaby

Your Baby
           That lean little baby of yours is now starting to look more and more like a newborn.  His lips, eyelids and eyebrows are all becoming more distinct.  His eyes are formed, but those baby blues, or browns, or greens for that matter, have not yet emerged yet as the pigment in each of his irises is still continuing to develop.  This week your little one is also developing tooth buds underneath his gum line. In time those buds will give way to a mouthful of pearly whites, but prepare yourself now, because in a few short months that toothless grin will melt your heart.


Your Body
           The second trimester of pregnancy is usually a very enjoyable time.  While you are noticeably pregnant, most women are not yet so large that they are uncomfortable.  The morning sickness and nausea of the first trimester has disappeared and you may have more energy now than you dreamed possible during pregnancy.  It is around this time, however, that one annoying pregnancy issue begins to leave its mark, literally. Around 50% of all women begin to develop stretch marks during pregnancy.  If you are beginning to notice some faint lines ranging in color from pink to purple or dark brown on your stomach, breasts, thighs, or tush, you may be one of the chosen to be blessed with these marks.  While many lotions available claim to help in the prevention or reduction of stretch marks, few do.  Stretch marks are genetic, so if your mother had them while she was pregnant with you, there is a good chance that you will develop them throughout your pregnancy as well.  So what can you do about stretch marks?
  1. Try using lotions with cocoa butter and other moisturizing ingredients.  While no lotion will be able to completely prevent stretch marks from developing, some may help in minimizing their severity.  Be sure to check the ingredients on any product that you are tempted to use and contact your doctor regarding the safety of any unknown items.
  2. Avoid gaining weight too quickly.  While stretch marks are genetic, the unnatural stretching of your skin, as is caused in rapid weight gain, can also cause stretch marks to appear.  By keeping your weight in check you will be healthier, your baby will be healthier, and your skin may look healthier.
  3. Wear them with pride.  Your stretch marks are a reminder of 40 weeks that you spent nurturing and growing a child deep within you.  It was during this time that you were an integral part of one of nature's most complex miracles.  So what if you have a few lines (or a few pounds) left over once your little one arrives!  Wear your marks as a badge of honor and courage and with great pride!
  4. Remember, nothing lasts forever.  Your stretch marks will fade over time.  They are usually quite faint within 12 months of giving birth.  If after that time they are still bothering you, talk to your dermatologist.  There are chemical or laser treatments available to noticeably lighten the marks, but these are not safe to use during your pregnancy.


  You're Wondering. . .
           As my pregnancy progresses and I look towards the birth of my baby I can't help but wonder what life will be like once she is born.  As much as I love my career, I'm beginning to wonder if I would rather quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom instead.   Can I afford to stay home full time? 

       This is a question that I think most, if not all, women wrestle with at some point during their pregnancy.  While, ultimately, no one can answer this question for you, here are a few thoughts for you and your partner to consider when talking about this important crossroads in the life of your family.
  • Costs to consider:  If you continue to work full time outside the home, outline the many costs that you will encounter once your baby is born.  Gather some daycare quotes from nannies, in-home daycare providers, and daycare centers.  Daycare costs can vary greatly depending on your location.  Some providers charge as much as $250 per week for infant care not including the diapers and formula (or breast milk) that you must provide.  Think also about fuel costs when you add in a daily drop off and pick up from your little one's daycare center.  Look at your salary and that of your partner's combined.  Does the addition of your income propel your family to the next income tax bracket?  Some families find that when the mother is working full time, by the time the family pays for child care, business attire, meals out while on the job, commuting costs, and extra income taxes, there is relatively little income that she is actually bringing home to add to the family budget.
  • Surprising ways to save:  As you look at your current budget and try to realistically decide whether or not you can afford to stay home, you may find some surprising ways to save money.  Many stay-at-home moms are able to save on their family's monthly food budget.  Being home full time will allow you more opportunities to compare prices and shop around for sale items, as well as use coupons.  There are several web-based services available that will (for a nominal fee) organize a grocery list for you and tell you exactly which coupons to use at which stores.  In following their plan it is not only possible, but highly probable, that you will cut your average weekly grocery bill in half while still buying all of your usual products.  You may also find that you have more time to prepare meals at home.  Convenience foods at the grocery store are often expensive and sometimes not very healthy.  Rather than purchase a small tray of pre-cut fruit for $12.99, you can purchase an entire pineapple, 2 pounds of grapes, and a 4 pound watermelon for less, cut it up yourself, and have fruit left over for the next meal!  You may also be able to save on your clothing budget as well.  Not because stay-at-home moms only wear sweat pants, but because we don't need as many professional outfits as a mother who works full time.  Your co-workers might notice if you wear the same suit everyday, but your little one won't mind if you are wearing the same blue jeans (especially if they fit!) as yesterday with a different shirt.  Think also about your gift budget.  Many women find that in being home all year, they are able to collect wonderful gifts for their friends and family members when the items are on clearance and then save them for upcoming holidays and birthday parties.  Many women working full time do not have the luxury of leisurely shopping and therefore pay full price for items because they don't buy them until they are needed.  And when they are "needed" they usually aren't on sale!
  • Part-Time possibilities:  As you consider your future work schedule, why not speak to your current employer about part time or tele-commuting opportunities that may be available.  Many women find that they are able to work from home 3 days per week and then go in to the office on only 2 days each week. This type of a situation can be a win-win for both employers and employees.  Your employer would not need to spend the time and money necessary to hire and train a new employee, and you would be able to keep your job while only needing child care 2 days each week.  You may also want to consider looking for a job in the evenings or on the weekends when your partner is available to care for your baby.  This would allow you to bring home some income, but still save you in the childcare department.  If you decide to explore this option, why not apply somewhere that offers great discounts on things that you already purchase or on things that you would like to purchase.  Maybe a clothing store just for kids, one that sells really great post-pregnancy clothes for you or one that specializes in home furnishings.  That discount can come in handy year-round, but especially during the holidays.  Your friends and family will love their gifts, and you will love using your employee discount to stretch your dollar a bit further.

       As you work through the many details associated with answering this question, remember, no one answer is right for every family.  Peek at your situation, decide what is best for you and your little one and then come to a conclusion that best meets your needs.


  Your "To-Do" List
           This week at the top of your to-do list write: Get dad involved.  This might mean that you have your partner accompany you to your doctor's appointment.  Maybe you will send your baby's daddy off to pick up a package of diapers (its never too early to begin stocking up on the necessities!) or have him read your belly a bedtime story before watching the rest of Sports Center on ESPN.  It is not so much what he does to become more involved this week, but rather that he does something.  A recent research study has highlighted the importance of a father's involvement in the life of their children, especially their daughters.  The study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that a child's language development is influenced and developed more by a father talking with his 2-or 3-year-old than it is by his or her mother.  Another 20 year study found that girls with good relationships with their dad have entered puberty later.  It was also discovered that fathers are most directly responsible for their child's school achievement, future job and income, relationship with his or her mother and overall mental health.  That is quite a list of life long attributes that a father directly influences.  So get your little one's daddy involved today, and help to lay a foundation for your baby's future success even before he or she makes his or her grand entrance.


Your Homework: Preparing For Parenthood
           Your homework assignment this week is to play the "High-Low" game.  Don't worry, this isn't some new version of the limbo where you have to see how "high" your belly is while you lay "low" on the ground.  This is just a simple conversation starter for you and your partner to use.  One evening, as you unwind from all that has occurred throughout the day, ask your partner, "What was your high today?"  This will give him a chance to tell you about the best part of his day.  Then have him ask you the same question.  Once you have both shared, ask him what his "low" was, or which part of his day was his least favorite.  Then you share as well.  This is a quick and easy way to connect after a day apart and can really help to continue to develop your communication skills with one another.  As future parents, great communication between the two of you is vital for your family's overall health and well-being. This game is also wonderful to use as a family as your children get older.  When your children begin to tell you about their "highs" or "lows" you will develop great insight as to things that are really important to them that you may have otherwise not been aware of.  So, here's to many happy "highs" and evenings full of great conversation!


  My Experience
           When my husband and I were first married, we fell into the "fine" trap.  Our evening conversation sounded a lot like this:

       Wife: "How was your day?"

       Husband:  "Fine.  How was work?"

       Wife: "Fine.  Did your meeting go alright?"

       Husband: "Yeah it was fine."

       I know, earth shattering excitement.  It wasn't that my husband and I didn't love each other, and it certainly wasn't that our crazy careers lacked interesting details, but rather the fact that by the end of the day we didn't necessarily want to re-hash every aspect of the eight or more hours we had just spent apart.  Now, my family and I use this game almost every evening around the dinner table.  We have found that it allows us an opportunity to connect with one another at the end of a long day and share the things that really matter to us.  Our kids love to play, and I love to hear from their hearts.  Who knew that my little one's high would be the silly happy dance that I did after she spelled her name for the first time? Mental note: do more happy dances!  Or that my son's low wasn't losing his soccer game, but not being able to say goodbye to Daddy before he left for work.  Mental note #2: tomorrow Daddy needs to sneak in and leave a goodbye chocolate "kiss" on his son's dresser before heading off for the day.  Usually what is shared is simple, but they are aspects of my family's life that I would have missed and little problems that I might not have solved had we not taken the time to share our highs and lows.  So share away, Mom, and remember that parenthood is often full of the highest of highs sprinkled with a few of the lowest of lows, but truly worth every minute!


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