Friday, March 30, 2012

A Picture worth a thousand words

So did I tell you that I actually did some maternity photos? I did. My friend Scott likes to work with still-life shots most of the time. He has an amazing eye, and talent, and cool equipment. You can check out the stuff that he's done here. A month or so ago, I went to spend the day playing dress up with his wife. She wanted some headshots for some stuff and like all smart women everywhere, called upon her friends with the skills of "make it look good." Leah was there for make-up, I for hair, and B for accessories. We used Dana as our personal Barbie and dressed her every-which-way and Scott took lots of pictures. Then I made him take a picture of me. And J's guitar.

See, I found this picture on Pinterest:
Photo from Jenna Nelson Photography
And at the end of the day, Scott came up with this:
See it on his site here
 Then, he got even more awesome, flipped it around, and did this!
I love that picture so very, very much. It's more perfect than I could have imagined. So... I got brave, and contacted my friend Bob, who like Scott, has an amazing eye, talent and cool toys. Unlike Scott, Bob LIKES taking pictures of people's faces. Those pictures are still in the works (it takes a lot of post-production work to make me look good people. Trust me on this!), but I actually had fun doing it. I was braver than I thought I would be, and Bob & his lovely wife and adorable daughters were there with me, so I felt totally at home and comfortable. Also, his two girls (ages 5 & 3...holy moly!) got out THEIR cameras to take pictures of me too. I felt like such a rock star. A giant, pasty, rock star.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On the Menu

I've been thinking about food quite a bit lately. Is it because I'm watching the number on the scale go up here at the end of this pregnancy game? I mean, I'm eating all the food, and it shows. Check out this side-by-side, or top-to-bottom.
This is me at 38 weeks. 
This is me at 39 weeks
So... there's that. Also, photographic evidence that this baby has not dropped. April is right around the corner, so I'd like her to start moving down. You know, prepping to move out. Anyway, back to the food discussion.

When J & I first got married, I was pretty good at meal-planning. (*toot-toot* that's my own horn!) I had a spreadsheet with our favorite meals laid out, and I was teaching myself Access so I could make a database. It's the kind of geek that I am. Somewhere along the line I got busy, or lazy, or bored with the 12 or so meals that we knew how to cook and I stopped doing it. Recently I've been trying to get back into the habit. A few weeks ago I tried two new recipes from Food on the Table. Thankfully, they both worked out & J really liked them. Hooray. The site is a success. The only problem is J and I were rarely home at the same time to eat together. Our commitments were on conflicting nights and blah blah blah.

Now, however... I'm home! And I have time! So, I'm trying again. Only, now I'm trying to plan in advance a freezer full of things that take little to no brain-power to make our lives easier. I've already made 2 batches of these enchiladas for MDM & KRho (to really good reviews--I have yet to eat any myself), only... I'm bad at following recipes. I cooked some chicken breasts in the crock-pot overnight with a can of Rotel (the regular kind, not the super spicy kind), and for the first batch, I skipped the enchilada sauce completely, instead using the juice from the crock pot. The second batch I just poured some on top. Third batch... as yet undecided.

So, I've got some pre-fab pasta sauce and pasta, a batch of enchiladas, two pre-seasoned-just-throw-in-the-oven tenderloin thingies (one chicken, one beef). So far, I'm resisting the temptation to just stock up on chicken nuggets and french fries. I figure the days when those become necessary freezer staples are coming & I shouldn't hasten them.

Now, gentle readers! Give me your recipes! Crock-pot gems. Things that require no brain-work, skill, or excess time.

And, an update on J! He's fine. He's recovering really, really well. So far, it looks like he may have avoided the permanent nerve damage part of things, so that's really, really, really good news. Also, here's a picture of the offending tooth.

See it there, on the bottom right? Yeah. Icky.
Thank you all for your prayers though. He's already eating mostly real food (soft, but not purees) and hasn't been on drugs 24/7, so I'm very grateful. For some truly suck-tastic timing, things have gone amazingly well.
Also, I've gotten to have my husband home for a week! A whole week! Even sickly, it's been a treat. 

Now, to go retrieve my car from the shop. nearly $900 in regular maintenance and replacement parts later, she'll be as good as new, just in time to be carrying around a wee person. Hear that, Freckle? Nice clean, safe car! Leather seats! A sun-roof! Head towards the exit now and make your debut in 4 days or so. (I really would like her to get here in time for Easter. I have a great dress with matching bonnet and booties for her to wear. I mean, she can't avoid wearing it. I'm going to put her in it, Easter or not, but it would be really nice to have her in it for a picture in a little Easter basket, right? I mean, cute overload... assuming she cleans up nicely after that whole birth thing.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

It Pours


39 weeks (tomorrow) and still pregnant. I'll think about taking a picture tomorrow.

Here's the awesome news-
J got promoted at work. It's the position he's wanted to move into for a while now. It's a step in the right direction on his career path. There is more money with this job and a greater opportunity for J to work from home--both awesome things with the loss of my income and an impending baby. The ONLY downside is leaving the team-lead he's been working for the past 3 years, who is wonderful, understanding, and meshes with J's personality perfectly. Oh, also, he was supposed to start his new roles & responsibilities today. (Spoiler alert: he didn't)

Here's the not-so-awesome news-
J is getting a wisdom tooth taken out tomorrow. A wisdom tooth that is completely sideways and so deep in the bone that permanent nerve damage is considered "likely." Thankfully it's just a feeling nerve, not a motor nerve, so it's just permanent numbness on one half of his lower lip & jaw, no loss of speech or motor function. Still, for a singer, that's a scary thing.  They'll do a bone graft too because apparently there's been enough bone loss already that his other molar tooth is in danger. Yes. We found all this out today. He's been home since Friday, on some heavy-duty pain medication, and pretty much as miserable as I've ever seen him. Also, did I mention that I'll be 39 wks pregnant and at my OB appointment while he's having this tooth ripped from his skull? Oh, and that opening weekend of Scarborough Faire is next weekend? Tomorrow will be his 2nd to last rehearsal with his band, including a brand new member they're trying to bring up to speed to help cover J's parts while he's out helping me with a baby, and possible in Canada for 2 weeks in early May training for this promotion thingy. Yeah. Best timing ever, right?

The good thing is his family is very near, so his mom is going to step in and take him to the appointment (and hopefully I'll be able to pick him up from the appointment). My parents also being very near are available should anything crazy happen at my appointment. I don't expect craziness. I haven't even had enough Braxton-Hicks contractions to be sure I know what contractions are like and fully anticipate being completely clueless when labor starts. Which, more than ever, I'm hoping doesn't happen until April. J's recovery time is conservatively estimated at 7-10 days. With a due date 8 days away, a baby a few days late doesn't sound so bad right now.

Please be praying for us. Insurance is covering 80% of the extraction, which is good, but none of the anesthesia or bone graft. Thank God we filled up our flex spending account for this year, so we're still covered. We're hoping the surgery goes as smoothly as possible, but this tooth man... this tooth is in the worst possible place. I pray my husband's amazing healing powers kick in and he's back up & running (or in his case, singing & dancing) as soon as possible. Also, that I stay pregnant as long as possible to keep from adding even more complications into the mix.

Weeeee! Gonna be a fun week!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain & Showers

This week has seriously gotten away from me. I've been meaning to write this since Monday, but somehow it's Friday now. I'm not sure how that happened.

I really should clean my mirror, huh?
Anyway, first things first: 38 weeks and all is well! Still pregnant. Still happy & healthy. Got the green light to let Freckle come in her own sweet time, so long as she does it before April 10th. So, that's good news.

Other news in an out-of-chronological-order type way: KRho had her baby girl last night! Yay! 2 of the 3 Nebraska babies are here! Except... wait... that means I'm next. Oh my... (she, like MDM's baby girl came with a full head of dark hair and is beautiful. I have a feeling that I'll be having a bald-headed, old-man looking little girl just to keep things balanced)

So, this week.

Monday, everything everywhere was all "Severe Weather Alert!!" even though at my house, things were still blue skies and sunshine. Then I saw the saddest tweet. Miriel Margaret was stuck at DFW. One, being stuck at an airport is never fun. Two, being stuck at an airport because they canceled your connecting flight to a town less than 2 hours drive away is even worse. Three, they told her they couldn't get her on another flight for 27 HOURS. 27 hours?!?! No. Unacceptable. So after some texting, a shower, and frantically re-arranging all the crud in my car so I could (potentially) fit luggage and a human inside, I was off to the airport! Miriel acquired (sadly without suitcase) and we hit the road. And then the rain found us. It was... loud. But thankfully, Miriel is a calm companion and told me wonderful stories of DC which helped me stay relaxed enough to get through the rain without incident. Then there was Cracker Barrel, and you know what? I didn't have fried okra! Seriously, there is something wrong with me! I got sucked in by a picture of a pretty salad and a loaded baked potato that was delicious and just enough food, but... but... fried okra!! It's why I go to Cracker Barrel. I can't believe I forgot. *sigh* Anyway, I got Miriel to the tiniest airport ever. It's even smaller than the Lincoln, NE airport--which has 4 gates. Waco only has 2, which makes it even funnier that Miriel once got a "gate change notification" e-mail for a flight leaving from Waco. Really.

Tuesday I had my doctor's appointment, a fabulous manicure, and then went to a baby shower where I got to hold babies, rub bellies, and drink punch. Pretty much the best way to end that day.

Of course, I have been showered with gifts this week too. From the internet!  First, I got a package from Noemi with this adorable sleeper, and then... then I died, because of a tiny pair of jeggings. I mean, I squealed when I saw the sleeper. I couldn't help myself. Pink giraffe print with a giraffe on it?!? And then when I saw the leggings... with a dark-wash denim print... the squeal became a noise that only super-sonic cocker spaniels could hear. And that's before I even got to the adorable argyle baby legwarmers. Plus, it came with some tiny newborn diapers, which I will soon put into a diaper bag, along with all the other wonderful things you wonderful people suggested.

THEN I got a surprise package with NO NAME that had this dress inside. And there was more squealing over the tiny rosette details and the little ruffles on the pants. Turns out that PurpleLara sent it my way, but the company neglected to put her name anywhere on the order. Still... ultimate cuteness.

Also, both ladies were kind enough to send things in sizes for Freckle to grow into. We've got so much in the tiny clothes area, but now I don't have to worry about her reaching 12 lbs and suddenly having to be naked all the time. Hooray!

AND THEN the stuff from Target & Amazon started to roll in. My mom bought us a cradle bedding set. It's lavender gingham with a hippo on it and soon it will go into the cradle my dad is making for us! I ordered some decorations for the nursery--these wall decals and a nightlight/face place combo thingy. Now I just have to actually, you know, decorate the nursery.

AND AFTER THAT I got 2 boxes full of unspeakably adorable clothes from Happily Ever Me. I have determined, after careful examination of the contents of these boxes, that her little girl was quite possibly the best dressed baby in Northern California. Those clothes are being shared among the 3 Nebraska girl babies, so we will put all those cute outfits to good use!

Today I had a dentist appointment, went to visit a baby, made a Target run, and now I'm pooped. I'm going to take a nap!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A simple plan

So, my birth plan has been pretty simple from the start: have an external baby as naturally as possible.

In my case, "possible" includes all things medically necessary, and things like my level of pain tolerance, endurance, and give-a-hoot.  That being said, we had some... preferences? Ideas? I won't go so far as to call them plans, because they were pretty vague, but it went something like this:

*I want to go into labor by myself (unless it's too risky to our health).
*If I can do this without drugs, that'd be great. (This is the part that totally surprised me. Before getting pregnant, I never thought I'd even consider going without drugs. Some hormonal shift? Crazy glitter hippie idea? I don't know, but this idea stuck in my head & I haven't been able to shake it--even after watching 10 long hours of unmedicated labor.)
*Please don't cut anything unless you have to.

With those things in my head, I took a Lamaze class and watched some DVDs about tips for coping with the pain, natural child birth relaxation methods, some massage stuff, nothing too fancy. J & I have been practicing the breathing techniques and making sure we have a common language to communicate needs--though I have a feeling that when I'm in pain I might get irrationally inarticulate.

Basically, the only things that I really want to avoid are c-section and induction, not because I think those things are horrible and women who have them are losers. No, not at all. I just didn't want to do that, if I could avoid it. I knew that induction would be talked about if I went past my due date and I'm ok with that.

Then I had my 37 week appointment. (Spoiler alert: everything is fine. We're both still healthy and the original plan is still in place--to have an external baby. That's really the bottom line of the whole post in case you want to stop reading now.)

Giant disclaimer: I fully trust my doctor. She respects me, my wishes, and treats me like an informed human. I am completely comfortable in her care, with her care, and know that she has nothing but the best interests of my person and this baby in mind. She listens to my concerns and doesn't dismiss me, even when I'm being inarticulate and nervous. Ok. Glad we got that out of the way.

Anyway, there seems to be a minor snag in my plans of "as naturally as possible" including the first 2 things on my "it would be nice if" list. An induction *might* be necessary and an epidural is *very likely*. Ok, fine. I can adjust to that.

The only part I'm really having a hard time letting go of is the possibility of not getting to 40 weeks. I mean, I was always sort of prepared if I just went in to labor early, but not really, since everyone spends so much time telling you that first babies are usually late. I guess the best way to say it is that I was counting on getting the opportunity to get to 40 weeks. April at least (which, with a due date of the 3rd, is close enough). Not just because I have no niece/nephew birthdays in April, or because I think a diamond birthstone would be nice. Yes I think those things, but the bigger thing is that APRIL has been in my brain as when this baby is coming since I found out there was a baby coming, and if SHE decides to come in March, I'm ok with that, but I'm having a harder time wrapping my brain around MAKING her come early. If it does happen, it will be because it's what is best for both of us, and I know that (see disclaimer), but it's taken me a day or two to adjust my expectations. I've had such a blissfully normal pregnancy. This new information is taking time to percolate.

Still, I'm still pregnant. Happily and healthily so, and once I have pictures of a healthy external baby, I'll let you know. I promise.

For now, I'm going to continue to clean all the things (I'm washing curtains at the moment... curtains!!) and help my friends who have newborns and wait for it to be my turn. I'm ok waiting right now. Everybody think nice, safe, Aprilish thoughts in my direction, ok? *

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What do I do with this?

looking deceptively round

don't worry, same oddly shaped belly as always
37 weeks--full term! The last milestone before my due date.

So, I'm all packed for the hospital. I used this list as a guide, because it was so very comprehensive. Good news--it all fits in one bag. Well, except for the extra pillows. Those aren't *in* the bag. Oh, and neither is the laptop, since that's J's and lives with him 24/7 anyway. And I skipped the chocolate cigars/champagne & thank you notes. But everything else is in that bag. Yes, yes it is. Sitting in my back seat. Next to the car seat.

Which got me thinking about other bags to pack. Like a diaper bag. Which led me to realize that I have no idea what all to put in there.

Alright ladies, what do I put in a diaper bag, other than diapers/wipes/diaper cream?
For cloth diapers, how do you transport the coconut oil?
Do you put a change of clothes in there?
Hopefully I'll be feeding this kid from my own self, so shouldn't need a bottle, but do I need to pack other feeding-from-my-own-self supplies? What are those things, other than a cover?
Do newborns need toys?
How many blankets should I leave the house with?
How do you know if the baby is too hot or too cold? Can you just feel them up and make adjustments, or is there some super-secret mom-method of baby temperature control that I can only learn after I get the secret handshake?
Can you do the crib-lasagna thing in a pack and play type thing?
How big a hamper do you need for baby clothes?
I have some of the Bummis Fleece Liners. Are these the things I use if I have to use a non-cloth diaper friendly rash cream with the cloth diapers?
Did any of you do maternity photos? If so, what did you wear?

Seriously, I have questions. Feel free to e-mail me your fabulous answers with adorable anecdotal evidence and pictures of your babies! beanonparade @ gmail (someone's gonna have to show me how to do a fancy contact thing that will stop spam from taking over my universe someday).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh Sofa

I'm having a love affair with my couch. Every night between 2:30 and 4 (which is sort of morning, but not really) I leave my warm, cozy bed and my warm, cozy husband and head out to my cold, leather couch.

It's mostly because after my mid-night wake up, I have a hard time getting re-comfortable and rather than toss and turn and feel resentful of my peacefully sleeping husband, I relocate. The elusive combination of top half elevated enough to keep the heartburn at bay, but horizontal enough to keep my spine from protesting, plus the absolute no-touching of the skin of either leg to the skin of the other leg, plus temperature and cat placement is... well, elusive.

It should be noted that my dear, sweet husband has many, many times offered to be the one to leave the bed and be exiled to the couch. Some nights, he's gone there straight away to leave me the whole bed to flop about it. But mostly, it just makes more sense (and takes less time) if I move (instead of having to poke, prod and cajole him out of his deep sleep).

The change of scenery usually helps me get back to sleep prretty quickly, and if it doesn't then I'm not disturbing anyone but the animals, and they sleep all day anyway, so I don't care. Also, my couch is awesomely comfy for the sleeping. I build a nice little cocoon of blankets and pillows and the angle of the arms is a great base for the necessary anti-heartburn propping I have to do (though I should say, and probably jinx it, that for the past 3 nights, I have had to use ZERO tums to sleep, which is a vast improvement. Hooray). It's nice and cool, so when I get too hot I can stick my foot in between the cushions and cool off. Of course, if I'm comfortably warm and the blankets happen to slip, I do get quite the shock when the couch touches me.

But thanks to the cat-attracting blanket, that's rarely a problem. This blanket is magical. It's ugly, and I got it for free at Dots a couple of Christmases ago, but we just recently discovered the power it holds over our felines. Wherever the blanket is, there shall be cats. All 3 cats will even consent to SHARE the blanket, which really is magic!

All in all, it's really a great arrangement. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

36 weeks/8 months and Labor (not mine)

Ok folks, here I am. 36 weeks.

8 months.
My due date is less than a month away. I'm ok with that time table for the most part. I'm not so uncomfortable that I want this baby OUT and I'm mostly prepared with the stuff & things we need to care for said baby.
I still have a belly button.
Most nights I can sleep 3-4 hours at a stretch.
Strangers ask me when I'm due, which is nice because it means that I really do look visibly pregnant and not just weirdly chubby which is reassuring. My belly is still not the nice, round shape I'd hoped for, but you know, whatever. There's a baby in there, and other people have felt her kick about, so that's good enough for me.
All in all, I'm doing really well.
It is a little strange to be able to just say "the third" when asked about my due date, as we've passed any other thirds that it might be. It still feels like a long way off, because even though my friend Modern Day Martha had her baby on Tuesday, and Mrs. Jones should be having her twins today, I'm still waiting for at least 2 more babies before my due date comes up on the counter.

Speaking of MDM having a baby...
She did. I mean, that's the short version. The long version is her story to tell, and I'll let her do that, but I want to tell a medium version that's mostly about me. Because I'd never seen labor up close and personal before. Everybody knows that life isn't like the movies, and there is no helpful montage that takes all the little moments of not-so-exciting and condenses them to 45 seconds with cool music so you can get on to the good stuff.

We actually discussed this, MDM & I as we were walking up and down her block to get her labor to progress. It was actually quite the little parade. MDM, her husband and mother, me, and two of our other Nebraska Girls, The Giant Swede & The Kindergarten Teacher. I have no idea if they want their names all bloggified, so I'm giving them these SUPER SECRET names just now.

A side note on my Nebraska girls. As a group, we've been friends for about 12 1/2 years. We started living together in 2001. We moved to Texas together in 2003. We've been through just about all the major life milestones together--now including babies. We're family in the awesome way of friends who've been through life together consistently for more than a decade. We see each other every week at our bible study and socially, and no, it's not a cult, it's just... good.

So, right. MDM starts having contractions in the wee hours of the morning, and shortly after sunrise, gets the green light from her doctor to go to the hospital. We were sure that baby is on the way. Except, no. She got sent home because things slowed down, and she'll be more comfortable there. Anyway, being unemployed now, I call to see if they need anything--she, the husband & the mother--like lunch so no one has to leave the house. Lunch was covered, but they did invite me over to say hello, offer support, you know... stuff.

So I went. I thought it would be a relatively short trip, because she already had lots of support people with her, and I didn't want to get in the way. Their house isn't so big that 6 people hanging out in the living room doesn't feel full. But I stopped by, and went on a walk or two up and down the block with them, and made a run to go get ice cream, because nothing makes labor go faster than ice cream, right? Mostly it was nice to feel useful. There's not a lot to do in early labor. MDM was doing all the work, and most of that was involuntary--contractions not being something she has any control over and all. Still, she said she liked having us there, for the distraction and the sense of normalcy. We chatted about stuff, watched Hot Fuzz, and just sort of hung out. MDM was handling things like a champ and most of her contractions passed without us even noticing--or, well, without me noticing. I won't speak for anyone else. Someone must have been paying attention. MDM mentioned that she hadn't had a chance to watch the natural childbirth DVDs she's been given, so I gave her the 2 minute version of the Lamaze class J & I took--relax, breathe, think good thoughts. The basics right?

Then her contractions get more intense. We're noticing now. She's still doing a great job, staying relaxed in between, breathing through it, changing positions, drinking water. I'm talking to her, telling her all the things I remember from my class, feeling super weird because... what in the WORLD do I know about contractions and labor? I haven't had a single contraction. Not even a Braxton Hicks. Still, I'm saying the words, and it seems to help, and then, my friend, overwhelmed, tired, and ready to meet her baby, but not knowing when that will be, asks me to stay. Asks me to stay with her as she labors. No way I'm saying no to that. One, I'm FASCINATED by this process. Two... I mean seriously? Who on earth is going to deny a request like that, especially from one of your best friends? So, I stayed.

It was amazing. For about 10 hours, I got to be a part of this incredible process. I don't have the words to describe it without sounding like a dreamy, idealistic hippy. It was work, it was hard, she was in pain, but it was still amazing. Seeing her actually doing it--getting through this incredibly difficult thing, and knowing that I was helping... man! I get why being a doula would be a cool job.

So, late that night (early the next morning technically, but I hadn't slept yet, so it wasn't really tomorrow in my head), she delivered a beautiful baby girl.

Next week, my friend KRho (the fifth Nebraska Girl) is due to have a baby girl too. She & I took all the same classes, so I don' think she'll need me, but I'm excited to meet her little girl as well. Then it can be my turn.

See, I've got lots of time before this baby gets born!

EDIT: I was by no means the only one helping her out through her early labor by the way. Her husband & mother were never far from her side (except when we told them to go take a nap, and then we Nebraska girls held down the fort so to speak). We all worked as a team to help keep a sense of normalcy as much as possible, then when it was time, we turned her over to the hospital staff and she & her husband went the final two hours by themselves (with the nurses & doctor of course). Yes, two hours. Bing, bang, boom--BABY!
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