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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Friday, September 24

Your pregnancy: 19 weeks

How your baby's growing: Your baby's sensory development is exploding! Her brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don't be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.

Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces [she measured in at 9oz this morning] and measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the size of a large heirloom tomato.
Her arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of her body now. Her kidneys continue to make urine and the hair on her scalp is sprouting. A waxy protective coating called the vernix caseosa is forming on her skin to prevent it from pickling in the amniotic fluid.

How your life's changing: Think you're big now? [yes!] You'll start growing even faster in the weeks to come. [guess I'd better get those maternity clothes out!] As a result, you may notice some achiness in your lower abdomen or even an occasional brief, stabbing pain on one or both sides — especially when you shift position or at the end of an active day. Most likely, this is round ligament pain. The ligaments that support your uterus are stretching to accommodate its increasing weight. This is nothing to be alarmed about, but call your practitioner if the pain continues even when you're resting or becomes severe.

You may be noticing some skin changes, too. Are the palms of your hands red? [not that I've noticed] Nothing to worry about — it's from the extra estrogen. You may also have patches of darkened skin caused by a temporary increase in pigment. When these darker patches appear on your upper lip, cheeks, and forehead, they're called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy." You may also notice some darkening of your nipples, freckles, scars, underarms, inner thighs, and vulva. That darkened line running from your belly button to your pubic bone is called the linea nigra, or "dark line."

These darkened spots will probably fade shortly after delivery. In the meantime, protect yourself from the sun, which intensifies the pigment changes. Cover up, wear a brimmed hat, and use sunscreen when you're outdoors. [bring on the sunscreen while in FL next week!] And if you're self-conscious about your "mask," a little concealing makeup can work wonders.

My lovely friend Heartburn has reared its ugly head. With Finn, I had heartburn the whole pregnancy, so I was hoping I might be able to skip it this time since I hadn't had any...but no. It came on Wednesday and hasn't left. Rolaids help (and have calcium, too). I think it helps to eat small bites often instead of big meals. The heartburn is probably contributing to the nausea, too.

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