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


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."


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


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...


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


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


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.