FRANK PREGNANCY TALK Frank discussion of pregnancy symptoms, emotions, side-effects and oddities.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Story of My Third Nipple

What’s a third nipple, you ask? Well, let me tell you the story of mine. I have always had an area of darkish skin under my left breast, near the bottom of my rib cage. I thought it was a scar from childhood (perhaps a chicken pock mark), and it always turned purple when I became cold.

I never paid it much mind until about the fourth month of my first pregnancy. It started to swell up like an engorged tick. I assumed that this fleshy colored nub protruding from my rib was a new mole.

After pregnancy and breastfeeding were over, I consulted a dermatologist regarding the still-existing tick-nub. I was told that it was nipple tissue and it had swollen as a result of the hormones released during pregnancy.

Most people never know they have nipple tissue existing in other areas unless they become pregnant. Apparently, it is fairly common (although I had never heard of such a thing!) for people to have excess nipple tissue within a vertical line of the breast from the clavicle to the hip. Weird, huh? Fortunately, my “third nipple,” as I so named it, was not of the lactating kind, therefore a fairly simple procedure for removal. I do have a small scar, though.

Ah, well, just another battle wound of pregnancy!

BTW- This is a picture of my scar, not the third nipple. I know, I know, the pic's not that great. I took it from my cell phone.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kelli’s Belly Shot

Here’s a gorgeous belly shot of Kelli over at Real Life 101 and her son kissing his soon-to-be sibling. Kelly has got about two weeks left until her due date and looks truly amazing. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was a pic of a young Julianne Moore.

Hey, does anyone know what’s up with Julianne’s teeth? Sometimes they look just awful- all yellow and grayish. In most photos, I imagine they’re majorly retouched but if you look closely at her on film you’ll see her teeth aren’t all that good. So, for a celeb, I say, “Whuuuuusssssup wit dat?”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

‘Tis the Season of Ticks and Tags

Here we are, summertime in the Hamptons and there are thousands of people enjoying mass quantities of the great outdoors. It’s true that fresh air and sunshine are good for the body and soul, but there are also dangers like sunburn, skin cancer and tick-born diseases such as Lymes and babesiosis. Eastern Long Island is a red zone for infected ticks. In fact, although I think I’m pretty diligent about avoiding areas where ticks live and always check myself after possible exposure, I’ve had both major tick-born diseases. Not fun.

During my last pregnancy I was particularly diligent about checking my body for those pesky bloodsuckers. To have a tick-born disease during pregnancy could seriously affect the baby. Scary!

One day, after playing tennis, I did my usual body inspection. I felt a small bump under my right breast. At eight months, my boob was so huge that I couldn’t see under it, like I can now. I just move my skin sack that was once my boob, to the side. But, I digress… Anyway, I got a look at the offensive node with a hand-held mirror and was convinced it was a tick. Gah! I immediately grabbed my sharpest and pointiest tweezers and gave that bad boy a hard yank. Ouch! It was much more resistant than your regular deer tick. Maybe its head was so deeply imbedded in my flesh that I’d have to dig it out. The disease has got to be in my body by now! I thought. Oh Gawd, no! I grabbed a hold of the sucker again and yanked with all my might. Wow! That really F***ING hurt! And boy, did it bleed! It took almost 5 minutes to stop the bleeding.

When I had finally cleaned up and thoroughly disinfected the wound, I took a look at the pest to make sure I got all of it. Sometimes the head gets stuck in there. Guess what? It wasn’t a tick at all. It was a skin tag. What a relief.

Skin tags are apparently very common during pregnancy and can crop up on your neck, in your armpits and under your breasts. One friend of mine had a skin tag on her nipple. She later had it removed because it bugged the shit out of her during breastfeeding. Another friend of mine had a skin tag appear on her anus during pregnancy. She’s still too embarrassed to get it removed. Can’t say that I blame her.

Anyone out there have any unusual skin tag stories? Did you keep your tag after pregnancy and maybe name it? Or did you get it removed? BTW- I definitely recommend getting it professionally removed. They usually are connected to some major vein and can bleed a LOT.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lucia Update

I'm sorry to have been neglecting you all lately. I promise to be back blogging in full frankly funny style soon.

I've been overwhelmed with even more hospital visits than usual this week and haven't had time to work, blog, exercise, or even attend to my own family the way I normally do. As most of you know, my friend Lucia is very sick and will be passing soon. We thought for sure that we were going to loose her on Tuesday after she had a stroke. Her husband even asked me to go as far as finding a proper funeral home and burial plot. On Thursday, she made a comeback and seemed more like her usual self. Of course, there's no chance for her to recover at this point. Her body is too far deteriated and continues to fail even more with each day but, her spirit is still alive and well. When I last saw her I asked, "So, you going to be around a while?"

She said she was.

"You've been faking us all out ya know."

"I know. I got ya, didn't I?" Lucia said with a smile.

I'll be going to visit Lucia again tomorrow. I usually take the hour-long drive every other day and spend most of the day or overnight with her. But, now I've got to carve out a different schedule to visit my friend, Emily as well. She had an emergency colon surgery this past Monday and has been suffering from complications of this surgery ever since. She was supposed to come home within a day or two but has remained because she's got extreme pain, swelling, and is not urinating or passing bowels. Her doctor seems to think she'll be OK and we should just "watch" her. WTF watch her?! I wouldn't' be so concerned if it weren't from the fact that this very same doctor was the surgeon that operated on my friend, Deb's sister who died from complications just a few months ago.

There are tons of other "little" factors that have been adding to my stress lately, but I'm too tired to list them all.

I've been drinking a bottle of wine every day and eating carbs until the cows come home. I'm gaining weight and most of my pants are really uncomfortable now. "Who cares?" I say to myself every night.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pregnancy Orgasms

There seems to be a lot of sex talk in the blogsphere this week. Motherhood Uncensored is even having a sex week, but today she wrote about speed bumps. Hmmph. Bumps rhymes with humps. Maybe that’s it. Anyway, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and start my own sex week here. So, the topic of the day will be the big O.

If you’ve ever had problems finding your O, pregnancy hormones could be the answers to your prayers ladies! These hormones engorge the vagina with extra fluids and blood, making it a lot more sensitive to the touch.

Oh, is that the wind blowing on my pregnant, swollen vagina? I think I just came.

For those women who have had easy orgasms– there are more of them to have during pregnancy. Yahoo! This attribute definitely goes on the “pros” side of my pregnancy pros and cons list.

Here’s a weird pregnancy O fact for you: Believe it or not during pregnancy an orgasm is no longer a woman’s secret. You cannot fake it. During and after an orgasm, the uterus contracts and stays contracted for several minutes. The large, loose bowl-of-jelly transforms into a tight, hard, football-like mass. It usually squashes downward and off to one side. Don’t worry. This momentary pregnancy deformity doesn’t harm the baby, although your partner may freak out over the appearance of your belly.

Any ladies care to report on your O factor during pregnancy?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Term of the Day: Cauliflower Butt

Definition: A mass of multiple hemorrhoid eruptions. If you’ve got three or more hemorrhoids and they become irritated and inflamed, your anus may end up looking like a piece of purple cauliflower.

Hemorrhoids are almost unavoidable during pregnancy. Some women get them all throughout the pregnancy, while others develop them during labor and delivery.
There are two types of hemorrhoids - external and internal. An external hemorrhoid is a vein that pokes out through the muscle wall near the anus. It usually looks like a swollen blueberry or cherry sticking out. Poking it back inside your rectum may provide some temporary relief as less ballooning out of the vein means less discomfort. Internal hemorrhoids are the same thing, just inside of the rectum. This puffing out of veins around your rectum may give your butt a cauliflower appearance, thus explaining my term of "cauliflower butt."

To help ease the swelling and pain of cauliflower butt, you might try an old trick of mine: after every bowel movement, gently clean the cauliflower with witch hazel pads (like Tucks) and then pack a bunch of clean pads on and around your anus. Change the pads every time you go to the bathroom. The witch hazel will cool the area and help reduce swelling.

Also, to keep your hemorrhoids from getting further aggravated, you may try: not straining while having a bowel movement; keeping your feet elevated as much as possible; sleeping on your left side; using Preparation H and other topical medicines; and keeping bowel movements regular with stool softeners and/or fiber.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hospital Visits

During these last few weeks I’ve been struggling to come up with funny, informative or brain-tingling pregnancy topics to blog about. I’m just not myself. I can’t seem to find the fun in things these days. When I see people walking down the street in stylish flip flops, licking ice cream cones and laughing I want to scream, “What’s so f***ing funny?!” How can people be going on with their lives and having so much f***ing fun when my very best friend is dying? I just don’t understand it. It seems so unfair. Lucia’s cancer is progressing quickly and she’s suffering terribly. I’ve spent many days and nights holding her hand and listening to the steady beep, beep, beep of her heart monitor; the occasional hi-pitched tones when her IV drip is empty; the paging of doctors over the staticy intercom; and Lucia’s mumbling, moaning and crying. I can’t tell if she’s crying from her physical pain; from the fact she has lost control of her own body and destiny or if it’s for the future of her children, who will soon have no mother.

Here are Lucia’s kids: celebrating their birthdays at my house last weekend.

It seems that no matter how many phone calls I make to ensure that she’s never alone; how many play-dates and parties I arrange for her children; how many flowers I send or how often I visit, it doesn’t make any difference. The fact remains: she’s still suffering and her time is drawing to an end.

Although it’s shocking to see the physical horrors that each new day brings, I do enjoy my time with her in the hospital. “Why are you smiling at me?” she said last time.

“Because I’m happy to see you,” I said. She managed to smile a little too. When I leave the hospital, it all comes pouring out of me: the grief, the shock and the sickness in my gut that just won’t go away. After my purging, I drive home, kiss my kids goodnight and dose myself with wine and Ambien. My days are numb and helpless feeling, until I find myself on the way to the hospital again. Maybe I’m helpful there. Maybe this time will be the last time and her suffering will end.

Dammit! I’ve got to pull out of this! I’ve got a life and a family too. I can’t neglect them. Lucia wouldn’t allow it. Plus, I’ve got this blog that I don’t want to let wither and die. So, back to the appropriate subject for this post: Hospital Visits. My hospital visits, as of late, have been all about pending death. If you’re pregnant, your hospital visits will be about the precious, tiny miracle of a new, glowing life force. Meeting your very own baby for the first time can be the most spectacular day of your life. Are you ready? Do you have your hospital bags packed for your journey into motherhood?

Here’s my list of what to bring to the hospital for your labor and delivery visit:

Yes, this is plucked from my book. I just can’t come up with fresh, lively pregnancy writing… yet.

Cord Blood Collection Kit
This is a fairly new procedure that we opted for, mainly because there is a high rate of cancer in our family. The baby’s umbilical cord blood (with the purest form of stem cells) is collected, and then sent to a storage facility for possible further use of treating cancers or illnesses of the baby or a family member.

To find out more about cord blood see the following web sites. This is a list of some of the more popular cord blood collection and storage facilities:

Alpha Cord

California CRYOBANK

CBR Cord Blood Registry (my choice)


Lifebank USA- Cord Blood



Camera, Cassette Tape Recorder, Tapes

I intended to document all stages of the experience through labor and delivery. Unfortunately, most hospitals, mine included, don’t allow videotaping. My digital camera does take small video clips, but you would never be able to tell just by looking at it. It’s quite small and looks like a regular instamatic camera. Shhhhh. Don’t tell.

Although you are generally not allowed to have anything to eat during labor and delivery, sometimes, hard candies will be permitted to keep your mouth moist and give you a small sugar boost. I have found lollipops to be more permissible than regular hard candies because there is less risk of choking on something with a stick attached to it.

Believe it or not, your feet will probably get cold because the delivery room is usually kept fairly cool.

Be sure to bring a few pairs of socks, as blood and other fluids may soak them from time to time. This may seem alarming, but, believe me, this is yet another one of those things that you will look back on as “no big deal.”

Snacks for the Coach
You will be unable to partake, but your partner/labor coach will need some nourishment eventually. Who knows how long labor will last? It could be just a few minutes, several hours, or even days. The last thing you want is your coach to be leaving you for a “quick bite to eat” when you are in the final stages of ghastly labor.

Unless you have a mini cooler for cold drinks and non-perishable foods it’s usually best to bring items that don’t require refrigeration, as you never know if you are going to be able to store your snack in the hospital fridge or not. You also might want to pack some extra change for the hospital vending machines.

Also, Grace insists that I remind you, definitely no breath-smelly foods allowed for the coach. Her husband David’s Dorito breath significantly contributed to her nausea and contempt for him during labor.

Insurance Info
Bring your insurance card and/or telephone contact information. Most insurance companies will require you to contact them within twenty-four hours of the birth, or medical expenses for the baby will not be covered.
It seems so unfair, doesn’t it?

After having a long and difficult birth, Nicole had trouble reaching her insurance company within the allotted twenty-four hours. The line was continually busy. After numerous hours she finally got a live person on the phone. She ended the call with, “Yes, Me, my baby, and my big, bloody vagina are doing just fine, thank you very much!”

Phone List
It’s a good idea to prioritize your list of people to call, with their phone numbers, into a few categories.

1) People to call when you go into labor- these people may want to be at the hospital for the actual birth - close friends and/or family members in front of whom you don’t mind losing your composure. I clearly remember Nicole screaming, “You bloody, fucking baaaaaastaaaaaards!!!” while her mother and I clenched white-knuckled hands in the hallway.

Also, do remember that your coach and/or partner should be on the top of this phone list. When Hannah went into labor, she was so busy with her “list of people to call” that she forgot to notify her husband. Her contractions suddenly were five minutes apart, he hadn’t been notified, and he was over thirty minutes away. The garbage man brought her to the hospital.

2) People to call after the baby is born - close friends and/or family you want to share the news with immediately. These are the people who want to be kept abreast of the situation, no matter what time of the day it is.
My sister was delighted to be awoken at 4:30a.m. for the news of Karmen’s birth.

3) People to call after the baby is born (at a reasonable hour).

4) People to call during your hospital stay - calls that you can make if and when you feel like it.

You know, your regular traveling stuff - toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, make-up, and so on.

Underwear (panties)
Pack as many pairs of good, clean underwear as you can. You may go through a lot if you have an extended stay. Also, I find it very important to pack at least two pairs of maternity underwear. Even if you haven't given in to wearing them throughout your entire pregnancy, you still may need them in the event you have to have a C-section.
My friend Camilla was dead set against maternity underwear. She was convinced her husband would never have sex with her again if he saw her wearing those bloomers. When she found herself in the hospital after a C-section with no maternity underwear, she called me in desperation. Her regular underwear were cutting into her abdomen, right where the incision was, and she had to wear panties to keep a sanitary pad in place. “Bring me some freakin’ bloomers, please!”

As I mentioned earlier, hospital pillows are usually pretty flimsy and scratchy. It’s also nice to have some comforts of home in your hospital bed. Make sure you bring colored or patterned pillowcases so that your pillows will not get mixed up with the hospital’s white laundry.

Although it is nice to have your own PJs, I do not recommend putting them on until after the birth– they may get a bit messy.

Some women prefer to wear the hospital gowns during their whole stay, but I find them to be cumbersome while trying to navigate the bathroom with a room full of guests. The back never stays closed enough to cover your tush, especially when you still have a swollen middle.

If you plan on breastfeeding, bring PJs that button down the front for easy booby access. I made that mistake the first time around and had to awkwardly navigate my nipple through the neck or armhole for feedings.

Comfortable Bras for Sleeping
If you are in the hospital long enough to have your milk come in (usually forty-eight hours after the birth) it is important to have some kind of support for your breasts. When the milk comes in, watch out, breasts can get humongous.

If you have ever contemplated getting breast implants, here is your chance to see what the XXL size would look like. Your breasts will swell to the maximum capacity of the skin and become as hard as rocks. Not only is this painful, but it is a lot harder to get the baby to “latch on” to a rock than a soft nipple. Wearing a snug, yet comfortable bra will at least limit some of the expansion of the milk ducts.

If your feet are not looking up to snuff, I do suggest the closed-toe slipper. We don’t want to subject our visitors to our long, yellowing, toenails on blistered, wart and corn-riddled feet ... do we?

Calling Card and/or Change for Phone
Most hospital pay phones and in-room phones don’t allow long distance calls. It’s wise to be prepared with plenty of change and/or a calling card.
Be aware that cell phones in the hospital are usually not an option. If you are caught using a cell phone, do expect the full wrath of the nurses to come down on you. Believe me, this is no time to be pissing off the nurses!

Going Home Outfit for You and Baby
My friend Ava envisioned her and her baby returning home in their matching Laura Ashley mother-daughter outfits. Her dress was so tight that she caught a good hunk of back fat in the zipper that required the nurse’s assistance to remove. And, the scratchy, linen material of the baby’s dress made her newborn skin break out in hives.

Of course you and your baby want to look your best for your first appearance into the outside world together, but, as with pregnancy, comfort should be key.
Keep in mind that you will not automatically fit into your pre-maternity clothes. It may take several weeks for your bowl-of-jelly-belly to return to its former shape. It might be best to bring some of your more flattering, not-so-maternity-looking maternity clothes. You know, not the circus tent, just the pup tent should suffice.