Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We saw the North Pole!

Dave and I are happy to announce that the little person in my belly is ..................
a man baby yeah! (Do Austin Powers references ever lose their charm? Answer: Yes, yes they do.)

Anyway, we met with the ultrasound tech and her first question after glancing over our chart was, "why did the doctor order another ultrasound?" My mind drew a blank and an "umm" slipped out of my mouth. If I gave the wrong answer would she shoo us away from the sonogram machine because it was obvious that we weren't deserving? We were so close, I could smell the warm aqua jelly stuff! If my life was a movie, this would be the part where I would completely overreact to the situation, grab the ultrasound machine and run out of the room. The entire OBGYN staff would be chasing me down the corridors as I hilariously tried to apply the jelly to my belly and do the ultrasound myself. Oh the hijinks that would ensue! Also, I would probably be dressed in a paper gown for this part of the movie, regardless of the fact that wearing a paper gown is not necessary during any ultrasound in the history of the world.

But my life is not a movie and I had to think up a good excuse. Thinking back to the words of the previous doctor, I retorted with the halfway plausible, "as I recall, the doctor mentioned the baby was measuring kind of weird."

"Measuring big or measuring small?" she questioned further.

"I am caught," I thought. It's not like I wouldn't know the answer to this question if the doctor had truthfully told me the baby was not measuring to normal size. Because I ate my weight in sweets while visiting my family for Christmas, I was feeling fat. I settled on my answer, "the baby was measuring big."

"That's strange, because according to your chart you measured right to size at your last appointment," she concluded.

"Yes, that's because I am a big liarhead with pants that are on fire," I thought to myself.

Dave piped up from the corner of the room, "I think the doctor was feeling generous at our last appointment." I sucked in all of the remaining air in the room, half expecting her to order us far far away from the ultrasound machine. Actually, she didn't appear to care very much at that point and left it to the doctor to make up a code for our insurance.

The whole experience was rather anticlimactic to be honest. Apparently, I had built up finding out the gender for exactly 26 weeks and 2 days and I thought I would hear drum rolls and perhaps some muted applause when she announced our news. In reality, she rolled the probe around my belly a few times and then deadpanned, "there's the scrotum" yawn. Okay, she didn't yawn and she really was nice enough. I suppose when you've seen hundreds of scrotums, you've seen them all you know?

At any rate, we're having a boy, we're having a boy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Last chance to sleep late on Christmas

After a ten and a half hour drive, a half dozen bathroom breaks and much snacking, we have arrived safely to my hometown in western PA. Although the weather is the usual overcast and rainy, there is still snow on the ground here! The Christmas cheer running through the air is thick, noggy and caked in nutmeg. Why look at that, I've made myself hungry. Please excuse me while I grab my one millionth cookie of the day.

On the baby countdown front, it's Christmas day and I believe we're down to about 99 days left in this pregnancy. That's crazy to think about. I can't help but look ahead to next Christmas and spending it with our new little person. I should say new little people actually, because there will be quite a few newbies born into my immediate world in the coming year. Granted, I'm only in charge of one of them, but I'm just as excited to meet the future cousins and friends of our bean as well. I feel so lucky that we get to witness all of these new people being born into the world that will be a part of our child's life forever more.

Maybe it seems silly for me to take this all so seriously now that I am the one finally giving birth, but I am thinking back to my brothers and me growing up surrounded by all of our cousins and friends. I look at those old pictures now from many Christmases ago and realize how we took all of that extended family for granted to an extent. Now in my thirties, some of those old relationships are being rekindled as life slows down and I'm realizing how formative and important those relationships really are. We may age, but we are still those same kids at heart and we always will be. There will always be lifetime bonds between those people that stood along side us as we all grew up together regardless of how life changes us along the way. Those memories are my favorite Christmas movie to play back in my head and even more special is only a select few of us know how our particular movie goes. I can't wait to meet the characters that will be part of my child's unique life movie. I hope our kid is blessed with a supporting cast as colorful and warmhearted as his father and I have had throughout our lives.

Merry Christmas everybody, may you have much joy and happiness in the new year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to be a proper curmudgeon

I have just finished eating the most delicious sandwich known to mankind. The best part about it is it was made with partially free ingredients. By free I mean stolen from a free breakfast bread buffet my office landlord held for all of us tenants this morning.

One of my co-workers told me about it as soon as he saw me, I suspect because I'm the token fat pregnant lady around these parts. As soon as the words "free food," fell out of his mouth, I had turned on my heel and was out the door. Oddly, I was the only person that was in the lobby standing before the most beautiful carb-laden buffet filled with pastries, bagels, muffins, strudels and croissants. I wept for a moment before thanking god for the heavenly bounty put before me and loaded up a plate. I took an extra croissant too because I am your grandpa.

Like your grandpa, Andy Rooney just admitted to pocketing free rolls when he visits a restaurant on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. He also confessed to making his own coffee in the morning rather than paying $1.50 for it in the CBS cafeteria. Most delightful of all, he acknowledged wearing his shirts multiple times before laundering them. All in all, Andy Rooney's oddball habits probably save him about $3 a day.  Some would argue that all his efforts are not worth such a  small savings. But those naysayers are too transfixed on the monetary amount itself and they fail to recognize the satisfaction that Andy Rooney gets out of living so frugally by choice. 

I've even created a new verb for the act of saving money in shameless and often insignificant ways, "to andyrooney." As in, today I andyrooneyed my sandwich.   That does not mean that I yelled at my sandwich, berated it even, while the poor sandwich could do nothing but stare at my very bushy eyebrows and question whether I ever aged.  (Seriously, does Andy Rooney age?  I feel like he's looked the same since I first saw him on TV back in the 80s.)  No, to andyrooney a sandwich means that I went to great trouble to save myself the 20 cents that croissant would have cost me at the store.  And as I later ate that sandwich, I took great pride in the fact that I had gained such a delicious feast by my own ingenuity and cheap-assed-ness.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to Andy Rooney and I am not making fun of him in the least when I say that.  So Andy, if you have googled your own name and somehow ran across these words, I want you to know you are my idol.  I'm actually making fun of myself.  I get an inflated sense of pride in making something out of nothing, especially if it was free or I paid a minimal amount for it.  Did I mention I can't shut up about it afterwards either?

When I arrived back to my office with my plate piled dangerously high with all the free goodies, all of my coworkers gathered around me salivating.

"How'd you get food? They told me I had to come back at 9:00," my coworkers whined.

"Guys, I don't think I need to tell you that I'm pregnant and therefore magical. Also, people are afraid I will eat them if they don't give me what I want. And you know, I just might. So be nice to me. Also, it helped that there was no one manning the buffet when I was down there.  Do me a favor when you go down at 9:00 though and get me another croissant will you?"

I like to think that having other people steal my bread for me makes me even more annoyingly shrewd than Andy Rooney, if such a thing is even humanly possible.  The old master has taught me well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I dare you to google Kegelmaster 2000

A good friend of mine shared a beautiful sentiment with me tonight. She said her greatest Christmas wish for me is that I will be able to do my kegel exercises everyday so that I will not have to endure any peeing of my pants after giving birth. Doesn't that just warm your heart and fill you with the spirit of the season? I am thinking of sending in this story to my local news for their nightly human interest segment just because I want to touch others and inspire them to be kind to their fellow man. I had to break it to her that it's too late for me, I'm already peeing a bit half the time I sneeze. I now have an irrational fear of sneezing for this very reason. On a clear night you can hear me across the valley bellowing "noooooooooooooooo" in slow motion followed by a quick "achoo" and then a "damn it!"

But the true heartfelt goodness of my story is this: even after telling her that I'm already peeing my pants a little, this kind and giving woman still let me borrow countless pairs of her maternity pants. Oh, even writing about it gets me all choked up all over again.

I try to do my kegel exercises, really I do. I know they are important and will have an impact on my bladder functionality for the rest of my life. But, they're haaaaaaaaaaard! I complain to my husband about them all the time. I don't think he understands the difficulty involved in willing your internal muscles to flex. The only similar thing boys can compare it to is flexing their, you know, thingamajig. For girls, exercising their pelvic floor muscles is not like flexing an external body part...because we're talking about internal flexion here. It's like willing your heart to beat an extra beat or flexing your kidneys by sheer determination using only the power of your mind.

According to the directions I've researched online (yes, I have entirely too much time on my hands) you are not supposed to hold your breath or flex your butt muscles or abs when you do your kegels. So if you are doing either of these no-nos, I'm afraid you are doing them wrong and more than likely a urine-filled fate will befall you. Also, you are supposed to contract the muscle and hold it for 5 seconds before releasing and repeat like a million times. Actually, the website I was reading recommended quitting your day job and dedicating all of your time to flexing your pelvic floor muscles. Because you know, if you don't you may as well start clipping those Depends coupons out of the Sunday fliers is all I'm saying. With that said, it should come as no surprise that I'm putting my two week notice in tomorrow. Soon I will be the pelvic floor muscle champion of the world!
Disclaimer: Please don't call me and ask me why I'm quitting my job. It was a joke. Also, no pants were soiled during the writing of this post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ho ho ho and stuff

I guess my posting has gotten a little bipolar lately, from talking about poop one minute to venting about the state of the world the next. Then again, those two things have a lot in common when I stop and really consider that both have gone to the toilet lately. But anyway, I've been watching too much news and I have a hard time mustering up my funny when I'm feeling preachy it seems. Therefore, I have left myself no choice but to post another pregnancy picture from last weekend. This was taken after we decorated our tree and I dressed the baby up as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Obviously, you can't see the antlers part of the outfit because this is not that kind of blog mister!

I would also like to have it be known that I do own more clothes than just a sports bra and a pair of yoga pants. This is the outfit that we chose for Dave to take my weekly pregnancy pictures in the hopes that I will be able to actual fit into them for the whole pregnancy. Eventually, we want to compile all the pics into a little "Slideshow to Fatness!"...oops, did I type that? I mean we want to put all the pictures into a "Slideshow Documenting the Beautiful Evolution of Our Little Miracle!" or something. But seriously, I think it will be a cool thing to have documented.

And thanks to my Davey for putting up with all my griping and deleting of pictures that give me "an unnecessary double bum" each week. Yesterday marks the day he was born and I'd like to thank Olgie and Doug for making that possible. Baby Dave was late to show up for his party and his parents had tried several methods to coax him out of the womb. At one point they went out driving in an old 1929 Ford Model A on a very bumpy road to try to induce labor, but that just gave little David his first taste of 4X4. Eventually, with in utero fluid levels running low, he did make his very chapped entrance into the world of course.

Hubband, I'm so happy we found each other and I cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else. I look forward to watching you transform into the role of father next year. I've known ever since I met you that you will make a fantastic father to some lucky little kid. I'm just thankful that kid has turned out to be my kid too and I get to experience this by your side.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So this is what ranting feels like

I know a lot of people that don't deserve it will suffer if GM fails. I realize that the failure of such a company will have a far-reaching effect on many sectors. But I still can't help but hope that their ship sinks because they have caused their own demise.

"General Motors announced today that they have again developed an electric car - the Chevy Volt. The company first developed an electric car - the EV-1 - in 1996, and leased a number of prototypes to Hollywood stars. The EV-1 was made after California legislators mandated the production of zero-emissions vehicles.

But at the same time that the company was producing the world's first electric car, it was also engaged in litigation to force California to lift its mandate.

When the litigation succeeded, and California lifted the requirement for zero-emissions vehicles, General Motors immediately ceased production and had all of the prototypes of the world's first electric car shredded. Now, the company is re-introducing an electric vehicle -- but this one includes a gasoline motor that will automatically switch on after forty miles of driving. When asked about the reason for ceasing production of the EV-1, Denise Gray, the Director of Hybrid Systems for General Motors, didn't have a lot of answers."

This is no conspiracy theory folks, this happened and is happening. There is a documentary called "Who Killed the Electric Car" I would recommend to anyone that wants more info. Moreover, GM has been buying up green technology patents for years only to shelve them because they wanted to eliminate the competition. All of the Big 3, not to mention Big Oil own a large percentage of green technology patents actually. Yet we wonder why we saw gas prices skyrocket in 2008.

What kind of greedy business philosophy would drive companies to act so irresponsibly toward the American people and the environment? If the American people are supposed to "buy American" shouldn't we at least be confident in the knowledge that the same companies we are supporting with our consumer dollars are not ultimately looking to screw us? The way I see it, Big Oil and the Big 3 have become the modern day pusherman.

Maybe now is not the time to get people riled up over this issue; after all, gas prices have fallen recently and it's not hurting pocketbooks as much right? Perhaps when we start to feel the pinch closer to home, that anger will well up again. And by the looks of it, by then, we'll have paid the Big 3 billions of dollars to keep making all the wrong decisions.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Staying afloat in the soup

I've just spent the last hour reading real life accounts of how the economic crisis is affecting the lives of normal people.  Here's the link if you'd like to read some of these accounts for yourself and please don't be deterred by the website itself, this is hardly a partisan issue anymore.  After all, I believe Bush finally admitted we're in a recession this week, after the National Bureau of Economic Research stated the recession started last December in 2007.  So at least we're finally past arguing about the definition of the word recession, which is a relief as we approach the definition of a depression.  As I watch the news, I notice the media reports are so focused on the topic of bailouts, first for insurance and banking and now moving on to the auto industry, that the stories of real people are being ignored.  

From stories about previously retired people being forced to now look for work after the savings they had spent a lifetime accumulating is now gone, to those who have lost their long-held jobs and don't know where to turn---their first-hand accounts are all in that link.  Their tales are important and heartbreaking because they are victims of doing everything we've always been told we should do to get a piece of the pie.  Their previously comfortable lifestyles are now the casualties of the willful greed and ignorance of others, yet so far no move has been made by the government to help them.  

I've even seen it firsthand while reading through the resumes my company has received for an entry-level position with our firm.  There were hundreds of resumes received from all types of applicants.  But I was most alarmed by the number of over-qualified individuals answering such a job listing, some having been in the financial industry for well over ten years.  I can only guess how dire the situation of each of these applicants.  The realization that these people were so desperate in my own industry was a wake-up call for me.  While we are all wise to constantly remind ourselves how easily replaced we are in our jobs, it is scary to see the possible competition's resume.  And it's even more frightening to put yourself in their shoes.  Those with education and experience are normally  more assured to land a position during tough times, whereas now these qualifications mean almost nothing.  I thought my degree and work ethic would always insulate me from struggling like so many I had seen growing up.  This recession seems to be leveling the playing field though.

Recent graduates and young adults entering the job force for the first time have been on my mind lately too.  How discouraged they must feel when they send out a metric ton of resumes and get no bites.  But I'm especially thinking about family members of mine that will graduate high school shortly and the fear this recession must cause in them.  (And if any of those family members want to hear my advice, I want to tell them to get their butts in college come hell or high water.  Yeah, yeah I read my previous paragraph about how a degree won't always help you in this economic crisis.  But enrolling in college will buy you some serious time for the state of our country to hopefully correct itself.  If money is a concern, enroll in a branch campus of a bigger school, get a part time job, apply for loans and scholarships and use the internet as the valuable tool it is.    As long as you are working your butt off in school, I'm quite sure the family will help you foot the bill anyway they can.  If you are floundering over what to study, may I recommend any subject dealing with green technology or sustainability programs.  Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.)

Part of me thinks the economic meltdown will ultimately be good for this country forcing all of us to get back to basics that really matter.  Who knows, maybe the number of people popping prescription drugs to make themselves feel better will even go down.  In my opinion, American unhappiness crept in as we started to think more about our stuff and how we could accumulate more stuff than we did about our relationships with each other and how we live our life.  The good thing about focusing on surviving is it leaves little time to think about all the crap that really doesn't matter.  You've got food in your belly and a roof over your head?  Good for you, feel blessed and be thankful.  If you've got people you love and love you back there with you, there's little else you could really need.  Let's just help each other stay afloat during the tumultuous times ahead and we should be just fine.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm innocent I tell ya!

Have I told you lately that my husband is a genius? Quick back story: when we were 15/16 weeks along at the first Level 2 Ultrasound, the tech caught a quick screen shot of a substantial bump in the private area of our child (that I should probably not be discussing on the internets, sorry future kid.) Anyway, it was still a bit early for gender determination and the tech couldn't confidently say either way for sure. But we've held on to the sonogram image. So Dave's idea was to bring the picture of this possible baby penis with us to our OB appointment today where we would be meeting with a new doc. We would ask him for his best medical opinion on the mysterious bump and attempt to pull on his heart strings. I brought along my violin and played a very slow and pathetically sad song on it while Dave shared with him our hard luck tale. Aaaaaaand it worked! Well, it will work we hope. They didn't give us the ultrasound today, but we have one scheduled for December 30.

To quote the doctor, "I think everyone should be able to find out the gender of their child before birth. I'm mean, it's not like this is China!" Well played doctor and I agree with you on both points! Indeed, this is not China and we promise to keep the child even if the bump in the picture is not a penis at all. Pinky swear.

Later on in the appointment, he half talking to himself said, "Now let's see, I can always figure out a good reason to jot down to justify another ultrasound..." I had to will my lips closed so that I didn't yell out my prepared ridiculous excuses having to do with pooping baby arms and eating kitty cats to aid him in his search for a good reason. He didn't need to know that I had already figured out the most irrefutable rationalizations to explain the necessity of an additional sonogram. He ended up settling on the baby not measuring to size for 22 weeks. Please note: unless you work for my insurance company, I would like to stress that this is not really the case. Our measurements were right on the money and heartbeat was 150 beats per minute, like the most annoying techno song you can imagine.

I do have to laugh at the timing of the upcoming ultrasound though, as I fear my family may suspect a conspiracy concocted by yours truly. You see, I'm not a blue-is-for-boys and pink-is-for-girls kind of person and I'm annoyingly vocal about my feelings on this. But at least I admit it right! My family has been kind enough to throw me a shower on December 27, but the gender determination won't be until December 30. So we will miraculously find out what the plumbing of this munchkin is a mere three days after the shower (I hope). Sounds a bit suspicious no? I can't say I blame anyone for wondering if my stories about gender fender benders are legit. But for the record, I must stress that I'm a very poor liar. But more than that, I am lazy and if this whole thing was a ruse so as not to receive specifically colored or themed gifts, I have certainly dedicated a lot of time to it. One more thing to convince you of my innocence, Dave would not be able to keep this secret if we did know and were keeping it to ourselves. He may be a genius, but he's a bit like a 5 year old with a secret when he's excited. That's kind of why I married him.

[Edited to add a brief IM conversation that took place after this post was published]:

dave: oh, I can't keep a secret?!?!?!

sonya: haha

dave: may I just point out that you practically broadcasted to the world about the possible penis?!?!?!

sonya: your punctuation is alarming me.

dave: is it all the repeated exclamations and question marks?!?!?!?! is it?!?!?!?!?!

sonya: for the record, you just confirmed my innocence for me.

dave: funny how you even managed to use the word 'pooped' in this post too.

sonya: it's my mark, like "z" is for zorro.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jingle bills

Is it just me or is Christmas getting crazier and crazier every year? Between the shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, sending out the cards, going to the holiday parties, and driving to our destinations, little time is left for what the holiday is supposed to be about. Speaking of which, what is this holiday season supposed to be about anymore? I don't ask sarcastically. I really don't know and it bothers me even to say that. I mean, I know that Christmas marks baby Jesus' birth and I seem to recollect some "goodwill to men" is supposed to be thrown in there. But what has happened to the modern Christmas? I don't see nearly enough goodwill going around, especially as I hear stories on the news of a store clerk being trampled by the crowd during the opening of a Walmart on Black Friday. What a sad state it all is.

This is going to sounds terrible, but in a weird way I was happy about the economic crisis and recession because I hoped it would translate to a reigned-in Christmas. I thought that people would be forced to maybe hand make presents or bake something yummy in place of the latest gadgetry out of necessity. Or maybe I thought we would all agree to not buy anything for each other this year because spending time together is all that matters anyway. No really, I know we say that every year, but it's true.

My husband and I have set $40 limits on spending for each other every Christmas we've been together. I think one particular year we bought a front door for the house in lieu of any gift at all. This Christmas we're going to refinance our house because we're merry like that. So I can tell you from experience that not having lavish gifts and even no gifts at all still makes for a very jolly day. The trick to our success is agreeing upon the terms up front...haha, ho ho ho. That sounds so business-like for someone seemingly judging how cold Christmas has become. But it's just easiest to agree beforehand as to avoid any awkwardness and guilt later on.

I think it's safe to say that most people want to match the amount they spend to the amount spent on them, but not because they only want to give exactly what they have to and no more. But because they want everyone to feel good about the exchange, both the gifter and the giftee.

Problem is setting such limits can often lead to gift giving feeling like the exchange of similar amounts of money. While that doesn't seem like a very good solution, maybe if you make that idea as extreme as possible, we could get back to the true heart of the season. For example, let's all agree to exchange $20 in cash. You give me $20, I give you $20. You give Grandma $20 and she palms you a solid Andrew Jackson right back. Then everyone watches "It's a Wonderful Life" and drinks eggnog, the end. The only exception to the rule would be those aged under twenty years. We could call the whole plan the Rule of Twenty and revolutionize the world! Simultaneously, we could destroy the economy completely! But at least this retail meltdown and final destruction of the economy would be for the right reasons and not the greedy desires that have caused our current predicament. Take that Mister Potter!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holy Moley

It's that time again, time for reading all about my latest weird pregnancy symptoms!

Trickle down urination---I have to confess to being one of those callous jerks that laughed throughout the Flomax commercials before I understood the shame that is light flow during urination. At that time, the horrible sounding side effects of the medication didn't seem worth it to achieve the thunderous gushes of urine flow that the commercials promised. But now I get it.

Picture it if you will, you're at work and you know you've got to go to the bathroom. But you keep putting it off and promising your bladder to relieve it after you just finish this one last thing...okay one more thing...just finish that one last task and you swear you will go to the bathroom. (Seriously, am I the only weirdo that refuses to pee until I'm on the brink of peeing my pants?) Anyway, when you can put it off no longer and your bladder is on the verge of explosion, you finally give in. And just as the sweet sound of relief is heard below, you realize it is not as sweet sounding as it once was. What should be torrents of water flowing out of you, inspiring you to think about the possibility of a bathroom-grade hydroelectric power plant, is barely a trickle. The amount of waste water that should be barely containable by the porcelain bowl beneath, in actuality could only fill the most delicate and tiny tea cup. It's sad folks. Peeing has become boring and anticlimactic. No wonder I put off doing it.

Spontaneous moles---This particular pregnancy symptom is probably the scariest to me for both valid health reasons and superficial vanity reasons as well.

First a quick memory that has nothing to do with anything really. Back when I was in school, there were two different substitute teachers that were cursed with some very protruding facial moles (I'm not talking the Cindy Crawford well-placed tiny mole here either). While these particular substitutes were not the nicest of ladies, I always secretly felt sad for them. At that age, I had all kinds of delightfully horrible skin to deal with, but at least acne is temporary (or so I was told by lying liars) and I could attempt to conceal it. So I knew all too well the havoc that facial skin flaws could wreak on a person's self esteem. Speaking of which, that magical clear complexion transformation I always expected on my eighteenth birthday never happened. What up skin? And why did you lie to me like that lying liars that lied and told me my bad skin was a phase? Anyway, my point is, even as a selfish teenager, I felt an odd kinship with these substitute teachers. We were both wearing our human flaws all over our faces for all to see and judge. At that point, it became a fear of mine that later in life i would develop protruding facial moles.

Spring forward sixteen years later to when I get pregnant and I realize moles really do just spontaneously appear (although only on my body so far). I understand that some of them go away after pregnancy, which I hope is the case. But it's a little freaky, especially given my fear of skin cancer from many years stupidly spent not wearing sunscreen and baking in the sun. Have you ever googled "skin cancer symptoms"? Yeah don't. I give in to the google demon a couple of times a year when I notice some new mark or dry patch and this spontaneous appearance of moles is not helping my phobia in the least. One thing is certain though. My kid will be bathed in sunscreen and will have a sun visor surgically attached at the head. Also if burkas come in infant sizes I may pick up one or two.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

33 is a double magic number

I was so wrong to say that getting out of bed yesterday would be a painful experience. It was much easier than I anticipated. We showered, threw on some warm layers, poured some hot tea in our cups, put the finishing touches on the huge vat of spaghetti we made for lunch for all the workers and packed up the Element. We arrived to find men already up on the roof of the house scraping off the decaying shingles and met Lynn, the kind soul that is organizing the effort to fix up this house for the elderly gentleman, Mr. Horton.

From what I understand, Mr. Horton recently suffered a heart attack, which led to the discovery of the living conditions he had been enduring for the last twelve years. Lynn was called in by the state to clean the house and since that time, she has made it her mission to make sure he returns to more livable circumstances.

Judging from the solid brick exterior, the house didn't seem to be that bad off. But once Lynn took us inside for a tour, it became very clear just how sad this story really is. A tree fell into the rear section of the house where two bedrooms and a bathroom are located. Because Mr. Horton inherited the house from his father and had no insurance, he had no way to pay for the necessary repairs. So in the last twelve years, the elements have slowly finished off the rest of the damage---from black mold covering the walls, to rust on the already ancient non-working appliances. The cast iron tub in the bathroom, the only slightly operable water source in the house, opened to the dirt ground beneath. And the toilet sitting nearby was precariously balanced on a pipe that connects it to the structure. Thinking back to it now, i have to remind myself that we toured the house after Lynn and her cleaning crew had already been through it with their brooms and detergents. I can only imagine what she saw the first day she arrived to clean it.

After the tour, Dave and I dug into work. We started demolition work on a caved-in carport structure beside the house with a small group of other volunteers. In three hours, we sorted through all of the old appliances and trash which went to the volunteered dumpster and separated the wood, which was thrown onto a burn pile. A couple of the brutes brought the carport walls down while the rest of us scavenged the ground for more trash and wood. Meanwhile, shingles rained down from the guys on the roof above. While there were not as many people as I had hoped, the eleven people or so that were there worked as a very efficient team. They really are a great group of people and I would gladly go work with them again. Next time, I just wish they would eat more spaghetti, because Dave and I are going to be eating the rest of this pasta for the next week. Here is a link to some pictures from the weekend. By the way, if anyone is still interested in donating either time or funds (or both!) to this project, it will be ongoing for some weeks. Please just send me an email and I'll happy pass along all pertinent info.

Today is the one year anniversary of us living in our new happy home. Our life really has changed in the last year. I can say for sure that I am a happier person now that we found the perfect house that pleases us both. I take actual pleasure in sweeping the leaves off the back deck while I enjoy the view. We now have neighbors that wave at us as we drive by, greet us as we take a walk and sometimes even drop by to bring us barbecue. I look forward to introducing our newest family member to this house and neighborhood next year. I'm sure it will be a wonderful place to build so many new memories.

Today is also my 33rd birthday, which is much less scary and depressing than I ever thought it would be when I was a teenager. Thanks to both mom and dad for bringing me into this world and not following up on their repeated threats to take me out of it. I have a good feeling about this new year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Counting blessings

This morning I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the snow that had fallen on the skylights above our bed. Seven years ago, I moved south in an effort to avoid as much of this snow phenomenon as possible, so I was surprised that I welcomed the sight of it this morning. Looking at those frozen ice crystals made me hunker down deeper into the soft sheets and appreciate the warmth and calm surrounding me. Slowly, a hand crept over my belly and laid down over my belly button attempting to cop a feel of the baby kicking inside. The hand was Dave's and I have a sneaking suspicion it will become a new accessory for my belly to wear over the next five months. 

Last night was the first time Dave was able to feel the thump thump thumping of the banana-sized person that lives in my bump.  I've only been sure of the kicking for about a week now, but each time Dave would assume the hand-on-belly position, the kicking would stop.  So I had no choice but to feed the kicking monster leftover Halloween candy to trigger those little feet.   

Now that the kicking is happening, it feels exactly like I expected it would.  I had heard people say it felt like popcorn popping in your belly or like the 80's candy Pop Rocks exploding in your abdomen. But no, it doesn't feel like that at all. Rather, it feels exactly like a baby kicking. Say there was a soft thing that is trapped inside of you and occasionally kicks you from inside of yourself. That is the most accurate description of what it feels like. No need to bring snack food into this, it is what it is. If you quickly poke yourself lightly on the stomach with your finger, it feels like that, except from the inside. Maybe try swallowing your hand first and try it again?

So as the mercury continues to drop and the baby continues to amaze us, getting out of bed each morning is only getting harder.  Tomorrow will be a true test of grit.  We're getting up early on a Saturday (!) and it's expected to be in the 20s outside.  We're going to spend the morning and afternoon helping to demo and rebuild a local elderly man's roof.  His house was badly damaged back in 1996 during Hurricane Fran and was never repaired.  It has since come to the attention of some local folks and tomorrow is the start of the process of fixing the damage.  I have a feeling it will be one of the most gratifying days to be involved with this project, because we will be repairing the roof damage and starting to seal the structure from the elements.  Considering the early onset of freezing temperatures this year, our timing couldn't be soon enough.  My motivation to get out of my yummy warm bed tomorrow morning will be thinking about a man that does not have that luxury.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Halfway Point

So we've made it to 20 weeks and all is well. That's five months for anyone at home keeping track of my days on the sobriety wagon. Granted, I've had some sips of wine and beer here and there, but nothing I'm concerned about. The challenge in the early days of pregnancy was getting over the ritual of my nightly glass(es) of wine. I have yet to come across any decent non-alcoholic wine alternative, so if anyone wants an idea that would surely make millions, there it is. There are a ton of wino women out there that have recently been knocked up and are undergoing withdrawal symptoms after having to give up alcohol cold turkey. Currently, their best alternative is non-alcoholic beer, and even that still has a small percentage of alcohol in it.

I'm reminded of our first appointment with the doctor when Dave asked him specifically about non-alcoholic beer and whether or not it was safe for me to drink with the low alcohol content (I believe it is 0.5%). The doctor, of course, gave the safe answer that doctors have to give to avoid senseless litigation later on. No, absolutely not. I could not have any non-alcoholic beer. I should not even make eye contact with mouthwash for that matter. And if i so much as smell alcohol on anyone's breath, I may as well have submerged my unborn child in bathtub gin. Okay, I'm embellishing a bit from memory. But the doctor's words felt so strict and foreboding and we were only asking him about non-alcoholic beer. Didn't he realize this was progress for me?

Fortunately, I lost my taste for both beer and wine in time. Every now and then, I'll pour myself a few tablespoons to sip on with dinner. But Dave regularly has to finish it for me. Same thing with coffee, the taste for it disappeared thankfully. I'm still amazed at the body's ability to protect itself from harmful substances when it needs to, as it is my opinion that these changes in my tastes are a baby defense mechanism of some sort. And in that sense, I hope this is a temporary change. Celebrating with fruit juice or water just isn't quite the same. Nonetheless, I'll raise my glass to the kid behind the belly button and toast the halfway point with a swig of milk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's post is brought to you by the number one

The bean is not so much the size of a bean anymore. There is a tiny human the size of an heirloom tomato or a can of red bull chilling out in my uterus. Although I’ve never had an heirloom tomato sit directly on top of my bladder before, I imagine it would feel a lot like this. Except my heirloom tomato has tiny feet that think my bladder is a soccer ball.

Apparently, the kid has a functioning bladder of it's own now and is actively peeing inside of me. That's kind of a strange thing to think about. I mean it would upset me a great deal if a person on the outside of my body peed on me (other than a child I should say, not that I encourage children to pee on me, but you know what I mean). But already I've given this kid a license to pee INSIDE of me! Wow, unconditional love is so real to me now. From what the doctor told me, they just pee right into the amniotic fluid they are surrounded in. I suppose it's a lot like peeing in a pool in that way. You would think that peeing in a pool would be a more acceptable practice considering we all begin life submerged in our own pee.

Along with being able to urinate, the bean can hear loud noises like my voice now too. And I can feel this little tot too. Not so much kicks yet, but I can feel the weight of it.

Perhaps we can all finally agree that life really starts when a fetus starts peeing and hearing. What I mean is, I don't think "life" starts as early as when two cells unite and not as late as when the pregnancy becomes viable around 6 months (per Roe v. Wade). See how I put life in quotes like that, pretty tricky huh? By life I don't just mean something that exists, but something that thinks, feels, hears and pees. Just a thought, but if we could all agree that life starts when an unborn child begins interacting with its in utero environment, we could probably save the world a whole lot of strife. I guess it's really just meeting half way between the two conflicting schools of thought on this. Who would have thought a compromise would be the answer and it would involve peeing! Wow, that was one hell of a segue---from pee to right-to-life issues.

Just a little disclaimer, I'm certainly not trying to express a well thought out opinion either way, as you may have noticed with my inclusion of pee to the discussion. Really, I just feel slightly ripped off that I will have carried this kid inside me for about nine months when it pops out, and then it's only 1 day old? Huh? Who did the math on that? Obviously, this mathematician was not a mother. I feel like this child should get credit for good behavior and time served---even if it's just half the time spent in womb.

Still sort of on the subject of ol' number one, I have to take a urine test every time I go to the doc. So as soon as I arrive, I sign in and immediately stand in line to wait my turn for the bathroom. For the record, I am a master urine test taker. If you've ever been ahead of me in line for a urine test, I want you to know that I am timing you with my mind when it's your turn. So no pressure. But you always take way too long. What are you doing in there anyway? Just to prove to you how long you took, I enjoy marveling everyone with my speed and efficiency of writing my name on and peeing in a cup as fast as womanly possible. In my mind, when everyone hears that door latch click open as I emerge from my test victorious, they all turn their heads and think, "that woman is the fastest urine test taker mine eyes have ever seen!" Actually, they probably question whether I have really washed my hands because how could I have done all of that in a mere minute? I know. It's amazing really. Any talent requires practice---years of grueling training, some tears and a lot of spare urine of course.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gender fender bender

Remember when I said that we were going to find out the baby's gender today?  Yeah, I lied about that unintentionally, of course. Apparently, I do not possess the mind control ability I thought I did. Our appointment was just for a general check-up, not a sonogram. No matter how cutesy I tried to be with the doctor, he was not persuaded by my lacking charms.  He explained that we needed to have a good reason to warrant him performing another ultrasound. Because research suggests they are not exactly good for the baby, doctors do not like to "throw them around" as the doc put it.  Thinking back to the lessons of Sarah Palin, I mustered all of my cuteness energy and gave him the only reason I could think of, "we need another ultrasound so we can tell our friends and family the gender?" Yeah, not so much a good medical reason.  Although the doctor kind of chuckled at my weak attempt to win his sympathy, he was not swayed.

So we can try again in the beginning of December when we rotate through to a different doctor at the OB practice.  That appointment will be a general check up as well, with no ultrasound. So odds are not exactly on our side for finding out the sex then either.  But fear not!  I have been thinking up some much better medical-sounding reasons why the new doctor will need to check the baby with a sonogram specifically:  1) I pooped out what appears to be a baby arm, but flushed before I could confirm it.  I think it is wise that we look at the baby through your magical baby box machine to confirm all the limbs are present.  2) I swallowed my cat last week and while I'm familiar enough with anatomy to know that my stomach and my uterus are separate.  I think we should confirm that the cat hasn't clawed her way into my womb.  She gets lonely.  

Otherwise, I may have to call up Tom Cruise.  I seem to recall he bought an ultrasound machine when Katie Holmes was pregnant.  I don't know, maybe he rents it out or something?  I'm open to any other suggestions.  

Otherwise, looks like we'll just have to old-school it, which is exciting right?  The silver lining is that Dave and I have more of a unisex style going on anyway, so this won't slow us down in getting the nursery ready or purchasing baby gear.  Although I was annoyed earlier today about not finding out, that had more to do with not being able to share the news with everyone.  Tonight, I feel fine not knowing until birth. Maybe I'm just getting better at brainwashing myself.  But for now, I'm just happy that I've got a healthy bean living in my belly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Start wearing purple

I'm not sure if anyone has heard, but there was an election yesterday and the new president elect of the United States is Barack Obama. Of course, like the rest of the country we stayed up last night tracking the results on the TV and computer. I was happy to see my home state of Pennsylvania turn blue. Especially after I saw some footage of about 300 students lined up at my Alma Mater, Penn State, first thing in the morning to vote. I'm hoping those students see the power of their vote and will feel encouraged to use their voice again in the next election. I am likewise tickled to see such a tight race here in North Carolina. While we may not be blue yet, I am thrilled with purple. And it's not about anybody "winning" that makes me happy. I think of the history of slavery and the fight for civil rights in North Carolina and I am humbled that this state is even close to overcoming those past transgressions. The fact that North Carolina is even purple proves to me that the tide has turned and anyone really can be president if they work hard enough. So if anyone is looking for a candidate in 2012, I'll be 35 by then...

John McCain impressed me last night. While I was sad for him, I appreciated his stoicism. He became the old John McCain I always liked. I have to wonder if there was a part of him that was relieved to be able to get back to who he really is. Maybe that sounds weird, but I saw a different man last night. And the only explanation I can think of for this change in him is that he was again following his own gut instead of some campaign strategist's gut. I think if John McCain had been John McCain throughout this two year campaign we would have seen some different numbers last night. During his speech, he struck me as sincere, respectful, humble and strong.

Less impressive were McCain's supporters present at his concession speech. I've only watched 2 other concession speeches for my candidates in 2000 and 2004, but I don't recall any booing from the crowd. Sure I recall a depressed mood and sullen faces, but I just don't remember any booing or yelling or chanting taking place during the speech. I was sad for those people that were booing; they were obviously not raised properly. Of course, I don't expect anyone that voted for McCain to be farting rainbows over the fact that Obama got elected. But at least try to be graceful over the defeat. We've all been defeated and you know what, we'll all be defeated again. Kind of like death and taxes, a little bit of defeat is something we can all count on.

I don't think Obama is going to save the world. I haven't "drank the kool-aid" as I've heard so many dismissive jackasses use the phrase. But I'm reading his book and this is a man I respect. This is a smart and thoughtful man that was raised properly. This is a man who could have easily pursued a high paying law job, but instead chose to serve his country---yes Rudy Giuliani, even in a "community organizer" capacity. This is a man who has time and time again chosen a road of sacrifice to do what he thinks is right, even if it is not the most profitable. John McCain has lots of these same qualities, in spades even. I can see that. A big difference between their campaigns though is that Obama inspires a sense of community rather than division. He would rather try to heal the country than wound it further with hate. He doesn't want to scare us into submission, he would rather give us some hope. Maybe it is only hope that he offers. And if that's the case, I need some of that right now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Give pee a chance

Well, it looks like the baby doesn't want to reveal its gender just yet. No dice during the ultrasound. Although the ultrasound tech did say that when the bean was shifting around, she saw something that would indicate a boy. I believe medically it is referred to as a pee pee. But she couldn't get the kid to move position when she went in for a closer look. The baby was sitting on its legs and no pee pee could be seen either way. I should also mention that during the two minutes the doctor spent with us that he gave his two cents as well. He said , "well if I had to guess, I'd say it's a girl." If I had to guess? What? No one is asking you to guess. Geez man, I hope you never have to diagnose anything more serious than the gender of a child. I can just hear it now, "well, if I had to guess you have a terminal disease and you'd best get started on your bucket list, like right now." We go back to the regular OB next Thursday and hopefully he won't just give us his best 50/50 hypothesis. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just go to a psychic.

But more importantly, the real reason for the Level 2 Sonogram was to look for any physical Down syndrome markers. According to the doctor, everything looked good and they didn't detect any abnormalities with the baby. While we are of course overjoyed at this news, I do wish the tech and doctor would have been more verbal with us during this process. I would have liked for them to tell us more specifically which marker they were looking for and what they found. The ultrasound tech just told us she was doing an anatomy scan and I didn't even realize she was looking for the Down syndrome markers at all. She kept saying that she wasn't going to do the measurements unless the doctor told her to (meanwhile, I thought the measurements were the markers, as many of them are measurements). Anyway, when the doctor then came in and told us everything was fine, I had to wonder if something had been miscommunicated between them. I mean this is the same doctor that "guessed" the baby was a girl. Of course I'm happy with the outcome, I just wish I felt more convinced of its validity. So I'm hoping that my regular doctor can better communicate exactly which markers the Duke doctors looked at and that will help to prove it to my brain.

In other news, Dave and I voted early this morning. We thought we would be smart and arrive to the polls right when they opened to avoid a line. Apparently, everyone else in the Triangle area had the same plan. We arrived at the community center down the road and there was already a line wrapped around the parking lot. All in all, it took us two hours to vote. And while that sounds like a long time, it was the best voting experience I've ever had. It was a beautiful morning and we stood in line with some good natured people and sipped our tea. Some of the local candidates or their spouses were on hand attempting to win some last minute support. Other volunteers from both sides walked up the lines handing out literature and voter help guides as well. The grassroots organization of this election has been outstanding. And no matter how this election turns out, it's refreshing to see such an impressive turnout. We heard today that 40% of registered North Carolinians have already voted. I'm interested in comparing that number of early votes to the total turnout from previous elections. Change is in the air, that's for sure.

Hmm, what else happened today? Oh yes, I peed myself earlier this evening. That's not something people admit to often I bet. Dave and I were folding baby clothes and diapers we've bought so far, when I sneezed. I was prepared for this to happen eventually, but I thought (hoped) it would hold off until later in my pregnancy. Of course, as luck would have it, I was wearing thin green stretch pants that immediately darkened. There's really no hiding it when you've peed yourself.

"Uhh, I just peed a little. It seems to happen when I sneeze every now and then, " I admitted.

"Nu uh!" Dave said. Why he thought I would lie about wetting myself I do not yet understand.

"No really," I clarified while turning around and pointing at the wet spot.

Dave fell to the ground laughing. Ahh, pregnancy is a never ending delight. After I stuffed the clothes, blankets and diapers into the newly painted dresser, I walked back into the soon-to-be nursery where we are storing all the items we've bought so far. I caught a whiff of something that made me think the kitty had possibly started marking her territory. Maybe with all of these new baby scents, the jig is up and she has been peeing in the room to claim it, I thought to myself. "Oh wait a second, that's just me."

Monday, October 27, 2008

We grow people

Dave and I have been joking that he is going through sympathy pregnancy along with me for the past couple of weeks. I like to put my hands on his belly and wait for the baby to kick or put my head to it and listen to the baby talk. After re-reading that sentence, it looks like we need to make more of an effort to leave our house every now and then. As it turns out, sympathy pregnancy is real---well, other than the growing a baby part. Per one of my weekly pregnancy emails, "it is not unusual for the nonpregnant half of a couple to share some of the symptoms of pregnancy with their babies' mothers, including weight gain, nausea, food cravings or mood swings."

When I first started noticing Dave's symptoms, I was a little worried for him. I found him curled up on the couch propped up on pillows and covered in blankets and cheesy puffs. He was on his laptop stalking the Craigslist baby sale items and watching the food network for the sixth straight hour.

"Soooooonyaaaaaaaaaaaa! Come quick!" He yelled from his throne.

Although I had been busying myself drilling random holes and stringing wire to create the ultimate speaker system, I dropped everything and waddle ran to him, "yes, my dear husband, whatever can I do for you?"

"Can you hand me the remote?"

The remote control was barely two feet in front of him perched on the ottoman next to the couch. He must have noticed me eyeing it while the blood rushed into my face because he then sputtered, "but the kitty fell asleep on my foot and I can't move or she will wake up!"

Realizing quickly that he was absolutely right as usual, I reached for the remote and handed it to him. "Do you need anything else? I'm getting ready to paint the driveway orange and I won't be able to hear you outside."

He looked up from his laptop and pointed at the television where Paula Dean was folding the contents of a tub of butter into some chocolate mixture, "the baby needs brownies."

Oh wait a second, never mind. Reverse those roles. I was getting us confused again (pregnancy brain you know.)

Anyway, I'm thankful that he does have some of these symptoms because I get more brownies out of the deal this way. Like last night around 9:00 all I had to do was whisper, "I love brownies." And he shot up like a rocket and fired up the mixer. Meanwhile I laid on the couch and convinced myself that I could feel the baby moving.

Unfortunately, what I was feeling was actually round ligament pain causing an involuntary spasm on my right side every few minutes. I'm not a doctor, but I play one on my blog. I have to laugh at myself for thinking that what I was feeling was the baby. In a way, it was a good coping mechanism for lessening the pain. But I have to laugh because those first baby movements are supposed to feel like butterfly flutters or popcorn popping. They are not said to feel like a sharp pain to the groin. Apparently, in my mind I have a miniature Bruce Lee growing inside of me trying to karate chop his way out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fish heads

I've been thinking a lot about some of the weird symptoms of pregnancy that surprised me. I mean, it is well documented that pregnant women eat a lot, gain weight, often develop swollen ankles and feet, become bipolar, etc. But some pregnancy peculiarities made less sense to me---the bloody noses and the gums that bleed from routine teeth brushing for example. I would think that all of my blood would be in great demand growing a person and circulating and whatnot. I didn't realize that my head would become engorged with blood and it would look for all possible means of escape.

Not at all a symptom of pregnancy, but I must mention the fish flavored burps. Enduring the reoccurring taste of fish is the price I will pay for wanting a smart kid. According to recent studies, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential for baby's brain and seem to give the baby an edge in terms of early development. Not that I want to be one of those mothers that becomes obsessed with my child being the smartest kid that ever there was! But if I can take some fish oil pills and that will maybe help my child, why not? So as soon as I found out the little brain was starting to develop back in the early stages of pregnancy, I googled "pregnancy brain food" because I like to keep my searches as scientific sounding as possible. That's when I learned about Omegas and after confirming this info with my doc, I went out shopping.

There are several types of fish oil supplements to choose from, a few of which scream from their packaging, "No Fish Burps!" Unfortunately, these came at a premium price and I am a bargain shopper. My flawed thinking went something like this: I like fish + I don't burp a lot = I will get the cheap ones. I have since learned there are few things I could burp that would be more disgusting than fish oil. Vomit is the only thing that comes to mind.

The gross factor seems to revolve around the fact that the brain knows that it has not consumed any actual fish recently. Also, being that I take all of my pills (5 total) first thing in the morning, fish burps at 8:00 am are not exactly savory. Not that the time of day would change my opinion on this matter very much. What's even worse is when I attempt to get something else in my belly to mask the taste of the fish burp, like say Fruity Cheerios. The futility of this is much like masking the odors found in a bathroom (see I didn't actually say poop in this post) with Hawaiian breeze scented air fresheners. It is as effective as a hippy masking the non-showering aspect of their lifestyle with cheap patchouli oil. The burping is still fishy with an artificial cherry finish; it is mellow but still complex, a bit chewy. Perhaps aged in a cardboard barrel that once held a dead fish?

Slowly I am transforming into one of those annoying people that announces they do not like fish because it tastes "fishy." I never quite understood it before, but now I get it. Those people have taken cheap fish oil supplements too. I bet their kids are geniuses though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

History repeating

Dear Baby,

You have picked a very eventful time in history to be born. Right now, you are about 4 months cooked and the world is in the middle of an economic crisis. The cost of food is rising. Unemployment is rising. People are losing their homes; some are victims of circumstance and some were greedy and made decisions they did not understand. The US is fighting two wars overseas (your uncle is currently back in Iraq, but he'll be getting out by the time you are born). Banks, insurance companies and brokers are shutting their doors or being bailed out by the government. People that have saved money all their lives in hopes of retiring soon, may have to put off retirement because their investments have lost so much value. In a recent poll, 89% of Americans think this country is headed in the wrong direction.

But don't worry too much about all that because there are some positive improvements happening as well. People are starting to become more responsible---for their impact on the earth, for the gas they consume, for the waste they produce, for the water they waste. They are striving to become more efficient, in an effort to conserve what we have. More and more people are growing their own food and getting back to basics like sewing and carpentry. Generally speaking, people are starting to become more self-aware and less selfish in their decisions. I guess we are all worried about the future and that is driving us to be better. No one wants to be part of the problem when they can be part of the solution. Most exciting of all, we are exactly 2 weeks away from electing a new president in the US.
Your father would like to add, "the good news in all of this is that there is a lot of positive energy and a lot of people in this country that are hoping to turn this country around in a more positive direction." He just attended a rally and James Taylor concert in downtown Raleigh today, and "came away with a very good feeling about our chances on making a difference in where our country is headed on election day."

As of right now, it looks like the US will elect the first black man in history to be president of the United States. His name is Barack Obama. And your father and I are very excited by the possibility that he will win, although the election is not over yet. Regardless, I am starting to worry for this man and his family. I'm afraid there are some people in the country that not only do not want Obama to be elected, but they are also making threats against him. You see, these people have the wrong idea about Obama. They have been told that Obama has terrorists for friends and they blindly accept this as fact. These mistaken people think that Obama is a Muslim, an Arab, a Socialist---all sorts of things they have deemed terrible. I can't imagine how much this must hurt good people that are Muslims, Arabs or Socialists to hear these modifiers being thrown around like insults. I'm frightened that obviously ignorant people armed with misinformation and driven by anger will do something rash. Essentially, these people are transforming into zealots, much like the zealots they hate so much in other cultures. They rightly despise the people in the Middle East that scream "death to America", while they themselves yell "off with his head" at a domestic political rally. So let this be the first lesson to you baby, do not blindly believe things that people tell you---especially politicians and people on TV. Always check the facts before you act on anything.

Look kid, none of this is meant to scare you. As a wise man once said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I just think it's good for you to know the world that you were born into. I hope by the time you can read and comprehend this, that the world has improved for the better. I hope from the vantage point of the future, you can look back on 2009 as the year everything changed. In the meantime, your father and I are trying to do everything in our power to support the most rational and thoughtful course of action as possible to secure your future.

The people who fed you cake last night

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letter in the mailbox

Dear Emily,

Thank you for your letter and lovely drawing of all of us. I hope you don't mind me posting them up here, but they made me smile so much that I had to share them with everyone. I don't think a letter has ever made me laugh so hard and that's saying a lot, because I know some very funny people.

So to answer your question about whether the baby will be a girl or a boy, we are not sure right now. Which one would you prefer? Let me know and I'll see what I can do. For example, if you want it to be a boy, I'm pretty sure if I eat nothing but hotdogs until I go to the doctor, I can still make the baby be a boy. Likewise, if you want the baby to be your niece, I could eat nothing but blueberry muffins for a couple of weeks. Don't worry about it either way, I like both hotdogs and blueberry muffins enough to give this a try so you get the baby you want. I can't say for sure whether it will work of course, but it's worth a try!

We will go back to the doctor the day before Halloween to find out if you get a niece or a nephew. I might need you to do me a favor on that day to help us out though. I need you to keep your fingers and legs crossed as much as possible on that day. And maybe I'm making this up, but my thinking is that if you are crossing as many of your body parts as possible, then that will mean the baby will UN-cross its legs so we can see what it is. You see, the baby is the one that has to let us know if it has boy parts or girl parts. And since you are the closest family member to the baby in age, you're the only one that can do this job for us. Let me know if you think you can take on this challenge. You do have to promise me that it won't affect your schoolwork though---so no telling the teacher you can't write because you have to keep your fingers crossed or anything. Just keep the other hand crossed and that will be enough.

On Halloween, I'll be sure to post the answer here, along with more photos. Only two more weeks of waiting!

Much Love,
Your Sister

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Toilet humor

Sooner or later, I knew it would come to this. I've eluded to it before, but now is the time to just be frank. I can't poop anymore. Okay, I CAN, but it....takes a lot longer than it used to. Long ago, my secret pride was my efficiency in this area. As a matter of fact, I have lived with people that were convinced I did not possess the pooping function. Being pregnant is a different story though---I have no tact anymore. I now proudly announce to my husband when I have successfully gone to the bathroom such is my excitement. Perhaps I am just preparing for the inevitable pooping on the table during labor, so this is just my way of gaining momentum for that big event.

This is kind of a gross subject I realize. But part of my purpose in writing this blog is to document my pregnancy, so I will never do this to myself again (I'm joking! I think). But I see a lot of moms out there that do not remember much of their pregnancy and I want to remember all these little details---even the horrible constipation. Why? Because I think it's funny and so should you.

Still though, I remain shy and private about the actual process. So fear not, I will not show up at your house and poop on the new rug in your living room or anything. What I mean is I'm shy when I'm in a public bathroom, which can be difficult considering the amount of time it now takes to work things out. Unfortunately, the bathrooms are shared between all of the offices at my work, so there are constant interruptions when business is being conducted in one of the stalls. And women, in particular, have a hilarious way of dealing with business interruptions---we freeze until the intruder exits the facility. Not all women live by this code of course, but I always thought that at the very least we all understood it.

Fortunately, we have fantastic music piped into our office bathrooms. The new property managers have even switched the station from classical to jazz. And while I admit I miss the thrill of peeing along to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, it always felt a little wrong. I don't think he created such a powerful song to entertain the modern worker as she relieved herself. The switch to jazz makes me feel more relaxed and hip about going to the bathroom though. Plus there is no more fitting place for the scat singing of a jazz vocalist than in a bathroom. Ahh, scatological humor warms the soul.

So today, I found myself in an extended stay situation in the bathroom enjoying some Ella Fitzgerald tunes when a stranger walks into the stall right beside mine. As it is my duty as a woman and out of respect for this stranger, I freeze. It occurs to me she probably notices my feet and therefore has a good idea of what's going on. Either that or she thinks I've fallen victim to Elvis Presley's fate. Regardless, I pass the time thinking about why it might be that I am so constipated. Is it that I am living solely off of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup? Or is it that the baby is getting lonely and has taken comfort in hugging my intestines, thereby making it impossible for me to pass anything?

I hear the toilet beside me flush and she exits the stall to wash and dry her hands. Once finished, rather than leave the bathroom like a normal person, she (let's call her Sherlock to protect the innocent) doubles back to the last stall, where I am. I want to yell out, "ummm, can I help you?" or "did you lose a contact?" but all I can think about is the fact that I have chosen the only stall with a non-locking latch. There is another door that leads to a shower, but you have to know the code to get in. I hear the beep beep of her hitting random numbers because apparently she has lots of time on her hands and enjoys torturing me. And then I hear the creak as the door to my stall lurches forward towards me. With the reflexes of a fat ninja, I thrust my hand forward and the door slams back in the closed position while I emit a long, "geeeeeeeeeeeez." I wish I could have thought of something better to say. Sherlock replies, "uhhh sorry" and quickly rushes out the door.

I realize nothing exciting happened during this story, but I'm still trying to figure out why she opened the door to my stall when there were 3 other empty stalls in the bathroom (not to mention she had already gone to the bathroom). Was she a peeper? Did she think I was dead? I suppose I will never know. But the moral of the story is, if you fear the person in the stall beside you is dead, simply call out to them, "hey you in there, this is going to sound like a strange question, but you wouldn't happen to be dead would you?" If they don't reply, then and only then should you proceed with a visual inspection of the stall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A womb with a view

We had a fantastic experience with Duke Perinatal last week, even though I was not far enough along to have the full Level 2 Ultrasound. First, they sat us down with a genetic counselor and spoke much more in depth about our nuchal translucency test results. Just to recap, the baby's measurements were good it was my blood work that messed up our results. The counselor also told us that our Trisomy 13/18 screening (a more serious condition than downs) came back with great numbers.

I think this was our longest ultrasound yet. And can I just say that Duke's facility is posh---warm jelly posh! They even have a monitor set up on the wall opposite the gurney I was laying on so Dave and I could watch in comfort. I'm making it sound like I normally get my sonograms done by a crazy homeless man in the woods huh?

In other news, someone needs to stop me from making crack cocaine jokes during my ultrasound when the tech remarks on how hyper the baby is. I think this is related to my habit of making heroine jokes while blood is being drawn, such is the pride I take in how prominent my veins are. But the crack joke during the ultrasound, I've done it twice now. I think I need some new material.

Most exciting news of all is that we have a better idea of the baby's gender now. Nothing is carved in stone and we haven't slapped paint on the nursery walls or anything, but we have a real indication. And for now it will remain a well guarded secret until we can confirm at the end of October.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Luck be a baby

After a strange turn of events, I have an appointment for a Level II Ultrasound that I didn't schedule. I'm guessing there was a conversation between the doctor and some nurses that I was not present for and they went ahead and scheduled an appointment for me for today. I found out about it yesterday and was trying to explain to them that this was not my idea and I wanted to understand how this appointment came to be. The nurse said that the doc recommended it, so there's no arguing with that. Plus, Dave and I would never pass up an opportunity to see the bean. I will update as soon as I can---everyone keep as many body parts crossed as possible!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gambling the odds

Amazing what a difference 24 hours can make. One of my coworkers, whose wife is also pregnant came into my office and asked me how I've been feeling lately. Although I normally don't get into specifics, today I decided to share my testing info because of his recent experience with this stage of pregnancy. They apparently decided not to do any testing at all because they knew they could never abort, so what was the sense? I now wish we had followed that route too after getting back our results that put us at greater risk, and will therefore cause more worry. But I told him we were trying not to stress too much because the odds are still on our side.

"Pick a number between 1 and 86," he said.
"Seventy-two," I quickly replied.
"See, that wasn't my number," he confirmed, "your odds are better than you think."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snuff out the worry

So this parenting thing is already proving to be quite a challenge in terms of tough decisions that need to be made. I got a call from the doc yesterday that our nuchal translucency screening came back abnormal. Based solely on age, most 32 year old women would have a 1 in 435 chance of having a child with downs syndrome. And while the baby's measurements during the ultrasound were good, my blood work came back with abnormalities. The doc said that my stats are now that of a 41 year old or our child has a 1 in 86 chance of having downs syndrome.

But these are just the results of the screen and false positives (frankly a misleading term since we are talking about a screen and not an actual test) are common. The tough decision though is where to go from here? The doctor warned us before we started the screening process that if we were to get a positive result from the screen, it was unlikely we would get off this ride without further testing. So we can decide to proceed with further testing, a CVS or a amniocentesis, which are both invasive tests and have a low risk of causing miscarriage. Or we can do nothing and simply live with the heightened risk.

The question I have to ask myself is what would we want to do if the amniocentesis came back with a positive result? Would we want to abort like 90% of parents that get a positive result? Would we still proceed with the pregnancy? I can say that my instinct tells me I would choose to keep the child, but it's not my decision alone. And I think this would prove to be a more difficult decision based in reality than it is hypothetically. We all want to think we would do the "right" thing, but do we really have the courage to do it?

As of right now, I do not want to proceed with further testing and Dave seems to be in agreement. We live with the heightened risk and snuff out the worry. Who knew the path was going to split on us this early and we'd have to start picking our way through the maze. At least the idea of picking out the "perfect" baby gear now seems so inconsequential. In that sense, I am very thankful to god for giving us some perspective.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

3-D Bean

Dave and I went to the doc for a nuchal translucency screening to test for any chromosomal abnormalities yesterday. Our numbers look good, which is a relief.

I'm already impressed with how well behaved our little person is. At first, the bean was squirming away from the doc and I was thinking we might either have to put off the testing or just not test at all. But once the doc started calling the baby names like, " little turkey," the bambino started cooperating. So note to self: when trying to get this kid to do what you want, call it harmless bird-related names. Also, note to baby: show us your private parts at the end of October ok? It's very hard to think of multiple ways to say "genderless baby" without calling you an "it". Don't make me pull out my bird identification book!

But even greater news than that is that the bean has two arms and two legs! Our little fetus has an intact abdominal wall and skull and a little bum! These are the clearest images we've seen in three ultrasounds, so it was a very exciting day indeed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This little bump o' mine

I really need to stop reading the blogs of other pregnant folk. I cannot read about one more woman that is still LOSING weight when she's over 12 weeks pregnant, while I've gained about 8 pounds. I know, I know it's my own folly for even comparing my pregnancy to anyone else's and don't get me wrong, I'm really not that upset about it. I just don't look forward to my OB appointment on Wednesday where I ask the nurse weighing me if it's acceptable to remove all of my clothing before she weighs me. Maybe I should just show up donning the paper napkin robe, that way no one has to feel like I am asking them a loaded question. And maybe the other patients would just think my paper wardrobe showed how ultra-prepared or time-efficient I was about my prenatal visits. The only judgment I am actually concerned about is my doctors of course. The last time I saw him, I stupidly asked him about my weight gain, "it's not too much is it?" He studied my chart for a moment, "well, at least we know it won't be a problem if you need to gain some weight later on."

One of my friends that has two little girls wrote me the other day and said she loves being pregnant because it makes her feel sexy (hi E!). I am envious, as I do not feel this way. Having spent my adult life trying to eat as healthy as possible so as not to gain weight, I'm having a hard time seeing the numbers climb higher and higher on that digital scale every morning. And why did I insist on asking Santa for a scale that tracked my body mass index as well? Just what kind of a sadistic jerk was I last year anyway? Answer: a skinny one.

For the record, I am sympathetic to the pregnant lasses out there that are losing weight because they have repeated second viewings of anything they put in their mouth. I haven't really had morning sickness involving actual vomit and I know I'm lucky (even if someone did once tell me that meant my baby wasn't thriving...umm thanks?) I've only had general nausea, food aversions and heightened olfactory sensitivity (huh?). The only thing I can do to help keep my queasiness at bay is to shove more pie into my pie hole. But I do not see the pie again, as a matter of fact my body doesn't want to let go of that damn pie at all. If you're picking up what I'm putting down...

But I'm really not that sensitive about the weight gain. I just don't want to have to read of another preggo chick in a fit of "woe-is-me I just CANNOT seem to gain weight! Why does my stomach still look like a washboard!" Oh boo hoo. Come on, don't ask for my sympathy if you're so obviously tickled that you don't look like you've swallowed a dozen donuts whole.

In other funny news, I walked into the living room last night wearing my oscar the grouch pajama pants and a black sports bra with my belly hanging all kinds of out. Dave shoots me his wide-eyed look of absolute alarm and said, "I think you swallowed the kitty." I pointed to where Luna was plotting her escape at the sliding glass door to the deck, "nu-uh, she's right there," I said while sucking in a small portion of my bump. "Then I think you swallowed the turtle," he said. At least laughter burns calories.