Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween and the Hurricane

It's been a busy few days.  Monday started a little iffy because I realized a little bit into the morning that I was experiencing some pain in the vicinity of my left kidney.  Nothing bad, just generally uncomfortable.  Given that I just had a UTI, I decided to call the doctor and get their thoughts.  They wanted me to come in, so I went out at lunch for a check.  My urine didn't show any normal signs of an infection, but there was a bit of blood in it--nothing obvious, just traces.  That can be caused by a lot of things, even something as simple as lifting something too heavy.  I still haven't heard back officially, which I'll take as a good sign.  I have my scheduled appointment on Monday, so at least I can follow up then.  Things have been fine in the meantime, other than being a little sore, which could be my own fault from overdoing it for a few days.  Like I said, we've been busy.

Obviously the other big thing earlier this week was Superstorm Sandy.  My heart breaks for the folks downstate and along the East Coast.  Having just been to the Jersey Shore last year, it saddens me to see the devastation there.  We came through the storm unscathed here, and actually, it was less terrifying than other storms in recent memory.  Monday evening I left work a little early to go to Jacob's daycare open house, and I was actually happy I did because the rain and wind were getting a bit worse by the time I got there.  They ended up postponing the open house due to the weather, so we ended up having an early evening at home for a change.  

We started pumpkin carving that night as the winds howled outside.  I scooped out the guts of the pumpkins, and Jacob tried to be helpful.  In the end he probably didn't scoop out much, but he put on a good show and stuck it out for longer than usual.  He really wanted to do some cutting, but even though we use dull knives, I still don't think he's ready for that!  He bailed, though, before we got to the faces, and it was bedtime by the time I was at that point anyway, so I put that off until Tuesday.  

The storm itself involved a lot of rain.  The wind was pretty strong, too, but for whatever reason it didn't scare me as much as usual.  Perhaps it didn't make the house creak as much as usual because the winds were coming from a different direction, or maybe I just knew that they weren't forecasting winds as strong as other storms we've seen recently.  Even still, it ended up being a rough night.  I slept pretty well until a little after 2am, at which point I woke up to silence and darkness, along with the beeping of our phone, as the power went out.  Well, it flashed on and off about 10 times in 10 seconds, and then went out.  Jacob woke up around 4am and realized the power was out (since his nightlight, humidifier, and monitor were all off, leaving just his little Toy Story alien light as his nightlight).  I assured him everything was fine, and he went right back to sleep.  Still, I woke up quite a bit for the rest of the night and confirmed our power was still out.  First thing in the morning I woke up and used my phone to check if daycare was closed or if there was anything important we should know about the storm.  But things were pretty much normal aside from a ton of school closures, so I got up, showered in the dark (leaving my hair dry since I couldn't use a blow dryer), and got back to business as usual.  I think our power came back on sometime late Tuesday morning...and thank goodness, since I had some baking to do for today's Halloween bash at work.  We saw a couple branches down here and there, as well as an entire uprooted tree around the corner, but for the most part our area escaped any significant damage.  

Last night I went to the gym and might have overdone it a bit.  I didn't work out too hard, exactly, but I'm still exploring what my body can and can't do at this point.  Some muscles still work the same, some don't.  My belly/core area is extra hard to work with.  I'm avoiding straight ab exercises but still trying to work my core and obliques a bit to maintain some strength there.  Going to class is a little challenging at times since you can only alter so many exercises, but I want to keep it up as long as I can since I did it 7-1/2 months last time!  Back at home I made dinner, carved faces in our pumpkins, ironed Jacob's costume, and made two loaves of monkey bread for my office.

Carving faces was a challenge.  I was trying to involve Jacob, but he couldn't really draw me a picture of what he wanted.  He wanted a skeleton originally, then got the idea to do a pirate.  We argued for a while about the test face I drew, but I finally got him to agree to it.  That didn't stop him from critiquing me while I carved, though.  I finally got some ideas for my pumpkin as well, and finished them up right before Jacob's bedtime.  Here's the finished product...

After a lot of work last night, I was up early again this morning to ensure we were ready for Halloween. Craig was also up early for a work commitment.  I didn't wear a costume this year because the belly was a challenge and I just couldn't come up with anything inspiring to work with my in-between size--I couldn't wear sexy costumes, I didn't want to wear some giant foam costume, and painting my belly was just not an option.  I wore a sequined orange tank, black cardigan, skinny jeans, and high boots instead, along with some pumpkin earrings from my Grandma's collection.  At least I was festive!  Jacob, on the other hand, was very excited to wear his costume to daycare.  And oh, he looked so cute.  After mentioning about 400 other costumes in the last year, he ended up as a policeman when we couldn't find the pirate he wanted in his size.  He was happy with the cop, though, since it meant he got a whistle, among other things.  I also outfitted him with handcuffs (long story) and a very fake looking squirt gun.
He was very excited to see his friends in their costumes, and his class was well-protected with one other cop, a SWAT team member, and Batman.  They'd had no candy yet this morning but were all already wired!  I very much enjoyed the assortment of food at work (ahhh, the benefits of being pregnant during the holidays!), and Craig picked up a little boy who was VERY eager to trick-or-treat.  Craig fed him dinner right when they got home so he could at least get in his costume, and once I got home and ate, we layered ourselves up and headed out.  Did I mention Jacob specifically requested that I take him out?
Ready to go!
Fortunately, the weather cooperated.  We were supposed to get wind and rain tonight from remnants of Sandy, but it didn't happen.  It was cool but tolerable, with just a couple drips of rain.  Pretty ideal, actually, all things considered.  We went up and down our street, and Jacob did very well.  It took a few houses to get him in the groove of waiting until the door opened to say "trick-or-treat!", to stand in the right spot when the door opened, to understand if he needed to grab candy or they would give it to him, and to say "thank you" at the end.  But as a whole he did awesome.  He was mostly adorably polite and got great reactions to his costume.  I was very proud of him when he got it all right.  He had a lot of random observations about peoples' houses and driveways, but he was pretty cute to walk with.  We got through maybe 15 houses or so (maybe 35 minutes total?) before he decided he was done (and had to pee).  We had about three lighted houses (and a few dark houses) left before getting back to ours.  It would have been nice to see him finish it off, but not bad!  He then rang the doorbell at our house, walked in, said "trick-or-treat!" and "I live here!" before taking his piece of candy from our bowl!  It was pretty cute.

I had told him he could have two treats when we got home, and he promptly settled himself in the kitchen with a box of Nerds that he dumped on a napkin (all on his own!) and a Kit Kat (that he later exchanged for a pack of Sixlets).  He was very eager to watch the other trick-or-treaters come to our door.  We had a good amount (though I swear they come in in carloads from somewhere else...), and still left ourselves with a tolerable amount of candy.  Just enough!  Despite the limited treats, Jacob was pretty hyped up and popped out of his room at 10pm to inform us he didn't need one of his stuffed animals.  Ugh.  We'll see how tomorrow goes!

All in all, it was a good Halloween.  It's been a busy few days, so hopefully we can fit in a little relaxation before the weekend!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkins!

OK, so I pretty much feel like we failed fall this year, simply because we didn't get to a real pumpkin farm.  Between various other weekend activities and iffy weather, the pumpkin farm thing didn't happen.  It's usually the highlight of our fall, so it stinks that we didn't get to do it.  But then again, we went to Atlanta this fall, so there's that.  Jacob did get to go to a pumpkin farm on Friday, though, so he had fun jumping in corn and hay, going on a hayride, and picking out his own little pumpkin.  So, while we didn't get to see it, at least he got to do that stuff with his friends.

However, we still needed a big pumpkin to carve.  Obviously this weekend was not ideal for going outside (thank you, yucky storm that's about to form the "Frankenstorm" with Hurricane Sandy), so we headed to a nearby garden center that does indoor activities.  We went there last year and had fun, but I was hesitant to pay for anything last year since we'd already done a slightly pricey trip to a real pumpkin farm.  This year I was open to doing more activities since we hadn't had anything else going on.  Of course, Jacob is my child, so that didn't work out quite as planned, but we still had fun.

He liked this old fire truck, but was very curious about where they keep their oxygen tanks.  I think he's been spending too much time with his Lego firefighters and their equipment!
Initially he wanted to ride the little ferris wheel they had, but when he realized I couldn't go on with him (it was little), he changed his mind.  He opted for the big slide instead, and while he ultimately seemed to like it, the zoomed version of this picture shows quite the concerned look on his face!  

I would have gone on with him, but wasn't sure how the bump where the slide itself ended would feel while pregnant.  It's also not particularly comfortable to have Jacob sitting in front of me these days.  He was such a big boy going up there solo, though!

None of the other rides or crafts interested him.  He did show a bit of interest on one of those "throw the ping pong ball into the fishbowl to win a fish" games, but I told him I'd rather take him to the pet store and buy him a heartier fish once he's old enough to be responsible for feeding it.  Sorry, I know that's no fun, but for the $2 and very small odds of winning, it's true.

We did pay a couple bucks to go into the petting zoo.  We saw the most adorable tiny pigs...

And adorable tiny pygmy goats...

And a llama...

And really hungry goats who stuck their necks through the fencing...

We also saw some interesting chickens and some bunnies.  For a buck you could feed one type of animal.  Originally Jacob wanted to try the llama, but the llama wasn't hungry when we tried so we exchanged our food for pig food.  That was a little awkward since they had a hard time getting their snouts through the fence, but it was fun to try.

We finally decided we'd seen enough, and grabbed a cart to pick out our pumpkin.  Along the way I dropped Jacob into the middle of the pumpkins to snap a couple pictures.  I liked them all, but here are the three best...two of which feature his fire helmet from the Gates Fire Department...



We also grabbed a quick photo op in a couple of the face cut-out stand-ups.  I liked this one with Jacob as Frankenstein...

As a whole he was a very good boy while we were there.  He wasn't really into a lot of the activities, but beyond his hesitance, he was very good.  Right when we were ready to leave (not coincidentally, it was right around his normal naptime), he did get a little cranky and difficult for no apparent reason.  But we made it home, ate lunch, and I finally got him down for a nap.

We had a pretty low-key weekend otherwise.  Craig was on the road this weekend, first for work and then to spend time with his mom who ended up having unexpected surgery (she should be fine but has a bit of a recovery ahead of her, which is most likely going to postpone our Florida trip--bummer).  Last night Jacob and I hung out, put on a movie, and did his nebulizer treatment before bedtime to prevent the coughing fits he's been having.  And for the first time since we started them the other night, he made it all the way through the night without one.  Whew.  Today we went to church, where Jacob found out that he is supposed to dress up like an angel for the Christmas pageant.  I don't know when it is yet, but knowing us, who knows if we're even going to be here.  Regardless, he was not amused by the concept and insisted he'd rather be Captain America.  Hmmm...can't quite picture him visiting the stable, for some reason.  So, that will be an interesting battle one of these days.  He took a long enough nap this afternoon that I managed to watch an entire movie ("Letters to Juliet"--predictable but cute) that I'd had on the DVR since June.  That almost never happens!  Add today's laundry and newspaper reading to yesterday's craft projects (two!) and organizing six months worth of photos (getting them printed, backing them up, and clearing off our card), and it was a pretty productive yet relaxing enough weekend.

Now onto another week...daycare open house tomorrow, Halloween on Wednesday, and a "monster" storm to keep an eye on.  Should keep us plenty busy...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Possibly the only political-ish post you will ever see here...

This election is making me nuts.  I cannot wait until November 6th has come and gone.  And not just because we'll be off to (hopefully) warmth and sun in Florida two days later.  The bickering and crankiness all over, from TV to social media, is making me crazy.  I haven't gone so far as to block anyone on Facebook, but there are people I know to just skip over for the time being.  From my perspective, neither candidate is any sort of solution.  I may be a registered Republican, but it doesn't mean I agree with Romney on everything.  I also don't believe Obama has been the savior everyone thought he'd be.  Usually by about this time in the election, I'm almost like, "Let the chips fall where they may...and four years from now we'll see who was right."  I felt that way last time, and this time it's much the same.  That sentiment may be because I live in a state where my vote doesn't matter anyway--with the electoral college, Obama easily wins New York no matter what.  If things ever go to a popular vote, I may care more, but politics in general just make me shut down and run the other way.  I should care, and in the end I do, but all of the promises and good intentions mean nothing once someone's in office and dealing with the limitations and politics of the position. 

Anyway, what does all of this have to do with the parenting slant of this blog?  Well...this morning as I was driving in to work, for some reason I got to thinking about the abortion issue.  Obviously, being pregnant at the moment, abortion is sort of a more vivid topic for me.  Even when I'm not pregnant, I have an opinion, but being pregnant adds a whole other perspective.  In general, my feelings on the issue are that I believe that killing an unborn baby is wrong.  I don't even think that's specifically a religious stand--I think that harming any human life is inherently immoral, no matter what deity you believe in (or don't).  I think we can all pretty much say that walking up to someone on the street and killing them is wrong.  So why is it OK to kill a baby that's still in the womb?  Why does being born and taking a breath make a baby more "real" when their heart has already been beating away for nearly nine months?

I can't say that I'm not a little pro-choice...because, after all, there are scenarios I can't even fathom, situations where perhaps my opinion would change if it was happening to me.  I also don't think it's wise to ban all abortions and cause women to take matters into their own hands.  In school I remember learning about Roe v. Wade and how women would do the back alley, coat hanger abortions when they couldn't get one legally.  I don't think that's a good option either, because in this day and age you'll have women drugging, drinking, or harming themselves into an abortion, which isn't good for anyone, including the healthcare industry or society in general.  In cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother, I think there are certainly cases to be made, particularly because the mental and physical anguish caused by some of those situations could be so incredibly damaging that it could destroy the mother anyway, taking the baby right with her. 

A while back I was intrigued (but ultimately not a fan of) Texas' policy of making women go through a transvaginal ultrasound prior to getting an abortion.  I got a couple of those types of ultrasounds when we were going through the fertility stuff last spring.  Admittedly, they're a bit invasive compared to a standard ultrasound, but in general it's pretty painless and no worse than a standard OB/GYN exam.  I do believe that women should be counseled and educated prior to undergoing an abortion.  I think it's important that they understand the risks to their health, and that it's clear that they're aborting a real baby with actual body parts, not just a cluster of cells.  I had an ultrasound at just over six weeks, when this baby was TINY (somewhere between the size of a lentil and a blueberry), and it already looked like a baby.  And it had a heartbeat.  We could see it and we could hear it.  That, folks, is amazing.  I would have a really hard time aborting a baby upon seeing that.  And for a while I didn't understand why Texas would go so far as to mandate a transvaginal ultrasound (instead of a standard one), but now I'm wondering if it's because they're more sensitive and give a better chance and showing the woman what she's aborting.  I don't know.  I hope it's not just a humiliation tactic.  I mentioned in this blog last time I was pregnant about the movie "Juno" and how she decided not to abort when someone told her her baby had fingernails.  I often wonder how many other people would have a similar response if they knew just how formed their baby was at any given moment.  Some won't have their minds changed for anything, but perhaps with education some might think twice.

At the same time, I'm well aware that nine months is a long time to live with a "mistake" and it's a major commitment, particularly if a pregnancy isn't something you're fully on board for.  It's hard work.  I am all for women giving babies up for adoption if they can, but I also don't want to see babies born with defects or disabilities because the mother decided she didn't care what she did to her body during pregnancy.  I'm not saying those lives aren't worth saving, too, but that's a grayer area for sure because quality of life is a question and the demand for special needs adoption isn't as high. If I was raped, I don't know how I would feel about carrying around a reminder for nine months, just to give that baby away to someone else.  There's emotional baggage with adoptions, too, but then again I'm not sure I'd want the baggage of knowing I terminated a real life, either.

Last time I was pregnant I marveled at how miraculous this process is.  To think that my body can create and grow a baby, that all the cells know what they need to do to form the various parts...it's mind-boggling.  It is, to me, evidence of God's existence.  It's just too amazing a process to result from chance.  But something that amazed me even further this morning is the realization that science has never created a true substitute uterus.  At least, I've never heard of it.  And imagine the uses it could have!  Infertile women could use them to grow a baby without going through the surrogate process.  Imagine if women with cancer could somehow transfer their pregnancy to a mechanical uterus so they could undergo treatment sooner.  Think how amazing it would be for scientists to have a front row seat to watch a baby grow from start to finish.  But yet...it doesn't exist.  It just shows that the uterus is the perfectly created home for a baby, and it's unable to be truly duplicated.  If science is yet unable to do that, it makes me think that there's far more to it than science could ever explain, you know?  That tells me there's a divine element there somewhere that is beyond human comprehension or ability.  We can go to space, see the tiniest objects in the universe, and even create the beginnings of babies from cells...but we still can't sustain them outside a human body until they've grown to a certain point. 

Pregnancy is a miracle, possibly the closest we can get to a miracle on a regular basis.  I understand that it's not for everyone, and that fact saddens me.  There are so many people who can't have children, so to see unwanted ones go to waste is heartbreaking.  But like the disconnect between the food on our table and the so-called "starving children in Africa", just because there's an unwanted baby with one woman doesn't mean that it's a simple process to get that baby into eagerly waiting arms elsewhere.  I wish that everyone had the same moral convictions as I do, but that's just not the case. It boggles my mind to think that anyone can believe that aborting a baby isn't just another version of murder, but we often tend to focus on what's known and default to that, which is why the mother and her needs normally get precedence over an unborn child.  But that life is precious, and the experience of going through two pregnancies really makes me realize that more than ever. 

I don't know who will win the election, but I do pray that whoever wins will find a way to maximize the number of happy mothers and children that do result from pregnancy.  It's too miraculous an experience to waste.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overanalyzing Baby Names

When Craig and I first dated, we decided on baby names.  It was an entirely accidental conversation early in our relationship, but we nonetheless agreed on two names and left it at that.  Those names remained intact for a good five years or so, until a friend of ours stole our boy name.  That sort of ruined it for us for a few reasons, so we pretty much ditched that name right there.  At the same time, our girl name was falling out of favor because it was getting to be far too popular.  I was far more hesitant to name a girl something popular than a boy because boys come by nicknames easier and I think girls would end up with more of an identity crisis if they were in a class with multiple girls with the same name. 

When we got pregnant for the first time, we almost instantly decided on names.  It took a little bit of researching, but in the end it was quick.  We liked the name Jacob and as an added bonus it had a bit of a family connection on my side, going way back.  Our girl name actually came from a movie and also had a bonus family connection on Craig's side.  Jacob's full name was a done deal, but we never did come up with a middle name for a girl.  I was actually a little relieved when Jacob was born because I knew we knew the name and didn't have to debate middle names in the midst of being new parents.  But in both cases, there was no question that those were our names. 

In the four-plus years that followed, I was worried about the second time around.  I wasn't sure I wanted to stick with our girl name, and coming up with another boy name we liked as much seemed daunting.  I kept hoping that a name would pop out and take us by storm, but that never happened.  My take on names is that boy names are boring but considerably harder to screw up.  Girl names seem to have a broader range and more potential for fun, but at the same time they seem to have larger consequences.  I feel like girl names come with connotations.  There are obvious ones that sound like they should be announced in the presence of a stripper pole.  There are ones that sound like old ladies or plain Janes.  Sometimes people get extra creative with spellings and seemingly lower their daughter's IQ by about 10 points right off the bat.  Maybe that's not fair, but it just seems that girl names have greater meaning attached to them from the get-go. 

Boy or girl, I do tend to cringe when I see a name that just doesn't seem like it will transition to adulthood well.  For example, someone at Jacob's daycare had a little girl that they named "Harlie".  It's a cute name and all, but I have a hard time picturing that name as the CEO of a major company.  I think the same thing when I see a boy name made girlier with the addition of an "-ie" or a "-y" where there wasn't originally, like Jaymes or Jessie.  There's already enough to worry about when naming your baby, what with bullying potential and all.  There are nicknames and odd initials to consider.  You have to consider how it goes with your older child's name--you want it to coordinate, but not be too close.  You don't want a mouthful when calling everyone to dinner, but you also don't want a muffled yell making two kids ask for clarification on who you were actually calling.  It's a lot to think about.

This time around, without immediate preferences, I told Craig we couldn't even talk about baby names until we knew the gender.  No need to argue about two genders when we'd have a few months to focus on one.  Now that we know Riblet's a boy, of course every girl name sounds lovely and all of the boy names are doing nothing for me.  I looked through a long list yesterday, and while there are names I like, there aren't really any names that I like for our child.  Either they don't go with our last name, I wouldn't have the guts to go that different, or it's a name of someone we already know and most likely we wouldn't want to reuse it.  But I figured if I wrote down the ones I liked, maybe that would make it easier to come up with a good one at some point. 

But so far there's nothing jumping out at us.  It could be one heck of a battle.  I just hope something sticks and we love it as much as we love Jacob's name.  It's a big challenge and a big commitment.  And this time around, it scares me to death!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skinny Jeans and other Randomness...

I am wearing skinny jeans in public for the first time today.  Six months ago I probably would have thought I was nuts to ever do that, let alone do it while pregnant.  But as I hoped, apparently maternity skinny jeans leave a little more room for various curves, and since the waist doesn't have to be an exact fit, finding a pair that works while pregnant is considerably easier than finding regular ones.  I think they look fine, though I feel a little too trendy for my normal state of being.  I don't think they're age-inappropriate or anything, but I'm normally just not that cool.  Ten years of boot cut jean-wearing will do that to you.  I do like how they hug curves, though, and they will be a welcome wardrobe addition come winter when I'm not trying to stuff boot cut jeans into my boots.  For now I'm suffering through an uncomfortable pair of flats and I have a couple other pairs of shoes that are fine.  I'm not going to say they're overly comfortable, but that could just be because I'm not used to having anything this fitted, nor am I enjoying the fact that I can't easily scratch my often-itchy legs through them.  But I will suffer for fashion.  Today I'm wearing a maternity top that makes me look HUGE.  It's a cute shirt, one of the first ones I ever bought, but for whatever reason it makes all of my upper half look big.  But...the skinny jeans sort of offset the hugeness so I guess it works.  Maternity clothes are just a whole different ballgame anyway, so if there's a time to explore some mild fashion risks, now is probably not a bad choice.  People are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt or be distracted by your belly. 

It was an interesting weekend as I more or less had the weekend off from mommy duties.  My friend Heather came into town on Friday, and Saturday Craig and Jacob took off for Buffalo to go to a Halloween party at our niece and nephews' school.  It's the same one we went to last year.  They didn't go because Heather was in town, but I suppose Craig figured we'd want some girl time so it made sense to go.  During the time that we were all in the same house, Jacob absolutely loved playing with Heather.  I don't know if she just oozes the "I spend all day with kids" thing since she's a Kindergarten-First Grade teacher, but he was constantly asking her to play.  It was pretty cute.  Heather and I had a good time, of course, though Saturday was a bit interrupted when she came down with a migraine.  We did sneak in a little shopping (I got a set of wall hooks for Jacob's big boy room, future home for his jerseys and hats), and then headed home so she could nap.  I spent that time putting together lasagna for dinner, and then we ate and watched a movie in between gab fests.  Turns out nearly 30 years of friendship provides for plenty of conversation topics :)  Sunday we went to church, did a little shopping to kill time until our lunch restaurant of choice opened, had lunch, then headed back to the house so she could pack up and start her drive home. 

Once I was solo, I did some quick shopping--shoes for Jacob, and an assortment of random things from Walmart--and then took advantage of the gorgeous weather to tackle some long-overdue yard work.  The first trimester blahs were totally de-motivating when it came to doing yard work, partly because I would rather have been napping and partly because when I did do it I ended up exhausted.  So, the yard has been a little out-of-control in spots and I've constantly been playing catch-up.  Yesterday I managed to do some weed-whacking, then cleared out most of my mini-garden, and finally decided to tackle the way-back of our yard, which is just a mass of greenery.  There's a little of everything back there, and it's getting out of control.  Blackberry vines and some other sort of foliage were slowly creeping out of the confines of the bed, but it was too much to tackle mid-summer.  Now that things had thinned out a bit, I decided to take it on.  I ended up poking myself through my rubber garden gloves countless times (blackberry vines have nasty thorns), but I cleaned up the worst of the overflow.  Craig can hit the rest with the lawn mower next time.  The boys didn't get home until after dinner, so I had some extra time to finish up some things.  We all ended up turning in a little earlier than usual, which was good since Jacob and I were both up for about an hour in the middle of the night thanks to a coughing fit he couldn't seem to shake.  Ahhhh, cold season.

In other news, yesterday while I was sitting in church, I swear Riblet (the baby--we'll see if it sticks) kicked me in the arm three times.  My arm was resting on the top of my belly during a prayer, and I seriously felt a distinct kick in the arm three times!  I've felt it one other time since when I was sitting in a similar position.  I'm still getting a fair amount of internal squirming, but there still isn't much recognizable or externally visible movement.  I can't really tell if that's normal at this point or if he's just in an oddball position where his movements are a little more insulated.

The other day my dad reminded me of a little tidbit I left out of my post about the trip to Alfred.  During the course of the football game, Jacob asked numerous times when the game was going to be over.  I don't think it was that he wasn't enjoying the game as much as I think he really wanted a shot to get down on the field and play.  However...at one point during the game, the PA announcer mentioned that there was going to be a soccer game on that same field that evening.  Immediately Jacob's eyes lit up and he really wanted to stay for the soccer game.  Typical.  Here I had been all excited to take Jacob to his first live football game, and he ended up being more excited about the prospect of a soccer game!  Had the game been at, say, 5pm instead of 7pm, I might have considered sticking around for the extra hour or two to catch the beginning.  But it was a chilly day and 7pm was just too far away.  That didn't stop him from asking a few more times, though! 

Not much else to report right now.  Jacob is going to the pumpkin farm tomorrow with daycare, and I'm hoping the weather cooperates enough to get us to one this weekend.  Craig's busy weekends are starting up, which is a bummer, and it's going to start limiting what we can get done together, which isn't good since we have a lot to do!  We're still working on finalizing Jacob's Halloween costume, which has been a long time in coming.  He's changed his mind about 400 times, but then seemed to settle on one costume...until we couldn't find the one he wanted in his size, at which point he decided on another one!  Some of the final plans are being made for our trip to Florida, which is just a few weeks away.  It's going to be a busy few weeks, that's for sure!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

20 Weeks!

Today marks the official halfway point, 20 weeks!  And as promised, here's a belly shot....

As you can see, the belly is there but it's not fully rounded out yet.  But again, per my post yesterday, I don't really care about that so I don't mind wearing a tank top like this under a sweater.  I don't have a lot of options anyway, so this will have to do for now.

It's amazing to think we're halfway through this process, and it seems like the end is going to go awfully quickly!  But then again, the first half of this process has been a long one, so who knows?  When I think that all of this has been going on since June, it's pretty crazy.  There were three months of living in secrecy, and those seemed to take extra long, in particular since I was feeling so crappy for most of it.  But I know that once the secret was out last time, things seemed to go rather quickly, and I suppose that's happening again.  We have so much to do and Jacob takes up a lot of time that last time I would have used to get things done. Vacation and the holidays will take up a chunk of time, too, so these last 20 weeks are going to be very interesting to say the least.  We need to make decisions about the baby's room, Jacob's new room, our guest accommodations, and most importantly, DECIDE ON A NAME.  I'd rather do that sooner than later so we have plenty of time to make sure it's not just a passing fad.  I don't want to decide on a name last minute and suddenly get sick of it a couple months in.  I want plenty of time to get used to it, do numerous checks on its ability to be made fun of, and ensure that the name doesn't bother or embarrass me in any way.  For now he will be referred to as Riblet, an offshoot of Jacob's daycare nickname.  Cute, no?  :)

Anyway, I'm glad I finally psyched out the location to do my photo shoots, so hopefully I can continue to do them more often now.  I felt the need to figure out how to do it by myself with the self-timer, since I won't always be able to rely on Craig being home to do it.  Naptime always seems to be when I remember to do it, and he's often working at that time.  When I'm here alone it's easier to motivate myself, so hopefully that will be something I can accomplish more often.  Glad to get the first one out of the way.  Someday I'll be kicking myself for not documenting the early days more, but you gotta start somewhere.

Anyway...20 weeks...wow!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The one thing I don't care about...

Despite obsessing over this gender stuff, and probably countless other things about pregnancy, there's one thing I realized I don't really care that much about this time.  I don't really care about looking fat.  To be clear, though, I still don't want to look frumpy or sloppy, but I don't really care if people think I've just put on a few pounds as long as what I'm wearing still looks presentable.

My big issue before we went to Atlanta was that nothing fit that criteria.  I tried on countless outfits and had a lot of options that just didn't work because I looked messy.  Fortunately I found a few that were good enough, but I just didn't want to look sloppy, particularly knowing I'd show up in some pictures here and there. 

I've definitely popped a bit in the last week or so.  My belly is definitely looking a little rounder (especially minus clothes) and it's getting harder to the touch.  I had no trouble trying on maternity clothes last weekend, which was a far different experience than my early shopping last time.  I still have a long way to go and nothing's really rounded out enough for my liking.  The bottom of the bump is still a little beer-belly-ish, my belly button is a concave hole in the middle, and my maternity shirts are still mostly all too big.  So, in the meantime I'm switching among the following:
  • Maternity shirts that fit
  • Non-maternity shirts with empire waists
  • Non-maternity shirts that cover things up a bit (i.e., cardigan sweaters)
The other day I "embraced the bump" and wore a black fitted cami with a non-buttoning cardigan sweater.    The black camouflaged things a bit, but the bump was out there.  Today I'm wearing a fitted maternity t-shirt with 3/4-length sleeves.  Today I wore a hoodie over it since the weather's a little in-between, and that helped cover it up.  I'm not sure I'd wander around in public without the hoodie on or tied around my waist, but a) in the office pretty much everyone knows I'm pregnant so I don't feel the need to cover up; and b) out in public with the hoodie on I definitely look a little chubby but I really don't care.

I'd like to think not caring is more "I'm comfortable with my body" than the typical "mom giving up on how she looks" (a la the affliction behind the success of "What Not to Wear"), but I suppose some days it's hard to differentiate.  I will say that a good pair of maternity jeans go a long way toward making me feel at least slightly put together even on an off-day like today when the t-shirt and hoodie were a last grasp at getting out of the house on time. 

So while I'd prefer to not look fat at all, I feel like I'm embracing my shape a lot more than last time around.  It was more of a curiosity then, and now it's just this amazing thing my body knows how to do, and I'm just trying to appreciate it as much as I can.  Of course, I was a little thrown off when I stepped on the scale last night and saw how much I've gained in the last few weeks.  Granted, two of those pounds were gone this morning, but it made me ponder a bit how I'm trending and whether I should be paying more attention to what I'm eating to ensure I don't go way beyond where I did last time.  I think I'm OK, but it definitely caught me off-guard since I haven't seen that number since, oh, the last time I was pregnant...or maybe for a split second when my post-nursing weight came back on and I instantly decided I needed to do something about it.  Ultimately, though, it doesn't really bother me since I know that I'm fine with how I look.  And it's an added bonus that I'm comfortable enough with that to not care (much) what other people think.  It's refreshing.  Might as well enjoy it now before it's back to just being fat and the love affair wears off. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coping Mechanism?

This morning on my way into work, I caught myself thinking, "Hmmm, maybe I could do this again."  Of course, reality is a far cry from the random thoughts of a brain still reeling from yesterday's revelation.  I still haven't had baby #2, let alone being able to imagine a life with three kids.  As I said previously, three kids would involve a mandatory new vehicle, possibly a new house, and lots of extra money to either stay home and not pay for daycare, or pay for daycare for multiple kids in one form or another.  So most likely, it's not happening.  I'd be probably 37 before I'd be even remotely ready to do this again, and that's getting to an age where risks increase and general energy levels could really be an issue.  So, yeah, most likely it won't happen.

But this afternoon on my commute home, I realized that perhaps it wasn't merely a thought of a crazy woman, but rather a coping mechanism to get me through this sane.  The hard part of all of this was the finality--that if this one wasn't a girl, I'd never have one.  And while that's still probably the case, leaving the door open a crack may be just enough to not make me feel like all is lost.  I get that it's a weird little mind game thing, but if it works, great. 

My big issue right now is just general jealousy.  When I see friends on Facebook with a boy and a girl, or multiple girls, I have twinges of jealousy, or perhaps maybe just frustration at my body...like, "See, they could make a girl...why couldn't you?"  I'm actually a little annoyed at myself for not scheduling things a little better to take advantage of the apparent fact that "girl" sperm are slower but longer lasting...meaning that we should have done the deed a couple days early and hoped they hung in there until ovulation.  Of course, at the time we were nervous and just wanted to do things by the book for our first foray into fertility treatments, but knowing what I know now, I might have tested things out a little more. 

I'm still just a little sad and feel like I've lost a little of my enthusiasm.  I really had no idea how huge the mere hope of a girl was.  And yes, I'm mad at myself for feeling like this.  I want to tell myself to snap out of it and be grateful for my healthy little boy.  And I think eventually I will graduate to that feeling more fully, but I'm nervous.  What if this feeling doesn't pass?  Then what?  I know I will love my new son more than life itself.  As a mother I'm not sure it's possible to do anything else.  But will I always be jealous of people who managed to have a girl?  Will I always feel a sense of sadness every time I pass by the girls section of a store?  I don't want to live that way, but at the moment I'm not sure how to make sure that doesn't happen.  I guess it's going to be a process, but I'm not entirely sure where to begin.  Perhaps it would be easier if I was absorbed in caring for this baby right now...but for the record, I'm glad we didn't wait to find out, because four-plus additional months of anticipation, only to have the same result, would have been even worse. 

Anyway, I'll have a great distraction this weekend as my oldest friend Heather is coming to spend the weekend.  We've been trying to do this for ages, but it just never worked out.  This time she's coming back from a teachers conference at Camp Pioneer, the same camp where we had our Confirmands' Retreat the summer after 8th grade (and where I have my one family reunion every summer--the one Jacob puked at this year), so this should be a nice stop-over point since the drive back to Binghamton can be a long one!  I haven't figured out what we're going to do this weekend--and there's even a chance the boys will be heading to Buffalo on Saturday--but we will no doubt fill time one way or another.  Heck, I have some Hot Looks dolls that won't be getting use any time soon, so maybe we'll pull those back out for old time's sake! 

Give me a few more days and we'll see how things are progressing.  And I swear, one of these days I WILL get a belly picture on here!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Here we go again...

So, what can I say?  It's a BOY!  I knew it, deep down.  And within the first 20 seconds of the ultrasound I thought I caught a glimpse, but it was confirmed about 5-10 minutes in when she froze a shot on the screen and said, "See that?"  Yep. 

He's perfect, though, and that's what's important. He even made us laugh a couple times, with his feet positioned up by his head for a while, and it was cute when he grabbed at his feet with his hands.  He also showed his stubborn side, as many a nudge from the ultrasound tech did nothing to move him into a different position so she could get a better picture of his heart.  She could see that everything was fine, but she explained that seeing everything live and in motion is a little different than when the doctors look at the pictures later on.  So, there's a chance that they'll call me back in for a quick couple shots of the heart, but nothing's wrong--it's just for their peace of mind if the shots she got aren't quite enough.

Ultrasound pics are tough to see sometimes, so even I can't give you a full rundown of what's happening in these, but here's what they gave us:
The head is obvious, but I'm not sure if that's a shoulder and arm or what...
 
Profile...his hand is up by his mouth, I think.
 
You can't see it as clearly here as in the printed version they gave us, but this is a bottom view...and right in the middle are the telltale goods.

Limbs...I'm thinking these are lower legs and feet.
The last picture has a bit of a funny story.  I told the tech that one of my favorite pictures from Jacob's ultrasound was of his little feet, and I showed her with my hands how his feet were positioned.  Well, right about that time she scanned back to the feet and they had moved into almost the same position after not being like that before.  And as an added bonus, his fingers just moved into the shot a little bit, too...
Tiny baby feet!
There was also one angle I saw that I'm pretty sure was a profile view of the butt, and it was the cutest little butt.  Jacob's is still adorable, too, even at this age, so that must be one thing we definitely make right :)

I don't quite know how to describe my mindset at this point.  I didn't cry or anything when we found out.  I can't say I was excited, either, but I was happy and relieved to see he was healthy and perfect.  Still, I found myself momentarily wishing it was a dream or that I could hit the rewind button and time things differently at the time of conception.  But obviously there's nothing that can change this, and 20 weeks from now, I'm sure I wouldn't want to anyway.  He will be loved so much when he gets here, by all three of us, no doubt about that.

At this point, I guess I'm just....sad.  I feel stupid and like a bad parent saying that, but it's true.  I feel like there's a little missing piece somewhere.  All of the girl things I glanced at out of the corner of my eye for the last 4+ years (you know, the cool girl toys or the tiny glittery shoes) were fine to stay on the periphery because I still had a shot at having a girl later.  It was fine I couldn't do that stuff then, because I hoped there would be a time I could.  And now, it'll probably never happen and it'll take some time to learn to live with that.  I don't think I can do this again, and I'm not sure I'm prepared to risk having a third boy.  And as we know, there are no guarantees with this sort of thing, so it would be a risk.  We'd also have to do it relatively quickly, but I just don't think the timing would work.  Add in that we'd need a new vehicle, possibly a bigger house, and a lot more money, and it just doesn't seem feasible. 

I don't know how to explain the fact that I am both happy and thankful for a healthy little boy, but also sad about the little girl we won't have.  Perhaps the best metaphor I can give is this: Imagine that you're a kid and you have complete faith in Santa to bring you this amazing present that you want so badly.  When Christmas Day comes, Santa did bring you an amazing, awesome present, but it's not the one you wanted.  You absolutely love the new present, as much as you would have loved the other one, but at the same time, the present you wanted had some great features that you really hoped to enjoy.  So even though the present you got is awesome in every way and you're grateful to have it, it doesn't entirely change the fact that the one you wanted was uniquely special in its own way and you don't have it.  This is obviously a far bigger thing than a simple Christmas present, but that's the closest situation I've been able to compare it to.  It's just a disappointment despite the fact that it's surrounded by something great. 

It's hard to sort of be in this one alone, since Craig can't really relate to the emotions I'm going through right now.  He got his boy, and he's about to get another one.  I asked him this morning how he'd feel if Jacob had been a girl and we found out today that we were having another girl.  He couldn't really say.  See, it's just not that simple.

Like I said yesterday, I take some comfort in the fact that God's got everything under control and there's a reason He didn't send us a girl.  There's a purpose in giving us a second boy, and I need to accept that and hope it means amazing things for us in the years to come.  I prayed for a girl and the fact it didn't happen means that it really wasn't supposed to.  And while that reality breaks my heart, it doesn't mean that we'll be any less excited when our little guy joins us.  I'm excited to see what he's going to be like, what he looks like, and how Jacob will be with his little brother. 

We have a lot to look forward to and a lot to plan in the next 20 weeks, and I'll delve into all of the great things about having another little boy soon...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Still obsessing...

So, yeah, I'm still quite preoccupied by our impending doctor's appointment tomorrow.  Perhaps I'm a little less OK at the moment with the thought of a boy than I had been telling myself for the past couple months.  I think I was doing pretty good for a while, but the fact that I felt so yucky for an extra month this time got my hopes up that this one was different and could be a girl.  And now I'm coming back to reality and realizing that as of tomorrow, the desire to have a daughter--one I've probably had since I was a little girl playing dolls--may be forcibly shut down.  That's a sobering reality, for sure.

It sounds so shallow, since I know how lucky we are to have any babies at all.  And not only do we have one, but we're going to have two.  That alone is a huge blessing, and as I've said repeatedly, in the end I will be fine no matter what.  And I know to the casual observer, wishing for one gender over another just seems silly.  But, you know, it's not just about buying girl clothes or decorating with pink.  It's about being able to relive my childhood more fully.  Until now I've certainly had opportunities to do that with Jacob.  Every time we go to a pumpkin patch, zoo, or playground, I see a little element of my childhood come back to life.  Looking through toy catalogs reminds me of countless Christmases making my list out of the JC Penney catalog.  The overflowing bags of artwork from daycare bring back memories of the many hours spent cutting, pasting, and coloring at school.  But I know that Craig's experience raising Jacob has been different than mine.  In so many ways, Jacob is his mini-me.  He loves watching Jacob discover sports, practice them and improve.  Undoubtedly it takes him back to when he was a kid and was learning those things himself.  He's downright giddy thinking about Jacob playing little league baseball next summer.  He loves playing Legos and building Jacob awesome creations.  His Playmobil, Star Wars, and GI Joe guys have gotten a second life.  He has an excuse to watch sports, cartoons, and old movies, all for Jacob's benefit.  I've enjoyed my fair share of those sorts of things, too, but I know it would be different with a girl.  I'd get to dig into my Barbie collection and share my beloved Hot Looks dolls.  I'd get to buy her a little kitchen and watch her cradle a baby doll.  Maybe she'd do a dance class or just read up a storm like I did--you think kids still read Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume?  I found the original movie version of "Annie" in the $5 bin at Walmart a while back, and in hopes I'd have a girl to share it with, I bought it.  It was my favorite movie forever when I was a kid, and sure I can watch it by myself, but how much more fun would it be to share it with my daughter?

Ultimately it's not about the "stuff" (though that stuff is fun), but more about the emotions that those items evoke.  It's about reliving the joy you had as a kid, and seeing that joy spread to someone else.  It's not that I can't have that with Jacob or another boy, but it would be extra special with a girl.  It's just hard to know that 12 hours from now, all the dreaming I've done about having a daughter of my own could come to a crashing halt.  Or...12 hours from now that dream could come true.  But either way our lives are going to change...it's just a matter of how far off the current path it's going to go.  I'm ready for a visit to somewhere new and different, but if we end up going on another trip to the same awesome destination where we've already been, that's not such a bad thing either.  But forgive me if it takes getting to that destination to remember why it was so awesome in the first place. 

I don't want to be that mom who loses it in the ultrasound room, but that could be me.  I have a couple hours to collect myself before heading to work.  There have been moments during this pregnancy where I've had feelings it might actually be a girl.  But as a whole I still have this nagging suspicion that I'm meant to be the mom of boys.  I've prayed for the opportunity to have a daughter, but also prayed for peace and acceptance if that isn't the case.  And if it's not, I just have to trust God's infinite wisdom and assume there's a good reason why.  Maybe a room overflowing with Barbies would make me crazier than a living room floor full of Legos.  Perhaps I would inadvertently pass my insecurities along to her, or not give her the guidance she'd need to effectively navigate the mean girls and heartbreaking boys.  Maybe I just don't have the strength to watch her go through the emotional roller coaster that I did when I was younger.  She could grow up rebellious and cause us more heartache than joy.  Maybe God knows enough to spare us that stress and sees that we're better suited to have boys.  Maybe he knows that Jacob needs a brother more than I need a daughter.  Perhaps he's got better things in store down the road, like fantastic daughters-in-law or granddaughters so great they were worth the wait.  There's no way of knowing for sure, so I need to just trust that God knows what he's doing.  Oh, and that includes trusting that if he does give me a girl, that I'm woman enough to raise her well.  But just because I trust God, that doesn't mean that reality won't be without a little sadness or heartache.  Forgive me if this blog becomes the place I visit to sort out those emotions and adjust to the changes life is going to bring us starting tomorrow.  It doesn't mean I love my baby any less....it just means that I need some time to say goodbye to some other dreams I've had for a long time. 

Stay tuned for the news either way tomorrow...and pray that everything else looks perfect, no matter what!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gender Differences

So...36 hours from right now, we'll know the gender of this baby hanging out in my belly.  Aaaaand....I'm nervous.  It's a big deal.  It's such a life-altering thing.  The ultrasound as a whole is a big deal.  Lost in the gender issue is the fact that this ultrasound checks for so many other things besides what's between the baby's legs.  And those things can be equally life-altering as the gender, and God forbid they find anything amiss.  That would obviously make the gender announcement pale in comparison. 

But to this point everything has been fine.  The fertility treatment worked on the first try.  The initial ultrasound (what little we could see) looked perfect, the heart rate has been healthy, and my size has been fine.  Of course, I had the previously mentioned minor health annoyances, which should have absolutely no impact, but I guess you just never know. 

So, assuming the rest is fine, the gender is the big deal.  Like I said the other day, gender impacts so much of our future.  It's a different job being the mom of two boys, compared to one of each or two girls.  It impacts what covers our living room floor, how we spend our time for years to come, and what specific milestone experiences we'll have.  Will I be the only female in this house for the rest of our years together as a family unit?  Or will a our new addition bring perfect balance to our home?  Will I finally get to shop in the girls' section (and have a ridiculous pick of clearance racks) after all these years of merely looking longingly across the store? Or will I get to reuse and reminisce as I pull out bin after bin of Jacob's hand-me-downs?  Will I have the joy of having a little girl who will pick a bouquet of flowers in my yard, or will I be dodging two boys' misdirected soccer kicks and foul balls?  Will we send two children off to the prom in tuxedos, or will I go through the aforementioned crazy stress my mom and I had, as I try to find a pretty, respectable dress for my own daughter?  Will I have to give up two sons to women of their choosing, or will I have a daughter who could be a lifelong friend and shopping partner? 

I know there's a lot of gray areas in here.  I could have a total tomboy of a daughter who hates my guts by the time she's 15.  God forbid.  But I know it could happen...along with any other of the in between scenarios for the experiences above.  Nothing is perfect, nothing is set in stone...but finding out this baby's gender will lay the groundwork for the expectations of our lives for years to come. 

Last time around I was completely unconcerned about finding out.  I was slightly curious, but ultimately it didn't matter to me.  I said all along that it was this pregnancy that mattered more, and that's definitely the case.  This time it's an overwhelmingly important thought.  I need to know this time.  I think it will help with bonding and it will help us give Jacob an accurate picture of what his life will be like in the months to come.  We have a couple bedrooms to decorate (or, perhaps, one to mostly leave alone), and I'm worried about the name selection process this time so I'm eager to cut the arguments to a single gender. 

I'll admit that a lot of times I default to the easier route in parenting.  I try to avoid it in things like discipline, as I know that the hard way can ultimately have a better payoff, but mostly I prefer things to be easier.  And in this case, having a boy would be easier.  We've done it before, we have a bunch of clothes, and Jacob will have a built-in playmate and best friend forever.  The brotherly bond is a very special one.  Having only a brother myself, I never really got to appreciate the same-gender sibling relationship dynamic.  My brother and I are very different people.  We didn't get along as kids (though the four-year age gap may be part of that--it's a weird one, which I will expound on another day), and as adults we have no issues but don't talk very much either.  We're both married with kids, and we have the same parents and extended family, but that's about where the similarities end.  On the other hand, Craig has a brother and it's obvious that it's a very special bond.  Part of me would love to give Jacob that opportunity, too.  Boys are more exhausting early on, but as they get older there's generally less drama.  There's no temptation for them to dress provocatively (have you walked by the tween clothing section lately?!), and as the saying goes, when you have a boy you have to worry about one guy's...ummm...equipmment, and when you have a girl, you have to worry about hundreds of guys' stuff.  In the long run, boys are easier.

But then I think about the absence I'd feel without a daughter.  My relationship with my mom means the world to me, and I'd love to have a girl to share that with.  As I alluded to earlier, boys have a tendency to "leave" their mom.  They'll always be a special bond, of course, but the expectation is that someday they'll be too cool to be kissed in public, and it would be weird to snuggle past a certain point.  They will fall in love with some girl (hopefully a good one), move out, and start a family of their own.  It'll never really be the same.  But with a girl, there's always a special bond, an opportunity to share stories, the chance to help her learn to be a mother herself.  From my perspective, a relationship with a son will inevitably drift a bit over time, but a relationship with a daughter has the potential to deepen as the years go on.  I know it doesn't necessarily have to end up that way, but I think that's the general tendency.  And as much as I'd love Jacob to have a life-long partner in a brother, I can't help but wonder what I'd be missing out on without a daughter.  Selfish?  Maybe.  But I think having a sister could teach him some lovely skills he might not get otherwise.  It could teach him gentleness, and broaden his horizons.  It could also teach him to be more respectful of everyone else's sisters out there in the dating world someday.  I'd just love to see the softer side of Jacob, where he teaches a sister to have a tea party with her animals, or gently shows her how to kick a soccer ball.  Teaching his brother would be awesome, too, but I think dealing with a girl would force a different side of him that we're not used to seeing.

I don't want to compare one boy to another.  Having a girl would give us a clean(-ish) slate and ensure that we're well-aware this is going to be a whole different ballgame than we've played so far.  I want to see what our genes would produce on the female end, and see how much a daughter would be like a mini-me.  I want someone who will help me dance through life and make me smile simply by randomly floating through the room in a frilly tutu.  There are a million things about girls that scare me, but the biggest fear I have is the absence I'd feel if I didn't get to have one at all.

That said, if we find out on Wednesday that this baby is a boy, it'll probably take me a little while to adjust my expectations and start ramping up to watch my little boy teach his baby brother everything he knows.  I might cry, and I'll be sad.  There will always be a little twinge when I walk by the girls' section of the store, and I'll always wonder how things might have been different.  I'll start praying for awesome daughters-in-law and female grandchildren.  But I will not love my second son any less than my first.  The second he arrives he will no doubt be the joy of my life and I won't be able to truly picture my life any other way.  I will be grateful for a healthy baby boy, and look forward to seeing how he'll look and what he will gravitate to.  I'll savor my solo time when the boys do their thing, and be their biggest cheerleader at each of their sporting events.  I won't have to worry about doing hair or teaching about makeup.  I can stick with the ease of pants and shirts, rather than navigate tights and leggings (and training bras...gah!).  I won't have to make the judgment call to pierce her ears (I don't think I would) or use those funny little headbands on a hairless cueball of a head.  I won't worry about the catty you-know-whats in her middle school classes, or the guys who will inevitably break her heart and make her question her beauty or her entire self-worth.  I'll stick with what I know and that's not such a bad thing.  But a little part of me would really like to know what it's like to parent both genders and explore the full realm of parenting experiences. 

At this point there's nothing we can do about it except wait.  And once we know, we'll start down the paths of the rest of our lives.  It's a big deal and I can only hope I handle it with grace.  I may have more thoughts on this tomorrow as I'm sure in my tiredness I'm forgetting a bunch of points I've been stocking up for a post like this since the day Jacob popped out a boy.  But for now, the curiosity remains and the next couple days will be quite the ride...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Football!

This weekend we had the opportunity to come to Buffalo for some quality family time.  It has been a while since we've seen my extended family, so it was nice to come in for the annual family Oktoberfest.  My cousin, who lives in Reno, was in town for the first time in a while, so it was good to see him, eat some tasty food, and hang out with my family.  The only bad news was that the weather was crappy and Craig had to work a lacrosse game back in Rochester.  No, the Knighthawks season hasn't started yet, but there was an exhibition match between the Iroquois and U.S. National teams, and he was doing the TV broadcast.  

It was good timing because I had to go to the Old Navy at the Galleria Mall because it's the only one in the entire area that has maternity clothes in-store, and I desperately needed to get some new maternity jeans.  The only ones I have--one XS and one small, both bootcut, low-rise jeans--are OK, but one pair squeezes me a little funny in certain places and the other pair is a little too big to wear at the moment.  And now that I can wear jeans to work, I wanted a couple pairs to alternate.  I'm not going to buy many maternity clothes this time around, so I'm OK with getting some jeans that I will wear a lot--even for a while afterward--if they're more comfortable or add something to my wardrobe.  After much debating, I bought two pairs (thank you, well-timed 30% off coupon)--one pair similar to what I have (but seemingly more comfortable), and a pair of skinny jeans.  I can't really believe I bought them, but they look better than I thought they would and if I can figure out enough things to wear with them, I'll keep them.  Something new and different for me, and they'll work well for tucking into boots all winter.  Apparently they make maternity skinny jeans a little roomier than the regular ones, which don't fit my calves, among other body parts.  So, that was interesting.

Anyway...now back to LAST weekend.  Last weekend we had an opportunity to meet my parents in the home of their college alma maters, Alfred, NY.  It's a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, but it's home to two colleges--Alfred University and SUNY Alfred.  My parents may have come from the same hometown, but college is where they got together, each one going to a different school.  They're right across the street from each other, and the campuses are very pretty nestled among the hills.  

My cousin, Chris, is an athletic trainer for Ithaca College, and Ithaca was playing Alfred University in football.  It seemed like a good opportunity for my parents to revisit their college days, and it was a chance to bring Jacob down there and see a real, live football game.  The weather on the way down was rainy and cold, but once we met my parents for lunch, the weather cleared.  It was still quite cold, but when the sun peeked through the clouds it was pleasant.  The leaves on the way down were stellar, and the view at the game was lovely.  I'm not sure this picture even does it justice...

Alfred captured a surprising blowout win, and Chris even had a couple opportunities to run out on the field and assist with some injuries.  It took some hot chocolate to get Jacob over the cold and get him in a better mood, but the whole game he was eager for it to finish so he'd have a chance to get down to the field.  Here he is with the same smirk I got in a lot of pictures in Atlanta.  Better than nothing, I guess...

And here are Jacob and Craig playing football on the field.  Jacob actually had a great kick, low but straight. Kicker is the only football position I've given him the green light to play, so we'll see if he ever pursues that!

After the game we took a quick drive around the campuses to relive old memories and see what's new.  I love this picture I took of this "castle" on the Alfred University campus.  The building itself is beautiful, but with the leaves and the dark sky, it's even better.

My heart belongs to Geneseo, of course, but Alfred was a lovely little town to visit and it's within my ideal driving radius for college someday, so who knows? :)  It was a fun afternoon with my parents and I'm glad we got to take Jacob to a real football game.  The leaves were an unexpected bonus, though if I wouldn't have been driving I would have had the opportunity to take some pictures to document it all.  But it was a fun day and I'm so glad we made the trip!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Letters to Baby #16 – September 12, 2012

Dear Baby,

Sorry it's been a while since I've written. We've been very busy with the end of summer and beginning of fall. Most notably, we've been busy sharing our big news with everyone! Last Wednesday I made Jacob a “Big Brother” shirt (I couldn't find one to buy!) and he wore it to daycare on Thursday to share the news with his friends and teachers there. Since it was the first week of school for most people, I took a “first day of school” type picture of him to post online and share the news with our friends. Everyone was really excited, of course, and I'm happy to have the news mostly out there. I'm sure there will be people that don't hear the news or miss it online and only figure it out as my belly gets bigger!

Speaking of which, it's getting bigger! It still looks like I've just put on a few pounds, but my clothes are getting tighter and my wardrobe is narrowing! As the weather gets cooler it should be easier to dress myself, as I have some good in between clothes. But when the weather's warm like today and tomorrow, I don't have many bottoms that work well! I have plenty of pants—fat pants, jeans, and later, a bunch of maternity pants—but all of my summer options are either too small or giant maternity size. My summer maternity stuff will be great in Florida in a couple months, though!

I haven't really felt any definite kicks, but at times it seems like you might be in there trying to make your presence known. I'm a little more uncomfortable already than I remember being before, and I'm pretty sure my belly's about a month ahead of what it was last time. I don't mind getting bigger earlier, as long as I don't get hugely bigger than I did overall last time. I'm just not a big person to carry it all around! But I'd like to get into the legit baby belly quicker, if I can. That's way more fun than looking chubby!

I'm feeling better, but still having moments where I don't feel well or feel a little nauseous. I'm tired, but some of my energy seems to be coming back. I hate that I still have a lot of moments where I don't feel good, but overall it's getting better.

I went to the doctor a couple days ago and heard your heartbeat. I even got to record it! It was so good hearing your heart beat strongly, and now that we're past the first trimester, it's really starting to sink in that this is going well and all indications are that you'll be joining us in less than six months! It's hard to believe!

Well, now that the news is out I don't need to keep this “secret” diary on the side, so this will be my last letter for now. Hopefully I can get on a regular schedule of writing you letters live on my blog, maybe once a month or so. If nothing else, maybe I'll wait a few more weeks until we find out if you're a boy or a girl, and then I'll at least know who I'm writing to! But farewell for now, and I'm sure I'll be talking to you soon!

Love,
Mommy

Friday, October 12, 2012

Letters to Baby #15 - August 28, 2012

Dear Baby,

We're past the 12 week mark now! I was really looking forward to getting to this point because I was hoping I'd be feeling better. And to some degree, I am. I'm not constantly feeling nauseous like I was before, but I'm still not feeling great. I have moments where I feel normal, but there are still times where I feel nauseous, or extra tired, or just generally blah. Some food just doesn't seem to agree with me. Workouts take a toll. Some of my energy is back, but I'm still tired enough at night that the house isn't getting cleaned and doing much more than sitting on the computer is asking a lot. I just feel like it''s one little setback after another, which is annoying since last time around I was already feeling much better by now. I don't have a day-by-day account to know for sure, but as I recall, once we went to Florida around 11 weeks, I was fine. Tired, but otherwise OK. Right now I just feel like everything I do has the potential to exhaust me or impact you. Yesterday I was pushing a heavy shopping cart around and I definitely felt the effects. My stomach muscles are always extra sensitive (that was one of the first reasons I thought I might be pregnant), so the littlest thing (a sneeze, turning wrong) can feel like a strain. I'm trying not to pick up Jacob because he's over the weight limit of what I'm supposed to lift.

I'm starting to worry that this pregnancy is going to be different than last time. After the initial phase of nausea and general blahs, I more or less enjoyed being pregnant. It had its difficult moments, but for the most part I was totally cool with it. This time around I'm already feeling a little stuck. I don't feel well, I am too tired to take care of my house, I can't lift up my child to hug him, and I'm wondering how on earth I'm going to be functional for the next six months if I'm already feeling limited now. I have a lot to do between now and then, and I feel like I don't have the energy or motivation to get anything done. I'm already feeling much larger than I was last time (at least based on what I'm seeing from my blog, the stuff I'm going through right now was weeks after this point), which I expected, but I'm worried it's partly because I've been eating more (trying to stave off the nausea). I'm just worried that this is going to get harder faster and I'm not going to enjoy this experience like I'd hoped.
Of course, I'm hoping all of this is worse because you're a girl, and sometimes they say nausea is worse with girls. I can hope. But if not, I'm bracing myself for what kind of boy you might be!

We haven't really told that many more people yet. I have one more person I'd really like to tell before sharing it with the world, but that hasn't happened yet so I still haven't shared much. I also find it very awkward to bring up. So, if it comes up, great...if not, they'll find out eventually. Is it bad that I want to tell people just so I can vent on Facebook and my blog? Keeping all this to myself can be a little challenging at times! We also need to tell Jacob. I'm hoping that we can do that this weekend, and when I go out shopping on Friday (my birthday!) I'm hoping to find a “Big Brother” shirt for him to help us share the news with everyone else when the time comes. Daddy is in Las Vegas this week for work, so I guess a few things would be on hold anyway.
I don't mean to complain. I'm so happy you're in there, but right now it's just a challenge to be going through this and not having as easy of a time as I feel like I had last time. More than likely you'll be here six months from right now, so I know it's just a limited period of time and I should just suck it up and try to relax. I get worried that not feeling well reflects something about your health, but hopefully it's just me and you're swimming along perfectly. You're a the size of a lime this week, by the way.
Time for me to go to bed, even though coverage of Hurricane Isaac is riveting. Stay strong in there and give me a few kicks if you can. I'm waiting!

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Symptoms? What symptoms?

My last pregnancy was pretty uneventful.  Beyond the usual first trimester blahs, the only blip on the radar was probably that I had to start taking iron in the third trimester.  Beyond that I dealt with leg cramps and round ligament pain, but that was about it.  This pregnancy, however, I should just refer to as the pregnancy of random, symptom-less illnesses. 

I believe it was at my first prenatal checkup that they found (TMI warning) the presence of some yeast. Yep, I had my first ever yeast infection.  Treatment options while pregnant are a bit different than normal, so instead of getting to take an oral medicine or one of the quick three-day cream treatments, I had to go the full week of treatment.  As far as I know it cleared it up, but it's hard to know because I never really had any symptoms in the first place.  The doctors aren't concerned about it at this point if there are no symptoms, so I guess that's that.

Yesterday I got home and had a message waiting for me on our home voicemail.  It was the nurse at my doctor's office, asking me to call them back.  This annoyed me for a number of reasons--first, they have my other numbers.  Why not use them?  Second, pretty much the only think they check at monthly appointments that has a delayed check is urine.  And most of the things they check urine for can be pretty serious.  Third, you're dealing with a pregnant woman, and pregnant women are generally a little more emotional/irrational, so it's not cool to leave a message that can't be returned until the next day.  Getting back to the urine check, there are a handful of things they check for.  They check for sugar, which could indicate gestational diabetes.  They check for ketones, which could indicate you're not getting enough nourishment.  They check for protein, which could indicate either a urinary tract infection or, later on, preeclampsia.  They also look for bacteria and blood, which could also be indicators of infection.  None of those is particularly ideal.

So, this morning, I called first thing.  I got a call back a little while later, and lo and behold, I have a urinary tract infection.  Again, I had no noticeable symptoms, so this was a surprise.  I did notice cloudy urine from time to time, but nothing consistent.  I don't have a sense of smell (as I've mentioned before), so I can't tell if there has been an odor, but there hasn't been any pain or anything that I'm used to hearing about.  Turns out it's not uncommon, though.  Of course, today I was sitting at my desk and starting having little bursts of discomfort in my lower back, around my kidneys.  I don't know if I've had those exact pains before, though I have had a couple moments where it felt like maybe the baby was in a weird spot, so it could be that it was actually just pain from the UTI.  After those little bursts I was definitely eager to get started on the drugs (pregnancy-safe antibiotics) and get this thing taken care of.  The risk of kidney infections is greater while pregnant, so I'd rather make sure to avoid that! 

I was relieved that it wasn't something worse, but it got me extra nervous about how I would react if I did, for example, get gestational diabetes.  So much of my diet is carbs and fruit, so I can't imagine what I'd do if I had to cut that stuff out!  Nothing is ever guaranteed in pregnancy, from start to finish.  I've known a couple of women that ended up with gestational diabetes, and I've read plenty of blogs over the last five years about the myriad of problems that can pop up during pregnancy, and while I'm smart enough to know I shouldn't assume they'll happen to me, I also know I can't assume they won't.  Just because my last pregnancy went perfectly doesn't mean that this one will.  I felt worse for longer this time around, and some of my discomfort (like round ligament pain) started early.  I'm a little bigger this time around, I think, and I seem to be having a little more difficulty with working out sooner than I did last time.  Today I did something for the first time in a while and while it was never easy back when I did it often, it was extra hard today.  It was a sobering reminder of how quickly my fitness has fallen off, and how hard the comeback will be next spring.  I'm done working my abs, but keeping my core strength up is going to be hard.  And the weaker some parts get, the easier it is for the rest of me to get weak.  I worked out until I was 7-1/2 months along last time.  I'm just about four months now, still a little less than five to go, and I'm having a hard time believing I'll be able to go more than three more months at this rate...but I'm sure going to try!

Anyway, I will gladly take my antibiotic and get rid of this infection, even if I didn't know it was there to begin with.  I can't help but wonder if it's had any ill effects to this point, things I would have otherwise just chalked up to pregnancy.  We shall see.  But hopefully I can get back to healthy (and hopefully avoid the cold I seem to be fighting), and get ready for a fun weekend with my extended family. I still have to catch you up on last weekend, speaking of which.  Soon, I promise!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Letters to Baby #14 - August 20, 2012


Dear Baby,
Here we are at 11 weeks, two days. We're getting ever closer to the end of the first trimester, and I couldn't be happier! I'm slowly but surely starting to feel better. Today was the first day where nausea wasn't a big deal, just a couple minutes here and there. I still don't feel normal, but so much better. I'm still very tired, however. I went to bed early the last couple nights, and nearly fell asleep on Jacob's floor when I was putting him to bed. I could have stayed in bed all morning over the weekend. We had a couple picnics to attend, and it was fun sharing our news with a few more family members, but thank goodness Daddy played with Jacob a lot because I was tired!

I was trying to think back if I was this tired last time, and I guess I was. At this point we were in Florida on vacation. Once we got down there I started to feel fine, but I do remember conking out pretty early at night. We'd go-go-go all day (nothing crazy, but full days for sure), and I must have gotten by on adrenaline because I don't remember feeling that tired during the day. But once we got back to where we were staying at night, it was all I could do to grab some dinner (if we hadn't already) and watch a little TV before conking out on the couch. Seems pretty similar these days! We had barely gotten to Bacie and Dziadziu's house on Saturday night and I had to get Jacob in bed right away. I could barely keep myself awake long enough to get my pajamas on and brush my teeth.

I've been pretty tired all along, so I'm really hoping it subsides a bit so I can get around to all of the things I haven't really done in the last month and a half—like clean the house, get in more than one workout a week, and not just collapse in my chair at the end of the day. It didn't quite happen tonight, but hopefully soon. I think it works better when I get to the gym right after work, but that's not always easy. I can definitely tell my stomach is getting a little bigger, but I don't know if it's you growing (you're a fig this week), not working out enough, or eating too much food. I need to eat every two or three hours or I get really hungry. It's a tough balance. I didn't gain any weight in my first trimester last time and I'd like to keep up the trend, but I'm not sure that's going to happen this time. I want to stay in good shape and be healthy, but right now it feels like an insurmountable hill to climb...at least until the tiredness lays off a bit.
In the meantime, at least I'm starting to feel better. Soon we can share the news with everyone, and then this is going to get fun. I can't wait!

Love,
Mommy