December 11, 2012

Pictures and Bullet Points

These were taken a few weeks ago, for the Christmas letter I have yet to write, much less print and mail. Anyone want to bet on whether I'll actually get those in the mail before Dec. 25? Yeah, I didn't think so... :-)

Other stuff we've been up to lately:

School - The semester is over - yea! Thank God I listened to R and only took one class instead of the two that I was contemplating, because I barely pulled off the one. I got a B, thanks to a very generous teacher who gave me far more credit for participation than I actually deserved.

Sick - People warned me we'd be sick a lot this first year since Miss A is in day care, and boy they weren't kidding. She came down with another cold the weekend before Thanksgiving, and we wound up coming down with it the night before Thanksgiving. We were planning to go to R's parents' house that day, but we stayed home and kept our germs to ourselves. We had planned to have Thanksgiving part 2 that Sunday, but we still weren't well enough.

Adventure - To make up for my lameness in birthday presents for R's last two birthdays, this year I got him a gift certificate to a half-day high performance driving experience that involved lead-and-follow around a track, autocross, and go kart racing. It was scheduled for the first weekend of December, and he felt up to participating, so we went. He had a blast!

More Sick - R and I have not yet recovered 100% from the Thanksgiving cold. It just seems to sort of wax and wane. Miss A did recover, but unfortunately came down with it again a few days ago. That does not tend to do great things for her weight. She'll be 9 months on Monday, and she's only up about 1.5 pounds from her 6-month weight.

Christmas Preparations - We're doing pretty decently on the shopping, having completed most of our gift-buying in November. And what we have bought is wrapped, with the exception of one thing. I usually do a huge amount of baking in December, but this year I resigned myself to the fact that slicing up two logs of store-bought, pre-made dough is going to be the extent of my baking. The tree is up, but does not yet have lights or ornaments. And two tall, skinny trees that we put up outside on either side of the front door are already pre-lit but not actually plugged in. We'll see how far we get. I am determined to at least get the tree done, because I want to see Miss A's face light up when she sees all the pretty lights. And we already have a bunch of ornaments to put on it for her (a couple from us, a few from my mom, a few from other people).

Oh, and how's this for a laugh - the Christmas letter (or New Year's letter, depending on how quick I get moving on that) will also include Miss A's birth announcement, because I got those ordered in late August but never actually managed to get them into the mail. I told R the other day that apparently I should have ordered "Look who's turning 1!" announcements rather than birth announcements... :-)

In case I don't post again in the next couple of weeks, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

October 14, 2012

Ordinary at Last

When R and I were in the beginning years of our marriage, sometimes in the fall we’d go to a local pumpkin festival. It was a very family-oriented event. We’d look around and see all the parents pushing strollers or standing in the pumpkin patch with toddlers and knew that we weren’t ready for that yet, but still, it was fun to go.

And then we decided we were ready for kids. And, well, you know how that went. So the pumpkin festival, with all those happy families, stopped being fun.

And so we stopped going.

Now, thanks to Miss A, we are one of those stroller-pushing couples. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I have been looking forward to the pumpkin festival this year almost as much as a kid looks forward to Christmas morning.

This week, R’s mom was on fall break (she works at a school), R’s dad took the week off, and R’s aunt and uncle, who hadn’t yet met Miss A in person, were in town. R and I took Friday off in hopes that it wouldn’t be quite so crowded, and all of us including my mom went to the pumpkin festival.

We had a wonderful time.

We sat Miss A among the pumpkins. She was not amused by this, so we didn’t get any photos of her smiling, despite our silly antics out there in the middle of the pumpkin patch, but the pictures are still cute. We watched the pig races and ate chili and cornbread for lunch. We bought a pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, and a plain old-fashioned pumpkin. Miss A’s first pumpkin.

Mostly, we were an ordinary family that was enjoying the day. Looking at us, you wouldn’t know the hell we’d been through in order to have our moment in the middle of the patch.

Never have I loved ordinary more.

October 03, 2012

Super Simple Supper

Ok, this one has nothing to do with infertility. Or parenthood, for that matter. But I love it when I find recipes that are 1) fast, and 2) pretty much impossible for me to screw up. And this one is very freeze-able to boot, so I thought I'd share.

This first recipe is from Super Fast Slow Cooking, although I've renamed it so that I can tell more about it from the name.

Fiesta Chicken
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and trimmed of fat
1 can of sweet corn, drained
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
16 ounces of salsa
1 can of diced green chiles (optional, the recipe didn't originally call for it, but I added it. I used a 7 oz. can.)

Put the chicken breasts in a slow cooker, then pour the remaining ingredients on top of it. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred the chicken. I found this easiest to do by scooping the breasts out and putting them in a large bowl, then using two large serving forks. (You can use dinner forks, but it takes longer and winds up being more finely shredded, which can turn into kind of a mushy consistency.) After the chicken is shredded, return it to the slow cooker and mix it up with the other ingredients that are in there. It's ready to serve.

It's very versatile - it can be used as taco meat or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillasa. It also works well as a topping for nachos.

We served that and the following recipe at our Labor Day gathering with R's family, and it was a big hit. We set out taco shells, tortillas, tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar and jack cheeses, and nacho cheese sauce, and everyone made what they wanted. We're going to do it again for Cinco de Mayo.

With regard to the next recipe, there are a few restaurants we go to where I love the Mexican rice, but I had never found a recipe for homemade rice that tasted quite the same, until now. Actually, I didn't really find this recipe, I just gave the Rice a Roni a try and threw in two ingredients of my own.

Mexican Rice
1 box of Mexican Rice a Roni
1 can of diced green chiles (I use the smaller can for this, I think it's about 3.5 ounces)
4-5 green onions, chopped (that's about half a bunch at the store where we shop)

Follow the instructions on the Rice a Roni box. When you get to the point of covering the rice and letting it cook, toss in the green chiles and stir. About 2 minutes before the rice is done, add the chopped green onions and stir again.

This also freezes really well. It turns out so well that I usually make 3 boxes of Rice a Roni at a time so that we have lots of extra to freeze. (I usually use a 7-ounce can of chiles and a full bunch of green onions when I make that much of it.)

We usually portion out the meat and rice into 2-serving or 4-serving bags, and then just pull a couple bags out of the freezer when we need a quick meal.

Also, if you're not familiar with green chiles, don't be afraid of them. They're not spicy, they just add some nice flavor. I'm pretty much a mild salsa kind of gal, so I wouldn't be using them if they added a lot of heat.


September 17, 2012

6 Months! (with pictures)

Six months ago tonight, our precious tiny little baby entered the world, unsure of why she had been yanked from her cozy, warm bath and not knowing what to make of anything that was happening to her.

Tonight, she scarfed down a plate full of smashed banana mixed with rice cereal, helped feed herself by clutching the spoon and guiding it to her mouth, and, a little bit later, rolled onto her tummy to sleep for a few minutes before realizing that she's still not fond of this new position she has been putting herself in occasionally for the past three days.

What a difference six months makes!

I can't believe that much time has gone by. R and I still have cheeks that literally ache from all of the smiling. I'm still surprised at how at peace I feel, how (relatively) mellow I am about her. (Everyone around me is surprised too.) I'm still so very, very, thankful and grateful for every moment with her. I savor them all.

I don't post many pictures of her online (if you read the posts right after she was born, you've seen more pictures of her than those on my FB account have), but since it's a semi-milestone birthday, I thought I'd share a few:

This one was taken a couple months ago. It's one of my favorite candid shots of her.

I included this one because it's the best example of her hair color. Sometimes it looks red or brown in pictures, but she's still totally a blondie with blue eyes. Which still surprises me, since I'm used to the idea that ladies in our family (i.e. my mom and me) have dark brown hair and dark eyes.

This one was from 5 or 6 weeks ago. It's the first time she rolled from her back to her tummy and got both arms out from under her all on her own. We had just finished drying her off after her bath.

Look at that grin! So far, apples are her favorite food by far. Sweet potatoes and even bananas kind of look like the color of apples. When we give her those other foods, the surprised face she makes when she realizes what she's tasting isn't apple cracks us up.

So, there she is in photos. Happy 6-month birthday, amazing little girl!

September 11, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

While I was pregnant with Miss A, you may recall that I didn’t let myself buy very many things – it was too scary to do much in the way of allowing myself to prepare for her arrival.

However, one of the things I did allow myself to do was bookmark posts other IFers who had recently had babies wrote about some of the things they bought that they recommended. It was my way of living vicariously.

Since Miss A has arrived, R will testify to the fact that I have definitely been making up for lost time in the shopping department! ;-)

And, in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve put together a list of some things we’ve bought that we really like and/or have found very helpful, along with a few things that we’re more “meh” about. I’ll start with the ones we used immediately, and save the others for a future post:

Baby ESP app –
Probably among the best $5 we’ve ever spent. Well, technically, $10, since we both downloaded it to our phones. It has a very easy way to track feedings, diapers, naps, play activities, baths, breast pumping, weight gain, growth, head circumference, and anything else you would like to track. (We created activities for tummy time and neck stretches, since she had a bit of torticolis when she was born.) When you’re sleep deprived and can’t remember what you did 5 minutes ago much less whether you fed baby 1 hour ago or 2 hours ago, it’s nice to be able to just quickly input it in your phone.

For those of you like me who get very excited over numbers and charts and stats, it has all of those too. And you can sync the data to the account, so even if you and your spouse aren’t together, both of you can be up-to-date on what the baby is doing. We have Android phones; I’m not sure if there’s an iPhone version of the app, but I would guess there probably is.

Sleeping gowns -
A friend of mine who had twins soon after we got the BFPs for Miss A recommended sleeping gowns. Her boys lived in them almost around the clock for their first three months, and so did Miss A. We like them because it’s easy to change diapers while the baby is wearing one, there are no snaps or buttons to have to deal with, and they cover the baby’s legs without requiring a separate pair of pants, especially during the first month or so while they’re all still curled up.

Where we live, the weather became hot right around the time Miss A was born and will remain obnoxiously hot until at least mid-October, so we like the Gerber and Circo brands because they seem to be a little bit more light-weight than some of the others. However, there are several brands that make sleeping gowns (including some designer name, organic, $40-per-each ones – yikes!), so there are ones made of warmer fabric, too.

Handsfree breastpumping bra - It’s amazing what you can find online! 36 hours into pumping (to boost supply during the first days after we came home from the hospital), I knew I couldn’t continue sitting there holding plastic parts to my chest for half an hour every time. So I Googled for a solution, and this is what I found. This particular bra is really thoughtfully designed, and really well made. I count it among my favorite baby-related purchases of all time. I use it multiple times a day now that I am pumping while she is at day care.

Gymboree Baby Play book -
I am clueless about early childhood development. I have no idea how to “play” with a baby. This book helped me realize that I was doing better than I thought, and it gave us some fun ideas for simple, new things to try. I got it used on Amazon for a couple of dollars plus shipping.

Aden & Anais blankets -
The friend who told me about sleeping gowns also told me about these, but I didn’t buy them at first because they are listed at about $50 for a pack of 4 on Amazon, and we already had some receiving blankets that we had bought when we were trying to adopt several years ago. Then another friend whose babies are a few weeks older than Miss A showed me one of them, and instantly I became a fan. They’re a lightweight cotton muslin that is very breathable, has a tiny bit of stretch to it, and is larger than other receiving blankets I’ve seen. Where we live, “breathable” is key.

I researched them on Amazon and discovered that there is a 44” x 44” version sold in major baby retailer stores for about $35 for a 4-pack, which some moms think are just as good as the original 47” x 47” ones and other moms think are horribly rough, scratchy, and poorly made. On Amazon, the original 47” ones are listed around $50 for a 4-pack, but if you click on it, there are actually 10-15 different sets of patterns, and some of them are priced a little bit less, including a few that are almost as low as the in-store price of the 44” ones. I bought a 4-pack of the in-store ones and then a couple of the 47” packs in designs that were about $38. (Yes, I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on these, but we use them a lot.) While I like the extra few inches of the 47” ones and they are slightly softer than the 44” ones, I don’t think you can go wrong either way.

First Aid books -
I saw these when waiting in line to check out at a baby store. They’re kind of pricey, but they have good information in a simple, easy-to-find-quickly layout. I bought three – one to keep in the upstairs changing table, one for the downstairs changing table, and one for the diaper bag. I didn’t want to buy one and then have worry about trying to remember where it was, or need it while we were out and about only to realize we left it at home. I’ve taken infant first aid/CPR, but I’m quite sure that if an occasion ever comes up that necessitates using it for Miss A (or any baby, for that matter), all of that information will drain right out of my head and I’ll need something to remind me what to do.

Diapers as burp cloths -
I got the premium size of these. We have some thin, flannel burp cloths, and those work well for laying under her head to protect the crib sheet if I lay Miss A in the crib for a couple minutes to go to the bathroom after she eats. But if she does a big spit up while I’m burping her, they soak through really quickly, so I wanted something that was a bit more substantial.

I didn’t understand how cloth diapers could possibly wick moisture away from a baby’s bottom in an adequate way until I bought these. She can do a major spit up, and after about 2 minutes, you can’t even tell that the cloth was spit up on at all. We bought a dozen, and then we bought 10 more. Totally worth it, and I can see them becoming dust rags for many years to come after we’re done using them as burp cloths. (Okay, as if I ever actually dust, but you know what I mean. :-) Maybe someday, if we ever get to the point where I’m not working full time, my domestic side will somehow magically appear…)

So as you can tell, I really have been making up for lost time in the shopping department. I was really clueless about baby gear and supplies before Miss A arrived, so I hope this is helpful to someone out there. I'm still feeling clueless about the stuff that is ahead of us and am definitely not an expert in any of this stuff by any means. More likes - and a few dislikes - to come in a future post.

August 31, 2012

Astounded by '60 embryos'

I am pro-life. Have been for as long as I've known what the term meant, long before we ever started trying to build our family.

I am what the media would classify as a "conservative Christian".

And yet, I still do not understand why people who have no business putting their noses in my business, much less my uterus, insist on trying to do just that. And even worse than that, insist on trying to do so while spouting such lines of utter ridiculousness that they make me snort the glass of milk I'm drinking right out of my nose.

There is an article on about personhood rights that offers this brilliant nugget of insight from Keith Mason of Personhood USA, who is leading the charge in support of legislation that has the potential to have very serious negative impacts on IVF:

"In creating 30 to 60 embryos, and then choosing three or four embryos, that's selective reduction."

30 to 60 embryos. Seriously? Couples are:

1) creating volumes of embryos like this??, and then

2) just chucking 56 or 57 embryos out the window?? (The implication being that those "leftover" embryos are deemed by those who created them as unnecessary and worthless?)

That's what Mr. Mason seems to be implying, along with his complete and total lack of understanding about the fundamentals of IVF. You'd think someone who is leading the charge on this would have at least bothered to do some cursory research on the topic at hand.

The ridiculousness of that statement, both outright and implied, astounds me. It's frightening that people like this are the leading voices in this discussion.

Thank God that RESOLVE continues to fight these efforts, so that IVF isn't severely restricted and babies like Miss A can continue to be born.

August 06, 2012

Just For Laughs

I have to admit, this is a bit of a lazy post. But I figure a lazy post is better than no post at all. So here it is, just for laughs, because someone should get amusement out of this. (Truth be told, I can look at this and see the humor in it too...)

This is the text of an e-mail I sent to a friend a few weeks ago. She was wanting to see Miss A, and we had planned to have lunch, but I had to cancel because I came down with a cold that R had gotten the week before:

"Started to feel better yesterday afternoon, almost called to see if you were available for dinner. Decided it was still too soon to risk it.

Good call. Cold came back with a vengeance. Can't sleep, throat so sore it feels like I'm going to cough up blood. Rudolph nose.

Miss A wakes up at 2:30 a.m. Go upstairs to feed her.

She eats well. Hand her to R to burp her.

She promptly obliges.

All over the burp cloth. All over the carpeted floor. All over the clothes she was sleeping in. Somehow miraculously misses R.

She lifts her head from his shoulder and looks up at me. She is the happiest little baby, big grins.

She is the only happy one.

We are out of burp cloths, despite having done 2 loads of baby laundry the last 2 days.

R goes down stairs to start another load of laundry.

I continue feeding Miss A. I sit her up to burp her. Apparently there's nothing left for her to burp up.

I did not account for the havoc the other end is capable of wreaking.

I hear her fill her diaper. This usually happens in 3 squirts, so I sit and wait, eyes closed, half dozing. I'm mostly out of it. After a few minutes, it seems like no more telltale sounds are going to come.

I open my eyes, look down.

The back of her white onesie is yellow, almost up to her shoulder blades. She is sitting in a large, spreading ring of yellow on the boppy pillow.

I get up to begin dealing with the cleanup. I contemplate cutting her onesie off her, but the scissors are downstairs.

I hear R come back in the room. I tell him he needs to stop where he is and locate his sense of humor.

He looks at me suspiciously. It is now 3:30 a.m. He is not amused.

We take her downstairs for a bath, because there's no way wet wipes are cutting it for a job this big.

I need to step away for a minute and cough. R's sleep-deprived brain decides that is an opportune time to mention "that's what happens when you have dairy while you're sick."

It is irrelevant that he might be right. And in my defense, I had been feeling better the night before and so hadn't even thought about the "no dairy when sick" guideline.

His sleep-deprived brain quickly comes to understand the folly of taking that moment as an "I told you so" moment.

For her part, the baby is very cooperative with an unplanned 4 a.m. bath and is back asleep before R finishes redressing her.

If only I could say the same..."

And yet, even at that hour, even feeling as miserable as I did (I'm a total wimp when it comes to a sore throat), a part of me on the inside was still jumping up and down a little bit and thinking "We have a baby to bathe, we have a baby to bathe!"

July 31, 2012

How to Strike Fear Into Your Husband's Heart

Early on in your relationship, tell him you are fine with him being Mr. Mom if he wants, but you will be a career woman, thankyouverymuch.

Several years later, buy obnoxiously large house so that your mother can move in with you and have enough space to avoid wanting to kill each other. Try not to think about obnoxiously large utility bills that come with said house.

Rack up credit card debit trying to have kiddos.

Finally have a kiddo. Handle putting her in daycare surprisingly well.

Have a smooth first month or so back at work (at least, in terms of adapting to the whole working-mom scenario).

When kiddo comes down with a cold, spend the night sleeping on the floor next to her while she sleeps in the swing, spend the early morning hours cuddling her in the glider after a diaper change.

When it comes time to hand her sweet, smiling, but snorty and sniffly little self over to hubs so that he can take her to daycare (because she doesn't have a fever and you have no vacation days left after maternity leave), look at him and say "I don't want to work anymore."

And, "What kind of house do you think we could buy for $100,000 so that we don't have to have a mortgage anymore and I can stay home with her?" (His answer: "Not one large enough to allow all of us to continue to live together.")

Like I said, how to strike fear in your husband's heart...

Unfortunately, I don't think staying home is going to be realistically feasible for us right now, especially if we want to try for a second kiddo anytime soon. So I have moved on to plan B - get a new, higher paying job that will allow us to sock away more money so that I can stay home at some point in the future. The job hunt officially got underway today when I submitted a resume to a company I'm interested in.

I still want to keep downsizing on the table, but it will be a tough sell with R. Mostly because he just doesn't want to move again, more than a particular attachment to this house or the size of it.

Maybe we can find a compromise - I get my way with downsizing if I give him his way with only having 2 kids instead of the 3 that I was hoping for?

July 24, 2012

I Just Want You to Know...

I’ve started this post a hundred times in my head, and even a few times on the computer.

I don’t think I’m feeling “survivor’s guilt” exactly. But before Miss A was born, when others would go on to have success, it stung to read about it. While I was happy for them, at the same time it felt a little more lonely in the IF boat. I still know how that feels, and I don’t want to cause anyone any bit of that kind of pain. So I’ve been quiet.

On the flip side, though, so many of you did such an amazing job of holding my hand through the past year, and I want you to know how grateful I am, and how everything is turning out.

I realize I was high strung (to put it mildly) during the pregnancy. I’m sure many of you thought “If she’s like this now, what is she going to be like when the baby is born??” R certainly wondered about that, and so did others who know me offline.

The answer, it turns out, is “surprisingly normal”. As I mentioned in the post about Miss A’s birth, once she came out, I let out the breath I had been holding for 9 months. She is here. I am a mom to a living baby. This is what I’d hoped for, and it’s even better than I could have imagined it.

Several of my friends have commented that I’m much more laid back than they expected. Sure, I checked on her frequently when she was first born to make sure she was still breathing. I still do check on her, but now I don’t hold my breath and think “Dear God, please let her still be alive” like I did at first. I’m coming to trust more that she’s okay.

And I’m living in the moment. When I was pregnant, I kept worrying about the “what if’s” – what if I got pre-eclampsia? What if I had a placental abruption? What if the baby’s heart just stopped beating while in utero for no obvious reason? What if the lack of movement meant something bad had happened? Etc.

While there are still certainly plenty of things to worry about, for the most part, I don’t. I just want to enjoy her, and I don’t want that to be constantly clouded by worry. And somehow, I can’t explain how, I’m doing that – living in the moment, enjoying every moment with her, and not obsessing over the “what if’s”.

Reading this over, I feel like I’m still not doing a really great job of making it clear how happy I am. So here’s a scene from a morning at the end of last week that I’ll leave you with:

I had just finished feeding Miss A and getting her dressed and ready for day care. A song came on the radio that made me want to dance, so I picked her up and was dancing with her and singing to her. R came out of the bathroom and came over to join us. She was already smiling, and then he started tickling her, and she was laughing a lot, which she has just started to do this month.

So there we were, the three of us dancing around like fools before work. And I realized my cheeks were hurting, literally. It’s because I had such a big smile on my face.

That is my life now – dancing around with R and Miss A, living in the moment, smiling ridiculously large smiles and loving the sound of baby laughter. I am so happy, and so very grateful, and very thankful.

July 11, 2012

It Goes Without Saying...

...or at least, I thought it did, that even if it's been a couple of hours since baby last ate, it's still probably not wise to hold said baby in the airplane position over a basket of freshly laundered and folded clothes.

Apparently, it needed to be said.

On the bright side, they were R's clothes rather than mine, which I thought was poetic justice. ;-)

June 12, 2012

You'll Be So Proud of Me

I go back to work tomorrow (boo-hoo), so we began taking Miss A to day care on Thursday in order to ease me into it.

We started with just 4 hours on that day, and I handled it with a relatively small amount of tears. We left her there for 6 hours on Friday and 8 yesterday, with no tears at all from me. (See, I told you you'd be proud of me! :-) ).

Overall, I know it's a good thing for her. They have many more toys and activities for her than we do at home. Plus, the center where we're taking her is a day care center at an organization that works with people who have developmental disabilities, so they have early intervention specialists on site to do evaluations if the need should arise.

(We don't have any reason to think there's an issue with her, and most of the children in the center do not have disabilities. We wound up going there because several years ago when two of my friends had their kids in a day care center at the company my husband worked for, when the company offshored the jobs, they closed the day care center. The employees at that day care center recommended this one, and my friends ended up loving it even more than they loved the day care that closed. Plus, it's on the way to work for R, less than a mile from his office.)

Our grand plan is for me to get up early and work East Coast hours (3 hours ahead of me) since that's where my boss is. R and Miss A will sleep for about 2 hours longer than me, and then I'll take a break to nurse her when she gets up. Then R will drop her off at day care around 7:30, I'll pump 2-3 times a day while eating snacks/lunch, and then I'll pick her up between 2:30-3:30, depending on if there are any errands I need to do before I go get her.

Of course, that is a plan based on a house of cards - if the timing of one thing collapses, it all kind of collapses around us.

We've been practicing since Thursday. So far, we have not managed to get out of the house before 8 a.m., and since the plan is to have R and Miss A be at the day care between 7:30-7:45, clearly we have some work to do.

We'll see how all of this goes. I'm a little bit nervous about it, which I know is understandable. And thankfully I have a very flexible boss, and the ability to work from home most days, which helps a lot.

I just wish we had a money tree so that I could stay home with her. I hinted to R about that in some text messages a couple of weeks ago, with no luck. The reality is that in order to even start to make that feasible, we would need to downsize into a much smaller house (probably not a good idea, since a generous amount of square footage is what keeps me and my mom from teenage-girl-style cat fights) and not have any more major medical expenses (i.e. no attempts at a sibiling).

I'd like to try for a sibiling for Miss A in about a year, and R and my mom keep saying that if I want to sell the house, the buyer gets them included as part of the deal because they're not moving. And now that Miss A is here, they're outvoting me in saying that she would stay with the house too, so I guess there are no moving boxes in my immediate future... :-)

June 04, 2012

Trying to Reason With an Infant

I'm trying to reason with Miss A. It is not working.

Rejection is not fun for anyone, I get that. But some people cope with it better than others. People who have Borderline Personality Disorder tend not to be among those who cope well with it.

Out of all the people who Miss A encounters, guess who she seems to have developed an aversion to?

Yep, my mother.

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that this is not a good thing. To her credit, she seems to be coping with it better than I would have expected. (Keeping in mind that "better than I would have expected" and "well" are still two very different things.)

I don't know what the problem is.

I've been trying to give Miss A to her to hold at least once a day so that they can have some bonding time. It had been going fine, until two or three weeks ago. Then, suddenly, the rejection began.

I would feed Miss A and change her, then play with her for a little while. When she started to get sleepy, I would take her to my mom.

It goes well for about the first 15-20 seconds. Then, whether I walk away or stay there, the screaming begins. My mom gently bounces her and pats her, to no avail. So then my mom starts to say "no, no, no" increasingly loudly, which only serves to have them see who can increase the volume more. Then my mom starts to mimic Miss A's cries, apparently out of some false belief that that will soothe her, which of course has just the opposite effect.

After a few minutes, my mom concedes, and I pick up Miss A. The crying stops immediately. I calm her down, gently place her back in my mom's arms, and the crying and screaming resumes. Same thing if R takes her from my mom instead of me.

Like I said, so far, my mother is handling it better than expected. But she already has a bit of resentment/jealously that Miss A stops crying for us, and that resentment/jealously is only likely to grow. Plus, she is getting frustrated and hurt at Miss A for rejecting her.

She is trying to comfort herself by pointing out that when I was a baby, I would cry if anyone other than my mom held me.

Either she hasn't noticed or isn't allowing herself to acknowledge that Miss A does not do this with either of R's parents. In fact, whenever we see R's parents, Miss A lays in R's dad's arm, and the two of them usually take a nap together like that for a couple of hours. Last weekend, R's mom was holding Miss A while sitting on the couch, and R's dad was sitting next to them. He was holding his hand up so that Miss A could hold his finger, and the two of them fell asleep like that - it was so cute!

I keep trying to explain to Miss A that the phrase "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" has nothing on the phrase "If grandma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy".

I can't figure out what is causing Miss A to be unhappy when my mom holds her, or how to fix it. Any ideas??

May 26, 2012

Back Home With Miss A

Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers. Overall, the last two days went better than I could have hoped for, except for the outcome of the procedure, which looks like it helped but not as much as expected.

It was good that I didn't chicken out and postpone it, because the situation was just a little bit more advanced than we thought based on the ultrasounds.

I held myself together better than I thought I would on Thursday. The only point at which I fell apart was after I had to hand her over to the cardiac cath nurse. She literally said "I promise" to me three times - "I promise she'll do great," "I promise we'll bring her back to you better than new in a couple of hours", etc. I'm sure the hospital's attorneys would have been hyperventilating if they knew she was using that word, but it helped.

The procedure went a little bit faster than expected. I was in a consult room, not quite done pumping, when R called my cell to tell me it was done and everything went well.

The cardiologist was expecting the pressure on the right side of her heart to be somewhat lower than on the left. Normally, the pressure on the right side is significantly lower than on the left. If it becomes higher than the left, then damage to the heart muscle begins to occur.

When they got in there, they found that the pressure was exactly equal on both sides. So if we had postponed even for just a month, it's very possible the pressure would have been higher on the right than the left at that point.

They also found that the heart muscle had started to thicken ever so slightly just below the pulmonary valve, which technically is damage and is another indicator that now was the best time to do this procedure. The cardiologist said because the thickening is so minor and she's so young, it's likely that it will resolve itself as she grows.

The peak pressure on her right side was at 45 when they started the procedure. After they inserted the balloon to separate the partially fused valve flaps, the pressure dropped to 15. Anything between 1-25 is considered mild, 26 to 75 (I think) is moderate, and anything above that is severe. The cardiologist said he's hopeful the pressure will drop even lower in the next few weeks.

However, she had another ultrasound yesterday morning, and it showed a peak pressure of 27. So it was still a significant improvement, and the nurse practitioner who came in to speak with us about it said that she wouldn't have even needed the procedure if her original peak pressure was 27.

But it's still technically in the moderate range, and since it didn't improve as much as expected, she said it's possible Miss A might need the procedure again at some point, but likely not for several years if at all. We knew that pressures are lower when the patient is under anesthesia, but we didn't expect the number to come back that high.

We have a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks, so we'll see what the numbers look like then and what the cardiologist thinks.

Miss A was quite the trooper. For the most part, she was her usual happy, smiley self. The only things she didn't like were getting the IV put in (I'm assuming, since they did that in the cath lab and I wasn't there for it, but they told us that had to be done before putting her under anesthesia), getting the IV taken out (because of the tape that had to be pulled off of her delicate skin), and the blood pressure cuff.

They had the cuff on her arm until around 2 a.m., when they were able to take the pressure dressing off her leg where they had inserted the catheter. None of us got much sleep until then, because it would inflate, which startled her, which caused her to start flailing her arms, which caused her swaddle to become undone, which made her cold, which caused her to start kicking her legs, which disrupted the ability of the oxygen monitor on her toe to monitor her oxygen levels, which caused the machine's alarm to start going off, which caused her to cry even harder than she was already crying because of the cuff and being cold.

So R and I were jumping up literally every 20 minutes to try to soothe her and keep her covered as best we could. We use the velcro swaddle wraps at home (I'm not a very good blanket swaddler), and we had brought one with us, but because of all the wires hooked up to her for monitoring, we couldn't use it.

Once the nurse was able to move the cuff to her leg around 2 a.m., she didn't seem to mind it so much, and we got a 3-hour and then a 4-hour stretch of sleep.

Now we're taking it easy hanging out at home for the weekend. She usually wants to eat about every 3 hours, but now she seems to want to eat on a 2- or 2 1/2-hour schedule. I think her little body is trying to make up for the calories it missed on Wednesday and Thursday. So I'm back to not getting anything done between feedings other than a quick bathroom break or grabbing a snack, but I'm sure she'll return to a more normal routine in a few days. I'm just so thankful and relieved that she's doing well - that matters much, much more than me getting stuff done...

May 24, 2012


It went well. She's in her room now. I'll post more details when I get my laptop set up. If I'm not able to do that tonight, I'll post tomorrow. Thanks so much for all the thoughts and prayers - they really helped us get through today.


Miss A's procedure start time has been pushed out 90 min due to the procedure before hers taking longer than expected. More updates to come later...

Miss A's Heart Procedure (And My Freakout)

Yesterday's echocardiogram didn't show any significant improvement. The balloon valvuloplasty is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET tomorrow (Thursday).

I'm trying not to freak out. Rather unsuccessfully.

Last night, after Miss A's last feed and the lights in the guest room turned off (R sleeps in there during worknights), I snuck downstairs and grabbed a spoon and carton of ice cream. Proceeded to eat 1/4 of said carton, directly out of the carton.

This morning, I called the doctor who will be performing the procedure to talk about whether it could be postponed for a while. He thinks it could be postponed for up to a month or so, but not the 6 months to a year that I was hoping. Since I'm due to go back to work in 3 weeks, doing this in a month would mean I'd have to go back to work right after rather than have a few more weeks to spend with her afterward. So despite being really, really nervous about this, I opted to stick with the original plan of doing it tomorrow.

After that decision, I baked a pan of brownies and added an entire can of cherry pie filling into the middle of them for good measure.

That was about 8 hours ago. The pan is now half empty.

I really want to teach Miss A a better method of coping with stress, one that doesn't involve food. I decided that today is not the day to begin modeling such a method. I need to start with something that involves only a small amount of stress, like a hangnail. Not something like a 9-week-old baby undergoing general anesthesia so that something can be threaded up into her heart.

R, who usually scolds me about my sweet tooth, apparently is feeling the stress too - he also started dinner with a generous piece of chocolate cherry brownie without me even offering it to him.

I don't know if it's that Miss A is picking up on my stress or just really bad coincidental timing, but this is the first really bad night she's had. At our late afternoon feeding, she started pulling away from my breast and ate a little less than usual. (I weigh her on an infant scale at the beginning and end of feedings so that I know how much she's getting.) Then she started screaming bloody murder before our early evening feeding, and only took an ounce. She would suck at my breast 1-3 times, swallow, then pull away and scream.

She screamed for about 2 hours.

We also tried a bottle with some Pedialyte. She took maybe 1/4 of an ounce, probably out of surprise about the different taste, before the screaming recommenced.

The pediatrician said he thinks it's probably her picking up on my stress and not to force her to try to feed. He said she will be given fluids during the procedure tomorrow and that we can catch up on the nutrition later if need be.

We managed to get her to sleep, and she's been sleeping soundly for about 3 hours now, probably because she's so worn out from all the crying. She's had about 1.25 ounces (breast milk plus Pedialyte) in the last 8 hours.

And to top it off, our precious, sweet, 14-year-old dog started to have something bother one of her ears tonight. She's shaking her head literally every 3 seconds, stopping occasionally only long enough to try to scratch at it with her foot and whine before resuming shaking it. I couldn't see or feel anything in it. I tried gently cleaning it with q-tips, then applying hydrogen peroxide to the areas that were bleeding from the scratching.

It didn't help. The shaking (which causes jangling of her collar and tags) continued. I wet down some cotton balls and tried rubbing those in her ear. It didn't help.

The constant, repetitive jangling of her collar was more than my completely frayed nerves could handle. R offered to have her go into the guest room with him, and I took him up on it. I'm not sure he's going to get any sleep tonight, which is the whole point of him being in that room. And it is the first time I've banished the poor dog from my presence. She hates to ever have me be out of her sight. I feel horrible, but I just couldn't deal with that on top of Miss A's shrieking screams and my nerves about tomorrow.

This is not how I wanted the night before her procedure to go.

The doctor said it's a routine procedure, that "it will be a piece of cake" and "she'll do great". (His exact words.) That complications are rare, and serious complications are extremely rare. But if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that "rare" doesn't comfort me, because we've wound up on the "rare" side of the odds (in both good and bad ways) many times.

Please, dear God, let tomorrow go well. Let her be okay.

May 15, 2012

Medical Drama, Now In Pint-Size Form

Now that Miss A is here, I was hoping we would become normal people who only go to the doctor for well exams and the occasional cold or allergy flare up.

Um, yeah, that's not going to happen.

I need to accept the fact that we're just not normal people when it comes to medical stuff. Because Miss A is less than 2 months old, and she already has not 1, but 2 cardiologists.

We knew that any child we have would need a cardiologist since there's a 50/50 chance of inheriting the Brugada Syndrome that R and his dad have. So far, her EKGs have been normal. However, that doesn't mean she's in the clear - a normal EKG doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't have it, it may just mean that it's not showing up yet. We're in the process of doing some genetic testing, but it will be 3 or 4 months before we have any information on that front. It's also possible the testing may not give us any information about her status, in which case she will need EKGs on a regular basis (I think every 6 months to begin with) throughout her life.

All of that is being handled by a cardiologist who specializes in issues with the electrical system of the heart.

When she was born, a heart murmur was also detected. At first she had two issues: a PDA and pulmonary valve stenosis. The PDA is basically a blood vessel in the heart that is supposed to close at birth or within a couple days after. Hers didn't close that quickly, but fortunately when she had a follow-up ultrasound of her heart on May 2, that showed that it had closed.

Unfortunately, it also showed that the pulmonary valve stenosis is still an issue. There are 3 flaps that are part of the valve, and her flaps are partially fused together, which means that they don't open as wide as they should, so the heart has to work harder to get the blood through there and to the lungs.

Right now it's not causing any symptoms, but if it progresses, eventually the heart wall will get thicker because of the extra exertion.

So a second cardiologist, one who specializes in structural issues of the heart, is managing that issue. Think of the first cardiologist as an electrician and this one as a plumber.

We have another ultrasound on May 22, and if that shows that the stenosis is getting worse, Miss A will have to have to undergo a cardiac cath lab procedure in which the doctor inserts a catheter in her groin, threads it up to her heart, and then uses a balloon to "tear" the flaps where they're joined together. It would take 2 to 3 hours, and it would require an overnight hospital stay.

There is a possibility that her stenosis won't progress and she won't have to have the procedure.

On the bright side, if you're going to have a stenosis issue, apparently this is the one to have, according to the cardiologist. Some cases of stenosis involve the diameter of the heart valve itself being too small, in which case they have to go in and make it bigger, which can involve actual surgery rather than just a procedure. So we're very thankful that is not the situation we are facing.

Still, they're talking about anesthesia. And an overnight hospital stay. For our barely-2-month-old. Who it took about 10 years for us to even have.

If she has to have the procedure, all I can say is that while someone is giving her the anesthesia, someone had also better be giving me valium. A lot of valium. Because me in a waiting room for 3 hours under those circumstances won't be pretty...

May 13, 2012

Mixed Mother's Day Emotions

I stopped in at a bakery a couple of days ago to grab breakfast, and the lady who was ringing up my order was pushing the sale of Mother's Day gift cards. She asked if I was a mom.

That's the first time anyone has asked me that recently. It was strange to be able to say yes. I left there grinning from ear to ear.

But at the same time, my heart aches because I know there are so many women out there for whom this is such a painful day, including many of you who are reading this post.

I still relate to the pain. I think I always will. There were years where we went away for the weekend and literally ignored the day and (having apologized in advance) didn't even call our mothers. It was just simply too painful.

One thing I don't think I've ever admitted on this blog before is that there were times - particularly after miscarriage #6, but even during the first trimester of the pregnancy with Miss A - where I began to wonder if everything we were going through was worth it. I even wanted to pose that question to a few of you who had finally achieved the dream, but I didn't. Partially because I was afraid that if I actually typed the question out, I'd begin to feel that for me the answer was "maybe not", and partially because I was afraid that if I voiced the question, maybe it would mean that I didn't deserve parenthood, that even simply asking meant it was something I wasn't cut out for.

But now, here, finally celebrating this first Mother's Day with a baby actually in my arms, I have the answer to that question. I know today is the official holiday, but honestly, every day of the past 2 months has felt like Mother's Day to me.

I am so thankful for that, and I hope with everything I have that those of you who are still fighting the battle find yourself holding your dream in your arms as soon as possible.

April 15, 2012

My Heart Is Slowly Breaking

We had 27 incredible, blissful days.

Miss A is here, R was off of work for 3 weeks, and even after he went back last week, everything went well. For the first time in nearly a decade, it felt like we were a typical, normal family without the sadness of infertility constantly weighing us down.

Now, there is another weight making our hearts heavy and making the tears fall.

Out of the three dogs R and I have had during our 16 years of marriage, we only have one left. Our first dog (a black lab/golden retriever mix) died at 6 1/2 unexpectedly due to congestive heart failure, and we lost the third one (an Australian cattle dog) 13 months ago after he was diagnosed with a rare tumor and then developed an intestinal blockage at age 8.

Our second dog, also an Australian cattle dog, turned 14 a couple of weeks ago. We've had her since she was 7 months old. She's an incredible dog, a total sweetheart. She doesn't hear very well anymore, so she likes to stay within sight of me. (We taught our dogs hand signals along with verbal commands, so we can still communicate with her fairly easily.)

Overall, she's pretty healthy. However, she's developed arthritis in her joints. And we live in a 2-story house. Our bedroom is upstairs, and there's not really a good option for converting a downstairs room into a bedroom.

We've been managing the arthritis with injections for several months, and we also started acupuncture with her a few weeks before A was born. It all seemed to be helping, and she was doing pretty well going up and down the stairs.

Until yesterday (Saturday). R took her downstairs for her usual morning potty trip outside, and when they were coming back up the stairs, she couldn't muster enough strength in her back legs to push herself up the stairs. Instead, when she tried, she'd fall backwards a step. This, despite getting up the stairs pretty much without trouble as recently as Friday.

R helped her up the stairs, but she was limping badly on her back right leg. When she laid down, she struggled mightily to get back up. She could barely walk. My heart started to crack.

I called the vet and made an appointment to take her. By the time we got there, she was walking much closer to normal, but the vet said it was probably the adrenaline of coming to the vet's office. Apparently he was correct, because when we got her back home, she started to struggle again.

While we were there, he gave her another injection and prescribed an anti-pain/anti-inflammatory medication. I don't think the injection helped this time, but the medication seemed to help a bit after she received her first dose last night, although she didn't get totally back to normal. He also told us she shouldn't go up or down the stairs on her own any more, which means we are now carrying a 33-pound dog up and down the stairs.

This morning, she couldn't really stand on her own again. R took her downstairs, and after she received the second dose, things seemed to improve again. She was even able to jump up onto the couch before we could help her. (We're trying to discourage her from doing that anymore without assistance.)

The vet also called to check on her today, and he assured us there are other medications we can try if this one doesn't seem to help.

But I also know the reality - she's 14, and she's not walking well without medication, and at some point, even the medication will likely not be enough. And then we will have to make a very difficult, very painful decision.

I was selfishly hoping we would have at least a couple more years with her, but each time she struggles a little to get up or limps a little, I know it's more likely that our time will be measured in months (if we're lucky). And each time, my heart breaks a little bit more just thinking about it.

April 12, 2012

Our First Month With Miss A

Our little miss will be 4 weeks old on Saturday. Time has never flown so fast!

I wanted to write about our hospital stay and going home, but I haven't had a chance to do that yet. It's late, and I'm not thinking too clearly right now, so I'll keep this short. But I just want to do a quick post to say that we're doing great and everything is going very well.

Overall, she's a very easy, mellow baby. Today was not an easy, mellow day, but that's okay - I think she's going through a growth spurt. She's been wanting to eat every 90 minutes to 2 hours instead of 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Before having her, I didn't realize that with breastfeeding, you feed much more frequently than bottle feeding. She likes to spend 40-50 minutes nursing, and even then she still acts hungry afterward, so between feeding, burping (another 10-15 minutes), diaper changes, and taking her clothes off (so she'll stay awake while feeding)/putting them back on (so she won't cry about being mostly naked), there's barely time to go to the bathroom.

For someone who always has to be doing something, it's been an adjustment to spend that much time sitting when I know there is laundry to be done, baby stuff to be put away, thank you notes to be written, leave/insurance paperwork to deal with, etc. But I just focus on her and enjoy spending the time so close to her, because I know this stage won't last forever, and I want to enjoy it while I can.

R went back to work on Monday, and I've been doing better than I expected being alone with her. I wasn't very nervous about it at all. I'm sad that he doesn't get to spend as much time with her now, though. I knew he would be a great dad, but he's actually been so far beyond great that phenomenal is the word that keeps coming to mind when I see him with her.

He worked so hard at keeping himself emotionally detatched from the pregnancy that I figured it would take him a while to let himself become attached to her once she was here, but that didn't turn out to be the case at all. He said the first moment he saw her, he was instantly attached. It was hard for me to care for her in the hospital because of a mix up in the pain medication instructions, so he wound up taking care of both of us. The nurses taught him how to care for her, and then he taught me. He knows her cues better than I do!

It still seems surreal that she's ours. That she's here. That we have a baby. But it's amazing and wonderful, and I'm thankful for every moment, even the ones where she's crying and I can't figure out why because I haven't decoded her cries yet.

March 28, 2012

A's Birth Story

The day before A’s birthday, we had our last ultrasound at the perinatologist’s office. Fittingly, the same ultrasound tech who did our very first ultrasound there wound up doing the last one as well.

What a difference seven months makes.

During our first one, I was terrified of what we would (or rather, wouldn’t) see and had R hand me the tissue box before we even started so that I wouldn’t have to ask for it if I needed it later on. During the last ultrasound, I knew I had felt A moving around that day, and there was no thought of the tissue box and no particular worry about what the screen would show.

There also weren’t any indications that the little miss was going to come early, so I figured we had one last weekend to get some things done. We were planning one last dinner date as a couple on March 17, and that afternoon I was sitting on the couch working on some thank you notes.

At first, I thought my bladder had leaked a little bit. Then after I felt the leaking sensation a couple more times, I realized it probably wasn’t my bladder after all.

I went to the bathroom to confirm my suspicion that it was amniotic fluid. I expected it to possibly be pink-tinged, but I didn’t expect there to be bright red/pink blood. I knew it wasn’t just blood – there was definitely other fluid as well – but it was a lot more blood than I expected.

I called the peri’s office. I knew that we were going to the hospital regardless of what the peri said, and fortunately, the doctor on call (the other doctor in the practice) agreed that we should go. I was concerned about the possibility of a placental abruption. (Because, yes, I always have to have something to worry about.)

We didn’t have our bags completely packed. I was surprised at how calm we both stayed while we tried to grab a few more things, although R said later on that he was anything but calm on the inside. After a couple of minutes, the concern about the possibility of an abruption got the best of me, and I told R that I just wanted to get to the hospital without any more delay.

It was a 30-minute drive. He stayed calm and resisted the urge to peel down the freeway at 80 miles an hour while honking at anyone in his way. :-)

Once we arrived, he dropped me off at the hospital entrance so that I could head up to the Birthing Center while he parked. I was afraid I might leave a trail of amniotic fluid and blood behind me, but fortunately I had bought some super-absorbant pads and had put one on before we left the house, so that didn’t seem to be the case.

The peri’s office had called ahead for us, so as soon as I got to the Birthing Center, they whisked me to a triage room and had me change into a gown. There was a lot more blood by that point, and any thought of a vaginal delivery completely left my mind.

One of the nurses immediately hooked me up to monitors, and thankfully A’s heartbeat sounded steady and strong, which provided some reassurance. The nurses agreed that there was more blood than they would expect to see, but eventually they decided it was probably all related to my water breaking and nothing else bad going on.

We got to the Birthing Center around 5 p.m., and at 6 p.m., one of the nurses announced that they’d be taking us to the surgery suite between 7 and 7:30 p.m. I was surprised, because we had eaten lunch at 2:30 p.m., so I figured we’d have to wait until closer to 10 or 11 p.m. But apparently the anesthesiologist said it would be okay to go earlier. Earlier rather than later sounded great to me!

They wheeled us in to surgery a few minutes after 7 p.m., putting R in a separate waiting room while they did the spinal block on me. I was nervous about the idea of a needle in my back, but it turned out to be no big deal. One of the nurses stood in front of me and let me grip her hands. I said “ouch” a few times, but it really didn’t hurt that badly – it was more just the fact that I was feeling the pain in an unusual location rather than my butt or tummy. Seriously, PIO injections seem worse to me.

A few minutes later, the C-section got underway. I felt some tugging, more than I expected, as they pulled A out, but no pain. We heard a small cry before they suctioned her, and then as soon as they did that, the loud, healthy cries began.

I finally exhaled the breath that I had been holding for 9 months. She was here!

That cry was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. There were tears, and I still tear up thinking about that moment now, but not as many tears as I expected, because I was focused on watching her as they cleaned her up. (They brought her to us very briefly before taking her over to the isolette.) Once they were done, R was able to carry her over to me.

Finally, after all these years, we became a family of three.

March 23, 2012

Meet Miss A

Belated, but as promised, pictures of Miss A:

Our first kiss, a few minutes after she was born:

The rest of these were taken by the photographer who came around in the hospital. At this point it's all a blur, but I'm pretty sure that was on Monday, so she's less than 48 hours old.

I can't believe how tiny she looks in her daddy's hands:

A rare picture with her eyes open. What her hair color looks like may vary based on screen settings, but it's blonde. Most of the nurses were referring to it as platinum with highlights, because it gets darker at the ends. R and his siblings were all very blonde growing up, as was my dad. It looks like there's some brown mixed in with the blue in her eyes, so she may wind up with my brown eyes, but I wouldn't complain if she wound up with R's eyes too, because they're a great shade of blue.

This is her in her going-home-from-the-hospital outfit. (We haven't downloaded the photos of that day yet.) It's hard to see in these photos, but the gown has a very delicate eyelet pattern to it and a rose at the center of the collar.

I want to write posts about the birth, our hospital stay, and coming home, but I won't make promises on when that will happen, given how slow I was to get these posted.

One funny note I will leave you with - within the first 24 hours of being home, we've been both projectile pee'd upon (I was doing diaper duty, and thankfully had a quick enough reflex to get out of the way), and projectile poo'd upon. (R was on diaper duty and unfortunately did not have that same reflex. The look on his face as he looked down at his poo-splattered shorts was priceless.)

Yes, this is what we signed up for. And are enjoying every single sleep-deprived moment of it. :-)

March 18, 2012

She's Here!!!

After 9 years and 9 months, we're holding our daughter in our arms.

Her name is Al.e.xa She weighs 7 lb. 12 oz. and is 20.5 inches long. She seems to be a breastfeeding champ.

It looks like she has R's blond hair, may potentially wind up with my brown eyes (I know it's not definitive for quite a while), and my dad's curly hair. Both of us think she kind of looks like him.

Pics and more details to come in the next few days. She arrived the evening of St. Patrick's Day (March 17) at 38w1d after my water broke. There was a lot of blood mixed in, which freaked me out, and I wasn't having any sort of real contractions, so we went the c-section route.

March 12, 2012

9 Days (At The Most)

We are down to the single digits. The shorter the timeframe, the more slowly it seems to go.

Tomorrow is my last day of work, and then I'm taking a week of vacation time before FMLA starts. There are no signs yet of her coming early.

Overall I've been feeling pretty good, both physically and mentally, but I had another freakout day yesterday afternoon. Everything had been fine up until lunch, and then Kiddo started moving around a lot more than normal for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Plus, she was all bunched up on my left side, which is unusual - I think she's spent about 90 percent of this pregnancy on my right side so far, and if she ventures over to the left, she heads back to the right fairly quickly.

So I broke out the doppler three times yesterday, and even though I could hear her heart rate and the cord flow, I still wasn't 100 percent reassured. I didn't call the doctor's office, though, because I figure they'll tell me that as long as she's moving, everything is fine.

I'm doing better this morning. Still not 100 percent, but better. Although work has been stressful, one of the nice things about it is that it's kept me from obsessing too much every day. It will be interesting to see what I'm like starting on Wednesday. By Wednesday afternoon, the doppler may be duct-taped to my belly...

March 04, 2012

17 Days and Counting...

The days are flying by. It's hard to believe we're 2 1/2 weeks away at the most.

During our Tuesday appointment, the doctor checked my cervix. I joked with R that it was ironic how we've spent so long trying and there have been so many people inspecting that part of my anatomy, and then ever since we've gotten pregnant, there have been very few physical exams of that area. This was the second or third one at the most.

Anyway, the doctor said Kiddo's head had started to move down and my cervix was starting to soften slightly, but I hadn't dilated at all. She thinks I'll go all the way to the 21st.

We had another growth scan on Friday (36 weeks), and the measurements indicated Kiddo weighs 7 lb. 4 oz. However, the tech said girls tend to weigh less than the estimates, so she thinks Kiddo is in the upper 6 lb. range at this point.

I was concerned again that Kiddo's size could be because of the gestational diabetes, but the tech said it's not just her soft-tissue circumferences (like her belly) that are measuring large, but her bone lengths are also long, so the tech doesn't think her size is due to the GD. I don't know if the tech was just trying to make me feel better, but I'll ask the doctor about it on Tuesday.

It does make sense that Kiddo would be on the large side regardless, since other than me at 5' 7" and R's mom at 5' 1", everyone else in the immediate family, including R's sister, is 5'10" or taller. And all of us are medium or large builds - we aren't exactly a petite bunch.

Last weekend, we ventured out to a baby store with a friend of mine to buy a few more essentials. I was still a bit freaked out about allowing things to cross the threshold, but my friend said it doesn't count if the tags are still on and we still have the receipts, so I'm trying to be okay with it. Everything is still in bags, though - I haven't made progress to the point of washing things yet.

I am, however, now driving around with a car seat base in the back seat of my car.

I called the Fire Department this week to make an appointment because I'd heard it takes a few weeks to get on the schedule for car seat inspections, but when they called me back on Friday, they had an opening for yesterday. So we went, and I'm glad we did, because getting it installed in my car properly was tough.

But I was also really happy to find out that we can also use the car seat in the back seat of R's truck. His truck is old (1998) and has clamshell doors rather than a full crew cab with four full-size doors, so I thought we'd have to put the car seat in the passenger seat in his truck and shut off the airbag. But fortunately the back bench in his truck is deep enough that it fits safely. So yea for that!

March 02, 2012

Scan Pics for Mo

For those of you who don't know Mo from Life and Love in the Petri Dish, she is in a place very similar to where I was in August - at the beginning of pregnancy #7 and having a hard time believing it could possibly end well. I'm taking a look back and posting pictures of my earliest ultrasound scans so she can compare them.

The first two are from our ultrasound at 6w0d. The sac looks very kidney-shaped. The yolk sac was visible, but it just looked like a ring with an empty center, and it would be visible on the screen for a second and then gone the next moment, depending on exactly how the wand was positioned at the time.

These images are from another scan done at 6w6d. The sac looks really abnormally shaped in the first picture. It looks a bit better in the second one, but the yolk sac isn't definitively visible in the second one like it is in the first.

It's hard to imagine those first tiny images have turned into an actual live, practice-breathing baby, but somehow, incredibly, they have...Here is hoping the same for Mo, and for all of you who are in the process of working toward these kinds of images of your own.

February 23, 2012

Contraction! And, 28 Days!

I'm sorry I've been MIA lately. Things have been crazy at work, and as you can probably tell, I've been behind on both posting and commenting. I'm hoping to catch up by the end of the weekend, but I just wanted to pop in and say everything still seems to be going well.

It's hard to believe this is our fourth week of twice-a-week appointments. During yesterday's non-stress test, apparently I had a contraction. I didn't feel it, so I didn't even know it until the doctor looked at the monitor's printout and said, "So you had a contraction, huh?"

She said it happens randomly and doesn't mean I'll go into labor early. But for those of you who have been hoping I will find the courage to do more to prepare, I don't know that I'd call it courage exactly, but a feeling of "Wow, this might actually happen! And I'd better get moving!" did set in.

R and I went shopping last night, so at least now Kiddo has an outfit in which to come home from the hospital and a baby book that we can take with us to have handprints and footprints put in. We haven't gotten everything yet, but I don't care so much if we're the ones buying diaper rash cream or if we have to send someone else for that, but I did want to at least pick out the sentimental stuff ourselves.

In other news, Kiddo will be here no later than 28 days from today. Well, technically, 27 days from today since it is now after midnight. I still can't totally believe it. But I hope the next 4 weeks go really quickly.

Actually, even more than that, I hope she decides to show up sooner than then. Not too much sooner, because I'm only at 34w5d and I want her to have all the growing time she needs, but I wouldn't mind if she showed up a couple days ahead of schedule.

And, my usual refrain: Please, Dear God, let this end well...

February 06, 2012

The Non-Shower Shower

A quick update on Kiddo our appointment on Friday (32w0d), the ultrasound tech measured her weight at 4 lb. 9 oz., which calculated out to the 71st percentile. So I'm glad she's getting bigger, and I'm still in disbelief that there is somehow 4 1/2 pounds of kid inside me.

I'm also a little worried that her size is creeping up because of the gestational diabetes, so I'll ask the peri about that if we see her during the non-stress test tomorrow. At 24 weeks, she was 1 lb. 9 oz., which was the 56th percentile. Then at 28 weeks, she was 2 lb. 14 oz., which was the 67th percentile. If she gains at the rate of 1/2 a pound a week (which is what the tech said is pretty typical from this point forward), she'd be 8 lb. 9 oz. at her due date. Even though we're not going that far, I think she'll still be at least 8 pounds if we make it to the scheduled date of March 21.

I was 8 lb. 8 oz., but I was also born a week past my due date. I asked R's mom about him, and it turns out he was 8 lb. 1 oz., 17 days past his due date! I'm so glad we won't have to go 2 1/2 weeks past the due date - there's no way I'd have the patience for that, especially after all these years. I'd probably be trying every old wives' tale out there about inducing labor if we were even 1 day past the due date... :-)

On to the non-shower shower...

Early in the first trimester, one of my best friends made me promise she could guide us through registering at 30 weeks if we made it that far. When we reached 29 weeks, she decided that was far enough and commenced with planning a shower despite my objections.

Even though we've made it past the 30-week mark, I'm just still not feeling courageous enough to have a shower. I just don't think I'm going to do one unless this ends well and it's a post-birth shower.

So she and I had a disagreement about it, and then she came up with another idea, which I thought is tremendously sweet and makes her happy because it still lets her feel like she's helping us prepare: She's throwing me a frozen casserole shower.

Somehow this feels safer - I figure we still have to eat regardless of how this turns out, so it doesn't feel quite so much like tempting fate to come smack us upside the head.

Basically, she's invited several of my friends and given them instructions to bring their favorite casserole dish in a disposable pan for us to freeze, and another, smaller version of it along with copies of the recipe so that we can all taste all of the dishes during the party. She's made it clear there will be no pink, no baby decorations, and no one is to bring any gifts other than the food.

All of that is how I want it to be at this point, although I do admit I'm starting to panic a bit over the fact that we're just over 6 weeks away from the planned date, and there are a bunch of things I want to do (i.e. organize the house) that I still don't have done, not to mention the fact that I have Absolutely. No. Idea. how to care for a newborn. But that's a post for another day...

February 01, 2012

It's a Date!

Assuming this pregnancy ends well - and that I don't go into labor early - at this time 7 weeks from today, Kiddo should be almost 12 hours old.

Yep, we have a date. March 21.

It's weird to think that tomorrow, we will be less than 7 weeks away from that date. I hope these next 7 weeks go quickly!

We also had our first non-stress test yesterday. I thought we were doing both the NST and the biophysical profile every Tuesday and every Friday, but it turns out the NSTs (no ultrasound) will be on Tuesdays, and the BPPs (ultrasound) will be on Fridays. I can live with that - at least we still get to go in twice a week for reassurance.

Kiddo did well on the NST. There were separate periods of movement, and her heart rate increased appropriately during each one. I think they want to see two periods of movement/rate increases within 10 minutes, but the doctor came in to speak with us, so we wound up being hooked up to the monitors longer than that. Again, fine by me... :-)

January 30, 2012

Nesting Times Two

It turns out that I am not the only one around this house who is nesting.

Aside from telling some people we weren't ready to tell, my mom has been pretty good about not pressuring us about this pregnancy. She didn't push to know the gender, if she bought stuff before the gender reveal a couple weeks ago she didn't mention it, she's only touched my stomach once, etc. But now that we've announced the gender, I think she's starting to let herself relax into this pregnancy a little bit, too.

I came home a few days ago to find the garbage can that's usually in the pantry sitting instead out in the kitchen, piled high with stuff. And the shelves in the pantry were half bare.

She very proudly announced that that was the third garbage can full of stuff she had thrown away. Her goal was to clear a shelf for stuff we might need to keep in the pantry for Kiddo, and she did it.

I was very impressed. Being willing to throw things away - regardless of how expired they are - is not an easy thing for her to do.

She's not a hoarder in the sense of that show on TV where you can't even see the countertops or floors of the house and have to fight your way through piles of stuff just to clear a small pathway. She's always been very neat and organized, and her house (or now, her space in our house) is always clutter-free.

It's just that she was born while the country was going through the Great Depression, and I think that's had a life-long influence on her.

She has more mini shampoo and conditioner bottles (neatly stored in bins in her linen closet) than I would use in my lifetime, much less that she could use in her lifetime. One time several months ago I found a bottle of spices with a label from The Price Club, which was a store that went out of business when I was probably around the 8th grade, seriously. I tried to throw it out, but it upset her too much - never mind that she doesn't use spices when she cooks. (I waited a few days and then buried it in the bottom of the garbage can when she wasn't around. I don't think she ever noticed.) She had boxes of pudding mix that expired in the late 1990s, a dozen jars of white asparagus that were too good of a deal to pass up. (R and I don't eat white asparagus.)

Apparently all that stuff went out with the trash, because now there is some seriously empty space in the pantry.

If we're lucky, next she'll tackle our home office... :-) (That is our space, and it is not clutter free!)

A couple of other notes:
  • We start our twice-a-week non-stress test/biophysical profile appointments tomorrow. I'm thrilled to be getting a peek at Kiddo that often because it helps reassure me.
  • Today is Jan. 30 and technically our due date is March 30, so as of tomorrow we will be officially less than 2 months away. Since I'll be delivered early, we're actually less than 8 weeks away now, but it's a nice milestone. January has flown by. I'm very thankful for that.
  • R and I have ventured into baby stores twice in the past two weeks! We've only made it as far as the car seat/stroller section, but it's a start.
  • January 23, 2012

    The Story Behind The Gender Reveal

    Now that I've had a couple days to process, I thought I'd share the story of Friday's reveal...

    I had ordered the cake earlier in the week, and we picked it up after our appointment on Friday afternoon. We wanted it to be a moment with just the two of us when we found out, and since my mom lives with us, that ruled out cutting into it at home. So from the bakery, we drove to a neighborhood park not too far from our house and walked to a ramada overlooking a small lake. (Well, technically to most of you it would probably wouldn't even qualify as a small pond, but we don't have much water where we live, so our perception of the size of a body of water tends to be a bit skewed.)

    Anyway, it was a pretty setting. I had put R in charge of gathering the necessary supplies, and he had grabbed the cake-cutting knife and server we had used for our wedding, along with paper plates, etc. We cut it like we cut our wedding cake - both of our hands on the knife. I stared at the ceiling of the ramada as we sliced into it, but he had the camera in his other hand, so he was taking pictures.

    When we pulled the knife out, I was expecting to see crumbs. There were no crumbs, but there was some of the filling on the knife.

    My reaction was, "It's pink??!?"

    I won't post the first picture he took of my face, but let's just say it's quite the expression. It's not that I was unhappy, it's just that we've known for 8 years (since our first adoption certification) that it would be more likely we'd wind up adopting a boy. We were/are open to either gender and any race, and the adoption professionals all told us that because of that, we'd most likely be matched with a boy. And the first two of our three matches were boys. (In the third one, which we were only matched for a few days, the gender wasn't known until the baby was born, and she was a girl.)

    Because of those matches, we bought boy stuff when we were preparing. And the friend who gave us most of the baby furniture we have had two boys, so it's boy-themed. And of our normal embryos, 9 of them tested male and 6 tested female. And Kiddo has very long feet.

    And so, because of all of that, my brain has been completely in boy mode for most of a decade.

    So seeing pink was quite the surprise. I kept looking at the cake and saying "It's still pink!" Finally, after about the fifth time repeating that phrase, R said, "Yeah, I don't think it's the kind of thing that really changes over time...or with exposure to air."

    He was great, as usual - he was able to wrap his head around the fact that it was pink right away.

    Then we packed up, headed home, and invited his parents over for dinner. We had told them and my mom about the cake plan a while back but hadn't reminded them lately.

    After we ate, I mentioned that we had dessert. They were kind of surprised, given that I'm supposed to be limiting my sugar intake. We had them close their eyes, and then R brought out the cake, which we had left in our car.

    Their reactions were pretty funny. I video taped it, and we may think about sending it in to America's Funniest Home Videos someday.

    R's mom's first reaction was puzzled: "Why is there a piece missing??" When I told them to look at the color, she said, "Piiink?" slowly and looked at us questioningly.

    Then it dawned on my mom, who literally started screaming (no exaggeration) "It's a girl, it's a girl!" and pounding the table. Then she reached for the phone and began calling people, saying, "Oh my God, (friend's name), it's a girl, it's a girl! I've gotta go, gotta call more people! Bye!" There are some people on the East Coast who were probably awoken from a sound sleep (it was 11 p.m. there) and thought it was a prank call, because she bypassed the traditional niceties, such as mentioning who, exactly, was calling... :-)

    For me, the surprise has worn off and now I'm just excited. But I do still think of things every once in a while that make me nervous.

    For example, R was a Boy Scout, and his dad was a troop leader. Since I envisoned us with a boy, I also envisioned R being the troop leader. On Saturday, the thought occurred to me - can dads accompany Girl Scouts on camping trips? Apparently not.

    "So you mean I'm going to have to learn how to pitch a tent and start a fire by rubbing two sticks together??" I asked him. "You know I'm not good with fire! I can't even light a basic match without burning myself!"

    On the other hand, I have some serious skills when it comes to sniffing out a good deal on a hotel. Can't I just teach them how to make reservations instead?

    January 21, 2012

    Kiddo's Gender Revealed

    We reached 30 weeks yesterday, and we stuck with our plan of finding out the gender.

    Doing so has made all of this so much more real, and I am still processing all of it, so for now, I will just leave you with the picture:

    Also, I've tried to comment on a bunch of Blo.gsp.ot blogs lately, but when I click on the comment link, I get a completely blank page. I thought it was something Google was doing as part of its SOPA protest since it started happening around that time, but it's still occurring as of today.

    I've seen a couple other bloggers mention a similar issue, so apparently it's not technology being cranky with just me. There are one or two blogs I've been able to comment on, but for the vast majority of them, I've had no such luck. So please don't think I'm ignoring you - I'm reading, it's just that's all I can do at this point. Hopefully Google will fix it soon...

    January 16, 2012

    R Discovers the World of Diapers

    I'm behind on the post I promised, although on the bright side it's in large part because I had a productive weekend nesting, i.e. cleaning up some of the messes I've let pile up in the house, and starting to research Kiddo stuff like car seats and strollers.

    So, to fill in the gap until that post, I'll leave you with a bit of humor from R's online browsing session this evening...

    Apparently, he caught the Kiddo-related research bug from all the info I shared with him over the weekend, because he's sitting here next to me exploring

    All of a sudden, I hear:

    (in an incredulous tone) "186 results??!?"

    Followed a moment later by "19 different brands of diapers!" (still half incredulous, but now I can tell from a slight shift in tone that the enormity of all the different baby stuff that you need to wade through is starting to sink in.)

    There's a big sigh.

    Then, "Even better, here are diaper types..." And he proceeds to list off about 20 different ones. (Most of them, I can tell he has no idea what they are. But heck, neither do I, so there's no judgment from me on his lack of knowledge.)

    That's followed by "17 different sizes??" and another big sigh.

    And then, finally:

    "So I think I'll leave diaper ordering up to you..."

    January 09, 2012

    Third Trimester! And Quick Updates

    Yikes, I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last posted! I have lots of posts I want to write but haven't gotten to them yet. Hopefully I will have a little more time this week and next.

    For now, some quick updates, and I will come back and do a proper post within the next day or so:

    * I finally, finally, finally finished the last of the 3 papers I had to do for my fall class at about 2:30 a.m. today. That's part of the reason for my lack of posts - I made a rule for myself that I would not do anything else online until I got that done. It was due sometime around Oct. 23, which was about 10 weeks ago. I have no good excuse, just that I hit a writer's block with this particular assignment and couldn't figure out how to get through it. The professor was very kind to grant me an incomplete and allow so much extra time to finish it, and he was very generous to give me a B in the class overall. I would have been grateful for a C. I had toyed with taking a class or two this semester, but you'll be happy to hear that I have come to my senses and decided not to do that.

    * I have gestational diabetes. The downside is that I have to stick my finger four times a day to test. The upside is that as a result, I am back to weekly appointments. Thank God! These last 2 weeks between appoitnments were some of the longest of my life, and that was the only time I had gone more than 11 days between appointments. They are going to start doing cord blood flow checks and biophysical profiles on Kiddo with this next appointment, and they're starting my twice-a-week non-stress tests and biophysical profiles a week early, during the 31st week instead of the 32nd.

    * Kiddo was up to 2 lb. and 14 oz. on Friday, which measured in the 67th percentile. I was just hoping for more than 2 pounds, so I was thrilled we were so close to 3 pounds. It was the best appointment we've had so far, one of the happiest days of this pregnancy, even with the gestational diabetes diagnosis factored in.

    * The doctor was a bit shocked that I was actually willing to have a conversation about delivery methods and a due date. Apparently the hospital only schedules four C-sections a day, so she said if that is a route we are considering, we need to get on the calendar now. We can always cancel if we decide to try for a vaginal birth, because apparently it's easier to schedule those closer to the day of. So we opted for March 23 or March 21. Hopefully we'll find out on Friday if she was able to get one of those dates.

    And, for a bit of humor, I will leave you with a real conversation my mom and I had this morning:

    In true Borderline Personality Disorder style, everything has to be about her, so she has taken on the gestational diabetes diet with a vengance and decided to do it with me. She has called at least half a dozen of her friends to tell them about the diagnosis and that this is how she has to eat for the next few months. (I haven't told R he has to change his diet one bit, so why she feels compelled to do this I'm not sure, other than because of her BPD.)

    So this morning, she was looking over the list of portion sizes for each food. She has a huge sweet tooth (which I inherited), so she was very excited to see that cake was listed on there.

    I pointed out to her that the serving size is 2 inches by 2 inches, and I held my fingers apart to show her just how big - or, rather, how small - that is. Her face fell, because really it's not more than two bites' worth of cake.

    Then she thought for a moment, looked down at the list again, and said, "Yeah, but it doesn't say there's a limit on how high you can pile the frosting!"

    Only my mother... :-)