- Is a tad bigger than last week! Are you sensing a pattern! Goodness, I never realized how boring this stretch of pregnancy is, what with the “close to a pound, just over a pound, 11 inches long, 11 2/3 inches long” comparisons week after week.
- The pancreas is kicking into gear sometime around this week, and blood vessels continue to develop in the lungs. Lung development is a Big Thing right now, since babies born around 24 weeks gestation can often survive outside the womb. 23 weeks is pretty questionable, and 24 weeks certainly isn’t a peachy keen time to be born or anything, but still. If you’re the morbid sort who gets a tiny bit of comfort knowing that your baby has a fighting chance If Something Terrible Were To Happen, well, there you go.
- “OMG, you’re so big! Are you sure it’s not twins?”
- Or, alternatively: “OMG, you barely look pregnant! Are you sure you’re 23 weeks?”
- SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. Thank you. No woman is ever going to appreciate your boneheaded commentary on her size and/or weight. Last time I was plagued with dire predictions of hidden twins and early labor and 14-pound babies. This time I get only-sort-of affectionately called names by other women when queried about my weight gain. Which is 1) none of your business and 2) yes, everything IS okay, my baby is growing just fine, thank you for your nosy and very annoying “concern.”
- I AM ALSO CRABBY. PERHAPS YOU ARE TOO.
If there was one pregnancy symptom I hoped and prayed would skip over me this time — more than morning sickness, more than swollen ankles and sciatic nerve pain — it was anxiety. Terrible, intrusive, racing-brain anxiety.
It didn’t skip me this time.
I’d hoped it was really the whole firstness of my first pregnancy that was to blame, but here I am again, going through the same doubts and fears and worries. When I do manage to shut off my overworked brain (money, jobs, that snippy tone of that one email, need to replace the tub, money, two babies oh my god TWO BABIES), I am plagued with really annoying anxiety dreams, of the “I have a final in a college class that I never attended but forgot to drop” and “I’m waiting tables and can’t seem to get orders in and customers are storming out and/or ordering stuff that isn’t on the menu and what do you MEAN I have to get soda refills from down the block?” varieties.
And then I wake up from these dreams with my mind racing as I fret about the very same things I worried about with Noah, even though I KNOW everything will be okay and work out in the end. Will I love my baby? Will he love me back? Will I get PPD? Will I be able to breastfeed? How will I cope with middle-of-the-night ear infections with a toddler and a newborn and still get any work done? Will I ever leave the house? Will I ever make some more mom friends? Will I ever be anything other than a mom again?
Here’s the thing, though. Not all anxiety and depressive feelings during pregnancy should be casually swept away under the rug of Crazy Pregnant Lady Hormones. Full-blown panic attacks and major depression can happen during pregnancy, and you should always tell your doctor if you’re experiencing anything like this.
Women who have previously struggled with (or have a family history of) depression and anxiety are at a higher risk for pre-partum depression, as are those who have lost pregnancies, undergone fertility treatments or are classified as a high-risk pregnancy. Major life events, like relationship problems, big moves or job changes, can also trigger anxiety far beyond a manageable level.
Having had a long rich history with regular old anxiety, I’m grateful to have a built-in set of coping mechanisms. Namely, writing, list-making (I write down everything I’m stressed about and/or putting off and then tackle it, item by item), long walks and meditation. But how do you know when that’s not enough?
A lot of the depression checklists are downright laughable when applied to a pregnant woman (extreme fatigue? a desire to eat all the time? increased irritability or crying jags?), but if the feelings are unrelenting for a good two weeks — or coupled with bleak feelings of emptiness, anxious obsessive-compulsive behaviors, thoughts of self-harm or a feeling like your baby would be better off not being born or being given to someone else — then call your doctor right this minute. Many antidepressants can be safely taken during pregnancy, with the benefits far outweighing the risks. Talk therapy can also be extremely beneficial in helping you work through your fears and issues before the baby is born. Just SPEAK. UP. And don’t let anyone disregard your feelings because you’re pregnant.
And now, COMPLETELY switching gears, here’s this week’s registry checklist.
- Bottle sterilizer & warmer**
- Plain cloth diapers for burp rags (four or five packages, at least, and don’t bother with the “pretty” shoulder rags and lap pads. Cloth diapers rock, and we are STILL using those suckers for every mess our child managed to make these days.)
- Bibs (small absorbent ones for infant drool and spit-up, larger pocketed ones for solid feeding)
- Breast pads (Avent nursing pads are great for leaks, the gel varieties like Soothies are lifesavers for sore/chafed nipples)
- nipple cream/ointment
- Nursing pillow (You’ll never get a consensus on these — some mothers love them, some never use them. Some love the Boppy and others swear by the My Breast Friend. I found the Boppy to be very helpful early on, but it was soon relegated to the pile of Stuff That Never Got Used Very Much In The End.)
- Breastmilk storage containers
- Bottle brush
- Nursing wrap/cover
- High chair or booster seat****
- Splat mat
- Plates, utensils, sippy cups
- Small blender or food processor for pureeing baby food (I’m a fan of the bullet-shaped ones. Convenient, easy to clean and great for hiding veggies in toddler smoothies later on.)
- Ice cube trays for storing homemade food
*Yes, yes. No matter what your lofty breastfeeding plans are, it’s not a bad idea to have a bottle or two handy. If you know what kind of breast pump you’ll be using**, get something compatible. Otherwise, ignore the big gift sets and try out a couple of the BPA-free options (Evenflo glass, Born Free, Dr. Brown’s, etc.) and see what works best for you and your baby. Make sure you start with level one nipples — your baby will let you know when it’s time to move up to a higher flow with RIGHTEOUS PISSED-OFF-NESS.
**As for the sterilizers and warmers — we loaded up on all that crap and got rid of it a few months later. Unless you don’t have a dishwasher and really find warming up a pot of water to be INCREDIBLY TAXING, these might not be worth giving up your precious counter space for, particularly if you’re only using bottles as an occasional supplement. (Of course, it didn’t help that we tried TWO electronic bottle warmers that didn’t work at all.) (For washing bottles and pump parts in between dishwasher sterilizing runs, we used a handy little plastic basin we swiped from my hospital room. LIFE LESSON: Steal everything from the hospital that is not nailed down.)
***DO NOT buy a breast pump. Rent one from the hospital or your lactation consultant. The small hand pumps are USELESS for establishing a supply, and while the Medela Pump In Style is a very good option for working mothers, you can often rent one for much cheaper and try out different models as well.
****Did you register for a bouncy seat? Use it for those first cereal and solid feedings instead of some giant plastic monstrosity. Wait until your little one can sit up unassisted to pick out a high chair — your options will be MUCH smaller, more streamlined and better looking.
Here’s a complete online version of our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist and here’s the downloadable & printable version of our Baby Registry Checklist in case you’re going to the store (like they did way back in the 90s).
Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s Pregnancy Calendar from Week 22 when she starts the baby registry discussion.
If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.