Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pregnancy Week 24: From a snow storm to a shower to soccer practice...

The last few days I am visiting my family in Upstate New York, the snow storms die down, but I am blessed with a shower of a different sort when, on Sunday, my mom and the Women's Association at the Fair Haven Church throw me a baby shower. I grew up in this church and still attend when I'm visiting, so it is nice to see everyone and feel loved. My former Sunday School teachers are there, the lovely ladies of the church attend, my sister-in-law even makes it after a nasty fall on the ice, and a few of my High School friends who are semi-local are present. BBB, as my mom writes on her card to him (that's "Baby Boy Bouteneff" for those of you who are not as into initials as we are) receives many cute outfits, blankets, toys and other items. A huge thanks to all the church ladies, Suzanne who made the cake, friends and family, and my mom, who all make this a very special time for us!

Meanwhile, Mike, my dad, my brother, and my nephew go to my brother's house and play the wii until the power goes out (it is very windy). The same day, Mike and I even have a chance to visit the Fair Haven State Park and view the waves crashing into the melted snow along the beach. We all have a fun day!

The following day, Mike and I travel back to Westchester, and all the while, Womb Baby is kicking and moving like crazy during the 6 hour drive.

I am beginning to think he becomes extremely active on the rare occasions when I have caffeinated tea. This is not often (only a handful of times my entire pregnancy so far--and I never drink coffee), but the last few times I have had tea, he does seem to kick me with more energy and zest.

Not only is he kicking and rolling over in big thumps, as he has been, but for the past week or two, Mike and I have been able to feel hard parts of his body while they move across my belly. It is one thing to feel a poke or a shove or a general movement. That is sensational enough. But to have my hand on my belly, and then feel a hard ball move up against the palm of my hand, then roll or glide down my hand to another part of me, almost as a cat would rub up against one's hand in order to be pet...it is something so amazing and so out of my control, it almost freaks me out. We may be coming upon the "alien in the belly" stage...

But it freaks me out in a good way, and I describe it to Mike, saying, "It's like, if you see a fly and you think it's dead, and you touch it, and it moves, and you see it's alive!"

"You think our son is a dead bug?" Mike asks.

"No..." I smile. "But it's sort of the same feeling. Just being totally surprised that something is alive and moving. It's startles me!"

However I choose to describe it, bugs raised from the dead or cats looking for a good rub, it is wild and fascinating and makes me smile with nervous excitement. And our son is doing it right now as I write this post (I have to keep breaking to put my hand on my belly to feel). In fact, I have just called Mike over to me to feel the baby move. BBB moves so much and for so long, Mike finally has to go back to his project before the baby is even done moving. He just isn't stopping! Mike is already thinking of soccer drills he'd like to play with our son, and it seems our guy is putting in a little practice time of his own.

So as we settle into our routines at home, our baby making himself more and more a part of our every day lives, I am left feeling very blessed again--to have family and friends who care so much about us, to have a wonderful husband who will be a wonderful father, and to have a healthy active baby boy inside of me, who already brings us great joy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pregnancy Week 23: Womb baby's first real snow-storm!

Welcome to Upstate New York, womb-baby! Where the "a" in apple has that mid-western twang, where the people still say hi to you as you pass by on the street--whether you know them or not (And chances are, in a small town, you probably do know them, or they know your parents, or you went to school with their cousin...), where people say "Merry Christmas" at the drugstore without hesitation, and where, of course, snow storms abound. And to my friends from the tri-state area who think they have encountered snow storms, the reason I entitle this our womb-baby's first "real snow-storm" is that as dangerous as we feel the Westchester/CT storms are, they are really NutraSweet to the raw organic cane sugar of the lake-effect snow belt. You get a taste of it, but it's nothing like the real thing.

So on Monday, Mike and I prepare to leave for our journey to my parents' house for Christmas. They live about on hour northwest of Syracuse in the small village of Fair Haven on the coast of Lake Ontario, population 850 (which supposedly triples in the summer due to the beach and state park in the town). There are no traffic lights, movie theatres or chain restaurants. However, the village is in the process of putting in a town sewer system, has new street signs in place, and even boasts a few cross walks on Main Street. They have band concerts every Saturday night in the summer, the surrounding communities all become very involved in the 4th of July Parade, the summer carnival at the recreation park and the Winter Carnival at the iced-over state park are always fun, and the culture of the neighboring Renaissance Faire adds an interesting mix to the summer vibe. It's a cute town filled with caring people, and if you don't mind the lack of choices when it comes to eating out or buying your groceries, having everyone know who you are and at least some of your business, or feeling a bit isolated (you'll have to travel about 40 miles to the nearest town with population over 50,000), you might find it quite charming.

However, even the residents admit, the lake effect snow is not Fair Haven's best quality. And unfortunately, it is one of the strongest qualities for at least a solid third of the year.

So Monday morning, Mike and I check out weather.com one more time. Yes, there is some sort of storm warning in effect for Central New York, but it appears that it should be completed by 7pm. And with the rate at which Mike and I are moving this morning (we keep finding more things we need to do before leaving), we should not reach the snow belt until well after 7pm.

We make our stops at the library, at our car garage, I pack up a few last gifts, Mike warms up the car for our bird (Darius travels with us), and we are off. The trip starts out pleasant enough; we listen to an episode of Radio Lab about the reasons for mass hysteria generated by the War of the Worlds radio show (and subsequent similar shows since); we talk; we sing; we stop for some food. And the baby makes his presence known--he is quite active in the car.

In fact, the baby has been moving a lot Sunday and Monday, and harder than usual. I am not sure if it is the chili I ate or the caffeinated tea I drank (I rarely have caffeine) on Sunday, or if it my anxiety of rushing around to complete last minute tasks--but he has been moving like never before! He has been kicking me so hard that it shocks me and I even say, "Ow!" This happens once when Mike is in the room and he asks if I'm okay. I tell him the baby just whacked me hard. He smiles. "It's funny to hear you say 'ow' and I look at you and expect to see something hurting you, and you're just standing there. And you tell me it's the baby from inside!"

So the baby is very much a part of our journey and I don't mind his kicks because we are happy he's a strong little guy, and happy to be off of work for a week, and traveling to friendly Fair Haven.

And then at exactly 7pm, when the storm should have been completed according to weather.com, we notice the flakes starting to mount on the windshield. We are still at least an hour outside of Syracuse, but as time progresses, the flakes are speeding up, the nighttime sky has arrived, and our visibility slowly starts to fade.

By the time we reach Syracuse, the roads are a mess and it is quite difficult to see in front of us. We stop to pick up one last gift that has been awaiting us at Best Buy, I snap some cool pictures of a snow-covered tree in the parking lot, then we hop on the road again.

Once we leave the city of Syracuse, visibility worsens. The snow is probably coming down faster, but we also no longer have the city to light up the sky around us, and since there are no street lights along the highway, we can barely see the ground directly in front of us, much less anything else. My mother encourages us on the phone to stay at a hotel if the roads are bad, but I can't imagine where we would stay at this point. These last 45 miles to Fair Haven are slow and arduous, but Mike does a great job of staying focused and keeping the car on the road, with my occasional-to-frequent comments of, "Slow down..." (even though the 4-wheel drive trucks are zipping by us).

After traveling for another 90 minutes or so (thankfully, there is never any real traffic on this highway, and we don't pass any accidents or it could have been longer), we notice the snow starts to let up. Visibility increases and we both relax a bit more in the car. We are only five miles from my parents' house and the journey is almost over. We will arrive around 11pm, have some of my mom's yummy christmas cookies and chex mix, and get to bed early so we will be refreshed for my niece's Christmas concert at her school on Tuesday morning. We are listening to the old radio shows on the local NPR station (I love my WRVO!), and as we round a bend which then turns into a steep hill downward, the car suddenly is no longer in Mike's control. But we are going so slowly at the moment, that if it weren't for Mike's swearing, I would barely notice anything was out of the ordinary. We slowly slide into the snow bank at the side of the road and stop.

At this point, I still feel we will be able to simply put the car in reverse and back up. After all, we are barely off the road, and we were going so slowly--we can't be too stuck. Mike tries to push the car out to no avail, and I start to realize this is not going to be a quick fix. I call my dad who misses the end of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to come out to help us (luckily, he's seen it before). My dad brings a shovel and he and Mike and a kind stranger who lives nearby, try to dig the car out. During this time, I have called AAA and am on hold for almost 30 minutes until I speak with someone in our area. She tells me a tow truck will arrive some time before 12:30am.

Several more people stop by to ask if we need a phone, to offer their truck's service to pull us out if we have a chain or a rope (we don't), and finally I remind Mike that I've had to go to the bathroom since Syracuse. He says I should have my dad take me home and he will wait for AAA. I don't want Mike to be left alone, so I ask my dad to drop me off, then come back to wait with Mike. He agrees, and my bird and I move to my dad's SUV and travel home.

Not long after my dad arrives back on the scene with Mike, AAA finally does arrive and pulls the car out. It is a long night, but we are all safe, the car is working, and with little sleep, we still enjoy my niece's Christmas concert the next morning.

Tuesday afternoon, we drive out to finish a bit of last minute shopping, and we pass the snow bank we'd visited for 90 minutes the night before. It isn't until then that I realize how steep the ditch is next to the road. If the snow bank had not been so strong and icy and we had actually gone off the road, our car would have most likely nose-dived into that ditch, which potentially could have damaged the car, not to mention causing a lot of strain to me and Mike, and possibly the baby. There would definitely have been some severe jostling with the seat belts jabbing into us for a steep descent.

So while today, as I look outside and see there is another lake-effect snow storm brewing here, I feel quite lucky and thankful to God that we were kept safe that night. And our little baby is back to kicking and stretching as normal--not so many hard 'ow' kicks to his womb-house. So perhaps the caffeine is out of his system, or he is just more relaxed and comfy and cozy like his mother. Because despite cars being off the road, and winter storm warnings, there really is nothing like being at your childhood home for the holidays. And for me, that home, like it or not, happens to be filled with lake-effect snow. Lots of it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pregnancy Week 22: Enjoy your womb-house while you've got it, Baby! Once out, you'll be a renter!

Even with low interest rates, a "buyers' market", excellent credit, a generous contribution from my in-laws (thank you!), Mike's MBA and good job, we still cannot find an affordable, decent house that is close to his work and in a good school district.

We have been looking at houses since April, seeing over 100 by now, but we still carry forth with determined resolve and hope. After all, Everyone keeps telling us, "The right house for you is out there. I'm sure it will come to you. Everything will work out for the best." And Everyone can't be wrong. Right?

After being burned by two near-hit houses in the Spring and Summer, we finally decide to put an offer in on a house this week in the same town we live in now. Actually, we put two offers in on two separate houses. The offers are low, but isn't Everyone saying to us that's okay? In this economy, we have a chance? "Who knows," Everyone says, "maybe the seller is desperate to get rid of the house?"

I listen to Everyone and nod and smile and agree, "Who knows?" And part of me feels that wonder, that same covert excitement when you are staring at a lottery ticket you know will not bring you more than $2...but still...

Logically, Mike and I know better. Westchester County is a bubble within the real estate market that has not been touched greatly by the slow economy (no matter what our agent claims). It is particularly difficult in our town, since the schools are good and taxes are relatively low (Westchester was recently ranked the county with the highest property taxes in the US, our unfortunate claim to fame). Houses pretty much sell at the asking price in our town, or $5-$20K under, which, on an $800K house, is not much off the tag (and we are definitely not looking at houses even close to $800K).

Yet we make our valiant effort and get back on that housing horse once more. I submit our offers to our agent, reminding her we have excellent credit, will put down a sizable down payment, are renting and can move as quickly or as slowly as the seller wants...But I am no more nervous or excited about the offer than I am when I look at a lottery ticket. So, I am not surprised when our agent emails us back:

"She says your offer is much too low & the owners have decided not to counter offer at this time."

Well, that says it all.

Similar response for the other offer the next day:

"the owner will not come back with a counter offer, he feels it has been on the mkt such a short time & he has had a lot of interest so far & someone is coming for the second time this afternoon, also, he says he still has to put some money into it especially oil tank etc. "

Makes sense.

So here we are. Could we bid higher? Perhaps a little. Probably not enough to cause them to consider us any more seriously though. And should we come close to the asking price, we will end up struggling to pay bills, sitting in a candlelit room and contributing to the whole housing crisis we're currently trying to benefit from.

So the daunting task of cleaning out our small apartment guest room and turning it into a baby room is becoming more and more of a realization as I enter into my sixth month.

But really, when I think of the ultrasound where we saw our baby squirming around with his little legs curled over his face, when I feel him kicking me and pushing at me and banging into me because he is, after all, rather squashed in there...I imagine he will be quite happy to have a tiny apartment baby room.

And we will be quite happy to be able to afford car insurance and heat and an occasional Quizno's flatbread sandwich.

So while we did not "get" the houses, Everyone is right in one regard--that some things do work out for the best. Because Mike can tell you, renting or owning, I really do like my heat!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pregnancy Week 21: What's the deal with Santa and Baby Boy Bouteneff?

Yes, it's that magical time of the year again--and I don't say that with sarcasm-infused cheese dripping from my mouth. I actually mean it. I watch Elf and Love Actually every year. I love the smell of pine needles, the glow of the Christmas tree. I am happy White Plains put up their Christmas decorations back in October, and mall renditions of old carols make me feel warm and cozy. And of course, being a Christian, this is one of the most important times of the year to me for its true meaning. I love Christmas.

But Mike and I have been talking about the whole idea of Santa and how we may or may not impart that magic on our child. We both were raised with different ideas of Santa. So here are our backgrounds--

He never remembers believing in Santa Claus. In fact, he doesn't remember giving much thought to Santa one way or another. He doesn't recall talking to other kids about Santa, and when I ask if he ever wrote a letter to The Claus, he laughs at my absurd question, "No. I gave my list to my parents." He does remember he and his parents occasionally mentioning Santa, as in, "Oh, Santa is coming!" wink wink. nod nod. But the playful winks were from all three of them--Mike was just as much in on the "joke" as they were.

He remembers the excitement of his parents wrapping his gifts in the living room, telling him, "Don't come in here!" Then on Christmas Eve, they would load up the car with all the presents and head over to his grandparents' house. They'd put the gifts under the tree and open them at the appointed time. There was no mystery about how the gifts appeared under the tree. His parents bought them, wrapped them, put them in the car, and there they were.

On Christmas morning, Mike would open his stockings (he had a few), but when I ask him if he thought the stocking, at least, was from Santa, he says, "I know the presents are from my parents. So I'm really going to believe Santa comes and fills up the stocking? Um, no."

Despite his Santaless upbringing, he loved the holiday. "What kid doesn't?" he says to me. He enjoyed getting and decorating the tree, handing out gifts, playing with his toys, getting school off, being with his family. In all that, he never felt he needed the idea of Santa to make the holiday more fun for him.

I, however, grew up believing in the white bearded man. Christmas Eve was one of the most exciting times of the year. We would go to a church service, then eat cheese, crackers and egg nog, while listening to the Nativity Story and acting out "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Christmas morning, my brothers and I would race downstairs (6:30am was the earliest we were allowed to come down), tear into our stockings and bring our parents' stockings to their bedside. We'd then pass out the gifts and wait for our parents to get up. Santa had arrived.

Of course, as any kid, I probably had my doubts, but a few incidents helped solidify my belief. I wrote a letter to Santa once, asking him all the logical questions I could conjure--how reindeer could fly, how toys could be delivered in one night, etc. And I was filled with glee when Santa (a kindly old man who lived in town) wrote back answering all my questions to my satisfaction, and in a hand-writing that was not my mother's or father's.

Another year, when I was in kindergarten, we celebrated Christmas at my grandparents' house in North Carolina. Christmas came and went and all was fine, but I had not received the Barbie Bubble Bath that I had really wanted. A few days later, my mom came to me saying there was a gift left from last night by the tree. There was a letter from Santa (again, not my parents' handwriting) explaining how he found this one particular gift left at the bottom of his bag, which was meant for me (later, I learned it was a very popular item that year and my parents had to get a "raincheck" for the item). I opened the present and saw my very own barbie bath jacuzzi set. My eyes widened with excitement. I loved that bubble bath.

I eventually learned the truth about Santa, oddly enough, on one Easter afternoon. I had been having suspicions for a while about the whole Easter Bunny/Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy deal, and my parents would answer my questions "Is Santa real?" with evasive responses, such as, "Well, what do you think?" or "He's whatever you believe him to be" etc.

But this Easter, I wanted the straight out truth. I sat on my dad's lap and posed my question. "Is the Easter Bunny real?" After one or two times of his trying to avoid a direct answer, I said, "No, Dad. I want the truth. Just, is he real or not?"

Finally, my dad, with a bit of sadness in his voice, said, "No. He's not."

"So I guess that means Santa isn't real either then?"

"No," he paused. "He's not either."

I remember feeling sad, but not surprised. I knew logically, at this point, he was not real. But I liked believing he was, and until I knew for sure he was not real, there was hope in my heart. And that hope was a lot of fun.

I nodded to my dad. I didn't have any negative feelings toward my parents for encouraging this belief in Santa and I still don't today. It was a fun ride--all of it. And one that I knew, even that Easter Sunday, I could never, in my whole life, re-create.


Now we come to our question of how to raise our own child...With the belief in the magical existence of someone who gives a great deal of excitement and imagination, but who, ultimately, is not real? Or with the knowledge of what Christmas means, who St. Nicholas was, and to get credit for the good gifts ourselves?

For a while, I thought perhaps we would go with the second option. Maybe it is not the best thing to encourage a magical falsity, or at least, not whole-heartedly. But after speaking with new parents about how they are raising their children, how they remember Santa themselves, and from my own positive experience, I am leaning more toward allowing the fantasy. The fantasy comes with some inherent risks ("You lied to me!" "What else is not real then?" "I feel stupid for believing now!"), but it also lushes out creativity and sparks wonder.

Is it Kant who says it's ok to lie, as long as the person being lied to, if in the right state of mind, would want to be lied to? (i.e. It's ok to lie to Nazis who are looking for the Jewish person you are hiding in your attic, because if the Nazis were of the right mind, they would want to be lied to, in order to save a person's life, as that is more important than telling the truth.)

There is an interesting story in This American Life where a girl's father begins leaving her little notes around the house from The Borrowers which she believes are 4-inch tall people. Daughter and father share a wonderful experience of back and forth letter-writing and he even drops little clues around the house to insinuate a Borrower has been present. This is carried on for quite some time until the truth comes out, and the girl is left with very mixed emotions. But in the end, she would never trade that experience for the truth.

So...what would little Baby Bouteneff want? He's making a lot of movements now...kick once for Santa, twice for no Santa...he just kicked 4 times in a row...hm...

In any case, for one more Christmas, our immediate (out-of-womb) family is just two. Mike and me. And Santa, or no, I still love that magical feeling of Christmas. And so does Mike. I mean, if this (below) doesn't say Christmas spirit, what does?

(Regarding the pictures, I just have to point out, since I'm all into the belly: The first picture, by the tree, was taken 2 days before the second picture. But in the first, you can see a clear belly bump! The second is not as obvious. Again, I guess having a bare belly and taking pictures in the morning make it a little more difficult to see the distinction, compared to a full belly with a top on.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pregnancy Week 20: 5th Doctor's appointment

We go to our OB for our 5th appointment today. He checks in on how I am doing. We ask a few questions. I tell Mike in the car that I am going to show our 3d picture of our baby to the doctor. I say, "He may not care, or maybe a lot of people do that, but I'm going to anyway."

And so I do. He proves polite and says, sure he would like to see it. He says he wonders what the pictures look like these days from the screening, so apparently other patients do not show him their baby images. He is a good sport.

Mike asks him a question I have coached him on. I want to know our doctor's c-section rate, but since I already asked a similar question to that at our initial visit, I suggest Mike ask it now. Mike does, on cue, and our doctor pulls a clever one. "Well, let's talk about the likelihood of your having a c-section."

Yes, he avoids the question. And yes, neither Mike nor I have the energy to pursue it further. Suffice it to say, his rate must be high. Greenwich and Stamford, CT both have good hospitals but are right up there with the national average of 40% c-section.

He is encouraging with me, however, saying unless there is an unforeseen problem (hemhorraging or something), I have a very slight chance of having a c-section. He further explains various reasons for having c-sections and the small chance of that happening to me.

All in all, again, a pleasant visit. There are no tests or screenings coming up before my next visit, so I leave with nothing but a few pamphlets on local doula agencies from his office (yes, I'm thinking of having a doula, and very glad my doctor is so open to and supportive of that).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our 20 week anatomy screening: We find out the sex of our baby

Tuesday, December 2, is the day we have been waiting for. 2pm: Our anatomy screening. We will make sure all is going well with the baby's development, and we will also find out the sex of our baby.

Mike takes the day off of work and I leave my job early to race home and meet him, so we can drive up together. I am a bit stressed at first, as we get a later start than I had hoped. We misunderstand each other about what directions to take, and I have not eaten lunch (thank goodness for that smoothie from work). But we get out the door, into the car, and try to relax. Mike is very excited. I am excited, but I am anxious. We arrive at the facility on time, and Mike videotapes our waiting at the office. I am too anxious to talk, I tell him, so he narrates the beginning of our adventure.

After we check in, we wait in a lobby until a woman with a thick accent comes out to explain she is finishing her internship and will do the "first photographs" then "Kararah" (or Kara, or a name like that--I never did understand what she said) will finish. "Okay," I say a bit hesitantly.

We walk into the ultrasound room, and the lights are dim. It's cozy in here. They are smart to keep the lights low, not only so that we can watch the screens better, but to give a calming yet exciting energy to the room. I think I want my delivery to be in a dimly lit room too.

I lay back, am slathered with goo, and we start seeing our baby. We can see so much more than the last time, 8 weeks ago. The ribs stand out to me, the black "hole" that is the stomach, the bladder. We see the umbilical cord, the head, 5 fingers on a hand, a clear foot.

I ask the intern if she can tell what sex the baby is, and she says, "Oh yes, but I cannot tell you. That is for Kararah/Kara to say."

I think I see a little something between the baby's legs, but I am too untrained to know what is what.

The intern takes dozens of pictures and explains the various parts (although "Kara" later corrects her on one of the names she has typed onto the screen). We watch on a tv screen in front of us, while she points out body parts on her own screen, which does not face us. But I appreciate her effort.

After about 20 minutes (Mike filming the whole time), the mysterious "Kara" person comes in. She seems young and relaxed, like a friend, and we find the whole process with her resembling something familiar. We tell her we want to know the sex, we joke about the care bear poll on our blog, we talk about old wives' tales to tell the sex of the baby (she has an interesting eye-lid one), and I find the experience quite pleasant.

Five minutes into her time doing the ultrasound on me, she focuses her image on the baby's butt. I'll let the video take over as to what happens in the next 60 seconds...

So it is official! We are having a baby boy! Lying on the patient's bed, I tear up thinking about this; we are one step closer to knowing our baby. I feel a gush of momentous reality wash over me...we are having a son. I grab Mike's hand (the one he's not using to videotape) and hold it for a few minutes. He kisses me and we laugh and smile.

I must admit, that while the poll closed with "girl" beating "boy" by 2 votes, most people whom I see on a regular basis have been saying boy lately. The wives' tales pointed to boy, there are a lot of first born boys on Mike's and my side of the family. I am not surprised that we are having a son.

However...there was some part of me that still thought we might be having a girl. Perhaps I would have felt the same if we found out we were having a daughter. I really did not know, so no matter which way it went, I would not be surprised...yet also be a little surprised. That's the nature of 50/50, I guess!

Just knowing what we are having though has made it a bit more real. It's still surreal, and, as I said before, I don't think that is going to change any time soon, but I do feel somehow different. I know I have a little boy inside of me, and that just feels... different...As they said in Sex and the City, when Miranda found out she was having a boy, "You have a little penis inside of you!" Yes, I do!

So take a look at our handsome little boy in his 5th month of life! He was a bit camera-shy, putting his arms, then his legs, over his face. But "Kararhahahrah" managed to get one nice profile shot with his fist to his face with the 4D (real time) imaging. I think he looks like Mike already! We love our little boy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pregnancy Week 20: We'll find out the sex of our baby tomorrow!

Yes, we'll mark the half-way point of my pregnancy with finding out the first big mystery--what the sex our baby is! Then we will have to wait another 20 weeks before we encounter the answer to our next big mystery...who our little baby is!

But for now, we will get a Christmas tree, eat Thanksgiving leftovers (thanks, Bouteneff family!), go to the chiropractor's, work, and wait. Until 2pm tomorrow...

So get your last minute votes in now! Girl or boy? What do you think?? As of now, the poll is completely tied between girl and boy (no, carebear is not winning)...Someone has got to tip the scale...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pregnancy Week 19: People are noticing my pregnancy belly...

Yes, now it's really official. From my friends to my mother-in-law, people think I look pregnant. In the last week or two, it seems I've hit an onslaught of people saying, "Wow! You really are showing!"

I am also starting to wear tightly fit sweaters, which helps show off my "fashionable bump." (One of my pregnant friends pointed out that it is less noticeable in my pictures online here, since I'm not wearing a fitted top)

In fact, this week, I have my first experience with an acquaintance thinking I look pregnant.

So this guy who sees me a few times a week at the yoga studio/juice bar starts up a conversation seeing a pamphlet on hypo-birthing. He makes a joke about it and I say, "Yeah, I know someone who is doing that right now."

He suddenly feels bad he's made fun of it, and I quickly put him at ease. "Oh, I don't care. I'm not doing it, but it's working for her." Then I add, "I'm 4 1/2 months pregnant myself."

And as I say this, he sort of looks at me with this interested but stoic expression. I'm thinking, poor cute guy. He thinks he's offended me. But I am a little surprised by his seemingly reserved response (he's usually very personable).

Then he breaks into a smile and explains. I guess he's just been taking it in, because he says, "I thought you were pregnant! But I didn't want to say anything, just in case. But I thought you were pregnant!"

"Really? You're the first person who's thought that just from seeing me! Or at least who's told me!"

"Well, it's only because you're so tiny normally, so it's easier to see. Congratulations!"

Not only am I looking pregnant, but I also feel the baby moving every day, reminding me that there really is a living being inside of me. I look pregnant, and I might be actually starting to feel pregnant. I was taking a shower last night and tried to suck in my stomach. Seeing how I could no longer do that like I used to made me grin with the excitement of Christmas. There's a bell pepper-sized baby in there! I always know that I am pregnant, but it's in these small moments, when it truly hits me, for a brief second--the life-changing aspect of this experience, this event. And it always sends my stomach fluttering, my mouth gaping, and my eyes wide.

Of course, there are still times when my whole being cannot wrap itself around the intensity of being pregnant. It is just so huge, so vast, and for now, somewhat muted, in my control. There is no crying or giggling baby, I can go where I please when I please, I can still simply take care of myself and Mike. Yes, I take prenatal vitamins for the baby, I don't drink for the baby, we sing to the baby (we are adding new songs to our repertoire each week), we read to the baby, talk to the baby. But these are still our own self-started actions. We are not reacting or responding to a live being we can see or hear in front of us. And, like the idea of death, I don't know if I can truly understand the concept of creating life. It happens, I am part of it, I understand it on a human realistic level (i.e. I am not out of touch with reality, thinking life and death don't happen), but it amazes me beyond my human comprehension.

Again, I am struck with how lucky I am to experience this. And I don't think I do need to comprehend it completely, because, all science aside, it is truly a little miracle. And that's what miracles are--the incomprehensible and amazing. And that's what our baby is to us...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Baby Packs a Punch..!

[posted by Mike]
Well, as those of you following us here know, Tara felt the baby for the first time about 6 days go, on Friday. Today, I got to share a little...

I was typing away about something mindless, and Tara called me over, "Mike, if you come quick you might feel the baby!" I'd heard this before, and had not yet succeeded, and was also in the middle of a sentence about 'social media marketing', so I continued to type. (The best husband in the world, I am not.) Then she said, "I just felt it again!" Then again, "Again!"

I added a period to whatever I was writing, pushed my $10 Walmart 'office chair' away from my computer, and walked over to Tara to place my hand on her sexy belly, like she showed me.

Within seconds, WHAM! It felt like someone had just lightly tapped on the inside of Tara's belly with their finger. My eyes widened a bit, and I laughed out of surprise. WHAM! "Oh sh#t!" I said. We both laughed a bunch more, and I gave Tara a kiss.

I really had no idea I'd be able to feel the baby this early...sweet!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pregnancy Week 18: I feel the baby moving!

So this weekend, I have one of those life experiences that, at 31, I can still say is a "first" for me. Yes, I finally feel the baby move inside of me!

I have felt little sensations before, unsure of what I'm feeling, but this time, it is different.

While my parents are visiting, on Friday, we go to White Plains. We have lunch out at 42 (a window-filled restaurant on the 42nd floor of the new Trump Tower), then walk around the city for a bit. We drive around and make a quick stop at a store. Mike runs in to get something, and my parents and I sit in the car.

I suddenly feel a little poke very low in my belly. My eyes widen--again, that internal dramatic "movie moment". My parents keep talking. I have never felt this before. It is not the feeling of "butterflies in my stomach" or "popcorn" or "bubbles" as some have described. It really just feels like a little push, a tap, someone very very tiny bumping into me from the inside.

"I think I may have just felt the baby move..." I say hesitantly.

My mom exclaims and is excited. She lives almost 6 hours away, so I am happy she can be here when I first experience this. I am excited too, but I can't believe it. When Mike returns to the car, I tell him the same thing, still using the words "think" and "may." His eyes widen too and he says, "Really??"

But I think I am still not certain. Really, I am certain, but in the same way I spoke in "ifs" and "maybes" that first night after seeing the positive pregnancy test, I feel the need to use these tentatives now, as well. (Yes, I just turned "tentative" into a noun) Later that night, while we are watching the movie, The Changeling, I feel this movement again. It is an intense movie, but I whisper to Mike that I think I am feeling the baby move. My hand has been on my belly and I have felt a little "tap" from the outside. He puts his hand on my belly, but it will probably be a while before he can feel the movements. We try nonetheless!

From that night on, I begin to notice these moments of movement. When we are sitting in an off-broadway theatre watching Little Red Riding Hood sing in her wolf-skin cape in Into The Woods, when I am sitting in church listening to the words of Rob Morris and his organization, Love 146, when I am facebooking on my laptop, when I'm watching reruns of King of the Hill on tv. It comes when I am still (the baby is awake and I am quiet yet alert enough to notice), and it feels like a little flutter of movement, or occasionally a real poke or push.

I have a lot of control over the various muscles in my body, and ever since I have been a child, I have made it my mission to learn how to isolate and flex individual muscles. If there was one muscle I could not move unless I moved another muscle, I would work hard to separate the two until I could control each individually. I remember being a very small child, sitting in my car seat (so younger than 4 or 5 probably), and leaning my face against one side of the car seat in order to keep one eye closed, while keeping the other open. I would practice this for as long as the car rides were to understand how to relax one eyelid muscle, while flexing the other eyelid muscle. I gradually used the side of the car seat less and less, and through this practice, I eventually learned how to wink each eye.

So controlling the movements of my body is something I have found fascinating, a challenge, and rewarding once I achieve my goal. But this--the movements inside of me, the pushing, the kicking, the poking--all what happens now and is to come--as exciting and novel as they are, these are things I cannot control that are directly affecting me.

I guess that is a lesson I'll need to be learning a lot in the months and years to come, so I suppose starting now is not such a bad idea...

(btw--both of these pictures were taken at the same time, but I think it's interesting, because in the second picture, probably because it's more of a profile and my hand is not on my belly, I feel like my belly is a little triangle--it just pops out below my belly button, like something is sticking out of it!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Other children in the world...

While Mike and I are, naturally, focusing a lot of our child-energy on our own little womb baby, we have an experience today that reminds me of the vast needs for children throughout the world. I am referring to a specific crime against children, and a specific charity championing for the children--and I think is important enough to share with my fellow baby-followers out there.

Today, Mike and I, along with my parents, who are visiting, and Mike's parents, who live nearby, go to Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Rockland County. We go there occasionally because the music is good, the church is full of warmth, and the pastor is incredible. When he preaches, he is interesting, engaging, and always shows us something new. We leave the church feeling inspired--never down on ourselves or negatively critical, but rather uplifted and ready to make positive changes. For those of you who go to church, or have been, you probably know, this is actually a difficult task to achieve--I have been to many churches where they make you feel bad about your life, they are too "over-the-top" or radical for me, the pastors seem out of touch with the world, or more frequently, I am simply bored and get nothing out of the experience.

But today, the experience has my total attention. There is a guest speaker, Rob Morris*, who is the president and co-founder of Justice for Children International, recently renamed Love 146. Love 146 is a not-for-profit organization which works toward the abolition of child slavery and sex trafficking. Rob is careful to point out that while 2 children are sold per minute into slavery, his organization is not working to merely minimize statistics--they are working toward completely abolishing this crime. The charity works mostly in East Asia (where Rob and his wife have adopted children) from a two-fold approach:

1) Prevention: Through raising awareness and reducing the risk for children in "high traffic" areas.
2) Aftercare: "training caregivers, providing safehomes and researching best practices for aftercare."

Rob's stories are heart-wrenching, but hopeful. There is much pain and struggle, but there are positive outcomes and resilience. Rob shares about how they discovered many sex traffickers were gaining business by advertising on Craiglist. Love 146, along with other organizations and state attorneys general, petitioned to have Craigslist put safeguards in place to deter criminals from using the site. Apparently, Craigslist resisted this for a few years, but just recently conceded to add safety features to cut down on the number of sex crimes advertised (the article mentions nothing of the resistance to putting these into effect--probably not something Craigslist advertises, but regardless, the outcome is positive). This also hits home, that while brothels and child slavery do exist in large numbers in Southeast Asia, they exist in the US, as well.

Here is a video in which Rob speaks about his experience seeing a child-brothel, and how the organization was formed:

Rob talks about how it is a challenge to engage in the issue of sex trafficking since most of us do not have a personal involvement (we become involved in issues of cancer or AIDS oftentimes when we know someone who has cancer or AIDS, etc.). While most of us will probably never know someone who has been involved in sex trafficking, this video is Love 146's small attempt to have you put yourself in the place of a child and imagine what it is is like in theory (or at least pull on your heartstrings with the music and printed narration):

I am not really sure how to end a post like this, so I guess I'll just leave it at that.

*Note: The link is to when Rob spoke at the church 2 years ago. The current talk is not uploaded yet on the church's website.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pregnancy Week 17: Flu shot drama

I have been hearing a lot about how pregnant women should receive the flu shot, as they are considered "high risk" since their immune systems are lowered (interesting enough, I recently read the reason the immune system lowers is to prevent it from attacking the developing baby--makes getting a cold seem more noble!). I've read about it on the internet, and my OB recommended it. Of course, since there is all this debate out there about mercury in shots for children, I figure there ought to be for pregnant women who are carrying children, as well.

My friend, Laurie, helps me research it a little and finds that there are basically 3 types of flu shots:
1) No thimerosal (the mercury-based preservative). This is what they give to children now.
2) Trace amount of thimerosal, but considered to be negligible.
3) A larger amount of thimerosal (probably the cheapest, given out at clinics, like CVS etc).

So, I decide I will get a flu shot as long as it is thimerosal-free, or contains only trace amounts. I call my doctor's office and the woman on the phone has no idea what kind of flu shot they have at their office. She says I can make an appointment and ask the doctor. I decide chances are decent that they'll have one of the better shots (this is the Westchester Medical Group, after all--filled with wealthy suburban moms who must be as concerned as I am), so I don't bother trying to speak to a doctor on the phone ahead of time, and simply to go my appointment.

Once in the exam room, I tell the nurse what I'm looking for. Immediately, she says, "We just have the regular shots."

"You don't even have the trace amount one?"

"No. And it's gonna take you a long time to get one of those. Do you wanna talk to the doctor anyway?"

"Yes," I sigh. Might as well.

The doctor enters and I tell him I'm pregnant, want the flu shot, but don't want the full amount of thimerosal in the shot.

And here begins his convincing/bullying:

He starts out by giving me his opinion based on government research. "There is nothing wrong with the flu shot. It's perfectly safe for pregnant women."

I tell him my opinion. "Well, given the debate about mercury in shots, and since I'm pregnant, I'd just rather not take that chance. If it were just me, I wouldn't care, but since I have a growing baby, I'd like the mercury-free shot."

Clearly, I am not responsive to pure facts, so he tries another approach. "Do you eat fish?"

"Not the kind that has mercury in it, not while I'm pregnant. No. And do you know how much mercury is in one fish compared to how much is in a shot?" (I mean, hey, if it's the same amount, that's one thing, but if it's concentrated and 100x the amount, that's certainly another)

"No, I don't know the exact amount."

Mm hm.

He uses another comparison. "Well, do you walk down the street? You know you're inhaling exhaust and all kinds of metals then. Mercury is just another metal."

"That may be," I say. "But I can't do anything about the exhaust fumes in the air. I can do something about this shot, so why not do the least risky thing, since I have a choice?"

He takes another angle. "Regardless, your body is very well equipped to get rid of toxins. Very little of it will actually stay in you or reach the fetus."

"Maybe, but I'd still rather put in as few toxins as possible if I have the choice."

He argues with me a little bit more and seems a bit annoyed with me. I'm sure he is hoping I will break down, get the shot, and make this easier on all of us. And I can see how some people might, since he is quite the badger.

Finally, I take one for the team and label myself something I don't believe I am, "Look. Call me a crazy pregnant woman, but I want the mercury-free or trace amount of mercury shot. Can you order it for me, or tell me somewhere else I can get it?"

Then he concedes. "Well, I guess pregnant women all have their own worries. I can order it for you."

So I take the little condescending remark and smile. "I really appreciate it."

I walk out to the waiting room, he tells the receptionist to refund my copay since he was not able to help me (I do appreciate this, because $20 for an argument does not seem right), then a minute later, he returns. He tells me the shot is back-ordered and he doesn't know when it'll be in. He suggests I check in the next week. I thank him and receive my $20 refund.

So now, 2 weeks have passed and still no mercury-free flu shot. I will call again today or tomorrow to check in.

I really wonder why they are so in demand, I wonder why they even make them at all, if there is no purpose for having these shots mercury-free? I wonder...

When I come home and tell Mike what happened, he says, "Thank you for protecting our baby!" and hugs me.

And he's not even a "crazy pregnant woman." :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

4th Doctor's Appointment

Our 16 week OB appointment is probably the least eventful we've had so far, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The visit starts out when Mike and I are shown into an exam room. I sit on the paper-covered table and Mike plops himself down on the rolling stool with wheels. We talk and wait for the doctor to come in as usual.

A few minutes later, the doctor arrives. He stares at Mike for a beat as he makes his way into the room and remains standing, seeming uncertain of something. Mike pushes himself around in the stool a bit, stretching his legs out; he's having good time. The doctor looks at Mike, then looks at the plastic chair in the corner, then to Mike again, then the chair in the corner. Mike notices he is looking a bit annoyed, and suddenly realizes why. "Oh, you probably want your seat, huh?" He asks. Immediately, the doctor nods and points at the stationary chair, "Yeah, why don't we swap here?"

I laugh, as I hadn't thought about the fact that Mike was wheeling himself around in the doctor's mobile stool before, but it is a rather comical site.

Then I explain how I have been feeling under the weather this week--sometimes feeling quite nauseous (that hang-over feeling of being dizzy too), feeling sooo tired (and of course, still not sleeping well despite that), with a headache, and sometimes fever. It hasn't turned into a full blown cold, but it's made me feel lousy all week. I am starting to wonder if this is what some women feel during their first trimester. I have been so happy to have escaped my first 3+ months feeling fine, but now am not so certain this doesn't have to do with pregnancy...time will tell, I suppose.

My doctor gives me some advice on this, and advice on sleeping, including various options of medicines/herbs I can take. I am still wary of taking anything for my sleeping problems, but I think I might break down and try something in the next month. There have been days or weeks at a time where I will wake up every hour for most of the night, or receive only 2-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It still remains frustrating.

Our real excitement of this appointment is that we hear the heart beat for the first time. Up until now, we have seen the heart beating with the ultrasounds, but never actually heard it before. It's a swishing sound, almost like the ocean.

Below is a video of a fetal heartbeat I found on youtube. It is NOT our baby's heartbeat, but it gives the basic idea of what it sounds like (we need to remember to videotape our next appointments!).

He gives us a number for the hospital so we can schedule our anatomy screening (which is also where we can find out the sex). When we schedule the appointment, I am disappointed to learn the earliest they have available is December 2, which is the latest end of our window of time to have the screening. Ah, well. More time for people to get in their votes!

BTW--I've switched my header countdown ticker. The panda/quilt ticker has been traded up for a cleaner look. Thanks to Robyn for that ticker!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A New Song...

[wrtten by Mike]
I love it when a moment in time injects within you with enough inspiration to let a little creativity pour fourth. (That last sentence was not an example of creativity, but cheese.) What better than a growing little baby to shake things up -- a few weeks ago, I thought it'd be great to write a song for ours. ...I guess you might say, the inspiration here wasn't quite as sudden, as I sort of 'decided' to write a song, rather than just started 'writing' one. In any case, I'd love to write something sweet, simple, perhaps lullabye-like, without too much lyrical depth or chord progression craziness to distract.

The good news is, I found a nice little finger-picking guitar 'lick' and some lyrics to go with it that should form a seed capapble of growing a little "song-plant". My first 7 lines of lyrics seem to be passing the "don't make me puke" test, so that's good. But it'll sound even sweeter now, as Tara will help me finish writing it and record it -- our first duet!

Our first song dedicated to the new baby. (And potential blackmail material for when the child enters teen-hood and adult-hood.) Wish us luck!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pregnancy Week 16--Cast your vote!

I'm not talking McCain or Obama here (although do that too)...I'm talking XX or XY, people!

Yes, Mike and I are finding out the sex of our baby! I could say we debated the issue--that we thought about the pros and cons of each possibility, that we discussed it with each other, slept on it, and made a well-thought of decision. But we really just both said, "Yeah, why not?"

We will definitely have enough surprise and excitement the day of delivery that we don't feel we're gypping ourselves of that experience. Sure, it's convenient to know if we're having a boy or girl so we can prepare with clothing, get a room ready knowing what colors we might want, and start narrowing down names. Mostly though, I think it will just feel more real to both of us. Our baby will be a "she" or a "he." And we'll have less of a chance slipping up and calling the baby an "it."

And I love seeing how excited Mike is when he thinks about it. Obviously he is involved and happy we are having a baby, but he is so excited when he mentions finding out the sex. And that makes me even more excited.

So cast your vote now (in the column to the right)! We'll be finding out the sex in about 3 weeks. In the mean time, consider the outcome of the following Old Wives' Tales for predicting the sex of your unborn baby!

1) How you are showing:
-Belly only--Boy
-All over (or a full face)--Girl
Outcome: I am definitely starting to show now (the baby is the size of an avocado, 4-5 inches "head to rump"!), and so far, it's pretty much limited to my belly, although not at all sure it will stay that way, but we'll say that for now.

2) Fetal Heartbeat:
-Under 140--Boy
-Over 140--Girl
Outcome: Last we checked, the heartbeat was around 170 or so.

3) Sweet or Sour/Salty Cravings:
-Crave sweet things--Girl
-Crave sour/salty things--Boy
Outcome: Pretty mixed here, but I guess I'd opt for salty since hummus and crackers seem to be my meal of choice right now.

4) Picking up a key:
-Pick it up at the round end--Boy
-Pick it up at the thin end--Girl
Outcome: I picked it at the round end. Can't even imagine picking it up at the thin end.

5) Mother's intuition:
-If the pregnant mother thinks she's having a boy--Boy
-If the pregnant mother thinks she's having a girl--Girl
Outcome: I really am not thinking strongly either way, but if I had to choose, I'd say girl.
(btw--this is the most accurate, as mothers guess correctly 71% of the time!)

6) Pendulum swing:
-If a pendulum over the woman's head swings in a back and forth motion-Boy
-If it swings in a circular motion--Girl
Outcome: It swung side-to-side.

7) Chinese Zodiac Sex Predictor:
Compare the number of the month you conceived with the age you were when you conceived.
-If both numbers are even or both are odd--Boy
-If one is odd and the other even--Girl
Outcome: Conceived in month 7, was 31 years old. Both odd.

8) Online "Boy or Girl" quiz:
I took a quiz which asked a variety of questions, including some of the issues I bring up here, but others as well, like, "Does your pillow face north or south?" "Are your feet colder than before?" "Do you eat the heel of a loaf of bread?"
Outcome: 50% BOY, 50% GIRL

So those are the "facts." Now you can make an informed decision when you vote. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Updating old posts--the "real" story

So I actually only started this blog around week 14, at the beginning of my second trimester. All the posts I wrote before that, I wrote quickly in one day, to catch this blog up to speed. This was great to get dates recorded, pictures online, and important moments noted, but I didn't spend much time writing the details (or even proofreading the words!).

I finally have gone through all the old important posts and re-written them with more details. You can read the posts on how Mike and I found out I was pregnant, the tale of telling our families, friends finding out, our first, second or third doctor's appointments, see more pictures from Las Vegas, and any other number of updated posts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pregnancy Week 15--Yes, I have a pregnancy belly! (well, sort of)

So I'm 15 weeks pregnant now--over a week into my fourth month, and yes, I finally have a little belly (and I'm giving you 3 pictures to prove it). I guess it's about time, but apparently I'm still adjusting. Because--

Last night, after dinner and a shower, I'm walking around the apartment and Mike sees me from a distance. "Your belly really is a little out there now," he says. Of course, I've been telling him this for days, but when he now agrees with me, I narrow my eyes and make a scowling face.

He rushes over to me, grabs and kisses me, caressing my stomach. "I love it! It is soo cute and sexy! I can't wait to see your belly grow!"

I then "defend" my belly in a strange way. "It's just there because I ate a lot of hummus and drank so much water!"

I instantly smile at the oddness of my saying this.

"I don't know why I just said that," I tell him. "It is the baby. Of course, I would rather it be the baby than food. You'd think I'd want to argue it the other way around." Then I get defensive again, egged on by absolutely nothing. "I mean, I am over three months. A lot of people are showing more than me at this point, so it's perfectly normal to have a little belly now. It's just going to get bigger," I state the obvious.

"I know," Mike says. "Of course it's the baby. The baby needs somewhere to go. I love it," he emphasizes. He's a good guy.

My chiropractor lowers the belly part of his table for me yesterday. My friend at work today says she can finally see I am pregnant (then perhaps sensing my unfounded fear to hear this, she stresses that I'm normally so thin, which is how she can tell). So I guess it's out there. My belly, that is.

So obviously, I have my moments of feeling weird about it, but then I have a lot of moments where I am loving it, look at it in the mirror and smile, eager for it to grow even more.

Of course, I do think people who don't know me would assume I just ate a little too much hummus, but for those who have observed my abs more frequently, yes, they are a' changing!

The "Message in a Baby Bottle" Project - Launched!

[by Mike]
Tara and I, while wandering about in Fishkill, NY a month or two ago, bought a little baby bottle with the idea of turning it into a little place to collect messages for the baby.

However, as of today, it was still wrapped and unopened. (Like I said, I'm so glad Tara started this blog!)

Fortunately, as of 10 minutes ago (I got a little inspired), it is now up and running -- presenting the "Message in a Baby Bottle" bottle! We've got a bottle, multi-colored post-it note squares, and a pen on our dining room table for anyone to write a little message for the baby at any time. Fun!

A Word From Tara's Husband...

[by Mike]
Hooray! My first post. First, an ENORMOUS thanks to Tara for starting this blog; I'm so, so glad we (she) kicked this project off. (Thanks, Babester!)

Where to start. How 'bout a stream-of-conciousness, shot gun approach to set the scene? So, I'm reading about "Month 4" in The Expectant Father (thanks to Jay, Dan, Kat, Mike M, another Mike M, for the referral). I'm incredibly excited about learning whether our little baby is a boy or girl. I'm incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful mom-to-be as my wife. I'll stay away from "global depression"-related topics for now... What else? A ginormous election (but you folks know all that). SNL is hilarious. Tara and I are writing a song. We're still looking for a house...however, our real estate-related dialog has morphed from "...if we move into Stamford, CT, we'll afford more room for our growing family.." to "...if we move the bed out of the guest room, we'll have some room for a crib...".

But enough of that money stuff. (Sorry, "Month 4" in TEF is all about college funds, investments, and money...)

So, I'm going to be a father. Crazy. Hopefully, it's okay that I still think NHL '94 is the best video game ever, and am still willing to perform the 'Monkey Dance' when Tara prompts me... But it certainly is a different thing when a little life is in your hands. But then, I'm really not one to talk about any of this yet, since I'm not there; I need to earn the badge first. So we'll stop immediately. (I salute all the many proud dads I know!)

Quick Question: Will I still be able to call Tara "Babe" and "Babester" once we have a baby?

Well, that's it. That's my glorious first random post/rant. NOW LET'S GET PUMPED!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yes, Mike's the father...

Mike is reading The Expectant Father, and one short section refers to the irrational fears some men have that they are not the father of the baby. It tends to stem from a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity, i.e.: "I can't be good enough to have made that baby, so someone else must have done the job."

Mike hasn't felt this way (he's a secure guy), but we did have someone doubt his paternity the other day...our doctor!

So my blood type is A negative. Over 85% of people are positive (10th grade Genetics reminds me it's dominant), so chances are our baby would be positive, as well. This could cause a problem, as if my blood mixes with the baby's blood, my body would see the baby as an intruder and try to attack it (which could cause brain damage and even death). Once these antibodies are formed, they are there forever, so all subsequent pregnancies would be very high-risk.

Luckily, there is a shot that I will receive at 28 weeks and at delivery, which solves this. It's basically rh positive blood from donors which prevents my body from making the deadly antibodies. (Btw--this does not happen when the mother is rh positive and the baby is negative.)

Of course, I'm not too keen on other people's blood being injected in me unnecessarily, and I read that if the father is also rh negative, then the baby would be rh negative (again, Genetics). No shot needed; no antibodies would form. Rh negative won't attack rh negative.

So Mike and I are at our last OB appointment, and I bring this up to the doctor. I tell him Mike doesn't know his blood type, but should we get him tested to see if he's negative to know if I actually need the shots. He cuts me off pretty quickly with that train of thought.

"Well, even if he is negative, we still would give you the shot anyway," he says.

"Why?" I ask. These doctors and their shots...I tell ya!

Then, with a mixture of matter-of-factness and sheepishness, he states, "In case he's not the father."



Mike and I smile at each other and kind of laugh. I think Mike or the doctor makes a joke about the milkman, and I assure Mike he is, indeed, the father.

I thought that was interesting though...I met a woman in Las Vegas who was rh negative and her OB said the same thing to her! So I guess doctors figure, better be safe than sorry!

But when the baby comes out of the womb, grabbing a guitar with one hand and a blog with the other hand, then any of Mike's fears will be laid to rest...

Yes, Mike! No need to be suspicious, what with your Hoover Dam security signs and all. This baby is yours! :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pregnancy Week 14: That's a baby in there!

So BabyCenter gives you weekly updates on the development of your body and your baby's growth during pregnancy. I usually go to their site once a week to gawk at the see-through shot of the baby in the womb. However, I must not have been there for a while, because I check it out this week and can not believe what the baby looked likes! The last I saw, I could barely make out the baby in the womb; well, I could see the baby, but it didn't look like a baby. It just looked like a little thing, a shape, a tiny pink squiggle from a distance.

But now, not only does the baby look like a baby (its lost most of the alien features), but it now looks like it's actually taking up a bit of space in there! I'm at 14 1/2 weeks right now, so the baby is around 4 inches or so, head to rump. That is the size of some little baby dolls, or figurines; it's bigger than barbie babies.

When I see the picture, I am in such pleasant disbelief, I call Mike over just to look at it. He has the same reaction I do. We both marvel that a precious little baby, and it really is a little baby, is actually living inside of me.

A few years ago, the thought of having a baby inside of me freaked me out. I thought the baby would feel like a parasite or alien, like, "What is it doing in there?!" I knew I was not ready to be pregnant. Then around a year or so ago, I had a dream where I had just delivered a baby. I don't remember being pregnant in the dream, or having the baby, but I remember the feeling I had of no longer being pregnant. I was sad. I remember touching my stomach and feeling that it was not big, hard, round. And I missed that feeling. I started longing to feel pregnant again (even though I had never actually been pregnant, even in my dream! A bit bizarre...).

When I woke up, for the first time ever, I felt it would be amazing to be pregnant. Of course, Mike and I didn't actually want to get pregnant then, but I knew that when we were ready, I would be okay with it. And maybe I would even love it, and maybe even miss it when it was gone. Feelings or thoughts I have due to dreams often fade after a day or so. But this dream was very different. While it was only a dream, that feeling never left me, and I thank God for that (as maybe it was God giving me that little go-ahead after all).

I know pregnancy and delivery and recovering are not going to be easy, but man! It really is such an honor that a woman gets to carry a living child inside of her!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

First Trimester Down...

Well, we've made it through the first trimester!

I have to say, this has been a pretty easy pregnancy so far. A little nausea for a week or so, but nothing too major. Barely gained any weight (in fact, I lost weight at first, because I was so anxious/excited), so I can't complain about my clothes not fitting yet (although soon to change, I'm sure!). No hormonal emotional swings on my end, so Mike has had that part easy. :) No scares like spotting or other worrisome symptoms. An OB who listens and takes time with us, a husband who attends appointments with me. My biggest complaint is that I'm still not sleeping well (there are nights when I literally wake up every hour, and four hours of straight sleep is about my max still), so naturally, I'm somewhat tired, but it could be worse. All in all, I could not have asked for a much better first trimester. And now we are supposed to be going into an even better trimester! So we are very excited!

Pregnancy Week 13: From ANTM to the Grand Canyon--Pictures from Las Vegas

So Mike, the womb-baby, and I, all have a great time in Nevada. In Las Vegas, I can do without all the smoke from cigarettes and cigars (it is even smoky outside!), but we have fun.

While at our at hotel, we see the filming of the America's Next Top Model (next season), and get a close-up view, since we can swim right up to the taping from our pool. A new vacation friend of mine, Lynn, and I (and a random lady in the pool) talk with "Miss Jay" whose personality seems quite like his tv persona. When the taping is over, Jay walks near us, and Lynn's boyfriend, Brad, is bold enough to ask him to pose for a picture with us. At first, he hesitates; they are not supposed to take pictures while filming, but we promise to make the picture a close-up (so as not to give away the location), and get our shot.

Nothing bonds two couples like a celebrity sighting, so Mike and I have dinner with the vaca-friends the next night at Fix in the Bellagio (to the right is Mike's dessert there--the "Shake and Cake").

We see Cirque's "O" (and do our own act pre-curtain, pictured to the left), have a lot of great dinners out, and I get a massage (but the therapist is too scared to give me a nice strong massage, since I'm pregnant--bummer). We gamble a little and Mike wins $85 at his slow-and-steady method of playing roulette. We also rent a car to the Hoover Dam and swim in Lake Mead.

However, the highlight of our trip is our Grand Canyon tour. We fly in a tiny plane to the Grand Canyon, take a helicopter ride into the canyon itself, then enjoy a relaxing boat ride in the Colorado River at the bottom of the GC before making the mount back to the top, where we wander around and eat an "authentic American Indian meal" (i.e. mac-n-cheese, beef and cornbread). Here, Mike and I relax on a rock at the Grand Canyon. There is nothing between us the 4000+ feet below!

Below is the view from the inside of the helicopter.

Our peach-sized baby enjoyed it all!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pregnancy Week 12: We're in Vegas, baby!

Mike has a marketing conference in Vegas this week, so I have tagged along, and we're adding a few extra days to his stay so we can have a little vacation. I guess it's kind of a Babymoon, although we're really hoping we can go somewhere in January or February that is out of the country. We know it is going to be really hard to vacation in the same manner once we have kids (well, we won't really vacation in the same way). How does your vacation change once you have kids, all you current parents?

So no drinking for me this vacation (which is a shame, as we have all these complimentary swanky work dinners with free drinks that I will substitute for orange juice).

It's nice that I'm nearing the end of the first trimester, because we can be totally open about being pregnant now. Once you're around 3 months, no one says "wow, you're early on" anymore when you tell them (which I didn't experience, but Mike encountered every time!). It's been fun to talk to people at the dinners in Vegas about being pregnant too. I'm hearing a lot of stories about pregnancy and childrearing (no horror stories, which is good, although I don't get too freaked out by those yet...). It's fun!

So for now, we're living it up, baby-Vegas-style, baby! :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Third Doctor's visit--it looks like a baby! Sort of...

We have our third doctor's visit today. Mike had forgotten about the appointment, so he scheduled a meeting at work, but at the last minute, he decides to do a conference call on his cell instead, so he can accompany me. While I drive and sit in the waiting room, he wheels and deals on his cell phone, and finishes with enough time to even read a travel magazine article and start to do a silly dance in the waiting room. I'm glad he's come.

So--I have opted not to have "sequential testing", which is a sonogram and bloodwork that tell you if you have a greater chance of having a baby with downs syndrome. I figure, my chances are low that is the case, and I'd rather not have unnecessary sonograms. They can do bloodwork and will do a sonogram later anyway, which can tell pretty much the same thing, so why bother with an extra sonogram now? While US doctors and reports will say they are safe, it is still debatable, and there have been studies done in other countries to indicate they are not necessarily completely harmless (and if you think about what a sonogram is, it makes sense that it would at least cause some disruption).

The cool thing with the sequential testing though is that you get a 4D image of your baby, which is wild! One of my friends who is 5 days ahead of me had it done and the pictures are amazing. It was tempting, for that reason alone, to get the test--but entertainment is not the right reason for me personally to do it.

However, when I have my visit today, he does one anyway! And this is the standard b&w picture, so I didn't even get the cool 4D.

The thing is, this time, I don't even realize what he's doing. My first 2 ultrasounds have been transvaginal, so it's pretty obvious, but this time, he does it on my belly, after the nurse mentions listening for the heartbeat, so I assume that is what he is doing. Then I suddenly see a picture of our baby on the screen!

It is a quick ultrasound, and I tell him after that I want to avoid unnecessary sonograms. I think he feels a little bad or embarrassed, but now he knows.

Since Mike and I are caught off guard when the sonogram comes up, we cannot enjoy it as much as we had before, but still...I cannot stop looking at the picture! The baby is over 2 inches long, and it looks more like a baby than ever. the heart beat is strong, all is positioned well.

We leave the doctor's appointment, and instead of going back to work, Mike suggests we go out to eat to celebrate. I choose an Indian restaurant which we haven't been to in a while. I love Indian food, but it's a little hard on my stomach at times, so I tend to avoid it. But today is special, so we have an amazing meal and leave with leftovers. Mike then goes back to work and stays until 11pm! At least he has a full stomach...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pregnancy Week 11--There must be something in the water...

...Because everyone is pregnant!

I just found out one of my good friends is expecting, two other college friends are pregnant, one of my cousin's is pregnant, one of my work friends is pregnant, two of Mike's college roommate's wives are pregnant--and almost all of us due around the same time--March to June. I also know a lot of people who just had babies in the past 3 months. I could say, I guess it's just that time in our lives...first we have the half decade where we attend 5-10 weddings every year, now we have moved into the baby decade.

But I feel it's something more than that. One of my friends wrote on facebook, "Is anyone NOT pregnant? I'm sure the list will be shorter." And we travel in different circles. It is not just me who is noticing. I don't know if it has to do with the economy, a surge in telling women to not wait until their late 30s/early 40s (remember all those scare-tactic posters up in the subway a while back? Warning women to get on the baby bandwagon soon or else?), or if it really is just a coincidence/age/timing thing? But we pregnant women are everywhere!

I'll guess I'll have to wait a while to find out the statistics of 2009 births, but I am guessing that it will be higher than 07s and 08s. We'll see!

It is nice to know that our child will have a lot of built-in friends from my friends' children, as well. I wish the best of luck to all my fellow pregnantees!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pregnancy Week 10: Pregnant belly changes?

I'm starting to finally notice a little something different in my belly. I'm still not showing to anyone else, but when I wake up in the morning, I can tell my stomach is not totally flat anymore. And when I eat, I feel like it pops out even more. Of course, they say it's mostly bloating etc. at this point, but my uterus is the size of a grapefruit, and the baby is a little kumquat. It's neat to see a tiny change. Even if tiny. So here are some bigger-belly inspired silly shots! (I don't know what that one on the left is all about! It's called, "Do something random in the next picture, and look pensive!")