Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our "If It's a Girl" Name Pick...

I've already mentioned before that Brett and I aren't finding out the gender. Because Brett is a 4th (Maxcy Pearle N. IV, in case you didn't know), and because his great-grandpa is still with us, we're planning on having V if it's a boy. "Max" will be the nickname we'll use. I actually liked the name Max a lot even before I knew Brett- it reminds me of "Where the Wild Things Are." 

So on to girl names. Right away I eliminated any name that's been in the top 50 for the past 5 years- I don't do trendy in this respect. Brett really likes Lucy, as do I, but I've felt it a little nick-namey. Not to offend anyone legally-named Lucy, but I just feel that it needs a solid, formal name to go with it. Then, one day while I was reading one of my fave books ever, I stumbled upon it....LOUISA. Funny enough, "Mae" was our choice for a middle name anyway- it's very feminine, classic, and a family name on my side. Therefore, if we have a little girl, she'll be "Louisa Mae." Just a shade different than Alcott... and "Lucy Mae" for short sounds adorable, I think. Louisa fits my criteria for being rare- it's never been popular in the US- although it's pretty popular in the fiction world. Jane Austen's work features several Louisas, and Louisa von Trapp is the third oldest child in The Sound Of Music. 

I stumbled upon this website, Much Ado About Naming, which has a very flattering review about the name. How strange is it that this post came out only a few weeks after we "discovered" Louisa? The author (Emmy Jo) writes:

"Looking for a name that is supremely familiar, fits in with current naming trends, and isn’t in the top 1000?  Consider the literary Louisa.

Louisa, of course, is a Latinate feminine version of the royal French Louis, which originally comes from the German Ludwig and thus mean “famous warrior.”  Louisa (usually pronounced loo-EE-zuh)  is the spelling most common in English.  In Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, the name is spelled Luisa and pronounced with an S sound (loo-EE-suh).

Some feminizations of male names seem rather hard for a girl to wear — take Jamesina, Thomasina, or Henrietta for example.  They’re either too frilly or downright silly.  But Louisa has more in common with effortless Josephine, Georgia, Charlotte, or Daniela.  It’s a pretty girls’ name in its own right.

Surprisingly enough, the name has never been extremely popular in the U.S.  Name data is only available since 1880, but the highest it ever charted was #119 in 1881.  It hasn’t been in the top 200 any time this century, and it hasn’t even been in the top 1000 since 1969.  The French Louise fared much better.  As a first name, it was in the top 50 from 1880 until 1937, and it didn’t exit the charts entirely until 1991.  According to a survey done by Name Nerds, Louise is the 7th most popular girls’ middle name in the U.S.  In fact, chances are good that you have a mother, aunt, grandmother, or friend with that middle name.  If you’re looking for a way to honor her, and if Louise sounds rather old-ladyish to you, then Louisa might be a good way to update it.

Louisa fits in well with several current naming trends.  Nineteenth-century literary names are in.  Current chart-toppers or chart-climbers include Emily, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte, Amelia, Caroline, Lydia, Clara, Alice, Eleanor, Eliza, and Josephine.  Spanish and Italian names are also fashionable.  Spell the name Luisa, and she seems like a fitting sister for Sofia, Gianna, or Gabriella.  Additionally, it is remarkably similar to Lucy and Lucia, respectively ranked #135 and #311, and both on the rise.

Louisa has a host of literary and historical namesakes, including too many princesses and duchesses to list."

Let's just keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't gain popularity anytime soon! I always hated being one of at least 3-4 Emilys in all my classes in school.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thoughts on Gestational Diabetes Testing

In my quest to be as educated about pregnancy as possible, one particular area I am interested in is prenatal testing.  I have researched which tests are suggested, what each one does, and the risk/benefit analysis of each- and I started studying this even before I was pregnant. Partly due to this, and partly due to our decision to carry a pregnancy to term regardless of any test results, Brett and I have been very hands-off. That is, we've refused all the standard blood screens, first trimester NT (to look for Downs), amnio/CVS, and are only having one ultrasound, mainly to check for any issues that may need early correction or may affect my plans for a natural birth. It's my personal opinion that before anyone decides to have any of these tests, one should consider the possible responses. If termination isn't an option for you, then is testing for a potentially fatal defect really desirable? These are very personal questions, certainly, and I respect everyone's individual feelings. 

Anyways, one test that I encountered recently concerns not only the baby's health, but my own: the Gestational Diabetes test. Now, I went into my last appointment determined to refuse this one, and pretty convinced that my midwife would back me on this one. I'm going to break this down with quotes from author Sara Buckley.

What is Gestational Diabetes? 

"GDM is mostly caused by the woman’s normal pregnancy hormones (made by the baby’s placenta), which make her body somewhat resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin is the hormone (the body’ schemical messenger) that lowers the levels of glucose in the blood by transporting it into the cells. 

Insulin resistance means that the body is responding less to insulin (the door is not open as wide), and so less glucose enters the cell and more stays in the bloodstream, giving higher levels than usual. In pregnancy this is beneficial, as it leaves more glucose in the mother’s bloodstream,which makes more glucose available to the baby, who gets all the glucose needed for growth and development from the mother’s bloodstream, via the placenta. This transfer of glucose is dependent on the mother’s levels being higher than the baby’s.

The level of insulin resistance that an individual pregnant woman has depends on her own biochemistry and genetics, as well as her diet and activity levels. Some women, and some families, seem to get more insulin resistance than others in pregnancy, and this may reflect a slightly increased susceptibility to diabetes in later life. The baby also plays a part, because he/she can signal the mother’s body to increase glucose levels by producing more pregnancy hormones, giving more insulin resistance. As above, this is more likely to happen when the baby is big.

If the mother has a diet that includes a lot of carbohydrates with a high glycemic-index (ie foods that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose) and/or low levels of activity, her blood glucose may be higher and she may be more likely to be given this diagnosis.

So you can see that it is normal and healthy to have higher levels of glucose in pregnancy. However, when levels reach a certain point, a woman is at risk of being labeled with ‘impaired glucose tolerance’ (IGT, also called ‘pre diabetes’)and at even higher levels, with GDM."

Now that we know what it is, what does the medical community think about it? Is testing recommended? 

"GDM is a very controversial diagnosis. Some experts in the area have called it ‘a diagnosis still looking for a disease’, a ‘non-entity’ and a ‘useless diagnosis’, while others think it is so important that every pregnant woman should be tested for it. Michel Odent believes that the diagnosis of GDM causes more harm than good by labeling the pregnant woman ‘high risk’ which increases her anxiety but has no benefits for her or her baby, as below.

The US Preventative Services has not recommended routine screening and a Canadian committee of experts also concluded, ‘Until evidence is available from large randomised controlled trials that show a clear benefit from screening for glucose intolerance in pregnancy, the option of not screening for GDM is considered acceptable.’ The UK-based Cochrane database, which has analyzed the best medical evidence, also concludes that there are no benefits to treating GDM, in terms of outcome for mother and baby, which makes the diagnosis also very questionable.

Some doctors are concerned that women with GDM are more likely to have a very large (‘macrosomic’) baby, and it is true that there is an association between GDM and large babies. However, these large babies can be explained by other factors,such as the mother being overweight. Medical treatment does not seem to change this significantly, and it seems more likely that the size of the baby is causing the GDM, (because a big baby needs more glucose and so makes more hormones to increase insulin resistance) rather than GDM causing a big baby.  

International studies show that the only major outcome from making this diagnosis is to increase the risk of a caesarean."

What can you do to avoid it? 

While there are several factors that can make it more likely to have GD (weight, race, other health factors), there are some things you can do.

1. Eat a balanced diet, with plenty of protein, low-GI carbs, and quality fats

2. Exercise!!

What happens if I have it?

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of diagnosis. One thing you CAN plan on, however, is that your plans for a natural birth will likely be affected. The baby will be monitored more closely, and may be given an iv immediately after birth, preventing early breast feeding. On the bright side, you CAN push for other options to help your baby. According to La Leche League: “The best way to stabilize blood sugar and prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in all infants is prompt and frequent feedings of colostrum and human milk.”

And to bring it full circle: 

I was pretty sure my midwife would recommend that I NOT have this test. She told me the opposite: for people planning home births or birthing center births, she doesn't recommend testing unless one is experiencing severe symptoms. HOWEVER, for those having a natural, unmedicated, low-intervention hospital birth, it's best to have it. As she put it, "It can keep the hospital off our backs." In other words, being able to present a negative test result will help prevent unnecessary intervention, especially in the case of a slightly larger baby. 

For more info:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Belly pics: Almost 18 weeks

I'll be 18 weeks on are the updated pics. Please excuse the sweatiness- this was after our 3 mile run today. I'm feeling more and more like the tortoise- slow and steady wins the race, right?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I *heart* hummingbirds.

The end of March means two things to me.
1. My birthday
2. Hummingbirds!

Okay, so call me an old soul. Between my love of gardening and sewing and vintage aprons and bird watching, it's probably an accurate title. But I so look forward to the arrival of my feathered friends every spring! Besides cleaning and refilling my other bird feeders, today I cleaned my hummingbird feeder and filled it with fresh nectar solution. Right now I'm lazy and buy it, but with how much I go through (especially in the summer!), I may start making my own. Here's a recipe I found online for how to make from-scratch hummingbird food:

  1. Boil 4 parts water.
  2. Mix 1 part ordinary white granulated sugar.
  3. Stir and allow the mixture to cool.
  4. When the nectar is room temperature, fill your clean hummingbird feeder.
  1. Never use red dyes or food coloring, as they are not healthy for hummingbirds or orioles.
  2. Never use honey when making your nectar mix. Honey attracts bees and can grow black fungus that will cause a fatal liver and tongue disease in hummingbirds.
  3. Replace the nectar once every three to four days and clean the feeder thoroughly.
  4. Unused nectar can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Thanks to Best Nest for the recipe.... 

Oh, and if you have hummingbird visitors, you should be like me and keep track of what sub-species you see! You never know- you could be surprised by a rare or little-seen variety. Here in Georgia, you can write into the DNR and report your sightings, which helps to track how the hummingbirds are doing, as well as monitor their migration patterns. You can check out their website here, or look for your own state's site. Here's one of my friends visiting last summer....