Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our Maternity/Family Photo Session at Liberty State Park

"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat."
(Laura Ingalls Wilder)

A few weeks ago, we did a maternity/family photo shoot overlooking the NYC skyline at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ with Nelson Lee Photography. It was originally scheduled to take place 2 weeks earlier, but the weather was stormy and hard to predict, and we couldn't be sure that it wasn't going to be a total wash-out so our photographer wanted to reschedule. The day we all met at Liberty State Park, it looked cloudy and ominous in various areas nearby, but the clouds ended up adding dimension to the photos; and even though it was a very hot and sticky August afternoon, it was also very windy since we were right by the water, and that cooled us down a bit (even if it completely messed up my hair).

We each wore 2 outfits. I wore: 1) a short-sleeve black lace PinkBlush Maternity dress with a brown braided leather bow belt, which I believe I purchased at Anthropologie a few years back, and 2) a pale pink striped lace neckline top from PinkBlush Maternity with Jessica Simpson for Motherhood Maternity jeans; along with different shoes and jewelry. Ava wore: 1) a Pale Cloud studded silk tank top with a tutu skirt and headband from Target, and 2) a pale pink crochet-top chiffon dress from Victoria Kids with one of her many headbands; along with nude and pink fringe moccasins from Monkey Feet. To coordinate, Sam wore a dressier outfit and then changed into a more casual one.

I had also brought along the ivory lace maternity gown I wore when I was pregnant with Ava 2 years ago, with a different floral maternity sash, but after our shoot got underway I didn't feel like changing outfits again, plus I wasn't comfortable with so many people around. (For previous pictures, please see "Our Maternity Photo Session at Heritage Park.")

Even though this isn't my 1st pregnancy, I still feel that each pregnancy should be celebrated, and I would definitely recommend having professional photos taken to commemorate such an important and life-changing time. It was so much more challenging having Ava there this time around -- since she's such a spirited little girl that cannot be tamed! -- but the photo session was also a way to capture precious family moments with her before her life officially changes forever.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Full-Term Update with Baby Girl #2

"Don't count the days. Make the days count."
(Muhammad Ali)

I'm already 37 weeks plus a couple days pregnant now, which means that baby girl is full-term and may come at any time now. There have been some recent concerns about her growth, but we're trusting in God's plan and timing. As prepared as we would like to be, whatever needs to happen and when, we'll just have to make it work! (Here is my previous post from this point during my pregnancy with Ava: "Full-Term Update, Plus Great Things About Being Due in November.")

27 Weeks, 3rd Trimester
  • Baby is the size of a head of lettuce.
  • Lungs are going through major developments, which (combined with the opening of previously plugged nostrils) means she's now able to practice inhaling and exhaling.
  • Started drinking raspberry leaf pregnancy tea.
  • Symptoms: Nighttime congestion returned this week; also started feeling sharp pains (like a pulled muscle or bruised rib) when overeating, probably due to less space.
  • Cravings: Not many specific cravings, but felt very hungry all day even though I'm eating a lot.

27w3d baby bump with Starbucks secret purple drink
27w6d with Ava on the 4th of July

28 Weeks
  • Appointment on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 (28w0d): Drank glucola beverage shortly before 9 AM, got to OB office by 9:30 AM, had blood drawn by 10 AM. Weight, blood pressure, urine sample taken. NP measured me and checked baby's heart rate (155 bpm); told me to return in 4 weeks, which will be my last monthly visit.
  • 3D ultrasound on Saturday, July 9, 2016 (28w4d): Based on measurements, baby weighs around 2 lbs. 8 oz.; heart rate of 143 bpm.
  • Received phone call on Monday, July 11, 2016 (28w6d; missed initial call on Thursday) saying that I failed the 1-hour glucose tolerance test and had to take the 3-hour test.
  • Baby is the size of an eggplant.
  • Is breathing and showing brain activity, lungs are maturing, and skin is still pretty wrinkly (from living in amniotic fluid) but will smoothen as fat continues to deposit.
  • Symptoms: Congestion.
  • Cravings: Chocolate (hot cocoa, ice cream, croissants).

1-hour glucose tolerance test at 28w0d
3D ultrasound at 28w4d (looks like her daddy!)

29 Weeks
  • Appointment on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 (29w1d): Went in at 7:45 AM, had 1st blood draw at 7:50 AM; drank glucola beverage around 7:55 AM; 2nd blood draw at 8:55 AM; 3rd blood draw at 9:55 AM; 4th blood draw at 10:55 AM.
  • Received call the next day saying that my results were normal.
  • Started using pregnancy wedge pillow at night.
  • Baby is the size of an acorn squash.
  • Her energy is surging, thanks to white fat depositing beneath the skin, and she's growing fast (weight will triple before birth).

3-hour glucose tolerance test at 29w1d
Squeezing into a non-maternity dress at 29w4d

30 Weeks, 3/4 of the way there
  • Baby is the size of a zucchini.
  • She is moving a lot and plumping up; skin is smoothing out; increased surface area of grooves and indentations in her brain making more room for essential brain tissue; her grip is strong enough to grasp a finger.
  • Symptoms: Nighttime congestion started up again after being almost congestion-free for June and half of July.

Cucumber (or zucchini) baby bump at 30w2d

31 Weeks
  • Video clip of movement at 31w1d.
  • Baby is the size of a bunch of asparagus.
  • Going through major brain and nerve development; eye development, as irises now react to light; and all 5 senses are in working order.
  • Symptoms: Congestion, back aches at night, baby dropping and causing more pressure, feeling stronger movements and kicks on right side.

Polka dots with my mini-me at 31w6d (on my birthday)

32 Weeks
  • Appointment on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 (32w0d): Weight, blood pressure, urine sample taken. OB (male) measured me and checked baby's heart rate (144 bpm); said she was head-down; estimated that she will weigh 6.5-7 lbs. at birth.
  • Baby is the size of a squash.
  • She's getting ready to emerge, and has even less space as she tries to fit in my increasingly cramped womb and prepare for her eventual descent.
  • Symptoms: Congestion, feeling kicks much stronger and closer to surface, on the verge of leg cramps.

Looking large at 32w4d!

33 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a bunch of celery.
  • She may grow up to a full inch this week alone, and is going through more major brain development; soon, she'll be able to coordinate breathing with sucking and swallowing; her bones are hardening, and she has started to keep her eyes open when awake.
  • Symptoms: Congestion; a lot of baby movement; feeling overheated at night; on the verge of leg cramps; nose bleeds; itchiness of skin around left hip.
  • My sister and a few close girlfriends celebrated with a lovely baby sprinkle at Bosie Tea Parlor in NYC.

Afternoon tea baby sprinkle at 33w4d
(Image: Leslie Y.)
Invitation, favors, and thank you card

34 Weeks
  • Appointment on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 (34w0d): Weight, blood pressure, urine sample taken. OB (male) checked baby's heart rate (155 bpm); said she was head-down; estimated that she will weigh a little more than Ava did at birth. Next appointment in 2 weeks, which will be my last biweekly visit.
  • Maternity photo session at 34w4d in Liberty State Park: I'll do a separate post with more photos.
  • Baby is the size of a butternut squash.
  • She can recognize and react to simple songs, and may find them soothing after birth; also urinates about 1 pint per day.
  • Symptoms: Episode of dizziness/light-headedness/difficulty focusing eyes; increased lower body pressure and discomfort; overheating at night; congestion; acid reflux.
  • Cravings: Fall flavors (like pumpkin), Thai food.

Maternity/family photo shoot outfits for me and Ava

35 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a pineapple.
  • She won't get much longer, but will put on a pound or more of baby fat before birth; her hearing is totally developed, and she responds best to high-pitched noises.
  • Video clip of movement at 35w5d.
  • Symptoms: Congestion; cold/allergy symptoms; insomnia; overheating; on verge of leg cramp (right calf); abdominal tightness; acid reflux.

35w5d before dinner for my niece's 4th birthday
Video of movement at 35w5d

36 Weeks
  • Appointment on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 (36w0d): Weight, blood pressure, urine sample taken. NP measured me and checked baby's heart rate (150 bpm); took Group B strep culture; had blood drawn for hemoglobin.
  • Baby is the size of a papaya.
  • Her skin is getting smooth and soft, gums are rigid, liver and kidneys are in working order, and circulation and immune system are good to go, and she's getting closer to being able to breathe on her own.
  • Symptoms: Congestion, insomnia, acid reflux, leg cramp (left shin area).

Our last pool day of the summer at 36w0d
Ava's smile gets bigger and bigger :D
Trying the new chile mocha drink on Labor Day at 36w6d

I can't believe we're almost at the end of this part of the journey! I need to have the new car seat installed, pack my hospital bag, organize some baby clothes, clean and de-clutter the apartment... The list goes on and on. So much to do, so little time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bye-Bye, 2nd Tri {PinkBlush Giveaway}

"Life is short. Wear your party pants!"
(Loretta Laroche)

Or your pretty PinkBlush lace and pleated chiffon maxi dress! Learn more and enter my giveaway of $75 to PinkBlush -- maternity and non-maternity apparel, including plus sizes -- at the end of this post. (You'll also see 2 other PinkBlush maternity pieces, which were part of a purchase I made right after I found out I was pregnant, in other photos below.)

Looking back on "2nd Half of 2nd Trimester in My Build-A-Baby Workshop" from my pregnancy with Ava in 2014, I can see many differences between that pregnancy and this current one. For starters, we're back on the east coast. Life is not quite the same now, with a highly spirited 19-month-old toddler I have to keep alive. There are no prenatal yoga classes or massages happening, I haven't purchased anything for the new baby girl yet, and we aren't planning any type of mini babymoon. But all is good. As of today, I'm starting my 3rd trimester already, and everything is moving along so quickly.

And we're sharing her name! Lila Yena Son. With our firstborn, I chose the first name (Ava) and Sam chose the middle name (Yejin), and with our soon-to-be secondborn, Sam chose the first name (Lila) and I chose the middle name (Yena). If we were having a boy, we planned to name him Joel.

I like the name Lila for similar reasons that I like the name Ava. It's short and sweet, simple yet feminine, and works well for an adorable baby girl as well as a mature woman. Its origins are debated, but according to various sources, can mean "beauty" in Sanskrit, "dark-haired" in Arabic, "night," "playful or amusing," or refer to the lilac flower or the color lilac.

Yena is her Korean name. As in Yejin, ye refers to Jesus and also to "art" or "talent and ability," and na can mean "elegant, graceful, delicate."

21 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of an endive.
  • As digestive system preps for the outside world, baby is manufacturing meconium; baby girl's womb is already stocked up with a lifetime supply of 6 million eggs (will drop to around 1 million by birth).
  • We traveled to Michigan for the weekend to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday and see other relatives. I also felt like I expanded a lot this week, and began to feel more movement.
  • Symptoms: Became more uncomfortable lying down at night; back pain.

In Michigan with Ava and the gorgeous peonies at 21w4d
At church in Michigan at 21w5d {PinkBlush sweater}

22 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a coconut.
  • Is sleeping in cycles, about 12-14 hours a day; has more developed eyes and lips, looking even more like a newborn.
  • I started to feel kicks/punches, and my congestion started to improve greatly after we returned from Michigan.

Photo booth at Sam's residency event at 22w4d 
Outside the American Museum of Natural History at 22w6d {PinkBlush sweater}

23 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a grapefruit.
  • Face is fully formed; forming nipples; listening to our voices, my heartbeat, and loud outside noises.
  • Sam was able to feel kicks externally.
  • Symptoms: Leg cramp (left calf), vivid dreams, aching back when sleeping.

Picking strawberries at 23w4d

24 Weeks, V-Day
  • Appointment on June 7, 2016 (24w0d): Weight, blood pressure, urine sample taken. NP measured me and checked baby's heart rate (163 bpm); gave me bottle of lemon-lime drink to take before next appointment, when blood test will check for glucose, hemoglobin, and HIV.
  • Baby is the size of a cantaloupe.
  • Is almost a foot long; skin is becoming more opaque, and has a new pink glow from the small capillaries that have recently formed.
  • Symptoms: Increased back discomfort at night.
  • This week, I went to see BeyoncĂ© in concert, and also took a day trip to Philadelphia with Sam and Ava.

24w3d at Rutgers Gardens (Ava's hand down my shirt)
Rocky Balboa statue in Philly at 24w6d

25 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a cauliflower.
  • Sense of equilibrium is kicking in, and she knows which way is up and which is down; also growing more fat and more hair.
  • Able to see movement outside of belly.
  • Symptoms: Leg cramp (right calf), much more frequent trips to the bathroom.
  • Cravings: Brownies, honey mustard and onion pretzels, cookie dough.

Hope Hill Lavender Farm at 25w3d (my paleness!)

26 Weeks, 2/3 of the way there
  • Baby is the size of a bunch of kale.
  • Her eyes will soon start to open, and her eyelashes are now grown too; she's getting her immune system ready for life on the outside by soaking up my antibodies; and she's taking breaths of amniotic fluid.
  • Photos from the last day of my 2nd trimester are below, followed by information on the PinkBlush giveaway! (Please excuse the fact that I obviously only know 1 pregnant lady pose, which is the requisite hands-on-belly position.)

PinkBlush Giveaway Details and Rules

To celebrate this milestone of reaching the 3rd trimester, I'm giving away a $75 gift card to PinkBlush -- and you don't have to be pregnant to enter, because PinkBlush has affordable maternity and non-maternity women's fashions in all sizes! I discovered PinkBlush on Instagram several months ago, and as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I ordered a whole bunch of tops and dresses from them when I first found out I was pregnant.

2 ways to enter:
  1. Comment on this blog post below -- or --
  2. Visit my Instagram and follow @redpoppypinkpeony -- since changed to @simplysharonson -- like the posted photo, and leave any comment, or tag a friend for an extra entry.

Bonus entry if you enter on both the blog and Instagram. That's all!

The giveaway is open for the next 7 days, until the end of next Tuesday. The winner will be contacted by Wednesday morning. Please note: If you have won a PinkBlush giveaway within the last 3 months, you will not be eligible. Good luck!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Half-Baked... and It's Another Girl!

"To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited. Soul and spirit are stretched -- along with body -- making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings."
(Anne Christian Buchanan)

Half-baked! Unlike last time, it's hard to see my Ben & Jerry's pint.

Even though my blog updates have been severely lacking -- I've been averaging about 2 posts per year since Ava was born, and she's 18 months old now -- my family, friends, and most of my social network know that I'm 21 weeks pregnant and expecting baby #2... and it's another girl! My due date is September 27, 2016. I shared an update at the halfway point during my last pregnancy ("Half-Baked and It's a Girl!"), and an earlier update at the end of 1st trimester of that pregnancy ("Bye-Bye, 1st Tri"), but it's been different so far this time around.

Last time, I was fortunate not to have any morning sickness, beyond slight queasiness on occasion; this time, my entire 1st trimester was one long, continuous nausea-fest and I only ate sweet carbs to the point that my husband and sister were convinced I would get gestational diabetes. Last time, I didn't start wearing any maternity clothes until I was almost 6 months pregnant; this time, I thought, "Why wait?" at 17 weeks. Last time, I don't remember having bad nighttime nasal congestion and insomnia until the 2nd half of pregnancy; this time, it's been a constant from the beginning.

Last time, I was given extra ultrasounds, was on progesterone throughout 1st trimester and baby aspirin until 37 weeks, and had an at-home fetal doppler due to concerns from previous losses; this time, I've had none of that, which was very nerve-wracking at first. Last time, my doctors were concerned about uterine fibroids causing issues with a vaginal birth; this time, they don't appear to be a problem. Last time, Ava was breech so I did everything in my power to get her to turn, which she did in the end, right before I was to schedule a C-section; this time, I hope I don't have to deal with that stress. Last time, I didn't allow myself to worry about labor and delivery for the most part, believing that I could trust my primal instincts and the strength of my own mind and body; this time, I'm the most scared of labor and delivery because of my previous experiences.

And of course, last time, I was working, commuting, and packed up and moved from NY to MI, but I didn't have an outside baby to take care of; this time, I'm home in NJ with Ava and it's somehow much more exhausting! Case in point: It's like pulling my own teeth to write an update even just once in 6 months.

4 Weeks
  • Appointment at 4w3d: Bloodwork to confirm pregnancy and check hormone levels, particularly for progesterone. Progesterone was fine but hCG was low, so I went back for more bloodwork at 4w6d.
  • Baby is the size of a poppyseed.
  • Ball of cells is splitting into the embryo and placenta; neural tube is already formed; and amniotic sac and fluid are forming into protective cushioning.
  • Symptoms: Implantation spotting and cramps.

Positive test at 4w4d

5 Weeks
  • At 5w0d, I received a call from my OB office saying my hCG went from 100 to 536.5, and progesterone was good at 25. After I asked, the nurse said they usually tell pregnant breastfeeding moms to wean, as it can inhibit hormone production. Made appointment for 1st ultrasound for 7w6d.
  • Baby is the size of an appleseed.
  • Starting to form major organs (heart, stomach, liver, kidneys) and systems (digestive, circulatory, nervous).
  • Symptoms: Very fatigued; waking up very early in the morning; very congested and unable to breathe well at night; eating anything and everything in sight.

6 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a sweet pea.
  • Circulating blood; starting to sprout a nose, eyes, ears, chin, and cheeks.
  • Symptoms: Very fatigued; waking up in the middle of the night for an extended period of time; up/down body temperatures; queasiness (slight nausea and food aversions); skin breaking out.

7 Weeks
  • Appointment at 7w6d: 1st ultrasound (saw baby and heart beating at 144 bpm); weight and blood pressure taken; met with doctor and then a nurse to discuss future visits and address any questions.
  • Baby is the size of a blueberry.
  • Generating about 100 new brain cells each minute; developing a permanent set of kidneys; arm and leg joints are forming.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness all day (nausea and food aversions) -- only things I could eat were fig bars, PB&J sandwiches, and soup; very fatigued; up/down body temperatures; skin breaking out.

Little peanut at 7w6d

8 Weeks
  • Appointment at 8w6d: Weight and blood pressure taken; urine sample and physical exam (including pap smear and breast exam); bloodwork; explained different screening test options.
  • Baby is the size of a raspberry.
  • Taste buds are forming.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness all day (nausea and food aversions) -- can only eat sweet carbs; very fatigued; up/down body temperatures.

9 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a cherry.
  • Is now a fetus, and developing more distinct facial features.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness all day (nausea and food aversions); very fatigued; up/down body temperatures; cramping; headaches; vivid and memorable dreams.

10 Weeks, 25% There! 
  • Baby is the size of a strawberry.
  • Vital organs are fully developed and starting to function; swallowing and kicking.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness all day (nausea and food aversions); headaches, stomach aches, especially in evening; very fatigued but unable to sleep through the night (insomnia).

11 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a lime.
  • Tooth buds, nail beds, and hair follicles are forming.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness all day (nausea starting to lessen, but more food aversions still there); very fatigued; headaches; stomach aches, especially in evening.

12 Weeks
  • 1st trimester screen at 12w6d: Ultrasound showed active baby with heart rate of 152 bpm; also took many other measurements (e.g. CRL, nuchal translucency, ovary and uterus size, etc.). Bloodwork taken (results for likelihood of Down syndrome and Trisomy 13 and 18 came back negative); weight, blood pressure, and urine sample taken; explained procedures, and asked and answered questions.
  • Baby is the size of a plum.
  • Developing reflexes; opening and closing fingers, and curling toes.
  • Symptoms: Queasiness and fatigue improving; very congested and unable to breath easily at night; headaches; felt like my baby bump popped out this week.

Our baby at 12w6d

13 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a lemon.
  • Forming vocal chords and teeth, and already has fingerprints.
  • Throughout 1st trimester, I drank ginger tea to help with nausea, and I mostly avoided coffee and caffeine, but I also didn't have much of a choice because coffee made me queasy. Although I couldn't think about food and could barely step foot into a grocery store -- we did a lot of take-out and restaurant dining for several weeks -- I was definitely eating a lot, but I don't think I gained any weight during 1st trimester (but I never lost the baby weight from Ava so I started out heavier).
  • Our families and some close friends already knew about the pregnancy, but we made it more public at the end of this week.
Big sister-to-be Ava helped with our pregnancy announcement on Good Friday (13w3d) 

14 Weeks, 2nd Trimester
  • Baby is the size of a peach.
  • Sucking thumb and wiggling toes; breathing amniotic fluid; kidneys are making urine, and liver and spleen are doing their jobs.
  • Symptoms: Abdominal pain and sharp cramping; headaches; very congested and unable to breathe easily at night; having to go to the bathroom more frequently.

15 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a navel orange.
  • Squirming, wiggling, and hiccuping inside, and joints and limbs can all move.
  • Symptoms: Very prolonged, almost 24-hour headache at 15w6d; congestion; frequent bathroom trips.
Wearing 3 sweaters (it was cold!) at 15w3d

16 Weeks
  • Appointment at 16w6d: Weight, blood pressure, and urine sample taken; NP measured me and checked baby's heart rate (147 bpm); bloodwork taken to test for spina bifida (results came back negative).
  • Baby is the size of an avocado.
  • Is listening to our voices, and growing hair, lashes, and eyebrows; tiny bones are forming in the ears and eyebrows.

17 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of a pomegranate.
  • Skeleton is hardening as cartilage turns to bone; umbilical cord is getting stronger and thicker; baby is putting on fat; and fingers and toes are now defined with one-of-a-kind prints.
  • Symptoms: Nasal congestion, fatigue, headaches, frequent bathroom trips.
  • Started wearing maternity clothes (belly protruding much more at this point than during previous pregnancy).

Just 1 sweater at 17w4d

18 Weeks
  • Baby is the size of an artichoke.
  • Yawns, hiccups, rolls, kicks, punches, sucks, twists, and swallows.
  • Started to feel little movements.

19 Weeks
  • Level 2 ultrasound/anatomy scan at 19w6d: Sonographer did a detailed ultrasound to take many measurements and view all parts (including arms, legs, brain, heart, kidneys, stomach, face, bladder, spine, etc.) of the baby -- a girl! -- whose heart rate was 153 bpm. Weight, blood pressure, and urine sample taken; met with doctor afterwards.
  • Baby is the size of a mango.
  • Vernix caseosa coats baby's skin, shielding it from amniotic fluid.

Wedding guests at 19w4d
Almost 18 weeks with Ava (June 2014) / Almost 20 weeks with Baby Girl #2 (May 2016)
Cute profile at 19w6d
Lil' baby feets

20 Weeks, 50% There! 
  • Baby is the size of a banana.
  • Gulping down amniotic fluid for nutrition and to practice swallowing and digesting; taste buds are working.
  • Symptoms: All the usual ones (especially congestion), plus I had a cold this week.
20w1d with my spirit animal

I enjoy and fully appreciate being pregnant, feel very blessed and honored to house another Build-A-Baby Workshop and to keep Baby Girl #2 cozy and safe, and I don't want it to go by too quickly, even though I'm excited to see how everything unfolds in the future. I'll post more photos and updates. Thank you for your love and support, and we would always appreciate if you kept us in your thoughts and prayers!