Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Updating (for two)

Well, we've been incident-free since the notorious "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." Additionally, VNB's been able to work almost "normal" hours the past two weeks, _AND_ we finally got old appliances out and all of our stuff has a home again (except for one very small box of odds and ends that I've already gone through), so life is returning to a semblance of "normal." The nursery is basically done. We've gotta put the knobs back on the dresser, but otherwise, all painting, bordering, and re-organizing is done! I've even managed to start the last of our registries. The bulk of the baby stuff is registered for at Target. If the link doesn't work, you can just search for me in MD and the event in January and you should find us pretty easily. As I said, it's only a start (the store I went to didn't have a very good selection), but it'll do for now. I'll add more in the days to come.

VNB is catching up on his childbirth class reading...and man is he dangerous when he knows things. He's starting to actually make sure that I've been doing my exercises! I've been skating by up till now because he was too stressed to pay attention to things like that. Now I'll actually have to work! :) And, God bless him, he did the dishes last night. I didn't ask him to, and they hadn't even been there that long...he just got up and did them when we got home. We'd even had company on Saturday and used the nice china (we finally have enough for four people!) which had to be done by hand. Have I mentioned how nice he is? ;p

But it's amazing how much the stress is reduced when the house is in some semblance of order. No more piles of things on tables. We can come home and relax because we're basically caught up. There's just not much else to do that doesn't require multiple free hours on a Saturday (like laundry). I'm sure this is just the calm before the storm of holidays followed closely by new baby, but it sure is nice! Of course, we don't have a completely free Saturday until possibly the week before the baby comes, if you count major holiday weekends as "not free" (i.e., we don't have specific plans for the Saturdays before Christmas or New Year's, but we'll probably have family in town, so there will likely be things to do)...but the rest of life is no longer pressing in all around us.

I guess that's good since we have our official "kick-off" meeting tomorrow for the big contract I'm gonna be working on (FINALLY! Something to do at work!!!). That'll be really cool work, but might require some extra hours over the next couple of months. That's good though. Every hour I work extra is either one less hour of sick leave I have to take for baby appointments (which happen every other week now!), or it's one hour sooner that I qualify for FMLA (the Family Medical Leave Act - I'll be 10 hours short of the required minimum at the start of the day on the baby's due date). :) Plus, while I won't get "overtime" (i.e., time and a half pay), they _will_ actually pay us for our extra hours, as opposed to normal when they claim that we're salaried, so shouldn't get paid more if we happen to need to work extra (but try and turn that logic backwards to explain why we shouldn't have to take vacation/sick time to account for less than our normal hours and see how quickly that changes!)!

Anyway...life is good and restful right now. Which is nice because every time I move, something hurts. :) The joys of being almost 30 lbs heavier than normal! I tell you what though, for all they say that being pregnant makes it difficult to breathe (which should make it hard to sing, theoretically), I've had no such problems (so far). Instead, I feel like I can sing better! I've always had such a wimpy, little ("sweet") voice - primarily because I've got such a wimpy little frame (aka "resonant cavity"). I mean, it was like when we were playing catch outside the dorms in college. My guy friends would tell me to "put my weight behind it" when I couldn't throw very far. I'd remind them that I was - I just didn't weigh as much as they did. Same with singing - the bigger your rib cage, and the more "heft" you have behind it, generally, the "bigger" your voice (which is why opera singers tend to be big boned). Well with a painfully expanding rib cage and 30+ more pounds on me, my resonant cavity and extra heft are doing wonders! I'm rockin' out in choir right now! It's awesome! :)

That's not to say that I intend to _keep_ the extra pounds once Baby escapes...but it's been a nice little added bonus. :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Ok, just in case I didn't mention this, IF Baby Jones is a boy (we don't know), his middle name will be the same as his father and paternal grandfather's middle name, and his some-number-of-greats-on-VNB's-side grandfather's first name - Alexander. Plus it's such a great book, and the title was very fitting to yesterday, that we're going with it for now. But that doesn't mean that we know the sex of the baby, because we don't. And that's all you'll hear about his/her name too.

Anyway, on to yesterday...or the days before really....

Looking back (and with a _MUCH_ clearer head than I had yesterday), I can see some signs that might mean I was fighting some type of infection Sunday and Monday...but there was nothing overly significant to really catch my attention. I just didn't sleep much Sunday night, which made me feel bad enough that by the time I _got_ to work on Monday (very late), I'd decided to come back home. After a nap, I thought I was doing better. Still, VNB and I took it pretty easy Monday night.

Tuesday morning, I'd slept better (although still not well), but I was running late, as usual. So when I finally convinced myself to fight the bed gravity, I did what all pregnant women do - I ran to the bathroom to relieve myself. While wiping, I saw what all pregnant women fear most - blood. Not a lot, but definitely fresh blood.

Knowing that this is a SIGN YOU DON'T IGNORE, I called our midwives' emergency line. I gave the lab tech the info and she said the midwife would call me in a few minutes. Then I called VNB and told him what was happening and that I was waiting for the midwife to call back. Then I called my mom and Aunt Mom and left (apparently very frightened-sounding) voicemail messages for them to call me back ASAP. My poor mom, being at school, couldn't call me (I was coherent enough to leave my number (which is just a button to her on the phone at home), but it didn't occur to me that it'd be long-distance, so she wouldn't be able to call back), so she called my dad and sister (who were both home for fall break) to get them to get more info. But she spent a while in agony, I'm sure, wondering what was wrong and with whom.

Anyway, so the midwife called and we talked through my symptoms and she said that I should put in a pad and she'd call back in 30-45 minutes to see if there'd been any more bleeding. She thought that it _probably_ wasn't an emergency, but this would let us know with at least a little more certainty. So I did that, then called VNB back (he'd called twice while I was talking to the midwife). Sweetie that he is, he was literally already on his way home. Sure, there was a big guy from headquarters coming the next day that they had to prepare for, and sure he's currently doing like three peoples' jobs...but one teary phone call from me that something _might_ be wrong, and five minutes later, he's in his car on his way home. I know I mentioned the other day how great he is, but it definitely bears repeating.

Then there was nothing to do but wait. I didn't have to lie in bed or anything, but I really wasn't good for that much, so I ended up just sitting in our Lay-Z-Boy. Monkey (the cat) very astutely climbed onto my knees and lay down, purring. No attempts at getting me to pet her, no rubbing of any kind. She just climbed up, laid down, and purred. There is very little in the world that is more soothing than a cat who is actually not being needy.

I'd like to say that I spent this time singing praise songs or reading my Bible or something similarly "religious," but I didn't. Mostly I sat there talking to my belly, telling it to kick its mamma. Baby was always very obliging, if a little weaker than normal. I couldn't really think much past that and trying to stay as calm as possible.

But the time finally passed and the midwife called back and there hadn't been any more bleeding, so it probably wasn't anything serious. We could get an ultrasound to see if the placenta had moved or something, but otherwise, there was really very little they could do to try to figure out what had caused it. Medically, she thought I was fine to go to work. Emotionally, she thought I was fine to stay home.

About that same time, Aunt Mom called back and got the scoop, then Elianna called and while I was talking to her, my dad called and VNB came home. Poor VNB was very patient in letting me field phone calls before he'd even gotten the whole story. But he finally did get the whole story and we talked about the sonogram. Since it wasn't necessarily going to show us anything (the bleeding and pain weren't ever anywhere close to bad enough for it to make the midwife think it was a placental abruption or previa, which were the only things that the sonogram _would_ be able to show), and since we'd basically have to go to the sonogram place and sit there, hoping they had a few minutes to fit us in, we decided against it and in favor of just taking the day off.

We both had conference calls for work we could sit in on from home, so neither of us lost the _entire_ day's work, AND we (mostly he) ended up getting a lot of the house back in order (it was still a mess from moving everything out of the nursery for redecorating - not everything has found a new home yet). That was a BIG stress reliever for both of us.

I spent most of the rest of the day in my bathrobe, forcing myself to eat and go to the bathroom when I needed to. Part of me would rather just not look than see that there might be more blood, but I'd always convince myself to go eventually, and there was never anything there to be worried about. Occasionally, someone would call to check up on me (or I'd have visions of emergency c-sections and months in neo-natal intensive care for a baby born three months premature) and I'd get a little teary again, but mostly my brain just rested and regrouped.

Eventually VNB and I went out for dinner, then spent a nice, quiet evening in. I think I might have finally found a pillow combination that is actually conducive to sleep, so after a few minutes of feeling like I was too wide awake to ever sleep again, I blinked and it was like four hours later. That convinced me that I _could_ sleep, and I did (very well) for the rest of the night. Today VNB and I are both back to work, like normal, and I feel fine. Baby is back to kickboxing as hard as s/he can (and that's pretty hard, let me tell you), and the day that started out so terribly, turned out for good.

I'm still very glad that it's over though. And I hope that we never have to do that again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is This Parenting?

So I just got back from a funeral. I only remember meeting the guy who died twice, but his sister is a dear friend of mine and was one of my bridesmaids, so I went to the funeral. Dennis was the same age as my older brother (32) when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of what they suspect was pneumonia.

My first memory of him was from high school. His family had moved into the Laurel area shortly after my family had left, but he was in Sunday School one of the times I came back to visit. I don't remember really talking to him, but I remember thinking he was kinda cute. Many years later (and yet still many years ago), I played piano for his twin sister's wedding. At the reception, he ended up sitting at my table for a while. We chatted/flirted during the reception until near the end when he finally asked if I was ever going to dance. I told him I'd dance if anyone would ever ask me. So he asked (after a minute where the thought that was clearly going through his head was, "It can't be that simple"), and we danced. The next Sunday, his mom told me that he'd said I was the prettiest girl at the wedding.

So, while those are both very pleasant memories, I really didn't know him at all. But I still found myself crying during the funeral. Partly it was because my bridesmaid gave the eulogy, with tears in her eyes and voice the whole time, and I'm definitely a sympathy crier. Partly it was because Baby hormones make my crying proclivity much harder to keep in check than normal. But mostly, I think it was because I was imagining myself in the situation of having to bury my child. It didn't help that one of the songs played was "Held" which talks about the unfairness of a two-month-0ld dying in their mother's arms while she prays.

I've heard my mom and dad talk about that thought a couple of times and brushed it aside as silly thinking...but the full horror of it really hit me while looking at the family sitting in front of that box.

Is this what parenting really is? Thinking about all of the "what ifs?" What if they get really sick? What if something goes wrong? You're warned about midnight feedings and colic and dirty diapers, and you get to experience through friends' kids the joys of playing and watching them grow...but is this really the secret that is parenting? The horror of "what if?"

But the thing is, as hard as it would be for us to lose this baby at any point in his or her life...wow...that's hard to even type...as hard as it would be, "we" would still be a "we." I'd still have VNB with me. I wouldn't have to go through it all alone.

But if it were him...and I had to somehow raise our baby alone...

Part of me misses the time when I could quit my job, sell my house, and move to Baghdad on a "whim." (And part of me is now ashamed at what I must have put my parents through when I did that.) Because then I wasn't tied down...there was no one else to consider. Sure, that meant that no one had my back when I could have used some help...but I was truly independent. Now I'm not. Now I have a husband and soon a child to care for...and to worry about.

I know that God gives grace in the moment, not in advance...which is why this is so scary right now. I'm sure that, in the moment, I'd be able to handle whatever happened. But the choice between being in Heaven with 'my Boyfriend' and being here on Earth with my husband (and child)....well that's a hard one. And it didn't used to be.

But the verse that keeps coming to mind is Mark 8:38 - that we can't know what it means to _really_ live until we throw away our lives for the sake of the Gospel. While it was "easy" enough to 'throw away' my own life...it's not so easy to think of doing the same with the alien growing (and kick boxing) in my belly or with the Very Nice Beloved for whom I'm so grateful.

I guess this is where we mimic Jesus' prayer the night before He died and say, "Father, if it's possible, I'd rather this didn't have to happen.....but the bottom line is that what I want most is for Your will to happen, whatever that is."

Sometimes that's easier said than done though...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


So, on my way to a meeting at church last night, I stopped into the local McDonald's for 50 grams of protein, otherwise known as two double cheeseburgers. That's half my daily required total right there, boieee!

Anyway....so as I walk into the place thinking about how late I am and that I don't have time to use their restroom, I notice (at approximately the same time that he notices) an acquaintance from grad school. Basically, he got a grad assistantship at the research lab that my advisor directs (and where I'd worked as an undergrad), so while I was going part-time and working full-time, he was going full-time. I don't think we had any classes together, but he was always (overly) friendly whenever I was around the lab.

So it was one of those slightly embarrassing/uncomfortable moments of him greeting me like we were best friends and me being glad that I remembered his name. Not that there was ever anything socially or otherwise wrong with him...he just always seemed to be more familiar with me than I felt I was with him. Just one of those "not really on the same page" kinds of friendships.

But that's all beside the point.

Anyway...so I haven't seen this guy, I guess since before I went overseas...so it would have probably been Jan or Feb of 2003...over three years ago. Now, before then, my "story" was rather, shall we say, unusual - "rocket scientist," owned her own house at 23, KC-135 flights, business trips to Europe and Japan, saw a total solar eclipse while standing next to Scott Carpenter, lumps, had a former astronaut/Harrier pilot/Marine Colonel for a boss, not to mention a career high of 17 cats, worked on the Space Station Program, and that I was as involved as I was in my church.

But now you add to that...chucked it all, moved to Iraq for a year and a half with a humanitarian organization, fixed schools, fed the hungry, then came back, finished my MS, met a guy, went to Africa for a few weeks, married the guy a year after meeting him, and am in the process of having his baby 11 months after that while working for the same company I used to work for before going overseas, currently on the Space Shuttle Program, but hopefully switching to the Orion (Shuttle replacement/Moon landing) program soon.

Dude. Why does anyone believe me when I tell them this stuff? I mean, seriously?

Granted, every bit of it is true...but still...

It's like I'm Walter Mitty or something...only not making it all up...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Catching Up....For Two

Sorry it's been so long. I've had lots to say, just never got around to saying it. And, of course, now I'm drawing a complete blank. So I'll go with the "joke" part that I still vaguely remember. Maybe the rest will come back as I type.

I'm sure most people have heard or have said themselves that, when pregnant, someone is "eating for two" now. Well these are the variations that I've heard (or said) so far in my own pregnancy:

- After hearing that I had backed into a support post in a parking garage (with no damage to the garage, and minimal damage to my car), Aunt Mom told me I needed to be careful because I was "Driving for two" now. Much to my own personal amusement, since it was over email.

- After giving up his (slightly more comfy) chair to me at a staff meeting, a co-worker explained that it was because I was "Sitting for two" now. Much to the amusement of the staff sitting around.

- While watching CouponMaven (who is also pregnant now! Woohoo!) play hackeysack with GIJoe and some others during the clean-up after some friends' wedding, and while marvelling at the fact that a) she could hackey in the first place (even without a big, fat, baby belly, I was never coordinated enough to hackey much), b) she could hackey while in 2"-heeled boots (wide heels, so it wasn't like she was in much danger of falling or anything), and c) she could hackey while pregnant, I commented that we were mostly amazed because she was "Hackying for two." Much to the amusement of the others waiting around with us at the time.

I think I had a couple more examples, but they're lost to me at the moment. Feel free to add pithy comments. Only rules are that your examples have to take the form of "verb-ending-in-ing for two" and shouldn't be _too_ risque. PG or less, preferably.

In terms of catching people up (for two), things are good right now. As you can see in my previous post, VNB has been very good to me lately, despite having huge amounts of extra stress at work (a co-worker quit, leaving him responsible for two full-time jobs, which has been exacerbated by inexperienced underlings, honeymooning and vacationing staff, and other staff just not showing up). At the same time though, we're about to pay off the last of our big (non-school, house, or car-related) debt, the nursery is slowly coming together (all that's really left is to put up one last small strip of border and re-install the closet doors), which means that the rest of the house is losing its clutter, bit-by-bit (schweyah, schweyah), which, with the addition of a dishwasher that actually works means that the house is cleaner and less stress-inducing. Plus, I'm feeling _worlds_ better and can do lots more. And the "discussion" VNB and I had after the first childbirth class really helped out with getting us on the same page about the baby and how we're both coping emotionally. It really feels like we're a team now. And that's a very safe and comfortable feeling, which very much adds to my general sense of peace and contentment.

Baby is going to be either a boxer or a dancer, I'm not sure which. All I know is that if these kicks/punches/pirouettes get any stronger, I'm gonna get bruises. My fundal height measured a bit small this past appointment (which might mean that the original due date was closer to accurate, although according to the "Woods method" we heard about in class last night, we're looking at sometime in early February!), but this time the midwife didn't "yell" about my weight gain (which was unexpectedly high - 6lbs in three weeks instead of a pound a week as recommended), she just asked if I felt like the baby had gone through a growth spurt. With the round ligament pain (basically uterus growing pains) I was in the week or so prior to the appointment, and the fact that I am suddenly unmistakably pregnant, regardless of my clothing (as opposed to possibly just having a big belly and/or wearing a really big shirt)...and then given the fact that pants that just last week would zip up with lots of room in the belt now have _much_ less room in the belt _and_ the zippers are at about half-mast (maternity pants with panels in the zippers so that they can be opened as you grow)...well...I'm guessing that there was some sort of growth spurt (although you'd never know it from my former waist-line measurements, which have been increasing very steadily). Everyone still comments on how small my belly is for 5.5 months though (I, of course, feel GINORMOUS and wonder how much bigger it's possible for me to get without my belly ripping off).

But there have been moments of terror too - like when Baby was kicking especially hard and I spoke gently, but firmly to him/her about how s/he needed to stop kicking his/her mommy so hard...only to realize that a) I was one of those crazy women who talk to their bellies, and b) I was going to be someone's _MOMMY_!!! That seems like a silly/trivial realization....but it was a moment of sheer terror/wonderment.

Now that I'm obviously pregnant in just about any piece of clothing, it's a little easier for me to deal with being "big" for the first time in my life. I don't have to worry about people thinking that I've put on a lot of weight for several reasons. For one, other than the big belly (and possibly my hips/butt), I haven't really. I mean, my bust is definitely more...ample...but not weirdly so, and I haven't really added any (or at least much) weight in my face (which is usually the first thing to fill out when my weight fluctuates). Plus, I can still fit into two of my five Sunday dresses...and one of them has only recently left the rotation and then solely because it was getting too short to be worn on stage with the burgeoning belly....which really makes me wonder at how much those clothes must have hung off of me previously that my waist can be almost a foot bigger than normal and _STILL_FIT_ into the dresses. But for all that I tease VNB (and he _HATES_ it when I do it) about me being "fat," I'm really just not. Pregnant, yes, fat, no. It's good now that I don't have to worry anymore about people mistaking that distinction. Of course, it makes me see exactly how vain I was/am about my figure, but VNB probably doesn't mind that too much as it'll be a good impetus for me to get it back, post-pregnancy.

What else? I dunno....I'll take some pictures once we get the nursery really "complete" and will make sure to add in some "look at how fat I am" pics too. :) But for now, I need to be be eating lunch (for two).

A Very Nice Boy

** Mush Alert **

Once upon a time, there was a Very Nice Boy. He grew up in North Carolina, but moved to Maryland for his job, post-college. He started going to a church in Maryland where no one said hello to him. Then I went overseas and he left that church, then came back and made some friends there. Then I came back when he was about to leave again, but he stayed.

My pastors were the first to tell me about him, but I thought he was too young. But he was refreshingly forward and cute, so when we started talking, it was pretty much all downhill from there for both of us.

In an amazingly sweet and thoughtful way, he proposed and became my Very Nice Betrothed. With minimal angst, we prepared for marriage and eventually had a perfect day when he became my Very Nice Beloved.

Since then, it's been about as blissful as expected (which is to say, not always bliss), even with unexpected things like it taking months for me to find a job and then discovering Baby before I started that job. Just the existence of Baby, added to my extreme sickness those first few months made life difficult, but he took good care of me through it all, which hopefully I repaid in kind when I could during that time, in addition to afterwards when his arm was broken, and especially now that I'm feeling better and his work has been so hard.

For all that neither of us was prepared for Baby to come so soon, he's been incredibly supportive of my desires for natural childbirth with midwife support. And when I felt like he wasn't really "into" the baby, he proved me wrong by painting and decorating the nursery, then by setting up the crib (as a surprise) one day during his third 60+-hour work week in a row (with several more expected). That same week, he fixed our broken garbage disposal AND got me a new dishwasher (ours put more dirt _on_ the dishes than it took off...which, when combined with a backed up sink, made for a pretty messy kitchen).

Fixed garbage disposals and new dishwashers may seem commonplace when talking about proposals, weddings, and babies (and surprise cribs, including bedding sets which had to be sent in secret from Grandma and Grandpa (his in-laws) in TN), but when everyone's stressed about the messy house and your VNB is working himself ragged, those kinds of commonplace things...and especially the time and energy they took to arrange, get, and install...are really some of the sweetest and most romantic guestures someone can make.

But sweetest of all, really, was the fact that my VNB, who at first had a really hard time sleeping with someone else in the bed, and with whom there have been many discussions over the appropriate amount of blanket and bed space to consume, discovered last night that he couldn't get to sleep without me there too.

Yeah...I'm a little crazy about him. He's even enjoying the childbirth classes we're going to! And still finds me sexy, even with my ginormous (well, to me anyway) baby belly.

Am I glad I waited all those years? Yeah. He's definitely been worth it. But mostly I'm amazed at how perfectly He brought us together, and at how good He is to me by giving me VNB. My baby's gonna have a great daddy. :)

** End Mushiness **