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conception

Human Reproduction: A Seafarer's Guide

How a pregnancy happens is a lot more complicated and a whole lot more interesting than just a sperm cell and an egg cell running into each other. Here's our map to the way there...or not.

Pregnant & Posting: 33-38 weeks

My apologies for lumping so many weeks together and also for being so late in my postings here.

May I suggest that if it can be avoided, moving to a new home while in one's third trimester during the hottest summer on record and trying to work at the same time should be avoided if at all possible? Because it should.

Moving is stressful and exhausting at the best of times. When you're quite pregnant, it is even worse. Far, far worse. I don't think I've ever been so tired and miserable. It literally was the hottest summer on record where I live. We broke high temperature records that have stood for more than 100 years. It barely even cooled down at night. As a pregnant person, this apparently also meant that I was unable to cool down either. It didn't seem to matter how cool we kept it in the house, I was HOT constantly. And going outside was a complete nightmare, because I was soaking in sweat within about 10 seconds of stepping outside the door.

Beyond just being hot, trying to pack u

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Pregnant & Posting: 31 & 32 weeks

I've been feeling pretty good lately, other than being hot beyond all belief. I know now why everyone kept telling me last time that I was "lucky" not to be pregnant during the hottest part of the year here. Trying to keep my body temperature regulated is a constant struggle.

So I feel like it's finally time to talk about this birthing thing on the blog. I know I've promised to talk about it as we got closer and now seems like the perfect time since I've just recently discussed it with my OB again. It's difficult for me to know where to start with this. I guess I'll start by explaining how I feel and where I've been and then we'll go from there.

With my first pregnancy, my approach to childbirth was pretty simple. I wanted to trust and listen to my body to the best of my ability. There wasn't one specific birth technique that particularly rang true with me. I knew about childbirth (I'm the daughter of a nurse who grew up seeing the videos they use to teach nursing students about birth

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Pregnant & Posting: 28, 29, & 30 weeks

Bad news first...I failed my 1 hour glucose tolerance screening.

This was a huge downer. After taking the glucose drink my OB's office sent me home with at my last visit, I waited the hour before my appointment and they stuck my finger to check my blood sugar level. I believe the maximum cut-off number for the 1 hour screening is 140 mg/dL. My level this time was 155 mg/dL. (For comparison, when I failed the screening during my first pregnancy, I was at 144 mg/dL on the 1 hour.) I was afraid this would happen again, but had been working hard this pregnancy to try to prevent it. I'd eaten a (fairly) balanced diet and tried to exercise as often as I could. I had no other symptoms of gestational diabetes. Yet somehow I still managed to fail the screening. This was disappointing to say the least, but the screening test is known to have a fairly high false positive rate.

So this meant that I had to go take the 3 hour glucose tolerance test (again). On the positive side, since I'd been thro

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Pregnant & Posting: 23 & 24 Weeks

The past couple of weeks have been awfully busy for me. In fact, I'm at home today with a kiddo who has strep throat. (Here's hoping I don't pick it up too!) So if this entry is a bit disjointed, you'll have to forgive me.

At my most recent appointment with my obgyn, everything looked good. I'd gained 2 lbs. My doctor is still not particularly concerned because of the overall weight loss that I had during the first trimester. My blood pressure and urine were fine as well. Little one's heartbeat was in the 150s, exactly where it should be, and I'm feeling lots of movement now. In fact, if I'm laying down or sitting in just the right position, you can sometimes see particularly strong movements or kicks. My partner was able to feel movement around 23 weeks this time (about a week later than he could feel it with my previous pregnancy). To me, movement this pregnancy feels different than it did in my last. With my other child, his head was on my right side and his feet were up high on m

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Morning-After Misunderstandings

Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman's uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their websites.

Such descriptions have become kindling in the fiery debate over abortion and contraception. Based on the belief that a fertilized egg is a person, some religious groups and conservative politicians say disrupting a fertilized egg's ability to attach to the uterus is abortion, "the moral equivalent of homicide," as Dr. Donna Harrison, who directs research for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, put it. Mitt Romney recently called emergency contraceptives "abortive pills." And two former Republican presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have made similar statements.

But an examination by The New York Times has found tha

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Pregnant & Posting: 21 & 22 Weeks

It's not even noon and I've cried at least 10 separate times today. Hooray.

I had another topic in mind for this blog entry, but I'm incredibly emotional today and just can't quite tackle the topic I wanted. One of the things I've discovered about pregnancy is that it amplifies everything. The good and the bad. When I feel good, it's like the most awesome thing that's ever happened. My other child smiles at me and it truly is like the sun shines down. Funny things seem funnier than usual. When I'm feeling ambitious, it really feels like I could conquer the world. I am super woman, I am super mom, I can do all things!

But it's really a double-edged sword, because with the good comes the bad. My temper is shorter. I've got much less patience for things that frustrate me. Last week, I cut off several inches of my hair just because it bothered me that day. Little things that my partner does that would be just a minor irritation and truly no big deal suddenly seem like the worst thing in t

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Pregnant & Posting: 18 & 19 weeks

It's been an exciting and also unexciting couple of weeks. Life is changing, as it often seems to do.

At my last doctor's appointment I had gained a couple of pounds. My care provider was okay with this because it puts me back on the way to my pre-pregnancy weight. My partner was able to come to my appointment with me this time. We got to hear the heartbeat again. I'll also have my "survey ultrasound" (level II ultrasound) in the next couple of weeks. Sometimes people refer to this as a "gender ultrasound," although checking out reproductive organs is not even the primary goal of the procedure. It's not a required procedure. The primary purpose is to look at specific aspects of the fetus and see if there are any indications of possible abnormalities. The technician will take measurements of the limbs, look at the placenta & umbilical cord, and take pictures of the brain and spinal cord.

They also may be able to see the reproductive structures. In some areas, ultrasound technicians in

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Pregnant & Posting: 16 & 17 Weeks

3 words...round ligament pain. Oh my.

This is probably my biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks. And my goodness, it is uncomfortable! Round ligament pain happen as the uterus expands in pregnancy. There are ligaments (special muscles) that hold the uterus in place in the abdomen. During pregnancy, the uterus expands and the fetus grows and consequently these ligaments have to stretch to accommodate the larger size of the uterus. Just like when you stretch any other muscle in ways it is not used to, pain can result. Even though I've experienced it before (with my previous pregnancy), it's still a shock when it happens. Sometimes it occurs when I get up from a sitting position or when I roll over at night. It can happen at other times as well, but those are fairly common. The pain is a shock that takes my breath away until it eases, just like any kind of muscle cramp would.

I also had a slight illness scare during Week 17 that called attention to how scary it can sometimes b

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Pregnant & Posting 14 & 15 weeks

It's been a busy couple of weeks (both in terms of life in general and in my pregnancy).

At the beginning of week 14, I had my most recent appointment with my OB/GYN. This time I'd only lost 1 lb in the month. While weight loss in early pregnancy is not completely unusual, in most cases care providers would rather see you maintain weight or gain around 5 lbs by the end of the first trimester. Since my weight loss is still relatively low (around 5-6 lbs total), my doctor is not too worried.

Because I hadn't had one in a year, I was due for a pap smear. During my first pregnancy, I had a pap before I became pregnant. However, had I needed an exam they would have done it during my first or second appointment. The office policy has changed since then and now if a patient needs a pap, they wait until you are more than 12 weeks to do the exam. I've never been particularly bothered by gyn exams, so as usual, I had no problem with this exam. My doctor conducted a regular physical (listening

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