Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Featured Guest Writer, Grandma

Happy Earth Day! Today's Friday Featured Guest Writer is "Grandma" who writes us from Oaklahoma. She has three children, (16, 19 and 21). She is a fan of the April Club and says she enjoys PregnancyWeekly for the interaction between mothers. Her daughter is a single mother and Grandma appreciates the board for single mothers. Thanks Grandma for your story....a truly unique story! * I have to really think back, but this was my second child. I think I was about 38 weeks pregnant. The first night I went to the hospital because I was having some contractions and being young and all we had it kind of rough. The doctor checked me and said, "oh, you just need to stay off of your feet and you still have a few more weeks to go" So, I ended up going home that night. Well, the next day I started having more contractions and so my husband had to borrow his cousin's car because our car was down. So, off we go to the hospital along with his sister and cousin in the back seat. I guess for moral support. The hospital was about 30 miles away and guess what happened next? The car just quit about 15 miles from the hospital and would not start. Where we live it's kind of a rural area and it being early in the morning there was no sight of anyone on the road. My contractions were coming pretty quick and hard. I thought to myself at first, I'm going to have this baby on the highway! Well my sister-law kept saying don't let her push, don't let her push! I think they were more nervous than I was. Well, my husband ran to a house which was about 50 yards from where we were. Nobody would answer the door and he came back. About that time I was having the urge to push. Now, listen to this part. I call it my angel of mercy. Out of nowhere a car comes pulling up from a side road. They all helped me in the car and off we went to the hospital. As soon as they put me in the emergency room my water broke. So, from there they zoomed me in the delivery room and about 30 minutes later I had my little girl. I'll always be thankful for that man for helping us get to the hospital. He was there for a reason and to this day I am thankful.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Investing For Baby

Pregnancy and 9 months is all about preparation and planning. Something you might be thinking about is, "How much is this kid going to cost me?" The answer is: a lot. Adding another person to the household is not like buying a plant. You have to feed, clothe, shelter and provide. So perhaps now would be a good time to start thinking about making investments for your baby's future. College is just 18 years away. So what kind of invesment to make? Take a brown bag lunch to work every day. Sounds small but, if you save $10 a week by skipping those lunches out and invest it for your child, your little one will have a little fortune awaiting them when they turn 18: almost $50,000 if you're getting a 15% return on your money. If they keep up the monthly contributions once they're gainfully employed, they'll have in excess of five million dollars in time for an early retirement at the age of 50. Not a bad return on the price of lunches out, is it? To make this scenario work out, there are a few decisions you need to make. What kind of account will you set up? An IRA is one option. The IRA provides you with a tax deduction in its traditional form, but a Roth IRA, which is taxed at the time of deposit rather than withdrawal, allows your child to withdraw money without penalties for any reason, unlike the traditional IRA. What are you going to put in the account? A mutual fund? CDs? Stocks? An index fund? An interest bearing checking or savings account? Remember that you're making a long-term investment, so you have time to weather the ups and downs of the market, and the stock market has proven to be the most profitable place to park your money, so long as you're not risk averse. An index fund allows you to follow the market without making any bets on a particular stock. A mutual fund can diversify your portfolio without much time or trouble spent on your part. Who will own the account, you or your child? Are you the owner, the guardian? Or are you the custodian, holding the money for your child? If you own the account, you also pay taxes on it. If your child does, you still control the account until your child is 18 or 21, but dividends and withdrawals are charged at your child's rate, which can be a great savings for you. If you are interested in being a custodian, look into the Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA), which allows you to give gifts of money, stocks, life insurance, and annuities to your child while you are alive, and the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA), which allows you to control the money until your child is as old as 25 and to give your child other assets as well, including real estate, paintings, jewelry, and patents. Remember when selecting a UGMA or UTMA that neither can be used to pay for the support of your child as they grow up. No matter which answers you give, a bank, mutual fund company, or brokerage discount or otherwise will be able to help you set up the account of your choice. To make sure that you get the advice and the account you need, do your homework and shop around. Not all financial institutions and their representatives know how to meet the special needs of parents looking to secure the financial futures of their children. While you're underwriting your child's future dreams and ambitions, make sure that you take the time to educate them about saving, investing, financial responsibility, and the beauties and potential of compound interest. Let them witness, or even participate in, the decision making process as soon as they are able to. Obviously, your child is now many years away from caring about or understanding wise investments, but by planning ahead for their dreams and by sharing your plans with them, you're not only giving your child security, you're also giving them the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge that will serve them, and their own children, well. It can be a daunting task to consider but a little bit of research and some planning will ultimately benefit both you and your children.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pregnancy Ups and Downs

This week three baby blogs that I subscribe to, have written about the loss of their baby. It has certainly been a sad week. I have removed them from the list of blogs not in offense but because I believe they deserve privacy and respect especially in a time of loss. Pregnancy is not easy and is full of its ups and downs. To those who have suffered a loss, we are deeply sorry for you and your family and send our condolences. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful worldas it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things rightif I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. --Reinhold Niebuhr

It's Siesta Time!

Ah, sleep. I love sleep. I crave it. I fantasize about it. No more fantasizing about Matt Damon. Sleep is my love. But catching those must needed Zzz's are hard to come by. I have to pee all the time. I have aches and pains. I can't find a decent position in bed. Heartburn keeps me awake. Belly kicks me in the middle of night, waking me up. To help with this lack of sleep, I have become a fan of the power nap. A short siesta can help re-energize you during the day. Even if it's only for 15 or 20 minutes, a short nap can help make up for lost sleep. Now this can't always be possible when you're at work. You don't want your boss to find you conked out at your desk. So fitting in naps during work might be tricky. A friend of mine has gone out to her car, rolled the window down a bit, reclined her seat and set the alarm on her cell phone. If you are at home and are in need for a nap, do something that can ease you into a nap. Don't abruptly change into nap mode. Worries can keep you awake, so write them down to get them out of your mind. Darken the room and have the room cool. And set an alarm so that you don't sleep the whole day away. Happy Napping. Now Shhhhh....

Let's Get Physical

Channeling Olivia Newton John (minus the headband and tight leotards and pushup socks) I love to exercise. I especially enjoy group classes because they're fun to do with friends and because I like having an instructor. And just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I have to stop. Spinning Classes are great because they are non-weight-bearing. If you are spinning, don't stand up when the instructor says to, simply keep on sitting. As you continue in your pregnancy, raise the handlebars until you are more vertical. Be sure that there is enough ventiliation and drink water before, during and after. Spinning can really give you a good workout, so take it at your own pace if needed. Aerobics is probably the most popular group exercise. But with this one, there is a lot of footwork, so pay attention to your body especially if there is a high-impact movement. Go for the easier moves and since aerobics often goes to fast music, slow it down to fit your tempo. Sure you won't match everyone in the class, but hey bravo to you for doing aerobics while pregnant! :) Also, be careful of your center of gravity! Aqua Aerobics is perhaps the greatest invention since sliced bread. Okay, a bad cliche, but I love this exercise. It is a great exercise when you are pregnant. The water really can make your workout comfortable and the buoyancy of water causes less stress on your joints and ligaments. Plus, it keeps you cool. Step Aerobics is also low impact and weight bearing. Lower your step to the lowest height as you grow in pregnancy. Be aware of your balance. You could even avoid the step and just have an idea of where the step is. Fit Ball is another favorite with me simply because I love my birth ball. This class can be great to help you work on balance and posture while you also strengthen your upper and lower back. Using weights can be great as well as wall squats but don't do any exercises that could easily cause you to lose your balance. Strength Training is great for toning those muscles. If you continue with strength training (also known as body sculpting, body toning, body pumping) monitor your level of intensity and move slowly. Don't hold your breath while exerting. When using a bench press, don't use the horizontal one, but one that is set an incline. As with all these exercises, a good tip is to let your instructor know that you are pregnant. It doesn't have to be a big deal. But they can give you alternate movements or exercises in the class and it's good to let them know from a safety standpoint. And of course, pay attention to your body.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Decorating the Nursery

Baby's on the way and will need a room to call her/his own. If you are like me, you flip through those magazines and see all those beautiful nurseries or you watch those decorating shows and wish your nursery could look as fancy and nice. But if you're like me, you're on a budget and decorating a new room with all the latest in baby furniture and care is not easy. Here are some tips from my decortating friends. - Stick to a set budget. You don't need to buy everything new. Ask friends and family if they have baby related items. You can get around buying certain things. For example, we use a dresser for the changing table and it not only saved us money but was great for extra storage! Be creative too. My sister actually made me a mobile for the crib out of brightly colored wood shapes that she painted. It was amazing and so thoughtful. - Think ahead. If you aren't planning on moving anytime soon and the nursery will also be your baby's room as he/she gets older, you might want to plan on picking colors that he/she can grow into. While a nice pastel wallpaper of rainbows and dancing penguins might be nice in the beginning, will it work in 5 years? - Go with a design that suits your family. Don't go with a theme that you would ultimately dislike. I've seen nurseries that are all pink because the baby was a girl and yet in the rest of the house, there isn't pink to be found anywhere! - Small touches can really stand out. Letter blocks spelling out the name, framed artwork, photos of family members can all be small but beautiful touches to a room. How did you decorate your nursery? Any decorating tips?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Will your Baby Grow Up to be the Dalai Lama?

How do you twist balloons into dogs? Which countries offer the best maternity benefits? What are the most common baby names? All of these are answered in this week's Pregnancy Weekly's Book Club Choice. Crib Notes, by Amy Manitatis adn Elizabeth Weil, is a fun fact book of somewhat random (perhaps useless) and yet entertaining book about pregnancy and childhood. Old Wives Tales, Directions to the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Nanny Salaries by region are just some of the topics included. It's a fun read and you will be will versed in pregnancy/childhood trivia along with helpful information!

Whoa, They are HUGE! Buying Maternity Bras

Maternity bras support, support, support! If it's not a priority now, it will be in the coming months. If you thought finding the right bra was tricky before, just try it now. As pregnancy progresses and nursing begins, your breast size will fluctuate by the week. To make matters worse, your breasts will feel especially sensitive at certain stages, making comfort as important as proper fit. The most important clothing accessories are the ones that will never be seen. A properly fitting supportive bra is vital during pregnancy and after delivery. Old bras are generally useless during pregnancy because of your expanding physique and engorged breasts after delivery. Bypass the discount stores and sale racks and have a fitting done by an experienced fitter at a well stocked lingerie department or at a specialty shop. A well seasoned fitting specialist should be able to tell approximately how much extra room and support will be needed. An expectant mother's best bet is to purchase two good fitting bras (one to wear and one to wash). Being fitted for a bra is a service that is provided at no extra charge so take the offer to be fitted and see how good a bra will feel when it fits properly. A good bra is not cheap. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 - $60 depending on size and manufacturer. You can just buy a regular bra in a larger size, but you may regret it. Maternity bras offer wider straps for more support and extra coverage. Extra rows of fasteners will allow the bra to grow with the pregnancy. This is an important feature when you consider that the average woman's rib cage expands one to two bra sizes. Don't go for an underwire style bra. They can cause clogged milk ducts if they press too hard on breast tissue. As for the racy styles to enhance cleavage, pass on these also. They will still be around after the baby is born. If breastfeeding is on the agenda then you will need to purchase three or four good nursing bras during the last month of the pregnancy when the breast size is closest to what it will be when your milk comes in. Nursing bras are designed altogether differently. These specialty bras have cups that open discreetly at feeding time; adjustable cup size (they hook at higher or lower point, just like the fasteners on the backband of the bra); and nursing pad pockets to keep absorbent pads in place to catch any leaking milk and save you from any embarrassment. Now, if all this bra talk is a little overwhelming in the beginning of pregnancy, relax. There are some helpers you can purchase to make your current bra more comfortable and help ease the discomfort you may be experiencing during the first trimester. Bra extenders are an innovative way to give you a couple of extra inches in your current bra. An extender is a small piece (usually 2-3 inches) of extra fabric that hooks into the fastener on the backband of your bra. Shoulder strap wideners are another great way to make the first month more bearable as your breasts start to feel extremely heavy. These cushions attach to the bra strap by velcro. They prevent narrow straps from cutting into or slipping off of the shoulders. Both of these extras are inexpensive (under $10) and can make a world of difference in the beginning of pregnancy. Don't you just love a good post about bras? ;)