Working While Pregnant

by Honolulu Mother

This was an interesting read, despite the provocative title:

Should You Bring Your Unborn Baby to Work?

We’ve discussed maternity/paternity leave before, but this one focuses on the question of taking time off or going to lighter duties in late pregnancy.

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147 thoughts on “Working While Pregnant

  1. It examines how what happens to your mother during pregnancy can affect your vulnerability to any number of lifelong disorders, including asthma, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and schizophrenia and other psychiatric problems.

    Children born to mothers who were pregnant during the famine had double the risk of heart disease later in life compared with children whose mothers didn’t starve.

    Oh for fuck’s sake!

    Being pregnant during a famine in an active war zone doubles your child’s risk of heart disease. So, that basically means that anything any well meaning totebag parent does is going to have no appreciable impact at all.

  2. Yikes, one more thing to worry about! I had a stressful job when I was pregnant, and I asked my OB/GYN about it. She told me there was a study done on women who had been pregnant during WWII while London was being bombed and they didn’t find any negative effects on the babies. I figured my job was not quite as stressful as huddling in a tube station while Germans tried to kill me.

  3. So pregnant women should get the flu vaccine. War is bad for you. Poverty is bad for you. Paid parental leave is good for you!

    I think giving EVERYONE 12 weeks of paid parental leave would be awesome. Anyone want to guess when the US will have paid parental leave? 50 years? 100?

  4. I had never heard a lot of these theories before, and found it fascinating. And guilt-inducing. Is my second child’s sensory processing issues, anxiety, learning issues, etc all my fault? I was diagnosed incorrectly and treated for something while pregnant that they discovered a week or two later was a mistake. I could make myself crazy blaming myself for this stuff. For now, I just tell them to write it down so when they go on Dr Phil to discuss how scarred they are that they won’t forget anything.

  5. Is my second child’s sensory processing issues, anxiety, learning issues, etc all my fault?

    No.

  6. I find this stuff fascinating and I’m less persuaded by the impact of stress (lots of babies being born during wars throughout history) than I am about the impact of nutritional status on the lifelong health of the baby. That book I posted about the other day “Deep Nutrition” delves into the subject quite a bit. The author also recommends spacing your babies out by at least three years and optimally four years so the mother has a chance to replenish all of the vitamins/minerals that are lost in pregnancy (which I didn’t do, but find the argument compelling).

  7. I think about all the kids raised in poverty, without caring parents, without enough to eat, etc. and realize that my kids have it pretty d*mned good. Are they perfect? No–they have our genes! : )

    That said, I’m not going to feel guilty about working and providing health insurance when I was pregnant.

  8. “The author also recommends spacing your babies out by at least three years and optimally four years”

    After getting your graduate degree, working for a sufficient number of years to establish yourself in your profession, taking enough time to really meet the right person and making sure that you’re old enough to know exactly who you are before you get married, being married for a couple of years so you can experience life together just as a couple before adding kids to the mix, paying off your grad school loans and saving enough to afford a house in the best school district, and only then should you consider adding one baby. After that, wait another FOUR years to let your body replenish its vitamins.

    This has the added benefit of maximizing the number of years you’ll have at least one child under the age of five requiring full-time care.

  9. Milo – Oh I know it’s totally unrealistic for your average Totebagger if you want more than two kids, but I think there’s something to it (based on my anecdotal research of myself):). After both my 2nd and 3rd kids I was found to be severely deficient in Vitamin D and I had some weird neurological symptoms (like what North of Boston described the other day) after the third. All solved with bettering my diet, but pregnancy/breastfeeding takes a lot out of women (or at least me) and I think women are more likely to have healthier pregnancies and babies if they eat very well and let themselves recover.

    And it would be around three years to replenish your body, + 9 months of pregnancy.

  10. Milo,

    The reference group consisted of the women aged 25–29 years. Women with advancing age (≥30 years) revealed significantly increased risk of prematurity, perineal lacerations, preeclampsia, abruption, placenta previa, postpartum haemorrhage and unfavourable neonatal outcomes compared with the reference group.

    So, if you have your first kid at 25 then have a total of three your last kid will be born when you’re 37. Presumably, any nutritional benefits would be outweighed by the risks of increasing maternal age.

  11. “All solved with bettering my diet, but pregnancy/breastfeeding takes a lot out of women”

    If only we had something that could eliminate the need for breastfeeding.

  12. RHett, you crack me up. On the spacing by 4 years! That all but eliminates the possibility that the siblings could be friends. By the time #3 is 10, #1 is out of there.

  13. Yeah, yeah but then I couldn’t be a martyr.:) My husband knows how I love to say that I’ve spent the last four and a half years pregnant or nursing.

  14. For college-educated women, the average age of first birth (30) has risen along with the average age of marriage (27).

  15. “My husband knows how I love to say that I’ve spent the last four and a half years pregnant or nursing.”

    DW and I were watching the Duggars last night and I estimated that Michelle has spent a cumulative 15 years of her life pregnant (it’s a little tricky, because there are two sets of twins, and two miscarriages).

  16. MBT – absolutely not your fault.

    I have twins. One (A) has sensory and other issues; the other (B) does not. A was the larger baby, born first naturally and generally the one expected to thrive. B was born with a hole in his heart, was always hovering around the 5th percentile in weight and was/is more delicate. They come how they come.

    Plus if you were diagnosed incorrectly how on earth is that your fault?

    Don’t go down those guilt-laden rabbit holes. No good comes of it.

    As for spacing, so I should have had one embryo frozen and tried again in 3 years? Somehow I don’t think that is what the author intends. With IVF, we had two viable embryos and had both inserted. (So romantic! DH, me, the doctor, the nurses – ah the memories.) Odds of having not having twins – 70%.

  17. Both my kids were very cooperative in arriving on the weekend. In both cases I was able to make it to work till Friday. In case of my second kid, my boss was expecting me to work the following week from home – I had my work buttoned up but I didn’t want to freak her out by saying that the baby would arrive before Monday. In both cases the big adjustments came after the kids were born, not before.

  18. The stress studies are ambiguous – the best was the study of women during the Six Days’ War, which isn’t comparable to most of corporate America. I hope :)

    However, I still took the last trimester “off” with my kids. Working from home, no housework, minimal cooking, a lot of lying on my left side. After a bad bout of preterm labor with my first when I nearly lost her, I decided that having living, healthy children was more important to me than any career.

    I told my friends I could always get another job somewhere, but I would never get the time back.

    If Sheryl Sandburg comes by with some criticism, who cares? Wait until her daughters or daughters-in-law insist on being homeschooling SAHMs….

  19. Once again, a parenting article that all the wrong mothers will worry about and feel guilty about. Pffft!

    I laughed at Milo’s timeline. So true.

  20. I’m about two months out from delivery and really, really thankful to be working my current job. It’s challenging and interesting but the hours are manageable and the stress is reasonable. The trade-off is no paid maternity leave, whereas at the firm I would have had three months paid with the option to take an additional three months unpaid. A pretty steep price to pay but worth it to me because I am not dreading these last couple of months.

    And regarding the guilt/blame cycle, I think all this research is very interesting but I basically ignore it because it can make you completely crazy (or at least would make me nuts). I’m doing the best I can with the information and situation I have and I think that’s all anyone can do. Not to mention as many have pointed out, Totebagger babies are extremely fortunate in the grand scheme regardless.

  21. Hey, at least the 3-4+ year spacing is favored by financial aid!

    Anecdotally my younger sister and I are almost Irish twins. It took a huge toll on my mom, who has been borderline underweight her whole life. And my sister was frequently sick as a child and was MUCH smaller than my other siblings and I were at a given age (the others had 3-4 year spacings). And she is not physically or mentally healthy as an adult. It is probably just coincidence, but I do plan to space my own out at least 2.5 years or so. Part of the reason we’re starting “young” by Totebag standards.

  22. Sky, my husband is currently doing nearly 100% of the housework and cooking. This is all compounded by the fact that I sprained my ankle two weeks ago.

  23. Milo – LOL. Have you seen that first scene in Idiocracy?

    Among our friends, most people had kids approx. 2 years apart. More than 3 years is unusual. Most mothers were ‘older’ (32-40) when their first was born, so they wanted to have kids born for sibling closeness, but also for fertility issues.

  24. My DD is now hooked on the Duggars so I watched a new episode with her earlier this week. I want to say in writing that there NYer in me judged them unfairly. I love these kids….they are funny, seem smart, and they have so many of the same interests and concerns that my own DD has – even though our lives are very different.

    I delivered in NYC even though I was already living in the burbs. I didn’t want to switch my doctor because there was a good chance that I would be in NYC if I went into labor at work. I did work until my due date because I felt fine. I would have asked to work from home, or STD if I didn’t feel ok.

    My water broke as we were getting ready to go into the city via Metro North for work, so we drove to the hospital instead. I am lucky that my labor was so slow to progress because the traffic was so heavy during rush hour that the doctor actually called me to see why we never showed up at the hospital. The one negative that I know now is that some NYC hospitals are still very stressed for space, and there are not enough L & D rooms, or rooms on the maternity floors. I was triaged in a hallway for about an hour until someone finally delivered because so many people were in labor on the day that I showed up.

  25. “Hey, at least the 3-4+ year spacing is favored by financial aid!”

    Irrelevant–they’ll get NMSF scholarships.

    “Have you seen that first scene in Idiocracy?”

    no. should that be on our list of things to watch?

  26. Stress on a preemie has actually been shown to be correlated with better outcomes. Preemies who were born after a long period of issues tend to do better than those who are born quickly. They believe it is related to steroids that the woman’s body produces during stressful time. Steroid shots are given to women who are going to deliver early because it helps speed up the lung development.

    I am trying to word this so that it doesn’t sound insensitive- babies have an extreme desire to live and thrive. It is quite amazing. I have a hard time believing that normal stress of everyday life really matters. Or most of the things we worry about (e.g., breastfeeding v formula feeding) My oldest didn’t have a third trimester. And if you (a casual observer) saw him, you wouldn’t know it. There are things that he deals with that I suspect are correlated to being a preemie, but (knock on wood) he will likely have a very normal totebaggy life.

  27. I found the article fairly weak (for the Atlantic, I could have forgiven the HuffPost).The best conclusions the experts can draw are things like: “But the bulk of evidence seems to suggest that something is there.”

    A good look at fetal stress responses would include some discussion of twin-twin transfusion syndrome. An uncommon complication of twin pregnancy, one twin ‘steals’ most of the nourishment. This can be fatal. If both twins make it to viability, one is fat and beautiful and the other is skinny and ill-appearing. However, it is the scrawny twin that does remarkably well outside the womb — it has been exposed to a large amount of stress hormones and has well-developed lungs. It is more vigorous. The fat, soft baby is more likely to die in the immediate post natal world where everything isn’t so easily stolen from the sibling.

    To speed lung development, we often give pregnant women large doses of steroids (which the body produces naturally in stressful situations) — if you are in preterm labor, they will often do everything possible to keep baby inside for 48 hours for the steroids to work.

    Stress can clearly have beneficial effects on pregnancy, and likely deleterious ones as well. We should not make recommendations on it just because “something is there”.

  28. “However, it is the scrawny twin that does remarkably well outside the womb — it has been exposed to a large amount of stress hormones and has well-developed lungs. It is more vigorous. The fat, soft baby is more likely to die in the immediate post natal world where everything isn’t so easily stolen from the sibling.”

    This reads like a recruiting poster for the Marine Corps.

  29. Marine Recruiter? Is that a job that pays >100k where I can work from home 2 days per week and from 9-3:30 in the office?? SIgn me up.

  30. “Is that a job that pays >100k where I can work from home 2 days per week and from 9-3:30 in the office??”

    It probably is, actually. For about three years. Then you move on to something else and you’re deployed for eight months.

  31. Interesting! I work in a similar field to the author’s wife and travelled quite a bit throughout my pregnancy (which can be stressful), but didn’t have to work the crazy late hours mentioned. It makes me thankful for my current gig, especially as there is opportunity for flexibility and a lot of my peers/management also have families.

    I do think that control over environment is a critical theme in a lot of what we discuss; very interesting to read how it *might* have implications even before we’re born.

  32. “After both my 2nd and 3rd kids I was found to be severely deficient in Vitamin D”

    Perhaps you stayed indoors too much during your 2nd and 3rd pregnancies.

  33. “Irrelevant–they’ll get NMSF scholarships.”

    Not necessarily- the top tier schools do not offer NM scholarships, or merit aid in general. As the Harvard director of admissions said, “all our students are meritorious.”

    I believe more NMSF attend Harvard than any other college, and none on NM scholarship.

  34. Also, I’ve been surprised by how many people are themselves surprised to learn that I am working up until baby arrives. If you are limited on leave (especially paid!) and still feel good enough to work, why wouldn’t you continue? Though I am jealous of acquaintances who have a corporate policy that they stop work several weeks prior to their due date (I assume that this is paid leave in addition to FMLA based on the rest of their leave schedule)!

  35. “Also, I’ve been surprised by how many people are themselves surprised to learn that I am working up until baby arrives.”

    If you’re sitting in an office typing, waddling to meetings, and shuffling back and forth to lunch, WTF cares? It’s a hell of a lot more taxing when you’re physically caring for two or three older children while getting ready to deliver, but nobody is crying for paid leave for them.

  36. I worked up to 40 weeks (due date was easter sunday). Had a doctors note on Monday, went home and went into labor, DS was born on Tuesday

  37. lol “waddling” and “shuffling” So true.

    That being said, different policies apply to pregnant women who commute hours each day by train and subway. At least they used to back a few years ago.

  38. I don’t think it is pregnancy that causes Vit D deficiency – According to a 2009 Scientific American Article : “Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin” whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research. The trend marks a dramatic increase in the amount of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S., according to findings set to be published tomorrow in the Archives of Internal Medicine.”

  39. So, indulge me while I put forth a theory. c. 1981 the editor of the New York times didn’t really know what stories people were reading. The editor of Time or Life might know if they saw a surge in news stand sales. But, in either case it was all somewhat indirect.

    These days, editors know exactly what stories people are reading online, they even know how many readers are reading to the end of the story. I wonder if that’s why we see more of these kinds of alarmist click baity stories?

  40. I worked right up to days before giving birth both times. I did stop traveling with the first a few months before due date and worked from home the last week since my commute was 1.5 hours each way by then and the guys in the office, especially my Partner, were terrified I would go into labor at work.

  41. whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research.

    The obvious culprit – sunscreen, sun shirts, etc.

  42. my daughter takes Vit D supplements per her endocrinologist and has her levels tested annually. On her last visit to her general pediatrician he said she was the only kid he has seen in years that tested normal for Vit D – and I told him that is because she takes the supplements – he hadn’t gotten to that part of the chart yet.

  43. Everyone I know who has had it checked is Vitamin D deficient. It seems to be the thing now.

  44. Cat S,

    If only there was a way our skin could produce vitamin D…. wouldn’t that be something.

  45. Melanoma and wrinkles or Vitamin D deficiency- pick your poison…

    We all want to hear that things (sunlight, foods, etc.) are definitively “good” or “bad” but maybe the truth is that they reduce the risks of some things while simultaneously increasing other risks. Like alcohol and heart disease vs. breast cancer.

  46. “whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research.”

    Stop wearing your sunscreen! Lack of Vitamin D will give you cancer now.

  47. Finn – that’s likely for me. I had all my kids in the summer and it is way too hot down here to be outside in the summer.

    Rio – the author also has a theory called “2nd sibling syndrome” where the first kid gets all the nutritional advantages of being the first and the subsequent children are not as healthy, not as good looking (jaws not well formed, eyes closer together, etc.) because the past few generations of men and women are nutritionally deficient (epigenetics).

    I think MidA is correct in that if there are repercussions of stress during pregnancy, it directly falls on those that don’t have control of their schedule/the money to weather any sort of time off from work. The working poor are those that will suffer, not those of us who have desk jobs or even stressful white collar jobs with travel.

  48. Milo–I don’t think people care (or are critical of the decision to keep working); I think most of those commenting just haven’t really thought it through. Also, I thought I would be WFH more than I have been–knowing that I will be home at the apt for the next 3 months actually makes it more appealing to go into work (so long as the sidewalks aren’t iced over)!

  49. I’ll stick with my Vit D deficiency. Doesn’t milk have it any way? I drink a latte a day.

  50. “if there are repercussions of stress during pregnancy, it directly falls on those that don’t have control of their schedule/the money to weather any sort of time off from work. The working poor are those that will suffer”

    That’s why they had it right on Downton, when the girls who were in service were in their rooms at night, and Mrs. Hughes locked the door connecting from the male servants’ quarters.

  51. My boss did go into labor in our offices. I was working for a bank that had offices all over Manhattan, but that particular office was located at the tip of Manhattan. I remember because she had to get back to NJ to deliver and she got stuck in traffic in the Holland tunnel. I think she was a month early, so you never know….

    I did hate flying while I was pregnant. I am not sure what I was thinking, but I also crossed the country 4 times in one month while i was pregnant. I was working on a film deal, and I traveled between NY and LA every week for a month. I even went to Australia when I was five months. I can’t imagine doing all of this now, but I don’t think I gave it a lot of thought once my doctor said it was ok.

  52. I worked on Friday and went into labor on Saturday. DS was 3 weeks early (so full term by a few hours), so I wasn’t really expecting to give birth that early. But I had never planned to take any time off before the baby came. I wanted to save all my time off to recover/bond after he was born. My desk/office job was really not physically taxing or even particularly stressful, although I did worry about my commute. (at the time, I was commuting over an hour each way)

  53. For both my kids, I worked up til Friday and delivered Monday. For the first, it was still a week before my due date, but I just decided I was having the baby that weekend. So I saved everything to floppy disks and left instructions for people, so on. I was so bummed at bedtime Sunday night, knowing what a hard time I would get Monday morning. I went into labor about an hour later. (Emergency C, had about 3 contractions before the spinal, baby was out in less than ten minutes. All in all, a very civilized way to have a child)

  54. I have had 3 c-sections, one of which was scheduled. Show up at 8 am with hair and make-up done, doctor chats with you while drinking some coffee, roll in to the operating room, baby arrives a few minutes later and in your hospital room by 10:30. I remember thinking, damn, this is how it is done.

  55. That, plus I have never been a big fan of the sun. Prefer to sit under an umbrella to read.

  56. My first I delivered on Monday with the prior Friday (at home) my last official day of work, she was two weeks early. Second was born on a Saturday and I was supposed to work one more week – he was three weeks early. On that last Friday my boss told me, I don’t think you will be here next week, leave instructions for what you have left – I left him a voicemail on Sat afternoon that it turned out he was right.

  57. The hardest time for me was going back to work at a new job after my second kid. I had settled into one toddler and commute but a toddler, baby and commute had me extremely exhausted and sleep deprived. I wished we had a sleep pod at work where I could take a nap during lunch.

  58. I also worked up until delivery all 3x – first was 4 weeks early, second on time (first 2 were Sundays), third on time on a Friday.

  59. Technically I went into labor at the office for two of mine (both born on a Saturday) but wasn’t going straight to the hospital from the office; I went home first and in one case even had the better part of a night’s sleep as the contractions eased off from late night till early morning. For my youngest, I was dressed and about to head to work when it became clear that I’d better head to the hospital instead, so I dropped the other two at daycare/preschool as usual and just headed off to a different destination.

  60. So, the thing about vitamin D and extraskeletal health (meaning everything but your bones) is that low levels are bad, but supplements don’t necessarily improve anything. So, a person with low D is more likely to have a heart attack than a person with high D, but for most outcomes, no one has been able to prove that giving the low D person some extra D puts them in the same category as the person with naturally high D.

    Why? Maybe the low D is a result of sitting at a desk job 10 hours a day under florescent lights and the high D is someone who is regularly exercising outside. Adding D to your desk job life doesn’t change anything. Maybe there is a different vitamin that is actually responible, Z, and Z is the one that affects breast cancer development. Both D and Z are made by the same pathway involving sunlight. Adding D increases your D level, but doesn’t increase the Z — therefore the supplement doesn’t change your risk of cancer.

    We do pretty limited sunscreen (and my children are on the whitewhitewhite side) and I mostly do controlled sun exposure (breaks in the shade, long sleeve t-shirts). They get some color on their skin by the end of summer and I think it is, on balance, good for them,

  61. My sun exposure practice for kids is similar to Ada’s but it’s because I’m lazy rather than because of any compelling theory. I suspect skin cancer is over-diagnosed/treated and we are not at particularly high risk here in the Pacific Northwest, where the typical UV index is 1.

  62. I don’t do sunscreen on my kids unless we’re going to be out all day at the beach. For the 30 minutes they are running around the playground (which is pretty shaded) at daycare I don’t bother (but I am in the minority, especially in the toddler rooms, as I see every cubby has the requisite bottle of sunscreen).

  63. “Melanoma and wrinkles or Vitamin D deficiency- pick your poison…” Not mutually exclusive! Mine is only basal cell, but still dealing with treatment for skin cancer and having to take Vitamin D supplements at the same time.

  64. With regards to the original article, the people who read The Atlantic and The New York Times don’t seem very interested in how much effect the stuff you can’t control (genetics, age, other people’s bad choices, family of origin) has on your life vs. stuff you can control (diet, job, choice of spouse, where you live, information according to which you make choices) And that there are trade-offs even among what you can control.

    I’m a control freak compared to the general population, but apparently not compared to the target audience of some populations.

    In other news, I sent a birth announcement to the guy who came to the hospital during my non-stress test to change my flat tire for me.

  65. “Stress can clearly have beneficial effects on pregnancy, and likely deleterious ones as well. We should not make recommendations on it just because “something is there”.”

    +100. This is vague, unspecified “but it must be *something* is crazy-making. My advice to anyone currently pregnant is to ignore the hell out of stuff like this, because it does no good whatsoever. Best-case, your kid is fine, you worried needlessly. Worst-case, something goes wrong, you spend the rest of your life wondering whether there was something you could have done differently.

    I was put on bedrest with several pregnancies for bleeding. One of the docs was very frank that there was no reason to believe that bedrest worked, but they figured it couldn’t hurt. I miscarried anyway. So how much time do you think I spent over the next few years worrying that it was my fault, because maybe I shouldn’t have gotten up for that sandwich, or should have somehow forced myself to “relax” more instead of worrying about miscarrying, or whatever? I was lucky that they finally did find some autoimmune things that were probably the cause (which apparently I can now blame on my mom for being borderline anorexic during her early pregnancy).

    So this vague “oh, gee, we don’t know what it is, but there might be something there, so it can’t hurt to do xxx” — well, yeah, maybe it won’t hurt the baby, but is sure as hell *does* hurt the mom when things go bad despite best efforts. Although from some of these articles, and the approach of some medical practitioners, you’d think we are irrelevant, other than a birthing-vessel-and-stress-conduit for our progeny. But that’s a rant for another day.

    I think it’s much more helpful to look at the science and say, “ok, no active war zone, check; no ongoing famine, check; my work is a nice office job that doesn’t force me to work in horrendous weather/operating dangerous machinery/exposed to God-knows-what, check — ok, looks like I’m good.”

  66. MidA, I’ve had several people have the same reaction–essentially assuming that I am going to take leave a few weeks before my due date. It seems to be a combination of (1) assuming I get some paid leave and, related, (2) not considering that I would much rather save my limited days for post-birth (unless medically necessary).

  67. I concur with LfB about the emotional pain of unexplained pregnancy losses on the Mom. I worked limited hours during my last 5 weeks (no standing for hours at equipment) and am fortunate to have a supportive manager and colleagues- they are all happy I had my first TERM baby. By that point, though, I was more worried about the baby coming early than that she would die or be harmed.

    Finn, isn’t it good that my water didn’t break over a waffle floor over a subfab and basement? :)

  68. Technically a snow day here, though sun is shinning for the first day in so many I can’t remember!

    OT – My first OB/GYN said that human beings have been having babies for several thousand years – some babies are born “perfect” , others are born with “flaws” , and a few never make it to being born. Most of what you choose to do or not do will not affect your baby overall. However, if you did any of theses things in the extreme (not eating…famine..would fall in this category/binge drinking nightly, etc.), there is a higher risk of having a baby with some health issues. But, even if you did EVERYTHING right, it doesn’t guarantee a “perfect” baby. I think that is basically true.

    The other component is what happens once you get here. Yes, you can do things that you know are detrimental – drink excessively for example – but life is a balance of risks – do I drive a car when I am pregnant, even though I might get hit.

    Both of my DDs were induced, so I worked up until the day before they were induced. The day before, I puttered around the house getting everything ready. With DD#2, spent some extra time with DD#1 and then took her to the grandparents where she was stayin until I came home.

  69. “Finn, isn’t it good that my water didn’t break over a waffle floor over a subfab and basement? :)”

    Yes, but….

    When I worked in a fab, many of the operators (I suppose there are far fewer now than there were then– when I started, they still loaded boats by hand) were females of childbearing age, and (as one of the female supervisors explained quite graphically to my boss when we were designing a new fab), we needed to have measures in place because such females sometimes unknowingly deposit liquids on the floor.

  70. “no one has been able to prove that giving the low D person some extra D puts them in the same category as the person with naturally high D.”

    Isn’t it similar for vitamin E, except there’s evidence suggesting that vitamin E supplements cause negative effects?

    Cat, I believe you get more vitamin D reading under an umbrella (but not in a building) than reading inside a building.

  71. Now that we are done #momshaming (really, wouldn’t the totebag benefit from more hashtag use?) – can I hijack?

    I would like an ellipitical, and it seems like a good product to buy used, as people (perhaps me, too) buy them with good intentions and then they get lightly used and sold at significant discount. Any experience with Nordic Trac or Bowflex brands? Other thoughts?

  72. “An uncommon complication of twin pregnancy, one twin ‘steals’ most of the nourishment. This can be fatal. If both twins make it to viability, one is fat and beautiful and the other is skinny and ill-appearing.”

    This brings to mind the movie, “Twins,” with Ahnold and Danny DeVito as twins separated at birth.

  73. On the original post, my SIL is a large animal vet (cows, horses, llamas, sheep, etc.) which is a very physically demanding job. She is a sole practitioner; sometimes has a vet tech to assist her. My amazing SIL worked pretty much up to her due date – and then was back at work 6 weeks after giving birth to her 3rd kid. Her mom and the baby went with her so my SIL could nurse in between calls (she’s in a rural area and calls are pretty spread out so she couldn’t go back to her house).

    I told my SIL she was making me look bad since I took 12 weeks before I went back to my cushy desk job – and she was back out working with large animals after 6 weeks (and she’d had a C-section). I was very impressed.

  74. @Finn — you’re right. While serum levels of certain things correlate with disease outcomes closely in many cases (cholesterol, for examply), there are very few things that seem to be amenable to change simply by changing the serum level of a vitamin/mineral/etc. Iron and thyroid hormone would be an exception.

    If I recall, the study on Vitamin E had to be stopped early because of all the extra deaths (in the population receiving supplements)

  75. Cat, I believe you get more vitamin D reading under an umbrella (but not in a building) than reading inside a building.

    I think that’s true. When we go to the beach, even with the umbrellas you need to put on sun screen after a while or you’ll get burnt. I assume some UV leaks through the umbrella material and the rest is reflected off the sand and such.

  76. On vitamin D – Ada, I’ve always wondered if there’s any difference in taking something like cod liver oil for vitamin D rather than vitamin d in the form of cholecalciferol in terms of how well your body absorbs it. Being a belt/suspenders type of person, I currently take both.

    I and my kids and DH all spend a fair amount of time outside without sunscreen. I have had 2 melanomas removed but have always wondered if it was due to the many sunburns I got as a young kid living in CA rather than the sun exposure I get as an adult.

  77. I thought the issue in D deficiency is that we need D3, and most ppl get inky D. D is in “vitamin D fortified” things and D3 is not. You need to search out D3. So I’ve been told, but Ada may know.

  78. SSM, I need to see data on where people grew up- the people I know in Oregon with skin cancer are southern California transplants. Data should look at where people were under 18, not where they die. :)

  79. “Yah gotta hang the clothes on something.”

    Bullsh1t. We’ve had a VisionFitness for going on eight years now that sees regular use. At the time, the key features for this one were 1) telemetric heart rate monitoring with corresponding automatic resistance adjustment; and 2) the ability to change the elevation/grade of the stride. There’s a screw gear that rotates and raises/lowers one end of the track. This changes both the grade that you’re “running” on as well as the stride length.

    Also pay attention to the weight of the flywheel, the gauge of the steel used for the arms and foot pedals, and maybe make sure that the resistance comes from an electromagnet and not a friction belt or something like that. But that’s probably old news.

    My only complaint is that sometimes it gets kind of squeaky. The bearings are bushings/friction, not ball bearings. A squeak can be really frustrating, and I’ve taken it apart as best I can, sometimes tried to inject WD-40 into a bushing, at other points I’ve dripped bicycle chain lube in there. I can’t quite figure out if dry/graphite style lubricants or wet ones are better. (hey, now). The squeaks come and go. Also, the bolts are all hex bolts, and the last time I was trying to do this, I may have permanently stripped the bolts in utter frustration, maybe I was using metric hex wrenches instead of British or vice-versa, I don’t know. At this point, if I stripped the bolts, the only way I might ever get it through the door out of its room is with a hack saw. It’s working for now, though.

    Quite a review, I’m sure. I think we paid about $2800.

  80. What I wanted to say was that if I were buying a new one now and I found one that used all ball bearings instead of bushings, I would be willing to pay a premium. I’ll be curious to know what you discover.

  81. @Ada: My only advice on the elliptical is to try a number of different brands in a few stores before you buy. Especially with an elliptical, the height/length/angle of stride are very critical to comfort — I know both brands you mentioned are very popular, for ex., but I found them both intolerable (one of them made me feel like I was going to throw my knee out every cycle).

  82. Ada– freecycle?

    I have a Nordic Track XC ski trainer (free from freecycle), and a Bowflex resistance training machine (actually not ours, but BIL doesn’t have room for it), but I don’t think I can help you with choosing an elliptical between those brands, other than to say I’ve not had problems with either.

    But if you can get one free, I wouldn’t be picky about the brand.

    I use an elliptical regularly, at our rec center and at the gym. I’ll check the brands next time I’m there.

    You might also want to check the Nordic Track website now. They have a sale that ends today.

  83. And we are also having our biggest snow of the year to date — even DS is already home. I know it sounds weird, but after so many school delays/cancellations for projections that fizzled, I’m actually kinda relieved that we finally got a projection that panned out. :-)

  84. Milo, you might try TriFlow.

    LfB, we’re also getting snow in our state, but it hasn’t gotten to where it’s affected any schools.

  85. I’m still sick, so all the comments & article are too much reading for me; but I will say that I find it funny that this group immediately tries to apply this sort of research to themselves, as if there were not other populations to whom it is likely to be much more applicable and pertinent.

  86. Ada, I have the Best Fitness E1.

    I really like it. The resistance adjusts but not the height, I think. No problems in 3+ years, and no squeaks.

    It’s really heavy, so I would recommend buying it after you move and putting it in the basement, if the new place has one.

  87. LfB, if your preggo mom was borderline anorexic, it was probably with Dr approval. That’s how they did it. Mine gained 34 lbs with me. 2+ weeks after the due date, at her checkup, her doc wrote something on his Rx pad , ripped it off officiously & told her to give it to her husband. It said “too fat”. She cried, & this began our relationship. Seeing as I was 10lb 4 oz, that weight gain seems just fine to me.

  88. “but I will say that I find it funny that this group immediately tries to apply this sort of research to themselves, as if there were not other populations to whom it is likely to be much more applicable and pertinent.”

    Well, to be fair, I do believe that the prevailing theme of the comments to date is precisely how *little* our demographic should worry about stuff like this.

  89. Yeah, no, it wasn’t medically-sanctioned, more passive-aggressive rebellion. That’s a really sad, sad story, though.

  90. oops — sorry, Saac, I meant the doc’s note to your mom was sad. My mom’s fine. :-)

  91. This snow storm stinks because the forecast was off for our area. The only smart call seems to be that the schools closed for the day instead of opening with a delay. They did NOT predict a major snow storm for this area. We were supposed to get 1 – 3 inches because we were told it would be a major event for all locations NYC and south. As a result, a lot more places did not panic,but the roads are terrible. So many people went into the office today when they probably would have worked from home if they knew it would snow all day and that roads would be treacherous. The weather guys are apologizing now, but its a mess. I think I like it better when they predict a huge storm, and everyone is prepared even if it turns out to be a bust. The plane that slipped off the runway at LGA earlier today is the exact thing that is happening all over the roads near our home.

  92. 1. Elliptical. I have a Precor. Love it. I find that it is really sturdy and doesn’t move a lot and make the house shake, even though it is on an upper floor. If you are putting the machine on a ground floor right over the slab, I think that is less of a concern.

    2. Milo at 12:06, thank you.

    3. I have always assumed the decline in kids vitamin D levels is related to reduced consumption of cows milk. Vit D supplementation was introduced because so many kids living in tenements or northern climates were deficient, to prevent rickets. Kids on farms did not usually have an issue. Most children of all strata drink beverages other than milk, even if it is just water.

  93. ” I have always assumed the decline in kids vitamin D levels is related to reduced consumption of cows milk”

    I wonder if vitamin D deficiency is a problem with Asian kids as well. Many Asians are lactose intolerant, and cow milk isn’t necessarily a normal item in many Asian households (the latter may have led to the former), where soy milk is often served.

    “Kids on farms did not usually have an issue. ”

    Perhaps they spend more time outdoors?

  94. I think people get minimal Vitamin D from food. I think Finn is correct in that the deficiencies are likely caused by sunscreen and less time outdoors.

  95. I skimmed this article quite interested in it’s words. You see I am this article.

    My house flooded the exact same week of gestation that the palate forms. Did the stress cause the birth defect?

    I had a very non stress job as I found out I was pregnant, but when I got pregnant, I worked in a science lab with chemicals, noise, and stressful long days. Did that cause my placenta to not form/work right and therefore cause the IUGR disgnosis?

    All possible. And I found out that 4 other babies were born in RI right around my kid with the same unusual cleft palate. Is it environmental? Is the air pollution causing it? All possibilities.

    But I choose not to think about this. I can’t devote that energy. Should women think about their surroundings while pregnant? Absolutely. But until the government steps up with support for the women in the shift work and high stress jobs it’s not gonna happen. As I said to everyone who begged me to take time off after I was essentially grounded (work and home only), “someone’s gotta make money in this family”

  96. Ay, Rhode, don’t make yourself crazy wondering about that. This is the sort of information that’s interesting on a statistical, population-wide policy-making level, but crazymaking on an individual level.

  97. @Rhode – I agree with HM. Beyond taking reasonable care of oneself given the circumstances one is in (and I violated some things that would get me excommunicated from that DC Patents Forum) there is nothing more you can do.

  98. Rhode, please don’t beat yourself up about this. You will probably never know with certainty if this would have happened even if you lied in bed for nine months in a perfect environment. Your baby is so lucky to have you as a parent, and it sounds like many of the issues can be fixed based on some of your posts.

  99. I agree with all of them, Rhode. Despite his challenging start in life, Baby Rhode hit the jackpot in terms of parents. I bet 99% of babies born that day around the world would have gladly traded places with him, even with the health issues.

  100. I’ll ditto that to Rhode. This stuff could make you nuts.

    With my first child I was in court all day & my water broke later that night. With my second child, my water broke (thankfully discreetly!) at the courthouse. I’m sure I will mess up my kids in many ways, but that’s not one of the ways I’m concerned about. Now if only I could have gotten rid of the people who death-glared my coffee…..

  101. HM and Finn,

    Temperatures will be cool with temperatures of 74 to 81 degrees during the day and lows of 64 to 74 degrees.

    Cool? I will keep my choice words to myself.

  102. We found some more water coming through our ceiling this evening. Damn ice dams!!! DH is planning to go back up on the 20′ ladder tomorrow to try to clear them out some more.

  103. I beat myself up for approximately 1week. Then I moved on. But the ideas are there. And I can’t ignore what happened. I do sometimes question why God or the Fates trusted us with someone like our son. His recent string of crankiness has caused me to wonder that more intensely.

    Oh and this snow has to stop. It’s freezing fully enough that we are at risk for the same massive flooding event that struck in April of 2010. All we need is one good rainfall and frozen over storm drains and frozen ground.

    It also needs to stop because it’s like The Shining over here. I’m one day from ‘here’s Johnny!’

  104. The Google Books hit had a better sample of the text than the Amazon link above.

    It’s good to have these periodic reminders that a teen who prefers to get up at the crack of noon is a blessing that I once longed for.

  105. Rhode – how old is your baby? I think peak fussiness in a non-colicky baby is at 6 or 7 weeks so it may be that he has just hit that.

  106. Atlanta- he’s 8 weeks Saturday. But sometimes a premie reaches peak fussiness at 6-7 weeks corrected age which means peak won’t be until the end of March. So far he’s not horrible. Yesterday was bad because he had a very stressful dentist appointment that afternoon. Honestly he’s given me 2 days where I want to give him back.

    Thanks for the links HM. I may just buy the album.

  107. We had a cd from the Happiest Baby on the Block. It had a track of the hair dryer, and another track of vacuum cleaner. Ridiculous, but it did help. My first was colicky and that nonstop crying jag thing (hers and mine) went on for months. Thankfully now she’s a sassy 7 year old and those days are behind us!

  108. “he’s 8 weeks Saturday. But sometimes a premie reaches peak fussiness at 6-7 weeks corrected age which means peak won’t be until the end of March.”

    Yours is gifted.

  109. @Rhode – hang in there. DS had colic and would cry, his devil cry from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Being the first baby I didn’t know what had suddenly struck him….later I found out it was colic. Then it was trying to keep him upright, keeping him in his car seat placed in the crib, DH would come home and take him for a car ride, giving him whatever magic drops proclaimed they worked – anything to have him stop. I wanted to give him back the second day…:-).

    See if you can ask your Mom/MIL to come over and give you a break….even though you don’t think you can, if he is fed, changed, leave him in the crib and take a break….

  110. “I beat myself up for approximately 1week. Then I moved on.”

    I can relate, and also to the lingering doubts. That’s just normal and expected, IMO. But I hope that deep down you know the truth, that you have minimal control over these things. The experienced parent post from last week reinforced that. I continue to believe in the best for you and your baby, but I think I understand how hard things must be right now. I wonder if you’ve rethought career and job responsibilities. It sounds as if your job is conducive to the parenting you need to do, but it’s probably something you think about.

  111. I’ve seen that some parents need and thrive on the demands of career as they go through a personal crisis. It seems to help them from dwelling too much on what they’re dealing with at home, and provides important balance in their lives. Others need more of a break from work to handle what’s going on at home. I suspect most totebaggers are the first kind of parents, but I tend to be like the second. It’s a matter of balance, I guess. Too much work stuff will deplete almost anyone’s energy for anything else.

  112. “I suspect most tote baggers are the first kind of parents, but I tend to be like the second.”

    It can also depend on what the crisis is. When there’s any perceived danger to my kids, concentrating on work is almost impossible. E.g., I had a lot of colds that turned into bronchitis/pneumonia as a kid; I know that’s not normal/not my kids’ experience, but when they get sick, the lizard brain still takes over, and I find it very difficult not to be there to watch over them.

    OTOH, for things like colic, where there’s nothing “wrong” and nothing to be done but get through it — like, say, colic — daycare was a godsend. :-)

  113. Totally off topic, but CofC, back to our discussion about unhelpful HS counselors + not getting college info, Girls State, etc. I have just returned from spending a solid hour w/ DD’s HS counselor, and I am still blown away by how helpful she was. I made an appt with her to discuss one thing, which I thought would take 5 min. An hour later, we had discussed things I hadn’t even thought of asking her. Maybe it’s simply a matter of getting in front of them? The big HS counselors may not be as proactive as the ones at small HSs like my son’s, but maybe the end result can be equally good — you get all the info you want/need — if you start the conversation. YMMV of course but thought I’d put this out there, since we were discussing this earlier in the week.

  114. Risley – I find it interesting that my DD’s math coach, who has HS kids at the school, but otherwise is a volunteer, is having them participate in multiple math programs/competitions. One of these is, of course, the regular league that they participate in for all activities – sports, speech, fine arts, academics, but two other competitions are math specific. What I find most interesting is none of the math teachers seem to encourage the kids to be in the math club and, if you aren’t, you wouldn’t know about these other two or that if you do well enough can lead to scholarship money. I am not sure that my DD’s math is strong enough to get the scholarship money, but again, its that more informal parent information network.

  115. Risley, I’m glad you had such a good experience with the counselor. I’ll bet it was due in large part to you and your daughter being who you are. She probably blossomed getting to talk to someone as sensible as you about someone as delightful as your dd, instead of the usual special snowflake/ problem child variety she sees.

  116. Risley — I’m happy you had a good experience, and you make a good point that getting in front of them could make a big difference. But in a way that makes my point, because I would like my school to proactively inform parents about more things. They talk big about reaching out to “stakeholders” and about “21st century” communication skills, so would it kill them to put some of this stuff online? I guess the parent network is supposed to fill the gap, but that leaves out a lot of busy parents. My experience with the PTA left me with a sense that they were not very inclusive.

    Our school is small, with about 225 kids in the senior class, and my own kids’ HS counselor is actually very helpful. She may be the single most outstanding public school employee I’ve ever dealt with. She is unusually proactive, but obviously can’t do it all on her own.

  117. I think some of this goes back to the idea that schools seem to encourage helicopter parents, so the students who don’t have them miss out.

  118. Rhode – hang in there, by three months it will all be a lot better. I remember thinking with my oldest (who was not colicky, but way more fussy than the other two) that I couldn’t wait to get back to work. And then when you’re getting ready to go back to work, they turn into these delightful creatures that smile and laugh and interact with you.

  119. ‘Yours is gifted.’

    Milo- yes, my own special snowflake. Who would have thought his genius would be detected so early? ;)

  120. Coc – it seems that my kids’ middle school doesn’t want parents hovering in their facility – like the elementary school. I would think they would want even less of the parents for high school – or is this not true ? What things do they want the hovering for ? I rarely go to the school these days and communicate any questions I have via email.

  121. You are right, Louise! Most MS/HS do not want parents hovering around. But the only way to be informed about some of the good stuff is to hover, IME.

  122. I’m assuming he did very well on the APGAR?

    I’m not kidding — one of DH’s hypercompetitive friends actually asked that when DH went around announcing the birth of his son. “What was his APGAR score??”

  123. At 6 weeks, I’m not sure I had even internalized yet that my kid wasn’t gong “back”, that he was sticking around for the long haul.

  124. Rhode – I totally missed your post yesterday. Man, I wish some/all of us lived closer. If ever there were a time for a Totebag get together, this would be it. I imagine PTM would have you ROFL in 2.3 seconds.

    We all wanted to give the baby back at some point. Or leave him on someone’s doorstep. Totally normal.

    And this weather is enough to drive anyone batty. This is the worst time of year for most of us, and the time we all want to quit everything, give up everything. Give yourself the privilege of having low emotional expectations right now. Don’t worry if you feel negative about everything.

    Spring WILL come, and that will make you feel so much better by itself. Then add the fact that the little guy will get older, and that might make various things easier. You and DH will get more into the swing of things. Etc. It might be small changes but things WILL change.

  125. Austin – that’s nuts about the math teachers.

    CofC/Louise – no &^%$ way am I about to hover at a HS. But I wish I’d made a point of meeting w/ DD’s counselor each semester. It’s only 2d semester of soph year, but already, I realize we made some mistakes that could’ve been avoided. This is my first time at a big, U.S. HS (since DS is older but is at a tiny school). First time w/ AP classes and all the rest of it. I think DD is on track now but things would have been easier for her if I’d met w/ the counselor before.

  126. If it’s not too late for Ada. I too have the same Best Fitness E1 that Sky mentioned. It is the smallest footprint elliptical out there. A friend has had hers for three years without problems and I have had mine for two months. It was about $1,100 on Amazon, free shipping and took me about two patient hours to assemble, alone. Though not a clothes hanger ;) it has provided an incredible incentive to get outside in the snow to reach my 10k steps per day – even with a chromecast-enabled TV right in front of it I find it the most boring activity imaginable. So it is very effective.

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