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


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... 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?


or maybe


or even better


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.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Music to My Ears

Tonight, upon arriving home from running errands:

Grace: What are we doing now?

Me: We're going inside to watch Sesame Street then we're going to bed.

Grace: Then what are we doing?

Me: Well, after we wake up in the morning, we're going to school.

Grace: Yay! I want to go to school EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

Needless to say, the kiddo is loving her new big kid school. She comes home everyday singing new songs, telling me all about her "cool new friends", and reliving all of the exciting events that took place that day. I told Grace tonight that I used to love going to school when I was little, and she said, "Oh, me too, Mama. School is SO COOL!!" Music to my ears, kiddo.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What's Hot and What's Not During This Pregnancy

Hot: Flat and supportive yet boring shoes
Not: Cute cream-colored open-toed sky-high heels or sexy high-heeled black shoes

Hot: Pants or skirts with elastic waistbands--preferably yoga pants and knit skirts
Not: Any bottom that contains a button or zipper or closure of any kind

Hot: All-day grazing with the occasional large meal (which I never seem to finish) thrown in
Not: Dieting or feeling even the slightest bit hungry

Hot: Gallons and gallons of 2% milk, iced tea, ice cold water, root beer
Not: Sangria, margaritas, beer, red wine, and any other form of liquor

Hot: Hanging out at home, relaxing on the couch, laying on my right side
Not: Happy Hour

Hot: An 8:30 bedtime
Not: Sex (sorry Aar...hoping that second trimester libido boost kicks in soon)

Hot: Flintstones vitamins with a calcium supplement chaser
Not: Standard prenatal vitamins that leave me hugging the toilet more than I hug my kid

Hot: Peanut butter, popcorn (sometimes), Trader Joe's Spanish white beans, Skittles, protein
Not: Mexican food (as was proven yesterday when after taking two bites of my fajitas, I had to run to the bathroom to be sick)

Hot: Fall-like weather
Not: Any temperature over 75 degrees

Hot: Joe Biden
Not: Sarah Palin

Ok, so that last one didn't have anything to do with my pregnancy, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in anyway. I mean, seriously.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Today is Grace's first day of four-year-old kindergarten at Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities! Here are some pics from her first morning:

Ok, so I'd be a lying sack of shit if I claimed that I haven't been completely freaking out about today. The truth is, I didn't sleep a wink last night thinking about today and anticipating the complete array of reactions that Grace could have to this new school and all of these changes. This is what I do--I am a worrier. A non-sleeping, obsessing worrier. It runs in my family.

I went to a parent meeting last Thursday with Grace's new teacher, and the teacher invited us parents to spend as much time as we wanted to at school with our children on the first day. I saw this as both a good thing and a bad thing--good because I would be able to help Grace get familiar with her new surroundings and help to ease her into her routine, and bad because helping Grace get familiar with her new surroundings and easing her into a routine could quickly turn into hovering and smothering, and that's certainly not what I would be aiming for. I told myself that I would need to stay long enough so that Grace didn't flip out and want to leave, but not so long that I was doing her a disservice.

Grace, for her part, did very well this morning. We got all of her gear together and walked the half block over to the school, and waited patiently for her teacher on the playground. When the teacher came and lined up the children, Grace stood at the front of the line and held the teacher's sign for her. Then, we went inside and at the teacher's prompting, Grace took a seat with the rest of the class and they commenced roll call, etc. A few of the other parents who had lingered with their kids started to slowly give kisses and hugs and began to slip out of the classroom, and I noticed Grace dart a quick look at me that asked, "But you're not leaving, right?" I gave her a quick wink and decided to stay a few minutes longer, but then the teacher's assistant selected Grace to walk with her up to the office to hand in the attendance folder. Grace, emboldened with her new found sense of duty and importance, walked over to me, gave me a kiss, nodded as I told her that I was leaving, and turned to walk out of the room with the teacher's assistant. It was that easy.

I took an entire day of vacation today because I wasn't entirely sure whether or not I would be spending the whole day at school with Grace. It's now 9:39am and I don't have to pick Grace up until 2:25pm. Nap anyone?