Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chowdah.

For the longest time, I was never a huge fan of soups. Having been in Florida for many years, the thought of pulling myself up to a bowl of piping hot broth was less than desirable 95% of the time. And I despised that tinny flavor canned soups possessed.

That changed when I moved to Seattle and moved in with two soup obsessed roomies. Soup was the perfect food for so many reasons. While it is obvious that the damp, cold winters lend themselves to warm comfort food, my roommates taught me the other values of a good homemade soup.

Like how chopping vegetables is cheap therapy after a bad day at work.

Or how you can make soup from just about any variety of leftovers and pantry staples when the grocery budget runs out early.

Or how there is always plenty leftover for lunches and dinners later in the week.

And how easily a bowl of soup transforms into a complete meal with the addition of homemade bread.

Even though I am back in Florida, and the weather often doesn't cooperate with my new found love and appreciation of soupy goodness, sometimes I just have to crank up the A/C, throw on a sweater, and get to chopping and brewing.

Inspired by my Massachusetts office mates, I set out to make a New England Clam Chowder this week. I should warn the chowder purists out there, I probably broke all sorts of chowder rules in the making of this soup, but in my mind, that is the beauty of homemade soups/stews/chowders. The discovery of a lack of ingredients, or the sudden craving of a particular flavor can transform it into something it wasn't meant to be, but something still equally satisfying.

I started (as I often do) with chopping therapy. The stresses of the week beautifully laid out across my chopping block. (sidenote: I love how it looks when I am preparing a mirepoix...it's like a foodie flag, with it's orange, green and white) For the chowder, I chopped a sweet onion and a couple stalks of celery, including the leaves.

a knife and some veggies - all the therapy I need

The onions were tossed in the pot with a generous helping of chopped bacon. When the bacon was looking sufficiently "crackly" and the onions slightly translucent, I mixed in the celery and added a bottle of clam juice, along with the the juice from the canned clams (yes, yes, I know - canned! But this is Central Florida - good fresh clams aren't exactly available around the corner).

mmmmm...baaaacon



Now this is where I took a huge step away from what you should do when making a proper seafood chowder. In all honesty, I don't like things that are especially fishy tasting. I didn't have time to make a proper fish stock, and didn't trust purchasing one from any local stores. So I used chicken broth. It's what I had in the house. So sue me. I then tossed in three chopped up Russet Potatoes and a few sprigs of thyme and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes - enough that the potatoes were softened but far from mushy.

Once I was satisfied with the potatoes, I added some half and half (2 cups maybe? I don't measure things...) 2 cans of clams as well as some crab meat, which probably makes this more of a seafood chowder then a clam one. That simmered very briefly and was finished off with a few splashes of cream sherry.

makes me want to drop my r's just looking at it

As the chowder was finishing up, the house filled with the smell of a homemade loaf of Guinness bread.

what could be better than a pint of guinness and some homemade bread? this.

The soup turned out very tasty, perhaps a little oilier than it should have been (I blame it on the generous amount of bacon and the chicken stock), but delicious.

Since baking does actually require that you pay attention to things like measuring, here is the recipe I used for the bread:

1 bottle of Guinness (room temperature)
2 tbsp veg oil
3 cups flour
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
tsp salt
1 packet of active dry yeast

Thanks to a friend who was tossing stuff before a big move, I have a handy-dandy breadmaker to do the work for me on this. Toss in wet ingredients, toss in dry, turn on breadmaker. Three and half hours later, the house smells of fresh bread. Guinness bread has a pleasant bitterness to it that pairs nicely with a hearty soup, or a generous slather of butter.

Cuddled up with my chowdah and Guinness bread, I looked out the window at our yard covered in white gravel (the in-progress patio the hubs is building...more on that later) and almost felt like I was snowed in for the evening.

Almost. Sigh.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm No Fellini

I haven't yet mastered the art of whipping out the video camera at the right time. Prior to when this was taken, Jonas was laughing and talking and bouncing around. Some serious cuteness. By time I thought to grab the camera, he was a bit tired, so all I got was this.




I still think its pretty cute, though. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Silver lining

As I dried my hair the other day, a once common event that has recently been a luxury, I noticed something catching the light.

Something silver, to be more specific.

Yes. I have found a grey hair.

This year has been a year of major events in my life.

I turned 30.

I became a mom.

I discovered a shop that carries sumac within driving distance. (in Central Florida, that qualifies as major)

And now, to that list, I can add the changing color of my hair.

I am not sure how I feel about it. After all, I've always looked young for my age, and a single strand isn't really going to change that. Yet somehow, I do feel different. I haven't pinpointed what that feeling is exactly, but it's there.


And now for something totally different...

J (who has many MANY more grey hairs than I) is building a stone patio, so pictures of dinner parties are soon to come! And maybe some photos of the work he is doing. It's like watching Yatd Crashers. Except we're having to pay for everything and there's no one helping him move 7.5 tons of gravel.

Complete Randomness: a blonde Colin Farrel is a bad idea.

And with that, I think the kid is getting sleepy. So I am off.


(this post brought to you by the iPhone...check my thumb-typing skills)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ready, Set, Jump!

I have a feeling if he is thinking diving into things head first is fun now, I have years of band aids and casts in my future.


Ready?


Enough kisses, let's go!


Here we go!

Wheeeeee!

Oomph...

Airplanes give me more ideas...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sigh.

I hate being too busy to write.

But, it seems that in an effort to be a responsible adult, writing of any kind has become a luxury. I've made some tasty meals lately. But haven't written about it.

Jonas has been super cute. But I haven't written about it.

Life has been interesting in various ways, but I haven't written about it.

It's just not right.

And that's just blogging. I'm not even talking about the beginnings of a novel gathering dust. Or that series of children's books I keep talking about. Or some other crazy idea that my sister and I have come up with in response to seeing the kind of stuff that actually gets produced/published these days.

It's all so sad.

But now, as I look at my little guy pulling his father's hair and attacking his face (it's his version of giving you kisses) I figure its not SO bad.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jonas and Dudley



No time for blogging, so instead, a video.

Notice how J finds everything our kid does as a sign that he is brilliant. sigh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jobiversary

Today is my 4 year jobiversary.

This is the longest I have ever stuck with a job. Perhaps this is a sign that I am, indeed, grown up.


Nah.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Oldie

Keeping with the recent foodie theme, I am referring you back to an old post (is it pretentious to refer to it as a "classic" post?) since I am cooking nothing of interest this evening.

Four years ago, I loved food just as much as I do now. But being able to shop leisurely without rushing to finish before Jonas decides he is hungry/sleepy/cranky afforded me stories like this one. Enjoy.

Also, for your enjoyment, a random photo of 'da baby. And his new friend, monkey blanket.

I promise, there will be new stories soon enough. Rumor has it my grandfather is coming to visit - a man who believes that white tigers don't exist and once had an argument with a 14 year old me over what constitutes a parallelogram.

Good times.



Listening to: Clark Gable by The Postal Service
Current Mood: Upbeat. It is Friday after all

Friday, October 9, 2009

Coho Salmon and Swiss Chard

Since when did this become a food blog?

It's not.

No. Really. I promise.

You see, the thing is, when you are working and taking care of a new baby, there isn't much time for adult interaction. Or leaving the house. Or much of anything really.

Which leaves little to write about. The one thing that I do still find the time to do (partly, because I can't have my family starve, and partly because its something I enjoy and falls during a time of day that Jonas usually naps) is make dinner.

It also gives me something to take pictures of...food can be pretty.

And, I didn't want this to suddenly become an "all baby, all the time" place, so I had to either take a hiatus from the blog or find something to write about.

So here we are.
.................................................

I am not a huge salmon fan, or at least not an Atlantic Salmon fan. But Coho was on sale this week, so I figured a little fish in our diet was a good thing.

And I love chard. It's so pretty.

So here it is, a very simple dinner.


Toss a couple of garnet yams in the oven in foil at 400 degrees. (So you have a filling carb on the plate) If you haven't had garnet yams before, they are delicious. They need NOTHING. No butter, no sugar, you can even skip the salt. Not to say you shouldn't add butter or salt (or sugar if you want them to be super sweet). Just do so in moderation.

Once you can tell these are starting to soften, throw a diced onion and a couple sliced cloves of garlic in a pan with a little olive oil (and a little butter if you don't care about calories). Once they are translucent, you can add your chopped up chard. If you like your veggies mushy (I like them to have a bite) you can add a little water and turn the heat down to a simmer. I just cook them a little past the point of the leaves wilting.


Season your salmon with salt and pepper (you can add other spices to your taste - tonight I used a little of Emeril's stuff). While your chard is cooking, in a separate pan, toss your salmon skin side down on it, medium to medium high heat. Two minutes on each side to give it color and then finish it off in the oven (which should only take a few more minutes - the Canadian rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness total cooking time).

A simple dish, with simple ingredients. Simply delicious.




Listening to: Harry Connick Jr's Red Light Blue Light CD

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Madness

It's fall! You wouldn't know it based on the mid-90 degree weather and still green leaved trees, but it is autumn. I know this because Starbucks is now serving a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Since I have been spending a lot of time indoors, between work, taking care of baby, and trying to keep my house from turning into a disaster area, I figure I may as well make it feel like fall indoors. Crank up the air and bring on the comfort food!

Inspired by J's pumpkin pie baking last week (still enjoying the fruits of his labor...) I decided to make a pumpkin soup. And not from a Libby's can. From the actual pumpkin.


There it is, in all its pumpkin-y glory

Since I decided to do this on somewhat of a whim, it is a very simple soup - but that's what comfort food should be, shouldn't it?

I have NEVER made anything from a pumpkin before. So I had to start off with the fun process of cleaning out the seeds and stringy bits, which was surprisingly therapeutic. Like being a kid playing in the mud. It is interesting to see how many different ways people go about this process to make it easier - I simply used a big knife to cut it open, and a large spoon to gut it. ("I gut you like a sheep!")

My fancy pumpkin prepping tools

Once the pumpkin pieces had been prepped for cooking, I tossed them in a steamer pot for about a half hour, took them out, scooped the flesh into the blender, and made my puree. This collective process was the most difficult, as I have no patience and insisted on scooping the flesh before it had cooled. Ouch.

The rest was easy - diced half an onion and an apple and sauteed them in butter. Once the onions were translucent, I tossed some* vodka in the pot, let that simmer down, then added a bit of chicken broth, water, and half and half. (Basically, I tossed what I had sitting in the fridge that sounded good.)

For seasoning, a couple pinches of curry powder, chili powder, ground about a quarter nutmeg, dash of cinnamon, and some* salt.

Looks like baby food...yum?

Now the plan was to toss all of this back into a blender and make it smooth and creamy. Things did not go as planned, however, as our 9 week old had finally fallen asleep after a very difficult afternoon full of screaming, so the desire for a happy child outweighed the desire for a creamy soup.

But we still ate it. And it was still good - probably not so much for someone who isn't a fan of texture, but the flavors were all there.

And it looked like fall. A messy, tasty fall.

Kind of like jumping in the pile of leaves your dad just raked.

I may not be pretty, but I get the job done...

* If you are reading this and thinking about following a "recipe", you'll notice that I say "some" a lot. Not a cup, or a tablespoon. Just some. I don't measure things when I cook. Which is why I seldom bake. Baking is all math and science to me - cooking is art. Just slap that paint on the canvas. :)

Listening to: the sweet sounds of no screaming...and a song from Sondheim's "Company"
Current Mood: autumnal. yes, I am making it a mood

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbye, Gourmet

Back in the day, when I was newly married, I was determined to broaden my cooking horizons.

It wasn't that I was lacking in culinary skills, but my repertoire was limited. And while I could (and did) eat the same dishes day in and out, I felt that is was my wifely duty to make dinner something to look forward to at the end of the day.

To that end, I purchased some cookbooks and borrowed some Cooking Light magazines from a friend. As my cooking confidence increased, as well as our budget, I began subscribing to Gourmet magazine.

And I fell in love.

This wasn't just a magazine of recipes. It was about appreciating all things food. Wine, travel, experiences...the articles romanticized the every day task of sustaining myself, friends, and family. I found myself dreaming up lavish dinner parties, looking for excuses to cook for other people. I was doing more than cooking. I was creating.

And now, over 7 years later, Gourmet is getting the boot. Apparently, Conde Nast needed to choose between Bon Appetit and Gourmet, as print continues to die a slow death. Gourmet wasn't bringing in the same ad revenue, so its been sent to the chopping block.

Goodbye, Gourmet. You'll be sorely missed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to Work

As if I needed an additional reason to neglect blogging, I returned to work Monday.

Fortunately , J is out of work, so while the lack of income is a bad thing, having him home to take care of Jonas keeps us from having to hire someone to come watch him. Since we aren't bottle feeding, I can't be away from him right now (his eating schedule is, well, not a schedule...he eats when he is hungry, which at times can be almost constantly). So this arrangement is working out best.

The awesome part is that Jonas seems to really be bonding with J. He is easily soothed by Jaycel and doesn't seem to currently prefer one of us over the other, unless he is hungry of course. This is an especially good thing, since it is difficult to work on spreadsheets and answer emails when holding/soothing a crying baby.

When your time is so precious, it is amazing how you appreciate the things you do get to do. For example, Jonas decided to nap at about 5 o clock. I was able to not only make dinner (I usually still cook dinner while J cares for Jonas) but actually eat it with J. So far, we usually have to eat in shifts, so tonight was a nice change. Since he was still asleep, I took the time to clean the kitchen, put a load of blankets and burpcloths in the wash, and sit down and blog. (He is still sleeping...)

I never thought I would be so happy to have the opportunity to do the dishes.

As much as I love when he naps peacefully on his own, sometimes I am tempted to pick him up and have him sleep in my arms. But I remind myself that I have plenty of time to cuddle with him when I turn in for the evening.


Currently Listening to: a rerun of The Office on the TV
Current Mood: relaxed

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Photos


Jonas is currently sleeping on J's chest, so I have a spare moment to sit in front of the laptop. I have to be brief, since my time is limited, so quick updates.

Jonas now smiles in response to us (not just sleeping or gas smiles). He is "talking" more and we are either getting better at understanding his cries, or they are becoming more distinct. He is only "difficult" when he is gassy - and we have found a product for that so its manageable. (For anyone interested, Colic Calm is what we use. Stops his cries immediately)

In non-baby life, J's last day of work was Friday, so he is now a stay at home dad...which is good timing since I get back to work in two weeks. We are actually hoping he doesn't find a new job for at least a month or two so I can get into a routine with work again. (Which kinda makes this still a baby related paragraph, but I guess that is parenthood)

So here are more photos - these are mostly from age 3-5 weeks. He just turned 6 weeks old today, so I need to take time to break out the camera again.

Dudley watches over his new friend


...watching a bit more closely


In Daddy's hands


*Yawn*


PS - For an easier way to get to the blog, try JonasWest.com...a very cool gift from a very cool friend :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Time

Something I seem to have very little of lately...

This first month (yes, it has already been one month since Jonas was born) has flown by in a series of diaper changes and breast feeding - and erratic sleeping times. The first few weeks Jonas seemed to have the perfect schedule, and while he is still a good baby, he has good days and bad.

At the moment, he is napping peacefully in his crib, giving me a few moments to wash diapers, clean toilets, and make sure I eat something.

But I am not complaining. For all the work, it is totally worth it when he falls asleep on my chest (or better yet, we both fall asleep with him on my chest) or he attempts to smile or coo.

My dad seems to ask every time he sees us if I am in love with my little boy. And while I am not the sappy type, yes, I really am.



Not to say I don't miss having a regular schedule. Or a clean house. But having him around makes everything else seem to matter less.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week 1

So I have successfully navigated the first week of motherhood. At least it seems to be a success, although I don't really feel like I should be taking any kind of credit for that fact, since he has been a ridiculously good baby.

I still have to wake up in the middle of night for feeding and changing, but he doesn't wake us with blood curdling screams. Usually he just let's out a little cry when he is ready. He only wakes 2-3 times a night and generally goes back to sleep after being fed and changed.

During the day, he is happy taking his naps in the crib or co-sleeper. On a "fussy" day, he likes to sleep in your arms, but again, no screaming fits about it.

He seldom cries when we change him now, and he actually seemed to enjoy his first bath.

I've joked already that if he stays this way I can't possibly have another kid - I've been too spoiled with this one.

Maybe this is a reward for enduring such a long labor :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fresh out of batteries...

...but still making noise...

The following post is a semi-detailed account of the arrival of Jonas Gabriel West. Since this is an account of how he got from womb to our arms, the passageway does involve my personal "business", so his travels could be considered graphic. You have been warned.

In preparing for labor, I read lots (and lots) of books and websites, all preparing me for what signs to look for, and giving me some idea of what to expect. So to start, here is an example of how it should all begin, courtesy of mayoclinic.com:

Early labor
During early labor, your cervix will begin to dilate. You may feel mild to moderately strong contractions during early labor. They may last 30 to 60 seconds and come every five to 20 minutes. As your cervix begins to open, you may notice a thick, stringy, blood-tinged discharge from your vagina. This is known as bloody show.

On Wednesday, I noticed that I was having crampiness in addition to the Braxton Hicks I had been having for weeks. It wasn't terribly painful, just a nagging sensation, like the feeling I would get when my period was on its way. Crampy, uncomfortable, but not in pain. It was late in the afternoon that I realized that the discomfort had a pattern, and that evening I used the bathroom and found a blood tinged discharge - the bloody show. This is one of many things related to labor and birth that have names that sound much more horrible than they are. (Somewhere in this time period, my older brother and I discussed having a band named "The Mucus Plug" and the opening act would be "The Bloody Show".)

Recognizing that the show and the regular cramps were a sign of contractions - the real kind - I called the midwife to confirm whether I or not I could be entering the first stages of labor. Since I had an appointment the next morning, she recommended I come in as scheduled and they would check to see how I had progressed.

I went in to be checked and found that I was 85% effaced and 1 cm dilated. According to mayoclinic.com, I was on my way!

How long it lasts: You may need to be patient. Early labor is unpredictable. It may last for hours or even days, especially for first-time moms. It's often much shorter for subsequent deliveries.

So...I apparently forgot about the part here that states that early labor could last for hours or EVEN DAYS. In my case, it was days. From Wednesday evening to late Saturday/early Sunday.

What you can do: Until your contractions increase in frequency and intensity, it's up to you. For many women, early labor isn't particularly uncomfortable. You may feel like doing household chores, taking a walk or watching a movie. Or you might simply continue your daily activities.

Also apparent at this point, I am not many women. My contractions increased in intensity, but not frequency. I could not go about my routine. Every 6-9 minutes I was in a considerable amount of "discomfort" (I was still refusing to refer to it as pain...I had grand plans to trick my brain into thinking that this whole labor business wasn't going to hurt a bit!). The discomfort was enough that I was unable to sleep through the night. On Friday the midwife suggested some Tylenol PM to help me sleep - the first Tylenol I took my entire pregnancy. Unfortunately, it didn't work. She called in a prescription for something that could relax me safely - but still no luck. Forget chores, movies, etc...I couldn't do something as simple as sleep.

I coped with warm baths, calming music, and breathing through the contractions. Breathing was quickly my best friend in the process. Deep breaths in, slowly exhaling through the height of the contraction really did seem to expel the pain with the breath.

By late Saturday night, I was exhausted and frustrated that the contractions, while still intense, hadn't increased in frequency. Desperate, I had J call the midwife in hopes that she could tell me something positive. She recommended that we work at getting the labor going, if I was up for it. So the first of my many birth helpers arrived - April, a student midwife, showed up at our house at 1 am. My mother, J, April, Dudley (the dog) and I then set out to walk the neighborhood, in an effort to "work" the contractions. In my nightgown and sneakers, I headed out, determined. At every contraction we stopped and I squatted, breathing and bouncing through the peak of each, then pulling on J's arms to hoist my massive self back up to walk again. I couldn't help but wonder what the neighbors would think if they happened to look out their window. I honestly didn't care too much at that point, but I did find the idea humorous.

After we got back, I was checked again, and I had made some progress! The contractions were a bit closer together and I had dilated another centimeter or so. I was so excited - I was in the next stage. "Actual" labor!

Active labor
Now it's time for the real work to begin. During active labor, your cervix will dilate to 10 centimeters. Your contractions will become stronger and progressively longer. Near the end of active labor, it may feel as though the contractions never completely disappear. You may feel increasing pressure in your back as well. If you haven't headed to your labor and delivery facility yet, now's the time.

Your initial excitement may wane as your labor progresses and the pain intensifies. Don't feel that you're giving up if you ask for pain medication or anesthesia. Your health care team will help you make the best choice for you and your baby. Remember, you're the only one who can judge your need for pain relief.

The real work? I don't like the implication that me walking my neighborhood and doing squats like some crazed fitness nut at some obscene hour on a Sunday morning isn't work...but here we are.

Since this was a home birth, there was no need at this point for me to pack my bags and head somewhere else. I could thankfully squat, breathe, sway and whatever else in the comfort of my own home. I could also lay semi-conscious in my bathtub.

The increasing intensity and pressure in my back was definitely there - but the frequency still wasn't consistent. It was at this point that time became absolutely meaningless to me. Time passed as breaths to get through the pain (I no longer had the will to call it discomfort). The midwives (there were now a Licensed Midwife, Diane, and an LPN, Shannon, joining my crew) came in and out to check the baby's heartbeat, my blood pressure and temperature, constantly ensuring that Jonas and I were healthy. Every heartbeat check reassured me that I was doing the right thing for my baby, letting him leave the comfort of his home for the past ten months with as little intervention as possible. It made me feel better about giving up the ability to turn and ask someone to shut off the pain. He would be here soon and none of this would matter.

Also helping me through the pain at this point was absolute exhaustion. I would breathe through the peak of my contractions, then basically fall asleep for a few minutes in between. Although I could feel the intensity of each one, my tired brain seemed to only be able to focus on my breathing, so I couldn't obsess over the physical discomfort that had now become a regular occurence.

How long it lasts: On average, active labor lasts up to eight hours. For some women, active labor lasts hours longer. For others — especially those who've had a previous vaginal delivery — active labor is much shorter.

This is where all the books and websites and stories failed me. Looking at averages, I thought to myself, even if I labored for 12 - which sounded like a horrendous idea - I could make it through. Somehow. I could do it.

No one told me that I would be so far from average. But then if I had known that it would be a 26 hour active labor, I may not have ever thought I could do it.

What you can do: Look to your labor coach and health care team for encouragement and support. Try breathing and relaxation techniques to combat your growing discomfort. Use what you learned in childbirth class or ask your health care team for suggestions.

I had already discovered the value of breathing long before the contractions were beyond intense. But something that I hadn't considered was the value of someone talking you through each one. For me, this person was Shannon, the LPN on my team. From the outside, I probably would have thought the repetition of phrases like "You are such a strong woman" and references to "riding the peak" and working with my body would have done nothing for me, even annoyed me. But in the moment, each contraction greeted with the same phrases, guiding me from start to finish, through the rise and fall of each, I felt completely relaxed as each contraction ended. I really did feel like I was strong enough to do this. And I really did feel like I was getting that much closer to meeting my little boy.

As the day continued to disappear, Diane was concerned about my level of energy, and the lack of progression. I had been working so hard - walking, squatting, bouncing on the birthing ball, most anything that was suggested I did, no matter how hard or painful. She recommended that we break my water, as my dilation had seemed to stall. At first, I refused the suggestion. I felt like I had worked too hard for too long to do anything that might make Jonas' entry into the world more difficult. I could only think emotionally and just remember saying I wanted to try some more. Give me something to try. I'll do it. For some reason I felt like I was giving up by saying yes.

I did more walking and swaying and squatting. Still no progress.

J spoke to me quietly, asking if I shouldn't consider letting them break my water. He spoke rationally, trying to find out what I was afraid of. As it turns out, my fears weren't relevant. When we were preparing for what labor would be like, I read about hospitals that broke the water when the baby wasn't in the proper position, causing difficulties with the birth. Jonas was "locked and loaded" - engaged and in the perfect position to be born. And I trusted my midwife. I knew that she wouldn't recommend something that could possibly hurt either of us. I was afraid of the increased intensity that would come after the waters broke - but that fear too, was irrational. The labor was going to get more intense regardless. At least this way it could progress too.

My mother came in (she came in often in the process to check on me and reassure me) and gave me some sublingual B vitamins for energy, someone else gave me a spoonful of honey, and I think a straw was put on front of my face with something to drink. I had a relative surge of energy and told J to get the midwife in the room. Let's do this.

Diane came in, as well as others (so much is such a blur) and had me lay down. The other girls helped me to remember to breathe through the contraction as she broke the bag of waters. The gush was almost a mental relief. I'm getting closer, I told myself.

I got up on the birthing ball so I could work the next series of contractions. And they were intense. The support I received to get me through them was amazing. At various moments J was there to hold my hand. My mother was massaging my legs and back. And April and Shannon were vocalizing with me. Teaching me to let out a low "Hoooooooooooooooooo" when I let out my breath, forcing my body to relax with the pain. The three of us were a funny chorus to those outside the door of my bedroom I am sure (my sister joked with my oldest brother that we sounded like a pod of whales at times, and they were pleased when we somehow harmonized) but in the moment having these two women howling with me was the only way I was going to get through this. Sometimes my sounds would waver, as the pain got more intense, but I just had to keep focusing on my breath, on the sounds.

I got in the tub, thinking that I must be close. I wanted to be there and ready to go. I continued my low (but increasingly louder) moans and at this point was told that I could get used to the feeling of bearing down into a contraction. The bearing down was a relief at times, and I thought for sure that the pressure on my cervix must have me ready. I must be at 10 cm. It must be time.

The midwife checked me while I was in the tub. 8 centimeters. 8 lousy centimeters. I wanted to cry. Why wouldn't my body progress? I was doing everything, EVERYTHING.

I got out of the tub - I am pretty sure at the suggestion of Diane - and she began to massage evening primrose oil on my cervix. I don't know how long it was, but it seemed like it was moments that I was now 9 centimeters. Then maybe 9 and half.

The 10 cm mark continued to seem elusive and I was being asked to change positions. I did whatever I was told, and I remember someone remarking how polite I was for a woman in labor. I would apologize if I was told not to arch my back, or to relax my pelvis. I think at some point I even made a joke. ("Who says you lose your sense of humor in labor?")

Diane continued to work with the baby's head and my stubborn body. And then I was asked if I felt I could do some pushing on the toilet. This was not the kind of water birth I had in mind! Off to the toilet I went. There, in a squatting position fit for the kind of pushing needed, I was able to get Jonas to crown. "You can feel his head!" Diane told me.

I was getting so much closer. I waddled from the toilet back to the bed. This was the final lap. I could do this. I could do this. My mother and husband were holding my hand. She was telling me loving momlike things that make you cry when you are coherent. All three women on my "birthing team" were there - holding my legs, helping me breathe. My sister had even entered the room to watch (she was around for the labor as well, bringing me juice and water and taking care of me, but quietly).

With every contraction, I pushed as much as my body would let me. I kept anticipating a greater pain than I was feeling. It was going to happen soon. Just keep going.

I was told that the endorphins would be kicking in, and perhaps it was the endorphins that made me see the little fish from "Finding Nemo" in my head sing songing, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

At this point in the pushing I felt what they refer to as "the ring of fire". This is the point that your vagina is being stretched to accomodate the widest part of your baby's head. When I was reading about labor, I had decided that when I felt this, I would take a moment to rest, then push again in the next couple of contractions. I didn't want to overpush and tear. I had it all planned.

As the midwives put warm compresses on my vagina, which was quite a relief, and I sang Johnny Cash in my head, the next contraction came. All thoughts of taking my time through the ring of fire went out the window. All I could think was that this was the home stretch (literally) and I wanted to be done. I pushed and grunted and groaned and pushed some more. And his head was out. And I, from what I am told, was out too. I basically was passing out from exhaustion between pushes. I remember being told not to push and just breathe...and then I remember lots of voices saying "Amber, look, look, here's your baby!"



And there he was. The sticky, alien thing. They set him on my chest and I was so relieved to see him. There were no tears. Just relief. And calm.

I survived. And there was a healthy little baby boy to show for it. J cutting the cord and the details that happened at this point all just blend - I really don't have a clear memory of what happened.

I do remember feeding Jonas, waiting for my uterus to contract some so I could deliver the placenta. It was relatively quick, but after all that pushing, the one push I needed for this task seemed to take forever.

And then there was stitching. Remember the aforementioned moment where I decided to push through the burn of the "ring of fire"? I tore a little as a result. After everything I had been through that day, the suturing was nothing. I sat in the bed, naked, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while being stitched up (sidenote: my dad ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while my mom was being stiched after the birth of one her five kids).

Then that was done. I asked if I could rinse off in the shower - I needed to feel clean and like myself again. I wobbled with baby deer legs to the shower, rinsed, put on a clean nightgown and a sanitary pad that had been fetched from the freezer (my birth ladies knew what they were doing...) and laid back in bed, which had been cleaned up and dressed as well. I climbed into bed, gently, with "mermaid legs" (keeping them closed so as not to disturb the stitching), and then I was handed my boy again. I sat there listening to instructions on what I needed to do over the next few days. I don't know that I took much in.

Then there were hugs - from my parents and sister to the midwives, from the midwives to me, from my family to me and J and the baby.

And then everyone was gone.

The three of us laid in bed, exhausted, but I didn't even care about sleeping. I just wanted to stare at this little person who had just endured the most exhausting couple of days in my life with me. It was the happiest I have ever been to see someone I just met. :)




I have been asked if I would choose to birth at home if the option arose again. Without a doubt, I would. The support I received from this amazing team of women and from my family would not have been available to me in a hospital. And I wouldn't have seen so fully how wonderfully we are designed, with such strength that we aren't even aware of.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Due Tomorrow

I am due tomorrow. Or Friday. Depending on what chart you use.

And I hate not knowing when this kid is actually going to make an appearance.

I tend to be one of those people that show up to every engagement not just on time, but early. It's weird, since in a lot of other aspects of life I am not that organized. But when it comes to scheduled events, I am beyond punctual. I tend to get anxious when I have to wait.

So here I am, trying to be calm, and not read into every little thing my body does.

Like the fact that I have to pee every 10 minutes. Or that I have been having contractions so often that it seems like I am just a walking contraction that never ends.

Or the sudden crampiness in my lower back/abdomen this morning. And my desire to scrub the bathroom (which I am only resisting because I don't want to breathe in the cleaning fumes).

I have been working on knitting a small baby blanket (don't get excited, it's really just a very wide scarf - I didn't magically get talented or anything over pregnancy) and some curtains for the bathroom and baby room should be arriving today. Maybe Jonas is waiting for those things to get done. He wants everything to be ready for him.

I haven't quite hit the full on anxious stage yet, since through the whole process I have felt that there was no reason to get antsy prior to the due date. But I know once Friday comes and goes, I'll need to make a concentrated effort to be calm.

Sigh.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Updates

Sorry I have been so lax in my posting.

So, since last we chatted...

Returned to the cardiologist for the echo and results. Turns out, while I still have a murmur, I no longer have anything significant enough to be called Mitral Valve Prolapse. Apparently, my heart has healed itself. (I have read that some women with MVP have found pregnancy to be really beneficial to their condition - but had no idea it would work out this well).

The weekly prenatal visits have been fine - Jonas' heart rate is consistently in the 140s, my blood pressure remains nice and low, labs have come back fine (at this point you get tested for Strep B - if you have it, they put you on antibiotics in labor...none for me!)...all around everything is going well.

I am exhausted at the end of the day with all the Braxton Hicks I have been having. And I eat more than I have the whole pregnancy. (Yet I am not gaining any weight - so apparently its all going to the little one).

So that's it - a quick update.

Also - if you haven't seen them already, a link to my maternity photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ambernwest/MaternityPhotos#

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Open Letter

Dear Cardiologist,

I came in here today to have you run an EKG and order an echocardiogram. I did NOT come in to ask you your opinion of my home birth...particularly when your offering it has nothing to do with the condition I am seeing you for.

And yes, my heartbeat is slightly elevated. That often happens when people piss me off. So take a hint.

Sincerely,

The Patient You'll Never See After I Get My Echo Results

PS - Please consider a bar of soap and a Tic Tac in your daily routine. Just returning the favor of unsolicited advice.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Picture Time

As promised, photos of the baby shower:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ambernwest/BabyShower#


...and if you want more to look at, photos from a graduation party we recently attended:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ambernwest/BritEdits#



Currently Listening to: Samson by Regina Spektor
Current Mood: Cranky. I have no a/c. And I got a wicked charlie horse this morning.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Choices

Yesterday we interviewed a midwife for home birth, and then toured a birthing center and spoke with one of the midwives there.

We had discovered before arriving that the coverage for the birth center was great (read: pretty much free) where the coverage for the midwife, while existent, was not near what the birth center offered. So going into the interviews, I was assuming that we would end up with the birth center.

We spoke with the home birth midwife first. I was really impressed with her experience and demeanor, and she made me feel really comfortable with the idea of birthing at home. We learned that we wouldn't be cleaning up afterwards (she handles that), she brings staff with her (generally a nurse and sometimes a student midwife as well), and she handles your labor how you want. Don't want her around until its absolutely necessary? She'll step out and give you space. Want her there every second to offer support? She'll do that too.

I loved that she didn't feel the slightest bit pushy, as I have seen some strong personalities in the birthing community and could imagine some being a little too strong for me.

After the interview, we headed over to the birth center, about a 10-15 minutes drive from our house. We arrived a bit early to the birthing facility, so we headed to their office (they have two buildings - one for exams, the other for birthing) to see if maybe we could start early. We found out that the midwife was catching up on some sleep but would be over there at 5 as scheduled.

When we returned to the center at 5, I was a little surprised to see others there, as I assumed it was a personal tour with an opportunity to speak one on one with the midwife after. (My fault for assuming) After waiting a few minutes for two more couples that never showed, we were given a tour of the facility. It was homey - birthing rooms looked like bedrooms, with their own attached bathroom in most cases. The two rooms equipped for water births had a kiddie pool (that's really what they were, nothing fancy) in either the bedroom or the attached bathroom.

It was all nice enough. But for some reason I just wasn't feeling it. I kept thinking about being at home in my own comfy bed during early labor, being in my own bathroom for the water birth (we have a big tub). The familiar smells of home, my own fridge with fruit and drinks I would want. Not having to pack anything while I am in the midst of labor. Not having to MOVE at all in the middle of labor.

The birth center had oxygen and other items available should the patient need it, but so did the home birth midwife. All of the things they had, the midwife would be bringing to me.

The birth center midwife spoke with all of us as a group after, and I got kind of bored. She was talking about things I had already researched, things I had already learned. She was new, so the questions I had (e.g. "what are your transfer rates?) she didn't have the answers to on hand. And then, we found out that if they do transfer you, it would be to a hospital that I would not want to go to if there was an emergency.

When we left, I felt guilty. I knew that the birth center wasn't a bad option. And it was definitely the less expensive option. But I just kept thinking about how nice the birth would be in the comfort of my own home. How nice it would be to have Jonas and simply rest with him in my own bed, instead of packing him and everything else up to go home.

I asked J when we got in the car what he thought. He hesitated, saying he didn't want to color my decision with his opinion, as he felt that ultimately, I should be the one to decide. I insisted he go first and was relieved to hear him say that he felt better about the home birth.

So today, I faxed authorization for the release of my medical records to the midwife and am now planning for my home (possibly water) birth.

Crazy.

In a good way.


Listening to: Annie Waits by Ben Folds
Current Mood: Relieved. I also feel good after I've made a decision and started the process of moving forward with that decision.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Updates

So I haven't updated in a while. Welcome to one of many things that I will excuse with "I'm pregnant."

I only have 8 weeks left to use that excuse. May as well get the most out of it.

Everything has continued to go swimmingly with my pregnancy. As of today's OB visit, I have gained a total of 23 pounds (woo), am maintaining my low blood pressure, have good iron levels, good fasting sugars (I think I want to have a band with that name), and am measuring just fine. Jonas (yes, its official, he has a name) continues to rumble around plenty throughout the day, but refrains from jabbing me violently. Good boy.

The biggest change (aside from the size of my belly, my incessant need to pee, and becoming winded if I talk too much) is our recent decision to switch from a hospital birth to a home birth (ed. we are also considering a birthing center).

We had been discussing this possibility for the past few weeks, but we had decided that today's OB appointment would be the deciding factor.

Now, we are not exactly "granola" types here, but I do believe that in most cases, the birthing process should be a very natural thing. I think some of the pain and aggravation that can occur can be avoided if you are in a comfortable, less stressful environment.

While the birthing suites are lovely at the hospital we were going to be delivering at, there were certain things we found out today about practice policies that were dealbreakers for us.

1) The practice WILL break your water for you if it hasn't broken naturally at 7 cm. Not they will give you the option, they will just do it. They require it.

2) If you get to 41 weeks they will induce. Period. Not, the baby is fine, we can wait one more week. This decision was made by the head doctor (the same one from earlier horror stories) because of a traumatic experience where a close friend of his was fine at 41 weeks and lost the baby at 42. Aside from not being keen on being induced, I am realllly not a fan of a doctor that makes a medical decision for all of his patients based on emotional trauma from 23 years ago. His practice, his prerogative, but not something I want.

3) Clear fluids only during labor. This isn't that unusual of a practice, but if I feel like my blood sugar is low and could use a little energy, I don't see a problem with a bit of watermelon.

4) Antibiotics every 4 hours due to my Mitral Valve Prolapse. My MVP has not caused and complications during my pregnancy. The ADA, who used to have a similar antibiotic requirement during any dental procedure no longer requires it...and I have not found any reason that it should be medically necessary for me during labor. But again, I would not have a choice in the matter.

5) While the midwife was clearly not a fan of unecessary C-Sections, it wasn't so clear what her definition of "necessary" was. She also informed us that the hospital has an extremely high Pitocin rate (we don't want pitocin) and when I mentioned again that I don't want an epidural, she SAID it was fine, but her face seemed to say, "well, we'll see how you feel then." Granted, I realize that I have no idea what kind of pain I may be in for, but if I am going to make the choice to be in that pain, I really would rather have someone supporting me in my decision, rather than doubting me.


We've begun the process of seeking out a midwife who does home birth and have an interview set up with one this Thursday. While some time ago I had a little apprehension about birthing at home, I am feeling really good about the decision. Hopefully, I'll still feel that way after our interview.

And now, I await your "seriously? are you crazy?" comments.

Also - pictures of the shower are forthcoming. There was much loot and delicious cupcakes. :)


Listening to: Don't Stop Believing by Journey
Current Mood: Hungry! and optimistic...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Popular Demand

It's not fantastic (my sister shot this in a room that didn't have sufficient lighting, so I had to up the brightness and kill the color to get any picture) but it will do. At least you all can now see that I realllly am prego.



You can also see the Lindsey poses for the camera even when she is taking a photo of someone else.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

7 Months

Really?

I mean, seriously. REALLY?

As of today, I have officially begun my seventh month of pregnancy, and the last bit of my second trimester. The week/month etc counting in pregnancy had me slightly confused (yes, yes, my math skills are much to be envied) so I hadn't really thought about how far along I was in months. I always responded in weeks.

But now that I am looking the part of a prego person, more and more people ask, "How many months along?" And I am stuck there counting the weeks and dividing and all around multitasking beyond what my hormonally overcharged brain can handle.

So I googled it. And I am, as of today, seven months pregnant.

In the three months, this kid will be here. (And no, I am not showing how mathematically challenged I am - I am aware that 9 minus 7 equals 2...but you don't give birth until the END of your ninth month, so three months it is.)

So weird.

Being that three months will fly by, we've been trying to get a million things done around the house and otherwise in preparation. We've signed up for birthing classes finally, which will start in May and end in June. We (or more accurately, J) painted the baby's room and put together the crib. The yard is being fenced in tomorrow. And intermingled in the bigger projects there has been loads of organizing, getting rid of things, making room for new things.

I am sure there are still things that need to be done, but I have to admit, I feel somewhat at ease with accomplishing so much (albeit a tired sort of ease).


Baby Boy (who very likely has a name now, but I haven't decided to release that information just yet) dances up a storm on a daily basis now, which is an odd feeling. People ask me if I have been feeling him move and what I think of it. When I respond that it feels alien, some "tsk" like I said something bad about my kid. But really - I didn't say the baby IS an alien - but he does feel alien. It is not normal (to me) to know that there is a living thing dancing around inside you.

Don't get me wrong. I like it. It's very reassuring that he is there and ok. And he isn't kicking hard, so its just a pleasant little tap. Its nice. But that doesn't change the weird factor.


Not too much else to report at the moment - everything else is going fine. My back aches and I am ready to pass out by the end of the day, but otherwise, pregnancy has been good to me.


Currently listening to: The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
Currently Craving: a brownie sundae
Currently Thinking About: a spray tan I am getting tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cuteness

I have to say, I think it's pretty adorable seeing my husband eating his morning oatmeal and reading parenting magazines.

Just sayin'.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Time to Retire

Today was a busy day full of appointments. Among the many, was my OB checkup. Since I go to a group practice, they like to rotate who you see so that at some point, you have met and become familiar with everyone you might deal with on D-day.

I had yet to visit the doctor whose name receives top billing at the practice, so today it was decided that my appointment would be with him. I was looking forward to asking questions about delivery, fetal monitoring, the practice philosophy on when to induce, etc...

That was until I met the doctor.

I wasn't at all surprised or bothered by his lack of a warm and fuzzy introduction. The other doctor in the practice I met on my last visit was clinical at best, but he was professional and what I would have expected.

One of the first things out of Dr. C's mouth after taking a glance at my chart was:

"So are you just sitting around eating ice cream all day?"

I have to admit, I usually have an answer for everything. But I was a bit taken aback. For one, my weight gain since the last visit (4 weeks ago) was not ridiculous.* Two, if my weight gain was of concern, I am pretty sure that there are about a million other tactful, not to mention helpful, ways to address this.

I responded that I was eating as I have been since the pregnancy started. (Which is not health nut healthy, but is definitely not eating junk food "all day long" as implied)

He then asked "Are you having twins?"

Ummm...you are the doctor. Holding my chart. Wouldn't you know the answer to this? Pretty sure you do. Pretty sure you are taking the opportunity to tell me you think I am a fat slob again.

He felt my ankles, which I had been told at my earlier appointment with a massage therapist are retaining fluid. She gave me helpful tips on what to do to prevent full on cankle stage, why it was happening, etc... I mentioned to the doctor that the massage therapist had noticed that my ankles were puffy earlier in the day.

"You have a massage therapist? Must be nice. *disgusted snort*"

Yes, private practice doctor, I am sure that I am living in a lap of luxury that deserves every ounce of disdain you throwing my way.

He finished the ultrasound check and had me move to a chair.

"Do you EVER excercise?"

I explained that I walk a little everyday. He responded with an indistinct grumble. I then added that I just ordered a pregnancy workout DVD that I plan on adding into my daily routine.

"Hmph."

While on the outside I was still very composed, on the inside I am wondering, if you are so concerned about the state of my weight gain, shouldn't you be doing something productive like, say, making recommendations about what I am or am not eating? Or what sort of exercise might be good for me? SOMETHING constructive rather than arbitrary criticism of a pregnant woman's weight?

I didn't lash out, because I thought to myself, weight is a touchy subject for any woman. And maybe, just maybe I am being overly sensitive.

Then he proceeds with the following:

"Who lives in your house?"

"My husband and I.

"How old is he?""

"41."

With a raised eyebrow and an unmistakable tone, "How old are YOU?"

"30."

Shakes his head and "hmph"s again.

"You know, the Orlando Slantinel (that's how he said it folks) had an article that said you could tell how long a marriage was going to last based on the story of how a couple first met. How did you two meet?"

I can't help but think how this entire series of questions is medically irrelevant, but just wanting to get done and out of there I gave a very short boring "we met in place X, we talked, I moved to place X, we married" story.

"Hmph. Well."

Ok, you just informed me that the story of how we met informs how long we will be together, and your response to the story is a cranky "hmph". How am I supposed to take that?

"How long have you been married?"

"7 years in May."

"Well, maybe you have a chance then."

What? Really? Are you actually having this conversation with a hormonal pregnant lady? SERIOUSLY??

At this point, he asks if I have any questions about the pregnancy (I said "no" as I just wanted to get away from this horrible man), informs me that I better not gain more than TWO pounds in the next FOUR weeks and then ends with this gem.

"Is your husband a Jehovah's Witness too?"

"Yes."

*Snide tone* "Well. I guess that works out then."

And that was the final word of the visit.

In the course of a very brief period, the man attempted to make me feel bad about my weight, my marriage, and my religion. I can only guess that they didn't emphasize bedside manner and asking medically relevant questions at this guy's med school.


I managed to keep my composure through the entire ordeal. Unfortunately, when I went to the hospital for pre-registration and sat down with the nice admitting lady, I lost that composure.

When I get angry, I don't scream. I don't throw things. I don't curse. I just cry. I breakdown in an embarrassingly girly mess. And I did exactly that in this poor strangers office.

I told her the whole story. She saved face for the entire medical community by using choice words for what she thought of that doctor, reassuring me that I was not being overly sensitive, and that I had every right to demand that he never see me again, and not be allowed in the delivery room.

So to the lovely hospital lady, thank you.

And now, I have a letter to compose to the group practice. Here's hoping that they honor my wishes. If not, I will sadly be looking for a new practice.



*For the record, I gained 7 pounds in 4 weeks. Throughout the pregnancy so far, I have actually been told that I should be gaining more weight than I was initially. I didn't change my eating habits, since I knew I was eating a healthy amount and figured that I would gain what I need to gain when the baby needs it. 4 weeks ago, you could barely tell I was prego. Now, I am very definitely sporting a baby bump. My blood pressure is nice and low and aside from the recent puffy ankles, I have had nothing but a healthy pregnancy.

Also, most of what I have read about this stage of the pregnancy is that at LEAST one pound a week is to be expected. Since I hadn't gained as much as they expected early on, I must say I am not too concerned about a couple extra pounds. But what do I know.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Arizona Trip

In an effort to save time, I am just posting the link for some photos from our trip to see our friends in Arizona. Enjoy!

Arizona Photos

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blurg

The being sick accelerated to the "how has anyone survived sickness before drugs" phase.

Which would explain why I am posting before sunrise.

Blurg.

Oh, and I am 30 today.


Currently Listening to: The sounds of Dudley and J snoring
Currently Feeling: Like death

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prego Etiquette

Not mine. Yours.

Well, not specifically YOU. Likely, if you read this, then you are my friend and know enough not to stay stupid things. It's one of the reasons I like you. Specifically you.

In the past few weeks, it appears that I have "popped". In other words, instead of just looking like I have indulged a bit too much at the Golden Corral*, I am actually starting to look pregnant. Rounded belly, jeans no longer "kinda" fitting, that sort of thing.

Aside from the limitations in wardrobe it brings, I like the newly popped belly. Makes me feel like I am not so much a fatty, but a soon to be mom. That is ok.

Until, of course, someone decides to comment on how far along you are.

"You're how far along? Have you made sure you aren't having twins?"

Gasp! You know, in all those OB appointments, it never crossed my mind to ask if that was ONE heartbeat or TWO I was listening to. Or if there was somehow another baby hiding behind that one in the sonogram. Apparently, I am not only a chubbster, but also an idiot. Thanks for that.

The funny thing is, in comparison to other woman at this stage of pregnancy I look absolutely normal. In some cases, I even look smaller than others. But everyone has an opinion.

The other extreme, while not as annoying, can also be unwelcome.

"When are you going to start showing?"

This causes me to look down at a very NOT flat stomach and wonder if this person just thinks I always look this fat. But this comment more depends on my mood. If I am feeling cheerful, I can take it as "you look thin for being pregnant!", but when cranky it translates into, "I can't see your baby under all your normal fat."

So...for any of you that are wondering, it really is best not to comment on the prego lady's size.


Sorry it has been so long since I posted, but with our vacation to Arizona (which was lovely and I will try to post pics soon) and getting back to the regular routine, by the end of the day I am just too exhausted to think about posting.

Oh, and now, I am sick again. J brought home some sort of cold. Boooo. Trying to drown it before it accelerates to miserable "I need drugs but can't have any" phase.


Currently Listening to: One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces by Ben Folds Five (I am going to see Ben Folds a week from today!!)
Number of Weeks: 22 tomorrow

* I do not EVER eat at nor do I advocate eating at Golden Corral

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pom Pom and Peppers

I am really not being as regular about this as I like, but despite the aforementioned energy that I have experienced (and continue to have), by the end of the work day my priorities are food, some cleaning, and THEN relaxing. I'll have to start scheduling blogging in there somewhere (so sad).

In the past week, you have missed the baby's latest nickname - Pom Pom - which I will kinda miss. One of the many prego sites I was looking at said that the baby was the size of a pomegranate, but that seemed a bit cumbersome, so it quickly became Pom Pom. Which is kinda cool, because I start picturing this whenever I was referring to the baby.

But, as of Thursday, we have progressed to other produce...namely, a bell pepper. So this week, we will be referring to the kid as "Pepper". (wasn't that the name of the chic in Iron Man? poor kid, if it's a boy...we keep calling it girly names even when we are referring to produce)

I felt a brief flutter this week, which was all kinds of odd. Very light and quick, but definitely a different feeling. Right now it's interesting. As he/she grows and starts sticking his/her heel in my ribs, I am sure I will find it slightly less amusing.

Other than that, not a whole lot to report. The belly continues to grow. My sister continues to count down the days to finding out the sex so her shopping can begin. The usual.

...and because it has been a LONG while since I posted a picture of us - here we are. I have not yet taken "I'm prego" pictures, so unless you are part of my AZ crew, you'll just have to wait a bit longer. Isn't my mom cute? I hope I look that good after raising ONE kid, let alone five.


Listening to: My Name is Jonas by Weezer
Current Week: 18
Countdown to Sonogram: 10 days

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nesty-Crazy

You often hear people talk about women who begin "nesting" when they are prego. I always thought this was something that was supposed to hit when labor was near. But after the past several days, I think it has already begun.

Monday I had the day off work. In the past, a day off was good for the following: sleeping in, leisurely shopping, reading, relaxing, and maaaaaybe a load of laundry.

This day off consisted of:

Waking up at my usual work day hour
Getting out to shop for things to organize the closet
Organizing the closet
Doing several loads of laundry
Sweeping the house
Organizing the bedroom
Cooking dinner (not ordering in)

While I have experienced similar frenzied cleaning bouts before (usually for one day during my period I get an irresistible urge to clean) this one seems to be continuing.

Today, the weather was GORGEOUS outside. Sunny, moderate temperature - just perfect. So I decided that I should take a little of my lunch hour to redo the front beds. What now? Yes, pull plants with tenacious roots out of their homes, with the help of a shovel and spade.

If that weren't enough, when my work day was over, I used what daylight was left to trim the hedges. With old fashioned arm powered clippers.

And I have no desire to stop. I have plans for cleaning the beds and planting new stuff this weekend (I'll take photos). And there are still other closets to organize. And a crib to assemble.

I guess this must be that energetic second trimester they talked about in all those books.


Listening to: nothing - Lost is paused, so soon to be watching that
Current Mood: Suprisingly, still have some energy left
Week: 16 (17 tomorrow)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Maybe It's Next to My Keys

I had a weird dream last night. It was the first of what I am sure will be many more baby related dreams.

I have always had a very active mind while asleep - I can rarely recall an evening where I don't dream (maybe that's why I wake so tired?). I find that the dreams are particularly active when I am stressed/overthinking something.

So last night, I dreamed about the baby. I dreamed that I asked my husband where the baby was, and he told me he left it in the car. I dreamed that it had a square head. I dreamed that I couldn't figure out how to feed it. I dreamed that I didn't have a car seat when it "showed up" so I stuck it in a box when I got in the car. I dreamed I that I kept forgetting where I left it (which resulted in deciding to carry it in my coat pocket).

Apparently, I dreamed that we are incredibly incompetent parents.

In waking life, I haven't really been overly worried about my ability to be a mom. I have a great example to follow, who happens to be more than willing to help me figure it out now that its my turn. And I fully accept that I am not going to magically know how to do everything.

But I also have a theory that when I sleep, my mind is like a database that reindexes during its downtime. It starts shuffling memories and unconscious thoughts to different files so the useful things are more readily accessible. When it does that, things I didn't even realize I was thinking about, or even worried about, come flying past in sometimes oddly presented images.

Given that, somewhere in my head, I must be stressing a little about the responsibilities of being a mom.

I guess I should thank my brain for pushing it somewhere towards the back.


Current Mood: Too early for a mood
Currently Listening to: Hometown Glory by Adele
Number of Weeks Prego: 16
Baby's Current Size: Avocado

Sunday, February 8, 2009

No!

I didn't update at all last week as I was traveling. Which isn't a terribly good excuse. It isn't like I don't have the laptop with me every second. But by the end of each day I was so COMPLETELY spent that I couldn't possibly drag the laptop out to type.

So, quick update - the kid is now apple sized, so since Thursday, that is what we refer to him/her as. (which makes my father feel all the more certain that it will be a girl, since "apple" isn't a very good name for a boy)

While in Massachusetts, it snowed, which got me thinking. My kid isn't going to know what snow is like. I am somewhat horrified at this realization. Some of my best childhood memories involve playing in the yard, building snow forts, or sliding down the hill in my neighbors yard and crashing into the woods, bouncing off the trees like a human pinball machine. (Ahhhh yes...memories that involve my own pummeling ending in boots and other articles of winter gear strewn about the trees are counted among "best" memories.)

I feel as though living in Florida has deprived my child of what should be a staple of growing up. My kid is going to be a *gasp* Floridian.

I see lots of winter vacations taken to intentionally encounter snow in our future.

Of course, being in Florida does have its benefits in Apple's upbringing. My parents live walking distance from our house, which means growing up with grandparents around. As much as I love my grandparents, I was never especially close to them, since I only saw them occasionally. My kid will get to experience being really close to grandparents and aunts and uncles.

I guess that is a decent trade off. :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

When life hands you lemons...

Fortunately, it's lemon, singular. The current size of that person who happens to be stealing my energy and calories. (keep right on stealing the calories, kid!)

Today was the latest OB appointment. Quick and painless.

First Bobbie (the very smiley midwife) measured my uterus and had me feel for it. It is currently up to my belly button, which elicited this reaction, accompanied by a pat on my belly:

"That means some of this is baby!"

To which I responded:

"By which you mean it's now only partly my fatness."

Bobbie is good enough natured (and appears to be honest enough) that she wasn't thrown by my candid admittance that I am not delusional and in fact, am fully aware of my lack of bikini worthy abs.

After taking measurements, which I was suprised, and yet pleased, to see only involve a measuring tape over my belly, we moved on to the doppler for a quick listen of the heartbeat. Almost immediately it was there, as Lemon was feeling very cooperative. Strong and rhythmic, it accomplished making me tear up slightly again, but I quickly recovered not having any family members in the room this time. Bobbie let the doppler linger for a while, saying that now I make my own music.

She then informed me that I should, in the next few weeks, start to be able to FEEL the baby. That kind of blew my mind. I know its there. I have the multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night and the sudden urge to nap to prove it. But the idea that this little person can actually kick my insides and get my attention is, well, weird. In an awesome way, of course. But still, weirdness.

Then, more cool news, I scheduled my next visit, which will involve an ultrasound, and hopefully, as long as my child is not shy (which given it's father and Auntie Lindz, it has a good chance of being outgoing) finding out the sex.

Which means I can discontinue calling it a fruit, vegetable, or other strange thing to be calling your kid. Pronouns are so much easier when you can use the appropriate one.

I also visited my chiro, who readers of the old blog know, I love. He adjusted me, reminded me to make sure I am walking regularly, asked about how I was feeling and then preached the benefits of slathering my belly, butt and thighs with cocoa butter. (that statement is not nearly as creepy as it sounds...)

Next week I bundle up and head to Massachusetts. It has been a while since I have been to the office, so off I go for the week. It was going to be my unveiling (of fatness?), but yesterday a portion of my team found out. Apparently, someone who I used to work with has kept up with my old blog. Enough to see the fairly recent post directing him here. He asked one of the girls in the office about me being pregnant and, well, that was that. Granted, only a few people know, but it was funny to find that I was THIS close to keeping it secret until I got there.

And to the silent former-collegue-blog-reader, hello! Hope all is well with you :)


Currently listening to: Happiness by The Weepies (E - I see a mix CD in your future.)
Currently feeling: Completely fine. Fancy that. This baby growing business isn't so bad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prego Shopping Extravaganza!!!

Monday, Monday, MONDAY!!!

I had the day off on Monday, so I thought I would take advantage of the full day to do whatever I like to accomplish one of two things:

1) Clean and organize my house
2) Shop for maternity/baby related items

Can you guess which I chose?

My mother and I set out to hit a few consignment shops to see what goodies we could find. Maternity clothes tend to seem overpriced, and considering that they often end up being gently used, why not find them second hand?

In our quest, we ended up at a thrift store we had never come across and wasn't on the planned list of places to check out. I wasn't too hopeful as we entered, as it looked large and lacking in organization. I should make it clear that while I enjoy little boutique like second hand stores, where everything has its place and its easy to find what you are looking for, I have never had the patience required to be a successful Thrift shopper. My mother and sister are blessed with the skills needed to paw through rack upon rack upon box of items to find that coveted awesome deal, but me? Not so much.

Fortunately, having my mother with me, I did manage to pull my limited shopping patience together and sort through two large boxes of shoes/boots. I wouldn't have bothered, but they were all Rieker, which are comfortable and expensive shoes. Sorting was required to find a matching pair that was not defective, and in your size. I came away with a great pair of flats that I will be VERY thankful I found as the pregnancy gets further along, and my mom got flats, boots, and really cute little heels.

Most of the other planned stops were sadly closed (don't know why I hadn't thought that through...if I have the day off, maybe someone else does!). One consignment shop actually had a few things (yay!) so I was pretty pleased with what I found for the day.

We planned to make one more stop at Macy's, since my mom had a $25 certificate to spend. We inevitably ended up in the baby section, where my mother spent her certificate (and then some) on non-gender specific baby clothes.

As we left, I noticed the Motherhood Maternity store had lots of sales signs, so I suggested we take a quick look. A large bag of clothes and a much lighter back account later, we finally finished our day of shopping.

So while I spent FAR more than I had planned, I got some great essentials (jeans, khakis, comfy SUMMERY dresses) for really good prices, so it was a good shopping day.

An exhausting one, but successful.


Listening to: Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 a' clock in the mornin'...

...where ya gonna be?

Apparently, not sleeping.

Lately, like clockwork, I wake up at 5 feeling oh so miserable. The only way to make me feel slightly better is to drag myself out of bed and eat. So here I am, polishing off a bowl of Basic 4, waiting for my body to process that it has been fed and it is now safe to go back to sleep.

Being that I could sleep until, say, Tuesday, this new development is not so much I love you.

Thanks a lot, limey.

Current Mood: Sleepy and cranky
Baby's Current Size: The size of a lime. A hungry, angry lime.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Somewhat Awesomeness

As I write this, I am two days away from my 12th week.

And guess what?

I am not in a constant state of nausea. Just like the books/internet sites/random advice givers said. I celebrated yesterday evening by eating not one, but TWO cinnamon buns and spending a fortune on groceries.

Awesome.

I say I am not in a constant state of nausea, because I am still a bit sensitive. I do not want to eat or smell fish. I can't seem to stomach the smell of raw meat period (which will make this week's beef stew a challenge). And I am sure there are other food smells that send me into an immediate frenzy. If I steal your sandwich from your hands and throw it as far away as I can, I apologize now. I can't be held responsible for my actions at this point.

In other symptoms...I fall asleep watching TV almost every night now. We are not talking falling asleep during Conan. Not even while watching Colbert. Think a little closer to the Prime Time bracket. During exciting shows that I enjoy. I just suddenly am overcome by a wave of exhaustion that overtakes me with no warning.

It is also kinda awesome.

I mean, sure, I may not see the end of my favorite show, but that is what DVR is for, friends. I can't tell you the last time I could just fall asleep without trying. That is the sweetest sleep. The one where your eyes close and your whole body relaxes and you don't even know that you are falling asleep. The kind of sleep you fight when sitting behind your desk, but never seems to greet you when you get home. It's like floating. Without the water in your ears.

As far as size goes, I definitely feel like I am getting bigger, although the scale is still barely budging. There is definitely more belly there then there was before. Not that I want to be big...but I would like to get past the "I ate one too many cinnamon rolls" phase and move on to the "I look pregnant" phase.

On the rest of my life front, the many photo taking activities this weekend went well. The bride and groom for the wedding I shot could not have been sweeter, which made things slightly less stressful. I say less stressful because all I could think while I was taking photos was "what am I doing?" The drawback of caring about what you do is worrying that you aren't going to make the people you are doing it for happy. In the end, I am glad I did it.

Oh, and also, I was thoroughly exhausted and in all my jumping up and down, running to and fro, squatting in weird positions, I discovered a few muscles that I clearly never use.

Here is a shot from their wedding:


The engagement shoot (for the groom's sister, a good friend of mine) was much less stressful. Not that I didn't care just as much, just that you have much more control over that type of shoot.

This is one of my favorite shots...


The sad part of the weekend was the departure of my little nephew. My brother and his wife had been visiting for the week. She had to leave early for a talk in San Fran (I think?) so my brother and nephew stayed a little longer.

Seriously, I know I am totally partial, but how can you not love this cuteness?



And so I leave you with the cuteness that is Squeakles. Enjoy.


Listening to: Paperweight by Joshua Radin (on Pandora.com's The Weepies station)
Current Mood: Hungry! Yay!