Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Due Date Bingo

Ok, so the due date has been changed (since the sonogram) from January 24th to Jan. 15th.

Now's your chance to see how good you are at predicting things. This is what I propose: write a comment for this post and include enough info about yourself that at least I know who you are (you can still comment as "anonymous," just make sure you say something so I can figure out who you are), and then your prediction for the baby's birthday. You can predict more than once, but only your latest prediction will be counted.

I haven't figured out yet what the winner will get, but if I think of something, I'll let you know (or give me ideas in your comment).

If you're worried that someone else has picked your day, then you can just be more accurate by adding in a time.

Keep in mind that first babies often come "late" and at the least convenient time possible. Those two may be competing factors, however since I will be 10 hours short of what's required for the Family Medical Leave Act as of the morning of January 15th. BUT, coming later makes things far more inconvenient for VNB since his store's semi-annual inventory is the two weekends prior to the 24th (he's supposed to turn in his final paperwork on the 23rd).

So, to be "convenient" for me, the baby has to come after 9 or 10 AM on the morning of the 17th. To be convenient for VNB, the baby should either come early (as in the first week of Jan or so), or very late (as in its original due date or later).

I was three weeks "late" according to the doctors (but right on time, according to my mom), and VNB was two weeks early.

Old wives' tales say that birth is approximately 5 months after "quickening." Well, I've been feeling movement for about two weeks now (first time I was pretty sure of what I was feeling was on Sunday, Aug 14th, putting baby right at its due date).

Let me know if there is any more information you'd like prior to making your guess, and I'll put a link to this post itself on the side so that you can come back later on to add/update your comment.

The First Shoe

I know that the saying is "waiting for the other shoe to drop," but the implication of that isn't really accurate for me. It implies or connotes that something bad has already happened, and you're just waiting for the rest of it.

Well...nothing bad has all...and it makes me nervous. Other than a few unexpected delays (and one unexpected lack of a delay!), my life since I've been back in MD has been as close to "charmed" as it could be. Met and married VNB, finished my MS, got a job, and got pregnant with a very healthy, normal baby.

I think, especially with the baby, I'm just sitting here, waiting for the bad news that is sure to come. I think the main problem is that I've watched too many "Birth Day"s on Discovery Health where babies are conjoined, or moms need emergency C-sections, or they're having quadruplets and three don't make it, or...something. But those things are very compelling, and even without them, all you hear about is pregnancy problems - premature labor, pre-eclampsia, hypermesis, toxmoplasmosis, etc., and those are only confounded by birth defects, SIDS, Downs Syndrome, and childhood cancers (to name a few). Not to mention all of the birth/baby horror stories that everyone seems to have (mom didn't know she was pregnant until about 7 months, then baby came in about 5 minutes - no urban legend, I _know_ these people). Then you add TV births to that where the woman is standing there normally, grabs her side, announces that the baby is coming "RIGHT NOW!", and five minutes later is pushing, whether Worf is ready or not.

It's like with the war in Iraq and elsewhere. No one ever tells the good or normal stories. Just "this is how to prepare for the bad that might happen" or "these are the horrible things that have happened in the past or are happening now." You only hear about the stories with "drama." Gestational diabetes-related inducements, poorly-delivered pain meds, midwives that don't make it in time, (potentially brain damaging) umbilical cords wrapped around the head....and those are just the stories for me and my three siblings (in no particular order).

Don't get me wrong...every baby's birth and every pregnancy before it has "drama" just from the mere fact of what it is - bringing new life into the world - but you don't hear about the ones (like mine, apparently) that go "by the book." Perfectly healthy, perfectly formed, take a normal amount of time, don't have any complications...

Now granted, something could still happen to me and/or Baby. We're only half-way there...but I think this "focus on the bad to prepare for the worst, just in case" mentality that we all seem to have is the main reason that I haven't really felt that "connected" yet to the reality of this Baby. I mean, we're preparing the house, I'm taking my pre-natal vitamins, I'm eating right, we're getting ready to register, etc., etc.....but it just hasn't seemed that real, like I'm still in shock or something. Maybe because, deep inside, I'm preparing for the worst "what ifs" babies have to offer by just not letting myself get attached.

Now that Baby has become a Mexican jumping bean that likes to tap dance on my bladder (and smush intestines) from time to time, it's harder to ignore, especially now that I've _SEEN_ him or her, even if just in profile. But it's still not quite "real" yet. I'm sure this is a normal process that will get better once we settle on names...but I guess I'm still waiting for that first shoe to drop so that I can spring into action and fight something more real than "your life is about to change drastically forever and never be the same (or even remotely close) again."

In the meantime though, it's time for "second breakfast." I think I'll have soup.


So I began my day, as usual, going through the email that arrived since I left work last night. As usual, several of my emails were "Baby" emails - websites I've registered on that send me emails giving me info about the development of baby, and other useful information. I usually read whatever sounds interesting from the initial email, then follow interesting-sounding links below each story until I run out of things to read. Well, today, one of the links was to the words to "typical" lullabies. As this is something I've been contemplating recently, I checked them out. There were several I hadn't heard of, but I some of their choices for "favorite" lullabies.

For instance, the song "Clementine." You know the one - "Oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin'..." Yeah, well, read the verses. She's a beautiful girl and her boyfriend is the one singing about her. She goes down to the river to drive in some ducklings, trips and falls in. He can't save her because he can't swim. Her dad commits suicide because of her death. She fertilizes the roses in the churchyard now. He dreams about her in wet clothes, but won't hug her like he did in life because she's dead now and he's got to draw the line somewhere (you think I'm kidding). Artificial resipration could have saved her. And he missed her till he kissed her sister.

Wow. Yeah, there's a gem that I'm _SURE_ to sing to MY kid.

The other one that really caught my attention was "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." ("Comin' for to carry me home...") That song is all about laying down your burdens to die and being carried home to heaven. Now, I want my kid to have the hope of heaven...but this song sounds a "little" defeatist to me for new life to hear. My child is not a slave in a field picking cotton. It's a newborn baby living a comfortable life in middle-class America. It's got healthcare, its parents have good jobs, it has a house and will have plenty of food and clothing. IMO, the "burdens" of dirty diapers and momentary hunger aren't enough to call for the "Sweet Chariot" to come.

Another interesting choice (although not one I necessarily disagree with) is "Amazing Grace." They include five of the seven verses, and leave off the one tacked on by an anonymous writer which has come to be known as the "last" verse ("When we've been there ten thousand years...") since it a) has nothing to do with the rest of the text, b) wasn't written by John Newton, and c) like with "Swing Low..." has to do with death more than life, so again, not something I want to associate with my newborn. So I wholeheartedly agree with this choice, although it wasn't one that would have come to mind without their suggestion.

Other than that, their list is pretty much just full of standards (Brahms' Lullaby, Rock-a-bye Baby, Twinkle, Twinkle, etc.). But nothing but "Clementine" will come to mind when I'm singing to Baby.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Baby's First Pictures!

Not a great quality photo (quick digital pic of the printed sonogram which was uploaded to my computer as a .tif, saved as a 24-bit .bmp, then exported as a's been a long morning!), but a great pic nonetheless! That's Baby Jones at approximately 19 weeks (further along than we'd previously thought), and yes, s/he is sucking his/her thumb!

Baby was _very_ compliant for his/her pictures yesterday, both moving and staying still (at least for a while) on command.

There were waves at the camera, acrobatics, "running" motions, and yes, thumb-sucking. It was all very exciting!

In addition to the profile view shown above, we also got close-ups (at least on the screen, we only took home profiles) of the following:
- 1 multi-lobed brain
- 2 eye sockets
- 1 nose
- 2 lips
- 1 chin
- 1 spine (fully-formed)
- 1 heart (with four working chambers!)
- 1 bladder
- 2 kidneys
- 2 arms
- 2 legs
- 5 fingers on each hand

The pulse was 129 which is apparently right in the middle, so no old wives tales for us about fast or slow heart-rates meaning a particular sex. Speaking of which. We did _not_ see whether baby was a boy or a girl. VNB doesn't want to (although his resolve is wavering at the moment), and I'm ambivalent, but even if _we_ knew, we wouldn't tell anyone else. I have a horrible phobia concerning roomfuls of pink clothing. I literally get chills and look away when I pass "Libby Lou's" at the mall. So yellows, greens, reds, blues (and VNB wants purple - his school color).....just not loads of pink.

But the doc said that everything looked perfect! It certainly was amazing to see all four chambers of the heart pumping up a storm!

It's slowly starting to hit me how different life is going to be forever after this. I think that really started on the MS trip when I wasn't allowed to tote and lift like I normally do. Plus, I got to watch the two ladies each with two small kids who weren't able to help much at all due to baby duty. As that's always been my preferred role in situations like that, it's going to be different sitting on the sidelines. It's not that I won't be working (I've chased enough babies in my day to know very differently)...but I won't be working like I've worked all my life.

And while I've been ready to give up 9-5 _office_ life pretty much since the day I started it, it's...weird...for me, with my dreams of going to the Moon and being an aerospace engineer, (not to mention my degrees), to set all that aside. It's not that it isn't worth it, it's just...weird. To have had so much angst over finding a job....only to be pregnant by the time I started it! My company has already verbally said that they'll let me take as much time as I need, then work with me as much or as little as I want to afterward, so I'll be able to keep a foot in the door...but it won't be the same as if I'd worked full-time all that time.

The diapering, feeding, living with a baby doesn't worry me...but the being at home all day does a little. In one way, I can hardly wait for it! No more waking up at 4:45 in order to ride in with VNB and save oodles on gas! No more "nice" clothes every day! The ability to keep the house clean(er)! And cook! And do stuff at church when asked! To read! To have some "alone" time where I don't feel guilty about being in another room from VNB since I _like_ being with him! To be able to hang out with my friend Catnip who works nights now and never gets to see anyone! But at the same time...being home, with just me, never-ending housework, and a squalling baby almost all day, almost every day! Having people think that I just sit around and eat bon bons since I'm a "stay-at-home mom" now! Feeling trapped inside the house (especially since all of this will begin in the middle of winter!)! I've been there and done that (although minus the squalling baby) before and made it through...but it's still nervewracking coming up to yet another season of it.

Life is going to change drastically. And, unlike the waist that is completely gone now (I'm getting to the point where I pop out of my shirts, not in the bust area (well, there too), but in the belly area!), there's not even a chance of getting the old one back. And it's not that it won't be completely worth it...but it'll be different...and different is always scary. At least a little.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pics from the Trip

This one was taken one morning at the hotel in MS. I had run downstairs for some milk prior to gathering our stuff, putting on my shoes, and heading out to the bus, when my Min of Music decided that this was the most hilarious thing he'd seen in a long time - me, barefoot, pregnant, and in the "kitchen." You can't really see how big I am, but it's still a pretty funny picture.

This one spotlights not only VNB's broken arm, but my burgeoning belly. Granted, I'm sitting down, but you can tell that I fill up my shirt more than I have in the past. This is also, incidentally, the next-to-last day of the trip (the last day was just the drive home), and I was feeling pretty poorly those two days. So if I look like I haven't eaten much and am a little pale....well....I hadn't and I probably was.

Oh, and this is the "new" hair cut....except that it was about four inches shorter when I got it.

Home Again!

Well, we're back! It was an exciting trip, all around. And yes, "exciting" is one of those words with multiple meanings and connotations.

First off...Scot, I meant to bring my cameras, really I did....we just simply forgot, so you'll have to rely on the pics of others (to be supplied momentarily).

If you want a good blow-by-blow description of all the action, check out our Minister of Music's blog: But I'll give you a nice summary.

The trip down was uneventful. I only entered the bus bathroom twice on the trip - once on the way down, and once to change later on in the week. I felt great most of the days, with only a couple of mornings of ickiness, and only a couple of all days of ickiness (close to the end of the week when I was tired and probably not drinking as much as I needed to).

We got down there earlier than expected (which made the hotel staff nervous), but gave us extra time to settle in and rest before the first night....well, except for VNB and a few others who joined the pre-production crew to finish getting the stage and site set up.

Each afternoon threatened thunderstorms (with several following through on their threat), but it only rained out one event - the main community festival on Saturday evening. Even that was just postponed to Sunday afternoon (we'd built in a little spare time, so we waited to leave for FL until later than planned).

While we were in the process of re-prepping the stage (after a short shower) just prior to Sunday's event, a gust of wind decided to fill the sail (the backdrop) and cause the light trusses to topple. I and another person were in the middle of the stage, while most others were off or on the outskirts. Fortunately, someone looked up just as the toppling began and was able to warn us all. Being in the middle of the stage with backdrop behind me, choir risers and railings to my left, people, instruments, and audio paraphernalia to my right, and stage falling forward, there was no way for me to safely escape, so I just watched where things were falling and avoided everything. My SCUBA "control your panic" training definitely came in handy in those moments. Even so, I took my time walking out of the rubble to keep my slightly shaky limbs from tripping over something. I think everyone else was far more concerned about me (and baby) than I was (especially those who saw me inside as the trusses fell)....but as I reminded Pastor D, I lived in Baghdad for a year and a half. This was just an accident. There, they're aiming for you. :) (That's a joke, btw....I never felt endangered while there and logical reasoning said that I was never a target.)

Anyway, so after a minute or two to collect ourselves (and with people starting to show up for the fair), several of us started the clean up, while the rest went on with the rest of the fair (face painting, moon bounces, hot dogs, hamburgers, snow cones, popcorn, etc.). About 20 minutes into the clean-up, VNB found a box lid, tripped over it, and ended up chipping the Radius in his left arm up by the elbow. Now, if you ever talk to _him_ about it, be sure you say that the story you heard was that he single-handedly held up the collapsing stage to protect his wife and unborn child. That's _much_ nicer for his ego than tripping over a box lid.

So....while the clean-up continued and the fair (sans musical entertainment) went on, VNB and I sent to the emergency room. We were literally in and out within an hour! And the only even remotely "sub-standard" service that we got was that they didn't give him a percoset or anything to tide him over until he got his pain med prescription filled. But even that was livable. It was definitely uncomfortable for him on the bus the next few days, but we both survived (I have yet to get a cast to the face during the night). Plus, it gave me a small taste of what it's going to be like with baby (except that with baby, I'll be able to sleep during the day too instead of having to keep going) - he was up frequently during the night, for more meds, to change position, etc., and he needed help dressing and bathing (at least initially).

The worst part was that, due to the pain meds, we decided that it just wasn't smart for us to take the equipment truck and drive to NC for his friend's wedding. So, the team stepped up and drove the truck for us, and we just went back with the rest of the group on the bus.

But God was good to us, and the trip was an unmitigated success. Really. Let me count the ways (in no particular order):

- All of the concerts that we performed were great.
- We were able to encourage the FBC Nicholson folks, the teachers at Nicholson Elementary School, and all other concert audiences (not to mention others).
- The gust of wind happened before the concert rather than during (lots more people on the stage (all with their backs to the parts that started the fall), and audience in the area onto which everything fell).
- Someone looked up just as things started to fall and had the presence of mind to warn everyone else.
- No one was seriously injured (one boy got a slightly bonked head and a skinned knee, but nothing serious or requiring treatment).
- My past experiences (and the grace of God) allowed me to not panic, which would have been the worst thing for me and for baby.
- We had removed the heavy stage lights prior to that point (they would have made it all fall faster, giving people less time to get out of the way, not to mention the extra glass clean-up and huge expense of replacing all of the bulbs).
- An awning was there to shade the audience chairs, and it graciously sacrificed its life to provide an extra couple of seconds for the last people to get out of the way.
- The whole experience spooked our minister of music enough that we didn't set up the stage/backdrop at the other churches we went to, reducing set-up/tear-down time and aggravation. :)
- VNB's arm is "just" chipped, and chipped in a spot that isn't serious.
- VNB and I are married now, so there was someone around to take care of him (he'd be in serious trouble otherwise - pants don't button themselves, you know).
- He didn't break his arm until I'd gotten over the worst of the morning sickness, making it so I had the energy/lack of nausea to take care of him.
- The rest of the choir was gracious to help us out with getting the equipment truck back and unpacked, even though VNB could only give directions, not help physically.
- Instead of coming home Sunday night and having to be back at work the next morning, we had Friday through Sunday in which to rest and recouperate from the trip.
- While we didn't end up getting to see his family (since we didn't go to the wedding), my folks were able to join us in MS and Daddy even got to sing with the choir!
- My folks being there meant that their pop-up trailer was there and was available for use as an air-conditioned spot for the pregnant and otherwise infirm of the trip (well, and as our Min of Music's "green room").
- We got to see through the testimony of one of the youth on the trip how God is already being glorified through Jay's death.
- It allowed our Min of Music and fam to be with his extended family as his 10-yr-old niece undergoes surgery to remove an egg-sized tumor from her brain stem (today - Monday, Aug 14th).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (Part II)

As I sit here valiantly trying to keep my eyes open at work (and having a very sleepy brain try to rationalize that it's ok to shut the door for a few minutes of shut-eye), I figure I'll let y'all know that I probably won't be blogging much for the next week-and-a-half or so. Our church choir is headed down to MS tonight. We'll spend about three days there with our adopted church, leading a crusade, doing some rebuilding work, and having another "block party" event to give people a little break from life. After that, we work our way back up to MD pretty slowly, with a day in FL, and a couple of days in GA.

VNB and I are riding the bus down with the rest of the crew, but will become the equipment truck drivers once we leave MS. That'll allow us to peel off from the main group on our way through NC. One of Ryan's high school friends is getting married on the 12th in his hometown. We'll finally make it home on the 13th just in time to unload the equipment truck.

Like the time around my birthday, this will be a very in-law-intensive time. My folks will be meeting us in MS (they should be arriving any time now, actually) and will be there with us, then we'll stay with his folks while we're in NC. That's not a bad thing at all...but still stressful since we're both still adjusting to all that married life entails.

But by far the biggest stressor for me is the bus ride down there. We'll be on a nice charter bus with a bathroom...but I've literally had nightmares about the trip - all 21-22 hours of it! My actual nightmare included things more like driving too fast and running into things, but I think my real fears have to do with adequate food (having the right thing to quench the cravings), and being sick. Next to that is the realization that just about everyone in the choir has known me for years and years....which means that they're going to be smothering me with worry and attention. While it's nice that they care.....well....that could be difficult for me who somehow managed to hide my pregnancy from them (despite the constant and sometimes overwhelming sickness) for most of three months. On the way back (when we're in the truck), my main fear is the need for pit stops. Since we're not staying with the group the whole way anyway, maybe it'll be ok for us to stop whenever we need to.....but maybe it won't.

The last fear was only cropped up last night. Until then, I hadn't hit that "always hot while pregnant" milestone. I was still my normal, cold-blooded self. Well, being outside in the heat doesn't really bother me that much (honestly), but I had serious trouble while at the maternity clothes outlet at the mall last night (ironic, huh?). I'm sure the mall's A/C was on power-save mode, but just all of the sudden, I was so hot I couldn't see straight. I quickly finished my business in the store and sat down on a bench in the walkway. After a few minutes, I thought I was cool enough to keep going....well, after walking a little further, I knew I wasn't. I was never actually light-headed or anything, just exhausted and overwhelmingly hot. After finishing all of my business in the mall, I sat in what was clearly (from my travels) the coolest spot available for probably 30 minutes. At the end of that time, I was actually almost chilled and did much better on my way out. But that, of course, brings up lots of fears about how I'm going to do in the early August heat and humidity of MS! We'll be outside a lot of our time there, sometimes doing relatively hot work (singing under lights, canvassing neighborhoods, clearing debris, etc.). It's gonna be hard!

And to think...when I signed up for this trip, I wasn't even married yet!

But it's going to be a great trip! I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again, and to seeing how much progress has been made since I was there last. We'll also get a chance to actually go into downtown New Orleans to see what it's like there. I've never been there before, so I'll have nothing to compare it to, but I'm sure that the damage will be evident.

I probably won't be posting much, but if you'd like to follow along on our travels, check out my minister of music's new blog: He's promised to post daily updates.

Now I just have to figure out how to stay awake for the next 2.5 hours!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Random (and Not-So-Random) Thoughts

First off, Scot, I don't think anyone's taken a picture of me since the wedding...hopefully there'll be a couple taken this next week or two that I can share. But really...for all that 5.5" is a lot, as long as I keep my unbuttoned pants adequately covered, no one would notice a thing. As a friend pointed out on Sunday as I was showing off my "big" belly, "Now you look like the rest of us!" So...I'll post a picture when there's one to be had, but don't expect it to look _too_ different from "normal" me.

That's leads me to another thought...a realization, really: I'm a very little person. I've always thought of myself as pretty average....but I'm beginning to suspect that I'm actually very small. For instance, when I get "regular-length" pants, they drag the floor, even when I'm wearing 2" heels. And, even though my belly is 5.5" inches bigger around than normal, no one would notice unless they saw my unbuttoned pants or I pointed it out to them. I'm not complaining (although, all you non-miniature people out there would be surprised at how difficult it is to find clothes that fit)....I've just never really thought of myself that way.

Which begs the question, "why are so many people intimidated by me?" I mean, if I'm microscopic, why does my company president look like a scared little bunny whenever he talks to me? That's not even a "rocket scientist" thing because he's one too (or some kind of engineer anyway, but he started an aerospace firm, so I think that lets him into the rocket scientist club). I will continue to be fascinated by this phenomenon until it ceases to be true.

But I'll leave you with something to think about as the entire country complains about the heat. Right now, there are ~150,000 US servicemen and women (not including the Brits and the rest of the multi-national forces) who are in Iraq. Today it is 109° F in Baghdad. Temps this week will range from 111° to 115° F. And that's still not the hottest part of the summer. At the end of this month, temps will range into the 120s, 130s, and even possibly the 140s (yes, it's happened....I've been there - and if it doesn't get that hot, people complain because then the dates don't ripen). During that time, these ~150,000 servicemen and women will wear their DCUs (desert cammo uniforms) or their new BDUs ("desert-colored" battle dress uniforms) which are long-sleeved, usually with a t-shirt underneath, and whose pant legs either tie around their ankles or are tucked into their boots. They're made of heavy, thick material to provide protection and last in difficult circumstances. When they're in a vehicle, they're required to add to that a heavy, dark, flak helmet, and 60 lbs of "battle rattle" (flak jacket), not to mention their weapon (usually a rather hefty M-16). If they're on guard duty, they'll often be in direct sunlight for hours at a time, and if they're guarding (or in) a tank (which can be cooked on, even in cold weather), they get even more heat. So keep that in mind as you complain about the sweat that develops as you walk from your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned house. Yes, the humidity is lower there....but even factoring that in, they've still got it worse!