Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"This is my heartbeat song and I'm gonna play it..."

Today is a fun anniversary...

We heard the heartbeat for the first time today. I'm not entirely sure what I was supposed to feel. I wasn't really overwhelmed with an "OMG that's my baby in there!" kind of reaction. There was relief, obviously, that I haven't been living a lie the past several weeks; it was nice to have confirmation beyond a urine test. (Yeah, the nausea was a pretty big clue too, but you never know. Hormones don't necessarily equal healthy baby.)
Other than that, well... I was actually more freaked out than anything else. There's something growing in me!
I can tell you right now that I'm not going to be a "typical" first-time mother, at least as far as the pregnancy goes. And who knows, maybe "typical" isn't so typical, and there are more pregnant women out there like me, we just don't let on to the rest of the world that we're not overwhelmed with joy at every little milestone. I'm actually pretty worried about what it's going to feel like once the baby gets bigger and starts moving. I'm afraid I'm going to be freaked out (or worse, grossed out) by it.
Or who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself and get more attached to our little Snickerdoodle as time goes on.

It's been interesting to go back and read some of my rambling writings from last year. A lot of it centers around being miserable, and not feeling the way I'm "supposed to." I can at least say that I was never grossed out. It was actually quite comforting to feel him moving around in there, even if it did get uncomfortable toward the end (when I felt like I was stretched so tight that my belly might just burst open Alien-style).

Anyway. I'm quite glad that part of it is over. I enjoy the little man much more now that he's on the outside.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Baby's First Comic-Con

So, most of you have figured it out already, but Charleen and I are kind of geeky. We're both into reading, video games, super heros, and many sci-fi/fantasy shows. Well, since those are the things we like, it's only natural that we hang out with other people that have similar interests. It just so happens that I work with a couple of them and they let me know earlier this week that there was a Comic-Con coming to Dubuque this weekend. We've never been to one so we thought we'd give it a shot, and we brought the kiddo along. Thankfully, my cousin out in California had recently sent us the perfect onesie for him to wear; especially since one of my friends was going to be dressing up in a suitably themed costume. This was the result.
Bat-boy with Harley Quinn

It was a pretty small event, but it was a nice little outing for the family. I tried to get a picture of the costume contest, but the lighting wasn't very good. 

So, bottom line, thanks to our friends, Ryan and Celesta, for inviting us to share the comic-con with them. They both have several very good costumes that they've made, but I think they were each wearing my personal favorites today. 
Buzz Lightyear-Jedi Knight and Harley Quinn

Sunday, August 2, 2015

4 Months in Review

So many thoughts! It's been a crazy, exhausting, wonderful, and event filled summer. I've had so many times I've wanted to write a new blog post, but it just didn't feel like I had the time to do so. So now, I'll try to sum up the last 4 months or so.

At the beginning of April, my son was born. I took 2 weeks off of work and those was the most crazy, hectic, scary, exhausting, and amazing 2 weeks of my life. Words cannot describe becoming a new dad. It's been a wonderful experience so far. Watching him go from a tiny "little" (9 lbs 13 oz) fragile baby into this 4-month-old little boy who can hold his head up and is working on sitting up. His cries can call me running in a heartbeat, and his smile can melt my heart. It's been quite the experience, but I'm looking forward to him being mobile. Slider is going to have a new playmate when that happens.

Watching Charleen become a mom has been incredible. She amazes me every day with how wonderful she is with our son. I give her so much credit for staying home with him and managing to get anything else done at the same time, but beyond my comprehension, she manages to take care of him, read new library books to him, keep up on the dishes (they've increased exponentially since he's joined us), AND manage to continue her own reading and book blogging. I honestly don't know how she manages it all.

At the beginning of June, our good friend from high school got married in Minnesota. Charleen was the Matron of Honor. It was strange to leave the kiddo with his grammy (my mom) for the weekend when he was only 2 months old, but it was also a nice break from the baby cycle. The wedding went off with a hitch (ba-dum bum), and I also got to spend an afternoon with my cousin and her daughter in St. Paul while Charleen was busy with wedding duties.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, a couple of our good friends here in Dubuque got engaged. (Actually, back in November) I will be standing up in that wedding late fall on another Friday the 13th wedding. Charleen and I also got married on a Friday the 13th. I knew very early that the bride and I would be good friends when she was envious that I got married on a Friday the 13th, so now it's wonderful to see her get special day coming up in just a few months. Thankfully, she met a guy just as fun and quirky (in a good way) as she is so I'm incredibly happy for the both of them. They have become fantastic friends over the last few years and I'm quite honored to be a part of the ceremony for them to start their lives together. I just got back from their house actually for a bridal party party BBQ. It was a great time to meet or re-acquaint myself with the rest of the bridal party and just a glorious day/evening in general.

And with that, I'm off to bed. I am up far past my bedtime and the kiddo will most likely be up for a feeding in a couple of hours. G'nite all and sorry for being away for so long, I'll try to have more posts soon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Fabled Tenth Month

I know this announcement deserves a bit more fanfare, for those who may only read the blog and don't follow us on social media, but our son was born a week ago. This first week has been filled with so many new things for both of us -- well, all of us, I suppose...

And while there are a hundred blog posts worth of thoughts in my head, I don't have the time or energy to put words to any of them. Instead, this is something I wrote the Friday before he was born, not even knowing if I would share it, but needing to get it out.


(Friday, April 3, 2015)

I can't remember when I first heard the myth that women are actually pregnant for 10 months, but it was from someone who was pregnant at the time, and I certainly wasn't going to argue with a pregnant woman. I've since heard the same argument multiple places, including blog posts from actual pregnancy websites.

Sorry, but no. Just because 4 x 10 = 40 doesn't mean that pregnancy lasts 10 months.

With one exception, a month isn't exactly four weeks. Those extra days add up, and three months together are almost exactly 13 weeks, depending on which months they are. If it's two 30-day months and one 31-, it is 13 weeks exactly. If it's two 31-day months and one 30-, it's a day longer. And even February-March-April, the shortest possible three-month span, is closer to 13 weeks than 12... 12 weeks and 5 days (6 in a leap year), to be precise.

So, 13 x 3... those 9 months are going to be almost exactly 39 weeks. (To look at it another way, 52 weeks in a year minus the 13 weeks of those other three months equals 39.) The magic number 40 is one week longer... except that the way the weeks are counted, you don't actually conceive until sometime during the 2nd or 3rd week. So, if you give birth on your due date, you've actually been carrying that baby for just under 9 months. It may seem like an eternity, but the math doesn't lie.

The term makes a little more sense (even though I've just proven it's not totally accurate) in my current situation: I'm now past my due date, which means that, according to some, I've started the tenth month. "Started" being the key word. I'm not ten months pregnant. I will never be ten months pregnant. But if we're going to fudge the numbers a bit and say that 40 weeks = 9 months, I'm now one day into that fabled tenth month.

I never thought I'd get to this point. I was convinced for several reasons (most of which aren't the slightest bit scientific, I'll admit) that the baby was going to come early. I didn't think I'd make it to April at all.

But even in that part of my mind that conceded the possibility that I'd get to my due date or beyond, I never thought I'd be making this decision -- the first of many I'll have to make on behalf of my child -- this early. Oh, sure, I've been making little decisions every day that affect us both... but this one feels very different.

How long do we wait for labor to happen on its own?

In my head, when I did let myself think about the pregnancy lasting that long, I figured it would be at least a week before we considered inducing.

In reality... three days.

Oh, we've been discussing it for longer. This was by no means a snap decision we made on the due date. Our OB first brought it up at my 39-week appointment, when he was concerned about my lack of progress from the week before. And at that point, the idea really freaked me out. It felt way too early to even be talking about it.

(Which is, of course, ridiculous. It's never too early to start discussing options, to be prepared. But it caught me completely off-guard.)

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I've never had a vision of having a completely natural birth. I have a pretty low threshold for pain, and I was expecting to use some sort of drugs to get through it. Breathing and focus points and massage may work great for some women... and I figured I'd start out using some of those methods, but at some point they'd stop being enough, and I was fine with that.

But even though I wasn't opposed to medical intervention, the idea of things starting on their own was apparently more important to me than I'd realized. I've been lucky this whole pregnancy. (I've been miserable, but lucky.) The baby's health was never at risk. My own health was never at risk. There was never any reason we would need to balance the two and get the baby out at that intersection of risk where it wasn't too dangerous for either of us.

So I never pictured anything, or prepared myself for anything, other than going into labor naturally. I read all about that, because it terrified me... not the idea of the pain (at first, anyway), or the embarrassment of my water breaking at an inopportune time and place. No, for me it was the thought of not knowing what was going on, of not recognizing what it was when it came, that freaked me out the most. Especially the closer we got, and the more I started feeling things that could be signs that labor was near... or could be nothing at all. Hmm, my back hurts more than usual today, could that be back labor? What about that cramping that feels like PMS? And I knew I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a while, but most of the time I couldn't differentiate between a contraction and the baby stretching out and making everything tight. It all felt so vague.

And nothing I read reassured me. The most common response was simply, "You'll know when it's the real thing." But then I'd find another story from someone who hadn't known, because it came on so gradually or was so similar to what had come before. Even if they're the minority, they still poke a big hole in the "you'll just know" argument.

(Of course, the upside of that would be a nice chunk of my labor going by with so little discomfort I didn't even realize it was happening. But it's still scary to not know what's going on with your own body.)

Even with all my uncertainty, though, I never imagined it happening any other way. So suddenly looking at induction as a real possibility... I sort of froze. Luckily, we had time to think about it and weigh our options... all the while hoping, of course, that nature would make the decision so we wouldn't have to. But when we got to our 40-week appointment and still nothing had changed... it was up to us. Wait and see, or take action?

We decided to take action, setting up my induction for just three days after my due date. But it wasn't easy.

I could weigh pros and cons forever, but what it ultimately came down to was my doctor's advice vs my own gut feeling. How committed was I to letting nature take its course (assuming that it would, before an elective induction became not-so-elective)? But also -- and perhaps the bigger issue -- did I trust that my doctor's recommendation to induce now was in my best interest? And in the end, that answer is yes.

One thing that makes me feel better about the situation is that, when I had my ultrasound, they estimated I was actually five days ahead of where we thought. They told us they won't actually change a due date unless there's a discrepancy of a week or more, but if we go by that estimate, I'd actually be over a week overdue by the time we induced... a time frame that felt more reasonable.

So... it may not be what I imagined, and I know other women would choose to do things differently. This isn't about defending or justifying my choice to anyone. It's about how I got here. It's about coming to terms with a decision I didn't think I'd have to make. It's about the realization that my pregnancy (which, despite the assurance of the calendar, felt like it would never end) is finally ending.

And maybe, somewhere in my reasoning, this is just a last-ditch effort to feel like I have control over something before I lose control over everything. I can't be 100% sure this is the right decision. I can't be 100% sure about any decision. But what I can be 100% sure of is that I'm doing the best I can with what I have.

Seems as good a way as any to start my journey as a parent.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Question of Faith

Faith is something I've been struggling with for a long time now. As I transitioned into adulthood, I became more accustomed to asking myself what I think about topics instead of what I think I should believe. That’s really the root of the following.

If someone asked me if I was a Christian and I were to be perfectly honest, I’d have to say no.

I've slowly come to terms with this. For a long time a lot of what I did or the decisions I made were based on what I thought I was “supposed to do.” One of those things was being a Christian. The best metaphor I can come up with is Santa Claus. When I was little, I believed in Santa because my parents told me he was real. As I got older I started to realize that some of the gifts from “Santa” I had seen in shopping bags or closets, but I still “believed” because I thought that if I didn't I wouldn't get as many presents. In the same way, my parents, friends, mentors, etc. told me that Jesus was God’s son and I believed it. Like so many other topics that I just assumed were true because others told me they were, I started to question it. Honestly, the doubt was there all the way back in high school when I was in Campus Life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful organization and I don’t regret any of it. But every time someone shared their “moment they accepted Christ” story, I felt awkward. I didn't have that moment. I believed I was a Christian, but in reality, I had just never questioned it. For a long while now, I've known that I don’t really believe in Christ as the son of God. I think it’s just taken a while for me to come to terms with that.

I've also given a lot of thought to how I feel about Christianity in general. Specifically, I wanted to make sure that my beliefs weren't rooted in not wanting to be associated with certain "Christians." For example, I despise the Westboro Baptist Church. Those people are filled with so much hate towards everyone that I can't see how they even call themselves Christians. But, despite my feelings towards a group like that, it doesn't have an effect on my beliefs.

What do I believe in? I do believe in God or at least that there is a god. Some scientists will say that the Earth is just the place where the right random circumstances came to be to create life. I believe that there’s still something to life itself that science will never explain. Bodies are basically just machines. Wonderful, amazing, growing, self-repairing machines, but still just machines. That spark that makes something more than just a machine, the self-awareness that has no reason to be there and sometimes no reason to go is something entirely different.

Just because I’m not a Christian doesn't mean that I've lost all of my morals. There are two phrases that come to mind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It doesn't get much simpler than that. They’re basically saying the same thing just in different ways. Do what you feel is right to make yourself happy, but don’t do something that takes away other people’s right to do the same. Obviously the world is not black and white, but that provides a pretty solid starting point.

My point? Please don’t take this as me saying that every Christian out there is wrong. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Basically I just wanted to share this with my friends and family because when topics of religion come up, I feel like I’m hiding or lying to them. That shouldn't be the case in the relationships that matter most in my life.

P.S. I've closed comments on this particular post because I don’t want this to become a place where my friends or family will have an argument. If anyone wants to have a reasonable discussion with me about any of the above, you are more than welcome to contact me about it. I always try to be open to new information challenging my views or the way I think.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's the Final Countdown

Well, it feels like it's taken forever to get here, but we're in the final weeks of these awkward living arrangements. 17 days until my due date. Snickerdoodle can leave these cramped quarters behind, and I can get my body back. Even if Snickerdoodle comes late, the end is in sight. And that makes me very, very happy.

Of course, I've been so focused on getting to the end of the pregnancy that the idea of bringing home a baby is still rather abstract. I mean, we've been preparing for this. We know, in our heads, that it's going to happen. But at least for me, it still doesn't feel real... and probably won't until we're getting ready to leave the hospital.

You might think it would feel real once the baby's born... and who knows, maybe it will, I have no way of knowing. But I just have this feeling that as long as we're in the hospital, we're removed enough from our daily lives that it's still going to be a bit like a dream. (Not to mention the exhaustion of just having gone through labor. I doubt anything's going to feel real at that point.).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Year of the Baby

Happy 2015!

We're less than three months now from my due date (even though my third trimester doesn't officially start till next week? *shrugs*) and... well, I'm pretty miserable, to be perfectly honest. Of course that's not what I say when people ask how I'm doing. I say I'm doing fine. Because I sort of am. I mean, for all I know, this is a super-easy pregnancy (minus that pesky morning sickness that still hasn't completely gone away). At the worst, it's probably average. But I've never done it before. And I feel big. And awkward. And like my insides are all jumbled up. I'm incredibly uncomfortable. I haven't had a really good night's sleep in at least a month, and I'm not likely to have one for... I don't know, a year?

So that's how I really am. But I'll continue to say "fine" when people ask. It's just easier.

Anyway, when I woke up on Thursday morning, it just sort of hit me that this is it. Nothing changed from one day to the next, except that now it was 2015... and that just made this whole thing feel more real.

So, in a last-ditch effort to hold onto my identity (and not that of this pregnant lady who's completely taken over my life), here's a little survey reflecting over the last year. Let's see how much of this can NOT focus on the baby.

What did you do in 2014 that you’ve never done before?
Stood up in a wedding (that wasn't mine).

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm not much of a resolution person. My main goal for 2015 is survive... hopefully with my sanity somewhat intact.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
A couple good friends had a baby in March.

Did anyone close to you die?
Yes... and quite unexpectedly.

What other countries did you visit?
I haven't had a valid passport since I changed my name almost eight years ago.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
More discipline.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Actually applying for a job that would have been perfect for me instead of chickening out, and making it most of the way through the interview process.

What was your biggest failure?
Not getting said job. Not applying for more jobs. Letting my depression and anxiety get the best of me. (I know it asks for just one, but they're sort of all related.)

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I did spend most of late summer and early fall puking, though I'm not sure that counts as "illness."

Where did most of your money go?
Paying off student loans... completely!

What song will always remind you of 2014?
Billy Joel's "Lullabye." Thanks to my brother's wedding, his dance with his new two-year-old daughter, and my first real hormone-induced (or at least -enhanced) breakdown... I'll probably never be able to hear this song without bawling again.

What was your favorite TV show?
Without a doubt, Parks and Recreation. I can't remember if I started watching it early 2014 or late 2013, but it's a relatively new obsession.

What was the best book you read?
Impossible to pick just one. See my book blog for a more complete answer.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Probably not what this question is really asking, but the fact that I can download music from Freegal through my library is pretty great.

What was your favorite film of the year?
Either Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. X-Men: Days of Future Past was pretty good too.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Just went out for dinner, nothing fancy. BWW, maybe? I turned 31... which was somehow way more depressing than turning 30.

What do you think would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not sure, but it was definitely missing something. I can't remember anything significant happening in the first half of the year. Not sure if that's because nothing did, or if the latter half just overshadowed it.

Well, I'm not sure there's much in there to make me feel better... but I suppose the silver lining is that losing myself in this pregnancy isn't such a big deal, since it's not like I had much going on anyway.

2015, I have a feeling, is going to be a lot more interesting.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Whoooooaaa, We're Halfway There!

I've had Bon Jovi stuck in my head for about a week now, which can only mean one thing...

(Actually, it could mean anything. There's no wrong time for Bon Jovi.)

But THIS time it means that I'm halfway through my pregnancy! Which is crazy. Really, really crazy. There are some days, when I'm feeling especially uncomfortable, that I feel like it's dragging. (Like when you have a cold that just won't go away and after a couple weeks you forget that there was ever a time when you could actually breathe through your nose... like that, only for me, it's forgetting there was ever a time when I didn't feel like a stuffed turkey.) But on the whole, it feels like it's going so fast!

I'm finally starting to show... although it's not super obvious, mostly because I'm already so heavy. I can tell the difference, and Pat can, and my family probably will when we head back for Thanksgiving. But a stranger on the street? I don't think my belly quite says baby, unless you already know it's in there.

And it's definitely in there! A couple months ago when we heard the heartbeat for the first time, that was pretty cool... but we got our ultrasound today, and that was something else. Like... it's really a baby! Not just some hypothetical amorphous blob in there.

Sooo... yeah. That's where we're at. And especially with the holidays coming up, I feel like we'll be in the third trimester before we know it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Announcement 13 Weeks in the Making...

In April 2007, we got married.

In October 2009, we brought home Slider.

In January 2014, we adopted Sammy.

And in April 2015, our little family will be growing yet again.

Really, though, our new addition is already here, sort of... and has been making its presence known for the last couple months as it proceeded to torture me from the inside. In the words of Lily Aldrin, this kid better be real freakin' cute.

You may remember this from Pat's last post:

Later in the day we went out to dinner with my mom and Char’s parents to Red Lobster. My father-in-law’s birthday is today so we were celebrating both. Dinner was fantastic as always and we got a couple of free desserts for our birthdays. After that we went out to Roundheads, a pizza pub/bar to celebrate my birthday with some local friends. All in all a very good day.

What he didn't mention is that was also the day we told our families and most of our close friends that I'm pregnant. So, yeah, a very good day.

And now that we've heard the heartbeat for the first time (!!!) and I'm out of the first trimester (officially 14 weeks on Thursday), we're ready to tell the internet. Even though I'm not on Facebook anymore, I still think of things as being "Facebook official" when you're ready to share news with the whole world instead of just your little corner of it.

In six months... I'm gonna be a mom.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This Week in Illinois

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post for an Illinois special. We are in Lombard for most of this week for my brother-in-law’s wedding. That is this Friday. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re all looking forward to welcoming his fiancĂ©e and her daughter into the family (even though they totally already are). I’m also looking forward to standing up in a wedding for the first time. It should be a fun evening.

Wednesday was also my birthday. It was a very good day. Wednesday morning I went out and played a round of disc golf over at Madison Meadows. I really enjoy this course. It’s got a lot of very long holes with wide open fields so you can just go all out and throw as far as you can without too much penalty for poor aim. It’s also a very nice course to look at around the well maintained pond pictured below.

Later in the day we went out to dinner with my mom and Char’s parents to Red Lobster. My father-in-law’s birthday is today so we were celebrating both. Dinner was fantastic as always and we got a couple of free desserts for our birthdays. After that we went out to Roundheads, a pizza pub/bar to celebrate my birthday with some local friends. All in all a very good day.

And today, I got to watch a couple of monarch butterflies hatch out of their cocoons. My mom finds the eggs on her plants and brings them inside to give them a better chance of survival. Once they hatch she releases them. Pretty cool to watch.