Author Archives: Bret McMann

The 3rd Trimester!

The 3rd trimester started with us taking a trip to Hello Baby – a local baby shop in Regina’s east end.  We were on the hunt for more information on car seats, bassinets, strollers, and some smaller little items.  We have lucked out and had a significant amount of baby items gifted or handed down to us, but we wanted to buy a few things brand new. 

We were/are super thankful to all of our friends and family who have graciously helped us out.  Our house is currently almost out of a state of disarray as we prepare for the littles arrival.  We have been purging, selling, donating, and finishing up some smaller projects around the house, albeit in a bit more of a frantic state.

Entering into the 3rd trimester also means we are on the home stretch and we will be meeting our tiny little human soon!  There is an increased sense of relief as we enter into the last trimester.  It was reassuring to learn that if our baby is born premature their chance of surviving is close to 100%.  Baby will also continue to fill out, adding more fat and getting stronger.  Their movements will also increase tossing, turning, kicking and punching as if they were in the middle of a street fight!  We are also in the middle of creating our plans for when the baby decides they are ready to meet us!  Currently, we are working to build the birth preference plan, hospital plan, our introductions to our dog, and finalizing and organizing our hospital supplies.

Over the course of the final trimester, the changes for mom and baby are still happening at a fairly steady pace!  

Weeks 28-31

Week 28 marks the 7th month of pregnancy for my wife.  During this month, baby will develop their forehead, bone marrow/development of their red blood cells.  They are roughly the size of a pineapple or a bottle of whiskey! They are going to continue to use mom as a punching bag as they continue to kick and punch, but they are also now able to move their head side to side, smile, experience some aspects of REM sleep and dream! 

During week 28, the baby is now over the 2lb mark and their lungs continue to mature.  They may or may not be already transitioning into a head down position in preparation for their arrival.  They are now growing neurons and their viability has increased if born prematurely! Mom’s organs are now feeling the squish as the baby continues to grow and may find it difficult to do more of the routine tasks throughout the day.

Week 29 marks the baby’s first smiles – they are now able to move their facial muscles and show expression.  They are also starting to experience their first bouts of REM sleep which may include some dreams.  Their bones continue to mineralize (harden) and their forehead is prominent to help with their growing brain.  Mom is now producing more prolactin in anticipation of lactation and she may experience some early release of colostrum.

Week 30 means that the baby’s brain is starting to wrinkle up and look more like it will when it is fully developed.  They have fully developed hands and are now grasping at things.  Their fat cells are regulating body temperature so their previously developed lanugo is now starting to disappear.  Finally their bone marrow is now producing red blood cells.  Mom’s ligaments are now starting to relax in preparation for delivery and may now be finding it difficult sleeping which in turn is leading to exhaustion.  Be sure to have a strategy to help remedy this and get her the sleep she needs! 

During the 31st week, the baby continues to pack on the lbs and is now over the 3lb mark or roughly the size of a coconut.  Their fat is increasing and so are their movements.  Baby can now move its head side to side.  Mom can really feel the baby moving and is now starting to wake her up in the night.  Mom may also be experiencing some Braxton Hicks contractions.  

Weeks 32-35

This marks the 8th month of pregnancy; only 2 left! During this month, baby will develop their opaque skin, and their skull.  They are roughly the size of a nerf football or a size 12 mens shoe.  They are now inhaling/exhaling, responding to pain and moving towards a downward position.  

Week 32 means that all of the baby’s organs, except for the lungs, are completely developed.   Baby is working on inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid.  They have also hit the 4lb threshold and their skin has finally turned opaque.  Mom’s fundal height (distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus measured in centimeters) may be between 12 ½ and 13 ½ inches and her belly is getting bigger.  Her belly button may have transitioned from an “innie” to more of an “outie”.  Those Braxton Hicks contractions are still present but may be increasing in strength.

We had a 32 week growth scan this week to check in and make sure our baby was growing and developing at an appropriate rate.  Below is the first picture of their face we were able to see with the cool 3D ultrasound imaging. 

32 week growth scan – first look at them!

In the 33rd week, the baby’s skull is still now fused together and it needs the flexibility to travel safely through the birth canal.  This is why babies are born with a “soft spot” also known as the “fontanel”.  Baby is likely in their final downward position or moving closer to mom’s pelvis as they get ready to join the world.  They are likely gaining roughly around 0.5lb/week.  Mom’s uterus is roughly 5 inches above her pubic bone and her belly is round and LARGE!  Mom may still be experiencing some discomfort with heartburn, joint and muscle pain.

Week 34 marks the 5lb mark for the baby’s and is about the size of the cantaloupe and is now for sure in a head down position.  They are doing some fine tuning on some of their new gear – their fingernails are now on their fingertips and their lungs are in the final week of development.  Mom’s uterus is now taking up significant room and may be causing more discomfort.  Anxiety towards the whole birthing process may be creeping in.

Entering into week 35 the baby is growing at a warp speed and is now the size of a nerf football.  Their lungs are now fully developed in addition to their kidneys, liver and all other major organs.  With lungs fully developed, if they are born early, they are likely to be able to breathe on their own.  Mom may be feeling a lot of pressure on her lungs if the baby has not dropped yet into a more downward position.  If the baby has dropped, mom will have felt some relief of the pressure the baby may have been putting on her.  The Braxton Hicks contractions are increasing and may be mistaken for the real deal!

Weeks 36-40

Week 36 marks the 9th month of pregnancy and officially hitting the home stretch! Baby will still be getting outfitted with new gear this month.  Their vocal cords, fully developed lungs, kidney and intestines and rapid brain development.  The baby is now the size of a watermelon and can now hear, blink and grasp!  The baby is fully developed but continues to gain weight.  Their movements in the womb may be more subtle and their cheeks are filling out. They are forming meconium from swallowing amniotic fluid.  Mom’s hormones are loosening her connective tissues in preparation for delivery.  She may now be experiencing lower extremities, back pain, and poor sleep which could cause some irritability.  

Week 37 the baby is continuing their growth, plumping up and dropping in the uterus.  They are at term so there are not many changes this week.  Because the baby is dropping, mom may be experiencing constant pelvic pain and an increased urge to pee.  Due to the delivery date being so close, mom’s energy towards delivery may be seeing a surge.

Week 38 not many physiological changes are happening this week, but the baby will still be plumping up.  They’re over the 7lb threshold and are almost as long as a football.  Their toenails are not at the end of their tiny toes and the vocal cords are fully developed.  Mom is still feeling the baby dropping into the pelvis and her cervix is softening and dilating.  

The baby is close to their birth weight in week 39 and they’re forming new skin as their old skin sloughs off.  They are now weighing between 7.5 – 8lbs.  Mom will now be feeling some nerves being pinched as a result of the baby’s position.  All of her previous discomforts are continuing. 

Week 40 means it is finally time to meet the baby! They are now at their birth weight and they are ready to meet the world.  Mom’s cervix continues to soften and dilate.  Mom’s anxiety and stress are likely increased now that it is delivery day, be sure you are there as their support in whatever facet they want you there.  Be sure to discuss what your roll looks like on delivery day.

There is a chance that the baby may be born after 40 weeks.  About 16% of babies are born in week 41 and 1% in week 42.  If a baby is born in week 42 they are considered post term and the doctor will likely induce labor or deliver via c-section before that time comes. 

Until next week,

Bret

The 2nd Trimester!

For us, the second trimester started off with a bang we hit the landmark (Week 12/13) where it became safe to tell everyone our exciting news and I was able to attend the ultrasound! We went for our second ultrasound.  This was a super exciting time for me as this was the first one I was able to attend due to COVID!  My wife was able to take a video of her first ultrasound a few weeks prior which I was super thankful for.  I had mixed emotions when we were in the room while we were looking at our little baby.  

The second trimester marks the end of the nausea, morning sickness and the feeling poorly for the majority of women.  This was the case for my wife as well.  Although she did not feel too bad or experience copious amounts of morning sickness, she did start feeling better overall during her second trimester.  Our baby experienced major milestones in development, but the most exciting development of the second trimester would be our fetus developing into a boy or a girl.

Weeks 14-17

This marked the beginning of the fourth month of our pregnancy.  We began this month by finishing telling our family and close friends our exciting news and moving onto our more extended friend circles and co-workers.  Within the fourth month, our baby developed their neck and lanugo.  They are slightly smaller than a baseball, dill pickle, or a lightbulb.  

In week 14 specifically, the baby now has a neck and the fine hairs on their body called lanugo are beginning to form.  Mom is now experiencing less of the morning sickness and dizziness and is experiencing more flatulence and discomfort in her abdomen as the baby continues to grow.

https://wehavekids.com/parenting/Hairy_Baby

Week 15 marks when the baby is now able to breathe on their own.  They are able to use their tiny functioning lungs which are in the primitive stages.  Mom is seeing her belly turn into more of a bump and the discomfort will continue with the rapid development happening.  She may be developing more of a pregnancy brain, where she is beginning to be a bit more forgetful.  

During week 16, the baby is now getting stronger and is able to hold their head more upright and is beginning to develop some scalp patterns, albeit with no hair yet!  Mom is now starting to feel the baby move around!  

Week 17 marks more structure to the baby’s skeleton, where the baby is developing stronger bones developing from softer cartilage.  They are also starting to pack on the fat.  They are also developing their sweat glands.  Mom’s baby bump continues to grow and as a result her centre of gravity may change which makes her more susceptible to tumbles – be on the lookout! This is likely when she feels her skin is starting to stretch out and that battle is being fought with their special lotions.

Weeks 18-22

Week 18 means we have hit the 5th month of pregnancy and it also means that your baby’s sex has been determined, ears are in place and there is vernix on their skin.  They are now the size of a paper airplane!  Specifically in week 18, the baby’s genitals are now developed and may be noticeable on your next ultrasound – be aware if you do not want to know.  Mom’s bump continues to grow and there may be a change in her blood pressure, blood volume and heart rate.  She will still be feeling the effects of flatulence and heartburn.  

Week 19 means that the baby is now developing their sensory receptors in their brain, the baby’s skin is developing and currently looks white, with a cheese-like (vernix) coating.  Mom is likely now feeling the effects of round ligament pain due to the rounding of her midsection and this could result in hip pain, leg cramps and trouble sleeping – you may want to look into a pregnancy pillow to help her get the rest she needs.  

HALFWAY THERE in week 20! This is the biggest week for baby’s sexual development.  If it is a boy, his testicles are heading down to their final destination.  If it is a girl, her uterus is formed and her ovaries are now holding 7 million primitive eggs and her vaginal canal is formed.  This also means that all of their organs are in place and will be confirmed at the 20-week structural ultrasound.  Mom’s uterus is now above her belly button and she is becoming rounder.  She may now be dealing with some swelling in her extremities.  

During week 21, mom can expect to feel some more coordinated kicks and punches to the gut.  Baby now has proportionate arms and legs which are now being used in a more coordinated fashion. Eyelashes are now beginning to form and if it is a female, her vagina is now developing.   Mom is now feeling the urge to pee more as the baby is now pushing on her bladder.  She may still be experiencing swelling and now may be battling varicose or spider veins.

Week 22, the baby is a skinny looking tiny human and this week will cross the 1lb threshold.  They are also developing their irises but they remain colorless.  Mom is noticing the baby moving significantly more than anytime previously in the pregnancy.  If you have not gotten a pregnancy pillow or developed a strategy to help mom with her discomfort while sleeping, this is going to be a must moving forward.

Weeks 23-27

The sixth month marks the end of the second trimester, which means we are ⅔ of the way through our pregnancy.  Baby will continue to develop and get stronger which means that mom will now be used as a punching bag for your little boxer! During the sixth month, the baby will continue to pack on the baby fat and is now the size of a G.I Joe.  They will be able to open their eyes, suck their thumb, batte hiccups, and recognize sounds and voices. 

Week 23 means that the blood vessels in the baby’s lungs are developing in preparation for breathing outside the womb.  With the baby’s size increasing, it means that some of mom’s internal organs may be moved around slightly to make sure the baby is comfortable. 

VIABILITY at week 24.  This is another huge milestone for all involved.  Baby is more likely to survive a premature birth if they are born anytime from here on out.  Baby’s lungs are now strong enough that they would be able to function outside of the womb.  Mom’s uterus is now the size of a soccer ball and she may be feeling back pain, difficulty sleeping, heartburn, flatulence and swelling.

During week 25, the baby will continue to add fat and fill out its tiny little frame.  It will for sure be over the 1lb threshold this week and their hair is beginning to pigment and their skin is becoming less wrinkly.  Mom’s growing uterus is now putting pressure on some of her blood vessels responsible for delivering blood to the lower extremities. 

Week 26 could be a big week if you are having a boy; their testicles are now descending.  Their senses are developing and lungs continue to get stronger, increasing their chance of survival with a premature birth.   They are now weighing over 2lbs and can open their eyes.  Mom’s discomfort is beginning to worsen with her ever growing tummy.  Be sure to have remedies in place to help with her sleep. 

Week 27 means that this is the last week of the second trimester and the baby is now starting to do more baby-like things like opening and closing their eyes, napping, sucking on their fingers, getting hiccups, tugging on ears and beginning to recognize voices.  Mom’s discomfort continues and her clumsiness and brain fog will continue.   

There were a lot of milestones and exciting happenings during the second trimester.  We had our anatomy scan/ultrasound and that was amazing – all organs, limbs, etc were accounted for.  We were undecided on wheter we wanted to find of the sex, so our ultrasound tech sent a sealed envelope home with us to decide if we wanted to look.  That envelope sat on our island for 3 days before we decided to throw it in the recycling.  We had asked others what we should do and the common theme was that waiting until birth was one of the true surprises that we get to experience in life.  

We have also found a few more resources that have helped us.  The first is the app What to Expect.  This app provides week to week information about our little babe!  We have it set so that it tells us the size comparison to fruits which we find to be extremely helpful.  It also goes through major developments during each week.    

The other resource we have found is a blog from one of my wife’s former Law School Classmates. The blog is called The Monday’s Best.This post covers a lot of the areas we were looking for help with once our baby arrives.  We have used this as a reference when we have been planning our nursery or what types of baby equipment to purchase.

https://www.themondaybest.com/post/all-things-baby

Until next week,

Bret

The Age of Slacktivism

Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

I have a difficult time answering this question – I often find myself questioning the motives of those who are participating as an online activist.  I think social media activism can be somewhat meaningful and worthwhile, but it has lost a lot of its luster, due to the fact that everyone and their dog seems to consider themselves one.  While doing some research into online activism for this post, I came across an article entitled “When Everyone is an Activist Online, Is Anyone?” written by Ella Glover.  She outlines that “social media has once again turned something hopeful into something toxic and that activism is now seen as mandatory or expected.”

https://www.blakespectrum.org/blog/2020/10/07/social-media-activism-spreads-ignites-change/

I felt I needed to actually understand what Social Media Activism encompasses to be able to properly answer this question.  I came across a blog of a former student of Alec’s – Catherine Ready who was able to shed light on her thoughts regarding Social Media Activism.  Through her blog, I was able to find a simple yet effective definition of exactly what social media activism is.  It is essentially using the platform of an online forum to lead or support a cause.  It’s essentially activism behind a screen.

In her article, “When Everyone is an Activist Online, Is Anyone?” Ella Glover’s message throughout the article resonated to be “if we aren’t publicly condemning something bad, or pushing for something positive on our social media platforms, we’re not doing anything at all — whether we are out in the streets or not”.  In all honesty, this is exactly how I feel in terms of social media activism.  I often wonder how much of an effect likes, retweets and hashtags actually carry  and whether people are engaging for the right or appropriate reasons. 

A lot of the time, I am finding myself wondering how TRUE people are when they engage in online/social media activism or whether they are just paying lip service to achieve a certain look or be seen in the appropriate light.  I often see meaningful posts, but hardly see any sort of follow through in person, in the community or away from the keyboard – AKA the keyboard warriors or armchair activists are everywhere!  This thought leads me to wonder, are they helping the cause by posting on social media!? To me, with social media activism, there is a lot of over-promising and under-delivering with boots on the ground.

https://memegenerator.net/instance/73209102/ralph-wiggum-picking-nose-landscape-im-helping

Over the last two years, with the arrival of COVID-19, we have found ourselves online or engaging with our social media apps more frequently.  Speaking from experience, my time on these apps has increased, but I have also noticed something else – the content on these apps can be soul crushing, extremely negative, hard to handle and affecting my mental health.  I think social media activism has played a bit of a role in the increase in this type of information with jumping from cause to cause without any sort of action or resolution.  In her article, Ella Glovers reminds us that “we are not equipped to handle the constant barrage of information at once.  The pressure to juggle an infinite amount of injustices in our minds, while also worrying about our own lives is problematic.”  

Many people find themselves in a position where they refrain from posting on social media due to their occupation.  Some “activists” may not find it safe to be posting online in fear of losing their job or facing discipline for thoughts posted online.  This can be particularly true for those who work in civil service.  This is the driving force behind what and how I post on my social media platforms.  I am very rarely posting on any of my social media planforms out of fear of repercussions from offending someone, or how it may be interpreted.  When I do post, I leave personal opinions, biases and thoughts out, primarily based on the fact that I am a teacher.  I find that educators are often held to a different standard to the rest of the public and may be more susceptible to mistreatment based on their social media. 

Concluding Thoughts

I am not saying that it cannot be meaningful but in the current state,  I don’t find social media activism to be meaningful, purposeful or worthwhile.  I feel at this moment it falls on deaf ears due to the creation of a “topical activism”, outlined by Ella Glover as jumping from movement to movement before any results. 

Online activism is in a state of slacktivism;  In her article “The Realities of Slacktivism” Siobhan Mullaly outlines that social media activism can often come across as lazy and fake when it is not followed by genuine action and as a result the term “Slacktivism” was coined. This new term makes it hard to think of it as meaningful or purposeful.

https://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/activism/the-realities-of-slacktivism/

Daze Aghaji, a 20 year old British climate activist summarizes online activism in Ella Glover’s article in a way that is hard to ignore.  She states that prioritizing online activism is acting in such a way as to be counterproductive to the boots on the ground style of activism work.  She goes on further to say “burning myself out, constantly commenting, and trying to get involved with loads of different social issues at the same time, is not actually going to help the issue.”   Francisa Rockey, another young British activist, outlines that if we really want to make a difference “ those who are interested and have the time should spend less time talking about what people are not doing and shaming people, and more time coming together and doing the work.” 

I think both of these quotes speak profoundly to the current state of social media activism and where it needs to go.  If we want this type of activism to again be meaningful, purposeful and carry more weight, we have to put our money where our mouth is, and get our boots on the ground to create meaningful action and change, giving up the keyboard warrior status and getting out from behind the screens.

-Bret

First Trimester

Most of my learning has been centered around the We’re Pregnant! The First-Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook written by Adrian Kulp.  He, like me, found that there was not a lot of readily available information for the new dads out there and created a resource to help us out!

When we entered into the second month of our pregnancy, I was shocked to see how many changes were already happening and had a difficult time keeping track of them all.  These changes were coming fast and furious for Mom and baby whether we were ready or not!  

In the First trimester the baby does a lot of growing and developing and gets outfitted with a lot of new gear.  Their face is starting to take shape, eyes are developing, some of their extremities are also starting to develop (hands, fingers, feet & toes), their tiny little hearts and their neural tube!  As the first trimester progresses the baby will be outfitted with mouth, nose, ears, arms in addition to some pretty important organs like their intestines, liver, kidney, and bladder also developed and functioning.

Week 5 Highlight – The Neural Tube

Early on in the pregnancy, I felt that there was so much going on, but nothing was really visible.  Just because my wife wasn’t showing yet, did not mean that there was a lot happening on the inside. 

In the 5th week, our baby was starting their growth and development, specifically their neural tube has begun to take shape.  I wasn’t sure what the neural system was, but I had an idea.  I had to do some research on exactly what was happening.  I was delighted to find out that this meant the building blocks of what would form their spine and entire nervous system – what a relief! 

The neural tube is developing on the outer layer called the ectoderm and there are 2 other layers; the mesoderm and endoderm.  Within the mesoderm, our baby’s circulatory system, skeleton and the beginning stages of heart and the third layer, the endoderm will eventually house our baby’s organs, but at the exact moment, it connects the placenta which is transporting all the necessary nutrients to help with growth! 

Baby Stats

  • Now the size of small lemon seed
  • The heart, which is about the size of a poppy seed, is starting to take shape and working towards the first beat! 
  • Neural tube is open, but will close next week, eventually going to house the brain and spinal cord!

Mom Stats

  • The dreaded morning sickness may be in full swing or just beginning.  Every mom is different.  My wife was lucky and wasn’t hit too badly.
  • Starting to show more fatigue; she is growing a new human!
  • Going number 1 is starting to become more frequent.

Dad To Do

  • Start taking the initiative around the house with the daily chores.  Our partners are becoming more fatigued, especially after a long day of work! 

Week 6 Highlight – Baby’s Got a Face

The big milestone this week for babe is the development of a cute little face! It sounds so weird to me to hear that our baby is developing a face, not sure why, but it just seems strange – hopefully they get their looks from their mom! In addition to the cute little face developing, their tiny little heart has started pumping blood throughout the little blood vessels and the little extremities are beginning to take shape and be more noticeable.

Baby Stats

  • Baby’s face is really starting to look more human! 
  • Some organs are taking shape – kidneys, liver, and lungs.
  • The heart beat is up to 110bpm

Mom Stats

  • Mood swings may have started, or are just beginning – darn hormones! 
  • Still not showing much, but there is a lot of action happening inside.

Dad To Do

  • Be sure to encourage exercise.  We really enjoyed(and still do) our quick walks after work or supper to get out of the house.  I found that it really helped with both of our mental health and served to be very stress relieving being out in the crisp fall air.

Week 7 Highlight – Hands & Feet

This week was another big week for the little baby’s development – the skeleton has completely formed! Although this is not the rigid structure we are used to, it remains soft and pliable.  It is also another big week for the little hands and feet are starting to divide into their little hands, feet, and starting separate into distinct arms and legs.  This week could also be a milestone week for mom and the development and enhancement of her smell! My wife went through spurts with this sense of super smell, but it didn’t bother her too much!

Baby Stats

  • Baby continues to grow like a weed.  Now the size of a blueberry or 10000 times larger than at conception. 
  • Skeleton has completely formed.  It is still soft and pliable to help with continued growth and development. 
  • Brain is developing quickly!
  • More organs and systems are developing – kidneys, liver, appendix, and pancreas in addition to the digestive system all beginning to do their jobs.

Mom Stats

  • Uterus is now doubled in size to accommodate the growing baby.
  • Villi are not present in the placenta, which is helping in the transfer of nutrients from mom to baby.
  • Super smell and food cravings have possibly arrived.

Dad To Do

  • Continue with the majority of the household chores. 
  • Be on the lookout for any strong odors to help alleviate any discomfort for mom!

Week 8 Highlight – Fingers and Toes 

This week, the baby is still working towards looking more and more human-like and less like an alien!   Their tiny little heart continues to beat, at a rate of 2-3 times as fast as mom and dads, and more development of their eyes and lungs.  But the biggest accomplishment for this week is the development of their tiny fingers and toes.  They are beginning to look more and more like the little digits we are used to and less like a set of flippers on the ends of their arms and legs.  

Baby Stats

  • Now the size of a raspberry.
  • Heart continues to beat at an amazing rate 150-170 bpm.
  • Neural pathways to the brain and bronchial tubes in the lungs are starting to develop.

Mom Stats

  • Still not showing, but could have stomach tenderness.
  • Moodiness, super smell, morning sickness, cravings are all still possible.
  • The need to pee is still frequent.
  • Fatigue and lower energy levels.

Week 9-12 Highlights 

Week 9 marks the beginning of the final month of the first trimester and the baby is about an inch long or the size of an olive and is starting to look more and more like a person each day.  Week 10 is a major milestone in baby’s development – this is the week that the embryo graduates to become a fetus – YAHOOO!  Week 11 arrived and we were getting very antsy to tell our friends and family that we were expecting.  We followed the 12 week rule, when it comes to telling our exciting news.  The chances of miscarriage decrease significantly after the 12th week but I was chomping at the bit to tell the world! The big highlight for baby this week is the development of buds that will eventually become their teeth.  Week 12 has arrived and with it comes with baby’s ability to respond to some external stimuli.  This week also marks the timeframe where it becomes safe to share your exciting news!

As with most couples who have a pet, we decided that the best way to tell our friends and family was with our dog Charlie giving the big news.  We purchased a bandana for him to wear whenever we wanted to tell our news to those who didn’t know.  It took a while for most of them to notice he was wearing a bandana, and when they read it, it was a very happy occasion!

Charlie sporting his new bandana!

Baby Stats

Week 9

  • Joints are starting to develop and become moveable.
  • Fingers and toes are much more defined.

Week 10

  • Most if not all vital organs are in place.
  • Joints continue to develop.
  • Baby has a bulging forehead with growing brain, fingernails, and toenails.

Week 11

  • Buds of the teeth are forming under their gums.

Week 12

  • Intestines, eyes and ears are in place
  • Baby begins to respond to external stimuli. 
  • Reflexes have begun, but the baby is still too small for mom to feel. 

Mom Stats

Week 10

  • Baby bump may be starting to emerge.
  • Uterus continues to grow.

Week 11

  • Maternity clothes may have arrived on the scene.
  • Mom has likely gained some weight as baby has developed thus far.

Week 12

  • Now having trouble laying on her tummy.
  • Mood swings and fatigue start to become less frequent.

There have been a lot of things that I had learned early in the pregnancy.  The biggest takeaway is how fast things progress and how fast the baby grows and develops.  Again, new dads need to be adaptable and flexible with how mom is feeling.  Each week is different and brings upon a new challenge.

Until next time, 

Bret

Project Update #2

Howdy ECI 831! 

My wife hit 30 weeks on Saturday and we are getting very excited and anxious to meet our little monster! I cannot believe how fast it has gone since finding out I was going to be a dad in mid April.  We are starting to slowly acquire the baby items that we will need immediately and the baby room set up is almost in full swing, we are still decluttering/purging, but we have a solid plan in place!

My digital project is humming along quite well.  I have made some minor tweaks to how I will set it up on my blog site.  I will be focusing on creating 4 or 5 posts per trimester.  This is going to help me organize my thoughts as well as be able to capture the entire 9 months in a better light.  There is so much information available and this format will force me to be concise and include what I have found the most important information.  I have also made the decision to focus on new dads as my primary target audience.  As I mentioned in my first project post, there is not as much information ready for new dads and feel that this is the appropriate way to frame my project.  

I have completed 2 posts so far, focusing on our first trimester journey.  The first post outlined a few resources that I have found extremely helpful and reassuring.  The first resource I found useful was a YouTube account, “Dad University”.  The goal behind this account is to help new dads by providing useful points.  The second resource was a first time dad handbook entitled “We’re Pregnant! The First Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook”.  The third resource was a more complex text book style book that outlines everything pregnancy related; this resource entitled Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn.  All of these resources have proven to be great for us in terms of understanding what we will be going through.

My second post outlined a book that I read on the recommendation of my wife.  “Like a Mother – A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it gives a very detailed account of the female perspective through pregnancy.  I am very happy that I read this book, as it has helped me connect to my wife and better understand what she is going through.  I highly recommend this book to any parents!

https://www.libbyvanderploeg.com/blog/2018/5/22/like-a

Going forward, posts will be grouped with multiple weeks together to help streamline posts and to be able to cover the entire 40 weeks in an appropriate manner, summarizing major points of information concisely. There will be more posts this week – stay tuned!

Bret

First Trimester: Like A Mother!

The physical, mental and emotional changes that females go through during pregnancy is much greater than I could have ever expected and I will never fully understand the depth at which these occur.  With that said, I will be the first to admit that I knew the bare minimum about what these changes look like.  

I thought I understood the basics about the anatomical changes that occur within their bodies, but that was hardly scratching the surface.  Rarely did I think about the mental and emotional changes that go along with these physical changes.  This topic had come up in conversation numerous times with my wife and she had mentioned she just read an excellent book that outlines the pregnancy from a female perspective.  I was super eager to  read this as I wanted to understand what she was going through.  

The book was called “Like a Mother: A feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy” written by Angela Garbes which provides the reader with  a comprehensive look at the female perspective of pregnancy.  This is a book that I am very glad that I took the time to read.  I was able to connect with my wife and better understand when she was describing to me what she was going through or how she was feeling! 

While I was reading this book, it became more and more apparent to me the need to be patient, supportive and encouraging to my wife as we travel through this journey.  There are so many decisions and other aspects that she has been tasked with having to decide and decipher while pregnant, most of them I was not aware of.  These decisions need to be made thinking about what is best for mom and baby, and can be very overwhelming to do on their own. In turn, its super important, that I as a the closest support be open and ready to listen to what she is going through. 

Garbes outlines many aspects of pregnancy from the female perspective that often gets overlooked or dropped onto the shoulders of moms to be tackled alone.  I really appreciated the way that she explained what females were going through during pregnancy and helped me better understand what my wife was going through.  With the amount of information accessible to our fingertips and others with strong opinions stating their opinions unwarranted, Garbes tries to provide the scientific information for moms to make decisions on their own and be OK with making the decision that best fits their unique situation.

There were numerous aspects of this book that I enjoyed, however, below are a the two specific aspects that stood out to me more than any of the others and provided many learning opportunities for me.

The Power of the Women’s Body

I knew that the human body was an amazing structure before reading, however upon completion of Like a Mother, I am even more in awe of the female body.  The ability to be able to adapt the inner workings of their bodies to be able to grow and develop a new life is amazing, and something I took for granted prior to reading this book.  Feeding babies is another facet of the female body that amazed me.  The ability to detect illness or other needs in their babies, and being able to address that through breast milk boggles my mind! I realize that not all moms are able to breastfeed, but the general idea of this practice is astonishing.

Postpartum Care  

This has to be my biggest takeaway from reading Like a Mother.  Garbes outlines that the care for postpartum moms is not adequate enough to help the new mom on their road to recovery; unless it is warranted due to adverse events during the birthing process.  The baby has frequent checkups and appointments once born to make sure all is well, but not nearly the same attention is given to the mom who has just completed an enormous journey that took its toll on their bodies.  There are injuries suffered both physically and mentally through the process of childbirth and the mothers are usually just sent on their way, forced to fend for themselves on the road to recovery.    

Since reading this book, we have begun discussing my wife’s aftercare.  We will be searching for a health care providers with specializations in working with postpartum mothers to help with a speedy recovery.  

I would recommend this book for both new moms and dads.  It provides a lot of relevant information to help make tough decisions and gives a road map as to what to expect as the pregnancy develops through to full term.  Garbes also does a great job reassuring new parents that you are ALLOWED TO and SHOULD DO what works best for the both of you and not worry about anyone else’s opinions.  

I believe it gives dads a very accurate perspective as to what moms are going through and tasked with just because they are the ones who will be carrying the babe.  It is crucial that we as dads understand these things and become involved to help support!

Until next time, 

Bret

Weeks 1-3: Where Do We Begin?!?

I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a dad, but we weren’t sure when the timing was right to begin even thinking the time was right.  My wife and I both love to travel and wanted to go on a big adventure before we decided to have kids.  The plan was made that we were going to go on a 3 week trip to Croatia, Italy & Greece with some other couple friends of ours; this trip was supposed to take place in the Summer of 2020…… enter COVID-19 to the picture to put a abrupt halt to any travel plans we were concocting.  Once this trip was officially off the table, my wife and I made the decision that now was the best time, as we were not sure when we would be able to travel again, needless to say plans changed!!

Our first decision with trying to start a family was when did we want to try to have our baby?  Do we try to plan it so they are the oldest in their class, or the youngest, or somewhere in the middle? We then looked at the best scenarios for the both of us to be off work together to ensure we would be there to support each other… no surprise, we choose to be off in the summer.  We wanted the little one to be born before summer would be in full swing, so we would be able to enjoy it as a new family of 3.  With all of that said, we decided that a fall baby would be the best, and with no surprise our plans were thrown out the window – we were on track for a Christmas/New Year’s baby.  Our first lesson learned, parents must be adaptable with plans – even the best thought out plans, hardly come to fruition as anticipated.  The importance of flexibility was shown early and often, and it has since been something that continues to be tested as we work towards arrival!

I can still remember the day when I found out I was going to be a dad.  We had gone for a hike in mid April and we were casually discussing that our first attempt wasn’t successful.  Again, flexibility was needed as we schemed up our next plan and tried to decipher if we did something wrong.  Fast forward to the afternoon of the same day in mid April and my wife brings out a big present and hands it to me – I was caught off guard and thought someone had dropped off a belated birthday present, but it was waaaaaay better than that! 

The book my wife used to tell me I was going to be a Dad!

My first thought after getting the news, was what is my job now as a soon to be Dad? What do I do as an expecting dad?! I did what any new dad would do and went and completed a Google search.  My first impression when I searched for advice was that there is a lot of advice for new moms, but there wasn’t as much out there for new dads.  I came across a YouTube account entitled Dad University with the focus being on advice for new and expecting dads.  Like most dads to be (I assume), I had no idea what I was supposed to do now that we have a little peanut on the way.  

The second thought I had was to head to Amazon and look for pregnancy books that outline the entire pregnancy that would give my wife and I the support as to what to expect in the upcoming 9 months.  I was able to find 2 resources that have helped us better understand the pregnancy process.  I was able to purchase and find a first time dad’s handbook called “ We’re Pregnant! The First Time Dad’s Handbook” and the second was another book called “Pregnancy, Childbirth and The Newborn Complete Guide”.  Both of these books have been great in helping us understand what is happening throughout the whole process.  In later posts, I will go into more specifics of some of the more important or crucial (to us) aspects that these books have helped us on.

In the end, after watching the videos from Dad University and beginning the reading of my Dad Handbook, I learned 3 significant lessons going forward that will be crucial during my wife’s pregnancy:

  • Focus on the pregnancy and not the baby (yet)!  The focus needed to be on my wife and what she was going through and experiencing, since she is the one who will be carrying this baby for 9 months, going through so many changes physically, mentally and emotionally.  It was important for me to be there for whatever she needed, whenever she needed it.  Be present and focus on the now!
  • Be grateful!  Being able to bring new life into this world is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly; it’s amazing! Be sure to show gratitude towards your significant other or whomever is carrying your child.  They are doing something soooo far out of their comfort zone, we as new dads, need to take every opportunity to show gratitude for the opportunity they are providing us with in a short 9 months.  
  • Be Patient and supportive!  The changes that come with pregnancy begin immediately.  Your wife is likely going to be stressed, scared, or feeling incapable of carrying a child or being a mother.  We, as expecting dads, need to be patient and assure them that everything is going to be ok and we will get through things together.  They are likely feeling isolated already with the changes forthcoming, so we need to do our best to make them feel like they are not alone! 

Until next time,

Bret

Digital Project Update #1

Aloha Everyone! 

How have things been going?! Currently, we just (Oct.2) entered into the 3rd and final trimester and things are getting real, real fast!  We are starting to get more excited (and anxious) each day!  We have been feeling the crunch with our stress levels, to do lists and credit card statements.  This weekend our house got a good thorough cleanout, and we are trying to get small odd jobs around the house, yard, and garage done while we still have the time and energy to do them. 

https://www.dreamstime.com/young-family-moving-new-house-things-cartoon-illustration-flat-style-baby-cat-image118302384

I have 2 goals driving this project.  First, I want to document the whole experience to be able to look back upon and secondly I want to use this as a way to sift through information and develop a plan for when our little arrives!

How Goes the Project Battle?!

So far, over the last couple of weeks,  I have been focusing on how I wanted to structure this project and the types of content/posts I want to include.  I had been struggling to decide on a way in which  to structure the digital project. My initial plan is to “travel back” in time, splitting my project into trimesters and structure it more like journal/blog entries; recounting what we were working through at each trimester stage! 

My initial thoughts are to try to have smaller reflections or journal entries each week to try and capture a broader picture of the whole experience, lessons learned and decision that were made.

Here are some ideas that I am throwing around to focus blog entries on for each: 

1st Trimester 

  • Finding out & initial feelings
  • Resources 
  • Future Dad role!? What do I do now?
  • Telling friends and family
  • 1st Ultrasound (Car)/First attended ultrasound
  • Reactions and feelings during appointments
  • Gifted items vs Bought
  • House Set up
    • Baby room 
    • Our closets
    • Office
  • Information Sifting
  • Nutrition & Exercise
  • Parenting 101
https://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vectors/cartoon-ultrasound-vectors

2nd Trimester:

  • Book: Like a Mother – Written by Angela Garbes
  • Diapers 
    • Cloth vs Disposable
  • 20 week Ultrasound
  • Feeding plan
  • Prenatal Classes
  • Post Birth Care
  • Information Sifting
  • Parenting 101
https://www.awesomeinventions.com/funny-baby-handling-tips/

3rd Trimester

  • Big Baby Gear Items
    • Car seat 
    • Bassinet 
    • Swing 
  • Birth Plan 
  • Post Birth Care
  • Information Collection
  • Ultrasound Updates
  • Parenting 101
https://www.babylist.com/hello-baby/best-new-baby-products

In conjunction with these topics, I am planning to sprinkle in some possible writing prompts that I have found online as a switch up.  I am planning to make my first post this week to get the ball rolling with this project! This is just a quick blueprint and will likely change courses multiple times throughout the course of the course! 

I am looking forward to thinking back to how it all started and documenting our journey thus far!

Has anyone out there completed a pregnancy journal/reflection/blog? If so, what were some things you were glad you captured?

Week 4 – Twitter

Although I am a frequent user of social media apps like Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, I remain a social media looker rather than a poster.  As mentioned in Week 2 blog post, I rarely post on these platforms in my personal or professional lives. This is out of  fear based on how I could be portrayed, the fear of offending someone, or fear of misrepresenting my employer and landing myself in hot water; it’s just easier in my eyes to not post.

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-block-social-media-apps-from-yourself

Overall, the platform I enjoy the most is Twitter.  I feel that there are many educational avenues we as educators can explore and implement into our classrooms, but with that said, there are also some aspects that may be concerning. 

https://fortune.com/2017/02/16/twitter-time-out/

In a previous course (EC&I 832), I wrote a paper outlining and investigating the implementation of social media into our classrooms.  Within that paper, I was able to outline some important aspects which social media could bring into our classrooms.  The major advantage to implementing social media into our classrooms would be its ability to break education outside the restricting walls of the classroom.  Twitter allows you to follow, converse (message), and collaborate with like minded individuals around a specific topic; essentially putting access to experts at the fingertips of your students.  

http://zesium.com/how-to-incorporate-social-media-in-classrooms/

A major draw to Twitter for me, is the increased ability to collaborate, communicate and share resources.  This app allows you to immerse yourself with individuals who are travelling along the same educational journey as you and your class.  It also makes it easy to share resources through the following, messaging, hashtagging and mentioning features.  These features allow for the sharing of resources with those who are in the same room, or across the world!  

Utilizing Twitter in your classroom can also promote a sense of community and belonging with your students.  Some students may struggle socially, but they may excel using technology.  Using Twitter can give these students an avenue to feel they belong to a group and be a regular contributor to their classroom community; perhaps more regularly than in their classroom.  This can be accomplished by creating a class Twitter handle for your students to follow, or creating  class Hashtag for students to organize their contributions.

https://www.weareteachers.com/build-classroom-community/

Twitter also provides its users with unique ways to receive feedback.  They have the ability to receive feedback from not only their immediate community but they can also receive it from others scattered across the world.  They can reach out to experts to give them feedback as well. Having access to reach out to experts is a unique experience and something I wish I had as I worked through my education.  This can be accomplished by understanding and utilizing the hashtagging features to curate the same content, to be sure their content is seen by those they are seeking feedback from. 

https://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2020/03/03/short-ted-talk-video-the-secret-to-giving-great-feedback/

I feel that with the technological boom and social media (Twitter specifically)has the ability to increase student participation and engagement.   Twitter provides ample opportunities to create authentic learning opportunities for your students.  Students can post their work, use various modes to represent their understanding/learning, and provide and receive feedback that are not the typical types of activities.

With the popularity of Twitter and the flood of misinformation or fake news that seems to be polluting our feeds, we can use this as a learning/teaching opportunity to promote critical thinking skills.  Students must be aware of how to interpret and make meaning of what they are reading, checking sources and accounts and how to spot bots who may be spreading this fake news.  Critical thinking skills fall into the ELA curriculum (comprehend and respond strand) and could be a unique way to increase and improve these skills.  These critical thinking skills can also be an avenue to implement digital and information literacies, along with global citizenship education.  

https://www.dictionary.com/e/misinformation-vs-disinformation-get-informed-on-the-difference/

With the positives, comes the negatives.  Although there are numerous positives that Twitter can offer our students, there are also some significant drawbacks.  Of course the main disadvantage or limitation in using these platforms would be access to technology both inside and outside the classroom.  Many of our classrooms are very diverse and with that the access to technology can vary significantly. 

https://otbds.org/access-to-technology-and-barriers-to-digital-inclusion/

With that said, many urban schools are very densely populated which results in a higher student to device ratio; I am currently faced with a 3:1 ratio.  Along with this ratio, educators are also tasked with ensuring that there is equal access to devices for every classroom in a school. This limited access to devices can be a major detriment to implementing the use of any social media in your classroom.

http://caffeineandlessonplans.blogspot.com/2015/09/tips-for-teaching-in-overcrowded.html

Another significant drawback being the ability for bots to create profiles and try to interact with users.  With that said, if you are going to utilize these platforms, it would be beneficial to teach your students how to spot a bot; does the user have a profile picture? Do they have a randomly generated twitter handle? Do they have any followers? Some simple things to help your students spot a bot.  There will be a steady stream of aggressive, mistrusted, unfiltered flow of information that students must deal with.

https://sfmagazine.com/post-entry/october-2019-these-are-the-bots-youre-looking-for/

Another area of concern would be the security of the user and the user’s data.  Students must be taught about the dangers that come with using a social media app.  They must be taught proper etiquette while interacting on these platforms, what is appropriate and what is not, and what to expect while they are online and ensuring that they are keeping themselves safe.

https://it.wisc.edu/news/3-tips-for-more-secure-social-media/

All in all, there are many positives and negatives to utilizing social media in your classroom.  It is essentially up to the teacher and what they are comfortable with.  Some teachers may be super eager to get these platforms up and running in their classrooms, while others are very hesitant.  Educators should implement what they are comfortable with and what fits into their teaching practices.

Week 3 – Digital Project… “Welcome to…. PARENTHOOD!?!”

When I was mulling over what new skill I have been eagerly wanting to learn but haven’t had the time, or the drive to do,  I was drawing a complete blank!  I quickly realized that I would be learning one of the biggest and most important skills I have ever had to learn (whether I was ready or not) over the next 9 months; becoming a parent! 

https://showmeinstitute.org/blog/accountability/dont-worry-were-all-confused/

Back in April, my wife and I got the exciting news that our family would be growing from 2 plus a dog, to 3 plus a dog – what a feeling that was!  Our lives were going to be forever changed in 9 months. 

https://medium.com/bookofaubrey/finding-out-i-am-expecting-cb810117492e

Fast forward a few weeks, our first ultrasound checkup, we found out that our new little addition was due to arrive December 25 – a Christmas baby!  This is a detail that we did not consider at all and was completely overlooked during our careful planning. Hopefully they’ll be ok sharing their birthday with the excitement of Christmas?!? 

https://www.goodto.com/family/christmas-baby-names-67085

During the initial excitement, the sense of panic slowly crept in, which I am sure most, if not all, first time parents have experienced.  You mean I now have to care for a tiny human? How do I do that?  I struggle to care for myself at times!  All thoughts that I was flooded with once the magnitude set in!

https://www.shutterstock.com/search/scared+parents

We began our research and reading into what pregnancy may look like, with the hopes that this would alleviate some of the anxiety we were feeling.  One thing we overlooked, was the amount of information out there; the quantity and quality of the information did not help, it only seemed to exacerbate our feelings of anxiety.  How do we know what to believe? Who to trust? What is the best practice!? What is going to work for us and our little?

https://www.the-low-countries.com/article/information-overload-time-for-a-news-diet

The idea behind my major project stems from this bombardment of information and will be focused on recording the ups and downs leading into parenthood.  Documenting what we learn, decisions that we have made and are trying to make, research we do, resources that we find, and questions we have and will continue to have. It will also pose as a unique keepsake to show our future child once he/she has entered the world, to show how their parents had to learn a new skill and to eventually instill the love of learning with them.  I am sure the project morph to include more aspects of the whole adventure, but these are my initial thoughts!

For the parents reading this(Aunt’s, Uncle’s, Grandma’s, and Grandpa’s advice welcome too); if you were to go back in time, have a conversation with your past self, being able to pass along 1 or 2 pieces of advice leading into parenthood, what would they be?

http://parentaladvisorywarning.ca/