Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No news is... no news

We had our weekly appointment this morning. It was bumped up a day because the office will be closed on Friday for New Year's. And, though I had certainly hoped that all those twinges and practice contractions were actually a sign of progress, I remain at 2 cm dilated with a lot of thinning out left to do. Darn.
The good news -- baby is fine as frog hair, there's no rush because I'm "low risk" (I still can't believe that's how they classify me) and though my doctor said I look like I'm carrying a giant baby because I'm so big up front -- he's actually just an average size. So we wait.
We go back on Monday and my doctor hinted that if I want to be induced next week, he would consider it but only if my cervix is "ideal." If not, being induced can lead to the dreaded C-section, so if the choice is mine, I will certainly choose to wait.
My parents and my sister and my niece all have their plane tickets now. I had hoped to have some time with just me, Greg and the baby before they get here to sort of figure some things out and try to get some breastfeeding experience. But, that might not happen and I have to be OK with whatever happens. This is something that's simply out of my control.
I am slightly more uncomfortable each passing day, but this baby seems utterly content in his home (small as it might be right now). So, we are hoping he will come sooner rather than later, but we are trying to be patient at the same time.
As for the great name debate -- we are still stuck. Today, I offered a compromise -- Daniel Carter. And Greg said -- I'll give you Carter Daniel. And I said, I'll think about it.
Obviously, I am weary and I feel myself inching closer to waving the white flag -- or sock or whatever else I can find within arms reach -- in surrender. Who would have imagined that Greg would have a stronger will than me? Him with his laidback, easy come easy go personality and me with my opinionated, stuborn, have to be right all the time personality. Odd.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

38 weeks... just waiting



Here I am at 38 weeks. Don't you love how Brody poses for the camera? He is well trained in that regard.
Our appointment this week went very well. We had the ultrasound to check the baby's size and other things like the amniotic fluid level. All was well. I was a little disappointed that we didn't really get to see the greatest pictures, but with the baby being so big now, the view is very limited. The technician said the baby weighs about 7 pounds, but Dr. Carter said those estimates are usually a little high so he guessed about 6 lbs. 10 oz.
I haven't really made a lot of progress since last week -- about 2 cm dilated and cervix is still soft but not very thin yet. The baby's head is very low and he's in good position. In fact, Dr. Carter said he could touch the baby's head, which made me a little jealous I have to admit. I had been worried about what would happen if I go into labor over Christmas weekend because I really want my doctor to be there. I found out yesterday that my doctor is on call Christmas Day, which was a relief.
So, we wait and we go back on Tuesday.
I've been having lots of contractions -- nothing regular, but exciting nonetheless. My mom and dad will be coming Jan. 11. I finally won the argument and got them to agree to fly instead of drive. I don't think they have any business on the road for 16 hours at their age -- 72. And, I think riding with my dad (who is a scary driver) for that long might shave some years off my mother's life. I always say, the scariest part of going home is not the flight. It's the hour-long ride from the airport to my parents' house with my dad at the wheel.
Plus, all that driving time would take away from time they could be spending with me and the baby. So, I found a great deal on tickets this week and finally won the battle.
Dr. Carter said he would not let me go past Jan. 10. So, right now the plan is to wait it out, but if we go past our Jan. 6 due date, we can take a look at the situation and determine if we want to induce. I have been opposed to induction because I really wanted my body to do its thing on its own, but I am willing to consider it if I go past my due date or if I'm 3 or 4 cm dilated.
The name debate continues at our house. We joked yesterday that we hoped the baby would be holding a sign with his name on it on the ultrasound. No such luck. Last night we sat down with our lists and our books and had a serious conversation. My favorite is Daniel. Greg's is Carter. I told him it looks like neither of us is going to get our favorite, so we might as well cross those off the list and move on to the names we actually agree on, which right now are Samuel and Andrew. But, Greg wasn't willing to do that. So, as long as Carter stays at the top of his list, Daniel will stay at the top of mine. Who knew this would be so difficult? I really wanted our baby to have a name before he was born. I don't want to feel like we made a decision under pressure. And, I definitely wanted to finish this art project I've been working on for his nursery. But I need a name to do so!
Guess that's all the news for now. The car seat is installed. The bags are packed. And, I guess I'm about as ready as one can be for the adventure that awaits. My desire to hold this little one in my arms grows stronger every day. I hope he doesn't make his Mama wait too long!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pop?

Today, when I stopped by the store to give my former co-workers their Christmas goodies, one of them said "you look like you are about to POP!"
That was the first time anyone has said that to me. I just smiled and said "Well, I haven't popped yet!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

37 weeks



Here I am at 37 weeks. Don't fret, I wore a sweater out in public to cover up that huge badonkadonk. I just took it off to get a good picture of this big ol bump. I wish that we had waited a while longer to get our maternity photos done, now that the bump has finally taken the shape that you expect. But, I am happy with the way that the pics turned out, so I won't complain too much.
We had our first weekly appointment on Wednesday. I'm dialted about 1.5 cm and my cervix is soft but not thinned. The baby has dropped (which I already knew) and is in good position. Best of all -- we get an ultrasound next week to determine just how big this boy is. A couple of months ago, Dr. Carter said we probably would not get another ultrasound unless we wanted to pay for the 4D. No thanks, those things creep me out a little. So we haven't gotten an inside look at our little one since August. I'm pretty excited to see him again!
Dr. Carter said he is guessing the baby is already 7 or 7.5 pounds. Yikes! I told Greg, I hope that doesn't mean that my dream last year is going to come true. In the dream, baby boy Rowan was 9 pounds! While the baby is growing like a weed, I had only gained one pound in the last two weeks, thank you very much! I was so relieved to see that number!
Dr. Carter said he doesn't expect me to have the baby within the next week, but I am making some progress. He said I should start to see some spotting and other unusual stuff in the next week or so as my cervix thins.
I can't believe we are so close already. I woke up in the night scared that we won't be able to find a name for the baby even after he is born. I've asked my husband to please reconsider the name Daniel (after my dear cousin who died) but he has been against that name for several reasons from the start. I am just hoping he'll get into the Christmas giving spirit and surrender.
So on our must do list this weekend -- install the car seat! I've got my stuff and the baby's stuff packed, but I think Greg should probably throw a change of clothes in there for good measure even though the hospital is literally three minutes away from our front door. I have a feeling he isn't going to want to leave to come home after this party starts.
It has been so wonderful to see two BFPs on my reading list this week! I'm praying that your pregnancies are as uneventful and joyous as mine has been. What a miracle!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peace of Mind

We met with a prospective pediatrician today. Our prospects were somewhat limited due to our insurance. So, I made a few calls and got an appointment with a doctor that my OB once mentioned in passing. Dr. S conducts prenatal interviews during lunch, while the office is closed, so we visited with her in her office. We had an appointment last week, but it was cancelled after Dr. S had a family emergency. So, I showed up like the books advise, with a list of questions in hand. But, as it turned out, I didn't really need them.
I'm pretty sure Dr. S has read all the books. She answered all our questions before I could even ask them.
Her office is in the same building as the hospital, exactly like Dr. Carter's office. That means, when our baby is born, she or one of her associates if it's on her day off, will be right over to examine our little one. I like that.
I also like the fact that Dr. S is a mother of two and she splits the week up with another doctor. That tells me that family is important to her and that is important to me. Well-baby visits are scheduled on the days she is there. If the baby is sick and you need to be seen on a day that she's off, the doctor she splits her week with will be there. So, that seems very reasonable. The office is open on Saturday and Sunday for sick appointments. Infants are taken back to exam rooms as soon as they arrive in the clinic, even though they have sick and well waiting rooms.
And, the best part of our time with Dr. S -- she is a breastfeeding expert. Not only is she a doctor who supports breastfeeding, she is a doctor who breastfed both of her children until for one year and you have to admire a woman who can do that.
When I told Dr. S that I hope to breastfeed, her entire face lit up and she told me breastfeeding is her passion. Educating women about breastfeeding has been one of her personal missions as a doctor. In fact, she normally conducts the breastfeeding class that we went to (you'll remember the instructor was crass and not exactly tactful) but she was out of town that month. I told her I wish we could have gone to one of her classes and when she found out who our instructor was, she made a face and said something to the effect of "she will not be teaching anymore classes at this hospital." (There are three campuses of this hospital in our area and apparently, the lunch lady is not welcome at our campus anymore.)
She also said that our hospital has three lactation consultants who she adores and they are "absolutely nothing like" the lunch lady. Sweet relief.
So, overall, I was very happy with our visit with Dr. S. I admit I was somewhat nervous going into it, but she put us at ease immediately. And, when I found out how passionate and knowledgeable she is about breastfeeding, well, I was certain we had found the right doctor. I feel so much better now that I've actually met our baby's doctor and I feel like if (maybe I should say when?) I encounter problems with breastfeeding, she'll be there to help guide me through.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Final Vinyl Days

That's the title of a collection of short stories by Jill McCorkle, who is one of my favorite writers. I got to meet her once. I even had lunch with her (and about 20 other journalists and professors) and I was too chicken to speak. I just sat there with a goofy grin on my face and stared at her.
But I digress. That's not the point of this post, even though one could do much worse than a post about Jill McCorkle.
The reason I titled the post Final Vinyl Days is because that phrase has been popping up in my head over the last couple of days as I think about how soon this pregnancy will be over. We are at 36 weeks today and I have no idea whether this little one is going to make his debut a little early or settle in for a long winter's nap and be overdue.
What I do know is that these final days are so precious -- every movement, every hiccup, every time this baby jabs my ribs or pounds on my bladder or my cervix -- reminds me of how short my time is getting. Though I cannot wait to see my son and hold him and nurture him and start our lives together, there is something so magical about pregnancy that, despite the discomfort I sometimes feel, I am sad to see it go.
Knowing that this very well may be my only pregnancy, I have tried to savor each moment. I've been lucky, I guess. No morning sickness, no strange cravings, no stretch marks (yet), no hemorrhoids, no back pain. My baby has taken it easy on his Mama and that has helped make this pregnancy a remarkably peaceful and happy time.
As much as I am looking forward to this baby's birth, I am not really looking forward to not being pregnant anymore. Does that sound strange? I waited so long for this and the time just passes so quickly. People keep saying to me "I'm sure you are ready," or "I bet you're miserable." But truth be told, I'm not.
I am still simply enjoying the ride. Maybe that will change in the coming weeks and I'll be begging my body to begin the process of getting this baby out of my uterus and into my arms. But for today, at least, I'm perfectly content to watch his little rear end move across my abdomen, to listen to my husband talk to the baby in a very deep voice as if he's channeling James Earl Jones and to rub this giant lumpy bump (which by the way, isn't so lumpy anymore -- where does the fat go exactly?).
So, though I have only a couple of pairs of pants and shirts that actually still fit, and though it's obvious the baby is running out of room in there, I am still loving every minute of this journey.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Stones were right

I was reading Trinity's post this morning over at Three is a Magic Number about her annual Lick Off, where she and her hubby invite all their closest friends (and their yummiest dishes) over for a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner. It sounded so yummy and so beautiful and it made me a little homesick for the traditions we had with our friends back in Italy.
My friend Anna (you might remember I've written about her before -- (bravely battled cancer, stood by me through two failed IVFs and is now pregnant right along with me)recently posted on facebook that she was cooking up a Hanukkah feast and that made me feel sad. Every year when we lived in Italy, Anna invited us over for latkes, brisket and challah and I would do my best to make something that was relevant (even though I am not Jewish) and I finally got it right when I made raspberry jam filled cookie balls. After dinner we'd watch Dorian open one of his Hanukkah presents and play Scrabble. It was simple and intimate and just wonderful.
That special dinner was the first of many little holiday traditions we came to love during our time in Italy. We always visited a Christmas market either in Italy or Austria. We always went to the Christmas tree lighting in our town's piazza where we ate fried dough and drank mulled wine. My spouses group would always have a "girl's night out" party and cookie exchange. We attended Greg's squadron and flight Christmas parties. We spent Christmas Eve with another infertile couple. Michelle would make stuffed pasta shells with her killer secret sauce and then we'd head to the nearest decent sized city where we walked around the Christmas Eve market and watch all the beautiful Italians talk and eat and drink. And, though Christmas Day was always sort of lonely because I missed my family, Greg and I had our own little traditions that made it special. And, then the day after Christmas, all our friends would come over to our house, left overs in tow and we'd feast again and then head up the mountain to ice skate and have hot chocolate so thick you have to eat it with a spoon. It was really a magical time and I miss it.
But this is a magical time as well. Not because of where we live or the friends we have (or don't have). This is magical because of this pregnancy. It makes me think of another miracle pregnancy. Being a Christian, I often think of the story of Jesus' birth. Poor Mary "great with child" riding on a donkey and giving birth in a barn.
Anyway, I'm starting to veer from the point of this post, which is this -- when we lived in Italy, we were surrounded by friends who we considered family. We shared wonderful traditions with these friends and every day was magical and adventurous. Then, we moved here to Shreveport, La. and though we have our beautiful house, we have yet to find any friends who count as family and our Christmas traditions are pretty pitiful. Yet, we have this pregnancy and all the joy that it brings and each day brings us closer to meeting our son and seeing his face and starting our new journey as parents.
Maybe the Stones were right. You can't always get what you want. Sometimes, you get what you need. When we were living in Italy in the lowest points of our infertility journey, we were surrounded by the love and support of dear friends and we were buoyed by them and they helped us maintain our sanity and still enjoy our lives even though our hearts were heavy and lonely for a child.
Then, we moved here and we found Dr. V and we got this against-all-odds FET pregnancy and all the joy it has brought, yet we don't have the friendship we'd hoped to find, but maybe we didn't need those types of friendships anymore.
This Christmas represents the start of new traditions for us. Next year, even though my husband is likely to be deployed in Afghanistan, I'll get to start our own family traditions with our son. And, all those traditions we had in Italy will pale in comparison to the years to come.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Filled with Thanksgiving (and lots of other good stuff)



Here we are on Thanksgiving Day. We are two very grateful people.

On Friday, after we had blueberry pancakes and before I went to work, we were enjoying some lazy cuddle time. Greg was rubbing my belly, waiting for any baby movements and I was thinking of how blessed we are right now.
"Honey, we're going to have a baby.... Can you believe it?" I said.
"I do now," Greg said, laughing and looking at this giant lumpy bump.

It was another one of those little moments that I treasure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nearly 34 weeks, can you believe it?

Here we are on the eve of 34 weeks and I will say it again, time is passing so quickly. I keep reading that time slows to a crawl near the end of pregnancy, but so far I have not experienced that. In fact, for me it has been the opposite. Maybe that will change when I quit working and have a lot of time on my hands. For now, I'm still waddling around Talbots about 20 hours a week. That changes next week when my hours are trimmed back to about 15 and then after that, well, I'm still undecided. I think I'll be done. Work really wears me out these days!
My nephew Nathan is still hospitalized, still struggling each day with severe pain and most recently, dangerously low levels of sodium. He was moved to the neurology ward and we are waiting to hear if the treatment is working. It is so difficult to be so far from home right now, with Nathan injured and hospitalized and Thanksgiving a couple of days away.
This will not be my first Thanksgiving away from home. At this point, I'm a veteran. The first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked was for 22 people. Trial by fire. This year's feast will be relatively easy with only one other couple coming to join us. I had thought about not inviting anyone and just enjoying Turkey Day with Greg since he's not likely to be with us next year during the holidays due to his pending deployment. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how absolutely lonely that would be. So, in the middle of the night last week after one of my many trips to the bathroom, I told Greg to go ahead and invite our friend Anthony and his wife. We have so much to be thankful for this year and it will be nice to have someone here to share in that.
In pregnancy news, well, I am huge. At least, I feel huge. Everyday it seems the lumpy bump continues to stretch (but no stretch marks yet, knock on wood) as this baby continues to grow. I have gained a total of 27 pounds. Yikes. My goal was to stay under 30 pounds but I think that is a bit unrealistic at this point. Maybe I can stay under 35.
Today, I made an appointment to meet with a pediatrician. I have to admit, I feel a bit uncomfortable "interviewing" a doctor but I want to make sure I make a good choice for our son.
Our nursery is pretty much done, except for a few small finishing touches. I love the way it has turned out. I still feel like I have a lot to do to prepare for our little guy, and sometimes my mind can't seem to stop making lists. But I know it will all get done and if not, that's OK too.
With Christmas fast approaching, I feel like I need to go ahead and get all my shopping done just in case this baby decides to arrive early. Plus, who wants to deal with all the crowds and craziness when they are nine months pregnant? Not me!
The heartburn is getting worse with each passing week. Seems like every night I end up sleeping at least a few hours on the couch where I can get the pillows just right and elevate my upper body enough to help alleviate the burn. It is a sad thing when water gives you heartburn.
And, even in all this happy baby joy, that same old dread still lurks, as evidenced by a horrible nightmare that had me crying and screaming in my sleep with Greg trying his best to wake me and convince me it was just a dream. When I finally realized that I was at home, safe and sound in my bed -- I immedately reached for my belly, somewhat unsure if my baby was still there or if the dream was real.
"You're OK," Greg said. "The baby is OK." And, like he knew Mama needed some reasurrance, our baby started to move right on cue. Such is the life of an infertile pregnant woman, I suppose.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An emotional week


I don't want to scare you with the title of this post -- all is well with the baby and with me. We had an good visit with our doctor this week and everything looks good, strong heartbeat, continued growth and all that good stuff.
But, it has been a tremendously difficult week for me and Greg as we found out Sunday night that my 18-year-old nephew, Nathan, (that's him in the picture above when he visited us here in Louisiana over the summer)was in a very serious car accident and was life-flighted to Duke University Hospital for treatment. He is recovering now and is showing signs of improvement, despite a few set backs. But he remains a broken boy with a long road ahead of him.
We got the call on Sunday night as we were eating dinner. Greg talked with my niece and she gave him what little information she had. I knew it was bad news from the tone of Greg's voice and the questions he was asking. My first thought was that my mom was sick again, but Greg mouthed to me "Nathan," and my heart just sunk. I asked "is he OK?" and Greg just shook his head, "no." When he hung up the phone and I heard the words "life flight" I just lost it. I immediately went to our room to pray. It's times like these when being so far away from home is most difficult. There is no fast way to get from Northwest Louisiana to central North Carolina at that time of night. You could drive to Dallas to catch a flight, but the drive alone is about 3 hours. You could hit the road headed east on I-20, but you wouldn't even see the NC state line for about 13 hours and then you'd have another three hours to go. It is just too far. Not to mention the fact that I'm too pregnant to do any flying or driving of that sort.
So all I could do is wrap my nephew up in prayer. I thought of my sister. Nathan is her first born. How on earth was she holding herself together on the drive up to Durham while her son was fighting for his life?
In the hours that followed, the reports came in from texts and calls and I learned that Nathan had bleeding in his brain, a bruised lung, a lacerated liver, a broken wrist and a broken femur. He was unconcious and would remain so because doctors were keeping him sedated.
A neurologist studied scans of Nathan's brain and decided he couldn't allow him to have surgery to repair the broken bones until he was certain of the nature of the brain injury. Another scan in the wee hours of the morning on Monday gave surgeons the all clear. On Monday, Nathan uderwent more than six hours of surgery. We got the good news that he was responding to questions by squeezing the doctor's hand and holding up fingers. Almost my entire family was there that evening in hopes that Nathan would wake up. But, after several hours he was still asleep in the ICU and it was time for everyone to head home. My sister left Nathan's side to tell everyone goodbye and wouldn't you know my nephew woke up and in fear and anger (not understanding where he was or what had happened to him) he managed to pull out his breathing tube, stomach tube and all his IVs, despite the fact that he has a broken wrist on one hand and the other had was restrained to the bed.
Now, this was scary and it's a blessing that he didn't cause himself futher injury, but to an aunt who knows exactly how strong-willed and stubborn and defiant this boy has always been, hearing that he pulled those tubes out was a sign that somewhere in the fog, that hard-headed boy remained in tact.
He's off the ventilator now and physical therapists had him standing up and taking baby steps yesterday. During the night, he suffered from severe headaches which prompted doctors to do more scans of his brain. They can't find the cause of the pain. He's still in much pain, still groggy from all the meds and the trauma. But on Tuesday I got to hear his voice as he responded to my message. "I love you, too," he said. What a beautiful sound!
So if you pray, or think positive thoughts or what have you, please keep my nephew in mind. He is such a special person and there is so much life unfinished.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More photos

You can check out more photos from our maternity session on the photographer's blog here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sneak peek



This is one of the two "sneak peek" photos our photographer posted on Facebook. I am very happy with it and can't wait to see the rest. More "preview" shots should be up on her blog later this week and then in a couple of weeks, she'll have them all ready for viewing.
Until yesterday it had been warm and balmy here in Northwest Louisiana. In fact, temps were still in the 80s on Friday. But, when our picture day rolled around wouldn't you know that it was chilly and rainy. While it wasn't raining while we had our pictures made, it was windy and since we were near the river in downtown Shreveport, that made for a very chilly photo shoot. Our noses were running and my hands were freezing by the time we were done.
Our photographer, who is also pregnant, took a lot of shots in many different locations and we did one wardrobe change. Since she's portfolio building, she was very reasonably priced and will definitely be coming to take our newborn photos. I've already ordered a sweet little hat off Etsy for that specific purpose. And, she is also trying to break into birth photography. So we are going to be talking with our doctor this week about the possibility of having Liz there to capture those first precious moments when we see our son. I wasn't sure about having a relative stranger in there during that time, but Liz has a sweet nature and I think I would be comfortable with her there. Plus, seeing as how no one from my family is likely to be at the birth, it would be wonderful to have someone there taking pictures so that Greg doesn't have to try to do everything himself.
In other news, my dear sweet co-workers gave me a shower after our holiday meeting this morning. They all chipped in together on some great gifts and one lady even crocheted a blanket for the baby. They gave me a bouncy seat that has all the bells and whistles and a storage bin full of all sorts of goodies. I even got these. lol. One of the embroidered burp cloths they gave me says "I'm kind of a big deal," which says so much about how these ladies have been throughout my IVF, my FET and my pregnancy. They genuinely believe this baby is a BIG DEAL! One of the onesies they gave me says "made with love" and when I read it out loud, a co-worker blurted out, "and lots of money." ha ha. We all had a good laugh.
And, of course, they gave the baby a Louisiana State University onesie. That was included specifically for Greg, who is NOT an LSU fan. ha ha.
Though I'm still feeling like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it, I had a nice weekend and I am so grateful to have a faux "family" at work.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lumpy bump

I've spent the last week preparing for and looking forward to having our maternity pictures done today. I took the day off from work so that I wouldn't be rushed and have plenty of time to get ready and then I woke up this morning and guess what, it's raining. Our photographer works in natural light so rain is not good. I'm hoping it will clear up but it's looking pretty rotten out there right now.
I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to wear for the pictures. I have said before that I don't have the cute round belly you think of when you think of pregnant bellies. I have a belly that has always been sort of "segmented" by rolls of fat. Ever since I was in fourth or fifth grade and now these fat layers have merely been pushed up, down and out over the growing belly. So, I spent a large part of the week trying to find some clothes that would make me look like I have a cute round belly not covered in layers of fat. This was a near impossible task and eventually, I decided that this is my body and I'm proud of it for doing as it should -- nurturing this growing baby and preparing to give birth -- and that it is just fine the way it looks. So what if I don't look like everyone else? I look like me and that's that. So I bought or found some clothes in my closet that I like and that I feel good in and so what if the belly looks lumpy. It is lumpy.
I had Greg take a picture of me this week -- 32 weeks -- to send to my family who for some strange reason though they would get weekly pictures of the growing lumpy bump. I think once a month is good enough.

As you can see we painted the stripe in the nursery and I think it turned out really nice. And, the crib is all set up now. There's still a million other things to do before the baby gets here and sometimes it's a little overwhelming to think about.
I am still working and the longer days do really wear me out, but I am hanging in there. Right now, I plan to work through the first couple of weeks of December, but that could change, of course.
Another exciting thing that happened this week is we received our Best Bottom diapering system in the mail from Nicki's Diapers and these diapers are so stinking cute! I probably won't think the same after the little guy gets here and I'm changing and washing a hundred diapers a day but oh my goodness, to see those little diaper shells in all those fun colors -- well, it was just another one of those "can you believe we're actually at this point?" moments.
We had our second class in our child birth prep series and Lunch Lady did a pretty decent job. She didn't say anything too stupid or at least I don't think she did, but then again how would I know? I've never given birth before!
So that's it for this week -- cute diapers, still working, lumpy belly and maternity photos if the sun decides to come out today.
Oh and still no name. But, we're trying out the ones we like by using a different name each day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hope for the weary

I always look forward to Sunday mornings -- that big fat Sunday paper, a cup of coffee (decaf these days of course) and pancakes. Yum.
This morning was no different. We got up early. Greg ventured out into the chil to get the paper from the drive and I made the coffee. We sat down to enjoy our little ritual and like always, I read the lifestyle pages of the paper first while Greg jumped straight to the sports page.
On a page I normally skip over, I found something that I just can't stop thinking about and I thought I'd share it with you, just in case you might be needing a little hope this morning.
Under a title called "Celebrations," was the picture of a sleeping baby, maybe four or five months old. He was wearing an oragne pumpkin hat, an orange Halloween shirt and blue jeans and he was fast asleep on a bale of hay surrounded by pumpkins. The caption read "Hunter S., born to Brian and Kim S. after 16 years of trying, makes his first visit to the pumpkin patch."
Normally, I don't even glance at this page in the paper. It's a hodge podge of submitted photos of school groups, church happenings, celebrity meetings, etc. This morning, the picture of that sleeping baby caught my eye and then I read the caption and I made Greg read it, too.
Sixteen years of trying. Four little words that stopped me right there and made me think about all the pain and heartache they represent and yet, here is this precious boy sleeping on a bale of hay.
I don't know Brian and Kim S., but I admire them for many reasons -- after our 6 years of trying, I'm not sure I would have had the heart to keep going. Obviously, they did for 10 more years until they finally saw their dreams come true. And, obviously, they don't mind sharing their happy news -- even going so far as to submit a picture of their son to the paper for all to see and including those four words "sixteen years of trying." How brave of them.
How many people will see this little photo in the paper and take heart, keep the faith and be reminded that miracles like little Hunter S. do indeed happen?
And then I began to wonder... are these babies (ones born to folks like us who tried fo so long and faced so many obstacles along the way) any more loved than "oops" babies or those who are conceived with ease? I can't say they are. Fertiles are just as enamored with their little miracles as we are with ours. But there is a difference. These babies are special in ways that others aren't. The mere fact that they exist makes them special, for they wouldn't even have exisited if we had lived 20 or 30 years ago. I don't know how Hunter S. was conceived, but I can imagine that after 16 years of trying that my very own Dr. V may have had a hand in his conception.
A photo of a sleeping baby in a pumpkin patch. Four little words that say so much and two very proud parents who wanted to share their joy with their community -- just another simple pleasure found within the pages of a Sunday paper.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A pending goodbye...

Here we are at 31 weeks. Sometimes I feel like I got caught in some sort of fast-forwarded time warp and poof! here I am.
We got some pretty upsetting news this week that most likely Greg will be deploying to Afghanistan for one year sometime next fall. I couldn't help but cry thinking about all that my husband will miss of our son's life during that year he will be gone. What hit me the hardest is that he'll miss our son's first Christmas and his first birthday.
Of course, we're a military family and we know that there's always a chance that something like this can come up. But, we've been married for eight years now and he's never been gone more than six months. Now that we're finally on the verge of being parents after all these years, the orders come down. I might have known it would happen this way.
I guess the blessing is that our son won't remember that his dad was gone for a year. But, my husband will, and it breaks my heart to think about it. And, of course, the prospect of a year without my husband is very daunting.
And, now there's a whole host of things we have to do to prepare for this deployment and many big decisions have to be made. I can't imagine staying here for a year without Greg, being that I don't have any family or close friends here. So, we will have to sell or rent our house and the baby and I will have to move back to NC. And, then when Greg returns, we'll have to move again.
I don't want to sound like I'm whining about this -- this is part of Greg's job, one that he chose for himself and families go through this all the time. We've been very blessed that we haven't had to do it before. But that really doesn't make it any easier and the timing just stinks.
Physically, I'm starting to feel some of the pregnancy associated misery I've heard about from other women. Specifically, I have heartburn at night that sometimes wakes me up so I keep the Tums on my night table and that does seem to help. I've also had some pretty painful leg cramps. I had one in a muscle I didn't even know existed and I've even had them in my feet. Hate it. It's also more difficult to get comfortable at night even with various configurations of pillows. Another new symptom is my least favorite -- many mornings I have a couple of hours of feeling like my heart is beating too fast and I get sort of short of breath. I've talked with my OB about it and he thinks it's just due to the increased blood volume and the upward progression of the uterus.
While telling Dr. Carter about my episodes, he laughed and said -- "You're really feeling pregnant now! But I think you asked for this. I mean, you wrote a few checks for this."
Yes, yes I did. And, I'm not complaining, just explaining!
My weight gain this visit was back within the normal range and our baby's heartbeat was very strong at about 136 bpm. And, our doctor said the baby is growing like a weed. This was NOT news to me!
I swear somedays I can feel him growing. On Monday for instance, I woke up one size and went to bed much larger. All the materninty pants that my niece gave me are starting to fit quite snug (her prepregnancy weight is much less than mine!) so I'm almost certain I'll have to go buy some things in the near future. I hate to spend money on clothes I'm only going to wear for the next two months, but being comfortable is pretty important these days.
We had our epidural class (mandatory at our hospital) and toured the labor and delivery department on Tuesday night. The same "lunch lady" from our breastfeeding class was our tour guide and once again she said many off the wall things but it was nice to get to see the ins and outs of where we'll have the baby.
We start our birth classes tonight and there's no telling what this crazy woman might say.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The history of a shirt

Greg and I celebrated our eighth anniversary on Oct. 12 when we were home in NC. We didn't really get a chance to celebrate what with all the hub-bub surrounding my parents' 50th anniversary party, our baby shower and Greg's dad coming down for a visit.
So, on Saturday night, we went out to eat at a restaurant that I'd been wanting to try.
Here's a picture of us at our table:



We had a nice time, even though the food didn't meet my high expectations. Four years of living in Italy sort of ruins anyone on what passes for Italian food here in the states. It was a time for us to reflect a little on these past years and, for me, the shirt I wore was a constant reminder of how far we have come.

You see I wore this very same shirt on another anniversary. Here's the picture from 2007, when we were celebrating our fifth anniversary and just days away from the start of our very first IVF:



I remember writing a blog post then about our struggle to conceive and our pending IVF. It was the first time I'd ever publically talked about our struggles and I remember saying that instead of a romantic trip to Paris or London, I was getting IVF for my fifth anniversary.

I was so hopeful for that first cycle and today when I read back over that old blog post, I remembered how confident Greg was that it would work. He was constantly saying things like "when the baby is born," or "when your belly gets big." I wasn't sure how to take that confidence back then, as all my sentences of that nature began with that hateful two-letter word, "if."

Eventually, Greg stopped with the "whens" and moved into the realm of "ifs," though he was always more optimistic than I when it came to our chances of actually conceiving.

For me, that fifth anniversary, when we gave each other the "gift" of IVF, has always stood out as a turning point in our lives. After more than two years of trying on our own to achieve a pregnancy and then being told by an Italian urologist that there was abosolutely no chance for natural conception (believe me, not everything sounds prettier in Italian) we had decided to take that big leap into the land of ART. Three years and three IVF cycles later, we finally got our miracle with an FET this past spring. As I type this post, I can feel our son's movements in my belly and I am busy trying to prepare myself for labor and motherhood. This eighth anniversary has brought us nearly full circle -- a circle that will be complete when our son is born.

And that brings us back to the shirt. I remember leaving that shirt at my mom's one time after a visit because I'd been dieting and working out and had lost a lot of weight and the shirt was just too big. Mom called me last year and said she's been cleaning out the room we always stay in and she'd found the shirt. She asked if she could give it to one of my cousins and part of me wanted to say go ahead. But, something inside of me said -- "no keep it. If I ever get pregnant I'll probably be able to wear it."

I'm not sure what made me feel that inkling of hope that day as I talked to my mom on the phone. But, I guess hope really does spring eternal even when we think there is no hope left.

During our dinner on Saturday night. We watched a little girl at a nearby table. She had Down's Syndrome. I told Greg about how I've thought about how our baby could be special like this girl (we opted out of testing) and we talked about how no matter what, we are so blessed by this baby and this pregnancy.

Even if it all ends tomorrow, I feel like it has all been worth it -- all the treatments, all the heartache, all the money -- because this pregnancy has been the happiest time of my life.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The lunch lady

We attended a breastfeeding class this week. We start our child birth classes next week but with our schedules and the specific dates they offer the feeding classes, I decided to go ahead and do it early. I figured, you need all the info you can get when it comes to breastfeeding anyway.
So Greg and I went to the class Tuesday night (husbands or partners are encouraged to attend and my husband is very curious as to how this is all going to work, so he went with me).
First, let me say that I am country. I am as country as the day is long, so I have nothing against country people but then again, I don't really want just any good ol' girl teaching me a breastfeeding class.
My aversion to this woman was instantaneous. I generally know whether I'm going to like someone pretty quickly after meeting them and when I met this woman I was certain I didn't like her. And, I was right.
She was crass, she was not well-spoken, she fumbled and bumbled around. She kept making inappropriate comments toward the four men in the class. She was just horrible, saying things like "If I can stand up here and play with my boobs you can too ladies!"
It was like being taught the ins and outs of breastfeeding by the lunch lady from elementary school. Granted, this woman is educated and certified and all that jazz, but geez Louise couldn't they find someone with a little more.... couth to teach the class?
I tell you the honest truth -- this woman actually spoke these words: "You can smoke while breastfeeding. You should smoke outside so the smell doesn't get stuck in your clothes because the baby uses his sense of smell to feed." Then she said, "You should never smoke in your car with the baby in it (and I thought sure there was a period coming after that but NO) without rolling the windows down."
Dear Lord, help us all. Just another reason I wish I didn't live in Northwest Louisiana, no offense to anyone who calls this place home and doesn't know any better.
And, to top it all off they handed out information sheets about Listeria and in bold it says "Never eat hot dogs or deli meats that haven't been heated to a safe temperature" and what did they serve us for dinner? Cold ham and turkey sandwiches!
Now, I can't lie and say I didn't learn anything from this woman. I did. But, I feel like the hospital should reconsider who they pay to deliver their message.
The worst part? At the end of the class she says she'll probably be seeing some of us again next week for childbirth classes. That's right, friends. This woman is teaching us how to give birth. She is also giving us our prenatal tour and epidural class and teaching the newborn care class.
I am seriously considering calling the hospital to ask if there are any other options.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Still here!



Here I am at 29.5 weeks. I'm really starting to grow, huh?

I've been a bad blogger, but it's not entirely my fault. We got back home from our trip to NC on Tuesday evening and since then, I've been working like a crazy woman. Between my job at Talbots and my new writing gig, I've been pretty swamped. I would have blogged while I was at my parents' but my Internet access is limited there and I was having too much fun with my family, anyway!

Our trip was wonderful. My parents' 50th anniversary party was great even though my sisters, their husbands and children and Greg and I did all the work! We fed about 80people a dinner of ribeye steaks, baked potatoes and a salad (oh and yeast rolls) and it all went very smoothly. We make a great team even if there are "too many generals and not enough soldiers" as Greg likes to say. Everyone who attended the party couldn't beleive we pulled it off. We even managed to turn an ugly community building into what my Mama called "a fairyland." My parents tried to dance every dance and seemed to me to be far younger than they actually are on that magical night. It was so good to be surrounded by my extended family and to see them all coming together to honor my parents and their exceptional marriage.

Then, the next day, we celebrated again at our baby shower. It was perfect! The theme for the shower was basically "name the baby" and they had decorated the church fellowship hall by hanging these paper circles from the ceiling. Each circle had a name suggestion with meaning written on it. My favorites came from my brother-in-law who is a big fan of the TV movie Lonesome Dove with his suggestion of Woodrow and next would have to be my nephew Nicholas' pick -- Juan. lol The shower hostesses -- my sisters, two of my cousins, my three nieces and my dear friend -- thought of everything! The games were really fun, the food was great and the decorations echoed the bedding we bought for the nursery. They even had all the people who came to the shower to drop a name suggestion into a basket. It was fun to go through the comments after the shower. But, we still haven't decided on a name! We got so many nice gifts, our truck was loaded down on the way home and now it's all in the nursery waiting for me to get in there and organize it.

Everything is going well with my pregnancy. I went to the doctor Wednesday and found out I had a tremendous weight gain since my last appointment five weeks ago. I felt bad about it for a couple of days, but I'm OK with it now. I know that I really strayed from my healthy eating plan while I was in NC and I indulged too much. I tried to blame it all on Mama because she made all my favorite foods and then some, but I know I have no one to blame but me! Dr. Carter said "last month in my notes I wrote 'excellent weight control.' This month, I'm just going to write "NOT!" ha ha he's a funny guy, my doctor. I'm back on track now and working again, which burns lots of calories -- believe me! My glucose test was normal and I get my rhogram shot tomorrow. We go every two weeks for our appointments now. It's so hard to believe that we're actually almost to 30 weeks. Time is flying by.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back pain, a new job and a shower invite

Last week was rather eventful, as far as weeks go, at our house. On Monday, Greg was playing his regular pick-up basketball game during lunch with a bunch of guys from work and he somehow managed to move just the wrong way and injure his back. Tuesday morning found us in the ER where the doctor said she suspects a herniated disk is the source of the pain. I had back surgery many years ago for this exact thing and I know very well how bad it hurts. My heart breaks to see Greg in so much pain when I know how badly he just wants to get back to normal. He goes Tuesday to see his regular doctor and we are still planning to leave for our trip to NC on Friday or Saturday, but I think the long drive is going to be difficult for him. He is still in quite a bit of pain and though we were hoping time would make things better, it seems to be getting worse. Hopefully, he will be feeling better by the end of the week.
That's it for bad news. The rest is all good, so bear with me. The first good thing that happened is I got a new job! You probably recall that I used to have a real career as a newspaper reporter and I've been looking for a way to get paid to write since we moved back to the states last year. I haven't really had any luck (though to be quite honest, I haven't put a tremendous amount of effort into the search either). Last week, a former co-worker and friend of mine let me know about a job opportunity with the comapny she works for and I applied. My friend put in a good word for me and lo and behold, I got the job. I'll be working from home writing for the web. I can make my own schedule and work as much or as little as I want. I went through some on-line training this week and though it's a lot to take in, I feel confident that I'll be fairly good at this type of work. This opportunity couldn't have come at a better time for us. With me leaving my job in retail when the baby is born, there will be a shortfall in our income. Now, I'll be able to make up for part or possibly all of that with my new job and Greg will get his raise for his upcoming promotion around the start of the year, so that will work out great.
I'm still considering working at Talbots after the baby is born -- maybe one night a week and one weekend a month -- just to get out of the house and have some adult interaction. I know I'm going to miss my work friends so much, seeing that they are pretty much the only friends I have in this town. Of course, I will make that decision after the baby is born and after I've had time to settle into my new role as Mommy.
And that brings me to the other exciting thing that happened this week. My shower invitation came in the mail. I tell you, ladies, opening that envelope and reading that invitation brought tears to my eyes. A big part of me never thought I'd ever get to this point. Seeing the names of the hostesses -- many of the women I hold most dear in my life -- just choked me up as I thought about how each of those women in small and big ways has helped me through so many hard times and are now here celebrating with me in the happiest time of my life. I see this shower not as just another baby shower but sort of as a celebration that the years of heartache and longing are over. It's like a culmination of all those prayers and wishes that friends and fammily members sent up for us over the years. I think it's going to be a joyous time for us and for all of those people we love so much.
In other news this week, a co-worker called to tell me she's pregnant. This friend has really been a great supporter through my IVF and FET and through this pregnancy. She cried when I found out I was pregnant and always says things like "I have a vested interest in this baby!" I couldn't be happier for her. She had an IUD removed just last month and in no time, she had a positive test. That's the way I wish that it worked for everyone -- the way it should be and this friend, who has a heart of gold, deserves every happiness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Insight into the male point of view

I have read Oprah Magazine for years now. And, as someone who dreamed of being a freelance magazine writer at one time, I've always enjoyed the higher quality of writing that O presents to its readers. Several articles stick out in my mind and, not so surprisingly, most of those deal with topics close to my heart -- like infertility.
I was paging through my newest O last night while Greg watched some mindless TV and I ran across this article. It broke my heart, made me cry and left me feeling like I've probably been a little selfish and a lot insensitive to my own husband's feelings as we walked this bumpy road of infertility together.
I just thought I'd share the link in case any of you are interested in getting a little insight into the male perspective on infertility and loss.
I really admire this guy for putting this out there. We expect them to be so stoic but they hurt just like we hurt. I just thank God that my husband has been such a rock for me all these years and at the same time, he has always been my safe place to land. What more could a girl ask for?

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's your name, kid?

The great name debate at our house has entered a new phase. It's called compromise.
Greg wouldn't even talk about possible baby names until we found out we're having a boy, while I, on the other hand, had lists of possiblities for both sexes. But, that doesn't mean he wasn't thinking about names. Oh no.
I know this because over lunch immediately after the ultrasound revealed that our wee one is a boy Greg says, "how about Carter Alan?" and I said, "I like it." And then I waited for other options.
He had none. He likes this name and no others. I managed for a while to convince him to put Harrison on his ultra-short list of names, but yesterday he said he didn't want our son to be called "Harry," essentially crossing that one off the list and here we are back to Carter. Alan is Greg's middle name and I like that he wants to pass that name down to our son.
Meanwhile, my list has at least a dozen possibilites on it -- and Greg can find fault with each one.
Rowan? Your family won't be able to pronounce it right (and he might be right about that). Winston (my father's middle name)? Sounds too old fashioned. Justin? Too common. Caleb? Isn't that a girl's name? (No, Greg, you're a dummy). Holden? Is that even a real name?
Obviously, my husband was not as enamored with the Snyder brothers on As the World Turns as I was when I was young. Caleb and Holden sound like perfectly good, strong boy names to me. Not to mention they sound very handsome.
For such a laidback guy who usually just goes with the flow, my husband is being pretty hard headed about this name thing.
So, I find myself inching closer to Carter each day. I like the name. It's classic and strong and though it doesn't have a particularly interesting meaning, it is relevant in a couple of ways. My dad had a dear cousin named Carter who died young and said he'd be proud to have a grandson by that name. I've always adored that peanut farmer from Plains, Ga. who served as our 39th presidnet and later won the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, the baby name book lists Carter under a heading called "future Democrats," which is just fine by me. Frankly, I think this would could use a few more of us. And, lastly, you might recall Carter is the name of our doctor.
Now, I've always cringed when people name their babies after doctors. It just seems silly and if we were to name a baby after a doctor it should probably be the doctor who created this miracle -- Dr. V., whose last name is quite a mouthful and whose first name is David, a name already in use several times over in my extended family.
Our nurse laughed when Greg told her his pick for a name on Wednesday. She said, "you'd be surprised. There are a lot of little Carters running around out there."
Of course, Greg didn't get the name from our real life Dr. John Carter. His inspiration came from the other Dr. John Carter. You know, the one played by Noah Wylie on ER. I'm pretty sure that faithfully watching ER for all those years lodged the name Carter securely in Greg's brain only to surface now when we find ourselves faced with the overwhelming task of choosing a name for our son.
And, it is an overwhelming task. A name is permenant. It has to be just right. There's so much to consider -- will other kids make fun of it? Do the initials spell anything horrible? It it a good adult name and a good child's name? Does it sound masculine enough? Is it too feminine? Will people know how to pronounce it and spell it? The questions go on and on.
Who knows what name this baby will end up with? Sometimes, Greg rests his head on my belly and asks "what's your name?" He then jokingly puts his ear to my belly and looks back at me and says "he says Carter." ha ha.
But, when he gets here, out little guy's face may say something completely different.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

24 weeks


Here I am at 24 weeks! I feel like time is passing more quickly now. We leave for our trip to NC in about two weeks and then when we get back, we'll be at 29 weeks if all goes well. Then, with the holidays beginning and child birth classes, and breastfeeding classes and all the other stuff we will have to do, I think January will be here before we know it.
I had my monthly checkup today and it was a very pleasant visit with Dr. Carter. He even bragged on me a little for my weight gain so far, which was nice to hear. I've gained a total of 11 pounds. He said I should expect to gain about a pound a week from here on out. I will have the glucose test and the Rhogam shot because I am RH Negative at my next appointment.
We also met with the woman who handles all the insurance claims for the office and she gave us a large stack of magazines and brochures and lots of good information. Thankfully, Tricare covers all the cost associated with having a baby. I wish I could say they also cover the cost of making one, but I'm not complaining. Every penney we have spent on infertility treatments and meds got us to this point and it truly is priceless.
This past weekend, Greg painted the nursery. It's very exciting to begin to prepare for the arrival of our son. I chose this bright happy blue for the walls because it coordinates well with the bedding and it just fits the image in my mind of a boy's room.

It's a little plain though, and I'm toying with the idea of painting a horizontal stripe around the room. The edges of the stripe would be white and the inside would be green. The only problem is our walls are textured. I researched how to keep the paint from seeping under the tape on a textured wall and found a couple of suggestions including using caulk and a clear glaze to seal the edges of the tape. Anyone out there have any experience with this?
Greg plans to put the crib and changing table together tonight while I am at work, so I am looking forward to that.
So that's where we are at 24 weeks. I am so thankful for this miracle and I'm loving every minute of this pregnancy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

That old sting


Friday night was Greg's Senior Non-commissioned Officer Induction Dinner and Ceremony. This is one of the many formalities that can precede a promotion. He told me about this event about two weeks ago and since then, I stressed over what to wear. There are many phrases that can strike fear into the heart of a pregnant woman and I've learned that one of them is "formal attire."
I went to Motherhood and they had two dresses that would have worked, except they make dresses for women with breasts as large as my head and I am still waiting to get those giant pregnancy boobs everyone talks about. It just isn't happening.
So, I tried shopping in the regular dresses, but I ran into all sorts of problems. My middle is just too thick at this point. I even tried to wear something I already own because I have a wide array of sizes in my closet thanks to my weight fluctuations over the years but none of those dresses were right either.
On Thursday, I ventured into more stores before going to work and out of sheer desperation I went in Target -- where I found this plain black maternity dress for $12.50 on clearance. I took it to work and my boss gave it the thumbs up and paired one of the best necklaces we have in our store with it to dress it up.
So, off we went on Friday night -- with me feeling a little self conscious wondering if my dress was formal enough. I looked fine. Some of the ladies there seriously needed to visit me at Talbots for an intervention and others were dressed to the nines.
It's odd, now that I'm pregnant and most people can look at me and tell that I am pregnant, you would think that the stinging comments that go straight to your heart and bring tears to your eyes would be over. But, sadly, that is not the case.
Two examples from this event will explain what I mean. A guy my husband works with asked if he could buy us a drink. Greg said he'd have a beer and then said "of course, my wife isn't drinking." And, the guy looked at me funny and then seemed to suddenly recall that I'm pregnant. "Oh that's right," he said. "Is this your first?" Then after my response, he said to Greg "You're almost 50 years old and you're just having a kid? Did you have to go to the sperm bank?" ha ha ha ha ha
I felt that old familiar sting and I frantically searched for a comeback, but my baby mush brain came up with nothing. Fortunately, Greg is better at this type of thing and he said, "Yea, and I told them to give me the most athletic SOB they had so we'll be rich in about 20 years."
Later, this same guy says. "So, are you guys going to have more kids after this one?" Again, I felt that hurt and I looked to Greg to step in and be my voice. "I think one will be enough if he's anything like his dad," Greg said. And, his co-workers all laughed and chimed in with comments like, "ain't that the truth."
On the way home, I asked Greg if he thought anything of this guy's comments and he said this man is very inappropriate in work and social situations so he wasn't surprised that he would make insensitive comments.
Of course, you can't let people like that get to you, but in the moment it does sting and I guess that will always be true.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ramblings of an occasional blogger

It's not that I don't still enjoy writing this blog. I do. It's just that sometimes I wonder what the point is because hardly anyone is reading -- well, hardly anyone commnets. Maybe lots of you are reading??
Oh well, readership is not really important anyway. This blog is just a way for me to put my thoughts and feelings down and it still works very well for that purpose.
I am feeling good these days. We will be 23 weeks tomorrow and that is very exciting.
Greg spent the weekend playing softball in Texas. I worked Friday and Saturday and then had Sunday all to myself. I cleaned the house and walked the dog and read and watched Benjamin Button and cried my eyeballs out. I know, I'm probably the last person on earth who hadn't seen it but I didn't see a lot of movies when we were in Italy.
Last week, we ordered our crib and changing table. My parents bought these as a gift for the baby and we are very thankful for that. We also purchased a travel system with the car seat and the stroller. And, yesterday, we went to the Carter's outlet and they were having an amazing sale. We bought two little outfits and a hat for the wee one. These are the first items of clothing that we've bought. The one I picked says "Bananas over Mommy" and the one Greg chose says "Daddy's Rookie of the Year." The little hat says "Dog Gone Cute," and it is.
I also ordered four prints to frame and put in the baby's room. I got them during Zulily's Labor Day blow out sale. A sale so big, it literally blew out their site for a couple of hours. Luckily, I got my order in early.
So, things are starting to come together albeit very slowly. I am overwhelmed when I think of how much we still need before the baby gets here and how much that is going to cost. But, my sisters are giving us a baby shower in October when we go home to NC, so that should help. Within the next few weeks, we have to register so I've started a list of items that I definitely want to put on the registry.
A lot of Greg's co-workers and softball friends have asked if we'll be having a shower here. It's like they think we should throw ourselves a shower. How tacky is that? We've just told them that we don't really know anyone here very well, so we probably won't be having a shower. Though I was really hoping someone would take that as an invitation to throw us one. Is it selfish to want someone to give us a baby shower? This is just further proof of our lack of true friends here and it really sucks.
Baby Elvis is rocking out in there these days. On Sunday night, he kicked steadily for about 30 minutes --- kicks so hard I could see my belly jumping. I think he must have known I was a little lonely and decided to entertain me.
My next appointment is next Wednesday. Since we're going to be in NC for so long in October, we're planning to do our childbirth classes in November. And that is pretty freaking fantastic.
So that's about it for me. I'm still working about 20 hours a week and enjoying my shortened five-hour shifts (I didn't ask, my boss is just very thoughtful). And, I'm really looking forward to October when I get to see my big ole' crazy family and my dear friends.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where's my brain?

I once read a study that said a woman loses brain cells with each pregnancy. I remember giving my sister a hard time, since she has had four children. "That's why you're such a dingbat!" ha ha ha.
But it's no laughing matter. Pregnancy brain is real. The books say that doctors don't have an explanation for the problem but that it's possible that the mommy to be just has a lot on her mind, so she loses focus or it could be the hormones. My coworkers say the baby is eating my brain. Somedays, I'm inclined to agree with them.
Examples of my own case of pregnancy brain include: using the wrong word in a sentence and not realizing it until someone makes fun of me or gives me that look that says 'you're not making any sense;' Putting strange things in the refrigerator -- like the sugar; Missing the turn toward home not once, but twice one day after work; and the most obvious preggo brain episode -- showing up for work at 9:30 a.m. when I wasn't supposed to be there until 1 p.m.
I don't know what to tell you, I just can't think straight and most of the time, I have no idea that I'm doing something completely stupid. Greg thinks it's funny -- well, most of the time. And, my coworkers think it's hilarious. Of course, that could be because I haven't shown up at work three and a half hours late yet. That probably wouldn't be as funny.
A friend on facebook told me that she calls it "mommy mush brain" and that the sad part is that it doesn't get better after the baby is born -- she says it gets worse! She should know -- pregnant with baby No. 4 as I type this.
In any case, if I write something completely incoherent, at least you'll know why.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The infertility files

Today I am in the process of cleaning out the room that will be our son's nursery and trying desperately to organize and relocate all of the crap that is currently living in that space.
It's a job I haven't been looking forward to and the fact that I'm sitting in my sunny, clean, uncluttered kitchen writing this post could appear to some to be a pathetic attempt at avoiding the giant mess in that bedroom. But, I feel like I have something important to say and I needed a break anyway.
Greg did the easy part last week. He put together the new desk we bought at Ikea and relocated the desktop computer, set up our new monitor and left the rest to me. What remained in the room that we've been using as an office/guest room was pretty scary. Piles of paper, files, junk that somehow landed there and I'm guessing hundreds of magazines filed chronologically just in case I wanted to read them again. Hmmm. Scary.
I've never been a particularly good file keeper. I hem and haw about whether or not to shred a document or keep it and somehow I end up with piles of paper despite my best intentions. So this morning, I entered the room feeling determined, but was soon defeated by the sheer amount of CRAP.
I called Greg for moral support and he cheered me on. Just take one thing at a time. I'll help you figure it out when I get home. Don't worry about the magazines. I'll take them to the recycling center. You can do this! And so on and so on, until I felt somewhat confident that one day that room will be a nursery and not the place where all pieces of mail go to die.
I've worked steadily now for a few hours, reducing the piles into smaller piles. Filling a box for a garage sale I plan to have next month and trying not to be overwhelmed. But then, I found the "infertility" files. You know the ones -- page after page of your entire crappy infertility journey from those first tests to those failed treatments to the pictures of those tiny little embryos that might have been your babies. And, the work stopped and I leafed through the papers that document every step along the way of those infertility journey.
And, I felt so many emotions. First, I guess I was sad, because looking at those medical records always makes me sad -- sad for the babies that might have been, sad for remembering all the heartache those failures brought and sad thinking about how many years all those pages represent.
And, I admit it, I always feel a little angry when I go through our records. Why didn't the doctors at our first clinic design a better protocol for me? Why did they tell me to use donor eggs for future cycles and why on earth did we have to go through all of this anyway? Why us? Why couldn't it have been easy for us?
Yet, for the first time ever I felt a relief. Never have I looked at those files from this perspective. I've pored over them after failures looking for clues that might answer the question "what went wrong?" Or, "what could we do different next time?" But never have I looked at those pages from the perspective that I have today -- almost 21 weeks along with a baby boy growing inside me. Those pages are a very real, tangible reminder of all the hope, all the sacrifice, all the pain and all the loss that led us to this point -- cleaning out a room to make a nursery for our son.
Some of those pages are tear stained -- from the dark days of the past when the loss was so raw and the emotions so big. And, I added some tears today. Tears of sadness, tears of regret, tears of grief and finally, thankfully, tears of joy. I am so blessed to be at this point, crossing this river of infertility and finally able to see the shore ahead. I'm not on the other side yet, but I'm on the bridge and each day brings me a little closer to holding my baby in my arms.
For now, I've put the files away. Maybe one day, I'll be able to put them in the shred pile and say goodbye to all the sadness and pain they represent. Then again, maybe I'll always have them -- if nothing else, they'll serve as a reminder of how much we went through and how badly we wanted this baby and how blessed we are to finally have this pregnancy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Right on cue

As if on cue, after I wrote yesterday morning that Greg had not been able to feel the baby's movements -- the little one kicked up a storm last night and Greg was finally able to feel it. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. After feeling several hard kicks (punches?) with his hand, he laid his head on my belly and let baby Elvis (we've been calling him that since that early ultrasound picture that looked like a cartoon mini Elvis) kick him right in the face. Greg would talk in his deepest voice "Hey boy, what's going on in there?" and Elvis would kick. Which made me laugh and that made Greg say "be still!" This went on for about 10 minutes or so. It was one of my favorite moments of my pregnancy so far.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Half way there

 
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Here I am at 20 weeks. I am not a particularly cute pregnant woman. In fact, some people don't realize I'm pregnant, because, well, I still just look fat. Please ignore the fuzzy hair and lack of makeup. I had the day off from work, so I just took it easy yesterday. I have gained about 8 pounds so far. And I certainly can see and feel big changes in my body. Here's a picture taken exactly two months ago just for comparison.

 
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I'm glad to be at this 20 week milestone. It means we're half way there. The time has gone by fast for me. Sometimes, I'm a little overwhelmed with all that we need to do and buy to get ready for having this baby, but during those times Greg reminds me that we have plenty of time left to do all that has to be done. One way or another, it will all come together.

The baby's movements are very distinct now. He is most active around 9 or 10 p.m. when I am probably at my least active, vegging on the couch. For now, Greg has not been able to feel the movements though his hand has been perfectly positioned over dozens of little kicks and punches. So, that is another little milestone to look forward to.

The name game is not going well. Greg is stuck on one name and won't really entertain other options. Yesterday, I bought a big fat baby name book and told him he has to come up with at least 3 or 4 other names that he likes. I want to have options! The worst part, he hates the name Rowan!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The advantages of peeing in the dark

Yesterday morning started off relatively normal, but quickly spiraled into one of those horrible days where you think you might be losing your mind. Ever had one of those? Warning: TMI ahead.
I noticed during a trip to the bathroom to pee that the discharge on the toilet paper was tinged a brownish/pink color. I didn't want to panic, but I was worried. I consulted Dr. Google who explained that some spotting in the second or third trimester can be normal, but that you should always call your doctor.
So I called the doc and left a message and headed to work. Of course, I kept going to the bathroom to see what was going on. I told my dear, sweet co-worker about it and she is one of those people who knows what to say in a situation like this, so she made me feel a little better. But I still had that nagging thought -- what if?
A couple of hours later, the nurse called and asked what was going on. I told her I felt fine, I just had this wierd discharge and she asked if I'd had any pain or cramping. I told her that I'd been constipated over the weekend but that was the only abnormal thing I'd noticed.
Apparently, for those who are as ignorant as I am on this subject, you can cause spotting if you strain very hard to have a bowel movement. Obviously, I was less worried after hearing this, but Nurse B said they wanted me to come in for a little look see anyway.
So, yesterday afternoon (when everything was back to normal down there) I went in for Dr. Carter to make sure everything was OK. The baby's heartbeat was just fine at 153 bpm and Dr. Carter couldn't find any trace of bleeding. "Your little cervix is as normal as normal can be," he said.
He explained that during pregnancy the cervix is so engorged with blood that almost anything can cause slight spotting due to a busted capilary -- sex, straining to have a bowel movement, or just overdoing it at work. He said some of his patients are so nervous that he tells them to pee in the dark so they won't see the tissue.
Basically, Dr. Carter said -- "stop worrying. All my IVF patients are the same, they keep watching and waiting for something bad to happen, and that's certainly understandable. But you are a perfectly normal girl. There is nothing high risk about you. You just had trouble getting pregnant. You're not going to have any problems staying pregnant. Everything looked great on your ultrasound. You don't have anything to worry about. Go home and live your life. Be intimate with your husband, go to work, enjoy your life. And, pee in the dark."
I was so relieved to know that a) nothing was wrong and b) I am just as crazy as all the other IVF ladies out there. ha ha.
So, my monthly appointment that was supposed to be next Wednesday was cancelled and I have a new appointment in a month since Dr. C did all the things he would have done next week.
I felt pretty dumb after finding out that I went through all that worrying because of something so silly. But I suppose it is better to be safe in a situation like this because if it had been something serious and I had ignored it, I would never be able to forgive myself. Nervous Nellie strikes again.

In other news: We had a great weekend trip to Dallas for shopping and to see the Red Sox play the Rangers. The Red Sox won on Saturday night, but the Rangers ultimately won the series. We bought a desk so that we can move the computer out of the baby's room and into the kitchen and we found two things for the baby's room -- a shelf that also holds a quilt and a cover for a changing table pad that matches our bedding. Now, we are studying paint colors, which is proving to be almost as difficult as agreeing on a name!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taking chances

Here we are at 19 weeks! Almost half way there! It's still surreal to me sometimes and I know it is to Greg as well. I feel like I spent quite a bit of these past 19 weeks in a sort of strange limbo, waiting for the bad news to come but hoping and praying it wouldn't. Overall, though, I have felt blissful. I love being pregnant. Now that I can feel my baby boy moving inside of me, I am in a constant state of awe and joy and gratitude.
I've never been happier in my life. Of course, falling in love with my husband was a very happy time for me, but this is even better.
I dreamed of my son a couple of nights ago. I dreamed I was touching his sweet face and nursing him and when I woke up, I told Greg, "I just dreamed about our baby. He is so cute! I can't wait for you to see him!" Of course, Greg thinks I'm a little nuts at this point, so he just sort of grumbled "that's nice" and went back to sleep. The next day, he asked me if I remembered the dream. Of course, I told him yes. He said "you do realize that you haven't actually seen the baby?" Ummmmmm. I wasn't sure how to answer him. I mean, yes, I am fully aware that I have not looked at my baby. But I feel like we've met, face to face and, ladies, I tell you it was true love.
I've been wary. I still feel wary at times. But, then I wonder what good is it to be scared? What will be, will be whether or not I'm feeling scared or not. As part of that fear of what might happen next, I've only bought books for the baby. It didn't seem to risky to buy a stack of Dr. Seuss books. But, since we found out we're having a boy last week, I've felt the urge to start getting things ready. I've ogled over crib bedding on-line for weeks and on Friday, I happened across a set that I instantly loved. The problem? It was $450 -- a little out of my price range. I even emailed the link to Greg to ask his opinion. Of course, he would rather have sports them for the nursery so we don't exactly see eye to eye on this. When I got to work, I told everyone about this bedding. My new manager told me they sell this brand of bedding at a boutique in town. I happened to remember seeing an add in the paper for a big anniversary tent sale at this store. So, on my way to work on Saturday, I stopped by the sale to see if they had any good deals and lo and behold, there was the very bedding I'd found online the day before. It was marked down from $442 to $199. The catch? All sales were final. No returns, no refunds, no exchanges.
I called Greg for his opinion and like a good husband, he said "whatever you want, honey." Still, I was nervous about buying the bedding. I mean, what if I angered the gods or something and they decided since I was cavalier enough to purchase $200 bedding that couldn't be returned, maybe they'd show me just who is boss. But no, that's not the way it works. So I said a little prayer standing there with the bedding in my arms. Please Lord, let me lay my little boy down on this sheet and cover him with this blanket. I took a deep breath and let it out. And, then I bought the set. It's a leap of faith.
Here's a picture of it from the web. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's a ...

Boy!



After dreaming last night that the ultrasound tech found a puppy dog tail in there, I was quite relieved to see my precious baby moving around and "waving" to us. You know how that old rhyme goes, boys are made of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails!

Everything looked good. His heartbeat was 144 bpm and he weighed about 8 oz. Here's another picture of his not so private parts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joy

I heard from my friend Anna today (you might remember that we recently visited with Anna and her mom in Dallas). Anna and I met when we first moved to Italy and we became fast friends. We had a lot of good times and a lot of tough times during our four years there. She bravely battled cancer and I limped along this road of infertility. We just sort of leaned on each other through it all. She is one of my dearest and most beloved friends.
And, today, she shared the happiest news I could have imagined for her. She is pregnant!
Her son D. is 8 years old and since the chemo and the other health problems that came after the cancer treatments, she wasn't sure she'd ever have another child. So, you can see why this news is so wonderful.
A few years ago, in the darkest days of Anna's treatment and after our failed IVF, I couldn't have imagined that one day we'd be pregnant at the same time. I said to her today, "I didn't dare dream this!" But, she reminded me that someone did dream it -- her husband. About two years ago, he dreamed that he was in a park with three little girls -- one was his and the twins were mine! I didn't get the twins, but maybe Anna will?!
I remember several times at New Year's or Christmas, we'd talk about the year to come and the one that had passed. For the first couple of years in Italy, we'd say "next year has to be better because it sure can't get any worse." And, then, of course, it would get worse. So we stopped saying that because you have to be careful what you speak because sometimes it comes true. Instead, we'd toast to our friendship and to a new year and all the possibilities it can hold.
So this day -- this day that we didn't even dare dream about -- has finally arrived and my heart just isn't big enough to hold all this joy. My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Music to my ears


I thought I'd share a picture of me taken during our recent trip to Florida. I enjoyed spending so much time on the beach, which was beautiful and so relaxing. There was no sign of oil there, thank goodness. While Greg played softball, I just sat out there under a big umbrella watching the waves roll in and out and listening to them crashing on the shore. As always, I was taken aback by the beauty of the ocean. I found myself talking with God, thanking him for all the beauty that surrounded me and for the little life growing inside of me. It was a good time to reflect on all we've been through and how far we've come on this journey. And, it made me think about how unlikely this whole pregnancy seems in the grand scheme of things -- how cells not even as big as grains of sand can be combined and nurtured and frozen and thawed and then take hold and begin to grow and multiply and eventually become a human. Sometimes, it is just more than my mind can hold.
We're at 17 weeks today and we had our second appointment with our OB, Dr. Carter. It was a pretty routine appointment. I declined the quad screen and while our choice seemed to rattle the nurse a little, our doctor was fine with it, saying he and his wife chose not to have it when they had their two kids. Basically, the reason I chose not to have the test (which screens for Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida and other defects) is because the test is not 100 percent accurate. Sometimes, as in the case of my sister, it indicates there's a potential problem when there isn't. Our nurse explained to us that things have changed since my sister was pregnant and that if the test indicated a potential problem, they would send us to have an ultrasound that can be used to determine if a problem actually exists and then we could decide whether to have an amniocentesis. But, even knowing this, we decided that we would simply forgo the test. My sister worried for her entire pregnancy until Josh was born and I tend to worry enough as it is without having a quad screen to add something else to the list.
We talked with Dr. Carter about Wyatt's diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis. He didn't seemed very concerned. Since we've both already had the screening, he sees no need to go further.
We heard the baby's heartbeat on the doppler. Such a beautiful sound! And, most exciting, we don't have to wait another month to find out the sex of the baby. Dr. Carter scheduled us for an ultrasound next week. I can't tell you how happy I am to finally find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. Dr. Carter asked me if I had put in my order on the sex of the baby. "Yes, I put in an order, and I've already gotten it. I wasn't very specific!" Boy or girl, we really don't care. We will be absolutely over the moon no matter what the sex is. The difference will be we can finally discuss baby names (Greg won't even talk about it until we know) and I can start getting this baby's room ready.
I have gained a total of five pounds so far during this pregnancy. I feel like I really pigged out this month with my trip home and then our trip to Florida, but my doctor was happy with my weight and told me that next week I will really start to "blossom." lol.
The most significant thing Dr. Carter said today was in response to a question I asked about whether I should be concerned about working long hours on my feet. Basically, he told me to keep working, to wear sensible shoes and to prepare my employer for the possibility that I won't be able to work during the Christmas rush. Of course, they already know that and really, I wouldn't have asked him about it if the girls I work with weren't always asking me if they need to shorten my shifts. Anyway, during this exchange, Dr. Carter says "you're as low risk as they come." I know it might sound odd to some people, but I know you ladies will understand. That simple sentence was like music to my ears.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

16 weeks

I've gotten to the point where I look forward to Wednesdays so that I can mark another week passing and read the e-mail updates I get from babycenter.com about what is going on with the baby. Today marks 16 weeks for us and things are moving right along.
I went back to work yesterday after working only one day in July so far. One of my customers was having a hot flash and in an effort to make her feel like she's not the Lone Ranger, I told her sometimes I get very hot when I'm working back there in the fitting room too. She said, "honey, it looks like you have a good reason to have hot flashes but I'm too old for this!" It was the first time a stranger has said anything to me about my pregnancy, so I guess I'm showing a little more than I thought I was.
In other news, I'm not the only one getting a new body around here. My husband Greg has been running, biking and working out like a madman in an effort to meet the Air Force's new PT standards which went into effect at the beginning of the month. He tests at the end of the month and his waist cannot measure more than 39 inches or he won't pass the test.
Greg has always been a big guy and he had the beer belly when I met him. Even though he rarely drinks beer anymore, the belly has stayed with him. He's a relatively fit guy. He has always played softball, volleyball and basketball on intramural teams and over the past few months he's really gotten back into cycling. Still, he wouldn't have been able to pass this new test at the weight he was so he started this P90X workout and he has been running 2 miles six times a week in addition to cycling and softball. He has lost about 17 pounds now and at least 5 inches in his waist. When I came home from my visit with my parents, I couldn't believe the difference. It's like I'm getting a new and improved version of my husband. One of the good things about Greg's new focus on diet and exercise is that we are constantly eating healthy stuff, which is good for me too. In spite of that fact, I continue to grow and he continues to shirnk -- but that's just fine by me!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A good break

I've been absent from blogland for a couple of weeks now. I rarely got on when my sister and her family were here visiting and then I was on my own little vacation -- home to North Carolina to see my family.
It was a great visit and unplugging for a while was probably the best thing I could do. There's been a lot of sadness out there lately for some of my blog friends and my heart goes out to them. Still, reading such tragic news had me worrying myself a little too much so stepping back and taking a break and breathing deep and laughing with my family was probably the best medicine.
But it seems you can't get away from sad news and my family had its own trial while I was home. We learned that our sweet little Wyatt, my great-nephew who is about five weeks old now, has Cystic Fibrosis. This really hit home for me since we know that my husband Greg is a CF carrier through some testing we had done in Italy. Of course, my nephew and his wife never even suspected that they were carriers so the news was particuarly hard for them to hear. For now, Wyatt is a healthy, bright-eyed little wonder and we pray that he will stay that way.
I did not test positive for the CF mutation all those years ago but the doctors explained to us that the test can't screen for all mutations. Yet, they tell you that the chance of having one of these uncommon mutations is very rare. Still, my niece-in-law didn't have any of the common mutations either, but obviously, she carried one of the rare mutations. It has just been overwhelming for our family, particuarly for my nephew and his wife. They have a good outlook though and I know they will give Wyatt the best care possible.
I plan to mention Wyatt's diagnosis to my OB at my next visit. I'm not sure if he'll reccommend genetic testing on the baby, but even if he does, I don't want to have any tests that come with a risk of miscarriage like amniocentesis. Besides, we knew the risk of having a baby with CF before we ever stepped into an IVF clinic, and it didn't change our decision to try to make a family.
As for my pregnancy, I'm still feeling good. My belly is starting to poke out there. My niece-in-law gave me all her maternity clothes so I came home with my suitcase full and I'm so grateful to her because this will save me a ton of money. We are heading to Florida for Greg's annual softball tournament later this week and we managed to get a condo right on the beach this time. I'm really looking forward to having some time at the beach.