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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Benjamin Button

Aaron and I went to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" last night and wow...even if you're like me and don't go to the movie theater often because of the outrageous prices, you will find the ticket price for this movie to be money well spent. It's not very often that a movie rocks my world like this one did.

First off, the acting was superb. Brad Pitt plays Benjamin Button and I can honestly say this is the best performance I have ever seen him deliver. He played the part with an amazing amount of heart and he pulled off the backwards aging process flawlessly--watching him look like an old man yet act like a child and vice versa was simply amazing. (For those of you who might not know, this movie is about a man who ages backwards--he is born with the body of a man in his 80's. I read that the film's directors used digital face painting to match Brad Pitt's face to much smaller bodies to accomplish the feat of merging the face of an old man with a child's body. It's technical wizardry.) Cate Blanchett did a beautiful job as the leading actress, and the rest of the supporting cast was just as fabulous. I was moved from tears to laughter and back to tears again many times throughout the film.

The story itself was also beautiful. The movie itself is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald (one of my favorite authors), but beyond the premise of the story itself, much of the movie--which is almost three hours in length but used those three hours well--differs from the actual short story. However, the way the story was told in the film left nothing to be desired. It was a love story, but it was also a story of personal sacrifice, family, and what it means to grow old. If you're looking for a feel good tale that will leave you feeling high as a kite as you walk out of the theater, this is not the movie for you. I left the theater with a tear-stained face and feeling completely drained, but man, it was so worth it.

So, I'd highly, highly recommend this movie for anyone who appreciates a good story combined with genuinely good acting. Just bring along a box of kleenex.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008: A Recap

Well, yet another Christmas is in the books and I have to say this was the most pleasant Christmas that I have had in quite some time. The reason? We kept it simple.

Being on modified bed rest has forced us to cut back on some of our activities as a family, and consequently, we cut back on a lot of the plans that we had made for Christmas. We didn't attend four extended family functions (which were scattered throughout Eastern Wisconsin) as we had originally planned to, and instead of spending Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Aaron's, we decided to fit them both in on Christmas Day and we spent Christmas Eve quietly, just the three of us.

Christmas Eve was lovely. Aaron and I both had to work during the day, but then the three of us attended a small, low-key church service that ended with all of the attendees holding candles and singing "Silent Night". The pastor asked each of us to look at the candlelight after we finished singing and think of those who we were missing at that moment or of those who we might have lost in the previous year and remember that those people are still with us in our hearts. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of what we have been through this year, but at the same time, I was so glad to be with Aaron and Grace that I was filled with an immense joy. It was a heartbreakingly beautiful and powerful moment for me.

After church we had planned to head down to Cathedral Square to check out the lights and Christmas tree displays, but the wind was beyond frigid and Grace was starting to show signs of sleepiness, so we decided to head back home. Grace excitedly got her plate of cookies and glass of milk ready for Santa and placed them under the tree and she was more than happy to hit the hay as we promised her that when she woke up the next morning, she would surely be greeted with presents from Santa. Then, once she was asleep, Aaron and I got all of Grace's gifts together and placed them around the tree.

We woke up bright and early on Christmas morning, and Grace darted out of bed and down the steps in search of her gifts. The first thing she noticed was that Santa had eaten all but a couple bites of his cookies and that he drank all of his milk, and she was so proud that he liked her cookies. Then, she tore into her gifts with reckless abandon and marveled at each one, only pausing between each gift long enough for me to snap a picture or two. Grace also helped Aaron and I open our gifts to each other and then we took a few moments to admire our loot before it was time to get ready to head out to visit with our parents.

One thing that I worried about when we decided to fit both of our families into one day was that we would end up feeling rushed at one or both of the gatherings (and I worried that would happen at my family's gathering since we were going there first), but honestly, we really enjoyed our time at both gatherings and we didn't feel cheated at all. We had a lovely (and delicious) brunch with my family after opening gifts and we had plenty of time to allow Grace to play with many of her presents and we also had lots of time to enjoy each others company. Then, we headed to my in-laws, and again, we had plenty of time to enjoy all of the festivities. The next morning, we headed back to Milwaukee.

All in all, it was a fabulous Christmas. Something that Aaron and I chatted about on the way to my in-laws on Christmas Day was the Christmas "feeling" that we used to get when we were children. It's the unmistakable feeling that used to come over me as Christmas approached--a feeling of anticipation, of tradition, of excitement, and of family. Aaron and I both intimated that we hadn't always felt that feeling as adults...until we had a family of our own. There is something about spending Christmas with a child of your own that makes you feel that Christmas feeling again, because you see the holiday through your child's eyes. This Christmas was a very special and meaningful one for us, and a lot of that is because Aaron, Grace, and I were able to spend it in our own way.

Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

LOL

Tonight, Grace and I were waiting around in the pharmacy line at Target and I complimented her on her pretty new pink ring that she got as a Christmas gift. After I finished telling her how pretty the ring was and how I wished I had one like it, she looked at me and said with a completely straight face, "Mama, he went to Jared."

LOL

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three Months and Counting

Three months from today is my due date--March 22nd. Holy crap.

I spent the first half of my pregnancy not believing that this whole thing was actually happening, and then once we had that second ultrasound in October and we saw that our son looks healthy and is doing just fine, I progressed from disbelief to guarded excitement but this all hadn't really sunken in until just recently. Back when I first found out I was pregnant in July, I remember thinking that I would be hitting my third trimester during the holidays, and that seemed like it was AGES away. And here we are, three days away from Christmas, just like that.

I'm feeling a lot of things right now. At the top of the list is a growing sense of excitement--now that I have been feeling the baby kicking for quite a while and I can actually see his jabs and pokes from the outside, my sense of fear is diminishing a bit and for the first time I'm allowing myself to feel excited about all of this. I've even considered shopping for the baby's layette--Aaron and I agreed that we will start shopping for baby clothes and other stuff we'll need after the new year. That's a HUGE step for us and I'm excited to get started. And, I'm getting to the point now where I just want to meet this little person who I have been carrying around for the past six months. I want to see his little face and I want to finally be able to hold him.

Then there's the fear--not fear that something is going to happen to the baby, but fear about labor and delivery looming around the corner. I did not have a "typical" delivery with Grace (but then again, what delivery is typical?)...due to my PIH, I was induced at 38 weeks, and for a first time delivery, things went pretty quickly and smoothly. I went to the hospital at 6am, had my water broken at 7am, and without the aid of Pitocin or an epidural, Grace was born at 3:48pm that afternoon. I didn't have the experience of laboring at home or wondering when to go to the hospital--I had an appointment. And, I also felt all of the labor and delivery pains since I didn't have an epidural. Sometimes I think second-time moms are at a bit of a disadvantage because we KNOW what is coming. First-time moms have a fear of the unknown...those of us who have been down this road before have a fear of what we already know: that there is only one way this baby is coming out, and there is a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and pain involved. Since I'm planning to deliver without an epidural again, I am feeling some pretty significant fear about the pain and I also fear that I'll succumb to the epidural.

(By the way, I don't think that women who use epidurals are wimps...y'all are probably the smart ones and any mom, regardless of how her child is born or what medications she uses or doesn't use, is a heroine. For me, I just can't stand the idea of a needle going into my spine and I really don't like the idea of being bedridden during labor and delivery. Part of the reason I think that things went relatively quickly with Gracie was because I was up and moving around for the majority of labor and gravity and position changes helped me deliver quicker.)

The third feeling that I have been experiencing a lot lately has been a bit hard to describe...melancholy, perhaps. This is the last Christmas that Grace will be an only child. We only have three more months of "just the three of us". I know that things are going to change dramatically for our little family come March, and although I know that all of the changes are going to be good, part of me is a little sad at the same time. I love my little family as it is now and I know that things are never going to be the same once the baby comes. And, it's hard for me to imagine not having as much time for Grace as I have for her now. How am I going to fit in our nightly snuggles on the couch or our coloring time or our reading time that I cherish so much when I have a newborn on my hands? I guess I will have to learn how to make that extra special time for her every day once the baby is on the scene...

And I need to stop talking about that NOW...I just put on my mascara and I don't want to have to do it again.

Here's to a healthy, happy, and (hopefully) speedy third trimester!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dread

I have to go to the dentist today. And, the appointment isn't just for a routine cleaning or anything benign like that. I have a feeling large pointy needles and sweating will be involved.

Last weekend I was enjoying a delicious slice of pepperoni pizza when, out of nowhere, CRUNCH. I thought it odd that that one particular bite of pizza would contain a small piece of super crispy crust, but after the dust had settled, I realized that part of one of my back teeth was missing completely. And then the throbbing started. And even though I tried to rationalize in my head that I could put off getting the tooth fixed until after I deliver the baby (Surely I shouldn't have any x-rays taken! What about the anesthetic stuff they use to numb the mouth--is that safe for use in pregnancy!?!), the pain I'm experiencing and the fact that I can only chew on one side of my mouth drove me to make the appointment.

I hate going to the dentist. HATE it. Something about lying prone in a chair with someone all up in my face with needles and drills makes my knees weak. I actually have to use some of the breathing and relaxation techniques I learned in childbirth classes to get me through a dentist appointment. And I didn't even really use those much when I was in labor.

This is the second time this year that something like this has happened. Earlier this year, I chipped a tooth eating some crackers (or something like that--the baby ate the part of my brain that remembers what I was eating) and I ended up in the dentist's chair getting a filling to, well, fill in the piece of tooth that was missing. And, the dentist had to use three syringes of anesthetic to get me to a point where the drilling didn't cause excruciating pain. I must have the world's wimpiest teeth and gums. I left that appointment promising myself that I would never return.

So, here I sit, less than six hours from Appointment Time, with sweaty palms and a case of the jitters. Wait, I'm not supposed to get all stressed out because it could raise my blood pressure...might be time to start some of those breathing exercises now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Magazine's Person of the Year...


Hooray.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Unexpected Upsides to Bed Rest

Turns out that there are actually some positives that come with this forced rest period to which I have been subjected. Who knew? I have been officially working from home for three days now, and I have been on this partial bed rest for almost a week, and so far, here are some of the unexpected pluses that I have experienced:

-I am able to pick Grace up from school 30-45 minutes earlier than I was before. I work until 4 everyday, and unfortunately that's right smack in the middle of rush hour, so my 20-mile commute to pick Grace up from school after work ranged anywhere from 25 minutes to just under an hour, depending on traffic and weather. Now, I leave my house at 4 and I make the half-block trip to Grace's school in less than 5 minutes. It's a beautiful thing--I get extra time with my kiddo each night to snuggle up and read some books or work on a coloring project.

-I am able to sleep in an extra 45 minutes every morning. No commute, so no need to get up at 5:30am and rush out the door. And, I shower over my lunch break, so I can take my time getting myself ready.

-I have been feeling the baby kick with much more frequency than I had been. Not sure if this is because I am just at that point in my pregnancy when the baby's movements are much more noticeable to me, but I am feeling the baby ALL DAY LONG. Maybe it's because it's quiet here and I can focus or maybe it's because I am feeling less stress overall. Either way, it's good to know our little guy is in there and is doing his daily calisthenics.

-Speaking of stress...I am feeling way, way less stress overall. I thought that I would hate being home by myself everyday, but actually, I like it. I've always enjoyed time to myself and at the end of the work day, I feel more relaxed than I ever have before. And, I feel less rushed once Grace gets home because I have had a chance to think through things like what we are having for supper or what homework Grace needs to get accomplished that night. I can mentally prepare for what's coming up that night.

-Instant messaging. My company doesn't allow us to install Instant Messenger on our computers at work, but I have it installed on my laptop at home so Aaron and I can chat while we work. Shhhhhhh...don't tell.

-I'm eating much better now. Now that I am home, I am not tempted to run out to grab fast food at lunch time or go out to lunch with my coworkers. I am eating Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine meals here at home during lunch time and I'm eating healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts instead of chips and candy. And, we are eating better as a family because I have the time to look at what we have in the kitchen and plan our suppers. This is definitely a good thing, because I can't afford to gain another 8 pounds this month.

-And, I think this whole taking it easy thing is actually working. My headaches have decreased. I'm no longer seeing spots and auras when I'm up and walking around. My heart doesn't feel like it's going to jump out of my chest. I feel relatively rested.

Despite my initial misgivings about going on partial bed rest, I think my OB was right in advising this. This is workin' for me, and I have a feeling it's going to help me have a healthier pregnancy and thus, a healthier baby. That's the best upside of them all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Update

Well, the results from the blood work and the 24-hour urine protein tests are back, and thankfully, mercifully, I don't have preeclampsia, which is WONDERFUL news. The high blood pressure is still bad, and if I don't watch it things could get worse, but for right now, Aaron and I are breathing a big sigh of relief.

And, after four days of my modified bed rest, I have managed to convince myself that this whole staying home and taking it easy thing isn't SO bad...and Aaron has totally stepped up, taking care of the laundry, stripping and remaking the beds, making meals, doing dishes, etc. And if he even sees me THINKING about doing anything I'm not supposed to do, he reprimands me and tells me to take it easy. Yep, he's awesome.

So, I have 14 more weeks of this at the most. I think I can hack it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Return of the PIH

So, I have been feeling a little funny for the past week or so...the best way to describe it is like being in a constant head fog or feeling like I am suffering from the worst, most annoying hangover. I have a constant dull headache. I feel dizzy and lightheaded all the time, and nothing helps...not sleeping, not eating, not guzzling water like a camel...nothing. I decided to give my doctor a call today just to check and see if this is normal at 25 weeks of pregnancy. Yeah, not so much, especially given my history of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), so the nurse I spoke with told me to come in this afternoon for a blood pressure and urine check.

When I arrived at the clinic, I waited for a few minutes and then had my blood pressure checked--140/92. Sheesh--my BP usually hovers around 110/60. I could tell by the look on the nurse's face that this was bad news, and soon my doctor mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. She suggested that she give me a full check up today, since my regular monthly appointment was coming up on Friday anyway. I left a quick urine sample and I was off to the exam room. There, my doctor asked me tons of questions about how I have been feeling, did a quick measurement of my uterus (I'm measuring 27 1/2 weeks) and a check of the baby's heartbeat (all is well there), and then my doctor had me lay on my side for a while so she could recheck my BP.

My BP went down after my rest period, so my doctor advised that I go on modified bed rest to keep things in check and prevent things from getting worse. Since I lead a very busy life (what mom doesn't?), I need to cut back where I can. This means working from home for the duration of my pregnancy, cutting back on my weekend traveling, and absolutely no trips to the mall to go Christmas shopping. Also, no more carrying laundry around, no more running up and down the stairs zillions of times a day, and no more vacumming. Basically, I have to take it as easy as I can without becoming totally sedentary.

The good news is that at this point, my doctor doesn't think I have full-blown preeclampsia, although she ran tons of bloodwork today and is having me do the 24-hour urine protein test to be absolutely certain. She seems to think that if I take things easy, we should be able to keep things under control. But, I am bummed out. Truth is, I like going to the office for work--I have made some really good friends there and I will miss seeing them everyday. Working from home is fine, but I will miss the social aspect of work. I also like leading a busy life and being able to go visit out-of-town friends and family over the weekends. I had been looking forward to a marathon Christmas shopping trip.

With the help of my friend Michele, I came up with a list of good things about being on bed rest:

-I'll save tons of money on gas.
-I will be able to dictate what I want to do on Christmas--I don't need to feel obligated to run all over the state. In fact, I probably shouldn't.
-I can wear jammies all day if I want to (although I'm sure my hubby would get tired of seeing that).
-I can get caught up on all of the shows I have been missing.
-No laundry, vacumming, or heavy cleaning.
-Naps and getting some good rest before the baby comes and I stop sleeping entirely.
-Built in excuse to have friends over without having to put a lot of effort into entertaining them.

So, yeah, there is an upside to bed rest, although right now 15 weeks seems like a really, really long time to me. Just another reason to look forward to delivering this baby. In the meantime, you can find me on the couch.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Brain is Shrinking

I was rifling through one of Aaron's books, The Expectant Father, and came across a little pregnancy factoid that was, until that moment, unknown to me. According to the book (and apparently some scientific research), a pregnant woman's brain shrinks three to five percent over the course of her pregnancy. I wish I would have read further to find out why this phenomenon occurs, but my shrunken brain couldn't take in any more information and I had to put the book down.

Aha! So this is why I feel like I'm losing my mind--I actually am. Baby Brain actually exists. This is why I have been going around writing October instead of December whenever I write the date. This is why I don't know what fricking week or day it is. This is how I managed to spend the entire day yesterday with my underwear on backwards and inside out. This is why work tasks that are usually mundane and routine to me now require extra effort to complete. This is why I can't seem to remember details of conversations I have had or where in the HELL I put my keys or cell phone. It all makes sense now.

I did also manage to read that once a pregnant woman delivers her baby, her brain returns to its normal size within a couple of months. Thank goodness. Now if only I could say the same thing for my butt...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

An Observation

Yesterday morning, Aaron, Grace, and I attended a breakfast with Santa/book fair event that took place at Grace's school. We had a blast enjoying our all-you-can-eat stacks of pancakes and browsing around at the book fair and Grace even gathered up all of her courage to sit next to Santa (no way would she sit on his lap) to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. It was a fun morning and we all considered it time well-spent.

One part of the morning made me wrinkle my nose in disgust, though. As we were getting ready to purchase a couple of books at the book fair, I noticed a family next to us who seemed to be engaged in some sort of conflict. The children, who were maybe a year or two older than Grace, were asking their parents if they could purchase a book--just one. The parents were adamantly telling their children that no, they could not buy a book because the books were too expensive and that if they kept asking for a book, they were going to get in trouble. (By the way, one of the kids was holding the same book that I allowed Grace to purchase--the price on the book was $3.99).

Now, I am not one to spoil my child by allowing her to pick out and buy whatever she wants to at the store. I definitely find myself saying, "No," far more than I give in and buy Grace something she might not necessarily need. The thing that got under my skin about this family was that the two parents, as they were denying their children one book each, were sipping from their Venti-sized Starbucks take out cups. I love my Starbucks as much as the next gal, and I really don't like judging other parents because I know how hard parenting is, but if I found myself in a situation where I couldn't buy Grace a book for less than $4, I sure as heck wouldn't be spending $5 on a coffee. And, if I had a choice between the coffee and a book for Grace, you can bet your boots I'd choose the book for Grace.

I don't know--the whole thing just bothered me. The intent of the book fair, in addition to helping kids add to their home libraries, was to raise funds for the school, and that's definitely a good cause in my book. And if any child is showing interest in reading, even if they want to look at a simple picture book, shouldn't that interest be encouraged? Shouldn't we as parents be showing our kids that reading is more important than getting that daily caffeine fix?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Picture


This is a picture that Grace drew for me a day or two after the miscarriage last May. As far as I know, Grace was not prompted to draw this picture to cheer me up or make me feel better, so her drawing it had nothing to do with the miscarriage. But, I have always thought that the timing of this little gift to me from Gracie was very fortuitous. This picture that Grace drew of me gave me an indication of how Grace sees me-- as smiling and happy-- when I desperately needed to be reminded. After receiving this picture, I brought it with me to work and I hung it in my cube to remind me that my little girl sees her mommy as a happy, smiling person and that I need to keep my chin up for her even when I don’t feel much like smiling for any other reason.

Being pregnant after having a miscarriage is far more difficult, emotionally speaking, than I could have ever imagined. Yes, this pregnancy has been going really well so far—I have been feeling pretty darn good, I feel the baby kick all the time (sometimes with so much force that it hurts), the baby’s heartbeat has been good at each of our checkups, and after two ultrasounds, we have been able to determine that everything looks structurally perfect with our son. I have no reason whatsoever to believe that anything will go wrong with this pregnancy and that we will not end up with a healthy child in March. However, a constant fear that wasn’t present when I was pregnant with Grace hovers over me now like a black cloud and has prohibited me from feeling all of the excitement and anticipation that I felt during my first pregnancy. It’s like things are less innocent this time around.

Sure, I am excited about having another baby…I feel a surge of excitement each time I hear the baby’s heartbeat or feel the baby kick or look at his ultrasound pictures or outgrow yet another pair of pants. I gaze longingly at little boy clothes every time we’re out shopping and dream of what they would look like on our baby. But, instead of splurging a little and buying some of those little boy clothes, I pass them up and make a mental note of where I found them so we can buy them after the baby is born. The Pack ‘N’ Play we received from one of my coworkers remains folded up in a corner unopened—I haven’t been able to bring myself to open it up to inspect it yet. I haven’t been able to seriously consider any names for the baby yet because giving the baby a definite name at this point makes me feel too vulnerable.

Maybe all of this is because the day I would have been due to deliver the baby I miscarried is coming up—January 9th. Maybe it’s because my hormones are raging and I feel moody and morose at times the way it is, and that’s just part of being pregnant. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I had a thought when I got pregnant again that somehow this pregnancy would erase the sadness I experienced when I miscarried this past spring. I was wrong. Those who told me that getting pregnant again after miscarrying would be the only way to feel better were also wrong. Those feelings haven’t gone away and I don’t know that they ever will.

I find myself looking at my picture from Grace more and more often these days. Once again, without knowing it, Gracie has managed to help me keep my chin up even when I am feeling my saddest and my most frightened. She reminds me that many, many pregnancies end up happily and that wonderful children like her are born. And, she inspires me to smile, because I never want her to picture me as anything other than her smiling, happy mama.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Little Things I Am Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Aaron warming up my side of the bed each night before I crawl in bed.

Grace saying hilarious, random stuff like, "Aarie, your butt crack is showing," and "Mama, are you coming to see The Nutcrapper with me?" and "Everyone has a butt and some people's are stinky."

2% milk and pasteurized egg nog...mmm...creamy.

Finding my Decemberists CD's after months of searching.

My comfy chair at work that I stole from the conference room several months ago. Also thankful that no one has noticed that the chair is missing from the conference room.

My friend Michele leaving random candies on my desk at work throughout the day to cheer me up.

Kisses on the nose and big unsolicited hugs from Grace.

Laughter, and lots of it. Luckily, laughter abounds in my home.

Baby kicks.

Date nights.

Sundays at home, especially when a nap on the couch with Gracie is included.

Grace sleeping in her room all night long for the past several nights in a row. (!)

Aaron taking good care of me.

Aaron's sympathy symptoms because they show me that he is emotionally invested in this pregnancy and committed to me.

Good talks on the phone with my parents and my sister.

Knowing that next Thanksgiving, we will have another family member to celebrate with.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thoughts...

I am thinking that next year I am going to take an out-of-state vacation during hunting season. Hunting season is in full swing here in the land of cheese and on the drive back to Milwaukee from Madison today, I saw at least ten bloody deer carcasses hanging off the back of various vehicles and was thoroughly disgusted. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant and no longer have neither a stomach of steel nor the patience for gore, but seriously, can't hunters cover those carcasses up with a plastic bag or something before they strap them to your vehicles? I get the whole hunting thing...blah, blah, thinning out the herd....blah, blah, blah, Chronic Wasting Disease...yadda, yadda, yadda, male camaraderie...but the whole thing is just irritating to me this year. And my husband isn't even a hunter.

I'm going to eat a pound of cheese and have a good cry now. Toodles.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dr. Fabulous is Leaving

I had my monthly prenatal visit last week, and at the end of the visit (which was very good overall, apart from hearing that I gained SIX POUNDS last month--and the holidays haven't even arrived yet), Dr. Fabulous announced that as of January 1st, she will be leaving Froedtert Hospital for another practice. She will be seeing patients at a clinic on the north side of Milwaukee and her obstetric patients will deliver at Community Memorial Hospital waaaaaaaaaaaaaay up in Menomonee Falls. She told me that I could either choose to follow her to the new clinic and deliver in Menomonee Falls, or I could choose to stay with the practice at Froedtert and she would refer me to one of her current partners. And then I laid down on the floor, wrapped myself around Dr. Fabulous' ankles, and began to wail, "Noooooooooooo!! Please don't go!!!!!" Aaron was so embarrassed that he had to leave the room. Also, security had to be called.

Seriously, though, I love my doctor. After having a horrible experience with an equally horrible doctor earlier this year, I was so excited to find my current obstetrician. She is caring, compassionate, competent, available, and willing to spend as much time with me as I need her to each and every visit. She remembers little details about our lives and she makes me feel as if I am her only patient, even though I know she has more than a full schedule of preggos. Finding a good doctor like her has been a challenge, and now that I have found her, I don't really want to let her go.

However, delivering at Froedtert has some distinct advantages and I feel very torn between staying with Dr. Fabulous and having to travel a bit or staying at Froedtert and gambling on a new obstetrician. Froedtert is one of the top hospitals in the state and every interaction I have had with anyone in the OB/GYN department, from the receptionists to the nurses, has been positive. There is a good chance I would find another very good doctor at Froedtert. Also, the Birth Center at Froedtert is located immediately adjacent to Childrens' Hospital of Wisconsin, which is one of the top pediatric medical facilities in the nation, so if something was to go wrong with our baby, we would have access to some of the best medical care around. And, there is the proximity factor--Froedtert is a fifteen-minute drive from our house, while the hospital in Menomonee Falls is a thirty-minute drive in the best of circumstances.

That last point is pretty weak--we all know that when I do go in to labor, I'm going to be in labor for more than thirty minutes. I'm just saying Froedtert is closer...just sayin'.

The one drawback to delivering at Froedtert is that Froedtert is a teaching hospital, and to be seen at the OB/GYN clinic, patients have to sign a waiver that basically states that we understand that there is a good chance our primary OB's won't deliver us--there is a really good chance a medical student will deliver our babies. While I'm not against the idea of a student delivering our baby, delivering in Menomonee Falls would seem to increase my chances of actually having Dr. Fabulous at the delivery, and that is appealing to me. I was very fortunate to have a close relationship with the obstetrician who delivered Grace, and I would love to have the same experience while delivering our son.

So, we're still deciding what to do--do we stick with a doctor that trust and really like, or do we change horses in midstream in order to deliver at Froedtert?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Seven Dwarves, Preggo Style

Busty--Ok, I know I have a good-sized rack when I'm not expecting, but whose jugs are these and can I have my normal ones back please? This is getting embarrassing.

Weepy--"The Biggest Loser" has never made me cry like this before. Neither has my favorite Ben Folds CD. Or watching Aaron and Grace play together. Heck, I'm a mess.

Pimply--I had better skin than this when I was a teenager. No acne cream in the world can tackle these robo-zits.

Forgetful--Wait, what was I saying?

Bingey--Today I ate two packets of oatmeal, almost a full pack of dried cherries, a bag of white cheddar popcorn, a bite sized Heath bar, a platter of fajitas, and a bowl of chips and queso. And that was before 1:00pm.

Chunky--Brought to you by Bingey.

Smiley--That goofy, dreamy smile on my face? It's because the baby just kicked.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sometimes, I Wish Parenting Was Just a Bit Easier

I have a four and a half year-old daughter and I am five months pregnant with child number two. There are times I wonder what the hell I was thinking by deciding to have another child. Tonight was one of those nights when I looked at my daughter, looked at my rapidly growing midsection, and then looked up to the heavens and I swear I saw God pointing at me and laughing his ass off. Don't get me wrong--I love being a mother. I LOVE it and that fact, along with wanting Grace to have a sibling, was my motivation for deciding to have another child.

Ok Aaron, those weren't my ONLY motives for wanting to have a baby. Chill out homey.

Sometimes, parenting is a proverbial walk in the park--there are times when Grace is so well-behaved and so sweet and so grateful and so loving that I wonder how I produced such a wonderful human being, and I rub my belly and just CAN'T WAIT for my son to be born so he can join in on all of this wonderful-ness. During those times, I close my eyes and bask in the happiness of my perfect, perfect life.

Then there are nights like tonight. I have been doing this mom thing for a few years now so I should know better than to drag Grace to the mall on a Friday night. Grace is tired on Friday nights from a week of school, I'm tired from, well, everything, and even Aaron was tired tonight from working insane hours this week. And, even on a day when everyone is well-rested and on their best behavior, a trip to the mall can be a daunting thing. The mall is a place that I am certain is designed to turn small children into money hungry, begging, whining monsters and it really should be avoided at if all possible. You put an exhausted child, exhausted parents, and a trip to the mall together and stir them up, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The night started off innocent enough. I wanted to hit the Motherhood Maternity store so I could pick up a swim suit (I can't squeeze into mine anymore and I miss getting in the pool with Grace at swim class). And, since we were going to be there anyway, we figured we would grab some supper at the food court and then Aaron could pop into Old Navy for some new jeans. While we were eating dinner in the food court, Grace asked if we could go to the Disney Store too, and even though a small voice in the back of my head was screaming, "Danger! Danger!!" I agreed because Grace has been doing a good job with sleeping in her own room lately and I thought a small treat might be in order.

We decided to hit the Disney Store first to get it out of the way, and as soon as we entered the store, it was clear things were going to end badly. Grace immediately spotted about 8,000 things that she had to have RIGHT NOW, and so I morphed into the evil "no" machine, which made Grace cranky. I told her that she could pick out one small thing from the sales area as a reward for going to sleep in her own room, and she quickly agreed. After much hemming and hawing, Grace decided on a Princess Ariel pillow for her bed and we went to the counter to pay. However, during the very short walk to the counter, Grace saw another forty things that she wanted, and by the time we actually got to the counter, she was dragging her feet and pouting because we wouldn't buy her anything else. Her sadness was bolstered by watching other kids' parents lugging bags and bags and bags of Disney stuff out of the store just for their little angels. Grace was bordering on tears and at this point, I considered putting the pillow back on the shelf and going home. I told Grace this and she straightened up for the time being. We paid and left the store.

However, on the way to Motherhood Maternity, Grace decided that she wanted to be the leader (this is a big thing for her) and threw a fit when I dared to walk in front of her. She started crying and it looked like we were headed for a full-on, child flinging herself on the floor tantrum, but Aaron quickly intervened and told her to pull it together RIGHT NOW or the Ariel pillow was going back to the store. Grace kept right on crying, except now she was saying, "Aarie hurt my feelings!" so I decided that we should probably end this whole fiasco and head home, but then Grace settled down quickly so we kept on shopping. We should have cut our losses and headed home--shouldn't I know better by now?

After an unsuccessful stop at Motherhood Maternity (maternity clothes are ridiculously overpriced and generally hideous), we decided to take advantage of the relatively calm situation and head to Old Navy. Another mistake. I spotted a display containing some lip gloss that was on clearance, so I headed over to pick some up. As soon as Grace saw that there was pink (pink!!) lip gloss, she was all, "But I can't have lip gloss, right?" which is her way of asking for something she wants because clearly I have somehow planted negative expectations in my child's brain. I told her no, she couldn't have her own tube (see, so negative) but she could share mommy's if she wanted to. Again, more crying, and I could see Aaron's pulse in his forehead, so I sent him off to shop by himself for a time while I attempted to distract Grace long enough for him to maybe find some jeans.

I should stop here to say that Grace really isn't a crier when she doesn't get stuff she wants. She is used to hearing "no". As a mom, part of me wants to give my child everything she wants, but then my reasonable side kicks in and reminds me that not only is it not feasible to give Grace everything she wants, but I believe that giving in to her every desire would be doing her a disservice. She needs to learn that she won't be able to get everything she wants to whenever she wants it and in general, when I tell Grace "no", she handles it well. No, Grace was crying tonight because she was just plain pooped.

Anyhoo, no jeans at Old Navy for Aaron, so we decided to make one last quick stop at Kohl's before heading home. No major blowups there, and happily, Aaron was able to find some stuff on clearance and I snagged two maternity tops that were less than $10 apiece. Woot, woot!! After we finished up at Kohl's we made our way back through the Food Court (where Grace asked for a Cinnabon and I said no---more crying) and headed home.

Grace was just about asleep when we got home, so I thought I would be able to get her upstairs and to bed without much trouble. I was wrong. Grace asked for a snack so I gave her a piece of string cheese, which she ate two bites of before deciding she wanted apple juice. However, I neglected to wait for Grace to watch me actually pour the juice in her cup, and because of this, Grace didn't see me throw away the empty juice container and cried because I didn't give her enough juice--she didn't see that I had given her all that we had left. Ugh. At this point, I decided that it was bed time, so I instructed Grace to go in the living room to get her jammies on. More foot dragging and pouting until I told her to get her butt in the living room to which she yelled, "Don't say 'butt'! It's a bad word!" Grace was reminded that she shouldn't talk back to her mother, and she promptly started crying again, wailing, "You hurt my feelings!!! You made me saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!"

Finally, we got Grace ready for bed and I marched her upstairs. Naturally, as soon as she hit the pillow, she was asleep and as I gazed at my angelic-looking, sleeping daughter, I wondered when I would learn that Friday nights are no longer for going out--Friday nights are for staying in. When I think about the past several Friday nights, each time we have decided to go out and do something, either Grace or I or both of us have ended up in tears. Those Fridays when we have stayed home, things have gone well for us.

What am I going to do with two kids? When it comes to Friday nights, I'm not going to do a darn thing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

GObama

Yay! Obama took Wisconsin!!

I am very interested in and participate in elections in general, but voting today sent shivers down my spine. I can't remember feeling this emotionally invested in an election and having a chance to go and vote with my daughter and seeing things turn out in Obama's favor (at least so far) has been an incredible experience. Makes me want to put on some red, white, and blue overalls, grab some sparklers and chant, "USA!!" It's corny, I know, but over the past eight years, I haven't had much opportunity to feel this good about my country.

OMG...they just called Ohio for Obama...it's looking like a good night for my guys. And the biggest two reasons why this all means so much to me??


and

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My Halloween Princess

Surprise, surprise...Grace wanted to be Princess Ariel for Halloween. I'm hoping that next year we're able to convince her to at least dress up as a different princess--this is the second year in a row that Grace has insisted on an Ariel costume. At least she's consistent!!

Here are some photos that we took right before trick-or-treating (damn, she's cute):

Sheesh, look that that preggo belly. 20 weeks today, baby...we're halfway there!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh Boy!

Here are the pictures from yesterday's ultrasound!!

Profile Shot:


Close up of his face...look at that little button nose!!


The creepy Halloween picture...


And a little footsie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If You Don't Want to Know Our Baby's Gender, Stop Reading NOW

Giving you time to navigate away from this page if you don't want to know our baby's gender..
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It's a .................................................................................................












.....boy.

Yippee!!! I have always wanted one girl and one boy, and so my dreams are fulfilled.

My very first baby dream during this pregnancy was about a little boy, so ever since then, I have just had a feeling that this time around, we would be having a boy. Then, when my morning sickness lingered beyond the end of the first trimester, I started to wonder whether my intuition was wrong and I was carrying a girl. However, I started feeling better, pretty darn great, actually, around week 14, so the boy thoughts kicked back in. Turns out I was right!

And there is NO DOUBT that this baby is a boy. Our sonographer was peeking around down near the baby's legs, and we happened to catch one shot in which the baby's legs were spread and there IT was, sticking up proudly as if the baby was saying, "Hey Mom and Dad! Check it out! No hands!" I know with some ultrasounds there is a shadow of a doubt because the sonographer isn't able to get a good view of the baby's goods...there's no doubt with our little guy.

So, we are very, very excited to be expecting a son. Even saying it out loud is unreal to me...I am having a son. How does one raise a boy? I have a daughter and a younger sister--I have no experience with raising boys!!! Luckily, I think my husband might have a clue on this one.

Another piece of good news came out of the ultrasound--based on the measurements taken and the very detailed look the doctor and sonographer had of the baby, our chances of the baby having Down Syndrome were reduced by 50%. Everything looks perfect structurally, and the baby isn't showing any of the soft markers that Downs babies show. The doctor was not able to find any major defects and told us that he didn't think any further testing was necessary. He wasn't able to rule it out completely, saying the only way to tell for sure would be to have an amnio, but he felt secure in reducing our chances significantly. Double yippee!!

I'll post some photos from the ultrasound once I have a chance to scan them in.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Origins

Tonight, on the walk home from school:

Grace: Mama, Aarie grew up in Green Bay.

Me: Yep, he did.

Grace: Know what else?

Me: Hm?

Grace: I grew up in Pink Bay. Really, I did, a long time ago.

I wonder what her favorite color is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Batman vs. The Penguin

Aaron showed this video to me tonight, and it made me chuckle. Who knew the writers of the old Batman series were so prophetic? Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Words of Wisdom

I promise that after the election, my posts will return to dealing with mainly my child and pregnancy and other details of life in general, but until then, I can't help but keep throwing my political opinions and thoughts out there, thinking that maybe I will reach someone. So, here goes another toss...

I was so, so pleased to hear that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. I was fortunate enough to be near a TV yesterday morning when Mr. Powell made his endorsement on Meet the Press (R.I.P. Tim Russert) and I was struck by his words and sentiments. Believe it or not, there are a few Republican leaders whom I admire--Colin Powell has generally been one of them (except for that whole Iraq War thing), along with (gasp) John McCain, before this election turned him into Dr. Evil.

See, he has the air quotes down and everything. Totally.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have grown increasingly angry with this whole election. One of the things I admired about John McCain was that during his campaign in 2000 he managed NOT to go negative against George Bush, despite the lashing he was taking by W and Karl Rove and the rest of that pleasant gang. Although I didn't agree with his positions and was a Gore supporter all the way, at least I respected him and felt he was taking the high road. This election, I see John McCain resorting to the same type of fear-mongering and lies that were used against him in 2000, and any respect I had for him is gone. What's worse is that the lies and fear that he and his VP candidate are spreading about Barack Obama are ACTUALLY taking hold--people actually believe and buy into this crap. I see a level of hatred and fear in people that I haven't seen in any election that I can remember, and much of it is due to McCain's campaign unapologetically sowing the seeds of fear and suspicion.

The latest of these attacks on Obama suggests that because of Obama's comments about taxes and "spreading the wealth", he is a socialist. Hearing Sarah Palin call Barack Obama a socialist is enough to make me toss my cookies, but the fact that people actually believe this is even worse. However, I was heartened to hear the following quote from Colin Powell today on CNN :

"...Now I guess the message this week is, "We're going to call him a socialist, Mr. Obama is now a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have."

Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who paid them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there is nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that that makes you a socialist, I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate.

I don't want my taxes raised. I don't want anybody else's taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don't want to have a $12 trillion national debt, and I don't want to see an annual deficit that's over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So, how do we deal with all of this?"

Words of wisdom that come during a time when it seems like sense and reason have been tossed out the window. Thanks, Mr. Powell, for speaking up for what is right instead of obediently towing the party line. It was a breath of fresh air.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anniversary Weekend...Chicago Rocks

Last Thursday was our one year wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, Aaron and I decided to head down to Chicago, one of our favorite places, to relax and spend some quality time together this weekend. When we were dating, our very first weekend trip together was to Chicago, and we have many fond memories of that trip, so we figured Chicago would be a fabulous place to go to celebrate our anniversary.

After dropping Grace off with my parents on Saturday morning, Aaron and I boarded the Amtrak train at the airport in Milwaukee and enjoyed a leisurely trip down to Union Station in Chicago. (By the way, the train is the ONLY way to travel between Milwaukee and Chicago--with all of the construction on the way and gas prices still as high as they are, Amtrak offers a low cost and stress-free alternative.) Once in Chicago, we hailed a taxi to our hotel--Aaron had arranged our hotel accommodations in secret, so when we arrived at the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, I was both surprised and delighted to learn we would be staying at the same hotel we stayed at during our first trip to Chicago together.

The room we stayed in at the hotel was certainly different this trip than it was during the first trip. During our first time, we stayed in a standard room, which was very nice, but this time, Aaron surprised me (again) by reserving a suite on the 11th floor with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park:

After getting settled in our room, we decided grab some lunch and then to walk over to the Art Institute of Chicago, where we spent a few hours enjoying at the wonderful art collection on display. I was particularly impressed by the sculpture gallery at the museum--I had been to the Art Institute before and missed this part, and I was very glad to have experienced it this time around. Then we browsed the gift shop at the museum for a while, and then decided to head back to the hotel to get dressed for dinner.

Our plan for dinner was to head to the Frontera Grill, which is one of Chef Rick Bayless' restaurants in Chicago. We watch Rick Bayless' cooking show pretty regularly on PBS, and ever since we discovered that he owns two restaurants in Chicago, we have told ourselves that we would check them out some time. I attempted to make reservations at the Frontera Grill before we headed to Chicago, but they were booked up. The hostess did tell me on the phone, though, that we could come to the restaurant and be placed on the waiting list, and that the wait was typically an hour to an hour and a half. Not so bad, we thought.

Well, we took a cab from the hotel to the Frontera Grill, and upon arriving we learned that the wait was going to be two and a half hours. It was already 6:15pm and this pregnant mama was hungry, so with heads hung in defeat, we walked out of the restaurant and decided to try and find something else. Problem was, we were in an area of the city that neither of us was very familiar with, so we walked aimlessly back towards the direction of our hotel in hopes of finding a decent place to eat (luckily it wasn't too cold out).

We did manage to stumble across a fabulous restaurant on Dearborn--the Trattoria Ten Restaurant. The place looks very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, we were pleased to find a fine restaurant with a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The service and the food did not disappoint, either. I savored a delicious meal of ravioli stuffed with asparagus and provolone cheese, and Aaron enjoyed pork tenderloin and marscapone potatoes. We lingered in the restaurant for a while, enjoying the quiet and intimate (and child-free) atmosphere, and then decided to walk back to the hotel for the night. On the way, we encountered an Old Navy store, and I was very pleased to find that this particular Old Navy had a maternity section. Score!!

This morning, Aaron treated me to an extra hour of sleep, which was an anniversary gift in and of itself, and then we ordered room service for breakfast. After we got ready, we took a stroll down Jackson Street to a Starbucks and then made our way to Barnes and Noble for some quick shopping before it was time to head back to Union Station to catch our train. Soon, we boarded our train heading back home and back to reality.

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend. A lot of the things we did this weekend were pretty similar to things we did that first trip to Chicago, but this time, I got to go home with Aaron instead of having to head back to Oshkosh alone, and that made this trip a million times better than the first.

Friday, October 17, 2008

For All of You Undecideds...

Because these two women wrote about this more eloquently than I could ever hope to, please take a moment to read these two blog posts about Wednesday's debate and John McCain's infamous air quotes when talking about abortion:

http://www.alittlepregnant.com/alittlepregnant/2008/10/why-no-one-with.html


http://www.myfunnyfunnyfamily.com/2008/10/httpwww.html

I don't understand how any woman or any one who cares about a woman could vote for John McCain after taking all of this into serious consideration. Anyone who reads my blog regularly or knows me at all knows that I am a Democrat through and through and that there was no way in hell I would vote for John McCain to begin with. However, after watching Wednesday's debate and after some serious thought, I just feel so ANGRY about this and the thought of John McCain possibly becoming our president makes we want to make a run for the border (and I'm not talking about taking a trip to Taco Bell). I am pregnant right now and perhaps that is why this is affecting me so much. As I think about what is taking place inside of me, one thing that scares the hell out of me is the idea that someone else could make a decision about what happens with my baby.

The other thing that I can't figure out is that anti-abortionists tend to oppose government intrusion into other parts of their lives but they think it's okay for the government to control the contents of a woman's womb. Huh? I just don't get it. It seems like faulty logic to me.

Whatever your political tendencies are, I would encourage you to research all of this a little further and consider the real danger that was lurking in John McCain's statements regarding abortion.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Year Ago Today...


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pretty Fall Pics

Although I'm in denial that Summer is actually over and we are beginning the rapid descent into Winter Ickiness, I managed to pull myself together enough today to snap some pics of the changing leaves as Grace and I joined some extended family members at our cabin in the Northwoods.

Yeah, Fall is pretty, I suppose. :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

S.O.S. and Other Happenings

Tonight, Grace attended her first peaceful protest rally. The Milwaukee Public School Board in its wisdom (read: stupidity) has proposed merging Grace's wonderful elementary school with another school in the Bay View neighborhood. This is a much bigger school located in a not-so-friendly area of the city and unlike Tippecanoe (Grace's current school), this other school does not have an arts and humanities focus, so that aspect of Grace's education hangs in the balance. And, the building that Tippe is housed in now would be used to house an at-risk school for overage students. I suppose this merger thing isn't all the school district's fault...lack of funding has forced the district to make some tough decisions and many small schools district wide have been forced to merge with other schools in order for the district to survive. It just sucks all around.

There are many reasons why our family (and many other families with children at Tippe) oppose this new merger. As I mentioned, Tippe is a specialty school, focusing on the arts and humanities, and even though the arts program may continue as part of the merger, I hate the thought of Grace not having this as part of her education. At Tippe, Grace gets to participate in all kinds of cool things--she takes regular field trips to see a variety of children's shows, her school has a special partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Symphony, and in first grade, students start learning to play a string instrument. I have a hard time believing all of those things and the other great things happening at Tippe would survive a merger with another, much larger school.

One of the other great things about Tippe is its size. Tippe is a small school, but it houses children in K4 through grade eight, so each class size is small and everyone knows everyone else. It amazes me every time I pick Grace up at night to see her waving at kids in different grades or to hear teachers in the upper grades calling her by name. It is a very close knit school, and it's a great feeling to know that my child is not just a number...she's cared about and known throughout the school.

Another huge benefit that Tippe offers us is its location. We can literally see the school out of our living room window. Aaron walks Grace to school each morning, and every night, I park my car in our driveway and walk over to school to pick her up. We don't have to worry about bussing Grace across the city, driving her to school in inclement weather, or having to find parking at drop off and pick up time. It's so convenient, and having Grace at Tippe makes us feel like a real part of our neighborhood. If this merger happens and we end up having this at-risk school for overage students a block from our house, you can rest assured that our house will be on the market faster than Sarah Palin can say "maverick".

When Grace and I first moved to Milwaukee, I was hesitant to have Grace attend one of Milwaukee's public schools because I have heard some not-to-great things about the district. However, from the moment we toured Tippe almost a year ago, I knew that this would be the right school for Grace, and I felt secure sending her there. If the district decides to close Tippe, not only will they be doing a huge disservice to the students and the neighborhood at large, but they will be losing one of their families--I'm not sure I could send Grace to another MPS school.

Tonight we attended a protest rally at Tippe that was intended to draw media attention to the merger in anticipation of a vote coming up on October 23rd. My heart broke watching my little girl holding a sign and chanting, "Save Our School."

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Much to my surprise, I am sorta enjoying pregnancy this time around. My pregnancy with Grace was difficult...at this point in my pregnancy with Grace, I will still puking my guts out daily and generally feeling terrible every single day. The first trimester of this pregnancy had me worried that I might have a repeat performance of pregnancy #1. But, although I still have my moments where I feel like crap, I have noticed a pretty significant energy boost within the last two weeks, and I'm actually able to enjoy food again. The key for me has been a combination of eating almost continuously throughout the day and sleeping as much as possible. Turns out this pregnancy thing is actually pretty tolerable. And, I have been feeling some gentle baby kicks over the past week or so, and that makes it all worth it.

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I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I fell asleep during the debate last night. I couldn't help myself...Barack was doing pretty well and I was lulled to sleep by the old dude with the shiny head. The one thing in the debate that stuck out for me was hearing John McCain refer to Barack as, "That one." OMG...could he BE any more condescending and disrespectful? McCain looked like a desperate, angry old man who was hosing down a pesky kid whose was trying to retrieve a ball out of his yard.

And seriously, John, I am NOT your friend. So stop calling me that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This Debate is Making Me Want to Pull My Hair Out

Either I am going to pull my hair out or lob my lap top at the TV. I've always been a huge Joe Biden fan so I have a bias here, but watching Sarah Palin at this debate is literally making me crazy.

How about actually answering the questions that are being asked instead of telling us what a "maverick" you are.

It's NU-CLE-AR not NU-KU-LER.

Get those bangs under control.

Wipe that contented, self righteous smile off your face. You probably think you look and sound smart. Guess what...you don't.

Yes, Alaska is a big state. GEOGRAPHICALLY. As Aaron just reminded me, Alaska has a smaller population than the city of Milwaukee. Get over yourself.

I think it's so sad that Sarah Palin will be looked at as a success in this debate just because she didn't embarrass herself or her party. It was clear that she was coached on a set of talking points and she stuck to them. But I am left feeling like we deserve more than a set of talking points.

And Joe Biden kicked ass. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aar

One of the best days of my life happened 35 years ago today, and I wasn't even born yet. Happy birthday to the other half of my heart.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not That I Want to Sound Like a Fair Weather Fan, But...

...Aaron Rodgers sucks. And, for that matter, the Packers sucked today. The offense sucked. The defense sucked. The special teams sucked.

And, by the by, Brett Favre had one of the best games of his career today. He set a touchdown record for the Jets. Man, we could have used that arm today.

I hate to be one of these people who keeps remembering the good ol' Brett days, but when I see Aaron Rodgers cowering like a little wussy on the sidelines after some little injury, forcing the Packers to throw in some rookie QB (who looks like he's twelve years old), I can't help but remember the MANY times I watched Brett play injured, puking or bleeding or both, and rally the Pack to victory. He has what a lot of players don't have...he has grit. John Wayne grit. And that grit was sorely missed today.

At least the Brew Crew won and the Mets lost today, so the Brewers are in the playoffs. Yeah, baby.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Injustice

One of the greatest injustices about being pregnant is that if you get sick while pregnant (sick meaning something other than morning sickness), you can't take any of the good drugs that the non-preggos get to take. And while you're not getting much-needed relief from said drugs, you're supposed to eat well and rest as much as possible. But you can't do either of those things because your head is so full of snot that it feels like it's being squeezed in a vice grip.

Yeah, I'm sick. I knew it was coming...virtually everyone in my office is sick and since we all breathe the same stale recycled air everyday, I knew it was just a matter of time before the plague would descend on my cube. Sure enough, a couple of days ago, I started with a sore throat which graduated into a nasty head cold yesterday, which morphed into this horrible sinus pain, congestion, phlegmy thing that has me clinging to my couch for dear life today. Oh, and for some reason, there has been a nasty morning sickness resurgence this week, probably due to all of the phlegm and the fact that I can't bring myself to eat anything of substance.

I called the doctor's office today to find out what I could take to find some relief, and the answer was (almost) nothing, even though the nurse was quite sure I have a bad case of the flu that will probably last 7-10 days. Tylenol for the headache/fever. Robitussin for the cough. And that's it. I can't even take Sudafed, because although my blood pressure has been awesome recently, I had blood pressure issues when I was pregnant with Grace, and so Sudafed and any other cold medicine is out of the question for me because it could raise my blood pressure. Ugh. So, I'll sit here with an ice pack on my head to try to get rid of some of the excruitating sinus pain and try to shove some food down my gullet.

(One good thing about being stuck on the couch all day--I got to watch day time TV for the first time in ages, and I also got to see the "English Patient" episode of Seinfeld. Classic.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Perfect Sunday

Our lives are generally pretty crazy, what with both Aaron and I each working an average of 50 hours per week and spending nearly every weekend on the road, either visiting family or friends, so when we have a day or two during the weekend at home, we tend to take complete advantage of the situation and do something fun around the city. Lately, Grace has been mentioning to us that she wants to go to Apple Holler (since she went there once with day care and loved it), which is an orchard/restaurant/farm/petting zoo located about 30 miles south of Milwaukee, and being that Autumn has been in the air and I have been jonesing for some apple cider, we decided to go to Apple Holler today.

I was surprised at the huge crowd of people at Apple Holler when we arrived, but then it made sense to me when I remembered that the Packers play late tonight. We immediately headed over to the food area to participate in the yummy brat fry that was taking place, and then we headed to the orchard to go on a hay ride. (Hay ride is a misnomer--it was more of a trailer-being-pulled-by-a-tractor ride, but it was fun nonetheless.) During the ride, we were afforded a look at the vast expanse of the apple orchard as well as a tour though an enchanted forest, complete with leprechauns and elves and animals of all kinds (wooden, but still cool) and jugglers and strolling flutists (actual humans). Grace was beside herself with excitement, screaming, "Elf! Leprechaun! Apples! Juggling guy!" I had to laugh.

After the ride, we rented a wagon and headed back out to the orchard to pick our apples. I was so impressed with the size of the orchard and the wide variety of apples that were offered. We started off in a large area of Golden Delicious apples, and for the first time in my life I picked an apple off of a tree and ate it immediately. Grace was just amazed at the apple trees and the fact that we could just walk up to one and pick off some fruit to eat. Good stuff. We spent a long time in the orchard, looking at the different apples and just enjoying some peace and quiet outside. We ended up with a half bushel of apples of all different varieties (I made sure we threw in plenty of Cortlands--my favorite variety) and then when we were tired and full of fresh apples, we pulled the wagon back into the main grounds and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, sitting on hay bales and listening to live music, and watching Grace play in the super fun kids' area.

(The only thing that made me sad about Apple Holler was the apple cider, which I was looking forward to. Being a preggo, I have to make sure that things like apple cider are pasteurized before I drink them, but when I asked a worker whether or not the cider is pasteurized, I received the very vague answer that the cider is "gently pasteurized". Hmm. When I probed for further information, I was told that instead of traditional pasteurization, Apple Holler used ultraviolet rays to pasteurize their cider. We ended up buying a gallon anyway, but I've done some research tonight, and it seems that the jury is still out on that method of pasteurization. So I'm not drinking any of the tasty cider. Sad.)

On our way home from Apple Holler, Aaron and I chatted about all of the things we wanted to do with our pile o' apples. One of the things we decided to do, along with making apple pies, applesauce, apple jelly, and canning apples, was to make apple dumplings. As soon as we got home and Grace woke up from her car nap, Grace and I made a batch of homemade apple dumplings together. Grace and I haven't done much baking together recently, and I had forgotten how much fun it is to bake with her. And she is so freaking good at it!! I watched in awe as she mixed ingredients and flawlessly rolled out the dough and formed the dumplings perfectly and placed them gently in the pan. And then she helped me clean up with as much gusto as she put into making the dumplings. What a kid.

Grace and I wrapped up the evening cuddling on the couch, watching Sesame Street and talking with Aaron about our fun day. I love my family more than anything, but days like today remind me that life is so fantastic with a family of my own. Yes, it is hard sometimes, and sometimes I need a little break, but the most fun that I have and the most fulfilling moments that I enjoy are with my little family. We had the most perfect day together and I will go to bed with a smile on my face.

Now, if we could just get those Packers to look a little better tonight...

Friday, September 19, 2008

And The Golden Stirrup Award Goes To...

...my new obstetrician, Dr. Fabulous. Ok, that's not REALLY her name, but she's that awesome. And if any of you are in Milwaukee and seeking an OB-GYN, call me, email me, whatever...I'll give you her name. And good luck getting in to see her, because she's so totally booked.

Anyway, today was my monthly prenatal checkup and given the results we received earlier this week from my first trimester screen, I was eagerly anticipating this appointment so that I could discuss those results with my doctor.

After checking the usual stuff at the beginning of the appointment (all of which was fine), the doctor asked us if we had any questions regarding the results. We started off by telling her that at this point, we have decided not to undergo any further testing because we know we would not terminate the pregnancy either way. Dr. Fab told us that based on the results, this approach sounded reasonable. She also suggested that since I have an anatomy ultrasound scheduled on October 28th, perhaps we could take a close look at the results from that study to see if everything looks okay anatomically. She told us that sometimes an ultrasound done at that stage of pregnancy can pick up some anatomical characteristics (or lack of) that Downs babies can have. So if everything looks good on the ultrasound, then we don't need to do anything else, but if something is found on the ultrasound, then maybe we could revisit the idea of further testing solely for preparation purposes. Basically, she said that yes, she would be a little concerned, but she wouldn't freak out at this point. Sounded reasonable to us.

I also asked her about my low levels of the PAPP-A hormone and what dangers that would pose to our baby later on in pregnancy. Ironically, Dr. Fab just attended a conference on this very thing this week, and she told me that about half of the doctors who attended the conference thought the whole PAPP-A thing is bogus (and I had the vague sense that she was one of those doctors) while the other half of the crowd thinks it's a valuable measurement that should be followed closely. She told me that the position at Froedtert, the hospital where I will be delivering and the hospital my doctor is associated with, is that women with low levels of this hormone will have two fetal non-stress tests per week during each week after 34 weeks, one ultrasound per week after 34 weeks to ensure baby is still growing properly, and they will not be allowed to carry the baby past their due date. I should probably start preparing my boss now.

The other thing that Dr. Fab said in regards to the PAPP-A thing is that she has had several patients with the same issue that I have, and none of those patients has had a single problem because of it. Consider me reassured.

The highlight of the visit was hearing the baby's heartbeat. Since my appointment was later in the afternoon, we had to bring Grace with us because keeping her at school till 6pm just didn't seem like a prudent idea. Grace was excited to come with, but she was extra excited when Dr. Fab told her that she would need her help finding the baby's heartbeat. Dr. F had Grace pull up a chair by the table, squirt the doppler goo on my belly, and then together they probed around my belly until we heard Tater's heartbeat loud and clear. Grace's eyes grew wide as she listened, and Dr. F even had Grace listen to both my heartbeat and Tater's so that she could hear the differences in the rates of the two. It was a very cool moment for all of us. Aaron and I have been very careful to make sure Grace feels as included in this whole process as possible, and Dr. F really stepped up to help that happen. I am so grateful.

Anyhoo, it was a good visit. And now it's time for my nightly bowl of Cookie Crisp before passing out on the couch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Put the Needle Down and Back Away Slowly

Last week Thursday, I had my first trimester screening test done. The test consisted of an ultrasound and some blood work, and the main purpose of the test in general is to find out the probability a baby has of having certain genetic disorders (Down Syndrome being the main one). It's a test that is done to obtain a probability percentage of the baby having a genetic disorder, and based on that percentage, parents can decide whether or not they want to undergo further testing (amnio, CVS) to find out for almost certain whether or not the baby will have some sort of a disorder.

At first, Aaron and I decided that we were not going to have the test done since it's optional. We were so thrilled that we were able to get pregnant again so quickly after our miscarriage earlier this year that we didn't even consider needing any further testing. However, after my first visit with Dr. Fabulous and seeing our little one on an ultrasound, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to have the first trimester screen done. After all, it would give us another opportunity to see our baby via ultrasound, and given the fact that I am only 30 and Aaron and I don't have any genetic disorders in our familites, we figured the probability of something being wrong was relatively small.

The nurse from the Maternal Fetal Care Center called me yesterday with the results of my screen. There were two sets of results. The first dealt with Trisomy 18 (aka Edward's Syndrome), which is a genetic disorder in which the baby has an extra 18th chromosome. The prognosis for these babies isn't very good--the baby can have heart abnormalities, kidney malfunction, and other scary things. Based on the results of my testing and my age, the baby has a 1 in 740 or .013% chance of having this disorder, so those results were very reassuring to me.

The second set of results dealt with Down Syndrome. Given my age alone, the chances of the baby having Down Syndrome is 1 in 490. However, based on the results of the bloodwork and the ultrasound, the probability increased to 1 in 22, or just shy of 5% (4.55%). The reasons that the probability went up so much is because I have a higher than normal amount of hCG in my blood and a lower than normal (but very close to normal) amount of the PAPP-A hormone (which measures the health of the placenta).

When the nurse delivered that news, she kept saying, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," and the whole time I was thinking, "Wait, you just told me that my baby has a 95% chance of NOT having Down Syndrome. Why are you apologizing?" I asked her this, and she told me that having a probability of 5% is considered a positive result for the screening and that further testing is warranted and recommended. She went on to tell me that the two tests that we could consider to find out with almost total certainty whether or not the baby will have a genetic disorder are chorionic villus sampling (a placental biopsy) or amniocentesis. And then she proceeded to convince me with all of her might that I should have one of these tests done. "We can do the CVS tomorrow if you want!" "Or today!" "Anytime you want!" "We can have the results back in one day!" "You can rest easy!" I could almost feel her pulling me through the phone and into the clinic.

Whoa biatch. Put down the needle and step away from my placenta.

First of all, if the baby does have Down Syndrome (and chances are very slim that it does), we wouldn't do anything about it. We would keep the baby. No question. Also, both the CVS and the amnio carry a risk (albeit a small one--about 1/2%) of miscarriage, and I just had one of those, so I don't want to risk having another one when we could lose a perfectly healthy baby. That and the thought of having a needle shoved in either my cervix or my abdomen freaks me the hell out. Some women may jump at the chance for this testing--I am not one of those women.

I am almost wishing that I hadn't had the screening done, just because we knew from the beginning that no matter what the results were, we are keeping the baby, and now we are going to have this miniscule chance of the baby having a genetic disorder in the back of our minds for the rest of the pregnancy. My mom said something very wise when I talked to her about this. She works in an OB-GYN clinic, and she said that sometimes she thinks that there are too darn many tests nowadays. Normally I don't agree with the whole "we used to do things this way and you kids turned out fine" logic, but I had to nod in agreement with her when she told me she had two blood tests done with both of her pregnancies and she's glad that was all that was offered to her.

I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and I intend to talk to her about this at length. I am pretty sure (because she is fabulous) that she is going to be supportive of our decision not to have further testing done. The one thing that did concern me and I need further clarification on is the low levels of PAPP-A. From the research I have done (and the information out there is sparse at best), low levels of this hormone can indicate future problems with the viability of the placenta in the third trimester--and this requires increased monitoring during the third trimester--and also can indicate an increased risk of preeclampsia. Since I had high blood pressure when I was pregnant with Gracie and needed to deliver early because of it, the preeclampsia thing scares me a bit.

We'll see what Dr. Fab says tomorrow. More to come...

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Does Eating Almost a Pound of Dried Apricots in One Hour Spell?

D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R

or maybe

G-A-S

or even better

C-R-I-P-P-L-I-N-G N-A-U-S-E-A


One thing that I have discovered with this pregnancy is that as long as I am not hungry, I am able to keep my nausea under control. Another thing that I have learned is that foods that I normally would crave (McDonald's fries, greasy Mexican food, sweets) now make me sicker than sick and as long as I stick with dense foods that are bland and filling, I am good to go. Today, as I choked down some saltines smothered with chunky peanut butter at work, I decided to make a dietary change and give fruits and veggies a try, so I headed down the street to the Fresh Market to grab something healthy for lunch.

I headed straight for the dried fruit section, where I picked up a tub of dried apricots and a tub of cinnamon-coated dried apples. I also grabbed some pita chips, organic fruit roll-ups, lime seltzer water, along with a cup of turkey chili and a Caesar salad for lunch. Good stuff, methinks.

Well methinks wrong. The turkey chili made me gag at the first sniff, and the dressing on the Caesar salad had an overpowering egg smell, also making me gag. I glanced at the rest of my purchases and zeroed in on the dried apricots. Dense? Check. Relatively bland? Check. Filling? Check. I dove into the tub of apricots, and for the first time today, I felt human again.

I brought the tub of 'cots with me into a client conference call I was participating in this afternoon with my boss and her boss. At first, the other two ladies in the room chuckled at my huge vat of apricots and marveled at the fact that I had eaten at least half of them, but when I explained that they were working with my stomach and that I was feeling good, they gave me the, "Yeah, you're so totally pregnant" shrug and moved on.

Then, halfway through the call, I must have started to turn green because my boss's boss grabbed the apricots away from me and hid them behind her laptop where I couldn't see them anymore. I spent the rest of the day doubled over, alternating between painful gas pains and agonizing bouts of nausea. I even left work a little early so I could head home for some couch time. As of right now, hours later, I am still suffering.

I am thirteen weeks pregnant today. I thought this nastiness was supposed to be waning by now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's Up, Homey?

Hey y'all, my name is Tater*. Here is my very first picture:


It's a little fuzzy, but this picture was taken last Thursday when my mommy and daddy went to visit the nice ladies at the hospital where I will be born to have my first trimester screening test. So far, everything looks good. I have a nice heartbeat of 167 bpm, I have two arms and two legs, and Mommy thinks I have Daddy's nose. At first I didn't want to cooperate with the nice lady who was doing Mommy's ultrasound--the lady wanted me to lay flat on my back, but I was all nice and cozy, sleeping on my side. Mommy decided to play a trick on me, though...she coughed really hard and that woke me up and made me dance around for a while, and finally I settled back down on my back, and that made everyone very happy.

These days, I am just hanging out in my warm, cushy world, sometimes making Mommy feel pretty sick, but mostly just growing and growing. Mommy and Daddy will have more pictures to show in another six weeks or so, when Mommy has another ultrasound!!

*The name Tater evolved due to the very first baby dream Mommy had after she found out she was pregnant with me. Mommy dreamt that I was a little baked potato, and Daddy decided that until I am born, they would call me Tater. Works for me...the name Mommy and Daddy had originally picked was The Dude, but I don't like that one as much.